cooking for one // spicy cauliflower

Oh boy! Cauliflower is the new potato, friends. One of the best appetizers I have had is a Buffalo Cauliflower dish. It was beer battered cauliflower tossed in buffalo sauce and served with a dill ranch dressing for dipping. Since it was deep fried, it wasn’t the healthiest of options. However, I have a tasty side dish for you that is very similar and doesn’t involve batter or a deep fryer! If you love hot sauce, you need to make this. Did I mention this is going to be super easy and quick to make? Let’s dig in!

The first step is to wash your cauliflower. I won’t judge you if you skip this step but you should. Next, cut the cauliflower into small floret chunks. I used half a head of cauliflower. Moving on – toss the florets into a hot pan (medium/high) and then drizzle with two teaspoons of olive oil (or so – I tend to NOT measure things) – then add minced garlic! Now, mix well.

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Let the cauliflower brown up a bit, stirring often to keep it from burning and to get it evenly heated throughout. Ater three minutes or so, turn the heat down to low. On low, I let the cauliflower cook a few more minutes before adding the lime juice and soya sauce in. Use your best judgment on how much, I’d say a quarter of a lime would give you enough juice and a few dashess of soy sauce should do the trick. Continue to mix well. Once you get an even coat… add the hot sauce! How much hot sauce to add just depends on how hot you like. I did quite a bit. This adds a nice colour (and flavour!) to the dish. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes before serving.

Feeling fancy? Top with green onion and enjoy!

product review: munchpak #2

I was lucky enough to review MunchPak before but someone from their team reached out for a second review. MunchPak is a subscription box service that sends you a box full of snacks. There is a variety of snacks inside some are candy, chocolate and even some salty treats like chips. I received the MunchPak Original. This offering includes 10 or more items for only $19.95. Don’t fret! If you want fewer snacks or more snacks you can always opt in or out. The MunchPak Mini will cost you $9.95 for five or six snacks. The FamilyPak costs $39.95 is the best value and includes 20 or more items. The snacks included are from all over. You might find Canadian snacks but you will also get to try stuff from Asia, the UK and all over!  MunchPak will even ship worldwide but of course, shipping rates will vary depending on where you live.

They even have their own shop so you can purchase the items you loved – or find new ones and purchase by item if you’re not into the idea of a surprise or mystery!

So here is what I received in my second MunchPak! PS. You can save $3 off your own MunchPak by using promo code “boywhoblogs

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Sweet & Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles (USA)
These were actually unreal! I loved them. I was a bit skeptical at first because they are Bugles and I’m used to the original. The chocolate peanut butter flavouring was very good. I really liked these.

Doritos Pizzerolas (Mexico)
These were different… not bad but I wouldn’t buy them. Doritos has so many amazing flavours but I wouldn’t consider the Pizzerolas flavour one their best. I did, however, finish the bag. The pizza taste is not the same as what you would taste in a pizza flavoured Pringle.

Boston Baked Beans (Mexico)
Well, these aren’t beans. They are more of a novelty, gag item. The beans are actually candy coated peanuts. I didn’t enjoy the candy coating at all but the peanuts weren’t bad! I didn’t and won’t finish these.

Bebeto Wacky Sticks Strawberry Flavor (Turkey)
Without a question one of my favourite items! I love wacky sticks and strawberry flavoured snacks. These were really good and I noticed that you get a good amount of straws in the package. These are similar to the candy straws available in Canada.

Skawa Orange Yogurt Dragees (Poland)
These little balls were just alright. One of the two items I didn’t finish and probably won’t. They aren’t bad or anything, just not my favourite. They have a harder coating and a light yogurt-like creamy inside.

White & Red Flag Caramel Heaven Wafers (Poland)
This was disgusting good. I love caramel and wafers are great. I had to eat this in like four sitting because it was a bit much. Great tasting product but not something I would regularly buy if they were readily available in Canada.

Dragonfly Lotus Tea (Vietnam)
To be honest, drinking a tea without reading the label scares me and I’ve yet to build up the courage to try this. Lotus tea has its health benefits and is supposed to be a sweet, fruity tea.

Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles (United Kingdom)
Within my top three for sure. I love Rowntrees products and generally seem to enjoy candy and chocolate from the UK. The best way to describe these would be like a sugar-coated wine gum.

Nestle Morochas Cookies (USA)
These weren’t bad but nothing to rant and rave over. I’m not a huge cookie lover.

Yaokin Cola Candy Straws (Japan)
These sour cola straws were delicious! One of my favourites, they were cola flavoured which was interesting.

Sign up for MunchPak today and save $3 with the use of my promo code “boywhoblogs

cooking for one // pear and brie crostini

This is the first time I’m sharing a recipe on here that I didn’t come up with on my own. In fact, I didn’t even make this… my sister made it for us at a family dinner! I wanted to share this recipe anyways because it’s so easy and was pretty darn tasty. I’ll certainly be making this next time I have to come up with an appetizer on the fly. It was so easy, quick and flavourful. Plus, you only need a few ingredients. It makes quite a bit too but you don’t have to make a lot if you don’t want to!

You’ll need a wheel of brie cheese, a french baguette, a pear or two, fresh thyme, a bit of olive oil and balsamic glaze. I would suggest getting the President’s Choice balsamic glaze!

First, preheat the oven to around 400 degrees. Then slice the baguette into thin slices about half an inch thick. Lightly coat these slices with olive oil and then put them into the oven to get crispy – about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up the pears into thin slices just a bit smaller than the baguettes. After, cut the brie into the same size slices as your pears – so they will warm up from the baguette a bit. You’ll want to chop some fresh thyme to garnish and to add that unique flavour. Once the baguettes are crisp, remove them from the oven and get to work. Stack the pear on the baguette and the brie. Then drizzle balsamic glaze evenly over the plate and sprinkle some thyme on top.

And you’re done! This can easily be done in less than 20 minutes. Talk about an easy and different appetizer for Spring, eh?

cooking for one // two quick beef dinner ideas

I love myself some red meat. Funny because I was also a vegetarian for a year and a bit in my early teens. That is probably why I still look 14, I think I lacked the protein and nutrition I needed to grow into a big burly man. Anyways, grill me a t-bone steak and let’s get it. So yes, I do like my beef. Yes, I love my BBQ and do use it year round. But these beef dinner ideas are sure to make your dinner an easy one. Both are good on their own – or can be used to create something else.

Honey Garlic Beef Strips
Okay, I don’t even know where I came up with the idea to make this. But damn, let me tell you.. these are so good. Not only is this cheap and quick to make, but you’re going to think you are eating honey garlic beef ribs from the chinese restaurant you adore. Tender and full of flavour, yum!

So easy. Buy the package of beef strips commonly used for stir fry or fajitas. Or, you can buy a think steak and cut it into 1/4 inch strips. In a frying pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil (tablespoon or so) and brown the beef strips up. Once the meat is browned, add a bit of honey garlic sauce. I like the VH brand best, but have used others too. Reduce heat and let it simmer until the beef soaks up all the honey garlic flavour. It shouldn’t be runny. BAM! You’re done.  You can mix this up with some rice and veggies – or just have it on a side. I often just make the beef and pair it with corn, broccoli, sweet potato or whatever else I am feeling or have on hand.

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Homemade Meatballs
I am a sucker for homemade meatballs.. well I am a sucker for meatballs in general. Let’s be serious, the only ones who don’t like meatballs at a potluck are the vegans and vegetarians. Nothing against that – I bet they love veggie meatballs too. I know I did when I was a vegetarian. You can do so much and get creative while making your meatballs.

Since I don’t love eggs, I never buy them. So instead I use panko bread crumbs to help them stick together and maintain that sphere shape. Other things I love to add in: minced garlic, minced onion, soy sauce, pepper, cayenne, and some parmesan cheese. As usual, I don’t weigh out how much goes in, I use my judgement. Again – super easy to cook. Fry the meat balls up in a frying pan. Don’t make the balls too big, this makes it harder to cook through and no one wants raw meat.

