How Not To Die Bites

How Not to Die Bites – FranCostigan.comThis recipe, How Not To Die Bites, or the more mundane but still tasty Date, Nut, Seed and Spice Balls,  is a homage to the one and only Michael Greger, MD., founder


How Not to DieI recently had a message from the award-winning writer Gene Stone – you may know him as the co-author of many nationally bestselling books, including, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, The Engine2 Diet, and Forks Over Knives. Gene asked if I’d like to make some desserts for the NYC book party of  How Not to Die, which he co-authored with Dr. Michael Greger, the physician behind the wildly popular website The book reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death. The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. How Not to Die examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America ― heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more ― and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches, freeing us to live healthier lives. I couldn’t put the book down, reading it cover to cover, underlining, highlighting and learning. Now I refer to it almost daily. While I have known personally known Dr. Greger and have followed his work for many years, I learned a lot, and am wild for the format of this book.

But back to the conundrum I felt when Gene asked about desserts for the How Not to Die party. “But it’s Dr. Greger.” Gene, “Well, Michael says once in a while treats in moderation are ok. It is a party after all!”

Chocolate DessertsI decided on the No Oil Added Chocolate Torte to Live For (the same cake I made for Rip and Jill Esselstyn’s wedding), Mini Gluten-Free Brownie Bites glazed with Bittersweet Ganache, each anointed with a heart-healthy walnut, Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles, and my brand new for the event, aforementioned How Not to Die Bites. The idea was to make a confection using many of the Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, which can be found in the book.


Fran With Dr GregerI used dates, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder, hemp, chia, and spices, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric. Did they get eaten as quickly as the chocolate desserts? Honest answer is no. Are they good? Honest answer yes! I went back to test the How Not to Die Bites again and changed a few things while measuring carefully. So here you go! Enjoy the not sweet, but zesty and good bites. Everyone should buy and read the book! Follow Dr Greger at and Gene at


How Not to Die Bites – FranCostigan.comHow Not To Die Bites for Michael Greger, MD

Makes 18 more of less 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls, and twice as many logs


  • 1/2 cup / 55 grams raw walnut halves
  • 5.5 ounces / 156 grams pitted Medjool dates (about 10 large)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch-process)
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons water, depending on relative dryness or moistness of mixtures
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds, more for coating
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • several grinds of black pepper

How Not to Die Bites –


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the walnuts, pitted dates, pumpkin seeds a few times until chopped and then process to a paste. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and process until combined.
  2. The mixture should stick together. Squeeze a little between your fingers to test. Add the water as follows: If the mixtures if very sticky, do not add any water. If not, add a little at a time. I like it shiny and moist and usually add a tablespoon.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the hemp, chia, and the spices. I suggest you put on food handling gloves since turmeric makes hands orange! Mix and press the seeds and spices into the paste.
  4. Put some hemp, cocoa, and spice in a shallow bowl to use as coating. You can always add more.
  5. Pinch off pieces to make balls the size you like; and roll to shape in your hands and drop into the hemp coating. When all of the bites are made, roll them around in the coating. (This recipes makes a rich tasting bite. If you want smaller taste, and don’t feel like rolling more balls, simply cut each in half and roll into a log.)
  6. Store in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. They’ll last a good long time if you don’t eat them all fast. Moderation is key.


Want to learn to bake like a vegan pro? Join me February 24th through 28th in New York City for my Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive©!

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