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No-Nut Cocoa Mint Energy Bites

If it isn't already apparent, I am rather partial to the flavour of mint! Polo mints were my sweet of choice as a child. But is there any better pairing than chocolate and mint - think After Eights, Matchmakers, Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies - should I go on?
No-Nut Cocoa Mint Energy Bites
I have been making and drinking my Mint Choco Chip Green Smoothie far too frequently over the last few weeks since the revival of my mint plant but if truth be told, that recipe has far more bias on the mint than the chocolate so I thought I'd feature the same combination in a recipe with the scales tipped slightly the other way!

I use raw cacao powder for its antioxidant density and mood boosting feel good factor. As with all my energy bites I use a far lower ratio of sweetener (ie dried fruit) than most commercially prepared bars of this nature eg Nakd's Cocoa Mint bar is 65% dried fruit. This has the advantage of less of an insulin spike effect (and better for the teeth!) but it does mean the mixture is slightly less sticky to work with so will require a bit more elbow grease to bring it together.

From left to right: Pina Colada Bites, Cocoa Mint Bites, Coconut Figgy Enery Bombs
Most shop-bought raw fruit-nut bars of this nature are obviously not nut-free but my 7 year old is allergic to peanuts, cashew nuts and potentially other nuts we haven't yet exposed her to so I deliberately chose to keep this a 'No-Nut' recipe. It does however work exceedingly well with cashew nuts instead of the sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seeds are great for building bone health as they are high in copper and magnesium. they are also a good source of selenium, which controls cell damage, and Vitamin E, which helps to maintain healthy skin.

I've included fresh mint leaves as I have them in abundance in the garden currently but peppermint extract could be substituted.

No-Nut Cocoa Mint Mini Energy Bites

Grain-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Makes 32 mini bites

1 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
3/4 cup soft, pitted dates (I used 15), soak in hot water before use if using harder dates
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
small bunch mint leaves, washed, dried and stalks discarded (I used 20 leaves)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
optional: coconut milk or hot water if needed

1. In a food processor, blitz sunflower seeds until fine sand.
2. Add dates and pulse a few times until roughly chopped then add cacao powder, mint leaves, vanilla and salt.
3. Process until mixture is totally combined and starts to stick together when squeezed between finger and thumb. It will still look like a fine crumb but beginning to clump.
4. If the mixture appears too dry, add a tsp at a time of coconut milk or hot water and process again until desired consistency.
5. Roll heaped teaspoonfuls into mini balls. Roll each ball in more cacao powder to coat if desired.
6. Store balls in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer (where they will keep longer but may require a minute to thaw before eating).