Archive of ‘Candies’ category

An Easter GIVEAWAY + Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg Candies (a.k.a. “Better-than-Reese’s” Eggs!) for a Healthier Holiday

My name is Lauren, and I’m a Reese’s peanut butter egg-a-holic.

Paleo Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs

Earlier this month, I received a request from a reader, Deb, to create a healthier version of the highly addictive, seasonal candy that is the Reese’s egg. Knowing there are many low carb eaters out there who face the temptation to hoard these candies every Easter, I was determined to create a healthier alternative. It would be  dairy-free, soy-free, and paleo for my primal peeps and allergen-averse readers.

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Homemade Chocolate Candy Bark and my Kindle E-Book!

Boy oh boy, it’s good to be back in the kitchen! Back with a little something special for the holidays, of course. It’s sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate candy bark! Isn’t it purdy, lounging on a gold doily?

Sugar-Free,

G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s, baby!

Doilies are works of art, aren’t they? I see them as small, papery miracles. They make any food visually appealing. They make you feel like you have some sort of “eye” for decorating. They come in classic white, or SHINY!!! I’m a firm believer in their ability to make everything better. 

This festive candy is made with a smooth and sweet chocolate base that contains no milk, but all of the richness of traditional milk chocolate bark. This candy bark is one for your Christmas cookbook.

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Healthy Peanut Butter Cups – Homemade Treats that are Low Carb, Primal, and Nearly Sugar-Free!

This healthy version of everyone’s favorite peanut buttery candy is quick and easy to make. Check ‘em out!


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Yes, we can eat peanut butter cups following a healthy, whole foods eating plan. These delicious candies melt in your mouth, and give you a dose of antioxidant rich chocolate and immune system boosting coconut oil. This recipe is pretty nifty since you can shape and flavor your chocolates any way you’d like! The possibilities are endless…

Healthy Peanut Clusters

This is going to be the first in a series of quick and easy desserts that can be made with primal (or paleolithic diet-friendly) ingredients. I’ll include a low carb (sometimes sugar-free) version for each of these recipes as well, of course.

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Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Here’s a sweet treat for you peanut butter lovers out there! If you are allergic to everyone’s favorite legumes, try substituting in smooth almond butter for a nutty flavor.

Try sprinkling chopped peanuts on top (instead of the sliced almonds pictured here). I improvised with what I had on hand.

Healthier Peanut Butter Pie (Sugar-Free, Low Carb)

Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs… Move Over Cadbury!

First things first: My iherb.com rewards code is NIN467. Thank you to BkBabe and the other readers who clued me in about this! Use it for your first iherb.com purchase, and get a $5 discount.

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It’s that time of year. That time when convenience stores have Easter candy displays set up. Even the most devoted healthy eaters can get nostalgic, seeing the colorful displays of packaged marshmallow and chocolate confections. Reminiscent of childhood candy baskets on Easter morning, these toxic frankenfoods certainly still have an allure for me. The single most tempting treat is Cadbury Cream Eggs, hands-down. As much as my tastebuds have adapted to subtle sweetness and natural sugar substitutes, I could still probably down a package of those goo-filled overpoweringly sweet candy eggs.

With a healthy dose of natural saturated fats and antioxidants from the organic cream, butter, and unsweetened chocolate, these homemade candies will allow you to have your seasonal treats while maintaining your healthy diet. I seriously cannot believe the power sugar holds over us at times. I believe due to biochemical individuality, it’s only certain individuals who are cursed with getting that “jolt” of happiness every time they eat sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods. The evolutionary adaptation that helped us to identify energy rich foods back when we were chasing around saber toothed tigers can be tortuous in this processed food-filled day and age!

My homemade almost sugar-free take on these well loved confections does not taste exactly the same, but is every bit as delicious and satisfying. The simple filling is light but rich, with buttery undertones. I even made a vegan version for you dairy-free folks! The combination of stevia and honey contributes just the right amount of sweetness to the creamy center, minus the gloppy powdered sugar/corn syrup consistency and cloying quality. My testers certainly gave these the thumbs up!

Now let’s compare these treats with the store bought sugar bombs…

Original Creme Eggs:
28 grams net carbs!

