Allow me to introduce you to my cute “dates” for Valentine’s Day.
They’re sweet, they’re charming, they are nice and healthy, and they come bearing chocolate — a must for any Valentine’s Day, if you ask me. ;)
Yep, I made you some Almond Joy Energy Bites! I realized we were long overdue on here for a new energy bites recipe. And since chocolate seems to be on everyone’s minds this week, I thought it might be nice to have a healthier chocolate recipe that you could turn to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, or — yes — dessert.
As opposed to actual Almond Joy bars, these little bites are made with all natural, healthy ingredients. And they are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. And they are made with one of my favorite natural sweeteners — my Valentine’s “dates”, Medjool dates.
I’m pretty positive you are going to fall in love.
I’ve long been a fan of traditional Almond Joy bars, but have never been stoked about all of the corn syrup they use to sweeten them. So for these Almond Joy energy bites, I turned to one of my favorite natural sweeteners — Medjool dates!
I’m actually such a fan of dates that I’m taking over the Natural Delights Medjool Dates Facebook page this week, and talking about all things “dates” with their readers. (If you’re free today at noon CST, hop over and come join for a Q&A about dates, where I’ll be answering reader questions!)
But it’s true — I discovered the joy of dates as a natural sweetener when I first began cooking, and have used them for cooking (and snacking!) countless times since. When it comes to finding a natural sweetener that’s healthy, widely-available, affordable, sticky (especially good for energy bites), and full of delicious sweet flavor, dates win the gold star in my book. Especially Medjool dates.
For years, I have to admit that I didn’t know there were different kinds of dates out there. But then some friends introduced me to Medjools, and I fell in love. They are larger than most other dates, sweeter, really soft (not try), and crazy good. They literally taste like candy to me! But they are also an awesome choice for a natural sweetener with cooking and baking. They are easy to use, and they don’t give you the energy crash that comes from eating regular sugar. Win-win, if you ask me.
So it comes as no surprise that the Medjool dates rocked it in this Almond Joy Energy Bites recipe. All of the ingredients came together perfectly in this recipe, and so easily too! You literally just dump everything together in a food processor (or a strong blender) and let it do the work. Then you can either shape the mixture into little energy bites or energy bars. Here’s the how-to:
Begin with — yes — your dates. I used Medjool dates for this recipe, which I pitted by hand. (Although you can buy them pitted as well.) Then I popped them in the food processor, along with the remaining ingredients.
And then I let the food processor do the work. You’ll need to process the mixture for at least 2-3 minutes so that the almonds can grind up to form a sort of sticky almond butter. Otherwise, they may not stick together as well.
You’ll know the mixture is ready when it moves past the crumbly stage and begins to clump to the sides of the food processor. I then turned the mixture out into a bowl, and molded it into a big ball for easy scooping.
Use a spoon or a cookie scoop (I used a small 1-tablespoon scoop) to help form your desired size of energy bites. You can either roll them plain like this…
…or immediately roll them in coconut flakes for extra coconut-yness. (Just be sure to roll them immediately or else the coconut will not stick.)
I made a mixture of coconut-covered energy bites, and just regular ol’ energy bites. And then I thoroughly enjoyed eating them ALL.
Most of the time, I enjoy these as a pre- or post-workout snack (part of my motivation for working out!). But they are also perfect for breakfast or even dessert. Or Valentine’s Day. ;)
These Almond Joy Energy Bites taste like the candy bar we all love, but are made with healthier ingredients and sweetened with dates.
12 oz. (about 2 cups, loosely-packed) Medjool dates (**see note below about types of dates and substitutions**)
2 cups almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
Add dates and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine, then use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Blend the mixture for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture has moved past the crumbly stage and begins to clump and stick to the sides of the food processor.
Use a spoon or small cookie scoop to measure out a tablespoon of dough (or your desired size) and roll it into a ball. If desired, roll the ball in a bowl of coconut flakes. Or just set it aside to eat as-is. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Alternately, you can flatten the dough into the bottom of an 8×8-inch parchment-lined baking dish, then cut it into bars.)
