Tag Archives: dates

Being Thrifty

Before we get started: I added the super simple and thrifty recipe for the stuffed peppers at the end of yesterday’s post.

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Today, I practiced being cheap. Thrifty, if you will.

I learned a few things.

Like the fact that some of the best pancakes in the world do not actually require the use of milk.

In fact, I can get by just fine – better, maybe – with the use of orange juice and yogurt.

Yogurt-Spice Pancakes for One

  • 1/4 c. + 1 T. flour (I used graham flour)
  • 1 1/2 T. wheat germ
  • 3/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 2 t. chia seeds mixed with 2 T. warm water, and allowed to gel
  • juice of one large orange
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 T. yogurt (I used SoDelicious vanilla. aka crack in a cup)
  • butter/earth balance/non-stick spray, for greasing pan

Mix dry ingredients together. Add in chia egg, orange juice, extract and yogurt. Whisk until a thick batter forms. Divide into two pancakes on a pre-heated, greased non-stick skillet. Cook until golden on both sides.

The xtra ground nutmeg gives them that extra oomph of spice that the otherwise plain pancake batter lacks. And the yogurt gives them fluffy texture yet still moist.

But it’s what’s on top that makes them complete: cashew cream, maple cream and cashews. For the “cashew cream,” just mix ~1 T. cashew butter with 1-2 T. yogurt.

For the maple cream, buy it here and prepare to become an addict. I wanted to swim in it this morning.

It prepared me for a day of being cheap while shopping.

See, I spend too much money at the grocery store. I used to be pretty diligent about printing coupons and buying stuff on sale, but recently I’ve slipped. In case you couldn’t tell, because it’s not like I use twenty different flours at a time. hardee-har-har.

I’m not going to be too cheap with myself, but I realized last night how couponing can be such an addiction.

But maybe I’m just belligerent, and chose to see it as a challenge. Yes, I think that’s what it was. So maybe I only saved $8 this time. I’ll try harder next time.

But can I just be a little bit proud of myself for a second? Can I tell you why?

Because I only paid 9 cents (yes, cents) for this bag of sticks and twigs. Now sure, I don’t even know if I like them, but I’ve heard wonderful things about this company, but have always been too cheap to try them for myself. I’ll just make crackers myself! But 9 cents? I can’t make pretzels for 9 cents, people.

Oh, and just to share with you my relatively ridiculous obsession with cashews at the moment, I purchased 2 pounds of cashews today. (At $10, that means it was only $5/lb! oh, no – I really am becoming a bargain freak, aren’t I?!)

And I even decided to make my own hummus instead of paying $4 for my favorite brand.

Recipe a la Appetite for Reduction. I love how it’s basically pure chickpeas. No call for tahini or even very much oil, just pure chickpea bliss. Which is pretty thrifty, too.

I’m sure glad I decided to be thrifty a while back when I had a bitt too much bread on hand, and needed breadcrumbs – but I definitely should have ground them finer.

…so that they would stick to my onion rings!! Okay, when I first saw the O.M.G. Oven Baked Onion Rings in appetite for reduction, I sort of said “oh yeah! onion rings!”

Truth be told, I think I sort of forgot they existed.

I mean, the last time I was introduced to one was when I still thought vegetables would give me cooties.

As such, the recipe seemed fun, but maybe not one I’d go through the hoops of making.

But then fate happened.

(website being my photo website, i don't refer to my blog as "my website" baha)

Every time I’d pick up the cookbook, it’d open to onion rings.

And then I saw sweet onions on sale at the grocery store.

And then I realized I was thinking about them so much, they worked their way into a conversation. I was debating between making onion rings and getting work done on my photo website.

I chose onion rings.

My method needs help. It will come with time. I blame the breadcrumbs.

And by breadcrumbs, I mean mix of course homemade breadcrumbs and pretzel crumbs.

Don’t ask. It worked. These were damn fine onion rings. I ate them and ate them until my belly could take them no more. And I think I need to go finish the leftovers now. And go back to the store and get more onions to make them all week.

I need a condiment plate/bowl. Do those exist? Like, a single person-sized condiment/dip tray? Because that’d be perfect for my needs.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this plate pretty much defines my life right now. Dates a la Gabriela (stuffed with almond butter and dark chocolate chips) and homemade pumpernickel with almond butter and/or maple cream.

Even if you, like myself, claim not to be a chocolate fan – you will love these dates. I promise.

