Sunbutter Energy Balls – Gluten and Nut Free

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energy balls in a white bowl on a towel

These sunbutter energy balls use sunflower seed butter and pumpkin seeds for a protein-rich snack that’s perfect for traveling or work. They’re easy to make, gluten free, and allergy & migraine-friendly.

Nut Free Energy Balls – A Perfect Elimination Diet Snack

The irony of this post is I am writing to you while recovering from a migraine that popped up from a combination of air travel, barometric pressure drop, and altitude change all in one day and I don’t have much energy at all. Wish I had some of these balls around to help!

This recipe was a staple that I could trust when I first started the Heal Your Headache Diet. One of the key pieces to sticking to the diet is having safe, ready-to-go foods for when you’re starving and don’t have the time to cook. I would keep these in the fridge or freezer and could have 1-2 as a snack to hold me over till I could make something. I also made a batch of these to take with me on my first long flight since being diagnosed with chronic vestibular migraine. Because I was really nervous about testing myself with a 7 hour flight from Dallas to Hawaii, I wanted to stick to the diet as closely as possible to reduce any extra triggers I could.

Clearly airlines aren’t going to be accommodating to an odd diet, especially when you’re flying coach! I racked my brain for anything that would be ok at room temperature and came up with these energy balls as well as a quinoa salad. Although I picked up a cold on that plane I miraculously did not pick up a migraine!

a spoon dipped into trader joe's sunbutter jar

Tips For Nut Free Energy Balls

Sunflower seed butters can be tricky and they come in a wide range of flavors, even though it’s essentially the same thing. My personal favorites are: 

1. Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Spread (Yellow/Green Container) – This one is slightly salted (100mg) with no added sugar. I literally eat it by the spoonfuls as a quick “breakfast” before a workout when I don’t want to eat a full meal. It tastes like salted, toasted sunflower seeds to me.
2. Sunbutter Organic – Sugar and salt free, yet creamy and slightly sweet. I find this one best for baking and using in dessert recipes. It has zero sodium so you may need added salt when cooking or a pinch to these energy balls. 

If sunflower seed butter isn’t your thing, you can try pumpkin seed butter or even watermelon seed butter, like this kind from 88 acres.

How to Store Sunflower Seed Energy Balls

To store, I like to keep these in the freezer. At room temperature, they can get too soft. If you plan to have them on the go, this gives them a little time to defrost. 

Additional Ingredients

These are also kind of sweet so I tend to think of them as a little dessert, although I’m sure some of you would smack me for that assessment. For that crew, you can add white chocolate to it to make it a little more dessert like. Did you know white chocolate is actually safe for people with migraine? It’s not considered genuine chocolate because it does not contain the chocolate solids that dark or milk chocolate would. Therefore white chocolate does not have the high tyramine or caffeine content. I like Ghirardelli’s brand or these. The soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier and should not be confused with the more common trigger, soy protein.

5 from 3 votes
energy balls in a white bowl on a towel
Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Energy Balls
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
Chill Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins

These allergy friendly energy balls are perfect to store in the freezer for a grab-and-go snack or quick, light breakfast. Use sunflower seed butter, watermelon seed butter, or pumpkin seed butter!

Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Sunbutter Balls
Servings: 20 balls
Calories: 92.8 kcal
Author: The Dizzy Cook
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup gluten free oats I like Trader Joes
  • 1/2 cup sunbutter I like Trader Joes or Sunbutter Organic brand
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp alcohol free vanilla
  • 1/4-1/2 cup HYH safe white chocolate (OPTIONAL) Ghirardelli is safe
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Honestly, It's easier to use your hands and just mush it all together. 

  2. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 min. If mixture is too sticky, add more oats. If mixture is too dry, add more sunbutter.

  3. Form into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls and store in the freezer. 

Recipe Notes
  • My favorite sunflower seed butter is either Sunbutter Brand or Trader Joe's. See the post for more options, like pumpkin seed butter.
  • If using a sodium free brand, a pinch of salt would work really well in this mixture. 
Nutrition Facts
Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Energy Balls
Amount Per Serving (1 ball)
Calories 92.8 Calories from Fat 46
% Daily Value*
Fat 5.12g8%
Saturated Fat 0.59g4%
Sodium 1.64mg0%
Potassium 52.6mg2%
Carbohydrates 10.25g3%
Fiber 1.26g5%
Sugar 4.76g5%
Protein 2.74g5%
Vitamin A 3.38IU0%
Vitamin C 0.18mg0%
Calcium 19.69mg2%
Iron 0.78mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.


  1. Brittany Moffatt

    5 stars
    These are freakin’ amazing! So good and filling. They are a great snack for my husband and I even enjoy them too!! I have already made these three times. Last time I did a double batch and we just keep them in the freezer. I have found that if you let them sit and room temp for 15-30 min they are a little easier to form into balls. We have not added the chocolate (I want to but my husband who these are primarily for is not a big chocolate person) but I am sure they would be even more delicious with it added.


    1. Alicia

      Thanks for your review, Brittany! Great tip on the room temp!


  2. Dana

    I’m going to make these today! I only have vanilla extract with alcohol though – is that okay, or will it taste terrible?


    1. Alicia

      Hi Dana – it will be just fine! I used to worry about it in the beginning since you’re supposed to avoid alcohol, but it’s such a small amount that I haven’t heard complaints from anyone. I hope you enjoy! These have been a huge hit with my friends.


  3. Kathryn

    5 stars
    These are so delicious! Just made my third batch


    1. Alicia

      Yay, thanks for letting me know, Kathryn!


  4. Erica

    5 stars
    These are really fantastic! Great go-to snack when I’m starving while cooking (normal for me) or feeling that low energy drop mid day.


  5. Jelena Baras

    I can’t have oats, is there something else I could substitute instead of oats here?
    Thank you


    1. Alicia

      Oh that’s a tough one. If you’re not new to a migraine diet, I would say flaked coconut. But other than that, you may want to give this grain free granola a try instead.


  6. Nancy PanyonFick

    I love these. I swear I make these at least bi-weekly. I bring them to work and keep in the freezer and them have a couple every day with my morning tea. It’s like a wonderful little sweet treat. Yes, I make mine with the white chocolate chips.


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