Carrot Cake Protein Balls (Low FODMAP, Paleo, Gluten-Free)

carrot cake protein balls in a navy blue bowl with a bite taken out of the top protein ball, showing the interior

These low FODMAP Carrot Cake Protein Balls make an easy and delicious, nutrient-rich no-bake snack. Also commonly called bliss balls, energy balls, protein bites or energy bites, these yummy little balls of carroty joy are made with the just the right amount of almond flour to give you an energy boost without FODMAP-related tummy troubles. In addition to being low FODMAP, these Carrot Cake Protein Balls are also Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free. Make these protein balls ahead of time and enjoy them all week – or even longer when stored in the freezer.

Diet Switch to Clean Eating, High Protein & Low FODMAP

A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with non-diabetic hypoglycemia, so in addition to eating low FODMAP, I now require lots of protein in my diet. Ideally, I need to eat every two hours in order to keep my blood sugar up, and the best way to do that for this particular type of hypoglycemia (and perhaps others – I’m not sure as I’m not a doctor or dietitian) is to eat low carb, protein-rich foods. Therefore, the last few weeks I’ve been revising my dietary outlook and brainstorming ideas for protein-rich snacks in particular that aren’t super high in carbs. One thing that came to mind are the ever-so-popular protein balls.

There are thousands of protein ball recipes out there, but not so many that are also low FODMAP. Many (if not most) include dates, which are very high in FODMAPs. Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet App says a tolerable amount of dates for most people with IBS is 1/3 of one date as it contains a large amount of the FODMAP fructans. 1/3 of one date might make a great garnish (for what, I don’t know), but in terms of being the primary ingredient for a protein ball, there’s not a lot to work with. As a result, I chose almond flour as the primary ingredient for this particular protein ball recipe. And since Easter is coming up, let’s bring on the carrots and make some Carrot Cake Protein Balls!

a navy blue bowl full of carrot cake protein bites covered in shredded coconut

Is Almond Flour Low FODMAP?

Almond flour does not seem to be a very popular flour for the low FODMAP diet as I haven’t seen a ton of low FODMAP recipes using it. However, Monash University lists “almond meal” (which is made with unpeeled almonds; blanched almond flour, which is what this recipe calls for, is made using peeled almonds) as tolerable for low FODMAP at servings of 1/4 cup or 24 grams. It may not seem like it at first glance, but that is actually a lot of flour to work with, especially when a lot of recipes combine almond flour with other types of flour (such as tapioca, which is also low FODMAP) to help bind things together and smooth out the graininess of almond flour.

When you divide 1 cup of almond flour among 12 carrot cake protein balls, it comes to less than 1/4 cup per serving. Even when adding 2 tbsp of hemp seeds, which contain the same FODMAP as almond flour (GOS), it still comes out to less than the maximum tolerable amount of GOS per serving for up to 2 protein balls.

What Kind of Almond Flour to Use?

I go through lots of almond flour, so I buy the Kirkland brand of blanched almond flour at Costco in bulk at 3 pounds a bag. If you don’t plan on using lots of almond flour, I’ve also heard good things about Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour, which is commonly available in the gluten-free isle at lots of grocery stores in North America.

Other Low FODMAP Recipes Using Almond Flour

If you’re interested in making more low FODMAP recipes with almond flour, I highly recommend these:

a hand holding a bitten carrot cake energy balls with a bowl of protein balls in the background

Necessary Equipment to Make Carrot Cake Protein Balls

You can use a food processor to make this Carrot Cake Protein Balls recipe, but I choose not to as it doesn’t require lots of shredding or grinding. Also, texturally, the end product is far better and more cakelike when made by-hand. The equipment I use to make the Carrot Cake Protein Balls in a bowl by-hand include:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Box grater with a fine grate
  • Whisk
  • Microwave
  • Small heat-resistant bowl or measuring cup
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Chopping device, like this one, or a sharp chopping knife
  • Stirring spoon
  • Air tight container
  • Parchment paper
  • Refrigerator
  • Small bowl (if coating with coconut)

Carrot Cake Protein Balls: Ingredients & Success Tips

Wet Ingredients & Spices

  • Coconut oil: To first start this recipe, I put coconut oil in a heat resistant measuring cup or small bowl and heat it up in the microwave until just melted, about 35 seconds in my microwave. The coconut oil acts as a binding agent as we aren’t using sticky dates to hold everything together. I set the coconut oil aside to cool to just above room temperature. We’ll be adding it last so the other ingredients don’t cool it down too much that it starts to reharden.
  • Sweeteners: To naturally sweeten the protein balls, I add pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl.
  • Spices: To further sweeten the protein balls and make them taste similar to carrot cake, I add ground all-spice, cinnamon, and ginger to the bowl.
  • Salt & Acid: Then, as most of the ingredients in this recipe have some level of sweetness, I add a little bit of salt and apple cider vinegar to the bowl. That way, the sweetness isn’t clawing, and the protein balls taste more balanced.

