These raw and vegan vanilla goji berry balls with cacao nibs are easy to make with just a few nutritious ingredients.

A plate of goji berry energy balls.

What Are Goji Berries?

Considered both a fruit and a herb, goji berries, sometimes called wolf berries or the Tibetan goji, have long been enjoyed in China and the Himalayas for their sweet taste and medicinal properties.

They’ve been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and Tibetan Medicine includes these berries in the treatment of everything from kidney and liver problems, to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, treat psoriasis, depression, allergies and even insomnia.

A dried goji berry is a little smaller than a raisin or dried cranberry.

A plate of goji berry balls with containers of goji berries and cacoa nibs set around it.

What Do Goji Berries Taste Like?

The flavour of goji berries lands somewhere between a cranberry and a cherry. They’re a little tart, slightly sweet and have a dry, chewy texture. They also contain tiny seeds.

I love the sweet and tart flavour and enjoy them on their own or in salads, smoothies, homemade trail mix, added to baking or used in recipes like these energy balls.

Goji Berry Nutrition Facts

Dried goji berries contain over 20 different vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, as well as a ton of antioxidants.

The nutrition facts can vary slightly depending on freshness and how they’re processed but 1/4 cup of goji berries have roughly:

  • 100 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 13 grams of sugar
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 140% RDA vitamin A
  • 15 times more iron than spinach
  • weight for weight, 500 times more vitamin C than oranges
  • 100% RDA vitamin B2
  • 18 amino acids (11 of which are essential)
  • trace minerals zinc, calcium, phosphorus, selenium
  • ounce for ounce, more beta-carotene than carrots

The goji berry has an ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of 3290. ORAC measures the antioxidant value of various foods. Goji berries fall slightly lower than blueberries and pomegranate but higher than apples and raisins. Goji berries stand apart however in that they contain 18 amino acids, 11 of which are “essential” and the body can’t make on its own.

It’s important to eat a wide range of foods with a high ORAC value not only for their ability to fight free radicals in the body but for their other important nutritional properties as well. The key is to eat the rainbow on a daily basis!

Overhead shot of goji berry balls on a plate.

Health Benefits Of Goji Berries

Just like blueberries, pomegranates and other antioxidant-rich fruits, there are many health benefits you can enjoy by including goji berries in your diet. Not only that, they taste great and are easy to include in your diet.

  1. Boost immunity. Thanks to high levels of antioxidants and nutrients, goji berries help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body.
  2. Fight disease. Goji berries contain high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, two key nutrients to building immunity and fighting disease. The polyphenols found in goji berries could help protect against the development of cancer. These antioxidants diminish and repair cell damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress.
  3. Healthy skin. High levels of betacarotene help promote healthy skin and protect against skin cancer by preventing the oxidative damage caused by UV radiation.
  4. Healthy eyes. With high levels of antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, goji berries may help stop the damage from UV light exposure, free radicals and oxidative stress making them important in protecting the eyes from age-related disease. 
  5. Better mood. One study showed that after drinking goji berry juice for 15 days, participants reported perceived improved levels of energy, less fatigue and stress, quality of sleep and feelings of happiness.

How To Use Goji Berries

Goji berries are typically found dried, just like a raisin or cranberry. You can eat them as is or soak them in hot water first if you prefer.

They can be baked, cooked or processed in any way after they are washed. I love them as a topping for smoothie bowls, oatmeal, coconut yogurt and salads or just enjoyed on their own as a healthy snack.

I love them mixed with nuts and cacao nibs for an energizing snack or used in recipes like granola, homemade energy balls and even baking. I also love adding a few tablespoons to a glass of warm lemon water or green tea. After soaking in hot water, they’re plump, juicy and extra delicious!

Close up of a goji berry ball with a bite out of it.

Where to Buy Goji Berries

Goji berries are typically found dried, in packages or sold by weight at health and natural food stores. They’re often found in major grocery stores as well, check in the dried fruit or health food section.

If you can’t find them in your local stores, they’re easy to purchase online through Amazon or other natural food providers. They should be readily available in Asian food stores as well.

Recipe Ingredient Notes

Here’s what you’ll need to make these energy balls:

  1. Goji berries. You’ll need dried goji berries for this recipe. They’re a little smaller than a raisin and pinkish-red in colour.
  2. Cacao nibs. Instead of chocolate chips or dark chocolate, this recipe calls for the real thing: raw cacao nibs. If you prefer something sweeter, you can use chopped dark chocolate or your favourite dairy-free chocolate chips instead of cacao.
  3. Dates. Dates make up the base of this recipe and hold it all together. You can use any kind of date to make these, just make sure they’re fairly soft. If your dates are very dry, you can soak them in hot water for 10 minutes and drain before using.
  4. Cashews. You’ll need plain, unroasted, unsalted cashews for this recipe. While not technically a raw cashew, they’ll be labeled as raw cashews. Their soft texture and mild flavour is perfect for energy balls.
  5. Vanilla. The vanilla extract is optional but the flavour is nice a nice compliment to the cacao and goji berry.
Goji berries, dates, cashews and cacao nibs in a blender.
Raw energy ball dough in a bowl.
A plate of goji berry energy balls.

Vanilla Goji Berry Balls Recipe

These easy, no-bake energy balls are the perfect way to try adding goji berries to your diet. You only need 4 simple ingredients to make them and they’re vegan, oil-free, gluten-free and have no added sugar.

More No-Bake Energy Balls

Here are some more yummy no-bake balls you’ll love:

For a variation of this recipe, try these Coconut Goji Berry Bliss Balls!

Print
A plate of goji berry energy balls.

Vanilla Goji Berry Balls

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 12 balls 1x
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Raw

These no-bake energy balls are packed with nutrients thank to superfoods like goji berries and cacao.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and mix until it forms a dough.
  2. Roll into 10-12 balls and store in the freezer.

Keywords: no-bake, oil-free, healthy, easy

This post was originally published on September 15, 2016. It was updated in February 2020 with new text and photos.