Clean Conscience Chocolates are simply nothing like what you find in your local grocery store. Their attention to detail and simple high-quality ingredients pays off in the form of taste, texture, health, and even satiety. Mary Kennedy brings almost 15 years of experience as a Chocolatier to the Clean Conscience product line. Her passion for making chocolate led her to become certified as both a personal chef and a professional Chocolatier.
With a history in high tech sales, Mary had enough of corporate life and took the plunge 15 years ago to pursue her dream to serve as a personal chef. She was quite the culinary pioneer in Fredericksburg! She prepared food in her clients’ homes, leaving them stocked with up to a week of healthy family meals. Mary would sometimes leave the families a treat for their special events and celebrations. Her clean versions of peanut butter cups and peppermint patties soon became a regular request and her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked! She eventually opened up retail chocolate stores in Fredericksburg and then Charlottesville, which is where she met her current husband, Steve.
From their first meeting, it was clear that Mary and Steve shared a commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle. They consider themselves foodies with high expectations and standards for how they nourish their bodies, eating a clean diet of real food. Steve also decided to leave his corporate management and consulting work to join forces with Mary in a quest to provide the community with guilt-free dark chocolate treats made with real food. It’s easy to support and cheer on this couple because they created their products with their customers’ health and satisfaction as their top priority.
A family brainstorming session ensured they had the right name. It was inspired by Mary’s signature description of her chocolates: “You can indulge without the guilt.” Steve’s daughter Erin, a graphic designer, even designed the logo. Since establishing Clean Conscience Chocolates in 2018, they continue to refine their products to provide customers with the highest quality craftmanship and ingredients. From the start, their peanut butter cups, almond butter cups, peppermint patties, and coconut joys were Vegan, and free from soy, gluten, dairy and refined sugars; but they had higher aspirations for their creations.
At the Healthy Food Expo in late 2018, they connected with the only certified biodynamic chocolate source in the world, Pacari. Steve described the experience by stating, “It was the best chocolate I ever had. They are the Lamborghini of chocolates. They helped us reach our goal of 70% cacao to really increase the health benefits and taste. The chocolate is raw, meaning the beans have been dried by the sun which preserves more of their natural floral and citrus accents. Plus, the chocolate was the foundation to enable us to go organic.”
Mary and Steve additionally refined their packaging in 2019 as they are now 100% compostable! They call their products clean and green! They recently added to their product line after test marketing a raw nut and seed bark at farmers markets. The result is a combination of raw almonds, cashews and pumpkin and sunflower seeds with just the right amount of chocolate. Lots of protein without refined sugars or preservatives! Try them for hikes or bike rides or just a healthy snack between meals.
The decision to infuse some of their products with CBD came from Mary’s challenges with menopause. Since CBD provided relief from symptoms, she delved into research and received a certificate in Chocolate, CBD and Cannabis from L’Ecole Chocolat. Steve elaborated on this addition to their offerings by stating, “The quality of the CBD is key to the benefit and effect you experience. In CBD For The People we found the highest quality unrefined full spectrum products we could find. The natural hemp flavor of CBD can ruin the taste of chocolate, so we only put it in the filling. We have found that its earthy flavor actually enhances our nut butters.” CBD-infused options are available for their peanut butter and almond butter cups, as well as their peppermint patties.
Clean Conscience Chocolates has developed quite the fan base. Steve remarked, “The consistent feedback is that our customers really appreciate the quality of the ingredients and that it’s satisfying and filling because it’s real food. The surprise has been our following in the diabetic community. They can have chocolate again since all of our products except the peppermint patties have less than 6 g of sugar.” They recently learned that one customer makes a peppermint mocha latte by dropping a patty in her coffee! Steve, the self-proclaimed “Chief Taster,” likes to pair a coconut joy with bourbon or coffee. Customers also love freezing their products to eat as ice cream! The sipping chocolate will hit the spot as the weather continues to cool!
Mary and Steve have had to shift gears and adapt to these challenging times since they primarily sold their products in health food stores and cafes. They are grateful for online markets like RVAg Marketplace and see the potential long-term benefits of this valuable service that brings local producers and community members together. Add their healthy chocolate snacks to your cart and enjoy them with a clean conscience!