This Protein Ball Recipe is a delicious way to get a hefty dose of protein, while satisfying your sweet tooth. They’re filled with healthy fats from macadamia nuts, coconut oil, and flaxseed, and are the perfect snack to keep you satiated throughout the day.
I was asked by Barlean’s to give a speech at the national Vitamin Shoppe convention in Orlando, FL. The focus of my speech was to share with the Vitamin Shoppe managers and executives how I cleaned up my diet and altered my dietary fat intake after being diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) in 1998. I also shared how I made adding omega-3 fats to my diet tasty, convenient and family-friendly too.
A Whole Foods Change
As I stated in my speech, the biggest change I made to my diet was adopting a whole foods diet.
A whole foods diet is based on eating foods in their most natural, unrefined and nutrient-dense state. For example, eating corn instead of corn flakes, steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal, apples instead of a commercially packaged applesauce that is made without apple skins, and so on. However, alongside eating whole foods, changing the types of fat I eat has been essential in optimizing my diet and health.
Decrease Inflammation, Improve Health & Lose Weight with Healthy Fats
The types of fats you eat play a tremendous role in the level of overall inflammation in your body. In general, the more inflamed you are, the worse your symptoms of any inflammatory conditions will be. Inflammation also increases CRP levels and has been associated with heart disease.
Also, the more inflamed your body is the more difficult it is to lose weight. In fact, remarkable research links obesity to inflammation…being overweight promotes inflammation and inflammation promotes obesity in a terrible, vicious cycle. Anything that causes inflammation can make you gain weight and any weight you gain can cause more inflammation.
The good news is, altering the types of fats you eat can dramatically decrease inflammation, help you lose weight …and help you feel better if you have an inflammatory condition. Decreasing inflammation can even help improve your appearance and give your skin a healthy glow.
The good, anti-inflammatory fats I increased were the omega-3 fats in the form of EPA & DHA from fish and EPA & DHA supplements. In addition, I also added vegan sources of omega-3’s in the form of LNA from flax, walnuts and chia seeds. I also added more plant-based monounsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil.
Additionally, I eliminated pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats in the form of processed vegetable oil (such as “pure” vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, etc.). Click here to read more about Healthy Cooking Oils. These oils are empty caloriess.
Even though I don’t eat a lot of animal foods, I buy only the highest quality, grass-fed animals. This is because I know grass-fed beef and pastured chicken have more omega-3 and less pro-inflammatory omega-6 fat than grain-fed animals (grass-fed also has more antioxidants.)
And finally, I completely eliminated toxic trans fats from my diet. Even the U.S. National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, the organization responsible for advising the U.S. government on health policy, has said there is absolutely no safe level of intake for trans fats!
Clean Cuisine Protein Balls with Barlean’s Flax & Coconut Oil
In changing my diet I also had to change the way I cooked. Barlean’s products have been a part of my dietary “clean-up” for over a decade. I have tons of recipes on the website and also in the various books I’ve written that include Barlean’s Flaxseeds, Flax Oil and Coconut Oil. For the Vitamin Shoppe conference I created a special recipe called Lemony Ginger Coconut Protein Balls using Barlean’s Forti-Flax and Barlean’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. (In case you are wondering, “Protein Balls” are like mini protein bars—perfect for an afternoon pick-me up or pre or post workout snack!)
Actually, I did not create the Protein Balls Recipe all by myself! In fact, when I found out Barlean’s wanted me to make them it was the day before I was scheduled to leave for California on a 2-week family vacation. Luckily, my good friend Cherie Fromsen stepped in to totally save the day.
Although it was a lot of work to get the recipe just right, the Protein Balls were a HUGE hit at the Vitamin Shoppe Conference. And as far as Protein Balls go, they are about as close to “perfection” as you can get in both taste AND nutrition….
Protein Ball Nutrition
At the conference I printed the recipe for the Protein Balls and distributed it to hundreds of Vitamin Shoppe managers; they were just amazed that something so healthy could truly be so tasty. We had a lot of requests to package them for resale! Here are a few of the things that make the Protein Balls so healthy….
- No refined sugar (sweetness is from organic dates)
- Rich in omega-3’s (thanks to Barlean’s flaxseeds)
- Contains easily digested MCT’s (from Barlean’s coconut oil)
- Rich in fiber
- Rich in antioxidants
- Vegan / Dairy-Free
- Rich in disease-fighting phytonutrients
- Rich in plant-protein
Storing Protein Balls
Protein Balls are a great snack to grab for throughout the week for a quick burst of nutrition. We prefer to store out Protein Balls in vacuum seal, glass containers to extend storage life, and preserve flavor!
Ok, ok! On with the Protein Ball Recipe…Clean Cuisine Protein Ball Recipe with Barlean’s Flax and Coconut Oil
Note: This Protein Ball Recipe taste best when eaten frozen, straight from the freezer. Don’t worry, they are absolutely not too hard to bite into. The Protein Ball Recipe will crumble rather easily if left at room temperature for an extended period of time…but even crumbled they taste amazing as a topping over fresh fruit or steel cut oatmeal.
Protein Balls Recipe
This Protein Ball Recipe is a delicious way to get in a hefty dose of protein, all while satisfying your sweet tooth.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 minutes
- Total Time: 18 minutes
- Yield: 24 1x
- 2 cups raw macadamia nuts
- 1/2 cup flax seed meal
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup organic medjool pitted dates -flash soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes *see bullet point 4 for extra instruction on what to do if mixture is dry
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- Preheat oven to 400º f (*see notes)
- Place macadamia nuts, flax seed, and shredded coconut in a food processor. Pulse to combine until ingredients are crumb-like. Add the dates, ginger, and salt; pulse several more times, about 10 seconds (note: the more you pulse, the stickier the mixture gets.) Set macadamia mixture aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil on a low heat. Remove coconut oil from the stove, and stir in pure lemon extract.
- Add coconut oil to the food processor with the macadamia mixture. Pulse until ingredients form a coarse paste (if a paste sticky enough to form into balls is not forming, add an additional tbsp of coconut oil, and 3-4 more dates, soaked in boiling water, and re-pulse).
- Roll mixture into heaping tablespoon-full size balls, and place them on a cookie sheet; using the back of a spoon, lightly press down on each ball to flatten a bit (if desired). Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together coconut topping; agave nectar (or honey or maple) and coconut shreds. Spread (if balls are flattened) or simply roll balls in mixture to coat.
- Bake at 400º for 6-8 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove and set aside to cool. Chill in freezer for 1 hour. Serve cold.
*Baking these bites are optional. If you choose not to bake, simply skip steps 1, baking sheet part of 5, and first part of 7, and go straight to chilling instead.
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