I love chia seeds and use them in a variety of ways. They add a nice crunch when they’re used dry and gel when added to a liquid. Even better, I love their spectacular nutrient profile. I’ve used chia seeds in many ways, but these chia seed energy balls are without a doubt my favorite!
They make a great post-workout snack, but the whole family loves to munch on them too.
All About Chia Seeds
You may have heard of chia before from those catchy commercial jingles about chia pets. The chia seeds that we use in food are those same seeds.
Chia seeds are naturally gluten-free and pack a powerful nutritional punch. They have:
- 4.7 grams of protein/ounce and all eight essential amino acids
- as much calcium as a glass of milk
- more Omega-3 healthy fats than a serving of walnuts
- as many antioxidants as blueberries
- an impressive amount of iron
- lots of fiber
That’s pretty awesome!
No-Bake Energy Balls
No-bake energy bites or energy balls seriously give you energy. All. Day. Long. Not jittery energy like you’ve had too much sugar or caffeine, just I-could-get-so-much-done-right-now energy!
These yummy energy balls are a great snack for kids or healthy breakfast addition. They’re also nut-free, dairy-free, and grain-free so they’re safe to send to schools even if there are allergy restrictions.
One word of caution: Do NOT eat this energy bites recipe after dinner! I made that mistake (because they are so good and taste like cookie dough). As a result, I had trouble falling asleep.
Using Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have some interesting properties that make them really fun to use. Most notably, they can absorb so much liquid! When they do, they become this jiggly gelatinous texture. When I use them in a liquid medium it is usually one of these ways:
- Chia Seed Kombucha
- Chia Seed Pudding
- Chia Seed Squeeze Pouches
- Coconut Chia Pudding
- Peanut Butter Chia Seed Pudding with Blackberry Jam
I also use ground chia seeds to thicken sauces and stews. However, you can also use chia seeds dry. They add a nice crunch to salads and are perfect for making granola bars, energy balls, and other snack recipes.
Making Chia Seed Energy Bites
When I first started making this healthy snack I pressed the mixture into a pan and cut it into bars. Recently, I realized I can save myself a dish and just roll them into balls instead. They’re a lot easier to grab and go in ball form too!
Some chia seed energy ball recipes call for maple syrup or agave to sweeten, but the dates do the job nicely. It makes for a chewy, superfood snack that satisfies cravings for something sweet but healthy.
To make the mixture, puree dates in a food processor. I use large Medjool dates. Make sure you remove the pits first! The pureed dates make a thick paste that acts as both a sweetener and the “glue” to hold the balls together. If your dates are too dry and you’re having a hard time pureeing them, add just a tiny bit of water.
Then mix together the date paste with the chia seeds, coconut oil, and whatever add-ins you want to use. I like to use a combination of dried fruit (like dried cranberries), coconut flakes, and mini chocolate chips. Sometimes I add a pinch of cinnamon or sea salt too. Ground flaxseed, some cocoa powder, or pecans also make a nice addition.
Once everything is mixed together, scoop out a tablespoon and roll it into a ball. This is a great job for kids! You can eat them immediately or chill them until they’re firmer. Store the uneaten ones in the refrigerator.
These energy balls are a great one to add to the meal plan since they make a yummy, fast snack. I like to meal prep sometimes to make things easier, and this is an easy recipe to add to my prep list.
Chia Seed Energy Balls
- Remove the pits from the dates and discard them.
- Pulse the dates in a food processor or blender until they form a paste. If the dates are too dry and get stuck in a clump without mashing, add a very small amount of water.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix in the date paste with the chia seeds, coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, cinnamon if using, and any optional add-ins you'd like to use.
- Use a 1 Tablespoon measure or cookie scoop to scoop out the mixture, rolling it into balls.
- Eat immediately or refrigerate on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to firm up a bit.
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
- Instead of rolling it into balls, you can press the mixture into the bottom of a glass or silicone baking dish and refrigerate it until chilled. Cut into bars.
- These can be wrapped in wax paper or parchment paper and sent for lunches or snacks.
- For additional calcium, you can add about a teaspoon of eggshell powder!
Do you like chia seeds? How do you use them? Share below!