Tag Archives: dates

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesI. Love. Dates. Probably a little bit too much, but I suppose it’s better than going through bags full of Sour Patch Kids and gummy bears (childhood favorites) every day. Some people try to convince me that they don’t like dates, but I never believe them. Who doesn’t like creamy, caramelly, sometimes even butterscotchy morsels of goodness? Nobody. Unless they’re crazy. And even if, by some great anomaly, they don’t like dates in their naked form, then they’ll surely appreciate them when they’re morphed into rich, chocolatey brownies.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BItesWith powerhouse ingredients like dates, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and coconut, these brownies are more than just dessert. I like to eat a couple of these before climbing, a workout, or a run. The natural sugars in the dates provide a quick burst of energy that’s ready to use right away, while the chia seeds, full of fiber and protein, give these bites a bit of staying power. The ancient Incan civilization, it is said, used chia seeds as one of its main sources of energy. Cacao powder is notoriously high in antioxidants, and lucuma, which comes from Peru (and is, apparently, more popular in ice cream form than chocolate or vanilla) provides us with plentiful beta carotene, and a rich maple flavor.

Trust me when I say that these bites will beat out any store bought energy bar, every time, at a fraction of the cost. You’ll want to eat the whole batch in one sitting (though they’re quite filling, so I doubt you’ll be able to).

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesChocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Ingredients

•2 cups packed pitted dates*
•1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
•1/4 cup chia seeds*
•1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)*
•1/4 cup lucuma powder*
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
•2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
•cocoa powder for dusting (optional)*

Place dates, coconut, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and optional (though recommended) vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients come together in a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pulse in chocolate chips if desired.

Remove mixture from food processor a tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Place onto parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder if desired. Alternatively, you can press the mixture into a parchment-lined pan, then cut into bars or squares.

Notes: Any moist variety of date will work here. I used a combination or Medjool, Barhi (my absolute favorite – they literally taste like butterscotch), and Deeglet Noor. Nuts.com has a large selection of dates with great descriptions for each. My chia seeds and cacao powder also come from Nuts.com. If you don’t have lucuma powder, you may use an additional 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in its place. I use Nativas Naturals lucuma powder, which can be found here. Other ideas for rolling your bites in: shredded coconut, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and sesame seeds would all complement the brownie bites well.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesAre dates a regular part of your diet (please say yes!)? What are your favorite power foods?

Recipe Roundup

I spend hours upon hours reading blogs, scouring the internet for recipes and idea, and writing lists (so many notebooks full) of what I want to make next. But, I just realized, I’ve not shared any of these wonderful finds with you! So here it is, my first recipe roundup!

These “Thinnest Oatmeal Cookies” from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks look just wonderful. Her recipes are always simple twists on the classics, and have never failed to produce amazing results.

Source: Healthful Pursuit

I was never a fan of chocolate turtles in the past, but over the years I’ve developed a slight addiction to pecans, chocolate, and dates on their own. Leanne’s version of the classic candy looks wonderful!

Source: Have Cake Will Travel

I’ve had gingerbread on the mind lately (gingerbread biscotti, anyone? or maybe some chewy gingerbread bars?), and the more forms I can turn it into, the better. Celine’s gingerbread granola looks like the perfect treat for when cravings hit.

chocolate maple granola overheadHow about some more granola – granola clusters to be more precise. Sally has made some wonderful looking maple almond granola clusters here. If those two granolas don’t catch your eye, try my my Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates yet. You won’t be disappointed!

These Sugar ‘n Spice Dipped Pumpkin Pretzels from Healthy Happy Life look too good to resist. Regular cinnamon sugar pretzels are hard to beat, but I think Kathy did it here!

What are your favorite recent recipe finds? Do you have any favorite cozy winter meals or snacks? When it’s cold outside, I just want to stay in the kitchen and bake up my own storm (since, apparently we won’t be getting any snow storms here in Maryland).

Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates

IMG_5936Granola is a staple in my kitchen, and I cycled through recipe after recipe, with many failures and simply mediocre recipes along the way. That is, until I found this gem of a recipe from David Lebovitz (who originally found it from self-proclaimed domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson). While I do really enjoy big chunks of granola from time to time, this recipe produces a lighter result, thanks first, to the crisp rice cereal, and second, to the slow, gentle baking.

This granola is full of flavor and texture thanks to the crunchy pecans, flaky coconut, chewy dates, and rich chocolate that melts with each bite. Of course, you can substitute your favorite dried fruits and nuts for the pecans and dates, but I must say that this is a winning combination.

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Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates

Inspired by this recipe from David Lebovitz.

Ingredients
•4 cups rolled oats*
•1 cup crisp rice cereal (not puffed rice)*
•1 cup chopped pecans
•1 cup sesame seeds
•1 cup large coconut flakes
•1/4 cup packed brown sugar
•1 teaspoon sea salt

•3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree)
•1/3 cup brown rice syrup
•1/4 cup maple syrup
•2 tablespoons coconut oil
•1 teaspoon maple extract (or vanilla extract)

•1 cup chopped dates
•1/2 cup dark chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets (preferably jelly roll pans) with parchment.

1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, crisp rice cereal, pecans, sesame seeds, coconut, brown sugar, and sea salt.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the applesauce, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil, and maple extract until warm.

3. Pour the fruit mixture over the dry mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the mixture and spread evenly onto prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake the granola for approximately 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deeply golden.

5. Remove granola from the oven, stir in dates, and let cool completely. Once cool, stir in the chocolate chips. You can stir in half of the chocolate chips while the granola is still warm, if you prefer that they melt into the mixture.

The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

*Notes: For a gluten free version, be sure your rolled oats, crisp rice cereal, and chocolate chips are gluten free.

IMG_5931What is your favorite granola recipe? Or, if you don’t have one, what would your perfect bowl include?

Coconut Vanilla Date Butter

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I’m sure that by now, most everyone reading this has heard of the magical substance that is coconut butter. It is so versatile, and most importantly, quite delicious. Perhaps even more versatile, though, are dates. Just as simply as dried coconut can be ground into coconut butter, so, too, can dates be whirred around to form date paste, a wonderful, complex, and rich natural sweetener for anything from savory sauces to the sweetest of treats. Now, we know that both coconut and dates are wonderful on their own, but what if we were to combine the two? And perhaps add a dash of vanilla to the mix? We would be left with an utterly heavenly combination, perfect for spreading on toast, dolloping on warm oatmeal (or overnight oats!) or simply eating straight from the spoon. I do imagine that this spread would be equally, if not more lovely with the addition of a bit of cocoa powder, or even melted chocolate. Of course, I’ve not yet tried that variation, but I’ll report back just as soon as I do.

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I tend to buy my dates and coconut in bulk from Nuts.com. They have a wonderful variety of dried organic fruits, nuts, and nearly every other specialty baking item I ever find myself in need of.

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 Coconut Vanilla Date Butter

Ingredients

•1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
•1 cup packed pitted dates (I used a combination of Barhi and Medjool, but any variety will work)
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Soak dates in warm water for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Process coconut in a food processor until it forms a buttery paste.

3. Remove dates from soaking water and add to food processor along with the vanilla. Continue to process until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

IMG_5752Apparently, cats are fans of dates, too!

What are your favorite homemade spreads? This coconut date butter is a close second to my favorite, chocolate sunflower butter.