The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Taste Test

Balls are the new Bars when it comes to healthy snacks. You heard it here first.

 

It started, like most food trends do with food bloggers, happily blogging recipes about balls. Superfood Balls, Pantry Balls, Nutty Balls – pretty much any combination of nuts and fruit smooshed together in circular healthy snacks. It makes sense, balls require little equipment, no rulers and it’s quite hard to muck up a recipe that consists of mooshing up a bunch of ingredients, shaping them into balls and calling it a snack.

 

Then we started seeing them in stores, and as soon as we spotted them in the checkout aisle of Woollies alongside the seaweed snacks and Kale Chips we knew it was a trend. Balls are the new Bars. You heard it here first.

 

Now, I don’t want to call myself a trendsetter, but I’ve been making these balls since 2010. I would put them in little glass jars and gift them. They were so good, I’m quite convinced a TSA agent once snuck a few out of my bag. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself in a kitchen rollin’, so to find out what makes one ball better than another I scoured Faithful to Nature, Wellness Warehouse, Dischem and Woolies for any and all balls I could spot. I came up with 8 different balls and so the battle of the balls began.

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test

Balls are scored on the following: Taste, Ingredients, Price and Nutritionals. Each category is worth 5 points, the ball with the highest combined score is deemed the winner of the battle of the balls. It’s all very official.

 

All categories aside for nutritionals came down to a matter of preference and opinion.

 

The Nutritional score was determined by asking 5 questions, each worth a point

  • Does it state the size of the packet contents clearly
  • Does it list Ingredients
  • Does it list allergens
  • Does it give nutritional breakdown
  • Does the nutritional breakdown easily relate to package contents

 

1. Bliss Superfood Balls, R30 for 2 at Faithful to Nature

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Bliss Superfood Balls

 

Price

At R30 for 2 balls, you’re paying R15 per ball. Combined they weigh 35 grams and equal 1 serving. I feel like R30 is a bit steep to shell out for two tablespoon sized balls. You can make a meal for less than that.

 

Score 2/5

 

Taste

I tried the fruity choc flavoured balls. These Bliss Balls are perfectly shaped balls, which as I discovered not all balls are. They’re hard but in a moist not dry way. They smell fruity and had a pleasant taste. It was cocoa with an undertone of something, perfumey almost. I presume that’s the ginseng and Foti. It’s like chocolate with a hint of perfume, in a pleasant edible way like Turkish Delight. I’d eat it again. The only downside was there was a bit of an aftertaste which I didn’t love.

 

Score 3.5/5

 

Ingredients

Raw Cacao, Ginseng, Foti, Dates, Raisins, Vanilla Powder, Brazil Nuts, Cashew Nuts

The ingredients are things I recognise and have at some point had in my pantry in their raw forms. That is except for Foti, which I googled and discovered to be a Chinese traditional medicinal herb and super-root. Amongst other things it apparently acts as a laxative and as an anti-stimulant to those sensitive to caffeine or cacao. It’s also the reason the ingredients lost a point, why put cocoa if you’re just going to put something else which takes away the effect of cocoa – if I want a cocoa, I want it with all its effects, it’s like having decaf, no thanks.

 

Score 4/5

 

Nutritionals

These balls are raw, dairy free, gluten free and have no refined sugar. The label ticks all the boxes and I really love how they added single serving = 35g before having a table showing nutritionals per 100g or per single serving.

 

Score 5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 14.5 / 20 

 

2. Bliss Superfood Kids Balls, 50 for 6 mini balls at Faithful to Nature

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Bliss Superfood Kids Balls

 

Price

Full disclosure, I yelped when I got these balls. Like the yelp when you look at something in real you saw online and wonder if you ordered the right thing. The camera added some grams and I was expecting something larger than teaspoon sized balls. The packet is just 19 grams. They’re pretty much the size of a Nakd Nibble but half the amount in one bag. Based on price alone I wouldn’t get them again.

 

Score 1/5

 

Flavour

I tried the mint choc balls. These tiny Bliss Bites have a super minty smell. The first taste that hits you is cocoa, followed by cashew and then you get an undertone of mint, which lingers. They’re slightly dry but are pretty tasty. I question if a kid would like the taste, but it’s some time since I qualified as a kid so who knows where kids taste buds are currently at.

 

Score 3.5/5

 

Ingredients

Raw cacoa, baobab, mint extract, dates, raisins, vanilla powder, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, Himalayan salts

 

Bliss may be expensive but their ingredient list is solid and in every ball there is an appearance by an exotic superfood (which is probably where the steep prices come from). In this case it was Baobab which was barely noticeable taste wise, but adds a nutritional boost.

