I remember being anxious to be out in the "real world," but I really liked school. Not because I was a particular genius but I like assignments and tasks, and with school comes homework - something you start and complete. I loved binders and new folders and mechanical pencils and fine ballpoint pens. I made sure the dividers were labeled by subject so I didn't loose track of anything. I did my state report on Colorado with a more than adequate amount of decoupaging of magazine pages for visual effect and my mom and I built a California mission out of clay complete with plastic Indian men glued down in the courtyards for scale. Even when school was more about writing papers than crafts, I read and took notes the best I could. Diligently, if not the most comprehensive or pertinent come essay time. I've been out of school for years now and a similar pleasure comes from making lists of things to do for the week or what I want to cook, necessitating another list of what I need at the store, organized by section, mind you. I know, I roll my eyes at me too.

Hugh and I booked our big trip for the year. I mentioned it was in the cards but now we actually have tickets! I have already reverted into school mode with lists and researching hotels and figuring out the best neighborhoods to stay in and compiling must-visit bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants. I LOVE it. I adore travel, but the anticipation of it and having something to look forward to makes it twice as wonderful. I keep squeezing Hugh in gratitude for hoarding airline miles for years because I am giddy-happy. The rough plan is to do France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Not too much moving around because I like to just be in cities, not always hustling in and out of them. Each of us have visited Paris, but I'm over the moon to be there together. We'll train up to Antwerp and Amsterdam and be open ended enough to see and do what we want in between.

I've got a few months before I start packing the ziplocks, but these date sweetened peanut butter bites would make a fabulous travel snack. The texture and taste remind me of a slightly less sweet Lara bar. These "cookies" are made with ingredients you likely have in your pantry, take all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and can calm a sweet tooth without sitting too heavy. A few have asked about go-to snacks, or food for trips so I'm happy to hand this idea over. 

PEANUT BUTTER BITES // Makes about 16 small cookies

Recipe adapted from La Mesa

Because I know someone will be curious, I have not tried these with any other nut butter, but I suppose they're pretty versatile. If I had cocoa nibs on hand they would be incredible here. I wouldn't turn them down, but a peanut butter cookie is not my first choice. Peanut butter and chocolate however, makes more sense to my mouth. The sharp chocolate cuts through that unmistakable peanut richness and all is right. If you have cocoa nibs or want to add some finely chopped chocolate, I would guess a 1/4 cup will do and pulse it in with everything else.

1 cup almonds

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup pitted dates

heaping 1/2 cup peanut butter

two pinches of salt (if your pb isn't salted)

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until a coarse meal forms. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, dates, peanut butter, and salt if using. Pulse everything together until they are generally uniform in color and texture. The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems dry, add another Tbsp. of peanut butter. 

Roll dough into scant tablespoon size balls. Press them down with a fork to make a cross hatch. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and keep chilled in the fridge. 

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Reader Comments (95)

These look divine! I am a huge fan of peanut butter and cant wait to test these out- thank you!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKailie

These looks great!! I'm not a big fan of dates. Do you think dried plums could substitute?

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKayte

These look great! I've recently been wanting to make something like this but, until now, hadn't seen an enticing recipe. Anything that looks this good and takes under 10 minutes to make gets an A+ in my book. And, wow, the trip sounds amazing. I'm only, ahem, a little jealous.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKay

WOW! It's like you're secretly inside my house, just waiting with the perfect recipe... (is that creepy?)

This very morning my girlfriend, who is starting her yoga teacher's certification in a week, said to me that she'd like something like a Lara bar to take with her to class/practice, but not so big. I bought dates at the store today, figuring I'd try a few things. And here you go, just dropping the perfect recipe on my lap like that.

Thank you so much, can't wait to give these a try!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSara @ The Cozy Herbivore

You two are going to have a BLAST. We're still debating between Bruges and Antwerp, so I'm really excited to get some feedback on the latter.

I've been making peanut butter bites like it's my job, lately - but using oats in place of almonds because I don't feel nearly as guilty when I eat half of a batch. However, the nut filled variety is certainly more satisfying. And they're not bad drizzled with a bit of chocolate, either - hint, hint ;)

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshlae

perfect! we are traveling to Peru to hike up to Machu Picchu in May, and these will be perfect snacks along the way! keep those ideas comin!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterheather @ chiknpastry

These sound lovely! Great snacking idea!

Oh my gosh. What a fabulous trip you have planned.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I've always enjoyed school for just that reason, too--list making, the steady completion of tasks, a sense of order. And as a fellow planner, I can relate to the simple pleasure you take in lists (my year wasn't complete until I bought a planner and started filling it up). Your trip sounds really exciting; my boyfriend lived in the Netherlands several years ago and it's still one of his favorite places. I haven't gone yet, but I hope to make it there someday.

