Annie’s Happy Heart Bars
I have a major crush on these healthy little bars because not only are they uber delish, each ingredient has been shown in scientific research to have a happy heart effect! I also love any recipe that has a variety of purposes and these guys may be enjoyed for breakfast with a Suja on the go, after a workout to replenish your muscles, between meals to curb hunger, or as a sweet finish to a meal in place of an unhealthy dessert. You can even take them as a date to the movies. And even more loveable, there’s no cooking involved! Pop them in the fridge to firm up and they will be your main squeeze all week long <3
Walnuts: Walnuts have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid, a heart healthy omega-3 fat. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 showed that ALAs in walnuts may help heart arrhythmias and reduce inflammation and oxidation in the arteries. The research also showed walnuts significantly decreased LDL “bad” cholesterol in study participants.
Almonds: Well these are just plain yummy. Even better, in 2003, the FDA released a health claim recognizing that almonds can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
Dates: Just when you thought dates were sweet, they are now certified by the American Heart Association as a food that contributes to keeping a heart healthy due to their antioxidant capacity.
Coconut and Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a saturated fat that has been shown to increase the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood. It was also shown in a 2009 Brazilian study to help lower the amount of abdominal fat in women which contributes to heart disease.
Dark Chocolate: We love dark chocolate and it loves us back! In an Australian study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found dark chocolate consumption could reduce cardiovascular episodes like heart attacks and strokes in high-risk individuals.
- 1 cup fresh dates
- ¾ cups raw, unsalted almonds
- ¼ cups raw, unsalted walnuts
- 2.5T coconut oil
- ½ cup + 2T unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup dark chocolate (I like to use an 88% cacao or higher bar and chop it, but you may use dark chocolate chips as well)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Heart shaped cookie cutter
Remove the pits from the dates and chop into smaller pieces to help the food processor out. Add the nuts, dates, shredded coconut, and coconut oil to the food processor and process until everything is well combined and stuck together. Add the dark chocolate last to prevent the heat from the food processor melting it, and pulse until it is just mixed in evenly. Spread the mixture onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet in an even layer to ensure the same thickness for each bar. Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out each heart bar and place on a plate or in a container to be refrigerated. These should be kept in the fridge until ready to eat. Enjoy!