You start your day off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to check off every item on your to-do list. However, somewhere along the way, usually around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., you hit a wall. You feel your energy start to dip and all you can think about is crawling into bed for a much-needed nap.
Before you reach for that second cup of coffee or resort to downing an energy drink, try one of these healthy snacks instead.
Energy balls are a common, quick, and easy snack that can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer for when those afternoon energy slumps hit. Moreover, the best part about energy balls is that they can be easily customized to your liking.
Here, we’ll show you all the nutritious, energy-boosting ingredients you can use to make your own energy balls, so you can have a healthy snack on hand whenever you need it.
Are Energy Balls Good For You?
Think about it as a replacement for unhealthy snacks like candy bars or chips– energy balls are a much better choice! In fact, with the right ingredients, you can make them low-calorie so you’re not overindulging, and you’ll also be getting a good amount of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Which Ingredients Should Be In Your Energy Balls Recipe?
When you think about it, all food is energy – that’s how our bodies are able to function. We convert the food we eat into energy that our cells can use to power our bodies.
However, not all foods are equal. Some will give you a quick energy boost only to have you crashing a few hours later (white flour, sugar, ultra processed foods, etc.). Meanwhile, others will give you sustained energy throughout the day without the highs and lows (complex carbs, healthy fats, protein, etc.).
The best ingredients for energy balls are those that will give you long-lasting energy. They are also filling, so a little goes a long way.
Ingredient 1: Whole Grains
These grains are referred to as “whole” because they contain all three parts of the grain kernel— the bran, germ, and endosperm.
The bran is the hard, outer layer that’s rich in fiber. The germ is the vitamin and mineral-packed part that contains healthy fats, antioxidants, and protein. Lastly, the endosperm is the starchy part that provides carbohydrates for energy (8).
When a grain is refined, the bran and germ are removed, leaving only the endosperm. This process strips the grain of its fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. So, when you eat refined grains, you’re not getting all the health benefits that whole grains have to offer.
Whole grains will give you sustained energy because they’re complex carbohydrates. This means they take longer for your body to digest, so the energy is released slowly and steadily into your bloodstream.
Some of the best whole grains to use in energy balls are oats– because they don’t require cooking and are packed with fiber– or quinoa and brown rice, which are both gluten-free and have a high protein content.
Ingredient 2: Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber, making them another great ingredient for energy balls.
The primary type of fat found in nuts and seeds is known as unsaturated fat. This is the “good” kind of fat that can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease when you eat more of it than saturated fat (7).
Nuts and seeds are also good sources of plant-based protein. Furthermore, like whole grains, they contain fiber which helps keep you feeling full and provides sustained energy.
Some of the best nuts and seeds to use in energy balls are almonds, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds.
Ingredient 3: Dried Fruit And Other Sweeteners
Dried fruit is a great way to add sweetness to energy balls without using processed sugar. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber and vitamins.
However, dried fruit can be high in natural sugar, so it’s important to choose wisely. The best dried fruits to use in energy balls are the ones that don’t have any extra added sugar.
Other sweeteners that you can use in energy balls include pure maple syrup, honey, and dates. These natural sweeteners will also add some sweetness without using processed sugar.
Ingredient 4: Superfoods
Superfoods are foods that are especially rich in nutrients and offer health benefits.
Some of the best superfoods to use in energy balls are dark chocolate, matcha powder, turmeric, and goji berries.
These ingredients will not only give you sustained energy, but they’ll provide added health benefits as well:
- Dark Chocolate: This ingredient contains antioxidants that may help improve heart health and cognitive function (2).
- Matcha Powder: This is a type of green tea that’s rich in antioxidants and catechins which have been shown to boost metabolism (5).
- Turmeric: This spice contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that fights inflammation which has been linked to various diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (1).
- Goji Berries: These berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, iron, and fiber. They’re also thought to have anti-aging properties (4).
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Energy Balls Recipes
Below are a few recipes for energy balls that you can make at home:
Oatmeal Energy Balls (6)
Oats make the base of these energy balls and are combined with peanut butter, chocolate chips, flaxseed, and honey.
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or vegan chocolate chips)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until everything is well combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Once the mixture is chilled, use a spoon or your hands to roll it into balls.
- Roll the balls in additional shredded coconut, if desired.
- Store the energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
This recipe is courtesy of gimmesomeoven.com.
Vegan No Bake Energy Balls (3)
Made with dairy-free chocolate chips and gluten-free oat flour, these energy balls are perfect for those with food allergies.
- 1 1/2 cups oat flour
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup well-stirred creamy natural almond butter
- 10 soft Medjool dates
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- In a food processor, combine the oat flour, walnuts, almond butter, dates, vanilla extract, water, and salt. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly and the dates are finely chopped.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips.
- Use a cookie scoop or hands to form the mixture into balls.
- Store the energy balls in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
This recipe is courtesy of loveandlemons.com.
Tips For Making Energy Balls
Here are a few tips to help you make the perfect energy balls:
Keep It Simple
The idea behind energy balls is that they’re a quick and easy snack. So, don’t overcomplicate the recipe. Choose a few simple ingredients that you know you’ll enjoy and that will give you sustained energy.
Use Time-Saving Techniques
To make energy balls even easier to make, use time-saving techniques like using a food processor to chop the nuts and seeds or using pre-packaged dried fruit that doesn’t need to be chopped.
No bake recipes are helpful as they don’t require any cooking.
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Make Ahead And Store
One of the great things about energy balls is that they can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer. This way, you always have a healthy snack on hand when you need it.
To store, place the energy balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Energy balls are a healthy and convenient snack that you can make at home with just a few simple ingredients.
The best ingredients for energy balls are whole grains, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and superfoods. These ingredients will provide sustained energy and added nutritional benefits.
When making energy balls, keep it simple and use time-saving techniques like using a food processor or pre-packaged ingredients. Energy balls can be stored in the fridge or freezer, so make ahead and enjoy as needed.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health (2017, nih.gov)
- Dark Chocolate (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Energy balls (n.d., loveandlemons.com)
- Health Benefits and Applications of Goji Berries in Functional Food Products Development: A Review (2022, nih.gov)
- Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review (2021, nih.gov)
- NO-BAKE ENERGY BITES (2020, gimmesomeoven.com)
- What the Latest Evidence Tells Us About Fat and Cardiovascular Health (2016, nih.gov)
- Whole Grains (n.d., harvard.edu)