Oh boy, here comes an unfiltered statement––I think protein, granola, and energy bars are food mishaps. They should include a refund policy for calories wasted on something that does not satisfy, nor taste good. Those that DO taste good are more or less candy bars loaded with preservatives, excess sugar, and ingredients that are difficult to digest.
Regardless of the brands and varieties I have tried to choke down (and believe me, there have been plenty), they have all left something to be desired––more crunch, more salty-sweet balance, less chalkiness, no roof of the mouth stickiness, or weird after taste. Time and time again, this lack of satisfaction has left me reaching for something more, basically defeating the purpose of snacking on said bar in the first place.
My resistance to bar consumption has forced me to get creative with snack crafting. To keep me from feeling like I need a foodie refund, my on-the-go treats need to be low in sugar, protein rich, easily digestible, sweet AND salty, have a fair amount of texture, include micronutrients like antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, and be stable enough to last the day. Phew! That’s a tall order I know! Lucky for you, I did the dirty work to create such a snack, and have shared the recipe below for your enjoyment!
Makes: Approx. 3 dozen balls
Time: 45 minutes
1 cup raw almonds, finely ground in a food processor (you can also buy ground almonds in bulk at some co-ops and specialty food stores)
6 tablespoons chocolate protein powder (I like Aloha’s Plant Based Protein)
1/2 cup raw almond or sunflower butter
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
2 tablespoons flax meal (mixed with six tablespoons water, and set to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup goji berries, finely chopped
1/2 cup honey, coconut nectar, or maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pink sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mesquite powder (optional, but highly recommended)
1 tablespoon maca powder (optional)
2 teaspoons spirulina powder (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, and stir to combine. You might want to use your hands in order to mix more thoroughly.
2. Scoop one tablespoon of the dough into the palms of your hands, and roll into a tight ball. Place on a plate or sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all dough has been formed into balls.
3. Transfer balls to the refrigerator and let set for fifteen minutes, and to store for up to two weeks. They may also be kept frozen.
*If you have a dehydrator, feel free to place the balls directly on the open weave trays. Dehydrate for eight to ten hours at 115 degrees. This will make the balls a tad less sticky.
** Depending on the type of nut butter you use, and how runny or dense it is, you may have to adjust the amount of your dry goods to achieve a dough that binds, but that is not too wet.