In the meantime, I'll have to satisfy myself with these peanut butter bites.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkaty

You must visit Frozen Fountain in Amsterdam, quirky homewares shop. Staff are really rude but great stuff.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergen

Hah - bizarre! That is the exact same trip my husband and I have planned for November. France, Belgium, Netherlands. There is a super handy regional Eurorail pass that covers these (but based on your account of yourself, you probably already know!). I've found some wonderful places on AirBnb. A kitchen is a major plus!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLydia Webber

oooh I've actually been to all those places and the best times were ALWAYS the unplanned adventures along the way! congrats- I'm so excited for you!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSimply Life

Ohhhh these look yummy. Since i am trying to eat clean, it has been a challenge finding yummy snacks.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJody

These look delicious except I hate peanut butter! I am eating clean, is there anything that I can substitute for the peanut butter?

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

@Brittany - if there is another nut butter you like, try that. It needs that fat and oil for taste and texture, so it should be some nut based spread.

January 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

Thanks, Sara! So almond butter would work OK?

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

i swear, your first paragraph describes me perfectly. you can imagine how thrilled i was to get a school shopping list each year and when i went to camp during the summer the packing list THRILLED me to NO END.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertracy

My son would love these. He's a big fan of peanut butter.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelyn

Yum! These would be great pre or post workout!

xo Jennifer

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Ah! Such exciting travel plans! My husband has never been out of the country and we are hoping to be able to start saving and remedy that within the next few years. I'm the same way about traveling: I love to properly investigate all my options and really live within the city.

These bites look so delicious! Definitely trying them...

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJade Sheldon

Have a wonderful time! I took the train between Paris and Amsterdam and loved it. I fell in love with Amsterdam that I went back two years later for longer. It's one of my favorite European cities.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Mmmm, looks good!

Happy to read you will be visiting my country, Belgium! Make sure you visit Ghent (and/or Bruges) too, it's a lovely little city and different from Antwerp!

Maps form Use-it are lovely, made by locals and it says 'for young people' but I think it's for everyone!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGriet

Cute! Maybe you shouldn't only focus on the cities: there southern part of Belgium has some great woods for hiking, quite different from Flanders (the northern part). Bruges is nice but you'll be surrounded by a tourist crowd. Antwerp is more multicultural, alternative, vibrant (although I don't know it that well). Some addresses I've noted down when visiting (uh - food related that is): Broer Bretel (coffee) - Nassaustr 7 ('t Eilandje), Caffènation (coffee) - Mechelsestreenweg 16, Crema (coffee & cake) - Korte Winkelstraat 21, Live is Art (brunch) - Sint-Jorispoort 20, Popoff (sweets) - Oude Koornmarkt 18.
Planning is indeed half the fun!! (I create google docs with places to visit, so I always have them with me)

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnouk

Such a wonderful sounding trip and I love the train journeys through northern Europe, I can spend hours just watching the scenery change. I love raw bites like these, I've tried something similar with hazelnut butter before and they were so can't-stop-eating delicious.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

this is too delicious..My stomach turns only looking at the photos.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra K

Mmm, those look delicious!

I'm from Belgium by the way, so nice to hear you will be visiting our lovely country! Antwerp is amazing, and definitely a must-see. Another great city is Ghent (in between Bruges and Brussels): not only my hometown, but just a vibrant, relaxed and beautiful medieval city with great shops, restaurants and cafés. A great coffee/cake/sanwich place to visit in Ghent is Simon Says, amazing coffee and very friendly staff. It's also a B&B, if you are looking for an original place to stay. One of the (many ;-) ) hotspots in town.

Have fun!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

Oh how I would envy the person on the plane beside me if she pulled out a bag of these morsels!
CONGRATS on booking the trip. What a wonderful experience it will be

Ooh! Thanks for the recipe! I have a bunch of travel plans in the works right now before I begin a new job: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, London, Ireland, and Florence. These would be perfect to bring along, and eventually make space in the luggage for souvenirs. :)

Now, you have to come up with a savory snack for us to take as well! Or maybe just ideas of what to bring? I'm always advocate eating local cuisine, but when it costs an arm and a leg for a quick snack or breakfast, it makes me wish the dollar was a bit stronger!

Maybe you can point us in the right direction for a savory snack as well, for us budget travelers? Thanks!

Btw, I mentioned your blog in one of my posts and a picture as well. I'm not sure what the etiquette is, but I love your recipes/blog!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane @ Vintage Zest

Exactly! One of the best parts of the trips is the planning before it! Ha, my boyfriend doesn't really see it that way. But I like doing my research before visiting a place so we don't spend too much time trying to figure out where to go once we're there. I remember reading somewhere that it's the anticipation and reminiscing about a trip that makes travel so worth it for your happiness. The benefits last much longer than the actual trip. Anyway, we're visiting Chicago in a few weeks (first time for me!) and these peanut butter bites sound like a great idea. Thank you!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterileana

There is so much that I want to say about this post and so in the spirit of its content, I will say it in the form of a list.

1) Me too. I like to neatly organize things and ideas.

