Miami City Ballet’s Dawn Atkins Shares Her Recipe for Sweet Coconut Protein Balls

November 1, 2023
a blonde woman holding a plate of protein balls
Dawn Atkins with a plate of sweet coconut protein balls. Courtesy Atkins.

“I have a sweet tooth, for sure,” says Dawn Atkins. The recently promoted Miami City Ballet principal searched for a snack to bring to work each day, but struggled to find something that gave her the sugar fix she was craving—and was healthy. “All those protein bars and things were so processed I couldn’t even pronounce half of the ingredients in them, and I didn’t feel great about that,” she says. Atkins started experimenting, and came up with her protein ball recipe. “I’m getting protein not only from the nut butter but from the hemp seed, flaxseed, and oats,” she says. “They give me some beneficial nutrients for the day.”

Atkins’ protein balls are indicative of her greater commitment to eating whole foods. “I’m really mindful of every ingredient,” says Atkins. “I definitely think it’s helped my energy­ levels while I’m dancing.” Atkins and her husband generally cook dinner together while listening to jazz music, using it as an opportunity to connect after long days at work. But even off the stage, Atkins isn’t without an audience: Her two dogs, Chappie and Duke, keep a watchful eye in the kitchen, eagerly waiting for any scraps to fall on the floor.

Meal Kit Maven

Atkins and her husband are subscribers to Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal kit system. “We’re not vegetarians, but I like the aspect of getting a lot of plant-based protein,” says Atkins. “Everything comes pre-portioned, which also creates less waste. We’ve really grown to love it.” Their recent favorite? “Any dish with mafaldine pasta.”


  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (You can swap out for almond butter or another nut butter, depending on your preference.)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (“You can always reduce this if you want less sugar,” says Atkins.)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
a bowl with ingredients, a cup with peanut butter, and a dog in the background
Courtesy Atkins.


  1. Add the oats, peanut butter, maple syrup, mashed banana, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, cacao nibs, and salt to a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Use the back of the spoon to work in the cacao nibs.
  2. Use your hands to roll the dough into approximately 1-inch balls.
  3. On a plate, mix together the hemp seeds and shredded coconut. Roll each ball in the mixture until fully coated.
  4. Place the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.