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Health Lab Protein Balls & Pana Chocolate Review for Natural Things NZ

I’m all for carrying snacks and having something stashed away in my handbag that’s healthy and delicious for when hunger strikes. This has become more important for me as my belly has grown with this wee bundle and there is less room for food, especially at meal times. I’ve learnt the hard way that eating little and often whilst pregnant is the way to go! Even if you’re not pregnant, this style of eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day is often a good strategy for those that find themselves over-eating at meal times as a result of extreme hunger. For clients that have this issue, I often recommend eating every three or so hours to help keep hunger at bay and blood sugar levels stable.


Health Lab Protein Balls are such delicious wee morsels but they pack a hefty nutrient punch which is what you want in a snack. Made with natural ingredients and free from gluten and refined sugar, they are conveniently packaged in one serve portions that you can keep in your bag, your car glove box or your gym bag for when you’re needing a snack between meals. I also love to take these hiking with me or on long hill walks so that I have something if and when I need it knowing that it won’t get squashed or spill throughout my bag. They are also small and incredibly light so they don’t take up much space. I’m imagining they will be great in a baby nappy bag too!

These raw protein balls vary in energy between 713kJ to 781kJ per serve which is the perfect snack size, especially for those of us that are active. The balls contain between 5.3g and 5.7g of protein per serve which will make a valuable contribution to your daily protein intake. Protein is vital to ensure food satisfies and to keep your blood sugar levels stable. It also provides valuable amino acids to support muscle repair and recovery. It is recommended that protein intake is broken up and enjoyed throughout the day in meals and snacks, rather than waiting until the evening and having a huge protein serve at dinner time to meet your daily needs. Including a source of protein at every meal and snack is the way to go and Health Lab protein balls certainly help out at snack time in this area! Research has found that if you don’t eat enough protein throughout the day you often try and make up for this missed protein by eating more food in the form of carbohydrates and fat which can often lead to an over consumption of total daily energy (i.e. you just end up eating more calories than you need on that day!). However, including sufficient protein throughout the day counteracts this and will help to support a healthy body weight.

I tried the following Health Lab Protein Balls:

1. Energise: Choc Protein Ball

This is my absolute favourite. I remember hiking through the Abel Tasman National Park with a pack on my back that felt like it weighted as much as the entire country! After hiking for hours and being just 7Km from our lunch spot, my sister and I stopped for a much-needed re-fuelling pitt stop where I enjoyed this scrumptious snack that literally kept me going until lunch. The satisfaction of enjoying such a delicious snack was as beneficial as the nutrients hit itself! This is the ball for chocolate lovers as it’s dark and rich from the addition of organic raw cacoa powder.

2. The 3pm: Almond Protein Ball

Almonds are one of of my favourite nuts and are a wonderful source of antioxidant-rich Vitamin E. As the name suggests, the combination of almonds, whey protein and natural sweetness from the dates and cranberries make this ball an ideal afternoon bite to eat when your mind is telling you to visit the vending machine. Trust me when I say you’ll feel a lot better after a Health Lab protein ball than you will after a sickly sweet chocolate bar. Remember food is meant to make you feel better after eating it, not worse!

3. Recover: The Peanut Butter Protein Ball

I’ll admit I’m a HUGE peanut butter fan so this one had me at its name but with almost 6g of protein per serve, it can become a nutritious part of a recovery snack to support muscle repair and recovery immediately following exercise, especially when you can’t eat a meal straight away. I’d have it with a glass of milk to provide extra protein as well as carbohydrates that are needed to replenish muscle fuel stores also. Alternatively, you can pack a banana in your gym bag to enjoy alongside it.

Natural Things NZ are proud distributors of a range of certified organic and natural products so you can be sure that what you find on their website will support you to enjoy a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. You can find out more about Health Lab Protein Balls on the Natural Things NZ website here.


There was a time in this pregnancy that I couldn’t stomach chocolate and it was all about the cheese! While cheese has remained, my love for good-quality dark chocolate has returned much to my delight.

Pana Chocolate is raw, organic and made without dairy, soy, gluten or refined sugar so it is a great alternative for those with dietary requirements who still want to enjoy an anti-oxidant rich treat.

Because it’s raw and made with a high percentage of cacao butter, Pana Chocolate has a buttery-like texture, much softer to bite and each piece can be left to gently melt away on your tongue if you choose to savour the flavour or can be eaten in small bites while admiring the dark chocolate pigments gathering on your fingers.

Pana Chocolate is something I enjoy when I’m craving something sweet at the end of a meal, often after lunch or dinner. Because it’s so rich and decadent you only need a small amount (1-2 squares) which means the box lasts longer and you can develop a healthy relationship with chocolate treats.

I so often see women who have developed a negative relationship with foods such as chocolate and will often ban such foods. This only leads to them craving chocolate more and in time results in a blow-out of an entire king block of chocolate consumed amidst feelings of guilt and disgust. This then leads them to swear they will never eat chocolate again! And so the cycle beings again... Whereas, with dark chocolate such as Pana Chocolate that contains a high proportion of good-quality cacao powder, it is pleasantly bitter and less sweet than many other chocolates which helps to control our intake – we are often satisfied with less. This means, we can enjoy a small amount of good quality chocolate in amongst a day of nutritious foods knowing that foods that are both good for the body and the soul are important for our existence! Two squares of Pana Chocolate only provides around ~340kJ which means it can easily be enjoyed by everyone, even those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight.

I tried the Sour Cherry & Vanilla flavour which is just delicious because in every bite, you get a burst of sour cherry to refresh the palate. The Raw Cacao flavour is my absolute favourite. It's so simple and classically die-hard dark chocolate but boy it is good! It's extremely satisfying, providing a real chocolate hit.

What I love about Pana Chocolate, like I mentioned above is that you can enjoy a small amount of good quality raw organic chocolate knowing you will feel satisfied and pleasured by what you have just eaten without damaging your intake of nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Pana Chocolate also supports ethical and sustainable sources of income for local workers, so you can be assured that their raw materials are sourced straight from the country of origin with majority of their main ingredients being branded fair-trade.

I love that Pana Chocolate is committed to ensuring that everyone involved in the production and supply is receiving higher than market price for their goods and services. In today’s society where this is so often cast-aside as companies focus on their bottom line, individuals and families who work so hard yet have so little miss out on well–earned, valuable income. Well done Pana Chocolate – amazingly delicious RAW chocolate as well as rewarding those that work so hard to provide you with the best possible raw ingredients.

You can find out more about Pana Chocolate on the Natural Things NZ website here.

Thank you to the lovely Natural Things NZ team for sending me two of my favourite snacks and treats to review - yum! Emily xx

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