Coconut Cashew Date Bars with Dark Chocolate

Let me tell you about that time I impulse bought a pound of dark chocolate. It wasn't your typical run of the mill impulse purchase - which usually involves a few small personal size bars, each a little different from the other in a way that suggests I need them all - usually Theo's, but often whatever is at eye level, the cheap crap too. This time around, I impulse bought a whole brick of chocolate the size of a small dog. Someone convinced me (that person being the slightly more rational version of myself) that storing a giant unapproachable large brick of chocolate in the cupboard would deter me from eating the whole darn thing in one week, because it's big, and that would be insane. And I thought, ok, that sounds realistic - think again Heather, think again. So you can see how concerned I was when I went to the cupboard and realized that I had eaten half of the brick in one week, and then I realized that buying a brick of chocolate just made me want to eat all of the chocolate. It become like a drug, my crutch, a single day not complete without a little nibble from the side, and then there's that time that Brent came home and found me on the couch cuddled up and cradling the chocolate, rocking it back and forth, unintentionally. It then dawned on me that I may actually be slightly insane. But insanity adds character, right?

In an attempt to remedy the situation, I chose the more proactive approach of baking the rest of the chocolate into something sweet, with a little bit of healthiness that comes in the form of dates, cashews, coconut, and almond flour. If we balance out the sweet with a little bit of healthy, we are doing our bodies right. In my dietitian world, I try to teach my clients that sugar is not the enemy. It is sweet and lovely and it makes us feel good - special and comforted. I recommend a daily indulgence, and if you can pair it with some do your body real good ingredients, I call that a win. I also say that we should all err on the side of caution when it comes to impulse purchases, especially if you're someone, like myself, with a general lack of self-control. So instead of eating the rest of the chocolate, and then spiraling into a sea of self-pity, I took initiative, got off the couch, and wrote down a list of oh-so-delicious-and-healthy ingredients that would pair well with chocolate into a granola bar form, and then I impulse drank a bottle of wine. Real life everyone, in real life.

Around my house, when things get busy and chaotic, we tend to rely a bit more on snack foods to get us by. Granola bars are something we turn to often, but not the packaged store-bought versions. We like the wholesome and agreeably homemade healthy ones. The ones with all sorts of tasty bits - dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut, oats. This recipe, falling into the category of totally appropriate snack food, is really simple to make. All you'll need is a few healthy and substantial ingredients, a reliable food processor, and the self-control to not eat all of the chocolate before preparing this recipe.



makes 16 bars

1 1/2 cups raw cashews

15 Medjool dates, pitted, and chopped

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/3 cup soy milk or almond milk

2 cups almond flour

8 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Grease a 9 x 9 inch pan.

Place the cashews into a food processor and pulse until they have broken down into smaller pieces. Add the chopped dates and coconut, pulse until combined. Slowly start to drizzle in the soy milk (any nut milk or water will do the trick) until the mixture starts to loosen up and become the consistency a little thinner than peanut butter. Depending on the moistness of your dates, you may only need a couple of tbsp of almond milk. Do not use more than 1/3 cup, or the mixture may becomes too soggy.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the almond flour until combined. Transfer to a greased square baking pan and press flat with a spatula. Place into the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate until spreadable. Pour onto the top of the date square and smooth out with a spatula. Place into the fridge until the chocolate has harden. Cut into 16 squares. Can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks, or the freezer for 6 months.