Sjaak's Organic Chocolates

"Jacques, the creator of Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, has brought his talents as a confectioner over from Holland, his homeland. His extensive knowledge of confections and his flare for creativity allows him to create endless amounts of gourmet treats for us all to delight in! When he is not in the kitchen, at home, or in the Sjaak’s factory concocting another mouth watering treat, he is either gardening (a landscape worthy of a wedding location), painting, or playing with his grandson, trying to teach him to say OPA (Dutch for grandpa)"

Below is our interview with Sjaaks!

What does Sjaaks mean? 
Sjaak's is an alternate spelling of Jacques, which is the owners name.

What is your mission? 
To create delicious organic chocolates!

What type of products do you have? 
A large variety of organic chocolates including chocolate bars, candy bars, gift boxes and extensive holiday selections.

Can you tell us about your vegan products? 
All of our products are vegan. 

Are there common misconceptions about vegan chocolate? 
People often think vegan chocolates will taste much different, but any good dark chocolate is vegan and the recipes Jacques creates are amazing!

What makes your products different from other ones on the market? 
We are a small family owned and operated business. 

For readers that haven't tried Sjaaks, what three products would you recommend to them first? 
Any product is great to try, they are fantastic!

Where can readers find your products?
www.sjaaks.com  and many natural food stores
Sjaak's Organic Chocolates is a family owned business that has organic, free-trade, eco-friendly, vegan chocolate. Their chocolate is amazing! Many people have the misconception that vegan chocolate tastes different but any good vegan chocolate tastes absolutely delicious. Sjaak's organic chocolates are sweet, smooth and creamy and come in very nice packaging. 

Sjaak's makes a variety of gourmet organic & fair trade chocolate including truffles, bite-size chocolates, candy bars, and holiday gift boxes. Plus, everything is natural with no artificial content. 

Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates also developed Eli’s Earth bars which are also vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and certified organic. These bars are named after Eli, the grandson of the owner Sjaak Jacques Holten

Eli's Earth Bars come in three incredible varieties (all of which are delicious!):
Treasure Bar - a peanut butter crunch & caramel bar
Dream Big Bar - a caramel & peanut butter bar topped with whole peanuts and coated in creamy chocolate
Celebrate Bar - a coconut caramel bar topped with whole almonds surrounded by chocolate

Sjaak’s makes great quality, tasty products. We highly recommend them for any occasion!


Bare Fruit Apple Chips

Bare Fruit Apple Chips are a wonderful snack. They taste great and are good for you! These apple chips are made with Washington State apples and Bare Fruit Apple Chips are low in calories, fat free, and full of fiber. It is like eating an apple, only more convenient and tasty! Bare Fruit Apple Chips are made in a way where the natural sugars caramelize on the outside. This results in a sweet and tart flavor combination. In some products, Bare Snacks adds cinnamon and other natural flavors to provide variety to customers. 


  • Grown in Washington state
  • Available in 15g and 1.69 0z (48g) sizes
  • No added sugar
  • No added preservatives
  • No additives
What we think: This snack is delicious. It keeps you going when you are hungry between meals. These apple chips are great broken up in cereal, added to a trail mix, in salads..there are so many uses! Bare Fruit does a great job with these, they are sweet and tasty!

What: Bare Fruit - All Natural Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Grown in Washington state
  • Available in 15g and 1.69 oz (48g) sizes
  • No added sugar
  • No added preservatives
  • No additives
What we think: Bare Fruit Apple Chips are great as they are 100% organic. These apple chips are also bake dried rather then freeze dried. They are sweet, crispy, delicious, and do not have the processed or chemical taste that some dried apples have. They also have a great crunch to them and are not soggy at all. It is great to have a snack with no preservatives or chemicals, no pesticides or herbicides, and no added sugar!

We highly recommend Bare Fruit Apple Chips for a fun snack or an add- on to a meal! They also come in three other flavors: Cinnamon, Sea Salt Caramel, and Chile Lime

Crio Brü

"Crio Brü is brewed drink made from 100% cacao beans (also known as cocoa beans), roasted to perfection. Named after the most prized of cacao beans, the Criollo, Crio Brü will astound your taste buds with its complex chocolaty flavors and subtle aromas which come right from the cacao bean itself! It is 100% natural and 100% pure.
Crio Brü is the ultimate superfood. It is low in calories and contains no sugar, no fat, no dairy, no sodium, no cholesterol and practically no caffeine, yet is extremely high in antioxidants, theobromine and a host of other vitamins and minerals.
Crio Brü is both a new drink and an ancient one. Ka'kao was an everyday drink of the kings and peoples of the great Incas, Mayans, Olmecs and Aztecs for hundreds of years, but was changed when the Old World met the New. The incredible health properties of cacao are currently lost in the process of making modern chocolate, but with Crio Brü, they are preserved."

