Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ranch Hummus

A few months ago I was making a smoothie, which we always have with our dinner, and Abiline spied what I was putting in it (fruits, avocado, spinach, etc.) "No!" she wailed. "I don't want any FOOD in my smoothie!" You heard it here first, folks--the reason why your kids may not be eating what you give them: they don't want any food in their food.  Since that shocking incident, Abiline has treated many of my creations with suspicion. "What is this brown thing in my cookie dough ball?!" she demands. "A chocolate chip," I reply (although there may be a piece of a date or a black bean in there as well...)

She has yet to ask what is in her beloved "dip" that her carrots love to dive in.  I will tell you all the shocking truth: chickpeas, tahini, spices, oh my! The more sophisticated out there would call it "hummus." We call it "delicious" when we spruce it up with ranch-dip-style spices and add it to grilled "cheese."'ve got to try it. Just don't let the kids see you making it...

Ranch Hummus

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, drained and rinsed)
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. tahini
1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
3 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. dried dill
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or high-powered blender and process until smooth.  Hooray--so easy!

Let's hear it for the girls! I try so hard to please them, but really all they want to munch all day are baby "Cheerios."

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday Allergy-Free Wednesdays Wellness Weekend.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Double Chocolate Cookie Dough Kale Ice Cream

We have grown gobs of kale this year, which of course is great in smoothies and in all kinds of savory recipes. My favorite is to serve it as a side ,sauteed in a bit of olive oil with a dash of smoked paprika, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. I haven't used it in dessert, though--until tonight. As I was contemplating some chocolate ice cream to accompany our dinner this evening, I saw the kale on the counter and went for it. You can taste it slightly, which lends a good twist to the flavors, deepening the chocolate even. Ever since I worked at an ice cream shop as a teenager, I have always wished for chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookie dough in it. Here it is--a sophisticated version I may not have ever imagined in my youth:

 Double Chocolate Cookie Dough Kale Ice Cream:

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup plain non-dairy milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. sweetener of choice (coconut sugar, maple syrup, agave)
1/8 tsp. stevia powder
2 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract (or you could sub mint extract for a thin mint-style ice cream)
pinch of salt
5 large kale leaves, cleaned and torn into small pieces  

1/4 recipe chocolate brownie cookie dough balls, broken into small chunks
2-3 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips, optional

1. Blend all of the ingredients, coconut milk through kale, in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender. You don't want any chunks of kale!
2. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
3. Once the ice cream is churned, stir in the cookie dough chunks and chocolate chips before serving.

And here are some ice cream lovin' faces (although Emie has yet to try any...)

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays  Allergy-Free Wednesday Wellness Weekend Healthy Vegan Friday.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baby-Led-Weaning with Allergies: Ideas for ages 6-8 months

My first baby loved baby food.  It never occurred to me to give him "real" food until he was around a year old and refused to swallow another mouthful of puree.

My second child barely tolerated any mush; she just wanted what was on my plate.  But I was reluctant to just let her dive in because I was afraid that if I did not follow the rule of introducing one new food at a time with a five day wait rule, I would somehow make her allergies worse, or not be able to tell which ingredient she was having an allergic reaction to.  Her whole weaning process was a battle, since she wanted to explore foods way faster than I was willing to let her.

When my third baby reached that magical time around six months of age when she started grabbing for our food and clearly wanted to take part in meal time, I was filled with dread.  Already having two children with established food allergies, I have not had much hope of number three escaping that same fate.  I found myself agonizing, "Is there some way to go about introducing new foods that will help her to have less food allergies?" Some doctors have told me to introduce highly-allergenic foods early on in order to avoid allergies; others say to wait as long as possible. After letting Emie lick a spoonful of seemingly allergen-safe pancake batter and get a rash, I threw my hands up in the air and decided that she will probably have allergies no matter what I do.

I knew I didn't want to make freezer-fulls of baby food this time around or battle with my baby who wants to grab food off my plate. Could I do baby-led weaning with a child with such high food allergy potential?  I decided to go for it: avoid the top allergens--dairy, eggs, wheat, corn, nuts, peanuts, soy--but basically let her eat whatever we are eating rather than feed her mashed banana for a week, then avocado, etc.

We are about six weeks in to our allergy-friendly baby-led weaning adventure, and I wanted to share some things that I have found to be working so far, for other moms who may be facing this same challenge. Of course, I am not an authority on baby nutrition, so my approach is by no means a plan for all to follow, but I hope it will be helpful to those searching for ideas.

