Eat well. Learn well.

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I have been running training and courses for a very long time.

As a pedagogist (a specialist in the art and science of teaching), I have long associated the benefits of feeding both your student’s minds and their bellies. Preparing food is my love language. I love the way fresh ingedients, lovingly prepared, can break down all sorts of barriers and bond people who may originally be strangers.  And that is why, I always think of the menu as much as I do the agenda of learning.

After a year of no face to face courses, this weekend I will be running our first instructor training for the program I manage – Living Longer Living Stronger.

Pre- pandemic, I re-wrote all the education for the program and got to run the (then) 2 day course only once. Since the pandemic, we have installed a Learning Management System on the newly created COTA Learning website, so that we can push a lot of the training online. It was a mammoth job to turn the Living Longer Living Stronger Instructor training program into an online course and reduce the face to face component to just one day. But I believe it is worth it. I have had a lot of experience with creating online courses working with the professionals at Central Queensland University, Fitness Education Online and EAT Fitness (NZ) I love the intellectual and technological challenge, as well as the creative side of bringing education to life.

But nothing quite beats running a face to face course and interacting in real time with the learner. And nothing beats planning the deliciousness that I will pack along with all my other teaching aids!

One of my winning course recipes is that for Power Balls. They are a date / nut / seed mix that are great brain food – so perfect for learners. They are pretty expensive to buy – anything upward of $3.50 – but they be really very easy and very economical to make. And if you make them regularly (I recommend that you store them in the freezer to keep them fresh) you can ensure the freshness of all the ingredients.

Let me explain:

I like to shop local and organic where I can. I tend to buy from my local self serve food store and transfer the ingredients at home into glass jars, to avoid plastic.

However, the downside is that you can easily forget how long the produce has been in your cupboard. Seeds and nuts can spoil relatively quickly and there is nothing that I hate more, than throwing away food.

If you make these Power Balls recipe regularly, it means that you can completely use up all your products and replace them with fresh – therefore minimising food waste and saving you money! It also gives you the opportunity to clean the glass jars / containers they are stored in.

Power Balls are extremely versatile and over the years I have experimented with many ingredients.

Here are examples of what you can use to make your own Power Balls:

  • Rolled Oats – or any other breakfast cereal (including the packet you bought and the kids wont eat!)
  • Nuts – all makes and models – knock yourself out!
  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, poppy – all have great nutritional value
  • Dried fruit – I particularly like using goji for the colour factor – but I have used currents, sultanas etc
  • Other pantry staples – nut butters, cacao, cacao nibs (for great crunch factor), coconut flakes, licquorice or coconut cacao spread / nutella – to give a rich chocolatey taste

 But there are a couple of ingredients that you MUST include:

Very fresh medjool dates and a very good quality salt!

So here is the deal.

Go through all of your cupboards for everything that you can three quarters fill the bowl of your food processor or thermomix with… like this:

Mince it all on a high speed until it is finely blended.

With the blades running, drop the medjool dates (with stones removed!!) one by one until you the mixture starts to clump (about 12 – 16). If you don’t have enough dates for this, you can add some liquid coconut oil. This does boost the energy (kilojoules) factor. A little can go a long way.

Add a good pinch of your favourite salt. I am a bit of salt wanker and this one pictured above, is particularly flavoursome.

Using clean hands, shape the balls into golf ball size.

Lastly, if you want to go all fancy, you might want to roll each ball in seeds (poppy, chia and sesame work best), coconut or if you are going for the chocolatey theme – fresh cacoa powder.

And Voila! Enjoy!

In the words of the very wise Maya Angelou:

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

 


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