If you know me personally, it’s no secret that I LOVE chocolate. Thankfully, dark chocolate is a treat that I can feel good about eating because it contains healthy antioxidants. If you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, eating dark chocolate (in moderation of course!) might actually help lower your blood cholesterol levels. When purchasing chocolate, try to look for organic chocolate that has a minimum of 70 percent cocoa content.
Another way to use chocolate is to add cocoa powder (also known as cacao powder) to sweet or savory recipes. Good quality cacao powder can be found in larger grocery or natural food stores. I found mine next to the protein powders in Whole Foods.
This recipe incorporates cocoa powder, cherries and dates to form a yummy raw bar that is reminiscent of Larabars. I added the quick cooking oats because I like the texture that they give to the bar. This is a great mid-morning or late afternoon snack that can help curb that sweet tooth and give you the healthy protein and fats that your body needs.
These will keep well in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze them and just defrost in the fridge overnight (or even eat frozen like I have done before!)
Makes 8 Bars
1 C Medjool Dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 C Dried unsweetened bing cherries
1/3 C Quick cooking oats
1/2 C Raw almonds
1 TBS Coconut oil, melted
1 TBS Cocoa powder
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
Place dates and cherries into a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped (the mixture will come together to form a ball). Remove to a bowl.
Place oats and almonds into the processor (no need to clean it out first!) and process until finely chopped. Add the cherry and date mixture back in. Add the coconut oil, cocoa powder and cinnamon and process until combined.
Line a brownie pan with wax or parchment paper and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom. Chill for 20 minutes and then cut into 8 bars.
I have experimented with many breakfast bars and “cookies” over the last couple years and was usually disappointed with the results. They were either too bland, had too much sugar or didn’t hold together well. This recipe can be modified quite a bit to include the kinds of nuts, seeds and dried fruits you prefer. I am already thinking of ways to use my favorite dried apples in the next version!
This is one cookie that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating for breakfast!
Makes 8 large cookies
3/4 C Quick cooking oats
3/4 C Oat bran
1/2 C Unsweetened coconut flakes
1 TBS Chia Seeds
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 C Walnuts, chopped
1/4 C Sunflower seeds
1/4 C Golden raisins
1/4 C Pitted dates, chopped
1/4 C Unsweetened dried cherries, chopped
2 Very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 C Coconut oil, melted
1 TBS Honey
1 Tsp Vanilla paste (pure vanilla extract will work as well)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a silpat on a large baking sheet (you can also line with parchment or rub a small amount of coconut oil directly on the pan to prevent sticking)
In a large bowl, combine all the dried ingredients (oats through salt). Add dried fruit and nuts being sure to stir well so the fruit doesn’t clump together.
Add the mashed banana, coconut oil, honey and vanilla to the bowl and stir well to combine. Use your hands to form eight cookies. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet.
These cookies freeze very well. Just thaw in the refrigerator overnight or put one in the microwave for approximately 20 seconds to thaw.