Almond Date Balls and “I Will Not Diet”

My friend Molly McCaffrey writes a blog called “I Will Not Diet. No, it isn’t a gluttonous free-for-all. She focuses on healthy eating and exercise as a lifestyle, without falling prey to yo-yo fad diets. She also explores our culture’s attitude toward curvy women. It is insightful, informative and often humorous — a good read for sure.

She teaches English and creative writing at Western Kentucky University and September means back to school. For Molly, school means long hours and stressful days — a bad combination when you are trying to eat healthy. She is able to ward off the potential quick fix of a fast-food burger, by following a simple motto — be prepared.

Knowing that her weeknights will be hectic, Molly and her husband do their cooking on the weekend. They each make a big meal and parse it out for the week. They cook once, but make enough to have four healthy ready-made meals during the week. No need to order out for pizza.

She is also prepared when it comes to snacks. Molly finds that if she has a healthy snack every couple of hours, she can avoid junk food during the day, and when she gets home in the evening, she isn’t famished, so she eats a more sensible dinner.

Molly brings small snacks to work. Her snacks range from a piece of cheese and an apple or container of yogurt to a fancy cottage cheese dip with raw vegetables like red peppers, cucumbers and carrots. She makes the cheese dip often. It’s a Moosewood Cookbook recipe and is made by blending cottage cheese, feta, dill and green onions. Sounds like something good to have on hand. When you have easy access to healthy food, you are less likely to be tempted by the processed junk from the vending machine.

I am a big snacker myself, so I decided to experiment with various nut and granola bars. I wanted something easy to eat on the go and a bar fit that bill. The nut bar recipe I made was delicious, but was certainly not a bar. The crumbly mixture was excellent as a yogurt topping, but wasn’t the portable snack I wanted.

The granola bars were just OK, nothing too special, but they were portable. I’ll need to work on both of those recipes a bit more before they will be ready for prime time. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I switched my attention to other healthy homemade snacks.

Date balls were easy and delicious. I don’t know why I’m just discovering them now. You do need a food processor, but no oven is required. They have about 60 calories each. The good thing is those calories are comprised of all nutrient-dense ingredients. Plus it only takes one or two to satisfy my sweet tooth. Candy bars usually check in at about 250 calories, with rarely anything of nutritional value (dark chocolate, containing antioxidants, is the exception).

I made the date balls with almonds. Experiment with other nuts. Next time I plan to try pistachios.

Molly has it right. Instead of not allowing yourself to snack between meals, be prepared with healthy snacks and keep your change out of those vending machines!

Almond Date Balls

Ingredients:
2 cups California dates, pitted
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
1/4 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut (look for organic coconut with “coconut” as the only ingredient)

Method:

  • Pulse dates, almonds, almond extract and maple syrup in a food processor until the mixture forms a ball and easily sticks together.
  • Roll into balls and then roll in dried coconut to coat.

That’s it. Pretty darn easy!

Makes 25 small balls. Store in the fridge.