Chow Town

Royals nutritionist hits a home run with protein energy balls

Honey Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls are a popular clubhouse snack for Royals players.
Honey Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls are a popular clubhouse snack for Royals players.

When it comes to protein energy balls, Mitzi Dulan has hit one out of the park.

When the Royals’ team nutritionist shared her recipe during last season’s playoff run on our Chow Town blog for her Honey Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls — a favorite of first-baseman Eric Hosmer — legions of Royals fans passed along the recipe.

Dulan, a Leawood-based registered dietitian who has tradmarked herself as “America’s Nutrition Expert” and the author of “The Pinterest Diet,” got 90,000 pins for her original recipe in 2014. After The Star republished it on a slow news day last month, more than 13,000 people responded.

Her protein balls contain peanut butter, honey, chopped apricots, coconut, almonds and whey powder. They’ve become so popular that Dulan started her own company called SimplyFuel to bring them to the retail marketplace.

She’s currently working on a way to scale the product to size, a process that has required shipping ingredients and batches of her dough to a company that she hopes will be able to point her in the direction of a machine to mechanize making the balls, saving the laborious and expensive process of hand-rolling.

Other products on the market are more puck than ball, Dulan says.

“I want people to be able to see all the ingredients, not rolled first then smashed,” she adds.

For now, Dulan is hand rolling them and offering direct sales to the public at mitzi@simplyfuel.com or 913-269-1889. Two 0.7-ounce balls (slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball) are $3.99, nine balls are $9.99, and 12 balls are $17.99.

The no-bake recipe is simple to make and contains carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein and healthy fat. But for retail sales, Dulan is adding an effective dose of probiotics, because “we know how important it is to gut health. Just like you have to have good soil for good food, your gut is like your soil.”

Dulan recommends them for breakfast, as a snack after a workout or as a way to curb a sweet craving. She recently took them in her purse to snack on during a long airplane flight.

“I knew they were very popular when I first created the recipe,” Dulan says, but since media interviews featuring her recipe and a World Series title, “obviously everything associated with the Royals is taking off.”

During the playoffs, Dulan was considering adding chocolate to her recipe to create a new variation but held off because she was superstitious about tampering with success.

“All the players love them,” says Dulan, who delivered a platter of protein balls for the clubhouse in time for the opening-night game.

Ultimately, even a good-for-you snack must taste good.

“I’m a nutritionist, but I’m also a foodie. I want it to be clean and healthy and pure, but it also has to taste excellent. There are bars and products out there that don’t taste good.

Here is the encore recipe.

Notes for the home cook: Whey powder can be expensive, depending on where you buy it. Try shopping at stores offering bulk bin ingredients, or Dulan suggests checking for it at Trader Joe’s or iherb.com.

Also, choose unsulphured apricots.

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