I need little snacks to munch on when I leave the house or finish working out – something quick, just a few bites and that will sustain me. I often grab a few nuts and a piece of fruit, but sometime I just want something else. So I decided to stock my counter top, fridge and freezer with some small bites that will carry me through the day – so anticipate several posts based on some form of a quick bite. This recipe uses fresh pumpkin, ground flax, macadamia nuts, spices and an optional protein powder covered in pistachios, sunflower seeds or coconut to make little cold energy bites. The perfect on the go food.
Everywhere I look, there is something else that is “pumpkin spice.” Sure I love all that goes into pumpkin spice – cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger and nutmeg, but I also love pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin. And if you read my last post you know I went to a pumpkin patch with my little one and have a ton of freshly pureed sugar pumpkin in my freezer. Of course you can use pumpkin in a can, but the flavor is different. Butternut squash also works well – bake and puree it for a better tasting puree than pumpkin in a can, but if the can is easier for you, go ahead. The point is to do what you can so that you enjoy your food.
I wanted to make little snack balls and I remembered seeing a post somewhere about pumpkin chia seed energy balls. I wanted to try to create something like that. I love the idea of using chia, but I also know that the seed would need to be sprouted or something in order for our body to derive any nutrients from it. I have never tried grinding chia seeds, but flax seeds are full of the much needed omega’s and can be ground into a meal. I grind mine fresh every time I need it, but you can also buy ground flax meal from Bob’s Redmill or another company. The seed needs to be broken up because the seeds often pass through our digestive system whole and as a result they do not provide us with the nutrients contained inside.
I decided to add macadamia nuts to the bites because they are sweet and full of good fats. Almonds would work well – i just have been using a ton of almonds, walnuts and pecans in recipes and wanted to diversify the nuts in my diet. After I pulsed the nuts in a food processor so they were chopped up, I pureed dates and added the pumpkin, spices, protein powder (optional) and coconut flakes and continued to blend. If you omit the powder, the dough is just stickier. I use a plant based powder with a good amino acid profile from sunwarrior.
I added the chopped macadamia’s, and refrigerated the mixture so it hardened a bit. After about an hour, I rolled them into balls and rolled them in pistachios, or sunflower seeds, or coconut flakes…or left them as is.
The result is the perfect small bite – smooth and sweetened with dates, with a bit of crunch from the macadamia’s and garnish.
I know what I will be grabbing after a workout.
Pumpkin nut balls
- 1 cup macademia nuts
- 1 cup dates, pitted, soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 Tbs vanilla protein powder (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp ginger powder
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg or a couple of passes of fresh whole nutmeg over a microplane
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup ground flax meal
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- ground pistachios, sunflower seeds or coconut for garnish
Pulse macadamia’s in a food processor or chop by hand and set aside. Puree soaked dates in a food processor until smooth and add pumpkin, spices, vanilla, and powder and puree until incorporated. Add flax meal and coconut and blend until mixed.
Remove puree from food processor into a bowl and fold in macadamia nuts. Cover with saran and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Shape into small balls and roll in ground pistachios, sunflower seeds or coconut as desired. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge.