Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites & A Book Review

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Back in 2008, I was a real Larabar junkie. As I walked to my car after work, I was often desperate for a boost in energy to fuel my 75 minute commute home. Larabars gave me enough energy to get through the long stretch until we had a late dinner around 8pm. I was rarely without a bar in my purse.

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Granted, my once a day habit became a bit costly after a while so I decided to take a crack at making my own homemade bars to save a bit of cash. At the end of 2008, I discovered that they are quite easy to make in a food processor for a fraction of the cost. I soon made Banana Bread, Cashew cookie, Cherry Pie, and Chocolate Chip Cookie dough, among other knock-off flavas.

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I now buy Larabars once and a while for convenience (if I’m out somewhere on the road and need a healthy vegan snack), but it’s comforting to know that I can also make something similar in my own home if I have the chance.

Ever since the move last week I’ve been on a big energy ball kick and relying a lot on no-bake recipes, as you’ve seen with vegan overnight oats and Green Monsters. Energy balls also provide long-lasting energy for busy days and are great for traveling and fueling before and after workouts. You wouldn’t think they dissipate hunger, but I find they really do a good job at delaying hunger in between meals. Nuts are a magical food! Just tuck a few in your purse and you have a portable, emergency snack on hand if you find yourself with a grumbling tummy and a lack of healthy food options.

I’m also working on a nut-free energy ball and granola bar recipe for those of you with allergies, as well as a bar inspired by one of the new Uber Larabar flavours. I told ya, I’m on a kick…

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites

These energy bites are inspired by Larabar’s new Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte flavour. I prefer to roll them into bite sized balls rather than bars because it’s much faster, but shape them however you wish.

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Yield: 15 small bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole raw almonds
  • 120 grams pitted Medjool (not honey) dates (about 8 )
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cherries
  • 3 tbsp dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Camino brand)
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste

 

1. In a food processor, process the almonds until finely chopped. It’s ok if some bigger pieces remain. Just be sure not to pulverize it into a flour as you want some texture.

2. Remove 1/3 cup of the processed almonds and set aside for the final step.

3. Now, add the pitted dates in (along with the almonds already in the processor) and process until finely chopped and sticky. A dough will start to form. Add cherries and process again until combined. The mixture will likely form into a large ball. If this happens, break it up with a spoon and process more if necessary.

4. Add in the chocolate chips and pecans and process until they are just chopped. Add salt to taste. Pulse in the reserved 1/3 cup almonds for texture. Roll into small balls. Place in a container or baggie and store in the fridge or freezer. Oh yea, don’t forget to pop a few in your purse!

Nutritional info (makes 15 small balls, per ball): 108 cals, 7 grams fat (1 g sat fat), 40 mg sodium, 13 grams carbs, 3 grams fibre, 9 grams sugar, 3 grams protein.

This recipe makes 1 and 1/2 cups of packed dough….mmm. I’ve concluded it’s impossible not to eat it straight from the processor!

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Get ready for a burst in energy…these bites are irresistible!

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The Book Of Vegan Swaps Review

Recently, I was asked to participate in the Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps book tour along with several other bloggers. You may be familiar with the sassy & no nonsense vegan crusader Kim Barnouin – co-author of the famous Skinny Bitch book, along with several other guides and cookbooks. Kim holds a masters degree in Holistic nutrition and she’s counseled countless celebrities, athletes, and models to follow her plan. While I’ve personally never been a fan of the term “skinny bitch”, I’ll be the first to admit that her first book was largely responsible for my decision to try eating vegetarian back in university. It was also one of the first wake up calls I’ve had about how cruel the industry can be to animals.

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Kim is now back with her Book of Vegan Swaps – a guide for finding vegan products in your own grocery store, airport, or restaurant.

The Book of Vegan Swaps is a guide for newly transitioning vegans who are in those first awkward stages of figuring out what – and where – to eat. The chapters feature where to shop, a restaurant guide (most are in the US only, fyi), vegan options at airports (also mostly in the US), decoding labels (how to detect hidden animal ingredients- very useful), and grocery store swaps for dairy, meat, condiments, frozen foods, desserts, alcoholic beverages, and more.

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When I first made a gradual shift to a vegan diet in 2009 I had no clue what to eat, so I instantly related to the need for this book, even though it’s now been a long time since I’ve felt confused about what to eat. Now, my only difficulty seems to be choosing what to make among so many options. Like anything new, it can take time to feel comfortable with the change and I totally get that.

