No Bake Granola Balls

I have researched many different recipes for grab and go granola type snacks. Some I have found just have way too much sugar and many just have so much peanut butter that you really taste nothing more than just that, peanut butter. So one day I did some experimenting in my lab(my kitchen). I wanted some peanut butter, some sweetness, as much protein as possible without adding any protein powders and mostly I wanted them to taste good. Here is what I came up with.

IMG_3785

No Bake Granola Balls

2 cups quick cooking oats

1/4 c. ground flax seed

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/3 c. sunflower seeds

dash of sea salt

20 pitted dates

1 TBSP. water

2 TBSP. natural peanut butter

2 TBSP. brown rice syrup

2 TBSP. mini chocolate chips(optional)

IMG_3781

First step, in a food processor add your 20 pitted dates and water and blend until smooth.

Second, in a small bowl mix together your natural peanut butter and brown rice syrup. Sometimes natural peanut butter is somewhat thick. Microwaving this mixture for 15-20 seconds will help with the mixing and make it nice and creamy.

Then in a large bowl combine all the remaining ingredients. Mix and then add your date mixture and the peanut butter mixture. Take your hands and mix until everything is combined and there are no crumbs remaining at the bottom of your bowl.

Last, form this mixture into balls to your desired size. Mine were about 1 inch and this recipe made 32 balls.

Store in the refrigerator, if they last long enough to store in your home:)

Protein Lunch Options

We have sort of changed up our eating plan here at our home recently, after my husband announced to me that he was joining the gym I belong to. He is one of those lucky people that can literally eat anything he wants and does not gain a pound. When he told me he was just feeling sluggish and unmotivated, I agreed that the gym would do him good but it also got me to thinking about his diet a little more.

For lunch everyday he typically takes leftovers from the night before. So in other words, if we had casserole for dinner, that is also his lunch the next day. His break consisted of the usual bag lunch snacks such as baked chips, cookies, trail mix, fruit etc. Now, I have put a little more planning into what his lunches are. He still gets the lunch meal of leftovers, but his break snack is protein packed for extra energy and to support the additional exercise he is doing at the gym.

Examples of his protein snacks are:

Hard boiled eggs, homemade granola balls (recipe to come later this week), carrots with dip (not shown)

IMG_3812

Wasabi almonds, cheese, olives

IMG_3800

Apples and peanut butter, dried mangoes, walnuts.

IMG_3814

For me on the other hand, with adding a much more rigorous workout routine to my schedule, I have been also trying to get in more protein. Although this is proving to be much harder for me because I cannot have nuts, I don’t like red meat and I am not a big cheese lover.

So I have been having salmon and Laughing Cow Cheese with avocado.

IMG_3792

And I have come to love lentil bowls. This one here has lentils, sauteed mushrooms and spinach then topped with two over easy eggs with 1/2 an avocado.

IMG_3806

IMG_3808

Another favorite lentil bowl is sauteed spinach and mushrooms over lentils with cooked chicken breast pieces and a bit of shredded parmesan cheese. Topped with balsamic glaze. Oh yum:)These bowls provide a lot of protein and are filling enough for a meal.

Both of us have had more energy and have come to really love our new routine of going to the gym three nights a week. So whether you are home all day like me and can cook quite easily when you are hungry or you take your lunch to work everyday, it is quite simple to pack healthy protein packed lunches to support your active lifestyle.