Chocolate-Coconut Bars

Classes are in full swing and while I have had time to cook, I have not had time to post the recipes. And, perhaps some of you noticed I have had some technical difficulties with this site, but I resolved those problems and I think everything is working as it should be.

I thought my field work would be done before school started, but I guess the grapes decided to go on a different schedule so I'm not only taking classes but I am also in the field pretty much every moment of the week I am not on campus. Needless to say it's pretty exhausting. I'm to the point where I am flipping through my quick cooking recipe cookbooks, because sadly, I don't have the same amount of time for food preparation that I had in the summer. This is my first semester where I am also eating Paleo/Primal, so it's a challenge to think of new, quick snacks. I used to eat a lot of high-carb, psuedo-processed stuff because they're easy to eat in between classes. Now I have the challenge of finding grain-free snacks, which to be honest are either not shelf-stable or are trail mix. I'm sure I'll figure out some new ideas as I go along, but for now it seems pretty boring. However, I have devised one really good snack that was actually suggested in my facebook feed. I had made some Coconut, Date, and Walnut bars a few weeks ago, which were so good---like cookie dough. A reader indicated that cocoa powder dusted on the outside of the bars would keep them from sticking. I am not one to complain about adding chocolate to anything, so I wanted to try it. About that time, I had a coconut chocolate chew Larabar for the first time, which was ridiculously delicious. So I devised my own recipe and am extremely pleased with the results. It's sort of like the love child of a gluten-free brownie and a chocolate truffle: fudgy, chewy chocolate with bitter cocoa powder on the outside, just like a truffle. So good in the afternoon, especially with coffee. It seems like a real indulgence, but it's really a simple recipe with whole ingredients. I have kept these stashed in my fridge, but they do well in my backpack too. I even take them out in the field with me, and they survive the 103+ temperatures just fine.

I know these seem just like a dessert, but they actually have some good nutrition. Because each type of nut has a different nutritional profile, I added two different kinds here: almonds and walnuts. Walnuts are a good source of alpha linoleic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Research suggest ALAs can be beneficial to combat heart disease. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Cocoa also has antioxidant properties. Finally, coconut has gotten a bad rap for a while because of the high saturated fat content, but that fat is primarity a medium chain triglyceride. Triglyceride may seem like a bad word nowadays, however this form does not raise blood cholesterol levels nor does it contribute to heart disease. Your body can readily digest medium chain fatty acids in the liver, and because of rapid digestion they may elevate your metabolism. These are all very good things! Of course, using organic ingredients in this recipe makes these bars even more optimal for your health.

Chocolate-Coconut Bars
Printable Recipe

30 pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped unsalted raw walnuts
1/4 cup chopped unsalted raw almonds
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
4 tbsp cocoa powder, divided

1. Add add the ingredients, reserving 1 tbsp of the cocoa powder, to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade and pulse. When the mixture breaks down a little bit, turn on the machine to run until the mixture sticks together when you press it with your fingers.

2. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. Add the nut mixture to the pan, using the overhanging wrap to help you press the mixture into a smooth layer. Cover completely with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
3. Cut into 8 bars and with a pastry brush, dust all sides of each bar with the reserved cocoa powder. Wrap each in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.


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