From protein porridge to protein pancakes, if it’s got a spoonful of muscle fuel in it you can count us in. Protein balls are another favourite at Form HQ, an easy-to-make protein hit that’s also (in most cases) suitable for vegans. “Protein balls are a perfect snack for pretty much anyone,” says Paul Coonan, a chef of 20 years and founder of healthy food blog, The Urban Canteen, “especially for those who lead a busy lifestyle or love to refuel as soon as possible after a workout.”
Here Coonan explains everything you need to know about making protein balls, from finding the perfect flavour balance to his favourite protein balls recipe.
What Exactly Is A Protein Ball?
A protein ball is usually made up of your favourite vegan protein powder, and a combination of nut butter, oats, and dried fruits. They are so simple to make, easily adaptable, and can be tailored to your personal likes.
You can hold them at an ambient temperature, which makes them perfect for popping into a container and throwing in your gym bag or handbag, ready for a mid-afternoon pick me up or post-workout fuel up. Because there is no cooking involved, they are also a snack that can be made quickly.
9 Proven Tips For Making Delicious Protein Balls
Keep It Simple
There are a few things to remember in order to make a good protein ball, the first being to not overcomplicate things. Don’t try to add too many flavours; think chocolate, vanilla, or even chocolate orange or tiramisu. If you start adding lots of contrasting flavours, chances are that when they all get mixed together, they won’t taste great.
Remember that the protein powder can also help elevate the flavour, by using a chocolate peanut or vanilla they can bring some serious flavour to the party without the need for adding a whole list of other ingredients.
Easy On The Sweetener
Secondly, don’t over sweeten. If you are adding ingredients like dates, mashed banana, apple puree, or dried fruits (all of which are great to bring sweetness as well as help combine the balls), you may not even need to add a sweetener like maple syrup.
Taste, Taste, Taste
Thirdly, because it doesn’t need to be cooked, you can taste it as you mix, so if you feel it does need sweetener then add this towards the end. If you feel it needs some more spice like cinnamon or more cocoa powder (depending on what flavour you are making) then you can also add as you go.
Finding A Dry-Wet Balance
Remember that it needs to bind well to form a ball, so don’t use too many wet or sticky ingredients like nut butter, syrups, and fruit purees. Also take it easy on dry ingredients like oats, nuts, and chickpea flour. You need the right balance, so if you add more cocoa powder for example to flavour the ball, you may need to counter that with a bit more liquid or wet ingredients such as nut butter or plant milk so the balls will bind well.
No Need For A Blender
You really don’t need any specialist equipment to make your own protein balls. A good food processor will be a huge advantage as you can pretty much add all the ingredients and blitz. But if you don’t own a food processor, fear not, all you really need is a mixing bowl and an ambition to get your hands dirty.
Keeping Them Fresh
A good airtight container is always ideal to store your protein balls. This way they will last up to five days (as long as you haven’t polished them all off sooner).
Wet Your Hands
Another top tip when rolling balls with lots of dried fruit, (which can make the balls sticky and difficult to roll) is to wet your hands with cold water then take a spoonful and roll, then wet your hands again, and so on.
Chickpeas Are The Secret Sauce
Oats are a great base for protein balls as they can be blended easily, take on flavours well, and are extremely nutritious. But for me, my go-to base for protein balls is chickpeas.
This might sound strange if you have never tried it before, but trust me it is so good and can taste like raw cookie dough when done right. They also blend really well, set nicely to be rolled into balls well, and increase the protein content as chickpeas are a great source of protein.
Dates are another great addition to protein balls, as they add a great level of sweetness, help bind the mix well, and are high in fibre. Dried fruits like cranberries, apricots, and sultanas, are also a great addition to the mix as they blend well and bring just the right level of sweetness.
How To Make Paul’s Tiramisu Protein Balls
- 1 tin of drained chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon of chocolate and hazelnut spread
- 2 tablespoons tiramisu performance protein
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons plant based milk
- Grated dark chocolate (optional)
- Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz well, until you have a smooth dough formed.
- Roll into around 10 balls, then roll them through some grated dark chocolate if you so wish (would totally recommend doing this).
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then enjoy at your next coffee break.
How To Make Form’s Choc Hazelnut Protein Balls
- 200g roasted blanched hazelnuts
- 40g Performance Choc Hazelnut
- 1 tsp raw cacao powder
- 1/8 tsp Himalayan salt
- 150g pitted medjool dates
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- In a powerful food processor, blend the hazelnuts together with all the other dry ingredients until they’re broken down into smaller pieces.
- Add the dates, coconut oil and vanilla into the mix and blend until it has a sticky crumble-like consistency.
- Place the mix into the freezer for about 10 minutes, then squeeze it into small balls. Store them in the freezer or fridge.