2) My kitchen really does have everything to make these treats and for that I'm grateful because a) my kitchen is well stocked and b) these look delicious. I also agree about the whole peanut butter chocolate issue. Peanut butter is at its finest only when accompanied by chocolate (and sometimes maybe honey instead).

3) Yahoo! What a trip! I know that you are already seeing a lot, but if you decide to hop over the German border do let me know as I live in Munich and have lots of good travel lists for Germany in general.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSasha

I'm very biased, but you've chosen some winners for your itinerary! We live in Utrecht (Amsterdam's charming little sister) and have spent a bunch of time in Antwerp, too, where awesomeness abounds. Let me know if you're hoping to meet some locals -- my husband and I work in the coffee & organic food scenes and are always stoked to chat with passers-through over a cuppa. (:

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervalerie {all mussed up}

looks delicious!
I just got your book via Amazon, can't wait to start cooking something from it!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbarbara @ pane-burro blog

I live in Amsterdam, so if you have any questions about places to visit, see, etc. Let me know!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChloe

How exciting about your trip! I know you're probably already getting tons of recommendations for where to go/stay/eat, but since I see you're heading to Amsterdam I have to tell you about Lucky Lake. M and I stayed there years ago and loved it. It's a type of "camping" hostel (you stay in "caravans") just outside Amsterdam in the Dutch countryside, right next to these canals where all these Dutch people have their adorable summer homes. There is a communal kitchen and you can rent bikes to go to the nearby town for groceries. The people there are so nice. It's a nice change if you want to get out of the city for a couple of nights. :)

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

These look amazing - I can't wait to try them. Im always on the lookout for healthy snacks. I just wish there was a link to printing JUST the recipe and directions without the pics and write up.

New to the blog and loving it so far!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSerene

@Jacqui - thank you!! I will look into it, sounds great!

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

If I could only tell you how many times a day I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter crammed with chocolate chips....
This would be so much better for me. I think I'll head to the kitchen now to make these, and take your advice and throw some cacao nibs in. {Mmm!} {And lovely photos, as always!}

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersarah

Just wondering if they need to be slivered almonds or can you use whole? And if whole, do they need to be skinned?


January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlauren

I do the same thing when traveling. I have enough internet print outs to fill a binder. Sometimes I wonder if I like the planning more then the trip. Then im on vacation and realize thats more fun.

I love the dates, peanut butter, and almonds together. What a combo!!

You make the best snacks! I would so travel with these, given my fondness for traveling with nuts and dates already. I'm excited for your trip!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

made them tonite. awesome. my girlfriend said they taste like the new Planters NUT-rition cinnamon raisen granola nut peanut butter.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRiqyboy

@lauren - you can use whole just fine, they get chopped up anyway. Skin on is fine too! They're not fussy.

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

@valerie - I have lots of foods recs for Paris but would love your Amsterdam

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

Wow! These look just delicious Sara, I love the little bite size pieces, so perfect for packing along! Also exciting to read of your trip plans - this time last year we were planning a 3 week France trip. Enjoy it all, there is so much fun in the process!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShira

I love that you are already planning your travel snacks - such a good person to travel with. I'm so excited about your adventures! I want to see your notes and hear the plans. The planning part of a trip is so overwhelming to me. I always fret that I'm not making the right decision. Silly me.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I love your blog and have been reading it for a long time, but when I read that you were coming to the Netherlands, I just had to give you my travel advice! I'm Canadian but I've been living in the Netherlands for almost a year, and if you have the chance I highly recommend you check out either the Hague (with the parliament and the palace of justice) or Leiden, or both! They are both about a 40 minute train ride away from Amsterdam Centraal station, and are both walkable cities. Leiden in particular is so beautiful it's like stepping onto a movie set, with a market three times a week right on the edges of a canal and lots and lots of Dutch history - not to mention food. Den Haag is less typically Dutch, but is also really beautiful and offers lovely walks and also lots of 'ethnic' (as they say) supermarkets.

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

Oh, what a fun trip! I tend to either over plan everything or just throw up my arms and say heck with my packing anxiety, ha! I usually regret the later once to my destination : )

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

Oh, kindred spirit, I, too, LOVE organization, binders, things you start and complete, researching hotels and restaurants, etc. Ha. ; ) And I am so excited about your upcoming trip!! I don't think we'll be making any big journeys this year (exploring the new home state and galloping back toward Michigan for friends' weddings will likely be the extent for us this time around), but we dream of a similar adventure sometime soon. Looking forward to more details as time goes on. The peanut butter bites look scrumptious as well!! xo

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

They look simple to make and full flavor! I'll make them very soon...

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFran

Hey there you sweet little cookies! You look awesome. Your trip sounds so nice and I would just like to give you a suggestion when you're in France: about 2hrs south-west from Paris you'll get to the Loire-area. Here you'll for example find the cities Blois and Tours and around these two cities gorgeus small towns and villages. I was in this area(stayed in Amboise and visited the other places) for almost a month and had a blast. The train-system here is also good and the train stops in many of the small villages.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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