08 May

Leaving Cert Energy Balls

When 6th year started last September it seemed like June was a lifetime away. We’ve had many a battle of wills about the 17-year-old’s eating habits. She leaves early in the morning which means I get to see exactly what she’s taken (or not) for lunch before I head out to work. There’s been a couple quite a few early morning phone calls to make sure she has enough food to get her through the day in school. She isn’t a fan of breakfast, and truthfully would skip it only for her Dad makes sure she eats every morning before going to school.

I can’t make her study, harder or otherwise. I can’t sit beside her helping her with her spellings or reading anymore. I can’t lead her by the hand to school, although somedays I wish I could.

In the evening, when she gets home from school, I’m here with dinner and a cup of tea. There’s a hug and a chat; a debrief of the day in school, discussions about all girls’ schools being full of wagons (it’s a Dublin term), answering technical questions about pie charts and languages, etc. Left to her own devices she would happily drink a vat of sugary coffee or minerals, with a side of doughnuts. That’s pretty much her ultimate study food. I’m at a point where I pick my battles, I am not going to tell her what to eat or not. We’ve had the chat about managing sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. The easiest way to combat the rollercoaster that is parenting a Leaving Cert teenager is to make sure there is plenty of food available when she needs it, and that there’s a more convenient healthier option than convenience food.

That’s where energy balls come in. I’m not going to go on and on about the health benefits because I’m not a dietician. These include oats for slow release energy, peanut butter and seeds for fats and protein, dried fruit for fibre, and cocoa powder for flavour. I use honey as a sweetener here but you can use maple syrup or agave, or another sweetener of your choice. The key thing is to smush it all together in a bowl (technical term I know) and roll them into balls which will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Leaving Cert Energy Balls

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 150g Oats
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 handfuls seeds (I use sesame seeds but use pumpkin, flaxseeds, or sunflower seeds if you like)
  • 2 handfuls dried fruit (I use raisins)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy whichever you prefer, why not try almond butter either?)
  • 50ml hot water
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey

Method

Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir well until the ingredients are combined. Take a ping-pong ball sized amount into your hands and roll until you have a compact ball. You can store these energy balls in the fridge for up to 5 days because there is no dairy in the mixture. For extra texture, roll the balls in dessicated coconut or even cover them in dark chocolate.

The verdict from the teenager? “They’d be lovely if you hadn’t ruined them with raisins.” Mind you, despite the fact that she detests raisins she still eats them. Just saying…

09 Feb

How To Make Pancakes – The Quick And Easy Way

My frying pan gets used at least every second day, pancakes on a Sunday are a regular treat, and I like to use it to add colour (and flavour) to meat before cooking in the oven. The beauty of this pancake recipe is that it doesn’t take long to put together, you don’t need to wait for the batter to get smooth, it contains very few ingredients, and it becomes a balanced meal once we have some fruit on the side. Mind you there’s nothing stopping you making this a savoury dish. I suppose we’ve become used to this as a sweet treat. The sweetness is all in the extras, not from the ingredients.

I’ve been asked a few times recently for instructions on how to make pancakes – the quick and easy way. Nothing too stressful, that requires very little skill in the kitchen.

To me, fast food is a meal that I can get to the table in less than 30 minutes. These pancakes start making their way to the table in the first 15 minutes of whipping up the batter, then it’s a rhythm of spooning, flipping, and serving to make sure that everybody is satisfied. The ingredients that I use are always in my store cupboard, so I always have a fast food option to cook. This is a budget recipe; the ingredients for these pancakes (that feed 5) come to just over 82c, which is a cost of just under 17c per portion; fruit and any other spreads/syrups are extra.*How To Make Pancakes - The Quick And Easy Way - Wholesome Ireland Read More

15 May

Low Sugar Jam

Jam is sweet. It’s meant to be sweet; the sugar used preserves the fruit and makes the jam last for longer. In my house that could mean up to a year; providing I use a sterilised jar, and store it in a cool, dark place.

