I have always loved snacks that I can easily take on the go, that are healthy for the whole family and filled with ingredients that I know will properly fuel me and not bog me down. These energy balls hit all those marks and more. Even better? THEY ARE SO EASY TO MAKE! Shout out to Trader Joe's for carrying almost all of the ingredients I used in this recipe. Trader Joe's...I love you.
I calculated the nutritional data on each ball and determined that 3 balls is a good serving size. They are high in calories but that's the point - to pack an energy punch for workouts, for days that you can't find time to make full meals, for extra energy in nursing mamas or 2nd/3rd trimester mamas or anyone who just needs a healthy pick me up. You can store them in the fridge for a few days or toss them in the freezer. I bought mostly organic ingredients but if you want these to be even more cost effective you can choose conventional products. Below is the recipe followed by a layout of the nutritional data.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls
Makes ~28 balls, Serving Size: 3 balls
1 cup crushed cashews (I buy whole and crush in the blender)
1 cup crushed oats (again, blender)
2 cups whole dates (Remove pits, quarter and chop in food processor)
1/2 cup cacao powder
3/4 cup peanut butter
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and *with clean hands* massage together. As you work the ingredients together, break up large bits of dates and peanut butter to evenly work in the dry ingredients. The mixture will seem crumbly but should hold together when formed into a tight ball. Once mixed thoroughly, take two heaping tablespoons and form into balls. Place each ball on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Once all balls are formed, place baking sheet into the fridge for half an hour. Balls are ready to eat immediately but cooling them down helps them stay formed together. Store balls in a covered container in the fridge or place in an airtight bag and freeze.
Note: I made the original recipe with coconut flakes but they added too much fat and calories to this already dense recipe. You can swap out the cashews for coconut flakes if you prefer that flavor! Also, if your baby or milk supply is sensitive to chocolate, you can nix that ingredient. Regarding peanut butter, I always check the ingredients to make sure its pure organic peanut butter and zero added ingredients like sugar and palm oil. These additives diminish the nutritional value of peanut butter and cheapen the product. My favorite peanut butter brand is Santa Cruz Organics.
Approximate Nutritional Facts Per Ball, Per 3 Balls:
Calories: 96, 290
Fat: 2g, 6.5g
Saturated Fat: 1g, 3g
Carbohydrates: 9g, 28g
Fiber: 2g, 6g
Sugar: 4g, 13g
Protein: 3.5g, 10.5g
Iron: 5%, 15%
Like I said, these are high in calories, fat and carbs but all of those are necessary to fuel the body for exercise, pregnancy, breastfeeding or for days you aren't meeting your nutritional goals through proper meals. These balls are also high in fiber, protein and iron all of which are important for a healthy body and healthy baby.
Pregnant women need an additional 300 calories per day in their second and third trimester.
Breastfeeding women need upwards of 500 additional calories per day to keep up with milk production.
Fiber helps with constipation, a common complaint among pregnant and postpartum women. Oatmeal is a great source of fiber, iron and protein and its a wonderful lactogenic, meaning it encourages or induces the secretion of milk. Healthy fats are important for the development of baby's brain and nervous system. Nuts are lactogenic and the fiber and healthy fats found in them promote a feeling of fullness. Not to mention, healthy fats are great for brain and heart health as well as healthy skin, hair and nails! Protein is essential for uterine and breast tissue growth and plays a huge role in increasing your blood supply in pregnancy. Protein helps build baby's blood, muscles and tissues especially in the second and third trimester. Mamas need to up their protein intake in the second half of pregnancy and while breastfeeding! Getting enough iron in pregnancy and postpartum helps prevent anemia and low-iron related fatigue. Iron also promotes an increased blood supply. Needless to say, after consideration of all the nutritional benefits these balls are a pretty great snack option for mamas or anyone needing a boost of these nutrients (most of us - men and women alike!). I even let my one year old and 2.5 year old eat them (1 is plenty!) and it gives them the healthy fats their brains and bodies need, energy to fuel their *very* active little selves and I have the peace of mind knowing each ingredient is safe, healthy and serves an important purpose for their growing bodies.
Let me know if you make them, if you modified in any way and if you have any questions/comments! Enjoy!!