With Valentines Day around the corner, it’s time to start thinking of a little special something for that special person. If you’re on the Hershey and Nestle-boycott bandwagon you might be shopping in the Fair Trade chocolate aisle this Valentines Day. By blending Fair Trade cacao with sweet and sticky dates it results in a simple and thoughtful Valentines gift with a conscious edge – here is my recipe for a Raw Vegan Date Chocolate Bar which rivals my old favourite Raw Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Icing.
“The health benefits of cacao in this chocolate bar can be partly attributed to the polyphenolic flavonoids which may have the potential to prevent heart disease. Flavonoids are antioxidants that are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, tea, wine, and coffee.”
Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance both provide training programs for farmers which have led to higher yields, better quality cocoa, and subsequently more income to farmers. I’ve referenced the importance of considering the welfare of farmers in previous Valentines inspired post from 2014 – Have a Heart – Ethical Chocolate.
We also need to consider the sustainability of cocoa farming, and the impact our desire for chocolate has on deforestation in Western Africa. Cocoa traders who sell to Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big brands buy beans grown illegally inside protected areas in the Ivory Coast, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960. Both Nestle and Hershey source from 100% sustainably sourced cocoa by 2020.
Dates can travel from as far as the Middle East but can be enjoyed in small amounts as a part of an environmentally conscious diet. I used hemp hearts in place of nuts, seeds and coconut in this date chocolate bar to slightly balance out the food miles. The protein from the hemp also helps to stabilize any blood sugar spikes from the dates. If your looking for a date-free Valentines, some of my other favourite sweet treats include these 100 Calorie Peanut Butter Energy Balls and No Bake Tahini Hemp Energy Balls.
Raw Vegan Date and Chocolate Bars with Hemp
- 2 cups dates pitted
- 3/4 cup cacao powder Fair Trade
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut optional
- First roughly chop the dates. Add all ingredients except for the coconut into a good quality food processor. Process until smooth.
- Line a 8 x 8" pan with baking paper and press mixture down firmly into it, using your fingers to make sure it is even. Sprinkle with shredded coconut if using, pressing it into mixture. Cut into 9 even squares before serving.
Swap the hemp: Use 1/2 cup walnuts in place of hemp hearts
Recipe adapted from Everland Dates recipe. Maple syrup was omitted, and coconut was replaced with hemp hearts.
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.