Podcast 458: New Products from UHTCO

Today, Martin interviews Jorge Ureña, founder of the company UHTCO, producer and manufacturer of the highest quality Peruvian Plants. Learn about all of the new products UHTCO has to offer. Learn about Sacha Inchi oil and all it’s benefits and nutritional value. Raw Criollo Cacao, and how to make your own chocolate. Jorge also discusses two sweetners that are low in the glycemic index, which make them perfect for the ketogenic diet, Yacon Syrup & Lucuma Fruit Powder. Jorge shares all the fascinating details about their manufacturing processes, and how UHTCO products are different from the rest of the market.

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MARTIN: Hello everyone. Martin Pytela here for Life Enthusiast Podcast. And today, I have the distinct pleasure of speaking with George Urena, or as he used to be known, Jorge Ureña. He’s the CEO and the founder of a company called UHTCO. They are a supplier of agricultural products from Peru. And that’s George’s native country. And he’s got some excellent connections, and he’s been well known for the quality of the products that they are bringing in. George, welcome to Life Enthusiast.

GEORGE: Well, thank you, Martin. Thanks for having me today, at your podcast. And so, we’ve done, I think a couple of videos already on different products. I think it was Maca and Camu-Camu. So we have a couple of new products for your audience as well. One of them is the Sacha Inchi, which is an Omega 3, 6 ,9 seed that grows in the Amazon of Peru. And we also have another product, which is probably very common for many people. The Cacao, the cacao pod that produces a cacao bean, out of which we get many products like, cacao butter, nibs, liquor. And I mean, you can manufacture your own chocolate with these products as well.

MARTIN: Right on. Alright, that’s great. So we could in fact, that might not work well to use the Sacha Inchi fat in making a chocolate with The Cacao, that probably wouldn’t work well, right?

GEORGE: No. And the reason why is because when the oil is rich in omegas, it’s a very delicate oil. So it’s not subject to be processed with high temperatures. And eventually, when you’re doing this, sometimes you need that, high temperatures. And especially with chocolate. I mean, when you’re manufacturing the chocolate. And that’s for the tempering and I mean, the whole process to achieve a bar or something like that. But the oil is absolutely wonderful, very unique. And it comes from a very unique seed. Same as the Maca, that is originally from Peru, the Sacha Inchi also is originally from the Amazon of Peru. It grows mainly in the mountain sides.

GEORGE: That’s the area where this plant likes to grow. And it was just found as a coincidence, meaning, people were traveling, they found a plant with a seed, and they started asking. And all of a sudden, it became a known crop for a few people in the area, like mainly our aboriginal people that live in surrounding areas in the Amazon. And so we did a little bit of research on the products and we started learning how to produce, how to manufacture, and how to grow sustainable activity on this crop. And we have an absolutely wonderful product rich in Omega 3,6, 9. So how rich? 

MARTIN: The products that we have got from UHTCO in the past have been of superior quality, just wonderful. So I’m expecting that there’s something wonderful about Sacha inchi and how it’s able to deliver these omega-3 oils, because they’re quite fragile, right? Like in the European tradition, that’s mostly flax oil, that’s used for the omega 3’s.

GEORGE: Right. Okay. But here’s the thing, okay. Talking about flax seed oil for example, because we launched this product probably back in 2005 to be precise. But I mean, at that time, people were not aware of this plant, the Sacha Inchi crop. And it was kind of, they knew about flaxseed oil, but they didn’t know about this plant. And it was not successfully introduced, if you want, okay? At that time, it was probably a premature introduction. And actually, let me tell you Martin, we’ve done everything way ahead of time. We introduced the liquid Maca too long ago. For example, the Camu Camu that was introduced in 2004. And now it’s one of our best sellers, all over the place. And well, talking about The Sacha Inchi, the Omega 3 content on this product is over 52%. So it’s 52% omega-3, I think it’s 36% Omega+6. And the difference, whatever it is, Omega-9. So it’s the perfect ratio of Omegas. So what is this oil good for? And I think that’s probably an important part, right?

MARTIN: Exactly. Why would I care? Right?

GEORGE: Well, okay. So, high doses of omega-3 are good to increase your good cholesterol, to reduce your bad cholesterol, and to eliminate or substantially reduce triglycerides. Of course, you have to always observe your diet. That’s a normal thing to do, okay? Do exercise as well, but the oil works really well. Also improves your memory function, supports let’s say your normal,

MARTIN: All of it, right? Because the omega-3 fats are so involved in every aspect of human existence, whether it’s metabolic and memory goes hand in hand, and you have digestion. And each cell actually is made from lipids, right? Cell membrane.

GEORGE: Correct. And there’s a little difference with this product, and it all depends also on the way you process it, because you see most of the oils are manufactured in an industrial way, okay? There’s two ways to extract the oil. One is called the expeller method. And the expeller basically means you take your raw material, whatever it is, and you put it through a heated chamber where there’s kind of an endless screw, like a drill bit, okay? And then that will push the raw material and extract the oil out of the raw material, whatever it is.

MARTIN: I mean, you’re crushing the seed as you go, right?

GEORGE: But here’s the thing, okay. When you do that, you are heating up the raw material, and there is also a lot of heat happening inside the chamber where the extraction is done, due to friction. And that causes the oil to go unstable. Unstable, okay? So most manufacturers, when they do that, they have to add what they call tocopherols. So what are tocopherols? Okay, it’s basically like one of the compounds of vitamin E.  So vitamin E has two compounds, tocopherols and tocotrienols. So guess what? When we manufacture our product, we found a good amount of vitamin E, but the whole complete spectrum, the tocopherols and the tocotrienols, which means we don’t have to add any kind of additives.

