Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls

These pumpkin peanut butter balls are the perfect fall treat, and you can mix up the spices to your heart’s content!

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
4.16 from 13 votes
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Vegan Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls

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

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword holiday treat, peanut butter, pumpkin treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 223 kcal
Author Andrew

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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.

About the Author

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.

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56 Comments
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Kelly
Kelly
October 5, 2014 10:42 am

I didn’t get a good result with this recipe. The balls get all over your fingers unless they are eaten right out of the freezer. I wonder if adding some ground rolled oats our nuts/seeds would improve the texture? They are just too mushy for me, and the flavor isn’t good enough to make up for it. Can’t get my pumpkin loving kids to eat them.

Corah @superhealthuniversity
October 2, 2014 12:55 pm

Ooooo… I’m seriously turning my oven on right now and making these right away. Excited! I love pumpkin. Sharing on my FB page too.. thanks!

Ethel @eatingininstead
October 1, 2014 7:24 pm

I love this! Definitely a great little sweet treat to keep me on track for the challenge this month. Thanks!

Lisa B.
Lisa B.
October 1, 2014 5:54 pm

These snacks are delicious, and all five of my kids loved them! Thanks so much, Luci, for sharing your story and this recipe!

I’m uber-pumped about October Unprocessed! This is exactly the motivation I needed to get back to the clean eating I’d fallen away from in the past few months. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, Andrew! By staying away from the processed sugars today, I never craved them once. Amazing how that vicious circle works.

Janet — Thanks so much for calculating the nutritional info!

Karen
October 1, 2014 2:18 pm

This recipe looks fantastic and a great way to start October! Thanks!

Tracy Smith
Tracy Smith
October 1, 2014 11:07 am

Quick cooking oats–my understanding is that they are processed and stripped of whole grain nutrients? Any one want to clarify this for me?

Andrew
Admin
October 1, 2014 11:54 am
Reply to  Tracy Smith

Hi Tracy! They are definitely “broken down” (for lack of a better word) more than their regular rolled-oat (or steel-cut) counterparts, but as far as I know they haven’t been stripped of any nutrients. Basically, they’re just smaller and have been pre-cooked a little longer. The real pitfall with instant oats is those prepared packets from Quaker (and copycats) that include tons of sugar and flavorings.

This post may help: https://eatingrules.com/types-of-oatmeal/

Tracy Smith
Tracy Smith
October 1, 2014 4:02 pm
Reply to  Andrew

Thank you so much for the clarification. Recipe sounds awesome!

Ruth
Ruth
October 1, 2014 11:03 am

These sound amazing. Does the brand/type of maple syrup matter. I’m assuming that pancake syrup won’t work.

Andrew
Admin
October 1, 2014 11:51 am
Reply to  Ruth

As long as it’s 100% pure maple syrup (check the ingredients list to be sure), you should be set. Regular “pancake syrup” such as Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin are just flavored High Fructose Corn Syrup (which is highy processed).

Also, I recommend “Grade B” syrup – don’t let the “lower” grade fool you, it’s darker and richer in flavor than the “Grade A” stuff. 😉

Amanda
Amanda
October 1, 2014 10:23 am

Just curious if anyone else is having this problem: I keep trying to pin things from this website onto my pinterest boards, including this recipe from today, and I can’t seem to get it to work. Is there a block on the website or something else I am missing? Thank you!

Andrew
Admin
October 1, 2014 11:50 am
Reply to  Amanda

Hi Amanda – That’s really strange! There shouldn’t be any blocks, and in fact I’ve set up Pinterest-friendly images for most of my posts, if you use the “Pin It” button. If you’re still having issues, can you please email me with more details? (Obviously, this is very concerning – I want people to be able to pin my site!). Thanks! 🙂

Becca from ItsYummi.com
October 1, 2014 11:59 am
Reply to  Andrew

Andrew, to put your mind at ease, I was able to Pin without any issues this morning, using the Pinterest bookmarklet in the Chrome toolbar.

Amanda
Amanda
October 1, 2014 6:34 pm
Reply to  Andrew

I am using Firefox and was unable to use my toolbar Pin It. However, I was able to use the pin it button underneath the picture (which I must of missed when looking at the page before). Sorry to cause concern! Thanks for all you’re doing with October Unprocessed!

Betony
Betony
October 1, 2014 9:38 am

These sound terrific! I’ll make a few substitutions due to food allergies (as usual, hee, hee) and spring them on some friends. Hmmm, a cup of European grapes runs about 28 gm of sugar, wonder what that would work out per grape as grapes vary in size. When I make my oatmeal energy bites the balls vary in size as on purpose. I would have a difficult time claiming each item had the same amount of sugar…kind of like selecting which size to cut a cake slice. ))

Off to get some fresh pecans for this recipe. The ancient ones I tossed when cleaning the panty for October Unprocessed were pathetic. Thanks a ton for the recommendation to clean out the pantry. What a great exercise!

Kimberly
Kimberly
October 1, 2014 8:40 am

I’m so excited to see a recipe that I can use to create a healthy, unprocessed “dessert” that I know my boys will love! Thank you for sharing!!
~Kimberly