Crio Brü is the perfect coffee alternative. It is a delicious antioxidant rich beverage that is chocolate bliss in a bag! It smells amazing and contains no fat, gluten, GMO`s, sodium, cholesterol, sugar, salt or MSG. It also contains no allergens of any kind. Crio Brü is made the same way you make coffee, and the best way to prepare it is with a French Press. It takes longer to brew than coffee and this allows you to do that. Steep time is best around 10 minutes. Regular coffee makers work but it is best to use a permanent reusable filter. 
The brewed cocoa is so unique. It is 100% cocoa and is not sweet as it is like coffee. You may add some cream or sugar, but it is delicious on its on. If you want it to be more like a gourmet hot cocoa, you will be amazed by how it transforms by adding cream and sugar!
Though comparable to coffee or hot chocolate, there is nothing like this drink. With a french press, the longer the product steeps the richer and more chocolate-y the flavor comes out. This product has less caffeine than decaf coffee and comes in a huge variety of flavors. You may view the different varieties here
The different flavors are amazing! We love the Maya blend as it has cayenne and cinnamon so it creates a nice warming sensation as you drink it. The Cavalla has flavor notes of coconut and cinnamon. The cinnamon is more subtle than the Maya and it's absolutely delicious. The Maracaibo has notes of vanilla, cherry, and a caramelized nutty finish. 
Crio Brü has complex, earthy and smooth flavors. We love how the various flavors taste, and it makes a hot, sophisticated drink that is much better than hot chocolate. Plus, it is significantly healthier and boots your immune symstem with antioxidants, increases energy naturally, curbs your appetite and promotes weight loss, supports your heart, brain, and bones, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and is healthy and safe for kids. 

We also highly recommend their Crio Beans, which are amazing! A must-try!


Interview with Dr. Eric Durtschi, President of Crio Inc.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about yourself? How did you get started?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: I am a chiropractor and focused a lot on nutrition.  I am also the son of a chocolate maker and I have a passion for chocolate.  Several years ago, I started hearing the buzz about chocolate being healthy and I wanted to understand this because all the chocolate that I knew was not healthy.  My father worked for one of the US largest chocolate makers and I ate chocolate all the time.  I would gain 10-15 pounds every winter that I had to work hard to lose each summer.  As I started looking into these healthy claims, I realized that the cocoa bean is one of the top superfoods in the world and amazingly nutritious.  That led me to want to find a way to harness these amazing properties without all the negatives typically associated with over processed chocolates.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about Crio Bru? How did it begin?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: As I learned about the history of the cocoa bean, I realized that it was a drink for thousands of years before solid chocolate came to be.  They would take whole cocoa beans, roast them, grind them with spices and use it as a drink.  In fact, the original Olmec word for chocolate is Xocolatl which means “bitter water” and if you have ever tried 100% cacao, you will understand this.  I began importing cocoa beans from all over the world and trying them.  After working for awhile with the bean and wondering how to bring cacao back to its healthy origins as a drink, I thought of coffee and asked myself “what if you could combine 2 of the world’s greatest passions, coffee and chocolate, into a new healthy delicious new drink?”  That’s when I started down the path of brewing cocoa beans.  I had to develop completely different, patent pending, methods of harvesting and producing the beans as well as roasting them.  Then I came upon the problem of grinding the bean.  Cocoa beans are around 50% cocoa butter which melts at a very low temperature and when I used traditional coffee grinders, I would quickly get a sticky melted mess.  I developed a unique method of grinding the bean without generating heat.  Once this was figured out, I started testing out and quickly realized that I had a winner with the product.  I had successfully developed a chocolate product that offers the amazing health benefits of cacao without all the fat and calories.

Sarah Velasco: What is your mission?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: To provide healthy, delicious, and unique chocolate products that will improve peoples lives.

Sarah Velasco: What types of products do you have?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: Our main line is Crio Brü Brewed cocoa but we also sell raw cacao nibs and hand peeled cacao beans that have been covered in chocolate.  Chocolate covered chocolate, what could be better than that? :)  I am currently developing a new line of chocolate bars which should be released later this year.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about these products? What makes them different from other ones one the market?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: I created and developed this product and we do not have any competitors of note in the retail market.  There have been a few people that have tried to take my knowledge but they are lacking the expertise that I have and the product is not as high quality.  I have traveled the world seeking the best cocoa beans and working directly with farmers teaching them better methods of producing their cacao beans specifically for a brewed drink.  This makes a big difference in the end result.

