Book review: Energy Balls by Christal Sczebel

I am a big fan of the delicious energy balls that I get to order at our local superfood bar, Rawr – they are scrummy sweet treats packed full of nutritious ingredients – I love them, and they are just right for a little something to go with a lovely herb tea or golden milk (never tried golden milk? You should, it’s delicious!). So I was really pleased to get hold of a review copy of Energy Balls: Improve your physical performance, mental focus, sleep, mood and more by Christa Sczebel and published by Chronical Books.

energy-balls-recipe-book-cover

I have no idea about the health claims made for these recipes, but I know for myself, I always feel better in body and in mind, when I am eating food that is packed full of nutrients. These days, where previously I might have gone for a piece of cake, a Wispa bar (my all-time favourite!) or crisps for a snack, although I still have those now and again, I’m much more like to go for something like this. So it’s great to have an opportunity to make some for myself, and learn more about the benefits of some of these ingredients, especially the ones which are new to me.

toasted-coconut-fudge-energy-ball
Toasted Coconut Fudge

All the recipes are 100% vegan, no-bake and gluten free. And having recently tried to find vegan and gluten-free sweet treats that weren’t packed with an awful lot of undesirable ingredients in my local super-market, I can really see the appeal of a book like this, where you can have complete confidence in what you are putting into your food.

hazelnut-superfruit-energy-balls
Hazelnut Super-fruit

As you can see, the styling of the book is lovely – it’s fully of really tempting pics, especially as I imagine it’s rather difficult to take delicious-looking photos of lots and lots of things that all look quite similar!

The book is divided up into sections with different recipes for Breakfast, the Lunch-Box, Brain-Boosting, Performance-Enhancing and Bedtime. It’s packed full of information about the nutritional content of the ingredients, calorie content and a run down of the benefits of the ingredients used.

general-info-about-brain-boosting-energy-balls

I tried a couple of recipes. The first, Salted Caramel and Chia, was delicious, but I found the mixture very difficult to work with – it was so wet – possibly due to my inexperience in making this kind of food. I’m hoping this will get better as I get more experience of what different mixtures should look like – a bit more information or some step by step photos would have been helpful.

chia-salted-caramel-energy-balls
Salted Caramel and Chia

The second, Cinnamon Raisin, I didn’t like as much, finding the recipe almost impossibly sweet – although the little snacks all seemed to disappear soon enough, so SOMEONE around here liked them.

double-chocolate-fudge-energy-balls
Double Chocolate Fudge

One down side, if you are on a budget, and haven’t experimented with this type of food previously, is that there is an awful lot of non-standard ingredients (i.e. not what you’d have in your store-cupboard or even at your local supermarket) and expensive ingredients, like dried whole bananas, nut butters, coconut nectar and chocolate protein powder, and lots of them used in only one or two recipes.

strawberry-shortcake-energy-balls
Strawberry Shortcake

The other issue is that you need a really decent blender or food-processor. I have an Kenwood food-processor, that works ok to blend everything up, but it makes a dreadful noise as it does so. But if you are a person with a snazzy high-powered blender, then this might well be a book to add to your library.

chocolate-ginger-energy-balls
Gingerbread Dark Chocolate

I felt slightly put off by the above caveats about the expense and the lack of helpful detail in these recipes. But, as I flick through the book again for this review, it has renewed my enthusiasm to try some more recipes, and invest in a few more of the ingredients. I really like the sound of Lime and Coconut, Carrot Cake, Toasted Coconut Fudge and Vanilla Chai Latte… and plenty of others too, and I can see them becoming part of my weekly eating, if they taste as good as they sound.

Have you had experience of this kind of ‘cooking’? I’d love to hear about any favourite recipes you might have.

 

15 thoughts on “Book review: Energy Balls by Christal Sczebel

  1. Never experienced these recipes, by as someone who is on a tight budget and recovery from a very stressful life and anaemia. I am searching for recipes that involve “anjeer” and “khajoor”. Your kind of posts keep my hopes up. Love<3

  2. I’ve made snack balls from oats/dates/cocoa/coconut but although they make you feel virtuous, natural sugars from dried fruits have a negative effect on your dental health and they tend to be sticky so stay on your teeth which is not good for snacks. The nutrients are better than using empty ingredients like sugar but, not always sure these are as good for as as we like to hope! Similarly, ‘vegan’ is often used in marketing to imply ‘healthy’ as well as free from animal derived ingredients. I’d love to see some savoury recipes for no bake/vegan snacks too.

    1. Yes, I wasn’t surprised to see that most of the recipes are incredibly calorific! Something I have noticed about a lot of vegan recipe books is a reliance on sweetness (from dried fruit, maple syrup and the like) and agree with you that a vegan diet isn’t necessarily a healthy one! But as part of a healthy diet (i.e. as an occasional treat) I think these are quite fun, and better than some of the so called ‘health bars’ that you can buy. It’s possible that the tooth thing has been overdone (my kids love dried fruit and as their diet is so limited, it’s something I am keeping an eye on..!) – http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v221/n5/full/sj.bdj.2016.628.html

  3. I make these regularly and keep them in the freezer. This keeps me from eating the whole lot in a couple of days. I do find some of them quite high in sugar so restrict myself to one a day. Putting the mixture in the fridge for a while before moulding seems to make it easier to shape – depending on the ingredients.

    1. Yes, I’ve been keeping mine in the freezer too! Some of them are super high in sugar I think, and very sweet, but as a treat to replace a couple of biscuits or a chocolate bar, they’ve got to be a better choice, I think.

  4. Ali, it’s like you read my mind! I’ve started making energy balls two weeks ago and I love them as a quick snack. I was wondering where I could find more recipes, so I’ll definitely keep this book in mind, thanks for sharing 🙂
    And if you haven’t heard of them, go on YouTube and look for The Happy Pear – they’re two Irish twins with a huge passion for vegan food who happen to have a few great energy ball recipes… and a few yummy healthy cake ones, too! x

  5. Oh i love these, i make them every week and take them with me to gym and on travels. Stops me eating too junk food at the craft fairs i do in the summer

  6. Hi Ali this book looks interesting. I have been a vegetarian for over 50 years now and try to eat as much raw food as possible although I find doorstep toast irresistible 😀😀 I don’t have much interest in food or cooking so tend to go for salads. My eldest son has recently converted to a vegan diet so I am thinking of this book for his birthday in April. Thank you Ali as always an informative and enjoyable post.
    Dorothy xx

    1. Thanks Dorothy – it’s so interesting how many people I know who are vegan or going vegan. I’m not vegan, but I love to eat plant based foods. Doorstep toast is brilliant!!

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