Friday, April 15, 2011

IHN - Food Network Style!

It’s safe to say that I will probably not be the latest Food Network darling. While I do adore cooking (obviously!) and love to teach others how to embrace the wonders of the kitchen and the world of food, the whole “me || audience” style of teaching is so cold to me. I need to be able to work with my students, teach them hands-on, get feedback and really know that what I’m saying and trying to ingrain in them is actually getting through. But a food demo was what we had to do for the class, and it had to be a healthy recipe prepared start to finish in ten minutes, at least in appearances like on TV, with a poster, a recipe handout and a brochure too. Which meant I actually had to make and stick to a recipe, and make it look easy to do in 10 minutes. Without cooking or reheating equipment or running water. Dang. And whatever I picked had to fit other dietary criteria too: vegetarian, nut / coconut free, and we had to supply a gluten free option. Mind you, a good portion of the students ignored that, but having lived with restrictions myself I felt it wasn’t fair to not make something the vast majority of my class could tolerate and enjoy.

I have to say, though, that people got all kinds of creative. While the obvious route (which some of us, me included, took in the interest of time and equipment) was to completely prepare a food at home for the “voila” dish and show all the “look how you can prepare it at home” stuff during the demo, some people really went all out. We had gas-lit hotplates going as students whipped up japchae effortlessly, dished up piping hot beans and rice and even made a holistic variant on hot cocoa. Salsas, salads from all parts of the world, juices, tons of dessert-y things and even Vietnamese fresh rolls made their appearances, and nobody went hungry either day we did the demos. In short, my classmates owned it.

"Chef Plantain" made by my friend Johana

Which is why, when I looked at my demo (where I made a hugely modified version of a snack from my elementary school) I was nothing short of ashamed at how lacklustre it was. While I did manage to make the (one) wise decision to bill the treats I re-termed “Monkey Balls” as a simple and fast food that even kids could make on their own and love eating, I fell into the trap of becoming overly “chef-y” and mise-en-placed myself into an incredibly short presentation. I guess it really is testament to the pure simplicity and speed of the balls that they got churned out so fast, but my greatest fear about presenting (which I don’t usually have problems avoiding!) was realized: having to kill time. I know. Me, foodie and admittedly verbose blogger – at a loss for words. And apparently my timing wasn’t the only thing lacking that day either: while I managed to shill my blog, consulting site, Nutrition in Motion (who I write nutrition articles for) and my Twitter handle, I forgot to say my name. Fail on the self-promotion. I mean really – I had TEN MINUTES to fill and I chose to close my presentation early with a half-hearted attempt at witty banter than include that wee piece of vital information. Mind you, the fact I had absolutely no table decor or spiffy getup would probably cause any TV watchers to tune out before a single word left my lips.

It was a good time though – and all in fun despite the nervous tension in the room. Not to mention everyone loved my Monkey Balls (which were one of 3 “ball” snacks made that day). And how could they not? They were sweet, fruity, vegan and nut-free, with protein and whole grains and even a dead-simple modification for the gluten-free route. Like I said in my presentation, the variation potential for these in insane: if it goes with bananas and your favourite nut or seed butter, it goes!

Monkey Balls
Makes 24
2 large, over-ripe bananas
1/3 cup sunflower seed “butter”
1 tsp maple syrup
2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats, divided
1 cup Kamut® flakes (or more rolled oats)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
½ cup raisins
½ cup diced dates
½ cup toasted sesame seeds

  1. In a large bowl, mash together bananas, sunflower seed butter and maple syrup.
  2. Stir in 1 ¼ cups of the oats, Kamut® flakes, flaxseed, raisins and dates, combining well.
  3. Place remaining oats and sesame seeds in a large zip-top bag.
  4. Using a spoon, scoop small amounts of the banana mixture and with damp hands roll into balls.
  5. One by one, drop into the oats in the bag and shake to coat. Place on a plate.
  6. Ideally chill 30 minutes before enjoying.
  7. Keeps in the fridge up to 5 days and can be enjoyed frozen up to 1 month.
*For gluten-free, use quinoa flakes or certified GF oats for the rolled oats and Kamut flakes OR 2 cups puffed millet in the balls, ½ cup toasted sesame seeds and 1 cup cream of rice cereal to coat

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 113.4
Total Fat: 4.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 87.7 mg
Total Carbs: 17.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 3.5 g

1 comment :

tanita davis said...

You look great up there! Very professional.