Annie Handley and Dave Devindisch of Easy Street have created a line of are sugar-free, gluten-free, fair trade, vegan chocalates called Easy Treats. Photo by Terry Farrell

Comox Valley musicians debut healthy chocolate brand

Easy Street creates sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan chocolates

So, what do musicians do to keep themselves busy during a pandemic lockdown? Well, if you’re Easy Street, you become chocolatiers.

Easy Treats, the new chocolate creations from Annie Handley and Dave Devindisch, check all the health boxes when it comes to sweet snacks.

Easy Treat chocolates are sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan. The cacao and cacao butter used is fair trade, and packaging is compostable.

It’s even keto-friendly, and because erythritol is the sweetener used, it’s also acceptable for diabetics. And, if that’s not enough, it’s actually good for your teeth!

Easy Treats are not only healthy, but they come in compostable packaging. Photo by Terry Farrell.

“In most cases, bacteria in your mouth break down regular sugars and starches, and turn them into acids, which can wear down your enamel and cause cavities,” said Handley. “But the FDA said erythritol is good for oral health because it slows the growth of that type of bacteria.”

So how does a couple go from being one of the hardest working musical duos in the Comox Valley, to selling chocolate?

The transition was not quick, or easy.

“It’s been a few years in the making, actually,” said Devindisch. “Annie has been off sugar for a long time now, but she never lost her sweet tooth.”

“I was always making things, and always trying to perfect chocolate,” she added. “I started to watch tutorials and read books, and started to do a bunch of investigative work on how to properly temper chocolate… but it was really only to make it for ourselves.”

Devindisch said it wasn’t so much a desire to make healthy chocolate as it was a near impossibility to find healthy chocolate… at least their standard of healthy chocolate.

“I’ve been telling people all along, if we could find the chocolate elsewhere, we wouldn’t be making it; we’d be buying it.”

As the adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

“We went all over, but trying to find chocolate that has no sugar, no dairy, is vegan… it’s very hard to find chocolate that ticks off all those boxes,” said Devindisch.

“And then to have compostable packaging as well. That’s just a big bonus.”

The business idea came together at one of the very few gigs Easy Street has played in 2020.

They were at 40 Knots for the Wine Wednesday “End of Season” at the end of September. Handley brought some of her chocolates with her, and 40 Knots owner Brenda Hetman-Craig tried it and convinced her to start marketing the product.

A batch of Easy Treats cools on the production line before packaging. Photo by Dave Devindisch.

“I figured, OK, well maybe I will approach the farmers market, because we aren’t making any money [as musicians] so maybe this would be a little source of income,” said Handley. “And it’s all Canadian, and as local as we can get. The cacao comes from Ecuador, through a Canadian distributor.”

Hetman-Craig has been an enormous help getting the product off the ground, giving Handley use of her industrial kitchen to produce the chocolates.

“Brenda has been amazing,” said Devindisch. “There is so much paperwork involved, and you need a commercial kitchen to make anything like this. She has been so gracious in allowing us into her place of business.”

Lia Cormick of Clever Crow Salt has also been very supportive.

“She did all of our nutritional labels, so she has been really good,” said Handley. “And Twila [Comox Valley Farmers’ Market general manager, Twila Skinner] has been really helpful as well.”

Easy Treats come in seven different flavours: walnut and date clusters; sunflower buttercups; 40 Knot Winery Pinot Noir and Clever Crow salt, with organic cracked pepper; freeze-dried raspberries with orange and Himalayan salt; roasted almond bark; orange bark; and mint leaf.

Devindisch gives his partner all the credit for that.

“Annie is such a genius at flavours. She’s always thinking what would go good together? How about walnuts and dates? That would work.”

Handley said there have been some failures along the way.

“I tried some kind of cinnamon and sugar substitute but that was terrible. We tried and tried, we went through so much chocolate. And then we tried to make a sponge toffee one as well, but it’s so hard to do without regular sugar and butter, because it’s something about the way those two ingredients react.”

To find out more, check out the Easy Treats Facebook page (facebook.com/easytreatschocolates), or email easytreatschocolates@gmail.com.

Easy Treats are also available for purchase through the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market website, and they will be available at the market on Dec. 19 (Native Sons Hall, Courtenay).

What does the future hold?

“Well, hopefully, music and chocolate, together,” said Handley.

“Who knows, eventually we will get a chance to hire ourselves to do a jingle for ourselves,” added Devindisch.

Comox ValleyLocal Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Annie Handley and Dave Devindisch hard at work in the kitchen at 40 Knots Winery, where they make Easy Treats. Photo supplied.

Annie Handley and Dave Devindisch hard at work in the kitchen at 40 Knots Winery, where they make Easy Treats. Photo supplied.

Just Posted

Courtenay council
City of Courtenay receives $4 million Safe Restart Grant

In the fall, the City of Courtenay received a $4.149 million ‘COVID-19… Continue reading

A single-vehicle motor vehicle incident slowed traffic on Highway 19A Wednesday afternoon.
Single-vehicle motor vehicle incident causes delays in Courtenay

Roads were wet with a mixture of snow and rain falling throughout the day

Flowers poke through the snow in Courtenay as the area got a taste of winter weather this week. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Valley not out of the winter woods quite yet: meteorologist

“It’s winter; we’ve got to get through it together.”

The Village of Cumberland is moving ahead on bringing in possible speed limit reductions. Record file photo
Cumberland council moves on slower speed zones

Mayor says goal is to have ‘blanket zone’ in place by summer

Wind turbines are seen on a dike near Urk, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. A group of scientists, including five Nobel laureates, called Friday for more action to adapt the world to the effects of climate change, drawing comparisons with the faltering response to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of a major online conference on climate adaptation starting Monday and hosted by the Netherlands. (AP Photo / Peter Dejong)
Comox Valley groups host course on actively implementing solutions to climate change

The Sustainable Action group for the Environment (SAGE) and the Comox Valley… Continue reading

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read