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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

COCONUT BARS: Healthy Copy-Cat Almond Joy Recipe

Hi there!
Half of Gabby has moved to a new kickass website! 

Read this article, in it’s updated version, HERE.
 The page that you are on right now (www.halfofgabby.blogspot.com) is no longer posting new articles and information. Half of Gabby has moved to www.halfofgabby.com and will continue to post new material regularly! In addition, all older articles have been updated on the new site!


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Okay, seriously. I can't stop eating these suckers. Dear Lord, how can something so healthy taste so good? I have no idea, but I have a very grateful heart... and a very happy belly :)

So I've had Almond Joy candy bars on my mind lately. Other than straight up chocolate, Almond Joys are my favorite. I don't know why, but the craving just popped up a few weeks ago and I couldn't shake it. I started thinking (ya I know, scary stuff). The more I thought about it, the more I realized I could make a healthy version of them. So the challenge began. It's a good thing I buy my coconut oil in a gigantic tub, because it took me a while to perfect this recipe. But I think I got it pretty damn close and I think it's worthy to share!



Now at first glance, these might not look healthy to you, but they are! The main bar is made solely from unsweetened coconut and coconut oil and it is sweetened with all natural stevia. The fat from coconut oil is one of the good fats. In fact, coconut oil has countless health benefits and can help you lose weight!

Just a super quick coconut oil lesson for you before I tell you how to make this crack in a bar. Coconut oil is made up of the essential fatty acid MCT, medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid. Our bodies process this fat differently than other fats. We don't store this fat (Hallelujah!). Instead our bodies send it straight to our liver where it's converted to energy. Coconut oil boosts our metabolisms, balances our hormones, helps us absorb more nutrients, decreases hunger, and stabilizes our blood sugar, just to name a few. All of these things aid in weight loss.

Here's the real kicker. Studies have shown that just by eating 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day, our energy output increases by 5%. That may not seem like a lot but that means you're burning about an extra 120 calories a day! Just because you ate coconut oil. LIKE WHOA.

Okay so we all know in controlled portions, nuts are excellent for our health. They are high in calories, so eating handful after handful can really up your caloric intake for the day. But in small portions, they come with a slew of health benefits. Let's take a sentence or two and talk about dark chocolate. Yum. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. It also decreases the 'bad' cholesterol (LDL) and increases the 'good' cholesterol (HDL). It also helps to increase circulation, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, and improves brain function (hell to the yes on that).

So basically what I'm telling you is to go forth and eat these yummy treat bars and get healthier while doing it.

Are you up for the task? Somehow I think you can do it!

COCONUT BARS RECIPE

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
  • 2 c Unsweetened Coconut 
  • 1/2 c Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 c Warm Water
  • 5 Packets of Stevia (NOT baking stevia)(you can add more if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 40 Whole Almonds (or desired nut or 1/4c chopped nuts)
  • 1/3 c Dark Chocolate Chips (or chopped up dark chocolate squares)
  • 1 tsp Additional Coconut Oil

HOW TO MAKE THESE BABIES:

1. Put unsweetened coconut in a medium bowl.

2. In a small bowl, mix stevia packets with warm tap water until dissolved. Add to coconut bowl and mix well.

3. Put 1/2 c coconut oil in a small microwavable bowl and nuke until melted, in 10 second intervals. It takes 2 times for me.


*The coconut oil is white in it's solid state but will melt into a clear liquid.


4. Add melted coconut oil, vanilla, and salt to coconut bowl and mix well.



5. Line an 8 x 8 square baking dish with parchment paper and spread out your coconut mixture evenly. *The parchment will put up a bit of a fight. I cut mine extra big so I can tuck it under the dish. It stays put better that way.


*After I spread the coconut mixture , I trim the parchment paper.


6. Put in the fridge for about 1 hour to harden.

7. Estimate where the middle of each bar will be and place 2 almonds side by side.


8. Place dark chocolate and 1 tsp of coconut oil in a small microwavable bowl and nuke until melted in 15-20 second intervals. It takes me 2 times.

9. With a small spoon, pour a little bit of the chocolate over each pair of almonds.


OMG can you even take it?! YUM


10. Put back in the fridge until chocolate hardens, about 15-30 minutes.


11. Grab parchment paper and lift bars out of dish and cut the bars right on the paper.


Will you just look at this deliciousness?! 
Look at it!!!!!


COME TO MAMA!


JUST A NOTE:
If you are using chopped nuts, you'll want to press the nuts in BEFORE you do the initial refrigeration. So right after you evenly spread out your coconut mixture in the dish, then immediately press your nuts into it. 
*The pic below is a half-batch in an 8x4 loaf pan. The recipe above calls for one full batch using an 8x8 pan.


*After it hardens in the fridge for about 1 hour, follow the directions to melt the chocolate and drizzle over coconut bars.


Want some more healthy sweet treats?
Try these recipes!










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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.
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