maca energy bars

These are really Maca Energy Balls– but that title just might get my site shut down. This recipe was featured in a long-ago cooking class, but it’s one I make for other events, too, and folks always ask about the recipe. These are great snacks to keep in the car, or in your desk for a quick pick-me-up.

Dates are great sources of natural sugars, perfect for after a workout (or just a long day at work!). Maca- if you don’t know- is a teeny turnip-looking root native to South America. It is a delicious supplement that can help with energy, libido, and adrenal function. Most importantly, though, it tastes like caramel malty yumminess. If you are not interested in maca, substitute cacao/cocoa, or just leave it out entirely; nutty cinnamon date balls will still be delish.

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Maca Energy Balls

½ cup almonds
½ cup walnuts
pinch salt
3 Tablespoons maca powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup Medjool dates, pitted
1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 Tablespoons water

  1. Add nuts and salt into food processor.  Blend until very fine- much like the texture of sand.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, starting with just one Tablespoon of the oil. Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside the processor.
  3. Check the texture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add 1 Tbsp more liquid if mixture is too dry.
  4. Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten). Place 1 almond in the center, and store in the fridge.

Yield: About 15, one inch energy balls

vibrant chickpea & herbs salad

Bright green herbs stand in for mixed greens in this filling meal-sized-salad. It’s a great way to include more fresh herbs into your diet, and make use of those random green thingies that show up unannounced in your CSA. Feel free to swap as you like- dill, parsley, mint, basil, Thai basil, cilantro, and sorrel would all be great mixed together in some pretty combination! I made this in cooking class recently, but the recipe comes to us via a coworker, from whom I often ‘borrow’ recipes. Mahalos Cyn!

so green, so lovely

Chickpea & Herbs Salad

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chickpeas, room temperature
2 cups finely sliced fresh basil
2 cups sliced cucumber
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup fresh mint, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
½ cup fresh parsley, minced

  1. In a large bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and salt/pepper. Whisk until emulsified and add chickpeas. Let stand one hour.
  2. In another large bowl toss together remaining ingredients. Add in dressing and chickpeas and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Yields: 4-6 salad servings

cooking class: date night!

There were no flowers or chocolates for this week’s date night! But we did have cake, scones, and homemade energy bars during our weekly cooking class.

I love using juicy, caramel-y Medjool dates as a snack or in raw food goodies. This week’s cooking class used these fruit gems in three different recipes, all of which are super easy, delicious, and full of vegan love. The Date Cake was new to me. I found this intriguing recipe on Aayi’s Recipes, and thought that the 600+ commenters could not be wrong!  I did have to make some changes, as the original came out gooey and undercooked (turns out the commenters were wrong, hmmm).  The adapted version, found below, yields a moist and super flavorful cake, cooked all the way through.  The bake time is long, but this is a very wet batter, so trust the timing and let it cool properly. The second recipe is a hearty Banana- Date Scones, adopted from Veganomicon. They are really filling and a bit ‘healthy’ tasting, but great fresh out of the oven. Thirdly, we made some easy raw Maca Energy Bites.  Super simple and healthy, and superfood-infused with the addition of maca, a great energy booster and adaptogen (helps your body work through stress!).

Date Cake with Molasses Pecan Glaze

Super sweet medjool dates make a soft and light cake. The Molasses-Pecan glaze is strongly flavored, but it makes the cake just a bit fancier!.

fresh from the oven, without the glaze + nuts. still sooo pretty and delicious

18 medjool dates, soaked and pitted
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
¾ cup non-dairy milk + 3 tbsp, divided
1 tsp cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt
1 Tbsp molasses
¾ cup powdered sugar

  1. Soak pitted dates in water for two hours. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8- 9 inch cake pan (round or square) with parchment paper. While the oven is preheating, toast pecans in a separate pan until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Grind pecans in the processor when cool.
  3. Mix together ¾ cup milk and vinegar; let stand one minute. Add dates, milk + vinegar, brown sugar, and oil to processor and blend until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl mix flours, baking soda, and salt. Add the liquids into the dry and stir until just combined.  Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk together molasses and powdered sugar. Add 1 tbsp ‘milk’ as necessary to thin. Drizzle glaze on cooled cake just before serving, and sprinkle with crushed pecans.

Date Energy Bars 

Dates are great sources of natural sugars, perfect for after a workout (or just a long day at work!).  If you are not interested in maca, substitute cacao/cocoa, or just leave it out entirely; nutty cinnamon date balls will still be delish.

similar to store-bought Larabars; but infinitely better!

 

½ cup almonds
½ cup walnuts
pinch salt
3 Tbsp maca powder
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ cup Medjool dates, pitted
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp water (more for texture if necessary)

  1. Add nuts and salt into food processor.  Blend until very fine- much like the texture of sand.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients. Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside the processor.
  3. Check the texture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add 1 Tbsp more liquid if mixture is too dry.
  4. Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten). Place 1 almond in the center, and store in the fridge.

Yield: About 15, one inch energy balls

Banana Date Scones

This recipe is adapted from Veganomicon, one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. These scones are best fresh from the oven, with some butter or Earth Balance. 

Chunky dates + bananas + whole wheat flour = healthy breakfast snacks. This photo was doctored in iPhoto. The lighting in our demonstration kitchen is so yellow!

