Life After Whole30 + Chocolate-Strawberry Shortcake Bars (Paleo)

These bars are the bomb diggity. People still use that phrase, right? Maybe not. But these bars are very tasty!

This post is all about how treats can fit into life post-Whole30 reset and how to continue on a Food Freedom Forever path. Not sure what I’m talking about? This post here does a great job explaining and creator Melissa Hartwig has written an entire book dedicated to the topic.

I have talked a bit about finding peace and a positive relationship between food and your mind. Enjoying just enough of something to feel satisfied, happy and in control but not so much that you feel guilt, shame and negativity towards food.

The Whole30 does a great job of getting people to focus on real, nutrient dense foods – mainly vegetables, meat and good quality fats. This style of eating is incredibly appealing after you start to feel good, like REALLY GOOD, eating this way. Personally, I tend to eat whole, nutritious foods most of the time but do like to enjoy an occasional treat for a special occasion. That’s where Food Freedom comes in.

Food Freedom consists of making conscious decisions about ways of eating to create a healthier YOU. This means weighing the pros and cons of each food choice we have throughout the day. Whether or not this food supports our long term health and aesthetic goals. While this may sound exhausting, it does get easier to make these mini choices each and everyday until they barely seem to be choices at all, you will learn what makes you feel good and what doesn’t.

But sometimes, those foods that don’t make you feel good, still sound good. So now what? The main goal of Food Freedom is to give you the choice and to get you to a spot where you are happy and feel responsible for the choices you’ve made. The first step is to decide if the food you would like to eat will cause you consequences – whether it be digestive stress, acne, mood swings, bloating, sleepiness or cause more sugar cravings or if there are very few consequences. This can be determined by completing a round of Whole30 and reintroducing foods one at a time to see how certain foods potentially cause your body stress.

Sometimes, the negatives far outweigh the positives. For me, for example, I know if I eat even a little gluten I will be doubled over in pain for the next few days with a horrible stomach ache and will be able to accomplish very little with my life. Read: not worth it. Though, when I eat something like sugar, I know that it will inevitably make me crave more and I will feel hungrier than I really am, it is worth it sometimes to consume sugar containing foods and sweet desserts! By knowing my consequences, I am able to make decisions based on what I know might happen and am able to take full responsibility for my decisions.

Okay, back to the bars… Those pretty little chocolate covered bars! I am currently in my reintroduction phase and have a few more items I would like to test first before I put back in chocolate and nuts yet. I have made these bars in the past and made sure to have some happy testers try them out before sharing this recipe!

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching and is a wonderful opportunity to make a dessert for a loved one, or yourself, a bit healthier! I fully support and love to create desserts that are healthier than the original versions to leave you feeling your best. By using higher quality and non-inflammatory ingredients you can celebrate this year knowing you are still nourishing your body!

Chocolate-Strawberry Shortcake Bars

Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill

(PALEO, GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, EGG-FREE, GRAIN-FREE)

SERVES 16

PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES            COOK TIME + COOLING TIME: 1 HOUR 45 MINUTES

Ingredients:

For the crust

2 cups almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand)

¼ c. Coconut flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand)

¼ c. Arrowroot flour (again, Bob’s Mill brand) – can sub potato or tapioca starch here

5 tbs. vanilla bean ghee (I make my own but this is equally delicious)

4 tbs. maple syrup

For the Chocolate and Strawberry Layer

1 cup + ¼ c. chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life Brand)

½ c. Coconut cream (I use the Trader Joe’s brand but you can also refrigerate a can of coconut milk and take the top solid portion)

½ c. Chopped strawberries

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 and line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper or use ghee to grease the pan.

2. Make crust by combining all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well combined and no longer crumby

3. Turn out crust into pan and flatten with hands, using a fork make holes in the dough so that air can escape and it will not rise.

4. Bake crust 16 minutes or until slightly golden brown and remove from oven, let cool at least 30 minutes.

5. To make the chocolate layer, melt chocolate in double broiler or in microwave in 30 second increments until completely melted. Add in coconut milk solids and combine well until smooth

6. Pour chocolate onto crust and spread evenly.

7. Top with chopped strawberries and fill in gaps with extra chocolate chips.

8. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until firm and cut into 16 equal pieces. Enjoy!!

This recipe is best straight out of the refrigerator or frozen! At room temperature these will soften and will tend to fall apart.

Tell me! Do you have any favorite Valentine’s Day traditions? Mine is treating myself to a bunch of self-care early in the day! I love to give myself a facial and hair mask as an act of self love! ❤

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