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Filed under almond butter, baking, breakfast, cooking, dates, dessert, dinner, food, food blog, healthy living, hummus, lunch, nut butter, pancakes, recipe, review, shopping, snack, sweet potato, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian

Cranberry-Orange-Date Bars

I could actually step outside today without feeling like I was going to lose my toes and nose after a couple of minutes! Phew. Of course…that doesn’t mean I was able to get much done, still, considering it didn’t get warmer until about 10:30. I went out to make sure Teddie still had his toes and whiskers, but didn’t ride him, just played. I feel “wrong” if I ride after 11. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s what he’s used to, too.

The one time I rode him in the afternoon, we had the most miserable experience to date, so maybe that’s my excuse.

Like human, like pet. Maybe we’re both morning people. Are you more productive in the morning or the afternoon? I wouldn’t say I use the afternoon to laze around – but if I’ve got a big project to do, it’s getting done in the a.m., not the p.m.!

Take, for instance, this morning: I baked cupcakes and date bars before it was even 10:00. And yes, I made my own breakfast and even got all dressed, too.

And for what it’s worth, let this be a lesson to you all: do yourselves a flavor and use fresh baking soda. I’ve been using old baking soda for…well, probably as long as I’ve been blogging…and never really cared.

I figured the things I bake just don’t rise too much due to the fact I’m usually using whole grains and…er…different…techniques.

Well, that may have something to do with it…but not when I’m making something perfectly “normal.” The first picture – cupcakes I made this morning with fresh baking soda. Above – cupcakes made with old baking soda.

There’s a bigger difference than it looks.

I’ll be making sure I use in-date baking soda from now on, thankyouverymuch.

I bet at least half of you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that sometimes, I just do the weirdest things. Borderline stupid, but I’d rather not call myself stupid. I guess we’ll just settle on “spacey.” Head up in the clouds, nah’mean? Just this morning, I can think of three things that made me immediately shake my head at myself:

  • Oiled a GreenPan. I had no idea they were as non-stick as they are so the oil just sat in one spot in the middle, and as soon as I poured eggs in, oil pooled at the top of the eggs. I felt like the guy on the Worst Cooks in America.
  • Speaking of the eggs, I was making an omelette for my mom’s b/f and totally spaced on how to make an omelette. I used to love eggs, and now I don’t even remember how to cook them. An omelette, for Pete’s sake. Shouldn’t that be almost second nature?!
  • While making these date bars, I put all the crust on the bottom, said aloud “Wow, I didn’t remember the crust being this thick last time!” only for my sister to say “wasn’t there crust on the top last time?” D’uh, Jess.

I’m glad my sister knows what’s up and Henry will eat just about anything served to him, because otherwise I might be in trouble. It’s a wonder I made it out the door with my head on this morning.

Please tell me I’m not alone – what’s the spaciest thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen?

Luckily, for all the things I do completely wrong, I can do things completely, right, too. I whipped up some rhubarb cupcakes on a whim based off of a request, and made some more date bars, too.

My mom and I were huge fans of the date bars out of Vive le Vegan last time I made them, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I made them again.

Since I can’t make the same exact thing twice (apparently) I switched it up a bit this time.

Well, it’s either that or the fact that lately I’m obsessed with anything cranberry-orange, in case you haven’t been able to tell. It’s becoming a little bit of a problem.

A problem I really, really don’t want to fix.

Cranberry-Orange-Date Bars

Adapted from Delish Date Squares from Vive le Vegan

makes 16 squares. Or 8, if you like them as big as we do.

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 c. pitted Medjool dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. water
  • juice from one large orange
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • zest from one orange
  • generous pinch of ground clove

Crust:

  • 2 c. quick oats
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour or unbleached all purpose flour (I use WWW – there are so many other wonderful flavors in these that even the most sensitive of palettes can’t detect the disguised whole wheat flour!)
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3 T. date syrup (agave or maple syrup would work, too)
  • 3 T. almond milk (I used unsweetened)
  • 3 T. coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350*. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the ingredients for the filling except for the zest. Cook approximately 10 minutes, or until the dates break down. It might not seem like that will happen – but just keep stirring occasionally and the mixture will become smooth and thick. Once it is done, stir in the zest.

In a separate large bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add the date syrup and almond milk and combined until clumpy, and then stir in the oil, again combining until clumpy. You might have to use your hands. The mixture will be crumbly but should hold together okay when pressed.

