The past few months have been kind of intense - between work, studying for final exams for 2nd year of naturopathy school, writing a final paper and dealing with relationship stuff, I've barely been keeping my head above water. It's always in busy and stressful times when it's all too easy to reach for the easiest (junk) food available. Why does comfort food always have to be so bad for you?! It's OK to give in every now and again to food that tastes oh-so-good but is oh-so-bad for you, we're human after all. But it's all too easy to slip down that junk food road and a lot harder to find your way back to clean eating again. (Spoken from experience here!)
I find what helps me keep away from the junk food is if I don't have any of that in the house at all. If it's there, you'll eat it. Duh. Sounds so simple, but I always have to battle that voice in my head when I'm at the grocery store. It happens, and that's OK. Just put those <insert junk food weakness here> back on the shelf!
Not buying crap is one thing - but the thing with abstinence is, it's just gonna make you crave whatever it is you're avoiding even more. How I've tried to help my sugar cravings is to increase my protein intake - start the day with a high-protein breakfast, and always have high-protein snacks on hand. Protein snacks have a low glycaemic load and help even out blood-sugar levels. As I'm one who looooooves having treats - I've been making my own protein energy balls and having a stash on hand in both the work and home fridges has helped me when the 4pm slump hits and I'm looking for a candy bar. If you've got a healthier option at the ready - you're winning!
I make them at the weekend and have enough to last me for the week. Some mornings, if I'm rushing out the door with no time to make a green smoothie or raw porridge, these protein balls make a pretty kick-ass breakfast too. I don't usually make these balls too sweet, but as this recipe has a few dates in it - these could even be had as a dessert. ;)
I've been experimenting with variations that include tahini, nut butters, chia seeds, spirulina, protein powders, coconut, nuts (almonds and cashews) and seeds (chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds). You can try these in any number of combos, but to increase the protein profile in your energy balls, always add some protein powder and/or spirulina.
I can't quite sing enough praises for spirulina, and loads more clever people have written lots of articles about its benefits. Read about it here, here and here. It's a highly bio-available source of vegetarian protein, and that's the main reason why I include it in either my morning smoothies or protein/ energy balls.
This week, I felt like some chocolate goodness and these babies pack a choco-punch. These are gluten-free, vegan and raw. How much more goodness can pack itself into these? Here goes:
CHOCOLATE SPIRULINA PROTEIN BLISS BALLS
Makes about 15 small bliss balls.
- 1/2 Cup Raw Cashews
- 1/2 Cup Hulled Hemp Seeds
- 1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
- 1 Tbsp Spirulina
- 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Powder
- 4 Medjool Dates - soaked in water for 1/2-1 hour
- Squeeze of Orange
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut, set aside for dusting later
- Soak medjool dates in water to soften them - half an hour to an hour is OK.
- Place cashews in blender and blend till they're pulverized to a fine dust.
- Add all the dry ingredients except the dates, orange juice, and coconut oil. So blend the cashews, hemp seeds, cacao powder, spirulina, cinnamon, vanilla powder. Blend them till you get a nice brown powder. It looks like soil at this point.
- Then add the medjool dates (dates only, not the soaking water) and some coconut oil and continue to blend/ pulse.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the blender and add the remaining coconut oil and squeeze of orange juice.
- You should get a nice thick, brown paste at this point. And it smells like chocolatey goodness.
- Use a teaspoon and scoop out a heaped teaspoon's worth into one hand and mould into a ball - slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball.
- Dust the ball with the shredded coconut. Repeat steps 7 & 8 till you're done.
- Refrigerate the bliss balls for at least 20 minutes.
- Bob's your uncle. Enjoy!
I've brought these travelling with me, but stupidly forgot that coconut oil melts at room temperature - so my ziplock bag of 6 protein bliss balls got smooshed into one giant block of ridiculousness. I should've used cupcake paper holders to separate them - that's a tip for if you wanna bring these on the road with you.
If you make these, I'd love to hear how they turned out. Leave me some feedback in the comments section, please? Thank you!