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Growing up, my mom always used to make these peanut butter balls for me and my siblings as a "healthy" snack — only she used powdered sugar instead of protein powder and high fructose corn syrup-laden peanut butter instead of organic. (Hey, it was the '80s.)
Every time the Olympics roll around, I'm immediately thrown back into the mentality and habits I had as a competitive figure skater, so I've been spending a lot of time at the gym lately and craving new, healthy snacks to help me recover — and I need a hell of a lot more help recovering at 33 than I did at 14, when my team won a world gold medal in Helsinki, Finland. (A surprise gift from the new Shoestring online store to the first person who can pick me out in this pack!)
My gym sells peanut butter protein balls at their smoothie bar for $1/ball (highway robbery, if you ask me) and I knew I could do better. Whether you make the 1-ounce version of this recipe (16 balls) or the 1/2-ounce version (32 balls), you'll pocket 40% savings over the retail price, even when using high-quality organic ingredients like I did. DIY over buy for the win!
But that's not even the best part: these peanut butter protein balls taste exactly like a no-bake peanut butter cookie or peanut butter cookie dough — without all that sugar or raw eggs — making them a fabulously healthy swap for your usual dessert, even if you're not working out. They can be a little dry, though, so I suggest pairing with a glass of chocolate milk — the post-workout recovery secret of Olympians — because of its optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to help refuel tired muscles after a tough workout, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN BALLS
Ready in 15 minutes | Makes 16-32 Servings For Under $20
1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside.
2. Pour wheat germ onto a large rimmed plate or into a small mixing bowl and set aside (shown at back, right, below).
3. Pour entire jar of peanut butter into a large mixing bowl, scraping sides with a small rubber spatula to get every last bit of goodness. (Look how clean our jar is!) Stir to combine peanut oil, which will most likely have separated and risen to the top of the jar.
4. Mix the honey into the peanut butter and stir until combined. (You can skip the honey, especially if you want to make this recipe vegan-friendly, but I like to add raw local honey to my diet year-round as a homeopathic way to combat seasonal allergies.)
5. Mix protein powder into peanut butter while stirring constantly, 1/4 cup at a time until thoroughly combined to the consistency of a cookie dough. You'll most likely want to switch from the stirring with the spatula to kneading with your hands about halfway through. Set dough aside. (If you're making this recipe vegan-friendly, opt for soy protein rather than whey protein, which is derived from dairy.)
6. Using a measuring spoon (either 1 Tbsp or 1/2 Tbsp, depending on your desired serving size), portion the dough and use your hands to roll into balls.
7. Drop balls one by one into the wheat germ, rolling and patting to adhere the wheat germ to the peanut butter dough. Transfer to wax paper lined cookie sheet to set. (Skip the wheat germ to make this recipe gluten-free.)
8. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then eat or store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
15 minutes (plus refrigeration, total prep time 45 minutes). Should last approximately 2 weeks in the fridge.
Makes 16 1-Tbsp (1 oz) peanut butter balls ($1.19 each) or 32 1/2-Tbsp (1/2 oz) peanut butter balls ($0.59/each)
Recipe & Copyright 2012, Shoestring LLC & Melissa Massello.