Sarah Velasco: How has Crio Bru helped the environment?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: We work with farmers directly and always pay more than fair trade prices for our beans as well. By teaching them better harvesting techniques, they can provide superior products and receive premium prices for their beans.  We also have a facility that uses wind power.

Sarah Velasco: Are there specific brewing instructions that customers need to follow?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: The best way to prepare Crio Bru is with a French Press.  It takes longer to brew than coffee and this allows you to do that.  The best steep time is around 10 minutes.  Traditional coffee makers work also but it is best to use a permanent reusable filter.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us some of the benefits cocoa beans have?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: Cacao beans are one of the top superfoods in the world.  They are higher in antioxidants than almost any other product.  They are also extremely packed with vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, iron, chromium and many others.  Cocoa beans are low in caffeine but they have a healthy stimulant, called theobromine, that gives you long lasting natural energy as opposed to the spike and crash of caffeine.  They also have serotonin which helps to relax and balance brain chemistry.  Many people notice that eating dark chocolate makes them feel happy.  There are 2 other compounds in cacao that do this.  One is anandamide.  This is also known as the bliss chemical because it gives feelings of happiness and bliss.  The other is Phenylethylamine or the love chemical.  When we fall in love, this is released and is associated with those feeling.  Together with the theobromine, you get a relaxed energy that can help you wake up in the morning but it can also help to balance you at night and improve sleep.

Sarah Velasco: Are there common misconceptions about cocoa beans?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: They are usually associated with poor quality chocolates.  Most traditional candy chocolate is very low in actual cacao and is mostly full of milk and sugar.  They are also processed for many hours and this reduces the health benefits.  Many chocolates also have added alkali which makes it less bitter but significantly reduces the antioxidant benefits. 

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers purchase Crio Bru?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: We are a growing company and in distribution through many grocery and specialty stores across the country.  If you can’t find us in a store near you, ask your grocery manager and maybe we can speed up that process.  All of our products are also offered online.

Sarah Velasco: Anything else you would like readers to know?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: One of the unique things about cocoa beans is that, depending on the region they are grown, they can all have very unique flavors.  Similar to wine.  We offer several varieties of cocoa beans from all over the world.  You are sure to find one that you will absolutely love. 

Be sure to watch Crio Bru on Shark Tank April 25th!

Ziggy Marley's Coco-Mon Coconut Oil

"Ziggy Marley’s Coco’Mon™ coconut oils are made from fresh organic coconut kernels and are cold-pressed, unrefined and non-deodorized. They are an excellent source of medium chaintriglycerides (MCTs), such as lauric acid (C-12) and caprylic acid (C-8)."

Ziggy Marley's Coconut Oil is sourced from Philippines and is cold pressed. Cold pressed is a form of expeller pressed used for delicate oils. There is no external heat or harmful chemicals, and the temperature does not exceed 118 degrees fahrenheit in their process. 
You can use Ziggy Marley's Coconut Oil for stove top cooking, stir fry, and as a baking ingredient. There are many more ways to use coconut oil and it can substitute any oil or butter in recipes! 
Ziggy Marley's Coco-Mon Coconut Oils are also USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten-free certified and Kosher. 

"Original: Fresh and Smooth Coconut for Everyday"
This coconut oil is so delicious you want to eat it from the jar! It brings out wonderful flavors in your cooking because the fresh coconut flavor really comes through. The oil is light and performs beautifully in the pan. Other oils can make your food soggy, but this one makes it easy to create a nicely cooked dish!
Coconut fiber naturally occurs in coconut oil and can add a brownish hue. This does not affect the quality of the coconut oil and this is normal.

"Orange-Almond Hint of Sunny Orange with Earthy Nuttiness" 
This coconut oil is great for everything! Baking, cooking, stir fry... The flavored coconut oil is such a great idea. It adds great flavor without being overwhelming. This orange- almond flavor has a hint of orange with a little touch of nuttiness. It works great from smoothies to pancakes.
"Curry Little Sweet. Little Spicy. All Delicious."
This coconut oil is absolutely amazing! The mild curry flavored coconut oil is delicious. It is not a hot curry, but a mild fragrant touch. Makes such a great addition to your cooking. 

