Raw Chocolate Chia Walnut Energy Bars
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The only food I really still miss on my Esselstyn-style diet is Larabars--those yummy fruit & nut bars that are so darn convenient when you need a portable quick hunger-quenching snack.
Explanation: Nuts are not Esselstyn-friendly foods, except for walnuts, and only for those without heart disease.
My fave was Cashew Cookie, made with just cashews & dates--but when you look at the omega-6 content for cashews....it's sky high. And since most Larabars weigh in at 190-240 calories, and have 10-14 grams of fat per bar, I'm postivie that cutting out my daily Larabar helped contribute to my new-found weight-loss--which by the way--I am loving.
But still...on days when I exercise a lot, or have to miss or delay a meal, it sure would be nice to have a convenient Larabar.
Even Dr. Esselstyn gives the go-ahead for eating walnuts if you don't have heart disease--in moderation of course. Too bad, none of the Larabars are made with just walnuts. The closest they come is a mix of almonds (the first nut ingredient) & walnuts in the Apple Pie Larabar. So, that's why I've resorted to making my own.
Here's how the nuts used in Larabars stack up by saturated fat, and omega-6:omega-3 ratios
Cashews: 12.5% saturated fat 117:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
Almonds: 6.0% saturated fat 1800:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
Walnuts: 8.0% saturated fat 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio It's the Nut with the highest amount of omega-3s
Peanuts: 15.0% saturated fat 1659:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
If you need a refresher about why we should care about Omega-3s & Omega-6s and their effect on health & disease, click here.
The ideal goal for our daily intake of omega-6s to omega-3s is: 1:1 or 2:1, but most experts would say that 4:1 is fantastic, considering that the typical Western diet is 17:1.
My New Favorite Fruit-Nut Energy Bar--The Homemade Raw Chocolate-Chia Bar
I found this recipe in the January 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times, and it was developed by Mary Margaret Chappell. Chappell's bar uses blanched almonds, so I just subbed walnuts instead.
These bars have it all!
- Heart healthy unsweetened unprocessed no-fat cocoa. Cocoa powder has all the benefits of chocolate without the fat & calories. It lowers inflammation, increases HDLs, and has the potential to slow or prevent atherosclerosis. This comes from straight from a 2009 Spanish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Cocoa has more flavonoids than tea or red wine and it improves lipid profiles and insulin sensitivity, lowers blood pressure (click here), reduces platelet activity, and keeps the lining of blood vessels flexible and healthy. Click here to read more about the benefits of cocoa. This recipe provides about 1/2 tablespoon of pure cooca in every bar--all that's needed to accrue the health benefits.
- Chia seeds, the omega-3 antioxidant powerhouse that is high in fiber, keeps your blood sugar steady, and decreases inflammation. Click here and here to read more. This recipe provides a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of chia per serving, which is about 1,370 mg. of omega-3s.
- Walnuts have the highest amount of omega-3s of all the nuts. But it gets even better. A recent study out of Yale published in Diabetes Care, February 2010 found that type-2 diabetics who ate walnuts for 8 weeks significantly improved their endothelial function (measured by the brachial artery test)--which is the flexibility of arteries--and an important measure of arterial health. Too bad the study chose to use such a large amount of walnuts--2 ounces and 366 calories worth--equivalent to about 1/2 cup of walnuts! Click here for the study. This recipe provides a little less than 1/2 an ounce of walnuts per serving.
- Dates have one of the highest ORAC antioxidant rankings of any of the dried fruits--at 3895 for 1/4 cup. This recipe provides about 2.5 tablespoons of dates per serving.
- Honestly, these bars are one of the best tasting bars I've eaten--and I can't wait for you try them yourselves. The nuts, the chocolate, and crunch of the chia, combine to make something that's a cross between a chewy brownie & a Nestle's Crunch bar.
- Warning: Allow yourself only one--and make sure it's on a day that you've really put in a hard work-out! It would be very easy to eat 3 of these at one time.
Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars
Click here to view the recipe on one page, suitable for printing
Makes 10 bars
Prep time: 15 minutes
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (Warning: pinch each date carefully to be sure the pit has been removed! An errant pit will stop your food processor cold!)
1/3 cup raw usweetened (& undutched) cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole chia seeds, such as Salba (use the white ones--it looks prettier)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract, optional
1 cup raw walnut pieces
Oat flour for dusting
1. Place dates in bowl of food processor; puree until thick paste forms. If the dates are on the dry side, you may need to add small amounts of warm water to moisten them up--and make it easier to mix in the other ingredients. But, be careful to do this slowly, and not overdo it.
2. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, and vanilla, if using. Pulse until all ingredients are combined.
3. Add walnuts; pulse until nuts are finely chopped and well distributed through date mixture.
4. Spread large sheet of wax paper on work surface, and dust with oat flour, if using
5. Transfer date mixture to wax paper, and press mixture into 1/2 inch thich rectangle. Wrap tightly with the waxed paper, and then with foil. Chill overnight.
6. Unwrap block, and cut into 10 bars. Dust edges and sides with oat flour, if using, to prevent sticking. Wrap each bar in waxed paper & store in the refrigerator.
Nutritional Information, 1/10 of the recipe.
Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
Processing the Dates into a Thick Paste
Adding in the Chia Seed & Cocoa
Mixing Up the Dates, Chia, Vanilla, & Cocoa
Adding the Walnuts into the Mix
Mixing it All Up - So Easy!
Forming the Mixture into a Rectangle
Voila! 10 Scrumptious Bars
Packing Them Up to Store in the Fridge - Sprinkled with Oat Flour
If anyone out there gives these bars a try, please let me know how they turn out for you!!
The No-fat Peanut Butter News Flash! My friend Yaz emailed me on Wednesday to let me know she saw a Brand New Item at Trader Joe's: pure roasted peanut "flour" with nothing more than 100% roasted peanuts, for $3.49 a pound.
She figured it could make peanut butter just as well as PB2 does, which costs $3.99 + shipping, for just 6.5 ounces--almost 4 times as much as TJ's peanut flour. Plus, Trader Joe's product has no salt or sugar added to it--good for health--not so good for taste.
Coincidently, right after Yaz' email I checked out Emily Malone's Front Burner blog--and lo and behold, she had just posted a taste test comparison matching PB2 with the "peanut butter" made with Trader's Joe's Peanut Flour. Check it out here.
I picked up a bag of the peanut flour last night on my way home from work, and my husband, the peanut butter maven--who swears by PB2--and yes, he had just ordered & received a dozen jars of it last week--offered to be my taste-tester later today! I'll let you know if it's up to the PB maven's standards.
The PB Maven's (my husband) preliminary taste test results for TJ's peanut flour PB: "It's great! Can't tell any difference." I did add a tiny bit of salt, and a bit 'o honey. Yum!