6 Clean Eating, Protein-Packed Energy Balls
I have a huge sweet tooth, but I try to be conscientious when it comes to indulging in desserts. So when I find recipes for snacks that satisfy my cravings and offer some health benefits, it's a major win-win. I've been training for a half marathon the past few months--yes, I choose to run for fun in my spare time--so I've been especially focused on laying off desserts, while upping my protein intake and eat as many energy-boosting foods as I can to get me through those long runs. If I let myself, I could easily consume multiple granola bars a day, but that decision would come at a price both in dollars and calories. Not only does the $5-a-box price tag add up quickly, but if you take the time to actually read the ingredient labels, you may be disappointed to learn how much sugar is really packed into those "healthy" bars you grab on your weekly shopping trip. I've been experimenting with making different types of homemade granola bars lately, and I absolutely love that I can control exactly what goes into them and how versatile they are--seriously, you probably have enough ingredients in your pantry right now to whip up a batch. I usually add honey and dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dates), and even some chocolate chips when I feel like cheating a bit, to give them just the right amount of sweetness. And I'm a huge fan of all varieties of nuts, so I always find a way to mix in natural peanut butter, almond butter, or chopped toasted nuts. So if you're in need of a reset after indulging during the holiday season and/or are determined to get on a strict exercising routine, these energy-lifting, healthy, and protein-packed bites are exactly what you want to add to your snack rotation. We've listed exactly what goes into each recipe so that you know from the get-go what you're working with, and which treats would comply best with your dietary goals or restrictions.
Hiding behind this recipe's guise of peanut butter and chocolate chips are raisins, honey, and oats. At just 20 cents per serving, the bites make excellent healthy snacks for a birthday celebration or neighborhood block party.
Recipe: Peanut Butter Oat Bites
Packed with natural peanut butter, quick-cooking oats, raisins, chocolate chips, peanuts, honey and more, these gluten-free, 125-calorie bites are just what you need to give you energy for a workout or to refuel immediately after. The original recipe calls for a little confectioner's sugar to make them more appealing to kids, but our users suggest skipping it and adding a little extra honey instead. The best part is, this recipe is extremely versatile, so feel free to pack in added flaxseed, chia seeds, or other dried fruit instead of raisins. Click here for the full recipe.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup finely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
If you're a fan of figs, you're going to love these sweet, nutty bites packed with coconut. The recipe comes from tennis star Martina Navratilova, who snacks on them before and during a workout. Oh, and did I mention that all you need is 15-minutes to prep these tasty protein bites? You can find the recipe here.
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup plain (not unsweetened) soy milk
Unsweetened flaked or shredded dried coconut
1 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup nuts, chopped (use any kind of nut you like--almond, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
4 dried figs, chopped (soak in water if necessary to make them pliable)
These 69-calorie coconut and date balls might look like a dessert, but they're made with clean ingredients--like almonds, dates, coconut oil, and more. Prep them on Sunday and take a few along with you each day for a quick pick-me-up anytime. Quick here to get the recipe.
2/3 cup roasted, salted almonds
30 whole pitted dates
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
These treats not only taste better than most protein bars, but the peanuts in these Chocolate Peanut-Butter Energy Bars may help prevent a blood-sugar spike. Both dark chocolate and cranberries in these energy-boosting treats are great choices for heart health. The recipe calls to spread them in a pan and cut into bars, but you can also roll the mixture into balls.
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups barley flakes or rolled oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
Did you know that bananas are packed with resistant starch, a type of carb that boosts metabolism? All the more reason to indulge in this bite of delight. As an added bonus, kids will love these frozen banana 'popsicles'--a treat you can actually feel good about feeding them.
3 small (about 6-in.-long) ripe bananas, each cut into 6 (1-in.) slices
18 cocktail picks
5 ounces dark (85% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes (such as Maldon)
These bars are a perfectly portable snack you can prep on Sunday and enjoy throughout the week. Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. Though the recipe says to cut them into bars, you can roll these into bites too.
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup ancient-grain cereal blend (such as Cheerios + Ancient Grains)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates