A few years ago, my mom and her friends roped me into joining their marathon relay team and then assigned me the longest leg of the race, arguing that because I was the youngest, I would also be the fastest.
I ran my 7.5 miles on an empty stomach, powered only by my insanely competitive nature and the little bit of water that I gulped along the course. When I arrived back at the finish line, I was presented with a bottle of chocolate milk — an excellent exercise recovery drink, I have since learned — and, inexplicably, a slice of pizza. Thankfully, the snack kept me from collapsing while I waited for my team to finish.
All this to say, I’m not great at remembering to fuel my body appropriately before or after a workout. Especially after. Usually, I just wait until I feel super hungry and then grab whatever is nearest as my post-workout meal. It’s not a great move.
So this month’s Test Kitchen recipe is a game-changer for me. These energy bites are packed full of protein, carbs and healthy fats, which means they make a great post-exercise snack or just a good breakfast. The best news is that I don’t have to abandon my grab-and-go habits because this recipe makes a bunch of bites, and they keep in the fridge or freezer for up to a few months.
I used two kinds of peanut butter, half of the added-sugar kind and half of the natural kind. Either will work, I think, as long as the peanut butter you pick is still creamy enough to hold your mixture together.
Because I used a sweetened peanut butter, I decreased the amount of honey from 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup. The sweetness level was perfect, but I think I had to work harder to squish my energy bites together, so I wouldn’t recommend cutting this, unless you plan to add a little more peanut butter.
When I was shopping for ingredients, I managed to snag the one remaining bag of flaxseed at my grocery store. Mine were whole flaxseeds, not ground, so I ran them through my food processor until they resembled cornmeal. Instead of doubling up on flaxseed, I picked chia seeds as the optional mix-in. And for the coconut flakes, I measured out a 1/2 cup, which was plenty.
I tried stirring my mixture with a silicone spatula and then gave up and just used my hands. (It works best if your hands are a little wet.) After everything was thoroughly combined, I stuck the bowl back in the fridge for an hour. By the time I needed to shape my energy bites into balls, the mixture was much less sticky.
I’ve had other energy bites before, and I liked these better — they aren’t so sweet that I felt like I was eating dessert, but they still had a nice pop of chocolate and peanut butter.
Old fashioned oats, 1 cup
Peanut butter or nut butter, 1/2 cup
Ground flaxseed, 1/2 cup
Semisweet or sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup
Honey, 1/3 cup (or substitute with maple syrup)
Chia seeds/flaxseeds/other seeds (optional), 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract, 1 tsp
1. Stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Cover the mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the mixture is chilled.
2. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls to serve. Then enjoy immediately! Or you can leave them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze them for up to three months.