Hopefully these beef options will be coming to your dinner plate soon. After all, they are cheap to make and can be made up in less than 20 minutes. Both are pretty easy to clean up too.  Enjoy!

living with a food allergy

According to allergicliving.com, less than 10% of Canadians have food allergies. This statistic shocks me, this means only 1 in 13 Canadians have to worry about their food possibly causing a reaction. The numbers seems low to me; which is a good thing because many people are living without a food allergy. Unfortunately for me, I have a food allergy to sunflower seeds and I think a couple other seeds as well. It’s unfortunate because seeds are great for you. Not only are they are packed with health benefits but they are used in such a variety of food.

I think it is super weird how I can eat things cooked with, or in sunflower oil but I can’t eat the actual sunflower seed or any sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin is an extract from the seed itself commonly used in cooking. What really sucks about having a food allergy is when you experience an unexpected reaction because the food you bought wasn’t labelled correctly, or the people preparing the food were unsure of what ingredients were actually used in the food they are selling. Yes, you can ask if the food or drink (yes, I’ve had a reaction to a $10 smoothie before because it unknowingly contained sunflower seeds) contains any seeds but honestly, you’re likely going to get an “I don’t know” or “We can’t be sure” answer. Again, you need to be looking out for yourself but how annoying is it asking if the food contains anything you’re allergic to? Very. For that reason I decided to compile some tips on how you can prepare and avoid a disturbing reaction below.

1. Call before you visit
I know from being a server in the past that it can be stressful on the kitchen when you report an allergy upon putting in an order. Kitchens are fast paced places, the staff is working hard to cook meals in a timely manner. So instead of showing up during the lunch or dinner rush with a serious and sometimes life threatening concern, call ahead. Ask to speak with the kitchen manager or head chef to see what items on the menu are best for you. Fast food places including take out establishments and coffee shops are no different – be sure to ask the right questions about how you can dine safe.

2. Be prepared
If you have a serious allergy that can leave you in anaphylactic shock, it’s important to keep an Epipen with you when you’re eating food that someone else prepared. If you have less severe allergies, it’s a good idea to keep an allergy medicine such as Benadryl on hand. Keep it in your pocket, leave it in the car – just have it near by. You can also look into using essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus to help subside your reaction.

3. Ask questions and seek confirmation
As serious as a food allergy can be, you can’t expect others to be as cautious of your allergy as you are. Don’t hesitate to ask before you order if the meal contains the allergen. Once the meal is served, don’t be afraid to seek confirmation again. Politely ask “No sunflower seeds in this one, right?”  If you’re a large group and someone ordered the same dish as you, they likely had sunflower seeds in their dish and the server may have grabbed the wrong plate. You can never be to safe!

4. Take action
If you are experiencing a reaction, you need to take immediate action. Reactions can be different – even if it’s the same allergy. The same person can have different symptoms each time they encounter their allergen. Don’t ignore early symptoms, this can make things worse. Remember, anaphylaxis can occur without skin symptoms or hives.

5. Communicate your concern
For the longest time some family told me I wasn’t allergic to anything. I knew they clearly didn’t get it. You don’t just start feeling like absolute shit from eating the same thing every time. It’s also not normal to get hives, to feel like you can’t breath right, or for your eyes to water, your skin shouldn’t itch after eating something and you shouldn’t be puking after either. A reaction is different each time – sometimes I get a bad reaction and sometimes it’s nothing but an upset stomach and itchy throat. If you’re experiencing a reaction, tell someone. Tell them not to panic, but it’s a good idea to let someone else know. Don’t feel embarrassed or awkward. It is crucial to have those around you know in case the reaction worsens.

product review: bakers krate

If you know me, you likely know how big of a sweet tooth I have. In fact, I think all my teeth are sweet teeth! I am a sucker for baked goods. I love to make trips to the bakery in Orono on the weekend but I also like checking out new bakeries. I actually like baking too; I think it’s a bit easier than cooking meals and often has an easier clean up. But with Bakers Krate, you don’t have to worry about which baked goods to pick or having to deal with a messy kitchen just so you can get your hands on some tasty treats.

