I have always been quite attracted to bite-size foods. Consider how many poppable treasures nature has created for us: nuts, seeds, berries, grape tomatoes, ice cream bonbons…(okay, perhaps that last item does not exactly grow from the ground, but I’m just sayin’)…
Bonbons aside, crafting wholesome homemade bite-size treats is quite a joy. There is something so charming about small edibles. Perhaps they bring me back to fond childhood memories, such as eating fun-size candy bars at Halloween, or the teeny-tiny foods in the kitchens of my Polly Pocket play sets. Despite their small size, however, little bites can still satisfy a big appetite…
When foods are divided into smaller pieces, it makes me feel like I am eating a larger quantity. For example, having a handful of chocolate-covered almonds versus a single chocolate almond bar of the same weight makes me believe I am eating more. It is a clever little way to trick your brain into thinking you have expanded your portion size without actually adding unnecessary calories.
What else makes for a voluminous treat?…AIR! Think about it; foods that are very porous and full of air take up quite a bit of space. Consider how much larger a popcorn kernel is once it has popped. The same goes for cereal. Puffed cereal is certainly a high-volume mainstay, and takes center stage in these delightful little protein bites.
Several months ago, I was aimlessly browsing the cereal aisle with no particular goal in mind. After glazing past the rice crisps, amaranth flakes, and muesli, my eyes became fixed upon some lovely little round pearls of puffed millet. I had never before heard of this gluten-free grain, and was intrigued by its fetching quinoa-like structure. On an impulse, I tossed the bag into my cart (and ultimately to the back of my pantry) and resolved to figure out what to do with it at another time.
…Well, my friends, that time has come! Though any sort of puffed cereal can be used in this recipe, the millet adds a high-volume source of whole grain to these chocolate-peanut buttery protein snacks. The addition of peanut powder rather than full-fat peanut butter also allows for a much more generous portion size, and if you can find sugar-free chocolate, all the more volume for your calorie buck!
I found the flavor of the millet to be mild with very slight nutty undertones the first time I made this recipe. The second time, I tried toasting it, which actually enhanced the nuttiness a bit. The texture is somewhat chewy, and compliments the smooth creaminess of the chocolate-peanut butter protein mixture. It also holds up rather well without becoming soggy.
Next time you feel like popping a bite-size treat into your mouth…and then another…and another…and another, try keeping a batch of these little gems on hand. The recipe yields an impressive two dozen bites for under 370 calories. By all means — eat the entire batch and leave the bonbons at peace.
Makes: 2 dozen bites
1 1/2 cups (24 grams) puffed millet
6 tablespoons (30 grams) peanut powder
4 tablespoons (50 grams) powdered erythritol
2 1/2 tablespoons (16 grams) rice protein powder
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) chopped dark chocolate (preferably sugar-free)
1 tablespoon (5 grams) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon (5 grams) psyllium husks
1 tablespoon (6 grams) acacia fiber
1 teaspoon glucomannan powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup almond milk
Toast the millet in a large dry skillet over medium heat, working in batches if needed and stirring constantly until golden brown. Combine the the toasted millet, peanut powder, erythritol, rice protein, cocoa powder, psyllium, acacia fiver, glucomannan, and salt in a large bowl and stir together.
Combine the dark chocolate and almond milk in a small container and microwave on medium power for 15-20 second intervals until melted. Add the dark chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and thoroughly incorporate with a fork. Add more milk if needed until a semi-soft (but not runny) dough-like consistency is achieved.
Form the mixture into approximately 2 dozen 1-1 1/2 inch diameter balls and place on a wax-paper-lined tray. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to firm. Eat all of them, and do not be sorry.
Per entire batch – 366 calories (122 from fat); 14g total fat (5g saturated fat); 1mg cholesterol; 233mg sodium; 9mg potassium; 56g total carbohydrate (21g dietary fiber, 3g sugar, 35g net carbs); 32g protein Bonus: Iron (22% dv)
Nutritional information provided by caloriecount.com