We love making protein balls and bars. They are such a practical and healthy snack, a little pocket-goodie with a big boost of energy and strength. Today, we bring those of you who can't resist the temptation of chocolate, some vegan protein balls with a heart and coating of white chocolate, prepared with oats and dates.
On top of flavoursome chocolate, we used a selection of nuts seeds and healthy grains with loads of plant-based proteins and nutrients. Here is some tasty info about these nourishing ingredients:
Hemp seeds. Hemp is an excellent source of healthy fats and proteins. These seeds are also rich with vitamin E and many beneficial minerals, such as potassium, calcium and iron.
Chia Seeds. Chia is much more than an egg replacement in vegan recipes. The celebrated seeds come from flowers of the salvia hispanica, a plant native to South America with gorgeous purple lavender-like flowers. Chia seeds are rich in healthy omega-3 fats fibres and proteins, on top of essential antioxidants and minerals.
Almonds. The sweet and delicate taste of these nuts is a perfect match for white chocolate. Just like the two seeds above, these nuts are an abundant source of proteins, fibres and healthy fats. They can also reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as help with weight-loss by curbing hunger .
Oats. Eating oats is a great way to fill our bellies with healthy fibres that make us feel full with less. Moreover, oatmeal has no gluten, which makes our white chocolate proteins balls not just vegan but gluten-free as well!
While many power balls recipes include peanut butter for proteins, our energy balls are prepared without nut butters. Instead, we relied on the mighty hemp seeds, which are one of the few sources of complete plant-based proteins. This way, you'll have a high protein boost bite that delivers all the essential amino acids.
White chocolate is by itself quite sweet, so we replaced any additional added-sugars with naturally-sweet dates. But if you'd like power-bites with no sugar at all, we talk about how to make sugar-free and vegan white chocolate at home in another of our recipes. Making white chocolate is easy and fun, check that out!
The beauty of homemade energy balls is how straightforward they are to prepare. Our no-bake recipe requires no cooking, and it's ready in less than 10 minutes of work.
Can't wait to nibble on these cuties? Follow our easy steps below and let's have some fun together!
NOTE: The default ingredients yield 16 balls and one serving consists of 2 power balls.
How many protein balls can I eat per day?
While all protein balls are different, how can we know how many are safe to eat per day? The answer lies in the ingredients.
Take our white chocolate protein balls above, for example. The first thing you should do is to break ingredients used in an energy ball in two categories:
Healthy foods you can have in high quantities without negative consequences. These could be nuts, healthy grains like oat, and any low-sugar, low-saturated-fats ingredient.
Ingredients that are ok only if eaten in moderation, like chocolate, oils or fats.
The more "category two" ingredients are in an energy bite, the fewer overall balls you should eat.
Our protein balls above have lots of healthy seeds and grains, and about 3 grams of dairy-free white chocolate, which is less than a square of a white chocolate bar. If you eat white chocolate in moderation, you can have a full row of a bar in a day. Therefore, it's safe to say that you can enjoy up to four of our white chocolate protein balls per day.
The default ingredients make 16 energy balls, and one serving consists of two of these power bites. Each portion provides 264 calories, 9g of proteins, and 5g of fibres. This means you'll get almost 20% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) for both proteins and fibres with minimal saturated fats.
As you can see, we have only used a small amount of a "category two" ingredient, solely to make the energy bites tastier while keeping them healthy and nutritious.
In conclusion, next time you wonder how many protein balls are safe to eat, follow these easy steps:
Find the nutritional information on the label or the recipe page.
Locate the "least healthy" ingredients used, like oils, fats, or chocolate and remember the grams used.
Google what is the recommended daily dose for that ingredient, in grams.
Divide the number above by the one you found in step 2 to find the total number of energy balls you can safely have in a day. You should aim to eat around half of this quantity, as you won't just be eating energy balls during the day.
If you want to cut off on calories and fats and make these bite-sized snacks even healthier, you can use dark chocolate instead of white. While the latter is higher in sugars and fats, 70% dark chocolate has a significantly better nutritional profile and provides a fantastic source of antioxidants.
Are protein balls gluten-free?
Our white chocolate protein balls recipe is gluten-free. We have used gluten-free flour made from oats, instead of wheat products.
While it is rare to find no-bake protein balls that use actual wheat flour, there are many energy bite recipes out there that use wheat germs.
Wheat germs contain gluten so, if you are celiac or are on a gluten-free diet, make sure you read the ingredient list carefully before buying or following a protein ball recipe!
We love using oats in our gluten-free recipes.
Oats are rich in fibres, which are critical in a weight-loss diet. Dietary fibres make us feel full, which in turn curbs the sense of hunger. If we don't feel hungry, we are less prone to snacking or over-heating. Do you see the virtuous cycle here? This property is particularly handy when making desserts, which often pose a risk to our diets.
This wholesome grain has more to offer than healthy fibres though. Healthline.com describes oats as one of the "most nutrient-dense foods you can eat" .
A single cup of oats provides you with almost 80% RDI of vitamin B1, 50% RDI of copper, magnesium and phosphorus and a whopping 400% RDI of manganese. This last mineral aids our body during the metabolism of carbs and cholesterol, and it helps to reduce inflammation. Quite handy!
Oats are a true friend not just to celiacs, but to everybody. Eat to your heart's content!
Can I freeze white chocolate energy balls?
Some protein balls are better suited to freezing than others: the best ones are the chewy ones.
You can eat chewy protein bites almost immediately out of the freezer, and they will taste much like a little ice cream dough-ball: utterly delicious.
