Lunch Box Chocolate Energy Bites

Nut, gluten and dairy-free energy bites, perfect for school, home or the office.

How did I arrive at creating these nut-free energy bites? Well, I really love granola bars. Chewy, crunchy, sweet, salty, semi-nourshing and junk-foodie all at the same time. But the garbage, and the sugar. Why why why??? These supposed “organic” companies are wrapping up our kids’ “food” in a multi-stream single-use waste that is difficult to recycle. Is there really no better way of making and packaging these bars? Nothing biodegradable on the market? So my answer, for now at least, is to make them at home.

Stack of energy bites.
Nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free energy bites.

Granola bars vs. energy bites

The main difference between granola bars and energy bites is texture. The trick to energy bites is the food processor. Blitz the energy bites into a smoother, more cohesive texture, stopping before you get to a paste for a bit of texture. Other differences include (usually) a higher protein content, less sugar or sweeteners, and the use of a nut paste as binding agent.

Small stack of energy bites on parchment paper in a glass storage container.
Energy bites are processed into a finer texture than granola bars.

Too time consuming you say???

My coworker introduced me to homemade energy bites a few years ago, and it was instant love. I love how much protein and fibre you can pack into a little tiny delicious bite. Zero waste, 100% taste (and I’m sure I’ve just stolen somebody’s ad copy, but it’s true!). But the work, oh the irritating work of rolling all those little balls. A smart mom in my mom’s group once told me, “I don’t have time for rolling balls, you just jam them into ice cube trays and be done in a fraction of the time”. A moment of sheer brilliance. I use the ikea silicone trays, but there are a few cute options on amazon as well.

Chocolate energy bites in silicone ice cube trays.
Silicone ice cube trays make quick work of shaping these gluten, nut and dairy free energy bites


After making them less time consuming, the next challenge to the homemade energy bite is to make them nut free. Nut free is important in order to be safe around people with nut allergies, and so they can be packed for school. Nuts are easy, full of protein and healthy fat, and they provide so much good stickiness. Well, the not-so-secret answer is to switch to a seed butter. I found that it tooke me a bit to get adjusted to a flavour other than the classic peanut or almond. Admittedly, the seed butters can get a little bit pasty and bitter when used too heavily. The key is balance between the seed butter and the other binding ingredients like honey or maple syrup, and dried fruit.

Speaking of bitter, cocoa power can also make energy bites a bit too sharp tasting, especially for the palettes of little ones. Splurge a little on some raw cacao powder (I love Prana brand, at Whole Foods or from Amazon). It may be a bit pretentious, but oh, so much smoother and less bitter.

So good, I just want to eat them all. A *few* chocolate chips were tossed in as a treat.

Recipe tips

Blend the dates first! I didn’t think this was a very important step and opted to be lazy in my first few tries. The dates take so much more energy to blend that the other ingredients turn to goo by the time the dates are blended.

Conversely, don’t blend the chocolate chips in with the main mix, or they will disappear! Just a quick blitz at the end to mix them in is all they need.

If you don’t have any silicone ice cube trays, then rolling by hand is just fine. I like to use my 1 tbsp cookie scoop to keep them consistent. The balls can be rolled in extra coconut or cacao powder, if desired.

I really hope you enjoy these nut, gluten and dairy-free chocolate energy bites. They are perfect for school lunch boxes, home or the office. I’d love to hear what you think of the recipe and see your pictures. Please tag @creatingmindfully or creating mindfully on Pinterest.

p.s If you like these energy bites, you might also like this toasted museli recipe as well:

Lunch box chocolate energy bites

Nut, gluten and dairy-free energy bites, perfect for home, work or school.
Prep Time30 minutes
Course: Snack
Servings: 10
Author: ekates


  • Food Processor
  • Silicone ice cube trays (optional)


  • 1 cup Pitted Dates medjool or other
  • ½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • ½ cup Sunflower Seeds raw preferred, but roasted-unsalted also OK
  • cup Ground Flax Seeds
  • cup Coconut medium, unsweetened
  • cup Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 tbsp Hemp Hearts optional
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ cup Sunbutter
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • ¼ cup Chocolate Chips vegan, optional


  • Add dates to a food processor and blend until they start to form a ball.
  • Add sunflower seeds and blend briefly again.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and blend until completely combined.
  • Add chocolate chips and pulse to combine.
  • Refrigerate mix until slightly chilled and easy to handle, about 10 min.
  • Use a spoon or cookie scoop to fill silicone ice cube trays. Press very firmly. Alternatively, use a 1 tbsp cookie scoop to measure mix. Roll into balls by hand.
  • If using the ice cube trays, put in the freezer for 10 – 30 minutes to chill. Once cold, pop the bites out and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.


Will keep for approximately 1 week in the fridge, or up to 1 month in the freezer.
Add 1 to 2 tbsp nutritional yeast to make a great gift for a nursing mother.