Of all the “Real Food” snacks I’ve used for fueling, this one is my favorite! I’m serious, check out those ingredients!!! Dates, walnuts, peanut butter, cacao… (Runners, this post is customized for you, so check out ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS below.) While this recipe is modifiable, I suggest trying it just like it is…for the flavor and the benefits! If you’re a traveling runner and racer, these pack nicely. Freeze them overnight and throw them in your bag (or cooler).
These are full of dates, but if you’re not a runner or athlete, dates are still a safe choice. They are a perfectly healthy, real food snack that are packed with nutrients. Even though they’re high in natural sugar, they have a low Glycemic Index with many health benefits. As with anything else, moderation is key! It’s likely you’ll need only one anyway to satisfy that sweet tooth.
If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, go ahead and add them to your grocery list because you’ll be glad you did. Trust me! If you don’t, well…I’m sorry that you’ll miss out on this fuzzy ball of goodness!!! When you take your first bite, be sure to enjoy all the wonderful flavors as they come together!
I truly hope you enjoy these little guys as much as we do!
ON MY SCALE, THIS RECIPE IS A 9 OUT OF 10!
- Real Food – YES
- Gluten-free – YES
- Vegan – YES
- Quick – No (They do not take long, but it does take time to roll the balls. The size determines how many you roll. They are a little messy due to rolling. They are still fairly quick and totally worth it!!!!!!)
- Easy – YES
- Accessible Ingredients – YES (If you don’t have access to dried cherries, you can use dried cranberries.)
- Modifiable – YES
- Healthy Fats – YES
- Plant-based Protein – YES
- Full of fiber – YES
ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS:
Dates. Dates are a natural sweetener and carry nutrients that are great for all of us. They’re also a great snack that’s easy and healthful.
- Runners…Dates are easy to grab, easy to digest, and packed with slow burning carbs. Even though they’re full of sugar (AKA fuel), they have a low Glycemic Index (GI) because of the natural plant fiber, which helps slow down sugar absorption giving us a steady source of energy. Dates could be considered a little superfood and are one of the best sources of potassium, which can prevent and help muscle cramps and weakness. A serving (two dates) gives us more calories and sugars (natural sugars at that) than any of the gels on Runner’s World 2018 top 11 energy gels.
Walnuts. Walnuts are one of my favorites. Like other nuts, they’re filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
- Runners…Walnuts are a great source of alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, which can improve arteries and bones by decreasing inflammation, which is a perk for runners, especially after an injury.
Cherries. Cherries have many benefits that are great for everyone: they are a great source of vitamin C and fiber, can improve brain function, and are a natural source of melatonin, which is the main hormone that helps us sleep. (You can replace with dried cranberries.)
- Runners…Cherries are full of anthocyancins, which are a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, so they can reduce muscle soreness after those long runs and races. The anthocycanins are also beneficial for heart health.
Peanut Butter. You can use any nut butter for this recipe. I’ve used almond and peanut butter, and they’re both great. Whichever you use, keep it clean, which means read the ingredient list. It shouldn’t contain a lot of crap. It should include the nut, and maybe salt. When shopping at the supermarket, it’s easier to find clean peanut butter than it is clean almond butter, so be prepared. Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter is a safe bet and is accessible. If you’re at a health food store, you’ll have more options, and some are quite affordable.
- Runners…Peanut butter keeps you full longer helping fuel your runs past the quick energy you receive in the form of carbs. Carbs are necessary, but as we know, they don’t last as long, so they’re great paired with peanut butter. The peanut butter provides fat, protein, and fiber that give us a slow release of energy.
Cacaco. Cacao, which is the raw form of cocoa, has many benefits. Cacao helps trigger the release of feel-good endorphins which give you mental energy and enhance your mood. Yes, please! Cacao is an amazing source of magnesium, which is a vital mineral most of us are deficient in, which matters. Magnesium deficiency can cause weakness, irritability, and anxiousness, so a little extra can go a long way. The last thing I’ll mention because it’s near and dear to my heart is that cacao can stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters that activate positive emotions – it can potentially help with depression.
- Runners…It contains theobromine, which is a natural stimulant giving you a boost of energy, as well as stimulates the nervous system and dilates the blood vessels.
Freshly Ground Coffee Beans. I like the caffeine in these, as well as the flavor it adds. The “freshly” ground is key in this recipe.
- Runners…We all know what caffeine does, and as for runners, some like it and some don’t. If you’re not a fan, leave it out. Although, I haven’t tried it that way – taste or energy. You could always try decaf.
Pink Salt. The salt is for flavor.
- Runners…The electrolytes are a bonus since you’ll lose sodium during your long runs and races.
SELECTING THE EQUIPMENT:
- Large Food Processor
- Measuring Cup & Spoons
- Baking Sheet (to toast coconut flakes)
- 14 Medjool dates (remove seeds if not pitted)
- 1 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)
- 1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
- ¼ cup clean peanut or almond butter
- 1 Tablespoon of cacao powder
- 2 Tablespoon freshly ground coffee beans
- ¼ teaspoon pink salt
- ½ cup toasted1 unsweetened dried coconut flakes
- Combine all the ingredients (except coconut) in a food processor. Pulse 5-10 times to chop all the ingredients, then process on high for a couple minutes until the mixture is wet and clumpy (see pic above). You may need to use a spatula to scrape sides of processor.
- Roll bite-size balls (or whatever size you desire), then roll the balls through the toasted coconut. (I used a bowl to roll the balls, which is pictured above).
- Place in airtight container and place container in refrigerator (or freezer to keep longer).
- Enjoy one or a few for a pre or post-run snack (or just a pick-me-up)!
1Toasted Coconut – Preheat oven to 325 degree. Spread coconut flakes on baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Stir after a few minutes to ensure even toasting.
HAPPY & HEALTHY