Prep your food processors, people. It's time to play ball with these healthy snacking recipes.
We all needan infusionof energy at somepoint during theday, whether itsmidmorning, thatdreaded afternoonslump or after apunishing workout.Coffee is onesolution; a fistful ofM&Ms is another.(Though we dontrecommendthat option!) Forsomething morenutritious that has alittle staying power,grab for your balls.
Energy ballsare all the rageamong the fit-mindedcrew. Theirsimple, whole-foodingredients deliverclutch nutritionalvalue and, whatsmore, theyre acinch to make. Justwhirl together a fewingredients in yourfood processor, rollem up and girl you got balls!
Sidestep energy-ball pitfallswith this foolproof formulafor success.
Process Makes Perfect. Yourblender is great for smoothies,but balls? Not so much. Forthis job, a food processor isideal. It easily mashes andcombines dried fruit and nutsin recipes where there is noliquid involved.
In a Bind. Dried fruit is a mainball ingredient because itadds natural sweetness tothe recipe. And along with nutbutters and liquid sweetenerssuch as honey or agave, driedfruit also acts as a binder tomake your balls sticky andcohesive.
Perform the Pinch Test. Afterprocessing, your ball mixtureshould stick together easilywhen pinched. If it crumblesunder pressure, add someadditional binders.
Size Matters. You do not wantbig balls. A ball is a snack,not a meal, and each shouldcome in at about 150 calories.Roll the recommendednumber of balls per recipe asbest you can.
Protein Power. You canadd protein powder to anyball recipe to make it moremuscle-minded. Just be sureto add a little extra dry fruit orsweetener to compensate forthe dryness of the powder.
Extra Credit. Boost thenutritional value of your ballswith healthy add-ins likechia seeds, hemp hearts,cacao nibs, spices and evensuperfood powders such asaai or matcha.
Ready to Freeze!
Energy balls can stay fresh for months in the freezer. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the balls out. Pop them in the fridge for about two hours, then transfer them to an airtight container.
Savory Snack:Club Med Balls
Makes: 14 balls
Who said energy bites have to besweet? These balls are gluten-free,low-sugar and perfect for on-the-gosnacking. Chickpeas may seem likea strange ingredient, but they keepyour balls moist, add extra fiber andprotein, and help bind everythingtogether. The sunflower seeds containvitamin E to optimize immunity,and the tahini is a stellar source ofenergizing unsaturated fat.
- Replace chickpeas with navy beans.
- Use hempseeds instead of sunflower seeds.
- Trade quinoa flour for brown rice flour.
- 1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drainedand rinsed
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp brown rice flour
- cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- cup sun-dried tomatoes
- cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 tsp paprika
Add all ingredients to a food processorcontainer and blend until mixture clumpstogether. Form into 1-inch balls.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 balls):calories 156, fat 7 g, carbs 18 g, fiber 4 g,sugar 4 g, protein 6 g, sodium 211 mg
Delish Dessert:Mayan Salted Truffle Balls
Makes: 14 balls
Oh-so chocolaty and perfectly sweet,these balls will crush any cravingwithout a speck of nutritional guilt.Coconut oil makes them extra fudgy,while cayenne infuses your balls witha surprising kick. Whats more, thenuts in these balls may put a smile onyour face: Recent research shows thatwomen who eat more walnuts are lesslikely to suffer from depression.
- Replace dates with dried figs.
- Use hazelnuts instead of walnuts.
- Swap coconut oil for melted butter.
- 1 cups pitted dates
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- tsp cinnamon
- tsp cayenne
- 2 oz dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa), chopped
- tsp flakey salt
Place dates in a small bowl, cover withwarm water and let soak for 15 minutes.Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Addwalnuts to a food processor container andpulse into small pieces. Add dates, cocoapowder, coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup orhoney, cinnamon and cayenne and blenduntil mixture sticks together when pressedbetween your fingers. Roll mixture into1-inch balls and place on a parchment-paper-lined plate. Microwave chocolate ina small bowl on high in 20-second intervalsuntil melted, stirring between each interval.Drizzle chocolate over balls and sprinklewith salt. Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes,or until chocolate has set.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 balls):calories 275, fat 19 g, carbs 28 g, fiber 5 g,sugar 20 g, protein 4 g, sodium 45 mg
Quickie Breakfast: Dirty Chai Oatmeal Balls
Makes: 12 balls
Perk up your morning with thisnutritious riff on a trendy coffeeshop drink perfect for thosehurry-up days when you dont havea second to spare. The almondbutter is rich in cholesterol-crushingmonounsaturated fat, while spiceslike cinnamon and cloves are aconcentrated source of anti-agingantioxidants. And to power youthrough to lunch while deliveringplenty of soluble fiber, the rolled oatstake center stage.
