Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Bites with Cacao: A Healthy, No Bake Treat
As a healthy snack, clean sweet treat, or breakfast on the go, cranberry oatmeal cookie bites take energy balls to new heights! No bake, easy, real food you can make and enjoy today.
If you’re looking for a delicious, cranberry packed winter dessert or late fall snack, oh boy do I have the cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe for you! Actually, no matter what time of year it is, you can totally rock these. They’re ridiculously easy to make, and you’ve got to love no-bake cookie recipes, right? No waiting for baking and cooling. Perfect. Even better, you probably have most or even all the ingredients needed for these insanely easy and tasty holiday cookie bites in your pantry right now!
Yeah, I know, these cookie snacks are in ball form, so maybe they seem a little more like cranberry energy bites, but whether you call them cranberry bliss balls or cranberry cacao energy bites, or my personal favorite: Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Bites with Cacao, these little bits of magic are absolutely bursting with cranberry flavor, warmed by vanilla and made rich with delightful bits of dark chocolate (in the form of raw cacao nibs).
While sweet enough to satisfy me as a dessert, these crantastic cookie bites also have enough protein and healthy fats to load me up with energy for the day, so they pass as an excellent, healthy breakfast cookie. Ah, breakfast and dessert: you are my favorite food groups. I’m always looking for triple threat sweets: healthy snack, easy breakfast, clean dessert. Yep, those are my fave things to make right now, just check out these uber lazy and wonderful 4-Ingredient Citrus Fig & Almond Snack Bars(another no bake insta-dessert/breakfast/snack!).
Best of all, this cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe is actually healthy! Seriously! Let’s check out the ingredients you’ll need for Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Bites with Cacao:
ROLLED OATS: Often available in the bulk section of your local grocery store, rolled oats are a pantry staple in our house. Loaded up with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, I love having oats on hand for simple, healthy recipes. Remember that decadent but surprisingly easy and healthy fall breakfast Cory made, theApple Pie Oatmeal? Yep, gotta love oats. You can read more about oat nutrition here if you want a full run-down before whipping up these cranberry oatmeal cookie bites!
RAW CACAO NIBS: Healthy chocolate at it’s finest right here! Raw cacao nibs are basically crushed or cracked pieces of actual cacao beans, which means you’re truly getting the oft-touted antioxidant benefits and accompanying serotonin boost of dark chocolate, with the potential to improve both your mood and immune system! Awesome!
In commercial chocolates, even the ones labeled dark chocolate, the cacao percentage can be pretty low, and you’ll likely see other less than awesome additives, like sugar, dairy (a problem for many), etc. Cacao nibs also have a nice little crunch that I think gives these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookie bites a nice texture.
DRIED CRANBERRIES: Yeah, I hear ya, most dried cranberries are laden with sugar and oil, which isn’t exactly ideal if you’re trying to minimize those your diet. Luckily, many grocers now carry apple-juice sweetened cranberries, often with little or no oil, though you might have the best luck at health food stores. If you’re ready to go all-aboard on the health train, you can, of course, find or make raw, dehydrated cranberries with neither oil nor sweeteners added.
Online, you can always find no-oil, apple juice sweetened cranberries, like these Paleo branded dried cranberriesas well as totally unsweetened, oil free cranberries like these. We haven’t tried either of those, as we generally find ours at a local health food store, but please let us know in the comments if you have a favorite brand! I’d love to try new dried cranberry options in these cranberry oatmeal cookie bites!
GROUND FLAX SEEDS: While you can certainly just buy flax meal at the store, I recommend buying the whole seeds in bulk instead and grinding them yourself when needed (we use a basic coffee/spice grinder or our Vitamix dry goods container, depending on required quantity. Flax meal can go rancid fairly quickly and may not be used as often in recipes, so this way you just grind what you need when you need it.
Eating flax ground instead of whole seems to be the best way to allow your body to absorb its nutrients, like those awesome omega-3s and the fiber that will help keep you feeling full after grabbing these cacao cranberry oatmeal cookie bites for a quick breakfast tomorrow morning!
