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two girls in alamosa sand dune with sand boards

OPT and Trail Munchies, huh?

Way back when, a different time frame for each of us, I was in sophomore English when our teacher gave us an OPT. Fortunately, it was not a communicable disease, but an Occupational Preference Test, the only test I remember taking in high school that was not graded. The test showed how our answers to questions about preferences for situations and interests in life compared to the attitudes of people in various professions.

As I recall, a question would ask us about 'If you were in a band would you rather be the lead singer, the drummer, play guitar, be a roadie or the band manager.' The test seemed redundant in ways that made me think I was contradicting myself so I had no idea what my OPT would reveal about what profession I might choose. When we received the results we were given the top 3 possible professions for which our answers most closely matched the attitudes for people in those lines of work.

For me, my number one was 'truck driver.' Number two was 'forestry.' I cannot remember what was number three on my list. I was not yet driving and though I had wandered in the woods of Colorado on family vacations, my thinking then was more along the lines of engineer or veterinarian. I was wondering how I could have flunked an ungraded test! My friend Steve's results were Photographer and Dentist, which, as he told me recently, made him start thinking about being a dentist. He remains my friend and my dentist. But, though unconfirmed, if he were offered the position of Team Photographer for the Chicago Cubs, he might dump dentistry. Probably not, but he'd think about it! Fast forward to now. Having studied wildlife ecology and environmental science and having made a career of many careers, my life's diversity has all added up to one profession, writing. Dabbling in writing over many years and being a pro chef on occasion I excelled in the kitchen and have learned how to back myself into a writing corner, for which I have a passion for doing, and then, creatively escaping via words and making everything fit and work, or sometimes not.

As I have been around awhile and love staying physically active in the mountains and believing to an extent that the only limits are self imposed, I have also studied nutrition. I wanted travel and trail food that would keep my cerebral neurons firing effectively, keep my energy levels up and keep my joints lubricated and without inflammation. Tough task as I have chosen to not subject myself to pharmaceuticals but have chosen to go with real food. The mountains surrounding the San Luis Valley are physically demanding but my Energy Balls are up for the task! I have chosen ingredients that are healthy, yummy, and work together with macro and micronutrients. I have no patent or trademark name on them so make them, eat them, go forth and have fun.

Energy Balls Ingredients list - I try and use everything organic and in bulk. Organic ingredients purchased in bulk are reasonably priced. NOTE #1 - This is kind of a mad scientist's recipe and ingredients can change in additions or amounts or vary. We all have different food combos we like so do not be afraid. Create your own mix just for the health of it.

Dry ingredients and approximate ratios

- Oatmeal - 1 cup

- Flax seeds - 1/2 cup

- Sesame seeds - 1/4 cup

- Chia seeds - 2 tablespoons

- Toasted soybeans - 1/2 cup

- Sunflower seeds - 1/3 cup

Nuts - I use a roasted nut mix that has the following: A total of a cup (total combined) of these or so.

- Almonds

- Brazil nuts

- Cashews

- Walnuts

- Filberts

- Pecans

- Pistachios

All nuts have their own nutritional value of essential amino acids, micronutrients and minerals. Buy extra nuts that you like to put in mix - I add extra Brazil nuts, pistachios and almonds for their special health benefits!
COCOA POWDER AKA CHOCOLATE! - I use a 1/2 cup of organic cocoa powder or the mini chocolate chips (which does add sugar which I mostly avoid now) available in bulk at most WHOLE FOODS, NATURAL GROCERS or the health food sections in bigger grocery stores.

"Wet" ingredients for glue
Crunchy peanut butter - My favorite is Santa Cruz Organic - fabulous (another great snack is eating dates with this peanut butter - yum! - 2/3 cup or so (Available also at Walmart under the Smucker's brand - same company, same good PB)

- Raw Honey - 1/2 cup plus

- Vanilla - Tablespoon

- Raisins 2/3 cup

- Coconut oil

- Sesame tahini

- I have added dried blueberries, tart cherries, and cranberries -

- If I need a little more oil I usually add sunflower oil that I use for cooking or organic coconut oil is healthy too!!

BEST RESULTS FOR MIXING - I have an old fashioned hand nut grinder to reduce the size of the nuts before I use my blenders. I use a small Cuisinart blender/coffee grinder to grind everything that is not wet. I also use my MAGIC BULLET blender. The oatmeal, flax and chia are dry and will not 'butter up' like the nuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

MAGIC GRINDING INGREDIENT is using a few of the toasted soybeans as they are very dry and help keep the nuts and seeds grinding. Use small amounts at a time in grinder to avoid having big chunks remain. Put in large mixing bowl and get your hands dirty!! If mix is too dry, add oil or more honey -if mix is too wet, add more oatmeal flour. Mix and mush by hand and make balls like meatballs slightly smaller than golf balls. I place in pie pans, cover, and throw in freezer to get them to set and then store in frig - they can get a little sticky when warm!

They pack a healthy punch, are sweet, tasty and one or two are satisfying because they are rich! These amounts should yield about 24 balls. YUM! Eat well, be weller!

NOTES

1. I buy whole seeds like flax, sesame and chia that I grind before making the balls - keeps the nutrition in them longer. And, if eaten whole, the nutrition in those seeds passes through us without benefit.

2. May seem labor intensive at first but will be well worth the effort!

3. Not a good idea to answer cell phone when making balls - how do you think I know this? Result is a goobery phone.

4. NUTRITION - These are great for breakfast. Often, my morning is two energy balls, a glass of one fresh squeezed orange or homemade smoothie, and/or fruit - banana and a few berries. I find I have no energy lapses and if you get hungry later, have another - they have so much good stuff in them, the EBs take the edge off any hunger and there is no 'crash' as with sugar infused candy bars.

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