Nut-Free Joy Balls

When it comes to cleansing and maintaining a healthy diet, having nutritious, quick and easy snacks on hand is a must.

Enter raw nuts. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans – I love them all. Raw nuts are a staple in my plant-based diet. They’re so easy to grab in a pinch. They’re crunchy, filling and satisfying.

Nuts are also easy to overeat, leaving us feeling bloated and constipated, not to mention just plain sick to our stomach.

One of the hot topics we explore during our 14-day supported cleanse, is the idea that too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing.

Take for example almonds. Almonds are the heart-healthy, go-to snack of choice. They even have their own marketing campaign, unlike spinach or broccoli.

As is customary in our culture we tend to over-do things. We snack on almonds; we eat almond butter sandwiches; we drink almond milk. Heck, we even bake with almond flour.

Now instead of having the recommended handful of almonds a day, we’re ingesting almonds all day long in one form or another. This can leave us more susceptible to developing sensitivities or allergies to that particular food.

I’m currently on a break from cashews, my nut of choice, so I’ve been looking for alternative snack ideas and have turned towards raw seeds.

Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds – like nuts – are a great source of healthy fats. In fact they are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s. Both are high in magnesium too. Known as the “relaxation mineral,” magnesium is crucial for the immune system, for building strong bones and teeth. It also helps improve sleep as well as muscle cramping.

Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also filling and satisfying – making them a great snack. The bonus is that seeds also tend to be easier on the digestive system.

Knowing how much our cleansers love the Joy Ball recipe from our book (on page 260), I thought it would be fun to create a nut-free variation of this popular classic.

I hope you enjoy them and they help you take a break from your nut of choice.

Now it’s your turn. Are you in need of a break from nuts? Share your comments with me below.

With nut-free love,



Nut-Free Joy Balls

Yields 3 dozen balls


  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, divided
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup dried dates, pits removed
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)


In a food processor, fitted with an S-blade, combine 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed, cinnamon and sea salt for about 1-2 minutes until fine. Add dates and maple syrup, and blend again until a thick paste forms. Mixture will be sticky and dense.

Transfer to a bowl and using your hands, mix in extra ½ cup pumpkin seeds and raisins. Using your hands, roll small amounts of mixture between your palms to form 1-inch balls. Rolls ball in shredded coconut to coat (if using).

Place in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate or freeze. Serve chilled or frozen.

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Showing 17 comments
  • Jukie

    Great little treat. If you’re using a regular blender, you must add at least 1/4 cup water otherwise your blender motor will not be happy. I also substituted dried cherries for raisins. Don’t think the maple syrup is necessary given the sweetness of the dates.

    • Julie Peláez

      Thanks for sharing your variations! Dried cherries, cranberries, dried bananas, figs, they’re all good! :)

  • Jan Stortz

    I stopped by our local farmer’s market and one of the booths sells their own sauerkraut with special spices and a variety of other foods but the one that is also good as a snack and may sound odd was dried coconut that tastes like bacon. It has dried coconut, paprika, sea salt and a bit of maple syrup. I don’t have the exact recipe but it really was a good snack for a change of pace. It was a little too salty for me so I might not add a lot of salt or none at all. Need to experiment.

    • Julie Peláez

      Wow! I’m not a bacon fan myself (gasp! I know!) but I sure know I’m in the minority. I’m inspired to play in the kitchen with this one. Was it baked? Thanks for sharing!

  • Chrissy

    Thabks for sharing this alternative to almonds! I have never been able to try these as almonds make my tummy hurt even though I’m not necessarily allergic! I’ll try these this weekend!

    • Julie Peláez

      Chrissy!!!! I’m the same way with almonds. It’s a love hate relationship. :) Enjoy and let me know what you think.

  • Lissa Thomas

    I am so excited to try these. The original Joy Balls sounded like a great snack, however my son has nut allergies therefore no nuts in our house. With all of his allergies it’s a challenge to find new snacks for a 4 year old. This is great to have a nut-free alternative!

  • Kerry Barber

    The recipe says:
    1/2 plus 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

    What is the first 1/2?

    Thank you,

    • Jules Peláez

      Hey Kerry, Sorry! That is confusing. I should say 1 cup pumpkin seeds, divided. :) Will update the recipe. Enjoy!

  • jennyd

    These are great little nut free treats. I also added some dried cherries and used Hemp seed instead of pumpkin seeds and switched the flax seed with wheat germ as I this was all I had on hand, they still turned out very good. I guess when I have to omit gluten I can’t have wheat germ correct? I’m not sure if it has gluten in it…

    • Jules Peláez

      Hey Jenny! Yes, wheat germ does contain gluten. Another alternative might be to grind up chia seeds. Next time. :) Glad they still tasted yummy.

  • Janine McKay

    Thanks Jules, I get migraines from Almonds and they are in so many recipes. I love them, but it is the aftermath that I cannot tolerate. Going to give these a go and it is great to see some other variants. :)

    • Jules Peláez

      Oh wow, Janine! Seeds are the way to go. Cashews can make a good alternative to almonds too if you can tolerate them.

  • Caryn Halle

    I leave out the raisins and maple syrup and instead add fresh ground turmeric and ginger in a 2:1 ratio, and a heaping tablespoon of coconut butter for a delicious tummy soothing and anti-inflammatory treat. Yummy all ways…

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Caryn, Thank you for sharing that! That does sound fantastic! XO, J & J

  • Amy Cohen

    I love these and have been making them for years! I’m using a diet and fitness tracker. Adding the nutritional info to this and all of your recipes would be amazing!

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Amy, We’re so glad you love the recipes! We don’t include nutritional information because we really don’t want our community to focus on calories or fat. When eating whole foods, we find focusing on filling 2/3’s of your plate with fresh organic veggies with a rainbow of colors and 1/3 of your plate with an animal or plant protein you’ll receive the nutrient profile you need. We also realize that sometimes micro- and macro-nutrient tracking are important for specific goals. Some meal trackers will allow you to input a recipe to find the nutrient breakdown per serving. My Fitness Pal does and so does SparkPeople. Please continue to reach out anytime! XO, J&J

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