Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rice Crisp Treat and Oatmeal, Walnut, and Plum Cookies

Here are a couple more dessert recipes that are yummy and much better choices than normal desserts. My kids love these oatmeal cookies! Elisabeth thought they were made with chocolate chips; I told her a few days later that they were actually dried plums chopped up very fine :). Sweet! I think next time I make these, I'm going to try using Stevia(you'd use much less than what is called for in the recipe) instead of maple sugar because maple sugar is SO expensive. These recipes also come from the book, The Kind Diet. My notes will be in bold italics.

Oatmeal, Walnut, and Dried Plum Cookies

Makes 1 dozen cookies

1 c quick-cooking rolled oats

¾ c flour

1/3 c maple sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp fine sea salt

1/3 c maple syrup

½ c safflower oil (can use unsalted butter instead; may need to cook a little longer)

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp molasses

¼ c chopped dried plums(or other dried fruit)

¼ c finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Ina a separate bowl, combine the syrup, oil, vanilla, and molasses. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the dried plums and nuts.

Using your hands, roll tablespoon sized scoops of dough into balls. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet, and press down slightly on the balls to flatten the tops. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to baking rack to cool completely.

For variety, replace the white flour with whole wheat flour, barley flour, spelt flour or a gluten-free baking mix(one that doesn't include baking soda and baking powder). You can also substitute chocolate chips for the dried fruit and any kind of nuts for the walnuts.


Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips -(I love these! The kids think they're okay, but if they had a choice they'd rather have the shortbread or oatmeal cookies or the peanut butter cups. I'm thrilled the kids are loving these new treats!)

Makes a dozen squares

1 box brown rice crisps cereal

1 ¾ c brown rice syrup

fine sea salt

¾ c peanut butter or almond butter (unsweetened and unsalted)

½ c grain-sweetened, non dairy chocolate or carob chips

Pour the rice cereal into a large bowl. Heat the syrup with a pinch of salt in a saucepan over low heat. When the rice syrup liquefies, add the peanut butter and stir until well combined. Pour over the rice cereal. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Once thoroughly mixed and cooled to room temperature, stir in the chocolate chips. Make sure the mixture is cool, or you will end up with melted chocolate instead of chocolate chips in your treats. Turn the mixture out into a 8x8 or 9x13 baking dish. Wet your wooden spoon lightly and press the mixture evenly into the pan. Let cool for 1 hour before cutting into squares or bars.(I put these into individual sandwich baggies so Scott and Elisabeth can take them with their lunches.)

Variation: Almond Raisin Bars. Substitute ¾ c almond butter for the peanut butter and ½ c dark or golden raisins for the chocolate chips(or use both chips and raisins...go crazy!)



Sensitive ears

I've always had sensitive ears when it comes to wearing earrings. Even when I wear earrings that say things like, "nickel free" or "sensitive ears", my ears still tend to turn red and itchy and will sometimes bleed. It's not fun. Elisabeth has seen me standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom, tensing as I jab another cheap earring in so that I have something fun to match an outfit. And because of it, she says she never wants to get her ears pierced. She couldn't understand why I'd do that to myself. And I didn't have a good explanation. Beauty is pain, right? I don't like that saying.

A few months ago, I finally put my foot down. I stopped wearing earrings. I started looking into perhaps doing clip-ons instead. But then a friend of mine who wears clip-ons, told me they always hurt her. I finally came up with a solution. Just like the fake 'fat ring' I wear, turns my skin green but my white gold one doesn't do a thing(that rhymes!), I decided that I'd just have to bite the bullet and buy a nice pair of earrings that were made from real gold. I wanted something plain and simple like a cubic zirconia or a little pearl that I could wear with everything.

I checked out the earrings they sell at Claire's when getting your ears pierced which are gold and white gold. Each pair ranged from $35-$45. I kept looking and in the meantime, I gave Scott's mom all of my earrings(probably 20 pair or so) I'd had from before, so I wouldn't be tempted to put them in anymore. A couple of weeks ago, Kohl's was having a jewelry sale. I found two pairs of gold earrings that sold together, a pearl and a cubic zirconia, normally $75, on sale for $25! I got them and have been wearing them every day since without any pain or blood! Wahoo!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jane is 5 months old

Jane and Grandma. Grandma drove back to NC with Krissy this weekend. We loved having her here!
Jane and Annabelle


Jane turned 5 months old sometime in the past week. She is constantly smiling and laughing. We all love to hold her and give her lots of hugs and kisses.

