Thursday, July 30, 2015

Almond Butter Chia Protein Balls - Otherwise Known as Awesome Balls

Hospitals are no fun.  Unless you are coming home with a baby... but even then, the hospital part isn't so great.  And the food.  Seriously, they really expect you to get healthy on some the food they serve?

This week my 86-year old dad finally called Uncle and agreed with his orthopedic surgeon that the time had come for his knee replacement.  Dad is a tough guy and really hard to keep down, but anesthesia and he aren't best buddies.

Taking a little longer than others to expel the drugs from his system, yesterday's anesthesia brought waves of nausea to his otherwise very successful surgery.  For a man who never misses a meal (and yet he maintains a proper and fit weight), hospital food left a lot to be desired in his queasy state - they brought greasy meatloaf, butter slathered mashed potatoes with puddles of gravy and wished him Bon Appetit.  All a no-go in his book and he stuck with one Saltine cracker.

Concerned that his IV wasn't delivering enough nutrients and refusing the chilled bottle of Ensure purely based on the less than desirable ingredients, (sugar, salt and maltodextrin...??) I promised I'd bring healthy food.

He maintained he needed nutrition, not just calories, and I set to putting together something that brought a nutritional punch, helped with potential constipation issues due to pain meds** (see note below), but yet remained tolerable on the still slightly off tummy.

And with a few super foods and a medium sized bowl I created just the concoction.

Already a favorite, almond butter and maple syrup bring a tasty base that blends beautifully with rolled oats and flax.  Chia seeds add much needed potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium, and vanilla extract?  Well, that simply brings a taste of heaven to the mix.

Rolled into balls, these little bites pack the nutrition punch I was looking for, but it wasn't until my college boy arrived home from the gym and I ran down the protein profile for him that I discovered they are also irresistible.

Filling his summer days with hours at the gym, my son has morphed his body in ways I can reminisce about from my younger years.  Craving protein after his workouts he often turns to chicken, but touting my plant-based diet I've been teaching him plant-based protein sources and he's actually been listening.

Hearing almond butter, protein powder, oats and chia as I ran down my ingredient list he readily reached for one of the little balls topped with a tiny square of dark chocolate on top.  His eyes spoke before his words, and he proclaimed them "Awesome Balls" as I scampered to save a few for my dad.

Back to the hospital, the balls did indeed tempt Dad's appetite, and along with a bowl of organic blueberries and grapes he finally turned the corner and pushed those anesthesia meds from his system.

Seeing his roommate's eyes move from dad's Awesome Balls to his plate of chard and chicken we simply had to share, and my job was complete.  Moments later I left the two octogenarians chatting about their combined 122 years of marriage, heart surgeries and now new knee joints all while saying "Huh?" every few sentences as neither of them had their hearing aids in.

Funniest thing ever though, was walking out the door as the nurse entered and hearing the roommate say, "Hey... have you seen his Awesome Balls?"  Chuckling all the way to the car I think that night nurse had her hands full with those two.

Almond Butter Chia Protein Balls - Healthy Little Bites
Seriously irresistible, you don't need to feel guilty about tossing a few of these little bites into your bag for an energy burst and protein boost.  Filled with super-foods, fiber and vitamins, they make a fabulous post-gym snack or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

1/2 cup creamy almond butter (make your own by simply blending almonds in your high-powered blender for about a minute)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 scoop chocolate or vanilla protein powder (we use Garden of Life RAW Organic Protein Chocolate) - our scooper equaled 2 Tbs

3 Tbs rolled oats
3 Tbs ground flax meal
2 Tbs chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (click to make your own!)
1-2 Tbs oat flour (to thicken as needed)
chocolate chips, chocolate chunks or whole almonds for decoration

Place almond butter and maple syrup into a medium sized bowl and mix with a sturdy wooden spoon.

Add Protein Powder, oats, flax, chia and vanilla extract, and stir again until completely incorporated.

Add oat flour 1 Tablespoon at a time to thicken to a thick dough.

Using clean hand, roll the dough into desired sized balls (we liked small bite-sized ones) and if desired press a whole almond or a chocolate chip or chunk into the ball.

Enjoy right away, or place into a sealable container.  I kept mine on the counter and they were gone within 12 hours.  If storing longer store in the fridge.  Remove and allow to come to room temp or enjoy chilled.  (we prefer room temp!)

Liv Life Note:  It's been mentioned that a handful of chocolate chips mixed into the dough might be another awesome addition!

Liv Life Note 2:  While I'm not a doctor, we've had experience with narcotic pain medications and constipation.  I've been told that it's a rare, but my husband ended up with constipation so bad it resulted in a bowel obstruction and emergency surgery followed by a 6 day hospital stay.  Please, please follow instructions when taking these medications and be proactive to avoid constipation issues. 

Liv Life Note 3:  This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link for the protein powder.  If you should purchase anything from Amazon through this link Liv Life receives a (small) commission and we thank you for your support!  #LivLifeCameraFund


  1. These are my kinda snack! They sound terrific. Perfect for an afternoon outing!

  2. These look fantastic! And I'm so glad your dad has you. Hospital food is THE worst. Wishing him a speedy recovery filled with these protein balls :)

  3. Lol! I love your story and your dad sounds amazing, I hope he is well on the way to recovery! I'm sure these Awesome Balls helped him bounce back :). These sound yummy and I like that I actually have all of the ingredients in my cupboard!!

  4. So healthy and sooooo yummy!! Love these!

  5. Dear Kim - these look so delicious! Your dad is one lucky guy to have you cooking and concocting in the kitchen for him. And we all get to benefit! Hope he continues with a stellar recovery.

  6. Yum Kim, these look great and it sounds like everyone who tried them loved them. That's an accomplishment when you're dealing with both teenagers and elderly! Such a funny story too! Being a former nurse, I love it!

  7. Yum Kim, these look great and it sounds like everyone who tried them loved them. That's an accomplishment when you're dealing with both teenagers and elderly! Such a funny story too! Being a former nurse, I love it!


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