Reasons why this NJ biz owner believes chocolate may be the secret to health, and other Garden State gustatorial wonders

by Marisa Procopio

Going green
If this winter’s flu season zonked your energy, start spring with the jolt of nutrients in dandelion greens. This member of the chicory family is packed with lutein, calcium, and Vitamins A, C, and K, and is at its most tender, peppery best when no longer than a fi nger. Available at specialty stores now, or even better from an unsprayed lawn. Serve sautéed in a little chicken broth with fresh chopped garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and olive oil, and boost that immunity!

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SPRING HAS SPROUTED
Readers who believe vegan and organic fare is uninspired, take heart: Seed To Sprout, in Wanamassa, “specializing in healthy, whole, and simple foods,” as its mission statement reads, makes everything on site, and damn near everything is great for you cookies, muffins, even bagels. It has earned a loyal breakfast following, and its maple-cinnamon-walnut cookie is an addictive wonder.
1405 Wickapecko Drive, Ocean Township seedtosproutnj.com

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STACKABLE AND SNACKABLE
Oh, proper delicatessen…how we’ve missed you! Sub-Ology, in Cranford, features salads, wraps, and deli sandwiches. The latter category includes three kinds of Sloppy Joes not the ground-beef version moms made in the ’70s, mind you, but a jaw-straining delight of Boar’s Head deli meat, piled high. They also offer hot and cold subs, along with specialty versions served on a half-sub roll (including turkey with Sriracha and cream cheese and Steak and French-fried onions with A-1 steak sauce), all on soft, locally baked bread. For extra heat, order house-made hot pepper relish. A little bubbly makes a lovely chaser sodas in nostalgic flavors like black cherry, vanilla cream, and raspberry lime. When was the last time you went out to lunch and were truly satisfied? 17 North Avenue West, Cranford, sub-ology.com

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Avora Spread

Dark passions
All organic…all vegan…all delicious. Owner Arpita Kohli named her bean-to-bar chocolate company after her little daughter, Mishti Girdhar, and is determined to benefit her customers’ health as much as their grateful taste buds. She speaks almost evangelically of chocolate being one of the purest expression of love a substance, she is convinced, that can “enliven your senses and your passion, and nourish your being.”

Her products are available as standard bars, in a tasting pack (six bars at a half-ounce apiece) as well as in an eight-bar Chocolate Collection. Kohli offers two milk chocolate varieties, the rest 70% to 100% cocoa for those who prefer the bittersweet side. Your Easter basket never had it so good.

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What’s your background? I am a self-taught lover of chocolate and health foods, but my formal education is in textile and fashion design.

What do you love about what you do? Exploring various flavors of chocolate and combining them with other ingredients.

Favorite bar to create? Gingerony the freshness of ginger chunks combined with chocolate makes for a heavenly combination.

Any seasonal/springtime items in store? Yes, but it’s a surprise. Hint: It smells really nice.

What’s your candy-making philosophy? Nourish body, mind, and soul.

Available at Basil Bandwagon Natural Market in Flemington, Basil Bandwagon in Clinton, Sickles Market in Little Silver, and Freshica’s Juice Bar in Red Bank, mishti-chocolates.com