Thursday, June 12, 2008

Power Balls

Tonight is my first running clinic for my first half-marathon. I am nervous, I am such a beginner runner and there are so many people out there with a passion for it; I hope they are not in my running clinic- I'll look like a fool. I don't run gracefully. I'm 6', lanky and hard-footed. It's strange because this is exactly how I hoped I would feel; because it's a risk, a challenge and attending tonight will help me overcome it.

These little balls of power may help as well- a good alternative to a health bar, they are versatile, easy to transport and taste terrific (not just palatable, like most health bars out there). The original recipe came from the Salt Spring Experience: Recipes for the body, mind and spirit. They call them "Bliss Balls" for a good reason. I made a few adjustments, like leaving out the cardamom; the only cardamom I have is in pod form and I wasn't sure if it would grind nicely in the food processor. I'm also quite new at using savory spices in sweet goods, although it's something I would like to try someday.

These are like healthy truffles, very rich and sweet. The texture is divine at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge for a while before eating them if you can wait...but I usually can't. I wouldn't include these into a weekly meal plan as they are high in natural sugars and fats from the dried fruit and nuts; but to overcome that sweet craving without blowing your entire meal plan, have one or two when needed. Otherwise, save them for a treat meal.

Power Balls (minutes to pull together, some time to roll them all)

Makes about 2 dozen 1" balls.

1/2c frozen almonds
1/2c currants
1/4c tahini
1/4c almond butter (can use another 1/4 tahini as the original recipe calls for)
1/4c honey
2tsp cinnamon
1/2c chocolate chips
flaked coconut for rolling (about 1/3c)

Grind the almonds in a food processor from frozen (if they are at room temperature, they may become butter, which is not desireable at this point). Grind until fine. Add the currants and grind until they're chopped up. Add the tahini, almond butter (or other nut butter/tahini of your choice) and cinnamon and blend until well mixed. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in chocolate. Refrigerate for 20 min if desired, to make them easier to roll and then form balls and roll them in the coconut. Keep refrigerated.

Use raisins or dried cranberries instead of currants
Use white chocolate chips instead of chocolate
Add coconut to the mix before rolling
Add oatmeal to the mix before rolling
Use peanuts, pecans or walnuts instead of almonds
Use peanut butter instead of almond butter
Add some ginger and nutmeg

Wouldn't these make a nice, healthy addition to your seasonal baking trays? I might try a cranberry-pecan-white chocolate combo for my christmas baking this year. And of course, I'll have to try a peanut-peanut butter-chocolate combo, to feed my neverending pb addiction.

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