Lightly spray a 9×9 baking dish (or thereabouts) and press 2/3rds of the mixture in the bottom of the pan. Pour and spread the date mixture over top, and then sprinkle and then gently press the remaining crust mixture over top of that. Bake for about 28 minutes, or until golden on top. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

I was going to save some to bring to work tomorrow…but they might not be good enough.

Which is actually just Jess-speak for “These are too damn good to be giving away.”

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Filed under breakfast, cooking, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, oatmeal, recipe

Orange Date Cookies + GIVEAWAY!!!

I’ve been hiding a deep, dark secret.

That deep, dark secret is also ooey, gooey and deliciously sweet.

I’ve briefly mentioned my adoration for date syrup – but this type of relationship doesn’t deserve a brief mention.

It deserves an award and a plaque. I don’t love just anything, you know – and for something to compete with maple syrup, you know you’ve got a serious situation on your hands.

When Colleen at Organics are for Everyone contacted me to see if I was interested in trying their date syrup – my first response was the same as it would be had someone asked me a relatively inappropriate question pertaining to what kind of business a bear does in the woods.

…and then of course, my honesty got the best of me, and I instead let her know what I’ve actually tried their date syrup before, as the kind Tatianna had sent me some. I have nowhere to buy it in stores around here! Of course, I did make sure to mention that I would more than willingly welcome more samples if she so chose 😉

The possibilities with date syrup are endless. I liken it to maple syrup because it is a natural sweetener – but the taste is not alike at all, as I’m sure you can imagine. It is far less sweet, being derived wholly from the amazing date.

And that makes it wonderful to drizzle on pancakes!

Back when civilization began, there was date syrup. Stone tablets containing the earliest documented recipes in existence portray this flowing fruit of the date palm as an essential sweetener in the ancient world. It was, and still is, a delectable, complex fruit syrup with a variety of uses and nutritional benefits.

Its uses are many. The syrup’s rich flavor makes for an ideal substitution to processed sugar in your favorite baking and cooking recipes. Use it also as a topping with anything that would normally go with honey or syrup. The benefits are also numerous. A mineral content including potassium, magnesium and iron, make this a great alternative to sweeten up recipes without adding sugar.

Did you know dates have more potassium ounce for ounce then a banana? Forget about stuffing your cheeks like a monkey to get rid of those post-workout cramps! Instead enjoy some delightful date syrup in a protein shake, smoothie, or on its own, and enjoy every sweet bit as it absorbs into your system like sweet nourishment. Dates are also a great source of iron and magnesium as well as an excellent source of energy without adding a speck of anything to them. Use date syrup instead of high-sugar sports bars and drinks to replenish and recharge fatigued muscles.

And then, of course, there’s all the baking you can do with it! Its’ unique flavor lends itself well to cookies and bars, and naturally, I have been putting this theory to use!

When I made these date bars, I replaced the maple syrup the recipe called for with date syrup. It’s only fitting, right?! The substitute was a winner – while I haven’t yet tried them with maple syrup, this extra-datey version was a winner with everyone in my household – a rare occurence!

But my personal favorite recipe I’ve made with date syrup?

I suppose it could be considered a cross between SuperCharge Me cookies as well as the previously mentioned date bars: Orange-Date Cookies!

If you want to use half the dough to eat raw and the other half as a luxurious body scrub because it smells so wonderful, I won’t tell anyone. It can be our secret.

When I tasted one of these cookies hot out of the oven, I wasn’t sold on my final product. I thought they just needed a bit more zazz – maybe a touch mroe date syrup, a touch more orange juice.

But after letting them sit a couple hours, or even better, a day or two? I am in love. They are very subtly sweet – but the orange really shines through and plays well with the texture of the soft, chewy dates baked into their insides. The cashew butter is a wonderul compliment, too – it does not compete with the flavors, but rather, nicely complements them. In fact, my favorite way to enjoy these cookies? Smothered with a bit more cashew butter and had alongside a hot cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa.

Orange-Date Cookies

yields 15-20 cookies

adapted from Vive le Vegan’s SuperCharge Me cookies

  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 2/3 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. chopped medjool dates
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries (or extra dates)
  • zest of one medium orange
  • juice of one medium orange
  • 1/3 c. milled flaxseed
  • 1/4 c. date syrup
  • 2-3 T. almond milk
  • 3 T. cashew butter
  • 2 T. coconut oil, softened

Preheat the oven to 350*.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, spices and baking powder. Stir in the orange zest, dates and cranberries, making sure the dates are separated. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the milled flaxseed, juice of the orange, cashew butter and date syrup. Pour the wet into the dry and then add the coconut oil. You may need to add 2-3 T. almond milk, depending on how much juice your orange gave you. I think I had to add a tablespoon or two? You’ll want a stiff dough, but not crumbly.

