May 24, 2012

Recipes: No-Bake Summer Delights

Mia and I have been loving my summer break from nursing school. Last semester was incredibly intense, so finals could not have come soon enough. I now have three blissful months to focus on my growing tot, and find ways to make each day amazing, while relishing in just the simple moments of our life as it is.
Come June, we will be relocating to another nearby city in the valley, and leaving our house of nearly 7 years. It is the house we brought our daughter home too when she was born, the house she took her first steps in and spoke her first words. It is a place that has offered a blank canvas which we have filled with the portrait that is our lives, and I wouldn't change a thing. Except that everything is about to change, as it often does in life.
I am looking forward to a chance at starting over in some respects, while silently mourning the loss of an era. Mia is growing daily, speaking longer sentences, comprehending more difficult tasks and emotions, and forming incredible bonds with her little buddies, which I pray last a lifetime, as many of mine have.

As I wake each morning in the grog of a never-long-enough dream, I think about what I can do on this particular day to stimulate, enrich and cultivate my daughter's life and learning experiences. Some days that entails involved art projects with glue, markers, stickers and cutouts from a dozen different sources, or  experimenting with old crayons on a sheet of wax paper over a hot plate. Other days it simply means spending an hour building a pillow fort, then making popcorn and reading books inside of it, or painting rocks we find outside. At the end of every day, I know one thing my daughter has taken away is the knowledge and feeling that she is loved and totally accepted just as she is now, and that will never change, even as she does.
Today, we decided a trip to the Zoo with her pals was in order. Upon arriving home, a cool tasty treat made for Daddy's birthday awaited us. My dear cousin offered up the recipe for an old favorite treat, and since my husband is on a Paleo/no-grain kick, I made a simple tweak so it would accommodate him and the need for a birthday treat.

Recipe via Hannah Wright:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

1 C. Organic Coconut Oil
4 Tbsp. Organic Cacao Powder (raw is even better!)
1 C. Organic Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp. Vanilla (gluten free vanilla if you are Celiac or intolerant)
3 C. Oats (not instant, and gluten free if required.. Bob's Red Mill has gf oats)
Honey, agave nectar, stevia or coconut crystals to taste (I used approximately 2 Tbsp raw honey, then a dropperful of stevia, but you can experiment until you get the sweetness you desire)

Slowly heat coconut oil in a large sauce pan along with the cacao powder. Add the peanut butter, vanilla, and oats.
Using a teaspoon, place mounds of dough on parchment lined baking sheets or another flat surface, and allow to cool. Immediately store in refrigerator or freezer. If you live in a hot spot like I do here in Arizona, they may not harden at room temperature, so you will need to let them set in the fridge.

To mix it up, you can add coconut flakes, chopped almonds, or use crunchy peanut butter. You can also add pinches of spirulina, dark chocolate chips, or dried cherries -anything you're craving at the time. I think one time I will try it with sprinkles of bee pollen, or add in a little cayenne pepper! You could also substitute the peanut butter for almond butter.

So for my husband who is eating completely grain-free, I simply substituted the oats for organic, blanched almond flour, and they turned out just delicious, and he was thrilled. Next time I am going to try them with my organic quinoa flakes. So much yum and so many options!

Raw cacao as you know has so many amazing properties. It has amazing antioxidants -more than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates or goji berries combined!! It contains magnesium (heart, brain, relaxes cramps, increases flexibility, increases alkalinity), iron (314% of the U.S. RDA!), as well as chromium (balances blood sugar), manganese, zinc (critical for immune system), copper, vitamin C, omega-6 fatty acids, PEA (a class of chemicals naturally produced in our bodies when we fall in love!), anadamide (an endorphin produces after exercise!), tryptophan (mood-enhancing), serotonin (stress0defense), fiber (soluble) and theobromine (antibacterial!). What's not to love!
And coconut oil is amazing for our bodies as well. Cocnuts and their products contain MCFA, which allow for sustained energy and fat burning. It is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It helps regulate and support hormone production, and is a precursor to the anti-aging hormone pregnenolone. It increases thyroid function (metabolism!) helping with weight loss, and support healthy cholesterol formation in the liver. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. So although you're "indulging" in a delicous cool summer treat, these little cookies are actually quite good for you!!!

As a side note, I have found my new little miracle. Earth Balance brand has developed a peanut butter made with coconut oil. Amazing! I am on jar one and in love. Mia devours it, and asks for "more!" on her toast, or apple slices.

The second no-bake summer desert is a recipe repeated to me by a gal at Whole Foods, and man is it to die for! It is what Mia now refers to as "ice cream!!!!" to my joy. I call it....

Arizona Orange Delight

2-3 C. Frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 C. Coconut Milk
1/2 Banana (frozen)
1/2-1 C. fresh organic carrot juice (I use my juicer)
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Blend all ingredients, adding more coconut milk as necessary for consistency, but you want it rather thick. Pour into individual size glass or plastic wear, and freeze! Mia always enjoys a small bowel full right away, and then since it does harden quite a bit, I will usually pull a container out before I start preparing lunch, or prior to a swim to ensure it is soft enough to eat when we're ready.

Enjoy! And enjoy these days of summer, as hard as it can be at certain moments having our babes in our faces 24/7, remember that there will be a day when we'll wish they'd at least return our call or text, and relish that they are still wrapped around our fingers, begging for our attention and influence.