Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - RECIPE: Date and Oat Energy Snack Bites

This week's Tasty Tuesday share is the recipe for my homemade snack bites.  This is a no-sugar/sweetener added recipe (there is more than enough of natural sweetness in this mix) and the basic mix can be adapted to a whole variety of different snack bite flavours.  They are sweet enough to pass for a truffle-y treat (great for coffee/tea or in your holiday dessert buffet) but also healthy enough to be a guilt-free snack.  Perfect to have on hand for the busy holiday season!

Date and Oat Snack Bites
    1 and 1/4 cup dried pitted dates
    1/2 cup rolled oats
    1/4 cup fine desiccated coconut
    1/4 cup almond meal
    3 tbsp ground flaxseed
    1/8 cup chia seeds (optional, but you might like to use a little less date if you omit the moisture hungry chia)
    1 tsp salt (optional, or can use more or less to taste)
    See additional optional add-in and coating ingredients below.

    Soak the dates in warm water for approximately 15+ minutes to soften. Finely chop oats in a food processor (can substitute pre-made oat flour if you prefer).  Add dates and continue to pulse until fully blended into a sticky paste.  Scrape into a mixing bowl and add remaining dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly into a firm sticky dough. At this stage, you have the basic bites and you can roll and coat now, or add in additional ingredients to customise your creations (see below). You can keep them plain, but I much prefer to roll them in a coating.  It keeps things from getting sticky in storage/transit and adds an extra layer of flavour/texture to the bites.  Hand roll your dough into bite-sized balls, coat, place on a plate/tray, refrigerate until firm/set (approximately 30 minutes), and then put into a container for storage. The finished truffles are best stored in the fridge (though are perfectly fine refrigerated in a packed lunch or picnic) and can also be frozen for longer storage.

    Optional add-ins and coatings: Your imagination is the limit and whatever suits your tastebuds works!  I like to mix it up a little and create several different snack bite flavours from a single batch for variety.  Make them chocolately with cocoa or carob powder (I like doing half plain, half chocolate) or mix in some cocoa nibs or chocolate chips/chunks.  Customise your bites with dried fruit (chopped if large): blueberries, cherries, cranberries, apricots, mixed peel and a dash of spice (very Christmassy!), or whatever temps your tastebuds. If you are in more a treat mood, candied cherries (chopped) or crystallised ginger (chopped) are nice add-ins too. For coating the snack bites and any type of truffle treat, I really like coconut or finely chopped nuts (a quick whiz in the food processor is all it takes to make your own), but cocoa or carob powder would make these into an indulgent little treat. No one needs to know their healthy secrets!

    Elements of this recipe were inspired by my experiments with different treats over the years, including a special shout-out to my Mom's famous date crumbles. Her date crumble slices are definitely not a no-sugar-added treat, but they are tasty, filling, and packed with hearty oats and sweet sticky dates, just like these snack bites.

    Tips and tricks:
    • If you dislike dates, this also works with pretty much any dried fruit (just adjust the dry ingredients if/as needed for a good rolling consistency). Alternatively, you can create your own version of these treats with a slightly less sweet but still "smushy" base like banana (I'm not a banana fan, which is really too bad) or roasted pumpkin/squash. I use these less-sugary methods for the dogs too! :) Check out their dog truffle treats!
    • Make your snack bites into a festive treat by adding a dash of food colouring to coconut before rolling, or experiment with some of the fun coloured powdered ingredients available through specialty and health-food stores. Check out (non-affiliate, just sharing!) the cooking/baking powders available at Nuts.Com to start your imagination. Wow!

    Got a craving?  Leave us a comment/link or share it with us on Facebook and we'll add it to our Tasty Tuesday list for future posts. Yum!  Have a Tasty Tuesday and a delicious week!

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