What’s the difference between a candy treat and a power-packed  energy snack? It’s a difficult line to draw. Both options are high in sugar, but the quality of ingredients may be the deciding factor. This recipe brushes pretty close between the lines of being an energy snack and/ or  a  candy treat. No need to panic though, it works as both extremely well. But let’s back up a little  and explore  why I developed this recipe and have shared it multiple times already before I was even able to post it! The second I made it, and I snapped  picture of it for Instagram, requests came flooding in for the recipe. Not only my fellow runner friends wanted this magical energy treat but also my friends from our moms’  group. They just had to have this “cleaner and better version” of “candy” that they could offer to their kids.

I have been looking for a quick energy drop that is so easy to digest that one could eat it before going out on a job or an endurance workout . I have some energy bites that I have shared on this blog before, and I still make them often as well. But I wanted one that didn’t have any grains this time for the sake of variety, as well as  having a differently sourced form of  energy. Our body requires energy to run, but how we ingest that energy creates  different  routes  for our body to process it. Carbohydrates and sugar provide this quick energy that our body can burn through while we exercise and or run. It is up to us to find just the right ones for our bodies that result in the best performance. That’s right! This is not a one answer fits all puzzle. Some athletes, for example, rely on a tablespoon  of  honey right before a 5 mile run in order to achieve better running times,  while conversely others prefer a banana with peanut butter.. In the end, they all contain about the same amount of carbohydrates, but how your body digests each and breaks the food  down to “usable energy” remains  a bit different. Therefore, finding the ones that work for you is a matter of trying and keeping track of  performance.

These energy bites are made up mainly of dates. Dates have a high sugar content, making them   a   energy booster. They are also rich in potassium and fiber. In just one cup of chopped dates, you’ll find a combined 12 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as around 415 calories and 3.6 grams of protein. By adding the pecan meal (which can be substituted for any other nut finely ground up into a powder consistency) and cashew butter, the flavor and nutrients are enhanced as well. And since chocolate is my friend always, I added some cacao powder and chocolate chips, which are completely optional. Instead you can add vanilla extract and chopped dry cherries for a new flavor..

The other super fans of these bars or drops —  it all depends on how you choose to prepare them — are kids! Our goal is, of course,  to decrease the amount of  processed sugar in children’s diets. The unfortunate numbers for childhood chronic diseases are  related to their overwhelming intake of sugar, which  is still much higher than desired in our country. These treats, on the other hand, provide a satisfying sweet flavor with added benefits. The nutrients found in these energy drops are not present in the vast majority of candy marketed to children. Although they may contain the same grams of sugar, these will provide vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein and no added artificial preservatives. It is what I like to call a “clean candy.1’ This way we still understand they are high sugar and not something you’d want to provide as a daily afternoon snack, allowing  your child to pop five or six at a time into their mouths. But instead of gum, candy coated chocolate, hard sugar candy,, these are without a doubt a better choice for your kids!

Not sure you can make them at home? Grab the ingredients and watch the video below, so we can make them together!

Energy Bites from Once Again Nut Butter Blog, Carolina Jantac, MS, RD LD

Chocolate Energy Bars/Drops

 1 pound of dates

½ cup pecan meal (ground pecan to a fine powder consistency)

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon Once Again Nut Butter Cashew butter

½ cup dark chocolate chips

Add half of the dates to food processor and pulse on high until the mixture forms into a ball, and then add in the other half of the dates and pulse again. Now add pecan meal and cacao powder to the food processor and pulse until well mixed. Last, add the cashew butter and chocolate chips. The mixture will be very sticky. By slightly dampening your hands with water, it  will be  much easier to work with this “dough.”  Place it on  parchment paper, and place another piece of parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out using a rolling pin until it reaches desired thickness. One half inch of dough  makes a great sized bar. Then cut and place bars in lined pan to set in refrigerator for 15 minutes. You may also roll them into bites. Store in refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 30 days. This recipe makes about 18 bars.

Estimated calories: 110 per bar when making 18 bars total.

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Chocolate Energy Bites Recipe