MARTIN: Stabilizers.

GEORGE: Yeah. Stabilizers. Okay. And also, we found that the best way to obtain the oil was just using a cold press, hydraulic pressing, basically.

MARTIN: So just flat squish. Yeah?

GEORGE: Yes. But okay, we do it 30 seconds every three minutes. So it takes a long time to do it. Okay? I mean, I’m not saying it’s manually, but the machine actually works very slowly to avoid heat caused by friction. And that obviously will get you a good oil, very stable and so stable that our oil will not go rancid. I mean, seven years, 10 years, no issues whatsoever.

MARTIN: That’s actually really significant. Because most oil manufacturers are having to refine away the omega 3’s, because they’re so unstable that they go rancid.

GEORGE: Correct. And one thing, we have a special way of doing things. And I think your audience needs to understand why, I mean, how to achieve quality on a product. Okay. And in this case, I can basically tell you, part of it is just the cold pressing of the oil, and doing it slowly, okay? But also, once we obtain the oil after the pressing, we put the oil to rest. So when you rest the oil, all the small particles that may pass through, will just go down, precipitate. And then what we do is just, we take only the oil, and we put it through, we call it, it is like a filter, okay? It is just a cold filter that will trap all these little particles. So what we have is just absolutely wonderful and superior quality oil. I would say probably a lot better than flaxseed oil, for sure, because it’s actually more stable. You probably know about flaxseed oil. Sometimes it doesn’t last that long. And even if you are opening the bottle, you need to put it in the fridge to avoid getting rancid. That will not happen with the Sacha Inchi Oil.

MARTIN: Okay, great.

GEORGE: Yeah. I would like to share some pictures with you. I don’t know if you,

MARTIN: Yeah, yeah, please do. Please do. Put it up.

GEORGE: Okay. So I will just open up here a picture of the plant. Okay.

GEORGE: You see. Okay. So basically, this is the Sacha Inchi plant. And as you can see, it grows like a vine. So it basically grows like a grape.

MARTIN: It reminds me of how green beans are grown around here.

GEORGE: Oh, really? <laugh> I’ve never seen green beans growing. To me, it basically reminds me of grapes basically. Okay, It’s the same idea. So it takes a lot of patience and care, because you see the Sacha Inchi, it’s in a way, an intelligent plant, and it likes to be taken care of. So the more you care about the plant, the plant produces more. Believe it or not. It’s like that. So, let me show you another picture.

GEORGE: Yeah. So this is just to give you, like a better idea how this grows. It grows like in rows, like grapes, the same idea. And I’m gonna show you the actual fruit, the pod, basically.

GEORGE: Okay. So that one there is the actual pod of the Sacha Inchi. So what happens after the plant grows, okay? It produces this pod that contains usually five and rarely six seeds. So the seeds are inside in this pod. Now, something very interesting, because the pod contains a lot of iodine.

MARTIN: Huh? That’s surprising in land like that.

GEORGE: Yeah. Well, we still are investigating what we can do with the actual pod. Because you see the pod needs to dry on the plant. Once the pod is dry, and I will show you a picture in a few minutes. I mean, we take the pod out. We remove all the layers that the pod can have. And then we take the seeds, then the seeds are peeled, and then the seeds are ready to be pressed, so we can extract the oil. Now, here’s something interesting also. Because the seed itself contains a very high amount of protein. So you’re looking at probably 60% protein, with all the essential amino acids on the actual seed. Of course, when you extract the oil, the protein doesn’t go.

MARTIN: Right. Yeah. That goes a separate way, that’s the solid part that you’re putting away.

GEORGE: Correct. So you can actually have the oil in one hand, and also you can have the Sacha Inchi seeds as a snack. Now, as a snack, it tastes like peanut, uh, but there’s no allergens in this product. So initially we were thinking of developing a snack or a protein powder, which actually we have, but we don’t have it available yet to the market. I mean, we are in the works to get it manufactured and packed. But the product is absolutely wonderful. So it has all the benefits, either as a snack or as the oil, which was the main intention originally.

MARTIN: Yeah. I would in fact, be quite interested in seeing if we can use that for the superfood production, because we currently are using hemp seed protein, but Sacha Inchi sounds pretty interesting.

GEORGE: Oh, it is. So I have another picture. Well, this is me in the fields, and I’ll show this. So this was taken well, I would say a few years back. But still, I was probably younger. <Laugh>.

MARTIN: All right. Well, you sure are bigger than most of the guys around you, huh?

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. And, so my friends in there are, the actual farmers, they take care of all the plantations and the growing operation. And this is a very unique area in which it grows on a mountain side. It’s not really, it doesn’t grow on a flat area. The soil is volcanic soil. So actually, this grows on the opposite side of The Andes, the high mountains of Peru. So on one side, we have the Maca root, and on the other side we have these plants.

MARTIN: All right. 

MARTIN: This is not high mountains. This is what, four or five thousand feet in elevation?

GEORGE: I would say 20, yeah. In meters, I would say 2,500 meters or so. Yeah.

MARTIN: Yeah. 7,000 feet.

GEORGE: I wanted to show you the dry pod. So that’s the raw material, before the whole process starts. So that’s the pod, that is the dry pod. And inside we have, let’s say between five or six lobes with seeds inside. And it is very tedious to get rid of the pod because there’s many layers, and it’s not just one. And there’s layer after layer, after layer. So it is a very well protected seed. So that’s why it also makes it very interesting, unique. And of course, there’s a lot of oil that can be produced or extracted out of the seed. It doesn’t look like it, because it’s dry. But I mean, believe me it’s really, really, amazing.

