Cacao and Turmeric No-Bake Energy Bites

No-bake cookies were some of the first things I learned to make in the kitchen. I had a sleepover with a friend while I was in elementary school and her mom made a batch while we were there. I raved about them so much that we ended up making another round together so she could teach me how.

I remember being very proud of my newfound culinary skills! Once home I made them again and again and again … I eventually tired of them, but they never fully left my repertoire.

Now when I make no-bake cookies, the recipe looks a lot different than it did back in the early 1990s. Today’s recipe for no-bake energy bites has been updated significantly to include delicious aromatic spices as well as chia seeds – something I had definitely never heard of when I was in grade school.

These are still a fun, quick recipe that makes a perfect afternoon snack.

In addition to their sweet and savory taste, these no-bake energy bites contain many ingredients that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress as well as helping to balance blood sugar levels. That means that you can enjoy your cookies while improving your heart health and reducing the factors that can lead to chronic illness.

Before we get to the recipe, let’s take a closer look at the herbal ingredients.

no-bake energy bites

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Chocolate is well known for its ability to support heart health; however, study after study shows that the type of chocolate you use is important. Dark chocolate, high in regularly occurring flavanols, is your best choice for heart health. One meta-analysis of short-term studies using high-flavanol cacao products found that it significantly improves blood pressure, insulin resistance, and lipid profiles.1

When buying chocolate, also look for a fair trade and organic certified brand. Many chocolate companies put profit over human rights and environmental justice by using child labor and harmful chemicals. Please don’t support those practices with your money.

no-bake energy bites

Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica)

Chia seeds are small oval seeds that come from a sage plant that grows in Mexico. The seeds are incredibly nutrient dense! They are high in antioxidants, fiber, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, copper, and selenium.23 The seeds are mucilaginous, forming a thick pudding when soaked in liquids. In this recipe they add a nice crunchy texture.

no-bake energy bites

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Renowned for its countless health benefits, turmeric is a spice I like to use in cooking at least once a day. The secret to turmeric’s outstanding status lies in its ability to modulate inflammation.

I explain this further in this excerpt from my book, Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Every Day Ingredients into Foods and Remedies that Heal: “While turmeric is referred to as an anti-inflammatory, it doesn’t suppress inflammation in the same indiscriminate way that NSAIDs do. It supports the body’s ability to address inflammation, so it’s more accurate to say that turmeric modulates inflammation than to say it is ’anti-inflammatory.’ Instead of inhibiting fatty acids like prostaglandins, and thereby blocking the beneficial aspects of inflammation, turmeric assists the body’s healing abilities in numerous ways: it increases glutathione production (important for detoxification), decreases free-radical damage, and blocks specific inflammatory enzymes.”4

When using turmeric for specific health purposes, larger amounts than found in this recipe are usually necessary. However, when using turmeric as a daily spice to promote healthy digestion and gain from its many phytonutrients, even adding small amounts to recipes can be of benefit.

no-bake energy bites

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)

Cinnamon is pretty much a given when it comes to baking at our house. Its delicious taste would be enough of a reason to frequently cook with it, but its health benefits really seal the deal.

Cinnamon has been widely studied for its ability to reduce blood glucose levels, a benefit to those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. A recent study also showed that it could reduce fasting insulin for people diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).5

Another small study showed that cinnamon could improve glucose levels and insulin sensitivity in healthy volunteers.6 That study also concluded that results are best when cinnamon is used daily. As with turmeric, larger amounts are needed for specific purposes (the study with PCOS used one and a half grams per day and the study in healthy volunteers used three grams per day), but we can still benefit from using small amounts on a regular basis.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Cardamom has a unique and provocative flavor that is unlike any other spice. I love cooking with cardamom in savory dishes, in desserts, and even in teas and coffee.

Cardamom isn’t just for the taste buds. It is a carminative herb that can help with a variety of digestive complaints, from slow digestion to cramps and even bad breath. Like cacao, cardamom has been shown to have a multitude of heart-health benefits. One interesting study showed that three grams of cardamom daily can significantly reduce inflammation (hs-CRP) in women with high cholesterol.7

no-bake energy bites

Cacao and Turmeric No-Bake Energy Bites

With no baking involved, these delicious no-bake energy bites are easy to whip up! We love them as an afternoon snack alongside a cup of roasted dandelion root herbal tea. Nut butters can be difficult to stir together; use room temperature nut butter to make it easier.

