Tangy, nutty, zesty cranberry orange protein balls made with all whole food ingredients. A healthier grab-and-go snack option.
For me, there’s something very gratifying about enjoying a small sweet treat after each meal. Even breakfast! I don’t consume very much sugar (especially not refined sugar), so I find my classic Paleo Fat Balls, Chocolate Fat Balls or Carrot Cake Fat Balls do just the trick.
They’re small, low in sugar, contain healthy fats and nutrients, and are so dang easy to throw together at a moment’s notice.
I whip up a batch of balls, keep them in the freezer, and simply pop one in my mouth when the feeling’s right.
WELL, I have a burning desire for the orange-cranberry combination regularly. Those Paleo Vegan Cranberry Orange Scones I showed you a while back are one of my favorite brunchables, and I’m all about the paleo Cranberry Orange Bread. There’s something about the tang, the zest, the light and natural sweetness that just tickles my soul fibers pink.
Suffice it to say, I got smart recently and decided to whip up these Cranberry Orange Protein Balls to satisfy that flavor craving and to give myself a small healthy nugget post-meal to make the whole experience feel complete.
So let’s make ‘em!
How to Make Protein Balls:
First, we select the combination of nuts and seeds we want. I usually go with equal parts walnuts and almonds, but you can also use cashews, pumpkin seeds, pecans, etc.
Similarly, select which nut (or seed) butter and oil you would like to use. I love using sunflower seed butter and flax oil because both ingredients support healthy hormonal balance in women, but you can also go with almond butter, cashew butter, coconut butter, avocado oil, or coconut oil.
Decide on your sweetener. I like to use large pitted Medjool dates because 1) they’re natural and 2) they help the ball stick together, but you can also go with dried figs, prunes, dried apricots, or pure maple syrup.
Flavorings? For this recipe, I used orange zest and dried cranberries, but you can go with so many other options – chocolate chips, cacao nibs, dried blueberries, raisins, etc.
Once you have selected your inputs, simply toss every last ingredient into your food processor and process until a thick dough-like mixture forms. It will likely still be crumbly and that is okay!
Transfer the ball mixture to a sealable container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This helps the ingredients set up so that it’s easier to form the balls. If you try to form the balls right away, they will often crumble and not hold together.
Store the balls in a sealable bag or container in the refrigerator or freezer. I store mine in a glass Tupperware in the freezer and simply pull one out when I’m ready to munch. The high-fat content keeps the balls soft, so I don’t have trouble biting into them. If you have sensitive teeth, store the balls in the refrigerator.
Pack these up for a snack on the go and you’re golden!
- Substitute any nut or seed butter for the sunflower seed butter. Almond butter and coconut butter are also my go-tos and always turns out great. You can even use tahini if you’re okay with the bitterness.
- Use any combination of your favorite nuts and seeds. Pecans, cashews and pumpkin seeds are tried and true and always turn out marvelously. I don’t think brazil nuts or pistachios will work as well, but if you try it and it works out, let me know.
- Add your favorite pure extracts. I always use pure vanilla extract.
- Throw in some chocolate chips, cacao nibs, goji berries or other dried fruit.
- Replace the flaxseed oil with softened coconut oil or avocado oil.
- Substitute the dates with dried figs, prunes, pure maple syrup or honey. If using a liquid sweetener, start with 3 Tbsp and add more to taste.
- Add your favorite protein powder. I like Hemp protein powder because it doesn’t contain added sugar or anything artificial. You can also add collagen peptides.
Have a ball!
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