At the Juice Plus+ conference, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful personal trainer named Veronica (I can connect you if you’re looking for an inspiring, amazing trainer!). She shared her recipe for Nutri-balls with me, and they’re absolutely delicious! They’re packed with natural, all vegan and organic proteins, B vitamins, and soluble and insoluble fiber alongside a wealth of tasty herbal nutrition.
I wanted to make them to share with The Practical Herbalist team, but the recipe calls for coconut oil. Coconut oil, in small doses, is cleansing to the digestive system, but Sue’s allergic to it. Some folks, like Sue, carry a genetic predisposition to coconut allergy. If they don’t start eating coconut young, they’ll develop a life-long allergy just like folks who are allergic to peanuts or strawberries. After a quick search for other nutri-ball recipes, I found there are tons out there, some of which use coconut and others that don’t, which got me thinking…and tinkering…Clearly, I needed to make a few adjustments before I shared them….which led to a few more adjustments ’cause I’m an herbalist and I love to experiment and tinker!
Here’s How I Altered the Recipe
I swapped Ghee for Coconut oil. In Ayurveda, ghee is considered a balancing oil of neutral heat that supports strong health overall. It’s not quite as hard as most coconut oils are at room temperature, but it is harder than butter. I reckoned it would help stabilize the mixture. This change shifted my version from a totally vegan one to one that’s still vegetarian (and by many Ayurvedic standards close enough to vegan to be okay for vegans) but not fully vegan. That was a sacrifice I thought was worth making because, well, ghee just tastes good!
Chia seeds, which are the only seeds called for in many of the recipes, are surprising little gifts of nutritional health. Many of us have come to appreciate how densely packed they are with plant proteins and fiber, but we often overlook their Omega-3 fatty acid content and mineral compliment. They and flax seeds owe their healthy influence on the heart and circulatory system to their Omega-3s and minerals like phosphorus, manganese, and calcium. I added psyllium husks to my version, too, because I was making them for my 10-day Shred. Psyllium husks are packed with fiber and, mixed with flax and chia seeds, make a wonderful digestive cleanser. I added some cayenne powder to help stimulate circulation and digestion as well as some dandelion root powder to support digestive and liver function.
The protein powder I use is a low-glycemic blend that’s balanced for optimal nutrient absorption. One of the challenges with many protein powders is that while they may well have tons of protein in them, they don’t always come with all the building blocks we need to turn that protein into the amino acids our bodies need. When you’re reading the ingredients list, you want to choose one that contains a balance of rice or a similar grain alongside beans and peas. They’ll be rated as containing high-quality proteins, which really means the proteins they provide are in a form or proportion that’s easy to digest; high-quality proteins are highly bio-available.
Many protein powders are also often loaded with sugars to make them taste good. While I so get wanting to sweeten up your protein powder, it makes sense to me to watch the glycemic index both for folks with metabolic syndrome, formerly known as pre-diabetes, and diabetes and also for those of the rest of us who want to avoid developing those conditions. When you’re choosing a protein powder, opt for one that’s got a low-glycemic index rating when possible. The manufacturer should be able to give you the glycemic rating for their product or at least tell you if it’s low or high. It’ll be determined by the balance of proteins, fibers, and sugars present in the powder and how they affect the body’s blood sugar levels during the digestive process. Those with a low-glycemic rating will tend to help you feel full longer, take a little longer to digest, and will be less likely to trigger an intense insulin response. For all of us, and most especially those with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, those are preferable than the alternatives for long-term health.
The protein powder blend I use contains soy, too. Soy has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Partly, that’s because manufacturers haven’t always treated soy with care. They’ve used tons of processing techniques, including using toxic chemicals like hexane, to create many of the soy products to which we’ve had access. Today, though, newer techniques that involve considerably less processing have been developed that preserve the nutritional profile and healthful qualities that soy inherently possesses. The blend I use contains only naturally-grown, water-washed soy beans, which is what you’ll want to look for when you’re choosing a protein powder for this recipe…or for any protein-based shake, smoothie, or other recipe you plan to try.
Complete-Protein Nutri-Ball Recipe
Plan to pop the mix into the refrigerator for about half an hour to make shaping your balls easier or spray your hands with a light coating of cooking oil so the mix doesn’t stick.
- 1 cup (240 ml) rolled oats
- 1 scoop protein powder (approximately 37 grams or about 5 Tbsp)-vanilla or your favorite flavor
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) Chia seed/Flax seed/Psyllium husk blend, powdered
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) ghee
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) raw, unprocessed honey, preferably from a source that’s local to you
- 1/4-1/2 cup (60-120 ml) cocoa nibs
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) nut butter (I like almond or sunflower)
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp (5 ml) dandelion root powder
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cayenne powder
- 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
- Mixing spoons and cups
- Spoon for mixing
- Mixing bowl
- Tray for finished balls
- Pot and heat source (optional)
- Add all the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and blend well.
- Warm the honey and ghee in the pot until they’re melted together, then add them to the mixing bowl and blend well.
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the mixture in the bowl and blend well.
- Put the mixture into a cool place, like the refrigerator, for about 30 minutes, then take it out and shape it into roughly 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls.
Store your finished balls in the refrigerator, especially if the weather is hot. This recipe makes about 20 balls.
If you’d like to order the same protein powder I use, contact me.
- “Good Sugar, Bad Sugar: What’s the Difference?” by Sara Lovelady
- “Health Benefits of Chia Seeds” by Megan Ware
- “Flaxseeds” by World’s Healthiest Foods
- “Hexane in Soy Foods” by Berkeley Wellness
- “No Bake Protein Balls” by A Cup Full of Sass
- “Juice Plus Peanut Butter Balls” by Tiffany Radtke
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