Yummy, Snacky Walnut, Coconut & Date Bites

Walnut Coconut and Date Bites via Bacon is the Way to Happiness

I have an addiction to dates. No, not the kind with my husband– although those are pretty darn fantastic, too, and something we should do more often– but what I mean are the edible sort of dates. These cost much less money, just ask my husband.

Dates incredibly rich and sweet, and best of all– HEALTHY. It’s like you’re eating candy, but with mucho iron, fiber, potassium, and really a ton more.. and even a teensy, tiny bit of protein, so clearly it’s not candy. Yet, all the while it tastes like a delicious treat.

Yeah, I’m game, too.

Spring is slowly creeping its way toward the hot summer months, which means our need to eat subsides.

Nope. I’m just kidding… we aren’t bears, we have to eat year-round. If you’re anything like me, I like to eat lightly in the summer months. There’s nothing worse than an overly full stomach while sweatily sticking to the seat of your car. Gross. Definitely not game for that. That’s why I am always on the hunt for light snacks and treats to keep me full. That’s why I love items like these granola bars or these no bake energy bites.

Another reason I adore making snacks, as I have mentioned time and again, I can include my son in the process. He just loves being included in the messy mayhem that is me in the kitchen (yet he darts when it’s time for clean up… boys…). However, what he loves most is telling daddy that he made X or made Y in the kitchen– a sense of accomplishment! Although, OCDs beware: cooking with tots means a lot of mess, and eating most of the goods before you get to use them. Despite it being twice the work, it really does make the entire process so much more enjoyable on my end.

This recipe is sweet and salty, not to mention extra light. As it is, this recipe yields approximately 4 servings of snacks. I tend to want to move on and try new things after a day or two. This recipe easily doubles to yield days’ worth of snacks. I like to keep all of my homemade snacks in the fridge to preserve their freshness.

The most difficult thing about this recipe was coming up with a name. Date balls was suggested, although I fear that people may make an incorrect assumption seeing a name such as that, even though that’s most literally what they are. Either way, making these little yummies were a cinch. Everything gets mixed together in a food processor at the same time. It is really that easy.

See… now you’re going to be making your own snacks from scratch in no time!

Yummy, Snacky Walnut, Coconut & Date Bites
Yields: 4 servings / approximately 2 dozen teaspoon bites
Time: 15-30 minutes 

Yummy Snacky Walnut Coconut and Date Bites

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes + 1/4 cup coconut flakes set aside
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1 TBS vanilla extract
3/4 to 1 tsp salt (depending upon how sweet and salty you like things!)

Directions:
1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients (except for the 1/4 cup coconut set aside) on low until it gathers into a ball.
2. Using a teaspoon, form little bite-sized balls and roll them into the set aside coconut.
3. Optional: sprinkle an extra pinch of cinnamon over top for an extra little zing of yummy!
4. Enjoy immediately. Preferably by yourself in a corner so you don’t have to share.

Hazelnut & Maple Granola Bars

hazelnut and maple granola bars via bacon is the way to happiness

Nom. Yum. Delish. Rrrrrrawr. I’m not sure what else to say about these granola bars. They are just so good. I made them to serve more as a fun treat with a little punch of goodness– that way you can spoil yourself with something deliciously sweet without feeling totally awful about it.

At one point during this recipe, you combine dates, hazelnut butter spread, and maple syrup together in a food processor. I was very half tempted… really 3/4 tempted to just simply end it there and ignore there was a granola/nut mixture, sit on the couch, and just go to town until I went into a coma. But, my conscience got the better of me. I told my son we were going to make yummy granola bars, so yummy granola bars we were going to make. I’ll save that date-hazelnut-maple mixture for when I have a bad day…. or a really good day…. or just a day… or am breathing, or something…

I like to make snacks like these and also those energy bites, if you remember, instead of buying them already made. There’s just something about doing the process yourself that feels a little more guilt-free.. and, not to mention, you’re less likely to eat it all in one sitting, since you’d have to go through the whole gotta-make-it-process to consume it again… I have found it enables more self control! And, these kinds of recipes are easy enough for you to include your progeny in the process, entertain them, and allow them to feel a sense of accomplishment… Win-win.

So go on and get your sweet-fix on without all the guilt.

 

Hazelnut & Maple Granola Bars
Yields: 12 servings
Time: Approximately 1 hour

hazelnut and maple granola bars

 

Ingredients
2 cups granola (I used Ezekiel Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 TBS wheat germ
1 cup dates, pitted & chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup hazelnut butter spread
1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the granola, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the hazelnut butter and maple syrup, stirring frequently.
3. In a food processor, grind the dates until it forms a ball, add the hazelnut/maple mixture and process until smooth.
4. Add the date mixture to the granola mixture and stir to combine. You may need to get down and dirty and use your hands to mix it.
5. In an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper, pour in the granola mixture. Using a spoon, push down the granola until it is compact and evenly spread.
6. Cover lightly and place into the freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and baking pan and cut into 12 squares. Store in refrigerator and eat within a week!

Kids’ Kitchen: No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites

 

no bake energy bites via Bacon is the Way to Happiness

A nasty respiratory bug is going through our house, and really, just about the entire everywhere. Let me just say, it’s a doozy. We’ve been out of commission for a week, and the clock is still running. Like I said, it’s a doozy. Being housebound precipitates insanity. I’m fairly certain of this!

The other challenge during this week- amid excessive coughing- has been encouraging my son to eat. He usually is a relatively good eater (for a toddler), but during this illness, he has been less than interested in eating. Mostly because I have put the kaibosh on dairy, his beloved food group. Now, we’ve been forced into creativity to get him to fill his little belly. The most successful way to get him to stuff his face is to include him in the food making process- and to make sure that it’s yummy.

