Protein balls are quick and easy to make and even easier to eat when we're on-the-go and need a satisfying snack to hold us over until our next meal (or shake). Protein balls come in handy especially when we are on the 21-Day Clean Program as a go-to between meals or before tackling a cleanse-friendly workout sesh.
Being prepared with healthy snacks is an important tool in sticking to any healthy eating plan. While nuts and fruit are great options on their own, these little bites combine the two for a balanced choice between meals. All of the ingredients in these protein bites store well -- perfect for making ahead and storing them in our desks and purses on-the-go.
The Nutty Benefits of Protein Balls
Almonds (and particularly their skin) are rich with antioxidants like flavonoid and catechins. Antioxidants are crucial for protection against free radicals in our body, slowing the aging process, protecting us against chronic diseases, and reducing inflammation. The almonds in our protein balls are full of vitamin E, with one serving (about 20 almonds) containing over a third of the daily recommendation. Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and the oxidation of Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) aka bad cholesterol.
We suggest adding fiber to your diet when cleansing in the form of Move or nuts and seeds. Almonds are high in fiber, making them a great addition during your cleanse to make sure digestion stays optimal. Choose skin-on, raw almonds, since roasting can damage the delicate antioxidant content.
A large portion of the unsaturated fatty acid content found in cashews is from heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Cashews are rich in minerals like iron, copper, and zinc. Getting adequate amounts of iron is important for our immune systems and the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body.
Zinc plays an important role in immune function and helps regulate our hormone levels, making it important for increasing strength and improving performance during exercise. Just one ounce gets us 20 percent of our recommended zinc.
Minerals and vitamins never work in isolation, and the copper in cashews is important for the absorption of iron into our system. It is also important for producing energy and beauty-boosting collagen, giving us healthy skin and joints. An ounce of cashews gives you 70 percent of the recommended daily amount of copper.
The Fruity Benefits of Protein Balls
Dried cherries are a great source of vitamin C. Similar to copper (which is also abundant in cherries) vitamin C helps with the production of collagen. The cherries in our protein balls are rich in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin and beauty-boosting antioxidant. The fat content found in almonds and cashews work synergistically to help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as this, improving immunity, fighting inflammation, boosting the health of your skin, and supporting new cell growth.
Chia Seeds for Strength
The word “chia” means "strength" in ancient Mayan, and these tiny seeds have long been valued for their ability to provide sustained energy. Just one ounce provides 11 grams of fiber and four grams of complete plant-based protein. They are loaded with antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and manganese.
Chia seeds help keep us full, making them the perfect addition to any snack which comes in handy if we get hangry on the cleanse. In addition to their high fiber content, chia seeds can absorb 10 times their weight in water, helping them to expand in our stomach as we digest our food.
Cleanse-Friendly Protein Balls
Prep time: 20 minutes
1 cup almonds
¼ cup chia seeds
1/2 cup cashews
1 1/2 cups cherries
8 Medjool dates
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons water
Place all ingredients in food processor. Turn processor on and blend for 60-90 seconds, pausing every once in a while to scrape the sides.
The mix should be finely chopped.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture, carefully rolling into symmetrical balls.
Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
Recipe and photos by Kaitlyn Noble