Friday, March 22, 2013


The other day, as I was driving home, I passed some kids selling Girl Scout cookies. I don’t know about you, but I attach memories to different things, good and bad. Let me tell you, I have all kinds of great memories attached to those delicious little bits of heaven. There’s something nostalgic about them. Popping a sleeve of those guys into the freezer and then enjoying them while watching movies on Friday night... Ah, the good ol’ days.

I want my kids to have those same good memories attached to delicious little treats too, and this is what I was thinking about as I passed the Girl Scouts. Only, I don’t want them to have to eat a bunch of hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup or any other crap ingredients to be able to have fun, happy, party foods. This gave me an idea... Could I make thin mints?


Are they “easy” to make? Well, they’re not “hard”, but they’re time consuming. This isn’t that big of a deal to me though. Good tasting healthful food, takes time. My one rule in the kitchen is that is HAS to taste good. Eating healthful foods doesn’t have to taste like cardboard.

So, this is where I got the recipe. I had to adjust it a little to make it dairy, gluten and soy free (she gives some good ideas). Instead of butter, I used coconut oil. Instead of whole wheat flour, I used 1/2 C brown rice flour and 1/4 C sorghum flour. Instead of regular chocolate chunks, I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks (I am in love with whoever started this company, by the way. I want to hug them for like an hour straight).

Now, she makes these cookies look like everything magically falls into place; but we know that when you’re actually the one making them, that rarely happens. So, I’m going to give you a pictorial play by play.

Should you choose to make these cookies, you absolutely will not be disappointed. I honestly like them more than Girl Scout thin mints, and I didn’t think that was possible. They’re light and crisp and don’t leave that plasticy feeling in your mouth when you’re done eating. Oh, my one bit of advice: don’t eat too much of the chocolate as you're baking them... you won’t realize how much you’ve eaten until you’re about ready to barf, and that just takes away from the goodness of the cookies:).

My thoughts at this moment are, what the eff? It's a bunch of crumbs!! Fight the urge to add water. She says to "shape into a ball and then flatten into a disc and then place it into the freezer". Right. As you can see, that didn't work for me. I just stuck it into the freezer like this (but don't leave it in the freezer too long or you'll have a rock on your hands... trust me).

After removing it from the freezer and pressing it around in my hands (a lot), and then rolling it out (I put a piece of parchment paper between the roller and the cookie dough) it came together like this.

I used a glass to make the cookie cut outs.

This is my hodge-podge of cookies.

Once they've cooled, right before the chocolate dip. You want to avoid making them too thin, or they'll crumble and you'll yell obscenities.

My homemade double broiler. Hey, use what you got, right?

Freshly dipped cookies. Had a little chocolate left over, so I grabbed some strawberries. Whoa, was that a good decision! To coat the cookies, I just dropped them in the pan (one at a time), spooned the chocolate over the top and then took them out with my fingers, shaking off the excess chocolate.

I like them best once they've been in the freezer for a little while. Oh my. These are so good. And the best part is that you can feel good about eating them!:)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

[hash tag] #food allergies

I feel like my life the past 8 months could best be described as #dairyfree #soyfree #oatfree #glutenfree and most recently, #xanthangumfree. This has definitely not been by choice. Yet, in a weird way, I'm glad. I would never have discovered how many more options are out there, besides plane ol' wheat (in all of its beauty). I would never have realized that I could create recipes. I feel like a room to a different part of my brain has been opened. I see food in a completely different light. And it's all thanks to this guy:


In the days following his birth I started noticing that, at times, he would sound like he was choking. I began hearing a gurgling sound in his throat, especially at night. It scared me so badly that I would hold him through the night to make sure that he wasn't choking. He was also "collicky", meaning he would cry and cry without end. He would only stop if he were being held. Exhausted, I felt like I was losing my mind.

I called his doctor and explained what was going on and they wanted us to come in. It was confirmed: reflux. GERD to be more exact. Relieved that it was figured out, I filled the prescriptions. After reading the possible side effects of the medications, the risks far outweighed the benefits. So, I got him started on the more mild medicine and began my search to find out what causes GERD in infants. This led me to Dr. Sear's Elimination Diet. Sure enough, my diet was the culprit. One by one, I began learning which foods were causing his reflux.

