What do you do with surplus, or “undesirable” Halloween candy? As soon as we wrapped up our trick or treating festivities Monday night, I did a quick and discreet sorting out of my daughter’s candy. All the “baddies” were given away, either to neighbors or sent with my husband to his work. I let my daughter keep a few of the non-milk chocolate, and non-gelatin candies (PETA has a list of popular and incidentally vegan-friendly candy). Some parents adopt the “Switch Witch” method, where you put out the undesirable treats and the Switch Witch comes by and switches it out with better, or even non-candy goodies. This year my daughter was happy with what she ended up with, but next year we may be bringing the “Switch Witch” into play.
All the talk of sweets and treats the past few days got me and my husband reminiscing the other night about what our favorite candies were as kids. Basically, I liked every candy ever made. If it tasted like it was 90% sugar or above, I gave it the nod of approval. My husband and I were in agreement about Pixie Sticks, Fun Dip, Big League Gum, Twizzlers, Starburst, Sweet Tarts, and all those other insanely sweet, faux fruity treats. I raised an eyebrow (and got plenty of teasing for my bad taste) when I admitted to some of my other not-so-popular favorites, like Chuckles, Charleston Chews, Slo Pokes, and Bit O Honey. What can I say, my fellow sugar loving dad and the old fashioned corner store were major influences in my choices back then! My childhood sweet tooth was not very discerning. I didn’t even like chocolate until I was around 10, and then only if it was cloyingly sweet milk chocolate and only if it was encapsulating caramel, nougat, or something crispy.
It’s funny how taste buds can change. Now those candies don’t tempt me at all. When I decided to really clean up my diet (and also cut out animal foods) around 3 years ago, one of the big things I committed to cutting out was refined sugar. Now you have to remember, I hadn’t changed much from that sugar loving child I described earlier. I stilled loved and craved candy, although Twix, Reese’s, and Snickers were my top picks (for the record I haven’t eaten a Charleston Chew in decades! haha). It was hard at first, but I learned to whip up my own chocolatey treats using just a few whole food ingredients. It took some time, but eventually my cravings for candy bars (and sugary pastries, cakes, and snacks) vanished.
Date sweetened, secretly nutrient-dense snacks like today’s Chili Mocha Brownie Bites, are the kinds of sweet snacks I find myself craving now instead of candy bars. These are so easy to make, simply throw everything in your food processor. Once again, I’ve included Ancho chili powder in today’s recipe, and that’s because ever since I shared my Chili Mocha Maca Smoothie, I’ve been looking for other ways to use this newfound spice. Along with cinnamon, the chili powder adds an awesome kick of flavor to these rich chocolate bites.
To give the bites some power, I added another new favorite protein powder from Sprout Living, the Chocolate Maca Epic Protein Powder. Like the Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein Powder, it’s packed full of plant-based, easily assimilated protein from foods such as sprouted brown rice, yellow pea, sacha inchi, and cranberry seed, as well as superfoods like Peruvian Lucuma powder and Baobab Fruit. The Chocolate Maca variety is practically made for these spicy bites, as they already feature rich cacao powder, maca root, and ceylon cinnamon.
I also added Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Coffee Alternative, to give these bites a convincing mocha flavor. I love using Dandy Blend as a hot or cold drink, but it’s also great for adding to recipes when you want a delicious coffee flavor without adding any extra caffeine. Feel free to leave it out, or you may substitute instant coffee. I think the hint of mocha flavor makes these bites extra special.
If you need a bite of something sweet this weekend, make up a batch of these bites (then give away all of that leftover Halloween candy!). I promise they’re more delicious than anything in a wrapper.
Chili Mocha Brownie Power Bites – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free
Makes about a dozen bites
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup dates, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained*
- 2 Tbsp chocolate plant-based protein powder – Sprout Living’s Chocolate Maca Epic Protein is perfect!
- 1 tbsp Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Coffee Alternative, or 1-2 tsp instant coffee
- 1 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or powder
- 1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder (or any chili powder)
- pinch of salt
Begin by adding the almonds to the food processor and processing until a course meal is formed. Add the remaining ingredients and process until the “dough” can stick together. Spoon out using a tablespoon and roll into balls and store in the fridge or freezer. You can also roll them in cacao powder, chopped nuts, sesame seeds, or coconut shreds.
*Soaking the dates in hot water before processing helps soften the dates and adds the perfect amount of moisture so that everything sticks together. If your mixture isn’t holding together add a tiny bit of water, 1/2 tsp at a time until its rolls up easily.
Tell me, friends… What was your favorite candy as a kid? Have your tastes changed?