We have been making these bite sized snacks made with dates, apricots, oats, cocoa powder, peanut butter, coconut flakes and maple syrup for quite a while as a quick and easy snack to provide ample nutrients and bring with you if you’re on the go!
Dates have an abundance of nutritional benefits due to the number of nutrients and vitamins they contain. Dates are high in dietary fiber which are beneficial for your digestive health (especially if you’re prone to constipation – no one wants that) and assist in controlling blood sugar levels. They also contain vitamin A (maintains healthy skin and mucous membranes) and vitamin K (blood coagulant that helps metabolize bones). Dates contain pigments called carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin that play a role in the health of the retinal tissue in your eyes. I always recommend patients to include these carotenoids in their diet when they have a strong family history or are already diagnosed with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Fun fact: Certain studies have shown that dates may promote natural labor when consumed during the last few weeks of pregnancy. The theory is that compounds in dates mimic oxytocin, a hormone that causes labor contractions during childbirth. More studies are needed on the affects of dates and childbirth, but may be worth a shot if you’re past your due date.
Apricots are another fruit that have health benefits. They are high in dietary fiber, vitamin A and C along with antioxidants.
Oats are something we eat quite often, whether it’s in oatmeal or sprinkled on some greek yogurt (providing a variety of textures). Oats are a great source of fiber, similar to that of dates. Compared to other grains, oats contain more soluble fiber, leading to slower digestion and suppression of appetite (keeps you fuller, longer)! Most of the fiber in oats are called beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are unique in that they have been found to lower cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease (the leading cause of death worldwide). With type 2 diabetes being on the rise, oats have been studied to see if their beta-glucans can assist in lowering blood sugar levels. More studies need to be done, but the results have been overall promising. This would be a great natural way to assist diabetics with their nutrition and controlling their blood sugar levels. If you’re looking for a source of protein, oats are also your friend.
Fun fact: Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, if you have celiacs or a gluten sensitivity, make sure the oats are labeled “pure” or “gluten-free” due to possible contamination with other wheats.
Nutritional Breakdown (Approximate)
Makes ~ 15 balls
Per ball – Calories: 57, Carbs: 13g, Fats: 2g, Proteins: 2.5g
10 pitted dates
10 apricots (Sunsweet Mediterranean brand, okay to substitute)
1/2 cup of oats
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
unsweetened coconut flakes
1) Put dates, apricots, oats, cocoa powder and peanut butter in food processor until all ingredients blend together
2) Add maple syrup and run food processor again
3) Scoop out mixture and roll in coconut flakes
4) Refrigerate and enjoy!
5) Store in air tight container in fridge if you keeping for later
– Adjust ingredients to your liking
– Possible substitutes:
- Almond butter/cashew butter in place of peanut butter
- Honey instead of maple syrup
- Cocoa powder in place of cinnamon
- Oats in place of coconut flakes