Salted Caramel Snack Balls

These high protein snacks for kids {or adults!} pack a whopper of a protein punch, along with great flavor. Perfect for hungry kids or post-workout refueling. Bonus: they’re no bake, gluten free, and dairy free!

Salted caramel high protein snack balls - gluten free, dairy free

I’m a serious, serious snacker. The three {or even four} meals a day thing just does not float my boat. Apparently I’ve passed that trait onto my three year old, who is constantly {constantly} asking for a snack.

I do my best to make sure they’re filling and healthy snacks for kids, in secret hopes it will fill him up enough to stop asking me for a minute. {It doesn’t usually work}. But I do make my best effort to have high protein snacks for kids that meet both of our taste requirements, plus are gluten free and dairy free. {Since clearly I’ll snack on them too.}

healthy snacks for kids

High Protein Snack Balls {Gluten Free, Dairy Free}

Healthy snack balls of all kind are on a weekly rotation around here. I typically make a bunch then store them in the freezer for easy snacking. This week we mixed our standard protein ball recipe up a bit by using flavored almonds, and now I want to go make a batch with every flavor offered.

We got these two flavors from Blue Diamond, the Salted Caramel and Blueberry almonds, and they are so good by themselves it was almost a crime to use them in a recipe. But a crime worth committing because my three year old is busy not asking me “why?” for the millionth time because his mouth is full of dense, protein-packed, nutty deliciousness.

healthy high protein snack recipe

To start, we experimented with some Salted Caramel high protein snack balls since I’m obsessed with salted caramel. They are super dense but have a fun flavor. {The almonds make delicious homemade nut butter on their own, by the way. soo good.}

healthy snack recipes

gluten free dairy free salted caramel snack balls

My taste-tester approves.

kid friendly snack balls

In order to keep him from eating the entire batch in one sitting, I shoved the bag of blueberry almonds in front of him as a distraction. High protein snacks for the double win.

blueberry almonds

Now I need to go buy a new bag so I can make some coconut blueberry balls. Mm.

blueberry flavored almonds


High Protein Snacks for Kids & Beyond

High protein snacks gluten free dairy free

Salted Caramel Protein Snack Balls

by with a Side of Sneakers


  • 1/2 cup almond butter {homemade or otherwise}
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder {gluten free & dairy free if needed}
  • 1/8 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each: vanilla extract, butter extract, & fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup Blue Diamond Salted Caramel Almonds, chopped


Combine all ingredients and form into balls.

*Recipe affected heavily by how oily your nut butter is – mix should be crumbly, but stay in ball form when squeezed in your hands. If it doesn’t stick together, add coconut oil or almond milk 1 tsp at a time until balls form.

*Doubly extra good if you use almond butter made with the salted caramel flavored almonds.

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Do you have a favorite high protein snack recipe? I’m inspired to branch out more with these healthy snack ball recipes now that we’ve opened up the door to new flavors.


This post was originally sponsored by Blue Diamond.


No Fuss Gluten-Free Game Day Snacks

Food allergies can make game day snacking tough, but with a few pantry and fridge staples you can be out of the kitchen and cheering for your favorite team in no time with these no fuss gluten free game day snacks.


We are all about some game day over here. If it’s fall and it’s football, it’s on our tv.

three year old panthers fan

Ok perhaps I should clarify. The husband is all about some game day. I, on the other hand, am all about some game day eats. I’d be the first one to say hey let’s have a bunch of people over to watch the game simply so we could snack on a bunch of game day food.

gluten free game day snacks

However, since food allergies have come into our lives, it makes simply grabbing a bunch of game-ready food from the store less of a convenience and more of a hassle. We can’t just go to one store and grab everything we need or make last minute plans and pick something up along the way. Instead, we have to plan in advance, which on occasion has made me not want to host a game day celebration at all. If it’s work it’s not fun.

no fuss game day snacks

But slowly and surely over the years I’ve figured out how to get around that hold up. I have a few go-to game day recipes up my sleeve that are easy to prepare, but better yet, I’ve figured out how to prepare practically nothing and still have a game-day worthy spread.

gluten free meatballs easy spinach dip






The trick is pairing your snacks so they not only complement each other but you cover all your bases. Fruits, veggies, and chips are easy to throw on the counter, but unless I have some homemade meatballs hiding in the freezer, I don’t always have an easy protein option. Or do I…
blue diamond flavored nuts

You know I’m a fan of flavored almonds {the blueberry ones are a staple favorite around here} and these bold, smokey, game changing flavors are perfect for an easy game day treat to help keep you full and satisfied while you munch away and watch the game.

gluten free game day snacks

They’d make a great game day pairing on their own with some salami & cheese, or even mixed with something unexpected and sweet like dried fruit. The smokehouse almonds scream manly game day and the wasabi & soy are delightful for something different {and just spicy enough without crossing the line}.

blue diamond almonds

These rounded out our last game day spread nicely along with some of our other gluten-free, dairy-free faves, like spinach artichoke dip with sliced veggies, bean dip with tortilla chips, guacamole, hummus, and meatballs. I may or may not have eaten half the nuts while waiting for the game to start…


What’s your favorite no-fuss game day snack?

