Today I have an awesome nut-free and gluten-free muscle recovery protein ball snack to share with you all. It’s made with Sunflower Butter, instead of peanut butter, so folks with allergies can enjoy them. And you can take them to school without fear!

Nut free Gluten Free Protein Balls with Sunflower Seeds, Bananas and Cranberries

Back when I was in the Cayman Islands drinking much naughtier versions of these and eating this, I found out that I was going to be running in a two person relay for the Vermont City Marathon for the FitTeam. There are nine of us all together on the team, and we each are doing different lengths. I get to do the half! Yay, 13.1 miles woot! Then I was like, oh boy, 13.1 miles. Because I was running exactly zero miles per week back in February. And I think that the last time I had gone for a run before that was like… September. The Beach to Beacon seems like forvever ago. Look at me! I look like I was actually having fun! (photo below by Bill Runner.)

Katie Webster running Beach-to_beacon-Cabot-Fit_Team

So I was really excited and scared. I have been so focused on BodyPump in the last six months, that lately running has not really been that much a part of my fitness profile. Okay, non-existant. Besides the BodyPump thing, running in Vermont in the winter is kinda lame. So that very day I found out, while I was still in the tropics I hit the road. I think I did three miles, and I felt like I was going to pass out. It was…not so easy. It was…humbling. My hip had been bothering me a lot before we even left for Grand Cayman, so I was really careful not to do too much. I am naturally slow.  Plus it was like a million degrees and lets be honest here, I just wanted to be drinking Caybrew Lagers in the Jacuzzi.

The last half I ran was two years ago. Here is a pic from that day. Um, that wasn’t two hundred years ago right?

half-marathon training plan on Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Training Plan and Long Runs

Anyway, once I got home I came up with a plan for my running and how it could fit in with my other workouts.


This is the plan I came up with:

Sunday: Teach BodyPump

Monday: Training session, focus on heavy weights, low reps and interval work. Gyrotonics and yoga (more on that below)

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: Teach BodyPump and short easy run

Thursday: Speedwork or Interval class with sprints

Friday: Teach Bodypump

Saturday: Long Run

Doable right? I started right off with doing one six miler each weekend, and by mid-March I started to add a mile on each week. Yesterday I did a 10.2 miles run. I meant to do 11, but my ankle and hamstring were really bothering me, so I decided not to push it.



Which brings me to the fact that I also started going to Andrea who is helping me with my postural realignment. That’s what I do on Mondays after working out. I tend to be a little stronger on one side than the other. Doing so much exercise can really exacerbate the problem for me, so she has been helping me stay out of the injury zone. She has me doing work on a gyrotonic device. It is pretty awesome. She is really tuned in to every little thing. She makes me do all sorts of physical therapy type exercises, and I have homework every day, which is really hard for me to make myself do, but it helps so much. Ahhh, I should be doing that right now!


Speed Work

I also have been doing speed work almost every week. I started with 400 meter repeats, and now I am up to 800 meter repeats. I generally dislike speed work. But lately I have been listening to a Pandora station that I seeded with DJ Bam Bam and trancing out while I sprint on the treadmill. I’m not joking. It is totally fine if you think I am a big dork. I am. But really it is kinda awesome actually. I felt like a machine when I did it last week. I did five 800s and then afterwards I did three rounds of as many pull-ups as I could (and then jumping up negatives) 25 push-ups and 16 sprinter sit-ups. I was so sore for three days afterwards, but I live for that kinda stuff. Well that and dark chocolate. Sad but true.

Sunflower Seed, banana, cranberry protein balls. Gluten-free, vegetarian and nut free via

Speaking of being sore. With all of this training I am doing, I have been thinking a lot about muscle recovery. And what appears in the mail a few weeks ago? A big blue bag of Cabot Whey Protein.

Sunflower Seed, banana, cranberry protein balls. Gluten-free, vegetarian and nut free via

Though I am more likely to get excited about a bowl of Greek yogurt drizzled with local honey than a bag of protein powder, there is some great information out there about whey and its benefits for athletes in general (and specifically those of us who do strength training.) In a nutshell, it is a fast acting protein. So it helps repair muscle, prevent DOMS and it balances negative protein levels after strength training. This article has more on it and it has info to calculate your overall protein needs depending on activity levels.


No this protein didn’t come in my CSA share. But I feel pretty good about the fact that it does come from the same family farms who bring us Cabot cheese. That includes the Webster Family Farm in Danville, VT. That is pretty cool. So I decided to give it a whirl, quite literally, in my food processor, to make these protein balls.

Love this recipe? Here are some more great protein and snack bites recipes!

Vegan Dark Chocolate Walnut Bites they’re super simple and healthy snack and will satisfy your chocolate cravings in only 15 minutes!

These Top 8 Allergen Free Protein Balls look amazing and everyone can enjoy them!

These Coconut Apricot Fig Bites from Lindsay are so easy to make.



sunflower seed protein balls

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 balls 1x
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: American


Gluten free and nut free whey protein balls with sunflower seeds, bananas and dried cranberries.



  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup sunflower seed butter, such as sunbutter preferably organic
  • ¼ cup honey or pure maple syrup, dark or amber
  • 4 scoops unflavored whey protein powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, preferably fruit juice sweetened


  1. Combine banana, sun butter and honey or maple in a food processor fitted with a steel blade attachment. Process to combine. Add whey, coconut flour, cinnamon and salt and process until it forms a dense paste. Add sunflower seeds and cranberries and pulse until incorporated. Roll into 24 balls, about 1 ½ tablespoons each. Freeze in a re-sealable bag to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature before eating.


  • Serving Size: 1 ball
  • Calories: 98
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 35 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 5 g

Disclosure: I was not compensated by Cabot Creamery Cooperative for this post or to be on the Cabot Fit Team. I received a free sample of the Whey protein from Cabot. All opinions expressed here are my own.