These chocolate squares, inspired by the Almond Joys I used to love in my pre-vegan days, are as healthy as they are sinfully delicious. Made of whole, plant-based ingredients that support the production of high-quality ojas, Ayurveda’s immunity elixir, each bite is a chance to practice a deep form of self-love and nourishment. If you’re the type to reach for regular chocolate or a second (or third) shot of espresso mid-day, you’ll find even more support for energy and focus in this candy. Dense, lubricating nutrition found in the dates, nuts, and cacao, are the building blocks of ojas, the reserve of energy we all need to go the extra mile in our creative pursuits; in Ayurveda, ojas is what gives us the plump, juicy “glow” of health we often seek in beauty products, but actually comes from inside our body.
These foods tend to be poo-pooed as indulgent, but two things make them different from commercial sources of fat and sugar: 1) they’re whole, natural forms of these vital nutrients; and 2) they’re combined with gently warming spices that help your body digest them thoroughly, rather than making you feel bloated and oily like most candy might. Two herbal allies are also hard at work here to keep your brain sharp. Adaptogenic Maca powder is known as an aphrodisiac (another reason this is “adult” candy, wink-wink); but in truth, aphrodisiac in Ayurveda simply means it arouses or stimulates the system, your brain, and everywhere else. It’s also got a mild vanilla flavor that satisfies sweet teeth without aggravating blood sugar. Lion’s Mane is our other mental-health helper. This mushroom is known to boost cognition and memory also has a lovely nutty taste that complements the candy overall. Both the maca and Lion’s Mane get infused into the chocolate to maximize the digestibility of their herbal essence. (Note: be sure to choose gelatinized maca, which is easier to digest than raw maca—and does not contain gelatin!) Small doses of mindfulness can be especially needed during the busy fall season, but I like to have a batch of this candy on hand all year round; like the jar full of Starbursts and M&Ms that used to sit at the corner of my boss’s desk, a container of Naked Ayurvedic Candy in the freezer can be just the reassurance you need to get through a tough part of your day—or life. When Halloween comes around, you won’t have to worry about the kids getting all the good candy anymore! Prep time: 10 minutes Freeze time: 2 hours Makes: 20 squares 1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates 1⁄2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1⁄4 cup Anima Mundi heirloom cacao powder 1 teaspoon Anima Mundi gelatinized maca powder 1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil 1⁄2 cup full-fat coconut milk 1 teaspoon Lion’s Mane powder (Sun Potion brand recommended) 1⁄2 cup raw walnuts 1 1⁄2 tablespoons maple syrup 1 tablespoon cacao nibs Pinch flaky sea salt Jennifer Kurdyla is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, yoga teacher, and writer. Plant-based since 2008, she learned to love food by experimenting with vegan and Ayurvedic cooking in her tiny New York kitchens. She is the co-author of Root & Nourish: An Herbal Cookbook for Women's Wellness (Tiller Press), and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Read more about her wellness services and educational resources at www.benourished.me and on Instagram @jenniferkurdyla.
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