I . love . turtles… the chocolate kind

Apple turtle

Mother Turtle, made from apples here, casts a healing spell among First Nations people.

The turtle myth…

In Native American stories, the turtle is a symbol for Mother Earth. This ancient animal commonly lives as long as 150 years. Its shell keeps her safe. And her slow even pace through life sets an example for people to keep going when the going gets tough. Turtle always makes time to enjoy each moment life has to offer.

To honor the turtle, I suggested to my friend Isla that we could make some for Christmas. “They’re so tasty!” I said.


The eating kind

“Turtles aren’t for eating, Vinny!” Isla answered. “They smell like seaweed and they’re all hard and bony. Yuck!”

“I mean turtle candies… the ones that are full of chocolate and nuts! Store-bought turtles have a sticky, sugary caramel candy in the centre. But we can do better than that.”

“I love chocolate and nuts,” said Isla. “Let’s get cooking!”

“I have a rich dark chocolate, full of fiber and antioxidants to fight disease. Walnuts are the healthiest nuts of all, so we’ll use those. And as a sprinkle on top, I’ve got the most exotic sea salt you can buy – fleur de sel – from France,” I said, counting off the ingredients on my fingers.

“Yum!” said Isla. “Can I taste?”

“Sure,” I said, laying down a walnut piece and a few grains of damp salt for Isla’s attention. “And instead of that dastardly sugary caramel, we’ll use dates.


“Hey!” said Isla. “But I don’t LIKE dates!”

“You’re gonna like these dates, Isla, I promise.” And we got to work.

We used a simple recipe from The Detoxinista… just five ingredients, no special equipment and no oven time.  We did it in just 10 minutes. Other than switching the nuts from pecans to walnuts, I didn’t make any other adjustments. All the quantities worked out perfectly. All the ingredients are super foods.


Easy Chocolate Turtles
Makes 8 treats

  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted and halved
  • 8 walnut halves
  • ⅓ cup (2 oz) dark chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil
  • Fleur de sel or some other sea salt, for sprinkling
  1. Soak the pitted and halved dates in hot water to cover for 10-20 minutes, to soften
  2. Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil together in a pan set on top of a pot of boiling water on the stove. Take off the heat and set aside.
  3. Press a walnut half into the center of each of the eight date halves. Top each one with about a teaspoon of melted chocolate, to cover the top and sides.
  4. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

“They don’t look a lot like turtles,” Isla told me wistfully.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Guess we forgot the heads and tails,” she pointed out, correctly.

So we quickly made heads from small walnut pieces and tails using Rice Krispie kernels. We should have used the Rice Krispies for feet too, but didn’t think of it… Maybe next time :).

We put the turtles in the freezer for 10 minutes, until the chocolate got firm. Then we had one.


How do you like the dates?

Holding her chocolatey thumb high in the air, Isla passed her verdict: “Santa’s going to LOVE these!”

Vinny’s tips

  1. Medjool dates are juicier and plumper than others you might find. But use whatever you have.
  2. Make these treats vegan by choosing a brand of vegan chocolate chips (no milk or eggs). Always read the ingredient list.
  3. These should last about a week when stored in the fridge, longer if you keep them in the freezer!

Nutrition in each tasty turtle

  • Calories 78.9
  • Fat 3.4 g, of which 2 g are saturated fat, some of it healthy short-chain kinds from the coconut oil
  • Carbohydrate 12.4 g, of which 1.7 g is fiber and 9.7 g is sugar
  • Protein 0.9 g
  • Potassium 134.6 mg, Calcium 13 mg, Iron 1.0 mg
  • Vitamin E 0 .7 mg, Folate 1.9 DFE, Vitamin A 1.0 RAE


  • Make a date with cranberries – Try out a simple and delicious recipe featuring dates and cranberries. Digest some good feelings with these two great mood foods.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward
    Dec 04, 2013 @ 16:42:52

    Hi, Sharon –
    These turtles are so cute! What a delicious and healthy recipe. Isla was smart to think of great ways to “dress up” the turtles. Some little noisettes or white chocolate chips – for feet might be cute, too, though her rice crispy idea is probably the best idea. Take good care – and thank for you sharing.
    Best –


    • Vinny Grette
      Dec 04, 2013 @ 17:05:13

      I was surprised what a good alternative dates made for caramel. They have the same sticky sweet texture. And when slathered with chocolates and nuts, they don’t taste of the fruit at all. Love your idea of using the chocolate chips for the feet!


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