bacon wrapped dates

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Thanksgiving is over and everyone around me is in full blown Christmas mode. I'm just not there yet. It's possible that I'm still suffering from turkey hangover or just that I need some time to transition from one holiday to another. The thing about Christmas is that it starts pretty much after Thanksgiving even though it's a month away. Everyone is getting their tree, decorating and getting into the spirit of it all. I find the transition to be abrupt so I allow myself to be in this disparate mood rather than forcing it to feel a certain way. Every year I go through this slight resistance but this year even more so. 

I try to go about my day as usual, running errands, this and that and a trip to the farmers market. I hit my usual stands - one of them being the bread stand where I get two loaves for my kids. So I stand in line, my daughter in her stroller, waiting my turn, only to find that the credit card machine is acting up. The young girl embarrassed about the hold up quickly goes to find the owner. No big deal as I wasn't in a rush and I stand aside to wait. The thing that happened next floored me. The woman behind me bought my bread. After refusing several times, telling her that I can wait for the owner and assuring her that she doesn't have to, she said: "I want to, it's Christmas". I tried hard to contain my tears but they did not cooperate. I wanted to hug her as her gesture of kindness touched me deeply but thought I may really lose it and cause a scene. I thanked her about 10 times and walked away truly shaken by the experience. It was $5.98 but it was kind and moved me. 

And in that moment it became clear, the holiday season to me isn't about trees, presents, about all what TV commercials want you to believe it should be. It's about humans being decent to one another. Complete strangers showing kindness without expectation. 

This little episode gave me pause and reminded me why I do like this time of year. Perhaps artificially induced in some ways, but people are more caring and our usual selfish tendencies are put on hold.

And why do I bring up this story? Because this year, I hope to surround myself with the people I love and pay this kindness forward in a way. Nothing makes me happier than being able to feed people. Cooking for others is something I get from my mother and want to share it with friends and family as much as possible. 

One appetizer I toyed around with that's perfect for entertaining, is a bacon wrapped dates stuffed with cashew cheese recipe. These things are dangerously good. Salty, sweet, creamy and they can be served hot or cold. They also keep well in the refrigerator and can be made ahead of time. 

You can play around with the quantity as you see fit. Basically what you need is one 1/4 slice of bacon per date and a little scoop of cashew cheese. You'll have plenty of cashew cheese left over so if you plan on making this for a big group, you'll have enough. You can also refrigerate the rest of the cashew cheese and use it wihtin a week.  

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bacon wrapped dates

  • Prep time: 5 minutes

  • Baking time: 25 minutes

  • Makes: 32 dates


  • 32 pitted dates

  • 8 slices of bacon

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2 hours

  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • juice from 1/2 lemon

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 cup water

*If you can't find nutritional yeast, you can skip it but it does adds a "cheese like" taste to the mixture.


  • food processor

  • baking sheet

  • parchment paper

  • small bowl

  • toothpicks


Soak cashews for at least 2 hours prior to starting. Pour enough hot water over cashews to submerge. 

In a food processor, combine nutritional yeast, cashews, lemon, salt, garlic powder, mustard and water. Combine until fully incorporated and creamy. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice bacon lengthwise and then in half so you have 4 even thin strips. Next, make a small incision in dates so you can stuff them with cashew cheese. Use about a 1/4-1/2 tsp per date.

Fill each of them and roll with bacon. You can use a toothpick to secure the bacon in place by sticking the toothpick right through the date and bacon. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 13 minutes. Remove from oven, take out toothpicks and turn dates over and bake for another 12 minutes. When finished, allow to cool and serve warm, at room temperature or refrigerate for 24 hours. 

If you love the combination of sweet, salty and creamy you're in luck! These bacon wrapped dates deliver all of that and more. They're a perfect appetizer for any get together and your guests will swoon over them. You'd never even know they're dairy free, paleo and whole 30 because you won't be able to stop eating them. #dairyfree, #holidays, #baconwrappeddates, #bacon, #paleo, #whole30, #calmeats, #wrappeddates, #dates, #thanksgiving, #appetizer, #paleoappetizer, #whole30appetizer, #holidayfood

date coconut chocolate delights

Last week, I couldn't get enough chocolate. I found myself constantly playing around with some sort of variation of food involving chocolate. I also wanted something fast, I mean under 10 minutes fast and no cooking involved. So I raided my pantry for exactly 6 ingredients and got to work. 

Now as I've mentioned in a previous post, nutrient density is always important to me so even sweet treats have to have some nutritional benefit if my family is going to be eating them. These little balls are packed with goodness so not only will you tame the chocolate beast but you'll get some excellent nutrition along the way. These little guys are dense so you don't need a whole lot to satisfy your craving. 