 

Score 5/5

 

Nutritionals

These balls are raw, vegan and gluten free. The content size font is as small as the actual balls which makes it really hard to find but if we are grading on a scale system then it’s a regular sized 19g font. Like the adult sized balls, I really love how they added single serving = 19g before having a table showing nutritionals per 100g or per single serving.

 

Score 5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 14.5/20

 

Nibble Me, R31 for two at Wellness Warehouse

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Nibble Me

 

Price

Each ball is 30 grams, so you’re paying R31 for 60 grams in total. Compared to other balls it’s reasonable -R15.50 for 30 grams which is half the amount of similar sized balls. It’s still in my mind not a cheap snack by any means.

 

Score 3.5 / 5

 

Flavour

I tried the Monkey Fudge which tasted like dried bananas covered in coconut. It was quite delicious but you need to like the taste of dried banana to enjoy these. They’re also nice, soft and chewy. They are one of the sweeter balls thanks to the dates and bananas.

 

Score 5/5

 

Ingredients

Dried unsweetened bananas, dates, unsweetened coconut, vanilla

The ingredients are super simple. Nothing unnecessary, nothing you won’t recognise. The only downside is the lack of nuts and seeds means you don’t have protein and fat which helps make these types of snacks more filling and nutritious.

 

Score 4.5/5

 

Nutritionals

Aside for saying they’re guilt free there was no other allergens listed. The packaging could’ve benefited from putting the size ie. 60 grams on the front instead of squishing it at the bottom of the nutrition info. I also didn’t enjoy how he nutritional info was laid out. Generally, when listing nutritional in two formats next to each other instead of putting them in a table, by making one bold it helps to make the info read clearer. For that I only gave it a half score for listing nutritionals.

 

Score 3.5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 16.5/20

 

Joe & Co Real Balls, R19.90 at Faithful to Nature

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Joe & Co

 

Price

For R19.90 you get 3 balls which combined, weigh 40 grams. That works out at under R7 per ball which aside from the Woolworths balls is the best price, especially when looking at ingredients used.

 

Score 4.5/5

 

Taste

I tried the Cocoa and Coconut Bites. They were one of the richer balls – almost tasting like a truffle with flecks of coconut. Texture wise they were a bit hard and I reckon a healthier alternative for when you’re craving something chocolatey.

 

Score 4/5

 

Ingredients

Dates, almonds, raisins, cocoa, cashews, coconut, vanilla, oryx dessert salt

Simple, easy to understand ingredients was a big plus. I got excited when I saw the dessert salt and expected them to have a sweet salty taste. They did not.

Score 4.5 / 5

 

Nutritionals

The balls are gluten free, vegan, free of GMOs, dairy and added sugars. I don’t like how the size and flavour text on the packaging is upside down to the rest of the bars text order. I know, call me a packaging snob. At least it was very bold so you couldn’t miss it. I graded a half for the nutritional breakdown relating easily to the contents because that column was printed along the packaging area that attaches together and the print quality is compromised making it difficult to read the data.

 

Score 4.5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 17.5/20

 

Luv Sum, Pick me Up Naked Energy Ball, R17.95 at Dischem

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Luv Sum

 

Price

They come in at R17.95 for one 42-gram ball making them one of the least expensive of the lot and one of the few that are under R20.

 

Score 4.5/5

 

Taste

I tried the chocolate chia and nut. Visually they were more like a flattened circle than a true ball. They were super soft with flecks of chia seed and peanuts visible. They had a nut butter taste and were quite sweet. They were very tasty

 

Score 4.5 / 5

 

Ingredients

Dates, cashews, almonds, ground peanuts, puffed rice, dark chocolate, emulsifiers, linseed, sunflowerseeds, chia seed, vegetable fibre, fruit juice, grain dextrin, natural vanilla flavouring, salt, white rice flour, brown rice flour, mixed tocopherals. 

They had one of the longest ingredient lists out of all the balls tried. Some of which you wouldn’t find in your pantry (grain dextrin?). To me these types of balls should be made with super simple ingredients – almost like you can remake them at home easily. A long, unfamiliar ingredient list makes them seem less healthy.

 

Score 2.5/5

 

Nutritionals

These balls are gluten free with no added preservatives. This label ticked all the boxes, made it easy to see all the info.

