Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Energy Balls

Kids need a quick boost of whole food protein? Two of these fudgy energy balls provide 8 grams of plant protein with NO powders in sight.

peanut butter fudge energy balls

When it comes to high-energy snacks for kids, we have demands. We want whole foods. We want protein. Not a crazy amount of sugar, please. Also healthy fats. And of course, great taste!

It might seem like a lot to ask of a snack you can pull out of the fridge and serve in the practical instant your kids say, “Can I have a snack?” But these peanut butter fudge energy balls are high-achievers like that.

Fudgy, chewy, and speckled with mini chocolate chips, these balls are a huge hit with kids from toddlers on up to… well at least middle-age. Stash them in your fridge for after-school snacks, or pack them to-go for park snacks or after-sports pick-me-ups.

We love them in lunchboxes, too, although they may not comply with your school’s allergy requirements. To make these energy balls peanut free, you can substitute your favorite seed butter in place of the peanut butter.

protein energy balls made with nuts and seeds

Plant-Powered, Whole Food Protein

These energy balls get their protein purely from nuts and seeds. Sure, we could have added a scoop of protein powder into this treat and checked off the “protein” box. But we like to focus on whole foods for our kids, because whole foods come with lots of added nutritional benefits like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

Which is exactly what you get with the blend of natural peanut butter and raw sunflower seeds in these energy balls. Together, these powerhouse ingredients provide four grams of protein per little ball. (For the sake of comparison, an egg or an ounce of cheese contains about six grams of protein. So if your kids eat two balls, they’ll get be getting more protein than they would from a serving of eggs or cheese. Pretty good, right?)

peanut butter fudge protein energy balls

More Reasons We Like Protein Energy Balls for Kids

Protein is great. But the best snacks deliver a balance of nutrients at the same time. And these energy balls do just that.

Healthy fats and complex carbohydrates help kids stay satisfied, and give them the energy they need to play and learn.

Check out these special nutrition benefits from the whole food ingredients in this snack:

  • Whole grain rolled oats are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber.
  • Sunflower seeds have plenty of Vitamin E, selenium, and healthy fats.
  • Cocoa powder provides a boost of antioxidants for a healthy heart and immune system.
  • Medjool dates contain minerals like potassium and copper, and they sweeten without refined sugars.
energy balls on cookie sheet

Tips for Making Perfect Protein Energy Balls

You’ll love how easy it is to make these sweet, chocolatey peanut-butter energy balls. It takes fewer than 10 minutes from start to finish!

To start, get out your trusty food processor. Add the oats and seeds and grind, grind grind. You’ll want to leave the blades running for a couple minutes to get as fine a consistency as you can for these ingredients. This is key for getting a really fudgy consistency!

When the oats and seeds are finely-ground, dump them straight into a mixing bowl, and place the pitted dates into the food processor. Blend them up until you get a sticky ball of date paste. (Make sure you use Medjool dates, rather than another variety like delet noor. Deglet noor dates, while tasty, are too dry to form a sticky ball.)

Add the date ball to the mixing bowl along with all the rest of the ingredients. And now? Now you gotta roll up your sleeves.

Knead the ingredients all together until everything’s really well incorporated. Don’t be afraid to get in there with your fingers and really mash it.

Then grab a clump of dough that’s roughly two tablespoons in volume, and roll it between your palms into you get a smooth ball. Repeat until all the dough is used up. And that’s it!

You can eat these room temperature or store them in the fridge for up to two weeks. We like to eat them cold, right out of the fridge.

close up protein fudge energy ball

Energy Bites, Balls, and More, Galore

Yup, we looooove all kinds of energy balls and bites. And you can make them in so many different flavors to match your tastes. Try some of our other healthy high-energy treats. Rest assured, they are ALL ROUND. 😉

Apple Cinnamon Energy Balls
Chia Seed Energy Bites
No Bake Carrot Cake Bites
Fruity Nut n’ Honey Energy Bites

Whole Food Protein | Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Energy Balls | Healthy Ideas and Recipes for Kids


Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Cake Bites

Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 2 balls


  • 9 each dates, Medjool
  • 1/3 cup oats, dry
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, all-natural
  • 4 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Place the oats and sunflower seeds in a food processor, and blend until you get a fine flour-like consistency (it may take a few minutes.) Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Place the dates (without pits) into the food processor and blend until a sticky paste forms. Add the sticky ball of date paste to the mixing bowl.
  • Add cocoa powder, peanut butter, vanilla, and mini chocolate chips to the mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Gently shape the dough into balls, using about two tablespoons of dough per ball.
  • Enjoy. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

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Where is the Best Place to Buy Organic Produce?

best organic produceMy in-depth review of Earth Fare caused several people to email asking about organic produce.

