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These bites of chocolatey goodness are a little unconventional. High in antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid, dates are a chewy and unexpected addition in this recipe. Once combined with the other ingredients, the dates serve to add some sweetness with the chocolate chips.
You may be wondering is chocolate healthy?
Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols that may help protect the heart. Dark chocolate (50-90% cocoa solids) contains up to 2-3x more flavanols - rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate (10-50% cocoa solids). Flavanols have been shown to support the production of nitric oxide in the endothelium that helps to relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow, thereby lowering blood pressure.
People who ate dark chocolate reported that they felt less stressed, and researchers confirmed that after eating dark chocolate, there were reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may be related to dark chocolate’s effect on heart health since stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Most of the benefits seen in research are associated with chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa content. There is currently no established serving size of chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits it may offer, and more research is needed in this area. So, for now, enjoy moderate portions of about 1-ounce of dark chocolate a few times a week, and don’t forget to eat other flavanol-rich foods like apples, cranberries, onions and peanuts.
Full recipe below video.
In a food processor, process drained and pitted dates, almond flour, rolled oats, raisins (or dates), unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla.
It will appear as if nothing is happening at first – the mixture is just whirring around as crumbs. It will soon be sticky – in about five minutes.
Continue to process until mixture forms a ball around the blade.
Stop the machine and remove the mixture.
Hand knead in mini chocolate chips and ¼ cup finely chopped nuts of choice.
Take small scoops of dough and roll into balls.
Roll the balls in unsweetened coconut flakes or finely chopped nuts of choice and refrigerate.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
80 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 0mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 7g sugar (0g added sugar)
Recipe from Cecelia Jacobson, Registered Dietitian for the Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.