I whisk these ingredients together with a whisk. Then I add to the same bowl:

a navy blue bowl of carrot cake bliss balls on a piece of wrinkled parchment paper next two two balls, one that has been partially eaten

Dry Ingredients

  • Almond flour: As discussed at length above, I add 1 cup of blanched almond flour. The almond flour provides a great, mostly neutrally-flavoured canvas upon which to build our carrot cake flavour. Containing the GOS FODMAP, Monash University deems almond flour low FODMAP in quantities of up to 1/4 cup per serving.
  • Carrots: Carrot cake wouldn’t be carrot cake without carrots! I finely shred a large, peeled carrot using a box grater until I get 3/4 of a cup. Depending on the size of your carrot, you may have a bit of carrot left over. Throw it in your next salad!
  • Pecans: Using a chopping device (a sharp chopping knife will also work), I chop 1/2 of a cup of pecans into small pieces.
  • Hemp seeds: Also known as hemp hearts, hemp seeds are a nutty tasting seed from a hemp plant. They contain high amounts of protein as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. You can throw hemp seeds into salads, smoothies, dips, protein bars, etc. to give these things a nutrient-boost. Hemp seeds are fairly common and can be found in a lot of regular grocery stores (in North America, at least). Locally in BC, I found some at Save-on-Foods.

Once these ingredients are added, I stir them to combine. Finally, I add the coconut oil and stir until the rest of the ingredients are thoroughly dampened with oil and a dough forms.

Roll into Balls & Refrigerate

Then, I grab an airtight container and line the bottom with parchment paper. Using my hands, I roll the dough into 12 balls and place them in the container. Each ball should be roughly 2 tablespoons each to make 12 balls. I close the container and stick it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. For best results, allow them to chill overnight before adding the coconut and consuming them.

carrot cake protein balls in a blue bowl on parchment paper with a bite taken out of the top protein ball

Add Coconut (Optional)

Once the protein balls have chilled in the refrigerator, I take them out and reform them into balls as needed. They may flatten out on one side while they sit in the fridge. Then, I add unsweetened shredded coconut to a small bowl and gently press the balls into the coconut. Although I enjoy the taste and texture that coconut brings to the balls, it makes them a bit messy. Feel free to skip the coconut if you don’t want the mess or don’t care for coconut. It adds a minimal amount of protein to the balls but does make them look pretty.

Storage

Store your carrot cake protein balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They can also be frozen for up to three months.

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carrot cake protein balls in a navy blue bowl on parchment paper with a bite taken out of the ball at the top

Carrot Cake Protein Balls (Low FODMAP, Paleo, Gluten-Free)


  • Author: Gail
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Refrigeration Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

These low FODMAP Carrot Cake Protein Balls make an easy, nutrient-rich, no-bake snack or dessert. In addition to being low FODMAP, they’re also Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, and refined-sugar free. Make them ahead of time and enjoy them all week (or even longer when stored in the freezer).


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled to just above room temp
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup, preferably room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ¼ tsp all-spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour*
  • ¾ cup carrots, peeled and finely-shredded (about 1 large carrot)
  • ½ cup pecans, finely-chopped
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add coconut oil to a small heat-resistant bowl or measuring cup and heat in the microwave until just melted (about 35 seconds). Set aside to cool until just about room temperature. 
  2. While the coconut oil is cooling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, all-spice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until well mixed. Add almond flour, carrots, pecans, and hemp seeds and gently stir with a spoon until combined. Lastly, add coconut oil and stir until the mixture is thoroughly dampened with oil and a dough forms.
  3. Line a large, airtight container with parchment paper. Using your hands, roll dough into 2 tbsp balls and place in the container. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours (preferably overnight). 
  4. After the balls have chilled for at least 3 hours, remove from the refrigerator. If the balls have flattened on one side, re-form into balls with your hands if needed. If using it, add shredded coconut to a small bowl and roll ball in coconut until evenly covered.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Notes

  • *Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet App lists almond flour as low FODMAP in servings of up to ¼ cup. 
  • You can use a food processor to make these, but I typically chose not to as they don’t require much shredding or grinding. Or, you can chop the pecans and shred the carrot in the food processor and then mix everything together by-hand.
  • You can consume up to two balls for a low FODMAP serving; however, be mindful of the FODMAP content of any other food you consume within a 3-hour period containing the GOS FODMAP. See post above for additional information on the FODMAP content of this recipe.
  • Coconut is optional – it brings great texture and flavour to the balls but does make them a bit messy. Feel free to leave them “naked” if you don’t want the mess or don’t care for coconut.
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: By-hand
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: low fodmap, carrot cake protein balls, bliss balls, energy balls, protein bites, energy bites, snack balls, low fodmap snack, paleo, gluten-free, easy snacks, make-ahead

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