LITTLE BALLS OF ENERGY

HARNESSING SOME ENERGY!

HARNESSING SOME ENERGY!

What better way to nourish your kids and harness their endless energy than getting them into the kitchen with you making energy balls! As most parents know, the time between 3 and 6pm can often be chaotic, as kids are worn out and overstimulated from school, but dinner still needs to get made, homework done and often there is some other activity that needs to be attended to, like gymnastics or soccer. Not to mention they are hungry after school and they need to eat something that will give them some immediate fuel but also not fill them up too much before dinner.

Well on a day that doesn't involve chauffeuring them around and the spring rain is falling and preventing you from getting outside, find a kitchen activity to create and harness energy in one fell swoop! This recipe is so straightforward that the kids can do it without much adult supervision as there is no use of the oven or any sharp utensils. Plus it has chocolate in it so you know they're going to buy in to helping! It's also incredibly adaptable to what you have on hand in your pantry (or if your family has an allergy to contend with).

Getting kids cooking is so key to helping them develop a connection to their food and gain essential skills to carry them through life. And you can start at any age!

Check out these videos to see my 2 year old helping make muffins and frittata: http://www.bettertogetherbc.ca/contest/video/nora-makes-muffins

http://www.bettertogetherbc.ca/contest/video/nora-makes-frittata

She was cracking eggs, stirring, pouring and tearing leaves at age 2. Now that she's 8 years old, she uses a knife safely, flips pancakes like a pro, presses her own tortillas and even makes a couple signature dishes...deviled eggs and kale chips! And I've let her take over my Tofu 101 recipe (see my earlier post) as she is mostly vegetarian and sometimes needs her own protein source for a family meal. She literally takes work off my plate! Maybe she'll even do a guest blog one day...

And a quick aside--this contest is just getting underway for this year! We've had so much fun doing it as a family and even won the popular vote in 2014! http://www.bettertogetherbc.ca/contest/video/make-funny-faces-on-homemade-corn-tortillas-bean-heads. I highly recommend entering a video or at least supporting with your votes!

Anyway, back to the ball of energy...my son Max! He's a little harder to wrangle in the kitchen but he can focus in when he wants to. And does he ever need these kinds of snacks in the freezer. He's just like his dad...wakes up hungry and doesn't stop eating until his head hits the pillow! Nuts and seeds are absolutely essential for us to have on hand for their nutrient density, portability and because they can fill you up fast.

We pack a lot of protein into these by using hemp hearts but if those aren't on hand, any other nut or seed will do. You just might need to pulse them a bit first to make sure they aren't too chunky. The sweetness of these energy balls come from nutritious, high-fibre and mineral-rich dates. Nature's candy! Pitted, soaked and pureed dates can be the sweet base for so many recipes in place of refined sugar and then you can feel so good about eating a sweet treat. These are not only great for kids--they are a good post-workout snack or mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

ENERGY BALLS

Makes 24 balls

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup cocoa

1 cup hemp hearts

1 cup coconut

1 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Place dates in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over top, covering by an inch. Place a lid over and let soak 15 minutes or longer. Drain but reserve 1/2 cup liquid.

In a food processor, puree dates until smooth, adding liquid as necessary to form a paste. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until a thick, sticky dough is formed. You may need to add the rest of the date liquid.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then scoop approximately 1.5 tablespoons of dough for each ball. You can roll them by hand into balls or leave them more roughly shaped from the scoop.

Place in freezer for minimum 2 hours. Defrost slightly before eating. They should be stored in the freezer and can keep for up to 3 months.

Nutrients (per ball): 210 Calories; 14 g Fat; 18 g Carbs; 4.5 g Fibre; 10 g Sugar; 8 g Protein.

 

 

 

 

Savoury Pancakes! And they happen to be gluten-free...

Korean-style pancakes have been a meal staple in our house for years because they are so adaptable to whatever is on hand in the pantry or fridge and are especially great for using up leftover grains like cooked rice or quinoa. They are fun and impressive to make for guests but also simple enough to do for everyday.

