[Grain-Free Chocolate Protein Bites are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, and low glycemic. With a Stage 1 variation for the anti-candida diet.]
[Protein bites, two ways: ACD Stage 1 (no fruit) on the left; with fruit on the right.]
Like so many teenaged girls, my idol growing up was my older sister. I wanted to be just like The Nurse. She was tall (I was fairly short), lean and slim (I was chubby), with naturally blonde hair (mine was boring brown) that fell past her waist and swished across the back of her peasant tops and jeans, especially when she rushed to the door to greet her hippie boyfriend. She painted little pink flowers on her cheekbone right below her eyelashes; she wore turquoise eyeliner and shimmery coral lipstick; and she cut the labels off her designer jeans just to prove she was anti-establishment. I never knew what she and her hip 60′s friends were up to when they gathered in her bedroom in the basement, giggles and guffaws wafting through the closed door as I sat and watched Little House on the Prairie–but whatever it was, I knew it was cool.
So, naturally, when I hit puberty and immediately decided I was too fat and needed to go on a diet, I consulted first with The Nurse.
“Start the day with a bowl of cornflakes and skim milk,” she advised. “Then, for lunch at school, have the soup of the day with an orange. For dinner, eat salad and a piece of chicken or some tuna. Oh, and NO SNACKS.”
That last one really got me. I was used to eating snacks at recess, after school, while watching TV. . . I figured lunch would be easy, since I volunteered at the school cafeteria and was provided a free lunch as compensation. Looking back, I realize I could have chosen anything from the buffet (which, at that time, was more like Jamie Oliver’s vision of school lunch than what most schools actually offer today)–but no, I was determined to lose all the weight, so I focused on my sister’s directive: soup and an orange. When I got home from school around 3:30 PM, ravenous and in need of energy to complete my homework, I ignored my body’s signals and adhered strictly to the diet. My mantra became “NO SNACKS.” By dinnertime, I was ready to wrestle a wolverine for a portion of salad and chicken or tuna.**
But wow, the weight sure did fall off. I lost about 20 pounds in a month. I also started feeling lethargic and depressed. And then I had no energy to see my friends, or really do anything else except keep up with school work and maintain my diet. And then . . . I lost my period. But hey, I was finally able to fit into those red bell bottoms that I really loved.
When I look back on those days (and pretty much all of my twenties and thirties), I’m kind of amazed at how much dieting ruled my life. Nowadays, of course, with my knowledge of holistic nutrition and having spent virtually years of my life on diets that didn’t work, I’ve come to believe that our bodies do generally let us know when things are going well (or not). What I thought was “fat” all those years was actually really pretty normal, and I wasted a lot of energy worrying about how I looked when I could have been enjoying my life. (I also developed some pretty dysfunctional eating habits, many of which I’m still working to correct all these years later).
Fast forward to today, and I no longer restrict my food as long as it’s safe for the ACD; I don’t count calories, points, carbs, or fat grams. Another thing I’ve learned is that healthy eating isn’t about restrictions or deprivation (in fact, I consider the ACD to be health-promoting, not “restrictive”). I try to remember that just because you enjoy your food doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. I’m definitely not perfect, but I’m committed to the process, and I celebrate the fact that I’m way ahead of where I was six years ago, when I first started the diet. In fact, these days, I’m probably the one dispensing nutrition advice to The Nurse instead of the other way around (though she doesn’t listen to my advice, either).
In other words, in my world, snacks are JUST FINE. If chosen judiciously, they may even be an essential component of a balanced diet for some people.
I made these protein balls with a sample I received of NuNaturals Nustevia Cocoa Syrup, a stevia-sweetened chocolate syrup that’s just as thick and chocolatey as the canned one I remember from my childhood. I loved the syrup over ice cream and in myriad other ways (like smoothies, fudge, cookies, or even over pancakes. . . ), too, but it worked particularly well in these bites. Like other NuNaturals products that I love, I have no doubt that this syrup will become a staple in my kitchen, too.
I may still wish I were slimmer than I am, but I’ll no longer eliminate healthy snacks or major food groups to get there. And when I’m craving chocolate that won’t mess with my blood sugar, I reach for these chocolatey treats.
** Okay, not really. I’m scared of wild animals. But I definitely threw one of my sisters to the ground once in a while.
Chocolate Protein Bites
These little nibbles are great snacks to take along when you’re out during the day, or when you get home and feel as if you need something right now. The non-fruit version (for Stage One of the ACD) is slightly less chewy, but delicious nonetheless.
1/2 cup (75 g) natural raw almonds or cashews
1/4 cup (20 g) unsweetened dried coconut
4 medium prunes (40 g) OR 2 Tbsp (30 ml) almond butter or tahini (for Stage One)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) hemp seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) vanilla or unsweetened protein powder
3 Tbsp (45 ml) smooth natural almond butter or tahini
1 Tbsp (15 ml) raw cacao powder
3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml) NuNaturals chocolate syrup, as needed
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) unsweetened carob chips or cacao nibs
In a food processor, whir the cashews and coconut to break down the nuts. Add remaining ingredients except the carob chips and processor until the mixture forms a moist dough that sticks together when pressed between your fingers. (For the ACD Stage 1 version, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water for the dough to stick together–but don’t add more than that before testing! It will move from “crumbly” to “paste” very quickly with too much water). Add carob chips and pulse a few times to combine and break down the chips a bit.
Using about one Tbsp (15 ml) dough at a time, roll into small balls. Refrigerate and the store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes 12-13 bites. May be frozen.
Suitable for: ACD All Stages, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
“Mum, we’re so glad you approve of snacks throughout the day. So, isn’t it about time for another treat? We promise not to wrestle you for it.”
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