As a parent, I feel like I am always on the search for a great new snack. Sure, we have a lot of good things in our arsenal already but we could always have more! I mean, snacking is like second nature to kids and it can get a little out of control when not planned well. I find that when I’m not prepared with healthy snacks, I give in to the “I’m hungry!!!” cries and toss unhealthy chips or chocolates to my kids just to keep them calm. So not nutritious!!! So, the more healthy snack recipes I have, the better.
Protein Filled Snacks
Since my daughter is an especially picky eater, she doesn’t always want to eat a lot of meat. While we aren’t vegetarians by any means, I do often cook meals based around veggies and starches simply because I know that if I put a piece of chicken on my kids plate, it will be a battle (yes, I am scared of my toddler!).
Yet I know the importance of protein in diet and always try to make sure my kids are getting enough. You may actually be surprised that the amount of protein doctors recommend for kids is not that excessive. For kids ages 4 to 13, about .45 grams of protein per pound is recommended. So, my 35 pound 5 year old should be eating a little less than 16 grams of protein per day. If you want to think about it in food terms, that is about four chicken nuggets or 3/4 of a regular sized burger. That doesn’t seem like a hard goal to reach!
However, since I am not preparing highly potent protein meats often, I am always on the look out for snacks high in beneficial proteins that my daughter would eat. I just want to be sure she is hitting that recommended amount or at least getting close. Adding protein to a snack just seems like a logical way to make this goal achievable.
When I started looking into recipes for snack balls or bites (I had already created a recipe for healthy energy bites), I wanted to find a way to add some protein into the mix. After all, my daughter was loving the energy biter I made so I was pretty sure she would keep gobbling them up. If there was some extra protein inside, it would be great!
The answer here was simple, protein powder! Not only does a little protein powder go a long way in terms of adding those extra grams of protein, but it also tastes sweet, making it a perfect match to my sweet snack. Protein powder is also shelf stable which means it does not need to be refrigerated. I like snacks that are easy to travel with without having to work about keeping them cool An ingredient that doesn’t need to be kept in a fridge is always a win! So obviously, protein powder was going in this healthy snack recipe!
Gluten Free Snacks
In addition to wanting to add protein to my kids snacks, at the time I was writing this recipe, I was following a gluten free diet. I had just read the book Wheat Belly and was inspired by the ideas that it may be healthier for the gut to not eat so much processed wheat. In addition to the questions around wheat, I was finding that there are just so many other great “flours” out there that add more nutritional value to the foods I made.
For example, almond flour is lower in carbs, has a sweet nutty taste, is high in protein (6 grams of protein in one ounce of almond flour), and has a lot of natural antioxidants. Regular wheat flour cannot compare and claims non of these benefits. Almond flour has a low glycemic index which means it is better for regulating blood sugar when compared to regular flour. Oh, and, it may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol! Why would anyone not choose almond flour?!?
When you bake with gluten free flour in place of regular wheat flour, you will definitely notice some difference in the baked goods. For one, the baked goods tend to be more dense, moist and sometimes chewy when you use a gluten free flour like almond flour. However, in this recipe, I was simply using the flour to act as a binder, holding the wet ingredients together. Nothing was being baked so the baking properties of almond flour that some people don’t like (but I love!) would be avoided.
While almond flour was my main pick here, you can also try these other gluten free flours that will all lend different tastes and flavors to coconut bites:
- Coconut flour
- Cashew Flour
- Oat flour
- Teff Flour
- Chickpea flour
- Pea Flour
Each of these flours will definitely give you a different taste but this is the perfect recipe to experiment with. Each flour will lend it’s own set of nutritional benefits too (chickpea flour has a lot of protein and coconut flour has a sweet taste). So many options for healthy gluten free snacks!
Nut Butter Benefits
One other ingredient that I wanted to point out is the almond butter. While many people opt for peanut butter in energy bites and other granola bar recipes, I find that the strong taste of almond butter is fantastic in this recipe. It also gives these coconut bites and extra punch of almond taste- almond butter, almond flour… a natural fit!
Peanut butter and almond butter have about the same calories and sugar content but almond butter actually has more fiber and nutrients in general. So why not opt for the healthier nut butter?? If you are feeling super ambitious, take a look at this video about how to make almond butter at home.
Cooking with Kids
Once I had this coconut bite recipe planned and ready to go, I was ready to make them…and eat them! I absolutely love cooking with my kids as my sous chefs and making this recipe was the perfect afternoon activity. I had my five year old help measure the ingredients and also stir. My 18 month old tried to stir but mostly made a mess- but it was all for fun!!
My five year old was also able to help roll these balls and, since everything in them is safe to eat, she was able to lick her hands when we were done, a part of cooking that she especially enjoys.
No Bake Snack Recipes
This recipe is by far one of my absolute favorite no bake recipes. It is loaded with protein, full of healthy ingredients, I can make it with the help of my kids and it only takes a little bit of time to put together. You can store these snacks in the fridge for up to three weeks or make a big batch and freeze them for up to three months. And, if you need to bring them along with you, just place them in a plastic bag and you can be on your way- no refrigeration needed!
So go make a batch of coconut bites and get ready to discover your new favorite snack food! Oh, your kids will love it too!!! Happy baking!
These delicious coconut bites are a healthy snack that tastes like a dessert. Loaded with protein, nuts and coconut, they are gluten free, egg free and dairy free which makes the perfect for everyone!
- ½ cup almond flour (or oat flour)
- ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
- 2 tablespoons almond butter (or peanut butter)
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 tablespoons almond milk (or coconut milk)
- Mix all of the ingredients evenly together in a small mixing bowl. Use your hands to roll a spoonful of the mixture into a 1-inch ball.
- Place each ball on a baking sheet and repeat until all of the mixture is gone. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for about ½ hour before serving.
- Feel free to add a little more honey or peanut butter as needed to help hold them together.
- To make oat flour to use in this recipe, simply put uncooked, rolled oats in a food processor or coffee grinder and pulse until they resemble flour.
- Store these in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or wrapped well in the freezer for up to three months.
- Chocolate protein powder will be delicious in this recipe as well
- If you do not want to use protein powder, simply omit and increase the flour by 1/4 cup
- Use Sunbutter and oat flour in this recipe to also make it nut free