I’ve grown slightly weary of cooking full deal meals. My tendency these days is to prepare a big pot of soup or stew, a casserole or a piece of protein and some sides that I can call dinner for at least two or three nights. Everyone is on their own for breakfast or lunch.
Lately I have been eating small meals or snacks throughout the day. I call it “snackertainment”! I rarely wake up ravenous and as the day moves along my appetite picks up a bit. Fruit, cheese and crackers is a favorite at mid-day. It’s easy, quick and provides some simple variety. Leftovers is an easy choice as well.
This snack is one of my favorites. These dried fruit/nut balls are easy to make, come together quickly and can be adjusted to your preference/availability of ingredients. They are delicious, nutritious and provide a good hit of energy. I hope you enjoy making and eating them.
Almond Date Balls
Feel free to experiment with a variety of dried fruit, nuts, and spices, which offer a diverse range of nutritional benefits. Cardamom helps with digestion and lowers blood pressure. Almonds, another ingredient in this recipe, are high in minerals, and are approximately 72 percent monounsaturated (good) fat, which promotes the fluidity of cell membranes and enhances cellular communication and overall function. One of the joys of this recipe is that you can vary the ingredients in order to use what you already have in your cupboard. Don’t have almonds? Use walnuts or pecans instead. Don’t have raisins? Use dried cranberries or apricots.
Makes 12–20, depending on size (but you will want to make more!)
8 whole pitted dates
¼ cup raisins (you can used golden raisins or dried cranberries if you prefer)
½ cup raw whole almonds
1 teaspoon ghee (optional)
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon plus ground cardamom (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup ground coconut or almonds (or combination…can be lightly toasted if you prefer.)
Soak the dates and raisins in hot water for five minutes. In a food processor, grind the almonds, stopping before they become pasty. Drain the dates and raisins, saving the soaking water, and add to the food processor with the ghee (if using), honey, cardamom and vanilla.
Mix until the dried food is well blended, but be careful not to overblend or it will become a paste. You may need to use a little bit of the fruit-soaking water to get the right consistency, especially if you’re not using ghee.
Remove mixture from blender and roll into small balls. Roll each ball in either ground coconut or ground nuts. Refrigerate balls before serving; they will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at email@example.com.