This month on TNB, we’re going Back to Basics! All month long, I’m sharing recipes and techniques for how to make pantry staples healthier and from scratch. These vegan peanut butter energy balls are my homemade alternative to Larabars.
“Energy balls” have been making the rounds (haha, get it?) in the health food circuit for quite some time now. Also known as “energy bites” or “date truffles”, these are typically some permutation of nuts and dates, blended together and rolled into balls. They’re designed to be a high-protein, energizing snack, eaten on-the-go or between meals.
Now all this certainly sounds great, but to be honest, as silly as it is, I refused to try these for the longest time because I hate their name.
The way I see it, since all food has some caloric value (i.e. energy), aren’t all foods “energy” foods? And if so, what keeps them from being “energy sandwiches”, “energy pasta”, “energy salad”, etc.?
I also don’t subscribe to the idea that eating something can give you an immediate boost of energy. (Except maybe caffeine, which is more of a band aid solution). So all in all, I’d say this name is pretty misleading.
(A friend of mine also says that “energy ball” sounds like something I’d give my cat to play with – which yeah, it totally does.)
So “energy balls” = not a fan.
Semantics aside, I eventually caved, and these peanut butter energy balls actually became a staple in our fridge. Rene, who used to have a pretty serious sugar addiction (as in, a Snickers bar a day), quit sugar over a year ago. So now I make him these, which are a healthier way to satisfy sweet cravings without refined sweeteners.
The flavor and texture of these is inspired by Larabar, my favorite store-bought energy bars.
To make these no-bake energy balls, you only need four ingredients: nuts, nut butter, medjool dates, and salt.
You can use almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, and even coconut flakes. For the nut butter component, you can also use whatever you already have: peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, or coconut butter. Any combination of these will work, as long as the proportions stay the same.
Another ingredient I like to toss in is chia and/or hemp seeds. Both of these contain a ton of micronutrients for their small stature, and this is a great way to reap their benefits – and add some extra crunch. But again, totally optional.
More healthy snack ideas…
- Classic Peanut Butter Granola
- Garlicky Tomato Toast
- How I Choose Healthy Snacks + My Go-To’s
- Vegan Blueberry-Lemon Muffins
You only need 4 ingredients to make these vegan peanut butter energy balls. Perfect for midday snacking and eating on-the-go.
- 3/4 cup roasted almonds (or any other nuts)
- 8 medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or any other nut butter), stirred well
- 1/2 cup melted coconut butter (if you don’t have any, use double the amount of peanut butter instead)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons chia or hemp seeds (*optional)
- Place the nuts in a Vitamix or food processor fitted with the blade attachment, and pulse until they’re ground into small bits. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
- Place the dates, peanut butter, coconut butter, and salt in the food processor. Puree until everything is evenly incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.
- Transfer the paste to the bowl with the nuts and add the seeds, if using. Using your hands, mash the mixture together to incorporate.
- Pinch off a bit of the mixture (about the size of a ping pong ball) and form into a ball with your hands. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Store the balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Serving Size: 1 ball
- Calories: 140
- Fat: 9.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.7 g
- Fiber: 3.3 g
- Protein: 4.2 g
Keywords: energy balls, almond, peanut butter, coconut butter