Apple Oat Crisp – Vegan and Sugar Free!

Apple Oat CrispThis is modified from a recent Martha Stewart recipe. The original recipe was already Gluten Free and was easily converted to Vegan but I still wanted to reduce the sugar and make it a little healthier just so I could feel OK about eating nearly the entire thing in one sitting. So here is my version:





1 1/2 Cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 Cup ground flax seeds

1/8 Cup agave nectar

1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 Cup coconut oil (I used refined because I didn’t want the coconut taste, but unrefined would likely work well too)


10 – 14 small apples (I filled my baking dish pretty much full, but this part is not an exact science)

1/8 Cup agave nectar

1/4 Cup dried cherries (more or less to taste)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Core, peel, and chop apples. In a medium bowl toss the apples in the agave nectar. Add cherries and cinnamon and stir until all are coated. Transfer in to a medium to large baking dish.

2. Topping: puree 3/4 Cups of Oats in food processor until coursly ground. In a medium bowl combine pureed oats, remaining oats, flax seeds, agave nectar, salt, coconut oil (easier to use if in liquid form). Stir until combined.

3. Distribute topping over filling. Cover dish with tin foil.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes with foil on. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until topping is brown and apples are easily pierced with a fork. Allow to cool for a bit and serve warm (also reheats well).

I bet this would be fantastic with vanilla ice cream, but as I’m avoiding processed sugar right now I will only get to imagine that. Eat it for me so I can enjoy it vicariously!


Healthy-ish Chocolate Cookies – Vegan!

I have been working on this one for a while. I absolutely love chocolate chip cookies, but Jason and I can eat them by the handful so I wanted to find a way to make yummy cookies that were not terrible for us (because that sounded way easier than getting us to eat fewer of them). After much experimentation (which Jason and Scout both really enjoyed) I have come up with a recipe I’m pretty happy with:


I mean, they’re still cookies, but these have a little more food value than most.

Healthy-ish Chocolate Cookies

1 Cup Coconut Oil (I prefer refined because it doesn’t have the coconut taste, but if you like coconut, unrefined works well too and is healthier)

2/3 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice (or white sugar)

1 Cup Agave Nectar (Other sugar combinations: 1 Cup Evap. Cane Juice, 1 Cup Sucanat; or 1 Cup white sugar, 1 Cup brown sugar)

1/4 Cup Non-Dairy milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 Cup Almond Flour/Meal

1/2 Cup Chickpea Flour (reduce to 1/4 Cup if you’re not using agave nectar)

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

9 oz Chocolate Chips

In a medium bowl, beat together the oil and sugars until well mixed. Add the soymilk and vanilla and mix. In another bowl, sift together whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in almond flour/meal and salt.

Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet and beat until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. If you are cooking in warm weather and the oil is liquid, you may need to add a little additional flour to make a nice thick dough.

Spoon tablespoon fulls of dough on to a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees F for 7-9 minutes. The agave nectar makes the cookies more likely to burn so watch them closely. Pull them out when you just start to see golden brown curling up around the edges. For a crispier cookie, cook a little after you see the edges start to brown. For a chewier cookie, pull them out sooner.

Enjoy a cookie with higher protein and fiber content, less sugar, and healthier fats!

Amazing Easy Whipped Cream Cake (Vegan!)

Whipped cream is one of those vegan holy grails. The store bought stuff is expensive, hard to find (impossible if you live in rural Utah), and only OK. So we never really bother with it much. For years we have simply lived without whipped cream on our favorite deserts and one of my favorite treats, Newly Wed Cake (otherwise known as Refrigerator Cake) was totally off the table. Until now.

Newly Wed Cake is made of flat chocolate wafer cookies layered with whipped cream between each cookie and covering the outside of the cookies. You then let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours until the cookies absorb some of the moisture and flavor of the whipped cream and you end up with this lovely soft, sweet, roll type cake that is super easy to make and absolutely delicious. My mom used to make them occasionally and I have always wondered if there might be a way to veganize the idea, but since I had no idea how to do vegan whipped cream I didn’t bother thinking about it too hard.

But then, one day, I stumbled across this recipe for vegan whipped cream that looked so easy I thought it must be too good to be true, but I had to give it a shot. It is just the cream out of two cans of coconut milk whipped up with powdered sugar for about 30 seconds. I am not sure it could get any easier, really. After having my mother ship us some of the Nestle Famous Chocolate Wafers* (which are already vegan) from Michigan, because we couldn’t find them locally, I was ready to make the cake. I decided that it would be a perfect desert for Easter.

*I should mention that these cookies do contain high fructose corn syrup. We didn’t realize this until after we’d made the cake, and we’re only just starting to try to be more vigilant about cutting this out so for us, we decided not to worry about, but next time I think we’ll try making our own cookies…I’ll let you know how it goes.

