Smart snacking throughout the day can help keep your metabolism up and steer you away from binging on unhealthy snacks when cravings strike. Energy bars are great for this purpose, however, many store-bought varieties are packed with so much sugar that they’re closer to being candy bars than a balanced snack! However, you can create your own energy bars and “bites” that are made with better-for-you ingredients. When you make the snack yourself, you know exactly what goes into it, and can make sure you’re using the best ingredients that will help you stay on track with your diet, such as dried fruit and nuts.
Think you’ll expend more energy trying to make the bites than you’ll get from snacking on them? Think again! Making homemade versions is a snap, and there are a variety of different methods to making them that can suit any lifestyle, schedule or budget. Another bonus of making them at home is that you can whip up a large batch and then store the bites in airtight containers in the fridge so you can grab them and go all week long.
Ready to get going? Just follow this guide to making no-bake energy bites:
The ‘energy’ factor
To make energy bites that actually do fuel your day, and aren’t just in reality a sweet treat, you need to think about the ingredients. The first consideration is the base of an energy bite. Fiber and whole-grains provide long-lasting energy and calories that burn slowly to keep you full longer, so rolled oats are a top pick when making your own bites. Seeds like chia and flax can also be added into the mix and used as a base. Once you have the base chosen, it’s time to think about add-ins. Dried fruits like cranberries and raisins and chopped dried mangos and apricots are great choices, as well as dried apple, banana and pineapple chips. Toasted coconut and peanut butter sweetens things up, while almonds, cashews, walnuts and peanuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for overall health. And if you can’t go without a little chocolate, dark chocolate chips, raw cacao nibs and raw cacao powder can satisfy your sweet tooth without throwing your diet off.
Add dried fruits to your energy bites for natural sweetness.
So remember, when making your own energy bites, you want to choose whole-grains, fiber-rich ingredients and wholesome add-ins. Got it? Then get started by making the recipe below, provided by Gimme Some Oven.
No Bake Energy Bites
Makes 20-25 bites.
1 cup dry oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
2. Once chilled, roll into balls of 1-2 inches in size. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Oats bulk up the base of energy bites.
Having fun with flavors
Once you've got the basics down, have fun creating all the different flavor combinations of energy bites your imagination can come up with! The options are limitless.
You can take inspiration from the season - try pumpkin energy bites in fall or cranberry and orange ones around the holidays. You can also experiment with healthy sweeteners like agave nectar and coconut oil, or even experiment with adding veggies, like shredded carrots, to the bites for variety.
Below is a creative and delicious recipe from Paleo Grubs that's perfect for autumn and the holidays - these bites are sure to become a new favorite snack!
Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites (Paleo)
Makes about 16 bites.
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1. Place the dates into a small bowl and cover with water. Soak for 10 minutes then drain.
2. Place the pecans into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in the rest of the ingredients, including the dates, and pulse until combined. Adjust the spices to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill.
3. Use your hands to form the dough into small balls. Store in the refrigerator in airtight containers.