These chia cherry crunch bites are a high protein, gluten & grain free, paleo snack perfect for fueling up before or after your workout.

We used to talk about balls quite often around here (Nutella cookie dough balls, peanut butter chocolate chip protein balls and no bake brownie fudge balls to name just a few). I don’t know why there’s been such an extended hiatus because it’s not like I suddenly grew up and got over the humor in ball talk.

Nope, definitely not. So now I’m going to segue (very ungracefully) into how balls go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle…

You know that saying that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Well guess what? It’s true. In theory, I know this. In reality, I’ve been eating far too much crap lately and *thinking* working out will make up for it. News flash: it doesn’t.

Chia Cherry Crunch Bites
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I could blame all the freelance work I’ve been doing and the fact that the pitches that get chosen aren’t always the healthy stuff (because that’s precisely what’s happening) but blame really gets you nowhere. So I’m focusing on what I need to do to change things instead.

Chia Cherry Bites with cacao nibs

1. Get over my “throwing food out is a sin” mentality and seriously just throw the sugary, carb laden concoctions in the garbage. This is a job and should be treated as such.

2. Start keeping healthier stuff on hand so the sugary, carb laden concoctions aren’t the only option.

I used to do #2 all the time and then this funny thing happened where I started cooking even more and yet I have less of the stuff I actually should be eating on hand. Oh, the irony.

One of the most trying times of the day for me to eat well is the late afternoon, an hour or two before I usually work out. The dreariness of winter doesn’t help because all I seem to want is a mug of tea and something sweet.

Lately, that’s meant spoonfuls of Nutella, nibbles of Guinness brownies, leftover Godiva chocolates from Christmas, or handfuls from the bag of M&Ms I found lurking in the back of the pantry after cleaning it out the other day. Not the best health choices and definitely not the best workout fuel that’s for sure.

Which brings us to the balls. Sugar, chocolate and empty carbohydrates do nothing to make me feel satisfied or properly fueled for an intense workout. What does? A grain and gluten free protein, nut, seed and carbohydrate mix.

And balls (or I guess we can be a little more mature and call these “bites”) are the perfect answer.

Chia Cherry Crunch Bites

These chia cherry crunch bites are high in protein, full of omega-3s, grain and gluten free and give you a nice little energy boost from the dried cherries. The crunch comes from the iron rich cacao nibs which I love because it tricks my brain into thinking I’m eating chocolate.

So from here on out, it’s back to the balls when it comes to snacking pre and post workout. Brownies be gone!

More energy bites like this to try

Oat almond date bites
Peanut butter chocolate chip bites
Coconut nut balls
Almond carrot bites

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Chia Cherry Crunch Bites

Servings: 12 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
These chia cherry crunch bites are a high protein, gluten & grain free, paleo snack perfect for fueling up before or after your workout.


  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashew meal
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, plus 1/4 cup, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs


  • Place the almonds, cashew meal, dates and protein powder in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds until finely chopped and combined.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except the cacao nibs and 1/4 cup of the dried cherries to the food processor. Process for about 1-2 minutes well combined and a dough balls starts to loosely form.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  • Roughly chop the 1/4 cup of dried cherries and fold them and the cacao nibs into the mixture.
  • Roll into balls (about the size of a golf ball).
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 129kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 5mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 191IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Snacks
Cuisine: American

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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  1. Yum! That looks wonderful! Love the ingredients in there! As I am in the tough part of my half marathon training cycle, I need lots of post run snacks, these would be perfect! Help me recovery quicker, and run faster! Nutrition is crucial to elite runners, you are helping!

  2. These “balls” look tasty. OK OK I couldn’t help myself either. They really do look like a good snack.

  3. Chai is absolutely one of my favorite flavors! I love all the ingredients you have put together in these crunch bites!

  4. Love chia seeds in energy balls! I just made a batch this week after a long hiatus myself! Don’t bin the food..I’d say try and give it to someone, or try make less stuff you don’t feel comfortable eating…:)

    1. That’s the thing, there’s no one to give it to! I don’t have coworkers and my husband doesn’t really have a job where they have a central place to eat and leave food. And making less of the stuff I don’t eat unfortunately just means less assignments and therefore less $. Tough call!

  5. I have the same problem with throwing out food! So then I end up feeling like I need to eat all the bad stuff…luckily, I usually pawn most of it off on the hubby and his coworkers! But, yes, need to get over that!
    I have yet to try chia seeds, and seriously need to get on that! I love balls.
    I mean, edible balls.
    I love these crunchy, chocolate balls
    This is going nowhere fast.

    1. I really wish my husband had the type of job where I could send him to work with food and coworkers would gobble it up. Not the case though unfortunately!