From Alpine’s Healthy Hearth

Little Slice-of-Heaven Ambrosia Balls*

When I first moved to Alpine four years ago, friends from other parts of the country asked me what it was like. I’d say easily, “It’s a little ‘slice-of-heaven!” and reference a May 4, 1952 article from the San Diego Union Tribune I saw at Pine Valley Auto, in which Alpine is described as having the most perfect climate in the US. Then I’d go on to describe it as an “authentic” town, comprised mostly of independent businesses and boutique stores all charmingly the size of a postage stamp—as opposed to the same large chain stores and strip malls you find elsewhere.

“Any downsides?” they’d ask. And I’d say, “Well, there is one thing. Alpine’s got a great health food store for pets called Natural Instincts, but there isn’t one for humans!”

This troubled me. Notwithstanding the fact that I prefer to eat organically grown, grass-fed, humanely raised, and sustainably caught food, in addition my loved ones have challenging dietary restrictions (gluten-free, meat-free, and sugar-free.) And, while Albertsons tried to be accommodating (thanks Bob) and we’ve since gotten a seasonal weekly farmer’s market I appreciate, it’s not the same as having a natural food market in town. I had to regularly head down the hill.

With the opening of Baron’s Market last fall, however, I now boast, “And, we also have the happiest little health food store, offering a great vibe and everything I need at better prices than elsewhere!”

 Yep. Life is naturally sweet in slice-of-heaven Alpine. To honor that, I offer you the following recipe for one of our favorite healthful treats, nicknamed Ambrosia Balls, aka “those yummy chocolate truffles.”

ambrosia balls

Little Slice of Heaven Ambrosia Balls


  • 2 Cups raw shelled mixed nuts/seeds (suggestion: 1 cup walnuts; 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds; 1/2 cup macadamia nuts - but liberal substitutions are ok)
  • 1 1/4 Cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 Cups pitted dates (chopped)
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil (melted)


1. Rough chop dates by hand
2. Pulse nuts and 1 cup coconut in food processor or grinder until fine
3. Mix the 2 Tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp vanilla in a small bowl
4. Prepare two wide-mouthed containers or plates, one with 1/4 cup cocoa powder and the other with 1/4 cup shredded coconut
5. In batches to help keep food processor from gumming up, add a portion of each: rough cut dates, pulsed nut/shredded coconut mixture, and coconut oil mixture. Pulse each batch until mixed
6. Combine all batches in one bowl until uniformly mixed
7. Roll into Tbsp sized balls
8. Roll each ball in cocoa powder, dusting outside
9. Roll/press in coconut and/or sprinkle on top of each ball
10. Set rolled balls on parchment lined container
11. Freeze at least 30 minutes. Bring to room temperature about 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 20 balls.

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