Coco-Nut Date Balls

As I sit here and type this post with walnut crumbs in my fingernails and the hint of coconut on my breath, I’m excited. I’m excited to share this recipe and I’m excited for you to try it… because I know you will! It’s too easy not to. If you’re getting bored with your post-workout smoothie or your morning snack that usually consists of a granola bar, these deliciously satisfying date & nut balls are for you.

Deliciously creamy and slightly crunchy nut & date balls with a hint of coconut flavor.
Deliciously creamy and slightly crunchy nut & date balls with a hint of coconut flavor.

I was first introduced to these by my good friend and neighbor at the time, when we lived in Colorado, and I was about 20 months pregnant with Laurel, (okay that was an exaggeration but let’s just say she was overdue). My friend walked over to say Hi as she often did when she took her daily stroll with her infant son, but this time she had a clear container in her hand. Little did I know at the time that the container she was holding was full of the most glorious little treats I’ve ever laid my taste buds on.

My friend “instructed” me to eat them in order to encourage my body to naturally progress into labor. Ask any midwife or doula about dates during pregnancy and they’ll likely know what you’re talking about. An old wives tale? Well, although there is really no firm scientific recommendation on the topic of dates supporting pregnancy or labor, there is some compelling data to support a potential relationship. All I knew was that my friend brought me a snack and I was going to eat it because I was pregnant and hungry.

I took the first bite of one of those balls and my eyes grew wide and my mouth started to water. For a moment I wondered if there was a risk of going into labor right there in my kitchen if I ate the date balls too fast. I decided it was worth the risk and I ate the entire container.

Fast forward some time now that Laurel has successfully been born and I scheme different reasons to make these date balls. Other than the fact that they’re delicious, they’re also a perfect snack for pregnant and non-pregnant people alike, including your toddler! Let’s look at the ingredients:

Dates • full of fiber, natural sugar (energy), magnesium, potassium, and folate- all very important nutrients for kids, active adults, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Walnuts • loaded with Vitamin E, antioxidants, potassium, and omega-3s. I keep mine in the freezer due to their glorious fat content.

Coconut oil • delicious flavor, a vegan alternative to butter that contains saturated fats which provide energy & aid in hormone production.

organic dates, walnuts, and coconut oil for labor inducing snack.
Dates + walnuts + coconut oil = a winning combination.

To make this recipe, throw your dates into the food processor first. I keep my dates in the refrigerator so they tend to be firm, which is why I like to let them get a little head start in the processor before adding the other ingredients. Process until dates are broken apart as shown below.

dateballsdates2

Add the walnuts and coconut oil (no need to melt first) and process until a mealy texture develops, as shown below. You can really tailor the texture to your liking at this point, whether you prefer bigger chunks versus smaller will determine how long you process the ingredients. I usually go for about 15-20 seconds on High.

dateballsmix

Now pop open the lid to your processor and take a big whiff.. yummm! Remove the blade before you scoop these bad boys into your hands for rolling. Again, personal preference on the size you choose to make your balls. I usually make a variety, some small I can just pop in my mouth, others larger I can take bites from. Laurel prefers the smaller ones. The sky’s the limit!

dateballsdone

Coco-Nut Date Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened, dried pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsalted walnuts (I use raw)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Place the dates into your food processor and process until broken apart.
  2. Add the walnuts and oil and process until a chunky/mealy texture develops, about 15-20 seconds.
  3. Scoop desired amount into your hand and form into balls.
  4. Consume at room temperature or store in fridge and eat cold (my preferred method).
  5. Option: Make a double or triple batch and freeze your coconut date balls for up to 2 weeks (if you can wait that long to eat them).

Recipe makes about 12, 1-inch balls.

Recipe from Enso: Motherhood Revolution

Here’s Why Chia Seed Pudding is an Ideal Breakfast for the non-Breakfast Eater

When I discovered chia seed pudding, I think my life changed. Okay maybe I’m being a little dramatic. The fact that I can easily prep something at night and enjoy it in the morning with the only effort being unscrewing the lid to a mason jar makes me giddy. I’m also a huge “texture person” (is that a thing?) so I drool over its creamy texture. I love adding crunchy toppings to play off the creaminess of the pudding. By now, I’ve probably made chia seed pudding 50 different ways, all of which were delicious and kid friendly!

I’ve counseled numerous people that tell me they skip breakfast for various reasons. The most common reason I hear is that they are often rushed in the morning, trying to get to work on time. Also very common is that many people don’t feel hungry in the morning – sometimes even the thought of food makes them nauseous. I’m here to tell you that if you’re one of these people, I would encourage you to start eating breakfast. You might have to force it at first, but eventually you will start to wake up hungry. Also consider eating dinner earlier in the evening. Eating late at night or right before bed could impede your morning hunger.