Healthy Creme Eggs:
6 grams net carbs!

Pretty crazy, huh? The little bit of really sugar in honey works really well here. I did not try a version with erythritol because a) I’m out, and b) I’m guessing there will be a cooling effect/grittiness that would be unpleasant in the creamy filling.

Now go buy some egg molds off of ebay ($5 including shipping!), and get candy making. Happy early Easter!

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
1 fresh organic egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Heat butter, cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. Whisk in egg yolk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). It will leave a trail when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

~4.2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

cremeeggvegan

Dairy-Free/Vegan Filling

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
Tiny pinch xanthan gum OR 1 fresh egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good-tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove the lid gently, and scoop out the solid upper layer of coconut cream. Heat shortening, coconut cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. If using xanthan gum, simply add the tiniest pinch you can hold between your fingertips, and whisk for a minute. It will thicken a little bit in the pan, but will become even more viscous upon cooling. Less is more here. It’s better to add too little xanthan then have it turn slimy because you’ve added too much. You can always add more when the mixture has cooled. If using egg yolk, whisk it into the warmed coconut cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

Sugar-Free “Milk” Chocolate Egg Shells (or Chocolate Chunks)

Makes 8 egg shells

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 tablespoons powdered nonfat milk (I use Organic Valley)
2 tablespoons xylitol or 3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 teaspoons nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic)

Ensure all utensils and working bowls are completely dry. Powder sweetener and powdered milk with the flat blade on a Magic Bullet, or your coffee grinder. Whir for at least one minute until it becomes an extra fine powder. Do not open canister immediately in order to allow the powdered mixture to settle. In a large microwave safe bowl, break chocolate into chunks, and add shortening. Heat chocolate mixture for 35 seconds on HIGH and stir. Heat in 10 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Dump in powdered mixture, and fold around the bowl with a spatula until smooth. It will look clumpy and thick at first, but you will be able to smooth it out. Reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill molds, spreading chocolate up the sides with your fingertips or the back of a tiny measuring spoon. Chill in freezer, and repeat, only spreading chocolate around the top edges (which tend to be too thin since the chocolate sinks into the middle of the molds. Don’t worry if the inside looks messy–the outside will still look perfect. Smooth the top edges of the chocolate shells to ensure that they’ll fit together. Chill again. Pop out of mold using gentle pressure on the backs of the wells, along with rapping the plastic tray on the counter. Fill one egg half with filling. On another egg half, paint a thin line of extra chocolate along the top edges. Stick the second half over the first, pressing firmly to seal. Let set for five minutes. Eat!

For dairy-free chocolate shells, omit milk powder and decrease shortening to 1/2 teaspoon.

If making into chunks, pour into a pan lined with parchment and spread flat. Chill until firm, then chop into chunks.

~2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

OM
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NOM!

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Check out this week’s Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more information on healthful fats!

Romantic Indulgences: Healthy Truffles and Mini Cheesecakes

Chocolate raspberry mini cheesecakes, anyone?
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I realize this post is a bit late for preparing these romantically themed treats in time for that special someone today. Please excuse the tardiness, because this week has been insane. Midterms and the big game just happened to fall within the span of three days. Talk about a whirlwind.

The Cameron Crazies

Now that the madness is over (for now), let’s get cooking again! Valentine’s Day is the prime opportunity for showcasing chocolate desserts. I know I’ve been on a chocolate kick for the past, well, month, but stay with me here.

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These all natural low carb chocolate truffles are adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown, the television personality slash culinary god that inspired me to start cooking. Silky smooth and rich, with a strong undertone of rum flavoring (which can be omitted… keep reading teetotallers!), they are a pure hit of chocolate to the brain.

Because these amazing treats aren’t loaded with sugar, you’ll be satisfied with just a couple rich bites! What’s not to love about that?

Healthy Chocolate Truffles

I will probably omit the rum next time, but my friends certainly enjoyed them! They said the truffles tasted “professional.” Try a batch with and without the alcohol. You will want to make these more than once!

