So I'm trying to curb my mid-afternoon coffee and/or dark chocolate habit. At this point in the game, I'm pretty okay with my reliance on morning java, especially on the days I'm getting up at the crack-ass of dawn to teach yoga (it's reeeeeally tough to distinguish right from left at 6am with an uncaffeinated brain). The way I see it, I'm drinking the good stuff - fair trade & organic - and I don't load it down with rubbish. What I DO have an issue with is when my coffee consumption starts to creep up on me...one cup in the morning becomes two...two becomes three...and then I'm jonesin' for joey in the afternoon. That's about where I'm at right now. Sometime between lunch hour and late afternoon I start fiending for my fix. And if it's not the coffee, then it's dark chocolate. Again, not terrible, but not really ideal, either. So yesterday afternoon while I was trying to stave off my craving, I pulled out my food processor & tossed in some of these yummy foods.
Goji berries (also called wolfberries) originally come from China, and may just be my favorite dried fruit (with mulberries as a close second). Their flavor is not unlike that of cranberries or cherries, with an earthy touch. They are loaded up with nutritional gems like iron, zinc, vitamin C, beta-carotene and even quite a bit of protein. Goji berries are awesome in trail mix (I always throw them into the mix when I'm packing for a hike) & granola. You can use them instead of raisins to top your morning cereal & oatmeal or soak them for a bit and add them to a smoothie. The taste is a little funky for some and these little rubies are pretty expensive, so feel free to replace them in this recipe with your favorite chopped dried fruit.
Nibs are kinda like chocolate chips without the funky fillers - they're just straight up cacao beans, crumbled. Think of this South American powerhouse like megawatt dark chocolate packing in protein, fiber, iron & major league magnesium. For me they provide a jolt of clean energy - I used to snack on raw cacao while studying in college (my secret to Acing O-Chem, baby baby!). You can totally eat as is, or add to cookies & desserts, trail mix and smoothies.
Coconut flakes & oil
Yes, coconut has fat. A lot of it, actually. Don't freak out. Along with your crimper and pegged jeans (they are NOT back, I don't care what Katie Holmes tried to do), you gotta leave your fat phobia back in the 80s where it belongs. Fat is good for you. Essential, actually. And good news - the fat in coconut (primarily medium-chain triglycerides) is broken down differently in our bodies than other fats. MCTs are used more easily for energy and fuel and therefore less readily stored as fat in the body. So eat it. Because it's delicious.
I whipped these guys up with no intention of creating a blog post. I just needed a supercharged snack - and fast. But since I received several requests on Facebook and Instagram, I thought I'd share the recipe here. These Protein Power Balls are awesome as a snack, as a little after-lunch dessert, or a treat to stave off the midday slump. You can toss a few of these back with some fruit for breakfast or toss some in your gym bag for awesome pre- or post-workout fuel.
Protein Power Balls
Makes about 8 large snack-size balls
1/2 cup dried organic coconut flakes
1 tsp organic coconut oil
2 T organic almond butter (NOT the no-stir kind)
1 scoop plant-based protein powder OR collagen peptides
1/4 cup organic raw cacao nibs
1/4 cup dried organic goji berries
In a food processor, process the coconut flakes with the oil until crumbly. Add the almond butter and protein powder if using and pulse until sticky. [Note: if you omit the protein powder, you may find the mixture becomes a little too sticky. Add in a little extra coconut flakes and that should take care of it.] Add the nibs and berries and pulse just a few times - enough to incorporate them into the mixture, but not enough to pulverize them.
Roll into balls (this recipe makes about 8 large balls, but can easily be increased to make more). Refrigerate balls for several hours to solidify them. I store mine in the fridge for longer keeping, although power balls rarely last long in my house!
Try them out and let me know what you think!