This post was originally sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. Ditch the chips and grab some Game Changing Flavors this football season! 

Tart Cherry Challenge: Cherry Lime Energy Balls

The following post about tart cherries is sponsored by FitFluential, Inc. on behalf of The Cherry Marketing Institute.

tart cherries (2) (500x375)

I recently completed The Cherry Marketing Institute’s 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge. In a quick recap, tart cherries have been shown to help reduce soreness and inflammation in the body due to compounds such as anthocyanins. This makes them a great tool in improving recovery times when it comes to exercise and training.

tart cherry challenge

I’m not training for anything right now, but I embarked on the challenge to see if it would make a difference in my every day fitness routine. In addition to sticking with my normal routine, I added back in a few body-pump type weight classes that I’ve steered clear of the past few months since I end up too sore to pick my arms up after a class if I don’t go regularly.

The good news? The classes didn’t kill me. I could still pick up the toddler afterwards and my legs weren’t shaking as I climbed the stairs that night. I can’t say I wasn’t feeling it all though. Winking smile #outofshape

tart cherries

I can easily see incorporating tart cherries into part of my normal routine, partly because it seemed to make enough of a difference that I could see it playing a bigger role in a dedicated training plan. Also partly because it was really easy to incorporate – the dried tart cherries, cherry juice, and cherry juice concentrate all taste really good and have the refreshing type of tang I like when I’m sweaty and thirsty, plus they’re available all year round.

tart cherries (4) (375x500)

Before workouts, usually soon after eating breakfast, I drank some of the juice, either as is or incorporated into my homemade sports drink. {I sipped the drink during spin but otherwise didn’t drink it during a workout since I typically don’t do that}. After a workout I refueled with a protein and cherry snack. These tart cherry lime energy balls ended up being what I turned to the most, since they’re portable, versatile, and taste good. As per usual, I had to share a few with the toddler – sneaky little fingers. {Most of the research has provided participants with two 8 ounce servings of tart cherries, thus the before-and-after approach here.}

tart cherries (1)

This recipe is easily adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand and is easy to vary based on flavor preference.

tart cherries (5) (500x375)

Cherry Lime Energy Balls

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup almonds

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp ginger {dry}

juice of 1/2 lime {approx}

Soak cherries in warm water while you prep the rest of your ingredients. Not a required step but I find in helpful in giving the balls sticking powder.

Pulse ingredients in blender or food processor until coarsely chopped. Scoop by the tablespoonful and form into ball. If mixture won’t hold, blend more or add more liquid {coconut oil or lime juice}.

Eat as-is or pop in the freezer to make extra portable and refreshing post-workout.


tart cherries (3) (500x375)

To learn more about tart cherries and how they can aid your recovery {or for recipe ideas} visit or:

Did you try the tart cherry challenge? What did you think? How did you eat or drink them? Would love to hear your recipes!

Peppermint Lemon Sticks

If I need to memorize a list of facts, equations, or dates, I can do it- no problem.

But when it comes to remember things that I’ve done, seen, or experienced, I tend to have some sort of selective amnesia. One thing I do remember, quite vividly, are summers spent sitting at the Inner Harbor with my best friends,our legs hanging over the ledge, eating lemon sticks.

peppermint lemon sticks

That just screams summer to me: watching the boats go by, seeing all the people running and skating, and the taste of a fresh lemon stick.

lemon stick peppermint straws

Apparently lemon sticks aren’t a popular thing. When I mention them people look at me like I’m a little wacko. Which I suppose I am, but not about this.

I don’t know why I never thought of making my own, but they’re super easy. You just need a juicy lemon, a peppermint stick, and a sharp knife.

peppermint straws

Roll the lemon between the palms of your hands, squeezing slightly to get the juices flowing. Cut a small hold in the peel near the top of the lemon, a little off to the side. Dig out a little bit of the lemon flesh with the knife to make room for the peppermint stick. Then slide the peppermint stick in to the lemon, as if it were a straw. You want to use the big thick peppermint sticks that dissolve easily- not the hard candy cane ones. It helps if you cut the ends of the peppermint stick so it’s easier to suck the lemon juice through without having to impatiently wait for it to start dissolving on it’s own.

lemon stick

I don’t know what it is about lemon and peppermint, but they sure do make a winning combination here.

lemon sticks

Even babies love them. Winking smile

happy babybaby eating lemon stick

Have you had a lemon stick?

