Have you ever purchased protein or energy bars for your family only to be baffled by the list of ingredients including additives, preservatives and colors? Buying healthy snacks can be confusing. For this week’s Heinen’s 4 P.M. Panic post we’re offering a snack idea that will be a huge hit with the whole family. With one quick stop at Heinen’s Grocery Store you can make your own bars or, in this case, “balls” that are filled with wholesome ingredients you can be sure of. These balls stay together, pack well in school lunches and give you good calories that will sustain your energy.
What simple ingredients are in these amazing, portable, healthy snacks?
One of nature’s perfect whole grains. They are cheap, easy to find (and easy to get gluten-free, if needed). I use old-fashioned oats and they make a chewier energy ball. You could use quick cooking oats (still a whole grain, they are just cut smaller) or half and half to change the texture. The flavor will stay the same with either, but the texture will change. The quick cooking oats will make the balls softer.
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
I use unsweetened to save a few calories but you can easily substitute sweetened coconut or toasted coconut.
The food I could live on. I used natural peanut butter but, again, you can choose your favorite. I have made them with crushed peanuts (fresh peanut butter) but when I do, I feel I need to add a bit more salt to make up for the lack of salt in the peanut butter.
Flaxseed – whole & ground
You can buy ground flaxseed in a bag (also called flax meal), or you can buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself at home (most people use a little coffee grinder for this, but I have also ground it in my blender). Flaxseed that you grind at home is going to be more nutritious, which is true for most things like this, but both options work great. Flax is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If you eat it whole it has great fiber benefits but if you grind it your body can more easily absorb the omegas. That’s why I use both.
The most perfect sweetener. Choose your flavor and enjoy. If you use local honey it is said to be beneficial to allergies.
The darker, the better if you ask me. I like the large discs so you can see the big chunks of chocolate. You can use any kind you like. The vegan 100% cocoa chips are dark and delicious. No matter what you choose, chocolate is always a good idea.
Chia Seeds (optional)
These are a delicious add-in if you have them. It’s another superfood that adds great healthy fats and fiber.
I don’t like to over do the vanilla. A little is a tasty sweetener, but I don’t want to drown out the wonderful natural flavors in this recipe.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Balls
- 1 cup dry oatmeal (I like old fashioned)
- 2/3 cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup whole flax seed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or vegan cacao chips)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add everything to a medium bowl and mix to combine well. Stick the bowl in the fridge and let it chill for about half an hour. This resting time helps to ensure that the balls will stick together when rolled.
- After the chilling time, take a tablespoon of the mixture in your hand and roll into a ball. Repeat with remaining oat mixture. If your balls aren’t sticking together after the resting period, you can add a little more honey or peanut butter, stir well, and try rolling again. Sometimes it just needs a little more of the wet ingredients to hold together well. The moisture in the peanut butter will depend on the brand or type that you use.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer much longer.