Store the energy bites in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
**I used Medjool dates in this recipe, which are already nice and soft. If you substitute another kind of date, you may need to soak them in warm water for 10 minutes first in order to soften then. (Then drain them before using.)
Disclaimer: This is a compensated sponsored post from Natural Delights Medjool Dates. All date-loving opinions are 100% my own as always. Thank you for supporting brands like this that help make this site possible!
I love using dates to sweeten up treats, naturally. I even put them in my zucchini bread. These balls look so delicious. My daughters would love them.
Has anyone tried freezing these? I need to do some baking in advance of a big event and need more than the2 week window suggested…
Yes, you can freeze them. I recommend storing them in an airtight ziplock bag that’s had the excess air squeezed out of it.
Love this gluten-free/dairy-free dessert recipe! So easy to make and delicious. Thank you for sharing!
Ok you are giving me the push I need to use the dates staring at me in my pantry!!!
These are beautiful! Can’t wait to try!
I am loving this recipe Ali!! Fun recipe!!!
These are just lovely! That last photo is so cute! :)
Ali, I just recently discovered how dates make delicious (and healthier) desserts and can’t wait to try these bad boys. Anything with coconut makes my heart sing :)
These bites would make a perfect afternoon pick-me-up!
I can’t wait to make these! Date energy bites are so tasty and I loooove Almond Joy bars. Ahhh these look amazing.
Just in time for Vday!
Mmm Mmm MMM! I’m so excited to try these… and thanks for writing about the different kinds of dates. That has always been a bit confusing for me :)
I love Medjools and could eat them one after the other. So good!
These bites look and sound amazing. I am also a sucker for anything coconut!
Oh my, do those look good!
Mmmmm I love medjool dates!! I made pecan clusters out of them because they taste like caramels =D I’m a huge sucker for almond joy, and I love that these are vegan! Yay! Also the pictures are great, Ali. Happy Valentine’s!
ah the heart at the end – so adorable!!! love these (& almond joys) so much!! what a great healthy alternative
I love that these are made with dates, Ali! What a delicious & creative take on one of my fave candies!
Yum! Ali, this is brilliant. I’m marathon training and looking for easy fuel–can’t wait to try these! :)
I made these yesterday and they are delicious – turned out exactly as pictured. Thank you for the recipe and coupon :-)
I just made these, yummy delicious and healthy treats! Thanks so much for sharing!
These look fabulous, Ali! Love the fun photos, too. :)
Are these made with unsweetened coconut?
I made these with sweetened coconut, but unsweetened would also work.
Dates, who knew?!! This looks SO good…and guilt free. Love it! Thanks Ali!
These look awesome! Can I substitute the coconut oil for something else?
Absolutely amazing! These didn’t last three days in my house. I can’t wait to make them again.
Would it be illegal/immoral to dip them in chocolate? I have a whole bag of Medjul dates from Nuts.com sitting in my fridge.
How many Calories etc…
I just made 1/2 recipe of these and they turned out fantastic-just as pictured. I used organic ingredients, including raw almonds which I had soaked/rinsed, also raw cocoa powder and alcohol-free vanilla. I’m glad I found this recipe as a healthy alternative for an evening snack or afternoon energy treat.
Interesting! I love chocolate and coconut, and these sound like something that my kids might enjoy, too. Just pinned for later. Thanks.
Did you use sweetened coconut for the Almond Joy Energy Bites?
Yes, I did. Although you could also use unsweetened.
Anyone have the nutritional information on these puppies? They are amazing!
Will it be fine if I add some chia seeds to the dough?
Just made these to send to my daughter in college. Yumm and beyond. Will be making these again. Hope they mail well. Going to cool them , freeze and send.
