It was love at first bite. At least that's what my kids thought. I was relieved that they loved these Chocolate Almond Butter Bars because I really didn't add much sugar. And the sugar that I did add is from maple syrup. There is definitely a sweetness from the dark chocolate, but it was so dark, I thought it might be too bold of a flavor.
I was wrong.
And this is a week after Halloween...the one time of year where I let my kids splurge a little on candy, completely killing any sensitivity they may have to sugar!
A Case for Lower Sugar Desserts
Did you know that the average American consumes a whopping 82 calories from sugar each day? You may think that would take a lot of work to eat or drink all that sugar, but with the amount of processed foods and health-washed foods (foods that are marketed to sound healthy but are really crap), consuming 82 grams of sugar can be done over lunch!
Think about that.
All you need is a grande Pumpkin Spice Tea Chai Latte and a piece of fruit and you're over the limit. Really, it doesn't take very much.
All the more reason the control the amount of sugar you (and your kids if you have them) eat by preparing things at home.
And despite our kids having much smaller bodies, I'd be willing the bet they're eating or drinking a proportionately larger amount of sugar for their body size.
I know how hard it is to steer kids in the direction of making healthier choices and ween them off of sugar. My kids range between the ages of 3 and 12, so it's interesting to watch how their maturity levels affect their decisions.
If you're a parent, my advice is to continually encourage your kids to make smarter choices and fill your cabinets with healthier options. This is a much better path than completely depriving them of snacks or ridiculing them for eating a piece of candy. Moderation is ok. But what's more helpful are informed conversations about nutrition - based on information you already have.
Parents are smart people.
Then there's high school.
There is a high school a couple blocks from my house. It's a good high school. The kids have to be smart to go there. Smart kids make smart decisions most of the time. That said, with the pressure of food marketing, some of the worst foods have a healthy spin on them, like juice, energy drinks and drinkable yogurts. I could go on for days about the 40 grams of sugar in a large specialty coffee drink or the 60 grams of sugar in super sized smoothies.
It's hard to lay blame on a 16-year-old with $5 in their pocket who is looking for something at a convenience store or fast food restaurant conveniently located right across the street from school. If they're tired, hungry...probably both...they're going to choose what what will give them a pick-me-up in a way that they can afford.
Cut the Sugar, Increase the Fat
Not long ago, I wrote about keto-based diets, which is a very high fat, very low sugar diet.I'm not opposed to a keto diet, especially if someone is grappling with high A1C levels, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes - which amounts to a solid 100 million adults in the United States.
While I don't think most people can or would be able to sustain a keto diet for a lifetime, it sure as heck wouldn't hurt for just about each and every one of us to rethink how much sugar we're taking in. Aside from candy, we tend to eat a tremendous amount of refined carbohydrates, too. Breads, pasta, pizza and crackers all fall into that category.
Amping up the fat a little bit not only makes food taste better, but it also helps to stave off hunger, keeping us fuller longer.
These bars have just under 9 grams of sugar per serving, and contain around 24 grams of fat, largely from coconut oil and almond butter.
If you or someone in your family has a nut allergy, you can swap out the almond butter for sunflower seed butter, and the almond flour I use in the recipe for coconut flour.
I really don't add a lot of almond flour, but felt it added a much better consistency than going without it.
Chocolate Almond Butter Bars
Yields: 16 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time (including refrigeration): 2 hours
1 cup creamy almond butter (no sugar added)
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup almond flour (I like this variety of Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup + 1 ounce dark chocolate chips (I used this Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels)
- Combine melted coconut oil, almond butter and maple syrup in a medium-size bowl. Mix thoroughly, until the coconut oil has blended with the almond butter and maple syrup.
- Add in almond flour.
- Pour almond butter mixture into an 8 x 8 pan. Refrigerate for about an hour, or under the center of the mixture is solid.
- Melt chocolate chips in a bowl over medium heat (see notes)
- After they're 90% melted, remove from heat and continue to stir.
- Pour over the refrigerated almond butter mixture and refrigerate for another hour, or until chocolate is completely set.
A couple of notes:
About melting chocolate: There are a couple ways to double boil - in the microwave or on a stovetop. I always use a stovetop because it's easier for me to control the melting of the chocolate. If you melt in the microwave, check back every 30 seconds to give the chocolate chips a stir.
Don't let a drop of moisture get into your chocolate or it will seize up. This has happened to me before. It's very frustrating!
About refrigerated the bars: I love trying things right after I make them. I had a bar about an hour after I poured the chocolate over the top. The chocolate was hard, but really felt the bars held up a lot better after they were refrigerated the next day.
Enjoy these bars and let me know what you think.
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