Stevia-Sweetened Chocolate in Time for Valentine’s Day

As a general rule, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like chocolate and those who love chocolate. When enjoyed in moderation, chocolate even offers certain health benefits.

A principal reason chocolate products, even gourmet chocolate products, are still thought of today as more of a guilty pleasure than a guilt-free pleasure probably boils down to two words: added sugar.

As admitted chocoholics, Cynthia Tice and Chuck Genuardi, the co-founders of Lily’s Sweets, were determined to come up with a delicious, healthy, sugar-free alternative to their favorite treat, and that was how they arrived at Lily’s line of stevia-sweetened, all-natural, non-GMO chocolates.

“We use stevia because we wanted to cut down the sugar content of our chocolate, and we felt that stevia, a no-calorie sweetener, would be best at accomplishing that goal,” explains Tice. Stevia is a plant that grows in Paraguay.

“I believe that stevia does not have more widespread use because it is very difficult to formulate into gourmet products. Stevia is over three hundred times as sweet as sugar with a pretty distinctive aftertaste. It took us more than two years to develop Lily’s, and we tasted a lot of really, really bad chocolate in the process," Tice admits.

Today, Lily’s Sweets offers a line that includes four flavors of dark chocolate and two types of chocolate with milk, as well as premium baking chips.

Demand for Lily’s products comes from a wide range of consumers, among them health-conscious families, seniors, diabetics, paleo eaters, and food connoisseurs, according to Tice. (A bar of Lily’s dark chocolate bought at a local market and consumed by a Natural Vitality Living staffer confirms the product’s tastiness.)

“I have a belief in ‘right livelihood,’ which is being fulfilled daily by the work that I do through Lily’s,” Tice continues. “We are proud to use Fair Trade Certified ingredients that are non-GMO, and we are proud to donate proceeds to organizations that help kids with cancer. Lily is our 12-year-old namesake—the niece of Chuck, our co-founder, and a cancer survivor herself, who raises money to help other kids.”

At age seven, Lily was diagnosed with brain cancer. Surgery to remove her tumor was successful but left Lily with some immobility. During her convalescence, Lily maintained her sense of humor and impressed those around her with her progress.

Throughout her recovery at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, there was a chronic shortage of electric wheelchairs. Lily was saddened to see kids having to wait for a turn to use one. So, upon her return home, Lily worked with her family to raise $9,000 for an additional chair. Now the company works with Lily to continue helping kids with cancer.

For its founders, a Lily’s chocolate bar means a lot more than healthy indulgence. “Our brand reflects our desire to do good and make a difference wherever we can, and that is the best experience of my life,” Tice says.