Our school year has begun, our daily schedule has been tweaked, The Boy Wonder now attends a homeschool academy two days a week, Princess Hazelnut is learning to read, The Carnivore and I are dipping our toes into a new business venture, a puppy has joined our family, and I have begun yoga teacher training.
Yoga. Teacher. Training.
I know, right? I am three weeks into an 18-week immersion course at what is rapidly becoming my favorite place on earth, and it is everything I desired and more. It is an exhilarating, humbling, invigorating, exhausting, empowering, and fully glorious adventure. Friends, I am happy in a way I can hardly illustrate. It is good, good stuff.
The past nine years have passed in a beautiful blur of house building, business launching, pregnancies, nursing babies, and the beginnings of homeschooling, but here I found myself recently, staring down the barrel of an upcoming thirty-ninth birthday and realizing there was finally time to come up for air. 'Twas a weird feeling, I tell you, that coming up for air and realizing there was time to take new chances. There were new goals to explore.
A little bit scary. A little bit awesome.
So now I find myself part of a small group of diverse, yet like-minded, fellow students, and we spend our time workshopping poses, watching and discussing documentaries, reading about and discussing nutrition, writing our own sequences, sharing meals, and learning so much from each other and our fearless leaders.
As part of our training, we have committed to a vegan diet, and we are avoiding wheat and sugar as well. This is not as difficult as it might appear at first glance. I went vegetarian thirty-something years ago, and I have been eating a vegan breakfast and lunch for some time now, so making the switch to a vegan dinner was relatively easy (much credit needs to go to Heather's 30-day Vegan Workshop). Though there have been a few challenges in avoiding wheat, I have only had one accidental wheat product in the past three weeks (tabbouli - you trickster, you).
Going without sugar might have been more daunting were it not summer right now. With the plethora of fruit available at this time of year, I tend to eat my weight in melons, thus sufficiently quieting my sweet tooth. Interestingly though, I have found that doing without the richness of butter and eggs, along with the added sugars in many wheat products, has virtually eliminated my desire for my beloved rich chocolate desserts.
There are times though when I find myself with the slightest taste for something sweet - when there isn't a watermelon in sight - and a dried date or two usually satisfies just fine. But then there are other times (ahem, hormonal times) when one might be ever-so-slightly tempted to seek out a more decadent option. A little chocolate, maybe.
Would you believe I found a solution for that? A chocolate solution. A sugar-free, artificial sweetener-free, wheat-free, vegan solution. A solution that even my kids and decidedly non-health-freak husband love.
I kid you not.
I first heard rumors of date truffles a few years ago, but I failed to follow up on it until this past spring when I came across a recipe on Pinterest for German-Chocolate Fudge Bites. The Carnivore loves German Chocolate desserts, you see, and I was nearly speechless when I clicked through to find a healthy recipe for date truffles. I made a batch, and it was love at first bite. I made another batch and took them to my mother and grandmother for Mother's Day, effectively blowing their minds as well. Batch after batch was made. A healthy dessert that comes together in mere minutes? It's a minor miracle.
There is cocoa in the truffles for your inner chocolate lover, dates for sweetness and texture, coconut and nuts for flavor and chewiness, a wee pinch of coarse salt for awesomeness. What isn't in them is the crowd-pleasing shocker: no sugar, no dairy, no flour, no eggs.
I maintain that one should never feel guilt over what they eat, but in this case, it is not just a platitude. Help yourself, friends. This is a dessert you can feel virtuous about.
Cocoa-Nut Date Truffles (makes about 24 truffles), adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie
* Note: a food processor is required to get the "dough" to come together. I have tried this in a number of blenders, and have either burned out the motor (oops) or have ended up with a crumbly, rather than sticky, "dough" that resulted in dry truffles (ick).
- 1 and 1/2 cups pitted dried dates
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (try making your own)
- scant 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt, or 1/8 tsp fine salt
- 4 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 Tbs unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans are all lovely here)
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it all comes together in a sticky mess, about 20-30 seconds.
- Transfer the sticky dough to a small bowl.
- Working with about 1 Tbs at a time, roll the portions of dough into a ball in your hand and set on a plate.
- When all the dough has been rolled into balls, place in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge (my favorite). Truffles will keep for about a week - if they last that long.