This recipe is dedicated to all you chocolate lovers out there! If you don't know already, I always have been and always will be a complete chocoholic. In fact, that was my biggest concern when I started changing my diet ... how will I get my chocolatey fix?! So you can imagine my delight when I created a recipe that not only kicks my chocolate craving but also tastes amazing, provides a big boost of energy and keeps me going between meals - win win!
Raw chocolate (also called cacao) is one of the most powerful superfoods there are. That's right, chocolate is good for you! However, this is not to be confused with the sweetened cocoa or chocolate bars that you find on supermarket shelves, which are typically heavily processed, high in unhealthy fat and full of refined sugar. I'm talking about cacao, which comes straight from the cacao bean and goes through very little processing in order to maintain its impressive nutritional value. Cacao has been shown to contain more antioxidants and flavonoids than blueberries, which can reduce our risk of many diseases, promote brain function and boost our mood. If that isn’t enough, cacao is also packed with magnesium, a mineral that we often struggle to get from our food supply due to a depletion in the soil. Magnesium is essential for over 300 different chemical reactions in the body including our ability to convert food into energy so we don’t get fatigued, keeping our muscles and bones healthy, and improving our ability to deal with stress. Cacao is most commonly found in powder form and can be purchased in most health food shops and large supermarkets.
In addition to the cacao powder, I have used dates, which are a brilliant unrefined alternative to the nasty effect refined sugar can have on our body, and a combination of hazelnuts and almonds which give a hint of a healthy nutella flavour whilst also packing the energy balls with plenty of healthy fats and fibre for a slow release of energy.
1 cup medjool dates (approx. 9 dates)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup almonds
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
Pinch of good quality sea salt
2 tbsp of extra-virgin coconut oil (melted)
Desiccated coconut or finely chopped nuts to coat the energy balls (optional)
If you don’t have a measuring cup use a small coffee cup (approx. 250 ml)
First, remove and discard the pit from the centre of the dates. Put the dates into a bowl, pour over some boiling water and set aside for 10 mins to allow them to soak and soften. Once they have softened, remove the dates from the liquid - don’t discard the liquid as you may need it later.
Next, put the almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor and process until they are well broken up. Add the cacao, dates, salt, coconut oil and process again until combined - it should form into a ball or sticky dough consistency that sticks together when pinched. If it’s too dry, add a little of the water you used to soak the dates.
Roll a teaspoon of the mixture in your hands to form little balls and roll in desiccated coconut if desired. Serve either as they are or refrigerate to allow them to set a little more. Keep in the fridge.