I've been looking at protein and energy snacks, which are marketed at people who are physically active and exercise regularly. These snacks tend to contain whey protein, which is a popular ingredient of protein bars and shakes. My personal preference though, is to use whole ingredients rather than extracted elements like whey. Whole products have a balanced nutrient profile, which works more synergistically in the body. The end-product in my opinion tastes better too.
These protien-energy balls contain walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and cashews, which provide ample protein, a boost of monounsaturated fats plus vitamin E, a potent antioxidant. I've added to the the protein content further by using ground hemp seeds. Hemp seeds contain a balanced ratio of omega 6 and 3 essential fatty acids. I don't normally use ready ground seeds as I like to grind them fresh but for a change I'm trying out some ground hemp seed powder by Pulsin.
To support the body with generating and releasing energy, I've incorporated dates, with virgin coconut oil and maca root powder. The fibre and minerals in dates along with the coconut oil help prevent blood sugar spikes from occurring. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil provide an alternative form of energy to glucose for fuelling the body cells. Coconut oil particularly supports fuelling the muscles and brain and is particularly beneficial to individuals who have increased energetic needs.
Maca is native to the Andes mountains and is a member of the cruciferous family. The root looks a bit like a turnip and has been traditionally dried and powdered for consumption. It has been used to enhance strength, energy and libido. Maca is a type of adaptogen, which means it helps balance the body's cardiovascular, nervous, musculature and lymphatic systems. It has the ability to help the body create more energy but without over-stimulating organs like the adrenals.
I have chosen to include maca root as it contains many beneficial nutrients including fibre, amino acids (including 7 essential amino acids), fatty acids (mainly linoleic, palmitic and oleic). Maca also contains a range of vitamins like B1, B2, C and E vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulphur, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. All these qualities would make maca an ideal ingredient for my protein-energy balls.
My final ingredient is some ginger root powder, as it helps boost circulation, which will also support the flow of nutrients, oxygen and wastes in the circulatory system. Sesame seeds provide a nice crunch and boost the protein and fatty acid of these protein-energy balls further
1 cup dried pitted dates
1 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, Brazils, almonds, cashews)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon of ground up hemp seeds (I used Pulsin Hemp Protein but you could also just grind hemp seeds in a coffee grinder)
1 tablespoon of maca powder
1/2-1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1/2 cup sesame seeds (for coating the balls with)
- I always check the dates have been pitted by cutting them with a knife before washing them in water. The last thing you want is to hear the crunch of a date pit in your food processor.
- I placed the mixed nuts in my food processor with a chopping blade attachment.
- I processed the mixed nuts until they were finely chopped and then emptied the chopped nuts into a separate plate.
- I then chopped the dates in my processor until they stuck together and formed a ball
- At this stage, I added my chopped mixed nuts, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of ground up hemp seeds, 1 tablespoon of maca powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder. I then processed them until they were properly mixed.
- I then emptied out the mixture into a bowl. At this stage the mixture is dry and needs a little water to bring it together.
- I added some water by just wetting my wet hands, I then scrunched the mixture until it all stuck together.
You may need to add a little more water to your hands as it depend how dry the mixture is.
- Finally, I rolled small amounts of the mixture into balls.
As the texture was a little wet at this stage, I rolled them in sesame seeds. This added a nice crunch and some more protein too. I then put them in the fridge to firm up.
These protein-energy balls will keep in the fridge for a month, so they can be pre-made in advance. This recipe makes around 12 protein-energy balls so if you want to make up a batch then it's a good idea to double or triple this recipe.