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.

Buttermilk Ranch Popcorn

Bacon is the Way to Happiness Ranch Popcorn

Icky rainy days call for staying in pajamas (if you can help it).  They also called for endless snacking. Popcorn is the best way to maximize your snacking abilities and not have that “holy cow I’m dying” feeling immediately thereafter. Unless you eat 95 cups.

When it’s a rainy, icky day, you need a pick-me-up, as well as a delicious snack to carry you through the whole day.

My pick-me-up du jour (well, really, du month) has been buttermilk ranch dressing. My heavens you really can put that stuff in ANYTHING when cooking. (Except for pizza, if you tell me to do that, I will hit you. Pizza sauce and cheese is just too good.) There will be more on this concept of ranch-adding-while-cooking later..

Enter: buttermilk ranch popcorn.

It’s delicious. It’s not nutritious. It is everything my icky, rainy day needed. And, I am still able to be in my pajamas through it all.

Score. And you’re welcome.

Buttermilk Ranch Popcorn**
Yields: a lot, but somehow not enough.

Bacon is the Way to Happiness Ranch Popcorn

Ingredients:
6 cups popped popcorn
5 TBS salted butter
2 TBS buttermilk ranch dressing

Directions:
1. Melt your butter over medium heat and add the ranch dressing, stirring until it is completely combined.
2. With your popcorn in a big serving bowl, slowly pour the buttery-ranch mixture over the popcorn as you stir.

Bacon is the Way to Happiness Ranch Popcorn

**RECIPE NOTE: To make a more decadent popcorn, increase your butter and ranch portion, while trying to maintain the ratio. This yielded a mild flavoring of just enough awesome without going overboard. The time to go overboard? SNOW DAYS!