"Lemon-Ginger Touch of Lemon with Slight Tang of Ginger"
This oil is amazing. It is great for sauteeing vegetables or in dressing. The lemon ginger flavor is delicate and smells so good! It has mild flavors of lemon and ginger along with the delicious coconut flavor. 

We recommend Ziggy Marley`s Coco-Mon Coconut Oil. The different coconut oil flavors make terrific additions to your recipes! "Ziggy Marley has always been an environmentalist and vocal about taking care of our bodies and our planet. The food line expands on his ideas and philosophies and gives Ziggy another medium to get his message out." - Todd Troha, director of marketing for Ziggy Marley Organics. You may view more here


Interview with Todd Troha: Director of Marketing for Ziggy Marley Organics

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about yourself? 
Todd Troha: I’m Todd Troha. I’ve been the Director of Marketing for Ziggy Marley Organics since we launched the brand over 2 years ago. Prior to Ziggy Marley Organics, I ran a marketing agency that only promoted organic and sustainable businesses, non-profits and musicians. 

Sarah Velasco: What projects are you working on? 
Todd Troha: Right now I’m coordinating with Ziggy’s management to support the release of his new album, Fly Rasta, and the subsequent international tour this summer. Social media and in-store events are continuous projects.

Sarah Velasco: What does your schedule look like for an average day? 
Todd Troha: Well, I work out of a home office so my commute is pretty short. After I get my two girls off to school, I’m at the computer and on the phone, getting the word out about Ziggy’s products. Sometimes I’m answering questions on Facebook or connecting with chefs who use our products. Other times it is making sure that our Sales team has what they need to be successful. 

Sarah Velasco: How did Ziggy Marley Organics get started? 
Todd Troha: Ziggy Marley Organics started in the summer of 2011 when we all got together with some innovative ideas. We wanted to develop healthy food that was unique in the market. Hemp and coconut oils were natural fits so we created the world’s first organic flavored coconut oils and the world’s first roasted flavored hempseeds. 

Sarah Velasco: What was the vision when creating Ziggy Marley Organics? What did you have in mind? 
Todd Troha: Ziggy Marley has always been an environmentalist and vocal about taking care of our bodies and our planet. The food line expands on his ideas and philosophies and gives Ziggy another medium to get his message out. 

Sarah Velasco: What types of products do you carry? 
Todd Troha: We have the finest cold-pressed organic coconut oil on the market in four varieties (Original, Lemon Ginger, Orange Almond, Curry). We also make organic hempseeds in two roasted flavors (Caribbean Crunch, Sea Salt & Pepper) and a shelled variety. 

Sarah Velasco: Where did the idea of flavored coconut oil come from? 
Todd Troha: A lot of people were researching why coconut oil is good for you after hearing about it from friends or in the media. The issue was that while they might understand its benefits but they still didn’t know how to use it. We created our flavored oils to make it easier to cook with coconut oil. 

Sarah Velasco: Why Coconut Oil and Hempseeds? 
Todd Troha: Ziggy has important ties to both hemp and coconut oil.
We are huge proponents of legalizing industrial hemp in the U.S. and the more you learn about hemp, the more you understand why it is so important. Hemp can be used as food, textiles, building materials, paper, bio-plastics, and biofuels. It grows quickly so it can be harvested multiple times a season and doesn’t require pesticides. Hemp is a wonder crop. Our hemp seeds are a good source of clean plant protein and the Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Coconut oil was something that Ziggy grew up with. Women in the market would make the coconut oil and they cooked with it a lot. Coconut oil and coconuts are used in the Rasta culture as popular flavor. Our organic cold-pressed oils are also healthy for you too. 

Sarah Velasco: What's your favorite recipe using one or both of the products? 
Todd Troha: Wow…we have over 60 recipes on our site. That’s a tough one.
Everyone loves is our Cinnamon Orange Almond Popcorn (http://www.ziggymarleyorganics.com/cinnamon-orange-almond-popcorn/). It is an amazing flavor combination and is so easy to make.
Personally I love the Crunchy Cuke Salad (http://www.ziggymarleyorganics.com/crunchy-cuke-salad/). Again, it is really easy to make but the Caribbean Crunch hempseeds add just the right amount of spice and crunch. 

Sarah Velasco: Anything else readers should know? 
Todd Troha: I really encourage people to try new things. While we have a lot of recipes on our website (www.ziggymarleyorganics.com), simply stir frying some veggies in our Lemon Ginger coconut oil or tossing some Sea Salt & Pepper hempseeds on a salad might really surprise you. I don’t know how many times I’ve given someone a sample and they were completely blown away.