Why hadn’t I compared the quality and price of the produce? Which big box retailer do I like best to buy organic fruits and veggies for my family?

Organic Produce and Mega-Retailers

The hard truth is that big box retailers like Earth Fare,

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Plant Based Milk. What You Need to Know Before Buying

plant based milk in bottlesHave you noticed that plant based milk seems to be everywhere in both supermarkets and healthfood stores? In some places, the alternative milk brands on offer exceed those for dairy!

Is any of this stuff good for you or your kids? What things should you be looking for if you are unable to tolerate dairy milk and want to use it in your home?

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Should You Buy Fitness Trackers for Your Kids?

The fitness tracker trend is in full swing. But are they right for kids? Learn why you might want to measure kids’ activity levels–and when you shouldn’t.

active kids outside

Seeing fitness trackers everywhere? That’s no surprise. Between 20-40% of American adults use “wearable fitness devices” or fitness trackers, and the trend is expanding to include kids, too.

Fitness trackers promise a world of ease and progress in physical fitness. They help us make incremental improvements, nudge ourselves to be active, and celebrate personal bests.

But when you watch your eight-your-old bounding across the back yard with his friends, you might struggle to see how the fitness tracker mentality applies to kids. Do you want your kids to enter into the tech-heavy world of fitness tracking? Or is it better for them to play and move free of devices?

Read on to learn why and when you might choose to let your kids use fitness trackers… and the specific circumstances your kids might be better off without them.

teen wearing a fitness tracker

When to Say “Yes” to Fitness Trackers for Kids

If you’re on the fence about buying your kids a fitness tracker, take a close look at your individual child and your shared motivations for wanting a fitness tracker. Consider a tracker if one or more of these circumstances rings true:

  • When it’s just for fun. Healthy, active kids might like to turn fitness trackers into game time. Let them run, jump, tumble, and play, and rack up “points” on their trackers.
  • When you need track your kids’ activity levels for medical reasons. Kids with medical conditions as diverse as diabetes to ADHD might benefit from using fitness trackers. Think of trackers as a tool to help you better understand symptoms and promote wellness.
  • When your teen athlete is working toward specific fitness goals. Fitness trackers can help teen athletes improve their performance at a healthy pace.
mom with kids hiking in the woods

When to Say “No” to Fitness Trackers for Kids

Wearable devices don’t automatically help your kids, and they might even carry the potential for harm. Here are four times a fitness tracker probably isn’t right for your kids.

  • Your kid doesn’t want to wear one. If a fitness tracker feels like an obligation, your child might come to feel negatively toward physical activity–the opposite of what you’re aiming for!
  • You’re concerned that your child is focusing too strictly on health. If you start to notice what appears to be an excessive focus on exercise and/or regimented eating habits, a fitness tracker probably isn’t appropriate. In this case, please reach out to your family doctor or pediatrician with your concerns.
  • You’re having a low-tech moment. Technology abounds in our environment, and going without it can feel like a breath of fresh air for you and your kids. If you want your kids to tune in to their surroundings on the trail, for example, leave the fitness trackers at home.
  • You want to foster a love of physical activity for its own sake. One of the biggest benefits of physical activity and exercise is that it makes us feel good. Period. If you want to foster a love of movement and play, you might choose to forgo the system of competition and reward that’s inherent in kids’ fitness trackers.
happy girl playing on the slide

The Bottom Line

Fitness trackers can be fun for kids, but the average healthy child doesn’t need a special device to move in a healthy way.

If you find yourself wishing your child were more active, it’s perfectly OK to turn to low-tech solutions first. Check out these articles for fresh ideas to help you AND your kids move more, feel better, and live longer.

