Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kid snacks: date and coconut balls

Back when I was looking for portable, home-made snacks for Abby I went through the usual - slices, biscuits, etc and even though I could make them reasonably healthy, I couldn't make them last longer than a couple of days. I do freeze muffins and things and that helps, but I wanted something that was quick, small and very portable.

Enter date and coconut balls. I know there are recipes for other sorts with lots of ingredients, but I wasn't interested in that much faffing. One day I brought home some organic dates and organic coconut. I'm not usually that fanatic about organic stuff, but the bulk bins at my local health-food store are pretty much all organic so I go with that! Anyway, I figured I could work out the ratio at home.

Dutifully, I put the dates and the coconut in the food processor and.... nothing. hard lumps and nothing like the sticky mixture I was expecting. It appears those dates had pits and my experiment failed miserably! That is, until I cut out the pits, mixed the date and coconut mixture with apple and made a date and apple crumble, which I ate with a hell of a lot of cream, and Abby just mushed in her fingers and shoved in her mouth.

Next time I just grabbed a 500g bag of PITTED dates (duh), 1 cup of coconut, and mixed it in the food processor. I rolled the resulting mixture into little balls and rolled into coconut. What you see above is the quantity, which did Abby pretty well for about a week. They do last in an airtight container, so you might want to make more for larger families.

Although I wasn't sure how they would be received, her natural curiosity got the better of her and she didn't even wait until I had finished photographing them before she snatched one and got stuck in.

Yes I crawl around on the ground and take photos of food - it's the best light!

They were a HUGE hit. I can't even describe how excited she got every time she was offered one. And I'm like "dude, they're dates... what's to get excited over?" but she thought they were the best treats ever. We used them as insurance on the plane to Melbourne as we knew it would be a sure thing to get her to sit still and be reasonably quiet if all else failed. She was actually pretty manageable thank goodness, but every day during our trip we packed three in a box with some other snacks and they were the first to go. She would immediately cram one in her mouth and attempt to pick the other two up in one hand. Had to be holding all three at once. I was covered in date-flavoured spit most of the time. Classy.

Anyhow, they're now on constant rotation here, although I am cognisant of the natural sugars being quite concentrated and the fact that the dates can stick to her teeth so they're not an everyday thing. But damn, are they handy!


  1. Ohhh that's such a great idea! I'm going to try this with sultana's as my daughter LOVES her sultana's. All I ever hear when I open the pantry door is "naana? Naana??". I was laughing out loud at your description of trying to get the other balls as soon as the first was in her mouth - Ri does that too. Greedy kids! xx

  2. The answer to my prayers!! I have been looking for a no fuss way to save me snacking on chocolate, spending hundreds of dollars on store bought balls of goodness or having to buy a million ingredients.
    These sounded so good I made them for myself as a birthday treat and threw in what ever was lying around my pantry (sesame seeds, sunflower kernels and some mixed chopped nuts and added a little tahini because they needed some more moisture). Perfecto! 
    Almost guilt free (and feel even naughtier when you roll them in cacao). You are the best thank you!


  4. OMG - love these!!! I make a variation using tahini

  5. Ooh that's so clever! I would totally do that for an adult version. I have loads of nuts and seeds and things banging about that are dying to be used. The cacao is a great idea xx

  6. These look fabulous and very easy to make. Nice one!

  7. These look great for adults too! I am definately going to try them!