recipe: festive protein balls

Sometimes only something sweet will get rid of that mid morning / mid afternoon craving that often accompanies a cup of tea. Yes, you could reach for the biscuits (if your office is anything like mine there are usually some lying around) but I have started reaching for one of these homemade protein balls instead.

Protein balls have become somewhat of a hero of the healthy eating world and many of the cafes here that focus on healthy eating produce their own. Mass produced versions have even hit the shelves of many shops and can be great at giving you the boost you need when you would otherwise be reaching for a chocolate bar. On the main these bars and balls are delicious but often rather expensive at nearing £2 per snack if you want to indulge on a regular basis.

If you follow this recipe you can whizz up a whole batch for around a fiver which is a pocket friendly way to beat those fingers from dipping into the biscuit jar. The balls also keep for a week or two in the fridge so a little bit of effort gives you lots of snacks for the days ahead.

Ingredients

(makes roughly 15 large balls)

  • 300g chopped nuts (I buy pre-chopped nuts from Holland & Barrett, which are a mix of skinned peanuts, almonds and walnuts, as these work out to be much cheaper than buying whole nuts. Really it is up to you though; just use your favourite skinned nuts)
  • 150g dates (I use Western pitted dates that have been formed into a pressed square, rather than whole dried dates. Again you can use any dried dates, but these bakers blocks of dates are very cost effective at less than £1 for 250g and are again available at Holland & Barrett)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 2 oranges and juice of 1 orange
  • 50g vanilla protein powder (if you want to leave this out then you will need to reduce the orange juice. Add half of the orange juice to begin with and see how wet your mixture is, then add the remainder as necessary)
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp of ginger cordial or ginger wine (use water or more orange juice if you don’t have this and it will work just as well)

Useful equipment

  • Food processor – a small handheld one will be just fine if you don’t have a full size one

Steps

1. Use the food processor to blitz up the nuts and dates until they are a relatively fine texture. (Even though I use pre-chopped nuts I blitz them further so that they aren’t too chunky). You may need to do this in batches if you are using a handheld processor.

2. Mix the blitzed nuts and dates with the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl, giving everything a good stir.

3. Add the orange juice and ginger cordial / wine. Bring everything together with your hands. The mixture can feel too wet or too dry depending on the moisture content of your nuts and dates. If the mixture feels very dry and won’t stick together even when pressed together then you will need to add a tsp or two of water a bit at a time until the mixture sticks together. If the mixture feels too wet and is unworkable (note that it should be sticky) then add more blitzed nuts, cacao or protein powder to balance out the moisture.

4. Take a small handful of the mixture and press it strongly into your palm to press the mixture together and form a ball. Gently roll this in your palm to make a smooth ball. Repeat this with all the mixture until you have a box full of treats

Store in the fridge in a sealed box and enjoy!

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