In December, I went off hormonal birth control for the first time in 15 years. I talk about this more on the Healthier Together podcast, but I was on the pill for 8 years, and the Mirena IUD for 7 years. When you’re on the pill, you don’t experience a real period—the bleeding is just a withdrawal from the pill—and when I was on the Mirena, I didn’t experience a period at all.
Needless to say, one of the biggest adjustments of going off hormonal birth control is having a period again. Every month! For 3 – 4 days! I feel like a teenager, puzzling over which tampons to buy and marveling over strange symptoms (I’m SO dehydrated when I’m on my period! Anyone else?).
While my periods are pretty tame, relatively speaking, I do tend to get moody in the few days before. I also get cramps on the first day, and find myself suffering from higher anxiety than usual. Oh yeah—and those chocolate cravings? They’re very real.
One day, when struck by the urge to EAT ALL OF THE THINGS, I decided to invent my perfect period snack. It would be sweet, but not so sugary that it would spike my blood sugar and leave me feeling worse after eating it. It would have ingredients designed to assuage the symptoms I felt, and to help balance my hormones. It would taste crave-worthy and delightful, so I actually wanted to reach for it instead of brownie batter or those tiny Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Cups (what is IN those? They’re highly addictive).
Spoiler alert: I nailed it.
These fun-size candies are designed to be stored in your freezer, so you always have them on hand when you need them. They taste like a fancy, nougat-filled candy bar, the kind you’d be served at a really nice restaurant when it was trying to be “playful.” There are a few key ingredients that make these perfectly period-worthy.
Period power ingredient #1: the Medjool date.
Fiber is one of the most important parts of keeping your hormones balanced, since a high fiber diet actually helps you eliminate excess estrogen from your body. It also helps regulate your bathroom visits, since people can also get too constipated or too free-flowing around that time of the month. Medjool dates are rich in fiber and iron, which you obviously lose in your blood at that time of the month. Medjool dates also provide a sticky sweetness comparable to caramel that’s super satisfying.
Period power ingredient #2: walnuts.
Omega-3s have been shown in a number of studies to be as effective as ibuprofen against cramps, and walnuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3s. They also add a delicious hearty texture to the interior, and plenty of healthy fats to help nourish your hormones.
Period power ingredient #3: pumpkin seeds.
Pepitas, or shelled pumpkin seeds, are one of the richest sources of magnesium in the food world. Magnesium helps quell period problems in two major ways: it’s super calming, having been shown in a number of studies to be one of the best natural weapons against anxiety; and it’s a muscle relaxant, which helps with the spasms caused by cramps. Finally, pepitas are rich in zinc, which we lose when we’re on our periods. They also taste nutty and delicious, and act with the walnut seeds to make a soft, nougat-like center.
Period power ingredient #4: lavender.
You don’t have to flavor the inside filling with lavender, but I highly recommend you do. It’s incredibly delicious, adding a complex sweetness that will transport your tastebuds to the south of France. Lavender is also well-known for its anxiety relieving abilities, working to calm the nervous system. I love the combination of lavender and chocolate—it’s in my cookbook, in the calming CBD truffles, and I love lavender hot chocolate as well. You can find culinary lavender at Middle Eastern stores or online—this is the brand I use.
Period power ingredient #5: dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is rich in two relaxing ingredients: theobromine and the aforementioned magnesium. It’s also rich in zinc, which we lose when we’re on our periods. Finally, it’s chocolate! It satisfies that deep, visceral need we have for chocolate on our periods, while combining it with a number of other healthy elements so we can be nourishing our bodies while satisfying our tastebuds.Print
- 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, or pepitas
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender (I use this brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 16 Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 cups chopped dark chocolate
- 1” square of cacao butter or coconut oil
- Big, flaky sea salt (like Maldon), optional
- In a food processor, process the pepitas, walnuts, lavender, fine grain sea salt, and vanilla until very smooth, like a nut butter (this will take a few minutes; you may need to scrape down the sides a few times). Stuff into the center of each date, then place in the freezer while you make your chocolate.
- Using a double boiler or microwave, melt together the chocolate and the cacao butter until smooth. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a fork, dunk each date into the chocolate, shaking off any excess before placing on the parchment. Alternatively, you can drizzle the dates with chocolate instead of dunking. Sprinkle the tops with flaky sea salt if using, then return to the freezer.
- Freeze until completely solid, at least an hour, before transferring to a large bag for long term storage.