What if there was a way to make low sugar jam? You’d still have a “set” consistency, but the trade-off would be that you’d have to make smaller quantities because the jam wouldn’t last so long.

I’ve tested plenty of jam recipes over the years. I’ve made jam with less sugar than recommended, replaced the refined sugar with fruit sugar (fructose), used honey, and used alternative sweeteners like aspartame and xylitol. Typical jam recipes are made on a 50:50 ratio of fruit to sugar. This recipe turns all that wisdom around and uses far less than that. Read More

07 May

Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Pots

Why would you want to make this cheesecake? Well you could be on a low fat diet, trying to lose weight, or maybe you might be trying to reduce your sugar consumption. It could be all of the above, as is the case with my family members. While I won’t identify them on the blog, I can tell you that in the past 6 weeks, these 3 inspiring people have managed to lose a combined total of just under 3 stone (that’s 42lbs or 19kg).

You don’t need to cook, nor do you need any fancy equipment to be able to make these cheesecake pots, just make sure you have space in the fridge for them to cool. Of course if you’d rather use the full-fat full-sugar version of these ingredients go right ahead! Read More

19 Mar

Raspberry Curd

What is curd? Sweet curd is made with 4 main ingredients. 3 of which are always butter, sugar, and eggs. The 4th ingredient is normally a tart or citrus flavour. Once made properly it sets to a dropping consistency. This is because both the butter and the egg yolks play a part in the setting process.Raspberry Curd 1

You’ve probably heard of lemon curd. It is extremely easy to make – in fact, if you want to see me make it, plus get the recipe you can head on over to my lemon curd recipe by clicking the image below.Lemon Curd Read More

04 Jul

Eton Mess

There are days that I love nothing more than working in the kitchen on “oven watch”. These type of days are when I’m not stuck at my computer for hours on end, and the sun isn’t splitting the stones. Lately though, with the sunny weather and my two boys being that bit older all they want to do is to play out in the front garden with the big boys.

That’s all great, except we have an open garden system where we live and that means we don’t have gates that I can close to keep the boys safe and the road is very close to the house. So if the boys want to play outside then I have to be out with them. It kind of cramps my style when it comes to desserts and I’ve been revisiting some old no-cook favourites over the past couple of weeks.

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09 Jun

Lemon Curd

A couple of weeks ago I headed to Ballymaloe where I worked with the Kerrygold Ireland team on their social media coverage for Litfest. While I was there, I gave a demonstration (using butter of course) of a quick and simple recipe that I love to make at home. There was no question when they asked me what I was making as lemon curd is very simple to make and I have great memories of my Grandmother making it when I was younger.

So here is the result, a beautiful video that they shot of me cooking and sharing my lemon curd with everybody in The Big Shed. Here’s the written recipe too. There is no more reliable recipe than the Ballymaloe original for lemon curd, so you’ll find that it’s pretty much the same. I can’t better it so it’s a little adapted, but not much. Read More

23 Sep

Building Site Cake

Know your limits. Birthday parties can be stressful enough as it is without trying to win a medal for “mother of the year” and making the best cake in the world. So if you have a child who is obsessed by trucks or building sites this is the perfect building site cake with no baking!Building Site Cake 3 Read More

31 Aug

Quick Apple Crumble

While I love the scent of a traditional apple crumble filling my kitchen, I prefer this quick apple crumble for warm Autumn evenings. It also uses less energy and requires less time. Read More

15 Jul

Raspberry Cheesecake

Quick, no bake, raspberry cheesecake – cheaper than premium shop bought version and perfect for ripe raspberries. Read More

02 Jul

Affogato

Affogato. It’s not something I’ve thought about much until recently, however I was pointed in the direction of this coffee treat.  I don’t even drink coffee!

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18 Jun

Quick Ice Cream

On such a glorious day, I always fancy something cold and sweet but with our Irish weather it’s incredibly hard to plan ahead for sunny weather. This recipe for Quick Ice Cream can be made with 10 minute’s notice providing you have the 2 ingredients in the house. Did I mention it’s also sugar-free?

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