Hemp Cacao Energy Bites

by Gena on April 29, 2011

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“Hemp cacao energy bites”: now there’s the kind of title that reminds you that you write a raw-themed blog. Crunchy.

Happy Friday! I’m preparing to interview for a summer hospital volunteer position (cross your fingers for me!) and then it’s off to Virginia for some weekend backpacking with M—my first backpacking trip ever, I should add. Exciting! In preparation for this adventure, I decided to spend my Friday morning preparing a nutritious and portable snack.

There’s nothing too surprising about this recipe: they’re just like any other raw “doughnut hole” or ball, except that I tried to pack in a little more nutrition and texture with the addition of hemp protein and cacao nibs. I also used, as my base, a cup of special and high-quality cashews, which I received to review from the fine folks at Serrv, a co-op that works to bring artisanal foods from all over the world to the US. These cashews, collected and distributed by the nonprofit and fair trade company Just Cashews, are grown and processed in Honduras by a farmer cooperative. While not raw, these cashews are remarkably special: they’re roasted on adobe ovens, and they have an incredible, smoky flavor that I’ve fallen in love with (additionally, there’s some debate about whether or not it’s possible to get any cashews that are actually raw, though I do try to buy ones labeled as such whenever I can).

Fair trade cashews are fairly hard to find, and conventional cashews are often harvested under fairly exploitative conditions, so these felt like a worthy product to review. You can find more info here. As you can see, the price is quite steep, but I can vouch for the flavor, which is truly the best I’ve tasted! And in spite of the fact that roast cashews might seem like a strange fit for a date/nut ball, they actually worked beautifully—even though I plan on saving the rest to savor on their own.

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Hemp Cacao Energy Bites (vegan, can be raw, GF and soy free)

Yields about 18

1 cup cashews
1 cup pitted dates, packed
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup hemp protein powder (I like Nutiva)
1/4 cup cacao nibs

1) Grind cashews and hemp protein in a food processor till coarse. Add the dates and run the food processor till the mixture is getting uniform, and sticks together easily. Add the agave and process a bit more.

2) Add the cacao nibs and pulse.

3) Shape mixture into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then snack away!

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I may or may not just have popped a few of these into my mouth on the bus, and I can tell you that they’re well worth tolerating the funky green-brown color. Promise. Even if you don’t make these guys with fancy cashews, they’re a wonderful raw snack. And with the benefits of heart healthy fats, complete protein, antioxidants, and simple sugars for instant energy, they’re wonderful fuel for any kind of physical activity.

Hope you guys have some fun plans on the agenda this weekend! I won’t be back online until late Sunday night or early Monday, but when I get there, I’ll have a full recap of my weekend communion with nature. And, of course, a rundown of my eats.

What’s your favorite portable snack? To my outdoorsy readers, what kind of raw fuel do you like to take on a hike?


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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan Thomas April 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

This recipe is so “granola”. And I love it.
Wishing you well for the interview! You’re going to have a blast backpacking. Believe it or not, I used to be outdoorsy once upon a time. Now if I’m away from Twitter or Royal Wedding updates for 5 minutes I get cranky.


VeggieGirl April 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Larabars are my favorite portable bars/snacks.


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats April 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I am not good at communing with nature, though I am working on it and getting better. A little. My favorite portable snack totally varies – some weeks it is kale chips, other weeks anything hummus/nut pate like – I do love this one bar recipe from Elana’s pantry which I rawified by using raw almonds and almond butter and making raw chocolate with stevia to top it. So good.


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats April 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

And good luck on the interview :)


Victoria (District Chocoholic) April 29, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Mmmmmmmmmmm nibs. Love it.


bitt April 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Are you venturing into the world of raw desserts? Way to go! I have a hemp brownie recipe that I love. I think hemp and cacao mixes well together. I have bought the “really raw cashews”, only for events at potlucks because otherwise people won’t eat them. To me, I don’t mind if they were a little steamed though, because it’s lighter on the pocketbook.


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 29, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Gena, they look great. I make something I call raw vegan fudge balls…same concept minus the hemp. Pretty much you can’t go wrong with cashews, dates, cocoa powder/cocao nibs, agave. A recipe for success :)

I love that you made a chocolate based recipe. I love my avo’s and nooch and raw kale salads and everything…but I also love chocolaty treats. Way to go, Gena!

I also linked your post from earlier this week re Eating Disorder Types. I felt it was so well written I wanted to make mention of it for anyone who didnt see it.

Food to bring on hikes? Things that are climate stable and dont crush easily. So raw balls are fine, just not ones with coconut oil in them if it’s going to be hot out so they don’t melt type thing. Honestly, trail mix, dried fruit, the tail end of a jar of nut butter, some raw cut up veggies and fruits…simple stuff. That’s what I like best!



Ela April 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Sounds yummy. Good luck with the interview–sounds like a great opportunity. We do lots of backpacking: my husband would live like that if he could. And we’re in bear country. We like to pack dense foods. Nuts and dates are awesome, as are crackers. I’ve often mixed up a pate/pesto-type thing: nut butter or tahini or similar with lots of spices (or even chocolate) mixed in, just no liquid ingredients.

Have fun!


Tawney April 29, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I essentially pack the same stuff for every day hike or climb. The usual includes: apples, dates, homemade granola or energy bar/ball, dark chocolate, electrolyte drink, manna bread, and dried bananas.

