The Healthy Truth About Chocolate: It’s Good for You!

paleo_sugar-free_chocolate_candy_recipes

Good Chocolate is Good for You

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and that gets everyone thinking about one of my all time favorite things: chocolate! We talked all about many of the health benefits of chocolate in this blog post, Get Your Chocolate Fix! But, recently, a new study suggests that eating chocolate may make you smarter. Check out this article on PsyBlog, a website dedicated to figuring out how the mind works and founded by psychologist and author Dr. Jeremy Dean. In a nutshell, the study followed over 1000 people for over 30 years and found that people who regularly ate chocolate performed better on tests of reasoning and attention as well as tests of working memory. Not like I need another reason to eat chocolate, but, woohoo!

Yummy Sugar-Free Chocolate Candy Recipespaleo_sugar-free_chocolate_recipes

Now, most chocolate isn’t good if you are following a Paleo Diet, Primal Diet or any diet that eliminates white, processed sugar. But, I’ve been making these fantastic Paleo-friendly chocolate delights the past few months – since my last 21 Day Detox in November. I first introduced them to my extended family on Thanksgiving and they’ve been a big hit ever since. I always have a batch of one of these recipes in the fridge at any given time. Right now it’s the fruit and nut clusters. OK, so now I have to go get one because just talking about them makes me want one – or three!

Paleo Almond Joy Bars

inspired by detoxinista.com
Crust:
1 cup almond meal ( fine ground almond flour is ok, but rough almond meal works better)
1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs organic unrefined coconut oil (more solid the better)
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
pinch of sea salt
Coconut Filling:
1 cup shredded unsweetened organic coconut
3 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 Tbs organic unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp Bovine Gelatin dissolved in 2 tbs hot water
1/3 cup halved raw organic almonds or organic Brazil nuts (optional)
Chocolate Topping:
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (substitute half with organic cocoa butter for firmer chocolate)
2 Tbs organic maple syrup
6 drops stevia liquid (optional)
pinch of  sea salt

Instructions:
Before starting, get the cocoa butter melting if you are using it, see step 9.
1) In a glass bowl, add almond meal, maple syrup, almond extract and salt.
2) In a small glass dish, melt coconut oil in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds or on the stove in a double boiler. Add to other ingredients and mix well.
3) Line a small glass pyrex dish (7.5 x 5.25 x 1.75) or bread pan with parchment paper. Dump the crust mix into the dish, spread it out and press it firmly into the bottom of the dish with a fork. Put in freezer to set while you make the coconut filling.
4) I always just use the same glass bowl for this next part to save on dish washing. Add the shredded coconut and maple syrup to the bowl. Melt the coconut oil as before and add to the bowl.
5) In a very small glass or mug, dissolve the Bovine Gelatin into the 2 Tbs hot water. Use hot water so it dissolves completely and mixes better with the rest of the filling. Add to filling and mix well.
6) Remove crust from freezer and pour filling on top. Spread out and again press it firmly into the bottom of the dish with a fork.
7) If you are adding the nuts, cut each in half and spread on top of the coconut filling. Press into the filling with a fork. You want them to be halfway in and halfway out of the coconut layer. Return to freezer while you make the chocolate topping.
8) I again use the same bowl, although if you mind tiny bits of coconut in your chocolate layer, you may want to use a clean bowl. Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup to the bowl.
9) I originally made this recipe using only coconut oil for the chocolate topping, but found it to be a little on the soft side. So, I’ve been making it with 2 Tbs coconut oil and 2 Tbs melted organic cocoa butter. To melt the cocoa butter, grab a deep frying pan or wok and add about an inch or so of hot water, set the heat on low to warm the water further, but don’t boil it. Place the cocoa butter chunks in a small glass dish or mug and place that in the frying pan. Start this early because it takes a while to melt. Once the cocoa butter is melted, add the coconut oil directly to it, it will melt in the hot oil. You don’t want the coconut oil to be super melted or the chocolate comes super thin. If the coconut oil doesn’t mix enough, then zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it a bit more. Whisk till well blended.
10) Add oils to the bowl and whisk to mix well. Don’t forget to add salt to taste – it adds a really nice touch to this recipe. Add stevia to taste if you like it sweeter.
11) Remove dish from freezer. Use a small spatula to pour chocolate onto the top and spread evenly. Return to freezer to set for at least 15 minutes.
12) Remove from freezer. Remove from dish by pulling the parchment paper up and out of the dish. Pull sides of parchment paper down and place the whole block on a cutting board. I cut it in half the long way and then I usually make 6 cuts the short way for a total of 14 pieces. Which immediately turns into 13 pieces or fewer depending on how many people are standing there waiting for me to finish. Store left-over candies ( if you have any) in the fridge.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cup Bars

