Alyssa Rimmer of plant-based blog Simply Quinoa gets the busy working woman’s hustle. Her days are packed with recipe development, photo and video shoots, writing articles, and more. And considering that her day starts at 6 a.m., she gets the the whole 3 p.m. crash thing.
Her tips for staying focused and warding off brain fog? It all starts with fuel. For Rimmer, that’s a plant-based diet complemented by eggs and wild-caught fish, with three nutrient-dense meals plus an afternoon snack.
And her snack game is on lock: Gooey homemade energy balls are her go-to during the post-lunch slump (or when she needs to recharge after a hot yoga or Physique 57 class).
“These little balls honestly taste like a fudge brownie, but they are one million times better for you,” Rimmer says. “Sweetened with Medjool dates, balanced out with nuts and antioxidant-rich cacao powder, they’re an incredible post-workout snack or afternoon pick-me-up.”
“These little balls honestly taste like a fudge brownie, but they are one million times better for you.”
The star ingredient? Medjool dates. “I love using dates as the base because they’re a wonderful form of natural sugar, but they’re also high in fiber and iron,” she explains. “My energy balls also use nuts and seeds for protein and healthy fats, so usually just one or two is enough to sustain me for an entire 60-minute workout class.”
Making time to work out five times a week is another of Rimmer’s energizing hacks, and yes, she counts her mid-day “Despacito” dance parties and walks in the park with her dog.
“A nutrient-rich snack and movement will always give me that burst of energy I need to get through the rest of the day,” she says. “Moving my body not only helps with digestion, but it also helps me stay energized, focused, and productive all day long.”
Finally: hydration, hydration, hydration. Rimmer starts each day with a large glass of water, and keeps the H2O flowing as her day progresses. Seriously—she drinks at least 80 ounces of water every day, on top of green tea, kombucha, and seltzer water.
So pour yourself a cold one, go for a walk, and nosh on a date-filled snack of chocolatey goodness—your energy levels (and productivity) will thank you.
Scroll down to snag her foolproof recipe for a mid-day boost.
Whether she eats them as a pre-workout snack or a dessert, Rimmer’s energy balls deliver on both flavor and nutrition. Vegan chocolate, crispy quinoa, and pecans are held together with Medjool dates for a truffle-like consistency that will make it hard to eat just one.
“Medjool dates are my favorite to work with, particularly in recipes because of their amazing texture. They’re soft, chewy and have a million uses,” Rimmer says. “Nutritionally speaking, I love that Medjool dates are high in fiber as they’re easy on digestion and help to keep you regular. The natural sugars in dates makes them great for boosting energy (and satisfying a sweet tooth).” Done and done.
Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate Energy Balls
Yields 20-24 balls
1 ½ cups Natural Delights Medjool dates, pitted (about 15)
1 cup pecans or walnuts
3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup quinoa crispies or brown rice crispies (optional)
3 oz. vegan dark chocolate bar
Flaked sea salt to garnish
1. To the bowl of a food processor, add the dates. Process until broken apart and sticky, about 30 seconds. Add pecans and process until ground and evenly distributed in the dates.
2. With the food processor running, add the remaining ingredients (minus the crispies and chocolate bar) and process until a dough begins to form. You should be able to pinch it between your fingers and it will stay together. Pulse in the quinoa crispies.
3. Form the dough into golf ball-sized truffles (you should get 20 to 24 balls). Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.
4. Melt the chocolate bar over a double boiler. Once melted, dip the top of each ball into the melted chocolate and return them to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes while the chocolate is still shiny.
5. Allow energy balls to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until chocolate has set, then dig in. You can store extras in an airtight container in the fridge for five days.
Photos: Alyssa Rimmer