Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Energy Treats

The Whole Life Nutrition book strikes again. I like to call them homemade Lara bars, though these may even be nicer. Elspeth thinks they're delicious and we do, too. They're a great pick-me-up without any of the crap that conventional energy bars contain. Plus, the recipe is super simple and quick to make.

The recipe in the book is called 'Raw Energy Balls', but that just makes Evan and me snigger, so I have dubbed them energy treats instead. Besides, in March 09 I finally tired of making all the balls, so I pressed them into an 8inch pan sprayed with cooking spray and cut them into squares. I will not waste any time rolling again and have changed the recipe below accordingly.

This recipe is easily adaptable to whatever dried fruit you have on hand and whatever spices seem nice. You could even try adding a bit of orange or lemon zest for extra brightness. Dried apricots might work well, too. The recipe specifies raw almond butter. We're still snowbound and couldn't get to the store that carries the raw stuff, so we used the normal kind with no ill effects. I suspect that raw is used for health reasons--some folks believe raw is more nutritious. I'm not really a proponent of the raw food movement, myself. More importantly in this case, though, there is such a small amount of almond butter relative to the raw almonds used earlier in the recipe that I can't imagine it makes that much difference even if raw is nutritionally superior.

INGREDIENTS
1 c. raw almonds (I bet you could also use storebought almond meal)
1 c. dates, pitted (medjool are supposed to be the best dates)
1/4 c. dried fruit (I used a blend of cherries, blueberries and strawberries from Trader Joe's; our friend Melanie used cranberries and that was delicious, too)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 c. (raw) almond butter (I increased the amount from 1/4 c. when using the squares method)
Shredded unsweetened coconut for top and bottom

DIRECTIONS
  1. Use a food processor to grind the almonds finely (mine didn't end up as fine as almond meal, but they worked anyway)
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the almond butter and process until very fine
  3. Add the almond butter and process until well combined. The mixture should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (You could add a bit more almond butter if the mixture doesn't hold together; I didn't add more and even though the treats seemed crumbly to make, they didn't taste dry at all and did hold together well enough)
  4. Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with shredded coconut
  5. Press mixture into the pan and squash around until it's relatively even thickness. Sprinkle with more shredded coconut and then cut into bite-sized squares. You can leave the squares in the pan or store them in another container
The recipe states that these may be kept at room temp for 3 days or refrigerated up to a week. I had thought that I might try freezing them, but quickly realized once we tasted them that we would not have any lasting beyond a week!

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