Beautiful and Beneficial: The Health-Minded Design of Antidote Chocolate

Republished from Honest Cooking

When most entrepreneurs begin to develop a food product, they work from the inside out. Yet for Antidote founder Red Thalhammer, it was her extensive experience in high-end branding and packaging that inspired her to peel back the wrapper and get into the health-conscious chocolate manufacturing business.

Photo Credit: Bethany Bandera

Photo Credit: Bethany Bandera

Raised in rural Austria, Red notes that the link between nutrition and deliciousness was always apparent: “Seasonal produce was always what tasted best; we grew up cooking what made us feel good.” Yet as her career in design started to take off, Red noticed that her innovative packaging often outstripped the quality of the products inside. “Working for brands like Pepsi or Starbucks gave me significant insight into food marketing, but I quickly started to crave the opportunity to design for food items that were as exceptional as their packaging.”

Yet it wasn’t until years after Red had relocated to New York City that she ever considered launching her own food brand. Two factors brought Antidote into being: first, Red traveled to Sri Lanka where she was exposed to both the finest spice farms and the principles of ayurvedic health. Those memories and experiences took root in her psyche, but it wasn’t until they collided with a particularly intense period of professional dissatisfaction that they would transform into action. “It was a time in my life when I felt a real lack of balance,” Red admits. “I remember saying to a friend, ‘I’m sorry for my poisonous behavior.’ His humorous response is what inspired the mission for the brand: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make you an antidote for that.’”

Photo Credit: Ailin Blasco

Photo Credit: Ailin Blasco

With the concept for her brand anchored in the philosophy of creating an “antidote,” Red dove headfirst into the study of chocolate. Whether traveling throughout Ecuador to research sourcing and production opportunities or fleshing out the product’s uplifting design, it was a year of many sleepless nights and insatiable entrepreneurial fervor.

Of course, tasting was an incredibly important step in the development process, and Red found herself torn when deciding between raw and roasted beans. “Everyone, including myself, seemed to like both styles of bars for separate reasons. Eventually, I just had to ask the unthinkable: ‘What if I used the best qualities of both?”

The resulting bars are truly an exception among other artisanal chocolates on the market. Blending the bright, fruitiness—and health benefits—of raw cacao with the enduring, complex notes of roasted dark chocolate, each Antidote product packs an incredible depth of flavor. What’s more, Red has developed a full line of goddess-inspired bars that pair her raw/roasted chocolate with such health-giving ingredients as “mango and juniper.”

Photo Credit: Ailin Blasco

Photo Credit: Ailin Blasco

“Balancing flavors with dark chocolate is more difficult than some might think,” Red explains, “and when you’re sourcing very high quality dried fruits, nuts and spices, you want to make sure every ingredient counts.” At present, the brand offers eight fruit, nut or spice-driven “goddess” bars combining raw and roasted cacao, in addition to two 100% raw dark chocolate variations (with nibs and dates, respectively).

“The biggest surprise has been the success of the 100% chocolate bars—especially in countries like Japan,” says Red. Today, the Antidote shop regularly sells out of flavors, given their popularity at international gourmet outposts and websites including Food52 Provisions. “It’s time that we need to up our production levels,” says Red, “which we’re actively working on, as well as the development of new products.”

Photo compliments of Antidote Chocolate

Photo compliments of Antidote Chocolate

Just in time for the new year, those products are beginning to arrive. One of the most exciting new offerings—which I was able to test in development—is an “adult” milk chocolate bar studded with strawberries. Creamy, complex and just-sweet-enough, it’s a luxury bar that’s sure to persuade even the most dedicated dark chocolate lovers.

So if you’re seeking to treat yourself or friends for the holidays—and yes, eating fine quality chocolate does count as a “new year’s resolution”—Antidote is sure to satisfy. Just don’t be surprised if it looks as good as it tastes.

Visit for more information or to find a list of local retailers.

recipe: surprisingly vegan cauliflower soup

Among the many health-based food experiments I've embarked on, going vegan never really appealed to me. Quite simply, I've teetered on the edge of anemia my whole life, no matter how much meat I eat, so a strictly vegan diet always seemed like a recipe for disaster. That said, I have a great respect for vegetable-focused, clean eating, so I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes from time to time.

