If you enjoy a hint of lemon, these protein lemon balls are perfect. They're the Goldie-locks of lemon flavor, packed with protein and fiber!
Since the base is made of chickpeas, they're a little less dense than those made with nuts. However, I added a small amount of nuts and dates to get some of that dense texture we've come to expect with protein bliss balls.
- Chickpeas: If you buy canned, opt for organic. My preferred way is to buy dried bagged beans because they're significantly cheaper - then pressure cook them in like 30 minutes! Chickpeas pack fiber, protein & several bioactive compounds.
- Dates: Many of my ball/bite recipes call for dates because they're gooey, caramel like texture. But to save a little money, try using baking dates which are dates already pulverized. Or, increase whole dates to 1 ½ cups.
- Pecans: These nuts are already a tad sweet and creamy. Choose raw, unsalted, unsweetened.
- Chia Seeds: Choose organic chia seeds if possible. If you'd like to know more about chia seeds check out this blog post.
- Ginger: Choose ground for convenience, or if you have the root on-hand, peel it and use a scant teaspoon.
- Lemon: A really powerful acid great for digestion in doses. Some studies suggest the acid in lemon (citric acid) works like acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar. Which means it can improve the glycemic response to foods.
- Honey: raw, organic honey - ideally from your region provides therapeutic benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Ultimately, this may reduce the risk of allergies.
Balls are really just ingredients stirred up together, or put into a food processor and made into bite sized balls. They go by many names like – energy balls, protein balls, bites, bliss balls, or just "Balls".
Regardless of their name, I like to include variations of the following ingredients:
- Fats/proteins: Whole or butter forms of nuts, seeds, or legumes
- Sweeteners: (that double as binders) dried fruit (like dates and raisins), honey
- Flavorings and binders: shredded coconut, chia seeds,
- Functional Ingredients: ashwagandha
Are balls good for you?
Yes, they can be. Bliss balls are typically chuck full of nutrient dense foods like nuts, seeds, grains and sometimes legumes - like my Lemon Truffle ones. Plus they're made with natural sweeteners to give you a little benefit beyond just the sweetness.
These recipes don't use protein powder because I rely on real food to increase the protein content. But, you're welcome to add some – just be sure to reduce the dry ingredients (or increase the wet ingredients) to keep them held together.
A note on Functional Ingredients
Bliss balls are a great vehicle for functional ingredients like adaptogens. Adaptogens are just as the name suggests, they help us adapt to, and manage chronic stress. Ashwagandha is a common type of adaptogen and used in bites in this recipe.
Chronic stress is a real issue and is correlated with many of the leading causes of disease including cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
Note that I do not recommend including adaptogens when serving kids unless you've previously discussed this with your health care practitioner.
I love using Medjool dates in bliss balls because they're sweet and help bind. But sometimes it's not worth buying whole dates if you're just going to pulverize them. Check out Ziyad baking dates, which are considerably cheaper and ready to use.
Baking dates are much more dense, so you can't go cup for cup. I find that a 2:1 ratio (whole dates : baking dates) usually works. So, if a recipe calls for 2 cups whole, pitted dates, you can sub in 1 cup baking dates.
Anything! Rolling these tiny bites in a finishing ingredient really make them presentation worthy. Try: arrowroot powder, minced nuts or seeds or shredded coconut.
Depending on the recipe, you can add a tiny bit of water. Or, more dates, honey or nut butter also work great. Add any of these ingredients a tablespoon at a time, mixing between additions to ensure you don't over do it.
These protein and energy packed balls can last up to ten days in the fridge in an airtight container, or longer in the freezer (but they won't)! 🙂
Lemon Protein Balls
- Measuring Scoops & Spoons
- Microwave Safe, Glass Mixing Bowl
- Mixing Spoon
- Food Processor
- Cookie scoop or large spoon
- 1 .5 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1.5 cups packed pitted dates, about 15 dates, or ¾ cup baking dates*
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 tbsp honey
- the zest and juice of one lemon, ~2-3 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ginger root, peeled or ½ teaspoon powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-4 tablespoon arrowroot powder for dusting
- Drain and rinse your chickpeas really well, in cool running water for 30 seconds or so. This helps diminish the bean-y flavor.
- Next add all of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until a cohesive mixture forms, around 1 minute.
- Scoop into large 1 tablespoon servings using a cookie scoop, or regular spoon. Shape into balls.
- Prepare a small plate to roll your balls in, by placing 2 tablespoon arrowroot powder onto the plate.
- Once the balls are formed, roll them in the powder and set aside to chill. Continue with the remaining balls, adding a little arrowroot to the plate as you go.
- Chill for 60 + minutes and enjoy!