These Healthy Buckeye Balls are a remake of the original Ohio Buckeyes made with peanut butter, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar, butter and chocolate chips. I’ve “healthified” them by substituting oats, dates and dark chocolate for the butter, sugar and chocolate chips and of course keeping the delicious peanut butter. They’re hard to resist, trust me!
I had never heard of Buckeyes until my recent cooking experience with Turtle(Christopher) at a Zeno Mountain Cooking Club meet up on Zoom. Turtle led the group in creating the original version which is offered at the restaurant where he works in Waitsfield, Vermont, Three Mountain Cafe. You can see Turtle in action here at my recent blog post on cooking with Zeno Mountain Cooking Club.
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own” Bruce Lee
Healthy Buckeye Balls
- Food processor
- Sheet pan
- Parchment paper
- Rubber Spatula
- Large Bowl
- Microwave safe bowl
- ¾ cup rolled oats check label for gluten free
- 1 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup water
- 8 ounces dark chocolate chopped
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Place the rolled oats in the bowl of a food processor and process until the oats have been finely ground into flour.
- Add the dates, peanut butter and water to the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Stop the processor to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
- If the mixture if too crumbly to form into balls after it has been fully blended, add a small amount of water(about 1 teaspoon at a time) and blend again until it reaches the right consistency to roll into balls.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor to a large bowl.
- Measure approximately 1 Tablespoon of the mixture and form into a ball with your hands. Repeat until all of the mixture has been rolled into balls.
- Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator or the freezer for about 20 minutes.
- Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir after each 30 second interval.
- Remove the balls from the refrigerator and place a toothpick in the top of each ball.
- Dip each ball in the chocolate and return to the sheet pan. Remove the toothpicks and smooth over the toothpick holes. Return the balls to the refrigerator to cool for 20 minutes.
You’ll need the following ingredients for these Healthy Buckeye Balls…
Oats come in many varieties including whole oat groats, steel cut, Scottish and instant rolled oats. Regular rolled oats also known as “Old-Fashioned” are created when oat groats are steamed and then rolled into ﬂakes. This process allows the oats to stay fresh longer and cook faster.
Quick-cooking oats are rolled oats that go through further processing to decrease cooking time. I recommend using regular organic gluten free Old-Fashioned rolled oats when possible.
Pure oats are gluten free and safe for most people, however, oats are often contaminated with gluten during harvesting and processing. When avoiding gluten, look for oats that are certified as gluten free.
Oats are a whole grain food, high in fiber and carbohydrates and higher in protein and fat than other grains.
They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. According to Healthline.com, they may help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, protect against skin irritation and reduce constipation. Because they are filling, they may also aid in weight loss.
Medjool Dates are one of over 1500 date varieties grown in California, Arizona, Florida, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, . They’re important for this recipe because of their rich caramel flavor.
Although Medjool dates can be kept in your pantry in an air tight container, to keep them fresher longer, store them in the refrigerator or freezer. For this recipe, bring them to room temperature before adding them to the food processor. If they are especially dry, you may even want to soak them a bit beforehand. If the dates are too hard, your food processor may jump and jolt on the counter as they’re processing. You can also cut them into small pieces to give your food processor a hand.
Medjool dates are sold either pitted or with their pits. If you purchase dates with pits, you’ll need to remove them. Carefully slice the date open lengthwise and pull out the pit. Also remove the small hard stem end which often clings to the fruit when you’re removing the pits.
Dates are high in sugar(natural sugar) but low in fat. They are a good source of fiber, antioxidants and nutrients such as potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin K, and they may offer health benefits including preventing the development of certain chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
Creamy Peanut Butter
Peanut butter in its purest form is a paste made of peanuts. Unfortunately many commercial brands come with unwanted added ingredients such as sugar, salt and vegetable oils. Look for brands without added ingredients.
Although peanut butter is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it may also have some negatives. It is high in calories, as a protein source, it is low in one essential amino acid and it may contain aflatoxins. See Is Peanut Butter Good For You? at one of my trusted resources, FoodRevolution.org, for a complete discussion of this topic.
Dark Chocolate Bars
Choose dark chocolate with the least number of ingredients for the most health benefits. Chocolate does often contain sugar to balance out its bitterness, so look for chocolate with sugar listed at the bottom of the ingredient list. Cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, cocoa liquor and cocoa butter are all healthy additions to chocolate bars. Try to avoid chocolate bars with trans fats and artificial flavorings. Best Dark Chocolate: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide at Healthline.com offers more guidance on how to find the healthiest chocolate.
Dark Chocolate(70% or higher cacao content) is rich in fiber, minerals and antioxidants and may offer many health benefits including improved heart and brain function.
I once taught a cooking class on chocolate. I’m fascinated with its origins, how it’s grown and processed, and the differences between white, semisweet, bittersweet, milk and unsweetened chocolate. Nearly Everything You Need To Know About Chocolate at Thekitch.com and Everything You Need To Know About Chocolate at Pastry-Workshop.com will give you lots of insight into the basics of all things chocolate.
Let’s Get This Party Going…the sooner the better…to enjoy these rich, creamy and healthy treats…
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the rolled oats in the bowl of a food processor and process until the oats have been finely ground into flour.
Add the dates, peanut butter and water to the processor and process until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Stop the processor to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
If the mixture if too crumbly to form into balls after it has been fully blended, add a small amount of water(about 1 teaspoon at a time) and blend again until it reaches the right consistency to roll into balls.
Remove the mixture from the blender to a large bowl.
Measure approximately 1 Tablespoon of the mixture and form into a ball with your hands. Repeat until all of the mixture has been rolled into balls.
Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator or the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate melts and is smooth. Stir after each 30 second interval.
Remove the balls from the refrigerator and place a toothpick in the top of each ball.
Dip each ball in the chocolate and return to the sheet pan. Remove the toothpicks and smooth over the toothpick holes. Return the balls to the refrigerator to cool for 20 minutes.
Things you might like to know about this recipe…
If you want to avoid gluten, check labels carefully to be sure that your oats are gluten free.(See paragraph above on oats.)
Choose Medjool dates for this recipe for their rich caramel flavor.(See paragraph above on Medjool dates.)
If the dates are too hard, your food processor may jump and jolt on the counter as they’re processing. You can soak them in advance or cut them into small pieces to give your food processor a hand.
Check the label on your peanut butter carefully to make sure there are no unwanted added ingredients such as sugars and vegetable oils.
For the healthiest Buckeye Balls, choose the darkest chocolate that you enjoy. This may change over time as you adjust to less sugar added.
If you have leftover chocolate, you can transfer it to a parchment lined sheet pan, cool and break into pieces. Place the pieces in an air tight container for another use.