Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Peanut Butter Power Balls

A friend recently shared a version of this recipe with me in our mutual quest for trying to find the perfect "healthy and filling but oh-so-yummy" afternoon snack.  The original recipe called for honey, but in my attempt to reduce all things "added sweetener", I subbed in dates for an equally sweet flavor that includes the whole of the fiber and plant nutrients....and makes them far less sticky.  The kids went crazy for them!  And, they have been subbed in for a breakfast on the go a time or two! 
I have brag for a moment before sharing the recipe (and I already have your attention if you're reading this!) Today was Gracie's first "official" day in the kitchen - complete with her own little apron!!!  In the past two days, she has had a near complete transformation into the interactive, playful, and sense-full land of words. I wouldn't have even considered leaving her out of our baking adventure today, whereas a week ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. So, here she is with Bobo and Sissy, getting ready to dive into our project!

2 Cups Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar added)
2 Cups Dates, covered in warm water (keep reserved)
6 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 Cup Flax Meal
1 Cup Walnuts (or combination of favorite nuts and seeds)
1 Cup Dried Cranberries (or dried fruit of choice....OR chocolate chips!
 (*I have a chocolate chip, *issue*, so I can't keep them in the house.  Otherwise, they'd be in these Power Balls!)

 - Soak dates in warm water for a few minutes, then remove pits and stem end (if applicable) and add to your food processor. Add about half the soaking water, and process to create a date paste.

 - Add peanut butter to date mixture. Process until it begins to clump, then add more date water as needed to ensure the peanut butter - date mixture has a smooth consistency.

(*Note: It does not need to be runny.  You just don't want a large ball to form in the food processor.)

 Place all dry ingredients into a stand mixer and mix together.

Pour the peanut butter / date mixture into the oat mixture, and stir on low speed. You will have to scrape down the bowl a couple of times. 
(* Alternatively, place them in a large bowl to manually mix, but be ready to work those arms!
This makes some pretty thick dough!)
Ultimately, I end up mixing the last portion with my hands anyway. :-)

Time for a spoon licking break!  No eggs here, so even Papa would approve. :-)

After having the kiddos wash their hands *again*, their favorite part began.....rolling the dough into "Power Balls".  Little G didn't get to participate in the rolling, but she definitely was fed a few scraps by her older sister. :-)

The kiddos had a blast.  I would say it was the highlight of their day.

OK. For any type A personalities out there, you may want to stop and take a deep breath.  When rolled by small children, Power Balls are not going to take shape in any sort of uniformity. 
No, they're not.  There will even be "Giant Power Balls" and "Itty Bitty Power Balls", named amidst much giggling.  That's ok. Breathe. These are the memories we'll have years from now, and the size of the Power Balls won't play into that memory. I promise.
(*Yes, if you're wondering, I had to talk myself through this as well.  :-)

Pack away in a container and keep refrigerated.
We hope you enjoy these little "Power Balls" as much as our family has!

(*Note: To make Gluten Free, just switch out the Oats for Gluten Free Oats.)

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