The directions for how to make it are on the box, but it is really super easy:

1. Get all your supplies in place first because you need to move quickly so your whipped cream doesn’t get warm. You’ll need a long platter for the cake, a spatula (like the type you use to ice a cake) or knife or something like that, your ingredients for the cream, and you box of cookies (or cooled stack of homemade cookies if you go that route).

2. Make your whipped cream.

3. Take a cookie out of the box, spread it with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and set it, creamy side up, on your platter.

4. Continue to stack your cookies, one on top of the other, with cream in between each layer (probably about a quarter of an inch of cream between each layer after you press them together, though there is no exact science here), until it gets high enough that you’re a little worried it might tip over.

5. Lay the stack on it’s side on the platter so now you have a long log instead of a tall tower of cookies and cream.

6. If you have more cookies and cream left you can continue to add them to your log (but remember to leave some cream because of the next step…).

7. When you have your cake as long as you want it to be, finish off the outside of the cake with Imagea coating of cream all around it. (I found that the recipe, which calls for 2 cans of coconut milk, didn’t make quite enough cream to use up all the cookies in the box. So I would recommend adjusting the recipe a bit and using 3 cans of cream and more powdered sugar if you want to use up all the cookies.)

8. Stick the cake in the fridge for several hours (2-4 should be enough, but overnight is fine too) until the cookies have become soft. I left it uncovered for the first couple hours, mostly out of convenience because I didn’t have a good way to cover it, but also because I figured it could use getting slightly drier since the coconut milk whipped cream is more moist than dairy whipped cream. Then, after we had eat much of it, I transferred it to a covered container to store it.

9. When you’re ready to cut the cake, slice it at an angle so that you cut through several cookies at once and get a lovely stripped pattern in each slice. This cake was a huge hit at our house. We at through it in no time. I think that next time I might add a little vanilla extract to the cream to cut the coconut flavor just a touch, but it was pretty perfect as it was. Image

Healthy Chocolate Shakes – Make These Tonight.

I owe Eating Well Magazine a big thank you for this recipe. As I try to cut sugar out of my diet (some days more successfully than others) I am constantly on the lookout for recipes that will fill the void left behind when I am not eating simple carbs, cookies, cakes, and the like. This one packs a pretty good nutritional punch and is seriously decadent tasting. As a bonus for any pregnant or trying to conceive women out there it is also a good source of folate! It’s also low enough in sugar and high enough in food value that you don’t have to feel guilty for letting your kids have some. Scout LOVED it!

Chocolate Avocado Shake

(Makes 2 pretty large shakes in about 10 minutes)

1 ripe avocado

1 1/2 cups of your favorite milk (dairy or non dairy)

3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tbs agave nectar (original recipe called for brown sugar or maple syrup, but agave nectar is easier on those of us with blood sugar issues and the flavor works really well here).

2 Tbs chocolate chips, melted

1 Tbs vanilla or to taste

12 ice cubes

Pit the avocado and scoop it out of the rind and in to a blender. Add the milk, cocoa powder, agave nectar (or other sweetener), melted chocolate, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Add the ice to the blender and puree until the ice is in small enough pieces that it is not noticeable (you don’t want those little balls of ice in your shake). If your blender has an “ice crush” setting, that can be helpful, but it isn’t necessary. Just blend until it’s smooth and frothy looking.

Serve immediately! And thank me later. 🙂

There is a Perfectly Good Reason…

There is a perfectly good reason why one of the only words that my daughter says is “white.” I swear we’re not horrible racists. Even though she walks around the house saying “whhhhyyt,” “whhhhhyyyt,” in the drawn out, deliberate, tones of a brand new talker. Even though she often uses “white” to refer to anything that she likes, including, “mommy, white;” and while, yes, that is true strictly speaking, I swear I can explain.

You see, much to my chagrin, her favorite movie/character/thing in the world has become Snow White. She can’t say “snow” and doesn’t really seem to think that is is an essential part of the woman’s name; “white” works well enough for her.

How did this happen, you might rightly ask. I am still asking this question myself. How did I end up with a daughter obsessed with princesses? I don’t really know. We were at a grocery store in Las Vegas, visiting Jason’s family over Christmas, when she spotted a display of these cheap, terrible, dolls in rubber dresses that were marked down for the post holiday sale. She picked out the one and only Snow White doll there (she had never seen the movie at this point) and hung on to it with white knuckled ferocity. So we bought it…only $5 or something, we reasoned, no big deal. Ohhh how wrong we were. That one little $5 doll has lead in to a full blown obsession. We now own a stuffed snow white doll, a snow white duplo set, matching plush Dopey and Grumpy toys, and a full set of Snow White figurines (that we have not given her yet), as well as the movie which has become something we watch….all too frequently.

