Episode 8: Mini Chocolate Candy Bites

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When we think about cleaning up our diets the first thing to go is generally dessert. WHY? Because dessert equals empty calories, excess sugar, and excess fat right? Wrong. Desserts can also be tasty and creamy as well as nutritious, also sweet without being just empty calories.

How pray tell do I do that? Simple…I treat it as I would any other meal: I keep it simple, balanced, and look for the most delicious as well as nutritious ways to get to the same taste I love!
Today’s challenge was to take my favorite candy bars: snickers and baby ruth, and make them into a healthier at home bite size treats. I love this recipe. It is great for parties. It’s SUPER QUICK, healthy, and tastes great. I take all the basic ingredients of my fav candy (without all the preservatives and subpar ingredients) and make this scrumptious little candy ball.

All you need for this recipe is a food processor, Peanuts or Sesame paste aka tahini (for those allergic to peanuts), Dark Chocolate (75% and higher, mine was 90% chocolate) or raw Cacoa powder, Dates, Grade B maple syrup, Carmel extract, Vanilla Extract, Non fat greek yogurt, and a mellon scooper. It takes about 20 minutes of actual labor and another 20 in the freezer.

First part of this trick is using sugars that also have nutritional value. Dates for example are filled with potassium, magnesium, selenium, calcium, caratenoids, fiber, B6/folate, niacin, riboflavin, protein, and are also low in fat. Manganese and Zinc are both found in grade B maple syrup. Or try Black Strap Molasses which has manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, B6, and Selenium as part of its sweet deliciousness. Now when you look at the recipe below you will notice there really isn’t a huge amount of sugar needed either. Because the different “sugars” along with the extracts, all have different “levels” of “sweetness” which packs a lot of punch with less actual sugar.

Second part is making sure there is sufficient amount of protein, fiber, and fats. (Yes, I said FAT was good! Our body needs fats to function properly but, some fats are better then others… as we’ve noted before.) Protein, Fiber, and Fats all slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the blood stream which is why fat free dessert isn’t really the best idea. Plus fats, fiber, and protein also make you full faster…so you won’t devour nearly as much.

Third part is well taking flavors we already know work together. Peanuts and Chocolate seem to be as old as time. Add Carmel and Vanilla to that and this is a NO BRAINER!

Great taste doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or bad for you. No, I wouldn’t eat the entire tray of these (that’s NEVER a good idea). However, I found I didn’t need more then a few of these puppies to satisfy my sweet tooth. So alas, a dessert that is delicious and also has some great nutritional value. Give it a whirl!

Bon Appetit

Mini Chocolate Candy Bites

1/2 cup of peanuts or sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 tablespoon Carmel Extract
4-6 Dates*
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
3 tablespoons nonfat greek yogurt
1/4 cup dark chocolate

Tools
Mellon ball scooper
Parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Food processor
Measuring cups and spoons

* I prefer dried dates because they last so long! I throw them in the freezer and defrost as needed! So cheap and easy!

1) Add 1/4 cup boiling water to the dried dates to rehydrate. Wait 3 minutes until plump. Drain. Cut in half to take out the seed.
2) Add all the other ingredients except chocolate to food processor. Blend well until a smooth paste
3) Add chocolate last and plus to incorporate well. I add a little more to the mix afterwards for sufficiently chocolate goodness!
4) Place in freezer for 10-20 minutes.
5) Use a mellon ball scooper to make perfect little bites.
6) I lay out on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
7) Put back in fridge or freezer before serving.
8) Voila all done!

Nutritional Tidbits:

Selenium: protects cells from free-radical damage, enables thyroid to produce thyroid hormones, and helps lower risk of joint inflammation. Food rich in selenium include mushrooms: button, shitake, crimini, etc, fish: cod, shrimp, snapper, tuna, salmon halibut, and calif’s liver, brazil nuts, and turkey.

Dates: Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Vitamin A, B6, B1,B2, B3, B5, vitamin C, selenium, dietary fiber and over 20 amino acids. Dates are rich in dietary fiber which prevents dietary LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. It is also a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon. Dates contain many health benefitting phytonutrients flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties. They are a good source of Vitamin-A (contains 149 IU per 100 g), which is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision. Vitamin A also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Sesame Seeds: Copper, Magnesium, Tryptophan, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc, B1 and Fiber. Sesame seeds maybe small but, these crunchy seeds add a big jolt of flavor to your dishes.

Dark Chocolate: Not only is quality dark chocolate shown to help reduce stress it helps keep blood pressure down, helps blood clot properly, and is filled with antioxidants. It has been shown to help boost the feel good hormone Serotonine in the brain. And has calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, manganese, A, B1,B2, B3, Vits C and E. Not all chocolate is created equally. Choose high quality, less processed, one without all the added sugar, fillers or extra fats. I look for ones that are 85% and above or better yet choose pure Cacoa powder.

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