dark chocolate “candy bars”

When you’re craving chocolate, these bars have you covered!

The inside is reminiscent of a Larabar with fresh, sticky dates binding together nuts, oats and puffed millet with dark chocolate coating.  Though not quite a health food, these bars are filled with ingredients that, on their own, are much more nutritious than most store-bought candy bars.  Being that they are full of whole grain and naturally sweetened, yet delicious, it brings up the topic of what foods exactly are considered “healthy.”

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After reading this article on Food52, I realize that calling a food “healthy” is now almost a subjective opinion for the consumer as well as companies hawking their products.  It seems that for years foods shift in and out of this category leaving regular people, like me, confused as to what we should actually be eating.  Foods that have been maligned in the past (i.e. egg yolks, butter, full-fat dairy) now are considered part of a complete diet.  Red meat is ok in moderation…what?  Wheat and by default, gluten, are now the enemy?  Nutrition guidelines are murky at best and navigating through them can seem like a daunting task.

“Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.” -Dr. Andrew Weil and some solid words to live by.

A few years ago, I was once one of those people who vehemently stayed away from whole milk and egg yolks for fear of gaining weight and ate 100 calorie packs of processed snacks because I thought they were healthier.  My intentions were good, but my actions were a bit misguided.  Coming to terms with what is “healthy” for me and my family has been a long process but I’ve slowly adapted to a new way of thinking.  Sure I want to incorporate as many vegetables as possible into my meals, but I won’t say no to cheese and now I may even have a little red meat here or there.  As much as I try to stay away from processed foods, I know it may not always be possible and don’t beat myself up about it any longer.  Balance and moderation are key and my family and I now identify with these simple rules for healthy eating.

But there is always room for some chocolate 🙂

dark chocolate “candy bars”

So here we have an unprocessed version of a candy bar.  I used melted dark chocolate chips as the coating, which worked really well, though I stored them in the refrigerator to keep them cold and less messy.  You could take it a step further and make your own {vegan} chocolate a la Minimalist Baker, which would also be divine.

  • 1 cup skinned hazelnuts (don’t worry if they’re not 100% skinned, it shouldn’t affect the flavor or texture)
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 8-9 pitted Medjool dates
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup
  • ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • ½ pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup rolled oats, gluten-free if needed
  • ¼ cup puffed millet
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • ∼6 oz. dark chocolate
  • toppings: flaked sea salt / smoked sea salt / freeze-dried fruit / cocoa nibs / sesame, flax or chia seeds

In a food processor, pulse the nuts until just sandy. Add the dates, maple, salt, vanilla, oats, puffed millet and coconut flour and pulse a few more times to combine.  If the mixture is too wet, add a few tablespoons of oats or flaxmeal; if it’s too dry add a few splashes of water.

Chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.  However, ff you don’t have time to cover the bars in chocolate right away, the mixture will keep, covered, for at least a few days.

Line a baking tray with parchment and spread a thin coat of coconut oil. Dump the nut mixture and form a rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Pop it back in the fridge to chill another 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a large mixing bowl in the microwave or double boiler. Put a baking rack (rubbed with a bit of coconut oil) over a piece of parchment to collect drips. Cut the chewies into 2″ squares. Bathe them one at a time in the chocolate bath, coating both sides, and set them on the rack.

Sprinkle the tops with flakey sea salt, cocoa nibs, flax/chia seeds, or freeze-dried fruit!  Pop them back into the fridge for another 10 minutes or so to firm up.  They should keep for about a week.

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(adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen)



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