Delicious, healthy no-bake energy balls

It is no secret that I cannot survive without snacks. My biggest fear is going somewhere and running out of things to snack on. For a long time, this meant a handbag full of chocolates and biscuits, but recently I’ve been more conscious of what I put in my body and how it affects me. I’ve been trying to avoid too many sugar filled snacks that leave me tired and lethargic after the initial sugar rush. Yet I’m not entirely ready to give up sweet things just yet. So I’ve been experimenting with energy balls as a quick, easy to make, healthier, energy providing alternative. I can’t say I succeeded entirely in making something healthy, but it sure was tasty!

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They’re called energy balls because the main ingredients are often oats and fruit, with either peanut butter or dates to bind everything together. Rather than sugar and chocolate, you can combine healthier alternatives to make a filling and tasty snack. Add to that things like turmeric, chia seeds or even matcha green tea powder and you’ve got healthy goodness, disguised as a sweet treat!

If you’re not too concerned about the health factor, you can just use whatever you have in your kitchen cupboards to create interesting taste combinations.

What I love about making these energy balls:
they’re quick and easy to make
made with accessible ingredients 
no stovetop/oven required
easy to pack for lunches
can be tailored to your diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan) and food allergies 

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For these energy balls, I literally used what I could find in my kitchen. The first batch consisted of a premade granola mix (rolled oats, crispy rice and shredded coconut), peanut butter and dried cranberries.

For the second batch, I substituted the cranberries for pieces of dark chocolate, and a hint of cinnamon. To be honest, I was more interested in how delicious they would taste rather than how healthy they were at this stage. But hey, dark chocolate is healthy right?

20170408_171548To make

  • Gather your ingredients (see suggested list below). You will need something like peanut butter or dates (blended in a food processor) to bind the ingredients, with oats as your base ingredient.
  • Add all your ingredients together in a large bowl and stir.
    I’m not going to give you exact measurements of what to add. I believe how much you add of each ingredient is entirely dependent on what you prefer. Taste as you go along and trust your instincts.
  • If necessary, nuts and dates may need to be blended in a food processor beforehand.
    Don’t worry about processing it too fine, you’ll want to retain some of the texture.
  • Put the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour to harden slightly.
    This is really important. Without refrigerating, the mixture may be too soft/mushy to roll into balls.
  • Once the mixture has hardened, use your hands to roll into bite size balls.
  • Eat immediately or store in a wax paper lined container in the fridge to enjoy later.

Some ingredient ideas 
peanut butter
crushed nuts: pecan, cashews and almonds are great
nutella (yummm!)
granola mix
coconut
oats
almond butter
cocoa powder
honey
raisin
dates
dry cranberries, blueberries, cherries
orange rind
apricots
choc chip
cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
vanilla
chilli
coffee

And if you want to make it healthy…
chia seeds
matcha green tea powder
flax seeds
chickpeas
turmeric
avocado

The combinations are endless, from peanut butter + chocolate, chocolate + orange, chocolate +chilli to Spicy Mocha and Chickpea Cookie Dough.

The most important part is having fun with taste combinations and enjoying the result after.

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Are you ready for a visual feast?

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Vega Hernando is a textile designer who plays with her food to create the most stunning patterns and then showcases them on Instagram. What I really enjoy is that they’re not just random ingredients; each photo is captioned with the title of the actual meal. So if you’re looking for visual and culinary inspiration, this is the perfect place for you.


These aren’t your average throw-some-items-together-and-take-a-flatlay photos; they’re made with careful consideration and an eye for detail. To be honest, I would frame some of these or even have a cute dress made if some of these prints were transferred onto fabric. The combination of colours and patterns are just gorgeous.

You can see all of them if you follow Eating Patterns on Instagram, or check out the process of creation on Vega’s personal Instagram account. 

When work involves food…

This week, Makana Sharp! published our food edition which I had a lot of fun designing and taking photos for. I also got to eat most of what I photographed, so that was an added treat!

While designing for a newspaper supplement is a lot more enjoyable than a standard newspaper format, I do feel restricted in that it still has to look like a newspaper and have multiple articles on one page. I would much rather be working on a magazine where you can dedicate more space to visual content, as well as leave more breathing space around the articles.

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Food review: The Friendly Stranger

It’s not a secret that I am not entirely fond of Port Elizabeth. But last week, when we ventured out to watch Suicide Squad, I stumbled upon The Friendly Stranger, a quirky little restaurant that has been making the rest of the city a little less kak since opening in 2012. You may not know of it if, like me, you’re a Grahamstown resident who only heads to the windy city for the things our small town does not have (a cinema, Woolworths Food, McDonalds and Nandos).

We stopped for coffee/beers which soon turned into brunch. We felt right at home because of the relaxed venue as well as the friendly attitude from the staff. While waiting for the food we had the chance to soak up the sun on the deck, watch puppies playing at a nearby stream and view the quirky art on the walls from local creatives.

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Warming up to Winter with Glühwein

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Warm wine for cold nights. Image from Pixabay.

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

No, it’s not Christmas, but it is the National Arts Festival in the middle of Winter in Grahamstown, and this is the most festive time for us. Along with overindulging in rich food and spending too much money on things we don’t need (so, basically Christmas), we also have pop-up restaurants offering Glühwein as the day draws to a close and the nights get colder. During the rest of the year, it’s pretty much impossible to get your hands on mulled wine, so I’ve decided to share some recipes for you to make your own.  Continue reading

Fantastic Festival Finds – Day 4

On perhaps the hottest day of the hottest Fest yet, I found the solution to all my problems. And yes, I know, the solution is often in the form of alcohol but this time I just could not resist! There was a tent at the Village Green selling vodka slushies!

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Qualito is a South African distillery that makes flavour infused vodkas as well as whiskey. You can buy whole bottles of their vodka online, or get a taste at NAF with a slushie containing either watermelon, cranberry, litchi or coffee flavoured vodka. It tastes amazing and is decently priced at R30.

 

 

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Searching for signs of food

I’m always hungry. If you don’t already know this, now you do. Yesterday I had just under an hour between two shows at the National Arts Festival to pop into the Village Green and grab something to eat. There were a lot of food trucks and too many options. I wasted most of the time trying to decide on one thing.

But I wanted all the food, obviously.

Maybe you find yourself with the same dilemma. Here are literal signs of food so you can be indecisive in the comfort of your home/digs/tent/car/wherever you are reading this before actually making your way to the chaos of people and tie-dye and food.

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