Formula Meal: no-bake energy balls are a favorite snack! healthy, gluten free and no added sugars! Learn how to make them yourself in a few easy steps! @danielleomar

Formula Meals: No-Bake Energy Balls

Formula Meal: no-bake energy balls are a favorite snack!  healthy, gluten free and no added sugars! Learn how to make them yourself in a few easy steps! @danielleomar

I was fixing up a batch of my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough energy balls last week and realized that this is a formula recipe! If you’re new around here, a Formula Meal is basically a dish that you can whip up using a specific formula each time, switching out the ingredients to create new and delicious flavors.

No-bake energy balls, bites, bars — whatever you want to call them — are great for a variety of circumstances: morning or afternoon snack, grab-n-go breakfast, post-workout or pre-run fuel, and even dessert if you get fancy with them. My no-bake energy balls are all nut-based, so if nuts are not your thing you are out of luck. They are also gluten-free and dairy free. I have seen energy ball recipes online where honey, agave, or maple sugar is added, but my no-bake balls do not contain added sugars.

There is one catch to making my no-bake bites, you need a food processor. I know for some people the food processor can be very intimidating, but it’s really very simple to use. Food processors run from $60-$200. If you don’t think you’re going to use the food processor very much you could get a mini one for about $30. I like this one.

I use my food processor all the time! Not just for my no-bake energy balls, but for slicing, dicing, and shredding vegetables (I hate to chop onions). I also use use it to make applesauce, hummus, nut butters, and a ton of other things. Most come with a few different blade options that you can use in a lot of different ways. This is the machine I have.

Now let’s get busy making some energy balls! Below are my favorite ingredient tips and a simple formula that will make you an energy ball pro in no time.

What’s the Formula?

2 parts dried fruit:  the dried fruit is going to play an important role in your balls because it helps to keep them sticky, which allows them to stay together when forming the balls. I always use Medjool dates because they are delicious, soft, and moist. The pitted dates in a bag at the grocery store are definitely not as moist as Medjool dates, so you will have to soak them in water first to soften them. I use about 10 dates to make one batch of balls.  Other dried fruits you can use are figs, cherries, cranberries, and apricots!

2 parts nuts: here’s where you can get as creative as you want. I always use raw nuts.  Raw cashews are a secret weapon for giving that cookie dough flavor.  Almonds are always a go-to, peanuts, macadamia, walnuts, pecans, even pistachios are good. You can combine a few different nuts or go with one for a very consistent flavor. Like for cashew lemon balls, you would go straight cashew. If you want a more complex flavor, mix them up. I usually do 1/2 cup total nuts.

1 part nut butter: the nut butter is for keeping the balls together. Natural almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, and sunflower butter are great choices. I usually use about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons.  If you don’t want to add nut butter you could substitute with coconut butter/oil.

1 part spice: adding spice can give your balls some complex flavor. Cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, lemon or orange zest, sea salt, vanilla powder/extract, ground ginger, cardamom, and pumpkin pie spice are all fun!

1 part seed: seeds can add some fiber, protein and healthy fats to the balls. Options include ground flaxseed, chia seed, or hemp seed. You can also use sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, too! I usually add in 1/4 cup.

1 part flavor (optional):  the flavor can be any combination of add-ins. I usually use about 1/4 cup. These are a few of my favorites:

  • raw oats
  • unsweetened shredded coconut
  • cacao nibs or powder for chocolate
  • matcha tea powder
  • freeze-dried fruit (apples, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • extracts (mint, almond, hazelnut, etc.)
  • frozen wild blueberries
  • rice krispies
  • pretzels

1 part protein (optional): protein add-ins include protein powder, hemp seeds, or spirulina powder, and even cooked quinoa.

If soaking dates or making a paste, do this first. Then add dates to food processor and pulse until chopped up pretty well. Then add nuts and nut butter and process again. Finally, throw in your extra add ins and pulse until well combined and mixture looks like sand. You know they are ready when you squeeze the “dough” with your fingers and it sticks together. Then just roll the mixture into balls. Once you have your balls you can also roll them in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or anything you want!

Below is some inspiration to get you started:

Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls



No-Bake Fig Newtons

no-bake fig newton balls


Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Energy Bars


Gingerbread Hemp Balls

gingerbread hemp bites


Lemon Apple Cocoroons

No-bake lemon apple cocoroons



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Antioxidant rich all RED salad with lemony dressing is a delicious lunch or dinner side.

Red Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

Antioxidant rich RED salad with lemony dressing is delicious lunch!Are you using Yummly? Have you heard of it? It’s a new recipe collection site and it’s a great way to save recipes you find on the web, kind of like an online recipe box. What I especially love is that Yummly is just for recipes and it provides the nutrition information (i.e. calories, etc) for each recipe, as well as other data. You can get really organized by creating categories, or you can just “yum” recipes as you browse online.