What you’ll need…

  • 1 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or finely chopped chocolate)
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of cardamom powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup nut butter that is well stirred and room temperature (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, or other nut butter)
  • 3 tablespoons honey (may need to be slightly warmed until it has a syrupy consistency)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Begin by toasting the oats in a cast iron or other sturdy pan, stirring them frequently over medium-high heat. The oats are done when slightly browned. Place the toasted oats in a large mixing bowl and return the pan to the stove.

no-bake energy bites

  1. Next, toast the coconut flakes in the same pan. You can often do this without the heat on, just using the residual heat from toasting the oats. Watch the coconut flakes closely as they can easily burn. They are done when they are slightly browned and fragrant. Add the toasted coconut to the bowl with the oats.

no-bake energy bites

no-bake energy bites

  1. Add the chocolate chips, chia seeds, and orange zest to the bowl. Stir well, allowing the heat from the toasted ingredients to melt the chocolate a bit.

no-bake energy bites

no-bake energy bites

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Add the spices to the oat mixture and stir well.

no-bake energy bites

no-bake energy bites

  1. Add the nut butter, honey, and vanilla extract to the oat mixture. Stir well. The ideal consistency is when the mixture can hold together easily, without being too sticky.
  1. Sometimes you may need to adjust the ingredients depending on the consistency of your nut butter. Add a bit more nut butter if it’s too dry. Or add more oats if it’s too sticky or runny.
  2. Once the mixture is well combined, press a small amount into a spoon and then release that to a lined cookie sheet.

no-bake energy bites

  1. Firm the no-bake energy bites up by placing them in the refrigerator or freezer. Store in an airtight container. Eat within three days.

Yield: Makes approximately 40 bites

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Have you tried no-bake cookies before?

Do you also try to pack as many herbs and spices into snacks as possible?

We would love to hear about your favorite herb-filled snacks. (Pottery by Laura Keyes.)

Show 7 footnotes

  1. Shrime, Mark G., et al. “Flavonoid-Rich Cocoa Consumption Affects Multiple Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Meta-Analysis of Short- Term Studies.” Journal of Nutrition 141, no. 11 (2011): 1982–88. doi:10.3945/jn.111.145482.
  2. Marcinek, Katarzyna, and Zbigniew Krejpcio. “Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica): Health Promoting Properties and Therapeutic Applications – a Review.” Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny 68, no. 2 (2017): 123-129.
  3. Taga, M Silvia, E E Miller, and D E Pratt. “Chia Seeds As a Source of Natural Lipid Antioxidants.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 61, no. 5: doi:10.1007/BF02542169.
  4. Biswas, Saibal K., et al. “Curcumin Induces Glutathione Biosynthesis and Inhibits NF-κB Activation and Interleukin-8 Release in Alveolar Epithelial Cells: Mechanism of Free Radical Scavenging Activity.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 7, no. 1–2 (2004): 32–41. doi:10.1089/ars.2005.7.32.
  5. Hajimonfarednejad, Mahdie, Majid Nimrouzi, Mojtaba Heydari, Mohammad Mehdi Zarshenas, Mohammad Javad Raee, and Bahia Namavar Jahromi. “Insulin Resistance Improvement by Cinnamon Powder in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial.” Phytotherapy Research: PTR 32, no. 2 (February 2018): 276–83. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5970.
  6. Solomon, Thomas P. J., and Andrew K. Blannin. “Changes in Glucose Tolerance and Insulin Sensitivity Following 2 Weeks of Daily Cinnamon Ingestion in Healthy Humans.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 105, no. 6 (2009): 969–76. doi:10.1007/s00421-009-0986-9.
  7. Kazemi, Shiva, Fatemeh Yaghooblou, Fereydoun Siassi, Abbas Rahimi Foroushani, Mahsa Ghavipour, Fariba Koohdani, and Gity Sotoudeh. “Cardamom Supplementation Improves Inflammatory and Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Hyperlipidemic, Overweight, and Obese Pre-Diabetic Women: A Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Trial.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 97, no. 15 (December 2017): 5296–5301. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.8414.

Which herbs & remedies should you always stock in your kitchen?

34 comments
  1. Thank you for the healthy Valentine recipe! I can’t wait to try these!!!

