Back to School: Special Section

HEALTHY SNACKS: ENERGY BALLS

We’ve just celebrated Labor Day. I hope you found a way to enjoy the holiday in this different time we are navigating. In our region this month will mark our annual return to the school year. Some of you may not be impacted other than tales from the grandkids about first days back in school. Many of you are more intimately connected to this annual rite of passage either as teachers or as parents, and more and more as parents who are also teachers … got stress? 

During challenging or changing times with an added level of stress healthy nutrition is even more important than ever. While that tasty multi-vitamin gummy can help your kids a bit … we-are-what-we-eat. In previous columns I have touted the importance of a healthy breakfast … your basic oatmeal or other whole grain porridge, and the ever-popular bacon and eggs (please avoid the sugary cereals). These foods are packed with nutrients, and along with a healthy veggie-packed lunch and dinner can go a long way to keep our children healthy throughout the school year.  

An additional way to “sneak” needed nutrients into our kids is via snacks … and since many are home a bit more these days, they can even help! One of my favorite snacks growing up was PB&J on Wonder bread. Here’s a healthier version, and please note that no peanut butter or jelly is included in the recipe. This recipe includes naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein and fiber. 

THE RECIPE

Makes 15 balls … Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

½ cup freeze-dried strawberries (rich in Vit C, manganese, folate. iodine, copper, biotin, potassium, magnesium, omega-3 fats, Vit B6.) (I get my freeze-dried fruits at Natural Grocers in the sweet treats aisle)

h½ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds (rich in fats, fiber, protein, Vit E, Vit B2, magnesium, and Molybdenum

h1 cup pitted and chopped dried Medjool dates (rich in fiber, selenium and zinc

h Pinch o’ sea salt (source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, strontium)

h¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted in a 300°F oven until golden, about 3 minutes (this super food is rich in healthy energizing fat, fiber, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium, and copper)

Equipment needed: Food processor, Large bowl, Silicone spatula, Shallow plate or (my favorite) parchment paper

Instructions:

hPulse the freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor until it forms a powder. Let the pink dust settle!.

hToss in the almonds.

hPulse to roughly chop the almonds. Transfer the chopped almonds and strawberry powder to another bowl.

hThrow the dates into the now-empty food processor bowl, and pulse a few times to roughly chop up the pieces. Then, pulverize the dates until they form a sticky ball that thwacks against the side of the work bowl. (If your dates are especially dry, you can add a few drops of water to get the right consistency.)

hAdd the strawberry powder, almonds, and a pinch of salt to the sticky date paste in the food processor bowl.

hPulse a few times until combined. The result should be a dense mass that comes together as a nutty dough.

hPinch off about a tablespoon of the dough and roll it in your palms to form a smooth ball. Repeat ’til you’re out of dough.

hPut the toasted shredded coconut in a shallow plate or a piece of parchment paper. Toss each of the balls into the coconut, making sure to coat the entire surface.

Refrigerate the balls in a covered container for up to one week, or freeze them for up to a month. Kids of all ages love this recipe!

Source: nomnompaleo.com (Michelle Tam)

Reach Yaakov, a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, at [email protected]