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Homemade Healthier Chocolate Bars – Naturally Sweetened

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The holidays are a time where everyone seems to let loose a little with their dietary guidelines.

You’ll see even the strictest of eaters sneaking a cookie or two, like these gluten free jam thumbprints and pepperminty freezer fudge during Christmas dinner.

Then there are those of us who like to stuff our faces with everything in sight. Pecan pie becomes an endangered species this time of year.

I’m glad to say though that there’s a happy medium ground.

Make Your Homemade Sweets & Eat Them Too

Healthier, real food desserts are simple to make and taste even better than their preservative laden, junk filled, store bought look alikes.

You can even create a nutrient dense dessert to enjoy, like these dark chocolate almond butter no bakes, or this eggnog that helps strengthen and remineralize teeth.

My biggest weakness is chocolate.

Every year at Christmas my grandma would make the best fudge using marshmallow cream. It was creamy and fluffy and chocolaty.

Everyone loved it and scarfed it down with sugar-crazed Christmas glee, but unfortunately it didn’t have a single wholesome ingredient.

I’ve since discovered that not only are healthier chocolate desserts possible, but they really are easy. We love drizzling this naturally sweetened hot fudge sauce on our ice cream. And I’ve been making this chocolate bar recipe for the past year that uses superfood ingredients like coconut oil and raw honey (use the code Katie15 for 15% off at that site!).

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What’s Really in Store Bought Candy?

I mentioned in this Almond Joy cookie bars post just how much sugar is in one itsy bitsy candy bar, but take a look at the ingredients in some of the popular brands.

One of my favorites, Milky Way, has 31 grams of sugar in a bar that’s only 52 grams.

That’s 60% pure sugar!

The ingredients list doesn’t look any better.

“INGREDIENTS: MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, COCOA BUTTER, SKIM MILK, CHOCOLATE, LACTOSE, MILKFAT, SOY LECITHIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL AND/OR PALM OIL, SKIM MILK, LESS THAN 2% – MILKFAT, COCOA POWDER PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, MALTED BARLEY, LACTOSE, SALT, EGG WHITES, CHOCOLATE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR.” (source)

Just reading it makes my teeth hurt from all that sugar!

So what makes these homemade candy bars so much better?

In addition to being free of GMO franken foods, refined sugar and hydrogenated oil (or the next manmade “food” to come along now that the FDA is kicking trans fats out on their buns), the homemade version uses ingredients that may actually help you stay healthy.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Healthier Chocolate Bars

Coconut oil is rich in fat burning MCFA (medium chain fatty acids) and lauric acid.

Despite the bad reputation saturated fat has gotten over the past few decades, mainstream science is now beginning to admit that foods like butter and full fat cream are actually good for you and don’t cause heart disease. You’ll still find some who insist that saturated fat causes problems, but just spread some more grass fed butter on your homemade bread while they’re telling you why hydrogenated GMO canola margarine is better.

Another thing I love about coconut oil is how versatile it is.

There are too many uses for coconut oil to list them all, but I like using it in my homemade bodycare products, like this whipped mint chocolate body butter, or this skin soothing calendula salve. (We have some simple ideas from Katie at KS for how to use coconut oil as well.)

Raw Honey is Better

Healthier Chocolate Bars

(photo source)

Raw honey (use the code Katie15 for 15% off at that site!) is not the same as the syrup in that happy little bear at your big box grocery store. Did you know that 75% of honey tested in grocery stores here showed no traces of honey?

And even if you do snag some of the real stuff, if it isn’t raw, you’re losing out on the amazing benefits it has to offer. Local raw honey can help with seasonal allergies, soothe a burn and even improve cholesterol levels (source).

Cocoa or Cacao Powder Packs a Punch

This chocolaty powder is especially high in magnesium, phosphorous and iron.

It’s estimated that as many as 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium alone. This mineral is vital for bone health, mental alertness and even helps reduce asthma symptoms, among many other things. Body odor and migraines are other signs of magnesium deficiency. (source)

Did you see our recent guest post on magnesium as an aid to ease morning sickness?

Customize It!

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This chocolate bar recipe is completely customizable with whatever flavor floats your boat.

I like mixing unsweetened coconut flakes and sliced almonds (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) in mine for an “almond joy” type of bar. They’re also great with a crunchy nut butter or some peppermint extract. I’ve even mixed cereal in for some crunch before.

To this base recipe you can add…

Experiment with the amounts, adding a little bit at a time until you’re happy with the taste and texture.

Print
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Healthier Chocolate Bars

  • Author: Jamie Larrison
  • Yield: 4-8 1x
  • Category: dessert

Description

These easy chocolate bars can be customized to make a variety of flavors.


Ingredients

Scale


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Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Be sure that the coconut oil isn’t melted or the honey will sink to the bottom. You can increase the honey by a few tablespoons if you like your chocolate really sweet.
  2. Mix in any add in ingredients. Some do well processed right in the food processor, others you’ll want to stir in with a spoon or sprinkle on top after pouring.
  3. Pour into a mold or spoon dollops onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Your servings yield will depend on what mold you use or the size of dollops.
  4. Chill or freeze until completely solid, about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Notes

Unrefined coconut oil can be used, or refined if you don’t want to taste the coconut so much.

