Remember those chewable Flintstone multivitamins? How about the grape flavored children's Tylenol? I LOVED them both and actually looked forward to my daily vitamin. In fact, I loved chewable Tylenol so much that three year old Jill snuck into the medicine cabinet and consumed the contents of an entire bottle - which resulted in a trip to the hospital and a round of ipecac. Fun!
Anyway, the reason I am telling you this is because it seems as though I still love to eat my vitamins but I am pretty sure these powerfully magical beauties will never result in vomiting! I am pumped to share this recipe with you, especially if you are a woman!
For months I have been on a quest to naturally balance my hormones - I have been struggling with irregular periods for the past few years and as an otherwise thriving 29 year old honestly, enough is enough. I have upped my fat to carb to protein ratio (yes, I was on the 80-10-10 train for a while and I think it may have done a little damage), altered my exercise routine and have been *trying* to stress less. In addition to these things I have also been eating the most delicious hormone-balancing "vitamin" daily - a cacao sprinkled date wrapped in a brazil nut. I learned all about the hormone balancing powers of dates, brazil nuts and cacao in the book 'How Not To Die' by the wonderful Dr. Michael Greger - which the bible for anyone interested in the intrinsic link between good health and diet. One day, I shared my magic bullet of healing on Instagram and the photo got such a reaction that a light bulb went off, "this would make a really great energy bite", I thought. Any excuse for another energy bite recipe, AM I RIGHT?
One of the most wonderful things about Dr. Greger's book is that he makes actual suggestions of foods you can eat to improve specific health conditions - and he goes further still by suggesting combinations of foods that enhance one another's healing effects. For instance, I now always make sure to add pepper to any dish containing turmeric because the anti inflammatory properties are greatly magnified when you do. Dr. Gregor cautions against supplementation and urges us to consume whole foods as much as possible as the complexity of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids in our foods work together, in unison. We are designed to benefit from the delivery of these nutrients through food! They rarely benefit us quarantined in a bottle, as suggested by the supplement industry. 'How Not to Die' is a super dense read and I actually got a lot more from it by listening to it on tape - which is a great thing to do during any tedious task - driving, walking, cleaning, *rolling out energy bites*.
The way the compounds in these energy bites work together is fascinating. Here's a quick break down - Brazil nuts are SUPER high in selenium, an important trace mineral supporting thyroid function. Selenium's power is magnified when combined with vitamin E, found abundantly in cacao along with antioxidants and other stress reducing compounds like magnesium. Dates further amplify this blend by providing a healthy dose of potassium and manganese - which play a part in regulating sex hormones, energy and metabolism. Although dates are high in sugar the manganese also helps to maintain a healthy blood sugar level and regulates brain and nerve function.
I went further still adding maca powder - the hormone balancer of hormone balancers and ashwaganda which acts more gently to lower cortizol levels.
Most days, I enjoy these as a pre-workout pick me up and I am happy to report I am beginning to feel more balanced. I have gotten a period since starting this daily practice and gained a little weight, which I am trying my best to embrace as I course correct my healing journey...NOT easy!
But the whole reason I am sharing these babies with you is because they are also GOD DAMMED DELICIOUS. I mean - dates, chocolate, nuts - how could you go wrong? I love how the maca powder adds a malted-honey note! My boyfriend - aka my official taste tester - who had no idea about the "medicinal" element, said these are the BEST energy bites I have ever made. Woah, thats big coming from a guy who makes anything I create disappear!
So, if you're like me, and you're looking for a whole foods solution to your hormonal struggle - give these a try, I am so interested to know if they help. OR, if you aren't struggling with hormones but just want a delicious pre-workout delight let me know how these babies stack up!
Serves: Apx. 24 1.5" Bites • Prep Time: 10 minutes • Total Time: 30 minutes
- 24 Medjool dates
- 1 cup gluten free oats, ground into flour
- 1 cup brazil nuts, pulsed into a meal
- 3 tbsp. cacao powder
- 2 tbsp. maca powder *optional
- 2 tbsp. ashwaganda powder *optional
- 1/2 tsp. pink salt
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Pit all of your dates, place them in a bowl and pour hot water to cover - allow them to soak for 3-4 minutes and then drain well, removing all excess water
NOTE: Skip this step if your dates are super moist
2. Measure out the oats into a food processor and wiz them up till the consistency is that of a coarse flour. Pour oat flour into a bowl.
3. Measure out the brazil nuts into the food processor and pulse in 5 second bursts until you reach the texture of coarse sand. Pour the nuts into the bowl with the oats.
NOTE: Be sure to not over blend your brazil nuts, they are quite oily and can turn into brazil nut butter very easily...not that that would be bad, but its just not what we're going for here, we still want little bits of nuts detectable in the final product
4. Now add the soaked and drained dates to the food processor along with the cacao powder, maca powder, ashwaganda powder, salt and vanilla - blend until your mixture is that of a thick paste.
5. Add the oat flour and crushed brazil nuts back into the food processor and pulse till the entire mixture begins to come together - you may have to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure an even mix. You want the dough to appear slightly crumbly but to stick together when squeezed between your fingers.
6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow the chill in the fridge for 15 minutes - you can skip this step but it will help the dough set up and stick to your hands less when rolling out the balls.
7. Use a rounded tablespoon to measure out the balls and roll the mixture between your hands - repeat this process till all the dough is gone.
8. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks - but they will be gone long before then.