A couple years ago, a movement swept the blogging world. I call it the Healthy Ball Movement.
Basically, cookie dough and granola bars had a baby, and then they healthified that baby. No sugar, no butter, mostly natural ingredients, and a little punch of protein.
After the “original” ball recipe was published, everyone else hopped on the bandwagon quick. Today, there are countless variations and substitution ideas all over the internet.
And I want to try them all.
So, I decided to spend some time gathering up the most delicious-looking/interesting ball recipes I’ve seen (mostly, so I could pin them in one place). Part of my research involved going to Pinterest and typing in “healthy balls,” which I was only barely mature enough to do. I also spent a lot of time reading comments to make sure I was picking the recipes people have loved the most across the web. I tried to include a variety of ingredients and flavors, and to pull from a good mix of sources.
The result is the little list below.
(Note: these are NOT in any particular order, except for the first two, which I listed first just because I personally make them the most frequently.)
Ingredients: Oats, PB, honey, coconut, flax, chocolate chips, vanilla
What makes them special: I think of this recipe as the original, and it’s still my personal go-to ball recipe. These things are amazing and I’ve pledged my undying loyalty to them for life.
Besides being mind-blowingly good and relatively not-horrible-for-you, these were a LIFESAVER when Mason was born and we were too wrapped up in the Newborn Hangover to do much in the grocery shopping or cooking departments. I was literally making a double batch every few days for awhile. (…Should I have admitted that?)
If you know any new moms, I highly recommend rushing over a batch (or five) of these ASAP. (You should also bring some of Heather’s lactation oat cookies.)
One thing I love about this recipe is how flexible it is—if you scroll down the blog post, you can find tons of substitution ideas. Personally, when I make them, I usually toast the coconut and add chia seeds per this version. I’ve also added dried fruit before. I swear you can’t mess these up!
Ingredients: Vanilla or chocolate protein powder, almond butter, coconut, maple syrup, Stevia, sea salt, cinnamon
What makes them special: These are my go-to ball runner-ups. (What am I even saying right now?) They’re a little smaller/less hearty than the first recipe without the oats and PB, but the Stevia/sea salt/cinnamon combo is completely bomb. (Gina also uses that combo in her amazing cookie dough breakfast cereal, among other places.)
Ingredients: Oats, chocolate protein powder, baking powder, egg white, coconut extract, Stevia, carob chips, almond butter, flax
What makes them special: This recipe is here representing the DO-bake balls, which (obviously) come out more cookie-like than dough-like.
Sort of unrelated: every time I look at that picture, I think for a second that the balls are all connected by black sticks, like those little molecule models we used to make in chemistry class.
Ingredients: Chickpeas, maple syrup, nut butter, oats, baking powder, vanilla, dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder
What makes them special: Representing the chickpea-based ball category (as well as the DO-bakes) is this gem from Laura at Mommy Run Fast (a blog I’ve been LOVING lately). Skip the cocoa powder for the original, add it in for the chocolate version!
Ingredients: Peanuts, medjool dates, cocoa powder, PB, vanilla, sea salt
What makes them special: Dates! Hubby recently decided (out of nowhere) that he LOOOVES him some dates, so I have a feeling he’ll be requesting these once he sees this recipe.
Ingredients: Dates, coconut butter
What makes them special: TWO ingredients!?!? Talk about no excuses. Plus, Chocolate Covered Katie always knocks her healthy dessert recipes out of the park.
Ingredients: Pitted dates, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, coconut, pecans, chocolate chips
What makes them special: See above Re: Chocolate Covered Katie knocking things out of the park. I haven’t tried these yet, but they reportedly taste exactly like fudge brownies.
Ingredients: Cashews, macadamia nuts, coconut sugar, Sucanat, cane sugar, non-dairy buttery spread, vanilla extract, sea salt, cinnamon, chocolate chips, maple syrup, oats, spelt flour, coconut
What makes them special: This one’s a bit more involved and might include some ingredients you don’t have lying around. Part of the reason for the laundry list is that the prep process is split into two parts: first, you make Angela’s cookie dough nut butter, and then you use that butter in the actual balls.
But the result: SO worth it. I’ve made tons of Angela’s recipes, and they have NEVER failed me.
*Note: If you’re still in a trance from looking at the picture above but aren’t quite ready to tackle Angela’s recipe, here’s an easier adapted version from 52 Kitchen Adventures.
Ingredients: PB, protein powder, cocoa powder, nutritional yeast, coconut flakes or oats, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla, maple syrup, Stevia, chocolate chips, almond milk
What makes them special: This is the PB version of Gina’s amazeballs. I know—she had you at “peanut butter cup.”
