Do you understand the importance of protein, but are sick of healthy snacks that taste like cardboard? These peanut butter and jelly protein balls kick your diet into high gear and deliver the amazing flavor you deserve!
Soft, chewy peanut butter balls with an explosion of strawberry jam inside—this is the perfect back-to-school snack for kids, or for you on a busy workday. This recipe uses amaranth instead of oats for the base. Amaranth is an ancient pseudo-grain that packs more protein per serving compared to other grains. These peanut butter protein balls also contain fiber, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron!
This recipe takes the classic sandwich you know and love and turns it into an incredibly delicious but healthy snack. Call ‘em energy bites, call ‘em little bits of heaven, whatever—they’re delicious, nutritious, and will satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your daily protein intake.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Protein Balls Recipe
Ingredients (makes twelve balls)
- 15 pitted Medjool dates
- 1 cup popped amaranth (4 tbsp. amaranth seeds)
- 1/4 cup ground chia seeds
- 1/2 cup of your favorite peanut butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Your favorite jam/jelly
- Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and then spread twelve dollops of your favorite jam/jelly across it. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least two hours.
- Blend the pitted Medjool dates, amaranth, ground chia seeds, peanut butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. You’re shooting for a sticky, well-mixed consistency.
- Remove the jam from the freezer.
- With your hands, form twelve discs from the sticky mixture.
- Place a dollop of jam/jelly in the center of each disc.
- Fold the edges of the disc and to seal the jelly/jam inside.
- Roll it into a ball.8. Once all twelve balls are made, store them in the refrigerator.
You can store these high protein snacks in the fridge for about a week. However, remember that you can freeze them if you like. Peanut butter and jelly protein balls will last for up to three months in the freezer.
Understanding the Importance of Protein and Its Role in the Body
While the recipe above gives you delicious, healthy snacks, it helps to understand the role of protein in the body. We all know that it’s important for building muscle tissue, but what else does it do? It’s a pretty essential nutrient and does so much more than help build stronger muscles.
Essential for Life
According to MedlinePlus, “You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.” Of course, this is an oversimplification. The truth is that eating more protein, whether it’s in the form of the peanut butter balls we talked about above, protein bars, overnight oats, egg protein powders, or something else, can have some pretty profound benefits for your body and mind.
One of the most critical benefits of following a diet high in protein (and fiber) is that it will help you control your hunger and reduce appetite. One of the most common reasons we pack on extra weight is that we’re constantly snacking. That influx of calories, whether from healthful or unhealthful sources, just adds to our waistlines.
By reducing our hunger, we cut back on snacking, reducing our caloric intake, and furthering our weight loss goals. So, if you’ve been fighting the battle of the bulge but aren’t making progress because you’re always hungry, adding more protein to your meals might be the key to success.
Beyond Muscle Mass
Yes, protein is vital for building new muscle tissue. However, it also helps improve your physical strength. It can also help prevent muscle loss. The body metabolizes muscle tissue in many instances, but a diet rich in protein can help prevent that.
When we think about bone health, we tend to think of calcium. However, the truth is that protein is important for good bone health too. Studies of people who consume plenty of protein show that they also have stronger bones and they can avoid age-related conditions like osteoporosis.
Want a simple way to kick your metabolism into overdrive? Go for the protein. It’s been shown to help improve your metabolic function and encourage the body to burn more fat. Some studies have shown that a high-protein diet alone can help you burn over 250 additional calories per day (the equivalent of an hour of moderate exercise).
Many of us associate protein intake with an increase in blood pressure. If you eat red meat, you’re more likely to have hypertension, right? While that’s true, it’s more about the red meat than it is the protein. In fact, high protein diets have been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Of course, you do need to choose the right protein sources to see those benefits.
Building a Better Diet
In the end, protein is a vital element to health and a strong mind and body. You’ll find that the recipe above is a great way to add a delicious, nutritious source of protein to your diet. However, understand that you need to take a second look at the rest of what you eat as well.
Are you getting enough fiber? What about fresh fruits and vegetables? Are you avoiding sources of unnecessary, potentially dangerous chemicals, such as processed foods?
Remember that not all sources of protein are created equal. Also, protein is only one of the building blocks required for a healthy body and mind.