These sneaky little chocolate almond date balls are a delicious healthy snack disguised as dessert. They have absolutely NO added sugar, so you can feel good about saying yes when your kids ask for “just one more.”
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My four-year-old son LOVES to watch The Great British Baking Show with me. I’m a lucky mom. It all started one day when he wandered out of quiet time while I was folding laundry and dreaming of traveling to Europe.
“What are they doing, Mom?” he asked, probably partly out of genuine interest and partly in an attempt to distract me from sending him back to his room.
“They’re cooking.” I answered. “It’s a competition where they make all different kinds of food and the judges decide who is the best.”
He was intrigued and kept asking questions. I didn’t have the energy that day to send him back to quiet time, and I was amused by his interest in a show that didn’t involve cartoon characters… so I let him snuggle on the couch and watch with me.
It cracked me up how he watched with rapt attention, making comments like, “That looks really good!” and “Mom, we should make that sometime.”
That was the beginning of his love of cooking, and he hasn’t looked back. For the past several months, he has been my little sous chef: helping me with dinner, making muffins for morning snacks, trying to create his own recipes…
In fact, he is the very proud inventor of an original recipe that he dubbed “old salad cake”. Despite the name, it was actually edible. Who knew?
I love that he’s so interested in cooking, and I’m trying to find ways to encourage this new hobby. Since most of his favorite activities involve wrestling and tackling bad guys, I’m really on board with the whole cooking thing.
These chocolate date balls are one of the creations we have made together recently. My kids have serious sweet tooths (sweet teeth???), so I’ve been trying to find healthier ways to satisfy their sugar cravings.
I have been making granola bites for years, and my family loves them. They’re pretty healthy as is, but I wanted to see if I could make a similar snack food with absolutely NO added sugar. Enter DATE BALLS!
Dates seem to be all the rage these days, and for good reason. They are full of fiber, antioxidants, as well as several vitamins and minerals. Admittedly, they still have their fair share of calories, but they are a great sugar substitute when used in moderation. Basically, they are healthier than using sugar, but you probably shouldn’t eat the entire batch of date balls in one sitting.
And, warning, it WILL be tempting to do so.
These chocolate almond date balls are super simple to make. Simply pit and soak your dates for a few minutes, combine them with a few other easy-to-find ingredients, and blend everything together in a food processor or blender. I used my Vitamix (my birthday present to myself…love it!), and it worked like a charm.
This is what your mixture should look like when it’s done.At first, the mixture might not seem like it will hold together well, but if you squeeze it together and roll gently, the balls should come together.
Also, if your hands get sticky in the process of shaping, and you notice the balls aren’t coming together as nicely anymore, wash your hands before continuing. Sticky hands pull the balls apart. Also, try rubbing a little coconut oil on your palms to prevent sticking.
In the end, you will get these delicious little beauties! The flavors are reminiscent of an Almond Joy, but with a totally different, denser texture.
Ready to indulge without regrets? Here’s the recipe…
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup pitted dates (I used 10 Medjool dates)
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (more for rolling if desired)
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt (just a pinch)
- 1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
- Slice dates and remove the pits. Then, soak dates in water for 10-15 minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients. (This isn’t strictly necessary, but it can help add a bit of moisture to the mixture and make it easier to get your date balls to stick together. Make sure to drain the water before adding the dates to your mixture.)
- Grind almonds in a food processor or powerful blender (I used my Vitamix for this recipe).
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you have a uniform mixture. Don’t overmix though because it will make your mixture oily. If it seems too dry, you can add a bit more coconut oil. It should look like the photo above.
- Remove mixture from the blender and shape into small balls. At first, the mixture might not seem like it will hold together well, but if you squeeze it together and roll gently, the balls should come together.
- If desired, you can roll the balls in additional coconut flakes (I recommend blending the flakes slightly so they are smaller pieces and coat the balls better).
- Eat them immediately, or store them in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.
Source: Recipe adapted from Primal Palate. I added the chia and flax seed for an extra healthy boost, and simplified the prep method.