Having wholesome, nourishing snacks around is my way of preparing for success. I’ve never been able to have three square meals a day. I’ve tried a bunch of times, and it just doesn’t work for me. I’d rather have multiple, small meals within a few hours of each other throughout the day, than have to wait out the long windows between the prescribed times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some say that craving food between meals is a ‘bad habit,’ and means that your meals are not nutritious enough, but for me, eating when I’m hungry (frequently) and until just full (small portions) feels right, and the other way does not. And I really try to listen and understand whether I’m actually hungry, or just thirsty, bored, anxious, etc. It’s not always easy, but I’ve been working on tuning in to all those feelings lately, and it truly helps me to have better digestion and to feel full and nourished. Are you a snacker or more of a meal-only person? I’d love to hear!
A lot of the time, I don’t have the space to make multiple, tiny meals for myself, so that’s where easily portable, bite-able snacks come in. I try to make sure that my snacks are more healthful than indulgent (though still tasty!), and I’m always on the lookout for snack recipes that pack a punch. That’s where these Nutty Chocolate Bars from our friend Almila Kakinc-Dodd‘s beautiful new book The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, and Soul come in!
The hormone-balancing part of these bars comes in with the seeds that are used in the recipe, which are flax and pumpkin seeds. Certain seeds contain properties that may help support and balance women’s hormones at specific parts of their cycle, which is all encompassed in an awesome little practice called seed cycling. You can read a whole lot about seed cycling on the internet (check out Elenore’s posts and beautiful seed cycling milk recipes here and here), but it basically entails including freshly-ground flax and/or pumkin seeds in your meals during the first part of your cycle (menstrual and follicular phases) and ground sesame and/or sunflower seeds during the second part (ovulation and luteal phase). So, these bars are a great snack to have around during the first part of the cycle.
Here’s what Almila says: “Flax seeds bind to estrogen receptors and block their uptake, allowing the body to eventually clear some of the excess. Flax also provides omega-3s, which have anti-inflammatory effects and promote healthy, glowing skin.” Other ingredients in these bars are also stellar: pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, coconut is a “source of sustainable energy,” and raw cacao is high in magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. They taste delicious, too: dense, filling, chocolatey, and (my favorite) not too sweet. They are not quite dessert, which makes them perfect for a wholesome snack, but could pass for a dessert-like snack – does that make sense? :)
Almila’s whole book is full of beautifully-presented information, recipes, and tips for supporting your body and mind with fun daily rituals, practices, and foods. Almila is an integrative health practitioner, and she really knows her stuff. The book covers everything from digestion and immunity to breathwork and energy medicine, and from hangover cures to how to assemble an herbal first aid kit. The recipes in the Beauty Bites chapter (not all plant-based) are so inventive and well-considered. I can’t wait to try the Bean-Free Hummus, Siren Spread, Vegan Mineralizing Broth, and Probiotic Vegan Lassi, and I’ll be making these bars regularly from now on. Congratulations, Almila, it’s such a beauty!
- ¾ cup (78 g) freshly ground flax seeds
- ½ cup (90 g) chopped Medjool dates or dried mission figs
- ½ cup (46 g) desiccated coconut
- ¼ cup (32 g) pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup (30 g) cacao nibs
- ¼ cup (25 g) raw cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons nut or seed milk
- 1 tablespoon raw almond butter
- 1 tablespoon maca powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- dash of Himalayan pink salt
- your choice of crushed nuts, cacao nibs, dried crushed roses, and flaked sea salt for garnish
- Line a 9 x 9-inch (23 cm) pan with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, combine the flax seeds, dates, coconut, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, cacao powder, coconut oil, nut milk, almond butter, maca powder, cinnamon, and salt. Blend on medium speed until a dough forms. Use your hands to press the dough evenly into the parchment-lined pan. Alternatively, roll the dough into balls and arrange on a parchment-lined pan.
- Top with crushed nuts of choice, cacao nibs, dried crushed roses, and a dash of flaked sea salt. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Slice and serve. Store the bars in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.