- Replace oats with quinoa or rye flakes.
- Swap almond butter for peanut orcashew butter.
- Use brown rice syrup instead of honey.
- 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 2 tbsp warm water
- 1 cups rolled oats
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs
- tsp ground cinnamon
- tsp cardamom
- tsp ground ginger
- tsp ground cloves
- tsp ground nutmeg
- cup almond butter
- cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
In a small bowl, dissolve espresso powderin warm water. In a separate bowl,combine oats, cacao nibs, cinnamon,cardamom, ground ginger, cloves andnutmeg. Add almond butter, honey,espresso and vanilla. Stir with a spatulauntil well-combined. Place bowl in thefreezer for about 10 minutes (or in thefridge for 20 minutes), then form mixtureinto 1-inch balls.
Tip: Cooling your ball batter in the fridge or freezer helps firm it up, making it easier to handle, and roll into perfect balls.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 balls):calories 269, fat 15 g, carbs 33 g, fiber 4 g,sugar 15 g, protein 6 g, sodium 4 mg
Afternoon Energy Boost: SpudLove Balls
Makes: 16 balls
Packed with quality carbs andhealthy fat, these balls are truly anafternoon delight. Sweet potatois laced with immune-boostingvitamin A, while parched plums(also known by their less-than-hipname prunes) are loaded withbone-strengthening vitamin K. Theginger zing also will wake up yourtaste buds and give your brain amuch-needed boost.
- Trade pecans for almonds.
- Use dried dates instead of plums.
- Toss in ground chia seeds instead of flax.
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- cup pitted dried plums (aka prunes)
- 1 cup pecans
- cup rolled oats
- 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- pinch salt
- cup dried shredded coconut
Place sweet potatoes in a steamer basketand set in a pot with 1-inch of water. Bringto a boil and steam until potatoes arefork-tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside tocool. Place dried plums in a bowl, coverwith hot water and let soak 30 minutes.Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Addpecans and oats to a food processorcontainer and process until finelychopped. Add sweet potatoes, plums,flaxseed, honey, ginger powder and apinch of salt and process until mixtureclumps together. Using damp hands,form mixture into 1-inch balls. Spreadcoconut on a plate. Roll balls in coconutand chill in the refrigerator until firm.
Tip: No steamer basket? Simply boil your sweet potato cubes instead.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 balls):calories 209, fat 13 g, carbs 23 g, fiber 4 g,sugar 10 g, protein 3 g, sodium 12 mg
Anytime Superfood Surge: Mean Green Power Balls
Makes: 14 balls
These rich-tasting balls pack a powerpunch of nutrition and contain plentyof fiber to keep your system runningsmoothly. The natural cocoa andgreens powder contain a bevy ofantioxidants, while hempseeds delivera payload of heart-healthy omega-3s.Bonus: The dried figs are a rich sourceof bone-boosting calcium.
- Trade almond butter for cashew orsunflower butter.
- Replace hempseeds with sunflower seeds.
- Use dried plums or dates instead of figs.
- 1 cup dried figs, stems trimmed
- cup unsalted almonds
- cup almond butter
- 3 tbsp hempseeds (hemp hearts)
- 2 tbsp raw (natural) cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp greens powder of choice, such asAmazing Grass
- tsp salt
Place figs in a bowl, cover with hot waterand soak 15 minutes. Drain and pat drywith paper towels. Add almonds to afood processor container and chop intosmall pieces. Add figs and remainingingredients and process until mixturesticks together when pinched betweenyour fingers. Using damp hands, rollmixture into 1-inch balls.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 balls):calories 244, fat 15 g, carbs 25 g, fiber 5 g,sugar 16 g, protein 7 g, sodium 47 mg
Muscle-Building Pick-Me-Up:PB&J ProteinBalls
Makes: 16 balls
Everyones favorite childhoodsandwich is on a roll. This protein-packedpostworkout snack can helpkick-start your muscle-buildingprocess with the power of peanuts,and the tart cherries contain plenty ofantioxidants to curtail inflammationand improve recovery. As for energyreplenishment, the quality carbs in thedates do the job lickety-split.
- Replace dates with dried plums.
- Swap the protein powder for peanutbutter powder.
- Use dried strawberries instead of cherries.
- 1 cup pitted dates
- cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- cup plain or vanilla protein powder
- cup unsalted peanut butter
- tsp salt
Place dates in a bowl, cover with hotwater and let soak 30 minutes. Drain andpat dry with paper towels. Add peanuts toa food processor container and pulverizeinto small pieces. Add remainingingredients and blend until the mixturesticks together when pressed betweenyour fingers. Form into 1-inch balls.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 balls):calories 269, fat 12 g, carbs 34 g, fiber 4 g,sugar 25 g, protein 9 g, sodium 44 mg