Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls

Late last month Vega send me a MASSIVE box full of their newly formulated Vega One. I was completely surprised because it had been out of the blue because suddenly, BAM, I was inundated with Vega One samples. Now the use of the word "inundated" may seem like it was a bad thing but it was not. Not one bit- it's my favorite kind of inundation: the delicious protein-filled, packed-with-greens kind.

While I always enjoyed the taste of Vega One, my only gripe with it was that being a body builder and the name of the game being "protein", it just didn't have enough to really satisfy my needs (thankfully Vega Sport was always there to help!). I was pleasantly surprised though to find that with with this new formula (which will be available for purchase January 2015) they added 33% more protein and doubled the greens per serving! SO MUCH LOVE!

So while I had been gulping down Vega One protein shakes with reckless abandon (you know, still "taste testing"- yeah...) another package arrived from Vega. This time, it was a special version of their Maca Chocolate Bars as a thoughtful "Happy Holidays" gift.
Vega Maca Chocolate

I was touched.

While I'm still playing around to come up with something very special with the Vega One, I was inspired by the Maca Chocolate Bar (probably has something to do with the holidays and sweets).  

The version I received had fruits and nuts whereas the commercial version does not but I used that as the basis for my inspiration for the rest of the recipe.  I wanted to play around with the idea of chocolate, sweet fruits and crunchy nuts.  I wanted to make something that was tasty and sweet without being sugar-packed.

Vega Maca Chocolate
Vega Maca Chocolate

Something that could also be a fueling snack as well as an enjoyable treat.

And thus, the Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls were born!

Ta-daaaaaaaa!

Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls
Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls
Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls

Oh my gosh, they're soooo good!  I hope you love them too!

But can we take a quick moment to talk about how messy food photography is?  You know, to get those really "food porn" photos you have to make a mess.  I don't really like making messes but it's been holding me back from getting a lot of the photos I've been wanting.  I finally went for it with the whole "cacao splatter" and all that jazz and I think it really turned out well!  Still learning but I was really happy with how this all turned out.

Guess I have to get messy more often.

Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls

Disclaimer: Vega sent me their products to sample and review for the purpose of making recipes- no other compensation was received..  All opinions are my own.

Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls

Makes approx 8

30g Vega Maca Chocolate (a little less than 1 bar)

1/3 Cup Raw, Unsalted Almonds

3 Medjool Dates

1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries

1 TBSP Water

Cacao, optional

Pit the dates and roughly chop.  Break chocolate into pieces and toss chocolate, almonds, dates, cranberries and water into a food processor.  Process until a crumbly mixtures has been formed and sticks together.  Carefully remove and form into 8 balls.  Sprinkle with (or roll in) cacao. 

Candy Cane Cookies!

La ti da- I've totally not been on top of things lately.  Yesterday was my final day for classes- woop woop!  I'll just have to find something else to blame for not being productive...

Nah, I'm kidding.

Kinda...

But in other news!

I arrived back in Brooklyn on Thursday evening supplied with a car full of stuff and topped with a Christmas tree.  Yes, I did bring a tree all the way from Southern Maryland.  On top of my car.  Through the rain and snow.  And wind. 

Candy Cane Cookies

With the weather it got a little exciting at times but the tree made it safely!  

I had brought a small hand saw with me so it could be fresh cut before we put it up.  We ran into some problems with that though.  The blade was too worn and wouldn't cut through so we had to buy another one.  Even after we got a new one we still couldn't cut through the base.  Mr. C ended up hacking at it with a hammer (front and back) for a good 20 minutes before we decided that enough was enough and the base had been exposed enough that it would suck up water.  So far it seems to be doing fine.

I spend most of Friday cleaning and organizing as well as decorating the tree.

See, isn't it cute??  Anyway, I'm still working on stuff but I do have another exciting recipe for you all!  This is another family recipe that we make every year.  No Christmas would be complete without Candy Cane Cookies!

Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies

I don't know if you've realized but I'm a fan of cute things.  Not necessarily like "Hello Kitty" cute, but "little things" cute.  "Precious" things cute.  I dunno, it's kinda hard to explain.  But these Candy Canes are SO CUTE!

Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies

1 1/3 Cup Butter, room temperature

3/4 Cup Sugar

1/2 tsp Almond Extract

1 tsp Peppermint Extract

3 3/4 Cups Flour

3 TBSP Milk

Red Food Coloring

In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add flour one up at a time along with milk and almond extract.  Mix until well blended.  Divide dough in half and mix in red food coloring and peppermint extract to one.  Cover in 2 separate bowls and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Roll into strips on a lightly floured board.  Carefully twist the white and red strips together and roll into one cylindrical shape. Cut and shape into candy canes at desired length.

Place on un-greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until very lightly browned on the bottom.

Weekly Wishes: Part VIII

So I skipped my Weekly Wishes last week.  I was also largely unsuccessful in completing my goals for that week.  I apologize for that!

The Nectar Collective

The previous week's wishes were as follows: 

  1. Be thankful: I've been trying to focus on this a lot lately- not just for a week.
  2. Post twice this week: Didn't do well on this point either.  I opted to focus on family rather than posting.  Hope you'll all forgive me!
  3. Start new training program: Now this did happen!  I've been working on my new program and keeping on top of my regime and it's been awesome!

This week's goals will be:

  1. Get Christmas Decorations Up: I hope to get a tree as well, on my trip back to NYC but if that doesn't happen it'll be ok- either way I'm getting some sort of decorations up- it's time to be festive! (I've started putting up decorations at my mom's house while she's at work today)
  2. FINISH CLASSES!: Woo hoo- last week of classes!  I'm excited- time to finish up strong and be done for the semester!
  3. Organize the Apartment: I'd been working on this slowly when I was there- going through boxes I had brought up and trying to tidy things up in general.  Being back in Maryland I've been making similar progress here (as I go through boxes to bring to NYC etc).  I was able to donate several boxes of stuff on Saturday- woo hoo!  Time to keep it up!

Sunday Link-y Roundup!

I have lost all consistently in my life!

Yes, I feel like being dramatic right now.

It's really not that bad, it's just that it takes me a decent amount of time to get back on track with things and make a new schedule with which to organize myself.  I have a very single-track mind so when I'm focused on something, that's all I think about which is why I like structure and schedule- it helps me keep my sh!t together, ya know?

Anyway, one more week then I'm done with classes.  Then I get to completely freak out about finishing my Christmas gifts and organizing the apartment and this website.  It's cool, we'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, here's a picture of my amazingly sexy cat.

Bandit

I mean, just look at that cat!  Wow!

Anyway, I also wanted to share some of my favorite links this week.

First of all, let's get into the holiday spirit with this awesome Vegan Eggnog recipe from Edible Perspective.

Then there's these Rum Cardamom Fig Chocolate Truffles from The Roasted Root. (because who doesn't love a little bit of rum in their balls?)

And speaking of alcohol, how about this awesome Apple and Cinnamon Infused Bourbon from The Kitchn?

Chelsea, over at A Duck's Oven has this adorable desktop calendar for December.

I also found THE MOST adorable marshmallows on the internet. OMG THEY'RE CAT MARSHMALLOWS!!

I also loved this video on the master of action comedy, Jackie Chan.

And finally, my mom and I made pasta on Friday.  It is glorious!  I made pasta for dinner on Saturday and it was pure magic (I just need to get better with getting that perfect, not too overpowering but coats the noodles just right, sauce). 

Handmade Pasta

Happy Sunday everyone!