Girraween National Park in Queensland sits on the border with New South Wales, and is a spectacular display of tumbling granite boulders and a hundred shades of green. Girraween means ‘place of flowers’ in the local indigenous language, although we’ve never actually been there in spring to see the wildflowers in bloom. There are fresh water streams running through the park, and a zig zag of walking tracks to stroll and plenty of mountains to climb.
This year was the third time we’ve gone out to Girraween to camp. Usually we shoulder our packs and spend two or three days hiking through the bush and camping by streams. This year though, with a 12 kilo baby to carry as well as all of our gear, we decided to hike in an hour to Underground Creek and make camp there, taking day walks and hanging out.
There’s always a moment when you’re camping – usually when you’re freezing cold, with a stiff neck, hands full lighting the fire while the baby is shoveling dirt into her mouth – when you think, ‘really, is this how I want to spend my holidays?’ But then when you’re sitting on top of a granite boulder with your beautiful partner and daughter for company and no one else for miles, watching the sun sink into the hills and you turn around to see the trees on the opposite side ablaze with the orange glow of the setting sun you think ‘yup, what could be better?!’
S and I have been going camping and hiking at Easter for years now, back when we were living Melbourne and now up here in Brisbane (last year was an exception – I was eight and a half months pregnant at the time). When it was just the two of us a regular camping trip was just ‘something we did’. Now that it includes our daughter, I suppose this would be the start of our very own family tradition.
I knew I wanted a treat for camping that was easily portable, delicious, and would still give us an energy boost. I’ve only just started playing around with raw desserts, and let me tell you, they are the bomb. Nutrient dense, easy to make, and really quite tasty. There are many wonderful variations on the energy (or bliss) ball – I like these from Oh, Ladycakes, and these ones from Kenko Kitchen look great, though I haven’t actually made them yet. The great thing about energy balls is that they are totally versatile – start with a nut & date base, and then go from there.
These Raw Cacao, Orange & Fig Energy Balls were the perfect camping trip snack. They are healthy and incredibly more-ish. Rather than load them up with different nuts and seeds I kept it simple so the cacao and fig could shine, and the orange zest lent them a lovely subtle afterglow. They’re surprisingly rich rather than sweet, but if you prefer your treats a little on the sweeter side, you could easily add a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup.
Raw Cacao, Orange & Fig Energy Balls
1 cup almonds
¼ cup hazelnuts
5 dried figs
5 medjool dates, pitted
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
Grated zest ½ orange
2 tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of salt
¼ cup raw cacao nibs
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)
¼ cup raw cacao powder (optional)
Remove the hard stems from the figs, and soak the figs and dates in a bowl of water for 15 – 20 minutes.
In a food processor blend the almonds and hazelnuts until they form a fine meal. Add the cacao, salt and orange zest and pulse to mix through. Drain the figs and dates and add to the food processor along with the coconut oil, blending until it comes together in a firm dough-like mix. If it is too dry, add a little more coconut oil. Transfer the mixture from the food processor into a small bowl and mix the cacao nibs in using a wooden spoon.
Roll the mixture into small balls, either using an ice-cream scoop or your hands. If using, roll the balls in the cacao and sesame seeds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They should last for a couple of weeks, if they don’t get eaten first!
Makes 30 balls.