You can make chocolate work in the renal diet with some savvy label reading and a little bit of creativity.
Don’t be scared by the chocolate drizzle (I know, I know, chocolate is usually put on the “don’t have” list). The fact that it is a drizzle makes it work in this kidney-friendly recipe.
- 1cup Popcorn, unpopped
(Makes about 16-18 cups of popped popcorn)
- 12 oz almond bark (Save 2 oz to mix in chocolate drizzle)
- 5 peppermint candy canes (crush until it's half powder half tiny pieces. Scant ½ cup)
- (opt) sprinkles
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
(May need as much as a ⅓ cup. Choose a good quality chocolate. The better chocolate will give you more flavor.)
- ¼ tsp peppermint extract
- Pop kernels in a popcorn popper according to manufacturers directions, into a very large bowl (if you don’t have a popcorn popper, you can also do it in a brown paper bag in the microwave – see instructions here. Removed un-popped kernals). Melt 10 oz almond bark according to directions listed on package. Pour melted almond bark over popcorn and toss to evenly coat.
- Reserve 1 tbsp. of crushed canes. Then immediately, before coating hardens, add remaining crushed candy canes to popcorn and toss to evenly coat.
- Sprinkle with Christmas or red sprinkles if desired. Spread onto a large piece of parchment or wax paper into a single layer (add more sprinkles if desired).
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and remaining 2 oz of almond bark on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Stir peppermint extract into melted chocolate. Transfer to a piping bag (cut tip from corner) and drizzle evenly over popcorn. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tbsp candy canes over chocolate and allow chocolate to set at room temperature, then break popcorn into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
YES!!!! Fancy lookin’ and good enough that I gifted a bag of it (somewhat begrudgingly) to my neighbor. I love that this is not a “renal” recipe, but that it still can fit in a renal diet – phosphorus restriction and all. I know, I know it has chocolate. But here is why it works:
1) We use almond bark – kind of like white chocolate but not quite. Check your ingredients carefully – generally if it doesn’t have milk it should be good on the phos level. Here is the comparison between white chocolate and almond bark (to put an ounce in perspective – a bag of chocolate chips is 12 oz). Note that white chocolate has almost 5x as much phosphorus, 4x as much potassium, and twice as much sodium as almond bark. Almond bark is often labeled as candy melts as well. Be careful to read your labels here as it can make a difference which brand you use. For example, I used the Plymouth Pantry almond bark that I found at Walmart with following ingredients: Sugar (Sugar, Cornstarch), Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Powder, Soy Lecithin (An Emulsifier) And Artificial Flavor . The “competing” brand on the shelf was Candiquik which has the following ingredients: Sugar (Sugar, Corn Starch), Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Nonfat Dry Milk, Natural Flavors, Soy Lecithin (An Emulsifier), Milk Powder. See? Reading labels makes all the difference in the world.
|*Nutrition facts per NCCDB||Almond bark (1 oz)||White choc (1 oz)|
|Carb||18 gms||17 gms|
|Phos||13mg phos||61 gms|
|Potassium||23 mg||105 mg|
2) We “dilute” the chocolate drizzle using almond bark. Mixing in almond bark with the melted chocolate chips helps the mixture drizzle better AND it also cuts down on the amount of chocolate you need to use. Alternatively, you can always sprinkle mini chocolate chips instead of using a drizzle. You’ll be surprised how far those little chocolate bits can go.
3) We use a strong flavor like peppermint (both from the extract and the crunchy candy canes) helps so you don’t miss a strong chocolate flavor.
4) We use POPCORN. Popcorn is a magnificently healthy food for people following a renal diet. It is high in fiber, and low in phos, potassium and sodium (if you pop your own). Other types of “holiday bark” recipes use nuts or pretzels or other foods not so friendly for the renal diet. Popcorn gives crunch, volume, and a perfect blank canvas for the peppermint and chocolate flavors to shine.
Moral of this story? You CAN make chocolate work. Read your labels, get to know your products, and enjoy every bite of this tasty treat. (AND, of course, if you’re on a phosphate binder still take it when you’re delightfully munching away on your popcorn).
Recipe Credits/Commentary: Jessianna Saville, MS, RDN, LD, Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition
Photo Credits: Rebecca Barksdale, Jessianna Saville
Recipe adapted from CookingClassy.com Peppermint Bark Popcorn
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