This year, I've allowed myself to think about Christmas nice and early. I want to build up to it slowly, with decorations and twinkling lights creeping into my home. There will be no hauling a box out of my attic in a frantic afternoon a week before the 25th December, no panic buying and no feeling stressed about something I've forgotten to do. Instead, I've given myself the time to be mindful, to plan ahead and to fully enjoy everything this time of year has to offer. And why not? I'm sure most of our reluctance to embrace Christmas early is because we so hate all the over-consumerism and the feeling that it's being forced upon us as soon as the last trick-or-treater has gone home to bed. I know that's why I typically leave everything until the last minute anyway.
Now that Rory is getting to an age where Christmas is something of importance to her (not quite yet, but soon) I think more and more about the memories I have of being a child. What stays with me is never about the things we were given, it's always about what we did. The experiences, the music, the lights, and of course...the food. Baking mince pies with my Mum, decorating the tree with my brother and watching the Snowman on telly on Christmas Eve. That's what I remember.
Making as much as we can at Christmas time is so important to me, not just because we can make thoughtful gifts that avoid needless consumerism and waste, but because of the memories we can make while we are doing it. I'm a big fan of edible gifts, at any time of year. Make something delicious, with love, presented in a glass jar that can be re-used long after the treats have gone. No one gets given extra junk they don't need, but instead they get something that they can enjoy, hopefully in a moment of quiet with a cup of something hot and spicy. I think it's extra special, when you know someone values you enough to give you a little of their hard earned time.
Cocoa & Orange Bliss Balls
100g (3.5oz) pitted dates
75g (2.75oz) almonds, skin on
75g (2.75oz) cashew nuts
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp melted coconut oil
3 tsp cocoa powder, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp orange extract
1. Soak the dates in boiling water for ten minutes.
2. While the dates are soaking, blitz the nuts in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, and the soaked dates when they are ready. Pulse the processor if the mix is a little sticky, the continue to blend everything making sure it's well mixed together.
3. Roll the mixture into twelve balls, using wet hands, and roll them in the extra cocoa to coat.
4. Chill in the fridge for eight hours, or freeze for one hour if you want to eat or gift them quickly. Best stored in the fridge too.
You can experiment with how large or small you want to make these, from tiny 'bliss bites' to larger balls depending on the kind of packaging you've got. Add a hand written label, and you've got a wonderful, delicious and healthy treat that both adults and children will love.