At 5 months Jane is:
*rolling over from back to tummy (she may be doing it the other way too, I just haven't been paying close attention)
*slobbering like crazy; she must be getting ready to cut a tooth which wouldn't be a surprise considering her other siblings all got teeth early on as well. If you click on this picture, you should be able to see the slobber on her chin pretty clearly.
Um, I think that's about it. Mostly she smiles and laughs and loves being together with the family. She's still an awesome nurser and a champion sleeper. Oh and I have added in a little baby food. So far she has tried zucchini and squash, surprise, surprise from our last garden post! :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Granola

I love granola. My family loves granola. I love that I can have a small bowl of this granola and fill satisfied because of the high nutrition content. Nuts, oats, seeds and in particular flax seeds. Flax is high in fiber and the omega-3 essential fatty acids. I use raw, local honey in this recipe. Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Local honey seems to help both my husband and I with our allergies which makes sense since it means the bees are local and the honey will have some particles of pollen from local plants.

This granola is so yummy with milk(we usually have ours with rice or almond milk) as a cereal for breakfast or in plain yogurt with some fruit and a little agave or other natural sweetener. I know this recipe is large, but my family(5 of us) eats it every morning for breakfast and we go through this amount in about 7-10 days. You can easily halve this recipe. Let's get cooking!

Get your oats out and put them in a large roaster pan. Stick them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes. While they're in there, pull out your other ingredients. Grind your flax seeds. Then chop up your other nuts and seeds(I chop all of them except my sesame seeds). I throw all of my nuts/seeds into my high power blender and pulse it about 2 or three times(just for a second each), shake it, and then pulse it again one or two times.
It'll look like this when ground(picture below). You can pulse it less and keep it chunkier, but since I have really little children eating mine, I grind them pretty small for less of a choking hazard...and to get my older kids to eat it at all. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt together the oils, water and honey. Take your oats out of the oven and mix in all the remaining dry ingredients. Pour the oil mixture over everything and then stir it well to combine. Bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes(turn the heat up to 350 if you want it a little crunchier but then also take it out after about 15 minutes to stir.) Pull it out and add in your maple syrup or agave and your vanilla and almond extract. Stir well and then put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. It's all ready! Let it cool and then store it in an airtight container. It'll store well in your pantry for about a week and a couple of weeks in your fridge.

THE RECIPE:

Granola
16 c rolled regular oats
2 c wheat germ(buy inexpensively in bulk at Winco)
2 c raw nuts (I use chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
½ c sunflower seeds
1/4 c flax seeds(I grind these with the nuts in my blender; if you don't have a high power blender or a coffee grinder you may want to buy these already ground)
1/4 c sesame seeds
2 c shredded unsweetened coconut (found at health food stores or Winco)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c coconut oil, melted (buy this at health food stores)
1/4 c water
1 c honey (raw if possible)
4 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp almond extract
1/2 c pure maple syrup or agave
Put oats in a large pan(I use a roaster pan with sides that are a couple inches tall) and dry roast for ten minutes at 300 degrees. Take out and mix together with other grains, nuts and seeds thoroughly. Melt together oils, water and honey in a small saucepan. Pour over oat mixture and stir well. Spread out in pan and bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown(if you want more of a crunchy granola, cook it at 350 degrees for about the same amount of time). Stir half way through. Take out and mix in syrup or agave, vanilla and almond extract. Bake 5 more minutes. Store in airtight container on pantry for a week or in fridge for a couple of weeks.

The Garden and My Agave Sweetened Zucchini Bread


tomatoes(cherry, roma and celebrity)

zucchini
bell pepper
serrano chili

Our garden is providing some great produce! I love being able to walk out back and pick out some fresh garden vegetables to add to our dinner. We've made fresh salsa three times in the past two weeks! I love fresh salsa! Besides the ones pictured above, we're also growing strawberries, peaches(though we won't get any this year), onions, and potatoes.

I also made some baby food from our zucchini and some crook neck squash that a neighbor gave to us. After I peel, steam and puree the veggies, I pour them into ice cube trays. Once they're all frozen, I take the individual cubes out and stick them in a gallon ziploc bag so that I have individual servings I can use for the future.
Here is a zucchini bread recipe that I put together using agave and half whole wheat flour. We love it!

