A Triple-Threat Success Story with Chocolate on Top

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!


I’ve been crafting this letter and meaning to send it for the past oh, six months or so. What finally spurred me on to finish and send it? Your latest post on dark chocolate! I’ve been reading your blog for some time, so I know that you are on board with eating dark chocolate. Well, the purpose of this letter is to tell you what success eating Primally has had in my life, my husband’s life and my sister-in-law’s life. It’s also to tell you how the Primal life got me to think about life outside the box, which resulted in me quitting my job and starting my own business…a business which is in keeping with Primal principles.

This is not one of your usual success stories. I still weigh the same as I did two years ago. I’ve never struggled with weight issues and am the weight I should be. Eating Primally has changed my life in so many other ways though.

First, there are the physical benefits. No, I didn’t lose weight. But what I didn’t lose in weight, I gained in energy. My husband first found your blog and the Primal Blueprint diet. He researched extensively for a few weeks and thought it could be a way to manage his previously unmanageable blood pressure. He finally let me in on the diet, as I had been complaining endlessly about always being tired and never having energy. I agreed to give the diet a go, mostly to help my husband, who had tried everything to manage his blood pressure to no success.

The first two weeks were rough. I had bad sugar withdrawal headaches the entire time. After that though—I felt great! Since my blood sugar wasn’t constantly being spiked, I wasn’t constantly crashing. No more after lunch slump. Since I wasn’t on a carb loaded diet anymore, I also got rid of my “I MUST EAT NOW OR ELSE” urges. I no longer felt nauseated and lightheaded when I didn’t eat every three hours. I actually found myself skipping meals once in a while…amazing! That’s honestly something I never thought I would be able to do.

As for my husband, FINALLY, he found something to help manage his blood pressure! He wasn’t on medication, as he’s staunchly against taking medications when something else might help manage a symptom. But he had tried exercise, other diet regimens, meditation, yoga, etc, etc, all to no avail. Giving up grains and reducing sugar intake is the ONLY thing that has helped him and continues to help him. He also lost about 20 pounds, stopped having heartburn and gave up his heartburn medication (at that point in time, medicine was the only thing helping this).

We were also able to convince my sister-in-law Mary, my husband’s sister, to give the Primal way of life a go. Though hesitant at first, she quickly became a very vocal convert, telling everybody about the benefits of giving up grains and trying to get them to do the same. She found that without grains, she had an upswing in energy as well, without dairy, joint pain and rosacea went away and without those things and sugar, she lost about 10 pounds, effortlessly.

As if this triple-threat success story isn’t enough, it also put Mary and I on a different path career-wise. We had talked about starting a chocolate business together for a number of years. All of a sudden we weren’t eating much sugar and Mary wasn’t eating dairy. I was extremely upset over the loss of my dream future, until one day it dawned on me…why not start a Primal/paleo-friendly chocolate business? Unbeknownst to me, Mary was having the same thought. We talked it over and started experimenting with various recipes. We committed to being a gluten and dairy free company, which means absolutely no milk or white chocolate. All dark for us! We really wanted to make truffles, which traditionally are made with cream and butter. We turned to coconut, the plant we turn to whenever dairy isn’t going to work. Replacing the cream with coconut milk and the butter with coconut oil, we developed a delicious truffle recipe. You don’t even taste the coconut… I tell people who are hesitant about the no-dairy thing that they wouldn’t even know if I didn’t tell them!

So thank you Mark, for your commitment to this lifestyle and your blog, for providing the encouragement and knowledge needed to pursue this lifestyle. I had no idea how my life was going to change when two years ago my husband introduced me to you!


Sara Ervin

P.S. Most of our product is a 66% dark chocolate, but we developed a line of chocolate bars, specifically with paleo/Primal-minded folks like us in mind. We call it Akasha and the cacao content ranges from 70%-85%. In addition to being dairy and gluten free, these bars are also soy free. You can see what we’re up to at www.etherealconfections.com.

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106 thoughts on “A Triple-Threat Success Story with Chocolate on Top”

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  1. Awesome! Someone who hasn’t lost weight (me, neither – not a goal) but gained in energy *and* embarked on a new primal-friendly career. I salute you ladies! The effects of primal are life-changing.

  2. This is fantastic! I think this will be the next phase in the Paleo Lifestyle: Paleo businesses! Great job ladies!

  3. Thanks Mark for featuring us! We’ve been reading your blog for years so it’s exciting to be a part of it.

    We’d like to extend a 10% discount to your readers. If anyone places an order by the end of the day on Monday (19th), use coupon code MDA10 and receive 10% off your order!

