Nut-free energy balls
Healthy energy balls, bliss balls, fruit balls or protein balls – whatever you want to call them, are simply small, healthy and portable snackettes that I munch on during the day, or the kids eat after school. Most energy ball recipes, including our chocolate pecan balls, include nuts, but these sunflower and apricot energy balls, like our mint chocolate balls, are deliberately nut-free.
I adore nuts, and we munch on raw nuts and cook with nuts frequently at home. They’re nutritious and really the ultimate portable snack. But sometimes a nut-free snack is called for, and these tasty easy-to-make balls fit the bill perfectly:
- I now have a simple snack I can offer to nut allergy friends
- They can go in the no-nut school lunchbox as a sweet treat at the end of lunch
- They’re easy to take to the school gates for that essential after-school snack (and I don’t have the nut allergy worry if another child tastes them)
- They’re cheaper than buying many of the pre-packaged (and usually nut containing) bars and balls – and are a smaller, more child-friendly size
- The recipe can also be varied according to what seeds and dried fruit are in your kitchen, so they’re very versatile
- They take about 15 minutes to make, start to finish
I’m conscious of the complete overload of fruits and juices that many kids eat and drink each day. They contribute to the sugar content of our diet, and can negatively impact our health as well as accelerate tooth decay.
But fresh and dried fruit, juices, smoothies, and dried fruit snacks such as our fruit rolls or energy balls can be a great source of nutrients. It’s just really important keep portions small and quality high. An energy ball is a far healthier alternative to a chocolate bar, but can fill our sweet cravings just as well.
The sweetness in our energy balls comes from the dried fruit – fibre-filled dates and lower GI/GL dried apricots, which have less impact on our blood sugar levels than other dried fruit such as raisins, pineapple or mango. The addition of coconut oil and seeds adds healthy fat and protein, which slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream even more.
Chia seeds are the best plant source of Omega 3 fats so are excellent seeds to include alongside the vitamin E-rich sunflower seeds. The balls offer a good spread of minerals (including calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron and zinc) and are an excellent source of phytonutrients.
Adding carob, cocoa powder or cacao for dusting not only has a practical use (it stops the balls sticking to your hands!) but adds flavonoids; we know how good dark chocolate is for us, but cocoa has double the antioxidant power; using raw cacao is even better.
So nutritionally, this is definitely a yummy snack worth eating!
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