    • Thank you, Rosalee, for all your lovely recipes and ideas! These sound delicious. What’s your opinion about the phytic acid in raw oats and chia seeds? I soak oats overnight before making oatmeal, and I have stopped using raw chia seeds because of the phytic acid they apparently contain as well. I became aware of the potential problem while exploring possible reasons for skin irritation and rash-like symptoms I’ve been developing.

      • For the average person, occasional use of raw oats and chia seeds are unlikely to be a problem. If you know you have issues with these raw, you may wish to try a different delicious recipe on our site. Check out the Search bar, if you like. There are many years of awesome delights to try!

  2. Do you have any ideas of how something similar could be achieved without any nut butter? Thank you!

    • You could use @1/2 to 3/4 c of coconut oil.. solid at room temperature. Or a table spoon of chia seeds that have been soaked getting that gluey formation, then add as the recipe calls for the nut butter.. I find that I have to keep the recipe in a cool place like my fridge to keep it from gloppy everywhere…

    • If seeds are okay, sunflower seed butter would work well.

    • Or tahini! (sesame seed butter)

  3. Curious… why only 3 days to eat them?

    • They may last longer than 3 days, but fresh foods are tastiest and have more potent ingredients. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  4. How would one make these Grain Free?

    • Unfortunately, oats are a key factor in this recipe. You may wish to use the Search bar in the upper right to find other great recipes on our site that may suit your dietary needs better. There are many years worth of awesome recipes here! :)

    • It would be really different, but you could make this a nuts/seed thing. Replace the oats with a mix of pumpkin/sunflower/sesame/flax and/or almond slices/chopped nuts. Oats are more drying than nuts, so maybe more coconut flakes to absorb moisture?

  5. Wish this was pinnable…

  6. What can I replace the oats with? I am gluten intolerant.

    • Unfortunately, oats are a key factor in this recipe. You may wish to use the Search bar in the upper right to find other great recipes on our site that may suit your dietary needs better. There are many years worth of awesome recipes here! :)

    • I use Gluten Free Oats from Trader Joe’s ! Hope that helps.

      • Great idea, thanks for mentioning it! :)

    • Maybe try replacing with quinoa flakes?

  7. Why are they good for only three days? Who can eat 40 in 3 days? lol

    • They may last longer than 3 days, but fresh foods are tastiest and have more potent ingredients. You could cut the recipe in half and/or share with others. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

    • If you froze them instead of just keeping them in the fridge, that would likely preserve the delicate flavours from the herbal ingredients. Then just take a few out at a time. That’s what I’m planning on doing. :)

  8. Just made these & they are really a good & quick substitute for my cookie craving! I used toasted almond butter, chopped 85% chocolate & got 46 pieces using a mini ice cream scoop to form them. I lined a container with wax paper & made layers. Storing them in the freezer. Thanks!

    • Sounds like a fabulous plan, Helene! I am so glad you enjoy them. :D

  9. Wow, I just made these and they are SO good!!! Great texture with the oats & coconut flakes. My toddler lost her mind when she tried them, haha. They are a hit!

    • So glad that you both enjoyed these! Thanks for coming back to share the excitement. :)

  10. Do you have a Keto diet recipe for this? Minus the oatmeal????

    • Unfortunately, oats are a key factor in this recipe. You may wish to use the Search bar in the upper right to find other great recipes on our site that may suit your dietary needs better. There are many years worth of awesome recipes here! :)

  11. This looks like a great, healthy recipe. Thanks! And thank you Helene for the Gluten free oats tip.

  12. Are these the original rolled oats or the quick cook oats?

    • The recipe calls for old-fashioned rolled oats. I hope you enjoy the energy bites!

  13. If you toast the oats in butter in the skillet it takes these to another level. Also, rather than honey you could use coconut nectar. It adds a brown sugar flavor and has a lower glycemic index. If you freeze these tyey will last longer than three days-just wrap in food grade plastic or wax paper and bag.

  14. Hello! I made these last week and today I’m making another batch. They were so yummy we ate them in less than 3 days, as everyone who’d tried them wanted more.
    The mixture I made turned out too dry so I used tahini to add some moisture. And it was finger-licking delicious!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us!

  15. These are a new favorite mid afternoon snack, all ingreds as is…except a little extra dark chocolate :)
    Just made them a second time with lime zest as on hand in the freezer! My husband finds these handle cravings while he losing those extra pounds! Thanks soooo much!

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