These are easy to make.
They're vegan, oil-free, and gluten-free.
They're sweetened only with fruit, and they're packed with plant-based protein, so they make an amazing post-workout recovery snack.
And they're generally just a yummy nosh whenever you need extra energy.
That's all the introduction these really need, don't you think?
Make them. You won't regret it.
To form the bite-sized mounds of these protein bites, I use a melon baller. I recommend one with a squeezable handle that ejects contents like an ice cream scoop. You can pick one up just about anywhere kitchen tools are sold. Mine has a 1 Tbsp volume, and I really like that size for this recipe.
Alternatively, you can simply roll the batter into 1-Tbsp-sized balls with your hands. Wetting your hands will help a lot, because the batter is sticky.
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Otherwise all you need is a mixing bowl, a baking sheet, and preferably a baking sheet liner of some kind, whether that's simply a piece of parchment paper, or my choice, a reusable silicone baking mat.
This recipe yields about 60 one-tablespoon bites. See below for more specific ingredient notes and recommendations.
1. If your dates still have their pits, you'll need to remove them. Slice each date lengthwise, and pull out and discard the pit (and stem, too, if it's still there).
2. Transfer the pitted dates to a heat-proof bowl and cover with hot water. I use my electric kettle to boil the water for this task. Set aside and allow the dates to soften.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper.
4. If you're using whole flaxseed, grind it to a powder. I use my NutriBullet for this task, with the flat blade.
Whether you're grinding your own, or you purchased your flaxseed pre-ground ("flaxseed meal"), measure about a Tbsp of it, and transfer it to a small bowl. Add 3 Tbsp of water and whisk it with a fork. Set aside to allow the mixture to congeal into a thick, sticky gel. This is often referred to as a "flax egg."
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: 1 cup almond flour, ¾ cup oat flour, 2 scoops (½ cup) vegan chocolate protein powder, 2 Tbsp powdered peanut butter, and 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder (see below for brand suggestions).
5. Stir to combine, and then make a well in the center. Set aside.
6. Drain the softened dates, and transfer them to a food processor. Add 1 banana, ½ cup blueberries, 1 tsp vanilla extract, the flax + water mixture, and ⅓ cup plant-based milk.
7. Process these ingredients until they form a smooth consistency. You may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides once or twice. It'll look a bit like a smoothie when it's ready.
8. Transfer the blended wet ingredients to the well you made in the center of the dry ingredients.
9. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
10. Once the two are fully mixed, you won't see anymore dry streaks, and the batter will look a bit like thick brownie batter. Flatten out the batter a bit in the bowl, and then sprinkle the raw cacao nibs over it as evenly as possible. This will help you mix the nibs in evenly.
Stir the nibs into the batter until thoroughly incorporated.
11. Using a melon baller or just a tablespoon and your hands, form small balls with the batter.
Place the balls onto your prepared baking sheet. If you're using a one-tablespoon scoop, this recipe should yield about 60 balls, so place them close together.
They won't expand in the oven, so you don't need extra space in between each one.
12. Slide the baking pan into your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
13. After 30 minutes, your Protein Bites will look largely unchanged (they won't have expanded), but they may appear to brown slightly around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the Protein Bites to cool completely before taking them off the pan.
Once cool, you can enjoy them anytime. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and pull them out whenever you need a snack.
Because they're so packed with plant-based protein, they are extra satisfying after a good workout.
Additional ingredient notes and recommendations
Dates: I buy my Medjool dates at Costco. The 2-lb boxes are usually stacked in the produce section. Trader Joe's keeps Medjool dates in the refrigerator next to the other fruit. Choose the darkest, wettest-looking dates you can find, because those are usually the sweetest.
Oat flour is simply rolled oats ground into a flour consistency. If you can't find oat flour at your local grocery store (check in both the baking aisle and the gluten-free aisle before you give up), you can always put old-fashioned rolled oats into your food processor and blend until they're coarsely ground. If you'd like to order oat flour online, you can get it on Amazon.
Chocolate plant-based protein: I am frequently asked what protein powder I recommend. I actually have three brands that I really enjoy:
The flavor is delicious (it literally smells like a brownie mix when you open the bag), and the ingredients are very pure (only six). No added sugar (this one is sweetened with monkfruit), and it's my go-to choice right now. 20g of protein per scoop.
This is the one to choose if your workouts are exceptionally rigorous, because it offers 30g of protein per scoop. It has no added sugar, and does offer some extra calcium and iron, but it is sweetened with stevia, which not everyone likes. I find the flavor to be very good, myself, though. If you're looking for bonus vitamins and minerals, consider the next option...
This one is super yummy too, and it's a company I trust in terms of ingredient quality. I often recommend some of their other supplements to my clients as well. This product has 13g of protein per scoop, and while it does contain some added sugar, it also includes extra vitamins and minerals that many other brands lack, including Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and all the Vitamin B12 you need in a day, among others, as well as a blend of beneficial pre-biotic fiber. Those are some important benefits!
My tip is to try each brand for a little while, one at a time, and see which one you like best. If there's a clear winner in your mind, I'd love to hear about it! Send me a DM on Instagram or Facebook @greensagelife if you make a decision.
Powdered peanut butter: What is it? It's ground peanuts, but the bulk of the fat content has been removed, so it's a dry powder. The result is a very concentrated peanut flavor, with much fewer calories than regular peanut butter. There is also a higher concentration of protein by volume. In terms of flavor, I think you can't beat PB2 brand. I've tried several brands, and this is the clear choice in my mind. I order mine on Amazon, but you can often find it in well-stocked grocery stores like WholeFoods or Wegmans.
Raw cacao powder: Not exactly the same as cocoa powder, to be clear. This is a superfood packed with antioxidants, and is usually pretty easy to find in grocery stores with a decent health food section. You may be surprised to learn that raw cacao powder has 3g of protein per Tablespoon and almost no fat. I really like the Terrasoul brand, and that's what I'm currently buying, but other brands I've enjoyed include Navitas and Healthworks.
Raw cacao nibs: These are crushed cacao beans. They provide crunch and extra intense chocolate flavor without the sugar. They're basically nature's chocolate chips! I use these quite a lot, and the brands I enjoy are the same as for the powder: Terrasoul, Navitas and Healthworks.
If you make this recipe and enjoy it, I hope you'll share a photo on social media. Please tag me @greensagelife, so I'll be sure to see it and so I can cheer you on!