Cherry Ripe Power Balls

Growing up, our family had a regular Sunday night ritual. After dinner, Dad would present four chocolates of different varieties to the family, with instructions that we could each choose one. We’d then sit down to some TV time as a family, and noting the era, we probably watched an episode of The Wonder Years, Xena Warrior Princess or, perhaps, Home Improvement.

Generally Dad presented a mars bar, a crunchie bar, a picnic and a cherry ripe. Or, if he was feeling particularly creative, maybe a curly wurly or a kit kat.  And generally there were no arguments when it came time to choose, with each family member having their preferred variety of sugar hit.

Dad would take the picnic bar, Mum would take the cherry ripe, and my brother and I would negotiate over whatever was left.

Although, if we were to have that ritual these days, I would almost certainly opt for the cherry ripe.

For dark chocolate + cherries = yes please!

These tasty little cherry ripe power balls use dates, dried cherries, coconut and cocoa to create a flavour combination that is not all that dissimilar to the ol’ cherry ripe bar.  They are rich, but not overly sweet.

They are, however, a lot healthier and definitely lunchbox friendly – as well as a tasty snack to reach for throughout the day.

What about you? What is your favourite chocolate bar?

Print Recipe
Cherry Ripe Power Balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until well combined.
  2. Shape and roll into balls, and place on a paper-lined plate. Store in the fridge.
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School Lunchbox Ideas – The Kindergarten Version

When Miss C started school this year, so did the school lunch box requirements.  Her previous day-care supplied meals, and pre-school only required limited packed food, but starting kindergarten meant that she had to take a full packed lunch everyday. Actually –  it is more like morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea – with pretty strict school requirements on what can and cannot be sent. Anything with nuts is banned, (although I think that is pretty usual these days), pre-packaged food should be avoided and there must be a piece of fresh fruit for the appropriately named ‘fruit break’ in the morning.*

Needless to say I am slowly but surely figuring our what works, and what doesn’t, and am always on the lookout for ideas to keep her lunchbox selections varied. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of days when a vegemite sandwich and whatever fruit I can find lurking in the bottom of the fridge make an appearance, but for the most part I’m lucky that Miss C will generally eat most of what I pack – whatever that might be.

For example, here are Miss C’s lunches from last week:

Day 1: Apple for morning tea, ham and cheese sandwich, cucumber, carrots and sultanas for lunch, and some homemade muesli bars for afternoon tea.

Day 2: Grapes for morning tea, rice crackers with jam, berries and lamington balls for lunch, banana for afternoon tea.

Day 3:  Sliced oranges for morning tea, pasta (leftover from dinner the night before), grapes, dried apricots and a few pretzels for lunch, popcorn for afternoon tea.

Day 4: Banana for morning tea, ham, cheese and lettuce roll ups, cucumber, homemade muesli bar and blueberries for lunch, cheese and crackers for afternoon tea.

Day 5:  Sliced apple for morning tea, a “monster” cheese sandwich, carrots, cucumber and lamington balls for lunch, and popcorn for afternoon tea.

So there you have it – a week of school lunches!

So what generally works for us?

  • Fresh fruit – generally apples, grapes, pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, berries, watermelon and stone fruit (when in season).
  • Vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers (cherry tomatoes will be sent home uneaten)
  • Plain popcorn, dried fruit, pretzels, muesli bars, home-baked goods for snacks
  • Leftover pasta
  • Cheese and crackers and homemade biscuits

What I try to send but comes back uneaten (accompanied with a look of disgust from Miss C)?

  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Snowpeas
  • Dips

(ps. While I’m all for healthy foods for all, I must say, the ‘rules’ and ‘restrictions’ were quite confronting when we first started packing lunches**, particularly as we are a household that tries to practice the ‘everything in moderation’ mantra. I can only imagine what would be said if I sent Miss C with the sort of lunch that I took to school as a kid. For I suspect that a squashed vegemite sandwich (flattened by the apple that was put in the same brown paper bag), an OJ prima and a mini bag of crisps would probably not cut it.  And let’s not even mention the sneaky Big M and chocolate jam donut from the canteen….)

* I had the ‘audacity’ to send tinned fruit for morning tea a while back – and received a ‘friendly reminder’ of this fact. Yes the school lunch mafia is reaI, people!

