You can call them protein balls or energy bites, but regardless of their name, these No-Bake Coconut Cashew Energy Bites are the perfect healthy snack for so many reasons! With just a few ingredients and minimal time, you can snack on these bites during the workday, while running errands, before or after a workout, or after dinner as a sweet treat.
Snack on This
There are so many protein bars and supplements in stores these days that make it tough to choose the right one. So, what makes a snack “healthy”? For a generally healthy individual, snacks are meant to keep you satisfied between meals and provide extra energy on those busy or highly active days. Our body is trained to metabolize carbohydrates as the primary source of energy, but our bodies need sustainable energy if we want to feel satisfied more than an hour. A sustainable snack pairs fiber-rich carbohydrates (or complex carbohydrates) with a lean protein or healthy fat. This combination of macronutrients helps to stabilize blood sugars and allow a slow release of energy into the bloodstream.
And that is where these No-Bake Coconut Cashew Energy Bites come in to sweep you off your feet and make you feel like a snacking rockstar! These snack bites combine fiber-rich carbohydrates (dates, rolled oats) with both plant-based protein and “healthy” unsaturated fats (cashews, coconut, nut butter, chia seeds). Needless to say, you will feel empowered to rock a workout, knock out that to-do list, or chase your kids around.
- Cashews: Loaded with polyunsaturated fats (those heart and brain healthy fats), fiber, and minerals such as copper and magnesium. It’s best to purchase raw cashews and roast or salt them yourself. Raw nuts and seeds tend to be less expensive and seasoning them yourself allows you to control the added sodium. For the purpose of these energy bites, raw or roasted cashews won’t change the flavor much.
- Medjool dates: The natural concentrated sweetness of this fruit makes for a great nutrient-dense sweetener in any sweet recipe. Dates are rich in magnesium which helps to relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and keep things moving along through the gut (if you know what I mean).
- Shredded coconut: Coconut is a high-fat fruit containing both saturated and unsaturated fats. These fats are slightly different in structure, though. The medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) are metabolized more like carbohydrates and used for immediate energy. Coconut is also rich in antioxidants and has anti-bacterial effects.
- Rolled oats: Adding some additional soluble fiber to help promote healthy bowel movements and improve cholesterol levels. I used a small blender to finely grind my oats into a flour consistency, but you can also use a coarse grind depending on the texture you enjoy.
- Nut butter (of choice): Almond, cashew, peanut, mixed nuts, or even sunflower seed butter are all great sources of polyunsaturated fats (those fats that help improve heart and brain health and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol). Nut and seed butters also give this an extra punch of plant-based protein with fiber.
- Chia seeds: More protein. More fiber. And now some omega-3 fatty acids! Plant-focused diets need to prioritize adding omega-3 food sources to meals and snacks as often as possible. Chia seeds are a simple addition to any snack bite!
- Ground cinnamon: Because yummy flavor! Just a touch of cinnamon can help balance the flavor. Some research also supports cinnamon promoting improved blood circulation and playing a role in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
- Sea Salt: A pinch of salt can go a long way to help round out all the flavors in a recipe. Coarse sea salt gives these bites a great sweet and salty feel.
In the Kitchen
A food processor makes blending these ingredients very simple. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender with a large base. You may need to add 1-2 ingredients at a time to slowly process each ingredient individually. Keep a spatula on hand to scrape down the sides and help turnover the ingredients from bottom to top. If you really want to put some elbow grease into it, you can roughly chop the cashews, finely chop the dates, and throw it all in a big mixing bowl for a good ole stir!
I recommend making room in your freezer for an 8″x8″ baking dish if you want to speed things along. If you are not in a rush to snack on these (which why the heck not?!), you can pop them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes instead.
Make it Your Own
Modifications are encouraged to fit your unique lifestyle and nutrition needs.
- Nut allergy? Try using a blend of sunflower and pumpkin seeds instead of cashews. Swap out the nut butter for a sunflower seed butter (I like the Trader Joe’s unsweetened sunflower seed spread).
- Don’t have chia seeds? Try hemp hearts or ground flax seeds. These all offer similar nutritional benefits as we aim for the omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein.
- Not a fan of coconut? That’s okay! I used to grimace at the smell of coconut, too. These bars would actually taste just as good without the coconut! There is plenty of nutrition in the remaining recipe ingredients that the bites will not lack in satiety by removing the coconut.
- Make them into bars or balls! I prefer these square bites because I honestly am too lazy to individually roll and shape the dough into cute little energy balls. But if that’s you, please do so (and tag me in your pretty picture @chefshannonnutrition)! You can also turn these bites into energy bars for a more substantial snack or even part of your breakfast. Sometimes I will individually wrap each bar in wax paper for an easy snack to grab on the way out the door.
I love making these No-Bake Coconut Cashew Energy Bites (or any energy bite) on the weekend and storing half the batch in the refrigerator and the other half in the freezer for those busier weeks when I do not have time to meal prep or get to the store. So, are you ready to savor your next snack? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below, tag me on Instagram and Facebook, and leave a star rating with your feedback.
Coconut Cashew Energy Bites
- Food processor
- 8"x8" rimmed baking dish
- Wax paper
- Chef's knife & cutting board
- Food storage container
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates (soaked in warm water if not fresh)
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup rolled oats, finely ground
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 – 4 tbsp nut butter of choice (recipe used raw almond butter)
- ¼ – ½ tsp sea salt (optional)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Place cashews in a heat-safe bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 5 minutes. Drain completely.
- Line an 8" x 8" rimmed baking dish with wax paper (parchment paper works, too). Set aside.
- Place all ingredients in a food processor, starting with only 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Pulse several times to incorporate ingredients using a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed. Continue to process until ingredients from a sticky "dough". If not sticking together, add an additional 1 tablespoon of nut butter at a time and continue to process. Mixture should hold together when pinched between two fingers.
- Transfer mixture to lined baking dish. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread evenly while firmly pressing down to flatten.
- Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes until slightly hardened. This will make it easier to slice.
- Use the edges of the wax paper to transfer to a large cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice into about 1" x 1" squares (or desired portion sizes).
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.