Like all mamas, nutrition is something I think about a lot, and I’m massively conscious of what I’m putting into Henry’s little body. We made the decision not to give him refined sugar until he was 18 months, and today we tend not to keep salty or sugary processed snacks at home.
We try not to label certain foods as ‘treats’, or use food as a reward. It is becoming more difficult as he gets older, as well-meaning relatives and friends will buy Henry chocolate or sweets, and I now understand the meaning of ‘pester power’ when he spots bags of brightly coloured sweets at the supermarket check-out. I do think that young children have a propensity for sweet food, and we try to satisfy this with unrefined sugars such as local honey, maple syrup and dried fruit, and fresh fruit and naturally sweet spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla. Of course, I’m very aware that he would probably choose a bag of Haribo sweets over a handful of dried apricots, and that it will be harder to manage the sugary processed foods he has access to once he starts school next year, but we hope we’re setting a good nutritional foundation at this early stage of his life. At home we have a vegetable garden and lots of fruit trees, we visit local markets often, and we cook and bake together regularly too. We think it is important that Henry understands where food comes from, and is able to take part and enjoy the process of buying or picking food, then preparing and eating it.
This week we made ‘bliss balls’, little bite-sized balls of energy that I’d wanted to try for some time. They’re full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and tend to be free of refined sugars, dairy and gluten too. I’ve seen so many variations, some including creamed coconut, seeds, honey, and peanut or almond butter, but we made ours with some beautiful fat Medjool dates we picked up at our local market, almonds and raw cacao powder, and they really couldn’t have been easier to make.
We took 125g of flaked almonds, whizzed up in a food processor, with 150g of chopped dates before adding 2 tbsp of raw cacao powder and a pinch of sea salt. Then just add a couple of tablespoons of water, a little at a time, until the mixture just binds. We then formed them into balls (sticky and messy – Henry loved this bit) before rolling them in more cacao powder, desiccated coconut, or chia seeds. These quantities should make around 30 balls,and a couple are perfect as a mid-afternoon energy boost, or sweet treat after dinner. Ours were still good after a week in the fridge, in an airtight container, and they can be frozen, too. I imagine they’d be lovely straight from the freezer as a cool summer snack…
Have you tried making bliss balls? Now that we’ve made them once, I’d love to try other recipes.