Pumpkin Protein Bars and Energy Balls

You  know it's fall when...

All pumpkin. All pumpkin everything.

This is a pretty basic recipe - energy balls turned protein bars (with the help of some collagen powder), playing up the flavors of the season. I used canned organic pumpkin to make these, but you can absolutely use fresh pumpkin (roasted & pureed), or even sweet potato or butternut squash. Be sure to use unroasted, unsalted (raw) nuts.

 

Pumpkin Protein Bars

Makes 16 bars or 24 balls

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup pecans

6 medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp  ginger powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg powder

1 tsp cinnamon powder

2 Tablespoons collagen powder - I use this brand

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) + another 1/2 cup, set aside

Combine first three ingredients in a food processor, pulse until crumbly. Add in pumpkin, mix to combine (will be sticky). Add spices and collagen (you can also use gelatin if you have that instead, but it will yield a slightly different texture - a bit more dry and fluffy), mix well. Add coconut, cranberries and 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, pulse just a few times to combine, but not completely break down last ingredients (coconut, cranberries and pumpkin seeds will stay in larger pieces to give the balls/bars more texture and crunch).

 

At this point, you might decide to make balls...

Remove by spoonful from the food processor and roll into balls. The mixture will be pretty sticky, so you can then roll balls into extra shredded coconut or crushed pecans. This step is not necessary, as the balls will firm up when refrigerated, but it does make them look pretty!

If you're making them into bars....

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds to the food processor bowl. Use a spatula to stir into the pumpkin mixture. Line a baking dish with parchment paper, then dump the pumpkin mixture into the parchment paper and press firmly into the dish. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Refrigerate about 30 minutes, then cut into bars using a butter knife.

Remove the bars and wrap individually in parchment paper. Store in fridge - they will last up to a week. These guys also freeze well.