Last summer I did a 17 day expedition and found that while on the heavy side, hummus and refried beans were a favourite. Both can stay unrefrigerated for a surprisingly decent period of time. A breakfast quinoa was also a staple (with raisins, coconut and cinnamon). The trick is keeping the pack light, while not eating dried or dehydrated food 3 meals a day.

My eating patterns have changed since the summer and I haven’t done a long trip since. With summer approaching, I will be starting to put together one week meal plans that are vegan and higher raw. I’m interested to see what you end up taking. Enjoy your backpacking!


Emilia @ Namaste Gurl April 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Those look totally good- I can always depend on your for hemp- tastic recipes :) These would be perfect for an post- workout snack or during breaks at school. You got me into hemp, by the way, and I totally love it now! Thanks for that :)
Have a lovely backpacking trip- can’t wait to hear the recap :)


Lenna April 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

The recipe is mouthwatering!:) My favourite portable snack is fruit of any kind (well better the kind that is able to be portable:)) Good luck with the interview!


tweal April 30, 2011 at 6:07 am

I love hiking and I love hemp – what a great snack this would be for me! Normally I have a larabar or something similar, but making my own is a much wiser choice.


Hannah April 30, 2011 at 6:50 am

Because of the whole “hemp is illegal except as pet food” aspect of Australia, I can’t make these exactly, but at least you’ve encouraged me to remake my mango date sunflower balls! I hope you have a wonderful holiday away – oh, and I recommend taking some of these to your interview – you’ll be accepted like a shot :D


Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) April 30, 2011 at 7:06 am

Best of luck on finding a summer gig! Did you get a new camera recently? Your photos look different.


Lauren April 30, 2011 at 8:24 am

Have a fun little adventure! These look great!


Shady April 30, 2011 at 8:31 am

I bought cacao nibs for the first time last week and lets just say it was not love at first bite. So I’m especially intrigued to try this recipe to see if it makes them any more palatable. Have a fun trip!


melissa April 30, 2011 at 8:52 am

don’t think i’ll ever tire of ballz. my fave go to snack are hard boiled eggs, raw nuts or seeds or carrot sticks with hummus. i really do love carrots, so sweet and the crunch factor is amazing. i’m gonna be orange!


McKella April 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

Good look on the volunteer position, and I hope you have a great time backpacking! I went once when I was 14 and it was great! I’d like to go again.
I’m pretty uncreative with my food lately, and my go-to portable snack is a baggie of raw almonds. I’ve run into a few episodes this week where meal-sized hunger rose up out of nowhere while I was out, and the almonds did little to keep it under control until I got home. Maybe I should try something a little more filling, like these balls, to add some fiber, protein and sugars in with the healthy fat of the nuts.


Christine (The Raw Project) April 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

Oh my goodness, I must make these soon! I love the idea of using hemp protein powder. Thanks!

Good luck on volunteer position and can’t wait to hear about the backpacking trip – wow!


Ricki April 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

With all the raw cake pops (ie, a different kind of raw ball) around the internet these days, and now these amazing energy bites, I am totally inspired to create something sweet, round, and raw! These look amazing. I love hemp seeds, even just on their own–but I’m sure they’d be spectacular combined with all these other flavors. YUM! I think my favorite portable snack is very similar to this, my high-calcium raw fig & cherry bars on my blog. They keep really well and hold their shape until ready to eat, so I tend to bring them with me if I have car-based errands to run all day and know I won’t be able to stop along the way for something healthy to eat. Except now, I think I’ll have to bring along these bites. ;)


Docia April 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Your first backpacking trip – how exciting!

Dried fruit, hemp powder, nut butters, granola, freeze dried meals.

If it’s a shorter trip, I bring heavier fresh foods. Generally apples.


Janet April 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Those look delish! I’m always looking for “snacky” items…this one fits the bill for sure. :)

As far as my favorite portable snacks, I always try to have a Lara bar in my purse for when hunger strikes and I’m not at home. Carrots and raw trail mix are my other fave snacks…unless I’ve made a sweet treat like yours!

Have a great time on your backpacking trip!


Stephanie May 1, 2011 at 8:38 am

Your energy bites look lovely! I have to make mine with sunflower seeds, because I work in a nut-free environment. While sunballs are delicious…the truth is that almonds taste better!


Nathalie May 1, 2011 at 10:27 am

I’ll be making the energy bites soon, they look tasty and I am always looking for healhy on-the-go snacks.

Good luck with the interview, and I hope you’re having fun in VA!

PS: Your post on Crazy Sexy is great!!!


Michelle | Gold-hearted Girl May 1, 2011 at 11:29 am

Yes! I love little nut bites. Especially when chocolate is involved. I’m thinking of trying one with bee pollen.



Pure2raw twins May 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

perfect little snack!! I love anything with dates as a portable snack


elise May 2, 2011 at 11:56 am

i just made a very similar recipe! mine was hemp-less though, so maybe ill add that in next time. one day ill get around to posting mine. sigh. how are you love? im playing catch up now.


Clarissa @ Sober and the City May 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Tracey @ notsuperhuman.com recommended your blog since I have to go raw for a while. I’m going to be reading EVERYTHING on your blog today!! I need some serious help with this :)


Danielle May 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I want to make these! Did you soak the cashews before putting them in the food processor?


Jen May 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I made these last weekend and love them! They make a perfect pre-workout snack in the morning. Thanks!


Mike October 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

This recipe looks unbelievable!!!! Plus it’s made with cacao nibs one of my favorite food (and one of the healthiest on the planet!)



Hannah January 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Ohhhhh. Hemp protein, not hemp seeds. Ah well. I reckon I can make do ;)


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