Today's post is all about how to make healthy energy bites — also known as energy balls. The internet is crazy for these protein packed flavor bombs, and they're perfect for a pre- or post-workout snack, or when that mid-afternoon slump hits.
My most recent healthy eating segment for More Good Day Oregon actually features one of my recipes for healthy energy bites: Mango Macadamia Nut Energy Bites. Check out the video below to see me make this recipe step by step.
Why healthy energy bites make a great snack
Healthy energy bites have gotten me out from many a jam. They’re great to have around for:
Pre-workout snack — Sometimes you need a little something-something before you go crush a workout, but you don’t want to have a belly-full of food — or a bunch of smoothie sloshing around in your stomach while you try to run. On these occasions, one energy bite usually does the trick for me.
Post-workout/recovery — Most mornings, I’m doing intermittent fasting, so I’ll work out on an empty stomach. However, after my mid-morning workout, I’m often starving! Having an energy bite or two in my bag really helps me deal with post-workout hunger, especially if I’m going right from my workout to an appointment or meeting.
Kids’ snacks — I’ll be honest: I buy a fair amount of banana bread and muffins for my kiddo’s lunchbox. It’s not something I’m super proud of, but there it is. I’m working on my healthy baked goods game! In the meantime, no-bake energy bites can be a real lifesaver for kids’ snacks. You can add their favorite nuts, or even chocolate chips. And while you’re adding stuff in, throw in some flax seed and/or chia seed for extra nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats. They’ll never know the difference.
Airplane snacks — Airport and airplane food is getting better, but it can still suck, depending on what airline you’re flying, and which airports you go through. Stashing some healthy energy bites in you carry on bag will help keep you nourished and satisfied while you navigate TSA lines, connecting flights, and different time zones.
Choosing a base
Most energy bite recipes start with a base of rolled oats or nut flour such as almond or coconut flour. Personally, I gravitate towards recipes with oats — I love the chewy texture, as well as the additional fiber I know I’m getting from oats.
After all, most Americans are deficient in fiber — about 97% of us! Here’s why fiber’s so important: it pulls excess cholesterol from the body — a must for anyone with high cholesterol and/or taking statins.
Adequate fiber is also needed for a happy digestive system — specifically, for “feeding” the good bacteria in our gut, balancing blood sugar, helping the digestive system move along smoothly, and keeping hunger at bay.
Guess what? Sufficient fiber also supports the immune system, boosting the production of the body’s infection-fighting T-cells.
Lastly — and perhaps most importantly — a diet full of fiber-rich foods reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
Yes, reducing risk for cancer.
That’s a big one.
So reduce your risk already!
Here's how: eat more fiber. More fruits, more vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains.
Oh, yes, and oatmeal. Which got me started on this whole tangent…
OK, back to how to make healthy energy bites: in addition to oats or nut flour, most energy bite recipes also call for nuts or seeds. They may also include some nut or seed butter to help bind the ingredients together, provide flavor, and bring some extra protein to the party.
Other typical flavors include vanilla extract, dried fruit or maple syrup for sweetness, spices such as cinnamon, coconut flakes, cacao powder, and a pinch of salt.
Roll and chill
I find that it’s usually easier to roll the dough into balls if the mixture’s refrigerated for awhile — an hour should do the trick.
Then, after you’ve formed the dough into balls, you’ll want to place them on a plate or tray and refrigerate them until they firm up a bit. After that, you can store them in an airtight container for about a week.
Or, freeze them separately on a tray, and them transfer them to a ziplock bag or airtight container. They can keep in the fridge for about a month or two.
About the Mango Macadamia Nut Energy Bites
When it comes to energy bites, I’m usually mixing up a combo that includes peanut butter, oats, or chocolate chips — or all three!
Well, one day I was craving energy bites, but I needed something different. Something to wake up my winter palate. Something tropical. Fruity. Bright. And, of course, energizing for pre- and post-workout.
And as I was walking through the grocery store, it hit me: mango!
It’d be the perfect ingredient to incorporate into an energy bite recipe. And when it came to deciding which nut to pair it with, macadamia nuts were a no-brainer. I mean, mangos and macadamia nuts are such a classic tropical combo. And blending them up together in a recipe means you get a little taste of Hawaii in every bite.
I use a combination of cashews and macadamia nuts in this recipe because — hello — macadamia nuts are so darn expensive!
I also throw in some turmeric because… why not? It’s a great anti-inflammatory ingredient, and besides that it really pumps up the color on these cuties.
These Mango Macadamia Nut Energy bites also include some hemp seed (extra protein), as well as chia seeds (fiber). The extra fiber can help you avoid a blood sugar spike from the mango’s natural fruit sugar. Plus, chia seed is amazing for our digestion – I use it every day!
This recipe’s a little different than other versions, such as my Almond Butter Chickpea Energy Bites or my Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Bites. That’s because dried mango can be quite a bit tougher than dates — so, you’ll need to soak the mango in some warm water for a few minutes before getting started.
Not to worry, though. The recipe still comes together very quickly, and there’s no baking required. My favorite kind of “baking.”
How to make healthy energy bites: the recipes
Ready to make your own healthy energy bites?
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
- Mango Macadamia Nut Energy Bites
- Cranberry Coconut Bliss Bites
- Almond Butter Chickpea Energy Bites
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Energy Bites
- Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Bites
Remember to tag me on Instagram if you try any of the recipes. Also, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions along the way. I'd love to hear from you!