Welcome to Week Two of New Year, New You!
It's the second week of New Year, New You!—a January blog event created to inspire you to make and sustain healthy changes in 2012. Today's theme is "Snack Smart" and with two young boys in the house, I am quickly learning that having healthy, power-packed snacks on hand is essential—and it's only going to get more challenging the older they get! So, needless to say I am looking forward to the sage advice of the stellar line-up of bloggers posting on the topic today. Be sure to click on over to their blogs to see what's being served for snack time!
EVENT HOST: Hallie of Daily Bites + a Giveaway
Alisa of Go Dairy Free
Silvana of Silvana's Kitchen
Kim of Cook IT Allergy Free
My Latest Snack Creation
When I contemplated a recipe for this post I immediately thought something Larabar-ish. And then I thought back to the Sticky Toffee Pudding I shared right before the holidays and the toffee sauce that's drizzled over it that I can't get enough of ... and then I thought; why not combine the two! And so I did and these Sticky Toffee Power Balls were born. Sorry the name lacks a little pizzazz, I know.
What I love about nut- and seed-based snacks is that they are nutrient dense and sustaining. I can eat a half a bag of chips and not feel as satisifed as when I eat a protein-packed snack like this one. And the great thing about power balls is that they are easy to grab and pop in your mouth before you head out the door.
I would like to give a big shout and thank you to Claudine of SimplyClaudine, an Etsy shop selling unique and useful items to help you bake your way to a masterpiece. SimplyClaudine provided many of the ingredients for this recipe. Claudine has also shared write-ups on some of the ingredients used. Read more about them at the end of this post. And if you bake with vanilla beans, I must say that the vanilla beans sold at SimplyClaudine are among the freshest and most fragrant I have found anywhere ... and afforadable, too—retailing for less than $1.00 a bean.
Sticky Toffee Power Balls
Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan
1 small can (5.46 fluid ounces) Thai Kitchen COCONUT MILK
1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR (from Simply Claudine)
1 tablespoon virgin COCONUT OIL
6 drops LIQUID STEVIA (I highly recommend NuNaturals Vanilla)
4 large pitted MEDJOOL DATES
1/8 scant teaspoon SEA SALT (I used this Himalayan from SimplyClaudine)
1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
2 tablespoons WHITE CHIA SEED (from SimplyClaudine)
1-1/2 cups raw CASHEW NUTS
1-1/2 cups unsweetened SHREDDED COCONUT (from SimplyClaudine)
1/2 cup raw PUMPKIN SEEDS
2 tablespoons LUCUMA POWDER, optional (from SimplyClaudine)
- In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, coconut sugar, coconut oil, stevia, dates, and salt. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and chia. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine cashews, coconut, pumpkin seed and lucuma powder to achieve a very course meal.
- Add liquid toffee mixture to nut mixture. Process until combined and a "dough" begins to form.
- Dough will be sticky. Transfer to freezer or fridge to firm up until it's easy to work with.
- Roll dough into uniform sized balls or create fun shapes by pressing into silicon ice cube trays (I used flower trays I picked up at Ikea).
- Transfer to freezer and allow to firm. Store power balls in air-tight container in freezer or refrigerator. Best enjoyed chilled.
- If you are nut-free but can tolerate coconut, these should work just fine using a coconut/pumpkin seed combo—simply omit the cashews and replace with an additional 1-1/2 cups pumpkin seeds. This recipe is pretty forgiving. Try your favorite combination of nuts and seeds.
- If you find the dough too sticky, experiment with adding more coconut, nuts, and/or seeds. It does firm up when chilled.
Last Week's e-Cookbook Giveaway Winners
Congratulations Tessa, Abigail S, Laura B, Jeanne W, Kimberly, each of you has won a copy of the e-cookbook Eat Fresh and D-Tox Your Life. They will be emailed to you shortly. Enjoy!!! If you did not win but are interested in a great source of inspiration to help increase your intake of healthy produce, you may download a copy of Eat Fresh and D-Tox Your Life here with a suggested donation of $10. Proceeds from the sale of this e-cookbook go to support the efforts of MitoAction.
What's That Ingredient?
White Chia Seed: Chia is naturally high in fiber as well as vitamin E, and a single serving contains 6 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids. Chia is also a good source of protein, calcium, niacin, iron, phosphorus, biotin and thiamin. That is quite a potent punch for such a diminutive seed and it certainly explains why chia is experiencing something of a renaissance today. The chia sourced for SimplyClaudine is grown free of chemicals and pesticides, in organic fields, just the way it has been for hundreds of years. It is grown by small farmers and cooperatives in rural areas, providing good jobs and fair pay that leads to greater opportunities for everyone involved. For more on chia, read this Lexie's Kitchen post.
Himalayan Salt: Ultimate Superfoods Himalayan Crystal Salt is over 250 million years old and its natural state is nutrient rich with all the beneficial trace elements and minerals, perfectly mimicking sea water as well as our body's natural salinity level. Natural salt doesn't burden our bodies, but instead it releases in us 84 trace elements and nutrients that our bodies can easily absorb and make use of. Also, unlike table salt, this natural salt does not pull excessive amounts of water from our cells, meaning the body will not become dehydrated by consuming it on a normal basis.
Coconut Palm Sugar: Organic Evaporated Coconut Palm Sugar sourced for SimplyClaudine is cultivated from the Indonesian island of Java. It is derived from the sweet nectar of the sugar blossoms that grow at the top of the tropical coconut palm tree (Cocos Nucifera). Traditional local farmers climb high into the canopy of coconut trees and harvest this sweet nectar by gently slicing open the flower. This nectar is then converted into its traditional crystalline form in traditional sugarhouses that allow for small batch Coconut Palm Sugar production. Coconut Palm Sugar is naturally low on the Glycemic Index (GI), which is often important to those who are concerned about weight control and diabetes. Coconut Palm Sugar is rated as a GI 35. In comparison, most honey is GI 55. Coconut Palm Sugar has been known to deliver a slow release of energy, which sustains the human body through your daily activities without experiencing the "highs" and "lows" so often associated with cane sugar. Coconut Palm Sugar also has a nutritional content far richer than any other commercially available sweeteners. It is particularly high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron. It is also a natural source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. Palm Sugar can be used as a 1:1 replacement to cane sugar in most applications. It has a very low melt temperature, a tremendously high burn temperature, and it dissolves in water, making it extremely versatile. It is perfect as a sweetener in smoothies, shakes, spreads, cereals, energy bars, and deserts of all kinds.
Lucuma Powder: Lucuma is considered a healthy alternative sweetener because it provides a sweet taste to recipes, but is very low in sugars. Lucuma powder, from an exotic Peruvian fruit, is a great source of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin B3, niacin and iron. It blends well so is great for smoothies, puddings, ice cream and raw treats. It adds a rich maple-like flavor that some may say resembles caramel custard. Its texture; dry, quite starchy and with a paste-like consistency that melts in your mouth.