Energy bites… healthy chocolate truffles… better-than-Larabars-date-nut-balls… delicious…
It doesn’t really matter what you call them, because these are all of the above, and then some. They’re like candy, if candy were loaded with healthy fats and proteins, and sweetened only by dates, and made you feel AWESOME after you’d had a couple. Or six.
(And I don’t mean the kind of awesome that feels good for a minute, but then feels really, really bad. We’re talking long-term, sustainable awesome, here.)
Once upon a time, in the long-long ago, I used to be really fit and active. I mean, I’ve always tried to be healthy, but my level of activity has gone steadily downhill in the past couple years. I have plenty of excuses, but honestly, none of them are very good. The fact is, I’ve gotten lazy — plain and simple — and needed a kick in the butt to step up my game again. (Don’t we all, sometimes?)
That kick in the butt can come in many forms. Like, feeling like your arms are going to fall off after just a few push-ups, or trying to button a favorite pair of jeans. Or that awkward moment when your husband goes to pick you up and blurts out, “wow, did you get heavier!?”
Ahem. Maybe you got weaker, Dear. Did you ever think of that?
But I digress.
So, for the past couple weeks I’ve been making an effort to step up my game by being a little more active each day, and eating right. And obviously, the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about eating right are chocolate truffles.
Okay, so clearly I don’t mean real chocolate truffles. I’m sorry to say there is no hard chocolate shell or melting river of creamy ganache when you bite into these. You will, however, experience a moment of sweet, cocoa-y bliss, and then proceed to kick the ass of whatever workout or activity you do afterwards.
Back when I ran every day, I’d make energy bites like these to pop just before a run, or to re-fuel after when quick protein and carbs are critical. Even if you aren’t big on working out, though, these make for a great afternoon pick-me-up, or just a healthier alternative to other sweets. (They also go great with coffee or tea, and can fill in for breakfast on busy mornings. You know… not that I condone eating chocolate for breakfast, or anything.)
I chose to roll my truffles in a variety of toppings because, hello, colors! But also, flavors. My favorites were the red ones, rolled in crushed, freeze-dried raspberries. I’m normally not a fan of freeze-dried fruits — something about the texture bothers me — but once pulverized into a powder, they turn into pure fruit flavor, in the most gorgeous shades nature has to offer. (Credit where credit is due, I got the idea from this gorgeous blog.)
A close second are the ones dusted in cocoa powder. These were extra dark and dreamy, but might be an acquired taste, as the unsweetened cocoa is a bit bitter when it first hits the tongue. Dark chocolate lovers, I’m looking at you!
Other toppings included shredded coconut, chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios — these were The Husband’s favorite), hemp seeds, and matcha green tea powder. As much as I love matcha, these were a little too bitter for my taste, but that didn’t stop them from disappearing along with all the rest of the flavors.
What’s your favorite pre- or post-workout snack? Or, bonus question, what’s your favorite healthy dessert alternative? These have been squashing my chocolate cravings in style for the past week (an area of my life which was previous filled with ice cream). Let me know what you reach for instead in the comments!
- 2 cups (about 9.5 oz.) dates, pitted and soaked
- 1 cup (about 5 oz.) raw almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, or walnuts, or a mix, soaked overnight
- ½ cup (1.5 oz.) shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2 TBSP coconut oil, melted
- 3 TBSP (30g.) hemp seeds
- 1 TBSP (7g.) chia seeds
- 2-3 TBSP (14-21g.) cocoa powder, or raw cocoa powder, to taste
- pinch of salt (this helps amp up the flavor, but can be omitted if you wish)
- Any toppings you like, such as chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, freeze dried raspberries (pulverized into a powder with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle), hemp seeds, etc.
- Place the nuts in a bowl or glass measuring cup, and cover with cool tap water. Let soak overnight, or for a minimum of one hour before using. In a separate bowl, do the same with the dates. (Soaking the nuts makes them easier to digest, and soaking the dates makes them blend better.) Once soaked, drain the nuts and dates thoroughly before continuing.
- Add the nuts to the bowl of your food processor, and blend until finely ground. Then add the dates, coconut, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, and salt if using. Blend well, scraping down the sides as needed, until a thick, sticky dough forms. (Depending on your food processor, you may need to add a small amount of water to help it along, but try not to add any more than is necessary. The longer you blend (and the more powerful your food processor) the smoother the dough will become, and the softer your truffles will be. For firmer truffles, blend just until the mixture holds together when rolled between your palms into a ball. For softer truffles, continue to blend until the dough is very smooth and sticky. If the dough becomes too sticky to roll into balls, place it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. Getting your hands slightly damp will help, too.)
- Roll the dough mixture into ½-1 TBSP sized balls, and place on a plate or baking sheet. Roll in desired toppings, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to several weeks (possibly longer, though I usually run out by then), or in the freezer indefinitely.
Per truffle: 44 Cal // 3.5g. Sugar // 1g. Protein // 2.5g. Fat // 1g. Fiber
If you'd like a bigger boost of protein, feel free to add a scoop of your favorite protein powder (preferably chocolate flavored), to the mix.
(Note that while these are made with 100% natural, good-for-you ingredients, they do contain a lot of sugar from the dates. If you are diabetic or trying to avoid sugar, be sure not to binge on these, even though they're healthy. As with any treat, always in moderation!)