Coconut Almond Butter

Have you all tried this stuff?!! It’s coconut + peanut butter heaven. I picked up a jar of the chunky a few months ago and I’ve done nothing but eat it straight out of the jar with spoon. So. Good.

earth balance coconut peanut butter

So good I had to make my own.

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at some homemade almond butter so I killed two birds with one stone.

Homemade Coconut Almond Butter. Yes, please.

homemade coconut almond butter recipe

I prefer to use blanched almonds for a more-refined tasting almond butter- less rustic if you will- but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

coconut almond butter recipe

Coconut Almond Butter

homemade almond butter

by with a Side of Sneakers


  • 1 1/2 cups blanched slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, liquid
  • pinch sea salt


Blend ingredients in high powered blender or food processor until smooth.


You may want to start by blending almonds alone, then slowly add in coconut oil until almond mixture comes together in a smooth consistency. You may or may not use all {or more!} of the coconut oil.

Also delicious with cinnamon & vanilla!

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Seriously, this stuff is so good. I even have to share with the little rugrat– I let him swipe a taste one day and he refused to give my spoon back.

coconut almond butter

Need me to grab you a spoon? Winking smile

Vegan Queso Blanco

While I’ve never been a huge dairy eater, there are a few dairy-based goods on my list that I consider essentials to a well-rounded diet. {Ok, not essential. But absolutely delicious!}

1. Goat cheese. Any form, any flavor.

2. Greek Yogurt, especially with honey.

3. Queso Blanco, the ultimate Mexican cheese dip.

Vegan queso blanco dip recipe - dairy free, gluten free.

Well, whatever little dairy eating I did do has completely gone out the window. My 11 month old {gasp!} 1 year old {!!} son is allergic to dairy, soy, and a handful of other delicious foods. Because I’m nursing him, that means those foods are off limits to me. Most of the time I’m pretty grown up about the whole ordeal- I don’t complain and I don’t really miss those three delicious dairy favorites above. It’s a lot easier to handle something maturely when it’s for your child.

But then there are days. Days where I’m all “woe is me” and “this sucks” and “damn it I just want some cheese dip”.

Nachos with cheese dip are kind of a tradition around these parts. When the husband and I first moved to the area, we lived in a tiny apartment across the street from a shopping center. In true young newlywed fashion, we were totally broke, jobless, and more than pinching our pennies. Every once in a while, as a special celebration, we’d treat ourselves to our favorite Mexican takeout from the shopping center. Eventually it became a Sunday tradition: football and nachos smothered in heavenly queso blanco. But remember I said we were broke? We compromised by concocting our own nacho monstrosities, complete with beer-laced gooey cheese dip.

vegan queso blanco

Five years and a child later, we still have our Sunday tradition. For awhile we skipped over it, but there’s just something about sticking with those early marriage traditions. At first I just skipped the dip part, but I was seriously missing out. Until I came up with this gem of a dip: a dairy free {and completely vegan and soy free} queso blanco dip. Dairy-free cheese dip? Say it isn’t so.

Vegan Queso Blanco {Dairy Free}

by with a Side of Sneakers



  • 1 cup Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Original
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup dark Mexican beer (or sub vegetable broth or additional milk)
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced
  • ¼ cup white onion, minced
  • ½ tsp smoked cumin
  • ¼ tsp lime juice
  • 1 cup vegan/dairy free mozzarella cheese (such as Daiya)
  • Whole grain corn tortilla chips or sliced veggies (for dipping)


Sauté onion and jalapeno in a small saucepan over medium heat until the onion starts to brown, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in almond milk and cornstarch until well combined.

Whisk occasionally until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in beer, cumin, or lime juice.

Add in vegan cheese. Stir thoroughly until cheese melts and forms a smooth mixture. Add more cheese for a thicker dip; less for a more pourable cheese (to top nachos, etc.).

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This dairy free cheese dip is only 107 calories per serving- a 15 calorie savings over skim milk and a vast improvement over traditional restaurant-style Mexican queso blanco!

This dip also tastes great with Pepper Jack style vegan cheese instead of mozzarella, especially when served over black bean smothered nachos. The beer provides a rich and intense depth of flavor and gives you a great excuse to finish the rest of the bottle with your dip! Feel free to use vegetable broth or additional almond milk if you prefer to not to use beer.

This recipe was developed for Silk for a Fitfluential campaign. You can find other great recipes using Silk Pure Almond on their Facebook page.


Click here for more Gluten Free Dairy Free Recipes that won’t leave you trapped in the kitchen for hours or hunting down a million bizarre ingredients.