I feel that in recent years my life has become one long snack preparation experience, with two little ladies who seem to be hungry approx 98% of the time. To be fair to them, they’d be more than happy with a KitKat and a bag of Wotsits at any time of day, so I can’t say they’re demanding in terms of quality, but I’m my own worst enemy and insist on trying to find healthy snacks that children will find acceptable. I’m lucky that they’re fans of fruit and crudités, but sometimes an apple just won’t cut the mustard and I’m always on the lookout for something sweet to bridge that gap.
I surprise even myself sometimes, with quite how unappetising I can make comestibles look. Here is one of my finest examples to date. I’m mad for these date and almond bites and other likeminded individuals have given them good reviews as well, but I admit they’re not lookers. Regardless, my smallest badger is a massive fan – somewhat surprisingly – she absolutely sees them as a treat and is giddy about how liberal I am in dispensing them. My big girl eats them, though with less enthusiasm, and my husband has made some cutting observations and drawn unflattering comparisons, so they’re not universal crowdpleasers here, but I take it as a win.
The bites are very high in fibre, with plenty of protein, good fats, vitamins and minerals, so if you can sneak them past any doubters, they’re a pretty great all rounder and a fairly substantial snack. This recipe makes a good quantity – 20 or more, depending on how generous you are in your portioning and they’ll last forever in the fridge. Well, a good week or so, anyway.
They’re not going to compete with a bag of Maltesers for many of us, but if you like Nakd bars, all that kind of thing, then these should please.
I like chocolate with almond and orange, but you could leave out the cacao and/or orange, and substitute the almonds with hazelnuts or cashews, maybe adding in some peppermint extract. I have also made them with sunflower seeds which make them more lunchbox friendly, though I found I needed about 50g more dates to get it all to combine.
I use my food processor to make them, but in a pinch you could give it a go with a handheld or jug blender.
As if to challenge myself to make these as revolting as possible to my husband, I rolled some of them in unsweetened dessicated coconut. Totally optional, but actually rather nice.
Chocolate, orange and almond energy bites
- 150g stoned dates, weighed once stones removed (you may need to add more, depending on how squidgy the dates are)
- 100g almonds (or a nut/seed of your choice really)
- Zest of one orange
- 2 tbsp Chia seeds (optional)
- 4 tbsp Cacao powder/cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Unsweetened dessicated coconut.
- If the dates seem dry rather than squishy, pour boiling water over them and leave for about half an hour. Strain and add the dates to a food processor. (The texture is quite different, and less smooth if the dates don’t need to be soaked, but either outcome is perfectly pleasing. Those in the photos were made with dates that had been soaked.)
- Add in the rest of the ingredients and whizz up until the mixture comes together and is reasonably smooth.
- If the texture seems too wet, add in more nuts, if it’s not sticky enough, add a few more dates.
- Chill and then roll into balls, the size of a Lindor. You can pretend.
- Roll in coconut if you fancy it.
- Store in the fridge.