Peanut Butter Balls and Date & Nut Balls: A high energy afternoon snack.

I can’t tell you how long I agonized over the somewhat straightforward and boring title of this blog.  I mean, I really tried to come up with something interesting and witty that included the words “nut”, “balls”, “date”, “afternoon snack” and “butter”.  You can see where my mind is going here and also why I’ve been singing…

“Skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight….” (a la Will Farrell in Anchorman)

But alas, creativity failed me and I decided it was time to just write the damn blog post and send it out into the world.

Both of these recipes are no-cook recipes that have the potential for endless variation.  I made the basic recipes for this post, but believe me, I have tried it many other ways and I am sure you can come up with exactly what you want to try (or really just incorporate whatever is in your pantry).  I wanted to come up with something that was an easy finger food for Simon to eat, that was also high in SOMETHING healthy, could be stored for a long time, and would be easy to make.

My first recipe was inspired for a homemade Larabar recipe I pinned onto Pinterest.  If you have been living under a rock and haven’t seen Larabars, they are these delicious date, nut and fruit bars that cost you an arm and a leg to buy.  But they are GOOD, healthy, and high energy.  Anyways, I tried the recipe and couldn’t make them form into bars, so BAM, my date balls were born.  With a few adjustments I came up with the following:

Date and Nut Balls:

1.5c pitted whole dates

1c nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts cashews, and your choice of raw or toasted, salted, sweet, etc)

1/4c shredded coconut (sweet or unsweet)

I bought the dates at Costco for $7.99.  I saw a package for half this amount at HEB today for $6.99. Score one for Costco.

Add nuts to food processor and chop the ever living hell out of them.  For more texture, chop less, but Simon tends to not chew things thoroughly, he is still learning about his molars, so the smaller the more likely he will digest it and not just pass it through.

Add dates and coconut.

Run the food processor until everything is thoroughly chopped.  It will start to stick together and rotate around the bowl as the blade is running, almost like a dough, but looser.  That’s when you know it’s ready.

Grab a handful and roll it into balls about 1″ in diameter (or whatever you feel is an appropriate size, I find this is about two bites for me).  If it sticks to your hands, spray them with a touch of Pam cooking spray, then just wash with soapy water afterwards.

Give your handy tasted tester a bite.

Or two.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in a fridge for a slightly more solid ball.  All ingredients are stable at room temp, so they should be ok on the counter.

What’s healthy? Well, dates are super high in potassium and the nuts are a good source of protein. This is a very high energy snack that will keep my little man running until dinner.

I’ve seen variations on the internet that include cocoa powder, vanilla, dried fruit and whatever else you want to throw in there like flax seed. Seriously, just use enough dates to make it all stick together and you can use whatever you want!

My second recipe is something my mother used to make for me as a child ALL THE TIME.  In fact, I still make them as an adult and was making them for myself before Simon could even eat peanuts. This is the basic recipe, but I have seen others around with variations.

Peanut Butter Balls

1c peanut butter

3T powdered milk

3T wheat germ

2T honey

optional: ground or whole flax seed, chocolate chips, raw rolled oats, raisins, etc.

The quantities vary depending on your peanut butter.  100% peanut butter tends to be runny whereas JIF or Peter Pan is more homogenized and solid.  So you will have to play with how much of the wheat germ and powdered milk you add.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir.  When it reaches proper consistency you should be able to roll it into a ball in your hand without it sticking everywhere.

Taste test.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge.  Wheat germ will go rancid at room temp, so it must be refrigerated.  I sprinkled the ones above with a tiny bit of powdered sugar.
What’s healthy? Peanuts are high in protein, one of the things it’s hard to get Simon to eat.  Wheat germ is high in iron and fiber, and the powdered milk has calcium and vitamin D.  So all in all it’s a good, high energy snack for the monkey.  Or, as it turned out the day I made this, it makes a good lunch AND dinner, because he refused to eat anything else all day.

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