Healthy chocolate orange truffles

img_8948These truffles are my favourite sweet treat of the moment. Dipped in dark chocolate they have a bitter-sweet taste that satisfies my sweet cravings without wanting me to go back for second and third helpings.

Health benefits

Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats which when consumed in their natural form have been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease. They are a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and potassium and antioxidants and their consumption has been credited for helping the body lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and protect against diabetes.

Dates are a high in fibre and are a good source of a variety of minerals. They are often recommended for those suffering from constipation and their nicotine content is thought to help alleviate a variety of intestinal disorders. While naturally high in sugar, consuming together with almonds and chia seeds (as in this recipe) means that their effect on raising blood sugar after consumption is mitigated.

Chia seeds are considered by many as a superfood thanks to their high Omega-3 fatty acid content which is important for heart health and brain function. They are extremely high in fibre, calcium, antioxidants and trace minerals are a great non-animal source of protein. In fact their high antioxidant content is thought to help the body absorb the antioxidants from chia seeds.

Cacao is one of the most nutrient dense natural foods on the planet with 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries. Cacao is one of highest sources of iron in the plant world and is rich in magnesium and calcium and many other trace minerals. Regular consumption of cacao is thought to help reduce insulin resistance and blood pressure as well as reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Oranges are famously high in vitamin C and a study by US and Canadian researchers published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found evidence to suggest that the consumption of orange peel was as effective at helping lower bad cholesterol as many cholesterol lowering drugs.

Ingredients

  • 200g/7oz medjool dates, pitted
  • 100g/3.5oz almonds (I use activated almonds, dry roasted are good too but if not you can use raw almonds)
  • 100g/3.5oz dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (I choose 85% but 70% works too)
  • 45g/1.6oz shredded coconut
  • 4 tbs orange juice (freshly juiced)
  • 3 tbs finely grated orange peel
  • 3 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs cacao powder

Method

  1. Combine the chia seeds and orange juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes
  2. Place a glass bowl over a pot of hot water (but not boiling) and break the dark chocolate into it and leave until it has melted
  3. Add the almonds to a food processor and blend until coarse. Remove 1.5 tablespoons and set aside
  4. Add the dates, cacao, shredded coconut, orange peel and chia mixture to the food processor (along with the almonds) and blend until smooth
  5. Roll the mixture into ~20 balls
  6. Using a fork, roll and coat the balls in the dark chocolate
  7. Place the balls on a sheet of grease-proof paper and sprinkle with the coarsely ground almonds that you’ve set aside
  8. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

Makes ~20 truffles. Will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

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