Chia Seed and Hazelnut Brittle

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Today was really the perfect day to make a nutty brittle given that my patience is brittle and I’m feeling pretty nutty.

There were so many things that went south today including a certain two year old who tried to kamikaze himself out of the stroller every 15 seconds during my run, or the baby who wouldn’t take a nap, or the toddler who was hell bent on destroying every plot at the community garden.

But it all pales in comparison to my little Fig, who on our walk home from the community garden, managed to pick up an entire pile of …brown stuff. This was no ordinary excrement mind you. Based on my visual inspection alone, I concluded this was the kind of dung that carries with it such rare afflictions as spongiform encephalopathy or tetanus. This was most certainly death poo.

Gripped with panic, I attempted to collect Fig and get him to soap and a sink asap. But oh no, little Fig did not want to leave and decided to employ his supremely effective and equally infuriating “jello-legs” tactic. This resulted in me pretty much dragging a limp and screaming two year old home by his shirt collar (with a baby one the other hip mind you) while garnering strange looks  by onlookers who clearly thought I was some sort of monster.

Upon reaching home I scrubbed his hands for a good 10 minutes and then decided that soap would simply not do. After all, this was death poo. After quickly realizing we had no rubbing alchohol, I decided that the next best thing was pinot grigio. While I’ve seen no studies on the effectiveness of pinot grigio on death poo germs, I’m pretty confident that my cocktail of wine, hand sanitizer and soap should kill everything in it’s wake.

But by the time I had procured and opened my bottle of reserved and aged germ-annihilating Pinot, Fig has managed to escape the bathroom and was outside half naked.

And this is how I found myself outside chasing a naked two year old, waving an open bottle of Pinot while screaming discombobulated sentences that included the words crap and wine and germs at my sweet little two year old.

I can only hope none of our neighbors were home.

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Chia Hazelnut and Pumpkin Seed Brittle

This can be sold as a dessert but works well as a snack since it’s not too sweet and loaded with goodness. This recipe serves about 5.

  • 1/4 cup of Chia Seed
  • 1/3  cup of crushed Hazelnut Seed
  • 1 cup of crushed Pumpkin Seed
  • 1/4 cup of Sunflower Seed
  • 1/4 cup of Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup of Coconut Oil, melted.
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 F.
  • Crush the hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds into small pieces. Combine in a large bowl with all other dry ingredients.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a pan.
  • Combine the coconut oil and maple syrup with the nut/seed mix. Stir well.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spread mixture thinly on the paper and bake until golden brown. Every oven is a bit different so check frequently. It took ours around 18 minutes to be done.
  • Let cool and break into pieces.

Toddler Friendly Parts of this Recipe:

  • Crushing the seeds in plastic bags
  • Mixing the seed mixture
  • Spreading out the mixture on the baking sheet

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Baking with Toddlers: Black Bean, Pumpkin and Chia Seed Cookies

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Getting out of the house with a newborn and a toddler is like trying to herd a pack of cats. So far, our attempts to leave the house have gone like this:

1) Start packing the 900 items we need 2 hours in advance of departure.

2) 30 minutes before departure, sit two year old on potty. He ” no have go”.

3) Change baby’s diaper and nurse him.

4) Put baby in carseat.

5) Baby has an explosion in his diaper; change baby.

6) Toddler now pees on carpet while saying “I had an accident; no biggie!”

7) Clean up carpet, change toddler’s clothes.

8) Toddler proclaims ” I’m pooing” which is code for ” I need to go use the potty”.

9) Set toddler on potty; wait for 10 minutes while he does his business. Congratulate him profusely for letting us know he had to go.

10) Clean up potty and toddler.

11) Baby now cries due to hunger.

12) Nurse baby.

13) Baby has another explosion in diaper.

14) Toddler now cries due to hunger

15) Repeat process until by some stroke of luck, the stars align and we are able to make it out the door only two hours behind schedule.

Needless to say, we’ve tried to stick as close to home as possible since having our second baby. While my husband and I have attempted to remain as zen as possible during this transition, we’re both ready for a stiff drink by the time 8 PM rolls around.

