I’m so excited to introduce you to Dara of Coffee & Lilacs: a creative, heartfelt, oh-so-healthly mama blog written by my dear friend and fellow Napa Valley resident. Dara is a talented printmaker, artist, and all around crafter who writes about her crafting and homemaking adventures. One of the things I most admire about Dara, both in person and online, is her commitment to including her two little boys in most of her projects and supporting their individual creativity. Thank you so much for sharing today, Dara!
We’ve branched out in our kitchen this past week, trying new recipes, making huge messes, tasting as we go…kind of like a big science experiment. (That’s even my first batch of homemade kefir there on the counter in the Ball jar!)I am always searching for ways to get my picky boys to eat the “good stuff” (aka anything that is green, other than a cucumber or avocado). Usually every other week I make a patch of power muffins and that’s good for a healthy dose of fiber and hidden veggies, but recently I thought I’d try something new and I made my own crackers for the first time. I found a recipe for spinach gruyère crackers (from little monster) that was super easy. Of course the boys loved getting their hands in the flour, rolling and cutting away like it was Play-Do.
The recipe called for whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, but I replaced them with spelt flour and whole wheat respectively, plus I added about 2 T of sesame seeds. I also did not have any gruyère, so I used mild cheddar instead and I upped the spinach amount by a 1/3 cup. The result: WINNER. The boys gobbled them down, as did my husband…and myself, admittedly. I will definitely make them again and if our kale plants weren’t recently decimated by aphids, I’d be using fresh kale in place of frozen spinach!
On Facebook, one mom friend branched out and formed a local food group where we can swap recipes, share menu plans etc. One friend in particular (Lord should this woman be writing a food blog! Everything she posts is amazing and brilliant, healthy and delicious) posted a recipe for chocolate date balls. They looked so good and easy to make, I had to give them a try. I had all the ingredients for the most part, and my food processer was ready to go. The recipe can be modified to taste of course, but basically you need 1 cup of purreed dates to 1 cup of dry ingredients.
1 cup of dates (presoaked in water to soften them)
1/4 c. of Dagoba chocolate powder
1/2 c. of shredded coconut
1/8 c. of ground flax
1/8 c. of sesame seeds
dash of salt
a few shavings of fresh ginger
a splash of vanilla
and a few good shakes of cinnamon.
Blend all ingredients until it forms a large ball. Spoon out and form into individual balls on lined cookie sheet or baking dish. Freeze or refridgerate until firm. I swear that every day when I needed my “chocolate fix” I was thrilled to see those little gems waiting for me in the fridge. Delightful.
Having that food processor handy, I threw in a bunch of almonds, some honey and a few pinches of sea salt and made us some wicked almond butter. This came out more like a paste and less creamy than the butter you find at the store, but the boys and I loved it just fine with some sliced apples! I think I will add a bit of coconut oil or some other type of liquid next time just to smooth it out a bit. Or maybe I’ll try making it with cashews? Not sure, but it was so simple that I know I will never buy nut butter from the store again!
The boys and I went this week to harvest some elderberries to make syrup. Last year Amber and I went with our kids to pick elderberries and that experience was so memorable and special to me. I had never gone and harvested anything wild to bring back to my kitchen before and I felt like suddenly there was this whole world of edible plants out there just waiting to be picked! Of course I’ve only done this with elderberries because I now know what they are and how to harvest them, but just the idea of foraging really made an impact on me. Plus being in the presence of someone who is so knowledgeable and passionate about the subject made it that much more interesting! I am using her recipe for elderberry syrup and I look forward to having it on our weekend pancakes!