The shift from summer to fall sneaks up every year. One day you are driving back from the beach in a sour mood, dreading the end of summer picnics and lazy days, the next day you are getting out the crock pot and sweaters. I adore fall weather, but after June, September is the second month of the year that almost does me in. Summer is like a killer hangover when you are trying to shift bedtime routines to accommodate school, suffering the writer’s cramp that is specific to the filling out of endless forms, going broke ordering school supplies, and trying to figure out how you’re going to simultaneously attend the curriculum meeting at school and your technology meeting at work. It’s universal among parents and I’m exhausted just talking about it!
On top of it all, there is the challenge of lunch and snacks. My fourth grader eats breakfast at 7:30 a.m. but doesn’t have lunch until close to 2:00 (while my first grader gets to visit the cafeteria at the brunch hour of 11:00). Having experienced the consequences of her low blood-sugar moments several times this summer, I’m desperate to come up with a mid-morning snack that will carry her through until lunch. By that, I mean one that she will actually eat. I have been working my way through a series of granola bar recipes in hopes of coming up with something so perfectly healthy and nutritious that my kids will beg for it. I thought I hand one last week – I even put chocolate chips in it! - but the reception was lukewarm. Back to the drawing board.
In the spirit of putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, I offer you a recipe that helps me get through these marathon back-to-school days. Although my kids won’t eat them, there is a simple five-ingredient snack I love to keep on hand this time of the year: Walnut-Date Balls. They take just a few minutes to make, require no baking, and are there for you in the low-energy moments of the day to keep you away from that brownie. They might not give you as much energy as, say, a methamphetamine habit, but on the other hand, your teeth won’t fall out and they are actually good for you. In fact, I think they fit into every single diet trend going at the moment: they’re raw, vegan, paleo, you name it! And yet, they are deliciously addictive. Unless you are like my friend, Brenda, for whom walnuts, dates and coconut form the triumvirate of her most hated foods. But if you are into the ingredients, you won’t be disappointed. Plus, they are extremely easy to make. Here’s how:
1 c. pitted dates
3 T. lemon juice
pinch sea salt
Put the walnuts into a food processer, pulse until they are chopped. Add the dates. While the food processer is mixing them up, slowly add the lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt.
By now, a paste of sorts will have formed:
Form them into little 1-2 inch balls and roll them in coconut:
Refrigerate them for about 1/2 hour before eating. This recipe makes about 20-24 balls and I find that 3 makes the perfect snack with a cup of tea or an apple. A perfect oasis of sweetness and crunch before filling out the next form, heading to the late afternoon meeting, or picking up cranky children.
Isn’t fall a lovely time? What snacks get you through the day?