What fits in your pocket, is sturdy enough to carry around in your purse or backpack, can be eaten with two fingers, fills you right up, is made with pure healthy ingredients, and tastes great?
Breakfast Balls – yummy little balls of banana-nut-oat goodness that are a cross between a hearty breakfast and a granola bar type of snack. They’re not too sweet, yet have that wonderful little burst of chocolate that fools my brain and makes it think I’m having a treat.
I learned this recipe from my daughter Olivia – a university student who gets together with her friend once a week to make a huge batch of these. The girls have honed the recipe until it is absolutely straightforward, easy to make in their simply equipped kitchen, and economical to fit their student budget. They divvy up the batch and live on these tasty little bites for the week, toting them in their backpacks and munching them in lieu of meals or snacks as they study.
I love that the Breakfast Balls are sweetened naturally with bananas, have a great amount of fiber from the oats and coconut, and are full of flavour from the cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate. Way to go, girls.
This recipe is very flexible – Olivia says the original recipe had coconut oil in it, and peanut butter. You could certainly add those in. Olivia and Luiza have streamlined the recipe (for economy and simplicity) and they prefer the taste of the Breakfast Balls this way. Olivia likes to eat hers with peanut butter spread onto each bite as she eats the balls. I have added a handful of ground nuts to increase the protein level, but the girls don’t put the nuts in (student budget restrictions) and like the softer texture of the balls without them.
Either way, three Breakfast Balls contain the same amount of oats you’d get in a bowl of oatmeal – not bad for a snack that’s sturdy enough to survive in a baggie in my purse for a few days.
The only problem in our household is getting bananas to the lusciously sweet and overripe state needed to make Breakfast Balls. I buy two big bunches of bananas almost weekly, and they’re often gone just as I think, Oh good, I can make a batch of Breakfast Balls tomorrow, or maybe even a banana loaf. (As a note – I rarely eat bananas – I just happen to live with monkeys.) I am going to have to confiscate and hide some bananas so they can ripen in the dirty laundry hamper, or maybe in the vacuum cleaner box – someplace nobody will think of looking.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: I make a batch of Breakfast Balls and keep them in the freezer. It’s easy to toss a few into a plastic sandwich bag and tote them in my purse when I’m heading off to do a day of shopping, or even when I’m off to work and too rushed to eat breakfast in the morning. I relish the thought that at recess time I can nibble on them with my cup of tea. They beat instant oatmeal right out of the race!
I like the denseness of the Breakfast Balls when I add the ground nuts, but they are just as tasty without. I always try to drink something when I eat these, to have the liquid in my stomach for digesting the oats. I think of it as having a bowl of oatmeal on the go.
Since the only sweetness in this recipe comes from the bananas and the sprinkling of chocolate chips, try to have your bananas as ripe as possible – well freckled with brown, or even mostly brown. When the bananas look too ripe to eat, they are just perfect for making Breakfast Balls.
Mini chocolate chips distribute the chocolate more evenly and make the balls easier to form, but normal-sized ones would work well, too. Or you could use raisins or chopped dates instead of the chocolate chips.
Olivia often uses baking soda instead of baking powder because that’s all she has in her cupboards, and says that works fine, too. You can roll the balls small, like I make them, or bigger if you feel like it. The recipe is very flexible.
Banana Oat Breakfast Balls
- 4 large, very ripe bananas
- 4 cups (400 gms) large flake oats (old-fashioned oats), gluten-free if necessary
- ½ cup (50 gms) unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup (50 gms) ground hazelnuts or almonds or more coconut – optional
- ½ cup (100 gms) mini chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease it.
Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a potato masher or a fork.
Add all the other ingredients and stir well to combine.
Scoop up about 1½ tablespoons dough at time and squeeze it together to make a rough ball. (I use a size 40 cookie scoop.) I find that squeezing and gently tossing the ball from one had to the other several times helps form it into a neater ball.
Place the balls about ½ inch apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until when you lift up one of the balls, you can see that the bottom is golden brown.
Cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months.
Makes about 40 breakfast balls 1½ inches in diameter (less if you omit the ground nuts).
*If you make them this size, each Breakfast Ball has 1.6 tablespoons oats, so 3 balls will give you almost 5 tablespoons oats – the same amount in a serving of oatmeal porridge (and more fun and convenient to eat!)
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