I was first introduced to Nutella when my family spent three weeks in Italy a couple of years ago. I’m not sure how I missed it before because I know all grocery stores in the U.S. carry it. We rented a villa in Italy, so we needed to stock it with food to eat during our stay, and that’s when we picked up the Nutella. It is ridiculously good and not at all like any other nut butter. I would say it more closely resembles cake frosting than a health food – it is that yummy.
We are a very active family, so I’m always trying simple recipes that we can snack on between meals for a quick energy boost. One of our favorites is gutty putty. My mom used to make them for my brother and I growing up all the time. This recipe is a similar idea but using the flavor of “nutella” or hazelnuts and raw cacao instead of peanut butter.
These “nutella” energy bites are not made with actual Nutella, just the Nutella flavors of hazelnut and chocolate. They aren’t nearly as rich and indulgent; however, they can be enjoyed without all the sugar and guilt. I ever so slightly toasted the hazelnuts before adding them to the food processor to help bring out their flavor.
I processed the nuts until they were coarsely ground and then reserved ¼ of a cup to roll the bites in. Without this step, the “nutella” bites end up oily and frankly unappetizing, as they look like brown balls of you know what.
I call these energy bites because I used several “superfoods” known to be a good source of nutrients and energy: cacao, maca, honey, and hemp hearts.
Raw cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world! (according to David Wolfe) Cacao is also high in many minerals like iron, which is necessary to make the hemoglobin part of our blood, the part that carries oxygen to all parts of our bodies – our brains, our muscles, our organs…everything! Cacao also contains endorphins, tryptophan, and serotonin – all of which are feel good substances that boost our mood.
Maca is known for being an aphrodisiac. It’s been grown for centuries in South America as food for warriors to make them superhuman strong for battle. Maca increases blood oxygen and activates our endocrine glands to give us a big boost of energy.
Honey is known for its sweetness and for helping those with seasonal allergies, but it is also a huge enzyme source, so it increases muscle reflexes and mental focus. I choose raw honey from a source close to where I live for the most benefits.
Hemp hearts are one of my very favorite foods and one of the most nutritious and energizing you can find. These little seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are so important to regulate inflammation in our bodies, and contain a healthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of about 3:1. They are also a good plant source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Protein is the building block for pretty much everything – muscles, bones, hair, skin, nails, glands, hormones, neurotransmitters, immune system antibodies.
These energy bites are as easy to make as gutty putty. After coarsely grinding the hazelnuts and removing ¼ of a cup, I added the remaining ingredients to the food processor and processed until a dough formed. Important step – taste the dough to make sure it is sweet and chocolatey enough for your taste. Add more cacao and/or honey and process further until you reach the desired taste.
I removed the blade from the food processor and, using my hands, formed balls out of the dough. I rolled each ball in the coarsely ground hazelnut, and now I have a quick energizing snack when the need arises.
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 12 medjool dates
- ⅓ cup honey (more or less to taste)
- 3-4 tablespoons cacao, to taste
- 2 teaspoons maca
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup hemp hearts
- Very lightly (no more than 1-2 minutes) toast hazelnuts to bring out their flavor.
- Transfer to a food processor, and process until coarsely ground.
- Remove ¼ cup of coarsely ground hazelnuts, and set aside.
- Add the dates, honey, cacao, maca, vanilla, and hemp hearts to the food processor, and process until a dough forms.
- Remove the blade of the food processor, and using your hands, form balls out of the dough.
- Roll the balls in the coarsely ground hazelnuts.
- Store in the refrigerator.