Fruits: Emelise has enjoyed sucking on the inside of banana peels, mango skins, and sucking the rest of the avocado off the skin. She has not had much luck holding the actual fruit--they're all too slippery. But at least she is getting a taste for them. She has had some success with holding large pear and apple slices and gnawing them. She loves kiwi and has managed to hold and devour them all on her own.

Yogurt: She has been loving her first tastes of homemade coconut-oat milk yogurt this week. I scoop it for her and then hand her the spoon for self-feeding.

Vegetables: She loves to suck on cooked broccoli trees and sweet potato. Green beans and carrots get sucked on for a few moments and then get thrown on the ground.

Smoothies: I have been making allergy-safe smoothies that Emie likes so much she will let me help her hold the cup:

Pumpkin-Pear Smoothie: Blend about 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, with 1/2 ripe pear, and enough rice, oat, or coconut milk to get it smoothed out.

Baby Green Smoothie: Blend a couple cubes of frozen mango, 1/2 small banana, a handful of fresh spinach, and a generous slice of avocado, along with enough coconut, rice, or oat milk to get it smooth.

Grains: Crunchy rice rolls are a big hit. Much easier to hold and gnaw on than those baby rice cakes sold for $3-$4 a bag. Trader Joe's just discontinued their vegan rice rolls, but I have found some on Amazon.

Baby Biscotti: I adapted this recipe for Banana Coconut Slices, subbing coconut oil and maple syrup, grinding the oats and coconut, and using a rice flour gluten-free blend I found at Costco.  I then sliced some of the bars into biscotti-sized chunks and baked them for 12 minutes on each side in a preheated 375 degree oven. They made great teething biscuits!

Buckwheat-oat pancakes:  Take your favorite vegan pancake recipe and sub the regular flour with 1/2 buckwheat flour and 1/2 oat flour. Crumble into small bits for baby to pick up.

Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast Cookies: I saw a recipe for something like this and liked the idea, although the egg whites, flax seed, and white flour were a no-no, so here is my version:

2 1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1/3 c. homemade coconut milk yogurt (You could sub banana, applesauce, or more pumpkin.)
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
dash of salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or plain old cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and form into about 12 little cakes. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 mins. Check them frequently, as you don't want them to get too crispy for baby.

These cookies are crumbly, which Emie liked because she could squish them and pick up tiny pieces to gum on.  If you want them firmer, then experiment around with adding some baby cereal or gluten-free flour. Admittedly, I ate most of these cookies, with Emie just doing small bites. At this stage, it seems that she only needs a few tablespoons of food over the course of the day to supplement her breastmilk feedings.

Oatmeal made from oat-milk pulp: When you make home-made oat milk (I describe the process simply in my yogurt post), the pulp is already processed finely for baby--just be sure to blend it long enough!  I thin it out a bit and add some applesauce, pumpkin, or smooshed banana. I find this to be the best way to make baby oatmeal: it's much cheaper than buying packaged baby food and is just as lump-free.

Protein: Just breastmilk at this stage! We are not doing nuts or soy, of course, and at this point I am still avoiding beans and seeds until between 10 and 12 months, as my other daughter had a reaction to lentils when I gave them to her early on.

I would love to hear your ideas and recipes you have found to work for your baby!

This post is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Clif Meets Lara Cookie Dough Bliss Balls: 11 Fabulous Flavors

I have been missing in action for some time now because in June we decided to look into buying a house. Suddenly, all my free time was gone as I poured over real estate listings.  After a pretty frantic, stressful time, we are finally almost all moved in to our new place and functioning again. So, friends, I am finally able to share my favorite creation ever with you: We call them "cookie dough balls" around here. I make a new kind almost every week, and the kids eat them up like they are, indeed, cookies.  Theses energy bites have the fruitiness of a Lara bar paired with the toothsome texture of a Clif bar and are insanely delicious. Every morning when Emie wakes me up, long before I am ready to emerge from the covers, I am comforted by the thought that after I trudge down to the kitchen, I can look forward to gobbling one of these as my morning treat.

There are a lot of energy ball/ bite recipes out there, but what I love about these is the beans. I think the combo of beans, seeds, coconut oil, and dates gives the perfect texture. Of the many flavors I have created, I think our favorite is chocolate mint. These can be made with either oats or buckwheat (if you want gluten-free); I like both equally and cannot tell much of a difference.

In other news, my friend who also has a child with severe food allergies has started a company called Allergy Warning Wear, which sells super-cure t-shirts for kids like ours to wear as a reminder to others of the severity of their food allergies. One of the designs is even named after my son!

Classic Cookie Dough:

3/4 cup hemp, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds, or a combination thereof
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed, if canned)
3/4 cup rolled oats or raw buckwheat groats (You can sub 1/4 cup of this with chia seed meal.)
1/4 cup rice protein powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter or tahini
1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4-1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I like min-chips, if you have them.)

