Ellie Krieger’s Date-Coconut Energy Balls. (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)

These easy snowballs offer a portable pop of energy wherever and whenever you need it. Their sweetness provides an immediate pick-me-up with no refined sugar, thanks to the use of dates, which offer not only inherent sweetness and the stickiness that binds everything together, but also fiber, potassium and essential minerals. (I am partial to the plump Medjool variety, but any type will work.)

The one-bite wonders provide more sustained energy by way of the sunflower seeds that provide satisfying bits of crunchiness, plus protein, fiber and healthful fat, in a school cafeteria-friendly, nut-free way. Shredded coconut gives them a tropical chew, and fragrant hints of cinnamon and orange zest lend layers of aromatic flavor.

They are perfectly portioned, and will keep for two to three weeks in the refrigerator and up to three days at room temperature — just right for putting in a lunchbox, keeping at work or stashing in your gym bag.


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Date-Coconut Energy Balls

6 servings (makes 12 pieces)

These offer a portable pop of on-the-go energy, with dates for sweetness (so no added sugar is needed) and seeds instead of nuts, which makes them school lunchbox friendly. Shredded coconut gives them a tropical chew, and fragrant hints of cinnamon and orange zest lend layers of aromatic flavor.

MAKE AHEAD: The balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks, or in the container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.


8 ounces pitted dates (about 13 large Medjool)

1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/8 teaspoon salt

Water (optional)


Combine the dates, sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, the cinnamon, orange zest and salt in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped and a pinch of the mixture holds together. Depending on the moisture level of your dates, you may need to add water to the food processor, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture adheres easily.

Place the remaining coconut in a bowl.

Divide the date mixture into 12 equal portions (slightly rounded tablespoons), then roll each one into a ball. Transfer to the coconut to coat them all over, pressing as needed so the coconut adheres. Dampen the balls with a little water, as needed, to help that effort.

Serve, or store as you like.

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