Ingredients: Banana, oats, cocoa powder, PB, flax meal, vanilla protein powder, sea salt
What makes them special: I like this recipe because it’s reminiscent of the original no-bake cookies I grew up on, without the sugar, eggs, and butter. Only 60 cals a ball!
Ingredients: Oats, vanilla almond butter, baking powder, vanilla stevia (or any sweetener), egg whites, vanilla protein powder, dried figs
What makes them special: Figs, of course! I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge fig girl, but I know that makes me a weirdo, so I thought I’d include this variation for all the normal people of the world.
Ingredients: Oats, quinoa, coconut, protein powder, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate chips, dried cherries, sea salt, vanilla, almond butter, PB, honey
What makes them special: Talk about some hearty balls! (Yes. I HAD to.) This is the only recipe I’ve seen with quinoa in it—interesting touch!
Ingredients: Chickpeas, PB, oats, chocolate chips, almond milk, dates, cinnamon
What makes them special: I’m always attracted to simplicity when it comes to recipes (well, when it comes to a lot of things). This version of the chickpea-based ball doesn’t drag out the recipe list, and I appreciate that.
Ingredients: Dried fruit, nuts/seeds, cinnamon, salt, sesame seeds
What makes them special: See above Re: simplicity. Combine any dried fruit and any nuts, and boom. BALLS.
Ingredients: Chickpeas, white beans, PB, brown rice flour, maple syrup, vanilla bean paste, salt, vanilla stevia, vanilla almond milk, chocolate chips
What makes them special: Last chickpea-based recipe, I swear! I haven’t made these yet, but they got a lot of buzz on the interwebs, and that has to count for something. (Much more than my single lowly opinion, anyway!)
*Note: If this recipe looks scary, here’s a simpler adapted version from Spabettie.
*Another note: Christin (of Purple Bird Dog) also made a crazy amazing-looking COCOA CARAMEL version of these!
Ingredients: Cashews, oats, agave, maple syrup, vanilla
What makes them special: They’re simple, vegan, and raw. They also use agave, which is something I’ve been wanting to experiment with.
Ingredients: Oats, flax, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, Nuttzo choco nut butter, honey, chocolate chips
What makes them special: Crunchy! Seedy! Nutty! Oh my! I’ve never tried Nuttzo, but it sounds like something I would get along with.
Ingredients: Oats, nut butter, maple syrup, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips/dried fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, salt
What makes them special: This was actually the first “ball” type recipe I ever saw, back when the ball movement was first catching steam. Heather calls them oaties, which, let’s face it, is a lot more appetizing than balls.
Here’s the full list of all her oatie recipes (including the lactation oaties I mentioned earlier)—definitely worth checking out/bookmarking/pinning/whatever you do to keep these in your back pocket.
What makes them special: Who doesn’t like popcorn, chocolate, and pretzels? Suddenly, all the other balls look a little boring…
Ingredients: Dates, almonds, oats, pumpkin pie spice
What makes them special: Pumpkin! Kinda out of season now, but would you believe that pumpkin is still good in the spring? Who knew!
Ingredients: PB, honey, oat flour, chia seeds, coconut, orange extract
What makes them special: I think orange flavored things are generally underrated. And I know that orange-coconut flavored things are deeply underrated.
Ingredients: Oats, chocolate coconut butter, coconut, nuts, maple syrup, vanilla, espresso powder, salt
What makes them special: COFFEE! Plus, Heather’s magical chocolate coconut butter, which sounds complex but really just involves whipping coconut flakes in the food processor until they get buttery and then tossing in some kind of chocolate.
Ingredients: Walnuts, oats, raisins, dates, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, molasses, maple syrup, chocolate chips, coconut oil
What makes them special: Mmmmmmolasses! (<—Lame) This one is unique both because of its gingerbreadness and the fact that it involves melting the chocolate chips on the outside of the balls.
I’m typically not a fan of raisins, but in this case, they’re just blended in with the dates for sweetening purposes. And even I can handle that.
Ingredients: Oats, almond meal, baking powder, honey, coconut oil, carrots, pecans
What makes them special: Did you catch the weird ingredient in there? CARROTS!! What?? Yes.
Ingredients: Dates, cashews, PB, chocolate chips, coconut oil
What makes them special: Another example of chocolate chips melted on the outside. Also, I like the use of coconut oil.
What’s your favorite flavor combination?
Do you know of a great recipe that’s missing from this list?