A powerful way to interest kids in new foods and nutrition is to involve them in preparing their own healthy snacks. Transforming Hot Cocoa into an easy, no-bake “Energy Bite” raises the nutritional value of this classic treat. Making snacks at home not only builds your children’s awareness of nutrition but can help to instill healthy lifestyle habits. Many pre-packaged snacks are highly processed and contain ingredients such as excess salt and chemicals, which may not support a healthy diet. Making these snacks with your children provides a fun and meaningful way for them to learn by doing.
What your kids can learn about a healthy diet as they make Cocoa Energy Bites
Whole Rolled Oats: Oats, the basis of cooked breakfast oatmeal, also serves as the base of this recipe. All whole grains are excellent dietary options because they contain lots of fiber, keep you fuller longer, eliminate the occurrence of a “sugar crash,” and contain more vitamins and minerals than their processed counterparts, such as white flour.
Flaxseed Meal: Flaxseed meal, made by grinding flax seeds into a fine flour-type consistency, are a nutritional powerhouse! They contain fiber, Omega-3 Fatty Acids (for a healthy heart), protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The fat, fiber, and protein in the flaxseed meal helps make these Energy Bites keep you full.
Cocoa Powder: Cocoa powder may smell delicious, but by itself tastes bitter. Candy and chocolate bar makers combine cocoa powder with lots of sugars and fats, which tastes delicious, but is not so healthy. Recent research suggests that cocoa provides key health benefits: such as acting as an antidepressant, and containing more antioxidants than a serving of tea. The cocoa in this recipe helps to transform these snack bites into “Hot Cocoa” flavored!
Honey: In this recipe, we sweeten cocoa powder with honey. Though we recommend consuming all sweeteners sparingly, honey is a less-processed option.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil binds the ingredients in this recipe, however other fats (including nut butters) may be used instead, if desired. Fat is necessary in our diets. It is nutritious in moderation by helping the body perform all of the tasks it needs to survive and thrive, helps us to stay full and satisfied, and makes food taste good. Consuming excess fat, however, can lead to heart disease, and obesity, which has been associated with many diseases, including heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer.
Mini Marshmallows: Primarily made of sugar, marshmallows lack nutritional value, but are perfectly fine to enjoy in moderation. In this recipe, we use mini marshmallows that have been cut in half, so that each Energy Bite has just a hint of marshmallow flavor.
-3 cups whole rolled oats
-1/2 cup flaxseed meal
-1/2 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-`1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup melted coconut oil
-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/2 cup mini marshmallows (halved after measuring)
1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt coconut oil and honey for 10-20 seconds in a microwave oven.
3. Add almond milk and vanilla extract to melted coconut oil and honey
4. Add remaining ingredients, and mix thoroughly until a dough is formed.
5. Gently fold-in halved mini marshmallows.
6. Using a spoon, divide the dough into 26 balls. If desired, roll in cocoa powder.
7. Can be stored either at room temperature for one-week, in the refrigerator for up to two-weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Nutrition Information - makes 13 servings (1 serving = 2 Energy Bites)
150 calories, 7g fat, 20g carbohydrates, 5g protein