Power protein chocolate balls

I'm so excited to share this recipe with you all. These little power balls meet all my top criteria for the perfect snack:

- They have no junk, only real ingredients that are easy to find at most supermarkets.
- They are delicious but satisfying thanks to good amounts of protein and some healthy fats.
- They remind me of childhood treats. I was inspired to make a healthier version of a super popular treat in Sweden "Chokladbollar" (English: chocolate balls). However, those are usually made with oats, lots of sugar, chocolate and butter and if you get the store bought ones, they are most likely full of with additives and preservatives.

These are completely vegan, dairy-free and are naturally sweetened with dates and a little maple syrup.  They can also be made gluten free by choosing GF oats (oats are naturally GF but most oats are packed in facilities with gluten foods).  

 
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Power protein chocolate balls (makes around 15)

1 cup (100 g) rolled oats
1/4 (50 g) cup protein powder (I use hemp, this brand)
1/2 cup (38 g) desiccated coconut (+ extra for rolling)
20 pitted dates
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (I use this brand)
1 tbsp almond butter or coconut oil
4-6 tbsp filtered water
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp fine salt

Add the oats to a food processor and mix until it resembles a coarse flour. Now add the dates (make sure there are no pits), protein powder, desiccated coconut, almond butter (or coconut oil), maple syrup and salt. Mix until crumbly. Slowly add the 4 tablespoons of water while mixing. Depending on the dryness of your dates, you may need to add more water until the dough is sticky but not wet. To test whether it's ready, pick up some dough with your fingers and try to shape into a ball. It should come together easily. Roll each ball in desiccated coconut and store in the refrigerator or freezer. 

 
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Blog series: Yoga in the First Trimester

If you just found out that you’re pregnant - congratulations! If you’re already a few weeks into your pregnancy or simply feel curious about how to adapt your exercise routine or yoga practice in early pregnancy, I’m glad you're here!

The first 3 months of pregnancy are filled with immense change. The first trimester is about growth and development. The fetus’s major organs, central nervous system and major body parts begin to take form. The heart starts beating and the brain is rapidly developing. By the end of the seventh week, all the essential structures have been formed. By twelve weeks, the uterus is the size of a grapefruit. There are also many other changes happening: hormonal, physiological, emotional and more. Some women experience tender breasts, nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, more frequent urination, and spotting in these early weeks. In addition to this, it’s a personal choice when you decide to announce your pregnancy. This can make the first trimester especially challenging. For example, you might be experiencing nausea or fatigue but are still keeping your pregnancy private. 

All things considered, yoga is a wonderful tool to use to help adapt to all that pregnancy brings. It can help you tune out some of the outside noise and distractions, and offer a break from your everyday chores. So that you can notice those changes you're experiencing, both physical and emotional, and ultimately, help you to feel more connected to your baby. It can also help you to tap into your intuition, that feeling of knowing what’s best for you and your baby.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
- Albert Einstein

When adapting your exercise or yoga routine, think of modifying your practice for the growing baby. It's generally recommended to avoid deep twists, deep backbends, and strong core exercises. In my experience, the latter will often feel intuitively undesirable for many women. You can also begin to think of creating more space for the growing belly, by separating your feet a little wider apart in forward folds where the feet are usually together (this goes for both standing and seated poses).

Below are some asanas (poses) that are safe for the first trimester that I recommend incorporating into your practice, whether you’re a beginner or experienced yogini.*

Bound-Angle-pose

Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclining Bound Angle
Come to lie on your back. Draw the soles of your feet together. Let the knees rest out to the sides. You can support your knees with blocks (if you don't have blocks use books or magazines). Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your heart and breathe deeply.   

Childs-pose

Balasana - Child's pose
Begin in tabletop position. Bring your knees out a little wider than your hips as you sink your buttocks back towards your heels. Stretch your arms out in front and rest your forehead on the ground. For extra support, place a blanket between your hips and your heels. 

Sukhasana - Easy pose
Fold your legs in front of your hips. I recommend sitting up on the very edge of a blanket to allow your knees to rest in-line with or below your hips. Begin by placing your hands on your thighs or knees. Then place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Bring your attention inwards, to your breath & to your baby.

