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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13 Responses to Gluten-Free & Heart Healthy 2013: Almond Joy Raw Bars by Beard and Bonnet

  1. You just made my day! I love how much nutrition you packed into such an amazing sounding bar. They are super cute too! Can’t wait to make them!

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much! I love fooling my taste buds with super healthy snacks that taste like candy bars;) I hope you enjoy them too!

  2. Cara says:

    I must admit, I was dying to see this recipe! Love the flavors and chewy texture. Thank you so much for participating!!

  3. Oh, man, these look great! I am definitely making these asap as I’ve just finished yet another batch of your Cookie Dough Raw Bars (with the help of my two kids and husband). Thanks Meg :)
    -Dana

  4. Stephanie S says:

    These look great!! The ones I made were all crumbs… nothing to hold them together!?? HELP!! Maybe more coconut oil? I even thought almond butter? It was a great crumble! but I want those cute bars!!

    • Meg says:

      Hi Stephanie, If you followed the recipe than you should be able to gently press the crumbs and mold them into whatever shapes you want. You can grab a scoop full and add a little pressure to roll them into balls or what I do is work the crumbs into a large rectangle all even height and cut the bars out that way. If you followed another recipe you may want to add more coconut oil, but you want to be careful that they are not too wet. I hope this helps!

  5. Vic says:

    I prepared these delicious bars. I followed the recipe and since I was really craving chocolate, I melted 3/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips, sweetened with stevia and carefully spread this on the top of the bars after they had rested in the freezer for one hour. Thank you!!

    • Meg says:

      Vic, adding the chocolate layer to these bars sounds like an amazing idea! I think that I may have to try them that way next time.:)

  6. Lisa says:

    I just made these, and they are delicious~ So fast and easy too! Thank you for the recipe.

  7. Lesleah says:

    Meg….did you soak the nuts before you made this recipe? Was the coconut oil at liquid stage or solid? Thanks…I am anxious to surprise my husband as Almond Joy’s are his favorite candy bar and trying to feed him “healthier” foods these days.

    • Meg says:

      Hi Lesleah, I did not soak the nuts and the coconut oil was in solid form. Almond Joy’s are my favorite candy bar too and I cant get enough of these when I make them! I hope your husband enjoys them as much as we do.

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