Kids love snacks! But, as caretakers, it’s important that we do our best to keep these snacks healthy. Real food ingredients matter, and protein balls for kids fall perfectly into this category.
They’re a great option if you’re trying to get started with clean eating for kids, without totally denying your kids the kind of sweet treats they naturally crave.
In this article I bring you a carefully compiled list of 21 nutrient-dense energy bites. Your kids (and you) will be excited to snack on these — fueling bodies and taste buds at the same time.
The best part is, most of these recipes can be made with ingredients from a well-stocked pantry. So if you’re stuck at home, and you want to make a fun snack, dig around the cupboards and get creative with your kids in the kitchen!
Teaching kids to cook is something every parent should try to do. It’s an important life skill, and a lot of people reach adulthood and realize they have no idea how to prepare nutritious meals for themselves.
For more advice, healthy snacks, and more, you might also want to try out the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, a favorite of mine.
What makes a healthy energy bite
Simple, whole, real food ingredients make for healthy energy ball recipes! Most protein balls are a combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, with extra flavors here and there.
We want to watch out for added processed sugars, artificial flavors, and candies that quickly take a nourishing snack and turn it into a dessert.
Some protein ball recipes call for added protein powders, but in most cases protein powders are not appropriate for kids. The dose is more than they need. Too much protein at once is hard for the body to process, and many powders are full of fillers and additives that are best kept out of your child’s diet.
Nuts and seeds provide natural protein and healthy fats that are perfectly adequate for kids, and in combination with carbohydrate-rich fruits, energy bites are a balanced snack to fuel bodies and minds.
Benefits of protein balls for kids
Energy bites check a number of boxes for me as a nutritionist and a mom of two active kids. We make them often, because they are:
- Rich in real food nutrition for kids
- Convenient grab n’ go snacks
- Healthy after school snacks
- Appealing to picky eaters
- Healthy options for active teens
- Great snacks before a soccer game
Protein ball recipe round-up
Here are twenty-one nutritious and delicious energy bites that you and your kids won’t want to miss out on! Enjoy making and eating these tasty recipes together.
Cookie dough bites
Tried and true, this gluten-free Cookie Dough Bite recipe is the one my kids’ default to! It has the qualities of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie without the flour and refined sugar. A win for sure. We like to double the batch and store half in the freezer.
Grain-free chocolate gingerbread cookie bites
Just like an ooey-gooey chocolatey ginger snap (is an ooey-gooey snap an oxymoron?), this Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Bite recipe is a fun way to expand little palates with the combination of fresh or candied ginger, cacao, and molasses.
Cranberry coconut macadamia bites
Buttery macadamia nuts pair perfectly with tart dried cranberries — all held together with sunflower seed butter (a peanut-free alternative). Young kids can help you add the pre-measured ingredients for these Cranberry Coconut Macadamia Bites to the bowl of a food processor, and older kids can learn to safely blend away — turning healthy ingredients into a dough-like consistency.
Tropical turmeric bites
Turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods out there, and these Tropical Turmeric Bites combine its unique flavor with creamy coconut butter and sunflower seed butter to bring a nutritious energy snack to your table. Turmeric is also a great natural food dye — leaving all who help with yellow fingers — a fun nutrition activity with your kids.
Apple crisp balls
We are always seeking ways to make homemade versions of processed foods that come individually packaged — hence these Apple Crisp Balls were born. An even tastier version of apple pie LaraBars and they are super easy to make. Get your kids involved and they will be excited to have these energy bites as a healthy after school snack.
When I hear the word “truffle” I think of dessert. While these Chocolate Coconut Truffles can easily pass as a tasty treat, they are full of healthy fats and antioxidants, with no sugar to speak of — making them a great snack option for both you and your kids.
Raspberry coconut energy bites
Fifteen Spatulas nails this energy bite recipe with the addition of freeze-dried raspberries! The pop of flavor is uniquely tasty, all each ingredient is shelf-stable — making them perfect for travel or on-the-go snacking.
Key lime pie energy bites
Yes, please! The sweet-tart combo of key lime pie is all wrapped up in these energy bites from Peas and Crayons! My kids love to zest and squeeze limes, so this recipe brings them right to the kitchen to help me with, and the flavor brings us all to the table to enjoy them together.