Roll into balls and flatten slightly before placing on a sprayed cookie sheet.

Bake for ten minutes, cool for one minute on sheet, and then remove to cooling racks.

As I mentioned – I enjoyed these even more the next day, and especially smeared with more cashew butter!!

Now it’s your turn.

Do you want to win some date syrup? Of course you do. And you can!! Colleen graciously has offered me the opportunity to host an Organics are for Everyone giveaway.

Want to enter? I’ll give you a couple chances! And no, I’m not going to make you add me to your reader or follow me. Not to say that wouldn’t be lovely…

1. Follow OAFE on Twitter (@datesyruprocks) and tweet about the giveaway in some way, shape or form, linking back to this post.

2. Comment on this post with something relating to date syrup – how you would use it, if you have tried it, a joke involving date syrup, a fact, something to crack me up, you get the point.

3. Link back to this giveaway in your next blog post.

Additionally, it’d be awesome if you came up with and then posted a recipe involving date syrup (either on your own blog or in my comments if you don’t have one) but I realize you may be using this giveaway as your chance to get your hands on date syrup, rendering that potentially impossible, but it’s another option 🙂

Make sure you post a separate comment for each entry! The winner, whom I will randomly choose next weekend using a random number generator, will recieve two (!!) jars of date syrup!

Unfortunately, this giveaway is for people in the contiguous 48 states only. Sorry!

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Filed under breakfast, cooking, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, recipe

The Baking Blog

You guys must wonder if all I do is bake and eat sweets these days! Yesterday, I mentioned baking as being my boredome-buster for being snowed in. I guess that’s not so surprising considering…well, I bake when I’m not bored, too. In fact, at this very moment, all I can think of is what I want to bake. And so, I’m sitting on my hands (or, typing this blog post if you want to be literal) because we have plenty of food in this house, and I know I have Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to bake. Four days in a row without baking won’t be happening, so I figure I might as well give myself until Thursday to eat through Super-Charge Me cookies, cookie dough balls and muffins.

Had I mentioned how, after baking so much for friends and co-workers, all I wanted was some Super-Charge Me cookies? The craving was pretty intense, and I figured I had to make some for Santa on Christmas Eve so that he could be charged for his long night delivering joy and presents.

While nosing through my cupboard to see what I had in terms of dried fruit, I was reminded of an old obsession I had; dried apricots. I used to have dried apricots on a daily basis -how did I forget all about them?! They wound up being paired with roasted almonds in some good old-fashioned Super-Charge Me cookies. Hit the spot.

Is there something you used to have all the time, only to completely forget about it all of a sudden?

And yesterday, I made muffins. Mini muffins. When Ipopped these littlebabies out of the tin, I couldn’t stop ooh-ing and awww-ing, even shoving them in my mom’s face proclaiming “loooook at these little babies they’re so adorable!

I am officially wierd. You knew this.

My mother gave me Vive le Vegan! for Christmas, and naturally – I had to test it out. I was thinking muffins, and settled on the Orange-Poppyseed Muffins, but then when I was flipping through the desserts section, I saw coconut-lime cookies.

…Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Do you see where I’m going with this?

It had to be done, folks. I mean – who doesn’t cook with coconut and limes while there’s a blizzard outside? I realized afterwards how backwards I am. Here, in the middle of a blizzard, I am cooking coconut-lime poppyseed muffins while I should be standing over a pot of bubbling chili.

Ohhh, my life.

Before we get started, a few notes, mainly because I have this sudden obsession with bulleted lists lately:

  • They aren’t very pretty because I never bother smoothing out my muffin tops. Note to self: smooth out your muffin tops! We’ll just call them rustic.
  • If you bake these in mini-mini muffin tins you’ll probably die at the cuteness.