Bakers Krate is a Canadian subscription box company that sends you a box full of tasty baked good from bakeries all over Canada. The goodies are just like the basic items you would find at your local bake sale. In fact, all of the items I got came from bakeries in Ontario. The bakers that supply their items are experts, they bake for a living. They provide quality items that are natural, local and fresh. So what did I get?

Skor Cookie Bar
This was so good. I’ve had other Skor inspired baked goods but not a full on cookie bar. The cookie bar part is made with vanilla and toffee which is then smothered in melted chocolate and topped with little Skor pieces. I posted a picture of this on my social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

St. Patrick’s Day Cake Pop
This may have been the first cake pop I’ve ever had. I am so happy it was chocolate cake too! Sorry vanilla lovers, but chocolate cake is the way to my heart.They mixed in a creamy icing which made the cake moist and very creamy. To finish it off they dipped the cake pop in white chocolate and drizzled a bit of green on top for that St. Patrick’s Day fun decoration!

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Peanut Butter Rice Krispy
I was super impressed with this one. It’s the first treat I ate. It puts the classic rice krispy to shame. The baker mixed peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallow to create a flavourful square. I think I could make this myself!

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Coco Coconut Mini Pie in a Jar
Not only was this packaged super cute, I also love the idea of a mini pie in a jar. The best way to describe this was like a butter tart with shredded coconut in it. I haven’t had anything like this before – except the classic butter tart (which I love!) I’m still not even 100% sure what was all in this but damn it was good. The Itty Bitty Pie company took it a step further with the “cool” factor of a mini pie in a jar.

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Florentine
So florentine cookies are actually something I get regularly from my local bakery. They are a thin, crunchy treat made of tiny pieces of almonds stuck together using a brittle like mixture. They then cover the crispy treat with chocolate which adds a nice smooth taste to the entire cookie.

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The featured bakeries from this month’s Bakers Krate include: Leah’s Bakery, Black Walnut Bakery Cafe, Itty Bitty Pie Company, Heather’s Bakery Cafe and The Wooden Spoon. I like this service because I am a sucker for desserts. It’s nice to have a treat after dinner and with Bakers Krate it’s so convenient. Bakers Krate would make a great gift as well. If you know someone who has a sweet tooth, surprise them!

 

product review: hellofresh canada

For a while now I have been amused by the evolving trend of meal delivery. No, I don’t mean getting take out meals delivered. I am referring to the businesses that send you nutritious meals straight to your door step. Some send them cooked and ready to warm up, others send you the ingredients you need to create meals they have already planned for you. HelloFresh is a company that sends you quality ingredients and a recipe book so you can prepare delicious meals at home in less than 30 minutes. The meals come in a box that is insulated and packed with ice packs to keep the meat and produce at ideal temperatures until you arrive home. Inside the box are smaller boxes, packed with the ingredients you will need for that specific meal.

So I bet you’re curious, what did I get from HelloFresh? Well, here is a break down of the box I received – the pronto box. Typically you receive four meals in each box. All you need at home is some salt, pepper, oil and sugar – the rest they send to you!

Meal One: Shrimp Banh Mi Burger
Honestly, I was kind of scared to try this one. Typically, I wouldn’t order this at a restaurant but that’s what is cool about the service; you get to experiment and try new things. Shrimp is one of those foods that I am picky with. I don’t want cheap, rubbery shrimp. Thank god they teamed up with Hooked, a quality supplier of seafood in Canada. The shrimp was so good. I really enjoyed making (and tasting) the sriracha lime mayo. A neat step in creating this burger was the process in which I pickled the shredded carrot and cucumber slices with white wine vinegar and sugar.

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Meal Two: Roasted Pork
This was really nice and easy. Honestly, I never pan sear pork chops. But with the cold weather, I wasn’t going to complain or try to BBQ them since I could just use my stove top and follow the directions provided. I really liked the apple topper that you make yourself with a fresh gala apple. The sides; cauliflower mash and roasted snap peas were so good too! I’ll definitely start roasting snap peas more often.