The No-Nag Guide to Getting Kids Outside
5 Fun (and Semi-Sneaky) Ways to Get Kids Exercising
Top 5 Ways to Stay Active in Winter (for Kids)

Fitness Trackers for Kids | Healthy Ideas and Recipes for Kids

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Does Borax Make the Cut for a Green Home?

borax usesWhen I was a kid, I was always intrigued by the boxes and bottles under grandma’s kitchen sink. One of those boxes that was prominently emblazoned with a Mr. Yuck sticker was “20 Mule Team Borax.” What a strange name, I thought as a kid (and still kind of do as an adult).

Just because Grandma used borax and she lived to be 95,

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Healthy Yogurt Parfait

Parfait might sound like a decadent dessert, but with a few small tweaks you can serve this treat for a nutritious breakfast or an after-school snack. Scroll to learn all the tips and tricks, plus the best ingredients for the most delectable yogurt parfait.

healthy yogurt parfait with strawberries

Parfait has a secret. No: two secrets. The first is that this special-looking French dessert takes all of five minutes to throw together. (You’ll probably spend more time locating a clear glass than you will actually filling it.)

The second secret is that you can make decadent parfait super-healthy with nutritious, probiotic-rich yogurt, whole grain granola, and colorful fresh fruits. So you feel great about what’s going into your kids’ bodies. And your kids will think you’re just the best when you serve it to them for breakfast on a random Tuesday morning. So who’s in?

Before we get to our delectable recipe and the ways you can customize it, here’s the (not all that obvious) answer to your burning question about yogurt parfait:

yogurt parfait in a glass dish with strawberries and granola

Is Yogurt Parfait Actually Healthy?

Each parfait is different. But what we can say is this: if nutrition is your goal, be wary of store-bought, pre-made parfaits.

A Macdonald’s Yogurt Parfait, according to the company website, contains 28 grams of sugar, which is a whopping seven teaspoons. Compare that to a serving of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, which has less, at 20 grams of sugar. Yikes!

The American Heart Association recommends kids between ages 2-18 eat fewer than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. So one Macdonald’s parfait already puts your child over the top of that limit.

When you make a yogurt parfait at home, you have complete control over the ingredients you put inside this fruity treat. That leads to better nutrition all around (and no sacrifice in flavor.)

Our recipe features whole milk yogurt gently-sweetened with pure maple syrup, and a lower-sugar brand of granola (Bear Naked granola is a solid choice, and you can find it at most supermarkets.)

We also pack in the fresh fruits for vitamins, fiber, and flavor. Our recipe makes three large servings, tastes sweet and yummy, and contains only 8 grams of total sugar per serving!

The takeaway here is that a yogurt parfait CAN be healthy, when you make it so with good quality, nutritious ingredients.

ingredients for yogurt parfait with strawberries

What Do You Put in a Yogurt Parfait?

The basic architecture of a great parfait goes like this: yogurt, granola, fruit, repeat. You can use any flavor of yogurt you like. We prefer to use plain yogurt with a touch of maple syrup. But if you really feel like you have to use a flavored yogurt, vanilla pairs well with the fruit and granola.

Choose any granola, but read those labels to find one that won’t load up your kids with added sugars. We actually like a simpler-flavored granola for this recipe, because the many layered ingredients in the parfait already bring the flavor party. (In other words, no need to buy some raspberry-almond-maple-choco-bomb flavor. Vanilla or maple does the job here.)

Our parfait features fresh strawberries, but PLEASE don’t feel limited to this when you’re selecting fruits for your own masterpiece. Here’s a list of some of the fruits (fresh or frozen) you can mix and match in your parfait:

  • Blueberries
  • Mango
  • Grapes (sliced if you’re concerned about choking)
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Kiwis
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
taking a spoonful of yogurt parfait with fruit and granola

Dishware You Can Use to Make a Parfait Look Fancy

One of the fun things about yogurt parfait is how darn pretty it looks. Kids feel so special to have a colorful, layered sweet treat, and they’ll have no idea it took you just five minutes to make. (Bask in it, moms and dads. You don’t have to say a thing.)

To create the special visual effect of a parfait, you will, of course, need a clear container. But if you don’t have a classic glass ice cream dish like this one, don’t sweat it. A sturdy clear drinking glass works nearly as well.

