Carrot cake protein balls are the perfect weekday snack or post workout treat! These healthy carrot cake bites are packed with flavor and so easy to make! Satisfy your carrot cake cravings without having to turn on the oven with these no bake carrot cake bites.
Why you will love this recipe
- Great for snacking! These carrot cake protein balls are packed with flavor and are also a great source of fiber, healthy fats and protein. They are great for afternoon snacking, as a post workout treat or even dessert!
- Nut free! Instead of almonds, pecans or walnuts, these energy bites are made with sunflower seeds! This not only makes them nut free but also makes them much more budget friendly!
- Great for meal prep! Spend 15 minutes on Sunday making a batch of these carrot cake protein bites to snack on all week.
Carrot cake protein balls ingredients
- Medjool dates – be sure to remove the pit from the dates and then soak them in hot water for 5 minutes. This helps to soften the dates which makes it easier to blend in the food processor!
- Sunflower seeds – you want shelled sunflower seeds that have been roasted (no salt).
- Vegan protein powder – I love Nuzest protein for baking and making energy balls. Vegan protein tends to absorb more liquid than a whey based protein powder so if you use whey, you may need more flour.
- Chia seeds – these help to add fiber and healthy fats and also help absorb any excess liquid from the dates and carrots.
- Carrots – you can use shredded carrots or regular carrots cut into coins.
- Oat flour or coconut flour – you will need double the oat flour vs. coconut flour, but you can use whatever you have on hand!
- Cinnamon and ground ginger – this spice combo is what makes these carrot protein bites taste like carrot cake!
- Coconut flakes (optional) – adding a thin coating of coconut flakes takes these carrot cake bites to the next level. I love to use toasted coconut and keep the flakes a bit larger, but you could blend them down more to create more of a light dusting instead.
How to make carrot cake energy bites
Start by removing the pit from the center of the dates. Soak the dates in hot water at least 5 minutes (I use boiling water from the kettle).
While the dates are soaking, if you want coconut flakes to roll the carrot cake balls in, add the coconut to the food processor and process on high 30 seconds to 1 minute. To get a finer (more dust like coating) use a high speed blender or coffee grinder instead. Dump the coconut flakes into a bowl for rolling once broken down.
After the dates have been soaking 5 minutes, remove them from the water with a fork or spoon (the water may still be hot so watch your fingers). Add the dates to the food processor along with the sunflower seeds.
Process the dates and sunflower seeds on high about 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed. The mixture should resemble coarse wet sand at this point.
Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the coconut flakes) and process again on high 1 minute or so until everything is well incorporated and the carrots are broken down.
Take about 1-2 tbsp. out of the food processor and press the mixture together in your hands. Press on it with your finger and make sure the mixture holds together well. If it does not, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time until you get the right consistency.
Once you know the dough is at the right consistency (it easily stays together when pressed on) you can roll the into energy bites. Take 1-2 tbsp. of mixture in your hand and press it together to form balls. Roll them at the end to ensure they are smooth all around. This will make about 20 energy bites depending on how big you make them.
Immediately roll the energy balls in coconut flakes or leave them plain. You could also coat them in coconut butter or cashew maple frosting instead.
Store in the fridge for up to a week.
- Be sure to soak the dates in hot water first. I made these energy bites without soaking the dates and the mixture was not sticky enough and my food processor almost exploded the sunflower seeds back to me because it got stuck on the dates. Trust me when I say soak the dates first!
- If you find that the mixture starts to crumble as you squeeze it together then press down on it – add 1 tbsp. of water at a time (and process on high to combine) until the mixture holds together easily even when you press on it.
- If the coconut flakes are not adhering to the outside of the energy bites, you can roll them in water quickly and then press them into the coconut flakes. This step is typically not needed.
What other ingredients could you add to these protein bites?
I tried to keep the ingredient list relatively short, but you could also add:
- Coconut flakes (to the dough)
- Dried pineapple
- Pecans or walnuts (replace some of the sunflower seeds with nuts)
- Hemp hearts
Other topping ideas
I love the combination of carrot cake and toasted coconut flakes but some other great options would be:
Coconut butter: did you know that upon refrigeration the coconut butter will harden and form a shell over the energy balls? It’s like natures frosting!
Maple cashew butter – this will be sticky, so it might be best to add this right before popping them in your mouth. Make a batch of the maple cashew frosting and keep it in the fridge next to the energy bites!
