June 28, 2011

No Bake Monkey Balls! (Guest Blogger)

Today's post is brought to us by none other than Ms. Evonne Noble!  There are two stories here: 1) what are Monkey Balls and 2) who's Ms. Noble?

The building next to where I work has a popular to-go lunch spot called Juicy (formerly called Juice It but that's another story).  They have rice bowls, salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies, and Monkey Balls.  Monkey balls look like the picture above and are made of oatmeal, bananas, pb, and dried fruit etc.  Ms. Noble does not call them Monkey Balls, she prefers Oatmeal Balls or Balls of Goodness :) Insert token balls joke here...

Evonne Noble and I have had several chapters together.  First, we taught high school math together for only one LONG year.  During which we helped each other find careers outside of teaching.  She went on to become an actuary.  In our latest chapter together we work together again!  She's with a different team but we're on the same floor and can and do make frequent coffee runs together.   It is so fun to work together again!  

The two stories came together when I was gabbing with a new hire in the company kitchen one day.  She was talking about Monkey Balls and said now that she has a recipe she won't have to buy they at JuiceIt (just can't call it Juicy).  They sell them for $2 a ball!  I asked for the recipe and she said she would email it but didn't know my name.  When I told her she said, "Oh you're Lisa CurlyHair!  The recipe is from Evonne! Don't you know her?"  The rest is now published history.

Monkey Balls are like but even better than Clif Bars.  They keep in the fridge for the week and are super filling. The oatmeal "Cooks" overnight in the fridge.  TRY THEM and you will fall in love!

Basically you can mix/match with whatever you like or have on hand.  I play around by changing the amount of sweetener or proportions of ingredients.

The overall steps are to mix the wet ingredients with the protein power, mix the dry ingredients separately, then mix all together very thoroughly and make into balls.  Finish by wrapping in saran wrap to keep moisture and flavor; freeze/refrigerate to set.

Wet Mixtures - Mix approx. equal parts glue, sweetener and protein powder
-Glues: Peanut Butter, almond butter, cashew butter, any butter!, or try a banana (or combine those!) - FOR MONKEY BALLS USE AT LEAST 1-2 BANANAS which will both provide some sweetener and some of the glue

-Sweetener - honey, agave, rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.  I try to do less sweetener so I prefer more like 1 cup almond butter to 1/3 or 1/2 cup agave to 1 cup protein powder.  You can always make it with less and then add more to the final product before you form the balls.

-Protein power  - use any flavor you like but vanilla or plain go well as a base unless you want a more chocolate feel, then go chocolate. I have never tried chocolate.

Dry ideas - I think having more oats or oat-like flakes as a base works best for consistency, but you can up the nuts and other ingredients to a texture/flavor that you like.  If you want you can put the dry stuff in the blender for a smoother, more dough-like ball, but I like the full oat/flake look and feel without extra blending/chopping.

-other rolled grain flakes: spelt, emmer, barley, rye, kamut, etc
-rice cereals (like kashi or rice crispies)
-crushed nuts: peanuts, almonds, macadamia, pecan, walnut etc
-seeds: sunflower, sesame, pumpkin
-chocolate chips, other treat chips (butterscotch, etc)
-dried fruits: raisin, cranberries, chopped dates, chopped figs, etc
-wheat germ
-flax seed (use ground, whole seed you body does not digest and get the nutrients!)
-spices:  cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, you name it!

You can test out to see how wet/dry you like your balls (ha!) but around a ratio of 1:2 for wet to dry ingredients is what I like. So, for the above example of 1 cup almond butter, 1/3 cup agave and 1 cup protein powder, I'd put in about 2-3 cups of dry ingredients like oatmeal, spelt flakes, wheat germ, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut.

FYI - if you heat the butter to soften it and make it easier to mix, WAIT and add chocolate chips or other meltables until later (maybe even chill the mix first). I made the mistake of adding chocolate and the bars were slightly warm and then instead of nice chips I had chocolate goo.  Still tasty but not my desired outcome

I have also made baked energy bars - below are a few recipes I tried:
Power Bars –  http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/video-big-sur-power-bars-recipe.html

Peanut Bars (replace with almonds or other nuts?) http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001402.html

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