When I first started out on my vegan journey, I filled my cart with a variety of imitation meat and dairy products like Tofurkey, fake sour cream, and Ives ground round. I really had no clue what a vegan diet should (or could) look like and to make matters more challenging, I also didn’t know how to prepare my own balanced vegan recipes at home. Well if I’m going to be really honest, I didn’t know how to cook at all. As they say, I could barely boil water!

Not surprisingly, I realized that I didn’t feel so great eating these imitation products every day and my body started to crave more natural stuff. I finally had to teach myself how to cook and bake my own vegan meals and that’s exactly what I’ve documented on this blog for the past 3 years. I revisited naturally vegan foods (beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruit, etc!) to fill up most of my diet, with the occasional splurge on imitation products as I saw fit. When I made those gradual changes, everything started to fall into place and I realized I didn’t miss my old go-to products at all. My energy also increased, my skin broke out less, and I knew I was on my way to being the vegan ninja I always wanted to be. Of course, everyone’s experience will be unique, but this has been mine.

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I think this guide is very helpful for locating tasty vegan products and vegan brands, especially when you have a killer craving for a cheese pizza or bowl of rich and creamy ice cream and you don’t know where to turn. There are so many vegan options out there now, many of which taste as good (or better) than the real thing. Best of all, these vegan products are cruelty-free, allowing you to satisfy your craving without contributing to the harm of animals. You’ll find all of Kim’s recommendations in there – and let me tell you, there are hundreds of specific brand suggestions for every kind of food you can think of from wine to waffles and everything in between.

With that being said, I believe it’s equally important to keep in mind that a vegan diet does not have to rely on packaged, imitation, and/or processed products. This is also a sentiment that Kim mentions in the beginning of the book and I appreciate that she’s honest when a food mentioned isn’t the healthiest or contains many artificial ingredients. I wish there would have been more emphasis on this though. She also includes about 10 of her vegan recipes in the book and I found myself wanting many more recipes, but I realize this guide was not intended to be a cookbook.

So go on and enjoy your Dandies marshmallows or soy jerky as a splurge or when time is tight. Just don’t forget to add some natural vegan staples in your cart while you’re at it and take pleasure in making something from scratch in your own home. Really, there’s no better swap than that.

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{ 149 comments… read them below or add one }

Clair March 28, 2012

I saw a review of this book by another blogger and she said pretty much the same thing. (And she directed everyone to YOUR blog for good, wholesome cooking!) I’m glad she’s making a vegan diet popular and accessible, but I’ll keep coming here for recipes. ;-)

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Angela March 29, 2012

Thank you Clair, I appreciate that!

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Willow March 28, 2012

Yum – love lara bars, but I haven’t had one in awhile. So easy to just blend up some dates, nuts, and whatever else sounds good! Love the addition of chocolate and cherries, though… I’ll have to try that!

And I like the way you sum up the book review – no better swap than finding the time to make something in your own home. I so agree! Whether your diet be vegetarian, vegan, or neither, taking the time and caring to prepare your own food is so much better than buying the processed packaged alternatives in the store.

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katie@ KatieDid March 28, 2012

I was just reminiscing with a friend when we used to eat smart dogs… (fake hot dogs) and I shudder now thinking about it! I’ve personally moved on to real meat because it works well for my body, but vegetarian or not I’m never going back to those fake products.

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Brigitte March 28, 2012

I love Larabars, I often carry one in my purse as well, and recently got my mom addicted too! Since I realized how easy they were to make I have begun making my own, so I will definitely have to try this one! And I love the Skinny Bitch books. The authors are hilarious, and I went vegan after reading it! Thanks for all your delicious recipes Angela!

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen March 28, 2012

I’ve still yet to try that new flavor b/c nowhere around me carries it and it’s killing me! chocolate + cherries is my favorite combo so I’ll be making these until grocery stores get their act together around here :)

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ali janine @ This Ninja Eats Broccoli March 28, 2012

I love love love when you post a recipe that I already have all the ingredients for in my cupboard. it’s like it’s fate :)

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Somer March 28, 2012

I probably spend $20 bucks a week on larabars for my family. Who knew they could be so easy to make! Food processor- check, stocked pantry with dates, nuts, seeds and vegan chocolate- check! So happy right now!

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Angela March 29, 2012

They are so fun to make! Enjoy

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com March 29, 2012

Yummy! Such a lovely recipe!

