nut-free energy bitesThese nut-free energy bites provide the right energy boost, whether first thing in the morning or midafternoon. They have the perfect combination of sweet and tart flavor (from the cranberries) and a tender, slightly crunchy texture (from the sunflower seeds and coconut). The recipe is vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, and refined sugar-free.

Many raw recipes call for nuts because they are an excellent replacement for grains. Unfortunately, nut allergies are becoming more prevalent, so nuts are not always an option when substituting grains. 

It can be challenging to substitute nuts because they play many roles in a recipe – from adding flavor and crunchy texture to making creamy bases and binding ingredients. The closest substitute to nuts in raw dessert recipes is seeds and coconut.

Seeds differ from nuts in two ways. First, seeds tend to have more distinct flavor profiles than nuts, which doesn’t mean less favorable results; just something to keep in mind. Second, some seeds have unique binding and thickening properties. Most seeds, including hemp, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, and watermelon, are non-gelatinous and act just like nuts. However, gelatinous seeds such as chia and flax form mucilage and act as strong binders. As such, gelatinous seeds are not a direct substitute for nuts. 

Coconut, which is not a botanical nut but a fruit, is another possible nut replacement. Coconut flakes, shredded coconut, or desiccated coconut should all work fine. The only caveat is coconut flour, which is more absorbent and denser than other nut or seed flour.

nut-free energy balls

Tips for Making Nut-Free Energy Balls

Ingredients

These nut-free energy bites contain both nut substitutes mentioned above – seeds and coconut. Here is a complete list of all the ingredients:

  • Sunflower seeds: out of all seeds, sunflower seeds are perhaps the closest to nuts – mild, slightly nutty, without a prominent flavor, except for being somewhat grassy. I used both chopped sunflower seeds as well as sunflower seed butter. If you’re not nut-free, you can use any nuts and nut butter you like.
  • Desiccated coconut: finely shredded coconut (also called desiccated coconut) is the best in this recipe. It gives the energy balls a chewy texture without drying them out. 
  • Flaxseed meal: other than the boost of nutrients, flaxseed meal also makes the energy bites firm. I prefer golden flax seeds for their mild flavor, but you can also use brown. If you don’t have flax seeds on hand, you can use chia seeds instead.
  • Maple syrup: while I like to keep raw desserts as low in sugar as possible, a little bit of maple syrup is essential to bind all the ingredients together. 
  • Dried cranberries: the tart flavor of cranberries balances the sweetness of maple syrup. Dried cherries or even blueberries would work well too. Look for unsweetened or fruit-juice-sweetened dried fruit.
  • Vanilla extract: vanilla pairs wonderfully with cranberries and deepens the flavor of the energy bites.

nut-free energy bites ingredients

How to Make Nut-Free Energy Bites

The great thing about these energy balls is that you only need a mixing bowl to make them. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Mix the \ingredients. Add the sunflower seed butter, sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut, cranberries, flaxseed meal, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl and mix until well combined. The mixture should be thick and dense. If it’s too sticky, place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the mixture firms up and is easy to work with.
  2. Roll the mixture into balls. Using a 2-Tbsp./30-ml cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out the mixture and roll it into a ball. Place the ball onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
  3. Chill. Transfer the nut-free energy bites to the refrigerator to firm up, for about 20 minutes.

how to make nut-free energy balls

Energy Bites Variations

The great thing about energy bites is that they are customizable:

  • Swap the sunflower seeds: If you don’t like the slightly grassy flavor of sunflower seeds, swap them for any nuts you like. If you’d like to keep the energy bites nut-free, use pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed butter instead.
  • Use other extracts or spices: besides vanilla, other spices that pair well with cranberries are allspice, cloves, or ginger. 
  • Add superfoods: maca powder, ginseng powder, and goji berries provide an energy boost without acting as stimulants (like caffeine).
  • Make energy bars: besides mix-ins, you can press the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 inch/20 x 20 cm baking dish and then cut it into bars (instead of rolling the mixture into energy balls).

How to Store Raw Energy Bites

  • Refrigerating: transfer the nut-free energy balls to an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: transfer the nut-free energy balls to an airtight container, separating each layer with parchment paper so the balls don’t stick together, and freeze them for up to 1 month.

 nut-free energy balls recipe

More Energy Bites Recipes

Here are more energy bites recipes if you’d like to change things up from time to time:

  • Almond butter energy bites: looking for energy bites high in protein? These almond butter energy bites taste more like a dessert than a healthy protein bite. They are sweet, chewy, and tender and contain 6 g of protein per serving.
  • Carrot cake bites: these raw carrot cake bites taste just like a carrot cake – slightly sweet, cinnamony, moist, and tender.

If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.

nut-free energy balls

Nut-Free Energy Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12 bites
These nut-free energy bites provide the right energy boost, whether first thing in the morning or midafternoon. They have the perfect combination of sweet and tart flavor (from the cranberries) and a tender, slightly crunchy texture (from the sunflower seeds and coconut).

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Mix the ingredients. Add the sunflower seed butter, sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut, cranberries, flaxseed meal, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl and mix until well combined. The mixture should be thick and dense. If it is too sticky, place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the mixture firms up and is easy to work with.
  • Roll the mixture into balls. Using a 2-Tbsp./30-ml cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out the mixture and roll it into a ball. Place the ball onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
  • Chill. Transfer the nut-free energy bites to the refrigerator to firm up, for about 20 minutes.
  • Store. Leftover energy bites keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Notes

*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 12, Calories: 149kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 11g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keywords: bliss balls, energy balls, energy balls recipe, nut-free energy balls