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With the holidays just around the corner, I think it’s about time that I started sharing some good old holiday recipes–all made a little bit healthier, of course. And I can’t think of better way to kick off this wonderful season than with these scrumptious date balls.
I’ve been making variations of date balls for a long time. Some with straight up dates and walnuts, others with apricots or dried cherries. A few days ago I tried a new combo: cranberries and pecans, two classic holiday flavors. I’m in love with nuts–I eat them in some way or form nearly every day–but I usually reserve pecans for a special treat at the holidays. Their buttery, rich flavor is sublime in stuffings, on salads, or sprinkled atop baked apples or pears. But after trying these date balls, this may be my new favorite way to indulge in the savory pecan.
I love date balls for many reasons. Not only are they gluten-free, they’re also free of refined white sugar and flour, trans-fats, and high fructose corn syrup. Plus, they’re completely raw and require no baking. It’s a great recipe to use during the holiday season when your poor oven is already on operation overload with all the turkeys, hams, cookies, pies, and sweet potato casseroles coming and going.
Using a food processor makes light work of this recipe. If you don’t have one, you could try using a blender, although I can’t guarantee success if you go that route. You could also make these the good old fashioned way by simply chopping the nuts and dried fruits super-fine and then kneading the two together to form a dough-like mixture. Me? I’m far too lazy! I give all the work to my food processor, which is (not surprisingly) the most used piece of equipment in my kitchen.
I think these date balls are a hit with almost everyone who gets the pleasure of eating them. Bite sized and perfect for parties or cookie trays, they also would make a lovely hostess gift packaged up in a pretty box and tied with a ribbon. How wonderful would that be to give your hostess a treat that she can enjoy without worrying about sabotaging her diet? I don’t know what better gift there is than to give the gift of good health.
Cranberry-Pecan Date Balls
¾ cup raw pecans
4 large dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries, preferably fruit-juice sweetened
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade, process the nuts until finely ground. Add the dates and process until they are pasted and fully incorporated into the nuts. Add the dried cranberries and cinnamon. Process until finely chopped and incorporated into nut-date mixture.
The mixture should stick together when pinched with your fingers. If it does not, add a few more cranberries or another date. If it is too sticky, add a few more pecans. When the consistency is right, form the mixture into balls about the diameter of a quarter. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to one week.
Makes 10-12 balls.
(For more gluten free, sugar free recipes, check out Slightly Indulgent Mondays.)