Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

Healthy candy??  Does such a thing truly exist?  I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks and treats that my whole family can enjoy.  I still find it hard to believe some of the junk I see kids eating these days.  There is such a wealth of information available today about the importance of nutrition, especially in the younger, formative years of childhood that I wonder why we are still polluting our kids systems with processed garbage.  Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of how imperative proper nutrition is for our children.  Especially in the first five years, as their brains are developing at an amazing rate, it is vital that they are provided with all the essential vitamins and minerals to ensure proper growth of the body and brain.  Not to mention, a healthy start in life lays the foundation for a lifetime of healthy choices.  Does this mean we have to deprive our kids of sweet treats?   Of course not.  There are plenty of healthy options out there that taste just as good as the stuff on the shelves and are much more nutritious.

Okay, I have to admit it.  These are not just for the kids.  I have an insatiable sweet tooth, and as clean as I try to eat, I want dessert after dinner and  I don't think I should have to deprive myself.  I just have to look harder to find recipes that can satiate both my desire to eat nutritious food and my relentless craving for sweets.  These little peanut butter balls do just that.  Plus, I love that they are bite size, so I can have a few without feeling the least built guilty.

This recipe is wonderful for a few reasons.  These peanut butter balls really do have the same flavor as the popular peanut butter cups.  If you like those, you will love these.  I love that they have no refined sugar, only pure, natural honey.  They are packed with protein and whole grains so I feel great giving them to my son and I don't have to feel guilty about indulging on a few myself.  So whether you're looking for healthier options for your kids, or for yourself, these peanut butter balls are a must try! 

Aside from being a healthy treat, this is a wonderful recipe for the kids to make with you.  It  consists of only a few ingredients, requires no cooking, and it involves lots of pouring and stirring, which my son loves!  This time in particular he ate quite a bit of the mixture as he was stirring it, but hey, that's part of the fun!  So roll up your sleeves, get your kids in the kitchen,  and whip up this quick and nutritious treat!

A little useful information about the nutritious ingredients in these peanut butter balls:

Peanut Butter:  Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein.  It contains good amounts of potassium, phosphorous and magnesium.  It also provides lots of iron, calcium, zinc, manganese and selenium.  It is high in niacin, vitamin B3 and vitamin E.  While it is high in fat, peanut butter contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: the healthy kinds of fat our body needs.  It has good amounts of vitamin k, riboflavin, thiamine, folate and pantothenic acid.  It is also a good source of dietary fiber, helping you to feel fuller longer.

Oats:  a whole grain that provides lots of soluble fiber.  It helps to reduce cholesterol and is a good source of calcium, vitamins A and B, and iron and can reduce the risk of heart disease.  Consuming oats helps control insulin levels and glucose in the blood.  It contains many phytochemicals that can reduce the risk of certain cancers.  Oats have been shown to have positive effects on the dental health in children.  It contains magnesium and potassium along with B- complex vitamins.  It is a good source of non-animal protein and contains beta glucan which can help in healing by speeding up the response to infection.

Honey:  has been used for thousands of years for it's anti-bacterial properties, as a good energy source, and to treat a variety of medical conditions, like soothing a cough.  It is nature's sweetener, and it contains amino acids, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates and enzymes.  It helps in cleansing the blood and helps circulation.  It's anti-microbial properties are wonderful for healing wounds and healing acne.  It contains healthy bacteria which aid in digestion and it's complex carbohydrates have been shown to improve athletic performance.

Peanut Butter Balls

1 1/4 c old fashioned oats
1/2 c organic, all natural peanut butter
1/2 c raw honey
shredded coconut
cocoa powder
crushed cereal, we used plain Cheerios

Other tasty items to use for coating:

powdered sugar
crushed graham crackers
wheat germ
any other type of cereal

Grind the oats in a food processor until it becomes a fine powder.  Mix peanut butter and honey in a bowl and blend well.  Add oats and stir until combined.  Roll mixture into balls.  You can make them as big or as small as you like.  Roll balls in coating of your choice.  They taste extra good after you freeze them, just make sure to take them out a few minutes before eating, so they can thaw a bit.

You can store in refrigerator for up to a week.  We like to freeze them, where they can last up to 3 months. 


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