This cacao & almond protein balls recipe is a quick & simple healthy energy balls snack. With just a few clean ingredients, you can learn how to make a delicious batch of no bake protein balls.
I have an admission to make – I love to snack. This protein-packed, vegan, no bake protein balls recipe is super quick and simple to make. They are also a great mess-free, grab-and-go snack option. If I want to take them out with me then I’ll wrap a couple into some re-usable beeswax wrap.
The truth is I’m often so busy I struggle to eat healthy meals on time, so I turn to snacks. Unfortunately, this often leads to unhealthy snacking too in a bid to grab the ‘easiest thing’. My perfect snack options would be quick, healthy and mess-free, so they’re easy to grab whenever needed. Even my favourite fruity snacks can be messy ( scooping kiwi and peeling oranges) when busy or out and about though.
Luckily these protein balls tick all the boxes. Plus the combination of sweet dates with almonds and cacao makes these chocolate protein balls taste like a dessert. Any snack that feels more like a treat is a massive win-win.
Although I’m probably more of a savoury fan than sweet, even I get chocolate cravings. These cacao & almond protein balls work perfectly to curb cravings and keep me satisfied.
These no bake protein balls are also a great meal-prep snack option. That way there’s always a healthy snack option available, and you’re not tempted to grab anything unhealthy. In fact, having healthy snacks on hand is one of my biggest tips to remaining healthy throughout the week.
Plus, if you’re hungry but short on time, you can make this protein balls recipe within a few minutes. Easy peasy; ready to grab a couple of little healthy energy balls whenever needed.
These energy balls also include a protein blend that’s varied and great for a snack. Plus it takes only a couple of minutes to blend together. Check out how to make your own protein blend at home: 5-Seed DIY Vegan Protein Powder / Blend.
Healthy Energy Balls Ingredients
One of the best things about these cacao & almond protein balls is that the ingredients are all clean and healthy. More than that, you can boost the nutritional value with the topping you roll your protein balls in.
So what are the ingredients used to make these little healthy energy balls?
- Almonds: Super nutritious containing lots of healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, protein ( 6g per 1/4 cup serving), vitamin E and magnesium. These work to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. As well as reducing hunger- to keep you full for longer.
- Dates: A natural way to sweeten any healthy recipe without refined sugar. Plus, they’re full of antioxidants and have been shown to promote brain health. They are also high fiber and contain iron, magnesium, copper, Vitamin b6 and others.
- Homemade 5-seed Protein Blend: This homemade protein recipe contains Hemp seeds, chia seeds, linseed, sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds. I like to make a large batch and use it for the next few months until it runs out. For the health benefits, you can read my blog posts for the protein blend.
- Cacao Powder: First of all, I think I should address cacao vs cocoa powder. The difference is simple- Cacao powder is the raw cacao that comes directly pressed from the beans. Cocoa powder is roasted at high temps though which affects the nutritional value.
And what are the health benefits of cacao powder? Raw Organic Cacao powder is a powerful superfood. It is high in antioxidants and flavonoids as well as containing essential minerals and vitamins.
In fact, raw cacao powder is a better source of antioxidants than blueberries and contains high levels of iron and calcium. It has been shown to boost your mood.
- And a pinch of salt, to bring out the chocolatey cacao flavour
What about toppings for your protein balls recipe?
The options here are vast – Including crushed nuts, superfood powders, dried fruit powders, matcha, toasted coconut & cacao nibs. You could also cover the protein balls with melted raw or dark chocolate, for more of a sweet treat.
In fact, dipping the protein balls in chocolate is a great option for sticking larger toppings to the outside. This includes pistachio chunks, cacao nibs, freeze dried fruits like raspberries or strawberries, or edible dried flowers.
Recently I even tried chocolate & chilli salt healthy energy balls. It did have quite the kick, but I found it delicious. Plus, there are various benefits to consuming spicy foods too.
You can also choose to keep these healthy energy balls naked, and they’re just as good!
The toppings are also a great way to keep these no bake protein balls new and exciting. Honestly, there’s nothing worse than getting bored with your healthy snack options. It’s great to play around with flavours – especially with all the various superfood and fruit powders you can use.
How to make protein balls
There’s definitely no need to worry about how to make these energy balls. All you need is four base ingredients and a few minutes of your time.
Begin by blending the almonds in a high-speed food processor until obtaining a consistency you like. This can be chunky bits or fine crumbs or even a mixture of the two.
Next, add the dates, protein blend, cacao powder and salt. Blitz this again until the mixture is well combined and clumping together.
