Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Easy Energy Eats

I tend to eat Larabars or Vega bars 1-3 times a week as a pre workout fueling snack if I am out and about before I hit the Grouse Grind or before a netball game if it's been a couple of hours since a meal. I find my blood sugar tends to drop quite quickly and once I notice that feeling of hunger in my stomach, I know it's a pretty short time before the blood sugar drops fast. This leads to a blood pressure drop too and it's not a great feeling. I occasionally get caught out but so far this year, it's only happened once on the Grind (the one time I did not have any food with me AND someone was using me a pacer) but generally I always carry some kind of carb-y food with me in the car, my bag, on hikes etc. Larabars/Vega bars work well as they are easily digested and have only 3 or 4 ingredients, usually nuts and dates or other dried fruits. They are just the right size too at about 200 cals and not too heavy. I can have half a bar and keep exercising without getting cramps or a stitch. However, they are not cheap! Larabars at regular retail price are $2.20-$2.50 each and Vegabars are closer to the $3 mark after taxes. There are lots of recipes floating around the web/books for homemade versions of these bars and I finally committed to making some today. I took a loose recipe from another blog and tweaked it to my own making. The nice thing is that they literally take a couple of minutes as they are raw and only have ea few ingredients. I chose to use almonds as my nut, but cashews also work well apparently. The blog mentioned that the ratio of nuts to dates is best at 1:2 but I found my dates were not as soft as usual and so I added a few more and some agave nectar (you could use liquid honey) for moisture. Medjool dates are best. They are the large gooey dates that you can get at most grocery stores for about $10-$12 for a 2lb box. I sometimes find it takes me a while to get through a box as I only use 1 date in my morning smoothie but now I can use them up with this recipe! The original recipe was cashews, dates and cocoa powder. Good but I thought I could pimp it up a bit, Sally style. My latest flavour combo that I am raving about is chili and chocolate. I've been eating Lindt and Cocoa Camino spicy chocolate bars (try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised) and this inspired me to add cayenne pepper to my morning cocoa banana smoothie the past few days. So continuing the theme, I threw in some cayenne to the ball mix as well as my other favourite spice, ginger. You could add other flavours instead of these such as mint or coconut or crystallised ginger. Use your imagination, these are "no bake" treats so there are no rules here!

Spicy Cocoa Balls
1/2 cup nuts ( I used almonds)
12-16 soft medjool dates (approx 1 to 1 1/4 cups)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp fresh or ground ginger
cayenne pepper to taste

Grind nuts finely in food processor.
Add 12 dates to processor and blend and add more to desired doughy consistency.
Add agave nectar and spices to taste and blend.
Form into balls (or bars) and refrigerate.

I ate one right out of the bowl before refrigeration and it gets the thumbs up. I'll see how they taste chilled and how they hold up structurally. I may need to play around with the ratios a bit to find the perfect consistency and flavour combos. Looking forward to experimenting with this!

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