Taking her place at the family table, Andrea looked happily at the expectant faces. There were her two boys smiling. Young and innocent smiles, still shielded from the sometimes cynical world outside the family’s front gate. Then there was Isaac. The one who had to face so much in his short 17 years of life, and yet his life was sometimes regarded as so little from those outside his family.
Andrea glanced to her left, smiling into the sparkling blue eyes and startling black beard of her husband Jack. Yes, Andrea reflected, this was their first special meal together as a new family. A blended family, one of those family structures which an expert condemned as “Splat!” instead of nicely homogenised. Oh well, thought Andrea, experts weren’t always right – but God is always right.
As her husband said grace, and the new family bowed their heads in unison to Jack’s heartfelt prayer, Andrea was looking forward to bringing out the special treat for the family, a secret she had been keeping to herself, Carob Bliss Balls.
You see, since Andrea, Jack and the boys had begun their new life together just a few short months ago, they had been experimenting with and enjoying a whole food vegan diet. A way of eating which for them, excluded all animal products, except a little honey, and all processed foods, except for a little extra virgin olive oil.
Andrea was a natural researcher, and she had been diligently studying nutrition and lifestyle intervention books to ensure a balanced diet based wholly on plant foods.
The new family diet also excluded all cocoa and chocolate. Andrea had read that cocoa powder in all forms is toxic to humans, even though there was evidence of cocoa being a Superfood, there was much more evidence to show cocoa is addictive – in some ways mimicking addiction to marijuana or LSD. In fact, Andrea mused, animals couldn’t be persuaded to eat cocoa unless they were tricked into tasting a mixture of cocoa, milk and sugar. Even more reason to be pleased with her latest sweet treat, Carob Bliss Balls.
The savoury part of the meal was delicious and hearty, just perfect for the cool Rotorua summer day. Potatoes, an oatmeal based savoury loaf, cashew gravy and bright jewel colours of steamed broccoli, carrots and peas. Looking around the table, Andrea recognised God had blessed her efforts and the new family seemed to be enjoying and thriving on the new way of eating.
With satisfied sighs, the boys and Jack cleared away the plates, knives and forks, and the serving dishes that graced the centre of their large wooden table for special occasions – the weekly Sabbath lunches, birthdays, and when they were hosting guests.
With joy in her heart, Andrea walked down the hallway to retrieve the sweet treat well hidden in the freezer. She remembered how she had contributed this near new freezer to the household when she and Jack married and moved into the brand new but rather small family home. Jack had been working hard to build new bedrooms for her sons. He’d even asked some of his adult sons to help with some of the tasks which really needed two pairs of hands: Lifting plasterboard into place; Large beams held up while the other person screwed them in place, that kind of thing.
Now Andrea pictured the delight on the three boys’ faces when she produced these delicious sweet goodies – which just happened to be healthy!
Opening the freezer door, Andrea reached way into the back of the top shelf feeling around for the lidded plastic container. Yes, there it was! And then she felt the first sneaking suspicion that something was wrong. Surely the container should be heavier?
Now the joy of anticipation turned to shock and horror, as Andrea stared blankly at the container – EMPTY! Not one Carob Bliss Ball. Not one, just a few specks of dark crumbs and white coconut.
And that was the precise moment Andrea had a choice. How would she respond?
Andrea knew that when emotions are running hot, they are best left to cool to a bare simmer. At this precise moment Andrea knew she should put up an urgent call for help to Jesus. Not help to produce more Carob Bliss Balls (although she thought that would be nice) but help to control her emotions. But, throwing caution to the wind, she stormed up the hallway, not pausing once to think how she was about to disrupt the new family’s first special dinner together. Instead, choosing sin above rightful behaviour, she stood, hands on hips in the living room and demanded, “WHO ate the Carob Bliss Balls?”
Instantly, she knew she needed and wanted help to overcome this kind of behaviour – a long night in prayer lay ahead!
Carob Bliss Balls
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (plus extra for coating the balls)
1 cup brazil nuts
4 TB carob powder (for the rare person who reacts to carob, organic cocoa powder can be used)
1/2 cup dates (measure after chopping)
You will need a food processor or blender to make this recipe.
First, chop the dates. Andrea found scissors are best for this job. She says to make sure all the date pits are removed. In a small bowl, soak the dates in a little hot water for about five minutes.
Meantime, pour the measured coconut, brazil nuts and carob powder into the food processor or blender. Now process or blend until you have a sandy mixture.
Drain the soaking water from the dates, but wait! Reserve the soaking water in case you need a little extra moisture or sweetness.
Add the dates to the food processor, and process the coconut/nut mixture with the dates until clumping together. If the mixture doesn’t clump, drip a few drops of soaking liquid into the mixture and process again. Taste, if not sweet enough add one teaspoon of honey at a time. (Some people cannot eat honey, so try coconut nectar or maple syrup instead).
Once the mixture can be formed into balls, you simply form them into balls, roll in extra coconut and store in a lidded container in the fridge or freezer. For a spectacular presentation, simply sit each ball in a paper mini cupcake case. They do keep a long while and make a welcome treat for weekly Sabbaths.
(Original names of the people in this story have been changed)