Now it’s time to get stuck in and get your hands dirty. Form around 20 protein balls from the mixture. These should be big enough for at least 2-3 bites regardless of the fact people like to call them energy ‘bites’. Once rolled, the base healthy energy balls are ready to be enjoyed.
You can now roll them in any toppings of your choice if wanted. I mentioned some options for various powders and crushed toppings. You could also cover them with melted chocolate for more of a sweet treat. This is the best option for large chunks like pistachio, cacao nibs etc.
And of course, you have your somewhat unusual combination choices including safflower, nigella seed powder, and chilli salt. Experiment and see what flavours you prefer. You can also choose your topping based on the nutritional value.
These protein balls can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks or freezer for a month.
Other Vegan snack recipes you may like
If you’re looking for other Vegan snack recipes, then you may like my three ingredient healthy coconut bliss balls. They are like little Bounty bites but so much healthier. You may also like these 4-ingredient stuffed dates with almond butter, chocolate & pink salt.
For those wanting something even more dessert-like, you may like these vegan chocolate peanut butter cups.
As always, if you give this recipe a go then let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, feel free to tag me in your recreations @AlphaFoodie.
Cacao & Almond Protein Balls
- 2 cups almonds
- 8 dates
- 2 tablespoon protein powder can be homemade with 5 seeds
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Begin by blending the almonds in a high-speed food processor until obtaining a consistency you like. This can be chunky bits or fine crumbs or even a mixture of the two.
- Next, add the dates, protein blend, cacao powder and salt. Blitz this again until the mixture is well combined and clumping together.
- Now it's time to get stuck in and get your hands dirty. Form around 20 protein balls from the mixture. These should be big enough for at least 2-3 bites regardless of the fact people like to call them energy 'bites'. Once rolled, the base healthy energy balls are ready to be enjoyed.
- You can now roll them in any toppings of your choice, if wanted. I mentioned some options for various powders and crushed toppings*. You could also cover them with melted chocolate for more of a sweet treat. This is the best option for large chunks like pistachio, cacao nibs etc.
- These protein balls can then be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks or freezer for a month.
Hi there- you linked this as a recipe to use up nut milk pulp. How does that fit into this recipe? These look so tasty!
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Yes, you can use the nut milk pulp to replace the nuts in the recipe, let me know how it goes. 🙂
I’m totally making these! Thanks for the inspiration xxx
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Thank you for your comment 🙂
Do the protein sources in this recipe combined contain all 9 essential amino acids (i.e. is this considered a complete protein that will help in muscle building)
Support @ Alphafoodie
You can use a protein powder of your choice that contains all the essential amino acids. I hope this helps. 🙂
I did a box with these balls for a friend, as I wanted to offer something special for her brithday. She loved!!!
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Thank you so much for your comment, Carla. So happy to hear that the recipe was appreciated 🙂
Even after adding 12 dates mine is still just powder with no chance of getting together. I am afraid I ran out of dates so not sure what to do with the mixture. Any suggestions?
Samira @ Alphafoodie
Did you use sticky medjool dates?! It’s ok if they’re not sticking easy solution could be to add nut butter of choice or coconut oil! These would both work. Please don’t get rid of the mixture!!!!even if you use it as a crumble for different things! But adding nut butter would fix this in case dates aren’t sticky enough
What can you use as a substitute for protein powder?
Support @ Alphafoodie
The protein powder suggested in the recipe is actually homemade and contains ground hemp seeds, chia seeds, linseed, sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds (you can read more about it on this blog post here). You can grind a mix of these seeds or just one of them and add to the cacao almond mixture. You could also omit the protein powder altogether. I hope this helps.
Great to meet you.
I live in Iran and unfortunately I could not find Madjool dates to make energy balls. What is your second suggestion for dates?
Use whatever dates that you can get your hands on. If they seem a little dry then just give them a soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes and they should soften up and still be delicious 🙂
My family loved these, but I had to use the whole package of dates (25-30) to hold these together. I’m not sure how “healthy” they are with all that added sugar.
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I see what you mean about eating 25 dates.
I mostly use Medjool dates because they are soft, with a chewy texture, and are usually much bigger than other types of dates. Thus, just 8 of them were enough for this recipe.
Dates are often sold pretty dry, so I recommend to soak them in hot water for 10 minutes to allow them to soften and become more “sticky” – as I add the dates not only for their sweetness but also for their “stickiness” (allowing the other ingredients to bind together).
I hope this helps 🙂