Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls

Luci Petlack is a lifestyle blogger with a penchant for denim, iced coffee, and homemade food. She’s a Doctor of History, a lover of witty humor, and a bit obsessed with Instagram. She blogs at Luci’s Morsels. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Andrew’s Note: This is our first guest post for October Unprocessed 2014! I’ll be sharing at least one new guest post each day throughout the month. I picked this one to go first because I think Luci’s story is probably something we all can relate to — and these Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls sound both easy to make and fabulously delicious… my favorite combination. Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls

When Andrew started telling me about October Unprocessed and his very manageable definition of “unprocessed,” I knew I wanted to be involved!

I’ve always subconsciously eaten primarily unprocessed foods, but in the course of losing close to forty pounds, I became much more aware of what I was putting into my body.

I was never small growing up. I spent much of my childhood and very early adulthood slightly overweight. My mom was, and still is, a firm believer in homemade meals that always include vegetables and protein. My mom knew that if my diet was balanced, I was healthy, and eventually my weight would even itself out. And, as usual, she was right!

When I started grad school just before my 22nd birthday, I weighed 165-170 pounds. Living by myself for the first time, I realized how much of a social eater I was (thanks to a big family who loves food, I’m sure). I snacked quite a bit less when I didn’t have roommates constantly baking up morsels. In the vein of cutting back, I started to see how long into the day I could go without eating. It wasn’t a healthy option, I’ve since realized, but it started my weight loss so I can’t waste time regretting it.

I soon started to pay attention to what I was eating and how often I was eating. At first, I tried to limit my carb consumption and maximize my protein intake. One day while eating cheese and peanut butter (seriously delicious!), I looked at the nutrition facts on the cheese and was aghast at all the saturated fat. The same went for the peanut butter. Ok. First lesson learned – protein is good, but you have to pay attention to other factors. I also tried eating loads and loads of vegetables, only to rediscover the importance of protein. And one of the biggest lessons was realizing how much time on the elliptical machine at the gym each beer was costing me. So I started cutting back during evenings out. By the end of my third year in grad school, I was super strict about my diet and working out 5-6 days per week. I was down to around 130 pounds and feeling great.

So, October isn’t about weight loss… I know. But I tell you this background because during my trek to find low-calorie, low-fat, and high-protein options, I realized I was eating foods that were so very processed. I noticed it first on the nutrition facts labels with the high percentages of sodium and cholesterol. Then I started noticing the ingredient lists and how much of it I couldn’t pronounce – all in the name of a few less calories or fat. I decided I didn’t like that either. After a few years of constantly losing weight, I had to reassess some of my eating options. When faced with the option of low-fat peanut butter made with mono-xxx and poly-yyy, both mysteries to me, I decided that the natural, unprocessed, full fat option was much better. This was not an easy transition for me and it is still partially incomplete. It’s been slow and at times very difficult.

I’ve realized through this journey that you have to make choices. I’ll take peanut butter over cheese almost any day. And I’ll try not to eat bread every day. But I’m apt to enjoy a cookie. With a natural inclination to prefer homemade food, versus pre-made food and eating out most of the time (thanks mom!!), choosing unprocessed, healthy options is a lot easier for me, though I’m far from perfect. Fortunately, I’m willing and able to put in the time and energy for a homemade meal with ingredients that I know and understand – the unprocessed ones!

And speaking of ingredients I know and understand. These pumpkin peanut butter balls are the perfect treat. There are so many recipes out there for oozingly, delicious pumpkin treats, but all the fat and the processed ingredients make me cringe. Last month I made vegan 7 ingredient peanut butter balls. As I was finishing the last few out of the freezer, I eyed the pumpkin hiding there in the back and knew I had to make a version with fall flavors. You can mix up the spices to your heart’s content. And leave off the pecans for the kids if they so desire!

Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls
4 from 3 votes

Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls

Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls are both easy to make and fabulously delicious… my favorite combination.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 223 kcal
Author Luci Petlack


  • 1 ¼ cups quick-cooking or rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups additive-free or homemade peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 ½ cups canned or homemade pumpkin puree
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 2/3 cup pecans chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread oats on a large baking sheet and bake for ten minutes. This can be done ahead of time.
  3. Combine all ingredients except pecans in bowl. Mix thoroughly. It will thicken as you mix together.
  4. Roll into balls (roughly two tablespoons each). If dough is too soft to roll, stick in freezer for 2-3 minutes to harden a little.
  5. Roll in chopped pecans if desired.
  6. Freeze for at least twenty minutes, and keep in freezer until serving.


