About six months ago, after seeking professional nutritional advice, I went dairy-free and gluten-free. I also gave up sugar for 3 months. I now eat the occasional sourdough bread as that seems to have no effect on me, and small amounts of sugar are quite enjoyable. (Dairy, it was nice knowing you.) But the main thing I learned during this “summer of me” is that I don’t consume nearly enough protein!
That’s where protein balls enter the fold! These taste good (really good actually) and gives me a necessary protein boost!
We have adapted the recipe as follows:
Easy Kid-Friendly Protein Balls
1 C protein powder (we often use Nutiva Organic HempShake)
3/4 C instant oats
1/4 C cashew meal
1 C peanut butter
1/4 C honey
dash of salt
Mix, roll into balls, and chill if desired. See notes below for how we play during this process.
A few notes:
- These are gluten-free and dairy-free
- Cashew meal adds a nice flavor, but try almond meal, ground flax, ground chia seed, wheat germ, etc.
- Choose any nut butters (or a combination thereof) that you prefer
- Add a dash of salt, vanilla, chipotle… anything you like for flavor
- Seriously, this is so adaptable!
So far this post has been about MY love of these protein balls. But you know what is even better? E loves to help make it AND to eat it – perfect preschool kitchen fun! He called it “cookie dough” first and was shocked that we kept saying sure, you can eat some. It’s a good and easy way to get some protein in him – he’s a big guy and he needs a lot! He sees it as a treat but doesn’t get any nasty ups and downs that he often gets from too much sugar.
This stuff is also so fun to make. We do it every week and he always looks forward to it! We usually start with just the dry ingredients and play with that for a long while. We pour the protein powder, oats, and cashew meal into different parts of a large white bowl. He can scoop, mix, and even use tongs to pick it up (he discovered this last time)! I keep the peanut butter(s) and honey measured for when he’s ready to add those in, and often get some kitchen cleaning done while he plays.
Next we add the gooey stuff, mix with a wooden spoon or rice paddle, then often get in there with our hands (sometimes wearing rubber gloves). Mix in any extras. Squeeze and smash it until it is uniform; it doesn’t take long. Then we get out cookie scoops! As he is wrapping up the mixing part on his end, I quickly portion out most of the mixture before he asks for his turn with the scoop. I roll mine into balls and put it in the fridge. He then keeps a good amount, perhaps a cup’s worth, to snack on and play. He gets his own small container to put the finished balls in and then has some treats to enjoy over the next few days!
What would we do without these protein balls? They are the best. Quick, easy, healthy, and sustaining for me; dirty, sticky, fun, and very healthy for him!