These Iron Rich Chocolate Protein Balls are a great kid friendly, vegan option to boost iron.
Iron is a nutrient that is often a concern for parents when considering their kids’ diets. To be honest, it can be a worry for all parents, not just parents of vegan kids. Iron is a plentiful nutrient in vegetables, wholegrains and legumes, but unfortunately, these are not always appealing foods to kids. For this reason, I’ve decided to come up with some recipes that are high in iron, but as foods that will be appealing to kids. The first of these is this one for Iron Rich Chocolate Protein Balls.
These Iron Rich Chocolate Protein Balls each contain 2.5mg of iron, which is over 1/4 of the daily requirements for kids under the age of 8.
These Chocolate Protein Balls use cashews and pumpkin seeds, which are both very high in iron. You can increase the iron content further by using the raw, unprocessed version of cocoa – cacao. Cacao is more expensive than cocoa, but it is packed with so many nutrients like iron and magnesium that I try to get it whenever I can. These days, you can normally find cacao in the health foods section of the supermarket.
Serve this recipe with some fruits that are high in Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron better. Some great fruits that are packed full of vitamin C are berries, oranges and kiwi fruit.
I made these Chocolate Protein Balls in the food processor. You can make them in a high powered blender, but be careful when mixing the dates as I find they can burn out the motor.
After many attempts in the past, I have found that the best way to make protein balls is to process the dry ingredients separately first, and then add the dates. I find that if i do the dates first, they can clump up and stick to the blades. It just turns into a big mess!
Update: Some readers have found that this recipe can be a bit dry with the amount of dates. After considerable testing, I’ve found that the 1 cup of dates works well if you’re using very fresh Medjool dates. If you’re using drier pitted dates, I suggest adding an extra 1/2 to full cup of dates, and you may also need 1 or 2 Tbs of water to help the mix clump together. Soaking the dates in boiling water for about 10 minutes beforehand helps to soften them, too.
Let me know what you think of these Iron Rich Chocolate Protein Balls. If you’re looking for another kid friendly iron recipe, try my Kid Friendly Breakfast Slice.
You can make this recipe nut free by using just pumpkin seeds. I use the Nut Free Version in my Vegan Lunchbox Club.
Iron Rich Chocolate Protein Balls
- 1 cup Raw Cashews
- 1 cup Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
- 1/4 cup Cacao Powder or cocoa
- 1 cup Medjool Dates pitted
- Process the nuts and seeds in a processor or high powered blender until crumbly.
- Add the dates and cacao. Process until fully incorporated into the nuts and seeds, and the mix forms a sticky crumb. The mix should stick together when pressed between the fingers.
- Roll spoonfuls of the mix into balls.
- The protein balls can be eaten immediately, or refrigerated. The balls will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for approximately 4 days, or can be frozen.
|Nutrient||Per Serve||Per 100g|
|Energy||817kJ (195cal)||2033kJ (486cal)|
My food processor did not enjoy mixing the seeds and dates. I even had pre-cut the dates. The same day I made this the food processor made oats into oat flour in a few seconds. So, I know the trouble wasn’t the food processor. This was very frustrating. The taste wasn’t bad so it got another star.
Hi Sarah, thanks for your feedback! I agree, dates can be really hard to process in a food processor. They’re definitely a lot harder to process than oats! My only suggestion would be to soak the dates in hot water before you try to process them. Were you using pitted dates, or fresh medjool? I always need to presoak pitted dates.
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Made these in the thermomix no waoories at all – quick and easy. They are a hit in our household with even the child who usually won’t eat studd like this gobbling them up.
I have tried to make these twice already and the balls will not stay together. I’ve used more than the recommended dates to get the stickiness but it hasn’t worked.
I’ve had to use a whole bunch of honey to just get it to stick.
Am I doing something wrong?
What type of dates are you using? I use fresh medjool dates from the produce section for this recipe. If you’re using the dried dates that come in a packet, it could be because they’re too dry. Maybe try soaking the dates for about 10 minutes in boiling water first? You could also try adding a couple of tablespoons of hot water to the mix after you’ve put the dates in. The other thing you could try is processing the nuts and seeds for a bit longer to start so that they release some of the oils.
Let me know if any of those tips help!
I told my toddler they were “doughnut holes” and he absolutely loves them!! Big hit, thank you!
I am interested to prepare this in the large amount. How long can I store it.
Hi you can freeze these protein balls for up to 3 months. When you freeze them layer them with some baking paper so they don’t stick together.
I made these today and they are yummy, I soaked my dates for 10-15 minutes and I used 1-2tbs of the hot water used to soak the dares in, This gave the mixture the perfect amount of moisture to mold the balls together. I also replaced sesame seeds with white and black chia seeds, my toddler is iron deficient and he is incredibly fussy so fingers crossed these are a hit, I certainly love them.
Sounds great. Let me know how they go!
My daughter needed some extra iron and I loved the fact that so few (but healthy) ingredients were required, so I gave them a try. They did not disappoint and now I’m trying to limit her consumption as I’d like them to last a couple of days. Wish me luck. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
This is a great recipe!
This is my third time making these for my MIL who really enjoys them! She is anemic and is a very picky eater! I don’t know if these really help her iron levels; she is 89 yo and needs iron infusions every few months. But I don’t mind making them even for a good, healthy snack, since they are so easy to make! This time I remembered to use food friendly disposable gloves!
I have a couple of questions.
1. You show recipe to be 12 servings. I make my balls about an inch in diameter & this recipe made 20 (today). So, does your 12 serving account for 2 balls each serving, or do make them larger to make only 12 balls?
2. And, I noticed you say 4 days in fridge, which I didn’t notice till today; I’ve had mine refrigerated up to a week. I’m hoping this is okay since no ingredients that would necessarily cause problems?
Hi Laura, I normally make the balls larger so I get 12 out of the batch. If yours are smaller then I’d just count 2 as a serve. If they are still ok, then you should be all good. I tend to try to keep them in the freezer if I want them to last longer than 4 days. I’m so glad you like them so much!
Made these today and the oils released from the nuts and more so the pumpkin seeds was incredible.
Awesome! I’m so glad you liked the recipe!