It’s very uncommon for me to eat, and even rarer for me to post on this blog, a recipe that calls for ingredients so out of season as pumpkin. This time of year we’re craving greens, fresh herbs, vegetables of every kind, strawberries, cherries, maybe even a stone fruit or two, but definitely not pumpkin. Especially since the last few days have been hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. So what am I doing talking about pumpkin in July then?
There’s a good reason for this ridiculously out of season post. You see, I have been a very bad blogger: I promised a recipe but then I kept its tasty existence a secret!
Let me explain: back in late May I appeared on a local TV show called Talk of the Town to demo this delicious, though decidedly unseasonal recipe. It’s a snack ball recipe I love because it relies on seeds, nuts and my life-sustaining coconut. But the key ingredient (vitamin A-rich pumpkin, which usually appears on farm stands on September, October and November) is not something I’d usually be cooking with in the middle of summer.
I said on air that the recipe was on my blog. Unfortunately, I completely forgot that it wasn’t. Yet. So after the show taped, I figured I’d just post it up so that it was available by the time the show began airing. But it seems I was so excited and flying on cloud nine that I completely forgot to share it. It’s quite possible I was even distracted by my first taste of fame!
So, I’m posting this pumpkin recipe, hot sunny summer weather or not, and you can decide for yourself whether you can handle waiting until pumpkins are again in season. (Here’s a secret: it uses canned pumpkin so you don’t need to deprive yourself, if you don’t want to – just saying!)
A few notes about the ingredients that star in this recipe:
I’ve talked about the health benefits of pumpkins before. But I haven’t talked about dates before. Dates work beautifully as a stand in for sugar in the right recipes. This is one of them! From a nutritional point of view, dates are also impressive: soluble fibre for a happy gut and intestines and slow releasing sugars for sustained energy. Dates have significant potassium, which helps support metabolism, calm the nervous system, and regulate muscle contractions, such as those of the heart.
From a culinary point of view (because for this foodie it always, always comes back to flavour!), dates offer a delicious sweetness and caramel flavour. The dates help make this taste like pumpkin pie without the guilt. I don’t find them very sweet at all and they would be perfect post-workout. You can even freeze them and throw 2-3 of them in your gym bag… they’ll be defrosted by the time you’re done racing on the treadmill or pumping iron.
The “dough” for these balls is also quite flexible so you could easily shape it into bars for another portable snack option.
Here’s the recipe (you may want to bookmark this so you have it for October!):
Pumpkin Pie Energy Balls
- ¾ cup pecans preferably raw & organic
- ¾ cup cashews preferably raw & organic
- 8 large honey dates or about ¼ cup finely diced dates
- 1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
- ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp real vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- For rolling: ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
An hour before you’re ready to start, soak the pecans, cashews and dates separately in containers in lukewarm water*.
After an hour, drain the nuts and dates. Chop the nuts roughly. Chop the dates finely. Add these to a food processor with the pumpkin, ½ cup coconut, spices, vanilla and salt.
Pulse 3-4 times or until the mixture starts to come together. If it isn’t “sticking”, add 1-2 Tbsp of water to help it along.
Spread the ¼ cup of shredded coconut on a plate.
Shape the mixture into evenly sized balls (I use a mini ice cream scoop for this). Roll the balls in the shredded coconut.
Refrigerate the balls for at least 20 minutes to let them firm up. The balls can be kept in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.
* If you’re not using raw nuts, you don’t need to soak them. You can just soak the dates.
So, whether it’s winter, fall, spring or summer where you are, you’ll be able to make these pumpkin pie energy balls the next time your craving for pumpkin becomes unbearable.
Life is a plate… Eat up!