Bliss balls, protein balls, energy balls, protein energy balls – whatever you call them, they are the guilt-free snack everyone loves!
Whether you are fitness fan looking to up your protein intake, a sugar freak searching for a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth or a parent wanting a less processed snack box treat for your kids, bliss balls could well be the answer to your prayers.
What are Bliss Balls?
A bliss ball is a ‘healthy’ sweet treat, though quite how healthy it really is depends on the ingredients that go into the ball.
The size of the ball can vary and from ice-cream scoop-sized to a hefty golf ball are common. Personally, I like to make mine a bit smaller – more like a large marble. After all, I can always go back for a second one if the first isn’t big enough!
And the ‘bliss’ bit? Well that comes from the yumminess of the things that you put into your bliss ball. Dates, dried apricots, peanut butter, chocolate, cacao powder, coconut, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, almond meal, freeze-dried raspberries, honey, maple syrup, vanilla extract, ginger, spices, matcha, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, acai powder – there are so many delicious combinations of flavours and once you have a couple of basic bliss ball recipes, the only limit is your imagination.
Are Bliss Balls Healthy?
Let’s put it right out there immediately and say mostly yes, with a tiny hint of no.
It’s easy to make a low-sugar bliss ball, and if you are very health-conscious this is the kind of protein ball that you’ll go for.
That said, a lot of recipes are fairly high in sugars – even if most of those sugars are in a ‘healthier’, unrefined, more natural form like fructose and glucose from dried fruit and honey. If you decide to make your own energy ball then the how much of these sugars goes into them is up to you. If you prefer to buy commercially produced protein balls, check the nutritional information on the package so you know exactly how much sugar you are eating.
Also ask yourself why you are eating a bliss ball. If you crave a treat but want to avoid sugar, you might need to be careful about the type of ball that you go for. But if you want a protein energy ball and are looking for a nutrient-dense snack to boost your energy levels then something packed with natural sugars could be ideal.
And if you like the idea of getting all of these delicious nutrients into your diet, but would prefer them in a drink form, take a look at our Best Protein Shake Recipe.
Bliss Ball Benefits
- Bliss balls take minutes to make – measure, mix, roll, chill and they are done.
- They are portable – chuck a couple in a zip-lock bag for a snack on the go, or put them in the storage compartment of your protein shaker. And if you’d like to know more about protein shakers, please see here.
- Bliss balls make a great breakfast replacement – if you struggle to eat a ‘proper’ brekkie or are rushed for time in the mornings, a protein ball on the train to work can really fill a hole.
- They are perfect to take the edge off the mid-afternoon slump – around 3pm, my blood sugar drops and I start to feel drowsy. A glass of water, a bliss ball and a few stretches zap me back to life.
- A balanced protein energy ball is the ideal pre-workout energy boost – this is particularly true if you add a pre-workout supplement to your mix.
- Bliss balls are also great post-workout – again, you can increase their nutritional value by stirring a scoop or 2 of protein powder into your basic recipe.
- Protein balls are a healthy lunchbox snack for kids and adults alike – keep an eye on those sugars and the pluses should outweigh the minuses.
- Bliss balls are an energy booster that don’t rely on processed sugars to give you a buzz.
- They are high in healthy fats and fibre – it depends on the recipe, but if you have nuts and fruits, you have good fats and fibre. Simple.
- They store well – they will keep in a container in the fridge for 5 or 6 days. I’ve even been known to make a big batch and freeze half.
- Bliss balls are an excellent way of using up nuts and dried fruit – I’m terrible, I confess. I know nuts are good for me, but I buy them and the forget to eat them. Blitzing them into a protein ball is the perfect solution.
If you’d like a brilliant basic bliss balls recipe, please see here.
Bliss Ball Ingredients
Here are some of the most popular ingredients to chuck in your bliss balls. Some are really good for you, others depend on your goals and all are best when balanced with a rounded, healthy diet full of natural whole foods.
If you add either a nut butter or raw nuts to your bliss balls you are introducing a natural protein source.
If you want to up the protein, you can mix in a scoop or 2 of your favourite protein powder. This is also a guaranteed way of getting a decent protein hit in a bliss ball that contains no nuts.
Nuts and dried fruits like dates and apricots are excellent sources of fibre.
Many protein energy ball recipes also include things like flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds and pepitas – all of which have great levels of fibre and have benefits for gut health.
And one of my favourite bliss ball recipes has a cup of rolled oats as the base. Oats, quinoa flakes and almond meal are all high in fibre.
Nuts and seeds contains loads of nutrients for their size and although they are high in fats, most of those fats are of the heart-healthy, monounsaturated variety.
Basically, the pluses that you get from eating nuts outweigh the minuses – as long as you don’t go crazy and eat you bliss balls by the dozen!
If you’d like to learn more about why eating more nuts and seeds is good for your health, see here.
Since the arrival of eating plans like the Keto and Paleo diets, carbs have been out of favour with many health-conscious people. The fact of the matter is that carbs are the main source of energy for the average body. It’s all about good carbs/bad carbs and consuming carbs in moderation.
Fruit like dates give a great carbohydrate hit, as do ingredients like oats.
If you would prefer to watch your carb intake, then using products like almond meal will give you a low carb option.
Vitamins & Minerals
Nuts, fruit and seeds all pack an impressive punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals. Let me give you some examples.
- Cashew Nuts – high in fibre, plant protein and good fats, cashews also provide Copper (important for a robust immune system and brain development), Magnesium and Manganese (both crucial for healthy bones). Then there is also Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron, Selenium, Thiamine, Vitamin K & B6.
- Dates – high in carbs and fibre, dates also contain Potassium (essential for nerve and muscle function), Magnesium, Copper, Manganese, Iron and Vitamin B6.
- Chia Seeds – high in fibre, plant protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds also give us Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper, Selenium, Iron, Magnesium and Calcium.
- LSA – linseed, sunflower seed and almond meal is a superfood bursting with nutrients. If you’d like to learn more, please see here.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Bliss Balls – the Nutrient Bomb
Bliss balls are an easy and enjoyable way to hit an impressive array of food groups, all a handy treat form. Take a bit of time to play with your base ingredients, be adventurous about adding seeds and different dried fruits, and you’ll be rewarded with a delicious snack, chock-full of nutrients for a healthy mind and body.