With Mother's Day coming up soon, time to whip up a simple yet delicious and healthy treat for the special women in our lives. Dads can even prepare this with the children and surprise their moms. These delicious bites can come with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a simple fruit salad and can be eaten during breakfast, snack, or as a dessert.
1 cup oat flakes (kaurahiutale)
2-3 tbsp chocolate chips (or raisins or dry berries like blue-berries)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp cocoa powder unsweetened (optional)
Coconut shredded/flakes (optional)
Note that there are different variety of dates in the shops. For this recipe, you need the very soft ones.
1. If the dates are dry, you can soak them in hot water for half an hour, then drain well before using them.
2. In a blender or food processor, put the oat flakes, dates, vanilla (if using. Blend well until all the ingredients break and stick together. If the mixture is too dry and a bit hard to blend, add 1-2 spoons water (or nut/seed paste if available such as tahini), then blend again.
3. Add cocoa powder (if using), chocolate chips, thenblend shortly (about 1-2 minutes) until combined well, but not too long. You can use hand and fork to mix all ingredients at this point. Taste and adjust the sweetness, and if too sweet, add a bit more cocoa powder, but if it is not sweet enough, add 1 or 2 more dates or figs, then blend again.
4. Move the mixture in a bowl. Take from the dough by spoon or by hand, and form it into as many chocolate balls possible.
5. Pour the coconut flakes into a plate (if using), roll each chocolate ball into the flakes until well-covered. This creates what appears like snowballs, which makes it more appealing to eat.
6. You can also decorate the surfaces of the balls with different crushed nuts such as hazelnuts, pistachios, pecan nuts, and walnuts.
*You can replace dates with other dry fruits like figs or apricots. Make sure to get the texture right so that you can create balls out of the dough. You can also mix different dry fruits such as dates, figs, apricots all together. If apricots or figs are too dry, same as with dates, you can soak them in water for a while, drain well, and use.
*You can replace chocolate chips with raisins or any small dry berries such as blueberry (mustikka), dry lingonberry (puolukka), cranberry (karpalo) which are all easy to find in many supermarkets in Finland. But usually, the combination of the sweetness of dates, and the bitterness of cocoa powder and chocolate chips gives it the awesome flavor of 'choco balls'.
*This is a very nice and healthy way to make children eat healthier using less refined white sugar. If you want to make it more nutritious and kid-friendly, add some nuts to it too, maybe one or two spoons of walnuts, pecan nuts, or cashew nuts, then blend all. Tahini (sesame seeds paste), or any other nut paste like peanut or almond paste, would also work well.
*If children like these ball-bites, try many other options, specially if they are picky kids and eat little fresh fruits. For example, you can try fresh banana, fresh carrots, and dates all together to blend with oat flakes; which are all packed with nutritions. You could try this: one banana, one carrot (chopped in small or grated), 2-3 dates, 2-3 figs, 1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 1/2 cup oats, blend all together and follow the procedures as explained above get the texture right to create balls.
*One can use also other types of whole grain flakes to replace the oat, which are available in shops, such as millet flakes, rice flakes, buckwheat flakes or a combination of them, to create a more nutritious snack for kids.