A Sugar-Free Valentine’s Day & Love Letter to Boulder


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of sugar, I will fear no evil …

Giving up sugar on New Year’s day was pretty ideal. The high-sugar holidays, Halloween and Christmas, were behind me and I was feeling pretty polluted. I’d forgotten that Valentine’s Day was fast approaching.

The blunt force of this chocolatey lover’s holiday hit me when I entered my version of the Amish devil’s playground: Piece, Love & Chocolate. This den of cacao-based lusciousness in Boulder would make Willy Wonka swoon. I hadn’t been craving sugar much and figured (wrongly) that I was immune to its nefarious powers. So, when my husband and son wanted to drop into this little chocolate shop to have a treat, I readily agreed.

Big mistake.

My knees went weak from the scent of chocolate (the chocolatiers make their stuff fresh in the back of the tiny boutique). I stumbled around like a priest in Amsterdam’s red light district, gawking at untouchable confections—a wall of chocolate bars and artful displays of fudge, homemade marshmallows and chocolate dipped stuff including my weakness, chocolate-covered pretzels.

Some Native American tribes explain good and evil in humanity through the belief that we all have two wolves inside of us: a good wolf and a bad wolf. The one that wins is the one you feed.

I don’t have two wolves. I have a yoga mom and a sorority girl inside of me. The yoga mom meditates, doesn’t swear and drinks hot water with lemon. The sorority girl is the epitome of YOLO. She likes bourbon, fried food and swears. A sh**-ton.

The sorority girl looked at the chocolate-covered pretzels. “Get three,” she urged. “Two for now and one for the car ride home.”

“They have sugar and gluten,” the yoga mom chided.

“Which is why they’re delicious!” snapped the sorority girl. She fondled the fudge. “This would pair nicely with a Manhattan.”

“Breathe,” the yoga mom instructed. “Think of your liver.”

This self torture ended only when my husband waved me to the register. They had picked out a few handmade truffles and were ready to eat. I got to the counter, cleared my throat, looked around and lowered my voice. “Got anything without sugar?”

“Sure,” The young man at the register pointed behind me. “Over there.”

I thought I heard angels singing when I saw them: Coco Polo stevia-sweetened chocolate bars. I picked out one studded with ginger. It cost the earth— $6.50 for 2.5 ounces—but it meant that I wouldn’t be watching my family enjoy life while I wiped drool from my chin and explained that, no, I wasn’t minding at all.

And guess what? The Coco Polo bar was good. You’d never know it had Stevia in it. The yoga mom and sorority girl both enjoyed it.

So, this Valentine’s Day, my heart went to Boulder, a city that makes gluten and sugar-free weirdos feel loved.


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