** ie. the tinned fruit school lunch mafia….

What about you? Got any lunchbox tips?

Healthy Lamington Balls

This week’s healthy lunchbox treat was named by Miss C. For she is a big fan of lamingtons, and declared these little balls to be rather similar to lamingtons when I packed some in her lunchbox.

But, unlike their cake counterparts, these little balls have no butter, sugar or flour. Rather, they are sweetened with medjool dates, and given their chocolate flavour with some cacao powder.

Some I rolled in coconut….

Others I kept ‘plain’…

But both came together beautifully, and we now have a big bowl of these lamington balls in the fridge to ‘grab and go’ when the afternoon slump hits.

Kid approved!

Print Recipe
Healthy Lamington Balls
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the oats and sunflower seeds in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add the dates, coconut, honey, chia seeds, coconut oil and cacao powder- and process until combined. Add a little water if you think the mixture needs more liquid.
  3. Roll into balls (and coat with extra coconut if you like). I wet my hands a little to help with this step.
Recipe Notes

These balls are best stored in the fridge.

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Apricot and white chocolate bars

After the success of last week’s school snack baking session, I was eager to add another homemade treat to our list.

As Miss C, in particular, is a big fan of dried apricots, I hoped that an apricot treat would be well received. While she was a little hesitant to try these apricot and white chocolate bars at first, they did not return home when I packed a couple in her lunchbox – so I’m calling it a win (either that or a school buddy had an extra snack that day). Either way, the speed at which they are disappearing from our kitchen counter suggests that they may also be a hit with the older members of our family…

Somewhere between a bar and a cake, these treats are sweetened simply with a little brown sugar and white chocolate.  They may not be the ‘healthiest’, as such, but they are not overly sweet and the ingredient list is modest.

They slice nicely too, making them perfect to pack into little lunchboxes, and could easily be jazzed up with the addition of walnuts or the like (if you don’t have any school nut-bans to be mindful of, that is). 

Oh and in case you were wondering, I most certainly had my little kitchen helper on hand when making these too!

Apricot and white chocolate bars (makes 18)

  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 120g butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a slice tray.
  2. Place apricots and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer until the water has been absorbed. Add the butter and brown sugar, and cook over a low heat – stirring – until the butter and sugar have melted.
  3. Combine the flour and oats in a mixing bowl. Add the apricot mixture and stir to combine.  Fold through the chocolate bits.
  4. Press into lined pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice.

Healthier Honey Bubble Bars

Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I’m keen to get back into the kitchen. To develop new recipes, and generally get creative!

In particular, I want to create some lunchbox treats. Lately I’ve been relying on pre-packaged snacks all too often for the kids, and their ingredient list is far from desirable.

So with the rain falling heavily outside the other day, I got to work on my first lunchbox treat.

A healthier honey bubble bar.

As soon as I began pulling bowls out of the drawer, Little J arrived curiously at the kitchen bench. Actually, she is quite the shadow when I am in the kitchen, always eager to help out. And this being a no-bake treat, well that was just perfect for little hands!

I measured out the ingredients, and she poured them all into a big bowl and gave them a good stir. “Pat-pat-patting” the slice into the baking tin was also a big hit.

In the mix? Puffed rice, shredded coconut, chia seeds, sunflower kernels, butter and honey. Oh some chocolate chips for a little indulgence too.

Pressed into a lined tray, and allowed to firm up overnight in the fridge.

The following day, it was simply a matter of slicing the mixture into bars.

The bars were sweet, without being over-sweet, although I made the rookie mistake of adding the chocolate chips before the melted butter and honey (ie. the chocolate melted).

The honey also made the bases a little sticky,  so I wrapped each bar in some baking paper for ease of transport.

And just like that, my baking mojo has officially returned! Not to mention being able to share some time in the kitchen with Little J.

Stay tuned for more lunchbox treats in the weeks to come!

Healthier Honey Bubble Bars

  • 4 cups puffed rice
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 3 tbs sunflower seeds
  • 1.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 125g butter
  • 220g honey
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Grease and line a slice tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine the puffed rice, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the butter and honey in the microwave until melted and combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to coat the mixture well. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
  4. Press firmly into the lined tray, and place in the fridge overnight to firm.
  5. Remove from the fridge, and cut into slices. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.