A few years ago, my mom and her friends got me to join their marathon relay team and then assigned me the longest leg of the race, arguing that because I was the youngest, I would also be the fastest.
I ran my 7.5 miles on an empty stomach, fueled only by my insane competitive nature and the little water I gulped along the way. When I got back to the finish line, I was presented with a bottle of chocolate milk – an excellent recovery drink, I’ve since learned – and, inexplicably, a slice of pizza. Luckily, the snack kept me from collapsing while waiting for my team to finish.
All that said, I’m not good at thinking about properly fueling my body before or after a workout. Especially afterwards. I usually just wait until I’m super hungry and then eat whatever’s closest to me as a post-workout meal. It’s not a great move.
So this month’s test kitchen recipe is a game changer for me. These Energy Bites are packed with protein, carbs and healthy fats, meaning they make a great post-workout snack or just a good breakfast. The best news is that I don’t have to give up my grab-and-go habits because this recipe makes a ton of bites and they’ll keep in the fridge or freezer for up to a few months.
I’ve used two types of peanut butter, half the added sugar and half the natural kind. I think either will work as long as the peanut butter you choose is still creamy enough to hold your mixture together.
Since I used a sweetened peanut butter, I reduced the amount of honey from 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup. The sweetness level was perfect, but I feel I had to work harder to squeeze my energy bites together, so I wouldn’t recommend cutting this unless you plan on adding some more peanut butter.
While shopping for ingredients, I managed to snag the one remaining bag of flaxseeds at my grocery store. Mine were whole flaxseeds, not ground, so I ran them through my food processor until they resembled cornmeal. Instead of doubling up on flaxseeds, I chose chia seeds as an optional addition. And for the coconut flakes, I measured out 1/2 cup, which was plenty.
I tried stirring my mixture with a silicone spatula, then gave up and just used my hands. (It works best when your hands are a little wet.) After everything was thoroughly mixed, I put the bowl back in the fridge for an hour. When I had to ball my energy bites, the mixture was a lot less sticky.
I’ve had other Energy Bites before, and I liked these better – they’re not so sweet that I felt like I was eating dessert, but they still had a nice hit of chocolate and peanut butter.
Old Fashioned Oats, 1 cup
peanut butter or nut butter, 1/2 cup
Ground flaxseed, 1/2 cup
Semisweet or sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup
honey, 1/3 cup (or substitute maple syrup)
Chia seeds/flaxseeds/other seeds (optional), 1/2 cup
vanilla extract, 1 tsp
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover the mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the mixture is chilled.
2. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls to serve. Then enjoy immediately! Or you can leave them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze them for up to three months.