Coconut-Lime-Poppyseed Muffins

  • 1/2 c. + 2 T. ground oats
  • 1 T.  poppyseeds
  • 1 T. (generous) sugar
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • zest from one lime
  • 1/8 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 T. coconut flour (or another 1/4 c. white whole wheat)
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 T. milled flaxseed
  • 1 t. chia seed
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 T. almond milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (I bet coconut extract would be good, though)
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375*.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, flaxseed and chia seeds.
  3. In a large bowl,combine the ground oats, poppyseeds, sugar, coconut, lime zest, salt, nutmeg, flours, baking powder and baking soda. Tip: sift in the coconut flour and baking powder and soda.
  4. To the lime juice and flax mixture, add your remaining wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Stir in the coconut oil. Combine everything and stir until well combined. Fold in the dried cranberries.
  5. Spoon the batter into sprayed/nonstick muffin tins until 3/4s of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes (longer or shorter is depndent on the size of your muffins. My baby ones were pretty crispy on the outside after 17 or so, while the large ones I left in for twenty.)
  6. Now, pop those little babies in your mouth like they’re popcorn, while watching the violent snowstorm from inside your safe and humble abode.

Oh, and for what it’s worth – sitting on my hands to prevent myself from baking totally didn’t work. I started writing this post shortly after lunch to keep myself entertained. It’s not 3:35 and I had to do something. It’s still frigid outside, I did all of my cleaning yesterday, and I don’t feel like going out again, either. I’m still chilled from being at the barn all morning.

So, naturally, I convinced my mom she wanted a dessert. She didn’t really, but I needed an excuse, you know. I convinced her she wanted date squares. And when I mentioned it, she realized she wouldn’t mind some date squares after all.

Touch-dowwwwwnnnnn, Jessica!

She’s used to this game I play by now – me suggesting she wants a dessert or a snack or something. And then I play a guessing game, until I say something that she actually says “oh, yeah, okay!” to. Her mom used to make date squares, I guess – so I hope these are just as good!

I followed the recipe in Vive le Vegan, however I used orange zest instead of lemon, coconut oil instead of canola, and date syrup instead of molasses. I quite like them, myself – they are not too sweet, and have the subtle tones of orange in the creamy date layer. The oats in the subtly sweet crust are a nice touch, too.

My thoughts on the cookbook? Another great one to add to my collection! None of the recipes are so complex that they are off-putting, nor are any so simple that I sort of laugh and say “well gee, maybe I should write a cookbook.” They are all health-conscious but not in a restrictive way, and there is a good, diverse selection, too. Lastly, the ingredients are all pretty easy to find, save for tamari and barley flour – though I think I could find both of those things if I knew to look for it at the co-op. The author does give subs for the barley flour, luckily – but it does make me want to try baking with it!

Have you “read” any new cookbooks? What’s your favorite one, or a favorite “kind”? I enjoy reading my cookbooks from cover to cover, not just skimming recipes. I find it really gets my creative juices flowing, and helps to teach me what works with what, too.

I’ve also found that I enjoy all types – not necessarily just vegan cookbooks or just “healthy”cookbooks. In fact, I love flipping through magazines with recipes for meat or things that aren’t trying to be healthy, too – because it’s another take on marinades and dishes!

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Filed under cooking, foodblog, healthy living, recipe, Uncategorized

Jackpot

You just never know when it’s going to be your lucky day.

You know, winning the lotto, hitting the jackpot, finding cans of pumpkin, finding $10 in the trash, or being granted ginormous basil plants .

Did I have any idea I was going to be given this huge of a basil plant from a co-worker?

Absolutely not.

Did I have any complaints?

Absolutely not.

Hmmm – what to do with all my new basil?! Besides pesto. That’s a given.

Another jackpot? This sandwich:

Okay, so it doesn’t look like much. Which would make sense, because that’s it when I packed it. When at work, assembled, it became a panini with:

  • grilled tempeh
  • baby spinach
  • red onion
  • sliced apple and dried fig
  • raspberry honey dijon

I couldn’t have asked for anything more in life. Give it a try! And while you’re giving that a try, give these birdseed bars a try:

Ironically, these bear a shocking resemblence to a treat I’d feed one of the horses. I promise they taste way better though! Well, maybe, I’ve never actually tried one of those. I’ve only ever tried on of Teddie’s Orange Spice and Anise Seed cookies. They’re not bad, but a little too anise-y for my liking.

Speaking of Teddie and eating things, check out this really pointless video!

Hear I am, about to apologize for not reading as many blogs because I have stuff I should be doing, and yet I just spent the last hour editing that video. I have no excuses, nor any shame.

What’s your favorite thing to do with pesto?

Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? (I’m talking like, not typical “human food,” or at least really bizarre combinations. Like horse cookies. I can’t think of anything else, though I’m sure there were plenty back in the day!)

And FWIW, be proud: I was fig-less this morning! I was feelin’ the dates. And Boo to Planter’s for selling me a can of mixed nuts with less than 50% peanuts that is pretty much all peanuts with a chance of almond, cashew, or brazil nut. Boo, Planters, Boo.