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Meal Three: Saucy Tandoori Chicken
This was my favourite meal from HelloFresh! It wasn’t hard to make, but was something I don’t normally make either. The chicken was great, but the rice was totally worth talking about! They make you add lemon zest, lemon juice and cilantro to the brown rice and wow, let me tell you.. it was SO good. I am still thinking about how good it was. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken was also amazing but the rice was just like nothing I’ve had before. On top, you throw a blob of the shredded cucumber and sour cream mix. At first I was a little hesitant to put this on the delicious meal I just cooked, but it was a perfect and refreshing piece of the meal.

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HelloFresh sources farm fresh, seasonal ingredients to make chef inspired meals right at home. You pick between their pronto box, veggie box or family box. Each one feeds either 2 or 4 people, based on your needs.You can view upcoming recipes on HelloFresh.ca and use promo code “COLMER50” to save 50% of your first box!

product review: munchpak

So if you follow my blog, you know I’ve been trying to eat more consistently. I am not only trying to eat more frequently and more nutritious meals but I’m also trying to cut back on my sugar intake. I literally binge sugary foods in the evening. I can’t picture myself eliminating sugar completely, but I would like to get in control of my cravings. MunchPak is a subscription box service that sends you a box full of snacks. The items inside are perfect for all your cravings: candy, chocolate and salty treats. If you’re anything like me; you get cravings for sugar, chocolate and for salt. I can’t say I’m proud of it, hence why I am constantly working on this. MunchPak is an option to help this. If I could limit myself to the contents inside each month, I’d be laughing!

I received the MunchPak Original, which contains 10 or more items for only $19.95. You can opt in for less snacks, or for more snacks. The MunchPak Mini will cost you $9.95 for five or six snacks. The FamilyPak costs $39.95 is the best value and includes 20 or more items. The items inside come from far and wide. Japan, Indonesia, the UK, etc. This is a great option for anything who loves European chocolate or trying new goodies from around the world. The best part is that they now ship worldwide! Shipping rates vary based on your location.

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So what did I get?
I got a mix of chocolate, candy and chips in my MunchPak! To be honest, I was scared to try some of the items just because I was unsure what exactly they were based on the packaging. Thankfully, I couldn’t pass up on trying new stuff. There weren’t any items inside that I didn’t like. I’ve linked each item below incase you want to pick up a certain snack. They sell their past items individually too!

Rap Snacks Potato Chips (Fetty Wap) Honey Jalapeño flavour 
It’s like the team at MunchPak knew I loved Fetty. I was a bit hesitant when I read “honey jalapeño” but I love hot foods and I like honey. They tasted like your typical American potato chip but the flavour was unique. I really enjoyed it!

Bourbon Petite Baked Potato Chips – Salt flavour 
These are from Japan. Basically, they best way to describe these chips are to call them mini Pringles. They were the same shape, texture and taste as the original Pringles. I really enjoyed these chips and shared them with my best friend who also approved!

Rowntrees Randoms Fruit Jellies
These sweet, chewy gummy candies are from the UK and made by Nestle. They contain an assortment of “random” jelly candies. You could find a strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, lime, lemon and cherry flavour within the pack! The packs are made up of four different textures and shapes. Again, would eat them again!

Lotte Double Dip Pepero
Okay, these were new to me. I’ve never seen a biscuit-like stick covered in chocolate. Not to mention double dipped in both white and milk chocolate! I really enjoyed eating these. They are a product of South Korea. I would totally pick these up again.

Hello Kitty Green Tea Wafer Cookies
So these aren’t something I would typically pick up if I saw them at the store. I do love green tea and wafer cookies but the combination to me seems odd. That isn’t until I gave it a try. I was impressed, I liked them! You can taste a natural green tea flavour while munching on the stick. The flavour comes from the matcha cream on the inside. This is a good product that came all the way from China.

DIY Candy – Coris Chocolate Covered Banana
Ok, these were my least favourite snack of the bunch. The DIY candy idea is really cool and apparently pretty huge in Japan. The pack came with soft yellow banana flavoured candy and a pack of chocolate dip and sprinkles.  The chocolate wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t eat it all. The sprinkles would decent but the soft banana candies were the best.