So, in our time spent at home,  Fig and I have been up to lots of cooking projects, our most recent being Black Bean, Pumpkin and Chia Seed Cookies! While these certainly have a lot of sugar they are not totally an empty calorie food due the beans, pumpkin and chia seeds. I feel a little bit better about giving them to Fig as a sweet treat. After all, having a new baby brother is hard work and sometimes a cookie is just what the doctor ordered.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups of black beans
  • 1 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree ( our puree was homemade from our recent pumpkin patch trip but canned would probably work just as well).
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate or carob chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips, sugar, flour and chia seeds in a food processor until smooth
  •  Pour mixture into a bowl, mix in chia seeds,flour, sugar, and chocolate chips
  • Spoon out batter  (about two tablespoons per cookie) on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Recipe makes about 15 good sized cookies

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Baking with Toddlers: Chia Berry Apple Crumble

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Fig and I spend most of our time outdoors. During the week you can usually find us hiking in our local canyons, at the beach or playing at our neighborhood park. Both of us pretty much hate to be indoors for more than a few hours a day but during the height of a southern california summer sometimes the heat is simply too intense to go outside. Yesterday was one of those horrifically hot days and after naptime there was just no way we could venture outside without burning to a crisp.

So we stayed inside. And as expected, things went from cray to cray-cray in a hot second.

Fig just isn’t an indoor kid and after he decided to “plant” the mint bush from the balcony into our carpet I decided it was time I occupy his little hands with something useful. So we decided a crumble for us to share “daddy” was in order.

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When baking with little ones who already possess too much energy I generally try to find and prepare baked goods that are mostly plant based, use natural sugars, and have loads of fruit. So when I discovered a crumble from my new favorite cookbook The Vibrant TableI knew it would be the perfect toddler baking activity.

As is typically the case with impromptu baking sessions, we didn’t have half the ingredients the original recipe calls for. So, with the Vibrant’s Table Crumble as inspiration we embarked on our own version.

I like this recipe for several reasons. First, there are ample opportunities for little helping hands. Secondly, when Fig started double fisting berries and walnuts into his mouth my reaction was meh.  (I’ve seen him double fist cake batter into his mouth like his life depended on it, so walnuts and fruit are no big deal). Thirdly, despite an initial feeling to the contrary, the dish is quite simple to make and tastes deceptively sinful.

Berry Apple Crumble:

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 5 small apples
    • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 3 cups of berries ( we used a combo of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Ingredients for the crisp:

  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax
  • 1/4 cup of ground oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 cup of carob chips
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • Coconut Oil for baking

To prepare the apples: ( I had prepared these the day before)

  • Cube the apples into small pieces.
  • In a pot combine apples, water, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  • Cook on very low until tender and highly fragrant ( around 20-30 minutes).

To Prepare the Crisp and Berries:

1) Heat oven to 300 degrees F

2) Process the walnuts in a food processor until they are the size of breadcrumbs

3) Process the oatmeal finely.

4) In a bowl, mix the walnuts, oatmeal, flax, flour and honey together.

5) Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Once done, pop the mixture into the freezer until it’s room temperature.

6) In the meantime, combine apples, berries and sugar together in a bowl.

7) Once crumbles are cool increase the oven to 350 degrees.

7) Lightly oil a 9 inch baking pan. Combine the crisp, berry/apple mixture, chia seeds, and carob chips together in pan.

8) Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Baking with Toddlers: Raw Vegan Baking

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Raw vegan baking and toddlers might just be a match made in cooking heaven. While we don’t really subscribe to a particular way of eating ( raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo etc. ect. ) I’m certainly a fan of raw and vegan when it comes to working with a toddler in the kitchen. Here’s why:

1) Raw baking is well..raw! This means no hot oven to worry about. Not only does this rock during summer time and save energy but it also eliminates some of the inevitable danger of using a hot oven for both kid and parent. I’m happy to report I’ve been very successful in keeping my two year old safe in the kitchen but I can’t say the same for myself.  Just in the last two weeks I’ve managed to julienne my finger AND hand ( on two different occasions) and cut myself with a bread knife. Clearly I need to minimize kitchen danger for my own sake.

2) Most of the raw vegan recipes I’ve seen use really healthy ingredients and natural sweeteners like dates instead of refined sugars. This is good if you have a little kid who just can’t resist shoveling batter into their mouths. This is good for moms and dads who also can’t help shoveling batter into their mouths ( maybe its genetic?). Either way, the reason we don’t bake a lot is mostly due to the fact that I have no self control when it comes to sweets and will pretty much consume whatever was made within a 24 hour period. I feel much less guilty with recipes like this one from raw chef Emily von Euw in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times.

3) Back to the batter: since there are no raw eggs used in vegan baking I don’t have to be quite as vigilant about Fig taking a mouthful of raw eggy batter. He once ate a huge spoonful of raw egg batter and I spent a week thinking he would contract some kind of brain eating bacteria (totally a 1st time mom reaction) . Needless to say, I’ll take a baking recipe sans eggs if possible.

