If you haven’t tried Leslie’s Organics Coconut Secret bars yet, you’ve been missing a real treat. The founder of the company, Leslie Caren, conceived the idea when she was living in Navarro years ago and found out both her parents had adult onset diabetes. She and her brother set out to develop low glycemic snack foods and hired product developer (and chef extraordinaire) Albion resident Dory Kwan to create delicious coconut products for manufacturing.
In an interview with Dory, she explained that there are no other bars on the market sweetened with 100% organic fair-trade coconut nectar and coconut sugar. Most bars, whether candy, raw-food or power bars, are all sweetened with either agave, honey, sugar or sugar alcohol, but none of those sweeteners tests as low on the glycemic index as coconut nectar which is considered safe for diabetics. These bars, which have been picked up by Whole Foods, have taken years and hours in Dory’s home-kitchen to perfect. “Coconut nectar is very temperature sensitive,” Dory said. “It’s taken many trials to come up with the perfect bar, but it’s great to be working for a company with such high integrity which isn’t willing to compromise good flavor. Not only are all ingredients carefully sourced, but if they can’t find the quality they are looking for, they get the ingredient custom made. For example, the vanilla and the peppermint flavoring is their own.”
People are now recognizing that most agave syrup is very “processed,” and therefore lacking in the majority of naturally occurring nutrients and enzymes needed to properly digest and utilize it nutritionally. The processing of agave nectar makes it sweeter but the end product can contain nearly 90% fructose.
Coconut sugar is made by collecting the “sap” from coconut tree blossoms. There are specific species of coconut trees that can be “tapped” (much like maple trees are tapped in the maple syrup making process). Bamboo containers are used to collect the sap of the coconut trees right at the blossoms. When the coconut trees are tapped, they produce a continuously flowing “inflorescence” (juice or sap) that exudes from the coconut blossoms. This naturally sweet sap is low in sugars, is raw and therefore enzymatically alive, with an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. When it is minimally
evaporated at low temperatures (only to remove excess moisture), the end result is a syrup-like product known as coconut “toddy,” which is then further evaporated into crystal form to produce the coconut sugar. The flower nectar is also naturally antifungal and antibacterial.
How can these coconut bars be safe for diabetics? The glycemic index measures how fast available carbohydrates in food raise blood sugar levels. Coconut fiber slows down the release of glucose, therefore requiring less insulin to utilize the glucose and transport it into the cell where it is converted into energy. Coconut also assists in relieving stress on the pancreas and enzyme systems of the body, in turn, reducing the risks associated with diabetes. Coconut nectar and crystals have a very low GI of only 35 (compared to honey with a GI of 55-83, and sugar with a GI of 65-100). Additionally, coconut improves digestion and many inflammatory conditions associated with digestive and bowel disorders, by supporting absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
The Coconut Secret bars contain a large amount of coconut oil, which is made up of medium-chained fatty acids that are used entirely for energy instead of being stored as fat. Being so filling and slow burning, even half a bar satisfies (for awhile that is!). The bars are close to straddling the raw food market except for the chocolate coating (made with coconut sugar), which uses the superior flavor of roasted cocoa beans. The bars are sold in 4 flavors: classic, macaroon, mint-cocoa nibs and almond. Try them all, but
keep them cool or hide them from others in the fridge.
For more information, go to coconutsecret.com