My Agave Sweetened Zucchini Bread

½ c. vegetable oil

1 1/3 c. agave

3 eggs beaten

2 c. grated zucchini

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 ½ c. white flour

1 ½ c wheat flour

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

Cream eggs, agave and oil. Add zucchini and vanilla. Mix in cinnamon, salt, powder and soda. Add flour. Grease and flour loaf pans or muffin tins and pour mix inside. Cook 1 hour at 325 degrees. Makes 2 loaf pans.



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pillow Pet

We ate dinner at IHOP (by the way, kids eat free from 4-10pm in August) tonight. We were seated at a table near a booth where an older couple sat, who hadn't gotten their food order yet. Upon seeing our family with 4 little children be seated near them, they quickly stood up and moved to another table across the restaurant. I wasn't offended at all. And it's not like this was the first time we've scared people away by our size(large in numbers, small in stature= rowdy and sometimes unruliness.).

Anyway, all four kids did amazingly well. Charlie was the only one who got up from his seat. After we talked to him a few times (aka, threatened him with a to-be-named-in-the-future-consequence once we got home that we could assure him he would really not like), he finally decided to sit back down in his chair and not climb on top of empty booth benches or stand on his chair.

During one of our many dinner conversations, Charles asked if we could get him a pillow pet for his birthday(which isn't for another 5 months).
"Uh, sure. Where did you see a pillow pet?" Scott asked trying to figure out what exactly this thing was.
"I saw it on a commercial. It looks like a pet and then it turns into a pillow and you can sleep on it."
"Cool," Scott said and I nodded in agreement.
"And it's great for travel!" Char said.
"Yeah and you can even wash it in your washing machine!" Elisabeth added.

Scott and I laughed and were quite amused at all they remembered from this commercial. And so of course, when we got home we had to google, 'pillow pet commercial' to see if we could watch what our kids saw. Here it is:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My theory on Fall and Winter sickness

I have been doing quite a bit of research on healthy eating habits as of late. Most of the things I've read say about the same things: eat lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains and stay away from refined sugars. I dug a little deeper and looked into the science of sugar and the body and I found out some very interesting things. And when I say sugar, I don't mean natural sugars that are found in things like fruits and vegetables and honey. Those are fine because they come with fiber, vitamins, minerals and other complex carbohydrates, all of which helps to steady the absorption of the sugar. When I refer to sugar here, I'm talking about the sugar that is processed and refined to a powder or table sugar to be used in desserts etc. Junk sugar. There is a big difference when you actually process a food. For example, take something like the south american coca leaf which many people chew on daily, but process it a certain way and it becomes the very deadly and addictive Cocaine. Or the beautiful, red poppy flower which we use for baking, but when processed in a certain way is turned into Heroine. And of course there's grapes to wine. Okay, so I'm just trying to show that plants are great(many times healing) in their original and whole state, but once changed, can be extremely damaging to our bodies.

Now, going back to sugar. When we put junk sugar into our bodies, it enters the bloodstream almost immediately and a roller coaster ride begins. Even a little bit of sugar makes the blood sugar levels rise, causing the pancreas to release insulin, and then the blood sugar level plunges causing a sugar low. Other hormones are released to try and normalize this low and during this experience many people experience this roller coaster ride with their blood sugar levels and have behaviors and moods that also go up and down with their blood sugar. I've found this to be very true in our family. I must have some very sugar sensitive children(which I'm sure they get from me, because boy am I cranky when I've gone too long without putting food into my body). Not only are they crazy when they haven't eaten in awhile, but when they consume sugar, they act like they're on crack: running around the house, laughing and going crazy, and then the next minute they are on the floor, in tears over nothing.

Another harmful thing about sugar: Do you ever remember your parents not allowing you to eat sugar when you were sick? Do you know why that is? One of the most interesting things I've gathered from my information is the effect sugar has on the immune system. Sugar depresses the immunity. And not by a little, but by a lot. It causes a 50% drop in the white blood cells(those are the good ones that fight all the nasty, sick germs off) ability to engulf bacteria. And for hours, and hours.

