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
- 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
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…