Callie’s Cabin: Bites from the past

Cal Orey / Special to the Tribune
Chocolate chip peanut butter energy balls.
Getty Images

After awakening to the early morning strong earthquake last week, I got up and brewed a big cup of Joe.

Scanning my pandemic stocked pantry, it reminded me of the Reno quake swarm of 2008. Tahoe-Reno locals were on edge and preparing for a stronger shaker. We indeed got it. But I was prepared — and we survived.

Fast forward to 2020. As the days linger into getting a good vibe of semi-normalcy, my stockpile is a reminder of shaky times.

After the tremors fizzled, bit by bit, I ate the food, my favorites. The rest of the boring canned goods were never used. I learned to stock healthy stuff that you’ll eat before, during, and after a shake-up.

This week I wrote an article about energizing drinks, clean and green. Then, I was in the mood for getting more get-up-and-go.

These energy balls are a mix of the past.

No-bake cookies called Bourbon Balls, are a forties delight. It’s believed they were popular because they didn’t need butter or a lot of sugar (both scarce and rationed during World War II).

Then, in the sixties – Granola Bars made a splash, thanks to the back to nature hippie movement. Think dried fruit, nut, and oats.

In the seventies, Energy Balls were a California popular good-for-you combo of both these cookies and bars.

As we finish Memorial Weekend Holiday, it’s a reminder that things change but also stay the same. These energy balls are the perfect recipe. (You probably have most of the ingredients – or should) to get your groove back.

Super Peanut Butter Energy Balls

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup honey (I used organic)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup cranberries, dried

1/4 cup white, milk or dark chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter chips (I used Reese’s)

2 teaspoons sea salt

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter and honey. Stir well. Fold in nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips (mini size is best). Put into refrigerator for about 30 minutes (it makes it easier to make balls). Shape into 2-inch balls, then roll in peanut butter chips. Sprinkle with sea salt. Store energy balls in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

Makes about 15. Serve with iced tea or coffee for the feel-good caffeine buzz.

The different colors and textures of these energy bites are chewy and creamy. Plus, the mix of nuts and honey with a bit of sea salt gives you both a sweet and savory treat. Some recipes add rolled oats (I decided to leave it out).

You can change it up and add your favorite dried fruit and nuts. The best part is, these nostalgic energy balls are a reminder that we bounce back — no matter what life’s challenges are tossed our way.

Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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