Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Healthy Almond Joys

I can't believe it's been months since I've blogged. I guess I'm not very good at balancing my life! :) Many of you haven't heard, but the SQD family is growing! Our baby is due in June, so needless to say life has been busy.

Before I got pregnant I was following a whole-food plant-based diet. I also gave up all processed sugar for 2 months! Can you believe it? I can't. Ha! These little Almond Joys got me through my bad sugar cravings and they are so packed full of nutrients. It's ridiculous that these are actually good for you. I make these for potlucks and family gathering and they are always a hit. I have made them individually and also as a 9x13 pan of bars. Either way, they taste great. Almond Joy is my favorite candy bar and these little treats have it beat! This recipe was adapted from my Health Coach, Cynthia Sumner. Side note: if any of you are looking for an awesome online Health Coach, check out Cythia's site Green Healing Leaf. Her program changed my life.

For those of you that are into "clean" eating or even Paleo, most of these ingredients may be familiar to you. Most can be purchased at a health-food store, bulk-food store or even Costco. I buy my pure maple syrup, coconut oil and chia seeds at Costco. I buy the macaroon coconut and Cacao powder at my local health-food store. I also make my own almond flour in my Vitamix or you can purchase that at a health-food store also.

Every time I share this recipe, people always ask me, "What is cacao powder? Is it the same as cocoa powder?" Cacao powder is basically chocolate in the raw and the "fruit" of the Cacao tree. It is very strong and kind of bitter on it's own. Raw cacao is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sulfur. Cocoa powder is what we commonly see in grocery stores and use in our baking. Cocoa powder is basically the cacao bean that has been heated, roasted and processed. Because of this nearly all of the nutrients and antioxidants have been stripped away. Cacao powder is expensive (typically $16-$17 for 1 lb.) but a little goes a long way, so it lasts.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. This is one of our family's favorite raw treats. My kids love helping make them, too. If you'd like to see more raw treats or raw recipes, please leave me a comment. :)

Here's what you need:

3 c. finely shredded, unsweetened coconut (I use unsweetened macaroon coconut)
1 1/2 c. almond flour (just blend or process whole, raw almonds into a flour in a high-powered blender)
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. raw honey
1/3 c. softened coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp.sea salt
3 T. chia seeds

Chocolate Sauce:
3/4 c. coconut oil, melted
4 T. cacao powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. pure maple syrup, room temp

1. Combine coconut, almond flour, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and chia seeds in a large bowl. Stir well until combine. Roll into balls. Place in freezer to set up. 

2. Make the chocolate sauce by combining coconut oil, cacao powder, vanilla and maple syrup together. 

Stir until smooth, drizzle over almond joy balls, top with an almond and a little shredded coconut and freeze until set. 

3. Store these in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes about 45 almond joys.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Printable recipe here.