Disclaimer: This post is graciously sponsored by Natural Delights. All opinions are my own.
First, real talk guys. These vegan pecan caramel clusters are better than actual caramel clusters, you know, the ones with dairy and refined sugar and stuff. These are made out of three magical, vegan, and HEALTHY things. You heard me. These delicious vegan pecan caramel clusters are healthy. Boom. Wanna know why?
First things first, you start with dates.
Not just any kind of dates, Medjool dates.
Medjool dates are basically the vegan staple of wonder. You can use them to make the a healthy crust for cheesecake. You can dry them and process them until you have amazing, unrefined date sugar that’s low on the glycemic index and has that wonderful caramel flavour that dates have. You can put them in a savoury quinoa salad for a sweet and chewy contrast. You could stuff them full of walnuts and cashew cheese (or dairy cheese if that’s your thing) and serve them as an appetizer.
And best of all…
You can eat them fresh. When eaten fresh, they are nature’s caramels: soft…a little gooey, wonderfully chewy…
And the best thing about them is that they’re so good for you.
Full of fibre, antioxidant polyphenols (like blueberries or cranberries), potassium (50% more than a banana per 100g), and it’s low on the glycemic index, which means that your blood sugar doesn’t get a drastic spike in your blood sugar because the fibre helps you digest the sugars more gradually. With dates, the sugar doesn’t go straight into your blood stream, meaning that you get steady energy that doesn’t result in a sugar crash. Yay happy pancreas!
Oh my god, look at that chocolate.
Pecans are also great for antioxidants, full of protein, potassium, manganese, thiamin, vitamin E, calcium, B vitamins (that for you, vegan/vegetarians!), folate, iron, and oleic acid. Both dates and pecans are great for your cholesterol, meaning they lower the bad cholesterol and promote the good cholesterol.
And let’s not forget that they make adorable turtle feet. It’s like an awkward turtle on the back of its shell. It’s little feet are buttery pecans and belly is wonderfully smooth dark chocolate.
I love dark chocolate. The darker, the better in my opinion. I used just regular dark chocolate bars for these, but those 70-90% bars. Mm. Once more, dark chocolate has lots of anti-oxidants, iron, magnesium, and the cocoa butter used in chocolate is a great mono-unsaturated fat, good for lowering your cholesterol.
So basically these are heart-healthy, cancer-preventing, digestive-happy, and diabetic-friendly pockets of delicious. That doesn’t mean you can eat a whole batch, but it’s definitely a better alternative than the box of processed sugars, unpronounceable ingredients and preservatives.
Let’s not forget that these badboys are gluten-free and vegan. I can’t stress this enough, guys. Vegan.
They’ll make a wonderful Valentine’s gift, because what shows someone you love them more than something heart-healthy? Your valentine will jump your bones after they fall in love with the almost buttery, caramel-flavoured dates, the soft crunch of pecans and the satisfying snap as you bite into the dark chocolate.
Go seduce that special someone with these. You’re welcome in advance.
Recipe inspired by Nutritionist in the Kitch
- Pit the dates by using a sharp knife to cut lengthwise. Pull open and flatten (kind of looks like a butterfly), removing pits and laying them out, sticky side up.
- Stick three pecans per date, arranging them like the head and feet of a turtle.
- Chop your dark chocolate into as small bits as possible, and melt in a heat-safe bowl on top of a pot over medium heat (or a double boiler if you have one), stirring constantly until mostly melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in the last few chunks of chocolate (this is my method of lazy tempering)
- Drizzle about 1 tsp of chocolate per cluster, to seal the inside of the dates (so they don't dry out) and securing the pecans. Let them set in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, and enjoy!
- Keep stored in fridge in an airtight container.