Crushed sunflower seeds or crushed nuts: Another great option would be to coat the protein bites with crushed seeds or nuts instead of coconut flakes.
How to make carrot cake energy bars
- If you hate rolling energy bites (like I do), you can make this recipe into carrot cake energy bars instead! Simply press the dough into a 8X8 pan lined with parchment paper or wax paper.
- Once you have pressed the mixture into the pan well, place in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour (this makes it easier to cut into bars).
- After 30 minutes to 1 hour in the freezer, lift the mixture out using the parchment paper or wax paper. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars and store in the fridge.
How to roast raw sunflower seeds
Typically I buy raw sunflower seeds from Trader Joe’s (1.99 a pound) and roast them at home in the oven at 350F for 7-9 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil (to make it easy to remove the sunflower seeds after roasting). I don’t love the oil they typically roast nuts/seeds in so prefer to do it at home.
How to make oat flour
You can buy oat flour already milled or make your own.
To make oat flour at home, add rolled oats or quick oats to a high speed blender (I use my Ninja Bullet Blender) and blend on high for about 1 minute. You may need to stop and shake the blender around to ensure all the oats are getting blended up well.
Store leftover oat flour in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
How long do protein bites last in the fridge?
Fridge: You can store these carrot cake protein bites in the fridge for up to a week (7 days).
Freezer: Alternatively, you can store these in the freezer for up to 3 months. Simply let them thaw out on the counter for at least 20 minutes to defrost before eating from frozen.
- Dates: You could also use dried figs (soaked in water) or about ½ cup of raisins soaked in hot water first
- Sunflower seeds: you could also use hemp hearts or pumpkin seeds to keep these nut free. If you can have nuts, pecans or walnuts would be great instead of sunflower seeds. You could also use almonds.
- Protein powder: If you do not have protein powder on hand, you could use rolled oats in place of the protein powder. You will want to use about ½ cup of rolled oats.
- Oat flour: you could also use ½ the amount of coconut flour or an equal amount of gluten free flour of choice.
- Chia seeds: A great alternative to chia seeds is ground flax (also a great source of fiber and healthy fats).
- Carrots: If you need to omit the carrots, you could use 1 large or 2 small apples (peeled) in place to make apple pie protein bites instead.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is one of the main spices that make these protein bites taste like carrot cake. If you don’t have cinnamon you could try cardamom (1 tsp) and nutmeg (1/4 – ½ tsp).
- Ground ginger: Ginger can be a bit spicy so you can omit it if you aren’t a fan. You could add some ground nutmeg (1/4 tsp.) in place of the ground ginger.
- Coconut flakes: these are 100% optional. You could omit them and add crushed nuts or seeds, or drizzle the carrot cake bites with coconut butter or maple cashew butter.
If you love this recipe, you should try:
- Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
- Vegan Carrot Cake Cookies
- Carrot Banana Smoothie
- High Protein Carrot Cake Banana Bread
Healthy Carrot Cake Energy Bites$5.04 Recipe/$0.25 Serving
- Remove the pits from the dates and soak in hot water at least 5 minutes.
- While the dates are soaking, you can run the coconut flakes through the food processor for the coating. This step is optional. To make these more like a light dusting of coconut, use a high speed blender instead. Put the coconut flakes aside in a small bowl for rolling.
- Place the softened dates and sunflower seeds in the food processor.
- Turn the food processor on high and process for about 1 minute until the mixture looks like coarse wet sand.
- Add the protein powder, chia seeds, oat flour, carrots, cinnamon and ground ginger to the food processor.
- Add the shredded carrot, cinnamon, vanilla, and ground ginger. Pulse until incorporated.
- Process on high for 1-2 minutes, turning the food processor off to scrape down the sides if needed. Everything should be well incorporated with no big chunks of carrots left.
- Roll out in 1 tablespoon portions by hand. Place on wax paper and refrigerate until cooled slightly 5-10 minutes if possible.
- Take 1-2 tbsp. of the mixture in your hand and squeeze it together (it should stick together easily). Press down on the middle of this to ensure that the energy balls won't fall apart easily. If it crumbles, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time to the food processor (process on high 15-20 seconds each time) until the mixture easily holds together when you press on it after squeezing it in your palm.
- Take 1-2 tbsp. of the mixture and roll it into energy bites by forming them in your hand (rolling between your hands to smooth them out as needed). You will make about 20 energy bites.
- Roll 1/2 of the energy bites in coconut flakes, leave the other half plain.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.