(With the recent drama, maybe I ought to clarify that yes, I at quite a bit more than three things all day.)

23 Comments

Filed under breakfast, foodblog, health, healthy living, lunch, oatmeal

Great Dates

One day closer to the weekend…one day closer to ponyville! I’m not excited or anything, hmm? 😉

This morning, day off in mind, I lolly-gagged out of bed at the late hour of 6:20. I do what I can.

…and in the kitchen went through a life-changing event. It was a little thing called Mighty Maple that triggered it. I finally broke into the PB & Co mighty Mapes that’s been hiding in my cupboard to replaced my beloved cinnamon raisin. I had high expectations, being the maple head I am. I mean, not just any maple is mapley enough to meet my expectations. Take Justin’s Maple…I could hardly even detect maple!

The only way to induct such a nut butter would be through figgy apple oats. And so, the base for this morning consisted of:

  • 2 T. Bob’s Grains & Nuts, 3 T. Peppy Kernels, 1 T. Wheat Bran
  • 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. PureAlmond
  • 3/4s of a small gala apple
  • 1.5 dried chopped Turkish figs
  • drizzle maple syrup
  • cinnamon
  • 1 T. chia seeds

and then topped with:

  • chia-flax icing
  • honey roasted peanuts
  • PB & Co Mighty Maple
  • and a chutney of the rest of the apple and figs, simmered in some almond milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup.

So, what did I think? Oh, I think I died and went to heaven. I don’t think PB & Co has disappointed me yet. And they’re pretty inexpensive. And I can buy them locally. I should just stick to PB & Co! What’s your favorite brand?

It was so perfect that it reminded me immediately of my childhood days, when we would go out for ice cream, and share cones of homemade maple walnut ice cream. Yes, I realize that doesn’t make much sense considering the fact that we’re talking about peanut butter and not walnut butter – but just work with me here.

I enjoyed the beauty of this bowl while contributing to Heifer International, by sipping on some Green Mountain Heifer Hope. Don’t get that twisted, though – I don’t hope to be a heifer.

I comically watched an infomercial for the same blender I have (my blender/processor is really bad, guys – this infomercial makes it look like it’s a miracle, sent from heaven even) before getting my groove on. And by “groove” I mean getting groceries and an oil change for Gertrude. The groceries happened, Gertrude didn’t. First, though, I had to find my shoes.

Not staged. Am I the only one laughing? Probably.

My mom didn’t even let me take my shoes off when I walked in the door last night, and apparantly just walked right out of them in the most random of places.

Finally found them, though. And why no oil change? Well, the sun was shining…it was beautiful…who wants to get an oil change? I’d rather do some yoga if you ask me. Jenny warned me – but that vid kicked my booty. I loved it. I was hangry after, though, and feulage in the form of cottage cheese, greek yoga, strawberries, and honey roasted almonds was a necessary. Drizzled with some irish cream agave and a boatload of cinnamon, to boot.

I used up the last of my chickpeas to make some chickpea cutlets for dinner for le madre and I. I used balsamic rather than soy sauce, eliminated the thyme and sage but used fresh basil, and added some scallions. And made my own homemade breadcrumbs. I’m going to go ahead and give myself a pat on the back for ending up not wasting any of my homemade loaf of bread. I thought for sure I would, but – no wastage after all!

Anyways – I took the opportunity of the oven being on to roast an eggplant, red pepper, and a sweet potato, too. Does anyone else feel the need to go on a roasting rampage once the oven gets turned on? I hope so. Eggplants and peppers would find use another day, however – and I went the route of a goat cheese, apple, spinach, and tempeh panini on multiseed whole grain bread for the lunch-age.

Low and slow sweet potatoes joined me in my voyage. The first time I had these, I thought they were life changing. Same goes for the second. and third. This time and the last time, however – they sort of reminded me of baby food. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Yet. I don’t think. Just sorta…weird.

Of course, that’s probably okay because I’m just sorta weird, too. Case in point? I can’t sit down to eat until everything is just so. I can’t eat and leave the kitchen a mess. And if I have any thoughts, I need to do them and get them out of the way so I can just enjoy the food. After I made this and photographed it, I notice the horses begging to be put out on grass. Sigh. Let horses out. Come back in. Realize the kitchen is messy. Organize kitchen. Wonder if mail came. Get mail. Realize lunch is cold. Microwave lunch. Eat.

The reading material for the lunch?