I felt very lost at first. No dairy? Ok. I can do that. No oats? There go my favorite cookies, but oh well. No gluten?? Wait, what? Seriously?? What will I eat?? I mean, you can only eat so many salads. Oh, now there's no soy??? Who cares. I stopped paying attention after "no gluten." So this is where I decided that I had to do something because I love food far too much to be in misery for the next year. I dove into this whole thing head first, and it's actually been pretty fun. My only prerequisite: It has to taste good. That's non-optional. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you a couple of snack/breakfast recipes that we love.

The first is Maple Morning Granola Cereal

This stuff not only tastes great, but it's loaded with nutrients-specifically, protein. With quinoa as one of its main ingredients, it's one of the few breakfast cereals that provide a complete (meaning, it has all of the amino acids present) protein.

So, for this you'll need:
1 1/2 C Oats (if you're like me and can't have them, omit them and add more quinoa. Play with it to find the ratio that you like)
2/3 C quinoa
1/2 C pecans
1/2 C almonds
1/2 C walnuts
(the nuts were measured before chopping)
1/4 C cranberries
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C real maple syrup (if you want it even sweeter, just add a little more! But I'd start here)
Other optional highly recommended ingredients: 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil

Heat large skillet to med/high heat and toast the oats, stirring often. Err on the side of a little too toasty. Once you begin to smell their nutty scent, add the pecans and continue toasting and stirring. I use this time to chop the rest of the nuts put the nuts in a zip lock and smash with a cup because I don't have a chopper! Next, add the quinoa and the rest of the nuts and cranberries and continue toasting and stirring (are you noticing a theme?). Add cinnamon and stir it all around. If you're using coconut oil and/or vanilla, (liquify the oil first) mix them into the maple syrup an then pour over the granola in the skillet and stir, stir, stir. It'll sizzle and be a little wet. Just keep stirring until everything is coated and it's completely dry. Allow it to cool.

And viola! All you need is milk, a bowl and a spoon:)

*If it didn't turn out as crispy as you would have liked, either you didn't toast it long enough, or you need to scale the recipe down for the size of your skillet.

Next are the Nut Bars (inspired by Kind Bars)

For these you can use whatever nuts and dried fruit that you have on hand (in all of my recipes the nuts I use are unsalted). All of the ingredients except the honey and dates are optional and can be interchanged.

What you'll need:
10-15 dates (remove pits)
1/3 C honey
1 C almonds
2/3 C cashews
2/3 C pecans
1/3 C sunflower seeds
1/3 C pumpkin seeds
1/3 C walnuts
1 or 2 tbs ground flax seed (I use my coffee grinder)
2 tbs hemp hearts
1/3-2/3 C cranberries
1 tbs chia seeds
3 tbs water

Combine the chia seeds and water and set aside. Blend dates in food processor/blender until smooth (it'll be sticky and you'll have to scrape the walls a few times). Add the chia seeds, honey and hemp hearts to the dates, and pulse. Don't over blend, you want it chunky. Empty contents into a bowl. It will not all be blended. The majority of the nuts won't even have the honey/date mixture on them. Now, rub a little (I use coconut) oil on your hands and mix everything together. Next, empty the mix onto a piece of wax paper (on top of a pan) and flatten, press together and shape into a big square (keep adding oil to your hands to avoid it getting too sticky). At this point you can top it with any toppings you wish, or just leave it simple and plain:). Next, I usually dehydrate mine for an hour or so and then stick it in the fridge to firm up. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can either put them in your oven, on the lowest setting, for 45 minutes (give or take-keeping a close eye that they don't start toasting) or put them directly into the fridge, they just may not get as firm this way. After about 4 hours or so, you can remove them, cut them into bars and store them in the fridge. They usually don't last long in ours:)

Here's another batch topped with coconut flakes:)

Unless specified, my recipes are extremely versatile. You can interchange ingredients, omit them, add more of them... they're pretty hard to mess up.

Oh, and if you're wondering about this guy...

He's been medication free for about 6 months. Anytime I hear some reflux, instead of reaching for the Zantac, I just realize that my cooking's about to get a little bit crazier!