ALMOND BUTTER: Look for a smooth almond butters (they’re likely smooth unless labeled otherwise) that contain no extra ingredients: just almonds. For this recipe, I prefer the more common roasted almond butter, but you could absolutely substitute raw almond butter if you’d like. Almond butter has a lovely little hint of sweetness as well as healthy fats and proteins to help you get fueled up and feel satisfied! We personally grab Costco’s Kirkland almond butter all the time, though the 365 brand option is always a popular choice if you’re looking online.
Oh, side note on natural nut butters: the oil often separates, ending up in a layer at the top, which means you’ll need a hint of patience and elbow grease to stir it up until smooth and creamy. Once you’ve opened and stirred a nut butter, store it in the fridge to prolong its life and to avoid stirring again in the future! I suppose if you’re really against almonds, you could go for peanut butter, but I love love love the almond butter in these cranberry oatmeal cookie bites; the sweetness and flavor of the almond butter combines just beautifully with the cranberries, vanilla, and cacao nibs!
MAPLE SYRUP: Make sure you’re using real maple syrup, not pancake syrup, which has none of the trace minerals and awesome antioxidants found in pure maple syrup. You could also use raw honey for this cranberry oatmeal cookie bites recipe, if that’s more your jam, though I love the robust but sweet flavor of maple syrup here. We usually grab maple syrup at Costco… like oh so many other things, but Amazon has good options, like the 365 brand maple syrup, as well!
If you do go for totally unsweetened, oil free cranberries, you may want to increase the maple syrup in these naturally sweetened cranberry cookies to compensate, especially for younger tastebuds or those unaccustomed to less-sweet desserts. Let your tastebuds be your guide; you can always add a little more maple syrup right before you form these cranberry oatmeal cookies into balls. Totally your call. You do you: make your cranberry oatmeal cookie bites however sweet you want!
VANILLA EXTRACT: Another one of our Costco staples, I LOVE vanilla, and I find it not only adds complexity to desserts and breakfasts, but it also adds sweetness in and of itself, meaning dishes tend to need a little less sweetener as a result. I also love the combo of cranberry and vanilla, especially in the winter time when I’m thinking about the holidays and wanting a more whole food sweet treat that won’t derail my health goals, which is exactly when the idea for these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookie bites first arose. Of course, if you’re into the cran-vanilla combo too and like tempting alcoholic drinks, I highly recommend Cory’s Cranberry Vanilla Whiskey Cocktail; I can attest to its sweetness as well as its dangerous smoothness! You will not be disappointed there, my friends!
BALSAMIC VINEGAR: I know, this seems like an odd choice, but my Dad had been talking about this awesome cooking book (not the same as a cookbook, lol, though there are plenty of recipes along with TONS of info) Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (Am AFf link), and it reminded me of why I’m always looking to add acids (vinegars, lemon juice, lime, etc.) to recipes as well as all the times I’ve read about and heard chefs and food bloggers talk about using acids to bring out the flavors of a dish and add depth. I’ve got to say, I really think the balsamic vinegar ties everything together and really elevates these cranberry energy balls to another level. Don’t skip this one!
SEA SALT: Bringing out those flavors with just a little bit of sea salt! Use fine ground for accurate measurements. Ok, let’s get cracking! Time to make a batch of cranberry oatmeal cookie bites! Let’s get going; you’ll be snacking in no time. 🙂
How to make Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Bites with Cacao: An Easy No-Bake Energy Bite!
Step 1: Add all dry ingredients EXCEPT cranberries to a large bowl.
Step 2: Mix in wet ingredients, stirring until well combined (it might take some elbow grease, but it’s worth it!). You can even use gloved hands to mix it all together.
Step 3: If stuck together, make sure to separate the dried cranberries, so they can be more evenly distributed. Add cranberries, and stir to combine.
Step 4: Using your hands (I recommend wearing gloves – AAfflink!! – to avoid messy, sticky fingers and easier work), form the mixture into bite-sized (or a bit bigger… more like two-bite sized, which is really my personal favorite way to do it) balls. Or make them into smaller single bites, or make them look more like actual cookies instead of cranberry oatmeal cookie bites; it’s totally up to you!
Step 5: Enjoy! Maybe share some with the family or some lucky friends… or eat them all yourself: no judgement here.