 

Score 5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 16.5 / 20

 

Sarah Graham’s Nourish Power Ball, R20 at Faithful to Nature

 The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Sarah Graham Nourish Bites

 

Price

It’s R20 for one 35g ball which falls in the middle, price wise compared to the other balls. It’s not the cheapest but reasonably priced when looking at similar balls with similar ingredients.

 

Score 3.5/5

 

Taste

I tried the Cacao and Cranberry Ball. It’s a large smooth ball. The smell of cinnamon is the first thing you notice when you open the bag, which was the easiest bag to open. I know I struggled enough opening bags to consider an easy open a win. It has a sweet and spicy taste – with the cinnamon and cranberry being the most powerful flavours. The cacoa is very subtle. Overall, I loved the spiciness and taste

 

Score 5/5

 

Ingredients

Dates, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, cacao, salt, cinnamon

Simple ingredients – one of the shorter lists with just what you need to make a ball. Some sweetness, some seeds for crunch and protein and a hint of spice

 

Score 5/5

 

Nutritionals

These balls are dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free. This label ticked all the boxes, made it easy to see all the info and made me feel like I was eating something healthy.

 

Score 5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 18.5/20

 

Woolworths Booster Date Bites, R19.99 at Woolworths

 The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Woolworths Booster Bites

 

Price

It’s just shy of R20 for three balls which come in at a combined 45 grams. They’re priced similar to Joe & Co and Sarah Graham and have similar ingredients.

 

Score 4/5

 

Taste

I tried the most different flavour I could find – Almonds, beetroot, goji berries and coconut. In hind site I would have been better off with a classic flavour. They were a deep pink – from the beets and had an odd, earthy taste – from the beets. It was a combination of flavours that just didn’t work well together. On the plus, they’re soft and have a good texture, I would opt for another flavour in future.

 

Score 2.5/5  

 

Ingredients

Dates, almonds, raisins, beetroot powder, goji berries, coconut, sunflower seeds

The ingredients were good and simple. I would omit the beetroot flavour, but that’s because I didn’t like it. Did I mention that?

 

Score 4/5

 

Nutritionals

These balls are vegan, gluten free and have no added sugars. Despite its listing the size at the back of the label, it would read better in the front. I did not like how the size was 45g yet the nutritionals were given in 100g format. Even if they were 50g it would have been easy to halve the figures. Not cool Woolies, not cool.

 

Score 3.5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 14/20

 

Kathy’s Cookies Date Ball, R12 at Wellness Warehouse

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test - Kathy's Cookies

Price

They’re one of the biggest balls – 50grams and the lowest price, making them the most affordable of all the balls.

 

Score 5/5

 

Taste

I tried the carob coated date ball. They tasted and felt like a rice crispy treat in dates – the puffed rice and sunflower seeds were visible. Despite the dates they weren’t very sweet. I like the carob coating – it’s different from the classic chocolate and adds a nice earthy sweetness

 

Score 3.5 /5

 

Ingredients

Dates, vegetable fat, puffed rice, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, eggs, coconut.

Coating: hydrogenated vegetable fat, maltodextrin, carob powder, soya powder, fructose, soya lechtin, emulsifier and flavouring 

They had the longest list of ingredients and not a list I’d put together and term a wholesome snack. I didn’t love that they had vegetable fats amongst other things you don’t keep on hand at home.

 

Score 1/5

 

Nutritionals

These balls are wheat free. I hate that it doesn’t give a nutritional table breakdown. It makes it very difficult for those on a calorie or macro nutrient tracking diet.  Even though it should have scored 2/5 for listing ingredients, because there were so many I graded it a half.

 

Score 1.5/5

 

TOTAL SCORE 11/ 20

 

The Battle of the Balls, a Nutreats Healthy Snacks Taste Test

 

And this brings us to the winner of the battle of the Balls with a score of 18.5/20 we crown the winner – Sarah Graham’s Nourish Power Ball’s, get ’em here 

 

Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments below

 

Photography and styling by Feige Lewin 

 

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Zissy Lewin

Zissy Lewin

Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.
Zissy Lewin

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2 Comments
  1. Hi Zissy,
    Although we did not come up tops in your battle of the balls contest, must say, loved your article:-) Most of our other flavours contains nuts, but due to the fact that not everyone is nut lovers, we opted for one that people with nut allergens could enjoy. Hence the lack of allergens. So happy you liked the taste! If you would like a sample of each, we would gladly deliver some 🙂 Thanx again, very informative!

    1. Thank you Christelle! I didn’t even think of nut allergies – but that’s a really good point. Definitely the best allergen free ball that those with a nut allergy can enjoy! Bananas about the flavor we picked and will never say no to nibbles, would love to try the rest:)

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