This is my journey in keeping my family happy and healthy.
In this day and age, what parent knows best what to do and how to care for their family?
There are so many conflicting ideas, so much wisdom, and so many paths.
It is here that I will compile information on what I have learned and the choices I am making.
Maybe my path will help others.... or not. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lemon Coconut Bliss Meltaways or otherwise known as getting nutrient-dense foods into my kids...

So I am continuing on my quest to create delicious "sinful" looking but HEALTHY snacks for my family, especially for my kids lunches....

As I'd said in my last post, my step-daughter (almost 12) avoids all things healthy, so it can be a bit tricky getting the goodness into her. And my little kiddo (age 4), while she will eat healthy food, can be super picky too! After her diagnoses of Gluten-Intolerance, as well as an intolerance to Amaranth, milk, and soy, we had to wipe out many of her favorite daily staples.

So much of my recent life has been all about making healthy nutrient-dense snacks, so that I can at least guarantee that they will get some nourishment out of their day. But as you may have noticed, many of the nutrient-dense foods can taste... well... earthy and seed-like. Eating them straight may make one feel like a small farm animal or squirrel.

My husband too, well, he's fairly mainstream with his tastes. God forbid he has to eat Quinoa! I mean he will do it because he loves me, and he doesn't grimace while he's doing it, but he does make a point of saying later, that if I choose to never make quinoa again, that would be fine with him.

So as you can see, I have a lot working against me. But I do have the sheer drive to make my family healthy whether they like it or not! I find the trick is to make the food taste like they're eating sinful snacks... while secretly they are laden with all the goodness I can pack into them.

And here is yet another example of my brilliance!

...or otherwise known as.... getting nutrient-dense foods into my kids (and husband)!

It's really quite easy of a recipe!

First thing you do is put out your food processor and fill it with every ingredient below:

• 1 1/3 cups almond meal
• 1 cup shredded coconut (I used raw)
• 1/4 cup raw hemp seeds
• 1/4 cup raw pistachios
• 1/3 cup coconut flour
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 4-5 Tbsp raw honey
• Zest from one large lemon
• Juice from one large lemon
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

NOTE: You will need extra shredded coconut for rolling the meltaways in... I have no idea how much exactly. I probably should have measured!


Then pulse it a bit until it breaks into smaller pieces, then you can run it for a while until it looks soft and mushy. When you touch it, it will feel oily, but that will go away when you chill them in the fridge.

The above picture is pulsed and ground less than the below picture. You could really do either depending on your preference.... the more you blend it up, the softer the chew....

I used a small cookie scooper to keep the balls a uniform size, but you don't have to use one if you don't want to, or if you don't have one. Though I highly recommend you get one! They are super useful!

After you scoop a ball, roll it in your hands (yes it will be SUPER oily then and the oil will feel like it's about to drip off your hands) and place it on a cookie sheet or plate or whatever. After you do them all, roll each of them in the extra shredded coconut. Truth be told, I used the larger shredded coconut for the insides, and luckily happened to have the tiny stuff for the outsides.

After I rolled them in the coconut, I rolled them in my hands again to really seal in the coconut. You can see the difference from the above (unsealed coconut) to the below (sealed coconut). You probably don't have to do that, but hey, I can be a bit OCD and I thought it would have a better mouth-feel.

Then stick them in the fridge to chill! Or you can cheat and eat a few right away.... I did!

Oh and my little kiddo ate 2 of them before they even chilled and said, "You did a great job mommy!"


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nutrient-packed granola bars for the school lunches of a dietary-stubborn preteen...

So my step-daughter is going back to school shortly and it was made clear to me by her, that she was wanting to live off something like potato chips and goldfish this coming year. At one point I asked her what veggies she would consider having in her lunches, and she was like... oh I like those veggie sticks we got the other day! OMG she was talking about those glorified potato chips flavored like vegetables. There is no way in hell that is going to happen in my house. So with sheer determination and access to the internet, I set out to create a nutritionally packed TASTY snack that she would eat and would provide her with many of the nutrients she would be lacking the rest of the time she is not with us.

Granola bars are a great way to disguise healthy ingredients! So here's what I came up with....

Dry ingredients:
• 1 cup puffed rice (yeah I know this is not optimal but it adds a good mouth-feel)
• 1 1/2 cups oats (I used gluten-free oats)
• 1/2 cup pecans (chop with the dates)
• 2 Tbsp of raw cocoa nibs
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar
• 1/2 cup mini marshmallows (I know, sinful, but I figured it would help her want to eat them!)
• 7 pitted dates

Wet ingredients:
• 3 Tbsp chocolate almond butter
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1/4 cup maple syrup

Prep an 8 x 8 glass pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

...So the first thing I did is finely chop the pecans and dates in a food processor.

Then I added all the dry ingredients plus the above chopped mixture into a large bowl.

After that I added all the wet ingredients into a smaller bowl and mixed thoroughly. You could whisk it, but I just used a big spoon and pressed it to the sides to get it to mix well.

Once you are done with that, I added the wet ingredients into the dry and mixed well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press down firmly with a flat (slightly curved) wooden spoon or spatula.

Pop in the oven and bake about 10 minutes. 15 tops depending on your oven. I think I did 12 minutes.

Take out of oven and press down again.

I'm feeling really good about myself until I realize....

DANG! I forgot to add the chia and hemp seeds I had planned to. Gah! Of course I would forget the most nutritionally-dense superfoods! So I threw on a handful of each and pressed them into the bars as good as I could (you can see the difference in the picture below), and called it good. I'm kind of a make-it-work kinda gal!

Next time I will remember to add them in the beginning. I suspect I would add an 1/8 a cup of each....

Doh! I also forgot to add shredded coconut, so I would do that next time too!

Let the bars cool well! I would even recommend refrigerating them for a while, or even freezing (which I did for about 15 minutes). If you freeze them, and then add them to their lunches, I suspect they would be well-defrosted and ready to eat by lunchtime.

I am sure it will take me a few tries to perfect these bars, but this was at least a successful attempt! And they even stuck together well, which has been the bane of my other attempts at bars. 

YUM! They were delicious! Now to see if my kids like them as much as I do.....

UPDATE: Hubby loves them, and that's saying a lot! He says they're a combination between a granola bar and a fig newton. And my youngest daughter digs them too! Two down, one to go.... cross your fingers!
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