In a food processor, pulse together the seeds, beans, oats or buckwheat, protein powder, and salt to form a fine meal. Add the coconut oil and pulse until evenly incorporated. Add the dates, seed butter, maple syrup (starting with 1 Tbsp.), and vanilla and buzz until evenly combined. If the dough is a bit dry and not yet perfect cookie dough texture, add a bit more maple syrup. Stir in the chocolate chips, form into golf-ball-sized balls, and store in the fridge.

Now the variations.....

Omit chocolate chips and roll balls in cinnamon sugar.

Cranberry Orange:
Replace the dates with dried cranberries, double the chickpeas, and take out the seed butter. Replace vanilla with orange extract. Omit chocolate chips.

Chocolate-Banana Brownie:
Replace chickpeas with black beans, 1/4 cup of the oats/buckwheat with cocoa powder, and dates with rehydrated dried banana.

Chocolate Mint:
Replace chickpeas with black beans and replace vanilla with mint extract. (Use tahini for the seed butter.)

Replace oats/buckwheat with banana chips, replace dates with dried papaya and/or mango, replace seed butter with coconut butter, and replace vanilla with coconut extract. Omit chocolate chips.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry:
Replace dates with dried cherries and vanilla with imitation almond extract or cherry extract.

Lemon Poppyseed:
Add 1/4 cup poppyseeds and the zest of one lemon to the mix. Add 3 tsp. lemon extract instead of vanilla. Increase chickpeas to 1 cup and reduce seed butter by 2 Tbsp, using tahini. Omit chocolate chips.

Sunflower Seed Butter and Jam:
Use sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter. Replace dates and maple syrup with 1/4-1/3 cup of your favorite jam. Omit vanilla extract, maple syrup, and chocolate chips.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie:
Increase chickpeas to 1 cup and reduce seed butter by 2 Tbsp. Add 2 tsp. cinnamon and replace dates with raisins. Omit chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Pie:
Add 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and replace seed butter with pumpkin puree.

Enjoy!!!! Eat these, and maybe you'll be as cool as my kids....

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday Allergy-Free Wednesday Wellness Weekend Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Love and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Raw Banana Cream Pudding (No nuts!)

Generally, my husband is a great supporter of my cooking efforts.  Since I can count on the kids almost always complaining about something on their plate, I rely on Anthony to bolster my spirits with his gusto for the meal. When it comes to dessert, though, his palate leans toward the traditional fat and sugar laden kinds. If he suspects beans or dates, he's gone. Ironically, my healthier dessert creations are most popular with the kids.  Abiline loved this pudding treat I whipped up when I came home from church last week, famished because I had forgotten to pack any snacks for myself. She and I had a little girl date gobbling it up.  Little did she know she was eating a whole banana, my fruit-hating girl!

2 medium, ripe bananas (yellow, but not really spotty)
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup raw, shelled hemp seeds
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix) and blend until completely smooth. This made two really fillings servings.  Try adding a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder for a chocolate version! Or double the recipe and fill a pie shell for banana cream pudding pie!

Let's hear it for pudding power!!!
 This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays Allergy Free Wednesdays Whole Foods Wednesdays Gluten-Free Wednesdays Raw Food Thursdays Wellness Weekend Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Crispy Sunflower Seed "Bacon" Bits

Usually the kids eat fine for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is a drawn our affair during which the kids stare into space, and we continuously have to remind them to acknowledge the food on their plate. I don't know what it is; maybe they are trying to stave off bedtime? So we are trying different tactics to improve the situation.  Last week we tried the no-nagging method: Let's see what happens if we just give them 45 minutes, offer an incentive if they finish, and then don't do any coaxing. The positive vibe at the dinner table was a plus, but, as a mom, I wasn't ok with just letting them not eat for nights in a row. So this week we are trying to motivate them with a trip to their favorite restaurant this weekend if they can eat without complaining or coercion all week. So far we are three nights down with good attitudes!

Admittedly, I have been helping them along by not giving them any super "challenging" meals. Tonight it was linguini with a creamy white sauce, sprinkled with these faux bacon bits I woke up thinking about last night. I have heard of coconut bacon, but wanted something that would mimic crispy bacon while still providing some protein.  So here we have the super-simple sunflower seed turned new and improved Bac-o recipe. I think these would be great on salad as well!

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
1 Tbsp. liquid coconut aminos, or soy sauce if no soy allergy
1Tbsp. maple syrup
scant 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sunflower seeds and stir around until a bit toasty looking. Add the coconut aminos or soy sauce, maple syrup, and smoked paprika. Stir for another minute or two to get everything well-coated and crispy. Remove from heat, cool, and serve.

