Hands up, who finds it difficult to satisfy their sweet tooth without feeling guilty?
I know I do. Well, I did I should say. But then I discovered this recipe for date and nut energy balls, and I just had to share it with you! Get this: Not only are they yummy, but they also contain ingredients that, in moderation, work wonders for your bone health! (More on that in just a moment).
These energy balls are the perfect after-dinner treat to satisfy those sweet cravings (in moderation of course). What’s more, they lend themselves to batch preparation, so you can wow your friends by offering them as a dinner party gift… If you can bring yourself to give them away that is!
I actually like to eat a couple of these energy balls before I exercise too– as the name suggests, they’re great for that little boost of energy you need to eek out one more repetition. So let’s get to it!
- 2 cups of organic* dates, pitted
- 1 cup of organic raw nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and almonds all work, but you can experiment with whichever nuts you like). Or if you love peanuts, you can substitute the nuts for 1 cup of organic peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons of organic hemp seeds
- 2-3 tablespoons of organic cocoa (or if you’re like me and don’t like chocolate, try organic carob powder)
- 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds
- ½ cup of organic, unsweetened coconut, shredded
- 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract
- A pinch of sea salt
Toppings (you can use one, all, or a combination of a few of these!)
- Powder made from freeze-dried organic berries or fruits (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or mango for example.) To make the powder, pulverize the berries or fruit in a coffee bean grinder or blender. Or you can put the berries or fruits between 2 sheets of parchment paper and grind them into powder using a rolling pin
- Organic matcha powder
- Mini chocolate or carob chips or cacao nibs
- Unsweetened shredded or flaked organic coconut, raw or toasted
- Toasted organic seeds or nuts, finely chopped (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds for example)
* You may notice I specify most of the ingredients for this recipe be organic. Why? Because lots of inorganic produce carries toxic pesticide residues. And they’re harmful to your bones and your overall health! You can read more about it in our “EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists” post.
- Put the dates in a glass bowl, cover them with cool water, and leave them to soak for at least one hour– or ideally overnight.
- If you do soak the dates overnight, you can soak the nuts overnight too. It’ll make them more digestible!
- Drain the dates (and nuts if you soaked them too) thoroughly.
- Add the nuts, dates, coconut, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cocoa or carob powder, salt, and vanilla extract. Continue to process the mixture until everything is very well blended. Tip: You’re aiming for a thick, sticky dough.
- The longer you blend the mixture (and the more powerful your food processor is), the smoother the dough and the softer your energy balls will be. If you prefer firmer energy balls, stop blending as soon as the mixture holds together when you roll a tablespoon of it between your palms to form a ball.
- If you prefer softer energy balls but your dough is too sticky to roll, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes and try again. Rolling your balls with damp hands will also help.
- Use a tablespoon to scoop your dough out of the food processor and form the balls with your hands. One full tablespoon of dough is about the right amount for one energy ball.
- Place the balls on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper.
- Roll the energy balls in your chosen toppings (or a combination of them–for example berry powder plus coconut, chopped seeds or nuts plus chocolate chips) and transfer them to an airtight container lined with parchment paper you can store in the fridge or freezer.
- I use a rectangular glass container with a glass lid. If you have to use plastic, place a piece of parchment paper beneath and on top of your energy balls to separate them from the plastic.
- Your energy balls will keep in the fridge for 10 days or in the freezer for months (my husband Joe makes sure that they don’t stick around for that long though!)
Recipe makes 50 servings
|Per 1 serving (energy ball)||Amount|
|Total Fat||2-3 g (3 if you roll your energy balls in seeds, nuts, coconut, or fruit powder)|
|Sugar||3-4 g (4 if you roll your energy balls in chocolate or carob chips)|
The Ingredients Your Bones Will Love
As I alluded to earlier, these energy balls satisfy more than just your taste buds… Two ingredients, in particular, provide several health perks, and that includes some bone health benefits!
There’s more to the humble date than first meets the eye. See, dates contain modest amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. All of which are necessary nutrients for optimal bone health. That’s a great bonus when you use dates sparingly in recipes like this one, but they shouldn’t become your go-to bone healthy snack. They contain a lot of sugar (albeit natural sugar), so moderation is key.
The high level of fiber in dates means they help promote healthy, regular bowel movements too.
What’s more, dates have a low glycemic index value. One study shows five popular varieties of date (fara’d, lulu, bo ma’an, dabbas, khalas) have glycemic index values ranging from 46-55. For reference, a glycemic index of 55 or below is considered low.
A low glycemic index means your body breaks down the carbohydrates in that food slowly and takes a long time to convert them to glucose– the sugar your body uses for energy. So foods with a low glycemic index are far better for controlling your blood sugar levels than foods with high glycemic indexes like refined sugar products and bread! In fact, dates are a great alternative for refined white sugar in any recipe! It’s super easy if you have date paste too– just swap out the required value of sugar for the same amount of date paste.
But remember, while dates are a healthier alternative to refined sugar, you should still enjoy them in moderation. Natural sugar is still sugar after all!
I suggested a few types of nuts in the ingredients list, but you can try pretty much any type of nut you like with this recipe (my favorite so far is walnuts.) And whichever you choose, you can’t go far wrong. See, raw nuts provide a few powerful health benefits…
Obviously there are a whole host of nuts to choose from, but generally speaking raw nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy fat.
And the main benefit raw nuts provide your bones is combating inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting and healing itself. But overexposure to pro-inflammatory foods like refined sugars and refined grains, and environmental toxins can confuse your inflammatory response into attacking healthy cells and tissues. This is chronic inflammation. And it’s bad news for your bones because chronic inflammation inhibits your bone-forming osteoblasts and cranks up the activity of your bone-resorbing osteoclasts!
But just like dates, you should enjoy raw nuts in moderation.
Let Me Know How Your Energy Balls Turn Out!
So there you have it! I hope you’ll enjoy my energy ball recipe and share it with your friends. Experiment with the toppings until you find your all-time favorite, and please let me know how your energy balls turn out in the comments section below.