Friends. They are such an integral part of my life. I think growing up in a small family and being an only child has shaped my need for seeking and keeping myself surrounded with friends. I’m picky about my friends; I need to have real connection and commonalities. Truth be told, life is way too short to waste time with people who don’t treat you right. I like to surround myself with people who support, inspire, care and make me laugh. I am thankful to have a wonderful group of friends, near and far, who embody these characteristics.
This summer was the summer of friends. I had many visitors to my home in the Bay Area, I traveled to Portland to spend time with my Oregon friends, traveled to SoCal numerous times to hang out with the ladies of SoCal; organized a camping trip that included friends from many different groups; coordinated a girls weekend in Big Sur with my SoCal friends and a weekend in Southern Oregon with a group of my Oregon friends.
The weekend trip to Big Sur with my SoCal girlfriends was intended to be outdoorsy, because, well it’s Big Sur and that’s what you do there. The beauty of the coastline and somewhat remote feeling of the area really renewed my love for California. The trip was true beauty; because I was surrounded by majestic Big Sur, and by friends who I know will be a part of my life until the end. The trip wasn’t long enough, as getaway weekends usually aren’t, but we took advantage of our surroundings during our limited amount of time together.
Our cabin had a kitchen, so we organized food between the four of us. I had picked out a couple of hikes for us to do, so I figured making energy balls was a must. I’ve made these balls many times, but have never had the sort of reaction that I received with these ladies. There was a lot of talk of [energy] balls that weekend.
On Saturday morning we decided to do a hike I had read about. The Andrew Molera Loop Ridge weaves along the coast and Santa Lucia Mountain Range. The views are dramatic and one of the trails leads to one of Big Sur’s most remote beaches. Sounds great, right? It was great, but it was a lot longer than we had anticipated. We had packed a lunch, which we intended to eat once we arrived at the legendary remote beach. But as we hiked, it felt like we were not making any progress toward a large body of water. Where was this beach with its mineral-tinted purple sand? When it seemed like we should have reached at least a point where we could spy the ocean, we decided to take a quick snack break on the trail. I broke out the energy balls and handed one to each of my friends. They took bites into their peanut butter oatmeal balls on the side of what felt like a never ending trail, and proclaimed their love for my balls.
I kid you not, later in the day, after we had completed the hike and were enjoying a drink at sunset overlooking the ocean, my friend Michelle claimed that the only reason she was able to make it to the beach was because of those balls. Now that’s an endorsement! I tend to think about food in hyperbolic terms when I’m starving and tired. Maybe this is what happened with Michelle, or maybe my energy balls are so good that upon eating one, you too will be able to propel yourself up a long hilly trail and descend to the ocean.
At any rate, the balls are pretty damn tasty, easy to make, easily transportable, great for breakfasts, mid afternoon snacks, or fuel for a hike. Try them and see for yourself.
My kitchen notes:
I used old fashioned oats, but quick-cooking oats works too.
Ground flaxseed can be found in the bulk section of the grocery store. If you can’t find it, the balls are just as good without.
The dough should be pliable enough to form balls. If you find that it’s too dry and crumbly, add more vanilla extract.
Energy Balls – adapted from the Gimme Some Oven blog, which is ironic because these are no bake balls
1 cup dry oatmeal
2/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips. I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips.
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.
2. Roll into 1-inch balls, or whatever size you prefer.
3. Place in refrigerator to keep firm.