 

1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup + 2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup mashed (very ripe) banana
1/3 cup coconut oil
¼ cup agave nectar
¾ cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl mix 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour with chopped dates and toss to coat.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl mix together flours, baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl whisk flaxseeds with milk; let stand for one minute. Add in mashed banana, oil, and agave and whisk well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined. Batter will be very thick. Gently fold in dates and nuts.
  6. Scoop out 1/3 cup of batter and pat down onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 20-23 minutes, until nicely browned and firm to the touch.

Yield: 12 scones

quick post: homemade chocolate hints

Some time ago I made some really yummy (and really easy) homemade chocolates… and now that I feel pretty comfortable with it, when I have all the messy ingredients on hand, I will just make a big project out of it and play with a few different flavors at one time.  Recently I made three different flavors… with three very different results. 

Crunchy Pecan Chocolates

these little paper liners come in sooooo handy!

For these candies I used the basic chocolate recipe (see the link above, just subtract the cinnamon and coconut) but omitted the agave, and substituted coconut sugar.  Coconut sugar is very granular (think round sand), not crystalline like sugar.  I was hopeful that adding it to the cacao butter while still heating would melt it a bit, but it never totally dissolved.  But it lent a slightly crunchy texture alongside the pecans that was quite yummy. Now I just need to figure out how to make some caramel to make classic ‘turtles.’

Maca Maple Chocolates

For this *amazing* flavor combination I used the basic chocolate recipe and simply added 2 tbsp maca powder and about 1/2 tsp maple flavoring to the melted cacao butter.  These were delicious, but I smell like pancakes every time I eat them! The maple flavor is subtle as a taste, but the scent clings to your skin for a really long time… like until bedtime, even after a shower!  Delicious, but not ideal…

Peppermint & Spearmint Chocolates

cute, right? but the flavor is just not right!

I used the basic chocolate recipe (cacao butter, cacao, and agave) and added about 10 drops pure peppermint oil, and then about 15 drops pure spearmint oil (because I ran out of peppermint…). The result was a little bit like toothpaste, and the chocolates are sitting in my fridge in the ‘too expensive to throw away, but will only eat as a last resort’ limbo. Not so much…

cooking class: raw superfood snacks!

I am no raw foodie… but I dabble in raw food prep because it is fun, and a good challenge, and sometimes raw foods are just what you need.  When I am pinched for time, I love me some Larabars– the raw, minimalist granola bars made from almonds, dates, walnuts, and fruits in various flavor combinations.  These lovely little bars are delicious, whole-food, easy snacks- and you can find them at most food stores- and they are pretty inexpensive.  But of all ‘convenience’ foods these have got to be the easiest damned things to make.  And so we did!

maca energy ball

In last week’s cooking class we mixed up nuts, dates, dried fruits, and raw superfoods to make four different kinds of Larabar-like goodies.  With only a food processor and a few minutes you too can make delicious home-made Larabars, in whatever flavor combination you love!  We made Hemp-Chia Protein Balls, Banana & Greens Balls, Maca Energy balls, and my personal favorite- and winner in the staff taste-tasting- Cacao & Cherry bars! Simply blend the ingredients into a food processor and press into bars or balls- the yield will vary depending on what shape you choose.  Some of the mixtures have less ‘stick’ than others, so experiement to find the best portable shape for you.  Or just replace miscellaneous dried fruits with dates in any recipe to increase the stickiness.  enjoy!

 

Hemp & Chia Protein Bars

crunchy sweet hemp & chia balls

¼ cup almonds
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup hemp seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
pinch salt
¼ cup dried apples
½ cup dried apricots
2 tbsp sesame tahini
1 tbsp coconut oil

1.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
2.   Add in the dried fruit and the liquid ingredients.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
3.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids if mixture is too dry.
4.   Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten).

Banana & Greens Bars

1 cup almonds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp hemp seeds
pinch salt
3 tbsp greens powder (such as Amazing Grass, usually two packets)
½ cup dates, chopped and packed
½ cup dried banana, chopped
¼ cup almond butter
1 tbsp honey

1.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
2.   Add in the greens powder along with fruits, almond butter, and honey.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
3.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids if mixture is too dry.
4.   Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten).

Maca Energy Balls

(see photo above!)

½ cup almonds
½ cup cashews
pinch salt
3 tbsp maca powder
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup dried banana, chopped and packed
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water (more for texture if necessary)

1.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
2.   Add in the maca, cacao powder, and cinnamon along with the dried fruits and the liquid ingredients.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
3.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids if mixture is too dry.
4.   Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten). Top with a goji berry for cuteness.

Cacao & Cherry Bars

cacao & cherry bars with chocolate glaze... mmmmmm

1 cup almonds
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup raw cacao powder
pinch salt
½ cup dates
½ cup dried cherries
1 tsp cherry flavor (or vanilla extract)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

chocolate glaze (optional)

2 tbsp coconut oil, liquefied
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1.   First make the chocolate glaze: mix the liquid (melted) coconut oil with the maple syrup and the cacao until smooth.  Set aside in a warm place until ready to use.
2.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
3.   Add in the cacao, dried fruits, and the liquids.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
4.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids if mixture is too dry.
5.   Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten).  Sprinkle or pour chocolate glaze onto bars. Refrigerate to set the glaze. Devour!