The base is a batter of flour, water, egg and salt. Which flours you use is really up to you! Rice flour is common but if you only have wheat flour on hand, that works too. Recently, we've started adding chickpea or garbanzo bean flour to boost the protein and fibre content. The point being that these pancakes don't need the gluten content of wheat flour to have the texture you need so it's easy to make them gluten-free if you so desire (or require!).

All the other additions to the batter are yours to choose, whether you like your protein from tofu cubes, shrimp or perhaps some shredded leftover meat. The veggies are also adaptable--grated carrot and chopped green onion are classic, but grated zucchini, quartered mushrooms, bell pepper, finely chopped broccoli or shredded cabbage are all delicious! Just be careful not to add much more than the quantities listed below or you may end up without enough batter to hold it all together. Be aware though that once all the ingredients are added, it's not going to look like a breakfast pancake batter...it will be much more chunky! Once it starts cooking, the batter will do it's job of holding it all together.

The dipping sauce is pretty essential to make alongside! Good veggies to balance the meal are something like a coleslaw or kale salad...perhaps with a soy-based dressing and toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1+1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups flour (brown rice, garbanzo, sorghum to be GF and/or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (or quinoa)
  • 1 package (340g) firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or 1/2 lb peeled shrimp)
  • 2 large carrots, grated (or zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, etc.)
  • 1 bunch green onions, both green and white parts, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive or coconut oil

Dipping Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (choose gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch chili flakes

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture. Whisk slowly until well combined and smooth.

3. Add the cooked rice, tofu, carrots and green onions and stir well.

4. Heat a large, well-seasoned skillet over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of the oil. Pour 1 generous cup of the batter in the middle of the pan then spread with a spoon.

5. Turn the heat to medium low and cook pancake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Flip with a spatula and cook on the other side for 5 more minutes.

6. Remove from pan and keep in a warm oven while you continue to cook the rest in the same manner, adding another tbsp of oil if necessary.

7. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together. Serve alongside the pancakes, cut into triangles.

TOFU 101

Tofu is one of those classic vegetarian foods that meat-eaters love to hate on. And I can't blame them, if they've only had lousy tofu. If cooked tofu tastes similar to it's raw state with maybe only a coating of sauce or a deep-fried crust on the outside and no inner flavour permeation, then tofu is not my favourite.

But, it has so much possibility for deliciousness. Tofu is literally a sponge for juicy flavours, if you just give it some time. And this versatile recipe for baked tofu produces a consistently delicious result and is dead simple--in fact, it's a signature dish of my 8 year old daughter! It only takes 5 minutes to put together but needs 45-60 minutes in the oven to soak up the yummy flavour.

We use it in all sorts of ways, primarily variations on a buddha bowl with rice, quinoa or buckwheat, an assortment of cooked and raw veggies and drizzled in some sort of sauce (think peanut or miso tahini). But it's also a great protein (and plant-based calcium source) to include on a salad--vegan caesar maybe? And once cooled a bit, it can be used as a snack or appetizer and dipped in a barbecue or peanut sauce. You can choose your citrus and herbs according to what you're using it for.

For a family of four who also need lunches for the next day, I usually double this recipe, but still cram it in the same size pan. Leftovers will keep for 3 days.

Tofu 101:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 350g package firm tofu (medium or extra firm will give a slightly different texture)
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, rosemary or cilantro, minced (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. water

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375F. 

2. In a 9x13 pan, combine all ingredients except tofu. 

3. Slice tofu in 4 filet pieces, meaning in half lengthwise and then half each of those pieces lengthwise again (or whichever shape you prefer--1 inch cubes, finger-size sticks, etc.)

4. Place in pan and cover with marinade. 

5. Bake for 1 hour flipping pieces halfway through. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving):   190 Calories;  14g Protein; 4.5g Carbohydrate; 2g Fibre; 14g Fat;  582mg Calcium; 2.5mg Iron; 51mg Magnesium; 167mg Phosphorous; 217mg Potassium; 145mg Sodium; 1.4mg Zinc

Baked Tofu, Quinoa & Green Beans

Baked Tofu, Quinoa & Green Beans

TOFU 101

TOFU 101

--Nicole Fetterly, RD