Excuses, Excuses

moving boxes

You may have noticed that my posting has taken a turn towards the irregular lately.  There are a few reasons for my absenteeism and I feel obligated to explain.  It’s crazy how I miss posting for a few days and I feel guilty, like I’m letting my readers down.  I hope you’ll forgive me and continue reading when I get back to my regular schedule.  :-)

The first reason is my house looks like this:

and this:

As I told you we are getting ready to move.  We’re moving next week and I’ve been busy preparing for that.

The next reason I won’t be posting regularly for a least a few more days has to do with this:

Tim and I are headed to Jamaica tomorrow for a much-needed getaway.  Meghan will be in good hands with her Nana and Poppy.  Right when we get back, it’s move time.  Busy!

I’ll check in when I get back and give you a Jamaica update, and hopefully soon after I’ll be in my (new!) kitchen sharing my adventures with healthy recipes.

Organized bloggers plan ahead for such events and pre-write several posts.  They seek out other bloggers to do guest posts.  They even bring their blogging on the road with them.  In my mind, I did all of these things.  In reality, they didn’t get done.  Thanks for hanging in there until I get back!

Better Than Ice Cream Fruit Cream

frozen blueberry and mango

Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, needed emergency bypass surgery in 2001.  Burt Baskin, of Bakin-Robbins ice cream, died of a heart attack.  Just sayin’.

With ice cream season right around the corner, it’s important to have some healthier alternatives in your arsenal.  Sure, ice cream tastes great, but it is full of sugar and animal fat.  I’d much rather eat this refreshing “fruit cream” and go easy on my body.  Meghan doesn’t know that difference and to her, this is ice cream.

Even the more health-conscious frozen yogurt is loaded with sugar.  Save the ice cream and frozen yogurt for special treats and make this your go-to frozen dessert.  This combination is with blueberries and mango, but the possibilities are endless.  What’s your favorite fruit combination?  Strawberry-banana?  Strawberry-blueberry?  Start with frozen fruit and have fun!

Now we just need some ice cream weather.  :-)

Sunbutter Cookies with Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops

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I’m excited about these cookies for so many reason.  First, every time I see pretty Easter treats all over the web with colored candies, I get a little sad.  I think they’re gorgeous, but I know I’m not going to make something with artificial food colorings.

When I saw Jenna from Eat, Live, Run make a similar cookie about a month ago, I thought they were beautiful, but again, didn’t think I’d ever make them as all the candy-coated sunflower seeds I’d seen had the nasty colors in them.  Then I was at Trader Joe’s.  I may have heard angels singing when I inspected the ingredient list on these chocolate sunflower seed drops and saw that they are colored with natural ingredients like paprika, turmeric, and red beet powder.

In my excitement I overlooked the fact that these have sugar-sweetened chocolate as the number one ingredient. They are for Easter, after all. :-)

The second reason I’m excited about these cookies is they are made with sunflower seed butter.  I gave up all nut butters for Lent and it has been the longest month of my life.  I normally don’t go a day without eating peanut butter and almond butter usually sneaks its way in there, too.  But, look!  Sunflower seeds are not nuts (or legumes, in the case of peanuts).  The butter made from a seed doesn’t count, right?!  I definitely feel like I’m cheating eating these cookies before Easter, but technically, I’m not.

Although this recipe was inspired by Jenna’s creation, our recipes are nothing alike.  If you are looking for a pretty Easter cookie that is healthier than the standard cookie you’re going to find, this is it.  These are made with whole wheat flour, are almost vegan (there is milk powder in the chocolate sunflower seed drops), and are sweetened with maple syrup and a little Sucanat.  The best part is that despite the lack of white flour, refined sugar, and a ton of butter, they taste amazing.  They remind me of traditional peanut butter cookies, which are one of my favorites.  Even if you don’t have the naturally-colored chocolate sunflower seed drops, you can still make wonderful, wholesome cookies. They’ll still be delicious, just maybe not as pretty for Easter.

Sunbutter Cookies with Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops

Makes 40 small cookies

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Sucanat

1 cup sunflower seed butter

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate sunflower seed drops

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil or spray two cookie sheets and set aside.

In one bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda, sea salt, and Sucanat.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, melted oil, and vanilla.  Stir until well combined.

Mixing is Meghan’s favorite step.

Although sometimes she wants to eat the flour.

We are working on patience over here. :-)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate sunflower seed drops, 1/4 cup at a time.

Aren’t they pretty?

Drop the batter by the scant tablespoon onto the cookie sheets.  Flatten slightly.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

If you like peanut butter cookies, you will love these.  They are perfect for anyone who is allergic to nuts.  The only problem I see is that Easter is still three days away and I don’t see how these are going to last that long.

Hot Lunch in a Hurry: Spinach-Artichoke Panini

spinach

“I don’t like the loud thunder, Mommy, I don’t like it” is what I heard first thing this morning when Meghan awoke to the loud crash outside her window.  The morning was spent cuddling during the storm, staying in our pajamas and reading books together.  As much as I hate rain, I treasure these kind of mornings.

She’s back in her bed, sleeping soundly for her nap.  The thunder has subsided, for now, but the rain continues.  Days like these call for something hot for lunch.  Something that will warm your body and comfort your soul.

When Tim unexpectedly made it home for lunch, I knew I needed something warm and something fast.  The salad that was on the meal plan was immediately disregarded and this panini was born.  I served it along side some tomato and roasted red pepper soup I had and it was a perfect lunch for a cold, rainy afternoon.

Spinach-Artichoke Panini

Serves 2

1/2 tablespoon butter

2 cups lightly packed fresh spinach

1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped

1 heaping tablespoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, oil drained)

salt and pepper

shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

4 pieces whole-grain bread

olive oil cooking spray

Preheat your panini press.  If you don’t have a panini press, you can still make this sandwich.  Grill it like you would a grilled cheese, but add a heavy skillet to the top of it while it is grilling.

In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the spinach.

Stir until it wilts enough that you can’t believe you started with 2 cups (this should only take about a minute).

Stir in the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.

Sprinkle the mixture with salt and pepper and stir until the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes are heated thoroughly.

Spread half of the mixture on one slice of bread and the other half on another.  Top each mixture with cheese, if using.

Close the sandwiches with the remaining two slices of sandwich bread.

Spray the outside of the bread with the olive oil cooking spray.  Cook the sandwiches in the panini press until it is crispy and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.  Slice in half and serve immediately.

Tim and I both loved this.  Tim, of course, had one caveat he wanted to make known.  While he thought the panini was tasty, he thought it would be much heartier with some cooked chicken added in the mix.  Next time, I suppose, I could do that for him.  I thought it was great without any meat, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a vegetarian meal I make that Tim doesn’t think would be improved with some meat added in.  Still working on perceptions over here.

I didn’t think this was a Meghan-friendly panini, so she had a green grilled cheese instead.  We all got our spinach in for lunch! :-)

Now I am going to spend the rest of Meghan’s nap cuddled with a blanket and a book.  Maybe I like rainy days after all.