Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Recipe: Peanut Butter Hemp Balls

Last night I went down to the Ithaca commons for a festive, holiday-themed social run hosted Finger Lakes Running & Triathlon Co. The event had a solid turnout and was comprised of runners in ugly sweaters, a Saucony rep demoing some new shoes, a cookie swap, and a lot of positive feedback about my balls. Wait, what!?

Baking is not exactly my forte. I have neither the patience nor the willpower to follow written instruction to a T, at least not while in the kitchen. I do enjoy cooking, which usually involves throwing a bunch of stuff into a bowl, pot, or pan without measuring anything, but measuring things precisely and managing micro adjustments never had much appeal to me. So rather than bake traditional Christmas treats for the cookie swap or buy some at a store, I decided to make some
peanut butter and hemp balls that take only a few minutes and don't require any baking. After the run they seemed to go over well as hungry runners gorged themselves on an array of holiday treats. A lot of people said they loved the PB hemp balls and discussions ensued on the merits of particular ingredients. I promised I'd post some sort of recipe, so here ya go.

My friend Adam introduced me to this snack during a day long hike in the Catskill High Peaks. The combination of fat and carbs will provide energy for a longer, slow-paced endurance event like a hike, and the raw hemp protein is easily digestible to help with muscle recovery. Plus they make a delicious and relatively healthy holiday season snack. This recipe takes about five minutes to make and yields 12-15 balls. And for the record, the edible hemp seeds have nothing to do with cannabis or inebriation.


To make the peanut butter hemp balls:

- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 2/3 cup hemp powder
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 3 Tbsp agave nectar
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Stir the agave nectar, peanut butter and sea salt together in a bowl until well blended. 

Add in the hemp powder and stir until mixed thoroughly. If the mixture is too dry, just add a bit of water. If it's too wet add some additional hemp powder. 

Using your hands, roll the paste into 1 inch balls. Place the balls on wax paper and cover in a container. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

Optional: You can roll the balls in shredded coconut (or some other additive like chia seeds) before refrigerating. 

Additionally, you can substitute any of the ingredients for similar ones. For example, almond butter or any other nut or seed butter instead of peanut butter, honey or maple syrup in place of the agave nectar, or pea protein powder in place of the hemp powder.

From the Saucony Everun, Ugly Sweater, and Cookie Swap Group Run (SEUSCSGR).

Some Notes on Hemp Powder *

Hemp powder is simply raw hemp seeds ground down into flour. The calories from hemp seeds, and thus, hemp powder, are about 35% protein. Hemp protein is one of the few complete proteins derived naturally from plants, meaning that the powder contains all 10 essential amino acids. Being a raw food, the protein from hemp flour is easily digestible. Hemp powder can be found at most natural food stores, such as the bulk section at GreenStar Natural Foods Market in Ithaca. 

Hemp protein is also alkaline forming, which helps the body maintain an optimal pH level, thus reducing stress on the body and assisting in athletic recovery. 

* Brazier, B. (2007). Thrive: The Vegan Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. Penguin Group.

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