Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Raisin-Coconut Balls

not too pretty ~ these'll do just fine. ; )
Out of necessity, I've created a variation on the Date Balls with Toasted Coconut recipe. We are simultaneously packing to move to Sacramento, and packing for an extended-family vacation to Maui! We always travel with our own food, to avoid having to eat garbage while in flight. This usually consists of raw cheese, hard-cooked eggs, some hearty bread, and butter, and hopefully something sweet, like fruit or Coconut Dateballs. In an effort to simplify, I decided to skip making snacks for the trip and just buy some. So I stopped in at Cafe Gratitude, right up the street, to get a few of their yummy green energy balls. Sweetened with dried fruits, studded with nuts and seeds, and tinted with spirulina powder, Mommy and Anjali have enjoyed these occasionally as a treat. Well, they stopped carrying them!
So I quickly walked home and searched the cupboard to see what I could come up with in a hurry. Here's what it is:

Raisin Coconut Balls
3 handfuls of raisins
Maybe 10 leftover dried cranberries
1 cup coconut butter, softened by the sun
About 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes, ground in coffee grinder
1/4 tsp seasalt
A generous sprinkling of sesame seeds
A handful of sunflower seeds
2 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp+ Vitamineral Green* powder

I mixed all ingredients in the food processor at once, scooped them out onto a cookie sheet using a teaspoon measure, and just shaped the blobs enough so that they won't fall apart when picked up. The cookie sheet went into the freezer, and I'll scoop some out into a container as we leave for the airport in the morning!
I have learned that, refreshingly, children do not exhibit that Puritanical determination I have cultivated to eat something "just because it's good for me," even if I don't like it. ; ) So I only added a bit of the green powder - enough to darken the mixture, and a small enough amount that, when tasting it, Anjali asked for more.
It is inspiring for me to have variations that work, as I rarely make something exactly the same twice.

* This is from a vegan company and website. Though I don't recommend a vegan diet, I think this is the best green powder around.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yum ~ in Photos

A plate of fresh coconut-date love.
Home from the Farmers' Market ~ late-summer bounty. Radicchio, gorgeous basil,
Armenian cucumber, zucchini and crookneck squash, a load of dry-farmed tomatoes
and a couple multi-colored heirlooms.
Can't you just *taste* the sun's love in a warm, ripe, garden-fresh tomato?
That might be *the* taste of summer to me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Date Balls with Toasted Coconut

This is my interpretation of my good friend Jessica Prentice's recipe, from her book Full Moon Feast ~ truly one of the most influential books of my life.
These date balls are delicious ~ sweet enough for my sweet-toothed toddler to ask for more, but not too sweet for Mommy to eat, or feel bad about giving to Baby. They are yummy and satisfying ~ the perfect nourishing snack with plenty of good fat. And so simple to make.
The main ingredient is coconut butter, which usually can be found in the Raw section of natural foods stores. When I first discovered this magical substance (similar to almond butter only made out of coconut meat...!), I hid it in the back of the cabinet and ate the whole jar, spoonful-by-spoonful! It is so rich, creamy, and flavorful.

(yes; i label containers. with hearts..)

Date Balls with Toasted Coconut
16 small dates, pitted (maybe 10+ Medjools)
1 cup coconut butter, softened
1/4 tsp sea salt
1.5 tbsp butter and
1.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted, then ground in a coffee mill

It's easier to use the coconut butter if you first warm it by placing the jar in a pot with a few inches of water and heating it on low for a while. So do that first. Pit dates and pulse in a food processor a few spins. Then add the softened coconut butter and sea salt. Melt the fats and pour them in while the processor is running. Toast the coconut flakes in a dry skillet on low heat, stirring often, till they are golden brown. Then pulse them a few times in a clean coffee/spice grinder. This helps the texture of the date balls. Gradually add toasted flakes to the coconut date mixture until it is well blended and smooth.
I use a teaspoon to measure out the balls ~ this is a perfect toddler-sized portion. I roll them in my hands a few times until they are relatively round, and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I slide this into the freezer for a little bit (maybe an hour) to get them firm, then spatula the date balls off the sheet into a pint jar. Keep them refrigerated, as they will soften if left out (or in a toddler's fist too long).

These are a wholesome treat for all ages.
I won't tell if you don't share any with a toddler. ;-)