Some mornings I wake up with breakfast ennui. Most days, I look forward to the first meal–soft scrambled eggs wrapped in raw collard greens; a bowl of hot oats doused in sesame oil and seaweed; a piece of slightly burned toast with butter and jam. But, like many of you, sometimes I feel stuck in a food rut–a slave to my own routines, and–again like many of you–sometimes I just don’t feel hungry first thing.
I believe wholeheartedly in an eat-when-hungry and stop-when-full model of eating. That said, I know that my day goes a little better, that my energy stays more stable, and that I am far less likely to crave coffee and a cookie in the late afternoon, if I eat a well rounded breakfast.
When I say “well rounded” what I mean is a meal that contains fat, protein, and carbohydrate: the three macronutrients on which our body depends. A meal containing all three of these macronutrients is the slowest to move through the digestive system which means sustained energy, and sustained satisfaction.
I started making these cacao balls years ago as a snack to take climbing or a refined-sugar-free sweet to have after dinner. I love to have one before teaching an early morning yoga class or embarking on a day in the kitchen when I know I’ll be tasting bites of food all day long and don’t want to feel overly full. These pack a lot of nutrition into a small volume which makes them perfect for mornings (or afternoons) when a big meal feels unnatural. They also happen to taste very delicious with coffee and tea.
As you know, my favorite recipes are the ones that provide a foundation for improvisation. The key to success here as far as texture, flavor, and nutritional substance is concerned, is combining dates with your favorite nuts or seeds, adding chia seed for fiber and fullness-factor, and playing with spices and any desired “super food” boosters. The dates, nuts and seeds give you your carbohydrates. The nuts, seeds, and coconut oil give you your fat. The nuts and seeds give you your protein, as will certain added super foods. You could easily add raw buckwheat groats to these for more crunch (plus fiber and protein), or treat them like truffles and roll them in spices or cocoa powder instead of mixing those into the base. Play around with the amount of oil you use. I like mine super soft. Less added oil will give you a firmer, slightly sandier texture.
So, in short, play with these! Use them when you need a light meal, a quick snack, a nutritious sweet treat, or an energy boost. And don’t be afraid to experiment. A little spirited vigor is the best way to beat ennui.
Raw Date-Cacao Balls
makes about 20 1.5-inch balls
1 heaping cup pitted dates
1 cup raw cashews (or almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, etal)
1/2 cup raw almonds (see above, + pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etal)
2 T chia seeds
2 T raw cacao
2 T virgin coconut oil (or less/more as desired)
1 pinch flakey sea salt
Spices & Boosters
1/2 t ground turmeric (immunity/vitality)
1/2 t cinnamon (digestion/warming)
1 t cardamom (digestion/warming)
1 t maca (libido/energy)
1 t ground ginger (digestion/warming)
1 t reishi (immunity/adaptogen)
a few drops of rose water (cooling/stress relief)
lemon or orange essential oil (food grade) (energy/focus)
1 t moringa, goji or lucuma (antioxidants)
bee pollen (immunity/vitality)
-Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until very well combined and mixture holds together when you pinch it.
-Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Line a flat-bottomed container with parchment paper. Use a 4-finger pinch or a soup spoon to pick up a chunk of the mixture and roll it between your hands to form a ball between 1-2 inches. Continue until mixture is all used up, lining the balls up in the container with a little space between each one. You can layer them on top of one another with a piece of parchment in between. They will flatten slightly like this but can easily be rolled into a ball again before serving or eating.
-Store in the fridge for up to a week. I usually make them about 1.5 inches and eat 2 for breakfast.