I am so happy to be teaming up with the ladies from the 2012 Gluten-Free All-Star Recipes event back in December as we celebrate American Heart Month in February with another healthy and delicious recipe round-up: Gluten-Free & Heart Healthy 2013.
Thanks to the amazing Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen for creating this awesome gluten-free heart healthy badge!
Here I am, mid 30’s, with a business to run, a fabulous husband, 2 amazing kids, and a handful of doughy-eyed animals that all depend on me to be here, be active, and to always be in tip top shape. So for those very reasons, I try to do my best and always think about the choices I make and how I fuel my body. For me, it is imperative that I have healthy snacks on hand to eat on the go. I will always hold out for a home cooked meal when I am hungry for something substantial, but for some reason it is the times when I just need a little something to get me through that I get in trouble. I try to keep a variety of trail mixes, fruits, and raw bars on hand for easy heart healthy snacks to keep me going and out of the drive through line.
I wish I could say that I love to read articles about staying fit, what the new super food is, or how foods work in your body, but I don’t. I try though, I make an effort and 9 times out of 10 as I am reading the newest buzz article I tune out just like I did in school during health class. When I tried to sit and write this post and fill it full of heart healthy information for you I knew that I had to assemble the information in such a way that it would speak to me too if I was reading it. So here is the break down of the heart healthy ingredients that make up these decadent raw bars.
Cashews: The essential “heart-friendly” monounsaturated-fatty acids; like oleic, and palmitoleic acid, in cashews help lower harmful cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.
Almonds: The mono-saturated fat, protein and potassium contained in almonds are really good for your heart. Almonds also contain vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant and reduces the risk of heart diseases. The presence of magnesium in almonds helps to avoid heart attacks and almonds help reduce C-reactive protein which causes artery-damaging inflammation.
Dates:Recent studies have shown that consumption of dates are good for those who have heart problems. They have the ability to lower LDL cholesterol and since dates are digested very easily they are great for supplying quick energy.
Coconut Oil: Natural, nonhydrogenated coconut oil tends to increase HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease, and improve your cholesterol profile. People who traditionally consume large quantities of coconut oil as part of their ordinary diet have a very low incidence of heart disease and have normal blood cholesterol levels.
Dark Chocolate: Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate or white chocolate — also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
Almond Joy Raw Bars
Makes 7-8 snack size bars
1/4 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup almonds
1 cup Medjool dates, seeds removed & quartered
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. g-free vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut, I used sweetened
1/2 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
In the bowl of your food processor combine the nuts and dates. Process until a sticky dough is formed and the pieces of nuts and fruit are all similar sized pieces. Add the coconut oil and vanilla then process to combine well. Add the shredded coconut and dark chocolate chunks and pulse just until combined. Be careful not to over process at this point. Shape into equal sized bars, or roll into bite sized balls and wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. These raw bars should keep in the refrigerator for about a week or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.
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