This can be made Paleo or primal by using any other nut butter instead of peanut butter.

inspired by detoxinista.com
Both Chocolate Layers (make two batches separately):
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic unrefined coconut oil or softened grass- fed butter (substitute half with organic cocoa butter for firmer chocolate)
2 Tbs organic maple syrup
6 drops stevia liquid (optional)
pinch of salt
Peanut Butter Filling:
Use any other nut butter for a Primal version.
1/2 cup crunchy natural organic peanut butter (the kind with no sugar or oils added)
2 1/2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 Tbs  coconut oil or softened grass-fed butter
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup organic nuts (optional)

Instructions:

1) I originally made this recipe using only coconut oil for the chocolate topping, but found it to be a little on the soft side and it added a mild coconut flavor that I didn’t really like with the peanut butter flavor. So, I’ve been making it with 2 Tbs grass-fed butter and 2 Tbs melted organic cocoa butter. To melt the cocoa butter, grab a deep frying pan or wok and add about an inch or so of hot water, set the heat on low to warm the water further, but don’t boil it. Place the cocoa butter chunks in a small glass dish or mug and place that in the frying pan. Start this early because it takes a while to melt. Melt enough for both layers of chocolate.
2) Line a small glass pyrex dish (7.5 x 5.25 x 1.75) or bread pan with parchment paper.
3) Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup to a glass bowl. Once the cocoa butter is melted, add the butter or coconut oil directly to it, it will melt in the hot oil. You don’t want the butter or coconut oil to be super melted or the chocolate comes out thin. If the oils are starting to cool and thicken, the chocolate comes out thicker.
4) Whisk to thoroughly combine and it’s a nice thick texture. Don’t forget to add salt to taste – it adds a really nice touch to this recipe. Add stevia liquid to taste if you like it sweeter.
5) Use a small spatula to pour chocolate out of bowl into parchment lined dish. Spread evenly and put in freezer to set.
6) I use the same bowl to mix up the peanut butter filling because a bit of chocolate in my peanut butter layer is OK with me. Add the peanut butter and maple syrup to the bowl. If using softened butter, add to bowl. If using coconut oil, melt it slightly, like 15 seconds in the microwave. Stir so texture is consistent and thick, but not chunky. Add to bowl and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste.
7) Remove base chocolate layer from freezer and using a spatula, pour peanut butter filling onto chocolate layer and spread evenly.
8) Add nuts evenly to top and press into the peanut butter layer. Put back in freezer to set.
9) Follow steps 1 and 3 to make another batch of chocolate.
10) Remove dish from freezer. Use a small spatula to pour top layer of chocolate on the peanut butter layer. Spread evenly. Put back in freezer for at least 15 minutes to set.
11) Remove from freezer. Remove from dish by pulling the parchment paper up and out of the dish. Pull sides of parchment paper down and place the whole block on a cutting board. I cut it in half the long way and then I usually make 6 cuts the short way for a total of 14 pieces. Store left-over candies ( if you have any) in the fridge.

Paleo Fruit & Nut Clusters

Chocolate Base:
1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil (substitute half with organic cocoa butter for firmer chocolate)
4 Tbs organic maple syrup
12 drops stevia liquid (optional)
sea salt to taste
Mix-ins:
3/4 cup dried organic fruit and nuts
My most recent batch has unsweetened coconut flakes, cranberries, pecans and cashews. A really tasty combination was dried cherries and pistachios, YUM!!!

Instructions:

1) To melt the cocoa butter, grab a deep frying pan or wok and add about an inch or so of hot water, set the heat on low to warm the water further, but don’t boil it. Place the cocoa butter chunks in a small glass dish or mug and place that in the frying pan. Start this early because it takes a while to melt.
2) Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup to a glass bowl. Once the cocoa butter is melted, add the butter or coconut oil directly to it, it will melt in the hot oil. You don’t want the butter or coconut oil to be super melted or the chocolate comes out thin. If the coconut oil or butter doesn’t melt nicely into the cocoa butter, you can microwave it for a few seconds to melt it a bit. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Add to bowl and whisk and to a nice thick texture. Don’t forget to add salt to taste – it adds a really nice touch to this recipe. Add stevia liquid to taste if you like it sweeter.
3) Add dried fruit and nuts to the bowl and mix till all is coated in chocolate. Spoon out bite-size portions onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes or set in fridge for a few hours. Store left-over candies ( if you have any) in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

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