Oh, yes – so glad I checked the mail because look what I found getting melty! Nicole noticed I was eyeballing the Boomi and Prana Bars and sent me a bunch to try! And, amazing flavors, might I add. I am sure I will have no trouble enjoying these, and I cannot wait to try one tomorrow! The ingreds in these puppies are nothing short of stellar, and I love the unique, new flavors!!

I grabbed a homemade laraball for dessert and sat out on the porch with Kaia browsing through random Hannafords magazines. They put together a pretty mean magazine, you know. But – I desperately need to sit down and read a book this summer. First on my list? In Defense of Food, or something along those lines. Any suggestions?

I browsed tack catalogs, moseyed outside, and did relatively useless things including nomming…

Dr. Kracker, Sunflower Seed Butter

…until my Mom got home from work, and we went for a ride. I grabbed a banana to share…

It was pretty warm today – at least in relation to how it has been recently – so we didn’t go too far, but it was a really great ride! Jiggy was one tuckered puppy (uh, appy) afterwards though. We gave them a nice hose-down and he was incredibly greatful – I felt it in the way he sipped water straight from the hose 😉

Dinner tonight was new in all sorts of ways. First time trying spaghetti squash! First time eating/making chickpea cutlets! And it was a major success – both in my eyes and mi madre’s. I took hint from Nicole once again – sheesh, I think everything I make lately is either Veganomicon or Making Good Choices! Anyways – I remember her posting a bit back about a spaghetti squash primavera. Yes, Please.

  • spaghetti squash
  • canned diced tomatoes – basil, garlic, and oregano flavor
  • zuchhini
  • roasted eggplant
  • roasted red pepper
  • artichoke hearts
  • garlic
  • scallions

It was fantasmic. Seriously. I wasn’t sure I’d care for the spaghetti squash, hence why it’s taken so long to try it. I thought for sure it’d be too squash-y. I’m not much of a squash kinda gal. I mean, it even sounds funky. Squash? sqqqwaaassshhh. But it definitely surprised me and was incredibly reminiscent of real spaghetti. I even just microwaved it for speed and to eliminate turning on the oven.

mmm- Loved all those veggies! This was definitlely my kinda meal. The cutlets were great too – though I think next time I’d love to make them with some fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, and more garlic – and yes, there will be a next time.

____________________________

What’s So Great about a Date?

Jenny’s ode to maple syrup this morning got me thinking – what else do I eat on a daily basis that I don’t necessarily eat with benefits in mind, but moreso because it’s a great, tasty snack – and of course, also better than it’s mass-processed counterparts? I was shocked to read all of the goodies in real maple syrup – I honestly just thought it was a great alternative to refined sugar! Now, I’ll be strong like maple tree. Definitely give it a read!

Anyways –  The first thing that came to mind was: dried fruits and nuts. Now, we all know these foods are beneficial, but to be honest, I never really stopped to see how beneficial. Maybe I didn’t much care – I mean, I’ll keep eating them either way, right? My first order of business, though- What’s so great about a date?

Dates are, most likely, the most common of the dried fruits I’ll have. I mean – how many are in a Larabar alone? They are also perfect stirred into oats or used for baking – they tend to get this delicious, sweet meltiness to them when heated. And though I’m not a huge “sweets” fan by common terminology – I do love the natural sweetness that just popping a plain ol’ dried date brings about. That being said – dates are a great form of natural sweetener. There are date sugars and date syrups, but for some reason, I don’t find these to be as widely available or known about as stevia or sucanat.

But aside from being a great sweetener and just plain great snack, the health benefits of dates are a mile long! Want a quick peek?

  • Low in fat and cholesterol, and due to the high fiber content actually help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Round of applause for cardiovascular health!
  • good amounts of potassium, which is known to help to maintain a normal blood pressure level
  • high in iron
  • good source of magnesium, which studies have shown helps to relax muscles and thus relieve fatigue
  • good source of copper, which reduces your risk for developing an inflammatory disease, such as arthritis, working to maintain the elasticity of your muscles and joints
  • B-group vitamins are found in large quantities in dates, which helps your body to get all of the energy production out of the foods you give it
  • dates are also a great source of dietary fiber (which – doesn’t it seem like everything is nowadays? but that’s another post, another time.) promoting satiety and regulating blood glucose. Annnd, you know that “beans, beans” song? Well, I guess it could also go “dates, dates, the magical fruit…the more you eat…”

So, lets hear it for dates as a great, high-energy, nutritious snack. What’s you’re favorite way to enjoy them? Here are some of my faves:

  • chopped and mixed into savory-sweet salads
  • whole dates stuffed with some nut butter (and I need to follow Nora’s footsteps and microwave them like this!)
  • in a hot applesauce mess – i swear they just get all melty and sweet in the most beautiful and delicious of ways
  • homemade laraballs
  • real Larabars
  • mixed in to baked goods and oatmeal – once again, helloooo sweet melty deliciousness!


