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Fall is here, and Halloween is around the corner… which means we will be bombarded with the temptations of candy, brownies, cookies and other sugary treats. Instead of processed desserts with tons of questionable ingredients, this is a time to make delicious healthier homemade treats! These bars taste like chocolate peanut butter cheesecake… seriously. They are delicious!
What are superfoods?
The term “superfoods” has become something nutrition therapists might roll their eyes at. What determines a superfood anyways? It seems like everything from blueberries to quinoa to seaweed are considered superfoods. In reality, the food industry has an incentive to market superfoods to boost sales. Consumers are willing to pay more for foods perceived as healthy, and health claims such as “superfoods” seem to help. We see packaged foods posing as superfoods making ludicrous health claims, when they are not much better than junk foods!
As nutrition therapists, we focus on nutrient-dense foods. In our eyes, nutrient-dense foods ARE superfoods – and let’s celebrate that in this recipe! Although these bars are a dessert, they do contain ingredients known for their nutritional benefits – cacao, maca powder and walnuts, to name a few.
Why we love it
Cacao (or dark chocolate) is a great source of magnesium. To make cacao or chocolate the cacao beans are fermented – this allows the magnesium to become bioavailable.
Maca root powder has a nutty, almost sweet taste (perfect for baked goods!). Maca is considered an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stressors. It is best known for its ability to support hormone balance. This includes adrenal support, increasing libido, fertility and improving mood.
Walnuts are a fantastic source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. In this recipe, the walnuts are not heated – this is beneficial because most baked goods with walnuts will be baked in an oven, reducing the wonderful benefits of the healthy fats!
Raw Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Superfood Bars
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup plus tablespoon melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup plus tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- heaping ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2½ cups almond flour
- 2½ tablespoons maca powder
- 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 1½ cups walnuts
- 2 tablespoons cacao powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 10 medjool dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then drained)
- 2 tablespoons water
- flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top, optional
- Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt, until combined. Add the almond flour and maca, and stir to combine (the mixture will be thick). Fold in the chocolate chips and press into the pan and place in the freezer so that it firms up a bit while making the next layer.
- In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, cacao powder, and sea salt, until the walnuts are well chopped. Add the dates and pulse to combine, adding 2 tablespoons water if the blade gets stuck. Process until smooth, then spread onto the cookie layer. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Freeze for 30 minutes (this will help them firm up, making them easier to cut). Remove and slice into approximately 25 bars. Or, slice into smaller pieces for bite size treats!
- Store remaining bars in the fridge or freezer in a sealed glass container.
Adapted from Love and Lemons
Daina Rasutis is a current student of NTI’s Nutrition Therapist Master Program. She plans to use her certification to spark a craving for health through movement, sustainable living and, of course, nourishing food. Follow Daina’s cooking creations and lifestyle tips at www.tabletocrave.com
Image use permission given by Daina Rasutis
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