Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

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:

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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!

Worst Parenting Advice

I asked Jason once what the worst piece of parenting/baby advice that he heard before we had Scout was and first he said, “the whole ‘sleep now’ line that everyone repeats.” And that one is really annoying (like I’m some kind of bear that can hibernate through pregnancy in order to be ready for “spring”) but we knew that one wasn’t true. It was so obviously off base that it was easy to shrug off. It didn’t dig itself deeply in to our minds.

So then he said, “It was the idea that someone else’s personal experience has any bearing whatsoever on my experience. What worked for them has no affect on what will work for me.” Well…I was going to say something about buying baby clothes, way to show me up hubby, but you’re absolutely right. Everyone’s kid is different from mine. Everyone I know is a different person from me. Their special combination of kid and parent is going to lead to a totally unique result.

It is incredibly helpful when you’re having a bad day or week or month to be able to commiserate with other parents, to share your frustrations and even to get ideas of what to try, because we can’t think of everything ourselves. But we have to remain humble. Just because you managed to do A, B, and C and make little Jimmy sleep through the night at 5 weeks old does not mean that those things will ever work for anyone else, EVER. Feel free to tell your story and share you ideas, (don’t be surprised if I start to hate you a little) but don’t walk around believing that you have it figured out. And it may be that a few weeks or months down the line you yourself are having to reinvent how you do things.

That is what happened to us. We had a great sleeper, at a very early age. It took no more than half an hour or so to put her down to sleep quietly in our bed and she slept for 5-6 hours at a time (technically that counts as “through the night” for an infant, who knew?) and I thought I was amazing for making it happen. At four months three weeks (two days, 14 hours, 37 minutes) old it all ended. She started fighting sleep, waking more and more often at night, and just generally making me wonder, “what the heck did I do wrong?” I still don’t know how to answer that question, but I suspect it is, “nothing.”

Conversely, just because your friend did A, B, and C and has a great sleeper (or eater, or independent player, or car rider, or whatever your personal struggle is) and you can’t manage to do those things or to make them work for you does NOT mean you are failing or even that you’re doing something wrong. It just means that you’re part of a different parent/kid pair than your friend is. Many couples even find that what works for Dad won’t work for Mom or vice versa. It’s just different chemistry, a different relationship.

Remain humble and be compassionate with yourself.

You are trying your best. You are tired. You are spent. You wonder when this will end, when will it get better? No one knows the answer to that question except to say that it WILL get better. Searching for that day when it will be better will bring more pain than it will comfort. Stay in the moment and try to accept the little wins. When your baby takes a longer than expected nap tell yourself, “that was nice!” but don’t let yourself start thinking, “OK great! Now we’re moving in to a phase where she will nap longer!” or even, “Fantastic! She’ll be in a great mood for the rest of the afternoon after having that long nap!” Both of these projections in to the future are bound to lead to disappointment and a feeling that something is “wrong” when really, she’s just a baby and things will be as they are until she’s ready for things to be different.

Just let go and let things be.

Wedding Cake

I know that posts about our wedding might feel a little dated now, but there were a lot of interesting food issues that came up while we were planning and although I didn’t have the time to write about them then, I still think they’d be relevant and helpful to people now. So we’ll do a few “flash back” posts.

Jason and I got engaged nearly a year ago on the day after Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. We were there with his family for Thanksgiving. Only an hour after we came home and announced our engagement to his family and started making the calls to everyone else, some people started asking me when and where the wedding would be. This question might have been a little premature (I’m not “that girl” after all), but in all honesty I did know where I wanted to have the wedding. I’d known where I wanted to have it since I was about 13 years old and although I still wanted Jason to have plenty of input in the planning process, I was pretty sure that we’d be going to Mackinac Island, Michigan.

This “back-in-time” island with no cars and lots of fudge shops in Northern Michigan seemed like the perfect place for a wedding. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that the first people I contacted about having a wedding on the island were bakeries. There are only two on the island and cake is very important to me after all. My first job when I was 15 was working at a place that hosted weddings and one of my favorite memories was eating the left over and mis-cut pieces of cake. I had been thinking about how my wedding cake would taste for a long time.

