Don’t you just love lazy long weekends?
I spent mine doing a whole lot of nothin’ but cooking, binge watching Parks and Recreation and skipping out on the couch for a solo trip to Bridget Jones’ Baby (I laughed and cried and highly recommend).
Living away from family during holidays like Thanksgiving always leaves my heart a little empty. It would be great to get back to the Maritimes for dinner, but between a $600 flight or a 9-hour drive, it’s hard to justify a long weekend at home.
C. and I made the best of it, preparing a quiet dinner for two together at home. We did a roasted chicken (you’ll live to terrorize another day, turkeys!), green beans and carrots, my Grammy’s stuffing recipe, gravy and this smashed potato medley that I just have to share with you soon.
All of this, plus a blueberry pie made from summer berries and frozen until now, made for a definite need to detox.
I’ve always wanted to make energy balls.
In fact, I usually have the basic ingredients for them in my fridge and cupboard. Oats, peanut butter, almonds, dried cranberries, flax seeds, dates, the list goes on…
I love how infinitely adaptable these things are.
Even though I’ve seen some truly delicious-looking peanut butter and chocolate variations out there, I wanted to go with something a little different. Fall always gets me in the mood for cranberries and almonds are always a staple in my house.
I rarely have almond butter in the house, however, if you wanted to skip a step and save yourself some time, you certainly could use almond butter. It’s delicious, but not exactly budget friendly when you don’t have a Costco at your disposal.
My “almond butter” came from toasting a $2.97 container of sliced almonds in the oven for five minutes and blending them up with a bit of water. Then, I added dates and dried cranberries to get these balls to stick together.
I dreamed this recipe up as I went along, relying on my trusty blender for all of the legwork.
When it came time to sample the mix, I was so pleased!
The flavour took a bit of adjusting, with a bit of vanilla extract and some of my trusty sea salt to round out the recipe.
This is a vegan recipe and can be made gluten-free if you have gluten-free oats on hand. I’m a big believer in that sugar is sugar. This recipe does have natural sugar from both the dates and cranberries. It is still sugar. Just because they have some great things in them like fibre and protein, doesn’t mean they’re an instant health fix, so don’t go too crazy. They’re great for the little energy boost the sugar offers, with the fibre and protein that balances it out. Keep them in the fridge for a pre-workout boost or a little snack after work with a cup of tea to tide you over until supper.
And if you have any energy ball recipes of your own, I’d love to know in the comments!
Cranberry almond energy balls
- 1 cup of sliced almonds, toasted or 1 cup of almond butter
- 1/4 cup of water (use only if you’re blending almonds from scratch)
- 2 cups of pitted dates
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 cup of rolled oats
- 1/2 cup of flax seeds
- 1/2 cup of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips – PC brand is “accidentally” vegan (optional, but like, come on)
- Take your pitted dates and soak them in a bowl of hot water for ten minutes prior to starting this recipe. Drain well.
- Toast sliced almonds for five minutes on a low broil setting. Remove when slightly brown on top. Skip this step if using almond butter. Toss them in the blender or food processor with 1/4 cup of water and blend on the highest setting until creamy.
- Add dates, vanilla and salt. Blend again until the mixture is sticky and fully combined. Scoop into a large bowl.
- Using a spoon, mix in cranberries, oats, flax seeds and chocolate chips.
- Put your bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool the mix for rolling. Roll into balls by hand, placing them on a tray or plate. When complete, place in the freezer to harden for two hours. Store in the freezer or fridge