Great Balls of Energy

The sign of a truly well-stocked pantry and refrigerator is the immediate accessibility to snacks. As more and more people are reaching for frequent, small bites instead of big, audacious meals three times a day, snacks are gaining in popularity.

In the snacking world, it is all about quick, healthy and convenient foods that stop our cravings, regulate our blood sugar and save us from those inevitable (and often times embarrassing) hangry moments.

Hummus and veggies or fruit and yogurt are excellent choices, but, lately, I have been keeping my hanger at bay with energy balls. These nutrient-dense, bite-sized snacks are easy to make using ingredients you probably already have, extremely versatile--depending on your mood or the seasons--and can be kept in your purse or briefcase to grab when the need strikes.

The only down side of energy balls is that most recipes depend on dates for a base. Clocking in at nearly 16 grams of sugar for a single date and 66 calories (but, on the bright side, serve as an incredible source of magnesium and potassium), I am hesitant to make an energy ball recipe that calls for a cup of dates. Couple that with the fact that David doesn't want to eat lots of dates and my mind is made up to seek alternative recipes that don't require dates. 

Thanks to blogger McKel Hill and Nutrition Stripped, her recipe for energy balls uses a base of oats, almonds and only three tablespoons of maple syrup as the sweetener. That makes much more sense to me than a cup or even a dozen dates.

With all of the ingredients readily available, this energy ball recipe came together in less than 10 minutes and took absolutely no energy to make. Really. I just put everything in the food processor and let the machine do the work. If you have kids, now would be the time to let them get their hands dirty and actually form the balls. Less work for you and a great way to get the kids to play in the kitchen.

Then you can celebrate with an energizing snack. Like these energy balls.

Buen provecho!
Energy Almond Butter Balls 
The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted these from Nutrition Stripped

Energy and protein bars are so overdone and most are not even that good for you, but homemade energy bites are where it's at. Small, bite-sized nuggets of nutrient-dense ingredients, two balls will keep your hanger at bay and keep you focused for a while. And when you share them with friends, it will vastly increase your likeability factor. Because when everyone's hunger pangs are coaxed into submission, everyone is on their best behavior.

Makes 20-30 balls, depending on the size

1 cup organic rolled oats, ground into a fine-coarse flour
1 cup organic almonds, coarsely ground
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon maca powder
Heaping 1/2 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, pulse the oats until they resemble a coarse flour.

Add the almonds and pulse until they are coarsely ground and then add the remaining ingredients and pulse until combined.
Using a spoon, scoop some of the batter and use your hands to form bite-sized balls. Place the balls on the parchment lined baking sheet and then refrigerate until chilled.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for two weeks or up to a month in the freezer. If frozen, thaw before serving.
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