Our new recipe for Chocolate Crunch Sticks is simple and delivers a satisfying crunchy and chocolaty taste that we have all come to love through some traditionally famous branded treats found in many stores! However, what we are focusing on in today’s blog is one key ingredient in this recipe: coconut oil.
We have several recipes that call for coconut oil on our blog site. We often mention that you can substitute it for other oils, if you prefer. And sometimes, as in this recipe, you can omit the oil (and cacao powder in this case) and use dark chocolate instead. Recently coconut oil has made the news again, unfortunately this time it is on the “bad food” list. This is not unusual in food news— just look at eggs and butter! They have each flip-flopped between good and bad over the last decades at least three times over.
In case you missed it, a recent meta-study published in Circulation Journal and backed by the American Heart Association, determined that coconut oil consumption is unhealthy. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which raises our blood LDL cholesterol levels and increases our risk for heart disease. Less than three years ago a few self-proclaimed nutrition gurus recommended coconut oil due to its higher content of medium-chained triglycerides (MCT’s), since it is a plant- sourced oil versus an animal-derived one. In contrast, evidence-based nutrition was hesitant to change recommendations to always limit your consumption of saturated fats.
This can be extremely confusing. For example, most Americans rate coconut oil as healthy. However, this recently published analysis confirms that coconut oil is still an ingredient we should limit consuming. According to the authors, in 7 out of 7 studies comparing coconut oil to vegetable oils, which are mostly made up of unsaturated fats, coconut oils raised LDL levels, while vegetable oils did not.
To simplify, as registered dietitian nutritionists, our philosophy is that no food is bad. It is all relative to portion sizes, frequency of intake and combination with other ingredients. The good news: there is no controversy over the consumption of almond butter! You can continue to enjoy it without having to worry about potential new claims. Almond butter’s fat content is primarily heart-healthy unsaturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends that of your 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories from fat come from unsaturated fats. And Once Again Almond Butter is much more than just fat: It contains fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. All of that from just one simple ingredient: roasted almonds!
Chocolate Crunch Sticks
Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LD
- 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons of cacao powder unsweetened
- 1 cup of crispy rice cereal
- Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
- Mix all ingredients well and pour into pan. If you prefer, you can use ½ cup of melted dark chocolate of your choice instead of cacao powder and coconut oil.
- Place in freezer for about 60 minutes, then cut into sticks. Store in the freezer for up to 7 days.