Chocolate Cashew Clusters (Paleo, Gluten-Free, No Added Sugar)

Anybody who knows me knows I love chocolate. I can pass up most sweets but not chocolate. Some people say there’s always room for Jell-O, I say there’s always room for chocolate. Have you seen the graphic floating around social media with the joke that since cocoa comes from a plant then that means chocolate is a salad? I love that; best news of my life.

I’m joking, of course, but not about the love of chocolate. My husband and our son love it too so I love finding healthier ways to get our fix. I can just grab a handful of chocolate chips out of the jar (a habit I get from my dad) and the other night I did just that. I was hungry but I really wanted some chocolate, so I grabbed a small handful of chocolate chips and mixed it with a small handful of cashews, thinking a little protein from the nuts would fill me up.

It worked and it was that perfect combo of savory and sweet. So tonight I took it a step further and brought out my inner confectioner and decided to share. These were super simple to make, only took a few minutes, and have only three ingredients. THREE! And they are super yummy!

A couple of notes… When it comes to the chocolate, any kind will do, but I recommend a good quality soy-free chocolate with no artificial ingredients. The ingredient list should be rather short and the one I buy has no dairy or gluten either. Our favorite is the Enjoy Life brand. I have found them at a local market quite a bit less than the dairy/soy-filled brand I used to buy and they are so good and have only three ingredients: evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor (non-alcoholic), and non-dairy cocoa butter. They are non-GMO certified, certified gluten free, and free of all the major allergens. These contain evaporated cane juice which is a healthier sugar alternative, but still a sweetener – hence, the no added sugar in the title. It is non-refined and won’t spike your blood sugar and cause that dreaded sugar-crash, but it should still be consumed in moderation.

Why non-soy? Personally, I avoid soy because my body is sensitive to it. It exacerbates asthma symptoms and I really notice a difference if I consume too much of it. Another reason is next to beet sugar, soy is one of the most commonly GMO-laden products out there. Seriously; if sugar or soy is not labeled organic or certified non-GMO, it contains it. And GMO’s are bad news. But back to the chocolates.

You can use whatever kind of nuts you have on hand. Anything would be good. Did you read my last post about soaking nuts? Have you tried it? I recommend it here. I always have some on hand, although with cashews I always keep raw on hand as well; soaked for several hours they grind up to make overnight oats for Blessing or dairy-free treats like Ranch dressing, cashew “cheese” (think hummus but with cashews), homemade Larabars, smoothies, and a lot of other goodies.

If you haven’t read me talking about soaking and drying nuts, the reason behind it are certain enzymes present in nuts that are neutralized by the soaking process, making them easier to digest. Though the process takes quite a while it only takes a few minutes of actual time on your part and is always worth it. Plus, I make big batches at a time and only have to do it every couple of months or so (and we love nuts at our house).

Cashews are a great choice here, as they are high in protein, full of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Plus, they contain less fat than most other nuts…and that’s a big plus in my opinion. The directions for soaking and drying your own is at the end of recipe, so read on!

The Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup chocolate chips
2-3 Tablespoons coconut milk (or other milk)
½ cup cashews, preferably soaked and dried

Directions
Place chocolate chips and coconut milk in a double-boiler over medium-high heat and melt together, stirring often until completely melted and smooth. Start adding the milk a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.
Add cashews and stir to combine. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment paper and allow to cool and the chocolate to harden and enjoy! I got about 18 tablespoon-sized chocolates out of my batch. They are so good!

It’s that simple! Note, I personally like dark chocolate. If you want yours a little sweeter you could add a little honey or maple syrup to taste. I think dried cranberries would be good in here too. Next time!

Crispy Cashews
(Makes 4 cups)
4 cups raw cashews
1 Tablespoon sea salt
Filtered water

Add the cashews to a jar or bowl and add enough filtered water to cover. Let soak for 6 hours and no longer (otherwise, they may turn out a little slimey). Drain well. Spread onto a large baking sheet and place in a warm oven, about 200 degrees for 12 to 24 hours, turning every once in a while, until they are completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container. These are then ready for any recipe or simply as a quick, healthy snack. All three of us love these.

Enjoy! Blessings to you!

Emily

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