Food and Nutrition

Strawberry, carob, coconut and chia balls

It’s July and I’m celebrating the half-year with my own version of bliss balls or rum balls (Christmas in July, perhaps).

Naturally, I’ve created a recipe that has its roots in fresh fruit and has NO sugar and NO dairy. It is vegan, and also gluten-free (so long as a good brand of oats is used). It even looks and tastes like chocolate but without any chocolate at all…

Everyone is happy with this one … and especially with the taste!

This recipe may seem like a version of Bliss Balls but I assure you there are important differences. With a touch of cooking you will create a silkier, melt-in-your-mouth texture that isn’t always possible with raw Bliss Balls.

These are ready within 30 minutes for eating as a treat for breakfast … or for chilling in the fridge for morning tea.

You will need:

– 1/2 cup rice bran oil
– 6 strawberries
– 1 tsp bicarbonate soda

– 2 cups rolled oats (quick-cook variety)
– 1 cup almond meal
– 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
– 100g carob powder

– 1 tsp vanilla essence
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
– 2 tbsp chia seeds
– 1/2 cup boiled water
– 1/2 cup rice bran oil (additional)
– 1/2 cup dessicated coconut (additional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Add 1/2 cup rice bran oil to a small saucepan and bring to the simmer. Chop the strawberries in half and simmer them in the saucepan for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mix all your mixing ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4. Remove the strawberries from the oil and set aside in a little bowl for a moment.

5. In a mug, add the bi-carb soda to 2 tbsp water and mix to dissolve. Add this mix to the saucepan of oil, it will froth and rise. Turn off the heat.

6. Using a sieve or drainer, push the strawberries back into the oil (so the purée goes into the oil and the stringy lumps are removed – they can be discarded).

7. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and pour in the strawberry / oil mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. (If it is very dry, add more rice-bran oil until it resembles a moist mixture that can be used for shaping).

8. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Press the mixture into the baking tray (as you would for brownies or a slice).

9. Bake for 14 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

10. Baking the mixture creates a much finer mixture that can now be crumbled back into the large mixing bowl to create your balls. Use your finger tips to break and crumble the mixture completely.

11. In a smaller mixing bowl (or a mug), add the lemon juice, lemon rind, honey, chia seeds, vanilla essence and 1/2 cup boiled water. Stir gently, then pour into the mixing bowl of dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly with wooden spoon again. You now need to reach a suitable consistency for rolling into balls – so add the remaining rice bran oil little by little as you stir, until you have a wet consistency for shaping.

12. Spread out the desiccated coconut on a flat plate. Form a small ball of the mixture with your hands, roll in the coconut and set aside on a clean plate. Repeat until all mixture is used (until you have approximately 25 balls).

Enjoy! You will love how these balls are so soft and delicate… the baking along with chia seeds creates a very smooth texture on the inside. The carob is also gentle – subtle on first bite to become sweeter as you eat. Very more-ish! Luckily there are 25 of these babies.

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