Ho Ho Ho! Christmas is a time for the family to get together and celebrate through making new memories and enjoying good food together. And while this year is different to previous years, let’s make the best of it! It is a time when there is an abundance of treats, so how to encourage the little ones (and maybe not so little ones!) to eat healthier treats? Well how about these festive energy balls?
They are made of dried fruit, nuts, seeds (including chia, hemp, sunflower), almond butter (you can use seed butter too), cacao and so in the main have no refined sugar and are gluten-free and vegan. The naughty bit comes in the little decoration embellishments; a spot of icing, marzipan and googly eyes.
I had great fun making these characters. Write in to tell me which is your favourite character?! My favourite, I think is Santa; his desiccated coconut beard makes me smile each time I see him! Second in line are the jolly Christmas puds; that yellow thick custard takes me back to school dinners and jam roly poly covered in lashings of thick (lumpy) custard! The Rudolphs roll in last; admittedly they look a bit like mice with big (pretzel) ears, but still cute! (Merry Christ-mouse instead of Merry Christ-Moose?!)
I have made some for the festive table and also some as gifts (just pop in a jar with some ribbon and a tag). These treats are also easy to make; all you need to do is blend the fruit and nuts and roll. There is no baking required. The fun bit really is in the decorating. It’s almost like playing with plasticine when you were a kid!
I should say these little fellas also keep well in an airtight jar for 8-10 days; well that’s if they last that long!
Makes: 8-9 energy balls
Preparation time: 50-60 mins (mostly decorating time!)
- 10 Medjool dates with the seeds removed
- 60g dried fruit and nuts of choice. I used Nature’s Heart Blueberry, Goji and Almond Immune System Mix which contains a mixture of almonds, cashew nuts, dried golden berries, brazil nuts, dried blueberries, mango, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp. almond butter (you can use peanut butter but the peanut flavour is quite distinctive. Cashew butter and sunflower seed butter also works and have a milder taste)
- 1 tbsp. Chia seeds
- 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp. Cacao powder
Embellishments: (I used shop-bought)
- 16-18 googly eyes
- Small blobs of red icing paste (red for the Santa hats and green for the Christmas pudding holly)
- Small blobs of marzipan (for the custard)
- 16-18 fresh cranberries, halved (for the noses)
- 1.5 tsp. desiccated coconut (for the beards and Santa hat trim)
- Mini pretzels to represent the horns of the reindeer
- Place the ball ingredients into a blender and combine to form a sticky dough.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoonful (approx. 42g in weight if you want all the balls to weight the same) and roll into balls using your hands. Repeat until the mixture is used up.
- Now the fun bit!
- Pour the desiccated coconut into a small bowl. Dip one end of the ball into the coconut to form the beard.
- Press 2 googly eyes and a cranberry half into the ball to make Santas face
- Use the red icing. Pinch of a small blob from the pack. Roll into a small ball and then flatten to a vague triangular shape using your fingers. Using a teaspoon, cut away one side of the hat to form a curve in one side of Santa’s hat. Mould with your fingers to refine the shape into a hat. Moisten the bottom of the hat with a little water and then dunk in the desiccated coconut for a white trim.
- Don’t worry if coconut goes all over Santas face; it will look like snow and add to Santa’s charm!
- Yellow marzipan. Pinch off a blob of marzipan from the pack. Roll into a ball. Flatten into a disc using your fingers, but not too thin to emulate thick pouring custard. Place on top of the energy ball and press down to secure.
- Top with a cranberry half.
- To make the leaves; pinch tiny green icing from the pack. Flatten using your fingers and mould into leaf like shapes. Prick with a fork down the vertical line to represent the vein of the leaf. Stick around the cranberry half using a little water if necessary.
- Using your fingers, press in 2 googly eyes and half a cranberry to form the face.
- Stick 2 mini pretzels into the side of the head to represent Rudolph horns. I find that using a knife to make incisions prior to inserting the pretzel helps.
Enjoy and happy Christmas!!!