Okay, I'll admit it, I have a sweet tooth. And I love chocolate. Who's with me?! But my ever-increasing pickiness for...no-sugar-added, no fake/corn/soy ingredients, no dairy, gluten, or binders....and the rest of the long laundry list that has me spending more time than I care to admit at the grocery store staring at the rear side of every package, recently gave me an epiphany.
As I stared at a particular "natural" package of chocolatey bites ($5 for about as many bites, I might add), I realized I could just as easily "put this thing right back where I found it and make these myself, gosh darn it!"
So I decided to do just that, and, I realized, I already had plenty of things in my pantry I could use to whip this up, with the exception of the cacao powder. So with the cacao powder in-hand, I came home and concocted the most delicious and decadent little bites I ever did have. They fit my laundry list of requirements, and I have to say, making them myself was super fun. I don't consider myself a good baker, so the good news is - you don't need to be a baker for these to turn out delicious. Besides, they're not baked - they're actually frozen!
Side note: these would also be fun to make with the chocolate-loving kids in your life, as they are simple, yummy, and fun to put together (and, of course, have some superfood health benefits to boot)!
Other side note: these puppies are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, and raw (with the exception of melting the coconut oil and butter)
COCONUT CACAO BITES
(makes about 13 'bites')
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp. coconut butter
- 1/3 cup cacao powder
- 1 teasp. maple syrup
- 1 teasp. molasses
- 1/2 teasp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 teasp. cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup coconut chips
- 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
Heat coconut oil and butter over medium-low heat until just melted. Remove from heat. Add in cacao powder, stirring until dissolved. Add in the following ingredients (maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, salt), stirring well to make sure everything is incorporated. Next, fold in shredded coconut, coconut chips, and cacao nibs.
Form into ~1-inch balls and place onto parchment paper or Silpat. They may seem crumbly, but they will set in the freezer. And, finally, place in the freezer to set for an hour. After the bites have set, transfer them to a container or bag and store in the fridge. They will keep for weeks (if they last that long) in an air-tight container.
I popped these bites in a jar in the fridge and enjoyed them over the next week. Even though they are a nice little indulgent treat, you can feel good about what you are eating! Here are some health benefits of what's in them...
Cacao nibs and powder are natural and minimally-processed forms of what most of the world thinks of as chocolate. The cacao plant (also called cocoa) is grown for its edible seeds and its scientific name (Malvaceae, formerly Sterculiaceae) means "food of the gods" in Greek. (1) Cacao is rich in healthy saturated fats, but the kind that doesn't elevate cholesterol (like meat and dairy products do). Cacao is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants, which protect the arteries (working like a low-dose aspirin), preventing blood platelets from clumping and thereby preventing blood clots. Cacao is also rich in arginine, an amino acid that helps with blood flow, inflammation, and blood pressure.
And if all that wasn't enough, the neurotransmitter called anandamide, which works to trigger the same brain cell receptors as marijuana's THC, causes us to feel more relaxed and euphoric, and less anxious.
Blackstrap Molasses, unlike most other sweeteners, is minimally-processed and, because of this, retains a number of trace minerals. It is an excellent source of iron, B6, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.
Coconut Oil has, at different points in history, gotten a bad rap. But the truth is, coconuts contain health-promoting medium-chain saturated fats, which increase levels of beneficial HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. The only other abundant form of medium-chain saturated fat called lauric acid, is in human breast milk! In the body lauric acid converts to a super badass compound called monolaurin, which has antiviral, antibacterial monoglyceride. These natural antimicrobial properties have the ability to destroy many disease-causing organisms, and potentially-harmful fungus, yeasts (Candida), and even ringworm. Coconuts are also rich in manganese, molybdenum, copper, selenium, and zinc. Coconut oil also protects against heart disease and promotes weight loss, by increasing the body's metabolic rate.
Cinnamon has been used as a remedy for a ton of common ailments such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, diarrhea, insomnia, psoriasis, muscle spasms, and the common cold. One study showed that in people with type II diabetes, the daily addition of cinnamon cut cholesterol by 18% and blood sugar levels by 24 %. (2)
I hope you enjoy these little morsels as much as I did! Come to think of it, I may need to make another batch.
Thank you for reading!