High Protein Energy Balls

Life is never dull with a 2 year old around.  They have a seemingly endless supply of energy.  They love to get involved with whatever their parents are doing.

In this case, they like to get involved in whatever Mommy is doing.  And Mommy was trying to take a few photos of the energy balls for her blog.  The operative word being trying. By the end of the shoot, I needed a few energy balls.

Have I mentioned that I’m pretty clueless when it comes to photography?  I want to learn more, but there is so much to learn with a limited amount of time to devote to the skill.  Lighting drives me crazy.  All the experts say that the biggest no-no is using a flash with food.  But there’s never enough light in my house to not use a flash.  So I move Meghan’s Ikea table every which way trying to find a spot where there’s enough light, but not a million crazy shadows.  And I have no idea what I’m doing.

Meghan was my big helper today.

Her first idea was to have her plastic eggplant toy in the shot.  Yes, she’s just out of bed, in her pajamas in these pics.

Then she thought she should be the star of the show.

But I was the director, and I put my foot down.  We moved the shoot outside for more light.  Meghan still thought she should be included in the pictures.

In an attempt to get a few shots without her, I told her to run to the tree and back.  But she still made it into the shots.

Then, I saw her tiny hand.

And I knew this shoot was almost over.

Mmmmm.  One is never enough with these tasty bites.  {I couldn’t bring myself to call them balls right there.}

So I hope you won’t judge my photographs too harshly.  Though I’m trying to learn as fast as I can, I have an even faster two year old to keep up with.

Despite the photos, these High Protein Energy Balls are worth trying.  They make a delicious snack that stays with you and gives you the energy you need to keep up with a little one, or whatever it is in your life that requires stamina.

I like to cook my own beans when I can, but when I used canned beans I prefer Eden Organics.  Eden Foods is one of the few companies that uses BPA-free cans, their beans have muuuuuuch less sodium than regular canned beans, and they use kombu seaweed, which helps with, ahem, digestion.  I love this brand! (They didn’t ask me to say that; they don’t even know who I am.)

High Protein Energy Balls

Makes 30 balls

1/2 cup almonds

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup natural peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Line a tray that will fit in your freezer with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a food processor, process the almonds until they are a fine crumb.

Add the chickpeas and process until they are fully broken down.  Next, add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla and process until you have a smooth mixture.

Remove the blade from the processor and stir in the chocolate chips, if using.  Roll the mixture into small balls and place on your tray.  Continue until you use all the mixture; you should have 30 balls.  Freeze for at least 20 minutes before serving.

You can store them in the freezer and just defrost them a bit before serving, or you can store them in the refrigerator.

Don’t let the chickpeas scare you.  I’ve seen chickpeas being used all around the blogosphere as a base for everything from dessert hummus to cookies, and have had it in my mind to try a creation for  while.  You can’t  taste the chickpeas at all and they add a nice protein punch.

I actually think the balls taste a lot like Buckeyes (chocolate-covered peanut butter balls for those of you who aren’t from the Midwest).  I might try to use this as a base for a healthier version of the traditional treat around Christmas time.

Each ball is just 92 calories (78 if you don’t use the chocolate chips) and has 3 grams of protein.  For a normal snack, you’d eat 2-3 balls, depending on your caloric needs, so you’ll get 6-9 grams of protein, a nice amount for a snack.  You’ll also get about 2 grams of fiber per ball.

These balls are perfect for little hands; they make a wholesome toddler snack.  Not that toddlers need more energy.  ;-)

Have you signed up for the Love Grown granola giveaway yet?  Tomorrow is the last day!


Here's what one commenter said about these High Protein Energy Balls:  "I just had to tell you how much my family & I love this recipe! I’ve made it at least a dozen times and they just seem to get better tasting each time. My picky 17-year-old daughter loves them, and I just gave them to my 7-year-old niece last week for breakfast. She loved them so much she asked me to make her a batch to keep at her house. I took them over to her today, and my sister-in-law just called for the recipe. They are such a hit!" This is a quick and easy healthy snack recipe with NO oil, NO flour, and NO refined sugar!


  1. says

    I have the same problem with lighting…. not so much with the cute little hand coming into the frame, hopefully someday I’ll have a cute little hand adding life to my pictures!
    That recipe just moved it’s way to the TOP of my ‘next to try’ list! Thanks Maryea! :) I’m PUMPED to try these! (especially with my sister who is expecting and could use the protein too!)

