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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Recipe: Hazelnut Chocolate Date Bars //I've Cut Out Added Sugar But I Want A Candy Bar

I'm not gonna sugar coat it for you: Cutting out added sugar is hard. (See what I did there?) 

Sugar cravings are real and though living with less inflammation is worth it,  it can sometimes feel as though you're depriving yourself of something that you really love and that genuinely lifts your spirit. With autoimmune arthritis some days are rough, and just like with all rough days, our favorite foods can be comforting. 

I don't know about you, but my favorite comfort food is CHOCOLATE. When I am having a hard day, chocolate always makes it better. In cutting out most added sugars, I've cut out most corner store chocolates and candy bars. I've been sticking mostly with 85% cocoa chocolates or higher. 

There are some days though, when I don't want a single plain square of super dark chocolate. Some days I want a candy bar. I want something that has chocolate and caramel or chocolate and nuts. Today I'm going to share with you my recipe for Hazelnut Chocolate Date Bars. If you've ever seen a LÄRABAR, that is where I got the idea. I looked up recipes and found this one (from the blog Use Real Butter) which I adapted to make in to a Nutella-esq Hazelnut Chocolate Date Bar. The bar from the recipe I adapted was mainly nut and fruit based, mine is nut and chocolate based. 

1.5 Cup toasted hazelnuts
2.5 Cups pitted medjool dates
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz. 100% Unsweetened bakers chocolate, broken up

These amazing bars, despite having unsweetened (and really very bitter) chocolate, are deliciously sweet because of the dates. They require no baking and are extremely simple to make if you have a food processor, a pan, and some cling wrap. 

1. To begin, you start by pitting your medjool dates. After pitting them, you should have 2.5 cups of dates. 

2. Measure out 1.5 cups toasted hazelnuts. 

3. Measure out 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.

4. Break up 1 oz of 100% Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate.

5. Place all four ingredients in your food processor.  

6. Pulse until ingredients start to begin to clump together. (You can leave it as this thick choppy texture or...) Scrape sides of food processor and then pulse until the hazelnuts, dates, and chocolate become a fine paste. 

7. Spread the date, chocolate, hazelnut paste into a oiled pan. The paste should be about a centimeter to a half inch thick. 

8. Place the tray in the freezer and let cool for 30 minutes. 

9. Once they've cooled and solidified, cut them in to bars. You should be able to make 9-12 Hazelnut Chocolate Date Bars. It might be hard to get the bars out of the pan as the dates make the bars stick to the pan. It is best to use a thin spatula to remove the bars from the pan.

10. After cutting them up, wrap them individually and keep in the freezer until you are in need of a super delicious treat with no added sugars! (The bars do not have to stay in the freezer. They can be kept at room temperature. However, they taste particularly yummy when cooled. I've both kept them in my freezer and dropped one in my bag to bring with me to work.) 

I hope that you enjoy this recipe and that it helps you when it feels hard to live without added sugars. I don't want you to feel like you're depriving yourself. Living your best anti-inflammatory life doesn't have to be horrible. It can be delicious. 

***Warning: Just because these are made out of all healthy whole foods and natural sugars, does not mean you should eat a crazy ton of them. Just like with candy bars, you should eat them in moderation. Enjoy!

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