4) Raw baking takes less time than regular baking. Fig and I whipped up our latest raw baking dish in around 20 minutes total. Believe me, there is nothing worse than being knee deep in a 40 minute baking session,  batter everywhere, only to have a toddler decide he’s had enough, throw a tantrum, and then conveniently need a diaper change ( typically the mail lady will arrive at this time, the dog will flip out and try to kill said mail lady and that super important telephone call you’re waiting for will ring). 20 minutes or less is where its at!

If you’re considering bringing a little person into the kitchen with you for some baking sessions, both Fig and I would highly suggest testing out some raw vegan recipes even if you’ve never eaten raw or vegan before….it might just be the easiest and most delicious thing you’ve ever baked!

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What baking with a two year old looks like!

What baking with a two year old really looks like!

Our raw cashew cookies with fig and strawberry jam

Our raw cashew cookies with fig and strawberry jam

 

Baking with Toddlers: Bliss Muffins

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True Life: My son’s a muffin addict.

In fact, several nights ago we awoke out of our sleep to the screams of “MUFFINSSSS!!!!” coming from my son’s bed. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that little Fig was having a passionate and vivid muffin dream. Muffins rock my little guy’s world and I’m happy to supply his daily fix.

In my attempt to make the healthiest muffins on the block, I stumbled across this recipe for “bread”. I’ve made several loaves, all of which were scrumptious but had no luck convincing the little guy to eat it. So, I’ve been experimenting with several different variations over the last few weeks. Eventually I decided to load it with dried fruit and make it into the revered muffin.

Nicknamed The Bliss Muffin ( for the bliss it supplies Fig), these Muffins are a great activity for little kids to participate in. In fact, muffin making in general is a quick, easy, and super fun way to get little folks into the kitchen. Just watch out that the batter doesn’t disappear before your eyes. All that goodness can be hard to resist!

The Bliss Muffin:

muffins1-5 First and foremost, I suggest you check out the original recipe ( found here) and even make a loaf or two of bread.

Ingredients for 12 Muffins:

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup of shaved almonds
  • 1 ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of dried turkish apricots
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup of currents
  • 4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks
  • 1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
  • 4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cups / 350ml water

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Fig thought adding a touch of Aloe soap might make this muffin recipe come alive! I persuaded him otherwise.

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl ( except the water, coconut oil and maple syrup)
  • Melt the coconut oil in a pot. Once melted, add the water and maple syrup to the pot. Mix well.
  • Add the mixed coconut oil, water, and maple syrup to the rest of the ingredients and make sure everything is mixed well and thoroughly coated.
  • Place batter in a muffin tin. Pack down batter as much as humanly possibly without the batter spilling over the top ( this is key).
  • Let batter set in the muffin tin for at least 2 hours. The longer the better.
  • Bake muffins at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
  • You’ll need to be very vigilant in watching the muffins to make sure they don’t over crisp.
  • Leave muffins to cool. Again, the longer the better. I left ours overnight and was amazed at how structurally sound they were compared to other batches that fell apart much easier.

Enjoy!

Baking with Toddlers: Preparing for Mexico

IMG_8939 We packed up and left for Mexico a few days ago, but not before we had a bake-a-thon of epic proportions! Since traveling always throws our eating schedule off, I thought it might be good to whip up a few of our favorite baked goods to take along with us. Mexico City has an awesome organic/local store called Origens but between the distance and the fact that Mexico City has about the most horrendous traffic known to humanity ( FOR REAL), it takes hours to get there. Since we don’t know when we’ll have the time (or patience) to trek over there, we thought it best to bring a few little items to hold us over. IMG_8952 Baking with toddlers is an act of patience; like most things involving toddlers. This is especially true when you have a batter thief on your hands. I think at least 25% of the batter ended up in Fig’s stomach. Luckily, the batter for his favorite muffins are vegan so I didn’t have to worry about raw eggs. Sometimes, I question why I let a two year old get involved in activities such as baking. Between policing the batter, the flour explosions, and ensuring I don’t inadvertently burn the house down, I frequently feel my anxiety level rising . The visions of cleaning a toddler covered head-to-toe in flour, the clumps of batter in the most horrific of places, the dishes ( oh the dishes!). But I see the joy in his face, the excitement over creating something all his own. These are his muffins after all. Nourishing for his little body and his mind.

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The “Fig” Muffin

Muffins

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Morning Bran Muffins

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Morning Fruit Loaf

Nut Bread

Nut Bread

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Kale and Parmesan Bread

Life is so much slower here south of the border, which leaves us with the possibility of many more bake-a-thons; something that’s good for both of us. I’ll post the recipes of our favorite creations soon and I hope they bring you as much as joy as they did Fig ( and mama…but only in retrospect). Adios!