Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 Feb

Cocoa and Coconut Snacks

Cocoa and Coconut SnacksProfessional endurance athlete Jonas Colting knows a little bit about tapping into his own power and energy. Most of us don’t push our bodies to the limit in the same way an endurance athlete does. For some of us, just getting through a regular day at the office is a test of endurance. Still, power and energy are attractive qualities. Which is probably why a marketing genius attached these terms to almost every product in the constantly expanding protein bar aisle at the grocery store. Energy Bar. Power Bar. Whatever you call it, they often aren’t very healthy and won’t supply you with any enduring power or energy.

Jonas’ solution was to make his own protein-packed snack using whole, healthy ingredients. He doesn’t provide exact measurements for Colting’s Cocoa and Coconut Snacks – this is one of those “throw everything together” recipes that make cooking easy and fun. In fact, we think Jonas’ advice for this recipe is a good motto for all cooking endeavors: “Experiment to find your perfect mix of taste and texture. It really doesn’t matter, it’s all good and healthy!”

Seriously, you can’t get this one wrong. Any way you make them, Colting’s Cocoa and Coconut Snacks are better, in terms of both taste and nutrients, than most store bought energy bars out there. The texture is rich and crumbly, not unnaturally gooey and chewy. The flavor is intensely nutty and a little savory with a hint of sweetness. Each one of these little balls packs in loads of protein and fats. Unlike store bought energy bars, the ingredient list is short and simple, and can be modified to your own taste. Use more ground coffee or none at all. Try dark chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder. Cut back on one type of nut and add more of another. Use more shredded coconut, or less. Part of the fun is coming up with your own perfect blend.

As a general guideline for your first batch, using a 1/2 cup of each nut will yield more than a dozen little balls. Dates add the sweetness but also help hold the balls together so if you can’t get the paste to hold its shape, try adding a few more. Coconut oil also helps with this. If you don’t have the patience to roll a dozen or more little balls, simply spread the paste out evenly in a baking pan and sprinkle with coconut. Whether you eat them as balls or bars, Colting’s Cocoa and Coconut Snacks are a good solution to afternoon hunger pangs. They can even satisfy a craving for dessert – Jonas sometimes enjoys them with an espresso, which sounds quite civilized and delicious.

Try out his recipe for Colting’s Cocoa and Coconut Snacks this week and check back next week for more on how Jonas lives Primal while training as a triathlete.


Cocoa and Coconut Snack Ingredients

We’ve included measurements to get you started, but as mentioned above, these ingredients can be used in any amounts.

1/2 cup each:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecan nuts
  • Hazel nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 3-6 dates
  • 2-4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

To taste:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Freshly ground coffee
  • Shredded coconut


Run the nuts and pumpkin seeds in a food processor until ground into a fine flour.

Nuts in Food Processor

Remove the nut flour and grind the dates and shredded coconut in the food processor until smooth.

Processed Nuts and Dates

Mix these ingredients together with coffee and cocoa powder according to taste.

Cocoa and Coconut Powder

Finally, add the coconut oil and mix it all together by hand. Roll the paste into small nibbly balls and sprinkle them in shredded coconut.

Cocoa and Coconut Snack

These snacks should be refrigerated to become firm.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Will definitely have to try these. Yet another example that primal eating isn’t boring and bland.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Grok of Ages wrote on February 19th, 2010
  2. oh i make variations of these all the time! i call them “healthy truffles” :) i make them with 3-4 ingredients: nut, medjool date & spices.

    for example:
    -pumpkin pie (use canned pumpkin/apple pie spice/nutmeg + almond, dates)
    -tiramisu (use instant coffee/full fat cream cheese + cashew, dates)
    -keylime (almond butter + lime zest + hazlenut + dates)
    -carrot cake (shredded carrot, dates, almond, cloves, cinnamon)

    the opportunities are endless!

    misathemeb wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • Oooh, your carrot cake one sounds really good.

      I am excited to read more from Jonas. I am a triathlete too.

      AlyieCat wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • Love to add some fine powder spiralina to the basic recipe – love to see that green
      thanks for your spice suggestions

      CeaCea wrote on February 24th, 2010
    • Oh yum, I was already missing my mum’s tiramisu – the best in the world – and just the idea of substituting those cookie things with nuts is great! Don’t like dates though, are they prominent in the overall taste?

