Supertreats founder, Virpi Venho-Jones, explains what drove her to create the world’s best-tasting carob bars.

What inspired you to create Supertreats?

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with refined sugar and caffeine. I used to love the energizing, short-term boost that they gave me, making me feel on top of the world. But when the effects wore off, I’d feel lethargic, foggy headed, somewhat depressed and irritable – all common symptoms of caffeine and sugar withdrawal – craving more stimulants in order to feel fine again.

Every day I relied on these stimulants to get me up in the morning and through the day. It was such a vicious circle – and I knew that these substances ultimately had a significant negative effect on my energy levels and mood. It was impossible for me to feel vibrant, positive and refreshed when I was using them, even after a good night’s sleep and eating an otherwise very healthy diet.

The more I also studied about the effects of caffeine and refined sugar on the body and mind, the more I realised I would have to give them up in order to thrive and have consistent energy throughout the day. This meant giving up not only my beloved coffee and tea but also chocolate and raw cacao (or as some say, cracao…) – as they too contain substantial amounts of stimulants: a standard 50g bar of milk chocolate contains up to 6 tsp of refined sugar and a dark/raw chocolate bar of same size contains the caffeine equivalent of a shot of espresso!

That said, I really didn’t want to give up the pleasure of enjoying chocolate! Or deny my young son that joy. So I began searching for healthier alternatives.

I’d bought carob products before, so I knew that it had a similar flavour to chocolate and that it was caffeine free. But I invariably found these to be disappointing in both quality and taste (and so did my son). As I couldn’t find what I wanted, I decided to create my own – premium quality, truly indulgent, healthy carob treats that really taste like delicious, silky-smooth chocolate. And so the idea for Supertreats was born.

Can you tell us more about the name and why you chose it?

Our treats are made with high quality natural wholefood and superfood ingredients, containing wonderful natural nutrients and goodness, unlike conventional treats that provide just empty calories. In addition to being better for you, the bars are also better for the planet, as they are made from organic ingredients and are ethically and sustainably produced.

I chose the name Supertreats to convey the idea that they are ‘superfood’ treats… but also to communicate that they are super in many other ways and make you feel ‘super’ too!

Many sweet snacks on the market are high in sugar – how are Supertreats bars better for us?

We don’t use any refined sugar in our treats. Supertreats bars are sweetened with Coconut Blossom Nectar – the nectar from the flowers of the coconut palm tree. This is an amazing healthier and 100% natural alternative to refined sugar. Firstly, it has a low glycemic index (GI), meaning it releases energy slowly without causing rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. It’s also rich in nutrients, unlike refined sugar that is devoid of any goodness and supplies only empty calories. Plus coconut blossom nectar has a delicious caramel-like taste!

You’re also passionate about the damaging impact caffeine can have on us. As carob is an ideal alternative to cacao, do you think there needs to be more awareness about this?

Absolutely. It’s great that there is more and more discussion and awareness about the damaging effects of sugar, but caffeine also causes energy spikes and crashes, is addictive and is a stressor to the body and mind.

As a psychoactive substance, long term the use (and withdrawal symptoms) of caffeine commonly causes symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy, mood swings, brain fog, anxiety and sleep disruption. In particular for those people with highly sensitive traits (estimated to be around 20% of the population) caffeine is a powerful and addictive drug. The effects are more pronounced also in children due to their smaller bodies.

Caffeine is well-known to cause sleep disruption and has been scientifically proven to reduce the quality of deep sleep. Because of the particular importance of deep sleep to the developing brains of children, they really should be kept away from caffeine containing food and drinks – including chocolate and, in particular, dark chocolate & raw cacao. Being caffeine-free, carob doesn’t mess with your brain chemicals and is a healthier option.

Along with Silky Milky, there’s Merry Berry and Cheery Chia in the range. Are there any more flavours coming up, and do you have a personal favourite?

Yes, we have some exciting things in the pipeline, including more delicious flavours, as well as a dairy-free vegan version too – which a lot of people have been asking about, so watch this space! My favourite flavour depends on the day and what mood I’m in – today it’s Cheery Chia. I’m loving the orange flavour and the crunchy chia seeds.

Finally, what are your top tips for feeling at your best?

A good night’s sleep! That’s the foundation for all wellbeing for me and makes everything better.

The benefits of sleep for our wellbeing are scientifically proven, with evidence from more than 17,000 well-scrutinized reports supporting some pretty amazing claims.  The following fictitious ad from the book “Why We Sleep” by the world-renowned sleep researcher Matthew Walker sums it up for me:

“Amazing breakthrough! Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.”

It sounds as if the above was a description of some miracle new tincture or a cure-all wonder drug, but it’s only describing the proven benefits of getting a regular, full-nights sleep!