MARTIN: So the processing of this dry seed, is it manual or is it mechanical?

GEORGE: So the removal of the pod and all the layers is usually made by hand. But it’s tedious work, and mechanically can be done as well. So we basically provided the farmers with some machines. I mean, not electrical. I’m talking about manual. Okay.

MARTIN: Hand cranked.

GEORGE: Handcrafted, sorry, cranked. Yes. Okay. And it will remove, not totally, but partially the layers. Then we have another machine that actually cleans the seed completely, leaving the seed ready to be processed for oil extraction or a snack. But now, I also have another point to mention: when we extract the oil, we have a remaining, we call it the cake. So it’s after you press, you have like a big cake of, like a mass of seeds. And you cannot utilize that raw material for the protein powder. So we developed something different. Which is a very unique way of doing our things.

GEORGE: To achieve a nice flavor to the product. So our oil as well as the snack, the seeds and the protein powder, it tastes like peanut butter, honestly. I mean, it’s absolutely wonderful. You may have some questions, I don’t know.

MARTIN: Alright. So here we have this Sacha Inchi oil rich in Omega-3, which is really important for maintaining health or building health. I mean the conditions that this supports are super broad. I mean, it goes from brain function to cardiovascular function. If you have things like hardening of the arteries or things like that, then you may highly benefit from this, right?

GEORGE: Martin, and without exaggerating, we had a lot of experience with the product. Not just here in Canada, also in the United States and in Europe. And I can tell you that within 30 days, I mean the consumer will have visible results. The healthy benefits of this oil are amazing. It really works miracles.

MARTIN: What sort of dosage?

GEORGE: Well, we recommend one tablespoon per day. And that’s enough and sufficient, you don’t need to overdo it or anything like that. And that is enough just to reduce your values. If you, let’s say, have high cholesterol, or suffer from any cardiovascular disease, I don’t know. It really does help a lot. It rebuilds.

MARTIN: Okay. And how is this packaged?

GEORGE: Well, the oil comes in a bottle of I think it’s 250..

MARTIN: Eight ounce.

GEORGE: The snack, we do have the snack available as well. And I think it’s probably a hundred grams or so per package.

MARTIN: Yeah. Alright.

GEORGE: Yeah. I remember, just as an anecdote, many years back, I don’t know if you recall Vega?

MARTIN: Oh yeah, sure I remember, yeah. They got bought out by some major food company and,

GEORGE: Yeah. So before that happened, the owner, I mean, the person who I know.

MARTIN: I think that was Brandon, right?

GEORGE: Well, Brandon, uh..

MARTIN: Oh no, he was the spokesperson, right?

GEORGE: Yes. And he was in partnership with Charles Chan.

MARTIN: Oh, yes.

GEORGE: Okay. So they launched the Savi Seeds. I don’t know if you remember the brand.

MARTIN: No, I do not.

GEORGE: Okay. So Savi seeds were actually the Sacha Inchi seeds, and they used to have a big problem. The oil and the seeds were rancid very quickly. And then, of course I explained, because your products are so good. Why did I invest so much money in this Savi seeds? And I said, you’re probably using too much heat, on your product, on your production. And I think that’s what it is. Because that gets the oil unstable and the seeds as well, of course.

MARTIN: Yeah. Well they try because of their volume, they try to drive the cost down and production speed up

GEORGE: You never know. Exactly. But I mean,

MARTIN: That is the normal process there.

GEORGE: But heat damages the products, and that’s one thing that we don’t use.

MARTIN: Great. So I imagine that you’re using this yourself, huh?

GEORGE: Uh, I do. <laugh> I have a bottle in my fridge.

MARTIN: Can you tell some stories that you remember from people taking it?

GEORGE: Well, yes, I do have some interesting anecdotes. But of course these are just experiences. 

GEORGE: For example, I remember when my wife and I bought our previous home. The sales rep, this builder, told us about some health issues about the family, and she had a autistic child. Well, I recommended Sacha Inchi Oil, along with Camu Camu and Maca and some of our products, well, guess what? The oil was given to the autistic child. And all of a sudden, I remember the problem was that the child was, when you’re overexcited, yelling, so it wasn’t a calm child. After taking the oil, she wrote me a testimonial, well, basically stating, talking so much about the Sacha Inchi how it helped her child. And so I was surprised, I honestly, I didn’t know. I just recommended it because I know it works for brain function. But at the same time, you have to keep in mind that a good source of omegas will rebuild tissue, will rebuild membranes, you name it. So it’s a good source of raw material for your body to heal. 

MARTIN: So, that only makes sense that this sort of thing would happen.

Well, thanks George. George. How about if we switch topics and talk about the lovely Cacao that you grow or not? Well, you don’t grow it. You have farmers grow it, but that you’re bringing to us.

Cacao is such a well-known commodity. Chocolate is one of the favorite drinks in many countries. And I mean, I grew up drinking a cup of hot chocolate every morning. 


MARTIN: First we had just a dry powder mixed with some fat, and I think we were using milk and whipping cream.

GEORGE: So let me tell you the story about Cacao.

MARTIN: <laugh>. Yeah. Do that.

