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Unwrapped candy may be a no-no for trick-or-treating kiddos, but the rules get a little laxer when it’s time for the grown-ups to treat themselves. 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. 

Candy to Power Your Brain

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!)

The Sweetness of Mindfulness

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!

Naked Ayurvedic Candy

Prep time: 10 minutes

Freeze time: 2 hours

Makes: 20 squares

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates

½ cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom 

¼ cup Anima Mundi heirloom cacao powder

1 teaspoon Anima Mundi gelatinized maca powder

1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil

½ cup full-fat coconut milk

1 teaspoon Lion’s Mane powder (Sun Potion brand recommended)

½ cup raw walnuts

1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon cacao nibs 

Pinch flaky sea salt 

Naked ayurvedic candy

Directions:

  1. Combine the dates, ½ cup coconut flakes, walnuts, cinnamon, and cardamom in a food processor. Blitz until smooth and a sticky ball forms. Line a small glass dish (I used a 7×5-inch Pyrex container) with parchment, and press the mixture into the bottom in an even layer. 
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, cacao powder, maca, and Lion’s Mane. Stirring continuously, cook on low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and creamy (watch this closely so the chocolate doesn’t burn). Turn off the heat, then add the maple syrup and coconut oil. Stir well, then carefully pour over the date-nut base. 
  3. Sprinkle the cacao nibs, 1 tablespoon of coconut flakes, and salt on top, then freeze for 2 hours or until firm. 
  4. Remove from the freezer and bring to room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes until you can easily remove the bars from the container by lifting them out with the parchment. Use a sharp knife to cut into 20 even squares, or another shape you prefer. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month—or as long as they last!

Jennifer Kurdyla

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 https://jenniferkurdyla.com/ and on Instagram @jenniferkurdyla

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