From and For the Heart

I am a collector of recipes and have been for over 20 years. I have way too many three-ring binders full of recipes to count and have since moved on to organizing my recipes in about 25-30 file folders.

Admittedly, I try a lot of the recipes and either keep the winners or immediately dispose of the losers in the round file which becomes a recycled product, of course. The remainder of the recipes just stay close to me for that precise moment when I feel the urge to make something different and there is the recipe waiting patiently for me to pay some attention to it.

When I come across a recipe that piques my interest, I dog ear the page in the magazine and then eventually tear it out and slip it into an appropriately titled file, i.e. appetizers, breakfast, seafood, sandwiches, healthy, gluten-free, soups, Mexican, etc. or if I really like it it goes directly into my "To Make" file.

This one went into that file. you notice how full the Desserts file is?

I found this recipe in the monthly magazine that Whole Foods distributes called Delicious Living. I happen to like this free publication a lot and think they do a good job of educating the consumer about what's new in the world of healthy eating and how to work with different ingredients. They also offer ample holistic approaches to health, which I am a big fan of.

The February magazine naturally features a story on "Cooking with Cocoa" and this recipe caught my eye. Chocolate Coconut Oat Bars. Just the name is enough to whet my appetite because I love, love, love all three of those ingredients and figured that putting them together would have to be something special.

Since David and I agreed to recreate last year's Valentine's meal and go to one of our favorite local dives for V-Day, I thought I should at least make something for the special day since I just advocated that homemade gifts are the best ones to give and receive...and decided to make this for dessert.

Actually, this recipe is quite simple to put together. It's reminiscent of a coconut macaroon, but also reminds me of an adult-type rice krispie treat.

I think it's a winner with the added bonus that it's not that bad for you, unless you eat the whole pan...but who would do that? Not me!

Buen provecho!

Chocolate Coconut Oat Bars
The Cowgirl Gourmet ( got this recipe from Whole Foods' Delicious Living magazine's February 2011 issue

When I see that something is dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free and egg-free, I am a skeptic that it can taste like anything I am going to want more of. If you agree, you'll definitely want to make this recipe because it's not only delicious, but I bet you'll never know that it's actually good for you.

Almond meal provides protein, shredded coconut and coconut oil offer medium chain fatty acids which provide energy, cocoa has antioxidants and the oats help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. What more of a reason do you need to make these??

Print recipe

2 1/2 cups rolled oats, you can use gluten-free oats if you need to
1 cup almond meal
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey (yes, I used honey since we believe the health benefits of agave nectar are completely overrated...sugar is sugar)
1/2 cup natural cane or regular sugar, whichever you have on hand (I used 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup Ideal)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, chunks or discs

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almond meal, shredded coconut and cocoa powder and mix well.

In a saucepan, combine coconut oil, agave nectar or honey and sugar over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, but not boiling.

Pour wet mixture over oat mixture and stir until well mixed and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips to thoroughly combine.

Press the mixture into an ungreased 8x8-inch pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until bars are set. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Cut into small squares.

Per serving: 184 calories, 12 g. fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g. protein, 19 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber and 3 mg. sodium
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