Monday, October 28, 2013

Coconut Date Truffles: Trick or Treat

When I was younger, Halloween was definitely a favorite time of year.  A roly-poly child with chubby cheeks, a bowl cut, and a natural talent for charming a crowd, I was a popular trick-or-treater with the neighbors.  In fact, there was a frequent inclination for them to give me extra candy 'by mistake,' which, of course, made my siblings and friends jealous.  I would take my stash of candy, and to avoid my brother and sister stealing it, or perhaps even worse, my Mom taking it to ration it to me, I hid it in a drawer in my bedroom.   Candy and I were close, to say the least. 

[cue sound of door quietly closing and the sound of candy wrappers being torn open]

Fast forward to now, I wouldn't even call candy and I "friends."  Since cutting out gluten, dairy, and nearly all refined sugars, my palate, along with my quality of living, have changed considerably over the last six years.  Even calling us "acquaintances" would be a far cry from the truth.  But if you think my sweet tooth is gone, you would be mistaken.  Now, it just prefers the company of smoothies, raw juices, nuts and seeds, fresh or dried fruit, and coconut in just about any form, naturally sweet and satisfying.  And from time to time, a raw truffle like the one here.

A treat that can trick and satisfy even the sweetest of candy lovers.

Coconut, Sunflower Seed, Date Truffles
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan, & Raw

Active Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: none
Cooking Time:  none
Yield: 1 dozen tablespoon-sized truffles

1 heaping c Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds

1/3 c dried shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 c raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pinches ground clove
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

2 tablespoons extra raw sunflower seeds

shredded coconut and black sesame seeds, to garnish

What you'll need:  food processor, tablespoon-sized baking scoop, one medium bowl, two small bowls

1.  Combine dates and sunflower seeds in food processor.  Run for approximately two minutes, or until the ingredients just begin to stick together like a very rough dough.
2.  Add shredded coconut, raisins, spices, and salt.  Run for another minute or so, or until all the ingredients just begin to bind together and form a ball.
3.  Remove from food processor into a bowl and add extra sunflower seeds.  Fold them into the mixture.
4.  Divide/scoop the mixture into twelve equal sized portions and roll into balls.  Greasing the scoop and your hands very lightly with coconut oil can really help to facilitate this process.
5.  To garnish, put black sesame seeds and the dried coconut in separate small bowls.  Roll each truffle first in the sesame seeds, and then do the same in the coconut.

Just beginning to come together after about two minutes...

Layering in flavor and texture...

Sunflower seeds and more coconut for crunch.

Let's get rolling.

My favorite part of the whole process.

When I said, "satisfy," earlier, I really meant it.  Rich in fiber, protein, and medium chain triglycerides, these make a perfect snack between meals, on the go, or as a quick boost before or after a workout.  They're very similar in texture to popular raw fruit and nut snack bars, but don't contain the added sugar (which always seemed unnecessary to me) or nuts (which is great for those with nut allergies or sensitivities).  Another bonus is that these cost a fraction of what you would pay for those off-the-shelf snack bars.  The cost of one batch might buy you two or three of those snack bars(especially if you catch them on sale) and with no added waste from the packaging.  

In appearance, they remind me of those coconut coated glazed donut holes, and in taste, they have a lot in common with a pumpkin spiced oatmeal raisin cookie.  And what's great about this recipe is how easily it can be modified.  You need them a little sweeter to convince your kids that they're not "too good for you"?  Add one to two tablespoons coconut nectar or honey.  You don't like coconut as much as I do? [quiet gasp in disbelief] Use almond slivers in place.  You want to experiment with different spices?  Go to town.  Sometimes I leave the spices out of the mix, and then dust each one with a different set of spices, ranging from garam masala, ground lavender, chipotle or cayenne, to toasted carob.  There's no right nor wrong - simply follow the lead of your gut and your tastebuds.

So whether it's Halloween, or any other day of the year when you need a little bit of sweet in either your life or the lives of those you love, give these simple truffles a try.  They're sure to inspire a smile.

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