Low-Sugar & Low-Carb Walnut & Cashew Sweet & Salty Caramel Energy Balls a.k.a. Who Said Salted Caramel Was Unhealthy – Oh & That First Bite… Heavenly!
Okay, so let’s get started with this week’s meal prep! This week, it’s all about low-carb & low-sugar diabetes-friendly meals! My dad has diabetes & I’m tring to get him to hop on the healthy eating bandwagon & hopefully (fingers crossed!) reverse his diabetes or at least improve it.
The journey to helping him learn to love healthy eating started with these balls because ya know, I had to ease him into it & show him that eating healthy didn’t mean his food would taste bad, bland or boring. THAT’S WHERE THE CARAMEL IDEA CAME IN. My dad freaking loves caramel (You know those hard caramel candies that all our grandparents have in their candy dish at home? Ya those. He could eat them by the dozen!!!). Anywho, low & behold, I SHOWED HIM WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT & he freaking loved them!!!!! Safe to say, we started on the right foot.
So what’s in these babies & more importantly, WHY ARE THESE INGREDIENTS DIABETES-FRIENDLY? Let me explain!
Walnuts: They have the least digestible amount of carbs per 28g seeing (only 2g) than most nuts. Research has shown they help with body composition & significantly reduce blood sugar, insulin & LDL cholesterol levels.
Cashews: Cashews are a bit higher in carbs than walnuts, but they’re also higher in omega fatty acid, which are crucial for those with diabetes who have an increased risk of heart disease. Omega fatty acids protect the cells that line the blood vessels, reduce inflammation & improve artery function post-eating. They’re also lower in fat than most nuts & help reduce high triglyceride levels (which are severely linked to heart disease).
Dates: I used just 2 for the entire recipe & guess what? YOU DON’T NEED MORE! Dates are rich in fibre, which makes them good for helping reduce inflammation & helps reduce the overall risk of type II diabetes. They also contain vitamin B1, which protects from nerve damage that some may face due to diabetes & vitamin A to help protect eyes from damage that may be caused by diabetic retinopathy. They also contain vitamin K, which activates protein & calcium, which helps in the clotting of blood. They are naturally sweet & lower GI than many other types of sugars/sweeteners.
Maple syrup: I only used 2 tbsp. for the entire recipe to add some sweetness so that my dad would actually eat & LOVE these. It’s lower on the GI than other sugars & has tons of minerals & antioxidants, which make it acceptable for diabetes in very LOW & MODERATE QUANTITIES. I would’ve used yacon syrup, but I’m all out!
Vanilla: A great way to add natural sweetness to recipes without adding much sugar. A 1 tsp. serving of vanilla has just 0.4-0.5g of sugar, whereas 1 tsp. of coconut sugar, for example, rings you in at 4-5g.
Ceylon cinnamon: It adds tons of natural sweetness, helps lower blood sugar & improves insulin sensitivity. It also helps reduce hemoglobin A1c, which is what affects one’s average blood sugar level over a few months. Try your best to limit consumption of Cassia cinnamon & go for Ceylon because cassia contains way higher quantities of coumarin, which may be linked to health issues overall & liver damage in some people.
Sea salt: Whether you are diabetic or at risk or not at all, it’s always best to use sea salt & NOT TABLE SALT. Table salt is refined, processed & heated at such high temperatures that it loses all its beneficial properties, minerals, nutrients & electrolytes.
So there you have it loves, now you know & understand why all these ingredients make these great for any & all trying to lower their sugar/carb consumption, all while maintaining a healthy nutrient-rich diet & not feeling like they are being deprived or starving!
Now, when I tell you that biting into one of these is heavenly, I’m not freaking kidding. They’re moist & chewy & delicious & scrumptious & just the right amount of crumbly & nutty & not-too-sweet & not-too-salty (THEY’RE JUST RIGHT!).
They’re so good that you could pass them off as dessert. I swear. But I like them best as a post-workout snack & refuel!
Okay, I think I’ve teased you enough.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
INGREDIENTS (for 18-20 balls):
- 1.5 cups raw organic walnuts
- 1.5 cups raw organic cashews
- 2 dates (pitted)
- 2 tbsp. pure organic maple syrup (or EVEN BETTER: yacon syrup)
- 2 tsp. pure organic vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt
- 3/4-1 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon
- Add all ingredients to food processor & pulse until fully combined & incorporated.
- Scrape the sides, whenever necessary.
- The batter should be uniform & you should be able to roll it into a ball without it crumbling.
- Roll into balls, place on a plate & refrigerate overnight.
- Store in the fridge or freezer, based on desired texture.
- They’ll stay firm either way, but if you put them in the freezer, they’ll harden more & last longer!