GEORGE: It’s probably a very interesting story because there’s different varieties of Cacao. And the one that we carry is particularly called the Criollo Cacao, which is probably well known. I mean, in this industry, many people know about the Criollo Cacao. And it is an original variety of Peru, I would say Peru, Venezuela, maybe some parts of Brazil. There are many varieties of cacao. And I can mention some of the original varieties. For example, you have Forestero, that’s one of them, Trinitario, that’s another one. There’s another one in Ecuador called El Nacional. <Laugh> Which is basically, like a local from Ecuador. And there are also other varieties that were genetically modified over time and now are invading the fields. Because I mean, it’s a business of course, and many people are just trying to move towards varieties of plants that can produce more. But not necessarily good for you or better than the other.

MARTIN: Right. So we’re with the commercially, I guess they would be hybridized. Do you think that they are actually genetically modified or just selection?

GEORGE: No, they are genetically modified because you see, you have to forgive me on this, but I don’t know the right word in English. Okay, it’s called “injerto” And that means,

MARTIN: That means insert.

GEORGE: Okay. Insert. Okay. Thank you. And basically you combine varieties and then you achieve a new one or something different. And like for example, we have a, just to give you an idea of these inserts that we’ve done in Peru, we have a banana, like a small, tiny, petite banana. Which was inserted with apple. And basically we call it manzano banana, which means it’s a mix of apple and banana, which is kind of weird, but I mean, it worked. But in the case of,

MARTIN: So does it taste more like apple or more like banana?

GEORGE: <laugh> Actually both. <Laugh> It’s kind of funny. But in the case of CCN-51, that’s a variety of cacao that actually it’s not even a hybrid, okay. It was genetically created. And the main purpose, and as you know, I mean, all the genetically modified food is just designed to produce more.

MARTIN: We need yield, we need yield per acre.

GEORGE: Per acre or hectare, whatever it is. And so we focused our attention just on the Criollo variety, because to us, it was the best. We had a lot of farmers grow this variety in one location in Peru. There’s many locations obviously, but this particular one that we have, we have 28 farmers growing small parcels. So don’t think it’s like a huge extension of land with cacao. No, they’re very small. I mean the largest farm will probably have maybe eight or 10 acres. No hectares, sorry, of land. Which is not really that much.

MARTIN: Well, that’s times two and a half in acres. So if you go 10, that would be 25, 8 would be 22, 20, something like that.

GEORGE: Okay. Yeah. So I’ll show you a picture of how the Criollo Cacao looks like.

MARTIN: Yeah. That would be.

GEORGE: I don’t know if you want to see that.

MARTIN: Yeah, of course. I want to see that. I would like you to illustrate the difference. Right. But the way I understand it, these farmers actually grow it in their own individual orchards more than anything. It’s sort of like a family garden type of a forest or piece of forest where they have these cacao trees growing, right?

GEORGE: Do you have the picture on your site?

MARTIN: Yeah. We see on screen the beautiful purple pod.

GEORGE: Okay. So that is the Criollo Cacao. So it is very rich in nutrients. That’s one thing that I can tell and I can share with you later. I don’t think I have it here with me right now, but I can share the nutritional profile, and it is amazing. The nutrient profile that the cacao, let’s say the powder or the nibs, comes from this product. I will just stop the share for now. And I’ll just give you another idea in a minute. So, we deal with organic cacao. Now, how organic? Because you know, there are plagues that can damage the crops. So the farmers there show me a very peculiar plant, which is actually used as a pesticide.


GEORGE: Interesting. So they have their own organic pesticide to avoid plagues.


GEORGE: Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a cacao, like the cacao pod inside,

MARTIN: Well, There’s a lot of pulp in it when you slice it open. There’s a exactly bunch of white pulp in it, and then the beans are sitting in it like little birds in the nest kind of thing.

GEORGE: Yeah. Correct. So let me just see if I can get a picture of it. I’m going to show you a different variety of cacao. So that your audience will have the right idea what we’re talking about here. Okay? And I would like to share this picture with you first.

GEORGE: That’s different.

MARTIN: Yes. That’s different.

GEORGE: Okay. So it looks more orangey red, maybe?  And it is not purple. And this doesn’t mean that it’s not ripe or anything, so you can see in the back of the picture another cacao.


GEORGE: Okay. So that’s the idea. So we are dealing here with different varieties. And some of them just grow wild. Which varieties? This one here, honestly, we have no idea. But it’s different. It’s not the same. It’s not criollo. Okay. And just going to show you how the cacao looks inside, which will be interesting for your audience as well, to understand what’s inside and how. I found another picture, which is also interesting.

GEORGE: That’s a yellow one.

MARTIN: Yellow and green. So the green is, of course, not ripe yet. And the yellow one is getting closer to being ripe. Yeah?

GEORGE: Yeah. Correct. But that’s yellow. It’s different. <Laugh> So I’m just gonna show you what we have to do in order to achieve all the products people know, like cacao powder, the cacao nibs, the beans, and so on.

GEORGE: So, once the cacao is harvested, we collect all the pods. The pods are then opened. And then we take the pulp, with the seeds, and the seeds are actually the cacao beans. Now, the cacao, the whole pulp with the seeds are put in a box for fermentation. And here’s a key, let’s say secret, to achieve the product.

MARTIN: Looks to me like you’re preparing some sort of a bed on which you’re going to be fermenting the pods, right?

GEORGE: Yep. So what we do, and this is just us, okay? We mix the cacao pulp with the seeds, and we put it with banana leaves, but we also add to the mix banana, ripe banana. So the fermentation, when the fermentation occurs, the cacao bean will absorb all these, let’s say sugars from its own pulp, plus the banana. And it will acquire a different flavor, like flavor and aroma. And that’s key for the final product, let’s say. And the fermentation normally takes, let’s say an industrial production, seven days. Like a whole week. Us, we do two and a half days, and that’s it. Why? Because if you allow the fermentation to go up to seven days, you will probably get a better yield for production.

