Faith, Family, Friends, Food

Spark Plugs – Energy Bites


We have been very blessed to have some wonderful men and women work with our kids as coaches and trainers.  It’s not easy for me, as a mom, to entrust my child to someone who I am quite certain is going to push my child to his or her limits.  Someone who will not only cheer and encourage, but will also get in my kid’s face when he needs it.  Or very firmly and loudly insist that my child get off her rear and get back to work.

The Boy has had wonderful coaches for his middle school football team.  My son comes home with cuts and bruises and sore, achy muscles, but he loves every minute of the games and practices.  I make a lot of ice packs and we invest in lots of BandAids.  We’ve even been known to buy bags of ice to add to his bath when it gets really bad.  I only have ONE of these big, hairy-legged creatures at my house.  I cannot adequately express my admiration for the men who choose to spend long afternoons on the practice field with this team of middle school boys – who range in height from the ones who look like they should be in fourth grade to the ones who look like they could drive the bus to the games.  Big, mean, loud boys who push each other around and talk smack and sweat and stink.  These coaches also spend several late school nights at football games (our middle games are on Thursday nights). The teams play during September and October and in Louisiana, it’s usually still very hot during those months.  Can you imagine getting back on the bus after a game with these beasts?  Can you imagine the smell?  I shudder.

And yet, these men choose to do this!   They cheer and cajole and yell and encourage and love these kids.  They are the only male role model for several of these boys, so they aren’t just teaching tackling drills and three-point stances.  They’re teaching these boys to be men.  I only have pictures of two of them.  There are actually more of these superheroes who help coach the team!


Coach Malone


Coach Dean

In the off season and during the summer, The Boy works out at a local gym.  During the school year, he works after school with a personal trainer and during the summer, he battles through the gym’s strength and conditioning camp.  I don’t have photos of his trainers there because, quite frankly, if I were to show up at the gym with my Nikon and say, “Let me get a picture of you and Don!”, The Boy would probably disown me.  But Don and Skeet are two wonderful men who have helped my son tremendously in the off season.

The Redhead started working with a trainer this past year and grew to love it.  No matter how much she grumbled before the workout – and, trust me, there was a LOT of grumbling! – she always ended with a smile and a great feeling accomplishment.  Mrs. Chesshir, one of our school’s PE teachers, was wonderful.  She was just the right combination of firmness and sweetness for The Redhead.  They bonded over their tough afterschool workouts and I was amazed at all they accomplished.  Every time The Redhead would tire or whine or beg to stop, her trainer kept repeating Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

It made me love her even more.


Mrs. Chesshir

We were selfishly broken-hearted when Phylicia’s husband accepted a coaching position in another state and they moved away at the end of the school year.  When Phylicia told me about the move, I took it far worse than The Redhead did.  She was actually excited for Mrs. Chesshir because the move would put her closer to her own family.  She was sworn to secrecy – and kept the secret for nearly a month before Mrs. Chesshir told the other kids at school.  I came home and cried.  Where would we ever find another person so uniquely gifted to work with my little girl?  Someone who somehow loved that bundle of sweetness mixed with a strong, stubborn Irish streak?  I did the only thing I knew to do.  I prayed.

And I remembered Margaret.

I taught Margaret in fourth grade – many years ago.  She was a sweet and highly intelligent student and I absolutely adored her.  Over the years, I kept in touch with her through brief visits with her awesome mama.  As a college student, she became one of my Facebook friends.  And, yes, in case you’re wondering, having former students as social media contacts (once they’ve graduated, of course) does make me feel like a total dinosaur.  Mrs. Pate, remember me?  You taught me in first grade.  Come see pictures of my kids!  But I do get to keep up with lots of former students that way.  And I love it.  Because I always tell my students, “Once a Pate kid, always a Pate kid!”

Margaret came to mind because I knew that she usually spent the summers in town and worked out at the same gym where The Boy works out.  I contacted her and she agreed to work with Elizabeth over the summer.  After some initial apprehensions (But, Mama, I don’t know her!),  The Redhead has grown to love Margaret and they’ve done so well together over the summer.  We’re going to be very sad when Margaret returns to school at the end of this week!  But I know that God will send us someone new to love my girl and help her reach her goals!


Margaret and The Redhead

I make this recipe often and these little bites are a wonderful, quick energy burst for my kids before a workout.  I got the recipe for these Energy Bites from Phylicia.  It’s easy and awesome!  The Redhead likes to help me roll the mixture into balls – each a little smaller than a golf ball.  The recipe makes about 50 of them and each one is only 53 calories!  I put them into a sealable container between sheets of waxed paper or aluminum foil.  I hide the container in the refrigerator – otherwise The Boy keeps sneaking them!  While they’re a great, healthy snack, if I don’t hide them, he will go through the whole batch in a matter of a couple of days.  After they’ve been chilled, they firm up and have a great consistency – a little like fudge.

We decided that Energy Bites just wasn’t an adequate name for these little nuggets of awesomeness.  We call them Spark Plugs!

Spark Plugs

  • 2 cups of dry oatmeal
  • 1 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup of honey
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla


Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring with a big spoon or rubber spatula until everything is combined.  Place a large sheet of waxed paper on a counter or table.  Use your hands to roll the mixture into 50 balls, slightly smaller than golf balls.  Place each one on the waxed paper.  When you’ve used all of the mixture, place the balls into a sealable container, separating layers with sheets of waxed paper or aluminum foil.  Store the container in the refrigerator.

Well Duh #1:  Do you have one of these?


If not, you really need one!  It’s a push-up measuring cup that is great for sticky things like peanut butter, shortening, or margarine.

Well Duh #2:  Yes, those are my wedding rings laying on the sheet of waxed paper.  You really want to remove your rings before rolling these Spark Plugs.  Otherwise, you’re going to be cleaning your rings for awhile!


Well Duh #3:  From what I’ve read, there are gluten-free oatmeals and gluten-free chocolate chips on the market.  Since flax seeds are also gluten-free, it is possible to make this snack gluten-free!  Be careful and do your research.  Quaker Oatmeal, for example, is NOT gluten-free.  Pure oatmeal does not contain gluten. However, most oatmeal brands on the market today are not pure – they contain oats that have been cross-contaminated with a tiny bit of wheat, barley or rye. Since those grains do have gluten in them, that cross-contamination makes most oatmeal brands unsafe on a gluten-free diet.

Well Duh #4:  You can substitute several components of this recipe.  Instead of chocolate chips, you can use chopped nuts, dried cranberries, or raisins.  You can put a little cocoa powder into your mixture to add a little more chocolate flavor.  You can even add cinnamon.  Just use whatever flavors your household prefers.

Well Duh #5:. These will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator (If you have a normal family who doesn’t sneak around and eat them all in a few days!). If the batch is to big for you, you can halve it. Another idea is to freeze the bites on a wax-paper-covered cookie sheet (so they don’t stick together) and then place them in a big, zippered bag. They will keep for several months once frozen. Just put a few in the refrigerator as you need them so they will thaw.

Well Duh #6:  Before you squeeze honey – or any other very sticky substance: molasses, syrup, whatever – into a measuring cup, spray the inside of the cup with baking spray.  The honey – or whatever – will seriously just pour right out!


I’m always so proud of my kids for working so hard.

And I’ll always be grateful for these men and women who have taught them about perseverance and the value of working hard to achieve something.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

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1 Comment

  1. Kay White

    Phylicia was in our Just Married class at Calvary and I appreciate your love for her! Full of energy and encouragement wrapped in a pretty package! Just started making these energy bites and love them! Thanks for the extra spin of adding cocoa or cinnamon, etc!

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