I know it’s only mid-August and that the faux start of fall (Labor Day) is still a couple of weeks away while the real start of fall (September 22) is more than a month away, but that didn’t stop me from breaking out the pumpkin in the kitchen last week. I blame the brief reprieve we had from the heat and humidity for my jumping the gun on pumpkin-flavored everything.
Every Saturday, I spend some time meal planning and grocery shopping for the week ahead. I tend to get into a rut, eating the same few recipes and snacks over and over, so I’ve been making an effort to try some new things. As much as I love monkey salad, a month or so of eating it as a snack was enough.
<insert Pinterest search here>
I found several recipes for power balls, and after reading through them, decided to throw a few things in a bowl and see what happened. I ended up with 48 absolutely delicious pumpkin oatmeal energy balls that were filling, easy to eat on the go, and freezable for later.
I love the pumpkin and chocolate combination, and decided to take a chance and see how it fared with peanut butter. I love all things peanut butter, but the thought of it with pumpkin… I wasn’t so sure.
When making energy balls, I’ve learned a lot depends on the right ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients. I’ve made batches that have been too sticky, and batches that have been too dry, making it impossible to roll them into balls. In those cases, I used the too sticky ones as a spread on graham crackers and the too dry as crumbles over Greek yogurt or ice cream. I’m not one to let food go to waste!
I use oatmeal, peanut butter, and honey as the base of my energy balls almost exclusively. The trick is to use a little less oatmeal than you think you need. I had decided I needed around four cups of oatmeal, so I started by pouring three cups into a mixing bowl. I added a cup of peanut butter, a cup of pumpkin puree, and a half cup of honey.
While I was at it, I decided to add chia seeds since I have a big bag in my pantry that needed to be used. I love chia seeds for the added nutrient punch! I also added a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract, a “good shake” of cinnamon (about a teaspoon!), and lastly, poured in a cup of milk chocolate chips.
Using a silicon spatula – those things might just be my most-used kitchen utensil – I combined everything. It was still a little too wet, so I poured in another half cup of oatmeal, maybe a touch more, which brought it to the perfect consistency. You want to be able to roll the mixture without them sticking to your hands.
Once the mixture is at the consistency you want, start rolling them into one-inch balls! They can be eaten right away, but I prefer to pop them in the fridge for a couple of hours first. (Lies. I totally taste test at least one!). These pumpkin oatmeal power balls can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or popped into the freezer for longer keeping. This particular recipe made 48, so I kept about half in the fridge and froze the rest.
Word of caution, they do get dry towards the end of the week. I ended up throwing out the last few as they had developed an almost stale taste. If 48 sounds like a lot (it is), feel free to half the recipe.
These energy balls were great snacks throughout the week, especially post workout. I plugged the recipe into MyFitnessPal and the math worked out to 78 calories per ball – not too bad!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Energy Ball Recipe:
(Makes 48 – half the recipe to make less!)
- 3-4 cups dry, uncooked oatmeal (I used gluten-free!)
- 1 cup peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup chia seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- Pour 3 cups of oatmeal into a mixing bowl, setting 1 cup aside
- Add the rest of the ingredients and combine the mixture
- The consistency will likely be a little sticky. Add additional oats in increments until the desired consistency is reached; should be able to roll the mixture without it sticking to hands
- Once desired consistency is reached, roll mixture into 1-inch balls
- Store in airtight container in fridge for up to one week or freeze for longer keep