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These Espresso Date Balls Will Add Some Pep to Your Step on the Trail

These protein-packed snacks will give you the boost you need for long days on the trail.

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A few years ago, I went cold turkey on pre-packaged trail snacks. Not only was I sick of the granola bar flavors I’d been cycling through, but noticing how many wrappers I had built up in my pack after a few days out inspired me to try to make some changes to reduce my waste while out on the trail. 

These Espresso Date Energy Balls have since become a trail staple of mine, and I always make sure to have at least three or four on hand for a quick pick-me-up along the trail. With just a touch of espresso powder, there’s not a ton of caffeine, but something about the taste of coffee still manages to perk me up in the final stretch to camp. 

This is a recipe I developed for the next Beyond Skid Cookbook, a series of easy, trail-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town. 

Makes about 15 balls

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, almonds, or nut of choice
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Preparation

Add all ingredients except cacao nibs and maple syrup to a food processor. Blend on high for 1 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Once the mixture is starting to look like fine crumbs, add cacao nibs and maple syrup. Blend for another minute, until the whole mixture starts to feel cohesive. You can keep blending if you prefer your energy balls with a smoother consistency, or stop here if you like them a little crunchier. Roll the dough into 1 to 2 Tbsp.-size balls and place on a plate or baking sheet so that none are touching. Put energy balls in the freezer for at least an hour, then remove them from the baking sheet and store in a sealed container in the freezer. Pluck them out as needed and pack them in a sealed bag for the trail. 

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 energy ball
  • Calories 109
  • Protein Content 2 g