These Raw Cacao Energy Balls are brimming with nutrient-packed nuts and are naturally sweetened with dates. There's not even a a pinch of refined sugar in these healthy treats! The best part about these protein bites is that they're a healthy no bake snack.
I actually made the protein balls because my pantry was overflowing with bits and pieces from the bulk bin I wanted to use up.
Raw almonds, walnuts, and oats make up the base of these energy balls, but you can probably use any nuts or seeds you have on hand. I imagine next time pepitas and pistachios would make a fantastic combination!
You could easy make substitutions with whatever you have in your pantry. Here are a few ideas:
- Instead of walnuts and almonds, try cashews, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), pistachios, or sunflower seeds.
- You can also add in other healthy seeds, like hemp seeds (hemp hearts), flax seeds, or chia seeds.
- Add cacao nibs for a little more texture.
- Add vanilla extract for a sweeter bite.
These chocolate energy balls come together quickly with the help of a food processor and just a few simple ingredients: almonds, walnuts, oats, cacao powder, a little water, and medjool dates.
The dates in this recipe are what adds the sweetness without having to add refined sugar or maple syrup. With loads of protein and minimal sweetness, you're sure replace that afternoon cookie sugar crash with an energy boost!
The difference between raw cacao and cocoa powder
It's worth noting that these energy balls are made with raw cacao (affiliate link to the one we used is just below the recipe), which is the unprocessed form of cocoa beans and is often considered a superfood due to its rich nutritional profile. This is different than the Hershey's cocoa powder you often use when baking.
Raw cacao and cocoa powder both come from the cacao bean, but they undergo different processes, which can affect their nutritional content and flavor.
Raw cacao is made from cacao beans that have been minimally processed. The beans are typically fermented, dried, and then cold-pressed to extract the fat (cacao butter) and create cacao mass or paste. This paste can be ground into raw cacao powder. Raw cacao typically has a more intense and bitter flavor compared to cocoa powder. It can have fruity or nutty undertones, and its flavor can vary depending on the specific cacao beans used.
Cocoa powder is made from cacao beans that have been roasted at higher temperatures, which can lead to some loss of nutrients. After roasting, the beans are ground and processed to remove the cacao butter, resulting in cocoa solids, which are then ground into cocoa powder. Cocoa powder has a milder and less bitter flavor due to the roasting process. It is often used in baking and cooking for its familiar cocoa taste.
Because it is less processed, raw cacao generally retains more of its natural nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is often higher in antioxidants like flavonoids, which have potential health benefits.Print
These Raw Cacao Energy Balls are brimming with nutrient-packed nuts and are naturally sweetened with dates. Not a pinch of refined sugar in these treats!
- ½ cup raw almonds
- ½ cup raw walnuts
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
- ¼ to ½ tsp. salt
- ¾ cup dates, chopped
- 1 to 2 Tbsp. water
- Put the almonds, walnuts, oats, cacao, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts break down and combine with the other ingredients. The meal should be fine, but retain some texture — you don’t want to make nut butter!
- Add the dates and a tablespoon of water and run the food processor until the mixture becomes thick and sticky. You should be able to squeeze a bit of the mixture between your fingers. If it's too loose and crumbly, add another tablespoon of water and process until everything comes together.
- Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Scoop pieces of the mixture and roll it into balls between your palms, slightly smaller than the size of a golf ball. Line them up on the baking sheet and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour, overnight if possible. Store the raw cacao energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Serving Size: 1 piece
- Calories: 87
- Sugar: 1.3 g
- Sodium: 48.6 mg
- Fat: 5.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 7.7 g
- Fiber: 1.6 g
- Protein: 2.6 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: raw cacao energy balls, vegan energy ball recipe