So I have a bone to pick. I enjoy getting on Pinterest a lot, searching for recipes, crafts, home decor etc. Every time though I see a TON of recipes for varying snacks that in some way or another proclaim they’re full of energy and protein. Which could very well be true, except I am skeptical when they look like donuts holes, have 3 different types of dried fruits and a smidgen of protein from a nut butter. Don’t get me wrong, I am positive that they’re absolutely delicious, but have a hard time believing that they’re actually as jammed packed with energy and protein as they really are with sugar.
The only logical thing I thought to do was make some myself, that actually did serve the purpose of providing energy and protein. I chose figs as my dried fruit of choice for two reasons. One being they have amazing flavor (my favorite) and two being they are dried, supply a compact host of their many nutrients.
Figs in my opinion are pretty much the nectar of gods. I don’t know if I feel that way because they are an ancient old fruit that I envision being enjoyed by the Roman and Greeks or because they are full of essential nutrients for our bodies. A fresh fig is loaded with water, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. When a fig is dried though over half of it’s water is completely sucked out. However, in this process the nutrient properties become more compact. Yet this is a double edge sword, you’re probably thinking well what about the sugar content?
Yes, of course drying any fruit condenses the sugars thus increasing them. However, figs are FULL of both types of dietary fiber. Meaning that they have both soluble fiber which helps to regulate the blood sugar and insoluble fiber that aids in slow digestion. There is still more natural sugar than in a fresh fig, but because of the amount of fiber they take longer to digest and absorb in your bloodstream, not causing alarming spikes in blood sugar.
Because of the slow digestion of figs in contrast to their sugar content (let’s also not forget the other nutrients you’re getting) they provide a substantial amount of carbohydrates to be used as energy (fuel) for the body. Which is why these make a great option for a quick bite between a workout, on a hike, after a run or other types of physical activity.
Just to be sure to provide all the necessary requirements to meet the energy promising and protein touting claims, these balls contain both sunflower and hemp seeds. Both of which have been added back into my diet. Hemp being the highest source of protein and a beast as far as omega 3’s are concerned. These seeds also help in the slow digestion an assimilation of the nutrients and sugar of the figs, while simultaneously providing and excellent source of plant protein and healthy fats.
I’m so excited to pack a few of these fig protein balls to take on hikes and summer travels. They are easy to transport and super quick to make. Oh and if I hadn’t convinced you yet, they actually taste like an adult version of a PB&J … so yeah, there’s that :)
FIG PROTEIN BALLS
1 pound organic dried (non-sulphured) white Turkish figs
2 cups sprouted sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp salt
3 tablespoons organic raw hemp seeds
1 to 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil * see note
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon coconut oil and salt to a high speed blender. Blend on high until the seeds begin to release their oils. You may have to scrape the sides a few times in order to get them all incorporated. I like for the seed butter to be slightly chunky, but you can make it entirely smooth if you like. Keep blending until it is a thick mixture or desired consistency.
2. Remove the sunflower seed butter from the blender to be used later. Make sure the stems are removed from your dried figs. Then add them to the blender. Blend on high until a thick paste formed with the figs, it should be slightly chunky and not all the way smooth.
3. Now add the sunflower butter back into the blender. Blend until the mixture is thick (at this point in may be hard for it to blend). Stir the mixture if necessary until the figs and sunflowers are well incorporated.
4. Add in the hemp seeds and stir to combine. Using your hands or a rounded tablespoon form into balls and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Once finished put in the fridge or freezer to set for 10 minutes. Keep refrigerated or frozen to future use!
*add more oil to the sunflower seed butter as needed, careful not to add too much, no more than 2 tablespoons!