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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Date Balls

Yesterday, in my blog post about chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, I mentioned that I don't get too into baking for the holidays. Yet, here I am, about to write about another holiday sweet. Today's delight is a bit healthier. It's entirely vegan and raw. I'm writing about date balls!

Medjool dates arrive to our house every year in our CSA box, and often, I don't know what to do with them. They are deliciously sweet and are packed with nutrients (weight for weight more potassium than bananas,  full of fiber, good B-12 complex vitamins...and fat-free), but their caloric make-up is high (65 per one Medjool date). A recipe for Date Balls came with our CSA box this week, and since we're on a running kick in our house, the timing for this recipe seemed perfect. Plus, what a wonderfully healthy addition to the holiday sweet table. Leftovers from there will serve as energy boosts before some big runs or snowshoe adventures in the upcoming weeks.

The recipe couldn't be simpler, and the amount of ingredients is small. Most of the ingredients cannot be bought locally here in Wisconsin, but dates and oranges are in season right now in other places.

1.5 cups of pitted dates
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
3 Tbs. of cocoa powder
optional: 1 tsp. of espresso powder
optional: 1 tsp. of orange zest  

To cover date balls, you could just use one of these or you could make a variety:
coconut flakes
toasted sesame seeds
toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts
toasted and finely chopped pistachios
...and I tried Eden Organic Seaweed Gomasio (Sesame Seeds, Seaweed, & Sea Salt) for some of the balls

1. Pit the dates.

2. Mix the pitted dates, the 1/4 cup of coconut, the cocoa powder, and the optional ingredients (if you're using them) in a food processor. Mix until the mixture forms into a ball. If it is too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time. If it is too wet, add more coconut.

3. Put the date ball coverings into their own bowls.
Form 1-inch or smaller balls of the date mixture in your hand, and then roll them in the desired coverings. I got creative here and did some simple, one-covering balls and some mixed.
4. Refrigerate.

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