When I first gave up refined sugar, I thought it’d be no problem. After all, I only had it in my coffee . . . Right? Wrong. Refined sugar was in practically everything I consumed, and my cravings for it were real. By the time I hit week two of my “sans saccharine” detox, the only thing I could think about was sugar. Just when I was about to forgo my ban on refined sugar, I stumbled across a book that introduced me to an entire world of superfood snacks and bites. These treats not only fill your body with nutrients, they also make you feel like you’re indulging in a decadent treat. And they’re perfectly portioned for freezing, packing, and snacking.
In Kate Bradley’s new cookbook, Bliss Bites, there are 60 different vegan, gluten- and dairy-free bites (not all sweet either!). The recipes only require one piece of equipment: a standard food processor. It turns out, it’s super easy to make these treats at home, instead of paying exorbitant prices per bite at a café or bakery. At the beginning of the book, Bradley provides tips on how to quickly and simply “activate” ingredients (like nuts), which is a process that breaks down their chemical compounds, improving nutrient absorption. (For instructions on how to activate ingredients, see below.)
Though I enjoy sweets, I tend to lean toward savory offerings such as Mushroom & Thyme Arancini Balls and Cashew Cheese Balls. But who am I kidding? Bradley’s candy bar clones are out of this world, and if you wish you could eat a mini Twix or Snickers during the day and still be healthy, then you are in luck. Check out this recipe for Almost-a-Snickers’ Bar.
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Makes 12 ♦ Preparation time: 15 minutes ♦ Setting time: about 1 hour
There is no eating these politely. They are just so good, you will literally inhale one quicker than you can save that ‘mindful eating’ quote on Pinterest. Make these now and thank me later.
5 1/2 oz / 1 cup activated or raw cashews (see below)
1 1/2 oz / 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons maple syrup
13 medjool dates (about 9 oz), pitted
2 fl oz / 1/4 cup maple syrup
3 oz / 1/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt flakes
2 1/4 oz activated almonds or peanuts, roughly chopped
5 1/2 oz raw or dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and cooled
1. For the base, place all the ingredients in your food processor or blender and pulse together until combined.
2. Line the base of an 8 x 6-inch baking pan with baking paper. Transfer the mixture to the pan and press it firmly and evenly over the base. Place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until firm.
3. To make the caramel, combine all the ingredients in the cleaned food processor and process until smooth. Remove the base from the freezer and spread the caramel layer evenly over the base. Scatter with the almonds then return to the freezer until set.
4. Line a tray with baking paper.
5. Once frozen, remove the ‘Snickers’ mixture from the pan and slice into 12 even-sized bars. To coat, dip each one in the melted chocolate, allowing any excess to drain off, then place the bars on the tray. Refrigerate or freeze until they are set.
6. Keep these in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer and eat when you need a sweet treat. They’ll keep for 2 weeks in the fridge, and 2 months in the freezer.
Activating ingredients, such as nuts, seeds and buckwheat groats, helps to break down chemical compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Activating also helps start the sprouting, or germination, process, which makes nuts and seeds easier to digest. You can buy ready-activated ingredients from most health food shops, but it’s cheaper to make your own.
To activate your nuts or seeds, place 10 oz of nuts in a bowl and cover with water. Add 2 teaspoons salt to the water and mix well. Cover the bowl with a tea towel (dish towel) and leave to soak for 7–12 hours, or overnight. (Almonds may take longer – up to 14 hours – to soak.) Strain the nuts, then spread them out on a baking tray. Transfer to an oven preheated to the lowest possible temperature (usually between 120–150˚F) and leave to dry for 12–24 hours. Ensure the nuts are completely dry and crunchy before removing them from the oven as still-damp nuts can turn moldy. Once completely cool, store your activated nuts and seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator or in a sterilized jar at room temperature for up to 3 months.
Glass jars used for storing and preserving need to be sterilized before use to avoid contamination. To sterilize jars, remove the lids and wash the jars thoroughly in warm soapy water. Place jars, mouths up, on a baking tray and place in a low oven until completely dried. The lids should be boiled for 10 minutes and left to air-dry on a clean tea towel (dish towel).
Recipe excerpted with permission from BLISS BITES by Kate Bradley, published by Hardie Grant Books January 2018.