These incredibly easy and delicious gluten-free Vanilla Mandarin Energy Balls use pantry staples like cashews, dried coconut, dates, vanilla extract and of course fresh citrus! They are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and Paleo-friendly!
Have your children turned into Snack Monsters during this quarantine too? I swear we’re all snacking 3x more often which means I’m in the kitchen 3x more often too. While I always offer fresh fruits and vegetables for snack first, my 4-year-old isn’t always in the mood. I like to have some healthier sweet snack options on hand in those cases that are still energy and nutrient dense for her active, growing body. ENTER THE HOMEMADE ENERGY BALL.
We love making energy balls because you really can use up pantry staples that have been sitting around and turn them into something much more delicious. They’re an easy-to-grab snack out of the fridge or another way to add some extra nutrition and energy to a lunch.
These mineral rich Vanilla Energy Balls are:
brightly flavored thanks to fresh mandarin segments and zest,
naturally sweetened with soft, plump Medjool dates
a good source of important vitamins and minerals including potassium, magnesium and copper
helpful for decreasing the active labor time in birthing women and can decrease the likelihood of being induced due to late term pregnancies
If you’re looking for more Paleo energy ball and bar recipes, try these from my website:
If you need to make these nut-free, you could try replacing the cashews with unsalted raw sunflower seeds which have a fairly neutral taste.
If you don’t have mandarin on hand, try another citrus fruit like lemon, tangerine, clementine or oranges. You’ll want to use no more than 1/4 cup of segmented citrus when using a sweeter citrus. If using a more tart citrus like lemon, I would add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice rather than the whole lemon fruit.
Out of vanilla extract? Try lemon extract or a couple drops of food grade orange essential oil.
The food processor I use to make these energy balls, guacamole, sauces and to chop and shred vegetables and fruit:
I’ve been using the Cuisinart 11-cup food processor that includes a blending blade, a shredding disc, and a slicing disc (effectively replacing your mandolin). It’s a heftier price tag than most food processors but stands the test of time. Mine works like new, and I’ve had it for over 7 years and use it daily!
You can add a couple scoops of collagen protein to these Paleo & AIP-friendly energy balls!
I was a-hankerin’ for some orange-chocolate flavored something last week while I was working on my cookbook The Healing Kitchen. For someone who is creating several recipes a day, you would think I’d have a fridge chock full of delicious food at all times, but for whatever reason I am usually scrounging but those scrounge-hunts usually turn into the yummiest meals and snacks!
I like to pretend I’m on an episode of Chopped (have I said this before? I feel like I’ve said this before.) and have 3 random ingredients I HAVE to use to produce some elegant dish. Well dates, coconut, chocolate, and orange go really, really well together, so I got lucky on this round. You can really play with the orange flavor in this recipe by upping or decreasing the amount of orange zest. The amount in the recipe as written will give you a nice zing of orange while staying in balance with the carob powder. You can also press the mixture into a parchment lined loaf pan and slice once set to make bars.
I have a couple other “bliss ball” recipes on G&E because they check off the box for snack, treat, and extra hit of carbs if your body is asking for them – Mint “Chocolate” Truffles & Sticky Antioxidant Energy Bites.
Some of us bloggers recently had a discussion on the prevalence of AIP & Paleo treats. It was a house divided. Half said they self-regulated the amount they put on their blog because they didn’t want readers to perceive them as an allowance to eat treats on a weekly basis. The other half said they felt like they were contributing to the community by doing the hard work being able to provide people following AIP some special recipes to share with friends & family on special occasions.
I was in the latter half. I don’t feel comfortable telling people what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. I’m a firm believer that we should use the Paleo diet as a vehicle to learn what makes us feel good and what does not. Most of the people that follow AIP are adults able to make discriminating and honest decisions each day. I had a full year of being very restrictive with my treat intake and frankly it ignited my perfectionism and fed some disordered eating habits. I will say I am a very different person than who I was a year ago. I think this Hashi’s flare humanized me and forced me to lose control and release my obsession with diet perfection.
I am much more easy going around food these days and overall keep my diet balanced and healthy but by no means perfect. I made coconut milk ice cream in my new INCREDIBLE ice cream maker this weekend. One was the Sweet Potato Ice Cream that will be in The Healing Kitchen (seriously one of my favorite recipes in the book) and “peanut” butter & chocolate using sunflower seed butter and cocoa powder. Both were so creamy and perfect for a late summer treat! I fully enjoyed them both with my husband and friends, and they did add a little special something to our weekend. Even as a blogger, I get a little overwhelmed by the perceived perfection of social media, and I am here to tell you there is no such thing! Enjoy life, enjoy your food, don’t feel guilty about it, but always keep your eye on the prize (healing & longevity)!
If you like the combination of orange & chocolate, you’ll love these little energy bites that keep in the fridge!
Orange Carob Bliss Balls
- 3/4 cup packed pitted soft medjool dates
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
- 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
- 2 tbsp carob powder
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp orange zest
- 3 tbsp orange juice
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Place dates, 2/3 cup shredded coconut, coconut oil, carob, orange zest and juice, and sea salt in a food processor.
- Process until dates are broken down and the mixture is sticky. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup coconut until combined.
- Roll mixture into tablespoon-size balls (or larger) and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. Enjoy straight from the fridge.