The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Fruit-and-nut balls

Fruit-and-nut balls

My parents had a strict no-sugar policy when I was a kid, so we ate some unusual desserts.  One of my favorites was "golf balls," a conglomeration of nuts, dried fruit. and fresh lemon that a family friend came over and helped us make each Christmas in a hand-cranked sausage grinder.  I decided to try blending my own version out of our home-dried fruit (and a few purchased additions), and liked the result enough to share with you.

Here's the original recipe, as best I can remember it:

  • flesh from 1 coconut
  • some amount of nuts, all kinds (probably largely pecans and walnuts)
  • some amount of dried apricots, dried figs, and dried dates (roughly equal parts?)
  • 1 whole lemon

And here's my homegrown alternative:

Processing dried

I ground everything up, a bit at a time, in a food processor, then rolled the dough into fifteen balls.  Without apricots, the fruit balls weren't as cheerfully orange, but the flavor felt richer (probably because of the tartness of the peaches).  I also observed that the food processor made a chunky texture rather than a blended whole, which has its own pros and cons.  (I liked the chunks, but kids would probably prefer the blended version.)

On the whole, I'm happy with the experiment, although I might try again with coconut taking the place of some of the nuts.  (I didn't leave out the coconut on purpose --- the one Mark bought for me was moldy.)  The fruit-and-nut balls make me think of a vegetarian pemmican and are pretty healthy for something that tastes like a dessert (145 calories per ball, 9% protein, with 15% of your daily allowance of fiber).

Of course, Mark still thinks this is one of my crazy family dishes, best avoided.  Maybe if I came up with a better name than "golf balls," he'd give it another try.  Want to help redub the dessert?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Homemade Larabars. Commercially made Larabars are about a buck each! They're a perfect snack for primal eaters, but kind of expensive for a snack. I love your idea of adding a lemon. I usually just use a mixture of dried fruit with whatever nuts I have on hand.
Comment by Debbi Sun Oct 13 16:08:50 2013
Might Mark (and me) enjoy them a bit if you added some dark chocolate to the mixture?
Comment by Sheila Sun Oct 13 21:24:58 2013

If you are making them for Mark to eat, you could call them Mark's Balls... It might make for interesting conversations as well. "Would you like to taste...."

Comment by Eric in Japan Sun Oct 13 23:18:36 2013
Funny, i was just considering making what we call " energy bites" for our long training runs- they are quite similar to your childhood recipe- coconut ( i have unsweetened flakes usualky,mbut can use fresh coconut too), dates, nuts of any kind, usually chia seeds or ground flax seeds, and, instead of a lemon, the grated peel of an orange. I make them into balls smaller than golf balls- more like the size of an avocado pit. They are great energy for the trail... So maybe yours could be " power bites" or "zesty lemon date nut dried peach balls". Ok, maybe not that last one.
Comment by Deb Mon Oct 14 01:32:47 2013
We still talk about Golf Balls, with increasing frequency lately. Mike loved them, but I'm with Mark. ;-)
Comment by Brandy Mon Oct 14 06:28:43 2013

Let's see...they're made by Mark and Anna, and they're kind of like pemmican. How about Mannacan (or Mannaken)? Maybe that's not any better than 'golf balls'... :-)

Comment by Jake Mon Oct 14 11:00:23 2013
When you say "whole lemon" do you use the peel, too?
Comment by Terry Mon Oct 14 11:44:36 2013

Terry --- I sure do. In fact, the zest is what really, well, zests up the golf balls. :-) If you don't like the slightly bitter taste of the white under the peel (which I do), you can cut off the zest (yellow part) and add it, then squeeze in the juice, discarding the potentially bitter part.

(I've been enjoying reading everyone else's suggestions too! :-) )

Comment by anna Mon Oct 14 11:48:34 2013

Thanks Anna!

BTW, I love that you've added lemon to this recipe -- some tartness is good balanced with such heavy sweetness. I like a bit of bitter, so I think I'll try that, too. Thanks again, love your site.

Peace, Terry

Comment by Terry Mon Oct 14 12:08:30 2013

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