|Coconut-Orange-Cacao Nib Power Bites|
If you've ever run an endurance race, climbed a mountain, backpacked up a long trail, competed in a triathlon...or gone to the gym straight from work, looked for snack after a day of power shopping, chances are good you've purchased some kind of packaged energy bar. Some of them are decent, especially those I've seen more recently like the Raw bars and the Pure Bars. Some were designed by athletes-turned-entrepreneurs, like the Clif Bar, who's founder wrote a great story about how and why his company was founded, Raising the Bar - a book well worth reading. Others, like Power Bar, though ubiquitous, always make me feel a bit put out and gloomy - as though I've gotten the short end of the stick and there's nothing left to do but gnaw on the chewy end of a brown mass of unrecognizable ingredients.
After you've eaten your way through a formidable pile of these, though, you can start to wonder if the price-value ratio is in line, or...if maybe you start playing with flavors and just make your own. So I saved the wrapper on an energy bar recently and read the marketing text on the front and the back: "dates and nuts. that's it" it proclaimed.
Hmmmm....dates and nuts....I have some of both hanging around the house, so off I rumbled to the kitchen once more to see what a bit of experimentation might yield. Judging from the name, I'm guessing the Raw people don't toast their cashews, but I like the flavor of toasted cashews, so that's where I started. And then, while the combination of dates and cashews sounded appealing by itself, so did the addition of a few other ingredients, so I tinkered and weighed and tasted and tasted and tasted....
Really, really nice. I've been packing a few of these Power Bites to work every day for that energy slump that inevitably comes between lunch and the 5 PM "go-home" time. I don't know how many calories they have, but dates and cashews are both calorie dense, so don't go too crazy with these if you are watching your waist line. On the other hand, if you are heading out for a day of hiking, biking, running, whatever...pack the whole batch and share with your friends. You'll all be happier at your destination. Though I've gotta say, they are not bad with a cup of coffee either...just in case leaving home today is not in your plans.
Dead easy to make. Disappear quickly. Nothing dodgy. And you'll be able to spell and pronounce every ingredient (though cacao vs. cocoa can twist your tongue and your mind).
Power Bites! Come on, you know you want one. Go ahead, make the inner athlete in you feel very, very happy.
And if you try them, please let me know what you think of them in the comments below. I'd love feedback on these.
|Coconut-Orange-Cacao Nib Power Bites|
Coconut-Orange-Cacao Nib Power Bites
300 g / 10.5 oz pitted dates (I used Iranian dates; Medjool or other would work well too)
150 g / 5 oz cashews, toasted
25 g / 3 tablespoons cacao nibs*
zest of one organic orange**
25 g / 1/4 cup small, raw coconut flakes*
*25g = roughly 1 oz
** in a perfect world, all of the ingredients would be organic. If you have to choose one, though, buy organic oranges to avoid the pesticides on the peel/zest.
Toast the cashews in a heavy pan or pot over high heat, shaking the pan regularly to make sure they don't burn. Alternatively, toast them in the oven at 200°C/400°F for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. In either case, watch them closely so they don't burn. You want them just lightly toasted for added flavor, but not overly crunchy. Remove from heat/oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pit your dates by slitting them lengthwise with a knife and removing and discarding the pit. Zest the orange into the bowl with the dates.
Pour the cashews into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the standard blade. Place the lid on and process until the nuts are chopped very fine. With the motor running, add the dates along with the orange zest, a little at a time. Towards the end, you'll need to stop the motor to scrape the very sticky mixture back down to the bottom toward the blade. When the dates are all in and mostly incorporated, add the cacao nibs. Process a few minutes more until dates are chopped small and the mixture looks mostly uniform.
Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop (1-2 tablespoon size), scoop the mixture into round balls onto a plate or pan. Once you've scooped out all of the mixture, roll each ball in coconut flakes, coating the entire outside. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for as long as they last.
Note: these are quite soft. If you'd like them to be more firm, increase the quantity of cashews by 50 grams or so. I did like that they were on the moist side, though - typically I need to chase energy bars down with a long drink of water - but these were a pleasure to eat, with or without a liquid accompaniment.
Makes 28 power bites.