I’ve been making my own snack foods since cutting out all the likely sources of allergens. Most purchased low-carb snacks and bars contain whey, egg, chocolate, and/or almonds. I found several raw, vegan, and Paleo brands, but most of them use dates and flax to hold everything together. Chunks of Energy, pictured above, are pretty good and the Chia Orange flavor has no flax, but lists dates as the first ingredient and also contains raisins. They have 12 net grams of carbs per ounce (two small squares). I thought I could do better.
I kept the zero-carb chia for the stick’um but needed some gooey, dried fruit to replace the dates and raisins. I could have used dried cranberries, which are relatively low in carbs, but most packaged dried cranberries are sweetened with sugar or fructose (fruit sugar) and the unsweetened, freeze-dried ones are not moist enough to work in this recipe. I usually make my own dried cranberries from fresh ones and a bulk sugar substitute, but I didn’t have any on hand. In casting about for a sub, I lit on one of the sample products that I brought home from the International Food Blogger’s Conference: a bag of dried gooseberries, euphemistically dubbed, “Golden Berries.” Gooseberries are naturally low in carbs compared to other berries, and these were as chewy as raisins, but contained no added sugar (yes, they are very tart!). They may also be called Incan Berries or groundcherries. Trader Joes carries them or you can order them online from Navitas Naturals.
I used yacon, a natural sweet syrup made from a South American tuber, to boost the sweetness. It has the highest concentration of fructooligosaccharide (FOS) of any food. FOS is an indigestible sweet fiber that acts as a prebiotic to feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. However, the nutrition data on most labels show yacon as being all sugar. This is certainly wrong, but I don’t know how to get the true counts. You can use xylitol honey, if you prefer, or a sweetener of your choice.
Fruit and Nut Snacks
This is not an exact recipe. You can use other combinations of nuts and dried fruits and however much liquid and sweetener you need to hold it together and make it taste good. Below is what I used. Recipe inspired by Chunks of Energy, a snack food from Dancing Star.
2 oz pecan halves (about 1/2 cup)
2 oz cashews (about 1/2 cup)
1 oz finely grated, sugar-free, dried coconut (about 1/3 cup)
1 and 1/2 oz cocoa butter, chopped (about 1/2 cup) or nut butter
1 and 1/2 oz golden berries (a little more than 1/4 cup), chopped
2 tbsps. ground chia seed (1/2 ounce)
1 oz kumquats, inner pulp and seeds removed (about 3 tbsp.), or 1 tbsp. orange zest
A few grains of salt
2 tsps. water, or as needed
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
Up to 1/4 cup yacon syrup or xylitol honey, or as needed
Additional finely grated coconut and powdered sweetener for coating, optional
Directions: Put nuts, coconut, chopped cocoa butter, golden berries (chop them a bit as they tend to be hard to grind), ground chia seed, kumquats or orange zest, and salt in food processor or food grinder and process until evenly chopped but not completely smooth. Mix together water, vanilla extract, and yacon syrup, reserving a little of the yacon. Add liquids to mixture and process or stir in by hand just until blended. If mixture is too dry, add remaining yacon syrup and/or more water and mix well. Let mixture stand for a few minutes to fully hydrate the chia.
Grease a small rectangular container (roughly 4 inches x 6 inches) and line with parchment paper for easy removal. Pack mixture into container, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm. Remove from container and cut into cubes with a sharp knife. Alternately, shape mixture into one-inch diameter balls and refrigerate until firm.
Roll balls or cubes in finely grated coconut if desired. Powdered sugar substitute can be added to coconut for sweeter snacks. Since these are raw, they must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Makes about 24 pieces or 12 ounces.
Per piece: Calories: 65; Fat: 6g; Protein: 0.75g; Fiber: 0.9g; Net Carbs: 1.9g
Yacon or xylitol honey is not included in counts.
Note: 1 ounce of Golden berries has 498 mgs of Potassium, 45% MDR of vitamin A, 6% MDR of iron, and 4% MDR of vitamin C.
Photo from Chunks of Energy.
(C) 2014, Judy Barnes Baker, http://www.carbwarsblog.com