[in comes energy bites]

You can call these puppies cookies, and toddlers know no differently. You can pack them full of different kinds of yummies & healthies to encourage obtaining as many nutrients and protein as you can while sickness ensues.

Peanut butter allergy? Swap out for almond butter or sunflower seed butter! Want to swap the additions? Please do! And let me know what you added and how it tasted! I really wanted to add espresso powder, for obvious sleep deprived reasons, but I know my son would get his hands on those puppies, and help me Rhonda, I can’t imagine this bundle of energy on caffeine. He’s already so rammy from being in confinement and so over being sick!

 

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Here is the little tyke hard at work. He had more of a squish and drop technique for these bites, but they still look perfect to his mommy! I split this recipe in between two bowls, one for him, and one for me. I really hope you can tell the difference between his work and mine!

The result? Delicious. And the best part? Little man ate.

No Bake Peanut Butter Bites
Time: 10 minutes prep + 30 minutes
Yields: 10-12 servings

 

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Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 TBS honey
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS wheat germ
2 TBS coconut flakes
2 TBS ground flax seeds
1 TBS vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well combined.
2. Put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Once chilled, roll into small balls. Serve right away! Keep stored in refrigerator. Discard after one week.

5 Minute Pizza

What the heck is it about pizza? Aside from the fact that it’s delicious, it’s really delicious. It takes minimal ingredients to create, but enables maximal enjoyment.

Toddlers. Grandparents. Teenagers. Great-grandparents. Godparents. They all love it. And with good reason. It’s darn good. It’s so darn good that sometimes waiting more than 5 minutes to consume pizza can seem downright purgatorial, especially if you’re two years old. I’m not going to mention any names here, but I gave birth to this person.

That’s why it’s good to keep little shortcuts on hand. For those days in which picky eaters are also impatient waiters. I introduce to you: the 5 minute pizza. Now, authenticrats may have beef with this recipe, and before I became a mom I would have just told you to go make and eat the real deal.

Again, impatient waiter, picky eater, purgatorial reminderer toddler in house. So, ya shortcut. And ya get over ya self. For starters: You need some Naan! Or heck, even a tortilla. And then you need some sauce- homemade? You’re amazing! Jarred? Excellent! And then some cheese, which is hopefully store bought. If you made your own cheese, first of all, you have an envious amount of time on your hands & we seriously need to become friends and you need to teach me how. 

Naan. Sauce. Cheese. Oven. DONEZO.

5 Minute Pizza
Yields: 1 serving
Time: I won’t insult your intelligence

5 Minute Pizza: Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Ingredients:
Naan (the more slices the merrier)
Tomato Sauce
Cheese

  1. It is really this easy, yes. Spread enough tomato sauce around the naan so that it is nice and chunky. Top with cheese!
  2. In either a toaster oven or conventional oven, turn on the broiler. Place the pizza on the top rack and broil until the cheese is melted and honestly you’re done.
  3. Yes, it is really that easy. Yes, I still consider this pizza.

Kids’ Kitchen: On Cooking with Your Toddler

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Toddlers. Aren’t they just the most wonderfully paradoxical little beings? Baby snuggles meets teenage egotism. They are strong-willed, they are adorable with their little faces and language grasping (and the colorful use of the word “no”), full of boogers, and completely fantastic.

Dinnertime can be one of the most stressful times of day. You’re scurrying in an attempt to feed hungry bellies at a decent hour while the little loves (who are under foot) demand a snack, a piggyback ride, or reading their favorite story– all at a shriek.

What’s a gal to do? Ignore? Holler? Give in? How about a new strategy– invite your kids to cook with you.

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It is not as scary as it sounds. All it requires is a bit of patience and creativity. A stool or stepstool. And a collection of DULL kitchen tools.

One of my favorite go-to kitchen tools is a cheese spreader. You can use it to serve CHEESE, which is a perfect no brainer way to a good day. And, since they aren’t sharp, my little man can use it to make little dents into a bell pepper (as you can see below) and feel involved in cooking dinner. At his age (almost 2), he really doesn’t know that he isn’t slicing the pepper… he just realizes that he is being included in the process, feels important to be trusted, and is not ignored. The best part? He is in my line of vision and I know he isn’t R-U-N-N-O-F-T making trouble!

One amazing thing I have noticed is that he is more keen on trying the meals he is helping to create! Any person who has a daily interaction with a toddler knows that getting them to eat is a cause for celebration!

Cooking with Toddlers- Bacon is the Way to Happiness

Please note that the grouping of cut bell peppers was my doing! If your little love is using a tool that can do THAT, it’s probably much too sharp and little fingers could also be added to the pile of chopped food.

Ways that my son loves to help in the kitchen that involves no tools? Putting cheese on pizza. Oh my. This makes him so very happy. And he sneaks in a lot of bites of cheese, so it’s good to have an excess on hand! He loves to add already chopped veggies to a big bowl, or to stir just about anything into a big bowl.

Another activity in the kitchen that my son loves to contribute to is the making of scrambled eggs! Now, this takes a bit of patience! I let him crack the eggs into a bowl. Granted, some end up on the counter, but hey! this is where the patience part comes in! Fortunately, the counter was clean and I just gently pushed the egg from the counter into the bowl with the others. The rest of the day, he was so happy to tell anyone that was willing to listen that he “crackkk eggsssss” with motions included.

How about you? Have you tried inviting your kids into the dinner-making process? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?