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Leia March 29, 2012

In your cookbook, I hope you have a section about building healthy meals and what to buy at the supermarket! In India, a lot of the items mentioned (e.g. daiya cheese) aren’t available so I tend to go for the more natural option anyway, but I still feel limited sometimes. By the way, I will definitely be buying your book because I love your recipes and your blog so please keep us updated about when it’s going to be available! :)

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Angela March 29, 2012

Thank you Leia! I definitely plan to have natural pantry staples in there.

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Kari @ bite-sized thoughts March 29, 2012

These bites definitely look better than anything you can buy. I’ll take them and skip the book I think :D (Although the book sounds like it would be useful for some things.)

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Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers March 29, 2012

I had a Larabar for the first time this week and I didn’t care for it. I think it’s so much better homemade!!! I love your recipe, I’m going to make it this week!

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh March 29, 2012

Oh man, I am SO making these! Must remember not to pop them like they’re calorie free no matter how good they are. My only weakness with truffle sized treats! :-)

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Nicole March 29, 2012

I can’t wait for your nut-free version! I often times sub sunflower seeds (like I did for your Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto and it was delish!) but i’m starting to feel like I eat way too many sunflower seeds. Are there any other good substitutions for nuts?

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Angela March 29, 2012

I tried sunflower seeds & pepita seeds in my version, sesame and hemp might be a good addition, but the hemp has a strong flavour + smell, so it’s a personal preference thing.

Good to know about the RTB pesto!! I will def try that

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Jaime March 29, 2012

Angela,
I just wanted to tell you that I am amazed by you. When I was first directed to your blog, through a friend, I found I could relate to you very well. I have been eating a plant-based diet for just over two months now. I began guns ablazing! My husband was shocked by my drive. When I found your site, I was actually intimidated by you, because you seem to have it so together and are coming up with such creative recipes (I was physically upset by it). But, I picked myself back up and am so happy to how found you. I see other people make similiar comments. You are making such a difference. Thank you so much!
Jaime

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Angela (Oh She Glows) March 29, 2012

Thank you Jaime. I had to chuckle that you think I have it all together…I rarely feel that way! I’m usually disorganized…I struggle with anxiety…always behind with work, etc. I guess blog posts only show snippets of my life though. Take care!

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Abby @ Fig & Fork March 29, 2012

I always forget to buy dried fruit – it can make such a nice (sweet!) addition to raw recipes…yum! I am a huge fan of Larabar-like snacks. I just made a version with a pinch of cayenne so I could call them Hot Date Bars!! :)

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Alex @ Raw Recovery March 29, 2012

Now that I’ve transitioned from vegetarianism to veganism, I find that I enjoy cooking my own food and get more satisfaction from knowing what all is going into it. The imitation products are great for people just starting out on a vegetarian or even vegan diet, if they still crave similar tastes/textures but veganism allows for a whole new spectrum of delicious food. I never thought I would enjoy green juices but now I love them! I also have realized how much cheaper it is to cook my own meals and prepare my own snacks rather than relying a lot on packaged goods. Larabars are great but they can get pricey. I love the cherry/chocolate combo so thanks for the recipe :)

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TheCookieFairy March 29, 2012

These look delicious! The British equivalent for these would be Nakd bars, I think, and I love those to bits. I’ve been thinking about replicating them too since I started experimenting with raw foods. Love ball sized snacks, they’re so handy to pack, but I always feel like having more than one!

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Ciara March 29, 2012

These energy bites look delish. I’m a nurse, and find there are always times during the day when I need a quick boost, but don’t have time to sit for a break. These would be great for that! Thanks for posting :)

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Mandy Jo March 29, 2012

I love LARABARS!!! Recentlly I started eating Macrobars, have you tried them? Delicious as well. I’m so excited to try this recipe!! Thanks for thinking about us even during your crazy move! :)
Cheers

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit March 29, 2012

These look great, Angela. Have you thought of doing the nut-free version with buckwheat? That’s how I do mine and they’re great! A bit of raw buckwheat, sunflower seeds, pepita seeds and hemp seeds. If you want crunch, the hemp seeds with the shells are AWESOME for it.

If I have lots of time, I soak the grains and seeds and sprout them for a powerful snack! Can’t wait to see how you make them nut-free. I’ll be alll over it!

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Ruth March 29, 2012

Hey, great timing – I have been thinking over the past 24 hours that I could really use some “dough ball” things. The chocolate-cherry bites look perfect!

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Kate March 29, 2012

I’m obsessed with the Cherry LaraBar so I’m going to be all over this recipe soon, as I find it helpful to have something quick and on the go!

