My kitchen is a haven for healthy snacks – a temporary haven anyway, since they don’t last that long before being devoured. Guests are offered strange sounding creations like date balls, cacao truffles and almond protein cookies, and while most are initially suspicious, only a few have lifelong regrets (my sister and a particularly unfortunate batch of protein bars come to mind!).
Snacking is a necessary part of our days. It keeps our bodies from being hungry and going into starvation mode, which causes stress hormone (cortisol) production. Eating healthy snacks regularly also stabilises our blood sugar so that we don’t crave sweets. Spikes in blood sugar are caused by either not eating enough or eating sugary treats, and they place a lot of stress on our bodies.
You’ve probably heard people say it’s far better to eat 6 or 7 small meals a day rather than 3 big ones. This is so true! Contrary to old school beliefs, regular eating actually speeds up metabolism and assists with weight loss, while eating 3 big meals a day puts unnecessary pressure on your digestive system as it struggles to cope with the overload. In the case of eating patterns, more is more! Just don’t increase your portions to match the number of times you’re eating…small meals often is the key to optimum digestion, good energy levels and stable weight.
I have an arsenal of healthy snack recipes to share with you, but let’s start with one of my favourites – coconut protein date balls. As you’ll find out, I am obsessed with all things coconut. It’s a miracle drupe (what botanists call stone fruits apparently) that I use on and in everything, from my skin to my hair to my cooking.
Coconut Protein Date Balls
250g dried dates – roughly chopped
100g pecan/brazil nuts
1 tbsp cacao
2 tbsp protein powder
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
50g coconut oil
Sesame seeds (optional)
Melt the dates and coconut oil in small pot on the stove until the dates are soft and gooey. Set aside to cool.
Lightly beat the egg and add to date mixture – it should be cool enough to touch without burning your fingers, otherwise the egg will scramble.
Add cacao, protein powder, desiccated coconut and salt and combine.
Mix in the nuts.
The mixture should be very sticky. If it’s too thick and you’re struggling to mix it, add a few drops of water, but not too much – you don’t want mushy balls!
Roll into balls and coat with sesame seeds.
Keep in the fridge – they’re good for 7 – 10 days.