It seems to have been everyone in the office’s birthday recently, and my afternoons have been constantly punctuated by a delicious sugary hit of cake, pastries or (on one particularly great day) cronuts from Domenique Ansel’s new London bakery.
I am definitely not an advocate of ‘clean eating’, but I’m pretty sure that cake every day is not a great routine to get into, and I want to avoid becoming reliant on a sugar hit to get me through the afternoon.
To give my sugar cravings a fix, I’ve taken to whipping up some ‘afternoon bites’. These are sometimes known as protein or energy balls, but the ones I’ve made are protein powder-free and are perfect with a cup of tea when the 3pm munchies strike, and will also tide you over between meals during a busy day.
Before we go any further, I should point out that I’m not trying to position these as fat and sugar free, they definitely do contain sugar and (unsaturated) fats – just nowhere near as much as a cronut.
I decided to make a batch after having a particularly cake-heavy week, but having not been shopping I was limited to what was in the cupboard. Turns out that this was all the inspiration I needed for a new ‘afternoon bite’ recipe! They are seriously good and taste so much dessert-ier (yes, it’s a word) than the sum of their parts. The peanut butter is definitely what gives it the delicious salty-sweet hit, and of course you can switch it for another nut butter of your choice.
- handful of dates
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter (use a brand with no added sugar)
- 1 tbsp softened coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- handful of cashews
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- few drops of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
Feel free to swap ingredients depending on what you already have in the cupboard. The trick is to get the right ratio of dry ingredients (like the coconut and oats) to sticky/wet ingredient (dates, peanut butter and coconut oil), so that they bind together.
Put everything together in a food processor and whiz it all up until it’s finely processed.
This should create a nice sticky mixture, but you can add more of the wet or dry ingredients if the mixture is not binding together well enough.
Then take a spoon and use this and your hands to mould together some bite-sized balls of goodness. Put them into a tupperware container and let them freeze. I keep mine in the freezer and eat them straight from there, as they tend to fall apart if kept at room temperature for a long time. These quantities made 8 bites.
I’ve made a similar batch which replaces the vanilla and peanut butter with fresh grated ginger and uses brazil nuts instead of cashews, and honey instead of coconut oil, to equally delicious results. After my recent experimental success, I will be getting creative with my afternoon bites!