Milka Bubbly Chocolate
Move over Aero bar. The new guy is in town – straight out of Switzerland. This is very similar to an Aero bar, it was one of the best treats included. A full size (if not larger) bar of milk chocolate with air pockets through out. The smoothness and light taste were a total hit. I couldn’t help myself but to eat this in two days.

Meihi Choco Baby 
Japan is on the ball! These are perfect to kick your chocolate cravings with little guilt. They are little bits of chocolate that come in a dispenser for easy snacking. The dispenser helps you control how much to eat, but I mean – you might get carried away. They are really good and I haven’t seen anything like them over here in Canada before.

Fini Roller Candy – Blue Raspberry 
This was the first time trying a candy from Spain. I certainly was not disappointed. We have something very similar in Canada. This is a candy belt candy, covered in sour sugar. Aka, the best! The sour is easy to tolerate and the flavour of the blue raspberry has me salivating as I reminisce and write this.

Kabaya Sakypanda
This product from Japan is a sweet biscuit covered in both milk and white chocolate. The come in the shape of a panda head which was a cute. I liked the taste overall and I’m not really a biscuit type guy. Enjoying these with a glass of milk would be next level good!

So, if you’re looking for a subscription box for yourself or to gift.. check out MunchPak. You can browse their online store and purchase some snacks individually as well. I’m pretty hesitant when it comes to trying new foods; especially ones from around the world but I was not disappointed. Be sure to check out my Instagram to see the treats outside the packaging for a better look! Happy munching… I’m going to eat some vegetables now.

cooking for one // chicken fingers

I love cooking. I have been crafting my culinary skills since I was a little kid. I would help my parents out in the kitchen as much as I could growing up. In high school I took the food and nutrition class offered through the school. I also peer-helped in the food and nutrition class the year after I completed it. My favourite take away from this course was the recipe book we created. It included all the recipes we made through out the school year. Fast forward several years later and I am now cooking for one on the reg. I came across the recipe book last week and remembered the homemade chicken fingers we made in class one day – they were so good! We made them with sweet potato fries too. So this week, I made them for myself and they were totally worth blogging about.

So, what makes them unique? Well it’s a bit more than just a piece of chicken battered. I mean, it is just a chicken finger but it’s what I use to make the batter stick that adds a ton of flavour! I’ll break it down quickly, they are super easy to prepare and are pretty quick to cook.

First thing, cut a chicken breast into thin slices, about an inch or so wide. In one bowl, mix your wet ingredients. This is just mayo and honey dijon mustard mixed together. I added a bit of pepper to the wet ingredients though. In a second bowl, you mix the dry goods. This is just panko crumbs and some spices. I switched it up a bit from what we did in school and used garlic powder and a bit of cajun to add some more flavour to the crusted batter. In school we used thyme and salt and pepper.

One at a time, I covered the chicken strips with the wet mixture and then coated the strips by tossing them in the dry mixture. Super easy! Then I placed them on a baking sheet, setting them on tin foil first to help make the clean up easier. I baked them at 400 for about 15 minutes, flipping them once. You can play around with the temperature and cook time, depending on your oven and desired crunch!

cooking for one // banana energy balls

So, this isn’t really cooking but it is good food; so hey. This is actually a really simple recipe, I just kind of put a few ingredients together and hoped for the best. Luckily, they did turn out okay. There were no measurements, I just kind of eyed it out as per usual. Sorry if you hate that – it just works for me. These bite size treats are a nice little snack but they also made for a tasty treat after dinner. Really I just mixed a few simple ingredients together and then let them get cold and solidify a bit more. I was impatient, so I tossed them into the freezer for 10 minutes and then put them into the fridge for another 20 minutes.

So what did I mix? One ripe banana, mashed. About half a cup of quick oats. A little bit of cinnamon. A tablespoon or so of honey. And a generous blob of all natural, crunchy peanut butter. Oh, and sweetened coconut flakes. I simply mixed these together with my hands until the mixture was thick and sticking together easily. I then made bite size balls and set them on a plate. This made about ten balls, you could easily the double the recipe with another banana, adding a bit more coconut flakes and some more oats.

Enjoy this quick and easy snack!