5 Ways to Enjoy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Bites with Cacao
1. Eat these cranberry oatmeal cookie bites as an amazing clean eating dessert that satisfies your sweet tooth without weighing you down! The perfect way to wrap up a nice healthy fall or winter dinner, like this super easy and fall perfect Crockpot Ham and Bean Soup.
2. Grab several bites for a simple, make-ahead breakfast on the go that will fill you up and give you plenty of energy to tackle your busy morning! You could even make these into slightly larger, more typical cookie shaped pieces and present them to your kids (or yourself – you too deserve dessert for breakfast!) as a special winter or holiday breakfast cookie! They’d be perfect for a snow day breakfast or a healthy Christmas morning breakfast, and the kids wouldn’t have to know it’s wholesome!
3. Whip up a batch (or 2!) of cranberry oatmeal cookie bites for your next office party or for that holiday party with friends! That way you’re sure to have a healthy dessert option to keep yourself content; it’s always easier for me to avoid the junk I know will leave me feeling gross if I’ve planned ahead and brought my own healthier dessert option! I’m also a fan of Cory’s Healthy No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies for this reason too!
4. Give these cranberry oatmeal energy bites with cacao away as the perfect DIY holiday gift! You might double check allergens, since chocolate and nuts can be an issue for some people, but if you’re in the clear on that front, these energy balls make a fantastic DIY Christmas foodie gift for family, friends, coworkers, teachers, mailpersons, or really anyone in your life! For gluten free, make sure to buy certified gluten free oats, like these from Bob’s Red Mill.
5. Stash these in your fridge at work for a quick afternoon snack that will give you some much needed energy without the sugar crash, so you can stay focused on what’s important all afternoon! If you’re feeling generous, share one with your favorite coworker. When I used to work in an office with my mom for a couple years, I always loved bringing her new little treats like this (she was often a new recipe guinea pig), and it was honestly always a bright spot in my day — a simple but lovely shared moment. I’m pretty sure she even tried these cranberry oatmeal cookie bites back when I was first working on this recipe!
There you go, you’ve got all sorts of reasons to make these little cranberry balls, so let’s get mixing!
As a healthy snack, clean sweet treat, or breakfast on the go, cranberry oatmeal cookie bites take energy balls to new heights! No bake, easy, real food you can make and enjoy today. Loaded up with oats, cacao nibs, flax, and almond butter, these protein-packed healthy cranberry energy bites will surely wow you! Cranberries, warm vanilla, and raw dark chocolate make a perfect sweet treat, naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
2 C rolled oats
1/2 C Cacao Nibs
1C flax meal/ground flax seeds (store bought or fresh ground at home)
½ tsp sea salt
1 C almond butter
½ C maple syrup or honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 C cranberries, heaping
Combine dry ingredients, except cranberries oats, (cacao nibs, flax, sea salt) in a large bowl.
Add almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and balsamic vinegar, stirring thoroughly until well combined.
If stuck together, separate the cranberries for better distribution throughout the cookie bites. Add dried cranberries to the mixture, stirring to combine. You can also use gloves like these to combine by hand; it can be a bit easier if the stirring is feeling difficult!
Form mixture into small balls or cookies. We make about 36 cookie balls (about 1-inch diameter) with this recipe.
Enjoy for breakfast, snacks, or dessert! Share with friends, take to a party, or use as a DIY holiday food gift!
There you go, I hope you’re enjoying your week and whatever season during which you find yourself making these cranberry oatmeal cookie bites with cacao! At the time of writing, it’s October in Missouri, which means bouncing, sometimes on a day to day basis, between perfect sweater or jacket weather and biting winds, plummeting temps, and even sometimes freezing rain, snow, or other such wintry unpleasantness. Oh well, Mother Nature has always been fickle in my home state; I’ve just learned to embrace it. This year, I’m just leaning in to fleece leggings, cozy socks, and movie nights curled up with Cory and the cats!
Ok, now go make those cranberry oatmeal cookie bites; you’ll love them! Let me know what you think in the comments, or share with me your favorite cranberry recipes. 🙂 For more delicious, healthy recipes, follow us on Pinterest, and check out the recipes below for more healthy cranberry recipes and a few other fall and winter recipe faves of mine!
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