Energy bites (sometimes called energy balls, power balls, protein balls, or bliss balls) are a super tasty and convenient on-the-go snack.
My recipe for Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Bites is easy to make and requires no cooking or baking (provided, of course, that you buy the coconut already toasted and you don’t have to turn on the oven to toast coconut) — bonus ! Made with a blend of carefully selected ingredients that pair well together, these tasty treats provide a great energy boost, particularly mid-afternoon when energy typically starts to wane for many.
These energy bites freeze well and I regularly keep them on hand in my freezer so I have them ready for a snack anytime or as a portable treat to pop into a small container for the work lunch bag.
Energy bites are typically comprised of four sets of ingredients:
Main bulk/filler – this is most often rolled oats which also adds fibre to the energy bites. The oats give the energy bites body and structure.
Binder – dates are often used for this purpose since their texture and consistency lend them well to binding the other ingredients together, plus they have great flavor. Other dried fruits such as prunes, figs, or apricots, may also be used. Nut butters (e.g., peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or hazelnut butter) are also great binding ingredients in addition to contributing flavour.
Liquid sweetener – The two most common sticky sweeteners used are typically maple syrup and honey though others, such as agave syrup, may also be used. Because they are liquid and not granular, they provide a smooth textured natural sweetener.
Add-ins – These are limited only by your creativity and taste preferences. Common add-ins are flax and/or chia seeds (either whole or in ground form), mini chocolate chips, cocoa, coconut, crispy rice cereal, hemp hearts, protein powder, finely ground nuts, dried fruits, spices, etc.
So, now that we have discussed the basic composition of most energy bites, let’s move on to this post’s featured recipe. Dates are the main “binder” in these Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Bites and are best blitzed in the food processor before other ingredients are added. Depending on the size of the food processor bowl, the dates will either form a paste-like consistency (more likely if a small food processor is used) or clump together into a ball (if a large food processor is used). Either consistency is fine as basically the goal is to break up the dates and smooth out their texture before pulsing with the other ingredients that don’t take as long to incorporate. A small food processor, if you have one, is great for this first step but use the larger food processor for incorporating the ingredients together. Use the pulse feature on the machine as you mix the ingredients. The goal is to incorporate them, not crush or mash all the ingredients into a smooth paste.
If the rolled oats are particularly large, it’s a good idea to blitz them separately 2-4 times in short bursts in a food processor before beginning to make the energy bites. Be careful, though, about processing them too much as the oats will quickly turn into oat flour which is not the consistency required for these energy bites. If the oats are over-processed, it will change the consistency of the energy bites.
This recipe calls for very finely ground nuts. This means their consistency should be like nut meal, almost to the point of being powder-like. While ground nuts can be purchased pre-packaged, I buy the nuts whole and use an electric coffee grinder I have reserved for the purpose of grinding nuts. The coffee grinder will quickly and easily turn the nuts into the desired nut “meal” more efficiently than a regular nut grinder which will not grind the nuts nearly so fine textured.
Some ingredients need to be added by hand at the end of the mixing process. These include the crispy rice cereal, chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and hemp hearts. These are the more fragile of the ingredients and are intended to be left intact in the balls. Incorporating them with the food processor would be likely to break them up and lose the texture and visual appearance they provide.
The energy bites can easily be made gluten free by using gluten-free rolled oats and, of course, ensuring all other ingredients called for in the recipe are gluten free.
If the mixture seems a bit too dry to form into balls, add small amounts of water, a teaspoon or two at a time, and quickly pulse the mixture in short bursts. Be careful, though, about adding too much water as it can make the mixture too soft and moist. Possible causes for the mixture to be a bit dry might be dates that are dry and/or the size/quality of rolled oats used.
I recommend chilling the mixture for about 20 minutes or so in the refrigerator to make it easier to form the balls. I am a huge promoter of using digital scales when cooking or baking. For size consistency, and as a frame of reference for these energy bites, use about 28 grams of mixture per ball.
These energy bites can be stored for up to five days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or frozen for up to three months for longer storage. Place the balls in single layers between sheets of wax paper in the storage container.
[Printable recipe follows at end of post]
Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Bites
5 oz honey dates (pitted), coarsely chopped
¾ cup quick rolled oats (gluten-free, if required)
½ cup smooth peanut butter
2½ tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup very finely ground peanuts
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
1½ tsp vanilla whey protein powder
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
½ cup crispy rice cereal (gluten-free, if required)
½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
¼ cup pre-toasted coconut
3 tbsp hemp hearts
Pulse dates in food processor until they form a paste or clump into a ball. Add the rolled oats, peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, ground peanuts, ground chia seeds, vanilla whey protein powder, and sea salt. Pulse mixture until ingredients are completely blended.
Mix in the crispy rice cereal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and hemp hearts by hand. If mixture seems too dry, two to three teaspoons of water may be blended into ingredients. Place mixture in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to chill.
Roll mixture by hand into bite-sized balls. For frame of reference, each ball should weigh approximately 28 grams. Place balls on parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 20-25 minutes to firmly set. Store, in single layers separated by waxed paper, in airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator or freeze up to three months for longer storage.
Yield: Apx. 22 balls
Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Bites
- 5 oz honey dates pitted, coarsely chopped
- ¾ cup quick rolled oats gluten-free, if required
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- 2½ tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp coconut oil melted and cooled
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup very finely ground peanuts
- 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 1½ tsp vanilla whey protein powder
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ cup crispy rice cereal gluten-free, if required
- ½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- ¼ cup pre-toasted coconut
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts
- Pulse dates in food processor until they form a paste or clump into a ball. Add the rolled oats, peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, ground peanuts, ground chia seeds, vanilla whey protein powder, and sea salt. Pulse mixture until ingredients are completely blended.
- Mix in the crispy rice cereal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and hemp hearts by hand. If mixture seems too dry, two to three teaspoons of water may be blended into ingredients. Place mixture in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to chill.
- Roll mixture by hand into bite-sized balls. For frame of reference, each ball should weigh approximately 28 grams. Place balls on parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 20-25 minutes to firmly set. Store, in single layers separated by waxed paper, in airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator or freeze up to three months for longer storage.
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You may also enjoy this recipe from My Island Bistro Kitchen for no-bake Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls.