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A Sweet and Tasty Dessert – Dates Balls

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Craving something sweet and tasty without compromising your family’s diet of fresh foods and limited added sugars? Why not try date balls? With their 6 all-natural ingredients and simple, no-cook preparation, they are a quick and easy treat to whip up for you and your loved ones. I make them for my book club gatherings or when bringing dessert to friends – they are always a hit! Plus kids love to help shape the mixture into balls and bonus they can eat the raw batter!

The date balls’ gooey insides, reminiscent of the center of freshly baked brownies, will satisfy your sweet tooth, while the subtle crunch from their sesame coconut coating will really give you something to sink your teeth into. Not only that, but the dates will also provide your body with some beneficial nutrients – take that candy bar! Despite their sweet flavor and high content of natural sugars, dates are nothing like your average sweet treat. In fact, due to their fructose content and their high amounts of dietary fiber in the form of pectin, many date varieties, including Mejdool (my first choice), Fara’d, Lulu, Bo ma’an, Dabbas, and Khalas, are low in glycemic index (GI). (1) Glycemic index refers to how much a food impacts your blood sugar, meaning these little date dynamos won’t lead to an energy crash the way other sugary treats might.  Dates are also high in phytochemicals, non-nutritive compounds known for their protective qualities against chronic diseases. (2) Together with their 15 minerals, and at least 6 different vitamins, these balls are not only a treat for your tongue but a gift to your whole body!

So what are you waiting for? Set a “date” to make and enjoy this sweet and simple, naturally good-for-you dessert!

Ingredients for food processor:

  • 16 oz dates (remove seeds)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

Ingredients for coating:

  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  1. Remove seeds from dates –  place in food processor and blend
  2. Add in ½ cup cocoa, ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
  3. Blend, periodically stopping and pushing ingredients down with spatula. Likely it will mix until it becomes one big date ball.
  4. Place wax paper on a plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds and shredded unsweetened coconut.
  5. Make small date (about 1 1/4” each) balls by rolling them in your hand –let the kids help! Then roll them in sesame seed and coconut mixture.
  6. Place on wax paper and chill in freezer for 20 minutes before serving, or store in fridge until needed.

Serving: Makes 26 balls

Nutrition Information for 1 ball based on Medjool dates:

Total Calories 86, Fat 3g, Carbohydrate 14g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 1g

References

  1. Alkaabi, J.M., Al-Dabbagh, B., Ahmad, S., Saadi, H.F., Gariballa, S., & Ghazali, M.A. (2011). Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutrition Journal, 10, 59. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-59
  2. Vayalil, Praveen K. (2012) Date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera Linn): An emerging medicinal food. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 52, 3, 2490271. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2010.499824


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