After searching high and low, mixing and matching, and a seemingly futile number of attempts in the food processor, I have finally devised what I deem the “ultimate date ball.”
In my own experience, I have consumed a wide array of date balls. While they are a healthy alternative to processed sugar concoctions, I never feel justified in purchasing them from outside vendors due to the outrageous price tags that are often associated with them. All the more reason to research, test, and perfect my own variation in the comfort of my own kitchen.
Medjool dates, commonly referred to as “the diamond of dates” or “the crown jewel of dates”, boast the richest, caramel-like taste of all the dates, which is why they serve as the base of any date ball recipe. In addition to their distinct flavor, they are also rife in minerals (potassium and magnesium, which help regulate blood sugar, along with procuring nerve and muscle function) and fiber that contribute to optimal body function. Perhaps the best quality of dates is their inherent ability to satiate.
Any unsalted nut is a must in a date ball recipe, be it peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts. I used almonds, because they have more of a neutral taste, and because they paired nicely with the tablespoon of almond butter that I also added to the mix. The dryness of the unsalted almonds in this recipe plays off the viscosity of the almond butter, almost perfectly. The addition of almond butter also contributes to the binding of all the ingredients.
Unsweetened coconut gives the flavor a necessary lift, in tandem with the coconut oil. Rounding out my ingredients were vanilla extract (small, but so mighty), honey (helps with binding as well as moistness), and sea salt (to enhance the already established favors).
They are relatively caloric, but contain nothing but healthy, body-benefitting ingredients. These are ideal for the winter months when you need a lift, but don’t want the accompanying crash that comes with processed sugar. Throw one in your lunch box (I’m 27 and I have one – no shame) or pop one in your mouth after dinner. Our bodies truly want to ingest real, whole foods and when we do, our bodies respond (or don’t respond by overindulging) accordingly. This recipe yields 15-17 smaller-sized date balls and will further satisfy your sweet tooth well through the winter months.
These date balls will last all week, if – and only if – you play your cards right.
The Ultimate Date Balls
Yields 15-17 small date balls (about 150 calories each)
1 c. unsalted almonds, toasted
½ cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
16 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp. unsalted almond butter
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. honey
1 tbsp. hemp or chia seeds, (optional)
¼ tsp. sea salt
Food process (or pulse in a blender) toasted almonds and coconut first, followed by the remaining ingredients. Shape and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to retain shape. Sprinkle a bit more shredded coconut over the formed date ball for garnish.
A food processor is the best means for which to make these date balls. If you do use a blender, make sure to use the pulse feature.