After weeks of cookies, cocktails and indulging without abandon, I decided that January 2017 needed to be a month without refined sugars. A brave move for a baker (read: sugar addict), I know, but when moderation no longer holds meaning, work has to be done.
I’ve spent the last four weeks rediscovering my love for nourishing fresh fruit, deeply caramelized root vegetables and, my ultimate favorite, homemade almond milk (if you’ve never made it, it’s a must). And, no surprise, I feel great! My skin is clearer, my energy levels are upped and my 2017 is looking peachy.
The one little hiccup? Chocolate cravings. Ohhh, how I miss dark chocolate.
That’s where these guys come in. In a month without sugar, dates have been a special indulgence. They’re naturally sweet with a deep caramel flavor; the perfect base for a refined sugar-free dessert.
Together with high-quality cocoa powder (which is chock-full of antioxidants), I knew I could create something healthful, but rich and chocolatey enough to satisfy my cravings.
The moment I bit into one of these Healthy Almond Joy Bites I was addicted. Dates add all the sweetness you need, while almonds and coconut add a hearty chew and delicious flavor.
A touch of cocoa powder and vanilla add the extra “something special”, tying everything together into a chewy, candy-like treat that, dare I say, may be even better than the real thing.
Bonus: From start to finish they take less than 30 minutes, and they require zero oven time!
- 2 cups dates, pitted (about 19-20 dates)
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons almond butter
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons warm water (less if your dates are sticky)
- Add the dates, almonds, 1/2 cup coconut, cocoa powder and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is thick and crumbly.
- Add the almond butter and vanilla and continue to pulse. Take a small amount of mixture and press it between your fingers. If it sticks together easily and can roll into a ball shape, it's ready. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing in between, until mixture is sticky enough to hold its shape.
- In a nonstick pan over medium heat, toast the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut, stirring frequently until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Roll the date mixture into 1-inch balls (mine weighed about 30 grams each), then roll in toasted coconut. You will need to press the coconut into the sides of the balls to help it stick.
- Store bites in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.