Cacao + Almond Bites

February 12, 2013

Trips to Los Angeles are like a reverse rollercoaster for me. I start in a trough, really hating the pretentious hustle bustle, and DIRT of the place. Then, I get out a bit, start to ignore the grime on everything, get used to the traffic, visit an amazing restaurant (like this one – Everleigh,) fall in love with one of the uber-health conscious markets, take a stroll by the beach, or find myself in a residential neighborhood where there is quiet, and the sounds of the ocean, and fruit trees dripping with oranges, yellows and pinks and the West Coast Best Coast feel of the place brings me to an uncanny high. Then, I find myself back in traffic, usually heading back to the Bay on the grapevine, and some dude’s wheel will pop off his vehicle in 8 lanes of traffic and I’m pretty ready to have nothing to do with all the parts of Los Angeles again. California really is something else.

This trip more than most, I wish I’d spent more time at the apex of that rollercoaster; sitting in a conference room for a weekend –literally ALL weekend – will do that to you, when you know that the ocean is rolling, the palm trees swaying, and the sun shining so bright you have to wear shades outside. None the less, I came to L.A. to “get schooled” in how to coach multisport athletes and while I didn’t get to overdose on SoCal, I did drive away from busy busy L.A., brain bursting with new stuff to process.

We had classes on sports psychology, running technique and training periodization. We learned about how to build athlete calendars, coach better cyclists, train at altitude and tweak swimming form. But one of the most important, and interesting components of the weekend for me was all of the knowledge I soaked up about nutrition for multisport athletes, and the concept of using real food (not nutrition products) to fuel amazing feats while swimming, biking and running. Oddly, just as the conversation flowed into a discussion on protein, I was hankering for a snack… I gave myself a little pat on the back as I pulled these Cacao + Almond Bites from my bag.

As many of you readers are learning, I cannot even think of running errands (much less running to catch a flight) without packing snacks. And I’m always thankful when I open the fridge and find something tasty, clean, and easy for me to pop in my mouth (even if its just to tide me over while I decide what to eat next.) Not to mention that I always feel like a superhero for myself when I don’t have to eat something icky in the airport. The recipes I use over and over again aren’t ingredient intense, and only take a few minutes to whip up (amidst my usual pre-departure to-do list) or are the type of thing that I can mix up while I’m making dinner during the week. This recipe is not all that dissimilar to (Cherry Pie Bites) but with more nuts, or than (Almond Butter Bars) but without the chocolate layer on top, and without the extra additives to make them smooth. I noshed on them guiltlessly while sitting in the seminar (literally, for 10 hours at a time) and have lately been munching a couple as I’m getting ready for a morning workout, or when I get home from work and need a little something. Because they are best when kept in the fridge, they are a little tricky to carry on a bike ride but if you wrapped them up in cellophane or wax paper, they would be perfect to eat in place of an energy bar or gel.

Lastly, you could play this formula a million ways – I’m really intrigued with using pecan butter or cashew butter and with mixing up the dates with raisins and apricots. I bet you all could think of a bazillion ways to make this your own as well. Enjoy! – xo L

Cacao + Almond Bites
  1. 1 cup almonds
  2. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  3. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1 cup pitted dates
  5. heaping 1/2 cup almond butter
  6. 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the nuts to a coarse meal. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, dates and almond butter.
  2. Pulse the mixture until just combined – you don’t want to puree all of those great chunks of stuff completely! With a small portioner (or a tablespoon, or your hands,) scoop out the almond dough and roll into little balls, pressing the top of each with a fork to flatten and create little hash marks on top. (This basically keeps them from rolling around inside their storage container!)
  3. Store in a parchment lined container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Eat frequently.

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