This is where my theory comes into play. The fall and winter seasons are considered the 'sick' seasons. Lots of people get colds and the flu. I know that people are inside more during those months because it's cold, which I also think plays a big part in sharing germs and sickness, but after reading about sugar, I've come to the conclusion that another big, huge factor is sugar intake. Think about it. First there is Halloween. And it's not just Halloween night when we're stuffed full of sugar. It's all month leading up to it with trunk-or-treats and making sugar cookies and pumpkin pies, and then of course you collect enough candy from trick-or-treating to feed a small country, or at least your children, spouse and all his coworkers for a month. Then, when that candy starts to diminish, there is Thanksgiving with pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream and on and on. And then there's Christmas and all the baked goods that go along with that holiday, that not only you make, but that neighbors and friends bring to your house and of course stockings stuffed full of all sorts of sweet things. And then you've got New Years and Valentine's Day, both of which also have sweet things to go along with them. So, really, it's not very hard to understand why so many people are sick during that time of year. They are inside more, exposed to more germs, and because they've been eating junk sugar, their bodies can't fight off the germs.

I'm going to test out my theory this winter. And I'm going to do what we've always been told to do during this season as well: We're going to go outside more, sanitize our hands often, eat lots of nutrient rich foods(especially vegetables), be well rested, try to limit our dairy(dairy causes mucus to form which is terrible for colds and congestion), and definitely limit our sugar intake. And of course, after we've done all that we can do to help ourselves be healthy through what we've learned, we'll continue to pray for good health and further insight and knowledge.

With my luck, now that I've posted this, all six of us will get sick and stay sick over the next few months. Let's hope not.

P.S. Like I always say, I am far from perfect. We do still eat sugar, but not nearly as much as we used to. I am using a lot more natural sweeteners when we decide to bake something sweet(though not 100% of the time), but when we go out to a friends house or an activity, if there are treats there, we usually eat them.

Sources:
This is the website I used the most: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/t045000.asp
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
several other websites but I forgot to record the source

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Salmonella again and Char's sandals

When we were first married, some 6 or 7 years ago, I got Salmonella from eating a raw egg in cookie dough. It was not fun. I had major diarrhea for a few days. I swore off eating cookie dough at that time. But, unfortunately, raw egg isn't the only way to get Salmonella, and it seems I got it again. Not from egg this time, but rather chicken that wasn't cooked through all the way. At least, that's what I think is what happened. After I ate the chicken(I was the only one in my family to have eaten it, thankfully), within a few hours the major stomach cramping and diarrhea began. And it continued for a few days and now, 4 days later, it's pretty much completely gone. Hallelujah!

And onto another topic: Charlie's sandals. This incident actually occurred about a month ago, but I forgot about it until my mother-in-law(who is visiting now! yay!) brought it up this week and I want it recorded here for future use.

We bought Char some brown sandals at the beginning of this summer because he needed a bigger size. I got a nicer looking pair so that he'd also be able to wear them to church if he didn't want to wear socks and black shoes in the heat of the summer. He didn't like them. I'm not exactly sure why he didn't like them. They covered his whole foot and looked nice, but either way, he still preferred his old (and much too small) flip flops. Anyway, I'd ask him to wear them and he would if he couldn't find any of his other shoes, including his winter boots, but he was always unhappy when he had to wear them. Then one day, Scott asked him to get the new brown sandals and Char told us he couldn't because he threw them in the recycling and he watched the recycling man empty the contents into the back of his truck. And so, he finally got his message across to us. He really didn't like those sandals. We ended up getting him a new pair of $2 flip flops from Walmart that he loves. :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Charlie is on 2 wheels!





We took off Charlie's training wheels a couple of weeks ago. Elisabeth got hers off when she was four too, but we haven't done much with Charles and his bike since then, because he doesn't like to practice (aka fall).

Now that we're walking to school and back home in the mornings, which is just over a mile and a half round trip, Charlie has started to complain during our walk and he wishes he could ride his bike. I decided it's time for him to learn to ride with two wheels, even if he hates me for making him try. For a couple of mornings now, I've put his bike in the van and we drive over to our church which is probably 2 blocks away. Annabelle gets out and plays on the steps, Jane sits in her car seat with the doors open in the van, or with me in a shady spot on the grass, and Charles rides around the parking lot. It only took him a few minutes to get it down, and now he can ride all by himself. But it's nice for him to have the wide open space to practice because he's not great at steering. But he's working on it. And if you couldn't tell from these pictures, Charles is absolutely beaming every time he rides. Great job Char!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Safe haven for bugs


The kids have taken up bug collecting. All three of them love to find rolly pollys, worms and ladybugs to add to their bug jar filled with grass and leaves. Elisabeth even took the time to make this quaint little banner for the bugs. If you couldn't tell, it's a picture of the kids hands tenderly holding the bugs.

I get a little concerned for the bugs when Annabelle holds them. When the potato bugs are all rolled up in a ball, she likes to stretch them back out again, and she's not known for being very gentle. But we're working on it.