In any case, this recipe didn't begin with any dietary ambitions. As with most things in my kitchen, it came from a desire to use the ingredients in my pantry in the most intelligent, no-waste way possible. So when I realized I had both a fresh head of cauliflower and 2 cups of frozen leeks (whenever I find leeks that are particularly long, white and lean I buy, chop and freeze them for future use), I suspected I might find a recipe to use both.

Cue Love & Lemons, whose roasted cauliflower and leek soup was already happily hanging out on my "soups + stews" Pinterest board. Chop, season, roast and blend—it was clearly my kind of no-fuss, one-pan/one-pot cooking. Based on the ingredients in my own pantry, I swapped in walnuts for the cashews and homemade preserved lemon for the fresh lemon. And, of course, I did my own thing as far as measurements because that's the joy of savory cooking. 

And when it was all over...I was less than impressed. The robust flavor I had been expecting just didn't seem to have shown up at the party. But, of course, I was going to eat the soup for lunch all week, because that's what responsible cooks do. Then...the next day when I heated the soup up for lunch, something magical happened. There was bold cheesy flavor in my soup. Overnight, in the fridge, the complexity of this concoction had mysteriously turned up the funk about ten notches. At that moment, I finally understood how some people could get addicted to nut-based, vegan cheese—though I suspect the paprika is also a key player in the funkification of the recipe below. (Please note: This changes nothing in my dairy life. I am a loyal, near-daily consumer of yogurt and unpasteurized cheeses.)

Anyway, here's my take on the recipe:

surprisingly Vegan Cauliflower Soup


  • 1.5-2 cups leeks, chopped
  • one head cauliflower, broken into florets (I also included the stalk + leaves)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp grapedseed (or other high heat) oil
  • pinch aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • pinch salt
  • roughly 4 cups water
  • 1-1.5 cups walnuts, pre-soaked (I soaked them for about 1.5 hours)
  • 1 quarter of a preserved lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika


  1. Toss chopped leeks, garlic and cauliflower in a small amount of grape seed or other high-heat appropriate oil. Sprinkle with thyme, aleppo pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes (until golden). **If you haven't soaked your walnuts yet, do it now in hot water.
  2. Remove roasted vegetables from oven and add to a large pot with about 3 cups of water, soaked walnuts, preserved lemon, smoked paprika and olive oil. Use an immersion blender to break down until creamy. Add more water, as necessary, to achieve a thinner, soup-like consistency. 
  3. Once soup is pureed, gently heat through and puree again to achieve an even smoother consistency. 
  4. Refrigerate overnight and reheat when ready to serve.

Note: You will need either a very powerful immersion blender or a Vitamix for this soup to be successful

recipe: tortilla soup

Sometimes a food craving hits you and nothing else will do. So when a hankering for tortilla soup showed up during a torrential downpour last week, I took it as a sign that I should stay in and cook.

The very best tortilla soup I've ever had was a smoky, tomatillo version served by Chef Traci Des Jardins at a James Beard Award gala, and ever since I've been obsessed with this complex, spicy soup. In NYC, the best bowl I've found is at the generally awesome Fonda (particularly the location in Park Slope). But in lieu of dining out, the below should do the trick!

homemade tortilla soup


  • 1 small red onion, halved and skin removed
  • half head garlic, in paper
  • 2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (prepared in advance)
  • 6 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • cilantro, chopped
  • cotija cheese, for garnish


  1. Place red onion, garlic and red peppers on a sheet tray. Roast under broiler until very black.
  2. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth and fire roasted tomatoes in a large pot with chipotle peppers and a quarter cup of adobo sauce (from canned chipotles).
  3. Once liquid is gently simmering, add charred onion, garlic and peppers to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes longer.
  4. While pot is simmering, slice tortillas into thin strips and place 2/3 of the strips onto a tray to toast under the broiler until golden brown.
  5. Break the remaining tortillas into small pieces and add to your hot soup mixture. Blend (carefully) with an immersion blender until smooth.
  6. To serve the soup, ladle about a cup of the blended liquid into a bowl. Top with shredded chicken, sliced avocado, crumbled cotija, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips and a squeeze of lime juice.