We all need treats. The good news is that treats don’t have to be bad for you! Here are some delicious homemade chocolate covered oat and nut clusters.
I made this batch with carob instead of cocoa powder so that I can sleep at night, ha ha (sensitive to stimulants over here). Carob is high in fibre and contains no stimulants which makes it a great choice for people with high blood pressure, anxiety and sleep problems. The nuts and seeds are a good source of fibre, protein and short chain omega 3 fatty acids, all of which are important for heart health!
The cocoa butter is fat. It is naturally made up of both saturated and monounsaturated fats (nature has a remarkable way of creating balanced foods). People are still scared of saturated fat, even though it is a nutrient and both plant and animal food sources naturally contain some saturated fats. The BEST thing about fats is that they help to balance our blood sugar (avoid diabetes!!!) and they contain important fat-soluble vitamins. They are also used to keep our brain and nervous system healthy, omega 3 fats are used to reduce inflammation, consuming moderate amounts saturated fat may even help reduce risk of stroke (see references at bottom)! In some people, increasing saturated fat may increase cholesterol but for others it may actually lower it. In any case, if you are going to eat chocolate anyway, this recipe is a healthier choice!
The work that I do with clients shows me over and over again that consuming too much sugar, flours and processed foods leads to diabetes and heart disease. Eating natural fats in balance with natural carbohydrates (veggies!!) and natural proteins helps to protect us from heart disease. So enjoy fat. No, it does not make you fat.
Back to the recipe: Carob powder tastes similar to chocolate and is almost the same consistency so I use it as a 1:1 replacement for cocoa powder. So simple!
These clusters may turn out to be a little ugly, but they will taste delicious and squash your chocolate cravings. I use organic cocoa butter, which gives it the consistency and flavour of chocolate but without the stimulant effect.
You can find cocoa butter (I used Organic Traditions brand) and carob powder at almost any health food store. There will be leftover ingredients to make another batch!
As always, I encourage you to get creative in the kitchen, you can use different ingredients to suit your taste. You can add in dried fruit, or sprinkle with cinnamon, or even add in chilli flakes for a spicy chocolate!
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