It’s contradictory, but: when you’re the only person who cooks, even in a home for two, you never make anything just the way you like it.
My earliest food memories took place in various kitchens. There was the flour-dredged wooden table of Nanny D where we greased baking sheets with butter papers she’d hoarded for years, unrefrigerated. Then the slanted roof and sloped floors of my parents’ add-on kitchen, cutting into the back garden like a slightly drunken ice breaker slicing into the sod. Inside, 80s fluorescent strips shone down on a pressure cooker sized vat of leek & potato soup while my parent’s marriage simmered. Lastly, the L-shaped, standing room only, sliver of Nanny B’s kitchen, which magicked meals into existence as if staffed by house elves, despite its diminutive dimensions.
I found moments of peace in all of those places, but nothing of myself.
The pleasure of other people’s cooking became moments of nostalgia for my future self, but I gleaned no real knowledge or understanding from the handful of memories I stored away like recipes in a heart-shaped binder.
Later, there were three years of home economics lessons in a classroom that was half science & half an eight-square of shared ovens. But the emphasis there was one of efficiency and rigidity, nutritional rights & wrongs, not exploration or adaptation.
Bringing home a list of recipe ingredients every other week was a battle each time, with complaints shredding my ears over “fancy ingredients” and “wasting money” that could be better spent on cigarettes and canned goods; thin sliced bread and takeaways.
In those kitchen spaces, I learned basic knife skills, to follow directions, to clean up after myself. And how to lie when our homework assignment was to list the contents of our parents’ fridges, or analyze the “healthiness” of our meals at home.
But nothing of myself.
When I learned to really cook, to make a meal not just a recipe, I did so as a newly married immigrant in a new country and a new kitchen. With someone else’s palate to take into account.
So, by default, in making meals for two, I never really learned to cook for one. I stayed away from ingredients or cooking styles that we didn’t have in common. And I always defaulted to the preferences of another out of necessity as well as consideration.
Which taught me nothing of myself, either.
Sometimes, the kitchen needs to be a place just for yourself, no matter who else you’re cooking for. Finding my own flavors helps me excavate just a little more of the person I should have been from the start: in tune with who I am, what I want, what I simply enjoy.
These little seed cycling energy balls were made just for me. I made them with dried figs instead of the more typical medjool dates for the slight crunchiness of the seeds that punches through the fruits’ sweetness. I layered raw sunflower seeds for nuttiness and tahini for that toasted caramel-like depth. I balanced them with vanilla extract and honey, just for the extra decadence and melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes these almost fudge-ish. And I sprinkled them with citrus zest to bring brightness to life from their earth-like color. I don’t know why these are some of the flavors I love so.
But I do know that discovering them taught me just a little of who I am, again.
Looking for more seed cycling stuff?
- Blackberry Blueberry Seed Cycling Smoothie (follicular phase)
- Strawberry Sunflower Seed Cycling Smoothie (luteal phase)
- Fudgy Chocolate Cherry Seed Cycling Balls (follicular phase)
Fig Tahini Seed Cycling Energy Balls
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 16 energy balls 1x
- Category: snacks, treats
- Method: no bake
- Cuisine: gluten free, nut free, paleo
- 1/2 cup / 70 g raw sesame seeds
- 1 cup / 150 g de-stemmed roughly chopped dried figs, see notes
- 1 cup / 135 g raw raw sunflower seeds, like these
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml tahini
- 4 scoops / 40 g unflavored collagen peptides, a scant 1/2 cup
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml raw honey
- 1 tsp / 5 ml vanilla extract
- zest of a mandarin or clementine, optional
- pinch of sea salt, or to taste
Optional extras for decorating:
GRIND: Measure the sesame seeds into either a spice grinder or mini food processor and mill or grind until the seeds are broken up to the consistency of a slightly damp flour. You’re looking for a mixture that just starts to clump together, but you don’t want to process past that point or you will end up with a paste. Stop short of that or your energy balls will end up too oily.
PROCESS: Add the dried figs and raw sunflower seeds to the bowl of a 14 cup food processor. Pulse several times until the sunflower seeds start to break up and the figs start to become sticky. At this point, add the ground sesame seeds as well as all the other ingredients to the food processor. Pulse, scraping down the sides a few times as needed, until the energy ball mixture comes together and starts to form a ball. When the mixture looks smoothly combined with fig seeds flecked throughout, stop processing.
ROLL: Use your hands to divide the mixture into 16 evenly sized pieces, about the size of a 2 tablespoon scoop each. Gently roll each piece into a ball and place on wax paper in an airtight container. Keep the balls at room temperature or for a firmer texture (or in a warmer climate), in the fridge. If you like, you can roll the fig tahini seed cycling energy balls in optional extras of your choice.
- These seed cycling energy balls are for your luteal phase, or days 14 – 28 of your period.
- The color of your energy balls will depend on the type of fig you used. The lighter the color of the figs, the more golden your finished energy balls will be. I used these Smryna figs which are on the darker side.
- If your figs are on the older, drier side, soak them for 10 minutes in very hot / just boiled water, then drain well through a mesh sieve and follow the recipe above.
- Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds & tahini are all Stage 2 AIP reintroductions.