Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

#12 Fun Things to Do With Your Family This Weekend October 9, 2008

Get Old-School!

We’re all feeling the squeeze from the economic downturn, but does that mean we have cut corners on family fun this Halloween? I think not! Craft magazine illustrates how to make fun and funky costumes for your kids with a visit to your recycling bin, sewing box or local craft store – Much easier than standing in line at a crowded costume shop and a bit easier on the wallet, as well.

You can quickly and easily whip up any of these five amazing kiddy costumes using supplies you probably already have on hand, plus a bit of creativity. Inexpensive and easy to make, these custom-made outfits have more staying power than most flimsy store-bought costumes. Follow the links below for full instructions, or Click here to watch the video.

Autumn Harvest Raw Apple Pie with Almond-Date Crust 

This uncommonly good apple pie is raw–yes, unbaked–and it rivals the most luscious and delectable of cooked varieties. It is dense, rich, sweet and aromatic with cinnamon, and suitable for low-carb, gluten-free, low-glycemic and vegan diets.

Raw food (like many things worth waiting for) takes time. This dish is somewhat time-consuming, so I suggest you make a weekend of it! Spend Saturday scouring the orchards for apples; It’s fun, great exercise and often there are seasonal festivals with music, period costumes and demonstrations. Get the kids to help, and use the time together for a short history lesson about how food was gathered and prepared when Grandmother (or Great-Grandmother) was young. Click here for the full recipe.
(Visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com for more great kid-friendly recipes!

Future Environmentalists Club

“By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families, The following are excerpts.

Make your own Pine Cone Bird Feeder! This is a fun and easy project that is perfect for inviting our fine feathered friends to the back yard! All you need are fallen pine cones, string, chunky peanut butter, spoons, citrus fruit (such as lemons), scissors, sunflower seeds, and plates.

Cut the citrus into slices, then in to very small pieces and set them aside. Pour sunflower seeds into plates, spread around, and set aside. Tie a length of string around the top of the pine cone long enough to hang it in front of a kitchen window or from a nearby branch. Cover pine cone with peanut butter using the backside of a spoon. Stick fruit bits onto the peanut butter. Roll the pine cone in sunflower seeds, then hang your bird feeder!

Every part of this project is eco-friendly. Using fallen pine cones makes good use of a natural resource that you can later toss in the woods, where a thankful squirrel will claim it. Chunky peanut butter provides birds with high-energy peanut pieces, seeds are a staple in a bird’s diet, and fruit helps maintain health. Keep in mind that birds will come to depend on these feeders as a source of food, so plan on keeping up your pine cone practices through the Fall and Winter.

*Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.

 

I’m Not Afraid of Fearless Chocolate May 14, 2008

Want to put a smile on my face? Hand me a dark-chocolate bar I’ve never tried before. Better yet, a quirky raw, organic bar like this 72% Midnight from Fearless Chocolate. That’s just what my husband did when he returned from a business trip to Vegas, where he enjoyed lunch at GoRaw Cafe, purveyor of Fearless Chocolate.

Company owner Jordan Schuster founded Fearless Chocolate only a few years ago, in San Francisco–a neighbor to our beloved Scharffen Berger and the popular Ghirardelli. What makes Fearless Chocolate different is that it is made with raw cacao—aka unroasted. The package states that the cacao is prepared at a low heat (under 118 degrees), “preserving the natural nutrients, enzymes, amino acids and antioxidents.” It is also sweetened with rapadura, essentially pure dried sugarcane juice, a traditional sweetener common in Latin American countries such as Brazil and Venezuela (where it is known as papelón) and the Caribbean.

What’s odder (and irresistibly charming) is that the packaging (and website) appear as nothing fancier than chalkboard drawings, underscoring the bar’s back-to-basics organic nature.

When I opened it, I noticed the bar is die-cut to suggest a bite has taken from it. The idea behind this is explained as follows: “this bite is given to folks who need to eat chocolate as much as you.” When I checked the website, it would seem that no giving has been done to date, although the company requests recipient nominations. Hmm, maybe locate pre-menstrual tension sufferers who would/could never pay $5.98 for a single chocolate bar? (Yes, you read that correctly. SIX bucks!) Or maybe package up those little bites for wee trick-or-treaters on a raw diet, who are never able to enjoy even a fraction of their loot?

