If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that my son Caelan has a pretty hectic football (soccer) training schedule. He trains 4 days a week and the training grounds are about a 50-60 minute drive from where we live. On the trip down there, he normally has his favourite smoothie, which contains banana, frozen organic strawberries, chia meal, raw cacao powder and maple syrup. But I also wanted to add something more substantial to his diet, as he’s always hungry from all the exercise and constant growing he is now doing!
So I decided to develop a recipe for a quick snack bar, which wouldn’t sit heavy in his stomach. It also had to be easy to eat and not too messy in the car, as we go straight from school to training. He needs to ensure he has energy to burn, so I also had to be mindful of his nutritional requirements. That meant ensuring it contained carbs and protein, plus it also had to be low GI to give him that long lasting energy, so he could see out the 1½-2 hour long training session.
As Caelan is anaphylactic to peanuts, the almond butter I use in this bar is manufactured in a peanut-free facility. Luckily he can still eat tree nuts, so its fantastic that companies are now providing peanut-free tree nut products like this. I’ve also chosen to use raw chocolate to dip the bars, as my research has shown that raw cacao powder is high in magnesium, which is beneficial for muscle recovery.
However, using raw chocolate is a little trickier than regular chocolate, so I use one of the bars as a tester. To check if the chocolate is ready to use, I dip half of the bar. If the chocolate isn’t quite ready, you’ll see that it will be too thin and has no structure. It will also quickly drip off the bar and pool around it when setting. If this happens, the chocolate will just need to thicken up some more before you can use it. It will be ready when it is still runny enough to dip the bars, but is thick enough to hold its shape. As an alternative, you can of course, just use your favourite dark chocolate to dip the bars instead.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the raw cacao before measuring to make sure there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Recipe Update: I’m still very much an amateur, when it comes to working with raw chocolate. So I have spent the last couple of weeks continuing to experiment with it. I have found that by doubling the amount of raw cacao powder, it not only makes the raw chocolate thicker, it also means you can use the chocolate straight away. Instead of having to wait for the chocolate to thicken, before it can be used.
120g (4.2 ounces or 3 cups) crispy brown rice cereal (I use this brand)
88g (3.1 ounces or ½ cup) roughly chopped roasted unsalted almonds
60g (2.2 ounces or ½ cup) roughly chopped dried cranberries
22g (0.8 ounces or 2 tablespoons) chia seeds
14g (0.5 ounces or 2 tablespoons) almond meal/flour
160g (5.6 ounces or ½ cup) rice malt or brown rice syrup (I use this brand)
125g (4.4 ounces or ½ cup) almond butter (I use this brand)
2 tablespoons (30ml) raw cacao butter, melted (I use this brand)
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
⅛ teaspoon (0.625ml) Himalayan salt
60ml (¼ cup) raw cacao butter, melted (I use this brand)
2 tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
20g (0.7 ounces or 4 tablespoons) raw cacao powder (I use this brand)
Finely chopped dried cranberries
Raw cacao nibs (I use this brand)
Line a 20cm (8 inch) square baking pan.
Add the chia seeds to a coffee or spice grinder and process until the seeds become a meal.
In a bowl, stir the dry ingredients together, including the chia meal, and then set aside.
Add the wet ingredients to a small saucepan. Warm through, over a low heat, until well combined and then pour this into the bowl with dry ingredients.
Stir well to combine, and then transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
Using disposable gloves, firmly press the mixture down into the baking pan, so that the surface is even. If you don’t have gloves, you can just use a piece of baking paper/parchment placed over the top, as this stops the mixture sticking to you. Then place the pan in the refrigerator to set for about 3 hours.
To make the raw chocolate, add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk everything together. I like to use a small whisk to do this, as it helps disperse any small lumps in the cacao powder. When it’s thoroughly mixed, the chocolate will have a thick, syrupy consistency, pour it into a small rectangle container.
Once the slice has set, remove it from the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut the slice into 4 rows, and then cut each row into 3 even bars.
Tear off a piece of baking paper/parchment, for the chocolate dipped bars to sit on while they set.
Take a bar and then, holding it sideways, dip it half way into the chocolate. Now place it on the baking paper/parchment, before sprinkling the dried cranberries and cacao nibs over the top of the chocolate covered half. If the raw chocolate becomes too thick, just give it a very quick zap in the microwave. It will literally only need a few seconds, but give it a quick whisk before using it.
Allow the chocolate to set completely, before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can either store them in a single layer or use a piece of baking paper/parchment in between the layers.