This recipe is endorsed by the whole Holden crew and linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Wellness Weekend,  Healthy Vegan Friday.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Inside-Out Sweet Potato Pie Fritters

There has been a lot of conflict at the dinner table lately. Anthony and I want the kids to eat; they simply don't want to. We are at an impasse. I try not to cry in frustration as they squirm as far away from their plates as possible, fall off the bench, giggle uncontrollably, make up nonsensical words, giggle again, laugh harder when we threaten and cajole.... It goes on and on and on.  I am trying to remember what Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his "Good, Better, Best" talk: "What your children really want for dinner is you."  Me not screaming is what I assume he means.  So let's just minimize the conflict and have enjoyable family time, for goodness sake. Enough with the toddler rebellion! Bring on the pie for dinner!

Yes, these inside-out sweet potato pie fritters were actually eaten with gusto. Sawyer and Abiline usually like when I make the sweet potato pie from the Clean Foods cookbook, but the other night I did not have time to bake a pie before dinner, so I made these cheater patties on the quick and had an instant hit side-dish. Three cheers for a few moments of peace at the dinner table!

1 large sweet potato
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp.  + 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
*This made about six, three inch patties. You may want to the double the recipe if you want leftovers.

1. Cook the sweet potato until very tender in preheated 400 degree oven (takes 45-60 mins, usually, for me.) Let cool and peel off the skin.
2. Place the pumpkin seeds and 1/8 tsp. cinnamon in your food processor and pulse to form a crumbly meal.  Spread the seed crumbs onto a large plate.
3.  Clean out your food processor and then add the sweet potato, oats, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt. Puree until smooth.
4. Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Scoop out large spoonfuls of the sweet potato mixture, roll them in the pumpkin seed crumbs to coat (this may be a bit messy), and place in the skillet. Fry for 2-4 minutes on each side, just until the seeds are a bit toasty. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Friday.

This is the face of my best eater by far. If only everyone were so content eating the same thing day in and day out...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Secret Squash Quinoa Muffins

Today was not the happiest day in Mommyville: lots of hitting by one eldest child, some serious tantrum action by the second, and I'm starting to tire of the baby-weight from number three.  I don't feel like I accomplish much more than constant chastising on some days. Which is why I think I keep writing this blog even though I'm certainly never going to be blog-famous--it makes me feel like I did something productive. At least I managed to nourish these dear children that are nearly impossible to feed!

I have posted a squash lemon poppyseed bread before, but this new edition is more nutritionally dense with the addition of chickpeas and quinoa. They are low in sugar as well!  The kids ate them without complaint, and I felt like I had at least had one small victory this day...

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. stevia powder
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup plain non-dairy milk
1/2 Tbsp. lemon extract
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 small yellow squash, finely grated
1/3 cup poppyseeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 12 muffin cups.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and stevia.
3. In a food processor or blender, blend together the quinoa, chickpeas, non-dairy milk, lemon extract, lemon zest and juice, coconut oil, and maple syrup until smooth.
4. Add the wet ingredients to dry and stir just until completely combined. Fold in the poppy seeds and squash. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks before serving.

Here are some of our happier moments recently...

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday,  Whole Food Wednesday and Wellness Weekend.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sunflower Seed Ranch Roasted Chickpeas

Emelise Marie was born 5 1/2 weeks ago, and I am slowly figuring out how to do life with three kids. After months of ignoring all the cooking blog posts in my inbox, I like food again and am starting to find time to putter around in the kitchen, trying to satisfy that seemingly insatiable nursing mother's appetite in healthy ways.

In the first few weeks after Emie's birth, when I was in full recovery mode, Anthony did the grocery shopping. I sent him to the store for some dried beans, and he came home with about $50 worth.
(I should have been more specific as to how much exactly we needed.) As a result, I have been seeking ideas for new ways to use chickpeas. When I ran across a post for BBQ-ranch pizza on the Sweet Roots blog, the thought occurred to me that BBQ ranch roasted chickpeas may be good. So I gave it a try tonight, whipping up a sunflower-seed based sauce instead of the usual tofu-based. I couldn't stop munching them! We did try them on top of pizza, which was yummy, but I think I prefer to eat them straight so that the flavor is undiluted.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed, if canned)
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4. tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill
dash of pepper
3-4 Tbsp. plain non-dairy milk, to thin

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In your food processor or blender, blend all of the ingredients except the chickpeas, starting with 3 Tbsp. milk and adding more if necessary to get a smooth, dressing-like consistency.
3. In a medium bowl, add the chickpeas and blended sunflower seed ranch and stir to evenly coat all the beans.
4. Spread the chickpeas out in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Flip them around and then bake for 20 mins. more. They are done when golden and a bit caramelized.

