Need a little mid-week pick-me-up? I gotchu.
One of the things I love about blogging and recipe creation is solving your meal and snack time rut problems. That can look like cleaning up your favourite recipes with more health-building ingredients, or simply suggesting new ideas to keep your motivation to eat well topped up. In the case of this week’s recipe, it was born out of a request for a snack that could be enjoyed between work and an after-work gym session.
As someone who is very much in her prime in the morning and thrives on getting my sweat on early, people who can commit to after-work workouts amaze me. Seriously, all of you 5pm gym goers are heroes! Having taught a few evening spin classes back in the day, I know one of the challenges that often comes up is what to eat at this time of day so that you feel strong and energized enough to sweat, and at the same time, not too full. A full meal can be overkill, and if you’re going straight from the office to the gym, portability is key.
Enter one solution: protein bites! I’ve published several varieties of these in the past but keep coming back to them as snack options for those of us with active lifestyles because they are SO easy and nearly impossible to mess up. A few other reasons why they’re great…
- The protein content helps with appetite control, and if eaten after workouts (ie to tide you over until dinner is on the table), also helps with muscle repair.
- The carbohydrates from oats are a longer-lasting energy source, whereas the simpler carbohydrates from the dates and maple syrup can be used by the body more quickly. In other words, they’ll give you the energy needed to push yourself in your workout.
- No baking required! Just a little bit of refrigeration time is all you need, and they can be made in big batches ahead of time to last you through the week.
As is the case with all recipes on the blog, these Vanilla Coconut Almond Protein Bites are free of gluten and dairy. I’ve kept them vegan-friendly but if you’re not vegan, the maple syrup could easily be swapped for honey. And, for those following a paleo/grain-free lifestyle, I’m pretty sure you could tweak the dry ingredients to replace the oats with almond flour (or an almond/coconut flour combo). Because these flours are a little more dense you may need to increase the nut butter/water quantity slightly, but trust me when I say that these are really easy to improvise with, and really tough to mess up. Whatever adjustments you choose to make, taste testing is guaranteed to be delicious!
Need a quick snack on the go, or a healthy sweet treat after dinner? These protein bites have a gorgeous, nutty flavour and cookie dough-like consistency. Their high protein content will keep you satisfied, even on your busiest days.
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted Medjool dates, soaked in warm water for about 5 minutes
- 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped raw almonds or loosely packed almond flour (see note)
- 1/4 cup vanilla Vega Sport Performance Protein or your fave protein powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- As the dates soak, whirl the oats and coconut in the food processor until they resemble a flour. Do the same with the almonds, if using chopped ones.
- Combine the ground oats, coconut, almonds/almond flour, protein powder, cinnamon and sea salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Pour the excess water off the dates and pulse them in the processor until the pieces are as tiny as possible. (Scrape down the edges with a spatula occasionally.) Add the maple syrup, water, almond butter and vanilla. Continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible.
- Gradually add the dry mixture to the processor and blend, again, scraping down the edges every so often. Add a little water if the mixture seems too dry.
- If your processor bowl starts to get too full, do the rest of your combining in the mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined, and if needed, add a tablespoon of water at a time to maintain a dough-like consistency.
- Wrap the dough in a ball and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Breaking off a little at a time, roll into 12 balls.
I like to store these in the fridge or freezer because they taste wonderful (and very much like cookie dough!) when they’re cold. Be sure to use a sealed container for any leftovers.