Snack bars, flapjacks, energy balls… it’s so hard to find ones with really good ingredients. Whether we’re out and about, in the office or spending time at home, we all need an extra little snack every now and again. But it’s one of the most difficult things to buy a healthy version of.
It still surprises me just how many snack bars have added sugars such as cane sugar, glucose syrup and maltodextrin, even in health food shops. Some of the less commercial options, especially raw snack bars and balls, are sweetened with agave syrup, which has been well marketed but has turned out to be a highly processed high-fructose option that doesn’t seem much better than white sugar. Rice syrup is another favourite, the benefits of which vary vastly with quality. And all too often such syrups are no.1 on the ingredient list, meaning, there is more sugar than anything else.
Fruit and nut bars shouldn’t need any extra sweetening at all.
Even those that don’t have sugar or syrups high up on the ingredients list seem to include significantly more fruit than nuts and seeds, which again, is unnecessary. I have been making versions of these for years with half or less the amount of fruit to nuts/seeds, and they always prove to be popular with almost everyone.
Protein-rich snacks are much more likely to satisfy you and sustain your blood sugar and energy levels, than a sugar/syrup-rich snack that may just spike your energy and leave you feeling tired, irritable and lacking focus. So really you need more nuts and seeds in your snacks and fewer sweet things.
So what to do?
Avid label reading and research will guide you to a couple of the better ones you can stock up on – but much easier is to make them yourself.
– You know exactly what’s in them
– You know they’ve been made just how you like them
– You can use ingredients that are great for you right now: e.g. the recipes below are categorised into anti-inflammatory and energy-boosting
– You can usually find time to whizz up a batch at least once a week
Nut truffles – or energy balls – are the simplest, quickest things to throw together. You can even get the kids to help – and then they will be more excited about eating them too.
1. A blender – I have a hand held blender with a chopper accessory (basically a mini beaker with a blade in it) that works brilliantly for this, but various kinds of equipment will do the trick
2. 30g nuts/seeds – preferably soaked overnight in water – or there’s one recipe below that uses boiled chestnuts instead
3. 15g Dried fruit
4.1tbsp Coconut oil
5. Spices, citrus zest, dessicated coconut, carob or cocoa or cacao powder… depending on what’s in your cupboard and what kind of flavours and qualities you’d like your truffles to have (*see below for examples). Add in a teaspoonful at a time until it tastes just how you like it. Or you can keep it really simple and just use nuts/seeds/dried fruit.
And then you just blend it all up together and shape into truffle sized balls. To make prettier ones, you could then roll in dessicated coconut or carob powder, or ground hazelnuts/almonds, or sesame seeds…
They refrigerate and freeze well kept in an airtight container.
– If the mixture is to dry to hold together, add a little more coconut oil
– If the mixture is too wet, add more nuts/seeds – remember the coconut oil will also harden a little when you put them in the fridge
– The more you blend them, the more like truffles they become and the less like snack bars
– Keep tasting as you mix them up to get a good balance of sweetness and flavour
– Can’t do nuts? Just use seeds, or boiled chestnuts instead.
You can use your own creativity to make the perfect nut truffles each week, or be inspired by the combinations below.
A little coconut cream or milk
Carob or cocoa powder
Roll in carob or cocoa powder
Winter warming truffles – also great for the kidneys
Walnuts and pumpkin seeds
Cranberries (avoid the sugar sweetened one)
Spirulina powder or supergreen powder
Roll in carob or cocoa powder
Almonds and sunflower seeds
Rose petals (optional – I pick these fresh from my garden in the summer)
Roll in dessicated coconut or sesame seeds
Spiced apple pie truffles
Grated apple (optional – squeeze out gently in kitchen towel so it’s not too wet)
Roll in a mixture of the spices used above
Eastern sunrise truffles
Roll in sesame seeds
* Turmeric is a very mild spice that has the most amazing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. It is also quite difficult to absorb. Black pepper and coconut oil help massively with this, so it’s good to use these 3 in combination.