Enjoy this healthy treat for Valentine’s Day! Make your honey and the kids some of these yummy bite-sized carob hearts and you’ll all be smiling instead of feeling like you over-did it on the chocolates and candies.
- 1 cup organic almonds, soaked
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked
- ½ cup organic dates
- ½ cup organic raisins, soaked
- ½ cup carob powder
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 4-5 teaspoons water from the soaked raisins
Soak almonds and pumpkin seeds overnight (or 4-6 hours) and then drain and rinse. Place raisins in a small bowl, cover with hot water for about 10 minutes. Save both the raisins and the raisin water in two separate bowls. In a food processor grind almonds and pumpkin seeds until fine. You can also use your blender and use the “grind” option. Remove nuts/seeds from the food processor or blender and add dates, raisins, carob, coconut oil (first melt this on low heat on the stove) and vanilla. Blend this well. Now transfer the nuts and fruit mix to a bowl and mix. Add 4-5 teaspoons of the raisin water, if necessary, until the mixture is the consistency of very thick cookie dough. Roll into 1 inch balls and then shape into bite-sized hearts. If you make these at another time of the year, just make them into bite-sized balls.
This recipe is thanks to Frances Holmes, one of my dear friends and a nutritionist colleague. She used to make them for us when I worked in Julia Ross’ Recovery Systems Clinic in Mill Valley. Frances says: “Add pizzazz by rolling the balls in coconut, cinnamon, carob, toasted sesame seeds or any other tasty thing your little heart desires. You can also be creative and add flavored essential oils, or spices like cardamom as well.”
Once they have been coated, chill for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator, or until the balls slightly harden. And Frances says “These little delightful bites freeze well too!”
I have modified the original recipe: I used half the carob powder and replaced 1/2 cup almonds with 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds. Some optional additions: 1/3 cup whey protein powder; substitute some of the almonds with walnuts; add I T ginger to 1/3 of the batch; add ground mint leaves to 1/3 of the batch.
And here are some of the few healthy reasons for selecting these over store-bought candy:
- Dates and raisins have health benefits like iron, fiber and are naturally sweet
- Coconut oil is healthy fat that is delicious and helps offset the effects of the sugar in the dried fruit
- Carob is a healthy magnesium-rich naturally caffeine-free alternative to cocoa and chocolate. The caffeine in chocolate affects some people and makes them anxious. If you can eat chocolate do make sure it’s dark chocolate
- Almonds are a source of protein and fats and vitamin E
- Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan and zinc (a functional food made from pumpkin seeds has been shown to help with social anxiety and insomnia). You can read more about soaking and pumpkin seeds here
- Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium and magnesium and add a delicious crunch
- Coconut flakes add a delicious tropical flavor and crunch
Happy Valentine’s Day!