Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Dates

We’ve been holding Take Your Health Questionnaire Days at agencies all across the state for the past month and a half.  Employees who take their HQ on the designated day at their agency get the opportunity to make their own healthy trail mix using the dozen or so dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and other ingredients we provide.  At almost every agency, the most popular ingredient at the trail mix bar has happened to be dates.  Why?  Dates are naturally sweet and look – and taste – like candy.  They seem like an indulgence but are actually highly nutritious.  Dates are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber and are a good source of potassium and B vitamins.  However, dates are also higher in sugar than many other fruits, so they’re best enjoyed in moderation – or as a substitute for a much less nutritious sweet treat. In honor of Halloween, here’s a “healthy” candy recipe featuring dates.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Date Balls

Ingredients
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup pitted dates
¼ cup natural almond or peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
½ cup crispy rice cereal
2-4 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Instructions

1.  Put oats into a food processor or blender and process until they reach a fine floury consistency.
2.  Add dates, nut butter, and honey or maple syrup and continue processing until fully combined.
3.  When dough begins to form and stick together, add crispy rice cereal and chocolate chips, pulsing a few times to ensure that they distribute evenly without breaking apart completely.
4.  Using a tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough and roll them between your hands to neatly shape them.
5.  Store balls in an airtight container, either at room temperature or in the fridge. Makes 12 balls.

Recipe adapted from Running with Spoons

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