Chocolate-Cranberry Almond Macaroons (Raw)

I haven't baked in weeks, and it has been tough. I have decided that I bake way too much, and I think it is starting to show a bit in my figure (I don't own a scale, so I couldn't tell you whether or not it is true). I have been stress eating a lot the last couple of weeks, which leads me to baked goods, sugar, carbs, etc. I always find it interesting that we run to the foods that are bad for us, but taste good, only to feel bad, from trying to feel good (that statement confused me, but I think it makes sense). I find that the best things to stress eat on are the healthier options because it will help you get over the hump. That's why you need to learn how to have the best of both worlds: delicious + nutritious, which is what I have been trying to focus on this week. These are SO EASY to make, require limited ingredients, no baking, no sugar, and gluten free!! Oh, and did I mention they are RAW? Awesome-ness! What we have here is a chewy macaroon, that is made with ground almonds, and sweetened with dates. If you are not a cranberry fan, you can substitute raisins, goji berries, or any other dried fruit that you like. If you don't like the chocolate element (...really??) then you can always omit the cocoa powder, which will make a vanilla flavored macaroon instead. Either way, you don't have to feel guilty about this one!

Ingredients (makes 15-20 macaroons):
1 cup almonds
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup dried, shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 banana
1 cup pitted dates
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional, but helps bind)

1) Grind the almond in a blender until a coarse almond flour is made (if you don't have a good blender no worries, even roughly ground almonds taste good in this recipe). Pour the almond 'flour' into a large bowl along with the cocoa powder. Stir to combine, then incorporate the coconut and cranberries. Set aside.
2) Blend all of the remaining ingredients together until a thick paste is made. Mix the banana mixture with the almond mixture until everything is combined evenly, and a large ball is formed. Use an ice-cream scoop, a large spoon, or your hands to create round macaroon mounds on parchment paper. Transfer the macaroons to the freezer until set (about 3 hours). If you have a dehydrator, you can also dehydrate the macaroons for about 2-3 hours until they are nice and chewy. If using coconut oil, you can also just place them in the fridge for several hours until set. Enjoy!

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