Coco-Nut Cookie Bites

These Coco-Nut Cookie Bites are a tasty go-to, healthy treat! They’re terrific for lunch boxes or when you are on the run. You can just grab them from the freezer on your way out the door. A friend recently introduced them to me, and I was thrilled because they tasted so good, were easy to make, and are healthy! Thank you Donna Sharpe! I did make a few tweaks to her basic recipe to give the recipe a nutritional boost. I switched out the coconut oil to a neutral oil, high in healthy monounsaturated fat, such as Canola oil or refined (high-heat) safflower oil. I found the cookie bites still had plenty of coconut taste since they also include unsweetened shredded coconut. Sometimes using coconut oil is actually necessary for flavor, but not for these. You're certainly welcome to use coconut oil instead of a neutral tasting oil, but it's a good opportunity to use a health-enhancing monounsaturated fat (good for blood pressure and blood sugar control as well as helping to decrease abdominal fat). Coconut oil is touted as super healthy, but it's actually more neutral to our health and weight; not terrible, but not particularly helpful either. I explain all of these oils and clear up the coconut oil confusion in my book, Lean Body Smart Life: 12-Fix Plan to a Leaner, Healthier, Happier Life, if you want to learn more. Donna told me she only uses cinnamon in the recipe occasionally, but all my tasters voted "yes!" to the cinnamon. This positive response, along with the nutritional benefits of cinnamon--it's awesome at keeping blood sugar under control--made adding cinnamon a no-brainer.  These bites use almond flour (or almond meal) which is just ground up almonds. This increases their health-promoting monounsaturated fat and makes them gluten-free! I do give a range for the pure maple syrup, so you can decide how sweet you want them. I would add the higher range of maple syrup when feeding children or people with a big sweet tooth, since first impressions can determine the success of the recipe. Personally, I think it's plenty sweet with the lower end of the range, but I'll leave that up to you. The dark chocolate chips add sweetness as well, but you're welcome to switch them out with dried fruit. I don't usually miss a chance to use my favorite chocolate chips, Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips (and no, this isn't sponsored).  There is a lot of versatility to these bites. You can experiment and have a taste test with your family and friends (everyone loves a good taste test). Plus, kids are more likely to eat them if they are more familiar with them. When they are choosing what variation they like, they usually will like one over the other. Make their favorites often and throw them in their lunches. Try keeping the cocoa out of some for variety, swapping walnuts for different nuts, and dusting them with different finishing touches like cocoa, cinnamon, coconut, and even cinnamon sugar if you want them extra sweet! Enjoy!
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Ingredients

1 cup almond meal or flour 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 1/4 cup neutral oil like Canola or refined safflower oil 1/4 - 1/3 pure maple syrup (depending on your sweetness level) 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tbsp cocoa (optional) 1/3 cup dark mini or regular chocolate chips optional - unsweetened shredded coconut, cinnamon, cocoa to roll cookie bites in

Directions

1) Add all the ingredients together and mix well. Roll into little balls.
2) Roll the balls into shredded coconut, cinnamon, cocoa, cinnamon sugar, ground nuts, or powdered sugar. (optional)
3) Place balls single layered on a cookie sheet so they set up for at least 3 hours.
4) Once they have set up, you can store them all together in the freezer in a container.