Eating breakfast is beneficial in so many ways, both physically and mentally. While you’re sleeping and not eating, your body has systems in place to keep your blood sugar stable, thank you liver. When you wake up, you want to tell your body that you can control your blood sugar now, instead of keeping yourself on autopilot. You do this by eating, preferably within an hour of waking up. Your blood sugar affects everything, including your mood, energy, alertness, and appetite. You’ve probably heard the term “hangry” (hungry+angry), right? If you’re someone who typically gets hangry before meals, it’s likely your blood sugar speaking to you. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can make it hard for some people to lose weight, especially those with insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or diabetes.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal, hence this recipe. The important thing is that your breakfast includes both carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates are what stabilize your blood sugar, while the protein helps keep it stable for longer. The reason chia seeds fit the bill for a well-rounded breakfast is because they contain both carbohydrates and protein, with 11 grams of fiber per serving to boot!

Chia seeds also contain calcium, iron, and essential fatty acids. Due to their fat content, its best to store them in the refrigerator or freezer so they don’t turn rancid. You’ll know your seeds are rancid if they smell “off” or slightly fishy. The soluble fiber in chia seeds give them the unique ability to “gel” when added to liquid. This type of fiber also helps to lower cholesterol and, wouldn’t you know it, stabilize blood sugar.

seeds
The chia seed is a nutritional powerhouse!

The reason I use cow’s milk in this recipe is to bump up the protein a bit. Keep in mind if you use a milk like almond milk with little protein, you could pair your pudding with some eggs, or perhaps a scoop of peanut butter, or even nuts to help keep you satiated longer. You can easily make this recipe vegan by using any plant-based milk you like.

chia_ingredients
4 ingredients for chia seed pudding

Making this recipe in a jar with a lid makes prep a breeze. You literally just add your ingredients, screw on the lid, and shake. A jar is also portable, which means you can take this with you to work or school without worrying about spilling. I usually just eat the pudding straight out of the jar so I don’t have a separate bowl to wash. High five!

I think the pure maple syrup is crucial for taste in this recipe. I’ve tried it with “pancake syrup” and it wasn’t the same. Vanilla is added for obvious reasons, but optional if you don’t like it. If you’re interested in making a chocolate version, add 1-2 tsp cacao powder before you shake your jar. I use Navita cacao powder. I prefer cacao powder to traditional cocoa powder due to its naturally high magnesium and potassium content. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll appreciate cacao’s chocolate flavor without the added sugar.

A jar of chia seed pudding. A jar with a lid is essential for shaking your ingredients and storing overnight.
A jar with a lid is essential for shaking your ingredients and storing overnight.

The topping options are endless with chia seed pudding. I’ve topped mine with mango, strawberries, coconut flakes, banana, and cinnamon, but not all at the same time. Come to think of it, that might actually be delicious. What toppings will you try?! Let me know in the comments section if you’ve found a delicious new combination!

Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk (I use whole cow’s milk)
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Tip: for a chocolate version, add 1-2 tsp cacao powder

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a large jar with a lid. Shake jar and hips vigorously for 5-10 seconds.
  2. If possible, in about 30 minutes, shake jar vigorously again for 5-10 seconds. This step is not critical, but it helps prevent lumps from forming.
  3. Let sit in fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning with your favorite toppings!

My favorite toppings include: coconut flakes, dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, and/or berries.

Adapted from: Oh She Glows

Rice Cake Revamped

If I lost you at the title please stay with me. I know rice cakes can seem like a snack your grandmother might have enjoyed back in the day, but they’ve made a comeback. I always have rice cakes in my pantry because they’re a simple and crunchy snack for when I’m feeling hungry and lazy. Rice cakes themselves are incredibly crunchy, which hits the spot when you’re craving something you really just want to chew with your mouth open. It’s a nice change from carrots and hummus, believe me.

I personally prefer unsalted rice cakes so I can add some peanut butter and get a little creamy, salty combo that way. I never eat a rice cake without cinnamon either. My classic recipe is below, but feel free to experiment with whatever toppings or flavors you like best.

Rice Cake Revamped

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 rice cakes, I like these
  • 1-2 T peanut butter or almond butter
  • Dash of cinnamon

Optional topping include: raisins, dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, chia seeds, cacao powder

Directions:

  1. Spread peanut butter or almond butter evenly on rice cake(s). Sprinkle with cinnamon and add desired toppings. Enjoy!