No matter what shape or size, most people automatically surrender to the sweet attraction that chocolate possesses. It becomes a dietary downfall for some.
Desiring a fun and healthy treat, Glen Ellyn resident Renee Faur tempts food-conscious customers with her own take of chocolate: raw, organic and gluten-free.
The chocolate is made with sea salt, organic coconut and organic raw ingredients of honey, cacao nibs, cacao powder and cacao butter. She throws in organic exotic ingredients such as goji berries, a red fruit which comes from China and Tibet; raw mesquite powder, a sweet-tasting substance from the mesquite plant; and raw maca root, a member of the radish family.
With some crunch and a sweet and salty flavor, Faur said that her product taste just like a chocolate candy bar.
“There are no preservatives or additives,” she said. “You’re eating fruits and vegetables but it tastes like a candy bar. I created it because I really wanted my kids to be able to eat it everyday. They’ve been eating my chocolates for the past four years.”
Since February 2010, Faur is the owner and operator of , a Glen Ellyn-based business that distributes its product through grocery stores such as Whole Foods in Wheaton and Naperville, medical offices, yoga studios and its Web site, reneesrawchocolate.com. Her chocolate is certified organic and contains no sugar or dairy.
The concept of a raw food diet might be new for some. Faur, a certified raw foods chef and a certified personal trainer, explained that raw foods contain enzymes which aid in food absorption.
“Heating food over 116 degrees destroys enzymes and therefore the foods’ nutritional value is reduced significantly,” she said. “Raw foods have enormously higher nutritional value than foods that have been cooked. I’m not talking about dairy and meat but fruits and vegetables.”
Faur became interested in raw foods about five years ago when medical ailments affected her life.
“I suffered from depression and I really wanted to heal my body naturally,” she said. “I had an ovarian tumor that I was dealing with and I didn’t want to get surgery. My body was in severe fatigue. I was looking for a way to holistically heal my body.”
Faur read books about a diet of eating fruits, vegetables and nuts and applying different cooking methods such as soaking, juicing and dehydrating ingredients. She found that it helped her with her ailments.
While buying organic and raw staples at Whole Foods, she learned about the benefits of cacao beans and its other foods such as cacao powder and cacao butter. From her research, she discovered that cacao, “has nearly twice the amount of antioxidants as red wine and up to three times as green tea and has the amino acid of tryptophan which enhances relaxation and promotes sleep.”
Impressed with cacao’s benefits, she developed a raw chocolate recipe. Using inductors, Faur uses low heat to melt her cacao butter and her ingredients. When friends and family tasted her chocolate, they encouraged her to start a business. Besides getting into local stores and offices, Faur received an endorsement from Alissa Cohen, an internationally-known author and chef who wrote Living of Live Food and Raw Food for Everyone.
“When she endorsed me, we got e-mails from Greece and Denmark,” she said “(People in Denmark) asked if we could provide them with our chocolate. We’re not ready to grow that big yet. We plan on going national and international.”
Through her business, Faur finds opportunities to help charities such as the Anti-Cruelty Society and her community. She and her staff raise funds for Glenbard South and West High Schools to support its academic, athletic and extracurricular activities. She is also involved in The World of Chocolate, a holiday fundraising event presented by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago to commemorate World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.
Her future plans include introducing new flavors, marketing to the West Coast and making holiday baskets with wine and tea.
“We just get great feedback,” Faur said. “(We hear) from people being relieved from aches and pains in their bodies and (getting) energy.”
Some of her customers are her biggest supporters. Christy Truitt, a Glen Ellyn mom of two boys, learned about the chocolate through a local health facility’s spa. Her husband instantly liked it and persuaded her to give it a try, though she didn’t care for the coconut.
“After he gone through several boxes of chocolate, I still hadn’t tasted it,” she said. “Finally, he said ‘You really will like this.’ I did have some and I’ve been hooked every since.”
Truitt realized that Faur, who she saw at the facility many times, made the chocolate. Truitt explained that she and her family were seeking healthier choices as they incorporated a vegetarian and then later a raw food diet in their food selections.
“(The chocolate is made) with a healthier raw form of cacao which is the purest form of chocolate; it’s not processed,” she said. “We’re trying to eliminate processed foods from our diet and the chocolate fit perfectly,” she said. “It tastes really good. If you compare it to buying a processed dark chocolate bar at the store, this is so much better and fresher.”