Delectable Keto Coconut Cacao Nests
Every year, children and chocolate-lovers alike enjoy brightly decorated chocolate Easter eggs to celebrate Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, chocolate Easter eggs bought from supermarkets are often made from processed chocolate and loaded with excessive amounts of sugar that can put you or your loved ones at risk of chronic metabolic diseases.
If you’re looking for a healthy, guilt-free Easter treat that the whole family can enjoy, this Keto Coconut Cacao Nests recipe from Jennafer Ashley of Paleohacks1 is a must-try! Not only does this delectable dessert look adorable with its crunchy chocolate nest and macadamia “eggs,” but it’s rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, too.
Keto Coconut Cacao Nests Recipe
Melt the coconut oil in a double boiler. Stir in the raw cacao powder and monk fruit (or stevia); mix until smooth.
Remove the boiler from heat, and then stir in the shredded coconut. Spoon the mixture into six muffin tins with paper liners. Create a divot in the center of each “nest” with a spoon, then freeze for 10 minutes.
Once hardened, place two macadamia nuts in the center of each nest and serve.
This Coconut-Filled Dessert Benefits Your Health in Various Ways
Coconut meat is an excellent source of dietary fiber — a high intake of which may help lower your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and digestive diseases based on a study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.2 It’s also a good source of manganese3 — a mineral that plays an important role in bone formation and metabolism of amino acids, carbs and lipids.4 It is from this meat that coconut oil is extracted.
There are currently more than 2,000 studies discussing coconut oil’s long list of uses and benefits.5 The primary compounds that give coconut oil its health advantage are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of saturated fat that’s readily available to use for energy in your body and can even cross your blood-brain barrier.6
Coconut oil is also found to have antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiobesity, antihypertensive and antimicrobial properties.7 Plus, it may help:
- Promote heart health — Studies show that in regions where coconut oil has been consumed as a part of a standard diet, people were found to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease.8,9
- Support healthy brain function — According to a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, coconut oil provides the brain with a healthier energy source in the form of ketones, which are produced when its MCTs are absorbed and metabolized by the liver.10
- Boost immune health — Animal studies suggest the antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil may help protect your gut against harmful pathogens and inflammation.11
- Shed excess body fat — A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that replacing long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) with MCTs in a diet helps reduce body weight without adversely affecting lipid profiles.12
- Improve oral health — The antimicrobial and antiseptic properties of coconut oil make it suitable for oil pulling. It also contains lauric acid, which may react with the alkalis in the saliva to produce a sodium laureate-soap like substance, which has cleaning action and may help reduce plaque adhesion and accumulation.13
- Fight against yeast infection — Research shows that coconut oil exhibits antimicrobial activity against Candida species, making it useful for the treatment of fungal infections.14
Macadamias Are a Nutritional Powerhouse
Macadamia nuts are one of my favorite nuts, as they contain the highest amount of healthy fats among nuts,15 yet they’re lower in protein and carbohydrates than other nuts. They also have the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and are a good source of antioxidant flavonoids, dietary fiber, manganese, thiamin, magnesium, copper and phosphorous.16 Some of the benefits of macadamia nuts include:
- Promoting healthy heart function by lowering bad cholesterol levels17
- Providing antioxidants that help fight free radicals18
- Providing dietary fiber to help support healthy digestion and gut health19
- Promoting healthy brain function20
- Supporting skeletal health21
- Helping to inhibit inflammation22
Using Raw Cacao Powder Makes All the Difference in This Recipe
Raw cacao powder is close to the natural raw state of cacao, so it still contains the valuable polyphenols — catechins, epicathechins and procyanidins — that give chocolate its powerful antioxidant properties.23 These polyphenols also account for raw cacao’s bitter taste.
To make chocolate more palatable, manufacturers often remove their polyphenol content and add in large quantities of sugar. However, this process strips most of chocolate’s health benefits. So, if you’re after the nutritional value of cacao, using raw cacao powder is your best bet. If you do not have this on hand, look for a chocolate that has a high cacao and low sugar content. Steer clear of milk chocolates and white chocolates, as they contain excessive amounts of sweeteners.
Why Should Luo Han Guo or Stevia Be Your Choice of Sweetener?
Luo han guo and stevia have become known as healthy alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners, and for good reason. The extract of luo han guo is 150 to 250 times sweeter than your usual table sugar,24 yet it does not cause spikes in blood sugar levels.25
Stevia, which is naturally 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar,26 also does not have drastic effects on blood sugar levels and may even provide additional health benefits.27 However, this does not mean that it’s OK to consume too much stevia or luo han guo. I still recommend that you use these natural sweeteners in moderation, just as you would sugar.
About the Blog:
Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo, from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.
Sources and References:
- 1 Paleohacks, Keto Coconut Cacao Nests
- 2 Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205.
- 3 Nutrition Data 2018
- 4 Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients, Manganese
- 5 U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Search Coconut Oil
- 6 Diabetes. 2009 May; 58(5): 1237–1244.
- 7 Braz J Med Biol Res. 2015 Nov; 48(11): 953–964.
- 8 Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 Aug;34(8):1552-61.
- 9 J Intern Med. 1993 Mar;233(3):269-75.
- 10 Br J Nutr. 2015 Jul 14;114(1):1-14.
- 11 Science Daily November 18, 2015
- 12 J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Feb;115(2):249-63.
- 13 J Tradit Complement Med. 2017 Jan; 7(1): 106–109.
- 14 J Med Food. 2007 Jun;10(2):384-7.
- 15 Mayo Clinic, Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health
- 16 USDA National Nutrient Database, Raw Macadamia Nuts
- 17 J Nutr. 2008 Apr;138(4):761-7.
- 18 Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society November 1996, Volume 73, Issue 11, pp 1585–1588
- 19 Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205.
- 20 Curr Neuropharmacol. 2018;16(7):1059-1085.
- 21,22 Nutrients. 2010 Jul; 2(7): 652–682.
- 23 Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Nov 15;15(10):2779-811.
- 24,26 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Additional Information About High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States
- 25 “Hunger Free Forever: The New Science of Appetite Control” December 26, 2007
- 27 Organic Facts March 14, 2019