GEORGE: But you are not going to get much nutrients and much benefits out of the cacao. You’re going to get flavor, and you’re going to get maybe a lot more for production. Let’s say, large chocolate companies will probably like that kind of cacao bean, which was fermented for seven days. Us, we only use two and a half days. And that’s it, because it preserves most of the benefits of the cacao, all the antioxidants, the flavonoids, the flavanols, any compound that actually is good for you will be there. Otherwise, the carbohydrates will just damage the product and will just go to a different category, not healthy. Not as healthy as the one we have. And I will show you how this is done. And it’s quite interesting, the fermentation. Because you see, that’s a start point.

MARTIN: Okay, so here we have the vat, but this is without the banana leaves, right?

GEORGE: Well, the banana leaves are at the bottom. And then, once the fermentation starts, you have to gradually add the banana leaves, and then you add more of the cacao pulp, and then you add more of the banana,

MARTIN: The fruit.

GEORGE: The fruit, okay. And then it goes by like in layers if you want. But that’s how it’s done. And then, I will just show you something else, because after the fermentation is achieved, by hand, you have to take the seeds out. All the pulp is just not used anymore. It’s normally given to the animals for feed.

MARTIN: So what do they have? Do they have like pigs and chickens, or what do they give it to?

GEORGE: Actually you got pigs and chickens, and I have a picture of the chicken as well. <laugh>

GEORGE: Well, because you know, it is a farm. It is funny. But it is. And you have everything in there, right?

MARTIN: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s the whole idea, is that you have a web of life, right? You have a connection of many species and many bits and pieces. Like you don’t want to waste any resource.

GEORGE: Yeah. Okay, so this is just a funny part of it, but here’s the chicken. <Laugh>.

MARTIN: All right. Yeah. Okay. Here’s the chicken. That was,

GEORGE: Okay. And I want to tell you, the reason why I have this picture is because the farmer asked me to take a picture of his chicken.

MARTIN: <laugh>. He’s got, he’s got the chicken tied with a string.

GEORGE: Oh yeah, <laugh> to protect. Anyways, so that’s the funny part of it. And I’m just going to show you something else. You see, after the seeds are taken out, we let it dry with the sun. And it is the sun drying that actually requires a person to rotate the seeds. So that the sun hits on all areas, right? And I’m just trying to find the right picture. The area where this grows is just amazing, so this is how it looks. You see that? That’s the area.

MARTIN: Alright. So here we are looking at some rolling hills with trees and grass. So I guess they would be just doing subsistence farming with cows, pigs, chickens, and all of that sort of thing.

GEORGE: I mean, honestly, it is the most beautiful place on Earth, really beautiful. The air is super clean. There’s no contamination from the city or anything. It’s just a really, really beautiful place to be.

MARTIN: And so among these trees, there are these cacao trees growing as well as that, right?

GEORGE: Yeah. So this is just like a picture of the site itself, of this particular farmer that I was showing you. So anyways, just going back now to the actual product you can get out of the cacao. So after the cacao bean is dried and ready, we transport that to our manufacturing facility in Lima, and then we start with the production. So there’s different ways of doing it. And you first have to select the beans by size. And obviously, that they’re in good condition. Because what happens is, many companies use everything. And when you do everything, there’s good and bad. And if you’re using, let’s say, small beans and you expose them to high heat, which is normally the case for quick production, you’re going to burn some of them. And obviously, it is going to produce a product that is not good in quality. I mean, aroma, taste is just going to be different. And cacao is just, for the chef, let’s say, for the person who’s using the ingredients. It’s all about taste.

MARTIN: Yep. Taste, aroma.

GEORGE: So it is your preference. So we found that actually our product is the best in the world. We have a big company, well, we have many companies buying our cacao worldwide. I can mention a few in Europe, like Keimling, Feinstoff, Godiva, for example. Some of the known companies, we supply the raw material. They do their own formula and chocolate, and they’re well known for that, of course. Also here in Canada, in the United States as well, we have many companies buying our raw materials. And we have our own, with our own brand as well. Our products were subject to a very strict evaluation. And this evaluation was done in Germany. And this is one of the main manufacturers in the United States, I mean, we sell a lot of this product. And our product became number one.

MARTIN: And evaluated by what? By taste and,

GEORGE: Organoleptic characteristics meaning, aroma, taste. Then the nutritional profile was far superior than any other product. And I will share with you, the nutritional profile because let’s say like a cacao powder I’m talking about right now. It was amazing. We have a list of maybe over 10 minerals. Like copper, zinc, you name it.

MARTIN: Okay. The plant is really good at binding trace minerals.

GEORGE: Exactly, yes.

MARTIN: Let’s talk about how a person would use it. So we have it available then in just plain brown powder, which we know is called Cacao powder. And you also have it as nibs, right?

GEORGE: Yeah. And we have,

MARTIN: And the butter.

GEORGE: And we have cacao butter.

MARTIN: How do we use each one of them? How would I, typical food and health enthusiast. How do I use the,

GEORGE: Okay. Our Cacao Powder can be used like any other cacao powder in the market. It is going to provide a very unique flavor, very intense aroma. It actually smells like chocolate, without being a chocolate. Meaning that there’s no sugar or anything, but smells so good. I mean, it’s just your attractant.

