First thoughts of Earth Day bring to mind a return to the land, careful conservation and a back-to-basics lifestyle. But it’s not just about serving the earth — it’s also about serving the soul. And it doesn’t have to mean going without, but instead rethinking what to go with. When the simple things are savored, quite often the nonessentials fade away. Our planet offers many opportunities to enjoy the land without much fuss or machination.
For example, the Ojai “Pink Moment” is that instant at dusk when the sky and all it touches turn to soft pastels. There is no corporate sponsorship, flashy slogan, or even prior notice — only the ephemeral, pure phenomenon itself, unstung by additives or advertising. The Topa Topa Mountains blush, and you either live it or you miss it.
If you miss it, the next best thing can be found at Ojai Chocolat, where Mimi Milne has captured the Ojai Pink Moment in a flavorful treat. Blending tangerine, orange and basil with classic dark chocolate, Ojai Moment comes tastefully close to the sunset treasure of the Topa Topas. Considering it is made in the shadow of these mountains, from local ingredients, we should not be surprised.
Like the rest of the treats at Ojai Chocolat, Ojai Moment is made using only organic and raw ingredients. Free of added sugar, dairy products, preservatives or artificial ingredients, Ojai Chocolat produces petite luxuries that can even be enjoyed by diabetics. Its slogan is “No sugar, no dairy, no guilt.”
Years ago, Milne was struggling to keep her own blood sugar levels under control. She was predisposed to diabetes, and thought that creating non-dairy and sugar-free chocolates might help others who shared her condition. Health practitioners began recommending her chocolates to diabetics and others with similar conditions and concerns.
Milne also began experimenting with unusual chocolate blends. She created Chili Hot Cocoa, made with raw cocoa, maca, lucuma, cinnamon and spices. Maca is a root first grown in the high mountains of Peru. Rich in nutritional content (potassium, and higher levels of calcium than in milk), it is a natural hormonal balancer said to enhance one’s mood and increase stamina. Lucuma is a subtropical fruit originally used by the Incas, and known for its unique flavor of maple and sweet potato. It is a very nutritious fruit, having high levels of carotene, vitamin B3 and other B vitamins. Flavors are carefully chosen to balance both taste and their impact on health.
Chili Hot Cocoa became popular, and Milne continued to add creative combinations, including Cocoa de Oro, Lavender Mint, and Tuscan Fig, which blends fig with 30-year balsamic vinegar, pure vanilla, orange and olive oil. The newest addition is Desert Rose, which blends Moroccan spices with a hint of rose, and will be available in time for Earth Day.
Focusing on the positive — that one can celebrate while conserving — is the type of long-term attitude we could learn from both Mother Earth and Milne. Ojai Chocolat is all about using raw, organic, fair-traded, locally grown products that are good for us as well as the earth. “The greatest kick I get,” Milne says, “Is when children come to my booth and bring their dollar to buy my chocolates. When so many children only like sugary sweet candies, it is refreshing to see these children’s palates attune to something healthy.”
Ojai Chocolat is available at various health food and specialty stores in Ojai and surrounding areas. For more information, visit www.ojai-chocolat.com.