I emailed the bakeries a short note explaining that we needed a vegan cake and what that meant. Within a couple of days I was turned down flat by both bakeries. One of them told me that she didn’t have any idea how to make a cake without sugar or flour. I wrote back telling her that that was fine, but just so she knows, sugar and flour actually are vegan. I had explained what she’d have to leave out and I understand that trying to bake without eggs is intimidating for many, but where she got the idea that she had to leave out sugar and flour I just don’t know. However, we really didn’t need to be paying a prime rate for someone who’d never baked a vegan cake before.

When we got the second “no” she had a suggestion for what we could do instead. “I can bake a beautiful cake for the rest of your guests,” she wrote, “and then you can bring a smaller cake from your favorite vegan bakery and set it next to the big cake.” Real nice. This is the GROOM after all, not just some random guest. So we’ll all eat a big beautiful cake and say to him, “here Jason, you can eat this little stupid cake.” A good image for starting married life.

While I didn’t have any desire to argue with these people or try to convince them to try something that I do all the time without much trouble, I admit that I was discouraged. I knew that it was impractical to think that I would have time to do the cake myself, and Mackinac is a good 7 hour drive and a ferry ride from my mother’s house so I couldn’t see how we’d be able to get a different cake up there either.

I began to see my dream of having a wedding on Mackinac disappearing. After all, if we couldn’t find a place to make us a cake, what hope would we have for a caterer for the reception? For a place to host the rehearsal dinner? This road block felt like it was going to be too much to overcome and representative of other problems.

It’s Hard Out Here for a Vegan

Ahhh the Holiday Season. There are few things I like better than getting together with friends and family over food. Add to that Christmas lights and gourds, maybe a lightly falling snow in the background, and I’m a happy camper. But it can be really hard to go to parties with my Vegan. If we’re going to a house not owned by a vegetarian, which we usually are, there likely won’t be anything for him. This will leave him hungry, which will mean a less than great evening for me, and the hosts will undoubtedly end up feeling guilty, but won’t really be able to do anything while catering to the rest of the guests. It’s a lose, lose, lose situation.

So I’ve found the best solution to be to bring something with us. The ideal dish is something that is fun to share, that will feel like a good compliment to the party, but also has some protein and bulk to it so that if there is nothing else, Jason’s stomach won’t be growling.

My favorite thing that I’ve come to rely on is my Curry Cream Cheese Spread. It fulfills all of these qualities by being festive looking, makes plenty to share, will fill you up, and won’t be spotted as a “weird vegan dish” by out meat eater hosts and fellow guests. It’s the perfect party dish and here I share it with you:

Curry Cream Cheese Spread

16 oz. Cream Cheese (softened) either dairy or non-dairy
3 tsp Curry Powder (more or less to taste)
9 oz Mango Chutney
1 Cup Dry Roasted Peanuts (chopped)
1 Cup Cilantro (chopped)
1 Cup Green Onions (chopped)
½ Cup Coconut
Crackers (Ritz work well)

  1. Choose a medium sized platter (dinner plate sized or slightly larger) to create the multi-layered spread on. A platter with a ½ inch or so lip is handy because you’ll be able to put saran wrap over the dip for storage of left overs.
  2. Chop the peanuts, cilantro, and green onions.
  3. On the platter, mix together the cream cheese and curry with a spoon until they are thoroughly blended.
  4. Smooth the cream cheese mixture over the surface of the platter in an even layer.
  5. Spread the mango chutney evenly on top of the cream cheese.
  6. Sprinkle the peanuts on top of the chutney in an even layer. Then repeat with the cilantro, then the green onions, then the coconut.
  7. It can be served immediately although can also benefit from having a few hours to a day for the flavors to blend. Serve the spread with a couple of butter or cheese knives and a bowl of crackers. Enjoy!
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