ZERO WhiteTM Whitening Pen

"Throw away your trays and strips and turn to the ZERO WhiteTM Pen which dries on teeth, crowns, veneers and caps in just 60 seconds. Like the ZERO WhiteTM System, the pen is formulated using natural botanical whiteners that do not irritate or harm teeth. The formula does not have a bad taste and works while you sleep for results within two weeks." 

ZERO WhiteTM Whitening Pen ($29)
ZERO WhiteTM Whitening Pen 2-Pak ($39)

The latest technology in teeth whitening ensures results without harmful toxins. Whitening Lightning has just launched ZERO WhiteTM, the only natural alternative to chemical laden teeth whiteners.

Already embraced in Hollywood by daytime TV stars and big screen actors, the botanical based solution effectively whitens without carbamide peroxide, a harmful ingredient in most whiteners and known to cause pain, sensitivity and enamel erosion.

What we think:
We highly recommend this product if you are looking to get whiter, brighter, and healthier looking teeth!
Using the product over two weeks results in having noticeably whiter teeth, especially considering that this product has no peroxide or bleach in it. Whitening your teeth is a work in process so if you do it at home, be patient! We love this whitening pen as it is a great, natural alternative for whitening your teeth. It does not make your teeth feel sticky afterwards. Even after a week you see results. Your teeth will be less yellow and stained. This product works!

Whitening Lightning ZERO White Teeth Whitening Pen is available at Whitening Lightning's website




Somersaults are a scrumptious, healthy snack baked with sunflower seeds and toasted grains. 
Sunflower seeds are the #1 ingredient in Somersaults. They are a nutritionally dense food, power packed with antioxidants, protein, vitamin E, minerals and healthy fats.
Somersaults also have the same protein but half the fat of almonds and 95% less sugar than an energy bar. One serving of these seeds have 4x more antioxidants than blueberries, more fiber than an apple, and 50% more protein than almonds! 

Somersaults has 5 flavors: 

  • Pacific Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon Crunch
  • Salty Pepper
  • Dutch Cocoa
  • Santa Fe Salsa
They have a 2oz. sampler pack and a 6oz. sampler pack which lets you try all their flavors in a conventional multipack.  

"Love crunchy, salty, pepper, vegan, high protein and addictive all in one snack? Give our savory Salty Pepper snack, made with a touch of garlic and onion, a whirl! Enjoy at the movies, on your next bike ride or snack on while studying. Even better, serve at your next 
dinner party as a nut-free snack your guests are sure to enjoy."

The salty pepper has it all– a bit of spice, a bit of salt, and lots of nutty goodness. These are great for snacking!

Santa Fe Salsa "Toasted sunflower seeds and grains baked with chili pepper, cilantro, a touch of jalapeno and a dash of lime give this nugget a delicious zesty bite. A perfect snack for your next backyard barbeque, beach bonfire or fiesta. Olé!"

The Santa Fe Salsa is slightly spicy, with nice hints of jalapeno and chili!

"When we began our quest to make scrumptious, healthy snacks out of seeds, we developed our original flavor, Pacific Sea Salt. The touch of sea salt on these crunchy nuggets is sourced right here in our own backyard, the San Francisco Bay, and highlights the nutty taste of sunflower and sesame seeds. Pacific Sea Salt is sure to twirl your taste buds."

Delicious and satisfying! The texture of the Somersaults is great with a touch of sea salt.

"Cinnamon Crunch bakes warm cinnamon into our whole wheat dough to create a delightful yet healthy treat. A little sprinkle of sweetness makes this perfect crunchy snack a coffee pairing delight! With just 7g of sugar (that's 42% less than a granola bar!), this treat is a good-for-you twist on Grandma's home baked cinnamon rolls."

The cinnamon crunch tastes great! The heartiness of the seeds adds so much texture to the sweetness of the cinnamon.  

"Hailed as the perfect pick-me-up snack with just a touch of cocoa sweetness, our Dutch Cocoa pairs perfectly with your afternoon latte. Dutch Cocoa has just as much protein as a serving of almonds but has less fat and fewer calories. You are sure to satisfy your chocolate chip cookie craving and keep on going until dinner time."

The dutch cocoa is delicious and has the right amount of chocolate. It satisfies your sweet tooth and makes a tasty treat! 

These are great and very delicious snacks. Every piece of these sunflower seeds cookies are full of flavor. We highly recommend Somersaults!

To find Somersaults near you, visit their store locator


Be sure to visit Somersaults on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram !