Healthy Power Bars “Ojas Balls”
from Ayurveda Today, Volume 23, Number 1, Summer 2010
Makes about 2 dozen balls
Modern treats such as “energy,” “power,” or “green” bars have taken the place of yesteryear’s granola bars on natural food store shelves. Although admittedly convenient and quickly satisfying to a between-meal hunger, unfortunately these bars offer little genuine nutrition and therefore little genuine energy. In addition, their packaged life robs them of prana and their fragile ingredients such as seeds, nuts and grains turn rancid as the bars linger on store shelves for months on end. What’s more, from an Ayurvedic approach, these highly processed bars can be a cause for agni to break down as well as vata due largely to their dense nature, lack of prana and odd combinations of poor quality ingredients, not to mention that they often get gobbled up on the go.
The following energy-giving recipe provides a fresh, delicious, simple, and nutrient-rich alternative to lifeless, stale and over-processed store-purchased power bars mistakenly promoted as health giving. Additionally, this recipe is gluten-, nut-, and dairy-free, as well as gentle on agni.
A coffee grinder, blender, or small food processor is indispensible for grinding the seeds. From a holistic nutrition point of view, it is best to purchase nuts and seeds in their raw form (unsalted and unroasted) and dried fruits that are sulfur and preservative-free. These power-packed balls travel well in a waxed paper bag and will keep for a few weeks refrigerated.
1/2 cup dried figs
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup white sesame seeds
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 pinch mineral salt
5 drops peppermint or sweet orange essential oil optional
1/8 to1/4 cup extra virgin, cold-pressed olive or coconut oil
1/3 cup whole white sesame seeds, ground flax seeds, or unsweetened, shredded dried coconut to coat the finished balls optional
Lightly toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet without oil. This helps to remove any traces of E-coli on their skins. Remove from skillet and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, separately grind the sunflower seeds and the sesame seeds into a coarse powder, reserving each of the ground seeds in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Grind the pumpkin seeds once they have cooled. Add the cardamom and salt to the seeds and combine well. If you are adding carob, cacao, and/or spirulina powder (see below), do so now and mix well.
Drain the dried fruits, reserving the soaking water for another use (such as drinking it on an empty stomach). Add the soaked dried fruit and the optional essential oil to the ground seed mixture. Incorporate the ingredients using the back of a fork to obtain a very coarse mixture. Now add enough oil to obtain a thick, paste-like dough.
Using a teaspoon, scoop up a spoonful of the mixture and roll into a walnut-sized ball in the palms of your hands. If the balls don’t easily stick together, add a bit more oil. If too wet, grind more sesame or sunflower seeds to thicken the mixture. For a nutritive, decorative touch, roll the balls in the whole sesame seeds, ground flax seeds, or shredded coconut. This also prevents the balls from being sticky on the outside.
If you don’t have time to roll the balls, opt to make bars by pressing the mixture into a lightly oiled, glass 9 x 9” baking dish. Cut and enjoy as needed.
Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator.
Once you’ve made this recipe, here are some ideas to further “empower” the balls:
- exchange raisins, goji berries, cranberries or other dried fruits for the ones suggested above
- substitute ground cashews or soaked, peeled and ground almonds for the seeds
- add ground flax or hemp seeds to the list of ingredients for additional fiber and EFA’s
- transform the balls into a healthy truffle by adding 3 Tbs. coarsely ground cacao nibs, raw cocoa or carob powder
- add 2 Tbs. spirulina powder for an additional nutritional punch
Variations on what you can include are limitless. Let this recipe serve as a base of inspiration for your own creativity.
Michele Schulz's love for Ayurveda began more than 15 years ago and infuses her offerings of nutrition, cooking, and yoga. From her adoptive home of France and internationally, Michele gives Ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle consultations, as well as cooking and yoga workshops. Michele gives courses and consultations internationally and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org