I’m so excited to be here on WellBelly sharing a tasty AIP treat with you today!
So who am I? Well here’s a little bit about me…my name is Ashley Castle, I’m an NTP like Shawn (we were in the same class!) with a passion for helping people heal and thrive through proper nutrition. My own interest in true health and nutrition started with a desire to be in the kitchen and nourish my family with the best things for our bodies, as well as an awareness of our food system and sourcing the best foods to support local farmers and economies.
I completed my NTP certification in June 2015 in Austin, TX and enjoyed every minute of the process. Shortly after graduation, my husband and I moved from the Midwest to Colorado while he takes part in a prestigious running program, representing the Air Force in hopes of an Olympic slot next year.
I’ve been privileged to work with some of the athletes on his team in making the best nutrition choices for their optimal health and healing. What a wild ride our lives have been! I am thoroughly enjoying Colorado, the glorious mountain air, and the opportunities to share this passion for great, gut-healing nutrition with others.
In my own personal health journey, I’ve been following the Autoimmune Paleo protocol for the last 6 months. Dealing with some skin issues and knowing that autoimmunity runs rampant in my family and plays a role in my own genes, I decided to take the plunge into AIP. But I know that genetics is only 1/3 of the big picture. The other 2/3 is diet and lifestyle, and so I’ve been doing the best for my body and my health proactively in order to live a life of freedom and good health. If you’ve been considering something like the AIP, I highly encourage you to go for it and do something amazingly transformative for your own health journey. You are worth it!
Ok ok, so on to these treats I’ve promised…a little background into these babies first. One night as I was drifting off to sleep, I had an epiphany to make some sort of autoimmune protocol-friendly Twix bar. I knew it needed a delicious shortbread crust, a perfectly creamy, nutrient dense caramel layer, and a lovely “chocolaty” top–hence these beautiful bars were born!
In my quest, I came across these incredible shortbread bars by Sweet Potatoes and Social Change, and I knew I had struck the perfect shortbread gold! With AIP baking, there’s not a lot of wiggle room for variation or change. I’m still finding my experimental way in AIP kitchen adventures, so I was thrilled to have the help and inspiration of those who have gone before me on this AIP journey!
I then went in search of the perfect caramel that I could feel good about, and was not disappointed by Empowered Sustenance’s date caramel recipe. Full disclosure: I’m not even a big fan of caramel, but this nutrient-dense goo is something I can get behind! Throw all these things together, top it with a creamy carob cap, add a sprinkle of good quality sea salt, and voila! I give you the ultimate AIP-friendly treat in these exceptionally better-for-you “Twix” bars. Enjoy!
AIP Twix Bars
1. Prepare shortbread layer found here on Sweet Potatoes and Social Change.
Some added notes:
If you don’t have arrowroot starch as called for in this recipe, you can sub tapioca starch instead.
If you’re not following the AIP, feel free to use grassfed butter or ghee instead of the coconut oil for more of that standard shortbread taste. Although it’s pretty spot on either way!
2. While shortbread is cooling, prepare caramel layer.
Caramel layer (originally found here):
1 cup pitted dates, packed
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup coconut oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼- ½ tsp sea salt
Optional: 3-4 Tbs pure pumpkin puree (this takes these bars to a WHOLE new level!)
- Soak the dates in hot water for at least 10 minutes to soften.
- Drain, and combine dates, coconut milk, coconut oil, and sea salt in a high speed blender or food processor (my personal fave), until smooth and creamy. If adding the pumpkin puree, include it here as well. If the mixture seems too loose with the added pumpkin puree, you can add a few more softened dates to thicken it up.
- Once the shortbread has cooled, spread the caramel layer evenly on top, and pop it in the freezer to set.
- Prepare carob layer as posted above. You can do this step in the food processor. Once the caramel layer has slightly hardened in the freezer, spread on the carob mixture and immediately sprinkle with course ground sea salt (I love this brand in particular for these bars).
- Return to the freezer until completely set, then slice and serve immediately.
3. Lastly, prepare carob layer by following the directions here.
4. Assemble bars by placing covering shortbread with a thin layer of caramel. Then, spread an even layer of carob fudge over caramel.
These bars keep best in the freezer or refrigerator. Due to the nature of coconut oil at room temp, they will soften significantly if left out (but still taste fantastic, just at the cost of messy hands!). I love slicing these babies up and keeping them in the freezer for a quick, cool treat.
Give these bodacious bars a try and let us know what you think! Your non-Paleo, non-AIP friends will never know what hit ‘em, besides a delightfully delicious carob-y, salty caramel-y kick in the mouth!
You can find me over on Instagram @ashleycastle_nutrition. You’ll get plenty of food inspiration and general snarky-ness from me there! And stay tuned for my upcoming website, which will be premiering sometime early 2016.
Thanks so much for having me! Be inspired to go forth and create wonderful meals for your own health and well being, and give your body the proper fuel that it needs to go out and do amazing things!
In health and good food, Ashley