Healthy Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from this recipe by Alton Brown

Makes 16-18 truffles

Ingredients:
5 oz Lindt 85% cacao chocolate (from two chocolate bars)
1 1/2 tablespoons regular salted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum OR 2 teaspoons vanilla plus 4 teaspoons water
6 tablespoons erythritol, powdered (buy it here and here)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Truffle Coatings:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1-3.5 oz 70% cacao content Lindt chocolate bar + 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
Toasted unsweetened coconut
Toasted chopped pecans

Preparation:
Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet blender. Chop up cold butter into small chunks and set aside. Section out the Lindt bars into seven pieces each (I just eyeball it). Each piece is half of an ounce. Count out ten of these pieces. Chop or break up chocolate into small chunks. Add cream and erythritol. Microwave in a heat proof bowl on HIGH for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir until just smooth. Add butter and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in stevia and rum (or vanilla and water). Taste and adjust amount of stevia if necessary, adding 1/16 of a teaspoon until you reach desired level of sweetness. Pour into an 8 by 8 glass dish or other large pan and freeze for 10-20 minutes, or until firm. You could alternatively refrigerate filling and roll truffles the next day.

Scoop out truffles with a melon baller or teaspoon measure. Roll quickly (rinse hands under ice water and dry off) into balls, and set on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Your hands might get a bit messy if you don’t wear gloves. Freeze for five minutes while preparing coatings.

For a quick and easy coating, just roll the naked truffles in sifted cocoa powder. For a nice thin chocolate coating that keeps well at room temperature, melt the chopped 70% chocolate bar until smooth, then add stevia to taste, starting with 1/8 teaspoon. Dip cold truffle fillings into chocolate with a fork, them immediately roll in nuts, coconut or cocoa powder. You could also just leave the chocolate coating plan. Store refrigerated in an airtight container in the fridge, or on the counter top for 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.

~3g net carbs per truffle, coated in cocoa powder
~5g net carbs per truffle, coated in 70% chocolate coating

Love at first bite.
trufflebite

Recipe for the Mini Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes coming tomorrow. I have to go get ready to celebrate Valentine’s day. Apologies! I decided to enter a contest and need to save this recipe for next month!

Related blog content you might enjoy:
Chocolate Truffles @ The Protein Power Blog
Homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries @ Elana’s Pantry
Low Carb Chocolate Rum Balls @ About.com

Healthy Homemade Almond Joy Bars

Paleo Almond Joy Bars

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!

Sugar-Free Almond Joy Bars

Healthy Almond Joy Bars

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients:
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)
Raw almonds
2 batches dark chocolate ganache or 2-3.5 oz Lindt 70% chocolate bars
Pinch of unrefined sea salt

Preparation:
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!
freezerclusters

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

Chocolate Giveaways, Healthier Buckeyes, and Christmas Candy Making

Sugar-Free Buckeyes, how I love you so!
Sugar-Free Buckeye Candies (Low Carb)

To celebrate the season, I’m giving away two prizes to two readers who comment on this post. Up for grabs is a package of Green & Black’s Organic 85% cacao chocolate along with my cooking chocolate of choice, the Lindt Excellence 85% cacao bar. I have two of these bundles all wrapped up for the lucky readers!

Contest closes December 25th. The contest is closed. Thank you for your entry!
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Sugar-Free Low Carb Candy Bars… really.

This is my last recipe involving peanut butter for awhile, I swear! I’m finally tiring of the taste, which is a move in the right direction for me. The silky richness of nut butters can make it easy to consume them in excess! While nut butters are certainly healthier than processed junk food, they are very calorie dense, and laden with polyunsaturated oils.

If you too have peanut butter issues, or if you don’t like the taste (gasp!) use almond butter or sun butter in this recipe. Almond butter has higher proportion of monounsaturated fats, so some would consider it a more nourishing alternative to peanut butter. Admittedly, the real reason I’m not addicted to almond butter is the $12 a jar price tag!

This recipe was way too much fun to play around with, so I went a little crazy with the variations. The best part about it is the simple and readily available ingredients! You can use the microwave and get just one bowl dirty. If your mind hasn’t been blown yet, it will be when you find out this can be made dairy-free. Creamy unsweetened coconut milk is the magic maker for this trick. It will be a hint coconut-ty unless you use expeller-pressed coconut oil, but the texture will be just as dreamy.

