Holy bananas! Is anyone else completely overwhelmed with holiday treats EVERYWHERE you turn?! It can be REALLY hard to avoid processed treats this time of year. Even the homemade stuff is contaminated with gobs of sugar and food coloring and it’s never fun to offend your husband’s great aunt when she offers you a bright red spritz cookie. I wonder how it came to be that the holidays are so focused on food. Specifically sugary non-real food, food.
So, we might not be able to get everyone on board with eliminating holiday treats, but we can at least indulge gently and make sure our treats are still packed with nutrition.
One of our favorite snacks at my house is homemade trail mix. (If you are interested in making more real food changes at your house, check out my FREE downloadable quick and easy clean eating guide! Check it out HERE) We use all combinations of raw nuts, dried fruit, and occasionally dark chocolate. For this, I used raw cashews, almonds, walnuts, and craisins.
BEST PLACES TO BUY RAW NUTS AND DRIED FRUIT
- Whole Foods bulk bins
- Local Food Co-op bulk bins
- Costco – Raw almonds, walnuts, pecans and Craisins (buying in bulk definitely saves $$)
- Trader Joe’s – Raw cashews, sunflower seeds, and organic raisins
Raw nuts are PACKED with healthy fats, nutrients, protein, and fiber. They are a perfect healthy snack. They are also easy to dress up and turn into a special treat! Enter chocolate….
Now, let me be clear, not all chocolate is created equal! To get the amazing antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals found in real dark chocolate, you must use a dark chocolate with a very high percentage of cacao. At least 60%, but 70% or higher is ideal.
Have you ever read the ingredients for dipping chocolate? You know what I’m talking about, the big blocks sometimes called almond bark. Let me show you…
Ingredients: Sugar (Sugar, Cornstarch), Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Process With Alkali, Cocoa, Soy Lecithin (An Emulsifier), Artificial Flavor, Milk. Contains SoyAnd Milk Products. This Product Was Packaged In A Facility That Handles Milk And Peanuts.
Partially hydrogenated oil (AKA Trans fat) and artificial flavor? No thanks.
Here are the ingredients for the Ghiradelli bittersweet chips I am using today.
Ingredients: Ingredients: Bittersweet Chocolate (Unsweetened Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin – An Emulsifier, Vanilla).
Yes, there is sugar, and yes there is a soy ingredient. In a perfect world, I would use an organic product so I knew that these were non-GMO. Even so, this chocolate is a much cleaner choice.
So what about the SECRET INGREDIENT I mentioned in the title? OK, in a minute. 😉
The reason why melting chocolate has oil in it (cheap hydrogenated oil mind you) is that melted chocolate tends to dry out. Oil makes the chocolate smooth and gives you more time to make your goodies before it starts to dry and harden.
So the secret ingredients is……. COCONUT OIL!
So, you can see now why this is a healthy treat. Packed with nutrients, protein, fiber AND healthy fats.
Grab your ingredients, a crock pot, and a few wide mouth pint mason jars and let’s get started!
Did I just say Crock Pot? Yup. If you have a double boiler that does work beautifully (I’ve heard anyway, I’ve never had one.) I LOVE using the Crock Pot because I can melt smaller amounts of chocolate all at the same time. If you have kiddos or someone else helping then everyone has their own jar of chocolate to work with, plus possibly extra that’s ready to go.
- Fill your Crock Pot with about 2-3 inches of water and turn on to high. Leave uncovered.
- Fill your 16 oz jars half full with chocolate chips plus 1/2 tsp of coconut oil
- Place jars in Crock Pot. Make sure water is as high as the chocolate is in the jar. Add more water if necessary. (Make sure NO water gets mixed in with the chocolate!)
- From a cold crock, it will take about 30 minutes for the chocolate to start melting (Do not cover)
- Once the chocolate starts melting, stir every 5 minutes until completely melted.
- When it’s completely melted, remove jar from water (be careful no water drips into the other jars)
- Add nuts and fruit to the chocolate jar and stir well
- Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper
- Top with shredded unsweetened coconut or Himalayan pink salt (or leave plain!)
Once the chocolate has completely hardened, store your goodies in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Pack some in a pretty tin and use as a fun gift!
Have fun with this! But also remember to be smart. Even though this treat is nutritious, there is still a fair amount of sugar in this glob of yumminess. Speaking of yumminess, you can also use this to make some delectable chocolate dipped strawberries! Oh man, how long until strawberry season???
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