The extraordinary outdoor life in New Mexico is one of the many reasons we moved here. Depending on your outdoor tastes and interests, it’s a year-round activity. Skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and hiking, running, biking, rafting, camping and fly fishing in the summer.
David is a former professional ski racer, so living near a mountain was high on his list of priorities. And with more than 250″ of snow this year, it was a magnificent year for his favorite sport.
Though I am also a skier, I am far from professional, but jump at the mere hint of a good long trek in the mountains with a friend.
Take a Hike
Now that the snow has melted and the ski mountain has closed for the season, it’s time to redirect our focus to exploring the outdoors on foot. With more than 200 miles of trails, and many within a five-mile radius of our house, I recently met up at St. John’s College with a new friend to hike Atalaya Trail.
One of the most popular trails in the city, I was expecting it to be crowded, but the calm of a Monday morning was on our side. We may have only passed half a dozen people and a few dogs on our trek, which made it seem as if we had the entire mountain to ourselves.
We each brought a dog along for the journey and off we went across the parking lot to an arroyo before we began our moderate, but constant ascent up the mountain. As we walked along the trail, we talked about everything and often paused for a respite to take it all in–and have a sip of water and catch our breath.
The uphill battle continued to take us higher in elevation (approximately 9,121 feet) and, weaving in and out of the pinon and juniper trees, offered spectacular views like this along the way. To me, these panoramic views of Santa Fe are the rewards of hiking here. And, on a clear day, you can even see the Sandia Mountains, about 50 miles south in Albuquerque.
As an active hiker, I know the longer journeys require a little snack. About half-way into our 4-mile hike, we were both ready and hungry for a healthy, protein packed bite and I was prepared. I have been making these good + good for you no-bake almond butter balls for the last few weeks and everyone I share them with approves.
They have been tested on omnivores, carnivores and gluten-free eaters. I took a batch to a meeting with an office of millennials and later got an email proclaiming them an absolute winner! Even my dogs love these tasty, easy to make treats. Not surprisingly, my hiking buddy and her dog also gave these healthy snacks the thumbs up.
Having received such high marks from a broad group of taste testers, it’s high time to share the recipe so you, too, can prep a batch and hit the hiking trails with a friend. It’s definitely the healthiest way I know of to enjoy someone’s company, get in some exercise and take in the fresh air. And then you can celebrate your ascent and descent with these no-bake almond butter balls.
No-Bake Almond Butter Balls
If you are needing a healthy snack that takes a few minutes to throw together, look no further than these no-bake nut butter balls. The combination of a little coconut sugar, almond butter and butter create the base, while the coconut flour holds it all together. The oats, nuts and seeds add a nice crunchy texture. I used dried apricots and love the hint of sweetness and chewiness. Feel free to play around with the nuts and seeds and even switch out the almond butter for sunflower seed or cashew butter or peanut butter or add a chopped dried cherry for another layer of flavor and tartness.
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons plant-based milk
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter or butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla
- 1/3 cup salted natural almond butter or other nut butter
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds or hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds roasted and unsalted
- 1 tablespoon organic pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup almond slivers toasted and unsalted, or other chopped nut of choice
- 1/4 cup dried fruit of choice, apricots or cherries chopped into bits, optional
- 3/4 cup rolled oats gluten-free
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a saucepan, add the coconut sugar, nut milk and butter and place over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and, once bubbling, swirl pan to combine ingredients and let boil for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and add vanilla, almond butter and salt and stir to combine.
Add the coconut flour, seeds and nuts. Add dried chopped fruit, if using.
Add the oats and stir well to combine and incorporate all of the ingredients.
Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop balls onto the prepared baking sheet. If you need to, use your fingers to cinch the seeds and nuts together so it forms a ball. Alternatively, you could wet your hands and roll them into balls.
Let sit in the refrigerator for 20-25 minutes until cool and firm up.
Enjoy as a snack when the urge hits and store in the fridge.