Healthy Snacks

date-apricot balls with coconut and cacao nibs recipe

these are not schweddy balls ::::

Another post to lament and celebrate my working motherhood. There is nothing more heartbreaking than dropping off my infant daughter at daycare, even though I fully prepared myself for this time, THIS TIME, to be easier than when I dropped off my first infant at daycare almost six years prior.

Even now, I feel myself pushing down that emotion just like I did on the first day I dropped her off, that sore rawness that is the dichotomy of mothering and being a working mother outside of the home, that departure from focused time, her eyes in mine, that joyful sparkle to bask in with my baby. It’s the emotion of happy with pinkness and roundness, milky breasts and stretch marks, the tear streaked baby, now calm in my arms, that I feel ballooning up. Instead, I shut it off, I stomp on it, shoving it into some dark corner to sit while I work, while I paste on a smile and nod. Sometimes. It’s not that I don’t like what I do for work, I just can’t be sniveling while I’m trying to do it well.

At least this is the feeling I was having in October when I first went back to work after maternity leave. That sore has healed some, the acuity lessened to a dull ache. I am well supported in my work environment; I have no complaints. It’s the thread of emotion and hormones inextricably linked to a mother and her baby that negates any support one might have. It didn’t matter that I was going to a great environment or a terrible one. I was a frazzled mess.

And so, we developed a routine. A creature of habit I can be, often so welcomed in my life of my children’s sometimes chaotic schedules and activities. Snuggles in the morning for the roly-poly baby, good mornings to the sleepy-eyed Peach and Grub, Peach often lingering in bed as long as possible to cuddle with the cat, and Grub announcing that he was already dressed (in his SpiderMan costume, again). Lunches are packed. Grub has eaten his second breakfast before I have started my first. Sky-Girl’s milk is packed carefully in a cooler pack for transport to the daycare. Kisses and coats are donned. Seatbelts buckled and we’re off. My mind switches to another gear, another world.

My mothering is reformatted daily when I work, like some hard drive reboot. Plucked from my close mothering instinct of my infant and two other children each day, I refocus my attention to my patients. I listen. They listen. They follow directions (sometimes). They ask questions. I answer them. We shake hands and I verbally curtsy out of the exam room, onto the next.

And when all is said and done, at the end of the work day and I drive to pick up my babies, I start to feel that emotion rise up, like some rogue balloon. It almost chokes me, the closer I get to the daycare, if I am picking Grub and Sky-Girl up, and perhaps Peach from school. But I repeat what I just did earlier. Instead of that exposing that rawness inside, that person who is screaming, running, to see her baby, I calmly walk into the daycare, pick up my baby with a few giggles and hugs, nod appreciatively to the staff, and try to get the hell out of there before I explode with joy. Forever will many working mothers have a similar incongruence with life and work, trying to put on that professional face while crumpling just a little inside, then turning into mush when seeing their kids.

Time is the issue. There just isn’t enough of it to enjoy it all, to spend focused time in play and work. Even my cooking has waned lately; many of the posts in the last couple of months have been saved from maternity leave cooking. I love to find recipes that I can try with the kids, and today’s recipe is perfect. These are my go-to snack these days, easy to pack for a on-the-go snack or to pop into my mouth while walking out of the house, baby in arm, kids in tow, or while carrying the number of bags I need to function while away from home for the day (purse, breastpump, cooler with ice, lunch), whatever situation I’m in where I need another arm or two. Peach even got excited about these date balls when I first made them, convincing me to usurp the date bars I planned to make for a church get-together with these instead. These are a great project for young kids to help with as there are no raw eggs or hot ovens involved. These are perfect for that impatient child: immediate gratification into a mouth when the ball is rolled. And even the impatient mom who wants to still time to see her babies forever, but want to paradoxically speed through the work day to see them sooner.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Have a good weekend snuggling with loved ones.

One year ago: dilled shrimp dip and happy valentine’s day

Two years ago: naked coconut panna cotta and madeleines

Three years ago: golden beet latkes with smoked paprika sour cream and pumpkin panna cotta


date-apricot balls with coconut and cacao nibs recipe
Recipe type: healthy snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
  • ¾ cup raw almonds, divided
  • pinch salt
  • 6 large Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 6 dried apricot halves, chopped well
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water, depending on how dry your dates and apricots are (unsweetened rice, almond, or soy milk also work)
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  1. In a food processor, grind ½ cup almonds with the coconut. Add dates, apricots, salt, and cinnamon, pulsing so that the mixture looks like stone-ground cornmeal.
  2. Roughly chop the remaining almonds and mix in with cacao nibs in a separate small bowl. Then add this into the date mixture, combining well.
  3. Give your almond-date mixture a squeeze. If it stays together fairly well, no need to add water. If the mixture seems dry (falling apart with a squeeze), add in a tablespoon of water and test again. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of water if needed.
  4. Using a #60 ice cream scoop, pack in the mixture then roll each your hands to make uniform balls.
  5. These can be frozen for months or kept in the refrigerator for weeks.
  6. Make 20 balls.



  • Paula December 21, 2014 Reply

    I was just looking for something to do with my dried fruit… a cookie… something to make with my kiddo, almost 3. And then I read your whole post (I usually skip on to the recipe). So beautiful. So real. Thank you for writing this. As 2014 closes and I look to 2015, thinking what I want to accomplish..what are my priorities in my career and life. This really hit home. Thanks for writing. Thanks for sharing. I hope you are enjoying the ATL- I grew up there. Best, Paula

    • story December 23, 2014 Reply

      Thanks so much! I’ve been feeling the same about 2015. 2014 has been a year of change, for sure.

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