Crispy Lentil Bites Revisited

You might accuse me of cheating here, but I’m going to jump back two weeks to discuss the Crispy Lentil Bites that I introduced two weeks ago. I’ll probably lose your trust even more thoroughly when I admit that when I first wrote that entry, I had not yet actually conjured up any of these items in the kitchen. Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s get on to the matter at hand. Having now made two batches, totaling three recipes, I can speak as something of an authority on these balls, drawing three useful conclusions.

First, my initial effort at the CLBs–you have to admit that Crispy Lentil Bites is an absurd mouthful–yielded only 18 balls. I puzzled over this, wondering if my CLBs were 1/7 larger than the ones the recipe’s author had made. I also noticed that my results were not only not freakishly spherical like the photo, but they were considerably darker. Frankly, they looked like no-bake cookies to me, which did not keep me from eating them.

As I put my Chocolatey Crispy Lentil Bites (CCLBs) into the fridge, I realized the reason both for the shortage and for the color. I’d neglected to put in the two cups of oats. The result? I had CCLBs that were much more like a dessert than a healthy snack. Also, since the calorie hit from the oats amounts to roughly half of the total in that recipe, I reduced the calories in the CCLBs considerably. My calculations have the oat-free version coming in at about 78 calories per bite vs. the 111 of the original recipe.  That’s almost a 30% drop!

Second, Penny and I made a double recipe of CLBs, being careful to include the oats this time. The resulting mixture did not hold together nearly as well as the CCLBs had, but once they had been refrigerated for a couple of hours, they easily formed into a tidy, oat-encrusted ball. Again, ours were not nearly as perfectly spherical as the ones in the original photo, but I’m not planning on entering any professional chef competitions.

Second, in the process of creating these CLBs, Penny thought that they would make a good on-the go breakfast. To that end, she bagged them up in groups of three. Since we got 47 balls out of a double recipe, the calorie count per item came in at 98. That gives us a 300-calorie breakfast that can be pulled out of the refrigerator and eaten in the car if needed. For my tastes, the carbs are a bit high at 15g, but that’s a good bit less than my typical breakfast of raisin bran.

Finally, I did a bit of calculation on the economics of the CLB. My initial grocery run for this recipe was a bit shocking as I had to buy a number of items that we don’t typically keep in our pantry. My initial thought was, “Wow! These things are expensive.” Then I worked up a spreadsheet demonstrating how much each ingredient contributed to the price. A couple of the prices were estimated. The “Recipe Amt” is the percentage of the package used in a single recipe.

Pkg Cost Pkg Amt Recipe Amt Recipe Cost
Lentils 1.46 16 oz 0.25 $0.37
Coconut Oil 6.48 16 oz 0.01 $0.06
Coconut Sugar 4.48 16 oz 0.073 $0.02
Coconut Flour 5.58 16 oz 0.092 $0.03
Oats 3.00 42 oz 0.133 $0.40
Coconut shred 2.82 16 oz 0.65 $0.18
Pumpkin Sds 2.44 12 oz 0.166 $0.41
Chc Chips 1.86 16 oz 0.125 $0.23
Peanut Btr 3.00 40 oz 0.088 $0.34
Honey 6.00 24 oz 0.235 $1.42
Recipe Cost $3.45
Per Ball Cost $0.15

Again, these numbers might be a bit off, but they shouldn’t vary by more than 50 cents total. This puts the entire recipe at $3.45 or $.15 per ball. Penny’s three-ball breakfasts will cost us a whopping $.45! That’s cheaper than my Costco-purchased raisin bran before the milk is added!