  4. OH MY GOODNESS. How lovely!

    And you’re located so close! I think I’ll be making a trip out to see you this week.

    Also, I LOVE that you’re wearing VFFs to work!

    1. You definitely should! Just a heads up…right now our hours are pretty limited as we’re trying to ramp up the wholesale side of our business. We’re open Fridays 10-6 and Saturdays 10-4, but if those are bad days for you, give me a call and we’ll work something out!

      1. Ahh!!!! I did a couple of shows at the Opera House right by there, I’ll have to make the mini-trek out there and stop by to see you guys on a weekend! (wishes she hadn’t let her husband have the car today) YUM!

    1. For most of our products, we don’t add any additional sweeteners. The sweetness in the chocolate is enough! Though there are a couple of truffle flavors that we’ve added honey to…mostly for the flavor though 🙂

      1. i didnt know chocolate is sweet. when i buy 85% lindt or bought 99% in israel, its not sweet at all, its bitter. so, if your choc is 60 to 80% cocoa or cocoa butter, what else there is?

        please, im not intending to defy or be rude, im just really curious about chocolate composition and consulting your expertise 🙂

        1. I’d say that is a trade secret. Purchas some and try to figure out for yourself 🙂

      2. Not to pick, but this reply just sounds a little misleading. It suggests that the chocolate doesn’t contain any sweeteners (natural or artificial) when the ingredients list organic sugar.

        You have a fantastic looking business and products though! Were I in the US, I’d definitely order some. 🙂

    2. Looking at the ingredients, it looks like organic sugar or organic cane sugar is listed in the Akasha chocolates, which counts me out as I don’t eat sugar at all.

      1. yeah I am confused by this as well.
        Also, why take out butter? Worst case, why not use Ghee? It would technically provide a more “wholesome” addition since coconut does very little to taste IMO.

  5. Great story! And your chocolates look amazing. I bookmarked your website so I can order some!

  6. What an unexpected success story!

    We found out three weeks ago that we have soy allergies in our family. Since we eat whole foods, this is hardly ever a problem–except for the chocolate. I’m so excited to check out your company. Hurray for soy free! And coconut truffles!

    1. This is one of the best parts about our business…I love helping people with food allergies or sensitivities find chocolate they can eat! Just so you know, right now the only soy free products we have are the Akasha bars. Everything else is dairy free and gluten free, but not soy free.

      We’re hoping to expand the Akasha line in the future, but in the meantime if you want to place a special order for soy free truffles, email me at [email protected] and we’ll see what we can work out!

    1. Speaking of restaurants, Urban Pl8 here in Atlanta is a fantastic paleo eatery. Good stuff!

    1. Actually, they all say “organic sugar” in their ingredient lists. Not sure how that makes them sweetener-free, but I’m sure they are better than most alternatives out there.

  7. So awesome! Gonna get some goodies now! 🙂 Great job!

  8. It’s interesting you mention the energy thing because that was the first thing I found going Paleo. It took a few weeks but then my energy just exploded.

    Great success story, and the chocolates look delicious. Just wish there was something like that near me, so I totally agree with all the other posts – We need more Paleo businesses.

  9. I love the story, and I love the business idea! It’s fantastic. I love dark chocolate, and I love seeing the addition of all these primal/paleo specialty foods in the market.

    Here’s to hoping you have a growing, happy, and healthy customer base!

    P.S. – Love that you’re wearing Five Fingers in the store!

  10. I agree. We definetely need more Primal-friendly businesses, but it’s hard to network to the Groks and Grokettes in my local area, in Sarasota. That’s why I have expanded my business to offering my services online, so I can reach more Groks and Grokettes.

  11. ZOMG I have the hardest time trying to find dark chocolate that is high in cocoa, low in sugar, AND free of soy leichtins. 😀 Imma have to check this out!

  12. This stuff sounds fab! I wish I could get something like this in the UK.

    1. Not exactly the same, but have you tried Ombars? They have a Coconut version sweetened with coconut sugar and containing coconut cream, as well as probiotics. No soya, no dairy, no agave. Not cheap, about £2.20 for a 38g bar, but arguably that’s a good thing as otherwise I would eat too many of them! They have other good flavours too, but the coconut one is my favourite.

  13. Oh, yea .. placed an order 🙂 Since stepping into this eating plan, I am looking for all the goodies that I love .. in a much healthy form.