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Homemade Laraballs!

Alright, alright – I’m doing up this recipe again. Mainly because now I’ve gone through lots of trials and experimentation. And finally took pictures of the process today. And everybody keeps asking about them because I’m a bad blogger and a. never link and b. never explain. Although I should state that I’m not laying claim to owning this recipe – it stemmed from a Moosewoods date truffle recipe in efforts to get a drier, more larabar-esque goodie – and found these measurements to work well, and find it to be pretty universal based on further exploration afterwards, too. When you’re working with this many ingredients, it’s hard to be unique 😉

Quite simply, you will need:

  • a food processor – it doesn’t even need to be a great one. mine is lousy. but it gets this job done no problemo.
  • dried dates and other fruit, as desired – to equal a half cup total. You’re likely to have best luck (and great health benefits!) if you use at least 1/4 cup dates, however.
  • nuts – 1/3 cup, any kind
  • optional: spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger – zests from oranges or limes – a hungry parent who eats them all before you do – family members to drive crazy with your new obsession
  • optional: powders like acai, protein, maca, whatever floats your boat and keeps your heart and muscles pounding
  • 5 minutes
  1. Choose your fruit victims. I’ve always used at least 1/4 cup of dates, about 5 dates. I use the big Medjool dates – don’t use the date pieces you buy in a bag. The other 1/4 cup can be your favorite ol’ dried fruit, or dates again. For today, I got a little crazy in the kitchen and opted for 1/4 c. dates (make sure you pit them, guys. I know, I know – obvious, but I could see myself doing something like that.) 2 T. dried sweet cherries, and 2 T. organic shredded unsweetened coconut.

    I think I see an optional cat hair in there.

  2. Process them in the processor until it’s all clumped together in one big ol’ clump. I’ve found it takes a bit longer to clump together if you’re using coconut, since it’s drier.
  3. Dump the puree into a medium sized mixing bowl. Don’t clean your processor, but dump your 1/3 cup nuts/seeds into the processor. Once again, I got a little crazy and experimented with using chia seeds today, in addition to some honey roasted almonds.
  4. Grind until course ground. I guess you could do finely ground, too…but I don’t know why you’d really want to.
  5. Combine everything into the mixing bowl. Here you could add in some powder or spices, too. I chose to add in some wolfberry Tera’s Whey today – but just a spoonful (half Tbs maybe?). I didn’t want the flavor to be overly abundant, and didn’t have any plain powder.
  6. Knead it all together into one ball. It takes more work if you use a powder of some sort, I’ve noticed. Don’t worry if it’s a bit too crumbly and you can’t work all the nuts in. Life will go on, I promise. Just form them into balls and store in a container. Sample one after that’s said and done, because otherwise you’ll probably want to eat the whole thing before actually forming them into balls.

The nitty gritty:

  • Know that if you use all peanuts, they are quite more pronounced in terms of flavor than any other nuts. It will taste more peanut butter-y than fruity. Not saying it’s a bad thing.
  • After having made them a couple times with protein powder, I think it’d be a good idea to cut back on the nuts a little bit, especially if you’re planning on using a lot.
  • Obviously, form them however you want…but I think the mini-ball size is great for a snack when you just want a little something. That and, I’m likely to never stop buying real Larabars anyways.

Some fun concoctions:

  • cinnamon-raisin – 1/4 c. dates, 1/4 c. golden raisins, 1/3 c. cashews, cinnamon
  • cranberry-orange – 1/4 c. cranberries, any nut, orange zest
  • pb & j – 1/4 c. cherries, 1/3 c. peanuts
  • coconut-macadamia – 1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/3 c. macadmia nuts (note that this mixture tends to be more crumbly, but can still be easily formed into balls.)
  • apple pie – 1/4 c. dehydrated apples (I used seneca apple chips), 1/3 c. mix of almonds, walnuts and pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg

and I’ve honestly forgotten what else. There are so many combos, though – just have fun! And I must say – this was my first time using some chia seeds, and I really think it may become habit 🙂

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Filed under cooking, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, recipe, Uncategorized