These Energy Balls are one of my favorite fueling recipes! They’re yummy all the time but perfect for those long runs. Dates, walnuts, peanut butter, cacao… (Runners, this post is customized for you, so check out the IN OUR KITCHEN section below.) While this recipe can be modified, I suggest trying it as is…for the flavor and the benefits! If you’re a traveling runner and racer, these pack nicely. Freeze them overnight and throw them in your bag (or cooler).
These are full of dates, which are a natural sweetner with many health benefits, which makes them a great real food snack. Even though they’re high in natural sugar, they have a lower Glycemic Index than other alternatives, and just like anything else, moderation is key!
I truly hope you enjoy these little guys as much as we do!
These Energy Balls are:
- Real Food
- Dairy Free
- Paleo Friendly
IN OUR KITCHEN
Dates. Dates are a natural sweetener and carry nutrients that are great for all of us. They’re also a great snack that’s easy and healthful.
- Runners…Dates are easy to grab, easy to digest, and packed with slow burning carbs. Even though they’re full of sugar (AKA fuel), they have a low Glycemic Index (GI) because of the natural plant fiber, which helps slow down sugar absorption giving us a steady source of energy. Dates could be considered a little superfood and are one of the best sources of potassium, which can prevent and help muscle cramps and weakness. A serving (two dates) gives us more calories and sugars (natural sugars at that) than any of the gels on Runner’s World 2018 top 11 energy gels. I’m telling ya, these Energy Balls are the bomb!
Walnuts. Walnuts are one of my favorites. Like other nuts, they’re filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Runners…Walnuts are a great source of alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, which can improve arteries and bones by decreasing inflammation, which is a perk for runners, especially after an injury.
Cherries. Cherries have many benefits that are great for everyone: they are a great source of vitamin C and fiber, can improve brain function, and are a natural source of melatonin, which is the main hormone that helps us sleep. (You can replace with dried cranberries, which may be more accessible and more affordable.)
- Runners…Cherries are full of anthocyancins, which are a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, so they can reduce muscle soreness after those long runs and races. The anthocycanins are also beneficial for heart health.
Peanut Butter. You can use any nut butter for this recipe. I’ve used almond and peanut butter, and they’re both great. Whichever you use, keep it clean, which means read the ingredient list. It shouldn’t contain a lot of crap. It should include the nut, and maybe salt. When shopping at the supermarket, it’s easier to find clean peanut butter than it is clean almond butter, so be prepared. Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter is one of the cleaner choices and is accessible. If you’re at a health food store, you’ll have more options, and some are quite affordable.
- Runners…Peanut butter keeps you full longer helping fuel your runs past the quick energy you receive in the form of carbs. Carbs are great, but as we know, they don’t last as long, so they’re perfect paired with peanut butter. The peanut butter provides fat, protein, and fiber that give us a slow release of energy.
Cacaco. Cacao, which is the raw form of cocoa, has many benefits. Cacao helps trigger the release of feel-good endorphins which give you mental energy and enhance your mood. Yes, please! Cacao is an amazing source of magnesium, which is a vital mineral most of us are deficient in, which matters. Magnesium deficiency can cause weakness, irritability, and anxiousness, so a little extra can go a long way. The last thing I’ll mention because it’s near and dear to my heart is that cacao can stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters that activate positive emotions – it can potentially help with depression.
- Runners…It contains theobromine, which is a natural stimulant giving you a boost of energy, as well as stimulates the nervous system and dilates the blood vessels.
Freshly Ground Coffee Beans. I like the caffeine in these, as well as the flavor it adds. The “freshly” ground is key in this recipe.
- Runners…We all know what caffeine does, and as for runners, some like it and some don’t. If you’re not a fan, leave it out. Although, I haven’t tried it that way – taste or energy. You could always try decaf.
Pink Salt. The salt is for flavor.
- Runners…The electrolytes are a bonus since you’ll lose sodium during your long runs and races.
- Large Food Processor
- Measuring Cup & Spoons
- Baking Sheet (to toast coconut flakes)
These fun & easy energy balls are perfect running fuel, or even healthy little sweat treats.
- 14 Medjool dates (remove seeds if not pitted)
- 1 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)
- 1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup almond butter or clean peanut butter
- 1 Tablespoon of cacao powder
- 2 Tablespoon freshly ground coffee beans
- 1/4 teaspoon pink salt
- 1/2 cup toasted1 unsweetened dried coconut flakes
- Combine all the ingredients (except coconut) in a food processor. Pulse 5-10 times to chop all the ingredients, then process on high for a couple minutes until the mixture is wet and clumpy (see pic above). You may need to use a spatula to scrape sides of processor.
- Roll bite-size balls (or whatever size you desire), then roll the balls through the toasted coconut. (I used a bowl to roll the balls, which is pictured above).
- Place in airtight container and place container in refrigerator (or freezer to keep longer).
- Enjoy one or a few for a pre or post-run snack (or just a pick-me-up)!
1Toasted Coconut – Preheat oven to 325 degree. Spread coconut flakes on baking sheet and bake for 4-6 minutes. Stir halfway through to ensure even toasting.
- Category: Fueling Source
- Cuisine: Fuel (Real Food, Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo Friendly)
Keywords: Energy Balls