      • says

        This looks like a great option to add extra protein in my diet. However, I am unable to read the information due to all the advertisements that keep popping up. I realize that the more advertisements you add, the more money you make but it’s a little extensive and defeats the purpose of others visiting your blog if they can’t read the information your sharing.

        • Maryea says

          Thank you for the feedback regarding the ad. I recently switched to a new ad network and it is not my intention to have any pop up ads at all. I will speak to my account manager about making sure these types of ads are filtered out. I’m sorry you had a frustrating time with them–I can’t stand that kind of ad either! Would you mind sharing if you are reading on a desktop or mobile?

        • Penelopie says

          I agree with you when I am on a mobile device it is almost impossible to get to the instructions because of the ad load and website that doesn’t seem to be optimized for mobile viewing. I almost didn’t make them because it kept taking so long to load, load halfway, or when I placed my device down to do a step and tried to go back there was a pop up and then it would take me back to the beginning of the page, thus starting this annoying process again. HOWEVER…… I finally got through it and made them. Everything turned out great! I may add a few PB chips to enhance the pb flavor, unless…. there is a PB extract or emulsion I don’t know of!

          • Penelopie says

            I meant to add, I didn’t add chocolate chips because I didn’t want the dark brown spots in the balls! The flavor was still good without them. ( And the desktop site works perfectly, just the mobile that wasn’t user friendly.)

        • Narda Gerber says

          Download AdBlock. I read this page without seeing any ads and it shows that 18 ads were blocked. Annoying ads!

  2. says

    haa… oh, my I have a hard enough time with photography! a distraction like that and I wouldn’t get any shots, I’d be eating these bites and running to the tree with her! :D

    these look awesome. beans are awesome.

  3. says

    Aw, I love the pictures with Meghan in them anyways :D I know exactly what you mean about lighting. I have one window that’s usable in my house and I can only take pictures at a certain time of day. It’s craziness! I always have little hands in my pictures(but I find I actually like them, so maybe I’ll start posting some of those too) and I’m always telling the kids to get out of the way of the light. They must think I’m crazy.
    These look great! I’m scared of chickpeas in cookies and things but I’ve tried dessert hummus and loved it, so this really isn’t much different. Love it! And you get bonus points this time of year for these being no bake and being a great source of protein :D

    • Maryea says

      I don’t see why not. It’d change the overall flavor to more chocolatey, but that’s never a bad thing! ;-) After you add the cocoa, just taste to see if it needs more sweetener. Let me know if you try it!

  4. says

    I can’t wait to try these! We make the raw cookie dough balls that are floating around the blogosphere and my daughters (and the adults in the house for that matter) adore them. My 4 year old calls them “goodies”. These look even better/smoother/higher in protein! Also, I think we have the same countertops!

  5. says

    LOVE THESE! I make a similar version…only without the honey and almonds….and I use unsweetened chocolate :P And then I bake them…yummy protein cookies!

    And the pictures are too adorable with Meghan in them. They are even better!

    • stacey says

      Alex, I would be interested in knowing your recipe for this as my daughter has an almond allergy & we also try to stay away from sugar as much as possible. Thank you.

  6. says

    I just emailed my husband the link to this entry. He’s Joe Protein, and is always looking for new protein snacks. I asked him if he’d eat them if I made them. He emailed me back a hilarious message with inappropriate references to balls. I laughed so hard he could hear me 2 floors away :)

    Anyway, he said he’d try them after working out because of the higher fat content. I hope he likes them!

    We (he, my friend staying with us, and I) decided we’d call them “bites” :)

  7. says

    I never would have guessed there’d be so much protein in these with such normal ingredients. And anything that tastes like a buckeye is never bad in my book.

  8. Lisa says

    I love the pictures! I think they make you seem like a “real” mom just like the rest of us. Of course, you are real. I just don’t know you in real life. The bites look amazing and I know we would probably love them. Can’t wait to try them out this weekend once I have my honey replenished. Going to the farmer’s market on Saturday to get some.

    • Maryea says

      Thanks, Lisa. It means a lot to hear you say that. There is nothing better than local honey! I hope you enjoy these.

  9. says

    These look delish Maryea! I love using chickpeas in desserts and these would taste delish! I know – I hate using THAT word, too. Just feels slightly awkward :)
    I’m in the same boat with pictures. My friend is a photographer and gave me some tips which has helped. She said you can put a white piece of paper or posterboard (set up like a wall) to reflect the light. This can help with the shadows. As far as the 2 year old assistant, I’m not sure how to elliminate those. I have a 3 year old one who says “cheese” everytime I pull out my camera :)

  10. says

    These look great. I guess I am one of those people who thinks of chickpeas for the savory stuff and not really a dessert ingredient. I will have to try these protein balls out, I am sure the kids will have a blast.