      Angelo wrote on April 4th, 2010
      • dates usually just add sweetness unless it’s a date bar or something..use less dates and sub raisins if the taste is too overpowering.

        stacey wrote on May 18th, 2010
  3. Nice recipe – a riff on Phil Maffetone’s classic “Phil’s Bars.” Though I must say that I prefer Jonas’ use of dates rather than Dr. Phil’s reliance on honey.

    Thanks for posting.

    Geoff wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • Talk about something of Phil’s…

      There’s this great coffee bar down the street called Philz Coffee (in Palo Alto, Ca), where they specialize in Turkish coffee (a brewing process that’s naturally low in acidity). But the best part is that they use all-real HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM.

      It is life-changing!

      Now, I’ll have to make these cocoa and coconut snack balls and have them with a cup of Philz coffee.

      I am now afraid, very afraid…

      Johnny wrote on February 19th, 2010
      • I’m a BIG fan of Philz!
        I discovered the store last time I was in Palo Alto (there’s also one in SF right near the train and the stadium too). Freshly made by the cup with REAL heavy cream? can’t beat that!
        I wish they had one in NYC 😉

        These snacks look delicious, I might have to whip up a batch with coconut oil NOW!

        Judy wrote on February 20th, 2010
      • We love PHILZ (hmmmm John).
        Tesora and Aromatic Aerobic are among our weekly favorites – –
        And both Jacobs and Ether have made their way into our variations of these balls.

        PA store/team is solid and always fun!
        The folks in the city on 4th (by CalTrain) and on VanNess (cross is Turk i think) are also awesome!

        Enjoy and keep the variations coming.
        And…then there’s that beautiful fridge in the back full of cream!……

        Analisa wrote on April 27th, 2010
      • Geoff, that was a hilarious comment made me crack up. I am now afraid, very afraid. lol I know that feeling.

        Jared Anderson wrote on April 14th, 2012
      • If you like low acidity coffee, you might check out “cold soak coffee” aka “cold drip”.

        secret agent girl wrote on June 3rd, 2012
  4. yummy! looks like a quick recipe too.

    Randy wrote on February 19th, 2010
  5. Thanks so much for sharing. This sounds a lot like a home-made energy bar Martina Navratilova was advocating a while back, and I was never able to find her recipe.

    Melinda Neely wrote on February 19th, 2010
  6. Sounds great, thanks!

    Suzan wrote on February 19th, 2010
  7. Wow, this is one of the best yet! Thanks so much.

    EarthBeauty wrote on February 19th, 2010
  8. My eyes blew up when I read this!

    Well, first, that an endurance athlete could be held in positive regard on this site … 😉

    but seriously, these look amazing. I have made my “own” energy bars in the past, using marks primal bar recipe as the base. I am totally making these today for my “I dont want to tell Mark how many hours CV has me riding this weekend” bike rides haha!

    Ryan Denner wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • Ryan, I believe that by eating a paleo-style diet, you are a healthier person despite competing in an endurance sport.


      Johnny wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • Hi, my name is Grok & endurance training is my vice.

      Others drink alcohol, smoke, smoke/shoot drugs, eat junk food… I exercise for long periods 😉

      Grok wrote on February 28th, 2010
  9. I make a modified version of this:
    Soak raw cashews and walnuts overnight.
    Grind the nuts, add it to eggs and then add coconut, vanilla extract, cardamom, ghee, cocoa to taste and some stevia. Throw in the oven at 200F until texture is dry (usually takes 2 hrs). The low heat keeps all the nutrients intact. You can also blend a banana with the eggs.

    Kishore wrote on February 19th, 2010
  10. Oh, yum… dates are on my shopping list for this weekend!

    Adam Kayce wrote on February 19th, 2010
  11. Do we have an estimate on the nutrional value? I hate to be a carb-counter but i like to have a basic idea of my intake for the day. These look awesome though!