Find spoons that are long enough to reach down into the dish and you have everything you need. See? Easy.

two glasses full of healthy yogurt parfait with berries and granola

How to Make Yours 100% from Scratch

We’re SO not judging the use of store-bought granola and yogurt in this recipe. (Or, you know, strawberries you didn’t grow yourself, you lazy person you.)

Really, if you’re buying supplies because you’re just too time-crunched to make homemade granola, that’s totally cool. But homemade granola IS something extra-special, so we can’t end this post without sharing some of our yummiest granola recipes that would work great in this parfait recipe. Here you go:

Granola for Snacking
Basic Homemade Granola
Sugar Free Granola
Grandma’s Granola

We even have a recipe for homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot, which is pretty darn cool science AND food. Enjoy!

Yogurt Parfait | Healthy Ideas and Recipes for Kids


Yogurt Parfait

Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 1 bowl


  • 3 cup yogurt, plain
  • 3 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, pure


  • Place the yogurt in a small mixing bowl, and add the maple syrup. Stir to combine.
  • Wash and slice the strawberries.
  • Set out 3 large glasses (or more, to make more smaller servings.)
  • Layer the yogurt, granola, and berries in each dish.
  • Serve immediately.

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Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

Kids love chicken tenders? Make a healthy version of this restaurant favorite at home! This chicken recipe is oven-baked and deliciously coated with crispy whole grain breading.

Seems like you can find chicken tenders on almost every kids’ menu these days. Tasty? Maybe. But most of the time, restaurant tenders are deep-fried and served with a side of deep-fried French fries. It’s like a bomb of salty, greasy, beige food. Not the kind of meal that makes a body feel good.

THESE tenders are deliciously different, in all the best ways…

What Makes Chicken Tenders Healthy?

Chicken tenders CAN be healthy for your kids, but not by default. Let’s take a closer look at “restaurant-style” tenders. Aside from being deep-fried, most tenders contain white-flour breading and tons of sodium.

These refined starches and oils can fill kids up quick, leaving no room for fruits, veggies, or other nutritious food groups. Deep-fried foods can even contribute to heart disease and diabetes down the road, so you’re smart to avoid them when you can.

Of course, you don’t have to forgo delicious chicken tenders on account of all this. You can coat your tenders in whole grain crumbs and BAKE them. And when you do, you’ll get a tray of the crispiest, tastiest tenders ever. Ready to dip into a dish of ketchup or BBQ sauce.

What’s the Difference between Chicken Breasts and Chicken Tenders?

Chicken tenders are actually part of a chicken breast–an especially tender (hence the name, of course!) strip of meat that makes up the underside of a whole chicken breast.

When you’re making this recipe at home, you’ll want to look for a package of just the chicken tenders at the store–not the whole breast. That way, you’ll know you’re getting the thin, succulent parts of the chicken breast that cook quickly and have a great texture.

Note: chicken tenders tend to be more expensive than whole chicken breasts. But Costco, and even some supermarkets, sell chicken tenders in bulk.

What Should I Serve with These Tenders?

Chicken tenders are high in protein, and the breaded exterior provides some whole grain goodness. So when you’re looking for a side dish to round out your meal, look to fruits and veggies, like this scrumptious Brown Sugar Asparagus.

We like fresh raw veggies and fruits because they’re fast, easy, and colorful next to the tenders. Since you’re already putting out dips for the chicken, your kids might like to dunk their veggies into ranch or BBQ sauce… or heck, even the ketchup. Let ‘em be weird like that. They’re eating veggies!

Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders | Healthy Ideas and Recipes for Kids


Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 about 2 tenders


  • 1 pound Chicken breast tenders, uncooked
  • 2 slice bread, whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoon mustard, dijon
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup flour, whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


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How to Handle Constipation in Kids + Fiber 101

Your kids don’t have to suffer through constipation! Learn the signs, symptoms, and causes of constipation in kids, and try four powerful home remedies for healthy digestion.

boy sitting on the toilet

Constipation in kids is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to handle. Especially when your precious little one is curled up on the couch in discomfort!

The good news is, you can usually manage kids’ constipation at home with natural remedies and lifestyle modifications. Read on to learn about this common problem, and what you can do to help your kids feel better.

What are the Symptoms of Constipation?

Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements and/or hard, dry stools. Most of us know this But the signs and symptoms of constipation in kids aren’t always identical to those in adults. So you might mis-attribute them to something else.

Here are some signs and symptoms of constipation in kids:

  • No bowel movements for several days
  • Bowel movements that are hard, dry and difficult to pass
  • Pain while having a bowel movement
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Traces of liquid or clay-like stool in the child’s underwear — a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum
  • Soiled underwear
  • Blood on the surface of hard stool
  • Poor appetite
  • Cranky behavior

What Causes Constipation in Kids?

Constipation can happen to all kids once in a while, and a one-off bout of constipation in your child isn’t a major cause for concern. But if it happens frequently and causes serious physical or social discomfort, you’re justified in pursing potential causes, and working towards healthier digestion for your kids.

Here are some of the causes and contributing factors in kids’ constipation:

  • Low intake of dietary fiber
  • Limited physical activity
  • Low fluid intake (not enough hydration!)
  • Certain medications, including some antacids and antidepressants
  • The presence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • The presence of medical conditions affecting the anus or rectum
  • A family history of constipation

If your child has constipation and one or more of the above risk factors, don’t worry! There’s a lot you can do as a parent to help her feel better.

girl is constipated

How to Handle Kids’ Constipation

First things first: talk to your child’s pediatrician if your child’s constipation is severe or has been going on for a long time. She may recommend fiber supplements, stool softeners, laxatives, or an enema.

If you don’t think that your child’s constipation necessitates a trip to the doctor, you can try these at-home remedies to help move stool.

  • Offer high-fiber foods to your child’s plate at every meal. A diet high in fiber will help your child’s body form soft, bulky stool. Check out the chart below for some high-fiber food ideas.
Per 1/2 cup
Food Fiber (grams)
Barley, pearl 16
Beans 8
Lentils 7.5
Whole Wheat Flour 7.2
Oat bran 7.2
Chickpeas 6.2
Buckwheat Flour 6
Pear 5.5
Tomato Paste 5.3
Apple 4.4
Green Peas, frozen, cooked 4.4
Raspberries 4
Edamame 4
Spinach, frozen 3.5
Whole Wheat Spaghetti 3.2
Orange 3.1
Winter Squash 2.9
Broccoli, frozen, cooked 2.5
Avocado 1.9
Almonds, (12 nuts) 1.6
Applesauce 1.5
Carrots 1.5
Broccoli, raw 1.2
Cauliflower, raw 1.2
Popcorn (1 cup) 1.2
Whole Wheat Bread 1
Peanut Butter 0.6
  • Encourage your kids to drink more fluids. Water and other fluids will help soften your child’s stool. For little kids who don’t like to drink a lot of water, try getting some fun new cups to entice them. (Target has tons of cute, inexpensive kids’ cups!)
  • Try a “Sit-Schedule.” Kids who are busy playing might hold their stool to avoid missing out on the fun. Try enforcing regularly scheduled times for sitting on the toilet (after meals is a good time) so they have more opportunities to go.
  • Give probiotics. When kids’ digestion is off, probiotic supplements and/or probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt) can help restore a beneficial balance of bacteria in their intestines, which may relieve constipation.
  • Get active! Plan activities that involve running, jumping, or rough-and-tumble play. Even a pillow fight counts! Physical activity prompts kids’ metabolisms to move stool through their systems, which can help stop constipation.
healthy fruits and veggies with lots of fiber

Fiber 101

Of the home remedies you have available to treat constipation, adding high-fiber foods may be the single most effective one. But what even is fiber?

Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your digestive track.

Fiber has tons of health benefits beyond helping with constipation. Fiber….

  • Slows the release of glucose after a meal, so kids’ energy levels are more stable.
  • Fills kids up, so they feel satisfied between meals.
  • Supports healthy cholesterol levels (this might not be on your radar for your kids now, but it will benefit them later!)
  • Allows beneficial bacteria to thrive in the intestines (fiber is sometimes called a “prebiotic” for this reason.)

Including a lot of fiber in your family’s diet can help the people you care about feel better and even live longer! Get started today with these high-recipes that also taste super delicious:


Apple Pie Popcorn Snack Mix

Bran Muffin Bites

Roasted Chickpeas


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