MARTIN: So to make homemade chocolate, we need fat, we need lecithin, and,

GEORGE:Well, we have our own chocolate, made with our Criollo Cacao. Without lecithin.

GEORGE: So you sell it as a block of chocolate?

GEORGE: No, we have chocolate drops.

MARTIN: So these are just blobs of chocolate?

GEORGE: Yeah. Like little drops. And they’re made with yacon syrup, maybe a product that we haven’t talked about yet.

MARTIN: I don’t know. So yacon syrup for sweetening. Yeah?

GEORGE: Correct. So we have Yacon Syrup and yacon powder, which is an indigestible type of sugar. I mean, the body cannot recognize.

MARTIN: Yeah. The yacon seems like an oligosaccharide type of thing, right?

GEORGE: Correct. Very complex carbohydrate, which is suitable for keto diets, low carb if you want. I mean, very healthy, very tasty as well. And we use that to manufacture our chocolate. This is just a chocolate cidery. So we have three different varieties, like the yacon chocolate drops, the cacao nibs covered in the same yacon chocolate.

MARTIN: So you have a nib inside of the chocolate,

GEORGE: <laugh>. Correct. Yeah. Very good product. And we also have the drops with Maras Pink salt as well. Which actually are not in the market yet. We’re gonna launch that soon. But anyway, so that’s on the chocolate side. So.

MARTIN: Okay. Well, but I’m still interested in telling people how they can make their own chocolate.

GEORGE: Well, smoothies, for example. The Cacao Powder can be used in the smoothies. For baking, you can use the cacao nibs. You can also use the chocolate drops that we have. You can also use, for chocolate manufacturing, which basically you need the cacao butter, the cacao powder. And in some cases, people use the cacao liquor. But don’t think about a drink. Cacao liquor is actually the cacao mass. So it is the mix of the cacao nib and the butter together. So the cacao contains so much fat that when you mill the nib or the cacao bean after chopping it off and converting it into small pieces like nibs. You blend it, and then you will get like a cacao mass, which is the mix of the nib or the bean, and butter, the cacao butter. That actually is contained on the actual bean. So you can use that, combined with, let’s say vanilla or any other ingredient to manufacture your own chocolate. Now, the chocolate to be tempered, I mean, and you are right. Usually, you need lecithin. Which is, I think you can find some organic lecithin.

MARTIN: We sell organic sunflower Lecithin. I have it available.

GEORGE: Okay. Perfect. So you can use that one, because..

MARTIN: Well, you need some fat, right? So on the cheap, you would use something like coconut or butter.

GEORGE: Correct. Yes.

MARTIN:  But you’re saying, but no, use the chocolate butter, I mean, cacao butter.

GEORGE: You can use cacao butter or any other fat, or you can combine them as well. Like coconut oil for example. You can also use cacao powder. And then you can use the lecithin and then you temper the chocolate. And you can actually get your own chocolate bars. You can combine them with any other ingredients, like dried fruit, for example.


GEORGE: Okay. Or, we have many people using the cacao butter for just normal cooking, like a cooking oil.

MARTIN: Oh, so this, it’s strongly flavored with the chocolate flavor.

GEORGE: Oh, yeah. For example, you can take a piece of, let’s say, chicken breast. Just to give you an idea. Or if you’re vegan, you can take your own vegetables. And use the cacao butter, put it on top. Just some rosemary or any other herb, and then you put it in the oven, slow cooking. And boom, voila! You have a nice, tasty, uh,

MARTIN: Chocolate flavored chicken breast. Yeah?

GEORGE: Well, keep in mind that in Mexico, for example, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in Mexico, they have a cacao sauce.


GEORGE: Like a chili and cacao, and they,

MARTIN: Yeah. I mean, it’s quite common to put capsicum chili pepper with chocolate. Right?

GEORGE: It’s delicious. Yeah. <laugh>. So, I think the main thing here is that our cacao tastes different. It is well done, by the way, our cacao butter is never exposed to over 50 degrees Celsius. So it’s very slowly done. And that’s the main difference, because when you go up high in temperature, you’re going to destroy the fat.

MARTIN:Yeah. You’re gonna fry the thing.

GEORGE:Yeah. Correct. Yeah.

MARTIN: Okay. Let’s describe it. So, I should probably then buy some chocolate powder. And I should buy some chocolate butter.


MARTIN: And then if I feel like crunching through the raw chocolate, I will have the nibs, right?

GEORGE: Well, cacao nibs are used normally as a snack, for many people. They’re not sweet. 

MARTIN: It’s quite bitter.

GEORGE: Have you tried them?

MARTIN: Yeah. Oh yeah.

GEORGE: Okay. <laugh> Nice.

MARTIN: Yeah. Yeah. It’s an intense chocolate, dry chocolate mass.

GEORGE: Yep. But you will try our products and you’ll be surprised. They’re really interesting.

MARTIN: I have used all of these. I got the bag of the yacon sweetened chocolate drops.


MARTIN: And that hundred grams sample bag doesn’t last more than 10 minutes. It’s like, oh, I’ll have another, well, maybe, maybe two. Well, oh, well. I’ll finish the thing. <laugh>

GEORGE: Yeah. And I know many people who like chocolate chip cookies, for example. Or you can make, I don’t know, like a praline mix in pecans and the yacon chocolate. Maybe put some salt on it, a little bit of the coconut oil, for example. I do that. You put it in a pan slowly, and then once it melts and you mix it up together, let it dry, and it becomes a delicious snack. Oh yeah.

