My Favourite Not-Too-Sweet Treats (And a Recipe for Chocolate Date-Nut Energy Balls)

Not-Too-Sweet Treats (And a recipe for chocolate date-nut energy balls)The only thing too sweet in this photo is the little girl. Awww . . .

The other day I wrote how I’m glad natural sweeteners are expensive, because it naturally curbs the amount of sugar my family consumes. Since we’re committed to healthy eating, and try only to consume unprocessed sweeteners like organic cane sugar, honey, and maple syrup, we’re forced to limit our sugar intake. These sweeteners are costly, and we just can’t afford to eat much. So I’m forced to cut back on the sweetener I use in my recipes, and to limit sweet treats in general.

One of the great things about being forced to put less and less sweetener in our food is that we’ve slowly acquired a taste for less-sweet foods. My daughter only knows chocolate in its bittersweet form, and most store-bought sweets strike us as grotesquely sugary.

After reading my post, a friend asked me to share some of my favourite not-so-sweet snacks and desserts. I thought that was a great idea! So here’s a short list of some well-loved homemade treats. Throughout the week, I’ll share the recipes, and then link them up here. After the list (below), I’ll share one of my favourite sugar-free treats: chocolate date-nut energy balls. Yummo!

Just a side note: I work hard to keep lots of not-sweet snacks handy, that we can reach for when we’re feeling munchy — things like hard-boiled eggs, crispy chick peas, cheese, homemade crackers, chopped veggies and dip, etc. But we still enjoy plenty of sweet things, too. I personally believe that limited amounts of (natural) sugar is still an important part of a healthy diet.

You’ll notice the list is pretty chocolate-heavy, because my daughter and I are both huge chocolate fans. (The darker, the better, in my opinion). But I’ve tried to include some other flavours, too.

These are our go-to sweet snacks. They’re all in regular rotation around here. I’ve made them all at least a dozen times, and have perfected them to our tastes.

Kathleen’s Favourite Not-Too-Sweet Treats

And now, for the recipe:

Chocolate Date-Nut Energy Balls

Chocolate date-nut energy balls (no added sugar)

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of similar variations on Pinterest and the like. They’re similar to Larabars, only way cheaper and with no unnecessary packaging. This recipe is kind of a combination of several recipes I’ve tried. It’s gluten-free and contains no added sugars — just dates/prunes to sweeten.

They are magical. So simple and so delectable. Not to mention nutritious and filling. My daughter — who doesn’t care for food in general — adores them, and refers to them as chocolate balls (or cock-cock balls, but . . . yeah, that doesn’t sound quite right). Just throw the ingredients in a food processor, roll them into balls, and you’re good to go. They travel well in purses, lunch bags, or diaper bags.

Note: In my experience, a blender does not work for this recipe, nor does a wimpy food processor. It’s gotta be fairly big and tough. I have a Ninja Food Processor, and it works great.

As always, organic ingredients are preferred.


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 cups dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins, prunes, or more dates
  • 4 Tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
  • 5 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or more as needed)


  1. Pulse walnuts and almonds into a fine meal in a food processor.
  2. Add dates and remaining dried fruit, a few at a time, and continue to pulse/process until it all clumps together into a big, sticky ball. Some (cheaper) dates may be quite hard and dry, and will give your food processor a hard time; if this is the case, just process one or two at a time until they’re all incorporated. Extra coconut oil and/or a teaspoon of water will help if it’s really dry.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until everything is thoroughly mixed.
  4. Pour mixture into a medium-sized bowl. Then shape into your preferred form. I prefer to roll them into little balls — they’re easier to serve to little folks this way, and I find the finished product tidier. You could also press the mixture into a rectangular glass pan, refrigerate to harden, and then cut into bars with a sharp knife.
  5. Store in refrigerator for best quality and to keep them nice and firm, but room temperature is fine, especially for shorter periods of time.

almond walnut cocoa balls hand

chocolate larabar almond walnut date

toddler hand sweet treat ball(I told you Lydia loves them. The little thief! I did not tell her she could have one . . . )

So what are some of your favourite sweet-but-not-too-sweet snacks? Or your favourite not-sweet snacks? Feel free to link up some of your own recipes! I’d love to get more ideas!!

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  1. YUM! These look delish! How many does it make and have you ever tried to freeze them?
    PepperReed recently posted..Back in the Land of the Living!My Profile

    • Oh goodness, I’m not sure how many it makes. I’ll have to count next time I make them and get back to you. :) I’m gonna guess around 2 dozen, about the size of a large marble??

      I have frozen them, and it works perfectly.

    • OK, PepperReed: I just made them again, and I totally underestimated the number. I got almost 60 balls (!!) out of one batch. Again, maybe the size of a large marble. Smaller than a walnut. (I can’t think of a good comparison example!!).

  2. yay! and doh! I need to get on that food processor already!
    alison recently posted..That middle groundMy Profile

  3. This series is a great reminder for me, because I know I eat too much sugar. I just do. So I’m starting by cutting back the regular amount in the baked goods I usually make (cookies, banana bread, etc.) Someday I hope to get where you are. :)

    I’m really intrigued by crispy chickpeas. I’d love to know more. What are these? How can I make them?
    Laura recently posted..What I’m into: Easter seasonMy Profile

  4. Thanks for the recipe! I made these into bars so that my husband and I can take them to our frisbee tournaments the last couple weekends and they’ve been awesome!


  1. […] truck-loads of avocado (yum!) and matoke (less yum) that we ate in Burundi and Uganda, I did make Kathleen’s date and nut energy bars last week and they are delicious! I have a real sweet tooth, which makes me frequently crave […]

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