Christmas time was always exciting as a child because it meant Christmas baking.
With Grandma, Christmas baking was Shortbread – all of them neatly lined up in greaseproof papers, their buttery goodness crowned with a blanched almond gently placed in the middle
Stirring the American Fruit cake batter, which is mainly nuts and fruit held together with a small amount of batter. It was a good work out for little arms!
But my favourite Christmas baking was always making the rum balls and the apricot balls with Mum – crushing the Milk Arrowroot biscuits in the bag with a rolling pin, fighting with my sister over the remnants of the condensed milk from the can, sticky chocolatey and coconut batter all over our fingers and trying not to lick it until the end, coconut all over the floor.
It was childhood bliss, making the original version of bliss balls you see around these days.
Christmas baking but a healthy way…
Times have a changed and since following a gluten free and dairy free lifestyle I haven’t quite been able to make the rum balls. You see, they were so good because of exactly how they were. I could make them with gluten free biscuits, make my own condensed milk etc but it just feels better to leave them as they were, in nostalgia.
But that means that there was room to create a new Christmas baking recipe to start some new foodie memories and potentially a new family favourite.
I had seen a couple of recipes for Lemon Balls made with coconut – they seemed really simple, gluten and dairy free and also low in refined sugar. As always, I can never stick just to one recipe so I decided to use them both as a jumping off point and create my very own Christmas ball creations – and they did not disappoint!
The Balance Point(e) run down:
Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) –
- the most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth, native to the mountains of Tibet and Mongolia
- although only introduced in Western countries in recent years, gojis have been used for thousands of years in Tibet and China
- used as both a culinary ingredient and medicinally.
- absolutely loaded with vitamin C
- contain more carotenoids than any other food
- have twenty-one trace minerals with the added bonus of being high in fibre
- Boasting 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach!!
- contains calcium, zinc, selenium and many other important trace minerals
In summary = a tiny berry but a nutritional powerhouse!
Coconut (ie dried, flaked, shredded or fresh) –
- great for the immune system (I have raved many times about my love for coconut oil)
- dried coconut flesh has high anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
- like Coconut oil it’s high in Lauric Acid
- also high in Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese
- very high in fibre, which also means eating too much means a whole lot of water should follow to avoid mmm.. a blockage!
These are a great sweet treat without being excessively high in sugar – the 2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup across the whole recipe means 0.13 of a Tablespoon of sugar. I used Maple Syrup as we have a beautiful one from our honeymoon in Canada and we are slowly using it up.
Being high in fibre, they will fill you up pretty quickly too but you won’t be missing out on Christmas treats!
HEALTHY COCONUT LEMON GOJI BALLS
Makes 15 balls
1 cup raw cashews or macadamia
1 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
zest of one large lemon + juice of half a lemon (or more if you like!)
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla bean powder (can sub for liquid extract)
pinch of salt
2 Tbls Maple syrup (rice malt syrup, raw honey, coconut nectar – up to you!)
2 Tbls Coconut Oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of Goji berries
Few sprigs of mint
extra desiccated coconut for rolling in
- Place the ingredients except the goji berries and mint in the order listed above into any kind of processor/blender/chopper/mixer
- Pulse at high speed until the mixture is just sticking together – some nuts may not be fully broken down which is ok!
- Stir in goji berries by hand and finely chopped mint, pressing a little to release the oils from the coconut
- Rest in fridge until cold, or freezer if you’re in a hurry!
- Using your hands shape the mixture into balls. If it falls a part a little, just keep pressing and it will eventually stick with the natural oils from the coconut.
- Roll in extra coconut and enjoy the moment of creating your own little beauties – very important!
- Devour their sweet tasting goodness 🙂
Store in the fridge to keep fresh and enjoy as required, I can assure you they won’t last long
- this recipe is forgiving, it’s not about perfection but creativity, adjust flavours as you like
- I used a blender today but would usually use my mini processor for this one
- Throw in as much goji berries as you like or substitute for dried cherries or blueberries or apricots
- if the mixture is a little dry add some more coconut oil, or if it’s too wet add some more coconut – easy!
- I try to always use certified organic products if possible including fresh nuts – rancid nuts are not so good for you!