Hiking has become a major weekend activity in our lives since moving to Santa Barbara. In fact, I think I’ve done more hiking since I’ve lived here than all of my life combined. It’s a great escape from all of that screen time I rack up over the week. We chose a house nestled right at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains and couldn’t have known how much time we’d spend hiking up the dramatic and variant terrain.
It’s wildflower season here and I was itching to get out and see a calendar-worthy, poppy covered hill like I always imagined California to have. I found a poppy preserve just a 2.5 hour drive from our house online. It promised rolling hills aglow with that bright and sunny orange that CA is known for. We arrived to a barren hill covered in nothing but bus loads of tourists and LA Instagram girls in floppy felt hats.
We made the best of it and hiked 1/4 mile up the trail, apparently the tourist and LA vibe limit, and had a nice 4 mile hike through the rolling hills all to ourselves. We then drove up the road a bit to find a Joshua Tree grove just off the highway and with a cozy old picnic table to enjoy the perfect picnic we’d packed that morning and relaxed with wine among the Joshua’s. Despite the lack of poppies, it wasn’t a complete bust.
The next morning, we ran into some pals at Trader Joe’s. They invited us along on a hiking trip to Figueroa Mountain the following weekend to see the poppies. After our flowerless hike, I was skeptical. But Fig Mountain was on fire with poppies! Those things were quite literally popping off!!! We had an incredible time hiking around with our buddies, taking in the views and enjoying the Sunflower Seed Energy Balls I prepared specifically for the Fig Mountain hike.
My Sunflower Seed Energy Balls are entirely inspired by the rainbow of colors of CA this time of year, and I like to think that I summoned the poppy Gods and helped that Mountain bloom into a radiant glowing beacon of wildflowers. But, I can’t take credit for that, it’s all thanks to Mother Nature and her glorious paintbrush. These Sunflower Seed Energy Balls are packed with energy boosting ingredients that’ll get your butt up that hill and over the hump just when you’re feeling weak. With a sunflower seed butter and honey base, the balls are sweet yet rich and buttery. The dried apricots are packed with nutritious vitamins. The whole rolled oats and coconut flakes bring a chewy bite and the textural mix of sunflower seeds and poppy seeds add a crunchy bite. The candy coated sunflower seeds probably aren’t the healthiest thing ever but they bring a rainbow of smiles to the balls. The flax and hemp seeds are nutrient rich and packed with protein power. These Sunflower Seed Energy Balls are, quite literally, made for a wildflower hike. They couldn’t be easier to make of more satisfying to eat. So get to rolling your own and get on the trail!
*Trade secret, all of the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s! Hike your butt over to TJs and get geared up.
- sunflower seed butter - 1 cup
- honey or agave syrup - 3/4 cup
- whole rolled oats - 2 cups
- coconut flakes - 3/4 cup
- dried apricots - 3/4 cup chopped
- sunflower seeds - 1/2 cup
- flax seeds - 1/4 cup
- poppyseeds - 3 tablespoons
- candy coated sunflower seeds - 3/4 cup
- hemp seeds - 1/4 cup
- Thoroughly blend the sunflower seed butter and honey (or agave syrup) together in a large bowl.
- Add the rolled oats, coconut flakes, chopped apricot, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons of the poppy seeds and candy coated sunflower seeds. Mix together until the mix begins to resemble a sticky cookie dough.
- In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the hemp seeds and remaining poppy seeds. Set aside.
- Using a cookie scoop, form the mix 1-1.5" balls (about 2 tablespoons each).
- Roll each ball in the hemp seeds and poppy seed mixture and set aside on a lined cookie sheet.
- Chill the balls for at least an hour, this will help them set and hold their form.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature. They taste best from the top of a mountain covered in wildflowers.