MARTIN: Oh yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah. So we have, probably next time we have to do a cooking station or something.

MARTIN: Well, that’s what I was thinking. We should do a cooking show where we show people how to use this, because one of the barriers that there are is that folks just say, well, what am I going to do with this?

GEORGE: Yeah. Correct. Yeah. But there’s a good thing about our products, because of the healthy benefits that you can achieve with this. I mean, I know it just sounds crazy, just normal chocolate, but the mineral content is so high that your body feels different. I mean, you get a lot of energy out of it. By the way, mixing up Maca, our Maca Powder 6:1 with The Cacao. Oh my God, delicious. Yeah. Really good. Yeah.

MARTIN: Well, of course, I would actually add some yacon to that.

GEORGE: Oh, perfect. Yeah, of course. Otherwise it will be too bitter. <Laugh>.

MARTIN: So you have a high quality chocolate that’s been fermented with bananas. Which, that makes sense to me that the bananas of course provide the mass of the carbohydrates to do the fermentation. And it imparts this fine aroma to it. Right. It makes the chocolate less intense in some way.

GEORGE: Yeah. I mean, if you compare, for example, other chocolates with other varieties of cacao. For instance the El Nacional, which comes from Ecuador. There is a big difference, when you compare it to the Criollo. I’m not saying one is better than the other.

MARTIN: Okay. Well it’s a flavor, personal preference.

GEORGE: It is different.

MARTIN: The way I understand it, most of the commercial chocolate actually comes out of Africa, right?

GEORGE: Yes. And it is owned by one of the big corporations, one of them is called Cargill.


GEORGE: Which,

MARTIN: Very big.

GEORGE: Very big. It’s all industrialized. And well, many people don’t want to know how this is obtained already in Africa.

MARTIN: You mean, it’s a very exploitative process. Yeah?

GEORGE: Yeah. It is, yeah. For sure. Yeah. And yeah, there’s also Cacao from China.

MARTIN: Really? They actually grow Cacao in China?

GEORGE: I mean, I think, I don’t know about their production, but I mean, the product is really, really, I mean, not to be considered. Yeah.

MARTIN: <laugh> It’s not even, it’s not even grade B, it’s grade C.

GEORGE: Yeah. Very inexpensive too. Okay. And I remember, I learned something in this country, when I arrived, landed back in 1989, and somebody told me, you get for what you pay.


GEORGE: And I kept that in my mind all the time. It’s true.

MARTIN: Oh, yeah, yeah. You can have it. In my management practice, it was these three points, you can have it fast, you can have it good, or you can have it cheap. Pick any two, you cannot have all three.

GEORGE: <laugh> There you go. Yes. So, okay. Your customers, if you offer these products, are going to really appreciate the quality.

MARTIN: Well, I’m looking forward to introducing this. And thank you very much, George. This has been a pleasure to get to know how you do it and what you got going.

GEORGE: Yeah. And well, I think we could probably schedule another podcast for other products.

MARTIN: We may have to talk about Yacon and Lucuma in great detail, because now that we have planned a cooking show, we’re going to have to talk about making food, right?

GEORGE: On the Yacon, I can give you very quickly, like, so that people associate one product to the other. Right? I mean, the cacao goes along with the yacon. I mean, the yacon obviously can be used as a sweetener for many different product combinations. I use yacon every single day nonstop. The ratio compared to sugar is probably 1.5 to 1, meaning that the yacon syrup will be sweeter than sugar. And the main benefit of the Yacon Syrup, and I put it on my coffee or any drink and anything that I want. Is that our yacon is also a prebiotic, that’s the right word. Not probiotic.

MARTIN: High level of the oligosaccharide.

GEORGE: Correct. And we tested with many people with diabetes. Like, for example, type two and type one. And even if you take yacon, and you are diabetic, the sugar doesn’t go up. It goes down. <Laugh>. I’m serious.

MARTIN: Yeah, that sounds great. Okay. Well, natural sweetener. 

GEORGE: And I can tell, I mean, without any restriction, because we have people showing us pictures and videos of before and after. Taking yacon, and they actually measure with the,

MARTIN: The glucometer. Yeah.

GEORGE: Yeah. Correct. And the sugar level goes down. Now, it is very good for keto diets. I’ve done a keto diet. A few months ago, I lost 23 kilos.

MARTIN: Kilos.

GEORGE: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: You had 20 kilos to lose?

GEORGE: Yeah. <Laugh> Well, I used to travel quite a bit. And you know, when you go to other countries.

MARTIN: Yeah, you eat fast food.

GEORGE: And I love food. I enjoyed it, and well, it was probably a little too much. And I gained weight because of the pandemic, you know, with all these restrictions.

MARTIN: Yeah, no travel.

GEORGE: You can’t do exercise. And so it got complicated. Anyways, I started doing the diet, and yeah, I lost that much. 23 kilos. So right now I’m not doing the diet anymore, but I’m using the right ingredients. Of course before, it was just any kind of carbs, anywhere. And now I’m very selective with using the yacon every day. And of course other supplements as well, but.

MARTIN: Alright. Yeah. So yacon for managing blood glucose level.

GEORGE: Oh yeah. Big time. It works.

MARTIN: Well, we are going to have to bring some then. Does it only come as syrup or is it,

GEORGE: No, we have the yacon powder as well. And the yacon powder, this is the one that we use for the chocolate drops, for example. Okay. And it can be used also for let’s say smoothies. Okay, like a sweetener. It has a very, in the powder form, it will provide a different taste. But it’s good for baking, for example.