Difficulties backing up


I am not the best driver. I am a safe driver, I try and drive the speed limit, but that doesn't mean I have great driving skills. Besides missing a turn in a road on a dark, rainy night and running into a tree(and please keep in mind that I was 16 or 17), I haven't had any major accidents beyond that. I did get rear ended once, but my car was fine, and it wasn't my fault(I don't think).

I would say that my driving skills have improved over the years, but I'm still not great at backing up or parallel parking. I think I'm not good at these because I seem to miscalculate the amount of space available compared to the size of my vehicle. I'm not a visual person. So I avoid parallel parking, but backing up is something I have to do on a regular basis. Since we've had our mini van, I've hit a couple of small things while backing out of the garage or driving into the garage. I don't really count hitting Scott's work bench because no damage was done to either object. And, until he hung the tennis ball up so I would know when to stop, I used his work bench as my stopping marker. One time, I did almost take off my passenger side mirror. Luckily, it's still in tact and the frame is just cracked.

And last week, I almost crushed my double stroller. Instead I just messed up the wheel. And Scott fixed it. Mostly. It's not as smooth of a ride, but it works. I don't know what I'd do without him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

FHE lesson on Naaman and Elisha


For a family home evening lesson, we used the script from the Friend Magazine for the story of Naaman and Elisha. The kids dressed up, and we all had speaking parts. I think we'll need to continue doing theatrical FHE lessons because all the kids listened, participated, and had an enjoyable time.
There really wasn't any rhyme or reason to the way everyone dressed. They just got random stuff out and put it on.
Isn't she adorable? Her big, blue eyes are just out of this world! And such a sweet smile! They are all so cute! All of our kids! I'm always tempted to grab their little cheeks in my hands and smother them with kisses. And I do :).
I wish I had gotten a picture of Charles. He was the king in our play and he wore a long scarf and a Burger King crown that we had saved from a couple of months ago.

And here are a couple of other random pictures of the girls dressed up. Jane in her tutu and Elisabeth in a crown she made all by herself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First grade

On our way to school!

Elisabeth started first grade this week. It's a little scary and sad to think that Monday through Friday, she's in school with friends and a teacher for 7 hours a day, and at home, awake and with her family for only five hours a day. Thankfully, we've got the weekends and breaks too. I know that as she grows, her peers are going to be a big influence in her life. We just need to keep doing what we're doing, teaching her to follow Christ and be a good citizen and pray that she will make good choices, and good friends and follow after our example(hopefully it's mostly good :)) and the example of her Savior.

Her first day of all-day school went well. She has been working with her first grade teacher since January last year because of her advanced reading skills, so it was nice for her to have that familiarity. She also knows several kids in class from church and the neighborhood which helped. Even though we were still crazy busy today, I caught myself thinking of her often, wondering how she was doing. We love our Elisabeth.

Superheroes

The kids like to mix things up when it comes to super hero costumes. Sometimes they'll wear their real capes, and sometimes they'll tie scarves and banners around themselves like in these pictures. And they're using Char's golf set as weapons or wands or something along those lines.




Sunday, August 15, 2010

Healthier, but still yummy desserts



I've tried a few dessert recipes from a book I've just picked up from the library called, The Kind Diet. It's written by Alicia Silverstone, which I wasn't sure about considering her theatrical background, and many times it did feel like I was reading a book written by Cher from Clueless, but either way, she has some really, really good recipes in there. That may in part be because she's rich and famous and can some how get recipes from amazing chefs that the 'average Joe' could not. But I do think many of the recipes are ones that her and her husband have created. They(Alicia and her husband) are vegan so all the recipes follow that lifestyle. Since I'm not vegan, when recipes called for things like, 'earth balance butter', I substituted it with regular old butter.

I've been having fun experimenting with some new baking ingredients. Things like brown rice syrup, maple sugar, carob chips and kuzu(a thickening agent). The carob chips, which are a nondairy chocolate chip substitute with no sugar, aren't terribly awful, but my kids don't love them either. I think they'll come to get used to them over time. I also got to grind some rice in my wheat grinder which was fun. I ground both brown and white rice.

Below, I will list the three recipes we tried over the past couple of weeks. Our favorite one, hands down, were the peanut butter cups. So yummy! But they're also probably the ones that are the least healthy of the three, because of the butter, though still not a bad choice, since they use natural sweeteners rather than refined sugar, and much better than a normal American-diet treat. My notes/commentary for the recipes are written in bold text in parenthesis.