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday  Slightly Indulgent Tuesday Allergy-Friendly Friday 
Wellness Weekend.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jelly Donut Pancakes

I had been dreaming about chocolate chocolate chip pancakes all night, but of course when I mentioned pancakes in the morning, Sawyer insisted on the white ones.  Bummer for me, until I thought up this yummy idea of putting jam on the inside and powdered sugar on the outside for a healthier take on the donut treat.  Sorry gluten-free folks--I made these with whole wheat flour because I live in gratitude daily that we actually aren't allergic to that, but you could certainly try subbing your favorite GF flour blend.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. preferred sweetener (I used evaporated cane juice.)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
A few Tbsp. jam of choice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1.  In your food processor, combine flour, oats, seeds, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until oats and sunflower seeds are completely ground up.
2. Add the coconut oil and buzz until crumbly. Then add the milk, sweetener, and vanilla and process just until smooth.
3. Heat your pancake griddle or frying pan over medium heat and drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the heated pan. Dollop about a tsp. of jam in the middle of each pancake and then cover up the jam with a bit more batter. Flip when bubbles form around the edges and cook for about 2 mins. more on the other side, until just lightly browned.
4. Let the pancakes cool for a few minutes so as to not melt the sugar. Spread powdered sugar onto a large plate and place pancakes one by one in the sugar, lightly coating each side. Serve warm--no butter or syrup needed!

We decided we were tired of the cold and pretended it was summer all morning. The kids even wore their bathing suits to the grocery store. Heck, I already get enough looks from people as it is with all the ruckus we make going up and down the aisles while struggling through crises of lost gum in hair, towers of bread and beans tumbling from the cart, wails of despair for unrequited cookie cravings, etc.--I figure I might as well give people something to really snigger about!

This recipe is shared on Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Allergy-Free Wednesday.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Caramel

Oh, you mean to tell me that it isn't fall anymore?  Well, while this post is a bit late, and pumpkin is not all over the stores in February, I didn't want to wait another year to share this recipe. My kids don't wait until Halloween to play dress-up, so why wait until autumn-time to enjoy the magic of pumpkin caramel? This makes a great filling for ridiculously simple oatmeal bars, or you can use it as a fruit dip, or just eat it out of the pan like Abiline did.  It is thick, creamy, and sweet, with no butter or sugar. And easy to make, too!

1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup, packed, pitted dates
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the dates are very soft.
2. Add the vanilla extract and transfer the mixture to your food processor or blender. Puree until totally smooth. Enjoy!

Now that I've got you in the mood, I'll take this opportunity to reminisce about our autumn adventures. It doesn't seem that long ago, considering that we just finally threw out our pumpkins last week.   Happy Halloween in February, everyone!

  This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, and Wellness Weekend.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Still Alive and Cooking...A Little

So, my "farewell to food" has lasted much longer than anticipated.  Suffice it to say, I have never really gotten over my nausea with this pregnancy.  I do not know how my poor family has survived the many regrettable meals that I have thrown together over the last few months. I do not need to go into detail about the green sludge from Saturday night: I'm not sure who cried more about having to eat it--me or the kids. The good news is that, hopefully, in the next two to three weeks, my baby "bun" will be out of my oven, and food will become good again!

While overall I have been completely uninspired in the kitchen, there have been some rare occasions when I created something worth making again. These gluten-free, sneaky ingredient chocolate chip cookies were a big hit with the Sawyer and Abiline crowd, who, as you can see below, are as cute and nutty as ever.  I even liked these little treats.  It's a funny thing--while most food has been unpalatable, chocolate has kept its appeal for me. Good ol' chocolate: a pal through thick and thin!

Beanie Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes about a dozen cookies)

1 1/4 cup buckwheat groats, ground
1 tsp. baking powder
rounded 1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates (about 6)
1 cup white beans (rinsed and drained, if canned)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3-1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Grind your buckwheat groats in your food processor. Measure to make sure you have enough to equal the 1 1/4 cup, then add the baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar, and buzz to mix them all together.
3. Add the dates, beans, vanilla, and coconut oil to the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse until well incorporated and evenly moistened. Mix in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
4. Form into a dozen balls, place them on the prepared pan, and flatten them slightly with your palms. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden on the bottom.

Did I say the kids are nutty? I take it back; Abiline is very serious about her chap-stick. (This one from Grandma was a bit too much like lipstick...)

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent TuesdayAllergy-Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, and Wellness Weekend.