- Learn how to make tasty, skin-friendly protein balls from scratch.
A couple of weeks ago my daughter asked for protein balls for her lunchbox. So we bought a trendy cacao packet mix that looked really healthy (low sugar and no dried fruits, as dried fruit often contains hidden sulphites which can trigger eczema). It was not exactly eczema friendly as it contained cacao and dairy which can trigger eczema in some people. But I was having a lazy week and I wanted to try something new that was not one of my recipes (and sometimes I just like to have a day off).
So with excitement we made the packet mix and I popped a few in her lunchbox the next day. My daughter complained the cacao protein balls were bland and she could only eat one, and my son refused to even finish his first mouthful. I adversely reacted to the dairy and cacao. The store bought protein balls were not a hit.
Eczema Diet Protein Balls
So Katie (who works with me at the Eczema Life Clinic in Sydney), designed a healthy protein ball recipe using the ingredients from The Eczema Diet...
These chewy carob balls are full of protein, they are low in sugar and contain a special ingredient ... White beans are a great eczema-friendly alternative to dates and they help to hold these balls together. They are also a rich source of ferulic acid, a powerful antioxidant shown to reduce oxidative stress and reduce sun damage.
Due to these carob balls being loaded with fibre and protein, they can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable, making them a great afternoon snack.
If you are allergic to cashews or nuts, try experimenting by using extra white beans to replace the nuts.
- Preparation time: 10-20 minutes
- Cooking time: 20 minutes
- Makes about 23 balls
- 1 cup raw cashews, plus a handful extra for making cashew butter
- 1/2 cup carob powder (raw or roasted) (sift if it's lumpy)
- 1/2 cup eczema friendly protein powder (either plain pea protein or rice protein powder with NO other ingredients, no flavourings etc.)
- 3 tablespoons of raw cashew butter (see below for instructions)
- 4 heaped tablespoons of canned white beans (cannellon or butter), rinsed and drained (or you can use peeled pear, instead of the beans - thanks Deb for that tip)
- 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
- 4 tablespoons of maple syrup (or less to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of real vanilla essence (not imitation)
- pinch of celtic sea salt or himalayan sea salt (anything healthy and natural with no anti-caking agent)
- 3 scoops Skin Friend PM (for acid-alkaline balance as it contains alkaline calcium and magnesium)
- 1/4 teaspoon citric acid (for tangy flavour; note some people are allergic to citric acid)
Before starting, make your cashew butter and cashew meal using raw cashews. If you have eczema, rosacea, TSW or psoriasis (etc.) avoid using roasted cashews as they are rich in amines which can worsen skin rashes.
Cashew meal: Blend about 1 cup of cashews in a food processor until they resemble a fine meal, set aside in a bowl (see photo).
Cashew butter: The cashew butter can take a little longer and you can make more than the recipe calls for, and use the leftovers to spread onto toast.
Add a full handful of raw cashews (or more for leftovers) to the food processor and blend on high. Stop every now and then to scrape down the sides and blend again. It will slowly turn from a meal into a nut butter consistency but you do need to be patient and keep blending. If you want to speed things along you can add a little rice bran oil or flaxseed oil towards the end and blend (see photo).
Alternatively if your able to find eczema-friendly store bought raw cashew butter then you can use this instead. (Tip: an eczema friendly nut butter would contain raw cashews, salt and rice bran oil or sunflower oil; no vinegar or other flavourings.)
Now you are ready to whip up your protein balls...
1. Add 1 cup of cashew meal, carob powder and protein powder to a food processor and pulse until combined.
2. Add the rinsed and drained white beans and blend, then add the cashew butter, vanilla essence, a pinch of salt and blend until well combined.
3. Now add your maple syrup and rice bran oil, this will depend on how sweet you like your protein balls. We recommend adding 1 tablespoon of rice bran oil and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup at a time until you reach the sweetness and consistency you like. If you want more sweetness add more maple syrup (4 tablespoons of maple syrup makes lovely, sweet protein balls). Note: do not add too much liquid or your mixture consistency may become too runny and not form proper balls.
- If you would like to add a little zing to your protein balls then add about 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid.
The consistency should resemble a thick cookie dough mixture and be easy to press (squeeze) and mould into round balls.
4. Remove the mixture from the food processor and press/mould, using your hands, into whatever size balls you prefer. The ones we made were just over 1 inch (3cms) in diameter. You can make them plain (see photo, below) or dust them with processed cashew meal (refer to the first image at the top of the page).
Feel free to play around with other eczema diet ingredients such as flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, a few scoops of Skin Friend PM, brown rice syrup or maple sugar.
You can also use your empty Skin Friend jars to store and transport your protein balls; they fit easily into lunchboxes and they are leakproof (see image below).
Tip: If washing these containers, discard the white seal inside the lid and do not put them in the dishwasher.
Have you made eczema-friendly protein balls? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section, below.
Recipe by Katie Layland