Happy practicing!


* Every pregnancy is different. Remember to always consult with your midwife or doctor before embarking on a new exercise program or routine.  

Sources:

Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby: Ayurveda and Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth, Sounds True, Incorporated, 2013

Love-bomb granola for your Valentine

Welcome back to the blog! I'm writing this the day before Valentine's day. In its commerciality, I'm usually not the biggest fan of the official day of LOVE, but this year I believe we need it more than ever. A day of love, respect and compassion. With everything that's going on in the world, politically, socially and environmentally, it's ever so important to stay true to your beliefs, your inner voice, connect to that power within and to treat one another with love and respect.

This week, I was listening to the latest episode on the On Being podcast and their discussion on love, compatibility, family, society and much more. One of the key messages in this episode is that love does not arise from compatibility with others, but that compatibility with others arise from deep love (and hard work).

MS KRISTA TIPPETT [Host]: I’ve been having this conversation with a lot of people this year. The truth is, more than ever before perhaps, in our world, we are in relationship. We are connected to everyone else. And that’s a fact. Their well being will impact our well being, is of relevance to our well being and that of our children.

But we have this habit and this capacity in public to — and also, we know that our brains work this way — to see the other, to see those strangers, those people, those people on the other side politically, socioeconomically, whatever, forgetting that in our intimate lives, and in our love lives, in our circles of family and friends, and in our marriages, and with our children, there are things about the people we love the most who drive us crazy that we do not comprehend. And yet, we find ways to be intelligent, right? To be loving – because it gets a better result. [laughs]

MR. DE BOTTON: That’s right. And families are at this kind of test bed of love because we can’t entirely quit them. And this is what makes families so fascinating because you’re thrown together with a group of people who you would never pick if you could simply pick on the grounds of compatibility. Compatibility is an achievement of love. It shouldn’t be the precondition of love as we nowadays, in a slightly spoiled way, imagine it must be.

MS. TIPPETT: Yes. Wonderful. I think this is deeply politically relevant. ... And I think it’s also such an important thing to bear in mind that the import of our conduct, moment to moment, that that is having effects that we can’t see.

It really is a beautiful message and good reminder. We learn to accept and love the people that are the closest to us (such as our close family and friends) despite their flaws and imperfections, and so we're also capable of seeing good in people and strangers. The road to this is spelled LOVE.

I'm using this as my inspiration for this week's practice, on and off the mat, seeing beauty in strangers and mindfully expanding my capacity for love. And not only for my family and friends, but for society as a whole. 


On another note. Are you up for the task of love-bombing someone this week? Yes? Then I recommend making this granola. Share it with a friend, your partner, family member or why not with a sweet neighbor?

I've been making this granola for years and years, adapting a recipe from my mom and Swedish chef+author Anna Bergenström.

It keeps well in an airtight container and goes perfectly with yoghurt, Scandinavian-style sour milk (filmjölk or Skyr), almond milk or as a topping on your favorite smoothie.  

Love-bomb granola
Makes 6-7 cups

6 cups (600 g) jumbo oats
1 cup (75 g) desiccated coconut
1/4 cup (35 g) sesame seeds
1/4 cup (35 g) coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup (35 g) pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil (I use sesame or coconut oil)
1 cup (240 ml) water
2 tbsp apple sauce (optional)
1 handful chopped dates, Turkish apricots, raisins or dried cranberries (optional but adds a delicious chewiness)

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Mix together oats, coconut, sesame seeds, coconut palm sugar, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon in a big bowl. In a small bowl on the side, whisk together water and vegetable oil. Pour the oil-mixture over the dry ingredients and incorporate by stirring well. Finally, add two large spoons of apple sauce and fold everything together. 

Line a baking pan with baking paper and spread out the oat mixture on the pan in an even layer. Add to a heated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and using a wooden spoon gently turn the granola. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, checking the granola so that it doesn't burn. The granola is done when it has a golden color and an amazing fragrance is spreading in your kitchen.. 

Once the granola has cooled down, add chopped dried fruit or berries and transfer to an air-tight jar or container. 

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Ingredients
Applesauce-mix
Granola