“The chocolate I make has a purpose.”
Louise Gormley, founder of Weezie Chocolates
Desert Companion: So, I take it you didn’t start out to become a chocolatier?
Louise Gormley: No. It came about because of the need to live a healthier life, and it became a creative outlet for me.
DC: What was wrong with your way of life?
LG: In 2006, I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. My cardiologist advised me that unless I completely changed my lifestyle, resolved some issues that were causing severe stress, and totally changed my diet, I would not be alive much longer.
DC: So what had your diet been like? Was it that bad?
LG: (Laughs) I didn’t think so; it was a typical American, diet — pizza, pasta, some chicken and fish — that kind of thing. First, I went vegetarian, and I did lose about 35 pounds, but it wasn’t enough. My numbers weren’t decreasing by much, and my doctor still wasn’t happy with my progress. Neither was I. I was on about seven medications. My goal was to get off as many medications as possible.
DC: What goes into your chocolates?
LG: Organic raw cacao, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, goji berries and raw agave instead of sugar. No dairy products or waxes of any kind. And of course, they’re locally made, with lots of love.
DC: What would you say to someone who says chocolate was meant be indulgent and unhealthy rather than nutritious? Isn’t candy supposed to be sinful? Aren’t you taking the fun out of it?
LG: I cater to what I can eat as a diabetic and a vegan/vegetarian. As a diabetic, it’s important to maintain healthy balance in blood sugar. “Indulgent,” that could still be said, and it still is fun. The chocolate I make has a purpose — to be a little sinful without consequence to diabetics.
DC: Is working with vegan ingredients challenging? Limiting? Freeing?
LG: Vegan ingredients are expensive but readily available anywhere, really! So no challenge there. Not really limiting, and my chocolate is free from waxes, which is very important.
DC: Did you have to experiment a lot to get the right taste?
LG: Yes, I did experiment quite a bit. Especially when it came down to three varieties of dark chocolate, and I also made a “milk” chocolate (milk from nuts). I easily found guinea pigs from vegetarian, vegan, and meat-eating lifestyles to understand palate differences.
DC: What’s the hardest part of making chocolate?
LG: The time to pour and wrap each piece is challenging when making over 300 pieces at a sitting.
DC: How long does it take to make a batch?
LG: About nine hours with two people, of whom my dear friend Kat is one; she works for chocolate and little pay when she assists me.
DC: Since you changed your diet, is your palate different?
LG: I believe my palate is cleaner. I have eaten different foods when no other choice remains, only to feel a coat of whatever I had eaten cover my tongue. Flavors are so much more defined.
DC: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
LG: I do, and lately I make raw vegan almond cookies and dip them in my chocolate. Or I eat my chocolate, or I eat chocolate banana raw ice cream (made with almond milk).
DC: Do you miss cheeseburgers, pizza, milkshakes, that kind of stuff?
LG: Sure, but I try to replicate them in other healthy ways. A milkshake is easy raw, using my homemade almond milk with any kind of fruit, or just using vanilla beans in a high-speed blender. I make my own pizza, because at this stage regular pizza makes me very ill. And I made a raw (veggie) burger not too long ago — that even my most carnivorous friend enjoyed.