Mango energy bites
My youngest son’s favorite fruit is mango, so these Mango Energy Bites from Minimalist Baker are top of his list — I can’t argue his choice. Between the dates and dried mango they pack a punch of natural sweetness that appeals to kids. Balanced with the healthy fats in nuts and coconut, they are a great pick-me-up snack.
Strawberry energy bites
These six-ingredient Strawberry Energy Bites from Spartan Life are sure to put a smile on your kids’ taste buds! Their beautiful color, simple ingredients, and energy giving nutrition make for an A+ snack. We like them rolled in coconut or sesame seeds
Cranberry orange protein balls
The combination of cranberry and orange is delicious — there’s no way around it. These Cranberry Orange Protein Balls from The Roasted Root will surely satisfy cravings, and I love that you can swap out cashews, pumpkin seeds or pecans for the almonds and walnuts. Be creative!
Coconut apricot energy balls
Apricots, dates, cashews, and coconut (plus a little vanilla and salt) — so simple, and so tasty. Keep a batch of these Coconut Apricot Energy Balls from Happy Healthy Mama on hand as they are full of important nutrients, such as zinc and vitamin C, to help boost our immune health and keep our energy strong.
Lemon poppy seed energy bites
You might be surprised how many kids love the taste of lemon! Just like my Lemon Blueberry Muffins, my kids love From My Bowl’s Lemon Poppy Seed Energy Bites. I love the combination of the cashews, real maple syrup, lemon juice AND lemon zest. The poppy seeds add just the right texture.
Vanilla goji berry balls
With their high levels of antioxidants, goji berries (also known as wolfberries) help boost immunity and body function. I love to sprinkle them on salads, or add them to homemade trail mix, but boy are they delicious in these Vanilla Goji Berry Balls from Running on Real Food. Paired with cashews, dates, cacao nibs, and vanilla, these snack bites are full of flavorful nutrition.
Peanut butter no-bake energy bites
Sometimes your kids (or you) just need a good old fashioned chocolate chip peanut butter ball! This no-bake recipe from Gimme Some Oven fits the bill, and includes plenty of ideas for how to substitute ingredients to fit different dietary or allergy needs. Your kids are going to be excited to help roll these tasty morsels — just don’t expect these bites to hang around long.
Carrot cake energy balls
If your family enjoys a good slice of carrot cake, then you’ll love these Carrot Cake Energy Balls from Detoxinista. All the elements that make up the delicious flavor of the prized dessert, but easily made in a food processor with wholesome real food ingredients!
Blueberry muffin energy balls
If there’s one berry that’s top of the list for our family, it’s the blueberry! So, Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls are a natural fit for a healthy snack everyone loves? Fed and Fit did it right with a neutral base of cashew butter and almond flour while adding the pop of flavor in the blueberries and lemon zest! We like to roll ours in a little coconut at the end.
Trail mix energy bites
Mix and match at its best! This Trail Mix Energy Bites recipe from The Real Food RDs puts your family in the driver’s seat of creativity. With a base of gluten-free rolled oats, nut or seed butter, honey, and vanilla, you can then choose the whole nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that you would like to mix in or roll on the outside. Food fun, here we come.
Chocolate pistachio protein balls
There’s something special about pistachios. The flavor? Of course. But, the color? Heck, yes! Chocolate Pistachio Protein Balls from Cotter Crunch are both delicious and beautiful. The option is there to use protein powder, but we opt for coconut flour instead. The kids love to roll these bites in ground pistachios at the end.
Chocolate peppermint brownie truffles
Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Truffles have become a tradition as a healthy holiday treat in our home, but this recipe is worth making any time of year. Just roll these bites in ground walnuts instead of crushed peppermint candy.
Toasted cashew ginger bites
A little spice and a little sweet — we love Toasted Cashew Ginger Bites! Simple ingredients, bursting with flavor. For a little added texture, try these sprinkled with sesame seeds or shredded coconut.
With all of these awesome protein ball recipes for kids, it’s time to get rolling! Nutrient packed easy snacks that you can get the whole family involved in both making and eating.
Grab-and-go fuel boosting foods for travel, sporting events, or days away from home, energy bites are a healthy choice to add to your routine.