I added a little bookmark to my Chrome browser so when I see a recipe I like, I just click it and it automatically adds the recipe to my collection. I love it! You can also “yum” any of my recipes to your own recipe box by using the share buttons at the bottom of the post.  To see all of my blog recipes that have been “yummed” on Yummly here on my publisher page.  To create your own account, just click here.

Now let’s talk about this delicious red salad. As you know, I love my salad. Salad is probably what I talk about the most here on the blog!

Antioxidant rich all RED salad with lemony dressing is a delicious lunch or dinner side.

I created this antioxidant-rich, super flavorful Red Salad for my Inspired Vegetarian column over at Healthy Aperture. Healthy Aperture is the first and only dietitian-curated gallery of food blogs. If you’re on the hunt for gorgeous food that is also healthy, check out Healthy Aperture. There are tons of healthy recipes you can add to your Yummly recipe box over there!

Antioxidant rich all RED salad with lemony dressing is a delicious lunch or dinner side.

In my post I go into great detail about why this salad is so good for you and what makes all the ingredients red, so head over there to read it. You will find the recipe there or by clicking here.


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Asian Style Potato Salad -- mayo free and healthy!

Zesty Asian Style Potato Salad

Thank you to my friends over at Tessemae’s for sponsoring this post.

Shop online and enter FoodConfidence at checkout to get 10% off your order!
Asian Style Potato Salad using Soy Ginger Tessemae Salad Dressing

Salad dressing is a huge part of my life; it’s something I consume almost every day. Over the years I’ve become pretty good at whipping up a quick and tasty dressing at home, but I also like to have a few delicious store-bought brands on hand. This is not an easy task. Decent store-bought salad dressing is hard to find. What I look for is pretty simple. It’s what I recommend to my private clients, Nourish participants, and now to you: read the ingredient list and ask yourself, would I use these same ingredients at home? Sounds easy enough, right? Ha, not so fast.

The problem is that many so-called “natural” brands don’t even use olive oil, much less cold-pressed olive oil, which for me is a salad dressing must-have. Most of the larger, less expensive brands contain ingredients I would never use at home: corn starch and corn syrup, MSG, soybean oil, and artificial colors like red 40. It’s frustrating, to say the least. The good news is that there are quality salad dressings out there, you just have to find them.

When Tessemae’s asked me to review their salad dressing, I was intrigued and just a little pessimistic. Before saying yes, I did my due diligence. I went online and checked out the company and the ingredients. Much to my surprise I discovered that these folks are actually the real deal!

Tessemae Salad Dressing Starter Kit

Tessemae’s is a local Washington, DC area company. It was founded by the son of a health-conscious Annapolis mom named Tesse. Tesse used this very same salad dressing throughout their childhood in order to get her family to eat their vegetables. I just love this story. It’s great to support a family-run business that is passionate about offering a better choice for consumers.

So what did I make with Tessemae’s salad dressing? I had a bag of red potatoes that needed cooking so I decided to go with something different. This Asian style potato salad came out absolutely delicious (and took less than 10 minutes to make from start to finish).

Asian Style Potato Salad using Soy Ginger Tessemae Salad Dressing

Tessemae’s sent me a few bottles of dressing to test and I really liked them all, they taste very much like homemade. But what I love most is the ingredients…everything I would find in my own kitchen: quality olive oil, fresh lemon, real vinegar, herbs and spices — and no corn syrup!

soy ginger Tessemae salad dressing

For this potato salad I used the Ginger Soy dressing. I absolutely LOVE the lemon garlic dressing, too. I could have gone with either one!

Asian Style Potato Salad using Soy Ginger Tessemae Salad Dressing

I have to tell you how awesome this potato salad is! My husband ate the entire bowl standing at the kitchen sink. The soy ginger dressing is the perfect Asian flavor — super refreshing and a little unexpected.

Oh, and here’s a little tip: when storing the salad dressing in the fridge, it may turn cloudy. This is totally normal. To loosen it up, just place the bottle in a warm cup of water and let it sit while your chopping up your salad veggies (about 3 – 5 minutes). Once it’s loosened up a bit you’re set to shake it up and pour on your dish!

Zesty Asian Style Potato Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Zesty Asian Style Potato Salad


  • 2 cups small red potatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp Tessemae's Soy Ginger Dressing
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup diced English cucumber
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 big handfuls microgreens or sprouts
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Sea salt


  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until just tender. Let cool. Slice into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl add the potatoes, cucumbers, scallions, cranberries, greens, and almonds. Toss gently with dressing. Season with salt, to taste. Serve cold!

Tessemae’s salad dressings and marinades are available at Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway, The Fresh Market, and Costco. If buying online, use the code FoodConfidence for 10% off your order!

Connect with Tessemae’s here:

Asian Style Potato Salad