These treats are smooth and peanut-buttery, with a salty crunch from the peanuts. They don’t really taste like Pay Day at all because they’re a hundred times better, and don’t stick to your teeth! These treats are named after those corn syrup-filled bars because of the similarity in appearances. Don’t be fooled.

Mock “PayDay” Peanut Treats
Inspired by this recipe by “Blenders”

Makes 6 bars


Ingredients:
1/4 cup peanut butter (no-stir type preferred)
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening, unsalted butter, or coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract OR sugar-free sweetener of choice
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

Preparation:
Add peanut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener, xanthan gum (if using), and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Fold in peanuts and drop in globs on to a pan lined with wax paper. Chill in freezer until firm, then transfer to refrigerator.

~6g net carbs per treat

For Peanut Butter Dessert Topping, whisk extra cream or coconut milk into “Pay Day” treat mixture ingredients until the sauce is smooth and light in color. Use almond butter for the most neutral taste. This sauce is also delicious made dairy-free. If you use coconut milk in place of heavy cream, there will be a subtle coconut flavoring. The sauce will be just as creamy, though. This would be heavenly over low carb ice cream. You could also dip apples or strawberries into it!

Ditch the polysyllabic ingredients of pre-packaged bars with these easy homemade protein bars. No refrigeration required! This recipe is easy on your digestive system, with no harsh sugar alcohols (maltitol is truly evil!) or an ungodly amount of fiber. It’s also pocketbook friendly since the ingredients are pretty cheap. Start with a quality whey (not soy!) protein powder free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I like Jay Robb or Jarrow Formulas unflavored whey protein. These protein bars may look like cookies, and they may smell like cookies, but they are NOT peanut butter cookies! I have a recipe for those and will get around posting at some point. I repeat, these are not cookies. They are dry and chewy because of the high whey protein content, just like real protein bars. If you’re using stevia, remember to make the dough a bit sweeter than you want the baked product to be.

Just for fun, let’s have a look at the ingredients for an Atkins Advantage Chocolate Peanut Butter protein bar:
Ingredients: protein blend [soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen, whey protein isolate (milk), sodium caseinate], glycerine, polydextrose, dry roasted peanut, peanut flour, palm kernel and palm oil, cellulose, coconut oil, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), natural and artificial flavor, olive oil, butter oil, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, citric acid, sucralose, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, acesulfame potassium. nutrition blend: tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide, vitamin a palmitate, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, alpha tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, biotin, calcium pantothenate, zinc oxide, folic acid, chromium chelate, phytonadione, sodium selenite. contains: soy, milk and peanuts.

I’ll admit to ingesting this frankenfood every once in awhile when I’m desperate for a sweet fix or on the road. It’s relieving to have a better option now!

Mock Protein/Atkins Bars

Makes four bars

Ingredients:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (any nut butter would work)
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter OR coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup whey protein powder (check for additives and carb content)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add nut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Stir in protein powder until mixture clumps together. Don’t worry if it separates and some of the liquid weeps out of the dough. Press mixture as flat as you can into a greased loaf pan. I like to place a piece of wax paper over the dough and press it flat with a smaller loaf pan. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan. The dough will absorb all of the liquid that has bubbled up. Slice with a sharp knife and store in baggies. Does not need to be refrigerated.

~5g net carbs and 29g protein per bar

Naked protein bars. Consume with gulps of water between bites.

Take your protein bars to the next level. Melt some 85% cacao content chocolate and sweeten it with stevia, to taste. Paint it across the bottoms of the protein bars with the small end of a spoon. Place chocolate side down on a chilled pan lined with wax paper. Make a recipe of the caramel sauce and spread it over the tops of the protein bars. Press sliced almonds into the caramel sauce. Paint chocolate over the tops and sides. Chill to firm up the chocolate. Place in a baggy for transport in your gym bag.

From drab to fab! I present to you mock Atkins bars, covered in dark chocolate and filled with caramel bars with a nice crunch from slivered almonds:

No preservatives or soy in that delicious bite.