I read the first skinny bitch book and it was a big wakeup call, though it took me a few years to give up some animal products. This book would be pretty helpful!

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Rhona March 29, 2012

These balls look good. I am now on a path of unprocessed plant based eating so this type of recipe really helps me with the hunger. Eliminating processed vegan foods is not as hard as I thought it would be but at the same time, I find myself hungrier so snacks like this will hit the spot. Thank you.

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Stacy @ Say It With Sprinkles March 29, 2012

Sounds like a cool, informative book – I’d love to check it out if I get the chance.

Love the looks of those chocolate cherry bites! I’ve made a chocolate version of a larabar before, as well as mocha (for a little caffeine kick, haha!)

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Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy March 29, 2012

I have started making my own Larabars and I love them so much more then the store bought ones! I need to make these energy bites! They look delicious!

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Life's a Bowl March 29, 2012

This is a beautifully written post and super inspiring! I am not a vegan, nor a vegetarian, but I have been in the past and I currently consume a limited amount of white meat [eggs, chicken, turkey]… I read the book SB years ago and it definitely impacted me and provided me with a great amount of knowledge, would love to read her vegan book!

P.S. I really wanna try to make homemade power bars/ balls!

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Sabrina @ Radioactive Runner March 29, 2012

Those energy bites look SO good!! I love how there is so few ingredients. Definitely trying these!!

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Deirdre @ Ladies Holiday March 29, 2012

I like that you put them into bites as opposed to bars…and I just ordered the vegan swaps book…can’t wait!

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Cat @ Breakfast to Bed March 29, 2012

balls made with dates are my all time favorite balls.

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AGS March 29, 2012

Is there a vegan substitute for marzipan listed? I might check it out of the library, if it does.

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Angela @ Happy Fit Mama March 29, 2012

I make my own version of Larabars all the time. I have to admit I like my version better. My toddlers love ‘em! I try to have a stash available for quick snacks and energy. Recently, my hubby even came around to loving them. Needless to say, we go through A LOT of dates in our house!

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LizAshlee March 29, 2012

I absolutely love snacks like this..I would say they are more like a treat for me!! Thanks for sharing..I am excited to see what you come up with as far as a grain and nut free recipe…that’s wonderful!

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Amber K March 29, 2012

I have made various Larabars myself, but I can never get them to be the right texture. They don’t seem to actually hold together. Now if I could figure out how they make them solid, I could cut back on my Larabar habit!

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Heather March 29, 2012

I am addicted to the chocolate cherry Kind bars so I am totally stoked to try this recipe – they also get pricey if you load up like I do! Thanks for all your awesome recipes!!

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Dominique @ theglutenfreedom March 29, 2012

Mmm, I really want these but I have none of these ingredients in my house and I’m extremely lazy so I will just imagine that I have made them and am now eating them. I’m really enjoying these imaginary Dark Chocolate Cherry bites. Thanks, Angela!

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Michaela@pilgrimageofhealth March 29, 2012

YUMM! Can you substitute other dried fruit for the dates, or does that it affect it badly? they look delicious!

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Natalie March 29, 2012

This might be a silly question… would a Magic Bullet work as a food processor?

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Tawnee March 29, 2012

I felt the same way when I read both Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. Both were good if you wanted a recipes for a Superbowl party or a indulgent dinner, but to be quite honest I was really not a fan of how proccessed all the meals and recipes were. I remember looking over the sample meal plan in the back of SB and not being able to find a single day over a four week period that didn’t have some sort of faux meat or cheese product.

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Kristin March 29, 2012

Oh those look yummy, I love the first skinny bitch books but I don’t totally agree with eating a ton of fake vegan food products, it’s not what the diet is really about… for me at least. I also wanted to ask your permission for a post of one of your recipes about the raw buckwheat porridge that I adapted a little, I credited you, with a link to original recipe
Here’s the post – http://theveganchica.blogspot.com/2012/03/raw-buckwheat-groats-and-coconut.html

Sorry I had to comment about this on here, not quite sure where link to an email was
I can take it down if you would like me too. have a good day!
thanks! :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) March 30, 2012

be my guest!

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Kristin March 30, 2012

Awsome! thank you

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Mary Collins March 29, 2012

Well then. I have a new addiction. I just made up a batch with honey dates (didn’t think I had any medjool – opened the drawer and there they were- doh!) and it was too dry to mix up. I added a tablespoon or two of peanut butter and a little water and it made it sticky enough to roll up into balls. I’ll store them in the fridge, since the peanut butter is natural. So freaking yummy! Thanks for the great recipe.

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