These simple energy bites are an oldie, but a goodie. There are many similar recipes like this around the web. That's because these bites are so easy to make, are full of natural ingredients, are unprocessed, and truly do have that hint of an oatmeal raisin cookie--but with peanut butter, of course!
Does anyone else have an on-and-off love affair with raisins or other dried fruit? I certainly do. At times, I forget about even using dried fruit. Dried fruit can be incredibly nutritious! However, it can also be loaded with an incredible amount of added sugar. Many dried fruits contain added sugar either to help with tartness (i.e. dried cranberries) or simply to enhance flavor. The added sugar makes it easy to forget about how sweet dried fruit is on its own.
Side Note: I really wish raisin bran cereals used raisins without added sugar. What's the point? #nutritionpetpeeve
When it comes to food labels, they can be a little confusing. Look at the image and example above. This dried pineapple product contains 30 grams of sugar. Is that a lot of sugar? Yes. However, the important thing to note is that this sugar is naturally found in the fruit. You can see from the ingredient list there are no added sugars since the only ingredient is "organic dried pineapple". This is a simple example, however, most food labels can be a lot more confusing as there are many different types of ingredients that add sugar. Luckily, the FDA is requiring a change to the food labels which should make it easier for consumers to understand what they are getting.
One of the requirements is for the food label to list grams of added sugars and the percent of daily value. This food label of the dried pineapple would then say "Added Sugars: 0 grams". This will help us distinguish how much sugar is added to the product verses what is naturally present. We will then be able to see how much sugar is added to those raisin bran cereals compared to what is naturally found in the dried fruit.
You can already see some of the new food labels coming out. However, manufacturers are not required to have the label until July 26th, 2018, or 2019 for those manufacturers with less than $10 million in food sales. More to come.
The caution with dried fruit is that calories can add up quickly. Think about the volume difference between 15 raisins verses 15 grapes. It's a big difference! Fruit not only fills us up with fiber, but also because of its water content. It is certainly fine to include dried fruit as part of your regular pantry stock, but make sure you limit your portion sizes. A serving of dried fruit is 1/4 cup. I like think of dried fruit as more of a condiment. Sprinkle it on your cereal. Add it to oatmeal. Mix with a small handful of dried nuts. Or...
Make these easy delicious energy bites when you're looking to tame that 2:30 p.m. hunger strike or satisfy that sweet tooth after dinner!
What questions do you have about the food label? Leave your question in a comment box below!
Oh, and check out a video I'm featured in from ProHealth Care!
oatmeal cookie energy bites
Makes: About 15-20 bites, depending on how big you roll them!
Add your nuts to a food processor and blend until the nuts are coarse (see posted picture above). Feel free to use a variety of nuts. I used a mix of cashews, peanuts, almonds, and pecans.
Next, add the chopped nuts and the remaining ingredients to a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Roll into 1-inch balls.
Store in an airtight container. I keep mine in the fridge to maintain the shape of the energy bite.
*Notes: You might find by adding the chia and flaxseeds makes for a drier texture making it a little more difficult to roll into balls. However, the health benefit is worth it!
1 cup nuts (any variety such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews)
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup unsweetened raisins
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup agave nectar, or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)*
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (optional)*