A Meal in a Ball, with Peanut Butter

Our friends Deb and David are a step (and a male kid) ahead of us, having three beautiful, lively boys to be outnumbered by contend with and being familiar with the eating idiosyncracies of all of them. I was talking to them recently about how my second son, who isn’t the universal eater like my oldest but still eats mostly everything at home, hardly touches any sandwiches I’ve packed for him for school this year.

Well, last week he ate half a peanut butter sandwich, but he’s basically drawn the line at cheese, turkey, peanut butter and jam or cream cheese and jam sarnies for lunch. He’ll gladly take chicken soup with noodles, which can’t be the most filling of things, or half a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, and requests homemade sushi (right! Plenty of time to make that!).

So I watched last weekend as Dave rolled out 9 zillion peanut butter balls to pack into their 3 sons’ lunchboxes throughout the week – mixing together 1 cup milk powder, 1 cup honey, 1 cup peanut butter and chocolate chips – then rolling them into wee balls coated in more nonfat milk powder.

What a fab idea! A meal in a ball. Why didn’t I think of that?  Having a lunch made of peanut butter and honey does sound more like a treat than a meal, but you’ve got your protein and calcium and carbs, and you’re free to add all the lovely fiberful bits (oatmeal, raisins, cranberries, nuts, seeds) and treat bits too (choc chips for example).

Thanks, guys! This could be the answer to my uneaten Thing #2 lunchbox woes.

My first task was to find milk powder. If any of you have lived in a tropical country, you’ll know this is the ‘regular’ form of milk, and that ‘fresh’ milk is hard to come by (well, there aren’t that many fresh cows reared for their milk in, say, Asia).

But, in deepest northern NJ, I found no powdered milk at King’s supermarket, or at A&P, or at Whole Foods. ShopRite, as Deb reminded me, was the only place that stocks milk powder. By the vatfuls.

To the Levys’ lovely recipe, I added our store-cupboard regulars such as rolled oats, cranberries and Weetabix. Here’s what went in the mixing bowl:

  • nonfat milk powder, 1 cup
  • rolled oats, 1 cup
  • peanut butter, creamy, 1 cup
  • Weetabix cereal biscuits, 2 pieces, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • chocolate chips, 1/2 cup
  • brown sugar, 1/4 cup
  • cranberries, 1/2 cup
  • simple syrup, 2 tbsp (equal parts of sugar and water simmered to a syrup), or use maple syrup or honey
  1. Mix all together and press firmly into little balls
  2. Place in a large zipper bag filled with more milk powder, to keep the peanutty treats dry
  3. Store in the fridge till needed  by hungry boys! 🙂


October 17, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cookies, Kids, Kids Cuisine, Lunch, Lunchbox, Musings.


  1. Deb replied:

    Dave just made another batch this evening! It’s a real bummer when they go to camp and must take peanut free lunches. So glad T is back on the protein wagon.

    • divaindoors replied:

      What? Another 9 zillion? I thought Dave said they’d last two weeks 😉 By the way, T loved the samples of your peanut butter balls and the lunchbox came home empty that day, which galvanized me into action today… thank you!

  2. Robert Gordon replied:

    This is fabulous! No rules decreeing nut-free lunches in NJ, lucky you.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Robert, I thought about that – and the banishing of nuts in Toronto schools – as I wrote this post. I have been surprised at the lack of a nut ban here. The kids’ school is quite large though (620 kids) and they have nut-free tables at the canteen .. not sure if that helps the allergic but so far, all has been well

  3. Mrs Josiah-Jen replied:

    What’s with this nut ban? are they nuts? :p

    When I saw the photo I thought it was icing sugar! Thank goodness it’s milk powder, wholesome non fat goodness 🙂 you are creative 😉

    • divaindoors replied:

      Hey Jen,
      Well, in some areas of Canada, they decided that banning nuts from the entire school was safer for kids with allergies. Some kids had life-threatening reactions after coming in contact with nuts at school. I’m not sure how our US schools are managing this issue so well without banning nuts! Perhaps they are armed to the teeth with epi-pens, etc, but our boys’ school has a trained nurse on the property and all classes are made aware of kids with allergies 😉

  4. nancy breslin replied:

    looks amazing! wish my son wasn’t allergic to peanut butter. always trying to add more protein to his lunch and he will not go near sun butter or anything that looks like peanut butter

    • divaindoors replied:

      Hmm, I was about to think of a nut alternative .. is he allergic to tahini too?

      • nancy replied:

        No — i was packing hummus in his lunch box but he has become tired of it!

  5. Tricotine replied:

    Reblogged this on Tricotine and commented:
    I love the idea of using powdered milk instead of sugar! 🙂

    • divaindoors replied:

      Wasn’t that neat? I like it too. Thanks for dropping by and reposting 🙂

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