Holiday Sweets Makeover: Popped Amaranth Sea-Salt Chocolate Bark

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Every year holiday tables are graced with chocolate barks of all varieties: peppermint, candy cane, pretzel, white chocolate, etc. While they make lovely gifts, I find them overly sweet and lacking in any nutritionally redeeming qualities. So I devised a holiday bark that’s healthy, featuring popped amaranth grains, toasted almonds, sea-salt, and 70% dark chocolate full of known antioxidants. Because, why not give yourself and loved ones the gift of flavor and health?

Further Food Nutritionist Commentary:

The amaranth is an unexpected ingredient in this bark, a gluten-free grain that is high in the amino acid lysine and the mineral manganese, among other important nutrients. Lysine is only found in low quantities in other grains, and it is an essential amino acid that plays a major role in calcium absorption and collagen formation for tissues like bones, tendons, and skin. Manganese is an essential cofactor for many enzymes and is a powerful free radical quencher. Although it is usually easy to get enough manganese in our diets, we should not undermine its importance as a potential mitigator of bone loss and osteoporosis, especially in combination with calcium, zinc, and copper.

By Katie Bishop, MS, Nutritionist
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Holiday Sweets Makeover: Popped Amaranth Sea-Salt Chocolate Bark

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Servings: 12

Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds (to be chopped and toasted)

4 tablespoons amaranth (to be popped)

½ pound of good quality 70% dark chocolate (or semi-sweet if that’s too dark for you)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

pinches of sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop almonds to desired size (whole almonds are nice sometimes too).
  2. Either in a dry pan, or on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees, toast almonds until lightly browned.
  3. Heat a small saucepot with a lid over a high-medium flame for about 1 minute. Drip a drop of water in it, and if it beads up fast and disappears the pot is ready. Pour in amaranth grains, and cover. Shake the pot like you’re making popcorn, or in a mariachi band, for about ten seconds. Remove from heat, and add to the almonds.
  4. Chop chocolate, just so it will break down more easily.
  5. In a microwave or in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (but never touching), melt your chocolate and coconut oil.
  6. Transfer almonds and amaranth grains to a non-stick surface, such as parchment, silpat, or anything silicone. I use a silicone loaf pan.
  7. Pour chocolate over the almonds and amaranth. Top with as much sea salt as you desire, and freeze completely before cutting.
  8. Keep refrigerated before serving or gifting.
Chop almonds to desired size (whole almonds are nice sometimes too). Either in a dry pan, or on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees, toast almonds until lightly browned. Heat a small saucepot with a lid over a high-medium flame for about 1 minute. Drip a drop of water in it, and if it beads up fast and disappears the pot is ready. Pour in amaranth grains, and cover. Shake the pot like you’re making popcorn, or in a mariachi band, for about ten seconds. Remove from heat, and add to the almonds. Chop chocolate, just so it will break down more easily. In a microwave or in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (but never touching), melt your chocolate and coconut oil. Transfer almonds and amaranth grains to a non-stick surface, such as parchment, silpat, or anything silicone. I use a silicone loaf pan. Pour chocolate over the almonds and amaranth. Top with as much sea salt as you desire, and freeze completely before cutting. Keep refrigerated before serving or gifting.

Nutrition Information

Per Serving (with ½ teaspoon salt in recipe):  Calories: 203; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 7g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 99mg; Potassium: 15mg; Carbohydrate: 13g; Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 5g

Nutrition Bonus:   Iron: 26%

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