I made these little snackies for the Gentleman Runner, who has had 28-mile training runs the last two Saturdays in a row (followed by another 18 miles or so on the respective Sundays, in addition, of course, to his regular weekday runs). He’s been training all winter for his next ultra-marathon, the 40-mile Free State Trail Run in Lawrence, KS, in April. These snack bites combine some of the Gent’s favorite flavors (peanut butter, coconut, apricot) and pack a lot of protein, nutrients, and healthy carbs into a little, bite-sized package that is easy to take on the go. The Gent also likes to nosh on a couple of these bites at the start of a run; they provide a dense, caloric kick without feeling heavy in his stomach. (Check out his full review here.)
Since these bites are sweetened with honey, agave nectar, and dried fruit instead of refined sugar, they provide a gentler, steadier energy boost than more sugary treats. I used apricots, almonds and a granola from our local co-op that contains toasted coconut flakes, but you could just as easily substitute different dried fruits or nuts, or pick a granola that contains all of the flavors and add-ins you want — just make sure the fruit, granola, and nuts add up to about 3 1/4 cups total volume. Using smooth peanut butter makes a better binder in this recipe; the granola and nuts will provide plenty of crunch.
If, like me, you’re not running a marathon any time soon, these bites are also a quick, nutritious breakfast or a satisfying afternoon snack.
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp ground or whole flax seeds
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1/4 cup chopped, dried apricots (or other dried fruit)
2 2/3 cups toasted coconut granola (or other granola)
1/3 cup sliced, toasted almonds (or other nuts)
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly oil the foil. Coarsely chop the dried fruit (and nuts, if you prefer smaller pieces).
Whisk together the wet ingredients into a smooth paste. Stir in the dry ingredients until evenly coated. Scoop up 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture at a time and, using clean, wet hands, mold into a ball.
I can’t stress the wet hands thing enough. I know it sounds like a pain, but rinsing your hands in between shaping each ball so you are starting out with clean, wet hands every time will ensure that this sticky mixture holds together while you shape it, instead of sticking all over your hands instead.
Place the balls a few inches apart on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 8-10 minutes, until just barely starting to brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (although I guarantee they won’t last that long!) I think these taste best cold from the fridge or at room temperature, rather than warm from the oven. Makes about 2 dozen.