Since it’s been a hectic and busy time for me in the last few months, I’m really enjoying putting some guest posts up here. My good pal Moss over at Moss And Ink wrote this one. Go check her stuff out, and be sure to check in from time to time. She may be off on some grand adventures soon.
After spending countless hours in the woods working, hiking and just plain living I discovered something important about myself; I care about food deeply… and I can spend hours upon hours just thinking about it. Having devoted so much brain power to this subject matter, the conclusion I have come to is that food is always worth it. If you’re going to devote hours of your life to slogging up a mountain, you should be feeding yourself the best possible foods to make it happen.
|Moss’s Balls of Awesome|
I was an average to fairly healthy eater before my thru-hike and I’m not going lie, I was seriously excited to have an excuse to guzzle sodas and chips and candy constantly on my hike. But by the time I was a third of the way finished, my fantasies had switched from soda to fruit and salad and smoothies. Of course, I still indulged in every junk food known to man: Velveeta sandwiches? Check. Candy bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Check. Beef jerky and Lucky Charms cereal as a nutritionally balanced meal? Check. By the time I hit the great state of Maine, my body was hurting. The foods that were easiest to pack and eat were nutritionally devoid and it was clearly affecting my physical performance. Ever since then I’ve made a real effort to eat more balanced meal; foods without processed sugar and meals that incorporate fruits, vegetables, and grains as much as possible.
I’m going to share what I have decided is truly the perfect trail snack. Think Larabar, only better. It’s super healthy and very quick and easy to make. It’s also pretty versatile and can be customized according to what you like. Some of these ingredients may not be ones you have lying around the house… however, they are all ingredients that you can adapt into your other meals and feel good about yourself for doing it, because nutritionally, these foods are the cream of the crop. You can find them at your local health food store, Whole Foods market, or even online. I’ll spare you the lectures on nutritional value but will list other ways you can use each lesser known ingredient so it won’t sit on your shelf unused except for this recipe. Don’t forget that this recipe is extremely flexible and you can (and should) experiment with the ingredient list – so if you want to omit the chia and flax seeds, go for it. A word of warning, though: making this will be much easier if you possess a food processor.
Great Balls of Awesome
(To be honest, I vary the amount/size I make each time, so I can’t give you a set number that the recipe makes!)
-6 dates (I strongly suggest using whole Mehdjool dates… this is the one item that I wouldn’t skimp on) soak the dates overnight in a bowl of water, or zap them for about 2-3 minutes (until soft) in a bowl of water in the microwave right before making the recipe – either way don’t forget to remove the pits first!
-1 cup shelled walnuts (toasted or not – your call)
-1 cup shelled almonds
-Anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 cup golden flax seeds (great on sauteed vegetables, sprinkled on salads, in oatmeal, muffins, granola, and with yogurt, fruit & honey)
-1/8 cup chia seeds (best in oatmeal, granola, and in yogurt with fruit and honey)
-1/2 cup wheat germ (awesome in baked goods, also smoothies, oatmeal, and the yogurt/fruit/combo)
-1 tablespoon coconut oil (has a higher heating point so is great for sauteing vegetables in curry recipes, also can be used like butter on toast, or substituted in lots of baking recipes… I also like to put a little in smoothies sometimes)
-1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste)
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (this probably could be optional but I always throw it in there – it’s an old wives health remedy that I have a soft spot for, and you can’t even taste it in there!)
-1 teaspoon salt
1. Pulse the almonds in the food processor until finely chopped
2. Add walnuts, cinnamon, and salt and process until incorporated and finely chopped.
3. Add the rest of your dry ingredients (chia seeds, wheat germ, etc.) and pulse until incorporated.
4. Remove dates from water, add dates, coconut oil, vinegar, and and pulse – it should very quickly form a ball, don’t pulse for too long – just until it forms a ball/is blended.
5. Make sure it’s well blended, then form small balls by hand and refrigerate. If you prefer to do bars, form the mix into one large ball, then chill for an hour or two before rolling out with a rolling pin on a baking sheet.
Keep refrigerated/covered until use (I generally use parchment paper and tupperware). I like to just take a few in a ziplock for dayhikes and not worry too much about squishing/stickiness. If you are concerned, parchment paper and tupperware is the way to go.
Options: these are AMAZING dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with coarse sea salt (I can’t eat them any other way at the moment). You can also roll them in sesame seeds, or add finely chopped dried fruit of your choice to step 3 or small chunks of chocolate or cacao nibs. Other nuts that work well in lieu of almonds or walnuts: pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and sunflower seeds. You also could experiment with spices too… I think a gingerbread version would be delicious!