    JStrick wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • They are between 4 and 5 grams of carbs each ball
      (I doubled the recipe and got 30 tablespoonish balls)

      Brock wrote on February 20th, 2010
  12. Ooooh Colting balls! (I’m sorry if that came out wrong in English, it works perfectly fine in Swedish, and Jonas being Swedish would probably understand….) These snacks are wonders of energy and goodness – glad to see them included here on MDA. :)

    Cajsa wrote on February 19th, 2010
  13. I’ve used butter, ghee, and coconut butter in my own recipe. I’ve also used dried cherries. Pretty much whatever I have on hand. I also have a silicone ice cube tray cut in seashell molds that I press the balls into. Why go for balls when I can be a little more exciting?? 😀

    paleo_piper wrote on February 19th, 2010
  14. medjool dates are quite carby. if you are trying to stay below 50g carbs then i’d only eat 1! but they are too hard to resist so i try not to have more than 3-4 a day haha

    misathemeb wrote on February 19th, 2010
  15. These look great! Anyone have an idea how long these would last in the fridge? Based on the ingredients, I imagine they would last for quite so time. It sounds like you could make up a pretty large batch and snack on them over the course of a few weeks.

    Primal Buckeye wrote on February 19th, 2010
  16. I’ve been making wannabe larabars and it’s pretty close these snacks. I had to order dates online because I cannot find them anywhere local. Still waiting for them to get here.

    I’ve been using other dried fruit in place of dates. Dried raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries all work really well.

    Jen wrote on February 19th, 2010
  17. Awesome! I’ve made a version of these before from Girl Gone Primal’s recipe. This one’s got more stuff in it which I’m sure would add to the flavour. I love the encouragement to make our own variety!! Thanks!

    gilliebean wrote on February 19th, 2010
  18. Great mix of ingredients! Perhaps some roasting of the nuts and coconut will add a toasty flavor depth. I also made Girl Gone Primal’s recipe and tinkered with it to come up with Pecan Fudge Truffles posted on my health and fitness blog here:

    I wonder if protein powder or powdered egg whites would work to add more complete protein to these little energy balls? Anyone have any success with that?

    Kristy A. wrote on February 19th, 2010
  19. Posted this the other day, but didn’t get a response from anybody…

    Found 2 coconut milk ice creams at my local Fred Meyer. Turtle Mountain vanilla & Coconut Bliss. Both use agave sweetener (low-glycemic index). Coconut Bliss is all organic. Both taste fantastic–the vanilla was the best vanilla ice cream in recent memory & I absolutely loved the coconut bliss wiht its coconut flavor & coconut flakes.

    So, does this fit into the Primal lifestyle? I sure hope so!

    Eric wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • I adore Coconut Bliss but I don’t eat it anymore because agave, being predominantly fructose, is metabolized the same way high-fructose corn syrup (also technically “low-glycemic”.) is metabolized, i.e. more easily stored as fat than sucrose and glucose and also more glycating than other sugars. Boo on that!!

      I want to figure out how to make my own version sweetened with a mix of stevia and coconut palm sugar (truly low-glycemic and yummy!)

      Erin wrote on February 19th, 2010
      • Thats easy – I do it all the time.

        We’ve got one of those Cuisinart automatic ice cream makers (from Amazon for $50 or so), then take a can of good quality coconut milk, and add 1 tablespoon of real sugar, and 2 of the little mini scoops of stevia (from the trader joes fair trade stevia). It should be equivalent to 3 tablespoons of real sugar, but doing all stevia gives it a little too much of that stevia flavor.

        You can either just do that straight, or I especially love adding 1/3 cup cocoa powder and a little toasted shredded coconut to make dark chocolate coconut ice cream. Mmmm… I’m salivating right now. Better than coconut bliss and a lot cheaper too!

        Matt wrote on February 24th, 2010
        • I’ve made this for the kids with the cocoa powder and it tastes amazing. I used 4 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar though. Thanks for the tip on the stevia. I’ll try half stevia/half sugar and see if the kids object.

          Kelly A. wrote on March 14th, 2010
  20. Yum. Great Primal snack. We are going to give this recipe out in our store.

    pecanmike wrote on February 19th, 2010
  21. that looks amazing. I’ve made some dark chocolate truffles before but these look much better. I’m totally planning on making these and re-posting the results.

