Healthy Snacks for Kids: Energy Balls

May 15, 2014 by Jenny Melrose
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For easy and portable healthy snacks for kids that they will love to munch on, and you can easily pack for when you are on the go, grab a few ingredients and roll up a quick batch of Cinnamon Caramel Apple Energy Balls.

Healthy Snacks for Kids: Energy Balls

Healthy Snacks for Kids: Cinnamon Caramel Apple Energy Balls
I’m always behind on the trends. My sister is the stylish one, and I’m the jeans and t-shirt girl. It’s a good thing I have two little boys. If I had girls, well, I’d be in trouble. Home decor – forget it. Shabby chic, chevrons, seaside casual, formal elegance, I have no idea. My style consists of randomly dropped toys and socks and wedding and baby photos.

You would think that the one place I would be totally ahead of, or at least on top of the trends is in the food world. But I always seem to be a little late. I’ve been making granola bars, like these Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars, for awhile now. And while they are super yummy, they do involve mixing and baking and cutting. It seems the foodie world has moved on to “energy bars” made mainly from dates and other stuff pureed into a paste, smushed into a pan, and cut into bars. So I started playing around with a few different types, and my boys are loving these Double Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Energy Bars.

Except now all of a sudden bars are so last year. Now it’s all about Energy Balls. Maybe people think they are easier. I’m not sure. You’ve either gotta press it into a pan and cut it into bars, or roll the mixture into balls. Six of one, half dozen of the other. But my little guys did think these Cranberry Almond Energy Balls I made were pretty tasty and fun, so I’ll go with it. And my 4-year-old liked when I gave him a few gobs of the mixture so that he could roll his own balls. Definitely a better idea than giving him a giant knife to cut up his own bars!

However, while my boys do like munching on all of these snacks at home, when I am going to parks and other places where there are lots of other kids around, I try to consider that there could be other little ones with nut allergies. So I wanted to make a version that I could bring along on our spring and summer outings that didn’t have any nuts or nut butters.

Cinnamon Caramel Apple Energy Balls


These Cinnamon Caramel Apple Energy Balls are a perfect snack for packing in your bag when you are heading out for a day of fun. They take minutes to prepare, aren’t messy, and they are vegan, gluten-free, nut- and peanut-free, and totally kid-friendly, so you can pretty much share them with anyone! And caramel, you ask? Dates! Seriously, I didn’t believe it when a fellow food blogger described them as “Nature’s Caramel”, but it is so true.

And if you have even littler ones, like Jenny and I, you can even make teensy little energy bites. I use about one-quarter teaspoon to make these little balls for my one-year-old. They are the perfect size for him to work on his pincer grip, and chew them up even though he only has three teeth.

Toddler Healthy Snacks: Energy Balls


4.75 from 8 votes

Healthy Snacks for Kids: Energy Balls

These Cinnamon Caramel Apple Energy Balls are perfect on the go healthy snacks for kids!

Prep Time 10 minutes


  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup dried apples (not freeze dried, chewy ones)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until it forms a thick paste.

  2. Using about a tablespoon of the mixture, roll into balls. If you want the little bites, use about 1/4 teaspoon.

Cinnamon Caramel Apple Energy Balls

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Brianne is a former chemical engineer turned stay-at-home mom to two adorable, but crazy little boys. She is the creator of and recipe developer at Cupcakes & Kale Chips, a food blog with a little bit of everything, reflecting her philosophy on balance and her love of making and eating both nutritious meals and decadent desserts. She also loves to share fun, healthy snacks that you can make for (and with!) your kids.

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  • Brad

    Great recipe!! So easy. If the mixture doesn’t bind too well for any reason add a small drizzle of Canadian maple syrup.

  • LeAnn @ Real Fit, Real Food Mom

    These sound great! Will be pinning for later. I just shared a ‘chocolate-covered peppermint almond bites’ recipe on my blog that is similar to this (made with dates)–so tasty and easy!

  • Devra aka ThePomeroyLife

    Would this work with raw apples?

    • MAsh

      I wouldn’t think so. Aside from turning brown, I would think they would have too much moisture in them.

    • Brittanie

      I’m going to try drying my own apples in oven if ripe apples don’t work with recipe

  • Jill

    I’m always looking for healthy snack ideas for our kids. Definitely going to try these!

  • Marilyn Clark

    OH how yummy! These remind me of Lara bars and perfect to take on a hike!

  • kristi@ishouldbemoppingthefloor

    These look so yummy, Jenny! Thank you bunches for linking up and partying with us!

  • Kim in AZ

    Where do you find pitted dates at the store? I’ve tried to find them for several recipes and must be looking in the wrong spot because I leave empty handed every time. 🙁

    • MAsh

      Usually I find them in the same area as the raisins. Or in the bulk section if you have one of those.

    • Dave Flippo

      Kim, I see you’re in AZ, you should be able to find your pitted dates at Sprouts if you live in the valley.

