Nathan has had issues with feeding since Day 1, when he ended up in the NICU because his blood sugar levels were so low that he had difficulty putting forth the effort to eat. It continued with his difficulties with breastfeeding and gaining weight, and resolved when we started giving him bottles of pumped breastmilk and supplementing as needed with formula.
We started him on solids when he was 6 months (after he started smacking his lips and reaching for our food all the time!) and despite a few interesting reactions to the new flavors, he was pretty excited about baby food . . . until one day he decided that he didn’t trust anybody to feed him, and unless he could put it in his mouth himself, he wasn’t going to eat it! Now he’ll accept help eating certain foods (um, mostly ice cream . . . ) but continues to have issues with foods that are slimy/sticky/weird. So for a while it was tough to get anything in him that wasn’t a cracker or dry cereal. (How he has maintained a healthy weight is beyond me . . . )
Enter peanut butter honey balls! My mom used to make these when I was a kid, and I thought it was something she came up with on her own (until a friend recently suggested them when I mentioned how difficult it was to get Nathan to eat protein). The recipe is almost . . . not even a recipe anymore. But trust me when I say they’re super simple to make and eat (though they do require some muscle power to mix . . . )
- peanut butter
- wheat germ
- powdered milk
- Spoon a bunch of peanut butter into a large bowl. (Tip: Use a really huge bowl so you have plenty of room to work. You can easily move it to a smaller container later! I also had better luck using a stainless steel mixing bowl than a plastic one, but that could have been coincidence!)
- Pour in equal parts wheat germ and powdered milk (pretty much cover the peanut butter in the dry ingredients to start, and you’ll adjust later if it was too little or too much. That’s why you start with a really big bowl!) It’s probably going to end up needing more of both dry ingredients, so don’t be afraid to be heavy handed!
- Drizzle honey over everything (it’s probably easier to err on the side of too little and just add more at the end if you want a stronger flavor)
- Mix it all up (this is the hardest part, but it’s not impossible!) (Tip: Use a fork instead of a spoon – it’s easier to integrate the dry ingredients to the wet ones if you smash it through the prongs of the fork, kind of like a pastry cutter!)
- Your goal consistency is firm enough to be formed into a ball (so maybe a dough like texture?) and you want it to be dry enough that if you roll it in your hands, it sticks to itself instead of to you (your hand might be a little oily if you like them more moist, but you shouldn’t have peanut butter stuck to your hands!)
- If the mixture is too wet/oily/runny – add more dry ingredients and mix again! (You’re going to end up shocked by the ratio of wet to dry ingredients in this. It’s actually a lot healthier than it initially sounds!)
- If the mixture is too dry (which my mom swears almost never happens!) – add more peanut butter!
- The honey is pretty much just for taste, so when you think you’re done, try a bite and see if you like it! If you want it sweeter, add more honey. If it’s too sweet . . . add more peanut butter/wheat germ/powdered milk again!
- To serve, you simply grab a hunk, roll it into a ball, and serve! My mom would send it with us to school in a container like this, and we’d roll them and eat them as we went (playing with your food always makes it more fun!)
VOILA! Food you eat with your hands, that is full of protein, fiber, and kid friendly flavors I also Googled “peanut butter honey balls” to see what would come up, and there are LOTS of variations of this recipe that also sound yummy (I was particularly intrigued by the idea of chilling them and dipping them in chocolate, or rolling them in graham cracker crumbs, yum!) So I will always be partial to this version, but there’s lots of room for creativity with these Enjoy!