Sweet & Salty Super Food Chocolate Bark {Dairy-Free, Paleo}

Chocolate.

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It’s one of the foods we think we “can’t have” when we eat in a way most people would consider healthy.

Fortunately, chocolate is one of the foods that absolutely can (and should!) be part of a nourishing, satisfying way of eating.

When it comes to chocolate, quality matters.

Raw cacao beans and powder (pronounced ka-KOW) have more antioxidants than any other food. Raw cacao isn’t treated by heat (and therefore damaged) like the more familiar cocoa powder, so its supercharged, health-boosting, disease-fighting antioxidant properties remain intact.

When we hear about the health benefits of chocolate, this is the kind we’re talking about.

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Here are just a few more of the health benefits of raw cacao:

This bark recipe is truly a super food recipe because it contains TWO types of chocolate – cacao powder and cacao nibs.

Raw cacao nibs come from the whole cacao beans, so they are a bit bitter but have a nice crunch to them. They work well in this recipe because the sweetness of the bark offsets the bitterness.

I served it last week at a luncheon at work and this past weekend at a women’s retreat where I did a presentation about taking a “Real Food Reset.” It was so much fun!

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I also used almonds, which are rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats, and provide an additional crunch factor.

In another variation of the recipe, I used pumpkin seeds instead of almonds. Both were delicious!

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There’s one more ingredient in this bark that might not be so familiar – goji berries – but don’t let that deter you!

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are considered a superfood because of their high antioxidant concentration (when you hear “antioxidant,” think anti-aging, protective and pro-health!). Some of their antioxidant compounds can help protect our vision, too.

They tend to be a bit pricy, but a bag lasts me for several months, so I find that it’s worth it. I buy them on Amazon or at our local Asian grocery store (cheapest place to buy!), Vitacost.com, Wegmans, Whole Foods, Home Goods and most natural food stores.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut nectar, raw honey or 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons maca powder (optional but recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons almonds or pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries, roughly chopped
  • coarse sea salt, to taste

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Directions

  1. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper. Spread nuts/seeds, goji berries, and cacao nibs evenly on the sheet.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and place it on the stove top. Rest a small glass bowl on top and turn the heat to medium low. Put the oil and sweetener in the glass bowl and whisk together until the oil melts.
  3. Once oil and sweetener are combined, gently whisk in the vanilla extract, raw cacao powder, and maca powder until silky smooth. **Be careful not to overmix or the chocolate will get clumpy.** That’s what happened to us the first time we made this!chocolate melting
  4. As soon as chocolate is smooth and shiny, pour it on top of the nuts/seeds, berries/fruit and nibs to cover them. Shake the sides of the parchment paper, so all of the nuts/berries/nibs collect in the middle and are covered with chocolate then use a spatula to spread it out in an even layer.
  5. Sprinkle a couple pinches of sea salt on top of the chocolate.
  6. Set in the freezer to harden for about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove bark from parchment paper, break into pieces and enjoy! Store in the freezer or refrigerator, as coconut oil begins to melt as it warms up to room temperature.

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4 Comments

  1. Kayla

    This looks tasty! I’ve always wondered, is cacao powder the same as cocoa powder? If not, are they interchangeable? I’d like to make this but all I have is cocoa powder. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hey Kayla! Thanks! Raw cacao powder and cocoa powder are different. When we hear about all of the health benefits of chocolate, it’s from the raw cacao powder, which has not been heat treated like the more familiar cocoa powder. Whenever something like that is exposed to heat, the nutrients are destroyed. You could still make it with cocoa powder, but the health benefits are enhanced when you use raw cacao powder. I hyperlinked to an article from Dr. Mercola within the post. Check out the paragraph between the first and second picture that starts “Raw cacao beans and powder…” and then click on the orange link to learn even more about raw cacao and how awesome it is! You can also check out the post I wrote about my sweet treat staples and in that post I explain (1) Why I love it (2) How I use it in recipes and (3) Where you can find it: https://rachelsnourishingkitchen.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/how-to-stock-a-healthy-pantry-11-sweet-treat-staples-gluten-dairy-free/. Hope that helps!

      • Kayla

        Thanks for the information. Dr. Mercola’s website was very informative. Plus, his bonbon recipe looks awesome, too! I really enjoy your blog, I always learn something.

    • Hey Kayla! Thanks! Raw cacao powder and cocoa powder are different. When we hear about all of the health benefits of chocolate, it’s from the raw cacao powder, which has not been heat treated like the more familiar cocoa powder. Whenever something like that is exposed to heat, the nutrients are destroyed. You could still make it with cocoa powder, but the health benefits are enhanced when you use raw cacao powder. I hyperlinked to an article from Dr. Mercola within the post. Check out the paragraph between the first and second picture that starts “Raw cacao beans and powder…” and then click on the orange link to learn even more about raw cacao and how awesome it is! You can also check out the post I wrote about my sweet treat staples and in that post I explain (1) Why I love it (2) How I use it in recipes and (3) Where you can find it: https://rachelsnourishingkitchen.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/how-to-stock-a-healthy-pantry-11-sweet-treat-staples-gluten-dairy-free/. Hope that helps!

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