October 15, 2014

Almond and Goji Berry Trail Treats

Gluten-Free Almond, Oat, Goji snacks

If you are like me and seem to be always on the go, it helps to have healthy, tasty, and portable snacks on hand. I rarely leave home without a few of my homemade Almond Goji Treats in my purse. They are nutty, a little bit sweet, and extremely satisfying. 

Many people tend to grab a sweet and chocolatey protein or energy bar instead of a bag of raw nuts, fresh veggies, or a piece of fruit as snack. Why not? They are convenient, easily portable, non perishable, and taste like candy. I live my life sharing secrets for healthier eating habits yet I even have my own favorite store bought bars that are supposedly clean as far as the ingredients go, but not nearly as healthy as something that is homemade. Preparing your own trail bars will require a bit more effort than buying them, but you will be left with an ample supply to last a couple of weeks. They will taste better and be better for you as well because they will be made with pure ingredients.

Almonds are a great source of protein as well as dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Goji berries contain the highest concentration of antioxidant carotenoids, namely beta-carotene, of any plant and could protect against the development of cancer. They are anti-inflammatory, improve immunity and eyesight, protect the liver, improve circulation, lower cholesterol, and restore energy. Flax seeds are rich in the heart healthy plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). They are anti-inflammatory, an excellent source of dietary fiber, and may help women in the protection against breast cancer.

Almond and Goji Berry Trail Treats

Makes 30 balls at about 1.5 inches in diameter or 2 inch bars

I do not usually analyze the statistics of my recipes but I calculated this one as I thought it might be helpful to compare it to a protein/energy bar that I might have instead. If you wish to boost the protein in the recipe, add about 1/3 cup of your favorite neutral flavored protein powder to the mixture along with an additional tablespoon or two of nut butter.

Serving of 2 treats - about 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of sugar.

1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup reduced fat unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup milled or ground flax seeds
1 cup unsalted almond butter, peanut butter or sunflower seed butter, preferably freshly ground
1/3 cup grade B maple syrup or raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup goji berries, semi sweet chocolate chips, or dried cranberries or cherries
 1/4-1/3 cup neutral flavored protein powder + 1-2 tablespoons nut butter (optional)

Combine the oats, coconut, flax seeds, almond butter, maple syrup, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, use a mixing bowl and combine by hand.

Process the ingredients for about 20-30 seconds until they come together enough to form balls that will not crumble apart. If you are combining the ingredients by hand, it may take about 5 minutes to mix the ingredients to the point that you can form a ball as the mixture is very sticky to handle.

If the mixture seems to be too dry and will not come together without crumbing apart, add a bit more nut butter or maple syrup little by little until the consistency is becomes more pliable.

Add the goji berries and pulse or mix until they are completely mixed in.

If you are rolling the mixture into balls, which is my personal preference, use a tablespoon or 1 inch cookie scoop to measure the dough. Roll and pat the mixture in your hands until the balls are firm and not crumbly. They should be about 1.5 inches in diameter. The recipe yields 30.

If you prefer to make bars, line a 8 inch baking pan with plastic wrap and press the mixture firmly and evenly into it. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pressed dough from the tray by lifting the edges of the plastic wrap. Cut into 30 squares by slicing the block into 6 sections one direction and 5 sections perpendicularly.

Store the balls or the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Gluten Free, Grains, Snacks, Nibbles & Finger Food

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