Bagels, Balls and Living Life Your Way

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Bagels, Balls and Living Life Your Way
27 October 2014

I know it looks like there hasn’t been much happening in Lunch Lady land lately, but I can assure you, nothing can be further from the truth. Things are happening, for sure, and all will become apparent very soon! BUT, in the meantime, let’s talk about bagels, balls and living life your way.

Recently I realised I had bitten off more than I can chew and life was getting less and less like the way I imagined it to be. I moved to the country to have a simple life, to cook good food for my family and to breathe in the fresh air and take time out. But my love of taking on projects had got out of control and all of a sudden the joy had gone and I was spending less and less time at home with the people I love.

The other day I took a walk in my favourite forest, just me and the dogs. It was so quiet. I lay under a huge, old oak tree and stared up at the sky twinkling through the leaves. I thought about where my life had lead to, why had I become less of the person I felt I was and for someone who was ALWAYS busy, how come I felt like I was achieving nothing. What was it that made me happy, what was i truly passionate about and how can I spend more time doing those things.

I made some cuts. I changed my diet. I moved more. I am happy again.
This lady, the Lunch Lady, is what I love. It is what I feel truly passionate about and it is where my energy will be going. I want to share stories of living well, eating well and caring for yourself as well as the ones you love. I need to remind myself of where this whole adventure started, the day I found out about my big kid getting bullied for the lunches I was making her. She is a bigger kid now and even more awesome than before. I owe it to her to make Lunch Lady the best she can be.

But before any of that I promised bagels.

Maya loves eating and making bagels. And I can’t stress enough how much fun they are to make, and how rewarded you are with praise and amazement from friends when you rock up anywhere with homemade bagels.

I use the recipe straight up from the BBC website. It is the easiest one I have found and they are SUPER DUPER delish!

SUPER DUPER EASY, YET IMPRESSIVE, BAGELS

What You Need

  • 2 tbsp dried yeast
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 450g bread flour
  • poppy, fennel, sesame seeds or anything you like really to sprinkle on top (optional)

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

  1. Tip the yeast and 1 tbsp sugar into a large bowl, and pour over 100ml warm water. Leave for 10 mins until the mixture becomes frothy.
  2. Pour 200ml warm water into the bowl, then stir in the salt and half the flour. Keep adding the remaining flour (you may not have to use it all) and mixing with your hands until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Then knead for 10 mins until the dough feels smooth and elastic (I use the Kitchenaid with the dough hook for this, makes it even EASIER and less messy). Shape into a ball and put in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1hr.
  3. Heat oven to 200˚C. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 10 pieces, but if you muck it up by one or two, doesn’t matter really. Shape each piece into a flattish ball, then take a wooden spoon and use the handle to make a hole in the middle of each ball. Slip the spoon into the hole, then twirl the bagel around the spoon to make a hole about 3cm wide (this is super fun and the kids LOVE to do it!). Cover the bagel loosely with cling film while you shape the remaining dough.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and tip in the remaining sugar. Slip the bagels into the boiling water – no more than four at a time. Cook for 1 minute each side, until the bagels have puffed slightly and a skin has formed. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain away any excess water.
  5. Sprinkle over your choice of topping and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  6. Bake in the oven for 25 mins until browned and crisp – the bases should sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then serve with your favourite filling.

These make an AWESOME thing to put in your kids lunch box, especially when you make them into mini kids sized ones.

I also mentioned balls.

One of the things that was really weighing me down when I was lying under that tree was how I haven’t been looking after what was going in to my body. I take great care in what I feed my family, but once the tornado of breakfast making, lunch preparing and the rest, I didn’t really find time or energy to make an effort in to putting good things in my belly.

I started on a juice detox. It was to last for 7 days. Just fruit and veg juice. I know it’s a little extreme, but I am one of those all or nothing people, and I felt the juice detox was the circuit breaker I needed. It was awesome! And not really for the reasons you may think, or I even thought. My mind was clearer, I really noticed how much stuff I graze on whilst I prepared the family’s meals (hence my wardrobe shrinking day by day), I gained an amazing about of energy and most importantly I had taken control of my life again.

I only lasted 5 days. But it was enough. It was exactly what I needed to reset my mind and body and get cracking on my life again.

One of my downfalls is my INSANE sweet tooth. I used to down a packet of fantales in one sitting (I know, the shame).

I researched around, found some date and coconut balls and then added some stuff from my baking cupboard in there too. I am sure there are a billion versions of this same thing, but this is what I put in mine.

I REALLY COULD GO A FANTALE RIGHT NOW BALLS

What You Need

  • 2 cups of dates (medjool is best, if using the drier ones, you may need to add a little extra liquid)
  • 1 cup of shredded or desiccated coconut
    1 cup almonds
    1/3 cup raw cacao
    Drizzle (add to taste, or add for consistency) agave or maple syrup (I am sure you could use other stuff, that is just what I have used)

What You Need to Do

  1. Measure out all ingredients (apart from the syrup) and pop in a blender.
  2. Blend the ingredients together, gradually drizzle in some of your syrup and keep blending until your mixture forms a ball, this should take about 5 minutes. You want all the almonds and coconut to be processed so you can roll these suckers in to balls.
    Once the mixture has formed a ball, pick pieces at a time and roll them in to balls.
  3. Roll your balls of deliciousness in some coconut (if you wish) repeat until you have used up all your mixture
    These balls taste best the next day or straight out of the freezer (thanks for the tip Peta)

I just need to work out how to not eat them all in one go.

Take care xx