If you are a fan of chocolate desserts, you will love these healthy hazelnut & cacao energy balls. The complex flavor of these balls may remind you of chocolate brownies or cake; however, you will not experience the energy dip that comes about when eating a sugar-dense dessert.
These no-cook, gluten-free, vegan bars come together in less than 30 minutes and you can store these in refrigerator for a week to enjoy as a snack or dessert.
Dates make a healthy sweetener
Dates offer a healthy alternative to processed white sugar to sweeten desserts, energy bars, etc. Dates have a much lower glycemic index compared to sugar. Glycemic Index (GI) of a food measures how carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels. Foods with high GI, such as white sugar, cause blood sugar to rise too quickly accompanied by a quick crash. This is why you feel tired after eating a sugar-dense dessert or drinking a sugar-laden soda. In contrast, a food with low GI, such as dates, are digested slowly causing to release energy at a slower pace, which offers sustained energy over a long period. Moreover, while white sugar only sweetens, dates offer a number of health benefits as a bonus. In addition to being a good source of fiber, dates are also high in bone-protecting minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. (Stay tuned for a longer blog post on health benefits of dates).
Meal plan this healthy hazelnut & cacao energy balls for snack and dessert
These healthy hazelnut and cacao energy balls not only sooth a sweet tooth, but also truly live up to their name by providing energy. Commercially-available energy bars and balls are often too high in processed sugar, which fails to offer long-term sustained energy. Here are some tips to meal plan this recipe:
- Put the ingredients on your grocery list.
- Make it on a weekend or whenever you have some extra 30 minutes on your hand. You can refrigerate these balls for a week. You can also make multiple batches and freeze them in one-week supply portions. Then take out one batch every week. You can freeze these healthy hazelnut & cacao energy balls for up to four weeks.
- I often eat two of these balls for breakfast, if breakfast running short on time to make breakfast.
Here are the step-by-step directions to make healthy hazelnut and cacao energy balls.
Healthy Hazelnut & Cacao Energy Balls
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats (gluten-free or sub with regular type, can sub with old-fashioned oats)
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts (can sub with equal amount almonds, lightly toasted or raw)
- 2 tbsp raw cacao powder (or sub with equal amount pure cocoa powder)
- 2 tbsp sun butter (can sub with equal amount almond butter)
- 3 medjool dates (seeded, or any other variety)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp maple syrup*
- 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/8 tsp Pink Himalayan salt (preferably coarse crystals, optional)
- Lightly toast, about 2-3 minutes, the hazelnuts over medium heat in an iron skillet. Alternatively, you can also toast hazelnuts in a toaster oven. Skip this step if using raw.
- Start out by processing oats in a food processor*. Add toasted hazelnuts and process till the mixture attains coarse consistency.
- Add dates, sun butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cacao powder, and Pink Himalayan Salt, and unsweetened shredded coconut. Process till the mixture comes together and forms a ball.
- Take the mixture out in a plate and form into balls. Enjoy as a snack or dessert.