Chococolate Orange Holiday Bark

The Holiday season is synonymous with over-indulgence and diet derailing treats, dinners and desserts. But who says that your ‘treats’ can’t be just as health promoting as your salads? The key to keeping our health goals on track (during the Holidays and beyond) isn’t about eliminating all the fun, it’s about choosing the right ingredients and indulging wisely.

To touch on this, let’s have a look at the ingredients of one of the most popular smackable holiday chocolate treats, Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Ingredients:
Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Dried Skimmed Milk, Dried Whey (from Milk), Milk Fat, Vegetable Fats (Palm, Shea), Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin), Flavourings (Orange Oil, Vanillin), Milk Solids 14% minimum, Cocoa Solids 25% minimum, Contains Vegetable Fats in addition to Cocoa Butter.

Honest to Betsy, I have no idea why they have to make something as simple as chocolate, so complicated. Here’s a little rundown on why these ingredients make my tummy turn:

Vegetable fats: Sounds healthy because vegetables are good for you, right? Not so much. These fats are typically coming from GMO crops like soybean, palm, canola, corn or cotton seed oils. These oils are highly refined/processed (hello, trans-fats) and contain high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids which become inflammatory when consumed in excess. And believe me, we get an excess. These cheaply manufactured oils are hiding in everything. Steer clear of this on your ingredient labels.

Dried Skim Milk, Dried Whey, Milk Fat, Milk Solids: This sounds like a science experiment gone way wrong. It seems as though milk was deconstructed in a lab, processed, then put back together in weird concentrations until food scientists decided it was tasty enough to sell. It’s like Franken-dairy! Besides the fact that this is just creepy, dairy itself can be highly inflammatory and wreak havoc on your system by disrupting hormonal balance, digestion and creating a boat load of troubles for your ability to control appetite. One study found that dairy created a higher insulin response than white bread! Having high levels of insulin circulating in the bloodstream leads to an inability to regulate appetite (constant carb cravings sound familiar?), increased fat storage around the mid-section and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. Turns out, dairy doesn’t do the body good.

Vanillin: This artificial vanilla flavouring has been known to cause headache, nausea and allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. My recommendation: Keep it real and stick to Mother Natures version, the vanilla bean.

But don’t fret my friends, if you love the seasonal combination of orange & chocolate as much as I do, I’ve got you covered with this dairy-free, refined sugar-free & junk free recipe.┬áNot only is this recipe free of creepy ingredients, it also has some health promoting superfoods like mineral rich raw-cacao, brain boosting coconut oil and blood sugar balancing nuts and seeds.

Chocolate Orange Holiday Bark

This recipe is so simple! It’s got all the crunch, chew, sweet and savoury needed to satisfy whatever you’re in the mood for.

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Pistachios
1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 Cup Dried Mulberries or Cranberries
1 Heaping Tbsp of Orange Zest
Pinch of Sea Salt

Instructions:

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Add coconut oil to medium saucepan and melt over low heat.
Remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup and cocao powder until well combined.
Stir in HALF of the remaining ingredients. (Pistachios, Pumpkin seeds, Mulberries, Orange zest)
Pour mixture over the parchment lined baking sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly to a 1/2-1/4 inch thickness.
Sprinkle remaining ingredients on top.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer for approx. 15 minutes until the chocolate is hard.
Once the chocolate has set, remove from baking sheet, break into chunks and enjoy!
Store in an airtight container in the fridge/freezer until ready to eat.

Need a nut-free version? Omit the pistachios and substitute hemp seeds, sunflower seeds or additional add in pumpkin seeds or mulberries.
Can’t do cacao? Swap out the cacao for carob powder for a stimulant-free treat.

In health & happy holidays,