Healthy snacks: lemon coconut goji berry bliss balls
Something I’m always asked about are ideas for healthy snacks. One of the first things I did when faced with the scary prospect of changing my eating habits, was figure out in advance what foods I could snack on with abandon. Personally I feel very comforted when I know I have food waiting in the wings that I can eat whenever I like. It’s a psychological tool I find useful that invites feelings of abundance and plenty into the day. It also can help ward off uneasy feelings, like scarcity or denial, that commonly will arrive when we make changes towards a much healthier diet. Healthy snacks can be our giant teddy bears of comfort to help us navigate successfully through diet change.
So this week’s habit is to prepare and have healthy snacks on hand for the week ahead. Specifically we’ll be making these Lemon Bliss Balls (see recipe below) which really hits the spot, so that when temptation or cravings hit, you will be prepared for them. Not so fast Mr. Craving! We’re so onto you.
Why healthy snacks are important
Besides comfort and convenience, the other thing that healthy snacks can do is nourish us extraordinarily well! Nutrients are the cornerstone of healthy living and the thing that makes a snack a “healthy snack” is the variety and density of nutrients found within the snack in question.
Because we’re focussed on building up our beauty this month, this week’s healthy snack is based around nutrients that will increase our skin’s natural gorgeousness. But before it boosts our beauty, these bliss balls are going to boost our immune system, heart health, cancer fighting ability and energy. Because our skin is often the last place to receive nutrients from our foods, we can use it as a progress indicator showing us where we are at on our journey to health. Once our skin starts to look good, we can be fairly confident that the rest of our body parts have already received the nutrients they need to be healthy.
What are bliss balls and how do I eat them?
In the last few years bliss balls have become widely enjoyed by food bloggers around the world as an ingenious way of creating nutrient dense, tasty little bites of deliciousness that contain massive amounts of nutrients and superfoods. The key here is density. They are tasty, but dense, snacks that you can only eat a little bit of before getting quite full.
I find usually that if I have 1 bliss ball I am satisfied for hours (and no cracking a smile at the name or the way I just used that in a sentence 😉 Because of this I give myself free reign to have as many of them as I like. If you’re still craving them, chances are that your body can really use the nutrients – so go for it!
Keep your bliss balls in the fridge at home or at work, and eat them whenever you get hunger pangs in between meals. I usually make 1 or 2 batches a week (you can double the recipe if you are making them for more than 1 person).
Healthy snacks with only 5 ingredients
These bliss balls take only 10 minutes to make and use 5 simple ingredients: pumpkin seeds, goji berries, dates, coconut oil and lemon zest.
The pumpkin seeds are an essential source of two critical minerals that most people need more of. Approximately 80% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium which is quite dangerous as Magnesium benefits blood pressure and can prevent heart attacks. Only 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contain nearly half of your daily recommended amount of Magnesium. If you eat 2 bliss balls, you’re well on your way to the day’s Magnesium requirements. Pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc which is great for your skin, immunity, sleep and mood.
Goji berries, also called wolfberries, are orange-red berries that have been eaten in their native China for centuries by people who were interested in longevity. They are chock full of betacarotene which helps promote glowing skin. They also are packed with Vitamin C, fibre, and an outstandingly high antioxidant (ORAC) value, all of which help to boost the immune system. Because goji berries are such health warriors on their own, they can perform similar functions as blood thinners (Warfarin) and diabetes drugs, so if you are taking these medications, you may wish to check with your doctor as to whether foods like goji berries would interfere with (or potentially replace) your medications.
As far as sweeteners go, dates are by far my favourite choice for adding to desserts and snacks to sweeten things up. Dates are full of fibre which is helpful for keeping you regular as well as reducing LDL cholesterol, and they are a rich source of potassium which reduces the risk of stroke and other heart diseases. Medjool dates in particular bring this soft, chewy, vanilla and toffee flavour that is just amazing. They also have decent amounts of magnesium, manganese, and copper which are great for a variety of things including your skin.
Coconut oil is a real superfood that reduces your hunger, boosts brain function, improves heart health (even though it is a saturated fat), and helps you increase your energy expenditure which helps you burn more fat.
Something surprised me about the health benefits of my bliss balls. I’ve always used lemon, lime and orange zest liberally in my cooking for flavour. I’ve only recently learned that citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, as well as providing benefits with regards to lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as helping to prevent diabetes.