A few weeks ago, my eldest daughter, Erin, emailed me asking if I knew of any healthy protein-type snacks or foods that she could fix up for her daughter (my amazing and incredibly gifted and brilliant grand-daughter, Leah) who is, shall we say, a rather picky eater, and would rather go hungry than eat something un-perfect, which has led to energy meltdowns before and during her volleyball matches. Whew! Long sentence there, but you get the drift. Picky eater 13-year old who works out quite strenuously and isn’t eating enough to fuel the energy demands of her busy day.
So I quickly ran through the list of obvious things that of course had already been rejected (string cheese –disgusting at room temperature; peanut butter sandwich – not on your life; fruit – no way; cheese and crackers – see above regarding no room temperature cheese, etc.). This had to be a snack that travels well and keeps at room temperature, is healthy, packed with protein and most of all, something Miss Leah would actually eat.
We decided to do a little internet research and before I could get to it, Erin emailed saying she had found several recipes for these protein snack balls and was going to work on one that Leah might like. We were fairly optimistic because there were chocolate chips involved.
As a quick interlude to this story, you might remember Leah from our Pasta 101 homemade ravioli post.
That was a little over 4 years ago when she was 9. She was a bit of a picky eater back then too, but she did love those raviolis. Well, my little Leah bean is now 13, a budding volleyball star and about 2 inches taller than her grandmother.
She’s still the sweetest thing going, and I’m ever so happy to report that these little peanut butter balls were a hit with her. And because they travel well, she can pop one or two in her mouth whenever she feels her blood sugar flagging. Success!!
Erin thought I should make some up and get them on the blog as she felt this was an issue that many parents are dealing with when they have kids in sports. It’s just so easy to throw chips or cookies at the problem, but to have a healthy, delicious alternative to that seems like a win/win situation.
So that’s the long-winded backstory to these delicious little protein bites. I’ve made them a few times and we love them! I also found that my 90-year old parents like them. These are amazingly nutritious little bites for them to have on hand to snack on during the day or evening.
And they couldn’t be easier to make. Just dump everything in a bowl, mix it all up really well with your hands and then form it into little balls and toss them in the fridge. Done.
You don’t have to be 13 or 90 to benefit from a healthy, protein-packed energy snack. These would be so great stashed in your desk drawer at work to munch on when lunch is still hours away; or for students to keep in their backpacks to get them through a long day of classes. We all need a little something to keep us going now and then; all the better if that something is also good for us. Amen. Here’s the recipe…
Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bites
Makes about 36 protein balls
1 cup peanut butter (I used a natural, organic chunky peanut butter)
1 cup oats
½ to ¾ cup flax seed meal
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup protein granola (like Cascadian Farms)
Enough pure maple syrup to bind the mixture (1/3 to ½ cup)
½ cup (or more if you like) mini chocolate chips (We like to use raisins)
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well (I use my hands). Then form it into little balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate for an hour or two and then place in a Ziploc bag. These will keep for a week or two in the fridge.