Call them Date Balls. Peanut Butter Balls. I-don't-want-to-pay-for-a-lara-bar-Balls. Toddler-Meltdown-Prevention-Insurance. Whatever you nickname them, this simple combination of dried fruit and nuts is protein packed, sweet, portable, and yummy. And so easy to make, you'll never buy a packaged snack bar again.
We took some to the beach on Monday. But Lupine is prone to dropping them on the sandy blanket. And I am prone to picking up her dropped bits of food and absentmindedly popping it into my mouth. Those were no longer Date Balls – those were Sand Balls. It's a mistake you only make once. Consider yourself warned.
So here is a recipe for you. (No sand included.) Flavor combination ideas are at the bottom of the post.
Homemade Date Balls
1/3 C nuts
1/2 C dates
1/3 C nut butter
1/4 C additional goodies (coconut, other dried fruit, carob chips, etc.)
Place nuts in food processor and turn on. (It's painfully loud. Your daughter will cover her ears. Mine does anyway.) When they look like the photo below they are plenty chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
(If you choose cashews or peanuts your nut powder will be oilier than the Brazil nuts shown below. That's okay. Just go for finely chopped, just this side of becoming nut butter.)
Repeat ear covering noisy chopping with dates. Do pit them before you chop or it will be regrettable. Chop until they look at least this chopped. More chopping will yield a big sticky ball of dates which is fine too.
Return the nuts to the food processor with the dates and continue chopping until the mixture is uniform. Add nut butter. Turn on machine and process for a minute until it is well combined. If it sticks to the side of the food processor turn it off, open and move it around a bit with a spoon. Then have at it again. It should look similar to the photo below.
Add your additional mix-ins now, and briefly run food processor to combine and chop a bit.
This is the best part for my kids (perhaps because I have finally shut off that painfully loud food processor, but likely because it is so tactile.) Taking approximately 1 Tb. pinches of the "dough", roll into balls with clean hands. Alternatively you can make "cookies" by pressing the balls flat, or or bars by pressing into a small rectangular glass pan and cutting with a spatula.
We drop these into a mason jar or bento box and away we go!
Favorite flavors around here are:
Peanut Butter Cookie (dates, hazelnuts or Brazil nuts, peanut butter, and optional chocolate chips)
Cherry Pecan (dates, pecans, almond butter and dried tart cherries)
Chili Chocolate (dates, almond butter, almonds, a pinch of chili powder and 2 tsp cocoa powder)
Cashew Goji (dates, cashew butter, cashews, and goji berries rolled in coconut)
What combinations can you dream up?