Homemade Cookies N’ Cream Superfood Candy (Refined Sugar-Free)
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Occasionally, our eating patterns stray into what I call the “bike lane”. In other words, we deviate from our usual dietary patterns, but not to the extent of consuming foods that interfere with our daily routine (through adverse reactions). You can think of “bike lane” foods as maybe and once-in-awhile foods – they’re foods that don’t make you feel great when eaten regularly, but they’re foods you can tolerate on occasion and in moderation. In other words, “bike lane” foods are foods that you can have sometimes. And, through the lens of Functional Nutrition, “sometimes” depends on time periods and events and the current state of your health.
Limiting how often I stray into the “bike lane” is one way I manage my autoimmune condition, hormone changes, and stress levels. That awareness and intention has encouraged me to be more creative in the kitchen, the outcome of which has been delicious! Read on for a recipe that enables me to indulge my sweet tooth without refined sugar, a “bike lane” food for many I know. Even better, it includes one of my top ten superfoods – cocoa!
What’s a superfood?
As I often say, “it depends”. Some people consider fruits and vegetables like broccoli and blueberries to be superfoods. Others consider nutrient-dense ingredients like egg yolks and liver. Under the right circumstances, we embrace bone broth and kefir, as well as turmeric and matcha for their superpowers.
When I talk about superfoods, I’m referring to highly unique foods that offer significant benefits to the body in small amounts. These foods come from high-quality sources around the world, ranging from mountain tops to the depths of the sea. They are uniquely suited to support optimal health when consumed in even small amounts, I sometimes think of superfoods as “magic sprinkles” in our daily eating regimes.
Superfoods provide abundant nutrition, protein, flavor, health, and energy. They offer excellent value for your investment. They have the potential to enhance your vitality, strengthen the immune system, balance hormones, increase libido, and reduce emotional fluctuations. They can even support neurohormone production, presumably leading to increased happiness, tranquility, and overall sense of well-being.
My top-ten superfoods include:
- Flax seed
- Goji berries
- Hemp seeds
Superfood spotlight: the health benefits of chocolate
All chocolate originates from cacao beans, which are the seeds of the cacao fruit grown on jungle trees. Botanically speaking, cacao is considered a nut. The terms “cacao beans,” “cacao seeds,” “cacao nuts,” “chocolate seeds,” “chocolate beans,” and “cacao nibs” all essentially refer to the same thing.
Cacao, is a remarkable food. It stands out as one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet, offering myriad health benefits. It’s not only a great source of magnesium, iron, and chromium, but it also contains high levels of PEA (or phenylethylamine, often associated with mood enhancement and increased focus), theobromine (which supports cardiovascular health), and anandamide (known as the “bliss chemical”). When consumed in its raw form, cacao has the power to support balanced brain chemistry, promote bone strength, act as a natural aphrodisiac, and even boost mood and energy levels.
How to shop for chocolate
Not all chocolate is created equal in terms of superfood status. For optimal health benefits, choose chocolate that’s dark and devoid of added dairy products, with low-to-no refined sugar. Even better are raw cacao beans, which have sometimes been referred to as the “food of the gods.”
Raw cacao powder and cacao nibs are two of my favorite forms of this superfood to have on hand. The nibs are small, crunchy pieces of crushed cacao beans that retain all the nutritional goodness of the cacao fruit in its purest form.
In addition, cacao nibs offer a rich chocolate flavor with a slightly bitter taste, which makes them a versatile ingredient in various recipes (including the one below). You can sprinkle them over smoothie bowls, add them to homemade granola or trail mix, mix them into baked goods, or simply enjoy them as a snack on their own. When buying cacao nibs, be sure to read the ingredient label. Some have added sugar and the ones recommended here offer merely the pure superfood essence of the chocolate bean.
Homemade Cookies N’ Cream Superfood Candy (Refined Sugar-Free)
These candies are the perfect indulgence and contain several of superfood ingredients with no refined sugar. Keep them in the freezer for a little sweet-something when sugar cravings strike.
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, gently melted
- scant 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon good quality sea salt (or more, if you like the salty sweet) heaping 1/2 cup pecans (or other nuts), chopped medium-fine
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl to incorporate.
- Using a spoon, portion into mini muffin cups, candy cups, or flexible ice cube trays.
- Freeze for one hour or until candies have hardened.
- Serve directly from the freezer.
Yield depends on the size of trays. Petite is perfect.
Note from one of our previous members of the Functional Nutrition Alliance Nutrition Team!:
This is one of my favorite recipes from Andrea’s Sweet Tooth, Bitter Truth e-course. When I first found Andrea and the Functional Nutritionist Alliance, I was a busy mom with two kids with special needs struggling with blood sugar highs and lows and fatigue. I lived on sugar and chocolate to get me through the day. Sweet Tooth helped me understand how sugar impacted my body and brain plus provided practical tips that helped me replace processed sugars with healthier alternatives for myself and my kids. Now I help my clients do the same!
These became one of my healthy replacements for those sugar-laden, store-bought chocolates so that I didn’t feel deprived. A sweet treat that helps balance my blood sugar for steady energy throughout the day? Yes, please!
Cobos, Ángel, and Olga Díaz. “‘Superfoods’: Reliability of the Information for Consumers Available on the Web.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 26 Jan. 2023, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9914617/.
Jaramillo Flores, Maria Eugenia. “Cocoa Flavanols: Natural Agents with Attenuating Effects on Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors.” Nutrients, 30 Mar. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520706/.
Tan TYC;Lim XY;Yeo JHH;Lee SWH;Lai NM; “The Health Effects of Chocolate and Cocoa: A Systematic Review.” Nutrients, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34578786/. Accessed 13 June 2023.
van den Driessche JJ;Plat J;Mensink RP; “Effects of Superfoods on Risk Factors of Metabolic Syndrome: A Systematic Review of Human Intervention Trials.” Food & Function, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29557436/. Accessed 13 June 2023.
Wolfe, David, and Shazzie. Naked Chocolate. North Atlantic, 2005.
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