Saturday, March 26, 2011

No Bake "Samoa" Balls

Click here to watch me make 'em:

Anddd.... they happen to be vegan! Who knew??

Don't be scared though, these dessert balls are so delish' that I've gotten more positive feedback and requests for them than any other recipe. I was inspired to make this recipe after stumbling upon images of these chocolate/coconut truffle balls on the infamous site (I'll warn you now: if you love food, set aside a good chunk of time before clicking on the link..or you'll get trapped in a food trance and wake up 2 hours later to realize you missed your ballroom dance class- not from experience or anything) Anyway, you're going to love this recipe. The ingredients are simple, you don't have to use an oven and risk forgetting to set the timer and causing your whole house to smell like burnt hair (again, not from experience), and you can take them anywhere to impress your friends with your culinary artistic skills!

So, before I lay it all out for you, be aware that since this is a "superfood" blog site, the ingredients will be much different from the good ol' girlscout cookie Samoas recipe. However, I guarantee that you will be surprised with the similar taste and enormous energy you'll get after just one of these balls!

Makes: 10-12 balls

1 cup medjool dates
1 cup mixed nuts
1 tbsp peanut/almond butter
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
1tbs raw cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup shaved dried organic coconut

*For the medjool dates, I like to use date rolls covered in dried coconut which can be found in bulk section of Kroger or your local health foods store. They're much cheaper than regular imported medjool dates (about $4.49/lb) and the soft texture makes them easy to blend in the food processor. Also, for the nuts, I like to use a combo of either cashews and almonds or walnuts and peanuts. You can get creative with it though, just make sure they can be crushed enough to stick well.

Here are the super simple directions:

Using food processor, blend dates, nut butter, coconut oil and vanilla extract (make sure to melt coconut oil to liquid on stove using glass container). Set wet mixture aside. Next, blend dry ingredients together including nuts, cacao powder and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and get your hands dirty! It's going to be dense so embrace the best tools God gave you and mush it all together as best you can. Pinch off sections to make small ball shapes and roll balls into dry coconut flakes. Once all samoa balls are made, place in fridge for at least 20-30mins before serving (allows coconut oil to solidify and hold ingredients together).

Dates are definitely a superfood due to their high nutrient density and easily digestible fiber (6.8g dietary fiber per 100g!). Dates have traditionally been used during Ramadan to consume after fasting since they are composed of simple sugars and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A is an important component found in dates, which is necessary for proper vision and maintaining healthy skin. Similar to bananas, dates are also rich in potassium and may help balance sodium levels in the body to prevent or reduce high blood pressure.

Although it's hard to put these nuts in the same category since each of them possess unique compounds, they all have similar health benefits and should be used interchangeably to multiply these effects. Almonds stand out most as having the highest amount of calcium, protein and vitamins E, B2 and B3. Walnuts, however, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce cholesterol and prevent allergies and inflammation. Adding nuts to your diet benefit your health in more ways than one. If you're looking to manage your weight, nuts provide a feeling of fullness and can naturally aid the body in weight loss. The sphingolipids found in almonds, in particular, have been shown to prevent almost every aspect of defective-cell regulation in cancer. Plus, they taste great.. I don't know anyone who can argue that one!

Coconut Oil
This ingredient has to be by far the best therapeutic addition to any recipe. Coconut oil is one of the oldest, most commonly used natural medicine and is a great substitution to butter for cooking. It can also be used topically to hydrate the skin, help heal wounds, reduce wrinkles, prevent inflammation and give you a beautiful healthy "glow"! The lauric acid compound (also found in a mother's breast milk) in coconut oil makes it particularly therapeutic due to its antiviral properties. Fun fact: coconut oil has been shown to reduce the viral load in patients who suffer with HIV/AIDS. The fat content in coconut oil (or milk, for that matter) is composed of medium-chained saturated fatty acids (MCFA'S) which differ from long-chained ones which are found in animal/dairy products and have been known to be the causal factor in several diseases. MCFA's are actually medicinal and can help balance cholesterol levels (lower LDL's, increase HDL's), help boost long-lasting energy and also provide healing to wherever is needed in the body. Since it is an oil, you wouldn't want to go overboard with heaping teaspoons for breakfast (not that anyone would ever consider that), but it's a great ingredient to use whenever you need a good long boost of energy or have some kind of health concern that needs to be addressed.

That's right, chocolate! I know you're just as excited as I am to hear about this one. So, as we've finally started to seriously investigate the medicinal properties of foods in western medical studies, researchers and lead scientists in the field have considered cacao to be possibly the most sustainable, nutrient dense food on the planet. Problem is, Hershey's chocolate bars aren't exactly the spitting image of health and vitality. Raw cacao, as it states, is in its natural unheated form, free of sugars and other potentially harmful additives. Raw cacao contains an enormous amount of minerals such as, in order of highest content, magnesium (useful for muscle recovery), calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese. Additionally, cacao beans contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E and rank superior to green tea, red wine and blueberries in it's antioxidant capacity. Fun fact: the Kuna tribe off the coast of Panama have been found to consume a TON of cacao daily (i'm talkin' like 5 cups of drinkable cacao per day), and coincidentally possess the lowest blood pressure levels out of any other tribe or culture.

You can check out the benefits of Cinnamon under my previous post titled "The Infamous Superfood Green Smoothie", otherwise, just try googling it and I guarantee your mind will be blown. It's great stuff!

Due to these amazingly delicious and nutritious ingredients, I tend to use them a lot in my cooking and I've experimented with a variety of recipes. I'll try to refrain from repeating myself as I continue to post recipes with these items but forgive me if I happen to reiterate things (as I tend to go a little overboard with my explanations).

Anyway, make yourself some Samoa balls and comment below with your thoughts and experiences. I'd love to hear some more feedback!

Bon (vegan!) Appetit :)


BĂ©liveau, Richard, Ph.d. Denis Gingras, Ph.d.(2007). Foods to Fight Cancer.New York, DK Publishing.

Grotto, David, RD, LND.(2007) 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. New York: Bantam Books.

1 comment:

  1. Graham let me taste-test one of these yesterday. Didn't you put dried cherries in them?

    (Oh, and don't forget to soak and dry your nuts first to remove phytates!)