By Meera Sodha, Associated Press
In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, I always look forward to reading stories about what Olympians eat. What many of the athletes have in common is a favorite healthy snack that gives them an intense burst of energy.
I don’t see why things should be different for those of us who watch the games from our couches. Whether you’re working out or just running around with the kids, everyone needs a healthy energy pick-me-up, and too often, we resort to processed foods or chocolate.
These date-and-nut balls are a good natural alternative and my go-to for energy. They’re a twist on an ancient Indian sweet recipe called khajur pak, often found piled high in pyramids in Delhi sweetshops.
They’re superquick to make with no actual cooking involved — and they’re easy to transport. Although they’re great for energy, they’re very pretty, too, so I’ve often given them as gifts or passed them around with coffee after dinner.
Overall, with so many plus points to their name, they’re an all-around champion of a snack. I love to keep them in the refrigerator where they firm up and taste a bit like toffee.
NATURAL DATE-AND-ALMOND ENERGY BALLS
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: Makes around 20
10 ounces of dates, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
2 ounces chopped almonds
Put pitted dates into a food processor along with the coconut oil, cinnamon and desiccated coconut. Pulse a minute or two to finely chop.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl; add the chopped almonds and knead into dough. If it’s a bit sticky, rub a teaspoon of coconut oil onto your hands.
Once kneaded, pinch off a piece the size of a marshmallow and roll into a ball between your palms and then roll around in the ground almonds to coat.
These balls can be kept in an airtight container for a month.
Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories; 10 calories from fat; 1 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 1 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 0 g protein.