Nolan has decided that his favorite food is chocolate. “Chocolate is a good snack, Mom.” Nolan wants chocolate on or with almost everything he eats. Thankfully, his mama is hip to the word on dark chocolate, which is all he’s ever had. Like a lot of people, I grew up on milk chocolate, which I think most would agree is richer and more palatable. Dark chocolate is an acquired taste, but now that it’s all I eat, the rare instances when I have milk, my tastes buds are blown away by how cloyingly sweet it is.
Why make the switch from milk to dark? Many milk chocolate treats contain sugar and milk as their primary ingredients when it is the cacao bean that contains the powerhouse nutrients. Once you get past the slightly bitter and certainly less sweet taste of dark, you can now consume chocolate that provides true health benefits. Dark chocolate that is 72% cacoa or greater is jam-packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. It is heart healthy and can boost brain power, too. YUM!
Of course, like all sweets, we can’t overdo it with even dark chocolate. Cacoa does contain fat and when made into a chocolate bar, for instance, also contains added sugar. Point is, a little bit of dark chocolate every day—yes, I eat it every day folks!—is not only not going to hurt you, but will provide you with powerful nutrients. Opt for fair trade whenever possible.
What do I say when Nolan wants chocolate? I give it to him. Not in unlimited quantities and only after or in conjunction with another snack or meal, but like me, he eats it every day. (For the parents out there who may be wondering about amount, if the average dark chocolate bar is three ounces, he has half an ounce or less in a day. Hopefully that helps you to visualize the quantity!)
Today’s rendition of my power bars also incorporates a touch of pink Himalayan sea salt, which is loaded with minerals. A little bit is ok. 🙂 If I didn’t sell you enough on giving dark chocolate a try, Travis said that these power bars are one of the best things I’ve ever made. So, there’s that. Enjoy!
FORMULA BASE: POWER BARS
Yields 9 square bars*
For the dough:
- 1 cup uncooked whole grains –> I’m using ¾ cup wheat berries (learn about wheat berries by checking out my multi-grain salad formula) and ¼ cup ground flaxseed.**
- 1 cup unsweetened dried fruit (without added oil) –> I’m using pitted medjool dates.
- ½ cup nut or seed butter (nuts/seeds only) –> I’m using sunflower.
- 2 tbsps natural liquid sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
- Extract and/or spices to taste (optional) –> I’m using 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt.
Garnish ideas (up to ½ cup):
- Raw seeds
- Raw finely chopped nuts
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Melted dark chocolate to pour over the top (which will re-solidify after chilling) –> I’m using 3 ounces of 72% cacoa + a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt.
*Double the recipe to make double the bars, or, to achieve thicker bars.
**Yes, I know that flaxseed is not a whole grain. Just wanted to add a little texture and different nutrients to the bars today. 🙂
Turn your whole grains into flour using your food processor or blender (my Vitamix has a dry blade pitcher).
Then, combine the flour and your remaining ingredients, except the garnish. Run until a thick, pliable dough forms. You will probably have to scrape down the sides of the processor with a spatula at least once.
Turn the dough out into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine half of your garnish (unless it’s melted chocolate) and to break up any clumps of dried fruit and/or butter. Firmly press the dough into an 8 x 8 pan lined with wax paper.
Evenly distribute the remaining garnish, pressing into/pouring onto the top of the bars.
To melt dark chocolate: Use a double boiler (not the microwave). Fill a sauce pan with about an inch of water and turn it up to medium high heat. Place a glass bowl containing your chocolate on top of the pan. Stir chocolate occasionally until it completely melts. BE CAREFUL OF ANY STEAM COMING UP FROM THE SAUCE PAN.
Chill the bars for at least 2 hours before cutting into the desired size and shape. Store in the refrigerator.