My sardine & spinach eating baby decided to go on a hunger strike last week. Goodbye kale. Farewell lentils. The only food he will consume is if he can feed it directly to himself. And he’s gone bananas for bananas. Like x 4 a day vibe.
So here’s what inspired me to make these:
We were feeding the birds – our little morning ritual. We put out this thing called a Suet Ball which is basically a high-energy bird seed mix made with peanut butter. The birds love it. And as it turns out, so does #babyjake. He managed to steal the Suet Ball from an unsuspecting dove on the bird feeder. So there he was, sitting under the tree, munching and chomping on the the avian-bird-flu-pigeon-poo infested treat.
#babyjake is almost one and has started talking. Part of his vocab repertoire are his 2 new favourite words: Nana (for banana) and Ball. So I thought and thought, and then it came to me.
I would make him a Mini-Suet-Nana-Ball fit for human consumption!
So I hit the Pinterest archives and searched for “Peanut Butter, Banana Ball” and lo and behold, there are endless recipes for the stuff.
Why I love these little balls:
- I wanted something that is packed with super-foods, so that even if #babyjake doesn’t eat much all day, at least I am managing to sneak in the nutrients from protein to healthy fats.
- He can feed it to himself, so for all the BLW (Baby Led Weaning) mamas out there… this one’s for you.
- The beauty of this recipe is that you can really use anything… there’s no limit to the amount of goodness you can cram inside. You don’t need to be finicky about measuring ingredients, simply add whatever you want. If the mixture gets too dry, add a few more of the sticky ingredients like peanut butter. If it gets too gooey, add in more of the dry ingredients.
- No baking required!
- Suitable for babies, toddlers and kids (mom needs to hold back though, because they pack a mean calorie punch).
- Helps keep baby’s tummy regular (thanks to the flaxseeds). Bye bye constipation.
- The perfect, energy packed snack (also makes a nice breakfast on-the-go). Grab a few from the freezer, and will defrost by the time you need them when out and about.
- They’re fun to make, so you can get your little ones involved.
- Freezes perfectly. And defrosts quickly. My freezer has a permanent supply of these in a giant tupperware. And we simply take a few out each day. Better for freezing without the banana.
Here’s how I made mine:
(Remember any mix of ingredients can work! And don’t stress if you leave out some of the ingredients either!
- 1/2 cup Peanut Butter (I like to use an Organic one. You can also use almond butter / cashew butter or any good old peanut butter)
- 1/4 cup Oat Bran (you could also use regular Jungle Oats)
- 1/4 cup Ground Flaxseeds (my favourite Omega 3 ingredient that cures constipation. Read more about this little magical ingredient over here)
- 1/4 cup Almond Flour (could use any nuts and grind them yourself)
- 2 or 3 ripe Bananas (optional. Freezes better without the banana. Leave out for a more traditional date ball taste. But include them if your little one is banana besotted like #babyjake. Will last longer without the banana. Keep in mind.)
- 1/2 cup chopped Dates (fresh or dried. Or use cranberries. Tip: Soak the dates in hot water for a couple minutes before blending, makes it easier to blend)
- 1/2 cup Coconut flakes / dried coconut / desiccated coconut
- 1/8 cup Chia Seeds (could also use any seed mix. I like adding sunflower seeds too)
- 1-2 tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
- 1/3 cup water (to soften and bind mixture if needed, but only add as needed! You can use some of the leftover water from soaking the dates)
- Pour boiling water over the dates / cranberries for a couple minutes to soften them. Then blitz in a food processor. If too dry, add some of the water from the soaking bowl. Give it a whizz. Remove and set aside.
- Add in the balance of the ingredients to the food processor. If the batter is too thick/dense, slowly add the water as needed. If it’s too gooey, add more dry ingredients (like almond flour or oat bran/oats). Combine the mixtures.
- Then shape into balls and allow to harden in fridge (dip your fingers in coconut oil to make the rolling easier). Or freeze straight away. I made some really little balls that Jake can easily eat by himself in one toothless bite.
- I take out 2 or 3 each day as a snack for #babyjake.
Makes about 40 balls (depending on what size you roll them)
Tip: Add the ingredients slowly, otherwise your food processor’s motor may overheat. That’s why it helps to soak the dates first in boiling water for a couple minutes.
Tip: If you think it needs to be sweeter for your little one, then you can add in some honey (if they’re over the age of 1).
Tip: I rolled mine into really little balls that Jake can eat in one mouthful. Roughly the size of a big marble. Coat your hands in coconut oil to make the rolling easier.
And finally, yum as these may be, don’t tuck into them yourself because they are seriously calorie dense! Good for little growing babes but not so good for mom’s thighs 🙂
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A few things to consider:
- If your child has a hereditary predisposition to allergies, suffers from eczema or is lactose intolerant (or any other complication for that matter), don’t follow my advice – rather stick to whatever your paed says.
- I’m not a paediatric nutritionist. I’m just sharing what I have learnt. With that said however, #babyjake’s granny is a medical doctor; I have read loads of books written by the experts; chatted to fellow mommies and nurses, and have a fair amount of culinary finesse… so this is what’s worked for us.
- I follow the school of thought that encourages the introduction of ALL food groups before the age of one (this includes all allergenic foods from peanuts and eggs, to fish). The only exception is raw honey. As for cow’s milk (by cow’s milk I am referring to the actual liquid, white milk from a carton), I give #babyjake full-cream dairy yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yellow cheese etc. You can also cook for your baby using full cream milk, just don’t replace their milk boob / bottle / formula feed with cow’s milk before the age of 1.
- To be on the safe side, if you’re unsure of anything, please always (always) consult your paed, family doctor or nurse before taking my advice or trying any new foods on your baby.
- Do not take my advice over that of a medical professional.
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