Ooooooh yay! September, golden September! Now that (I sincerely hope this won’t turn into a cruel case of “famous last words” …) the Sun and her summery sidekicks “Blistering Heat” and “Choking Doldrums” are going seperate ways for a while, the time has come to tie on a pair of hiking boots and enjoy the late-Summer scenery around us in all its glory. Of course, long forest-hikes call for refreshments, and an idea I had tucked away in my headspace ages ago had the chance to hatch and quickly grow into the perfect pick-me-up for the occasion.
Many, many moons ago in Tyria, while going through the process of aquiring a legendary weapon, this ingredient of sorts passed through my hands:
Of course, I immediately thought about using this as the starting point for a snack- or chocolate-box recipe at some point, but that particular lightbulb remained unlit for a long time. Until this year came along!
This year, we finally had real “Seasons” for the first time in many years. A warm-and-comfy clothes-worthy Winter, albeit very late, even bringing a couple of days worth of snow to the region. A picture-perfect Spring and an, at least in the insane-temperature sense, moderate Summer with all the fixings. Right now we appear to be sliding into a textbook Autumn, windy, rainy nights and sunny days spaced in perfection. Observing this with a cup of tea in my hands and a contented smile on my face while spotting the first dots of autumny colors on the forest outside finally lit the aforementioned lightbulb in the back of my head: Forest. Hiking. Seasons. Energy. Weather… click!
Another Tyrian ingredient, aquired during the exact same weapons crafting process, popped into my head as I was merrily admiring the budding Autumn scenery and all the pieces of the jigsaw came together in one delicious little… Box of Seasonal Energy Balls! Incredibly healthy, nutritious, easy to make, one for each season, ready to power us up on our next hike~
Spring: Blueberry Cheesecake Energy Bites
These are Hubby’s all-time favorite Energy Balls, so they were actually the first ones to fill a season-spot in this box~
200g Dried Dates, pitted
150g Unsalted Macadamia Nuts
50g Salted Cashews
Alt: 100g Macadamias and 100g Cashews work well too – I go down that packaging-size-dependant road whenever I have no other recipe-related use for excess macadamias since neither of us enjoys eating them raw. They add quite a bit of creamyness though, so the 150g-50g ratio is the “real deal”~
200g Dried Blueberries
12g-15g Nutritional Yeast
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Lemon Extract
1 Pinch of fine-grained Sea Salt – or a couple of Fleur de Sel Flakes on Top
Note: This recipe works deliciously with dried (not candied!) strawberries as well, but they are ridiculously hard to get – So far, I managed once…
1) Pop everything into a food processor and whizz away until everything comes together in a sort-of dough. If everything goes according to plan, the lot will blob up in a ball of dough on the bottom of your food processor when it’s done – this is a very smooth and creamy “dough” though, so if it doesn’t happen, look for a play-dough sort of consistency to tell you when it’s done.
2) Tip the dough out of the processor, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for 30 mins to 1hr to set and firm up a bit to make rolling it into bite-sized balls of yum a bit easier.
3) Line a large tray or plate with a sheet of baking parchment.
4) Once it’s ready, retrieve the dough, twist off Tbsp-sized-to-walnut-sized amounts and tightly roll them into delicious little balls.
5) Place them, one by one, on your prepped tray and, once your’re through the entire dough supply, place the tray in a safe, cool spot of your kitchen for the balls to set.
6) Once they’re not wet’ish to the touch anymore, transfer them into an airtight container and pop them into the fridge until you need them~
7) Locked up safely, they’ll (potentially…) keep for up to a month.
Summer: Mango, Kumquat & Coconut Energy Balls
200g Soft Dried Mango, roughly chopped
100g Shredded Coconut
50g Dried Kumquats, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp Dark Honey
2 Tsp Passionfruit Extract
Alt: Passionfruit Syrup, the organic ones usually found in the cocktails section of a well-sorted supermarket (“Monin” is one of the common brands covering those) – if you’re going with this, leave out the honey and add 2 Tbsp of the syrup.
