I love sneaking a vegetable into a sweet. Carrot cake. Zucchini bread. They're some of my favs. This is a new one... raw carrot cake balls.
I love making the more basic version of this that's basically just nuts and dates processed together to form a dough that you roll into balls.
You can use the nuts and dates as a base and dream up all sorts of creations. This is my latest...
I get asked a lot for new lunch and snack ideas for kids.
Problem is most snacks you buy ready to go either 1.) are full of a bunch of junk or 2.) cost more than my lunch.
So I prefer homemade snacks. And in a perfect world those would be the only snacks we'd eat. I'd always have multiple batches of delicious homemade snacks and treats on hand.
And I'd be waiting in my pearls and apron, holding a tray of freshly baked fill in the blanks...
Ha, yeah right.
My house would be spotless, too...
Reality is I struggle with this as much as anyone else. I don't want the junk. I also don't want to spend my kids' college fund on Larabars.
So what's a mom to do?
The Snack Strategy
I do a little of both.
I try to make one healthy snack option (like the ones listed here) to have stocked in the fridge for the week. And I keep our pantry stocked with snacks ranging from healthy, to healthy-ish, to not healthy at all.
I push the homemade first and when those are gone we resort to the pantry. If I can fit it in, sometimes I'll make another batch mid-week, but if I'm not able to, it's not the end of the world.
I find this saves about half the Larabar budget and of course also increases the odds of the kids eating something nutritious instead of from the "not healthy at all" shelf in the pantry.
Speaking of not healthy at all, I forgot Easter isn't just one day when you have kids... Egg hunts start early! We'll have had at least three by the time this marathon sugar rush is all said and done.
So far we've only had one and my kids have asked for chocolate for breakfast every day since....
I made these raw carrot cake balls for a sweet snacky treat that isn't... well, candy.
After I made them with snack in mind, I got to thinking how they could be turned into more of a dessert (clearly the sugar's taken over my brain too...).
These are sweet enough on their own but...
Carrot cake usually has cream cheese icing right?
You could add a little cashew cream cheese on top to make an iced cake ball.
I'll include the cashew cream cheese recipe with the raw carrot cake balls recipe below so you can give it a try if you like.
If you do try, I'd love to hear how it worked!
Annnnnnd, if you want more healthy sweet snack and dessert recipes, be sure to get my FREE sweet and dessert recipe eBook. Download it for free here.
Up Your Snack Game
Looking to up your snack game, or your whole eating game in general? In my Eat Healthy program you get a complete 2-week meal plan with recipes, shopping lists, instructions and more, plus a healthy snack list, recommended brands and more healthy snack and dessert recipes.
It's kind of like starting a new, healthier routine with training wheels on so you can get up and going without all the stress, failed attempts and wasted time figuring out what works and what doesn't.
There's enough in life that's stressful, what you're eating shouldn't add to it. Email me and let's talk.
Raw Carrot Cake Balls
1 cup walnuts
10-15 dates, halved and pitted
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded coconut (+ 1/2 cup more for rolling)*
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove or ginger
(alternatively you can use 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend)
1 tsp vanilla extract**
1/4 tsp sea salt
*optional - you can either roll or drizzle with cashew cream cheese (see below for recipe)
**I prefer alcohol-free pure vanilla extract (like this one) or vanilla powder
Lay out a piece of parchment paper on your counter-top and set a storage container aside.
In a food processor, add the walnuts, spices and vanilla and pulse until finely chopped. Add dates, spreading them evenly around basin of food processor. Pulse slowly until nuts and dates are combined. Add carrots and pulse to combine. Add coconut and pulse again. You should have something that looks like dough.
Transfer dough to parchment paper. Wet hands and form dough into small balls, rolling them between your palms.
Roll balls in shredded coconut or top with cashew cream cheese.
Cashew Cream Cheese
1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water at least 6-8 hours, drained and rinsed)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
Place cashews, lemon juice and salt in food processor and process until smooth.
Use to top carrot cake balls with a bit of icing. You could add more liquid (water should do) to thin it out for more of a drizzle.
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Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.