  11. says

    TOTALLY making these this week. Yum. I’m thinking I may have to make 1/2 a batch with agave nectar instead of honey, though, so my 9 month old can munch on them, too. Thank you for including the nutritional information… I was gonna ask. :)

    Oh, and by the way… I think you’re on the same page as more than 50% of the blogging world with your photography struggles… :) Personally, I think it makes you more “real” and your blog more enjoyable. :)

    • Maryea says

      Thanks for saying that Elizabeth, I appreciate it.
      These would be a perfect little finger food for a nine month old! (without the honey, of course)

  12. says

    YUM! Those look great. I’m definitely adding them to my “To Make” list for the week. Both of my kids are grazers more than large meal eaters, so I always keep healthy snacks around. I’m a big fan of snack balls and bars because you can pack so much nutrition into a very portable snack.

    I just started blogging a month ago, and I’m struggling with photography as well. I keep taking pictures of everything I make or want to post about and I’m just not getting the lighting right. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    • Maryea says

      I think it’s something (the photography) that takes a lot of time and patience to master–two things I’m short on right now. :-) I hope you enjoy these. They were a perfect snack for Meghan. She called them “peanut butter balls”.

  13. says

    Since it has been so hot, I have been looking for a no-bake treat I could bring to my small group. I was excited that all I was needed was my food processor and could not resit trying them before putting them in the freezer :)

  14. 52weekbabyfood says

    I made these this week and took them in a cooler to the park for an energy snack…yum! I just noticed your comment about Meghan, but I called them Peanut Butter Balls too. Funny!

    • Maryea says

      Glad you liked them! I’m making another batch tonight. They are such a quick and easy snack once you have a batch made.

  15. Vanessa says

    My son is allergic to peanuts can I replace with almond butter and replace honey with agave? I really want to try this recipe :)

    • Maryea says

      Yes, definitely. You could use Sunbutter, too. I think agave would work well, too. Let me know how it turns out!

  16. MamatoBoys says

    I found you again!!!!! LOL I came across this recipe in a link party and thought it was brilliant as we eat quite a high protein, grain-free diet and I’m always on the lookout for good snacks then my sweet hubs closed the page before I could bookmark you and I’ve just spent an hour trawling google for you because I couldn’t find anything in my history that looked like chickpea protein balls :o) I’ve bookmarked you straight away this time!!! Thanks x

  17. says

    I take pleasure in, result in I found exactly what I used to be looking for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  18. says

    This recipe looks fantastic. I saw it on another blog and it linked back to your site. Very innovative with the beans. I made dessert hummus before and this looks like a portion-sized and portable version of the same flavors. Thanks!

  19. clong5276 says

    I just made these and found them to be pretty good. Unfortunately, I did not have any chocolate chips in my pantry. I’ll make them again but definitely use the chocolate chips. For now though, I’ll be dipping them in Hershey’s Lite chocolate syrup.

    • Maryea says

      I’m glad you like these, and I’m sure they’re really good dipped in chocolate! It sounds like you were expecting something sweeter–maybe you will like my Skinny Buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate). They are more of a sweet treat than these are intended to be. :-)

  20. Von L. says

    I made these today and the kiddos love them! They didn’t even get into the freezer before they snagged a few. I love that it’s quick, easy AND healthy. My 4 year old even used this as an opportunity to practice her counting skills as I was rolling each ball (um, okay, “bite”). Thanks for a great recipe. (Now that I have a healthy snack for them to take to school, I don’t have to go to the grocery store in the rain tonight- bonus!!!)

  21. Chrissy says

    I just had to tell you how much my family & I love this recipe! I’ve made it at least a dozen times and they just seem to get better tasting each time. My picky 17-year-old daughter loves them, and I just gave them to my 7-year-old niece last week for breakfast. She loved them so much she asked me to make her a batch to keep at her house. I took them over to her today, and my sister-in-law just called for the recipe. They are such a hit!

  22. jen says

    Just made these with my almost 2 year old today. She had a blast rinsing (and eating) the chickpeas and mashing everything up in the food processor. She also enjoyed scraping the bits of mix out of the processor’s bowl afterward.

    I’m lazy about rolling balls, so we just pressed them into a 9×9 pan like we do for our holiday PB squares (like buckeyes, but lazy-girl version with no rolling and dipping). We also subbed peanuts for the almonds because we have some that need using up. Hubby’s on the fence, but I love them straight from the freezer. Excited to see whether they wind up being a long term hit with my girl for snacking. She’s a pretty good eater, but is in that typical toddler mode of loving something one day and despising it the next.