Since there are only 6 ingredients and no cooking involved, you want to make sure you use quality ingredients. And since I love talking about the benefits of what we put into our bodies, lets look at why you should feel good about eating these foods. The ones I really want to highlight for their nutritional benefit are going to be cacao, coconut oil, dates and chia seeds. While cashews and unsweetened shredded coconut have their own nutritional benefits I really wanted to focus on the four.

Benefits of raw cacao:

  • Contains anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter that has been found in cacao. It's a feel good chemical that the brain naturally releases when you're feeling happy.

  • Full of antioxidants. In fact, cacao has shown to contain more antioxidants than blueberries, goji berries, red wine and pomegranate combined.

  • Lowers blood pressure and improves circulation.

  • Full of Magnesium. It is said that cacao is the highest magnesium containing food on the planet. Most Americans are deficient in this key mineral, which helps with everything from calming anxiety, to increasing energy, aiding with constipation, preventing migraine headaches, improving heart and muscle function and more.

  • Serotonin release. That's right this is the very one that's contained in our standard antidepressants (SSRIs -Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). "Magnesium and tryptophan, both necessary chemicals for the production of serotonin, are contained in raw Cacao. Tryptophan is heat-volatile and therefore non-existent in cooked chocolate or a cooked food diet, making raw chocolate an excellent way to obtain dietary tryptophan and maintain sufficient levels of the stress balancing serotonin."

Coconut oil benefits:  

  • Contains MCT- (Medium Chain Tryglicerides) - the fatty acids found in MCTs are called Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) these have shown to help with weight loss. "Because they have fewer carbon atoms, MCTs have a number of advantages over LCTs (Long Chain Fatty Acids). Although MCTs are fat, and feel like fat in your mouth, they cannot make you fat. They resemble carbohydrates more than fat, are easy to digest, and are burned as energy—so there is no where for them to go, and no place for you body to store them."

  • Prevention of metabolic syndrome: These include a cluster of conditions which can increase heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. A peer review has shown that MCFAs play a role in preventing and treating metabolic syndrome.

  • Cancer prevention: This is one of the most startling discoveries. Coconut oil is turned into ketones in the liver. Tumor cells cannot access ketones and are dependent of glucose in order to proliferate and thrive.

  • Improved digestion: The fats in coconut oil contain antimicrobial properties which help to ward of some of the unwanted bacteria and parasites in the gut, which lead to indigestion.

Benefits of chia seeds

  • High in Fiber: I think everyone always hears about the importance of fiber but not everyone understands why this is. Most fiber is not digestible by the small intestine and passes through to the colon, where it becomes food for the numerous colonies of bacteria living in the tract. This is why eating refined sugar and flour is not too good for our bugs. These break down very quickly and are absorbed by the small intestine. An overgrowth of bacteria can occur in this unwanted place, leading to SIBO (Small Intestininal Bacterial Overgrowth). If we starve the bacteria which rely on fiber for food, they will feed on the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract, causing a lot of problems. I will address this in detail in a future post.

  • High Omega 3s: I've mentioned this in prevoius posts, but Omega 3s help with preventing heart disease, inflammation, help to lower blood pressure and are crucial for women of child bearing age or those who are pregnant or nursing. Additionally, some other sources of Omega 3s can easily become rancid but chia seeds have a very long shelf life - something like 4 years.

  • High in Antioxidants: These fight free radicals and assist in the prevention of cancers.

Benefits of dates: 

  • Assist with constipation: Dates have been shown to have a laxative effect. Soaking 4-6 dates overnight and consuming them along with the liquid has shown to assist with constipation.

  • Easy energy boost: Dates are high in natural sugars and are quickly metabolized providing an almost intimidate burst of energy.

  • Easier labor: This will apply to both women and men as men do have to suffer along side of women! But it's been shown that eating dates leading up to the due the date, could ease labor.


  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder

  • 1 tbsp melted unrefined coconut oil

  • 1 tsp chia seeds

  • 15-20 roasted cashews

  • 1 tsp unsweetened coconut flakes plus an additional tbsp for rolling

  • 1 cup chopped dates

  • optional - coconut flour dredging


  • Food processor

  • Mixing bowl


Melt coconut oil either in the micro for 30 seconds or on the stove and combine with cacao in a medium bowl until well incorporated. Set aside. In a food processor, add the chopped dates, cacao and coconut oil mixture and blend until fairly small and well incorporated. Add cashews, chia seeds and shredded coconut and continue pulsing for an additional 30 seconds or until well incorporated. Put everything back in the bowl.

With clean hands or wearing kitchen gloves, form small 1" balls and dredge them through coconut flakes. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. I don't recommend storing them at room temperature as coconut oil melts once it get past 76 °F.

* An option is to dredge some of the balls in coconut flour and if you want to get creative, melt additional coconut oil and mix with cacao and add a 1/2 tsp of raw honey. You can add another layer of chocolate to some of them if you so desire.