Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

Happy Monday everyone!!! What a weekend we just had. We had a BUNCH (and I mean a bunch!) of family members come in to town for a surprise party for my father-in-law! Our weekend was filled with so much fun, food, sun, and of course a ton of new memories that I’m so thrilled we got to make! I was so excited to see cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course have a few of them stay in our new home.

To help with preparation and getting the house ready the week before, I made these yummy little balls for on-the-go snacking and to help keep my energy high each afternoon. I love small, easy snacks that I can pop in my mouth after work to help give me a little energy boost before exercising or working on things around the house. These were so easy and delicious, I definitely can’t wait to make them again!

A fun thing about this recipe is it is vegan and gluten free, so if you follow a special diet or have any type of dietary restriction, this may be a good recipe for you to try! You can also add different ingredients to tailor the flavor to your liking. Different additions, such as coconut flakes, can change up an otherwise simple and easy ingredient list.

I hope your week goes by fast and these little tasty bites give you a little extra energy to tackle your to-do list!! Have a great week y’all!

Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

  • Servings: 12-15 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 large Tbsp unsalted PB
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegan vanilla protein powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon

Directions

In a food processor, grind cashews, almonds, cocoa powder, peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder. Stop to scape the sides once or twice. The ingredients may start to form a paste-like consistency. If a large “doughy” ball starts to form, that is ok. Continue to pulse or grind until you get a consistency you like (I tend to go for a fairy smooth texture with a few chunks here or there).

Use your hands and a small spoon to form small, gum-ball size balls. Put on a plate and cover with foil or in an air-tight container. Let refrigerate and harden for at least 15-20 minutes before trying! Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week (can freeze for longer use). Enjoy!


Banana Bread Protein Balls

You guys know I love my protein balls! I’m a total snacker, and I always have been. I’m constantly grabbing a bite of something if I pass through my kitchen or am heading out the door. This only increases when I’m training or running more than usual.

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I had some super brown bananas that needed to be used or frozen and was trying to think of a creative way to use them yesterday. My go to is always banana bread, but I wanted to try something a little different!

I had been meaning to make a batch of protein balls for snacking and thought, why not mix the two? Hens, my Banana Bread Protein Balls were created! They are delicious!!! The base of the protein balls was a combination of raw cashews, almonds, oats, and peanut butter. I hadn’t planned on adding oats in the beginning, but the banana was so gooey and wet that I needed something a little dryer to soak up the moisture.

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Keep these in an air-tight container or covered with tin foil in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. You can also freeze them for longer use! Hope you enjoy these delicious little bites! Happy Monday everyone!

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Banana Bread Protein Balls

  • Servings: 16-18 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 brown bananas
  • 3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted PB
  • 1/3-1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder
  • dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a food processor, grind cashews, almonds, peanut butter, cinnamon, banana, and protein powder. Stop to scape the sides once or twice. The ingredients may start to form a paste-like consistency.

Once your nuts are are finely ground and blended into the other ingredients, add the oats (pending how wet the banana was, you may need to increase the amount of oats used) and pulse or lightly grind until incorporated. The texture should be fairly thick and able to easily form small ping-pong size balls without sticking to your hands. You may make yours bigger or smaller based on preference.

Add a dark chocolate chip to the top of a few or all of the balls. Let refrigerate and harden for at least 15-20 minutes before trying! Store in an air-tight container or covered with tin-foil in refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy!


Gimme the Snacks!!

Happy Friday ya’ll!! I’m spending my morning off with my pup and hub before I head to an afternoon conference, so I thought I’d get at the snack post I mentioned this week. I have always been a huge snacker. Usually when I am training or running a lot, my snacking gets a little out of hand, but in general, snacks have been a necessity for me to avoid getting the hangries throughout the day.

In my opinion, snacking can definitely be beneficial in getting your body towards that 5-6 mini meal/day concept. If you aren’t a snacker and that works for you, then great! Don’t feel like you have to just because I am talking about it!

If you do choose to grab a mid morning or afternoon snack, make sure you are choosing options that will fuel your body and give you that little boost of energy that you need. Grabbing a mini bag of chips or a candy bar will actually do more harm than good in terms of satisfying your body. Giving your body a quick sugar spike may have you feeling energized at first, but give yourself an hour or so and that energy will turn into a crash that leaves you feeling even worse that you did before the snack.

I’m going to share with you today some of my favorite snacks that can be taken on the go or kept at work (some of them) for easy go-to’s. I apologize in advance for any mis-spellings. My dog is dropping a toy at my feet every few seconds for me to throw, so my concentration isn’t the best!

  1. Luna Bars — I LOVE these little bars! Made with whole ingredients such as nuts, dates, and dried fruit, these are perfect to keep at work and give me that little energy boost I need mid morning. What’s not to love? Don’t let the sugar content worry you. Most of the sugar in this product is natural sugar coming from the fruit or dates. Apple Pie and Banana Bread are my fav!
  2. Mixed nuts/trail mix — Another one of my favs! I usually buy it in bulk from Sprouts or pick up a pre-made package at Trader Joe’s. I always get unsalted, raw nut varieties that have minimal-no peanuts in the mix (because why choose peanuts when other nuts have so many more benefits!). Pack with protein and healthy fat, this option is a great one to provide satiety and satisfaction! 
  3. Greek yogurt — If you avoid dairy, maybe skip this one, but Greek yogurt is one of my favorites! Look for minimal ingredients and little-no added sugar. Some of my favorite brands are Siggis and the Sprout’s generic brand. This is a great source of protein and can be doctored up for a little more calories if necessary! 
  4. Homemade protein/energy bites — Not only are these fun to made because you can tailor the ingredients to what you like, but they last long and can be made in bulk! I’ve attached one of my favorite  recipes for Raw Almond Cashew Cookie Bites ! 
  5. Fruit — I love fruit to help curb my sweet tooth, BUT it definitely doesn’t keep me full very long. If you struggle with keeping full, I suggest you pair fruit with something else like a nut butter of choice or Greek yogurt.

