Happy Halloween! We’ve officially entered the months of indulgence 😉
I love the holidays, but all the feasting can really bog me down, emotionally and physically. Too much sugar is usually the culprit – it makes me moody and sluggish (nobody wants that!). So I’ve committed to forgoing refined sugar on weekdays (if you know me and see me cheating every now and then, please don’t judge) for a while. Now that I work from home it’s a little easier to stay away from the treats…if I don’t have them around, they never make it into my mouth 😉 Ha!
I’ve been wanting to make a little treat that’s delicious, lightly sweet, nutritious and filling. So, I combined some of my favorite wholesome ingredients and created Nourishing Sweet Potato Protein Bites.
Baked sweet potato, almond meal, and nut butter are the primary ingredients in Nourishing Sweet Potato Protein Bites, making them high in antioxidants, packed with protein, vegan and gluten-free. As for the nut butter, I used peanut butter (one of the loves of my life), but you could use a different nut butter if you like. Another one of my longtime crushes is toasted pumpkin seeds, and yes, I used them here too. I toss them in savory dishes, oatmeal, desserts, as a garnish for soups…just about everything. Pumpkin seeds are so nutritionally packed, it would take an entire post to list the benefits. If you’d like to learn more, I found this Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds super helpful.
When I tested this recipe out last week I popped a couple in my mouth in the morning, unintentionally forgoing lunch and avoiding hunger all the way until dinner. I didn’t even realize until dinnertime that I’d forgotten to eat lunch. My point is, I hit upon a combination of ingredients that satisfies my hunger, gives me energy, is nutritious AND delicious. Bam!
There’s a lot of debate about the pros and cons of various sweeteners on the market, and I don’t claim to have all the facts about that, but my personal preference is to try to avoid white refined sugar as much as possible. (Notice I said, “try.” Sometimes I don’t try AT ALL and I go full out. Life is short, my friends!) For these Nourishing Sweet Potato Protein Bites, I used a little bit of maple syrup (too much makes the mixture soggy and difficult to roll) and two tablespoons of coconut sugar. If you’re avoiding sugar altogether (you’re a better person than me!), you could definitely leave the sweetener out and just enjoy the natural sweetness of the baked sweet potato.
To keep Nourishing Sweet Potato Protein Bites fresh, store them in the freezer in a covered container and defrost them for about 10 minutes before eating. If you’re headed out on a hike and putting these in your backpack, place them in a little container to keep them from getting squashed at the bottom of your pack.
Lastly, don’t try to pass these off to your friends as donut holes – you’ll just get dirty looks. Hand them out as Nourishing Sweet Potato Protein Bites and then they’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂
Nourishing Sweet Potato Protein Bites
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 20 bites
- Category: Snacks
- 1 medium sweet potato, sliced in half lengthwise and baked
- 1 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 3/4 cups almond meal, divided
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds, toasted*
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
- 2 tablespoons nut butter of choice**
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (optional)
- Spray cooking oil, such as canola (for rolling)
Preheat oven to 400°F
Slice sweet potato in half lengthwise. Spray baking sheet with oil and place potato face down to bake, 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before handling. Scoop out the sweet potato and place in a small bowl to mash. Discard the peel.
While the potato bakes, place 2 1/2 cups of the almond meal and all of other ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cooked and cooled mashed sweet potato to the mixture and thoroughly combine all ingredients with a fork. Refrigerate the mixture for one hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the remaining 1/4 cup of almond meal in a small shallow bowl for rolling. Remove the chilled mixture from the refrigerator, spray your hands lightly with cooking oil, measure out one tablespoon of the mixture at a time, and roll between your hands to form a ball. Roll each ball around in the bowl with almond meal to coat and place on the parchment-covered baking sheet. Once you have used up all the mixture (approx. 20 balls), place the tray in the freezer for about 1 1/2 hours to harden. Remove the Nourishing Sweet Potato Energy Bites to a covered food storage container and place back in the freezer for storage. Thaw each bite for about 10 minutes before eating.
*To toast the pumpkin seeds, place a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Watch the seeds carefully and toss with a wooden spoon. When the seeds begin to pop and brown, they are ready. Remove them from the skillet to keep them from burning. **I used natural, crunchy peanut butter (no added salt or sugar), but another unsalted nut butter will work as well.