I have a sweet tooth. And I have definitely passed that down on to my little one. When she wants something she sees other people eating, like ice cream or cup cakes, I make her a healthy version at home and try to teach her about the difference. I try not to give into my desires, and when I do, I make sure it is something home made – sweetened with a non refined low glycemic index sugar, flourless, full of some natural whole food goodness. I decided to make some quick grab and go flour-less, dairy-free power squares and then took it to the next level and added chocolate and fat…it tasted like fudge…with nuts.
Chocolate is pretty magical…and very precious. Cacao trees may live to be as old as 200 years, but they produce usable cocoa beans for only 25 years. It takes a cacao tree four to five years to produce its first beans. Each cacao tree can produce approximately 2,500 beans and it takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.
Over the past several years there have been strains of viruses that have been killing cacao plants and as a result several groups have sequenced varieties of the cacao plant genome to better understand how the plants can avoid the viral infection. People ask me about my stance on genetically modified foods – I for one am not for the current production of GMOs because they are introduced into our food supply without long term studies to evaluate the consequences on not only our health, but environment. Do I believe GMOs will harm our immediate health – not necessarily. I am certain they will changed the way we live, much like carbon. GMOs will – and have always – changed our environment and changes are fine, as long as the ecosystem is given time to adapt. Adaptation and evolution take time. However, the rate at we are introducing them into our environment is dangerous. But our current problem with GMOs is not only environmental or scientific – there are business, social, political and ethical issues…GMOs will not solve world hunger because the problem is not lack of food, but distribution and wasting of food. Furthermore there are a whole host of other issues associated with GMOs we often think of today such as the introduction of toxins directly into our bodies, terminator seeds, attacking farmer because of cross pollination and so much more. I buy organic, garden organically and support the labeling of GMOs.
Do I condemn them completely? No. Because they can be used to introduce new varieties like broccolini, kalettes, pluots and apriums. If used properly, can help us adapt to our changing environment due to climate change – fight diseases that kills crops, especially in poor nations. And can save precious crops like cacao from deadly viruses. But do we need tomatoes that stay ripe and unblemished on store shelves for weeks on end – no (thankfully those no longer exist). Should we have GMO bananas to fight the virus that is spreading due to the fact we have propagated a single clone/variety of the crop – maybe, maybe not – more likely if we allowed diversity, the crop could find a way to survive, but given our rapidly changing environment now, this may no longer be possible. Much of the problems we see in our food today cannot be blamed on GMOs alone; there are many problems with agriculture – in the business, the regulation and practice of growing food. Then we have ourselves to consider as well – why do we want long lasting perfect looking fruits and veggies or year round access to seasonable crops grown elsewhere and why do we throw away so much usuable food? Why is the fact that food will decay in heat or grow funny looking and thus not look fresh, but still be good healthwise turn us off? Much of fresh food is not meant to last long after it is picked – but we want it to be both healthy, organic and last for days and weeks on end. I am not perfect. I am to blame as well. We are all to blame. All I am trying to do is draw awareness to the complexities of the topic and encourage rational discussion and solutions rather than finger pointing and name calling. And in the meantime I will support the cause by encouraging people to grow food instead of grass (especially in SoCal) and buy organic because that is what I believe in living in this country with our choice and access to food.
OK enough of the hard stuff. Back to the good stuff.
Fudgy, nutty, powerfully good little square stuff. Sorry if I upset you with my aside rant. But you are still here. Thankfully there is chocolate to boost our serotonin levels and mood. 🙂
This was relatively simple to make – all you need is a food processor, wax paper, a pan and a fridge. I combined three types of nuts – walnuts, pecans and almonds, ground them up and set them aside.
Then, I blended the dates into a puree.
The next part is simple – add the ground flax, cinnamon, salt, 100% cacao powder, coconut oil, vanilla and salt and combine. You can use a bar of 100%, shaved, but take a look at the oils used to make it into a chocolate bar and adjust for moisture. I like the powder because I can control the oil going in – I love the fatty richness of a coconut oil. It adds the perfect depth of flavor needed.
I buy flax seeds whole and then use a coffee grinder (reserved for spices and seeds) to make freshly ground flax. Or you can buy ground flax meal from Bob’s Red Mill or another company. The flax needs to be ground in order for your body to access the nutrients inside – otherwise most of the flax passes through our digestive system intact and undigested as it is unable to break through the hard exterior.
After the thick gooey stiff paste is formed, I scooped it out and folded in the nuts by hand to evenly distribute them. I patted down the mixture evenly in a baking dish lined with wax paper. I decided to garnish half with coconut. I placed into the fridge fro about 1-2 hours, then pulled out the wax paper and sliced it into squares.
My oh my. It is rich, chocolately, the perfect about of sweetness, textured from the nuts and filling. The perfect little bite.
I made another version with hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds ground fine and the fudge rolled into balls coated with 100% cacao powder or coconut.
Cacao, date, nut, flax seed fudge
- 1 cup unsalted almonds
- 1 cup unsalted walnuts
- 1 cup unsalted pecans
- 1.5 cups pitted dates, soaked overnight
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 Tbs coconut oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup ground flax seed
- 1/3 cup 100% cacao powder
- coconut for garnish
Coarsely chop nuts, set aside. Place dates into a food processor and puree until smooth and a paste. Add vanilla, coconut oil, cinnamon, salt, ground flax seed and cacao powder and blend until combined. Place into a bowl and fold in nuts until mixed. Line a 9 x 12 pan with wax paper and place mixture in and press down until even, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick. Garnish with coconut as desired. Cover with saran wrap and place into the fridge for 1-2 hours, until hard. Cut into squares. Store at room temp or in the fridge.