I found these delightful things over at Kitchen Stewardship. They satisfy that urge for something a little sweet and are full of flavor and nutrition, and – even better! – they’re also full of inflammation fighting ingredients! They’re similar to a chewy, nutty granola bar, and with the optional thin layer of dark chocolate on top they transform into an indulgent-feeling treat! There is coconut in the recipe, which adds to the sweetness, but if you don’t like coconut, don’t worry: I don’t find that it makes it taste much like coconut at all.
These have been a HUGE hit with my daughter. She’s delighted that I let her eat pretty much all she wants, and thinks that they taste “like frozen cookie dough!” (We keep them in the freezer.) That’s good endorsement!
The first time I made these I followed the recipe exactly as it was, but then I started to switch things around (of course…I can never just leave a recipe alone.) The biggest change was to add dates so that I could reduce the amount of sweetener and make it more anti-inflammatory, but this is really the kind of recipe that can have infinite variations. You can throw in all sorts of things, and I have a lot of ideas to try that should keep things interesting for a while!
The original version of this recipe is here, but this is my version. (If you like these, the author of Kitchen Stewardship has an entire cookbook called “Healthy Snacks To Go” that you can check out!)
Put almonds in a food processor and process until fairly small and uniform. (If possible, it’s best to soak the almonds in cold water for a few hours first. Soaking almonds makes them easier to digest and neutralizes phytates that impede mineral absorption.)
Add the coconut, cinnamon, salt, flax meal, and dates and process for about 30 seconds or until the dates are completely combined.
Add in the almond butter and process until combined.
At this point taste what you have. If you want it sweeter but don’t want to add honey or maple syrup, put in more dates until it’s as you like it.
In a saucepan combine the butter and/or coconut oil, and any honey or maple syrup if you’re using it. If you’re wanting to be able to eat it as much as you want, you’ll want to be very careful about how much extra sweetener you add. Melt it together and remove from the heat. Add in the vanilla AFTER it’s off the heat, and then pour it in with the other ingredients.
Process until combined, and then spread into an 8×8 square pan
To be fully anti-inflammation compliant, you should stop here. You should use all dates as the only sweetener, and leave it as it is, and – really – it’s perfectly good like this. Like mildly sweet chewy granola bars, and you’ll probably really like them!
BUT…if you want to take it up a notch, and turn them into something more of a treat, then you can add some chocolate on top.
If you do add chocolate on top, it has to be VERY dark, like this. At least 80% cocoa or more. There is some sugar in it, but it’s not much, so a small amount won’t be too bad. It’s almost bitter – but it goes along very nicely with the flavors in the almond bites and I really like it!
Break the chocolate into chunks and put them into a sauce pan with some coconut oil.
Melt it together, remove from the heat, and add vanilla. Pour it over the top of the bars and spread evenly.
Refrigerate until the chocolate is set (about 15 minutes) and cut into squares.
For me, the flavor of these is very intense, and so a bite-sized piece is all I need. A whole bar is really too much and is a little overwhelming to me. So I like to cut them into small squares and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. One of these is the perfect cold sweet treat in the middle of the day! And, when they’re that small, the small amount of chocolate on the top isn’t so bad.
My 11 year old daughter is in love with these things. She scarfs them down. My son is okay with them but not crazy. So, these haven’t been a complete crowd pleaser in my house, but half of us are really enjoying them. More for us!!
If you make these, have fun adding in your own ideas of things to change it up! Here are some that I’ve thought of:
Raisins or other unsweetened dried fruit
juice of a lemon
different nut butters
browning the butter
What can you think of?!
Choco-Almond Snack Bites
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 1/2 cup flax meal
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 15-20 dates (softened in hot water)
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
- 1/4 cup butter (can use all coconut oil or all butter if preferred)
- 2 tsp real vanilla
- 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
- 1-2 Tbsp real maple syrup (optional)
- stevia to taste (optional)
Chocolate topping (optional)
- 1 bar dark chocolate, 80% cocoa or more
- 3 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tsp real vanilla
Pulse the almonds in a food processor until the nuts are pulverized into fairly uniform small pieces. Add the flax meal, coconut, salt, cinnamon, and dates and pulse for about 30 seconds more, or until the dates are fully incorporated. Add the almond butter and process until combined. Taste, and if you feel like it needs to be sweeter, add a few more dates and process until combined.
Melt the coconut oil, butter, and any honey or maple syrup you’re using in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into the food processor and pulse until combined. Press the mixture into an 8×8 square pan and put in the refrigerator.
If you’re adding the chocolate layer, break the chocolate bar into chunks and put it in a saucepan with the 3 Tbsp of coconut oil. Melt together, remove from the heat, and stir in 1 tsp vanilla. Pour over top of the bars and spread evenly. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes, and then cut into bite-sized squares. Store in a zip-top baggie in the refrigerator or freezer.