  14. Yaaaaaay, primal chocolate! Going to your web site now!

    Congrats, espeically to your husband — 20 lbs gone, heartburn and high blood pressure gone, and choclate to eat? — now that is awesome!

  15. This is the most amazing chocolate I have ever had! Not just the Akasha bars but all Ethereal’s products. I highly recommend trying their chocolate you will never be able to go back to ‘normal’ chocolate again!

  16. Yum! Just ordered some!

    Whole Foods sold some really tasty truffels around the holidays (they were the Whole Foods brand). They used coconut oil as well so they were dairy free & gluten free. They did have soy lecithin as the last ingredient though.

    I have also made my own paleo truffles using coconut oil. Soooo easy!

    I’m excited to try yours!!

  17. Awesome you got to follow your dream, in a healthier way. I’m so sad I’m allergic to chocolate. I can only eat white chocolate without an allergic reaction, so I think it’s the coco powder.

  18. Way to go for it! Making yourself happy and being able to do that with family is a great thing…congrats and luck on your future success!

  19. Way to go ladies! What a great story, in so many ways. I’ll be checking out your chocolate for my DH. (I’m not a chocolate fan myself. *gasp* I know.) 🙂 Congrats and best wishes for much continued success!

  20. What an inspiring story about taking life by the horns! I am so impressed by your ability to pursue your passion and what you believe in!

  21. What a fantastic success story!! Awesome that you’ve started a chocolate business, they look sooo delicious! Well done guys 🙂

  22. Wow. I just took a look at your website and the mendiants and bars are gorgeous. I love how visually appealing they are. (This is torture for someone who is doing the Whole30 right now.) I look forward to trying them sometime.

  23. Congratulations, one of my favorite success stories yet! A career change and lifestyle change. One is intimidating enough, let alone two. I have the greatest respect for you. Best of luck!

  24. What a fantastic success story! Congrats on starting your business…love your website!

  25. Great story! I think I have a new place to buy chocolate from 🙂

  26. Wow… I’m on this site daily, i read almos all your posts Mark since i started the Primal lifestyle, but i always skip the testimonials. I decided to read this one and how is it! i’m happy for this whole family and i’m so glad they have been able to do something i would love to be able to do… a business targeted for the Paleo community. Congrats to them!

  27. I love that you two are following your dreams, I wish you the best of luck! Your chocolates look amazing!

  28. Great story and I’ve already ordered a box of truffles for my lovely wife. They look fantastic.

  29. OMG! What a great story. Love how paleo is spreading like wildfire. Your bakery is so cute. I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago so things that people talk about online are never near me. Your bakery is though!! I’ll be stopping in to have some dark chocolate and chat you guys up about paleo. You should invite the Chicago primal group to do a field trip to your bakery. See you soon!

  30. Congrats gals! I like your business mindedness 🙂 I also started to make hommade chocolate treaties acc. to strict paleo principles, but just for myself and my wife who happens to love them. Never thought about starting a business like that though. Wishing you good luck!

  31. Great story.

    You’re missing something on your chocolate bark page. Macadamia nut bark.

    Wishing you continued success in your chocolate business.

    1. We do have a macadamia nut bar though! Check out the bar page…it’s our best selling bar and is really delicious with the raspberries 🙂

  32. That’s awesome! Way to integrate your lifestyle practice into a business practice! That’s definitely one way to keep up a good habit! I’m checking out your website right now 🙂

  33. Sounds good but OUCH! Can’t pay $8.50 for a 2.75 oz candy bar, let alone add nine bucks shipping.

  34. This has got to be one of the most inspiring Friday stories yet. And no weight loss. Wow, a huge eye-opener for me. Thank you so much ladies for your drive and creativity.

  35. You SO need to make a t-shirt with the Aksasha logo:

    What more is there????

  36. is this available in any major retailers in Alberta? or is online ordering the only way to go?

    1. Our products are not available in Alberta right now. We’re always looking to expand our wholesale business though, so if you know of a good place, let us know! For now, online ordering is the way to go.

  37. Wow this is amazing – it’s strikingly similar to what I think my own success story will look like in a few years – I didn’t have any weight to lose, my partner’s heart problems became more manageable, and I’m turning to a paleo oriented career! Hopefully at the end of the year I’ll be able to successfully share my own 🙂 All the best to you ladies, the chocolate looks amazing, let me know if you ever consider exporting to New Zealand – I’d be happy to help! 🙂

  38. Sounds like a good opportunity for a franchise chain..maybe someone would be willing to open a shop in Australia or ship here.

