There are certain flavors that you miss when you strip your diet of most processed foods and sugar. Most cravings can be satisfied with natural foods, but particular taste memories require you to get creative. One of my absolute favorite candy bars was the Almond Joy bar, a chocolate coated candy bar with a sticky sweet coconut filling (known as a Mounds bar minus the almonds). My roommate, Bethany, reminded me of this old obsession a couple of nights ago when we were having a quiet night in, doing homework and socializing in the dorm kitchen.
Real Almond Joy bars contain two types of sugar (corn syrup and white sugar) and two different transfats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil)! Just one candy bar has a whopping 25 grams net carbs. These homemade gluten-free, low carb candy bars will boost your immune system and fuel your cells as opposed to breaking them down. Since they contain no dairy products, these treats are incidentally vegan. As one helpful reader pointed out, these candy bars are nearly sugar-free because the Lindt chocolate bars do contain 19g net carbs (for the whole 85% bar) and 35g net carbs (for the whole 70% bar). The amount of sugar per serving is low enough to incorporate into my healthy eating plan, but if it is important for you to go totally sugar-free, try experimenting with unsweetened chocolate. I’ve never had much luck with countering its bitterness, though.
Use extra virgin coconut oil for the most health benefits. Unlike its highly processed counterpart, this candy bar is the ideal preworkout food because the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are immediately burned for energy. Put down those complex carbs and indulge in a low carbohydrate snack that won’t send the fat storage hormone pumping through your body right before all of your hard work on the elliptical!
You can coat these bars in a snap with 70% cacao content chocolate, or make up a chocolate ganache to lower the carb content. The only problem with the ganache is that it is thicker and must be stored in the freezer to remain firm. Both coatings taste equally delicious, though!
Healthy Almond Joy Bars
Makes 20 bars
1 1/2 cups fine unsweetened shredded coconut
5-6 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup erythritol OR 1/4 cup xylitol OR 1/4 cup mild honey
Pure stevia extract, to taste (start with 1/16 of a teaspoon)
2 batches dark chocolate ganache or 2-3.5 oz Lindt 70% chocolate bars
Pinch of unrefined sea salt
If you are making sugar-free candies, start by melting the erythritol over medium heat in a saucepan until liquefied. Stir together coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, salt, and stevia. Pour in hot erythritol and mix together thoroughly until coconut oil is melted, forming a smooth paste. Drop dollops of the coconut mixture on to aluminum foil or waxed paper, and shape into flat logs with your fingertips.
If you are making paleo candies, heat honey, coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, salt, and stevia in a small saucepan until coconut oil is melted. Whisk mixture together until a smooth paste forms. Drop dollops of the coconut mixture on to aluminum foil or waxed paper, and shape into flat logs with your fingertips. Top with almonds, pressing the nuts down gently into the filling. Freeze for 5 minutes, or until filling is firm and cold.
Microwave chopped chocolate for 30 seconds on HIGH, and stir until smooth. Add 1/16 teaspoon of stevia and taste. Adjust sweetness level if necessary. Stick toothpicks into cold filling. Dip filling into chocolate, return to wax paper, and remove toothpick. Wait a minute or two for chocolate coating to harden, and enjoy!
~0.57g net carbs per candy bar without the chocolate coating
~35g net carbs per 1-3.5 oz 70% Lindt bar
~4g net carbs per bar made with 70% Lindt chocolate bar coating
I made quick nut clusters by dipping raw almonds into the ganache. Grab one from the freezer when you feel a chocolate craving coming on!
Dark Chocolate Ganache
1-3.5 oz 85% cacao content chocolate bar (I used Lindt)
5 tablespoons organic heavy cream
1/3 cup erythritol or 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract
Grind erythritol to the consistency of powdered sugar (see this post) in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Chop chocolate and combine with erythritol and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH and stir until smooth. Add a couple more tablespoons of heavy cream if coating is too thick. Stir in stevia, and taste. Adjust sweetness level if necessary. Use for nut clusters, Almond Joy bars, topping cupcakes… whatever you like! Store candies made with ganache in the freezer.
~22g of carbs for the whole batch