They’re not particularly attractive. In fact, my husband tells me they look like balls of turd. Soft and gooey, dark brown balls of turd. But damn, this turd is tasty.
Now that you’ve completely lost your appetite, let me introduce you to tonight’s raw vegan recipe: Raw vegan cacao protein balls.
While a raw vegan
diet lifestyle provides plenty of plant-based proteins, I still sometimes wonder if I’m getting enough protein on a daily basis with just juices, salads and more salads. Now that I’m no longer a corporate desk jockey, I’ve become much more physically active – from trampolining to pole dancing to rock climbing, I’ve been breaking down and building a lot more muscle than I did a year ago.* Eating handfuls of raw nuts can get boring, I’m not big on drinking protein shakes, and most importantly:
I prefer my protein to be disguised as dessert.
*My secret dream is to join the circus. Or better yet, Cirque du Soleil. If you know of any circuses that are looking for performers who will work in exchange for raw food, please let me know.
Luckily, this recipe, which I found on Gina’s blog here, satisfies all three of my requirements. I’ve adapted her recipe slightly to make it completely raw and vegan, and to make it a bit more gooey and chocolaty and sweet so that it really tastes like cookie dough. Each ball (under my adapted recipe) contains about 7.5 grams of protein, which is a little more than the protein found in a large egg. Given that I probably eat about 10 balls throughout the day, I think I should be all set on my protein intake.
These are ridiculously easy to make. You can make a batch of 15-18 rather big balls (giggle) in about 10 minutes, and they will keep in your fridge for at least a couple days (Disclaimer: Okay, so I made this up. I was never able to test this, as mine keep disappearing in a day or so, but hey, it sounds about right.). The best part of this recipe is that you can change the fillings (with only slight tweaks to the base recipe). Tonight I made two flavors – blueberry (my favorite) and cacao* topped with hemp seeds (a great source of protein and Omega-3 fats).
* What the heck is cacao? Am I just continually spelling cocoa incorrectly? Nope. Raw cacao (kuh-cow) is the unadulterated whole form of chocolate. It’s unrefined and unprocessed and contains a ton of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Cocoa (as well as milk and dark chocolate), on the other hand, is the adulterated, processed, and cooked form of cacao (so basically, not as good for you). You’ll notice that cacao is a lot more expensive and significantly more intense than cocoa or any dark chocolate bar you see in the market today. It’s so worth buying.
Blueberry Balls (Base recipe)
Step 1: Gather ingredients
1 cup Garden of Life raw protein powder (great neutral taste and full of healthy sprouted seeds and grains)
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (try to find raw and organic versions)
1 cup raw (not roasted), creamy almond butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
Step 2: Put all ingredients except for agave into the food processor
Pulse until the mixture resembles sawdust.
Step 3: Drizzle in agave slowly and pulse to combine
Step 4: Add dried blueberries and pulse
Step 5: Roll dough into balls using your hands
The best part of raw “baking” is that you can sample the batter without contracting Salmonella food poisoning. Take advantage of this and sample frequently (I usually end up with only 10 balls because of this). I like to store the balls in the fridge (otherwise, they get super gooey and are difficult to manage) on parchment or wax paper and stack them in layers in a large Tupperware container.
Cacao Balls with Hemp Seeds
Tweaks to the base recipe: Add 1/2 cup of raw cacao powder to the sawdust mixture and an extra 2 tablespoons of agave (otherwise your balls will be really dry). After balls are formed, stamp the tops with hemp seeds or for an even healthier boost of Omega-3s and plant protein, roll the entire ball in a mound of hemp seeds. The hemp seeds balance out the sweetest of the balls really well and the resulting balls remind me of those fried sesame balls you can get at dim sum restaurants.