3/4cupdried strawberries or dried tart cherries (about 4 ounces)
1/2cuppacked and pitted soft, sticky Medjool dates
1/4cupnatural peanut butter*
2tablespoonsshelled hemp seeds
2tablespoonspumpkin seed protein powder or other mild-flavored protein powder(optional)
1/2teaspoonpure vanilla extract(optional)
1/4teaspoonfine sea salt or to taste
1tablespoonfiltered water if needed
Add the peanuts and rolled oats to a food processor. Process for 45 seconds, or until ground into a coarse meal.
Add the dried fruit, dates, peanut butter, hemp seeds, chia seeds, protein powder (if using), vanilla (if using), and sea salt. Pulse several times and then process until the dates and dried fruit are thoroughly chopped and the mixture begins to clump together in large mounds in the bowl of the food processor. If needed, add the filtered water and process again to enhance the mixture's stickiness. It should be slightly damp and sticky so that it easily holds together when pressed yet crumbles fairly easily when challenged. If needed, add more pitted dates or dried fruit until the mixture holds together.
Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop (or small ice cream scoop) to scoop out and compact heaping 1 1/2 tablespoon mounds. Drop on the lined pan and repeat.
Use the back of a fork to create a crosshatch pattern, pressing the balls into round cookies. If needed, use your fingers to press and compact any crackled or crumbly edges.
Freeze for 15 minutes to set, if desired, or enjoy as is.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
*Substitute toasted shelled sunflower seeds and sunflower butter for a nut-free version of these tasty treats!