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It’s no secret I’m a fan of balls. Ahem. Dessert balls people!! This is a family friendly site.

So I love balls.  And I love the flavour combination of chocolate, cherry and almond.  Each on their own is good but together is just heavenly.  So chocolate-cherry almond balls seem perfect right?

Maybe a visual is necessary to illustrate my point…

Convinced?  Good.  

Chocolate-Cherry Almond Balls

Ingredients

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips or a dark chocolate bars, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries (the no sugar, no sulfite variety)
1 tsp raw cacao powder
pinch of sea salt

Directions

1. Add almonds and cashews to a food processor and process until crumbly.  Careful not to over-process, this will let too much oil out of the nuts.  Remove, place in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Add dates, chocolate chips, dried cherries, raw cacao powder and sea salt to food processor and process until well combined.  Remove and add to bowl of nuts.

3. Using a wooden spoon or fork combine nuts with date mixture.  You can use your hands too to help combine the ingredients.

4.  Once all the ingredients are combined, roll into small balls and top with a whole almond and chocolate chip.

5. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Makes about 18-20 small balls.

I hope it is obvious to the kind people at Larabar that finishing the Larabars they sent me in under 36 hours means I really really like them.

Larabars are pretty awesome.  They have a large variety of incredibly delicious flavours, are the perfect travel food and are also vegan-friendly.  Larabars were created in May 2000 by Lara after a trip hiking through the Rockie Mountains.  I can imagine the kind of inspiration that would come from being in that setting. 

The bars have a base of nuts and dates and added dried fruits or chocolate.  Larabars do not have any additives or preservatives and are kept fresh by their packaging.  Note – Larabars are not truly ‘raw’ because their juice concentrates are flash pasteurized.

I received the following flavours –

Blueberry Muffin – Oh so good.  Tastes just like raw blueberry muffin dough.  I haven’t seen this in any of the health food stores in Toronto but if it’s available please tell me where so I can stock up!

Coconut Cream Pie – Mm.  Who doesn’t love coconut?  This bar was sweet, chewy and full of healthy saturated fats.

Key Lime Pie –Tart and tangy but my least favourite, I’m not a huge fan of lime.

Chocolate Chip Brownie – I suspect this is the same as the Canadian Chocolate Chocolate Chip but I’m not sure.  Either way, this is like heaven.  Chocolately, chewy and sweet and way better then junk food chocolate bars.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – Hands down the best Larabar I’ve tried.  I am in love with this flavour.  This bar tasted exactly like cookie dough, just so good!  The base is cashews (instead of the typical almond) which gives a rich, buttery flavour.

I am loving their new line of chocolate chip bars, so much so I was inspired to create my own version.

Have you tried Larabars? What is your favourite flavour?

It’s no secret.  I like love would give up my first born for Larabars.  Their simple ingredients, their delicious flavours, their cute packaging.  I love all of it.

That being said, with only a few ingredients listed on the label I knew that I could make Larabar’s Chocolate Chip Brownie bar myself.

And did I ever.

I don’t have many words for this other then amazing.  Really really amazing.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar
Inspired by Larabar

Ingredients

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
8 large Medjool dates, pitted
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Note – Larabar uses salt however I omitted this from my bars, if you choose to add this, use a high quality sea salt

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients into high-powdered blender or food processor and blend until combined
  2. Shape into bars and refrigerate until ready to consume

Makes 6 bars

I have been lucky enough to spend almost every night with week with some really great people!

Rewind to Tuesday when I had tea with Morgan.  Our plan was to hit up Mylk Uncookies for almond mylk lattes and raw desserts but sadly they close at 6pm.  We searched everywhere trying to find a cute cafe that was open past 6pm and vegan-friendly.  No such luck my friends.  We settled on Second Cup, scored comfy chairs and had a great catch-up.  Now that I think of it, I remember Manic Coffee as being a good coffee spot, do you know of any others in Toronto?

On Wednesday, Kristin, Gillian and I met up at Whole Foods in Yorkville for dinner.

I had a random assortment of delicious raw and cooked items including steamed kale, tofu curry, spelt grout salad:

One of the things I absolutely love about blogging is that my blog friendships have become real-life friendships.

While at Whole Foods I picked up lunch for Thursday, an amazing to-go salad by Live Food Bar called the High Vibe Kelp Noodle Salad – kelp noodles, wakame, cilantro, ginger, lemon juice, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chlorella, olive oil, cucumbers, sprouts & sea salt:

I really enjoyed it, although I didn’t know there were red onions in it and I was a little stinky by the time I was finished.  I’ve never had kelp noodles before but they have a great texture and are gluten-free and a good source of some trace minerals.

My friend Stephanie and I had plans to go to Live Food Bar on Friday after work.  This was my first visit and I was super excited, especially after having my kelp noodle salad the day prior.

The vibe at Live is so relaxed and friendly.  We sat down, looked at the menu and thought everything sounded delicious but settled on…

Nachos Fiesta – corn chips, tomato salsa, guacamole, jalapeno jelly and cashew cream:

Next up was the raw Reuben sandwich – sesame kale carob bread, walnut sunflower patty, guacamole, red cabbage, sesame help aioli, dill pickles, root veggie chips:

It was delicious and the dill pickles were the best I have ever had!  Of course we couldn’t leave without having dessert.  After humming and hawing over everything, we settled on the the raw coconut chocolate brownie and the chocolate almond butter cup:

O.M.G.

The chocolate almond butter cup was one of the best desserts I have ever had.  If you have the chance, check out Live, it’s amazing!

It was a really great week full of amazing friends and amazing foods!

This afternoon, my lovely co-worker turned to me and declared that she needed chocolate.  I understand that feeling because I need chocolate like every day. 

She went to the vending machine, grabbed a chocolate bar and promised me that later she would eat veggies and work out extra hard.

I promised her I’d come up with a healthy chocolate alternative for those afternoon cravings.  And I did! 

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Raw Coconut-Cacao Balls

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw coconut
2 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp raw cacao nibs
1/2 cup almond butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
5 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp raw honey

Directions

1. Place all ingredients in a processor and blend until thoroughly mixed (mixture can be slightly chunky)
2. Roll into balls and cover in flaked coconut
3. Can be stored in fridge

Cacao is the dried seeds of a South American evergreen tree called Theobroma cacao which is used in making cocoa and chocolate.* 

I happen to love chocolate.  LOVE it.  But much of the chocolate I consume is full of added crap that really doesn’t offer much by way of nutrition and sure doesn’t come from nature.  Eating raw cacao offers the taste of chocolate (mind you, since it doesn’t have all the sugar and additives it has a mildly bitter taste, think dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate.)

When the cacao beans are broken into bits and left unprocessed they are called raw cacao nibs which is my personal favourite. 

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Raw cacao is rich in:

Antioxidants
Magnesium
Polyphenols

I enjoy sprinkling raw cacao nibs over my morning oatmeal or as a powder which I add to smoothies to make them taste chocolaty.  It also makes for an amazing hot chocolate drink.

Have you ever tried raw cacao?  What is your favourite way to eat it?

 

*Source: Navitas Naturals

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