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What I craved was a more mindful snack

Two years ago, I cut refined sugars, processed foods and gluten from my diet. My goal was to feel better. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between food and the body. Mostly, that led to eating more vegetables, buying meat from local farmers and putting grass-fed butter instead of milk and sugar in my coffee.

It also made me rethink dessert. No longer could I grab half of a cookie from the free-food table next to my desk at work, or a handful of M&Ms on the way to the next meeting. Yet I still craved the sugar-filled packaged foods, so I went Googling for recipe ideas. I tried searching on “clean desserts” and “paleo treats,” as well as “something that tastes delicious but won’t make me feel terrible.”

I found way too many blogs with way too many so-called healthful treats. Finding ways to incorporate sweets was starting to feel like cheating. Wasn’t I trying to eat well?

I was faced with a choice: Make treats like those, or stop eating anything sweet at all. Ever. The latter seemed sad and a little extreme.

At last I found a delicious recipe on an aptly named blog: CleanEatingWithADirtyMind.com. It was for nut butter cups. They seemed easy, but they looked like candy bars. Candy bars are filled with the foods I was avoiding.

This recipe, though, called for Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, which are dairy-, soy- and gluten-free, with no refined sugars. I was in.

When you make these, be prepared to share, because everyone loves them. Even my friends who still eat Cheetos.

No-Nut Butter Cups

11/2 cups Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks

1 cup sunflower seed butter

1/2 cup coconut oil, liquefied

1/3 cup raw honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat a few inches of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Place the chocolate chunks in a heatproof bowl seated on top of the saucepan; once they have melted, stir until smooth. Remove the bowl; reduce the heat to low and keep the water in the saucepan warm.

Spoon a dollop of the chocolate into each baking cup liner in the muffin pan; use the spoon to evenly coat the bottom and halfway up the sides. Transfer to the freezer to firm up, about 10 minutes. You should have more than half of the melted chocolate left over.

Meanwhile, combine the sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, honey, sea salt and vanilla extract in a food processor; puree until well incorporated.

Use a spoon to evenly divide the nut butter mixture among the chocolate-lined cups. Return them to the freezer for 30 minutes, until the nut butter mixture is firm.

Use a spoon to spread and completely coat the top of each nut butter cup with the remaining melted chocolate. (Return the bowl of chocolate briefly to the saucepan as needed, to loosen it up.) Return the completely coated cups to the freezer; freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to an airtight container; store/stack between pieces of waxed or parchment paper, if desired, and refrigerate.

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