A Grab-and-Go Snack for your Busy Life
If there is one thing we could all use, it’s more healthy, simple snacks. When the day gets away from us and hunger strikes, it’s all too easy to reach for something quick and loaded with sugar, salt, and trans fats. Keep these protein balls in your refrigerator (either at home or work) or pack a few into a Tupperware container and toss it into your purse or gym bag. You will be prepared with a protein-packed, all-natural, balanced snack when your stomach begins to growl – they taste delicious too!
Preparation is the key to success when it comes to healthy eating. This recipe allows you to capitalize on that principle with minimal effort or time. A large batch of these bites comes together in minutes and you’ll be ready to snack smart all week after only a few moments of prep. You may find yourself reaching for one of these balls for dessert too since they taste like peanut butter cookie dough.
Whole Food Ingredients
These balls are made with simple, easy-to-find, whole food ingredients, including:
- All-natural peanut butter (a delicious source of protein and good fats)
- Oat flour (all the benefits of eating oatmeal – without actually having to eat oatmeal!)
- Honey (nature’s sweetener and a great option for kids and adults alike)
- Vanilla protein powder (see section below for help in finding the highest quality protein)
- Dark chocolate chips (a boost of antioxidants plus a satisfying splurge)
Many commercial protein bars and balls have an indiscernible ingredient list full of science-experiment additives and low-quality ingredients. When you make your own protein snacks, you can control exactly what goes into them and the quality of each ingredient.
Selecting the Best Protein Powder
The protein powder aisle – whether in-store or the virtual ‘aisle’ online – can be overwhelming. With the incredible deluge of options available, it’s easy to get confused and frustrated. Every brand promises different things, and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are four simple guidelines to follow when looking for the healthiest protein powder option:
- Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners. Choose a protein powder that is either unsweetened or sweetened with stevia, monk fruit, or other natural sugar-free sweeteners.
- Choose whey protein isolate or casein. These high-quality types of whey protein are easily absorbed by the body. They’re easy on the digestive system too. If, however, you prefer to avoid animal products, choose a plant-based protein powder instead.
- Look for a short ingredient list. The fewer ingredients, the better. Look for a tub that contains 10 ingredients or less – ideally, fewer than five.
- Grassfed, non-GMO, and rBGH free. If you can afford it, look for whey protein that comes from grassfed cows and is certified non-GMO and rBGH free. This means that the cows that produced the whey are well cared for and that the end product is more likely to be free from contaminants.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Balls (Makes two dozen balls)
½ cup all-natural peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
½ cup oat flour (see Notes to find out how to make your own)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1/3 cup honey
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
½ cup mini dark chocolate chips
- Measure all ingredients into a large bowl. Use a large spoon or spatula to thoroughly combine the ingredients until the mixture forms a thick dough. Make sure there aren’t any dry bits left in the bottom of the bowl.
- Using a 1-tablespoon size cookie scoop, portion out the mixture into balls (you may need to roll each one between your palms to create a cohesive shape). Place finished balls on a large plate.
- Refrigerate balls until set but still chewy, approximately one hour. Transfer to an airtight container (it’s okay to stack them). Balls will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks – if they last that long!
- To make your own oat flour, place rolled oats in a blender or food processor and pulse until oats completely break down and form a fine flour. Store any leftover flour in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Feel free to experiment with other kinds of nut butter, other flavors of protein powder, and other mix-ins (such as seeds, chopped nuts, or coconut flakes). If your mixture becomes too dry, add more peanut butter or honey one tablespoon at a time until mixture is once again malleable.
- Use certified gluten-free oats and protein powder if you want this recipe to be gluten-free.
Integrative Nutrition is the world’s largest nutrition school and Health Coach Training Program. Through our innovative, one-year online course, students learn the principles of health coaching, business skills, and over 100 different dietary theories with lectures by the world’s leading experts.