1 Lime, Zest and Juice
Opt: 3-4 cubes of candied ginger to add a bit of a zing
1 generous Pinch of Sea Salt
Desiccated Coconut Flakes, lightly toasted – enough to fill a small bowl and roll the proto-balls in
1) Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and whizz the lot until it clumps up into a ball of dough. If it doesn’t ball up, grab a teaspoonful of the dough and try to roll it up – if it keeps its shape, you’re golden! If you feel it’s way too dry to ever stick, add more mangoes. If it’s too wet, add more coconut. The dough will be a bit more on the wet side because of the coconut oil, but keep in mind that coconut oil firms up again once it cools down (which is exactly the point of it being in there in the first place~)
2) Once the dough is done, tip it out of the food processor, wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to chill for 1hr.
3) Line a large tray with a sheet of baking parchment.
4) Roll tablespoonfuls or walnut-sized amounts of the dough into balls and set them onto the tray as you go.
5) Grab a bowl, add the coconut flakes and roll each ball in the pile until it’s covered all around. Pat the flakes in a little to make them stick in a more permanent way and place them back on the tray one by one.
6) Transfer them to an airtight container once they’ve set and store them in the fridge until Snack’o’Clock.
7) They’ll stay deliciously juicy and yum for about a month.
Autumn: Apple & Chai Energy Balls
The Sweet Chai tea I was drinking during the lightbulb-lighting process that led to this post gave me this idea~
150g Dried Apple Rings, roughly chopped
50g Apple Chips – the crunchy version of the traditional apple rings
100g Rolled Oats
50g Ground Almonds, lightly toasted
125g Almond Butter
75g Dark, intense Honey
¼ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ Tsp Ground Ginger
1/8 Tsp Ground Star Anise
Alt: 1/3 of a Star Anise, freshly ground in a Pestle & Mortar
¼ Tsp Ground Fennel Seeds
5 Ground Cloves
4 Ground Green Cardamom Pods
3 Ground Black Peppercorns
1 Pinch of Coarse Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt
1-2 Tbsp freshly brewed Chai Tea or Apple Juice to adjust the consistency
1) Line a large tray with a sheet of baking parchment.
2) Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and whizz the lot into a pliable dough.
3) Due to the apple rings, it might be a bit dry, so add the tea/juice in small increments and whizz again until the “dough” actually sticks together at a pinch.
4) Once you’ve reached the right consistency, pick up tablespoonfuls of the dough, roll it into bite-sized morsels and place them, evenly spaced, on the tray.
5) Give them about 30 mins to dry and set before transferring the energy bites into an airtight container.
6) Keep them in the fridge – for up to a month – and snack away whenever you need a healthy jolt~!
Winter: Gingerbread-Spiced Cherry & Almond Energy Bites
100g Dried Cherries
75g Soft Dried Figs
75g Dried Dates
30g Soft Rolled Oats
125g Blanched Almonds, lightly toasted
25g Almond Butter – Ever since I found a Tonka-Bean-Spiced Almond Butter at my local Organic Foods store, i’ve been sticking to that. If you like a hint of marzipan, snoop around the Honey/jam/breadspread section of a store near you or simply use a pinch of freshly ground tonka~
25g Dark Runny Honey
2-3 Tsp Gingerbread Spice Blend – depending on the very cherry oomph your cherries pack
¼ Tsp Ground Allspice
¼ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Pinch of Sumach
1 Pinch of Salt
Opt: Cacao Nibs for the Chocoholics among you~ A few pressed onto the crown of the balls make for a pretty (yummy) deco as well~!
1) Aaaand once more: pop everything into the food processor and whizz away!
2) The spices might have been blasted up the sides of the processor, so grab a rubber spatula and maneuver everything down into the fold again.
3) The dough will be very fine and smooth – if it’s too wet to roll up, add more oats. If it’s too dry to stick, add more almond butter.
4) Line the by now familiar tray with baking parchment, roll up bite-sized amounts of the dough and place them on the tray.
5) Allow the balls to set in a cool and dry place and transfer them into an airtight container once you’re satisfied with the surface-feel of the balls… or once you’ve ran out of time and storage space since you made all of these energy balls in one go! Be sure to line the container though, and keep some space between the individual bites to avoid major stickage…
6) Off into the fridge they go, just waiting for you to be peckish – or to be wrapped up in a gift- or hike-suitable box!