Our white chocolate energy balls recipe is a prime example. The protein balls above are incredibly chewy, thanks to the blend of oats and dates paste.
Moreover, white chocolate is perfect for freezing due to the high percentage of fatty cocoa butter and is, in fact, better suited to this purpose than dark chocolate.
If you ever make ice cream at home, try to compare white chocolate and dark chocolate ice creams. The difference will be apparent to you. All other ingredients being equal, white chocolate ice cream is much creamier. The same applies to energy balls!
Are protein bites suitable for people with diabetes?
Although we haven't used any added-sugars in our recipe, virtually every white chocolate bars you find in a store - even vegan ones - have sugars.
If you have diabetes and are adamant about having these balls, we are 100% behind you, and we will help you turn this recipe into a zero-sugar one.
If not for white chocolate, our protein balls would already be diabetes-friendly. In fact, oats, nuts, and seeds are very low in sugars. Even if dates are packed with sweetness, they have a medium glycemic load (GL) which is ideal for people with diabetes.
So we only have to replace the white chocolate our recipe's ingredients list. Here are two ways to do this:
Replace white chocolate with 90% dark chocolate. The naturally sweet date paste will balance out the intense dark chocolate taste. Dates have a low GI, which makes them an excellent sugar replacement in low-carb diets and for people with diabetes.
Make sugar-free vegan white chocolate at home. We talk about this in this related recipe.
Replace the white chocolate in the recipe with the same quantity of one of the options above, and you have made no-added sugars protein balls. Enjoy!
How long will these energy balls last?
We only used plant-based products in our energy bites and haven't cooked any of them, as this is a no-bake recipe. As such, these balls can last well over a week if stored properly, and for months if frozen.
To keep these power balls chewy and soft, we need to use a proper container. Any container that keeps air away will do fine. We recommend you use a zip-tight bag or an air vacuum seal box.
To minimize the exposure to air from recurrent access, have no more than five balls in a single container - enough for two days - give or take.
As summer approaches, you may want to turn these balls into a refreshing treat. Luckily, our white chocolate energy bites are ideally suited for freezing, and we think they're at their best after 5 minutes out of the freezer.
If you choose to freeze them, please make sure you don't store all the balls into a single container. Although the white chocolate coating has a low percentage of water, there's still a chance the bites will glue to one another when frozen. If this were to happen, you would need to defrost all of them, even if you only wanted a single one. Keep them in as many bags as your daily portions, if possible.
What kind of oats should I use in protein balls?
We have already boasted about using oats in this recipe. Oats are gluten-free, and they are rich in fibres and other essential nutrients. But which oats should you use when making energy balls?
There are different options out there when it comes to oats:
Whole oat groats
While whole oat groats would be the healthiest choice as they are the most natural and unprocessed form of this grain, they might be hard to find in the supermarket and difficult to digest.
Therefore, we will focus on explaining which of the other options is better when it comes to using oats in your diet and for baking.
Instant oats are probably the unhealthiest type of this grain as they are already cooked, dried, cut and rolled thin. This heavy processing aims to shorten the cooking time, but at the same time, it makes it easier for your body to digest them and absorb oat nutrients. Instant oats will release energy and raise blood sugars more quickly, leaving you hungry shortly after, craving for more food.
Steel-cut oats, also known as Scottish or Irish oat, are cut into coarse rice-like nibs, while rolled oats are steamed and flattened. These two oat varieties make a healthier choice are they are higher in fibres and proteins. Also, being less processed, they have a lower glycemic index (GI), meaning they won't rise glucose as fast and your blood sugars will be more stable.
To sum up, to prepare these protein balls, we recommend avoiding those quick-cook and instant oats and opting for more wholesome options like steel-cut or rolled oats. Being less processed, they have more nutrients and will sustain your energy levels for longer.
- Chia Seeds
- Pitted Dates
- Hemp Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Vegan White Chocolate
The first ingredients to prepare for these healthy protein bites are the chia seeds 'egg' and the date paste.
In a cup, stir the dried chia seeds with 65 mL of water and refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes. The seeds will absorb water, swell, and form a thick and dense gel that looks like egg whites (1).
In the meantime, soak the pitted dates in lukewarm water for 5 minutes, then drain them, and add them to a food processor. Pour in the remaining 100 mL of water and blitz until you have a smooth and creamy date paste (2).
Next, blend half of the oats into a fine flour in a food processor and keep the remaining half as loose flakes. Also, ground the hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds in the blender as they will better incorporate in the protein balls mixture.
In a bowl, combine the oatmeal, ground seeds, chopped almonds, and the prepared date paste and chia seeds mixture.
Work the ingredients until they come together into a dough. Make sure the energy bites mixture is compact and dry enough to hold together. If needed, add more oat flour to reach the right consistency.
Before you shape these power balls, you can refrigerate the dough for 5-10 minutes. This way, it will be easier to work with.
Chop one-third of the vegan white chocolate into small chunks and finely grate the remaining two-thirds with a cheese grater.
Scoop out a handful of protein bites mixture in the palm of your hand, make a well, and add a few chunks of chocolate. Then, wrap the dough with your hand and shape into a bite-sized ball.
Finally, roll it into the grated white chocolate until it's evenly coated.
Avoid using a food processor to ground the vegan white chocolate. The heat generated during the blending process can slightly melt the chocolate, and you'll end up with coarse chocolate flakes that won't stick to your power bites.
Try to add one teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract to the energy balls dough for extra flavour.
For even healthier protein balls, you can add a few dried Goji berries. We love these berries as they are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Check out our latest blog post here to discover the remarkable benefits of these mighty berries.