Date + orange zest energy balls

Sprig & Vine is a lovely online journal that dips in and out of good food practices, personal essays, and culinary explorations, and I'm delighted that Vidushi is going to be doing a few guest posts on The Tonic. Her first post for us addresses the dreaded, and all too common, mid-afternoon slump with some of my favourite weapons: pistachios, chocolate and orange.

I know the feeling too well: when 4pm rolls around at work, and you’re hit with that post-lunch afternoon energy slump, and you’re thinking about the unopened bag of chips in your desk drawer, or the half-eaten pack of Oreos that you know has been in your bag since last week. It’s way too tempting to hit the vending machine or reach for the nearest excessively-sugary or salty snack for a fix.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for ideas to change up snack time, and energy balls have become my favorite guilt-free snack lately. They’re naturally sweetened, contain fibre and protein, and are made from raw ingredients. They keep you fuller longer, without causing a spike in blood sugar. So much better than those “energy bars” from the store, packed with tons of refined sugar (some even more than candy bars).

These energy balls/bliss balls are SO easy to make, and super quick too. All you need to do is throw a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and that’s pretty much it. I love the combination of dark chocolate and orange in this recipe. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, and makes these energy bites truly indulgent. The orange zest adds a zingy and fragrant freshness.  My favorite part about these little powerhouse snack balls is that they are endlessly customizable. You can change any or all of the ingredients to create something you truly love.

Don’t love chocolate (really?!?) – skip it, or add a nut butter of your choice. Use whichever nuts you have on hand, add flax seeds or pumpkin seeds if you prefer. Substitute orange zest for any dried fruit (think apricots, goji berries, or figs). If you can’t stand fruit, omit it altogether.

You can munch on them before a workout, or pop them in your bag for a snack on the go. These are great snacks to make-ahead and carry with you when you’re traveling. I like to make a batch of these and store it in the refrigerator for an anytime snack/dessert/pick-me-up.



(Makes 20 energy balls)
You will need:

•   1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
•   2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
•   1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
•   1/3 cup raw and unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
•   1/2 cup raw and unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
•   1 tablespoon chia seeds
•   1 tablespoon coconut oil
•   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•   1/2 teaspoon orange zest
•   Cacao powder, to roll the balls in (optional)


1.     In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender, add the pitted dates and process for a few minutes, until it comes together in a ball with dough-like consistency. If your blender isn’t super-powerful, soak the dates in warm water for a few minutes to soften, and then chop before blending. 

2.     Add in the oats, chocolate, pistachios, almonds, chia seeds, coconut oil, vanilla, and orange zest to the dates and process again, about for about 3-5 minutes until you have a sticky mixture. Scrape the sides into the middle if required.

3.     Remove the mixture and place on a tray. Lightly knead to ensure it is well combined.

4.     Use a tablespoon-sized scoop to portion, and gently roll the mixture between your palms to form into balls. Roll them in cacao powder if desired.

5.     Pop them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before you eat. You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or up to 10 days.

*I used 50% raw dark chocolate for this, but you can substitute it for any percentage dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or even chocolate chips.
*Cacao powder is unsweetened, raw cocoa powder. You can very well substitute it for regular cocoa powder or skip this step.

Vidushi is a digital entrepreneur and visual storyteller who shares her passion for food on her website Sprig & Vine–a food and lifestyle journal for healthy-ish vegetarian recipes, food trends and practices, stories, guides, shopping discoveries and more. Currently based in Kolkata, Vidushi is also interested in travel, design, and creative projects.
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