These paleo protein balls are bite-sized nuggets of deliciousness that tout 3g of protein per ball. Chocolate snack balls without sugar? Yes, please!
I'm always looking for a way to pack in just a little bit more protein. Whether it's for myself or my family members, it goes without saying that very few of us out there are getting as much protein as we should!
And, even when you do try to make sure you get the recommended amount, there's the problem of losing a few grams to the digestion process - putting you back in a deficit.
Can't it just be easy?!
Here's a great way to grab 9 or 10 extra grams of protein here and there - with these healthy, homemade, no-bake paleo protein balls.
What goes in paleo protein balls
These protein balls are super easy, and contain just five ingredients!
All you need are medjool dates, cacao powder, nuts, nut butter, and collagen peptides for protein. I use this unflavored one from Vital Proteins with great results.
How much protein should you consume in a day
Now, you might be wondering, "am I really in a protein deficit?" And honestly, the answer is more than likely, yes.
The recommended amount for a sedentary person is .36g per pound of bodyweight each day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you're looking at 54g of protein a day. If you are active, or lifting weights, studies show up to .82g/lb can be beneficial. That would be up to 123g/day at that same 150 pound weight. And, you're not really going to hurt your body by eating more protein.
So, it's honestly hard to answer this question without knowing your activity level, your body composition, or your goals. That said, I would recommend aiming for at least that .36g per pound, but don't be shy - you're not going to hurt yourself by getting a little bit more.
Healthy sources of protein
The healthiest sources of protein are those that occur naturally. Think about lean proteins from meat like chicken and turkey. If you can tolerate cultured dairy, things like 0% fat greek yogurt are also a great source of protein. Other places I like to get protein are canned tuna, eggs, and pork.
But. I'll be the first to admit if we have lofty protein goals for our bodyweight, we aren't going to be able to chew enough chicken to get there. So where else can we pack in a bit more protein without having to consume a ton of extra food?
Protein powders are a great source. I've written an extensive post on Whole30 friendly protein powders here. Anything that's Whole30 is also paleo, so any of those will work.
While not Whole30 friendly, I do also use a couple of protein powder products from Driven Nutrition. They offer super-clean products that taste better than most of their counterparts. Here are a couple of my favorites:
The first is their vegan protein powder. Most vegan protein powders tend to taste chalky to me; this is the least chalky one I've found. I've also discovered if you add a teaspoon of nut butter to the shaker when you shake it up, it changes the texture of it and makes it a little bit creamier. They offer the vegan protein powder in a chocolate and a vanilla option.
It's soy free and whey free, but is not paleo, as it is a plant-based protein comprised of pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, and quinoa. This combination results in an amino acid profile nearly identical to eggs or dairy, and each scoop delivers 20 grams of non-GMO, gluten-free, certified vegan protein to support healthy metabolism and fuel muscle recovery.
The other product of theirs I love is their Chicken Isolate Protein powder. This is a flavorless protein powder that can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles to add an extra serving of protein without adding the volume.
The last product of theirs I love (and the one you can use in this recipe! is their collagen protein. This is again, flavorless - we are just adding it for an extra punch of protein. Made from 100% grass-fed cows, this is a super-clean collagen protein powder that can be added to most anything.
How to make paleo protein balls
Now, let's talk about the best recipe for paleo protein balls!
I use almond butter in this recipe for the healthy fat - you could use any alternative nut butter, I would just check and make sure it doesn't have added sugar in it.
If you can tolerate peanut butter, you can use it, just keep in mind that peanuts aren't technically paleo, as they're a legume - so they're a bean, not a nut!
These paleo protein balls could honestly not be easier. You're going to start by pulsing the dates a few times in the food processor to break them up.
From there, add your nuts, your cacao powder, your nut butter, and your protein powder. Pulse a few more times until you have a dry crumbly consistency like this:
Give it a little pinch. If it doesn't hold together, add a tablespoon of water at a time, give it a pulse, and try again. You're looking for the mixture to stick together, but not be sticky!
Once it's the right consistency, you should be able to take a pinch (about a tablespoon) and roll it into a ball, like these:
- If you want to change up the flavor, don't be scared to play with it a bit! A pinch or two of instant espresso powder could make a nice mocha flavor. A tiny pinch of cayenne could bring a spicy kick! 🔥
- Medjool dates are the ones you want to use for this recipe. I have tried it with Deglet Nour, and they come out much drier and slightly bitter. You need the plum, tender, sweet medjool dates for the right balance here. If you do use Deglet Nour, you would likely need to increase the volume of the dates as well as add additional water to the mixture.
- These can sometimes get a little sticky after all the processing, rolling, and handling. If they feel sticky, roll them up and then stick them in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to allow them to firm up.
- 10 large medjool dates, pitted
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- collagen peptides
- 2 tablespoon cashews
- ¼ cup nut butter
- 2 tablespoon water
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Add the dates to the food processor and pulse a few times to break them up.
- Add all other ingredients and pulse to combine - you're looking for a dry-ish crumble.
- Add water a tablespoon at a time and pulse to bring the mixture together. You're looking for it to stick, but not be sticky!
- Roll the dough into balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so if needed to firm up.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Medjool dates are the dates needed for this recipe. I have tested it with Deglet Noor, and they do not come out the same.
I use Vital Proteins collagen peptides for this recipe. You can use any unflavored collagen peptides protein powder, but this is the only one I have tested!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 13 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 45mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 2g