But what does it taste like? It tastes like raw cacao, folks, and that’s a big compliment. My bar had no signs of bloom. It did not snap as sharply as a fine, roasted counterpart might, however. Its scent is earthy and nutty, and I could detect its included cinnamon, sea salt and vanilla. The texture is very grainy, from start to finish; This is to be expected, considering its production process.

Only a few squares in, and I am delighted by its wholesomeness and balanced composition. I am a person who keeps a bag of raw, organic cacao powder in the fridge, stirring it into plain yogurt with agave nectar at alarmingly frequent rates, so perhaps I am biased.  My overall impression is that is a wonderfully delicious and nutritious treat. Surprisingly low in calories and sugar content, I daresay it’s pretty low-glycemic, although bars sweetened with agave are available by special order. Fearless Chocolate also offers the following varieties: Nice Rice Milk, Mynt, and Baanaanaa Waalnut, but for some mysterious reason, you can’t order from the Fearless website! And, it’s worthwhile to note that the company blog is powered by WordPress.

If love good food as much as I do, check out my other blog, the Unnassuming Foodie!

 

Raw Brownies! With Icing!! March 5, 2008

Sugar is a stranger at our house. A lover of all things dessert, you would guess otherwise, but I have found countless “alternatives” for ooey-gooey, sinfully delicious and satisfying treats. I put alternatives in quotations, because, in truth, what is available in the produce department is delightfully sweet, complex in texture and wildly versatile. The real deal.

When I was nineteen, overweight and eating junk, I came across this cookbook on macrobiotics. Lovingly written, this book changed my entire outlook on food, and in many ways, my body. It also retrained my palate to find a simple apple sweet to the taste, and soon after refined sugars became headache-producing. Anyway, that was, ahem, 18 years ago. While I’m not exactly macrobiotic now—I’d say I’m more, “if God provided it, it must be OK; If any ingredients were produced by industrial chemists, it must not be”—my very favorite type of cooking is raw food, rivalled only by my lust for (almost quizzically, now that I think of it,) French cuisine: the full-fat, rich-sauced, beautifully-prepared variety.

Anyway, above all, I adore raw desserts. I fantasize about existing on them alone. It was during one such fantasy that I came across this lovely little recipe that is so easy to make and so deceptively wonderful, that I just have to share. Not only is it made with only “good” fats, but it is also low-glycemic*, gluten-free, flourless and vegan.

Get out your food processor, and toss in
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dates
1/3 cup cocoa powder
Special note: Good food requires good ingredients. Treat yourself to some Scharffen Berger cocoa powder. Green and Black’s makes a nice organic one. Navitas makes Raw Cacao Power, perfect for the purist. (The extra cost for your luxury cocoa splurge is justified by your savings in flour, eggs, butter and milk!)

Grind these ingredients until they resemble potting soil, then pat firmly into an 8×8 pan.

Next, use your blender or hand-mixer to blend the icing:
2 avocados
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup cocoa powder (see Special Note above)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
dash salt
dash cinnamon

This icing is to die for!! Don’t tell anyone that you’re using avocados to make chocolate icing, they might just gag. But, one taste and you will never look at an avocado the same again. In fact, this icing recipe makes much more than you really need; consider it a bit ‘o love from me to you.

Ice your brownies, lick the spoon, and place in the freezer to set (1 hour). Since this is, essentially, a bunch of healthy fruit and nuts, feel free to nibble on a brownie on your way into work in the morning—and let me know how they turned out! Makes 12.

Other ideas: I’m going to try substituting organic almond or peanut butter for the walnuts, to create a “chocolate-peanut butter cup” version. 

*To make this ultra-low-glycemic, replace the dates with prunes.

Looking for more great recipes like this one? Check out my other blog, the Unassuming Foodie!

 

 
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