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54 Comments on "Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls"


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Cheryl Pierce

What a great beginning to October Unprocessed! I can’t wait to try these! Thanks, Luci!


Thank you for your story – Peanut butter is my dessert Island food so really hard to give up. I will be interested to see how peanut butter and pumpkin go together. Sounds like a great midafternoon snack.

Samantha Barron

These sound absolutely delicious and I have almost everything on hand… I am going to get the puree this morning and make these with my kids when they get home from school today!

Becca from It's Yummi!
Luci, your story just made me sob uncontrollably! The first half is exactly where I was, and I TOTALLY agree with your philosophy on eating higher fat foods versus lower fat unprocessed. My problem is love for food, lack of self control when it comes to carbs, and straight up despise for exercise. My joints are in awful shape from walking around with 270 pounds on a 5’4″ body for 20 years. I lost 150 of the weight through gastric bypass surgery and kept it off for 10 years, but have now gained back 30 of it. At 50 years old, my body is just fighting to drop the weight, and my bad joints are not cooperating with any attempts at exercise. When I joined Andrew’s challenge, I also decided to join the YMCA, which is what I’m doing this afternoon. Someone told me that water aerobics class might be… Read more »

You will do great. I can relate to your joint issues.

Becca from It's Yummi!

Thanks for the support, Barb.


I can’t say I understand exactly because I haven’t been there, but my mom who has had gastric bypass and has regained some of the weight, is also having trouble with her joints, so your story sounded familiar. She loves the pool and water aerobics. I think if it feels good and is making you healthier you should go for it, a bike is also good since there is no pounding on the joints and less weight-bearing.

Becca from It's Yummi!

Thanks for the support, Bekah!


You can do it!! Water aerobics is a great option it sounds like. I had a baby recently (well, ok, let’s be real, 11 months ago!) and also hate the thought of a swim suit, but I went to my first aerobics class in about 1 1/2 years today. We’ll do it together! Good luck!!!


Thank you for this recipe. One of my concerns about October Unprocessed is getting enough protein since I’m a big protein powder girl. I have printed this recipe and will make it tonight!


Check out hemp protein powder. A high quality, raw, organic brand (such as Nutiva or Manitoba Harvest) is an excellent source of protein. We’ve been using both brands in our house to replace our protein powder (and trying out different hemp proteins since we had never tried them before) and have been really pleased with the taste and texture of both brands. And the staying power is amazing… it keeps you satisfied for a long time!!


These look delicious – will be making them later today! Wondering about the nutrition info though! THANKS!


Did a quick calculation on these – dividing the recipe into 24 balls (it does not specify a yield) each ball is calories-157, fat-10g, sat fat – 2g, sodium-53mg, potassium-13mg, carbs-13g, fiber-w.4g, sugars-6.8g, protein-4.6g. High in sugar, even if it’s “unprocessed”.


Did a quick calculation on these – dividing the recipe into 24 balls (it does not specify a yield) each ball is calories-157, fat-10g, sat fat – 2g, sodium-53mg, potassium-13mg, carbs-13g, fiber-2.
4g, sugars-6.8g, protein-4.6g. High in sugar, even if it’s “unprocessed”.


Just made a batch – here’s an update – first, they are delicious! – To cut the sweetness and calories a little, I used an 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) each of maple syrup and agave nectar, and cut the peanut butter to 1 cup. They are still sweet and this also ups the pumpkin flavor. The revised nutrition cals – 98, fat- 6g, sat fat-1g, sodium-49mg, carbs-10g, fiber-2g, sugar-2.5g, protein-4g. Add about 15 calories and 1-2 grams of fat if you roll them in pecans


This recipe sounds easy and delicious, but I have one question: how long do you the these for , before eating and after taking out of the freezer?


Around 2 p.m. every day, I go into a bit of a slump and these sound like the perfect pick me up. Thanks.