Simple Snacking, Nutty Energy Bites!

Happy Sunday everyone! Life has been crazy recently. Juggling school and working is a lot more difficult than I expected, but I finally think I’ve got a good groove going! At least I hope…

Ya’ll know how much I like my snacks! I am not one to skimp when it comes to snacking. When I don’t have good snack choices on hand is when I tend to make bad choices…like heading to the vending machine or picking up that delicious cookie from Starbucks on my lunch. When I have options available that I enjoy and that I know will make me feel good throughout the day, I am golden!

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I know I have posted some energy bites in the past. I believe my last one was for pumpkin energy bites! This recipe will probably mimic a few I’ve done in the past or have a lot of the same ingredients. That is primarily because I usually use the same base when making any type of energy bite/ball. Try out this recipe and feel free to add your own twist to it! It is quite delicious and will satisfy mid afternoon tummy grumbles with something a little sweet and tasty!

Nutty Energy Bites:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup chunky, no added salt peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • cinnamon to taste

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until your ingredients are sticking together. If you would like to add any other flavors such as nutmeg, vanilla, cocoa powder, etc. please feel free to do so at this time.

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Roll your balls. I usually make min a little smaller than a ping pong ball. Stack in a bowl or on a small plate, and cover with just a small piece of parchment or wax paper. Allow you energy bites to chill in the refrigerator overnight. This helps the chia seeds form a little bit of a gel with the wet ingredients which will keep your bites in their ball shape form and hold them together.

Store in a plastic container for up to a week in the refrigerator. Your quantity will depend on how large you choose to roll your balls. Enjoy!

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Unleash Your Inner Nut!

When it come to snacking, I’m the queen of all things crunchy and delicious, but always with a healthy twist. Chips? Not for me, but give me a bag of homemade trail mix and I’m a happy girl.

Recently, I have been absolutely nuts about nuts. What’s not to love? Crunchy and delicious on their own, or they can be jazzed up with something salty, something sweet, roasted to bring out a smokey flavor, or coated in seasonings, a little dark chocolate, or something that makes you reach for just 1 more. Not only are these little guys delicious, they are packed with heart-healthy nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, and Vitamin E.

Why reach for a handful of nuts instead of a handful of chips, chocolates, or candies? Nuts can be a blank slate for flavor, have cholesterol-lowering and heart healthy qualities, and can be a vegetarian source of protein for those of you trying to be a green, veggie machine! Just make sure you keep the portion sizes with in reason (about 1/4 cup serving)!

Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite nutty snacks as well as ways to incorporate nuts into other quick meals and even a dessert or two! I’ll be focusing on my favorite nut, almonds, as this is the one that I incorporate most into my diet!

Snacks:

One of my favorite snacks is home-made trail mix. Why? First off, it is extremely versatile and can be a great way to get a salty or a sweet fix. My basic trail mix base: 1/4 cup raw almonds, 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal OR low-fat pretzels, 1-2 Tbsp raisins or dried cranberries, 1-2 Tbsp sunflower seeds. To this base, I like to switch up what I add based off of my mood or what I am craving that day. If I need something a little extra sweet, a few dark chocolate chips, banana chips, or other dried fruit may be what I add. Sometimes I throw in another nut, such as pistachios, walnuts, or pecans. If I visit a bulk foods store or one of my favorite farmers markets, I will pick up something special such as yogurt or chocolate-covered almonds to use. Other additions to consider for an added sweet or salty flavor: jordan almonds, coconut flakes, salted peanuts, or sesame sticks. No matter what you choose to add, you will know 2 things. 1. You chose the basic ingredients of your trail mix, which are a little healthier than something pre-made or mixed. 2. You are getting a dose or heart-healthy fats and fiber that are much better for you than other packaged or processed snack choices.

Small meals:

When I was vegetarian, I was always looking for ways to get in a little extra protein. For dairy, I have always been an almond milk fan, but this isn’t the only way that I would add almonds to my meals. Almonds, whether sliced, slivered, chopped, or whole are great salad toppers for a little added crunch to your veggies. One of my favorite summertime salads: bed of baby spinach, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, a little goat cheese, and a basic low-fat balsamic dressing. Simple, flavorful, and tummy friendly; you are getting 4 food groups in 1 basic dish! Not vegetarian? Add a little grilled chicken or fish to this salad to add a little more heartiness and added protein.

Dessert:

Really, if dessert could be a basic meal along side breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I would find a way to make that happen! To indulge without added bulge, almonds typically find their way in to even my most basic desserts. For example, Blend 1-2 frozen bananas with a little unsweetened almond milk, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, and a little cinnamon for an alternative “ice cream”. Top with a 7-10 raw almonds, chopped almonds, or a flavored almond of your choice. Blend the bananas with another frozen fruit or berry instead of the peanut butter for a more fruity ice cream!

Check out a few posts from my archives for additional dessert-type/baked good recipes that incorporate almonds!

Peanut Butter Cranberry Banana Breakfast Muffins: https://nibbleonnutrition.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/easy-peanut-butter-cranberry-banana-breakast-muffins/

Berry Almond Oatmeal Bake: https://nibbleonnutrition.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/sunday-brunch-berry-almond-oatmeal-bake/

Raw Choco-Nutter Coconut Bites: https://nibbleonnutrition.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/raw-choco-nutter-coconut-bites/