Coconut oil is linked to Tropical Traditions, but you can also find it at Vitacost, Mountain Rose Herbs (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) or From Nature With Love.

  • Need a little help getting healthy food on the table every day? Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type, including GAPS, Paleo, AIP, Whole30, vegetarian and more! You remain totally in control: use your own recipes, accept theirs, and teach the system what your family likes…Check out how powerful it is here!

These chocolates will melt if your house is above 70 degrees. For many that isn’t a problem, but our house is warm so I like to pull one out of the fridge right before eating. It will also melt in your hand very quickly, so be sure to use a plate!

Do you have any favorite Christmas desserts?

jamie 150Jamie is the wife of Devon and mommy to Liam. She studied Journalism at Grace College and is currently working on a Master Herbalist certificate. She started an all-natural body care business, This & That Herbal, and is the development director for A’amarna Toothpaste. Follow her as she explores how to be a good steward of her God given resources and shares it at How To Just About Anything.
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

15 thoughts on “Homemade Healthier Chocolate Bars – Naturally Sweetened”

  1. Just wanted to pop in and say that a blender does work fine!

    I like the flavor, texture, everything–but the one thing I don’t like about coconut oil is that it doesn’t hold up at all at room temperature. We served this chocolate on spoons, which ended up working really well. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to serve to guests!

    If someone can come up with a product that keeps all the good properties of coconut oil and stays solid at room temperature, that would be awesome! 🙂

    1. You could try adding some cocoa butter. It is the traditional oil for chocolate, and it has a bit higher of a melting point (100 F, I think?). I don’t know how much of it you would have to add to the coconut oil to get the desired results, though.

  2. “Did you know that 75% of honey tested in grocery stores here showed no traces of honey?”

    This statement is not quite correct, and it seems to imply that 75% of “honey” is made of something else entirely, like corn syrup. Such adulteration or mislabeling certainly does occur with honey, but that’s not what the referenced article is talking about. What’s actually going on here is that the USDA’s definition of “honey” requires that it still have the naturally occurring pollen in it. So this 75% of “honey” is still a product made by bees, it’s just been filtered intensively to either keep the honey from crystalizing as quickly or to hide its geographic origin. So it would be more accurate to say “Did you know that 75% of honey tested in grocery stores here showed no traces of pollen?”

    1. You’re right Jonathon, this article focuses on the absence of pollen, however I had read several articles on the issue and just referenced this one. The FDA issued these guidelines that defined what is considered honey. When the pollen is removed then it falls under the category of adulteration (I believe) which the FDA says is when a “valuable constituent has been omitted in whole or in part from a food.” It would then not be considered honey according to their guidelines. Thanks for bringing that up! http://1.usa.gov/1CVoZKP

  3. How would you make this if you don’t have a food processor?

    Would it be okay to warm the ccn oil just enough to melt & then add honey? When mixed add cocoa pwd?

    1. You could try it this way, however when I tried melting the oil I couldn’t get the honey to mix properly. I ended up with some bars that had lots of honey, while others were bitter. If you do melt it, I would try putting it in a blender if you have one.

    2. Double boiler (i.e., glass or metal dish set in a pot of water). I’ve done this with a recipe I made up, and it works fine, though you do have to stir it for quite a while. Once you’ve stirred long enough, the chocolate should visibly change texture (I think this is what you have to do to get chocolate that breaks instead of bending, as well). There are a lot of recipes with instructions sprinkled around the web.

  4. You didn’t put “raw” in front of the cacao, but it is important to use raw as it preserves all the “super” nutrient powers that real chocolate has. Raw means un-roasted…totally unaltered…an amazing superfood! I buy the “nibs’ which are just the beans (think soft coffee beans) & grind up. Leaving pieces adds great crunch & texture, too. They also sell raw coco powder which has most all of the cacao butter removed. Which brings a point for your previous poster!! You can buy chunks of cacao butter & use instead of coconut butter…Awesome!!!

    1. I used to buy raw cacao powder because of the benefits you mentioned above, but I was concerned about the high amount of phytic acid. I haven’t been able to find though if the roasted cocoa has any less phytic acid. Did you happen to know if it does? And from the limited nutrition data I found online, the iron, vitamin C and calcium levels are about the same in both the cacao and cocoa, but the antioxidants are reduced by about 70% when it’s roasted. Thanks for bringing this up! I’ll have to try some cocoa nibs 🙂

  5. LOVE this! Quick Q: Will it be okay to sub the coconut oil with regular butter? My daughter dislikes coconut with a vengeance..LOL
    Thanks!!

    1. You could try it, but I don’t think it would work very well. I’m thinking it would taste like very buttery chocolate. If you use refined coconut oil you shouldn’t really taste it. You mainly taste the honey and whatever you mix in, not the coconut. Let me know how it works if you try it!

  6. Heather Bennett

    I have been making and enjoying this chocolate for a long time. The only problem is that it is addictive! So yummy!

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