These homemade candy bars are the perfect healthy treat to keep on hand for a sweet, nutrient-dense treat.
Healthy candy? Am I for real?
Why yes, yes I am.
This treat's no trick!
And I'm getting this up here for you just in time before Halloween... so you can stock your fridge or freezer with these little guys and head off the temptation to eat all the junk that's about to be everywhere.
Maybe you can relate to this... the older my kids get (read: the older I get) the more I sorta dread Halloween. Which is a shame really because it's such a fun holiday. As their mom though, all I can see is sugar, artificial ingredients that have been linked to cancer, Red 40 and Blue 1....
Ever wonder why those little candies are so darn addicting? You buy the fun-sized piece, but you just try to eat just one. You can't right?
No one can.
It's not you. It's in the candy.
They're chemically engineered to trick you into eating more.
That's the trick. And treat.
I'm not trying to be a downer here. And I don't want you to get the impression that I'm over here thinking I'm above it all and that my kids will not be eating all the crap later this week. They most certainly will.
I put this out here because I think a lot of us don't realize just how bad it is...
I encourage you to check out this blog post from Vani Hari at foodbabe.com. It explains how the FDA has banned several ingredients that fall under the term "artificial ingredients" that have been proven in animal studies to cause cancer.
Food companies have been given 2 years to get these ingredients out of their products. That means they're still in there and are legally allowed to be until 2020.
And ya know what has artificial flavors... M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Milky Way, Dove... yes, I know, all my old favorites too.
I'll add this whole thing, too, was not FDA instigated. This move, like most, was driven by consumers. Meaning enough people got mad enough to make some things happen.
In the same way, in the European Union (EU) foods that contain dyes like Red 40 must contain a warning that states that this color "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." While here in the U.S. where a product is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, food dyes are presumed safe for all, even though it's been a subject of controversy for 30+ years.
Now, is a single artificially flavored candy bar going to give you cancer, probably not.
I share this just to say, we deserve better. Our kids deserve better. And it's time to start demanding better.
Can we all agree to stop settling for this crap?
Clearly that's the only thing that creates change. It's the only thing that's gotten food companies to this level of change. And if you ask me it's not good enough. Cause you know what they're replacing those "artificial flavors" with isn't much better...
The truth is we don't have to settle for it. There's a lot better stuff out there.
And I'm not just talking about stuff you gotta make yourself either.
There are some much better candy brands out there now. Some of my favorites include Justin's peanut and almond butter cups, Unreal and YumEarth. You can find all of them on Thrive Market (use this link for 25% off your first order).
Or use the recipe in this post to make your own homemade chocolate candy bars.
Use the homemade candy bar recipe as a base and change it up to make your own healthified version of your classic favorites.
To show you just how healthy candy can possibly be,I've broken down the health benefits of each ingredients in this base recipe. Then you’ll just have to try one, two or 10 for yourself...
This is the ingredient that gives dark chocolate its good-for-you reputation. Believe it or not, raw cacao has more antioxidants than blueberries. It's gotta be the raw stuff though, What gets ya into trouble is typically the added sugar, milk and other ingredients. When choosing a dark chocolate bar off the shelf, look for a high percentage, 70 percent or higher.
Walnuts are one of the few sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely beneficial and difficult to get in these days. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid required for proper cell function and growth that we must get from our food. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, protect the heart and support brain function.
Dates give the chocolate a sweet taste along with lots of fiber. We all know fiber is good for you, but when sugar is involved it’s even more valuable. Fiber must be broken down, which slows the release of sugar into the blood stream. Refined sugar has zero fiber and that’s what leads to spiked blood sugar setting you up for a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Fiber fills you up too so you’ll feel more satisfied.
So, what do you think?
Is this something you want to make? Have I completely ruined candy for you days before Halloween? (sorry, not sorry) 😉 I'd love to know your thoughts. And it would be awesome to hear if you end up giving this recipe a try. Better yet, tell me now that you're gonna make it and (if you're serious about it) you'll be more likely to follow through.
I hope you have a super fun Halloween. Enjoy all the treats!
Homemade Candy Bars
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup raw cacao powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 ½ cups dates
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ cup almonds
- Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. Remove the chopped almonds from the food processor and set aside.
- Put the walnuts in the food processor and process until they are finely ground. Add cacao and salt and pulse until evenly mixed. While the processor is running, add a few dates at a time. When all the dates have been added, the mixture should be crumbly and dense. Add maple syrup and process. The chocolate mixture should be moist and hold together well. If it’s not, add a few more dates or a little more syrup. Stir in chopped almonds, reserving ¼ of the nuts for topping. In addition to or in place the almonds you can use whatever mix-ins you like. Try peanuts, pecans, macademia nuts, coconut… the possibilities are endless!
- Line an 8x8 baking dish with wax paper and place chocolate on the wax paper. Press the chocolate down into an even square, edge to edge, corner to corner. Cover and place in freezer. The bars will be easier to cut when frozen so allow them to set for at least an hour. Remove and cut into bite-sized minis. Store minis in an air-tight container in the freezer. Pop as needed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
To change this up, take out the almonds and replace with...
- Almond Joy: keep almonds as are chopped or mix in whole
- Reeses: add peanut butter. these PB cups are a good alternative here too.
- Milky Way: make a caramel date paste with dates and coconut milk blended together
- Twix: ooh, I should work on a cookie crust and make a layered version of these with the caramel date paste ... next year...
- snickers: add peanuts to milky way version
P.S. All of these ingredients can be purchased at Thrive Market (which is kinda like if Whole Foods and Costco had a baby). You can find all your favorite health food staples and discover the latest ones that have just come out. Use this link and get 25% off your first order.
Note: Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links through which I have the opportunity to receive a small commission of sales. All commissions are used to help fund this blog. Thank you for your support!
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.