Loved these! I make them w/ my 9 yo daughter as “loot bag” treats in pretty boxes. Way better than junkie loot bags loaded w refined sugar. Excellent recipe. My 6yo chocoholic eats these like no tomorrow that i have to limit him or else he’ll sweep the plate!!! T|hey had no idea it was dates, they thought they are chocolate balls.lol. Thanks so much…..making another batch right now.
I made these last night and they are SO delicious! They really do taste like an almond joy bar and they are such a yummy snack to have with coffee. Thanks for the recipe!
I LOVE the energy bites! Do you have lit that who’s,the calorie counts on these wonderful recipes?
What did I miss? Mine would not clump, added half cup of mind butter, still not very sticky and to top it off- my cuisinart started smoking! Recommend halving the recipie and adding almond butter.
It usually takes mine about 5 minutes in the food processor before they start to work. It’s kind of weird, like it’s all crumbly and then all of the sudden, it’s not.
Refrigerate?? They are relish and only about 90 calories per bite!!
Hum deliciosos esses docinhos me deixou com agua na boca parabéns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I made a half recipe of these last night. Delicious, super fast, filling, and I had all of the ingredients on hand. It was a great intro to using dates as a sweetener – I had been intimidated by them for some reason.
Hey Catherine, I’m glad you liked these! And yes, dates are amazing! Try one or two in a smoothie sometime, they add just the right hint of sweetness. : )
Made this recipe yesterday. They were so easy to make and are delicious!
Thanks Kelsey, so glad to hear it!
Made these tonight- I was amazed by how close they actually taste to an almond joy!
I used unsweetened dried coconut, and loved the result. My food processor hated the dates, though.
I calculated the nutrition facts for knowledgeable snacking (approx. per ball, if you make 40):
Total Fat: 5 g (3.4 are unsaturated)
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 2 g
Awesome, Dayna! Thanks for sharing the nutrition info! : )
Love these! My 1 & 3yr old have one every morning to tide them over until I get their porridge cooked :)
That’s so cute, Toby! I’m happy you guys like them. : )
My blade on my cusinart keeps popping up while it’s mixing… any tip? I never had this problem before.
That’s so weird, we haven’t had that problem before either! :/
These are amazing! I made these with my 5 year old who called them “mud balls” because the mixture looks just like potting soil (maybe an idea for a healthier “dirt cake”?) but hubby, kiddo and I all love them!
Someone mentioned an issue getting the mixture to the right texture. Mine never clumped on its own but eventually did get sticky enough to make balls. I suggest testing the mixture to see if it sticks instead of waiting on spontaneous clumping.
I used unsweetened coconut and, while they aren’t candy sweet, they are plenty sweet for me. I say they ride that line between dessert and decadent snack – they can go either way.
Thanks, Allison! We’re so glad these were a hit with your little one, and with your husband! And thanks for sharing your tips! : )
OMG just made these jewels! they are so good and so easy to make! you wont be sorry (even if you eat them ALL) <3
Yay, we’re so happy you liked them, Rose!
I just made this recipe and added a tablespoon of almond butter. It is so delicious and Whole 30 approved!
That’s awesome Chloe, we’re glad you enjoyed them!
These turned out to be delicious – they taste a little like brownies! I processed for exactly 3 minutes and the ‘dough’ came together beautifully. The only downside is that they came out very, very greasy. I used the exact ingredients and measurements, but not sure if this was a result to processing the nuts, the coconut or what. Surely on Tbs of coconut oil couldn’t cause this much excess oil. I wonder if anyone else noticed this.
Thank you Linda, we’re happy they worked out for you! We’re not sure why they were a little on the greasy side – it could be that you processed yours a little longer (which could have released more oils)?
I love energy bites! I have some organic almond butt that I would llove to use, butI am not sure how much tho use as a substitute for whole almonds. Any suggestions?
These all look so good I want to try them all.
Thanks Gayle, we hope you enjoy!
These are awesome! I added some chia seeds for a little extra boost. Great snack to make with my daughters 5 and 9- and they love them too :) thank you!
Thanks Lauren, we’re glad you and your daughters like them! Chia seeds are an awesome addition too, so good call! :)