    Brandon wrote on February 19th, 2010
  22. These food recipes I see here are making me hungry…
    Should I be worried that I dreamt last night of finding very high quality primal baconnaise at the grocery store? I woke up laughing. :)

    I’m having a dinner party next weekend and thinking about making these. Funny – my guests never complain that I don’t serve bread or pasta…

    Melody wrote on February 19th, 2010
  23. Does anybody have a recommendation on how much unsweetened cocoa powder and freshly ground coffee to use?

    John wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • I made these in my vitamix today. I put a couple heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder and about 1.5 tablespoons of ground coffee. Half a cup each of pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, handful of shredded coconut and a few tablespoons of coconut milk.
      holy moly are they ever good!

      sewingmama wrote on February 19th, 2010
      • oops, I put in a handful of dates too.

        sewingmama wrote on February 19th, 2010
  24. Those look delicious! I will be trying them out soon and will repost my results as well if I remember! Can’t wait!

    Todd wrote on February 19th, 2010
  25. Um I love dates, this is a great recipe

    Trainerpack wrote on February 19th, 2010
  26. Hi – I posted a smilar recipe a few days ago to ask if it was primal. (No response yet, interested in your views, thanks). It uses Tahini for stickiness

    1/2 cup tahini
    1/2 cup LSA
    1/2 cup honey
    1/4 cup chopped almonds (or nuts of choice)
    1 cup mixed dried fruit (I prefer organic dates)

    Mix together and roll into plum sized balls, coating with desiccated coconut.

    I have been eating one for morning tea each day, but I am new to primal and I thought I should check if they are primal.thanks

    Mog wrote on February 19th, 2010
  27. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. So, are we supposed to heat it up before mixing it in? If so, how are we supposed to mix it in by hand?

    Or, am I just using the wrong coconut oil?


    Frank wrote on February 19th, 2010
    • No, you’re using the right stuff. Just take some hot tap water in a bigger bowl and the coconut oil in a smaller bowl. It will melt almost instantly. If the other ingredients are even slightly warmer than room temperature, the coconut oil will stay liquid until you chill the mixture.

      Ross Bagley wrote on February 20th, 2010
      • Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to give these a try.

        Frank wrote on February 20th, 2010
  28. Does sound good. Does anyone have any information on the nutritional breakout?

    Harlan wrote on February 19th, 2010
  29. gonna make these. along with some jerky and a few tangerines in the pack, that’s gonna power me down some trails and up some mountains this season, YEAH!

    dthalman wrote on February 19th, 2010
  30. I love this recipe and the fact that it is endorsed by Jonas is even better! I’m currently in training for the London Marathon, so cannot wait to read about Jonas and primal living as an endurance athlete!

    luke mdavies wrote on February 19th, 2010
  31. The dates are the sweetener here. Dates are about 80% sugar by weight, and about 50% of the sugar is fructose either as simple fructose or in sucrose.

    Just like “white grape juice” and “apple juice” in “100% fruit juice” drinks, you should be very cautious with the carbs in dates, aka “the candy that grows on trees”.

    Ross Bagley wrote on February 20th, 2010
  32. these are essentially Lara Bars…if you look at their ingredients, they are the same…If you’re looking for nutritional info, you can get a rough estimate. But ay 1.50 a pop, homemade is always better!

    Lydia wrote on February 20th, 2010
  33. I just made these from nuts and seeds I had in the pantry…almonds, cashews, walnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and afew sunflower seeds.

    I used prunes instead of dates and added a touch of honey.

    Effing deliscious!!!

    Brock wrote on February 20th, 2010
    • cashews and honey not exactly recommended… right?

      MichaelA wrote on February 22nd, 2010
  34. Jonas is “The Man”.

    I’ve been playing with primal nutrition for endurance for a while now too, but I don’t want to write anything until I’ve tested for a few thousand more miles. Super excited to see what Sir Colting has to say. I can’t wait until next week!

    Grok wrote on February 20th, 2010
  35. Thanks for the tips, I went to the ‘grokery’ store to get the last two items and quickly put them together…put them in the fridge and made dinner while they cooled. My wife and I just had a couple each and they are great. I will be making them again for sure. I have to admit though, I used sweetened coconut because my wife prefers the sugary taste. I didn’t use coffee, but I would add cinnamin next time.

    karl macphee wrote on February 20th, 2010

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