energy bites

Walnut Cocoa Bites

Don’t get me wrong- I am a big fan of some convenience protein bars, but I’m also a big fan of making snacks from scratch when able to. The closest I get to making granola or protein bars is these poppable little energy bites! I love how easy they come together, how the ingredients can be customizable, and that they are a perfect midday snack or fuel before a workout.

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During the winter I seem to have an abundance of unsweetened cocoa powder around from hot chocolate making, and so I figured it deserved some love during snack time too! The sweetness and flavor comes not from the cocoa, but from the naturally sweet dates and nut butter. These bites stay fresh in the fridge for about a week, after which I’d recommend storing in a container in the freezer to enjoy for weeks to come.

What are you waiting for? Go, cocoa!

Walnut Cocoa Bites- makes 22 small bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 2 cup dry, unsalted walnuts

  • 5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3 tbsp nut butter- almond or sunflower seed work great

  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds, plus extra for finishing

  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. In a food processor pulse dates until broken into very small pieces. Then add walnuts and pulse until a fine ground meal is made.

  2. Add cocoa powder, nut butter, hemp seeds, and salt. Process until everything comes together and a semi-wet dough forms. Chill this dough for about 10 minutes in the freezer.

  3. Use your hands to form the chilled dough into small bites; the size is really up to you, but quarter sized bites will yield about 22 bites. To finish, sprinkle with more hemp seeds, finely shredded coconut, or even more cocoa powder.

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Cashew Coconut Bites

Wait, now she's using coconut in another recipe? YES! Lessons learned from my post discussing the nutritive value of coconut included using it in moderation, and that's exactly what I'm doing in this recipe.

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When I'm in need of a midday slump bump snack or looking for a quick addition of protein to my post-workout refuel I love having energy bites to turn to. Besides, the jar of peanut butter in my desk drawer at work is running dangerously low...

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Nuts are certainly one food group that I value and always strive to include in my daily plant-based eating routine. Consuming nuts has been shown to reduce one's risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Daily intake of nuts has also been suggested to provide better blood sugar control in persons with type II diabetes. My patients know all too well that a handful of unsalted nuts pairs perfectly with an afternoon fruit snack!

If you're curious about how each nut stacks up against each other, take a look at this handy chart from California Almonds. And here's a look at the nutrition facts for the featured nut in this recipe, cashew nut, courtesy of Nut Health:

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Not only do nuts provide you with top-notch nutrition, but they are tasty and versatile too. I love adding chopped nuts to my baked goods and morning yogurt, and also tossing them in dinner dishes such as salads or mixed-up bowls.

These Cashew Coconut Bites come together in under 10 minutes, the flavor is extra dreamy, and they will surely make a great addition to your snacking or fueling routine. Enjoy!

Cashew Coconut Bites- makes one dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews

  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients into a food processor. Blend for about 1 minute until mixture is crumbly, with no large chunks left behind.

  2. Using your hands, roll mixture into golf ball sized bites. Depending on how you roll, this recipe will yield about 12 bites. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Energy Bars and Bites

One of the most common food woes I hear from patients, friends, and family is about finding healthy snacks. You're likely looking for something quick and easy that will give you energy to avoid an afternoon slump. For many people, that's some form of snack bar- it's individually packaged, can be healthy-ish, and doesn't totally break the bank. Now, there are quite a few bars out there that I do love, but so many of of them are full of processed sugars, contain gut-busting indigestible fibers, and often end up being more of a meal bar than a snack.

I believe some snack bars have their place, but why spend those extra minutes in the grocery aisle deciphering nutrition panels and health claims, when you can whip up your own nutritious energy bars and bites in your kitchen? I'm always a fan of scratch cooking when possible because it puts you in the driver's seat and guarantees that your healthy snacking needs are met.

Today I'm sharing two of my most recent snacking creations, which I encourage you to try as-is, but also to swap ingredients and adapt these tasty treats to your liking. Cheers to getting your healthy slump-bump on!

Pumpkin Quinoa Oat Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa- I used a tricolor blend

  • 1 cup raw, plain rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed

  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • pinch of salt and dash of vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to fully combine.

  3. Spread into a baking or bread pan lined with parchment paper. Choose baking dish based on how thick or thin you want your bars to be. I used an 8x8 baking pan and spread the mixture evenly into 1/2 inch thickness.

  4. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake for final 10 minutes to dry out bars. Longer baking time will be needed for thicker bars so look and touch to judge "dryness".

  5. Let cool before slicing. Can wrap bars individually in parchment paper or toss in your lunch bag however you tote your goods. Store remaining bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the fridge to enjoy for longer.

*Note: These bars really let the nutty flavor of the quinoa and pecans shine- AKA they are not overly sweet, so adjust to your tastes accordingly. Also, in terms of texture these bars are on the softer, chewier side, but can be baked longer for a crisper bite or you can use raw quinoa instead of cooking it first for even more crunch!

Nutrition info per bar (recipe yields 10 bars): 119 calories, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 6 g fat

Coconut Almond Energy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds

  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • pinch of cinnamon and salt

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend for about 1-2 minutes or until mixture starts to hold together.

  2. Roll into ball shapes of your desired snacking size. Keep in airtight container on the countertop or fridge.

*Note: This recipe makes about 10-13 bites depening on how you roll.  Feel free to adjust amounts and ingredients- there is no wrong way to make energy bites!

Nutrition info per bite (recipe yields 13 bites): 129 calories, 11 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 10 g fat

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