Monday, July 13, 2015

No-Bake Granola Energy Balls

A few days ago I mentioned that my sister-in-law had come over for a day, to make my beautiful Do Everything in Love sign. Well, that wasn't all we accomplished that day. We took some time while the paint dried to make some delicious homemade snacks to eat during the week. We made some Home-Made Cheesy Crackers, cheesy cauliflower bread, and for today's post? No-Bake Granola Energy Balls.

I stumbled upon this recipe during a Pinterest search for an easy granola bar recipe that used what  I already had at home. I didn't find any satisfactory granola bar recipes, but I did find this recipe instead, and I couldn't wait to try it.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 cup dry oatmeal
2/3 cup dried fruit, chopped (I used dried cranberries)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup ground almonds

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and mix together until well combined. You may want to mash everything together with your hands, as the mixture is very thick.

Once all the ingredients are combined together, cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
Remove the bowl, and roll the mixture into small balls, and place on a baking sheet. I used a mini muffin pan, to make sure that the little balls wouldn't stick together while freezing. You can make your balls as large or as small as you want. I tend to make mine between 1 and 1 1/2 inches across, and at that size, the recipe makes around 3 dozen balls.

Freeze the balls for at least 3 hours, and then transfer them to an air tight container in the fridge, or store them in the freezer for a longer storage life. And that's it!

The balls should keep in the freezer for up to 3 months, or in the fridge for one week. (If they last that long!)

As a testament to how delicious these little guys are, I am hiding another batch in my fridge as I write this post. The original batch only survived for four days, and within hours I was already itching to make some more. Why fight the temptation? This time around, I added more cranberries, more ground almonds, less chocolate chips, less honey, and included pumpkin seeds into the mix. I also used ground flax seed meal instead of whole flax seeds, since I don't like the texture of the whole seeds in this recipe.

The reason why I fell in love with this recipe is because not only is is incredibly easy to make, but it's crazy versatile as well! There are so many changes you could make to the original recipe that the possibilities are almost endless! I added a couple tablespoons each of chia and flax seeds to my first batch, and there were great additions.

For inspiration, here's a list of combinations you could try:

Cranberry/Pistachio/White Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Chip/Coconut
Chocolate/Peanut Butter/Coconut

The basic rule for successful substitutions is to make sure that the amount of sticky/gooey ingredients and chunky/dry ingredients still match the basic recipe.

Dry/Chunky Ingredients:
Chocolate: Use milk chocolate, white chocoate, dark chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips.
Nuts: If you don't want any of those, try adding roughly chopped peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, really any kind of nuts will work.
Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, poppy, sesame, or even hemp would work great.
Fruits: For more antioxidants and natural sweetness, try dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, raisins, strawberries, goji berries,

Sticky/Gooey Ingredients:
Butters: If you're allegric to peanuts, or just don't like peanut butter (Crazy!), you can substitute it for almond butter, cashew butter, or any other type of nut butter. You could even substitute nutella or cookie butter if you're so inclined!
Sweeteners: From my own research I've discovered that the two best options for sweeteners are honey and agave nectar. You might be able to use blended dates for sweetness, but it could affect the ratio of dry/gooey ingredients. In this case, simply adjust the mixture by adding more dry ingredients to thicken it up, or more sticky ingredients to smooth it out.

This recipe is all about taking creative liberties, so feel free to experiment and try out all kinds of combinations! Whatever you do, don't forget to comment your creations below, to share the love!

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