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Inspiration, Interview, Travel

Fresh Off the Grid is composed of a Michael van Vliet and Megan McDuffie: intrepid road warriors, national park aficionados, and backcountry chefs extraordinaire. In August 2015 they quit their jobs, sold most of their possessions, and hit the road. From time to time they’ll be serving us up recipes and inspiration from a life well-traveled. Read below for their take on Autumn-inspired energy bites.

For those of us who love being outdoors, fall can feel like the end of a chapter.  As the days grow colder and the nights grow longer, it’s easy to feel nostalgic about the warm sunny days of summer. But while fall is a time of transition, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of outdoor adventure. There’s still plenty of late season fun to be had, as long as you’re willing to get out and find it.

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On a sunny October day in Connecticut, we decided to take the kayaks out for a little coastal river exploration. Even compared to the days of summer, the conditions were idyllic: sunny, warm, low-humidity, with a gentle breeze. (Proof that some of the best days for being outdoors can be found in the fall!)

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We were going to be out for the day and wanted to bring along some snacks for the trip. So the day before we decided to make some seasonally-appropriate energy bites.  These portable balls of energy are made from a base mixture of nuts and dates, and can be endlessly adapted with different flavor combinations. We picked some hallmark fall flavors, including Maple Pecan, Pumpkin Spice, and Coconut Mocha.

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The next day we brought these energy bites out on the water with us, along with some local apples we picked up from the market. While we’ve paddled on the Back River before, we’ve never followed it all the way to its end. Like a coiled snake, it twists and turns through the salt marshes along the coast before heading away from the shore and deeper inland. We took up a leisurely pace and let the incoming tide carry us along.

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After paddling for about an hour, we arrived at an island that neither one of us had known about, Dunks Island. A posted sign said it was a state protected nature area open to hikers, so we hauled the kayaks out to check it out. A faint trail ran from one end of the island to the other, allowing us to explore this seldom visited section of land.

We spent the better part of the afternoon exploring this wooded island oasis, surrounded by salt marsh and a tidal river. Summer might be long behind us, but there’s still a lot more fall ahead of us. And we’re excited to fit as many more of these micro-adventures in as we can.

Looking for the perfect portable snack to fuel your autumn adventure? Try these three varieties of energy bites.

MAPLE PECAN ENERGY BITES

  • 3 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup raw pecan pieces
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to create a dough (you may need to scrape the sides down with a spoon once or twice). Scoop the dough out and divide into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of your hands. These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, or enjoyed right away!

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PUMPKIN SPICE ENERGY BITES

  • 3 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cashew pieces
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • â…› teaspoon ground cloves

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to create a dough. Scoop the dough out and divide into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of your hands. These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, or enjoyed right away!

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COCONUT MOCHA PROTEIN BITES

  • 3 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cashew pieces
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon very finely ground coffee
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut

Place all ingredients (except the coconut) in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to create a dough. Scoop the dough out and divide into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of your hands. Roll the balls in shredded coconut to coat. These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, or enjoyed right away!

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Featured Styles: Women’s Pineland Chukka, Men’s Montrose Lace

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