It is funny how a little perspective can change things oh-so-much. All my life I have lived in places which experience all four seasons. We always had abysmal winters with blizzards, snow (in one year – over 116 inches, an all time record in Boston), and ice. As someone who does not enjoy the cold or any cold weather activities, this was something that I could have definitely just gone without. But on either side of winter were spring and fall, both considerably better than what was sandwiched between. Spring had its fair share of rainy days, but at the end of you could count on some sunshine and beautiful flowering trees. In fact one of my most favorite memories of living in Boston was walking through Beacon Hill and the Public Garden with all the cherry blossoms and other flowering trees in full effect. Another obviously memorable, but also amazingly picturesque, time in that same area was in the fall; all the leaves changing color made the most stunning backdrop for my wedding pictures taken there. We usually had some mild or even summer-esque days sprinkled in as pleasant surprises as the weather gradually became increasingly more brisk. But my favorite season of all, hands down, is summer.
Summer is just the best! I love the hot sunny days and everything that goes along with it. Generally the pace of life and work is different, many people go away on vacation/holidays, you can spend so much time outside (which according to research is a big happiness booster) and it seems like people are just in better form. There are plenty of festivals, parties, weddings, time at the beach or the pool, grilling outside, biking, hiking, and leisurely strolls. Sigh. I love summer.
Now that I am living in Ireland, however, the shift through the seasons is much smaller, if not at times imperceptible. On average, the temperature swing year round is about 10 degrees C or 20 F. It is never snows (which is a MAJOR win), buuuuut the days without rain and clouds are few and far between. The winter that I moved here was a record setting amount of rain in December (clearly I have some type of hidden propensity to bring out the worst in the weather 🙂 ) and so when the weather reached about 20 C/70 F for the first time that June, I was ecstatic, as were my fellow Cork City dwellers. They all appreciated the sun as much as I did, but in their signature (although endearing) cynicism cautioned that this one week was to be our “Heat Wave” for the year. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was the start to summer and a very long overdue break from cold, rain, and clouds. I was wrong. One memorable moment was on the 4th of July last summer when I entered the studio wearing a winter coat. Our owner, Julette commented that I was really going to regret wearing that coat in the summer when winter rolled around. I snapped back that I really regretted it already that day while my Facebook and Instagram feeds were flooded with pictures of my friends smiling on boats in red, white, and blue bikinis.
But this year has been SO MUCH better. We have had weeks of sunshine and days warm enough for even me to wear strappy dresses and open toe shoes compared with last year when I never once went out without at least a light jacket. And everyone is so happy. Knowing that this is rare, I really have learned to appreciate it that much more. In fact, recently while facetiming my sister, I was gushing over how nice the weather has been here and she started to complain that their summer back in Michigan had been relatively disappointing to date. Upon further investigation, we were talking about the exact same temperatures and level of “summer-ness,” which of course led to laughter, but also increased my awareness of the subtle, or not so subtle, impact that perception has on us all.
So in celebration of what I am declaring a gorgeous summer in Ireland thus far, I am making a little treat that to me screams summer. Lemon pie bliss balls. Perfect as a little snack before or after a workout or in between meals, these little bites of sunshine are made from only six totally Whole30 compliant and Paleo ingredients and use only dates as the binder and natural sweetener. They are delicious, clean, easy, and provide a refreshing little lemony zing with some fresh squeezed lemon juice and zest. Better than setting up the proverbial lemonade stand this summer, make these lemon pie bliss balls to share or keep all to yourself as you savor whatever summer you are experiencing.
- Dates 20 each
- Fresh Grated Lemon Zest 2 TSPN
- Fresh Squeeze Lemon Juice 2 TBSP
- Raw Cashews .75 cup (90 g)
- Raw Almonds .5 cup (60 g)
- Sea Salt .25 TSP
- Coconut Flour 2 TBSP
- Soften your dates by soaking in a bowl with water just covering them for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. The longer that you soak, the easier it will be combine them with the other ingredients in your blender or food processor. You can also chop them up into smaller pieces before soaking to help expedite and streamline this process. When finished, drain the dates, but save some of the water in the bowl.
- Place the nuts into your blender or food processor and pulse until combined and a coarse meal results.
- Add the dates, lemon juice, sea salt and 1 TSPN of the lemon zest and mix until a thick/sticky dough is formed. If things are getting stuck, you can add a very small (1 TSPN at a time) bit of the remaining date water to help out.
- Mix in the 2 TBSP of the coconut flour to help things thicken up and to reduce some of the stickiness.
- Place in the freezer for about 10-20 minutes to allow the mixture to slightly harden.
- Remove from freezer and roll a tablespoon size portion between your hands to shape into a small ball and then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Optional to roll in a very light dusting of coconut flour and extra lemon zest if desired (this will reduce the stickiness and help them to hold together better as well).
- Place in the refrigerator until firm.
- I recommend storing these in the fridge until the day that you intend to eat them, so the consistency will stay the same, but they will definitely keep on the go for the day without needing to be kept cool. They may also be stored in the freezer for later enjoyment for up to 2 months.
- You can also chop the nuts separately with a food chopper or in a small plastic bag with a meat pounder if your blender/food processor is not designed to pulse them.