  • Leigha

    Cooked oats? I have a serious (read EPI pen worthy) wheat/gluten allergy and have GF old-fashioned rolled oats. I bake, but I’ve never made this kind of snack – so I have no clue if I just throw them in or cook them first.

    • MAsh

      Uncooked oats.

  • Sherri@The Well Floured Kitchen

    I’m with ya on the style thing 🙂 I’ve never used apples in my energy balls, but it is a great idea! The kids would love them and it helps us to be able to bring them anywhere and not worry about allergies.

  • deb

    What kind of oats old fashioned , steel cut , quick cook works work better

  • Danielle

    We just made these and the kids LOVE them – thanks! I’ll definitely be sharing these with my Mummy friends 🙂

  • Anna B

    It’s too bad you didn’t provide the nutritional values for this treat (cals/fat grams/fiber). Sounds yummy, think I might try them. 🙂

  • Lydia

    These are fabulous! So sweet! They’re perfect for my flat mate who can’t have gluten, sugar or dairy. So yummy and allergy free.

  • Rochelle

    Tip: A melon baller works great for forming these quickly! I have one with a scoop on either end – perfect for big and little kids!

  • Coastgirl

    Could you use medjool dates for this?

    • Jenny Melrose

      I’m not sure what medjool dates are? I’m sorry!

  • Sally

    What kind of oats are best? Old fashioned, quick, …?

    • Jenny Melrose

      I used all fashioned and found the consistency worked well.

  • CareBear

    Howdy. Howdy!

    The store was out of chewy apples and I got dried apricots instead. Any suggestions? I’ll let you know how it works out!

    Thanks oodles.

  • Robin

    How do you store these?

  • Amy

    I am always looking for extra energy! I need to try these! Pinned!

  • Kam Kay

    Exactly what I was looking for. Hopefully, my little picky eater would like these.

  • Holly allison

    I need help. My mixture isn’t mixing at all. It is just all powdery

  • Jess

    My kids love these. I’d like to double the recipe to have plenty on hand. How do they need to be stored? How long after they are made are they good? Thanks!

  • Jennifer

    Am I missing something….did not see the caramel in the list of ingredients? How much and when do you add to the mixture?

    • Deb

      No caramel used at all. It is an implied taste because of the dates. 🙂

  • Stephanie

    Could you please email the recipes for the pumpkin pie balls and caramel apple balls to me? The link in the text does not work. Thanks!

  • Heather

    These were unexpectedly good. An interesting flavor. I used apple pie spice. I rolled them tiny for my 1 year old to eat out of hand. He LOVED them!! My 6yo isn’t so sure. I rolled them in Halloween sprinkles for her snack today, so we’ll see. She actually said this morning during a taste test (with out the sprinkles) “they’re too sweet!” WHA?!! What kid says that?? WEIRD! I liked them. But the best thing was that the baby liked them so much I had to cut him off. Makes things easy on rushed mornings or dinner time when he’s fussing for a snack (and frankly cheese crumbles and beans only work for so long). Thanks for the recipe. This is the first of its kind that I’ve tried so now I’m on the search for more!! Question: How long do you think these will last? Should I refrigerate them? How about freezing? Any thoughts/advice?

  • Katrina

    Can you use a smoothie maker if you do not have a food processor?

  • Jenn

    I’d really love to know the self life of these, and how they need to be stored.

  • Jenn

    Sorry, SHELF life

  • April

    My kids asked for “Apple Rings” today while we were at the store. I had never tried them, but they seemed to really want them, so I obliged. When we got home, I tried one and…YUCK! I am not a fan of the chewy texture! But, then I came across this recipe while scrolling through Pinterest and decided to whip up a batch. I only had chopped dates (the kind coated in sugar), so my mixture didn’t hold together at all. I added a little bit of honey and mixed again…PERFECT! My kids were eating them as fast as I could get them rolled into balls…so, naturally I had to make a second batch! I will get some regular pitted dates for my next batch so I can cut down on the sugar, but there WILL be another batch! Thank you!

  • Carolyn

    Does anyone know how to make the dried apples?

  • macaroon cookie recipe

    Now I am readdy tto do my breakfast, afterward having
    my breakfast coming again to read other news.

  • Lindsay Maxfield

    I just love these! Even though they have a fall-ish flavor, they’re perfect for summer because they’re no-bake. I just gave them a shout-out on my blog. Thanks for such a delicious treat!

  • Jenny

    I sub raisins for dates & it comes our great!

  • Janet

    These are great! However, with the price of the dates alone over $6,it is a very pricey snack=(
    One reader used raisins, I’ll do a price comparison on that. I’m going over to check out the cranberry ball recipe now, thanks.

  • Diann Rivera

    I have to say I’m really excited about trying these energy bite recipes. I can’t eat any nut butters so a recipe without ANY nut butter is exciting to me. These also use “normal” things that I actually already have!!! Thanks so much. Blessings

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