  39. Where do they get off charging $8.50 for THREE OUNCES of chocolate?!?

    1. They can charge what they like, and other people are free to buy, or not, as they choose. Personally, I think it’s a pretty reasonable price for a quality chocolate bar. I’m in the UK, but I’ve certainly paid in that ballpark for artisan chocolate. Feel free to have a bar of Hershey’s vegelate if you prefer, but I won’t be joining you.

      1. And David is free to complain about the price. At local farmers markets I can find similar products for a far better price.

        That said, I wish these ladies the best of luck.

  40. A wonderful story! I always enjoy reading these every Friday.
    And your chocolate looks amazing, I cannot resist high quality chocolate and the fact that its local, organic, gluten and dairy free, just makes me want to splurge and place an order!

  41. I ordered one of each kind of Akasha bar. The site is so visually appealing, and the descriptions of each bar are hilarious! I can’t wait to show my friend.

    Next time I’ll go for the nut bars… macadamias. In fact, I ought to get on that–my daughter loves macadamia nuts, so that would be an excellent easter basket item.

    Paleo Easter Baskets!

  42. This type of story is what makes Primal living just so damn wonderful – it’s all about the change in lifestyle — and our acceptance and acknowledgement of it and what it can do for us.

    Thank you for posting, ladies, and thank you for posting, Mark.

  43. The PB also radically changed my outlook on life. Actually I didn’t even have any health problems either. But my energy sucked. Now I have the energy and motivation to work one 60 hr a week job and run 2 businesses on the side. Nice to see that I’m not the only one to reap the empowering side effects of the PB as opposed to it being primarily about weight loss. That’s why I’m always telling ppl that losing weight is a side effect of the PB. The goal is independence. Thanks for a great story!

  44. Would it be possible to sweeten this chocolate with stevia or would that affect the texture too much?

    1. In our case, it would not be possible to sweeten our chocolate with stevia. We don’t make chocolate from the bean, instead we purchase from a chocolate manufacturer. It is at the manufacturing stage where the sweetner is added.

  45. Congratulations!

    A change in lifestyle, a lovely authentic business, primal health benefits and chocolate – all in the one story – brilliant!

    I wish you and your families all the very best.

  46. 2.5oz of dark chocolate for $8.50?! Plus shipping?!

    Why do you have to make it so expensive? I run small businesses myself, and I’m sure you have a lot of costs to cover, but this seems excessive.

  47. lol I’m trying to talk my wife in to buying some of the chocolate on your site. I’m also trying to resist the urge to buy til you’re sold out so that’s why I have to ask her first lol.

  48. You ladies are just too cute. I’m loving how many new companies emrge with Primal community in mind. And I always support small business so I’ll make sure to do some serious shopping on your web-site.

  49. Just placed an order, can’t wait to try.

    Thanks for the inspiring story. Best of luck.

  50. I an so glad to see a success story with a different idea of success! Weight loss was not a goal of mine when I went Primal, so I can relate to this story, PLUS it comes with chocolate! For someone who avoids dairy because I’m slightly allergic and who loves using coconut as an alternative, that sounds right up my alley! Can’t wait to try some!

  51. We’ve had a tremendous response from the community here and our Akasha bars completely sold out! I really just wanted to share my story and never expected it to be a big rush of orders. We are still very small but we certainly want to grow. We really appreciate all the support!

  52. My daughter and I broke into the 80% plain dark chocolate bar first. OMG is this delicious. THIS is palatable dark chocolate. It has a wonderful liqueur quality that makes it melt in the mouth despite being very dark. Other dark chocolates I’ve had (including Godiva) have been so dry that I didn’t want to bother with them. I can’t stay off this bar… it will be gone shortly.


  53. amazing!!!! i love dark chocolate and i would die to try those bars!

  54. Holy cow! Thank you so much for making chocolate bars I can eat! I’m allergic to wheat and lactose intolerant, but I love dark chocolate.

    You and your sister in law are heavenly and I am indebted to your genius.

  55. I’m so excited to find your online store. I just discovered that I have dairy allergies at the immunity level so am desperate for good tasting chocolate without dairy or soy! Excellent!

  56. it’s feb 2014 now and I went to ethereal confections website but cannot find the Akasha bars. looks like they don’t make them anymore 🙁 there were 2 or 3 single origin chocolate bars with 80% cocoa with organic cane sugar in them. everything looks yummy but not finding primal friendly except the 80% bars if you don’t mind small amt. sugar. anyone have more info?