No-bake peanut butter protein energy balls

By Donna Erickson

Mary Toth, 10, and her sister Izzy, 6, created their own recipe for peanut butter and oats energy balls.

Kids just know how to have fun, especially on those mornings when they wake up to the news of a school closing due to extreme weather conditions. The day without a rushed agenda is theirs to create, play, read and cook!

On a recent snow day, sisters Mary, 10, and Izzy, 6, discovered the magic time of a free day, building a basement fort over tables and furniture, and reading stories with flashlights in their cozy spaces. When time came to crawl out of their imaginative “far away” world for a snack upstairs, they decided to create their own treat.

With grandma Mary on the sidelines, they rummaged through her kitchen and scooped uncooked oatmeal in a bowl, stirred in peanut butter until it was a “just right consistency,” added a dash of cinnamon spice and then rolled the concoction in bite-size balls. After chilling for a few minutes to firm up, the girls poked toothpicks in each one and arranged them with mandarin oranges on plates. “They came up with a pretty healthy snack without any coaching from me,” said Mary.

As the girls discovered, when good peanut butter is the base, the options are endless for no-bake snacks that go together in minutes. Here’s a more complex, yet easy-to-make, combination of ingredients for protein energy ball snacks using peanut butter that my friend Mary Clapp, certified nutrition coach and personal trainer, came up with for on-the-go snacking to give an extra boost during her day.

I make mine with natural or vanilla whey protein powder and add unsweetened cocoa powder. She uses natural chocolate flavor whey protein powder. Either way, after you mix and roll them in coconut, you’ll discover a tasty cookielike treat that is full of energy-boosting ingredients.




1/4 cup water

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter or almond butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup uncooked steel cut oats

3/4 cup natural or vanilla whey protein powder

2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. Mix all ingredients except coconut in a bowl.
  2. Spoon coconut in separate bowl.
  3. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball with your hands. Gently roll ball in the coconut and set in a storage container. Refrigerate 15 minutes and serve. Makes 20-22 energy balls.
  4. Store in refrigerator. Freezes well.


ALTERNATIVE: Use 3/4 cup chocolate flavor whey protein powder in lieu of the plain or vanilla, and omit cocoa powder.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”


© 2020 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.