ALMOND COCOA ENERGY BALLS

The weather is warming up, Spring is here and the long strolls around the city have started. For as many cafes and cold pressed juice shops I've wandered through here in NYC, I keep seeing these energy balls - mostly priced around $3 which I think is just insane. THE ELK in the West Village has a good version of what I mean. This gave me a hankering to try my own energy balls while having the luxury of keeping them around the apartment but with a fraction of the cost. 

As a kid on long road trips I remember my Mom would make something called Honey Milk Balls with just 4 ingredients: peanut butter, honey, oats, and dry milk powder. They were so delicious, especially when they were super cold. The taste is so ingrained in my childhood I had to try my own version and make them dairy free. I love the combination of almond butter, dates, and dark chocolate and came up with a ball that is such a treat anywhere and extra tasty when kept chilled. I chunked up a dark chocolate bar with bits of ginger inside but regular dark chocolate (with at least 60% cocoa) is fine too. I've been keeping a tupperware full of them and popping them in my mouth when I have a sweet tooth. The health benefits are worth it alone. When you realize something so good for you can actually have such a wonderful flavor profile, it opens up a whole world on getting that sweet tooth fix. Dates are one of the best intestinal foods to aid digestion and almonds, outside their huge supply of magnesium and Vitamin E, are super helpful when dealing with heart or cholesterol issues, one of the biggest causes of preventable disease here in America.

Alicia and I took a long hike to Harriman State Park in New York this past Monday and I brought some along to snack on. Halfway up the "lemon squeezer" trail, I pulled them out and popped a few in my mouth and boy do these come in handy when you need a pick-me-up!

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup small dates, pitted

4 tablespoons almond butter, freshly ground if you can get it

2/3 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped (chocolate with ginger is my favorite but if you don't like ginger, orange infused chocolate would work well too)

1 tablespoon flax seed (or chia or hemp seed)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional - 1 thumb sized piece ginger, grated. Or whatever spices or extras you like!

METHOD:

1. Add the dates to a food processor and pulse until it forms a ball. 

2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. You want it a little chunky like large crumbs but not smooth. 

3. Empty into a mixing bowl and form into balls the size of small golfballs. I use a tablespoon to measure out each ball and rinse off my hands in between to stop them from sticking to me. Should yield about 16 or 17 balls. 

4. Store them in tupperware and keep cold until ready to pop in your mouth. They keep for about 2 weeks. Although mine never last around the apartment for that long!