MARTIN: Yeah. Okay. I guess when you bake, you throw some allspice or cinnamon or cacao.

GEORGE: And it changes. It disguises.

MARTIN: Oh, it also changes when you heat it?

GEORGE: Yes. Exactly. So if you take it raw as it is right now, the powder, it will just probably give a little aroma or taste, like a sweet potato in a way.

MARTIN: Oh, okay.

GEORGE: Okay. So, I mean, it’s different. I mean, sweet. Very nice and sweet. And one particular thing, on the yacon, because there’s many yacon syrups in the market. And how do you recognize the good and the bad? Most of the yacon syrups in the market are black in color. And if you just Google a few of them, you will see a very black, dark product.

MARTIN: Looks like molasses.

GEORGE: Yeah. And tastes like molasses. And I’m going to explain to you why. Because fructooligosaccharides by definition is a soluble fiber, and a soluble fiber can only be found on the nectar of the yacon. Many manufacturers in Peru, I would say all of them, use the whole root, we don’t. Our product is made from the nectar while the rest is made from the whole root. What’s the main difference? The fiber of the yacon root contains fructose, simple sugars. they usually try to achieve the consistency of the syrup. Okay. But using high heat, so when you use high heat and you have simple sugars, you’re going to burn them, and you will achieve a dark color on the product, and also the taste of molasses. So if you look at our nutritional profile, the nutritional panel that we have on the product, you will see that the fiber content of our product is zero.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

GEORGE: Okay, and that is the key thing. So we can actually give the product, our product to a diabetic type one and type two, I am not afraid. People can try the products and they will really enjoy something sweet without the guilt. That’s the reason why, <laugh> we use guilt free cravings on the Yacon Chocolate.

MARTIN: Well, okay.

GEORGE: Okay. That was the idea.

MARTIN: So the sort of thing that you would flavor with it would be smoothies, you already said? Or I guess you can put it into baking, right?

GEORGE: Also, of course. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean the,

MARTIN: I guess some almond flour or coconut flour or something like that, right?

GEORGE: Excellent.

MARTIN: Yeah. And mix it with Yacon, yeah?

GEORGE: Yeah. There’s many, many recipes online. Many people use these products. All you have to, I think your audience, will have to be very select on which products they choose. Because I mean, if you choose the wrong product, then you think that you’re going to get the benefit, but you may not. It depends on who’s selling that product, how it was processed.


GEORGE: Okay. We can do more on the yacon and show you some pictures as well and everything, but uh,

MARTIN: It doesn’t look that sexy. It looks like a potato to me.

GEORGE: <laugh> Like a yucca root. Yeah.

MARTIN: Yeah. Like yucca root, yeah, right. So now that we’re talking about all of it, tell me a bit about Lucuma.

GEORGE: Okay. Lucuma, and I don’t have a picture to show you, but uh,

MARTIN: That’s all right. Well, it looks like a yellow avocado to me.

GEORGE: Yeah. I don’t know if you or your audience will recognize that in Mexico, there is a fruit called sapote.


GEORGE: Okay. And the Lucuma is actually a related variety to the sapote. It also grows, it’s very unique, it’s original to Peru. But the flavor of this fruit is like maple and vanilla.

MARTIN: Oh really now? <Laugh>

GEORGE: It’s really good. And well, we have the Lucuma powder. That’s the only presentation of the product we have. And the Lucuma is normally used for confectionery, like baking, even ice cream. And I think I mentioned, when we were talking before, Lucuma flavor is the most popular flavor of ice cream in Peru. And it’s very unique, very tasty.

MARTIN: Maple vanilla sounds good to me.

GEORGE: Yeah. <laugh>. So I don’t know if you ever got a sample from us on this product?

MARTIN: No, not that. I have not tried Lucuma.

GEORGE: We’ll make sure you have one.. For sure. But the product is fantastic when combined with, let’s say chocolate. So we have a Lucuma mousse, for example, as a dessert. It’s very popular, and they put chocolate sauce on top. Which will be wonderful if you use our Criollo Cacao Powder to make it, right? And also smoothies, like if you use just normal milk or any almond milk or hemp milk. I mean, it tastes amazingly good. And if you combine it with a cacao powder, for example, it will just taste amazing. Really good. And especially kids. Kids love it. Yeah.

MARTIN: All right.

GEORGE: There’s beta-carotene content in this product. Okay. That’s the reason why it’s so yellow, or orangey in a way. But not to really claim like that as a benefit, it is good obviously. And I would say probably it goes more for flavor than anything else. Flavor, aroma, taste, yeah. 

MARTIN: Okay. And so it’s mostly carbohydrate or,

GEORGE:Yeah, mostly. Yeah. Not complex. I mean, some of them. Okay. But it is a very good product to try. 

MARTIN: Yeah. Great.


MARTIN: All right. Well, thank you. Thank you, George. This has been an interesting culinary trip through the Andes and Amazonia. That’s great.


MARTIN: Thank you so very much for your time.

GEORGE: My pleasure. And it’s always nice to transmit all this information about our products, and about Peru and about how we do things. I think we like to be transparent with everything and yeah. I think your customers will.

MARTIN: Yeah. I especially appreciate the fact that your product is always great quality. It is.

GEORGE: Thank you. <Laugh>. Excellent.

MARTIN: Thank you. This has been Martin Pytela and George Urena, or Jorge Urena, let’s say it properly as it should be, because we all have tradition. And anyway, for Life Enthusiast, life-enthusiast.com. Thank you for being here.

Author: Life Enthusiast