Goodness gracious great balls!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I love a good snack. Who doesn't? Sweet or savory, we all know snacking is the healthy way to get us through the day, keeping energy levels balanced and making sure we keep our bodies fuelled for whatever the day might throw at us.

I love exercise and all things active, and since having discovered CrossFit 2 years ago (if you've no idea what this is and want to read up, check it out here), I am always eager to get into the gym and tackle a new workout. A lot of energy spent on exercise = more energy needed in! And while crisps and chocolate are great every now and then, I really enjoy finding healthy, wholesome ways to fuel my body, and what better way than some delicious energy bars from your very own kitchen?

I'm a massive fan of Nakd bars, which come in an array of flavours, but at about 70p for a small bar it isn't the cheapest of snacks. So I thought...why not make my own? After reading up on a few energy bar/ball/nakd-type bar recipes on the internet, I gathered my things and got set.

The ingredients are very much what you can see above -I added in a scoop of protein powder (mint chocolate flavour) but if you don't have this to hand don't worry. The nuts themselves contain a fair bit of protein and are a far better natural source, but if you are someone who's interested in ways to get more protein into their diet, protein powder is an easy way to do so. It also happens to taste delicious, but steer clear of any rocky road flavour!

To make these balls of yum you quite simply need:
200g dates (chopped or unchopped it doesn't matter, but they do need to be pitted)
200g nuts (use whatever nuts you fancy! I went for majority brazil nut with some almonds thrown  in for good measure)
50g grape nuts (or use oats, or any crunchy cereal)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50ml milk (or dairy alternative)

As you can see from all my extra annotations, the ingredients in this are very much interchangeable. Add in what you want and sub-out what you don't. I'm not wild on dates, despite them making a great base for bars like these, and next time might swap half dates for sultanas. If you wanted, at the end you could add in some dried cranberries or chocolate chips - all ideas to be playing around with.

The next step is to pop all these ingredients in a blender/food processor, and whizz (technical term) constantly until you have a sticky, gooey dough.

 Then all you do is squidge the mixture down into a tray lined with baking paper, and pop in the freezer for about half an hour. After the mixture has really set you can lift out your baking paper and cut into bars. Even easier than this, I choose to mould my dough into silicone cupcake cases in a muffin tray. This recipe gave me seven generous portions, which look like this:

All ready to be wrapped in cling film or foil and taken for picnics/post-gym snacks/be eaten as cakes to have with tea! Although do bear in mind that in this tropical heatwave we seem to be experiencing at the minute these are likely to melt, so the cooler you can keep them the better.

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