Sunday, 24 January 2016

Power Balls (DIY Cliff Bars)

Instead of cliff bars try these easy vegan protein balls made with shakeology.

Since starting P90X (and figuring out I was allergic to whey protein powder) I’ve been looking for whey-free ways (ha!)  to get my protein into my diet. Since Clif bars have about 10g of protein per bar I had been eating them obsessively - not the most frugal obsession (they’re cheapest at Costco if you were wondering). I was already lamenting the preservatives and various other unpronounceable ingredients in the bars when a friend informed me of the concern over hexane used to extract the soy protein they used in Clif bars. Serendipitously I stumbled upon an Energy Ball recipe from the Healthy Foodie - a fellow Canadian! I used Vegan protein powder like Vegan Shakeology because it contains a balance of different plant-based proteins.

And wouldn’t ya know it these balls taste a heck of a lot like Clif bars! I altered the recipe a bit mostly for fun and/or absent mindedness. I used sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds and I also added hemp hearts for extra fun.

A word to the wise regarding dates: soak your dates. Also check your dates for rogue pits (if you didn’t buy pitted dates you will have to de-pit them yourself). Seriously though, soak the dates. I did not realize this and I think I may have seriously compromised the motor integrity of my food processor. When you see smoke coming from your food processor it’s probably an indicator something is wrong. Apparently dates can be very hard to process. After a bit of rest my food processor worked the next day (and the dates were much softer after they sat out all night) but I don’t think she’ll ever be the same - I might have to set ol’ Cessa out to pasture. Good thing KitchenAid has a one year warranty!

So, the recipe: Basically everything is tossed into ol’ Cessa (aka. my food processor) and blend it. Then form the nutty stuff into balls. The base for the balls is almonds and dates but past that you can add whatever flavour combinations you see fit. Next I’m going to try white chocolate macadamia nut. I have a feeling this is going to be a routine weekend recipe for me - these are the perfect snack. After some calculations I was happy to find that 3 balls are nutritionally equivalent to about one Clif Bar and in my mind they taste better too.

Power Balls
Ingredients (makes 30 balls) adapted from the Healthy Foodie

  • 1 Cup raw almonds
  • 1 Cup pitted dates (soaked overnight or in hot water)
  • 6 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 Cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 Cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • 2 Tbsp Hemp Hearts
  1. Start by processing the almonds, on pulse, until they become very finely crushed (or just use almond flour and skip this step!).
  2. Add the dates (after they have been soaked in hot water!) and process until well blended with the almonds, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the protein powder and flaxseed meal and process until well incorporated
  4. Add hazelnut butter (or peanut butter) and process again, until well incorporated. At this point, the mixture should want to hold together when you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. If it doesn’t seem to want to stick, add more hazelnut butter, or coconut oil, one teaspoon at a time, until it does. Don’t add too much though. The mixture should have a little bit of a dry feel to it and should have to be squeezed somewhat hard to form a ball.
  5. Add sunflower seeds, cranberries, hemp hearts, and shredded coconut and pulse a few times just to break them down a little and incorporate them to the “batter”
  6. Take the mixture, one tablespoon at a time and form into a ball by squeezing it in the palm of your hand. Place ball down on a plate or plastic container, not in your mouth!
  7. Repeat until you’ve used all the batter.
  8. Will keep for at least a week in an airtight container (that’s if you can keep them that long!)

You also might like: Curried Chickpea Dip or Gluten-free crackers