Excuse me for getting preachy for a moment, but I need to share something I’ve always known to be true: everything happens for a reason. That’s also to say that we aren’t given anything we can’t handle.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I took such an interest in gluten-free and vegan cooking over the past year, and surrounded myself with a cozy circle of “special diet” blogger friends. In fact I’m quite certain that this was all in preparation for the day I’d need to embrace these diet changes myself. As much as it upset me, I knew I was very well equipped to handle it.

I mourned my daily Zone Bar and Chobani for about 24 hours, before diving in full force and making my own wheat-and-dairy-free protein bars and whipping up some chocolate chia protein pudding. Was it totally unrelated that just a week before, Oh Nuts! had invited me to choose two of their products free for my holiday baking, and I chose chia flour as one of them? I think not.

I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with the chia flour, but I’ve seen it make appearances on enough health food blogs to know that I needed some in my kitchen. These powerful little seeds are packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, making them a filling and nutritious addition to a healthy diet. Chia seeds also have a unique ability to form a gel upon soaking in liquid, which is why endless variations of “chia pudding” are so popular in the healthy eating blogging community. Chia pudding – chocolate protein chia pudding, to be exact – is what I’ve been enjoying as my morning snack instead of Greek yogurt. It does the job because it’s sweet, eaten with a spoon, and since I had protein powder to mine, it gives me that extra boost I loved about my Greek yogurt.

That’s not all chia seeds are good for though. They can add a great little nutritious punch to your favorite – or NEW favorite – baked goods.

Like these Mint-Cacao Cookie truffles. The idea came from a recipe I found for chia snowballs, but you know I have zero ability to follow a recipe, and I was jonesin’ for something mint-chocolatey, and unfortunately, a Starbucks peppermint mocha is not in my cards right now. But perhaps it is a fortunate reality, since it pushed me to create a new treat to share with you. Notice, I didn’t say a “healthy” treat even though it is one – because really, who cares? These chewy truffles taste like chocolate chip cookie dough with a hint-of-mint, making them them an undeniably perfect holiday goodie. I dare you to try them out on your friends and loved ones and let me know what you think!

Thank you to Oh Nuts! for providing me with the chia seed flour used in this recipe. I was not obligated to review the product on my blog and all opinions are my own.

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Mint-Cacao Cookie Truffles

Yield: 42 cookies

A vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free recipe for cookie dough-like truffles with mint extract and cacao nibs. Coated in rich, velvety vegan chocolate. Featuring healthy chia seeds.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 (75gm) cups gluten-free brown rice cereal
1/2 cup (40gm) gluten free oats
1/4 cup (1oz) chia flour or finely ground chia seeds
1/4 cup (1oz) coconut flour
1/4 cup (2 oz) raw cacao nibs
1 cup (8oz) cashew butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 teaspoon powdered stevia extract
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 package (9z) dairy-free chocolate chips
1tablespoon coconut oil

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, parchment or waxed paper.

Measure the rice cereal, oats, chia,and coconut flour into a food processor. Process until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together the cashew butter, maple syrup, and almond milk, stirring often, until smooth. Stir in the stevia and peppermint extract. Turn off heat.

Pour the warm cashew butter mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl and a soft dough forms. Mix in the cacao nibs. Using a small cookie scoop to portion the dough, roll into small balls and set on the baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and coconut oil over low heat. Dip the truffles or drizzle with chocolate as desired. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts:

Servings Per Recipe: 42
Amount Per Serving
Calories 100
Total Fat 6.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 13.0 mg
Potassium 43.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 11.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Sugars 5.6 g
Protein 2.1 g

Adapted from Chia Snowballs by Green Smoothie Girl


PPS. Some of my friends turned me on to Picnik. Clearly, I think it’s  a lot of fun. What do you think?

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 12/6/2011.

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