Oh, and before I jot down the recipes from this book, I thought I'd also share that I did experiment with my own agave sweetened butter shortbread recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't get the ratio of dry to wet ingredients right because they turned out super duper crumbly. I mean, you just barely touch part of the cookie and the thing would crumble down to a powder. But they were still yummy. So we just stuck the crumbs in a gallon ziploc bag and mixed it in with pudding, which was not a healthy choice.

1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (our favorite)

Makes 12

½ c earth balance butter (I use regular butter)

¾ c crunchy peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted)

¾ c graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares(use ones that are naturally sweetened or low in sugar, Health Valley makes a good one)

¼ c maple sugar or other granulated sweetener(I usually use Sucanat because it's cheaper)

3/4 c grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips (I used carob chips and white chocolate chips...see note in parenthesis below)

¼ c soy, rice or nut milk

¼ c chopped pecans, almonds or peanuts

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture form the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 Tbsp per cup, among the muffin cups.

Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan(I used two pans and did half the recipe in each using white chocolate chips in one and carob chips in the other. Both turned out really yummy). Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted. Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts. Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours before serving.


2. Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies(When Scott first tasted one of these he said, "they taste healthy". :) We made half dipped in carob chips and left the other half plain. The kids preferred them plain so next time I'll probably skip this step or quarter the coating recipe since I halved it when we ate them and it was still too much. They do taste healthier than your typical sugar cookies, but they're still really yummy and my kids begged for them every day until they were gone.)

*note added after posted: I've now made these many times. I use butter instead of oil which makes them taste much better. We also don't dip them in anything. We love them plain.

Makes about 2 dozen

Cookies:

1 c whole wheat flour

1 c white flour

1 c brown rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ c safflower oil (I use butter)

2/3 c maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp fine sea salt

Chocolate coating:(Optional)

2 c grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips

½ c maple syrup

2 Tbsp safflower oil(or butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flours and the baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, vanilla and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to form a smooth dough. If the mixture is too crumbly, add a bit of water, 1 tsp at a time and up to 1 Tbsp more oil until dough just holds together.

Roll the dough out to ½'' thickness between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper. Use cookie cutters or knife to cut the dough into desired shapes. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheet(can cook them on the parchment paper on baking sheet), and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, combine the chocolate chips, syrup, and oil in the top of a double boiler and place over simmering water. If you don't have a double boiler, place a stainless steel bowl over boiling water and melt the ingredients in it. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until the chocolate melts. Stir until smooth.

Dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate sauce, and place on a sheet of was or parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator until hardened. (But once they're ready, take them out and let them sit at room temperature, otherwise, the chocolate is so hard you can barely bite into it)


3.Peach Crumble(This one I really liked, Scott thought there wasn't enough blueberries and peaches for the crumble topping, which is probably why I really liked it, and the kids wouldn't even touch it because of the way it looked with all the blueberry juice around the edges. Well Charlie tried a bite and thought it was okay but didn't want any more. We'll see if he'll want some tomorrow after he sees me eating it again.)

Serves 4-6

2 1/2-3 c sliced fresh or thawed frozen peaches

1 c blueberries

1 ¾ c apple juice

2 Tbsp kuzu

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla

pinch of fine sea salt

Topping:

3 c rolled oats

2 c barley, spelt, brown rice or sweet rice flour

¼ tsp fine sea salt

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¾ c safflower oil

¾ c brown rice syrup

¼ c maple syrup

1 c chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the peaches and blueberries in a 9'' baking pan.

Reserve ¼ c of the apple juice in a small bowl, and heat the remaining 1 ½ c in a small saucepan. Place the kuzu in a small bowl, and add in the reserved apple juice. Let the kuzu mixture sit for about 10 seconds so that the kuzu can dissolve into the liquid. Stir with a fork, and immediately whisk the kuzu mixture and the lemon juice into the hot apple juice, stirring continually to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and add the vanilla extract and the salt. Pour over the peaches and blueberries in the pan.

To make the topping, dry-roast the oats, flour, salt and cinnamon in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Heat the oil and syrups together in a separate pan, then pour over the flour mixture and mix well. Stir in the nuts. Bake about 30 minutes, until bubbly.


Give a couple of these a try. Sugar is so yummy, but also addicting, so if you can get yourself off of it for a few days, I think you'll find that these recipes are actually pretty good.