By Dr. Alexis Blanks, ND

I’m from the “a little of this and a little of that” school of cooking, which explains why I am not a prolific baker! That’s why I love to make energy balls; they make a yummy sweet treat yet they don’t require you to have exact ingredients or exact amounts. They also make a nutritious snack, full of fibre, protein, good fats and lots of energy (calories!) – a whole foods approach to an energy bar.

So rather than give you an exact recipe, I explain how I make my energy balls using whatever I happen to have on hand in the kitchen. This will allow you to experiment with different flavours and ingredients.

Basically you need some of the dry ingredients listed below to make up the bulk of the balls, some wet ingredients to stick them together and some sweet ingredients to make them taste good. I might use all of the ingredients listed below, or not, depending on what I have and how I’m feeling. I almost always use oats and oat bran as they add bulk and fibre to the balls but have less calories than the other ingredients. Of course if you are concerned about eating grains you could make them without oats at all.

Dry ingredient examples:

Ingredient

Notes/Benefits

Rolled oats

Buy gluten free oats if you are concerned about gluten.

Oat bran

Buy gluten free oat bran if you are concerned about gluten.

Ground flax seeds

It is important to grind flax to be able to extract nutrition and use the fibre in these seeds. Ground flax contains healthy omega three fatty acids.

Hemp seeds

Another source of omega three fatty acids.

Chia seeds

Another source of omega three fatty acids.

Other seeds

For example: raw, unsalted, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame.

Shredded Coconut

Buy unsweetened.

Nuts

Choose from: raw, unsalted, almonds, pecans, hazel nuts, walnuts etc… you can chop them roughly or grind them into a powder in a grinder.

Cocoa

Good quality cocoa has been shown to positively benefit cardiovascular health.

Dark chocolate chips

Add sweetness and make the energy balls extra yummy! I prefer to use Camino bittersweet chocolate chips (or similar brand), they have a higher amount of cocoa and very few ingredients.

Dried fruit

Add sweetness. Choose from raisins or chopped dates, dried apricots, figs, etc…

Spices

Think dried ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg etc…

Sea salt

A dash of sea salt really helps to bring out the flavours.

Wet ingredient examples:

Ingredient

Notes/Benefits

Nut butter

Peanut butter tastes nice, but other nut butters such as almond butter may be healthier for us (more good fats!). Also consider more exotic butters such as hazelnut, or cashew butter.

Seed butters

Think of tahini (sesame seed butter), pumpkin and sunflower seed butter.

Honey

A source of sweetness.

Maple syrup

A source of sweetness.

Vanilla extract

Adds flavour. You only need a little, a few teaspoons will do.

Blackstrap Molasses

A source of vitamins and minerals, some people enjoy this flavour more than others so add it very slowly if you are unsure.

 

Instructions:

I start with a large mixing bowl and add my dry ingredients first. Usually I start with oats and oat bran as they usually make up the largest proportion of the dry ingredients then I add other dry ingredients such as nuts and seeds.

I often do this with my 2.5 year old and let him add the ingredients, it’s pretty hard to go wrong so we make it up as we go! I slowly add the wet ingredients, mixing as we go. I add the sweet ingredients slowly and taste the mix often so that we don’t add more sweet than we need. By the time you are ready to form balls the mix should be clumpy so that you can easily take a tablespoon full and roll it into a ball in your clean hands.

Too sticky? Add more dry ingredients. Too dry? Add more wet ingredients. Once the balls are formed you might decide to leave them as is, or you could roll them in coconut or toasted sesame seeds. Store them in the fridge and they will keep for at least a week. Enjoy!

 

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