Written by Amy Cooke-Hodgson

Food

Recipe: Nurture balls

Amy Cooke-Hodgson visited a dear friend in hospital and came away with this recipe, which is not only cheering but also a perfect energy boost.

the finished nurture ballsThese tasty treats are designed to feed the body and soul and if you get the added bonus of making them with someone you love, they taste even better!

A very dear friend of mine, Gemma*, has spent the past few weeks staying in a special mother and baby unit in London as she recovers from a severe bout of postpartum psychosis, a mental illness I knew very little about until it reared its ugly head in Gemma’s life.

This week when I popped in, I’d timed my visit perfectly to coincide with a baking session! Gemma was excited to share with me a recipe the patients on the unit had made just the day before. So moreish was the outcome (it seems the staff demolished them with just as much fervour), she was eager to make them all over again and this time, I got to roll up my sleeves too.

As you might expect, practical activities such as following a recipe and creating something to share with others play an important part in helping patients prepare themselves for their return home but as we measured, mixed and laughed our way through the recipe, I was reminded of how enjoyable it is to share the process (and not just the product) of baking with someone.

There are several recipes online for similar treats, many of which are called ‘energy balls’  but Gemma and I agree they offer more than just a quick boost to your sugar level which is why she’s named them nurture balls. It’s also a perfect recipe to make with children, and the results make a welcome addition to a lunchbox.

Ingredients (makes approx 25)

I should say that this is my take on the recipe the women were following. I’ve added some fancy bits, but it’s one of those recipes that can be easily adapted to suit your taste/store cupboard. Feel free to tweet me your ideas @amycookehodgson.

I’ve weighed ingredients as well as given cup measurements, but it’s a bit of a suck-it-and-see type of affair (not literally; please don’t slobber over the mixture). If you need more dry ingredients, add a few more oats or Rice Krispies and likewise squidge in more honey if you think it could do with a bit more ‘goo’.

ingredients in the bowlSticky:
3 heaped tbsp crunchy peanut butter (½ cup)
2 big squeezes runny honey
1 big squeeze golden syrup or agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence

Dry:
150g rolled oats (1 ½ cups)
15g Rice Krispies (½ cup)
25g desiccated coconut (¼ cup)
20g ground almonds (¼ cup)
25g chopped dates (¼ cup)
40g chocolate chips (¼ cup), milk or dark
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)

Method

In a large bowl mix the sticky ingredients together. If you don’t have, or aren’t a fan of, golden syrup or agave just increase the honey content. I’ve chosen crunchy peanut butter as it gives a nice texture, though smooth works just as well.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Heads up: this takes quite a bit of time. If you feel like you might need a little more ‘sticky’, go ahead and squeeze in a bit more honey/agave/golden syrup at this point.

more nurture ballsTime to wash your hands (if you haven’t already, you mucky pup) and roll up your sleeves. Squish the mixture tightly in your hand and shape into balls. Place the balls in a dish, cover in cling film and pop in the freezer for an hour; then they’re ready to serve.

Store the balls in an airtight container in the fridge or take with you for the perfect ‘on-the-go’ nibble. Gemma said she thought they’d make a perfect breastfeeding snack – if you’ve got a baby, of course. I think I’ll just make do with shoving them all in my gob with no excuses.

If you’d like to know more about postpartum depression, visit: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk

*name changed to protect privacy

@amycookehodgson

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Written by Amy Cooke-Hodgson

Amy is an actor, improviser and singer currently appearing in award-winning improv show Austentatious. You can also visit her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RowleyandCooke