Recipe: Cacao Date Energy Bar (SCD/GAPS)

Recipe: Cacao Date Energy Bar (SCD/GAPS) post image

Here is a real treat for those on the SCD or GAPS diets. On these diets, chocolate is not allowed due to it’s chemical composition. However, the fat component of cacao, the pure cocoa butter is entirely fat and is perfectly fine on these diets. (GAPS does allow pure cacao powder in the advanced stages). Cacao butter makes a rich and deeply satisfying aromatic addition to desserts and chocolate recipes. For someone who has not eaten much chocolate because of the diet, this can be heavenly.

Where does cacao come from?

Cacao trees (Theobroma cacao) grow in the hot climates of Africa and Central America within a 20-mile radius of the equator. Mature plants range from 20 to 25 feet in height and bear flowers that bloom directly on the wide-spreading branches. These flowers produce the fruit which may reach up to 12 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter. The fruit pods contain cocoa beans, which are cultivated, fermented, dried and roasted.

How is cacao processed?

Cacao beans are fermented to alleviate bitterness, and processed at low temperatures for maximum nutrient retention. Once extracted from the pods, the beans are rinsed with water. The whole beans are peeled and cold-pressed to form a paste. The fiber is then extracted, in order to separate the solids from the rich oil, or cacao butter.

High quality chocolate is made from both the cacao butter and the solids (powder). Cheaper brands will use other vegetable oils or shortening as the fat component of chocolate and then add artificial flavors to disguise this. Chocolate made from cacao butter will melt in your mouth because cacao butter has a melting point very close to body temperature.

Nutrients in cacao

The main component of cacao is, of course the saturated fat. It contain three fatty acids that are present in approximately equal proportions: stearic, palmitic and oleic acid. These long chain fatty acids have been found to actually lower the LDL levels in the blood.

Cacao contains polyphenols with antioxidant properties that have many health benefits. A study published in Chemistry Central Journal, in February 2011, showed that cacao and chocolate have higher oxygen radical absorption capacity values (ORAC), total polyphenol content (TP (mg/g)), and total flavanol content (TF (mg/g) than many other antioxidants foods and powders that are touted as “superfoods.”  I wouldn’t necessarily call it a superfood (we know that real superfoods are things like raw milk, fish roe and organ meats), but at least it has some nutritive value.

Cacao also contains trace amounts of essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.

On these diets, snacks can be a challenge, especially for those on the go. You can feel good about eating cacao butter as there are no sugars and the antioxidant value is high.  Enjoy it guilt-free!

These homemade energy bars are so easy to make — no cooking is involved and you can make 12 at a time, wrap them and freeze them.

Cacao Date Energy Bar



  1. Soak the pitted dates in a bowl of water for 30 minutes, or you can put them in a small pan with water and heat for 10 minutes until soft
  2. In a mini processor, process the dates until they are a paste
  3. In a small pan gently heat the cocoa butter on low until just melted — do not heat quickly it has a low smoke point and will burn
  4. In a food processor processor the nuts until they are a nut butter
  5. Add the date paste, honey and cocoa butter to the nuts and processor until smooth
  6. It should form a ball on one side of the processor
  7. Remove and using a 8 x 10 pan smooth out the batter to be about 1/2 inch thick
  8. Cover with wax paper and put into the refrigerator for a few hours to harden
  9. Use a pizza cutter to cut 3 on one side, 4 on the other for a total of 12 bars
  10. Individually wrap the bars in wax paper, put in a ziplock and freeze

Check out my video for making Almond Date Energy Bars.

It will show you the basic steps and give you an idea for another snack bar!

This post is shared at: My Meatless Monday, Monday Mania, Sugar-Free Sunday, Melt in Mouth Monday, Barnyard Hop, Meatless Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday Tidbits, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Naptime, Made From Scratch Tuesday, Hearth & Soul Hop, Traditional Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday 33, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Sustainable Ways, Allergy-Free Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Caste Party Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Mommy Club, Creative Juice Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Thriving on Thursday, Tastastic, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Freaky Friday, Foodie Friday, Friday Food, Fight Back Friday. Living Well Blog Hop, Sunday School, Seasonal Celebration

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Leave a Comment

  • mjskit February 27, 2012, 10:50 am

    Well I certainly would love any diet that would allow me to eat those four ingredients! What a great energy bar – tasty and healthy!

  • Emily February 27, 2012, 12:08 pm

    wow, I never ate cocoa butter (embarrassed) I have always just used it in my soap. Gonna have to taste it now! 😀 … duh
    Your bars look scrumptious!

    • Jill February 27, 2012, 6:47 pm

      HI Emily,
      Make sure yours is food grade before you taste!

  • Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry February 27, 2012, 6:57 pm

    This is my kind of homemade energy bar-love all of the ingredients! Thanks for sharing such a yummy recipe.

  • April @ The 21st Century Housewife February 28, 2012, 9:36 am

    I love all the ingredients in these bars, so I am sure they would be absolutely delicious. They look like a wonderful treat, whether you are on a special diet or not!

  • Amanda February 28, 2012, 10:48 pm

    These sound tasty. I am very excited to try them.

  • France @ Beyond The Peel February 29, 2012, 3:23 pm

    These look fabulous Jill. Wow and all the information. I love that I can come here and learn something new every time.

  • Amber February 29, 2012, 9:53 pm

    Wow – fantastic recipe!!

    Thank you for sharing your recipe this week on AFW! Be sure to check back next week for reader favorites and hostess picks.

    Be Well,
    –AFW Hostesses

  • Aside from the fact that I never have 3 of the 4 ingredients, lol, I would love to make these!

  • Heather Jacobsen March 1, 2012, 12:54 pm

    These look so delicious! I wish I had seen these for our chocolate theme at Stuffed Pepper. This would have made a great addition! 🙂

  • Shannon March 2, 2012, 10:13 am

    Yum! That sounds awesome, my husband would love it.

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on!

  • Miz Helen March 2, 2012, 12:16 pm

    What a great Energy Bar, I could sure use one right now. I will have to make some up. Hope you have a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Amber March 6, 2012, 10:27 pm

    Hi There,

    I featured your awesome recipe this week on Allergy-Free Wednesdays. Your recipe and other highlights can be seen here:

    Please join us again this week for more allergy-free fun and inspiration.

    Be Well,

  • Jo's Health Corner March 9, 2012, 11:57 pm

    Hi Jill,
    I just wanted to let you know that this post was picked as one of my favorites on Jo’s Health Corner’s Living Well Blog Hop today. Have a great weekend!

  • Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network March 10, 2012, 5:47 am

    Really enjoyed reading this and then watching your video on almond butter and date bars- I d’ like to try them in my daughter’s lunch box next week:-)

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