Gluten Free, Sugar Free, High Protein Energy Balls
This is the first time I am using a protein powder to make a recipe. I have always stuck to only real and raw foods for making my snacks. But, recently I have been experimenting with increasing my protein intake a lot.
It all started at the beginning of this year when I decided on two personal themes for 2016: Abide and Strengthen. At first they only applied to my spiritual life.
Abide in Christ, a topic for an entirely separate post, truly tells where I desire to reside all day every day. In Him. Ahhh...that feels truly peaceful, doesn't it? Because when we abide in Him, we remain in God's presence where solving any stress or problem starts with a prayer. Suddenly we're, by no effort of our own, filled with peace in the midst of a problem. Plus, fully giving each day’s contents to Christ solves a thousand problems all at once!
Okay...before I get off on a tangent, I'll get back to my second 2016 theme. Strengthen. I decided I was not as strong as I'd like in some areas including my Biblical dependence and understanding. So, I started reading it every single day and simply determined to strengthen myself in the Word. More Bible has been just the nutrient I needed! I am making connections to the character of God and to my own life I've never made before. What's even more wonderful is how much more in love I am in with the Word. While I have read my Bible for many years, I have never been so consistently dedicated and I’ve grown stronger in a short time! Yes, my spiritual muscles are already stronger and I feel the truth of its living power in my life.
More consistent time in God's Word strengthens and empowers. It's exciting!
While gaining 'soul-muscles' has been most important aspect of my goal to strengthen myself this year, around the same time I also decided it was time to start fueling my body a bit differently too. Just like I have always read my Bible, I had always exercised and loved it. But, I have not truly ever focused on pure strength. My love has always been with more mindful movement and cardio. I love to sweat! But my body and needs are changing. As we get older, we have to attend to things like natural metabolic, muscle and bone loss. Those things are prevented and remedied by good old strength training.
I’ll admit, I'm quickly taking a liking to strength training and functional strength fitness. I will talk more about it in some other upcoming posts. But, first I have to touch on the foundation of results for any kind of fitness: the way we fuel our bodies. Yep! There's no getting around it. If you want results, you must eat clean and consume the right foods.
I hadn’t been consuming enough protein to truly reap the rewards of my hard work. So, I decided to start experimenting with a higher protein eating style to support more muscle strength and tone (and ladies, PLEASE don't worry! You will transform into a body builder by gaining muscles and eating more protein.). When I started focusing on a few small changes, including increasing my protein intake, I saw more results. It's kind of fun actually! Over a few months I have already started feeling stronger and more agile. And the foundation is my fuel.
That's where these protein balls come in. Mildly sweet, they satisfy a taste for chocolate and one to two really do fill me up when I need an afternoon snack to keep me going. And all of the ingredients are pure and clean, meaning I did not have to compromise my real-foods focus. Nor do I have to succumb to store bought bars laden with fillers and unfamiliar ingredients.
So, ladies, let's get to strengthening! It's been fun for me...maybe it'll empower you too!
- 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats (gluten free if desired)
- ¾ cups vanilla or chocolate protein powder (depending on your taste preferences)*
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds (I used chia because they are higher in protein.)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons nut butter (I used almond butter but I am sure peanut and sun butter would work well too)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or you can substitute raisins)
- 8 to 10 tablespoons plain almond milk (or your choice of milk)**
- Combine the oats, protein powder, chia seeds and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until mixed well and oats are broken down a bit.
- Add nut butter, honey and vanilla to the processor and pulse until well combined. Next add the chocolate chips and a few tablespoons of the milk you chose. Process until well combined.
- Continue adding milk slowly until you have the consistency needed to roll balls.
- Roll into balls using a heaping tablespoon. Store the balls in the fridge with parchment between layers to avoid sticking.
*Protein powder varies a lot between brands, quality, flavor, texture and source. So, for this recipe, I recommend using one that you have a liking for. My favorites are pure, raw and plant based for the most part. if I choose an animal basde protein powder, I stick with a whey isolate (a pure protein that is easier to digest than others). For this recipe, I used Garden of Eden Raw Vanilla Protein Powder. I have also used Isopure Vanilla.
**Adjust the amount of milk you use to create the consistency you want for rolling. I used the full 10 and they rolled and stayed nicely.