As I write this, I’m snuggled in my favorite chair, with one cat curled next to me, the other on my lap. We sit this way a lot, especially in the mornings, and again in late afternoons, or on solitary days of hours stretched ahead with little plan. This is for us, to re-group.
Lately though, I think they do this for the warmth. Because as we sit here today, it’s raining. Again. It’s cold. Again. Or still, if it matters. June has arrived, and still there is no sign of warmth or heat. There is no hair curling humidity. Temps struggle in the 60’s, I still pull on a fleece sweatshirt and thick slippers in the morning, and just yesterday, I came across a new skirt in my closet, pulled excitedly off a store rack back in April, that is adorable, summery and perfect. Except I’ve only worn it once, and I’d forgotten all about it.
It’s utterly gorgeous outside though, in the deep, deep green that’s arrived with the constant rain. Walking through the trees surrounding our lake home this past week, I was struck with how lush the land has turned, and when the sun does show itself, the effect is more stunning than I’ve seen in recent years. But that sun is fickle, and the thick gray clouds hover; we don’t see enough sunshine to spur the baby plants growth, to coax seedlings from the ground or warm our starving skin. The Spring that never was in Minnesota is segueing in to a Summer that refuses to arrive.
Along with the weather woes, the farming season is deeply behind schedule, and the open air markets have begun with meager offerings. Even so, vibrant stalks of asparagus and ramps, bunches of pea shoots, the deep red rhubarb and clumps of fresh herbs aren’t necessarily inspiring a lot of cooking when I’m still thinking about soup, and warming dishes that steam as I lean over them.
But I am hungry beyond belief. Both for light, fresh sustenance, and for Summer. For heat and sunshine and bare skin.
I’ve been hard at work since February, pushing myself through 2 weekly Body Pump classes -on occasion paired with a bike ride to the Y, plus swimming 2-3 times a week and with all the work, the calories burned and energy gained, I have been just famished. I will eat a good breakfast, spend an hour in the pool or hefting weights, then devour lunch. A few hours later, my belly is loudly protesting again and still, there’s time to pass before dinner. Dinner comes and a few hours later, there’s the rumbling again. For those in-between times, I’ve been on the hunt for a snack that sustains and feeds my ever-raging internal furnace without being too heavily caloric, or outright junky. I have zero will-power against anything with a salty crunch, so having a better option on hand really helps.
These raw Fig & Almond Energy Bites are so satisfying and delicious. They’ve got the texture of cookie dough, with enough sweet to kill a craving, and the right amount of salt to balance fluid loss from an intense workout. I keep the mixture in a container in the fridge and will scoop out a small amount when I wake up to have with my coffee, as I’m usually not ready for breakfast right away. Post work-out, I always drink a protein shake for recovery, washing down a few of these with it to help stabilize muscle fatigue. The mixture can be stirred in to yogurt too, or sprinkled on top of ice cream for a real treat.
There is supposedly some sunshine coming our way this week, with a coinciding rise in temperatures. I’ve got my fingers crossed; our local Farmers Market opens this week and I’m excited to get back in to strolling the stalls and seeing my favorite vendors.
Fig & Almond Energy Bites
1 c. whole rolled oats (other grain flakes are a nice option, like barley or rye- I’ve used a commercial 5-Grain cereal from Bob’s Red Mill too and love the result.)
1/2 c. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1 c. dried figs, minced
1/2 c. chocolate chips (or use half cacao nibs for a terrific crunch)
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
1/4 c. chia seeds
2 T. finely ground almonds (or use packaged almond meal)
1/2 c. peanut butter (of course you can use almond butter!)
1/2 c. honey
1 t. almond extract
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. sea salt
Place the oats, coconut, figs, chocolate, flaxseed, chia seeds and almond meal in a bowl and stir to combine. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, extract, cinnamon, ginger and salt until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well with a heavy spoon, or your hands. Chill for several hours. It should hold together firmly when you pick up a small amount and squeeze it, but if not, you may need to add a touch more honey for cohesiveness.
I keep the mix in a container as is, but you can form it in to balls too.
The best part about this recipe is it’s endless versatility. Add, subtract and play with it for a personal mix that you love. Dates would be a fine substitute for the figs, but you might need to adjust the amount of honey used, as dates are notoriously sweet.
Original recipe from Ecosalon, here with modifications.