Low Waste Bikepacking: Energy Balls!
If you’re hankering to cut down on your plastic waste but love your lil’ riding treats, try lobbing these delicious and easy to make energy balls into your pie hole on your next bikepacking trip. Think chocolate, dates, peanut butter, oats, chia seeds, and sea salt… with no cooking required! Find the recipe here…
Following on from the theme of our Guide to Low Waste Bikepacking, here’s a great snack that you can make for your next trip.
These energy balls are drawn largely from ingredients that you can pick up at the bulk store. They’re cheap to make and cost considerably less than most store-bought bars. And they transport relatively well and can survive the rigours of dirt-road touring if stowed in a reusable zip lock bag, or packed parcel-like in some beeswax wrap.
As is, the energy balls are vegan. But if you want them to be gluten-free too, just source appropriate oats. Best of all, they’re super quick and easy to create, so you can even rustle up a dozen before getting on the road. The whole process takes around 20 minutes and there’s no baking required!
I’ve been making a version of these peanut butter energy balls for some time and free-forming the numbers. I’m not sure who dreamt up the original idea; I was first shown it by a Warmshowers host in Guatemala in 2010, then my buddy Mehehi in New Mexico reminded how good they taste, and I have to admit that these specific quantities are shamelessly lifted from the excellent Minimalist Baker (so do check in there for other easy-to-make recipes).
The core ingredients below are a great starting point, especially if you like chocolate. We used a local dark chocolate from the market in Oaxaca, which also had a twist of cardamom. But there’s no need to get fancy. Plain dark, dairy-free chocolate is ideal; a bitter chocolate helps offset the sweetness of the dates. Adding in some sea salt is a good idea if you’re expecting to sweat a lot on your ride, or you’re using peanut butter made from freshly ground peanuts and nothing else. It sets off the sweetness of the chocolate and dates nicely.
Ingredients for 12 Energy Balls*
- ⅔ cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of pitted dates
- 3 tablespoons of peanut butter (plain or salted)
- ⅓ cup of chopped, dairy-free dark chocolate
- A table spoon of chia seeds
- Sea salt, to taste
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from going rogue and trying flax seeds, hemp seeds, chopped raisins, or anything else that takes your fancy. Just makes sure it’s seen some time in the blender, so the consistency of the ‘dough’ is even. Super hot? Maybe skip the chocolate!
*Plus a couple of spares should temptation strike.
What to Do
Pulse the oats in a blender first, then put them to one side. Next, pulse the dates, until they’re a kind of sticky, playdough consistency. If the dates are relatively plump and moist, you probably won’t need any water. But if they’re a little dry, add some in as you go to help them along. Or, if the dates are really dry, let them soak for 10 minutes first, then drain them well before you start.
Then… just add in everything else! Pulse the blender some more so the resulting paste is even in consistency. But there’s no need to overly process it all.
If your blender is a little lacking in oomph, it’s worth kneading the dough in your hands, too, to help it along.
Energy dough prepared, it’s time to roll them out in your palms into eyeball-like… balls.
Job done! Pop in the fridge. When you’re ready to head out, load them into a ziplock bag. They should keep for several days. Otherwise, folding half a dozen of these power packets into beeswax paper works well too. Pop one into your pie hole at the foot of the next hill… and off you go!
No blender at hand?
Using a blender gives a consistent texture to the energy dough, which in turn will help all the ingredients stick together, especially over bumpy roads. If you don’t have access to a blender, try grinding the oats and dates into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Otherwise, use ‘quick cook’ oats instead, as these are smaller in size and are easier to digest than raw, rolled oats.
Ready to turn on that oven and up your packaging-free snack game? Try Franzi and Mario’s Holy Moly Granola bars, too!
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