Maple Walnut Balls (with Fairies + one Caterpillar)

ball shot

Is the ball thing getting old? You can tell me, really. I won’t get upset. Okay, I might get a teeny bit upset, but I promise not to take it personally. You wouldn’t be the only one. My husband is definitely over my balls. (If you have no idea what I mean head over to the recipe page.)

Actual conversation with him the night I posted my second official ball recipe:

Me: [hovering over him while he is attempting to watch Netflix on his iPad] I’m about to post a new recipe!

Him: [not bothering to look up from screen] Uh-huh. 

Me: [very excited, but still speaking in a whisper since kids are sleeping] Blueberry Granola balls! [emphasis on the balls, obvs]

Him: [finally tearing away eyes from screen, looking thoughtful] You know, you don’t have to call them balls. You could call them “bites.” 

Me: [shaking my head vigorously, smiling a little at his naivete] Everyone in the world [i.e. Pinterest] is doing that, which is WHY I’m calling them balls! Brilliant, right? 

Then, three ball recipes later…

Him: Are you ever going to be done with the whole ‘ball’ thing?

Me: NEVER! [insert maniacal laughter, in whisper form, here]

So you see, I’m rather attached to the ball thing, but not out of love as much as comfort. I’m not an intuitive baker, like some of my blogging friends, and I’m a Cancer, which means I’m a creature of habit (not to mention a total homebody) so when I get the hang of something, well, I have a little problem letting it go. But you’ll tell me, won’t you? I’m relying on your instincts here.

Until then, here’s my latest batch of balls posing with a fairy. Just for fun. Because how many pictures of balls can you look at before dying of boredom?

fairy balls

Maple Walnut Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates cut in half and soaked in water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used raw unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8-1/4 cup coconut flakes or finely ground coconut (which is what I used)
  • dash of cinnamon

Directions:

*If you want the nuts more finely ground (for a smoother ball), process them first, remove and set aside, and then add them back in after dates have been pulverized. Otherwise, ignore this and start with the dates, as instructed below.

Put softened dates in the food processor and whirl around. Add the rest of the ingredients until just combined.

Random but important note: the dough should not be too dry or too wet (thus the varying amount of coconut flakes) – if too wet, add a bit more coconut. If too dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon (at a time) more maple syrup.

You really can’t mess these up… unless you’re me (!) and you get a little cocky with your ball making and add TOO much wet and not enough dry and your balls never really firm up – even in the freezer. (Who knew that was even possible?! Must have been the extra 1/2 teaspoon of melted coconut oil I originally added, then later removed from the recipe.)

Take heart though, soft balls are STILL tasty.

In other (random) news, check out this awesome terrarium!

terrarium

Bunky made it at a birthday party over the weekend. It’s a pretty brilliant idea. The kids got to dig into vats of small slippery stones, soft damp dirt, pick three plants and then “decorate” their creation with pretty rocks, marbles, and creatures. B chose fairies and butterflies over centipedes and dinosaurs, big surprise. All the kids had a blast doing it.

My (failed) attempt at an "artsy"  shot with my phone.

My (failed) attempt at an “artsy” shot with my phone.

The crafty mom (of four!) also made a beautiful Hungry Little Caterpillar themed cake – she told me about it ahead of time and I was just going to attempt to “draw” a caterpillar on a cupcake, but my husband waved me aside and took over. He rocked it. Everyone was amazed and Bunky was thrilled.

caterpillar

GF happiness on a plate.

What the hell has he been doing on the dessert sidelines all this time?! He is totally in charge of the next birthday.

Strawberry Banana Split Balls

strawberry banana ball

Yes, more balls, I know. It’s getting out of hand. Will I ever get tired of making balls or making puns about balls? I don’t think so, but I may run out of ingredient combos. This one is stretching the bounds of imagination a bit. But it’s good. Really good.

Let me start by saying this is in no way meant to be a replacement for an actual banana split. Not at all. If you’re looking for a decadent ice cream extravaganza, you will probably be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a super tasty raw ball that happens to be delicious and healthy, you’re in luck.

Now that it’s strawberry season (or so I will assume since strawberries are no longer a bazillion dollars and tasteless) I am buying a pint a day. Between me and the kids they go fast. Then the other day I got suckered into buying not only fresh strawberries, but the crazy expensive freeze dried ones, too. I was waiting in line at what Bunky calls The Pickle Market, because of the pickle samples she gorges on, and my hand – with a will completely of its own – reached over and snatched one of these suckers off the rack.

freeze dried strawberries

It ripped on one corner so I very understandably realized I’d have to buy it no matter the price. It turns out Little Guy loves freeze dried fruit, but I didn’t let him finish the bag because I had some new balls in mind…

strawberry banana ball no bits

Strawberry Banana Split Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (mine were finely ground already, but any would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries (you could use more but they are crazy $$)
  • handful of freeze dried bananas (leftover from my banana “bread” bars)*
  • 1/4 cup (or more!) mini chocolate chips, optional

* If you don’t have freeze dried banana, no worries. Use half of a ripe banana instead, and if the batter is too mushy, just add some more moisture sucking coconut flakes.

Directions:

1. While the dates are soaking, grind the nuts first. [I do this because I want them to be finely ground for the Little Guy, who doesn’t have all his teeth yet, but you can skip this step if you don’t mind a little more texture.] Then remove ground nuts to a bowl, set aside.

2. Put dates and just a bit of the soaking water into the food processor. Whirl away until a paste is formed. You can either add all the whole nuts now, or the ground ones. Pulse to combine. Then add the coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pulse again.

This is what Little Guy was up to while I made these.

What Little Guy was up to while I made these. So cute.

3. Then add the freeze dried strawberries and banana. Add chocolate chips (please) if you’re not feeding these to a baby. Pulse to combine. Turn out the batter onto parchment and roll into balls or press into a bar. Freeze until firm.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

I did a totally unnecessary thing, mainly out of boredom but also because balls are not very photogenic, and rolled a few in some extra strawberry bits. It looks kind of cool in the pics, and adds an extra strawberry burst, but you don’t need to do this. They taste pretty rad all on their own.

Random but important tip: When rolling the dough into balls, DO NOT wet your hands thinking that will help with the stickiness. If you do the balls become hideous looking and slimy. It’s okay that your hands will be covered in bits of dough. Lick it off or wash it later, but keep them dry for the rolling. I speak from experience and on the behalf of one sad soggy little ball that I had to throw out.

strawberry balls in parchment

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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I’m also excited to share it on Raw Foods Thursdays on Gluten Free Cat. * Please note, that the recipes on this link-up will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

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