Over the last year, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to be aware of what and how much I eat; I also realized that it was time to put my own well being closer to the top of my priority list. Now, it wasn’t that I was eating junk and not exercising–I’m mostly a vegetarian and, I thought, pretty active. I eat, and was eating, mostly meals cooked at home and little to no pre-packaged mystery food. But, I was eating more than I should and, worse, not really realizing it. I also had a bad habit of letting my exercise routine be the one thing I’d sacrifice if my schedule was too busy; the gym was the thing that always got cut first. Since finishing up my post-doctoral work and starting my first real paying job post-degree, I’d been putting on weight, and slowly my waist line increased and my pants got bigger. There were some injuries along the way that did little to help my weight, neither did a hectic work schedule or my already unhappy thyroid (thanks to an autoimmune disease I’ve had for over a decade). Then, the next thing I knew, I was approaching 40 and felt uncomfortable, unhappy with myself, and just all around unhealthy, very unlike who I wanted to be and what I wanted to feel. So, I decided I needed a change and no one was going to take care of my health but me. I want to age well–I’m going to get older, there’s little I can do about that, but I can make the process better by making healthy choices and taking better care of myself. I started drinking significantly more water (almost a gallon everyday!); taking vitamin D since I live in a part of the country where people are notoriously deficient; and keeping a food log. I became more aware of how much (or little) of protein, carbohydrates (especially sugar), and fats I was eating regularly. Working out became routine, an unquestionable part of my day–having a Fitbit helped a lot, too, making me basically obsessed with getting at least 10,000 steps every day. I also made more concerted efforts to have healthy snacks before and after a workout. Turns out, quick, healthy snacks that are a grab-and-go kind of thing, when individually purchased are expensive and vary widely in nutritional benefit. So, I decided to make my own!
These little cocoa protein bites are fairly easy to make with a food processor and have about 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in each serving (1 ball, about 136 calories each according to my Lose It! food log).
Cocoa Protein Bites
1 C (78 g) Dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 C (197 g) Almond meal
1/4 C (134 g) Unsweetened Almond butter
1/4 C ( 22 g) Cocoa Nibs
1/4 C (41 g) Chia seeds
1 Tbsp (9 g) Sesame seeds
1 Tbsp (10 g) Flax seeds
3 Tbsp (27 g) Hemp seeds
3 Tbsp (81 g) Honey
2 Scoops (80 g) Protein powder*
7 Tbsp Coconut water
- Mix everything in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture stays together when you pinch a bit between your fingers; stop to scrape down sides periodically.
- Form a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into a ball. This will make about 22.
- These will keep for up to a month when stored in the refrigerator.
*Note on the protein powder: I used Vega Protein & Greens, it’s a pea protein-based powder.