Chocolate Cherry Bites
Portable snacks are a must. I don’t know about you, but I rarely leave home without a snack because you never know when hunger will strike and leave you scavenging for food. (Actually, I do know…it’s about 4pm every day.)
I often pack extra fruit or some homemade trail mix as my daily snacks. We usually have some bars lying around the house which are great for hiking, when you’re out and about, or when you’re heading to work. Some of the bars you can purchase out there are fantastic. They don’t have added sugar or chemical ingredients and they are extremely satisfying. However, their packaging creates unnecessary waste, which is something I am trying to cut back on significantly.
With these considerations in mind, I set out to make my own version of one of our favorite LaraBar flavors -- Chocolate Cherry Torte. It needed to be sweet enough, but also have some tartness. It needed to have a chocolate element but it also needed to be filling and nutritious. After a couple of tries, I made these and my boyfriend said they are “better than the LaraBars!” I do not get these kind of compliments on my creations often so you know he’s serious.
Nothing beats fresh cherries, but these bars are made with dried sour cherries that I found at Whole Foods. Cherries are a great source of fiber and Vitamin C and also have been shown to boost heart health.
Let’s talk for just a second about dried fruit because it can get a bad rap. I think we can agree that dried fruit is delicious, but there are a few points we need to keep in mind. First, when fruit is dried it shrivels up a LOT. As a result, it’s incredibly easy to overindulge in dried fruit. So before you eat a whole bag of dried apricots, think to yourself, “would I really eat 20 fresh apricots?” The answer is probably “no” in which case you shouldn’t be eating 20 dried ones either. Moderation is key with dried fruit.
The second point is avoiding additional ingredients, notably sugar. Fruit is sweet enough on its own and drying it out will concentrate the natural sweetness. There is no need to buy dried fruit with additional sugars. The other sneaky ingredients in dried fruits are preservatives (potassium sorbate and sulfur dioxide, among others). Preservatives extend shelf life significantly, but they can also be detrimental to your health. Even without preservatives, dried fruit will keep for a few months when refrigerated (or even longer when frozen), so there’s really no need to deal with artificial preservatives. In any case, read the labels -- the best dried fruits have only one ingredient: the fruit! Even better, if you have a dehydrator at home, you can make your own. If you’re looking for some inspiration for making dried fruit at home, check out this article.
Let’s get to the recipe. These bites have only 5 ingredients and take about 5 minutes to throw together. They are easily packed with your lunch as an afternoon pick-me-up or in your child’s lunchbox for a healthier snack option. They are tart, sweet, and extremely satisfying. While you’re making one batch, you might as well double it. I have a feeling your whole family is going to love these!
Let me know what you think-- tag @karenscolorfulkitchen on Instagram and show me your creations! I hope you’ll be enjoying these soon. As for me, I’m off to make another batch!
Chocolate Cherry Bites
⅔ c rolled oats
¼ c dried sour cherries
4 medjool dates, pits removed
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ c non-dairy chocolate chips
Add dates, oats, cherries, and vanilla to a food processor. Process until combined and dough is sticky (this takes about 2-3 minutes.) Add chocolate chips and process until the chips are broken up a bit. Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet or plate in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes (or enjoy right away!). Will keep in an airtight container for several days (best to keep in fridge if you live in a warmer climate.)
TIP: Want a chocolate drizzle on top? Add only ⅛ of the chocolate chips to the mix and melt the other ⅛ c with a tsp of coconut oil. Drizzle on top of chilled truffles and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes so the chocolate can harden.