Monday, 26 February 2018

Cocoa and Coconut Energy Balls

As I read yet another article on the benefits of a good nights sleep, I can't help but think how the chances of me achieving a glorious eight hours of peaceful shut-eye are as likely as the train network running to time (or even at all) in the arctic conditions forecast for this week. 

The last two and half years have been sponsored by caffeine. I am singlehandedly keeping our local coffee shop afloat. Since being back at work I’ve no need to set an alarm clock; the baby has that job between 0430 and 0500 every morning (and always nearer for 0400 on a Sunday).  If another someone says ‘ohh my child has slept through since they were two days old, twelve hours a night GUARANTEED, aren’t I lucky?!’ I cannot be accountable for my actions. 

I have read every book about infant sleep, tried every technique, bought every gadget and gizmo to lull the children into blissful slumber. White noise, massage, stories, light shows, hard core drugs*... I know every excuse for why they don’t sleep and every reason why they really do need to. I'd go as far as saying my specialist subject on mastermind would be surviving two sleep thieves. Except I could never actually go on the programme as the chair looks far too comfortable and I’d have fallen fast asleep by the time the general knowledge questions are asked.

One way of surviving chronic sleep deprivation is enjoying one of these energy balls, a tasty start to each (super early) morning and full of healthy ingredients too.

* Not really, but tempting. Oh so very tempting. 

PS This was written at 0450am. 

Cocoa and Coconut Energy Balls

Makes 18-24

175g cashew nuts
175g pitted Medjool dates
35g cocoa powder
2 tbsps cashew-coconut butter
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
50g desiccated coconut

1. In a large food processor, whizz the cashew nuts until they resemble a super fine powder
2. Add in the dates, cocoa powder, nut butter and flaxseed and blitz again for a good minute or two until thoroughly combined into a paste
3. Either using a couple of teaspoons or your bare hands form the paste into ping-pong sized balls
4. Roll each ball in the coconut
5. Pop in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to chill

Baker's notes...
  • I find these are best enjoyed chilled and store them in the fridge, they last for up to ten days in an airtight container
  • The flaxseed is optional but apparently it has loads of fab health properties 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Pregnancy baking: The best bakes to make in early labour

Don't get me wrong, giving birth to approximately seven and half bags of sugar in one fell push is not exactly a walk in the park. However, in those early stages, when you spend half the time manically googling 'how do I know if I am in labour?' and the other half of the time triple-checking the car is pointing in the correct direction of the hospital, it is rather nice to have something else to occupy an increasingly impatient, restless mind. All the pregnancy books and webpages suggest distraction, such as going for a walk, watching a film but I reckon popping on a pinny could be an alternative.

To reach the dizzy heights of the top of this chart, the bake had to meet three very strict criteria: firstly to be straightforward and simple, secondly to not require any fancy-pants ingredients that may involve schelpping to the supermarket, risking waters breaking in the World Foods aisle and thirdly to be a darn tasty alternative to necking lucazade.

5. Microwave Mug Cake
Should labour turn out to be a movie-style 30 minutes of turning a little red, puffing a few times and then whoosh, out pops your bundle of joy as though the stork does actually exist, then this one is for you. Microwave Mug Cakes had a bit of a thing going on a couple of years ago and there are some rather tasty recipes out there that literally take minutes

4. Welsh Cakes
The process of rubbing the fat into the flour will distract from those twinges/aches/bl**dy agonizing pains plus they last up to a week when stored in a airtight container so a perfect thank you for the midwives or early visitors who want a cuddle with your newborn moppet

3. Flapjacks
Because oats sound healthy and giving of energy to last way into the third stage of labour (there are three stages?! What is this? A particularly lengthy Shakespearean play?). Also fuss-free and pretty foolproof, they are the homely bake you can envisage doing with your baby in a couple of years time (before the reality of sleep deprivation kicks in and you realise the cafe down the road serves perfectly edible versions you can palm off as your own)

2. Chocolate and HoneyComb Peace Cookies
The only reason these have made the list, apart from the fact they are mightily, marvelously delicious biscuits, is the name. In a world of political turmoil and economic uncertainty, I may not guarantee you'll be welcoming your little one into a world of peace and serenity by baking these cookies, but they do make the world taste that bit sweeter.

1. Tiffin (aka Chocolate Refrigerator Cake)
You don't even need to turn the oven on. Plus chocolate is good for the heart, the circulation, is mineral rich and is the ultimate comfort food. But more importantly than all of that, a Finnish study found chocolate in pregnancy keeps the baby happy. And we all want to keep our babies happy, no?

What do you reckon? What have you baked in those early stages of labour?

Happy Baking!