First Foods

food freedom in motherhood

Pumpkin Energy Balls

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I don’t know about you, but I typically don’t like to rush into seasons. I want my Christmas tree to stay in the box in the basement until at least November, usually after Thanksgiving, but if I need an early winter pick-me-up I’ll set it up early.

However, I saw Starbucks rolled out their fall menu last week and I have to say, I’m not mad. It may still be 85 degrees outside here in South Dakota, but pumpkin flavor can definitely help ring in fall in a delicious way. I’m not ready for cold weather or winter coats or halloween costumes yet, but I can get on board with yummy fall flavors!

My favorite fall drink is definitely the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. It’s the perfect level of sweetness in a coffee drink for me. I like a PSL, but after a few sips I find it to be just a bit too rich, so I really like the cold brew. I’m also one of those crazy people who drinks cold/iced coffee year round.

Okay, this is starting to sound like a post about coffee. Instead, I want to share one of my favorite ways to use pumpkin for a snack!

One thing I hate is wasting food, and I find that so many pumpkin recipes don’t actually use the whole can of puree, so then I’m left with half a can of pumpkin in the fridge for a week or so before I inevitably throw it away. I like to make these pumpkin energy balls the same week I make my favorite pumpkin chili (recipe coming soon), and then I don’t waste the can!

I love energy balls in general. They’re a really simple snack staple and they can be such a blank canvas for adding different flavors.

I’m always on the hunt for a delicious snack that checks all the boxes…

  • a combo of the macronutrients: protein + fat + carbs. This is so important to help a snack do the job of a snack… fill you up, satisfy you until your next meal, and provide the nutrients you’ll need throughout the day. And here’s the thing- you and I need these things just like our growing kiddos do! There’s no reason the snack you fix your toddler can’t be the same version you eat yourself. Actually, that’s even better! Modeling the act of nourishing your body is a wonderful thing to share 🙂
  • simple! I do enjoy cooking and baking, but I can’t honestly say I make a ton of homemade snacks. But this one? This is so simple and I always have the main ingredients on hand, which means that I can put a fun spin on it if I want (hello pumpkin!) or keep it simple (more on this later)
  • delicious. Whoever said a hearty snack had to be boring? I love mixing it up by adding different flavors (maple, pumpkin spice, cinnamon… you get the picture!)

Here are even more reasons I love this recipe for my kids & for me:

Oats are an awesome source of fiber, which helps put the ‘energy’ in this energy ball! Fiber helps put the ‘brakes’ on the blood sugar response after eating, which means we get energy for a little longer and tummies stay full a little longer!

Chia Seeds are another fiber boost in this snack, but they’re also a great source of healthy fats, perfect for your little one’s growing brain!

Honey is a great tasting and simple sweetener, but we don’t want babies under 12 months to have honey for safety reasons. But! This recipe lends itself well to a simple swap of maple syrup instead of honey if you want your older baby to try a bite or two safely.

Alright… get to the details!

Pumpkin Energy Balls


  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scoop (about 1/2 cup) vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)


  • in a large bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds, protein powder and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine.
  • in a microwave-safe bowl, add the peanut butter and the honey. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir to combine.
  • Add the pumpkin puree to the peanut butter and honey mixture. Add to the oat mixture and stir well until the mixture is totally incorporated.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and use a cookie scoop to create round portions and roll into neat balls.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Let me know if you make these and what you think!

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