Big healthy balls

The original intent of this post was not to highlight men’s health. However, seeing as we are still in the month of November it does seem appropriate to touch briefly (yes, figuratively speaking) upon this subject. November is the chosen month of The Movember Foundation, a global charity that focuses on encouraging men to live longer, happier and healthier lives. Founded in 2003 and focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity, they have raised over $685 million dollars. This has been through the growing of moustaches for thirty days in ‘Movember’ or something called MOVE. A thirty day physical fitness challenge. An awesome effort in my opinion.

Having witnessed the devastation that cancer can wreak and the heartbreak that suicide brings to all, I say ‘balls’ to the bad old days of men just ‘pushing through and getting on with it’. If you are a man, go get those regular doctors checks and let us all start more open dialogues regarding men’s health and mental well being. Discussing emotions and seeking professional help when needed, is not just for chicks. As my young lads grow into this world, we encourage them to talk about their feelings and try to convey to them that being a man, is not just about showing the world a tough exterior.

Back to the original topic. These date, nut and prune laden ovoid edibles are a delicious healthy bite for those peckish times. Based on a recipe that a friend has been making for a while, I must admit to feeling completely ripped off that they were not her usual scrumptious old school spherical butter, chocolate and biscuit goodies. However, as balls will do (on those of us who are male), they have grown on me.

Adaptations include swapping the oats for gluten free puffed millet, using whatever nuts I had on hand and opening a jar of wondrous Prunes in Vinno Cotto (or vincotto) from the Western Australian Cape Farm Shop. (Given by the mothership after a recent sojourn she enjoyed there.) Vincotto is essentially a condiment made from unfermented grapes that are slowly cooked until they become thick and syrupy. These prunes added a sweet and almost musty piquancy to this unctuous mixture of nuts, fruit and cocoa. You can of course, use regular prunes if you have nothing similar.

Healthy balls, we all need them.

HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DATE AND NUT BALLS

WHAT YOU NEED
1 2/3 cups pecans (original recipe called for 1 cup walnuts and 2/3 cup raw cashews)
2/3 cup 100g almonds (recipe asked for blanched I used regular almonds, skins on)
150g pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes (mine were in vinocotto)
1/3 cup sultannas
1/3 cup tart dried cherries (the original recipe called for 2/3 cup apricots chopped but I used sultannas and cherries)
1/2 cup puffed millet (puffed amaranth or rice would also work)
2 tbl sesame seeds
2 tbl cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 1/4 tsp vanilla essence)
2 tbl honey
1 cup dessicated coconut

HOW YOU DO IT

Place the pecans and almonds (or whatever nuts you have chosen) into a frypan and cook over a low to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted.
Using a food processor, process them until finely chopped.
Add the dates, prunes, sultannas, cherries, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla and honey into the food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes until the mixture forms a paste.
Divide the mixture into golf ball sizes (about 50g) and roll into balls. It helps if you lightly moisten your hands before rolling them.
Roll the balls in the coconut and serve.
Store in an airtight container, as we have had extremely hot weather, I refrigerated ours.
Makes 12 balls.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a Jill Dupleix recipe from the Delicious website,

https://au.movember.com/about/foundation

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

http://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/date-nut-beach-balls/67e3e391-4a01-4302-904a-d4583e26ca85

http://capefarmshop.com.au/category/recipes/page/2/


Building windmills millet and rice puff squares

Me: I don’t like it, it’s new.

Kid 1: Stop building walls and build windmills.

I stare agog at this child of mine dispensing wise advice like a miniature life coach. This ‘set in its ways’ brain of mine has forgotten what ‘new’ thing I was alluding to. He was referring to an ancient Chinese proverb that goes ‘when the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills.’ Change is one of the few things in life that is constant. Having always thought of myself as someone adapts to change readily, I was somewhat taken aback. It would seem that ‘wall building’ creeps up on you. Not wanting to be the stubborn person who remains unresponsive to all that is new, I will have to remain vigilant. (In other words, I do not want to become what is commonly known as ‘an old fart’.) I am thankful (mostly), that my Anthony Robbins wannabe son will keep me on the straight and narrow.

One thing that has thus far remained constant, is my love of the ever changing world of food and the brilliant adventure of trying new recipes. My latest cookbook love is The Wholesome Cook, written by Martyna Angelas. The creator of an award-winning blog, her book is chock full of refined sugar-free wholesome recipes. It is a stylish tome full of inspiring photos and a wide range of nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals. Her sensible philosophy really resonates with me. She acknowledges that no single diet fits everybody the same and as our environments and bodies change, so should our diet. No wall building going on in this book. Some of my earmarked recipes include the Polish gingerbread cake, the double chocolate and caramel popcorn cake, kale and cashew pesto, the fennel, ginger and turmeric soup and the sweet and sour lamb riblets. My mouth is watering already.

This nifty little snack lives up to its promise. A few changes were made to the original recipe but this was merely due to the fact that I wanted to use whatever I had on hand. It is a grown up, healthy-err, gluten free version of salted caramel rice bar. The tangy fruit adds a zesty brightness to it. Moreish, chewy and a new favourite for the adults in our household.

MILLET AND RICE KRISPIE SQUARES, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
3 cups gluten free crispy rice cereal (I used wholegrain brown rice puffs)
1/2 cup puffed millet (the recipe calls for puffed quinoa)
3 tbl dried blueberries or cranberries (I used tart dried cherries, chopped)
1/2 cup hulled tahini (I used unhulled as its all I had)
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 1/2 tsp salt (optional, I used 1 tsp, this gives it the salted caramel flavour, the recipe says its optional, I highly recommend going the salt route)
1 tbl (15g) raw cacao butter (I used unsalted butter)

HOW YOU DO IT
Line a 29cm square baking tin with baking paper.
Place rice cereal, puffed millet and dried fruit into a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine tahini, rice malt syrup, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan.
Melt, stirring gently over low heat until all ingredients are blended together. Do not boil. Add cacao butter (butter) and whisk until melted.
Pour warm mixture over rice cereal mixture and mix well. (Move fast while the mixture is still warm.)
Transfer to prepared tin and press into the base, corners and edges. I used my small off-set spatula to do this.
Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before slicing into squares. We kept our squares refrigerated.

Recipe from The Wholesome Cook by Martyna Angell, published by Harlequin, October 2015

http://wholesome-cook.com