One of my favorite places ever is the bulk section of a natural foods store.
I wish I were joking. It’s the most anticipated aisle on my grocery shopping round, and one of my main criteria for judging how much I like a particular store. When I stop in to a new store for the first time to find it has a particularly great bulk items selection, I become the cliché “kid in a candy store.” There is one market in the next town over that I specifically avoid because their bulk section is so huge I get overwhelmed and end up leaving with three kinds of exotic rice, 4 different flavors of coated pretzels, 8 snack size bags of rare tea leaves and a container of powdered buttermilk. I pay and walk out the front door looking like Cher from Clueless leaving the mall with her 10 shopping bags from designer stores, except I’m wearing jeans and sneakers and carrying compostable plastic bags of nonperishables.
I get home and realize how much money I just spent on ingredients for which I have little use and no place in my cupboards.
So I don’t go to that store. Unless the craving for a raspberry yogurt covered pretzel hits hard.
Back in the day when I first started shopping at natural food stores, “clean eating” and vegan/gluten free/paleo diets hadn’t been nearly as streamlined. I can’t imagine what plant eaters and those with food sensitivities did in the 20th century and earlier, because even as recently as like, 2007, the most exciting thing to be found in the bulk bins was “energy bites.”
I remember my first Christmas as a vegan, I watched my stepbrothers open their stockings to chocolate covered cherries and peanut butter fudge. What did I have in mine? A twist-tied bag of energy bites with the weight and price stamped on them. If memory serves, the ingredients were sunflower seeds, raisins, alfalfa sprouts, and hay.
I’m fairly confident nuts, dried fruit, and coconut have been around since before the last decade, so why on earth were people able to successfully market such a God awful product? Seriously, those little squares of horse food are still sold in the deepest, darkest, corners of Whole Foods today. Does anyone buy them? How long do they sit in those bins?
There’s no excuse for buying those. We can do better, cheaper, and just as easy at home. Think “actually tastes like a cookie” better. I’m not joking. I am the first to cast a side eye at bloggers who claim their avocado and black bean concoctions taste like fudge brownies, but these Macadamia Coconut Energy Bites really do have a flavor identical to that of a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. The texture is different obviously, but the taste is spot on.
After sending half a batch of energy balls I made last week to my mom, and plowing through my share, I was eager to try another combo. As you may have picked up on, Hawaii has been on my mind, so a macadamia nut splurge was in order. I threw the nuts into a blended with some unsweetened coconut, pitted dates, a touch of honey and vanilla. Not even five minutes later the mixture was pressed in a pan and chilling in the fridge. Macadamia nuts are pretty rich, so I opted to cut them into little bites. Feel free to make them as big or as small as you’d like, or roll them into balls if you prefer. I debated topping these bars with white chocolate, because I am addicted to these dark chocolate coated bars, but I can’t make an argument for white chocolate being healthy like I can for dark, and mostly I was feeling lazy.
After biting into one, I was shocked. I took another bite to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. These actually taste like they have white chocolate in them. Do not ask me how or why. Is it the vanilla? The teaspoon of honey? Who knows. Who cares. These Macadamia Coconut Energy Bites are packed with vitamins and healthy fats, and they taste like a cookie. Except they’re about five times easier and less time consuming to make than cookies!
Not that you ever did, but may you never buy those terrible seedy cubes of energy again. Macadamia Coconut Energy Bites knock those right out of the bulk bin.
Macadamia Coconut Energy Bites
Yields an 8″ square pan (16-24 squares)
Five ingredients come together in two minutes to make healthy little bites that taste suspiciously like white chocolate macadamia nut cookies!
- 1 cup (120g) raw macadamia nuts
- 1 1/2 cups (120g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 1/2 cups (256g) pitted dates*
- 2 tsp. honey*
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Line an 8″ square pan with tinfoil.
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and holds together when pinched. Press firmly in an even layer into the pan.
Chill for 1-2 hours until the bars firm up. Remove the bars from the pan by grabbing hold of the edges of the tinfoil and lifting it out. Slice into 16-24 bars, depending on how large or small you’d like them. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
* Different varieties of dates are different sizes. I use deglet dates, and needed about 30. If using medjol which are quite large, you’ll use probably half as many. For best results, you want the weight of the nuts and coconut to be equal to that of the dates.
*Agave or brown rice syrup may be used as a vegan alternative.