These quick and easy coffee and walnut no-bake energy bites are naturally sweetened and made from only seven ingredients. Thrown together in minutes (and no oven required!) they make a delicious, healthy snack when you need a boost of energy without the sugar crash.
As anyone who knows me can attest, I am a big fan of coffee.
Coffee with breakfast, coffee with cake, even coffee in cake…
Tea always seems to be thought of as the traditional drink of choice in England, but I’ve never enjoyed the taste. I remember as a small child, sitting with my family trying various brews – with milk or without, honey or sugar or none, strong or weak, fine bone china or sturdy mug – nothing worked, I was simply not to be a fan of tea.
By contrast, my love of coffee has grown and grown over the years.
My eyes may be drawn to the frothy, creamy concoctions showcased on coffee shop menus – the drizzles! the syrups! the sprinkles!
But my heart chooses more sagely, rejoicing in the simplicity of a steaming cup of freshly ground coffee sans anything. Plain black coffee may not rival latte art for its photogenic qualities, but the lack of embellishment is more than made up for by the pure, rich taste.
Inevitably, my passion for coffee extends well beyond simply drinking it. As an ingredient in its own right, coffee (in either liquid or ground form) can be added to any number of sweet and savoury dishes to add richness and an extra depth of flavour.
From the creamy layers of a classic coffee-infused tiramisu to the warm richness of a spice rub for barbequed meats – the variety of uses in a kitchen is only limited by your imagination.
By the way – it took me a long time to realise that coffee cake doesn’t mean the same thing the world over. I would drool over pictures of delicious looking recipes, then scan through the ingredient list in confusion – but… there is no coffee listed…I don’t get it??
Eventually, (okay I’m a bit slow on the uptake…) I discovered that coffee cake can mean both a cake containing coffee or a cake to be eaten with coffee. Now it makes more sense!
As long as there is coffee involved, I’m happy!
One of my favourite things to do when I’m dreaming up new creations is to take something I love as an occasional treat, and see if I can re-imagine it in a completely different way. Still delicious. But maybe just a little healthier…
For this particular recipe, I wanted to create a simple, healthy, no-bake snack. A quick pop of energy that can easily be grabbed when I realise that it’s a very long time until lunch – in my book that’s at least 25 minutes!
If it happens to borrow the flavours of a slice of my favourite cake, then so much the better…
After professing my love of the black stuff, it probably comes as no surprise that my favourite type of cake is – wait for it – coffee and walnut (apparently I like to layer my caffeine sources…)
The combination of coffee and walnuts in cake form is an amazing one. The bitter-sweet crunch of the walnuts. The creamy richness of the coffee frosting. There’s a reason why coffee and walnut cake is considered a classic.
As an occasional treat, I can’t resist a slice.
I’m a fan of eating anything in moderation – I’m not going to guilt myself if I eat a slice of gooey, frosting covered cake occasionally. But in all its delicious cake-ness, it is a recipe which leans very heavily on sugar – something which I try to moderate my consumption of whenever possible.
So what of the times when a slice of cake is not the answer?
(I can’t believe I just typed that sentence, I must be growing up…)
As far as a typical coffee and walnut cake recipe goes, there is very little in the way of redeeming nutritional value. That to me is what puts it firmly in the compartment labelled occasional treat.
Typically, the only good source of nutrients are the walnuts – so for this energy bite recipe, that’s where I decided to start.
Walnuts are a fantastic source of a variety of important nutrients, including healthy fats, vitamin E and other antioxidants. The skin of the walnut can sometimes taste a little bitter, but it’s where a lot of the good stuff lies, and I promise you won’t even notice this once the nuts are combined with the other ingredients.
To start, sunflower seeds (which also have a great nutrient profile) are pulsed in a food processor until they break down to a fine crumb. Do the same for the walnuts (you don’t want to reach the point of seed/nut butter forming, as walnuts are a lot softer than sunflower seeds they won’t take as long.)
The first time I tried this recipe I didn’t process the sunflower seeds at all. Although the energy bites tasted great, I found them a little too crunchy if left whole. If preferred, lightly toasting the walnuts before pulsing them would help to bring out their flavour even more, but I’ve tried to keep fully to the no-bake principle here.
The rest of the recipe is ridiculously easy. Stir together the honey, almond butter and espresso powder (to taste) and then add all the other ingredients. A 1/4 cup of honey is more than sweet enough for me, and gives you plenty of stickiness to work with.
The dough needs to be chilled for a while to make it easier to handle, then all that’s left is to roll into balls (mine makes about 15 generous energy bites in total) before diving in. Of course, a cafetière of fresh coffee on the side is entirely optional!
Easy to grab when you are on the go (they will freeze happily – simply leave to warm up at room temperature for 10 minutes before eating) these little energy bites pack a powerful amount of fibre, protein and healthy fats (and a little hit of caffeine!) in them.
Whether you are looking for a quick snack, an energy boost before a workout or a mid-afternoon slump buster, these coffee and walnut no-bake energy bites are a delicious, healthy alternative for when a slice of cake isn’t the answer!
- ¼ cup (30g) sunflower seeds
- ½ cup (50g) walnuts
- ½ cup (125g) almond butter
- ¼ cup (60ml) honey
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder*
- 1 cup (95g) quick cook oats**
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- In a food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds and then the walnuts until broken down into fine crumbs.
- In a medium mixing bowl, gently stir together the almond butter, honey and espresso powder until combined. Add the oats, sesame seeds and pulsed walnuts and sunflower seeds, stir together until thoroughly mixed.
- Cover the bowl and chill for at least 40 minutes. The mixture is quite sticky so chilling allows it to firm up a little, making it easier to handle.
- Roll into balls (makes 15 - 20 depending on how large you want them!) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
**I've made these with both old fashioned rolled oats and with quick cook oats, either will work just fine.