Try this portable antioxidant-packed snack

If you’re like us, you’re always on the lookout for easy, healthy snacks. Christine Sorg, RD, CD, CSSD, Parkview Sports Medicine, shares a recipe for antioxidant-filled Energy Balls, the perfect quick, body-boosting treat.

Antioxidants are beneficial in a variety of ways, one of which is their ability to combat inflammation. When we consume a diet high in saturated fats, increase our exercise regimen, don’t get enough sleep or experience stress, inflammation increases in our bodies. Controlling inflammation is an important part of staying healthy and maintaining our get-up-and-go, which is why these Energy Balls are such a smart snack.

The key ingredients in this recipe are packed with nutrients. Oats are a great grain, packed with fiber. Cinnamon is ranked as the No. 1 spice in terms of its protective antioxidant levels. Walnuts contain a large amount of healthy fats — also important for decreasing inflammation. If you ever look at walnuts, they look like brains because they are so good for our brains! The blueberries are a great source of the antioxidant anthocyanin, a flavonoid also found in dark chocolate, another ingredient in this recipe. Flaxseed is rich in omega 3s and fiber, both of which are good for your heart, and vanilla has been known to reduce stress and decrease inflammation. The Energy Balls also call for chia, the highest combined plant source of omega 3, fiber and protein, and prunes. Research shows that dried plums (like prunes) prevent reduction in BMD and reverse bone loss. Peanut butter and almond butter are both sources of healthy fats and protein, while the cocoa powder contains even more antioxidants, and the blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium and magnesium.

Use these as a pre-workout snack, or eat with a recovery beverage such as low fat milk or a smoothie, as a source of carbohydrates, protein and fats for refueling.

Energy Balls

½ cup oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons coconut (optional)
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/3 cup prunes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark chocolate
2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
1-2 tablespoons honey or blackstrap molasses
1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons coffee beans, regular or ground (optional)
¼ cup nonfat dried milk powder (optional)
Pan spray (optional)

1. Add all ingredients, except pan spray, to a large bowl.
2. Spray hands with pan spray to keep ingredients from sticking. Roll ingredients into 2-inch balls, then roll balls in nonfat dried milk to keep from them from sticking to the pan and to your hands when they’re thawed.
3. Place balls on a nonstick pan and place them in the freezer to set (approximately 1 hour). Store balls in a freezer-safe sealed bag.

Makes approximately 5 2-inch balls

Nutrition facts.
Per 2-inch serving: 232 kcal, 4 g protein, 10 g fat, 23 g CHO, 6 g fiber, 46 mg sodium 

Want a lower calorie pre-workout snack? Form these into 1-inch balls and eat with a piece of fresh fruit. 

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