  23. Jaime Brown says

    Thank you for this snack idea! I just made them for my 2 1/2 year old son and he loves them. I had to make them a little different because he’s allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Instead of using almonds and peanut butter, I used sunflower seeds and sunflower butter and they are delicious – still with lots of protein too! Thank you again!

  24. Melissa says

    These are so yummy! I have made these so many times, about to make another batch. I tend to eat more of them then my toddler, but I have a high metabolism & constantly need to snack – these are the perfect “go-to”. The hubby loves them as well.

  25. Alicia Pell says

    I made these last night and they were a big hit with all 3 of my girls. I even snuck some chia seeds into them:). I’m always sneaking healthy things into my girls and husbands foor without them knowing!

  26. Jeannine Cromwell says

    I just made these as a treat for the kid’s snow day! I had to taste them before they went in the fridge! Yummy!!! They will be gone by the end of the day.

  27. Alona says

    Amazing recipe!
    Today I tried to make this and when I mixed all the ingredients together,the batter was very sticky and I couldn’t roll it in a small balls!
    Please if you have any tricks for it,let me know!
    Thank you so much:)

  28. Ben says

    Would blanched almonds/almond flour work in lieu of putting the whole almonds in the food processor? It seems like it would save a step with the same result but I don’t want to waste either one since almonds aren’t cheap.

    • Maryea says

      Yes, another reader commented that she used almond meal/flour and it worked. I don’t keep almond meal on hand regularly, so I typically just use whole almonds and process them.

  29. JK says

    The recipe is absolutely brilliant. However I do wish to know the procedure for using raw chickpeas. Here we dont find canned chickpeas. So how to go about with the raw ones?

    • Maryea says

      For raw ones, you’ll need to soak them first (I usually just soak them overnight in a covered pot with enough water to cover them by about 2 inches) and then cook them. After soaking, they should cook in about 1-1 1/2 hours of simmering. Once they are cooked, you can use them just like the canned kind. I hope you enjoy these!

  30. JK says

    Thank you for replying. How much do they have to be cooked? Til they retain there shape or become mushy? Can they be pressure cooked instead? If yes then for what time? And what quantity of raw chickpeas to be used for the above recipe? As in how much raw chickpeas will yield what quantity of cooked ones?

    • Maryea says

      They don’t need to be cooked until totally mushy, but soft. I am not familiar with pressure cooking, so I can’t answer about the times it would take, but I’m sure you would be able to find that information online if you google it. You’ll need about 1/2 cup dry chickpeas for the above recipe. If I’m going to the trouble to cook beans, though, I always cook a big batch and freeze the extra in 1 1/2 cup portions!

  31. JK says

    Thank you so much for answering all my queries. I know I bothered you with so many questions but you answered them all. Thanks a ton :)

  32. Beth says

    This is not a “high” protein snack. 3 grams per ball… Get a grip on protein and what is “high”.

    • Maryea says

      Everyone has their own ideas of what is high protein, I suppose. I believe that we need much less protein than most people seem to think, so for me these are a high protein snack that keep me full. I do not do protein powders or anything of the like, so having 3 grams of proteins in one little ball is a good source of protein for my family.

  33. says

    Ha!! What a great way to disguise chickpeas for toddlers, in India we make a pancake type of dessert with chickpeas, this looks more yummy than that. Definitely going to try out this week. thanks for the recipe Maryea !! I chanced upon your website through pinterest and have been hooked to it for last 2 hours, such lovely and yummy recipes.
    Hemapriya recently posted…Date Almond Milkshake for ToddlersMy Profile

    • Maryea says

      Both of my little ones absolutely adore these. I hope you enjoy them, too! I’m so glad you found me. :)

      • Allison says

        Thank you for sharing your time and inspiration. I started a new clean eating regime and I need a good snack that feels like a cheat (I’ve left out the choc chips… once I start with chocolate I can’t stop). My husband dislikes my “weird healthy” food items but I got him to try these as a “cookie dough ball” haha! Anyway, my 15 month old absolutely loves them too! Thanks again :)


  1. [...] This recipe comes from the fantastic Maryea who blogs over at happyhealthymama.com She is wonderful and I love reading her honest posts. She is expecting her second bundle of joy and need the extra protein to chase after her little cutie and grow another bundle. My sister is in the exact same boat so she needs the protein too! So, I stole her recipe to make for my sister. The adorable  nephew of mine loved them too! [...]

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