We’re big fans of showing kids how to use flexible cooking formulas instead of sticking to a specific recipe, since experimentation and improvisation are such vital parts to feeling at home in the kitchen. No-bake Energy Bites are a great intro to this concept, and are sure to be a hit with kids of any age. These sweet, snackable treats are made with ingredients that will fill you up (in a size that’s perfect for lunchboxes) and since the process skips the oven completely, it can be a great technique to explore with younger cooks.
Most energy bites are made of a few go-to ingredients: rolled oats, nut butters, sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, coconut flakes, seeds (like flax or chia), and flavorings like cocoa powder or baking spices. You certainly don’t need to use everything on the list, but you can use it as inspiration to mix up your own.
When combining your Energy Bites, you’ll get a feel for what you need to add to make them stick together. Too dry and crumbly? Add some more nut butter, sweetener. Too runny? Bulk it up with oats or other dry ingredients. Experiment with additional spices and mix-ins. The great thing about no-bake recipes is—in addition to being safer than using a hot oven—you can taste as you go to see if you’d like to add a little extra flavor or texture.
Here’s an easy-to-follow formula that you can customize to include your family’s favorite ingredients, or simply whatever you have on hand when the craving strikes.
- 1/2 cup nut or seed butter (think peanut butter, almond, cashew, tahini, or sunbutter)
- 1/3 cup liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, agave, or honey
- 1 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free if GF)
- 4 tablespoons seeds (one or a combination, like flaxseed meal, sesame seeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds)
- ¼-1/3 cup dried fruit (like dates, raisins, cherries, or apricots)
- Fun add-ins, to taste: chocolate chips, coconut flakes, protein powder, cocoa powder, vanilla, the options are endless!
Mix it up! There are two primary ways of combining the mixture: the bowl and spoon method, and a food processor. One isn’t better than the other, you’ll just end up with a slightly different texture, as the bowl-mixed bites will be a little chunkier and the bites made with a food processor will be more uniform. One benefit of using a food processor: you can use whole nuts or seeds instead of nuts or seed butter, which means you can enjoy combinations of nuts that may not be easily found in pre-ground blends.
Once you’ve combined everything together, simply set the mixture in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to get a bit less sticky, then roll small two-bite, 1-2 Tablespoon balls with your hands (a small cookie scoop is helpful!) and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month.
Happy Energy Bite experimenting!