She sticks Snow White stickers on us, drags us to the TV, signs and says “white” repeatedly until we either convince her that we are not going to put the movie on, or give in, and now has begun the embarrassing habit of calling everything, “white.”

Let’s just hope she doesn’t learn any other colors for a while. Jason, I told you it was dangerous to raise a kid in Utah.

Best Baby Items #2

To continue my top five run down of the best baby items that we’ve purchased and used in Scout’s first year, the next one is probably not all that useful until you have a walker. We never would have purchased these had I not won a gift certificate to Jillian’s Drawers (fantastic site for anyone who does cloth diapering or wants to find a source for well reviewed, quality baby items), but that said, they are totally worth their high price tag.

2. Stonz Booties and liners

Crocodile Brown

Jason points out that these are the most complimented baby item we own. People are always saying how cute they are when we’re out. These awesome boots are totally soft (sides as well as sole) so they’re great for developing feet. The bottom part is rubbery so they are waterproof in the snow, puddles, and mud. We bought a slightly larger size than we thought we needed in part because we wanted Scout to be able to wear them for a while and also because we bought the optional fleece liners as well and the liners take up extra space in the boot. The boots are lined with a thin fleece and would probably be warm enough for mild winters on their own, but we really wanted something toasty warm and these fit the bill perfectly. They were designed by moms in Canada for much harsher winters than ours so you know they’re going to be cozy.

The bungee cords allow them to cinch down tightly so even though they’re large on Scout, they quickly adjust to fit and stay on tight. She can pull them off if she gets really determined, but most of the time she tolerates them just fine. They come up almost to her knee which is great on cold days because it minimizes how much other gear I feel the need to bundle her in. They also open up wide at the top so they’re really quick and easy to slip on. You can even put them right on over other shoes if you want. When it warms up we can just take the liners out and have perfect rain boots. I’m hoping they’ll fit through next winter as well.

The boots were about $40 and the liners were about $20 making the price tag for these quite a bit higher than any other shoes that we’ve bought, but they really have earned their keep. We use these all the time. Now that Scout wants to walk on her own these boots keep her feet warm and dry even as she marches around on the snow. When we put her in the stroller or carrier I feel confident that they will keep the wind and the cold out. They’re also totally machine washable making them just all around easy!

Best Baby Items

Yesterday Jason and I got talking about the products that have been the most essential in our day to day life post Scout. We bought so much stuff before she got her and some of it is still sitting, unopened in the closet, and so of it gets used every single day. So I started thinking about what our absolute essentials are:

1. The Ergo Baby Carrier and Insert

Here she is at about a month old sleeping happily in her Ergo at the park.

Here she is at about a month old sleeping happily in her Ergo at the park.

We could not live without this carrier. Period. I would have completely broken down many many times already had I not had this carrier to instantly calm and lull Scout to sleep. Most of the time, 95% of the time I put her in it she immediately calms down. If she’s sleepy she’ll fall asleep in it, while nursing, within 10-15 minutes. If she’s not tired she’ll enjoy just watching me go about my day (hands free) which often allows me to get things done that I never would have without it. The insert allows you to put babies that are under 4 months or so old in the carrier and it is totally worth the money as well.

Baby wearing is pretty common right now and there are a lot of different carriers out there. I honestly have not tried many other carriers. I know there are some that look very like the Ergo, so they might have similar benefits, but I can say from first hand experience that the Ergo holds up to rigorous use extremely well and it does everything that I would want it to do. The only possible down side I might think of is that it is a bit warm in the summer months, but that didn’t stop me from using it for hours a day even in our hot, no AC, Utah home.

We also purchased a Moby wrap which would make my list of least used items. It just didn’t work for us. I found it hard to tie and had a scary incident in it when Scout was very young that has scared me off trying harder to figure it out. The Ergo doesn’t need to be readjusted every time, you just put it on and go. There is no complicated tying and retying. It holds the baby’s weight firmly on your hips so it doesn’t strain your back as much as other carriers. This means that even me, with my bad back, can still carry my 15 month old with easy. AWESOME device.

We hiked the Delicate Arch Trail in Moab (a MUCH harder trail than we were lead to believe) with Scout in the Ergo and she slept the entire time. Quite the workout for me!

We hiked the Delicate Arch Trail in Moab (a MUCH harder trail than we were lead to believe) with Scout in the Ergo and she slept the entire time. Quite the workout for me!

I do recommend staying away from front facing carriers. The “hollow back” position that it creates for the baby is hard on their developing spine and it does not support their legs which creates further strain on the spine. Ideally babies should be facing their caregiver, their back curved in a natural “c” position, and their knees should be held up higher than their hips. That is the best for the back. Also, many feel that outward facing carriers leave no option for an overstimulated baby. In a carrier like the Ergo Baby, the baby can bury his or her face in his caregiver’s chest if he or she gets overstimulated by the world. Makes sense to me!

More from our top five list coming.

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