Cocoa Chia Date Balls

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Of all the desserts I make, this is the simplest one to put together and one of the most popular ones too, especially if you are gluten free. Actually, this is more than a dessert, it’s an energy ball.
You know those energy bars that your trainer tries to sell you or your local natural food store carries, stating how healthy it is and natural they are. Well, these Cocoa Chia Date Balls beat those energy bars, hands down!

The key ingredient here is medjool dates. That’s right…. that dried fruit that grows indigenously across the Middle East and North Africa and is one of the seven blessed species that God blessed. There must be a reason, from all the fruits we have in this world, God decided that this is the one He’s blessing. For good reason, Medjool dates only contain about 66 calories each – so that’s ideal if you are concerned about your shvelt body. They are a good source of fiber and contain high levels of the essential minerals potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. In other words, it’s good for you. Dates were commonly eaten by nomadic travelers as they provide a lot of energy and healthful nutrients with the added benefit of being readily available. So if a nomad can survive on dates in an arid desert, you certainly can thrive on these as well. Although, right now in NY, it feels as hot as a blow dryer blowing on me.

Now about the taste of these delightful energy balls. They are raw!! That means, no baking. Just throw into a food processor and presto. The combination of cocoa and dates suggests a taste of a rum liqueur. Many people have asked me if I use rum, and somehow the cocoa just extracts the taste of rum when combined with dates. Each bite is like a cookie that is moist and a bit nutty. I added chia seeds, because it expands in your belly and makes you feel full. Plus there is a lot of talk about chia as a protein source. Important for us vegetarians. I originally made a version of these for my Silk Road Vegetarian cookbook called Orange Blossom Date Balls. For that recipe, you will need to purchase my book. As you can imagine by the name, it’s a fragrant date ball, more reminiscent of the Silk Road.

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Cocoa Chia Date Balls

Makes 16

Ingredients
2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water
10 medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon raw coconut oil
Sea Salt, to taste
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, soaked and dried, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups shredded dried coconut
Directions

  1. Combine chia seeds and water in a bowl and mix together.
  2. Let seeds absorb water. Once absorbed, place in the food processor with the dates and coconut oil, and process until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the sea salt and cacao powder, and process until smooth and well combined.
  4. Add the walnuts and process until evenly distributed, then remove from the processor and stir in the coconut (the mixture will be very thick, and you may need to use your hands).
  5.  Form the mixture into 16 balls, and enjoy!  Store extra in the fridge.

Ginger Pear Crumble

I make this crumble most often once when the fruits of summer give way to apples and pears in the fall. Crumbles are easier to prepare and faster to bake than pies, crisps and cobblers and are the perfect showcase for seasonal fruits.





This dessert is the simplest of all: fresh pears are covered with a ginger snap topping and baked until the crust is crispy and the filling bubbles and thickens. Gingersnap cookie crumbs is the base for this sweet, nut-filled crumble that tops this pear crisp. I used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Ginger Snap cookies, however feel free to use any other brand of your choice. Serve with light cream or a scoop of vanilla yoghurt.






Serves 8


Ingredients


4 medium pears, pared, halved and cored
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup finely crushed ginger snap cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place pears, cut side up in a 9-inch pie pan. Drizzle orange juice over pears.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine ginger snaps, sugar, walnuts and butter. With your hands work it until it looks something like mortar.
  4. Pat ginger snap mixture over the pears. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.