Tag Archives: Children

Recipe: Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

Let’s start the week right, with chocolate!

Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

~ Gandhi

Happy Monday everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend – filled with family, good food, and (maybe) (just a little) sunshine!

We enjoyed a few days together and certainly made the most of it: by cleaning out the basement!

Well, not the whole weekend was spent this way, but a needed spring-clean was a feel good way to ring in the season of newness, and clean out some cobwebs (literally!)

It felt pretty good, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

A few weeks ago, a reader wrote me asking if I had any recipes for kid’s lunches that are yummy, portable, and nut-free.

I admit I’m a little guilty of throwing a fruit snack or a little piece of chocolate (even a very occasional Oreo) into my kids lunches, as I’ve got at least one very picky eater in my house – the home baked goodies aren’t a guarantee that is for sure!

I’m not a big cookie-maker (or baker in general) – but I do like a good challenge…so I set out to make a treat that was flour-free, kid-approved, and still easy to make and (just a little) healthy.

I’ll let you guys tell me how I did!

No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.

~ Aesop

The Less:

Less flour-based sweet treats means more in tact nutrition, and less reliance on gluten. Less packaged cookies and treats means less waste, less additives & preservatives, and more fresh gooey texture to boot. Less looking for ways to use whole grains means more inspiration that eating this way is easy. Less wondering means more confidence, and who doesn’t want that?

The More:

More chewy sweet ways to combine healthy ingredients means more ways to ‘trick’ loved ones who may not be keeners. More millet and oats means more super-powered fuel from clean sources. More homemade sweet goodness means more ways to the hearts of those you love, and who wouldn’t want that everyday?

This recipe incorporates millet, which is actually a highly nutritious seed that dates back to Biblical times. It’s totally gluten-free and high in protein, so if you are new to it – it’s worth checking out for sure! This recipe can easily be veganized too – and I know at least a few of you who are pros at that!

Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars:

  • (1/2) cup dry millet
  • (1.25) cups cold water
  • (1.5) cups quick oats
  • (1) cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • (1/2) cup coconut milk (or nut milk or regular milk)
  • (1) tbsp butter (or coconut butter)
  • (1/4) cup brown sugar (or sucanat)
  • (2) tbsp cocoa powder
  • (1/4) tsp salt
  • (1) tsp vanilla
  • (1) tsp baking powder
  • (1) banana (fresh or frozen)
  • (1) fresh egg (or egg substitute)
  • (3/4-1) cup chocolate chips of choice (I used medium-sized dark for this, 1 cup will make them super sweet)

Start by combining the dry millet and the cold water in a small pot with the lid. Bring to a boil, and cook, covered on low heat for 20 minutes, until fluffy. Once done, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Oil a cookie sheet lightly with butter or oil and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked millet, oats, coconut, coconut milk, butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add to the mixture. If you are using a frozen banana, skip this step and instead simply soak the banana in hot water until it thaws and add it straight to the large bowl.

Add the egg or egg substitute and mix. Add baking powder and stir one more time before adding the chocolate chips.

Mix well one last time (don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands!).

Transfer to the oiled cookie sheet and press until you have a layer about 2/3 inch thick.

This recipe doesn’t make quite enough to cover an entire large cookie sheet so I butted it up the edge of one and lt it go from there trying to make the free end as straight as I could. I didn’t mind the jagged edge – the perfect tester piece before cutting the bars!

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting into bars either 3/3 inches or 4/4 inches square. Totally your call how you want to cut these! Keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature and eat with 2-3 days.

Moist, chewy, and sweet – these are perfect for the chocolate lover’s post lunch treat! No wrappers or crumbs either.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

~ Will Rogers

Serve kid-style with a cold glass of your favorite milk. With these treats fresh from the oven….that’s a match made in heaven!

We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

~ Aristotle

That’s a sweet way to start the week – even if you are up to your bunny ears in chocolate from the weekend 😉

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

~Arnold H. Glasow

An even bigger thanks for stopping by regularly and for taking the time to leave your notes and comments. I loved the response from the last post – and the appreciation for the beauty in the little things!

  • What was your favorite cookie as a kid?
  • Whats’ your favorite cookie NOW?

Let us know – we might just share in that too!

Yours in Less,

68 Comments

Filed under Children, Cooking, Desserts, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegetarian

On Sharing, Life, and the Little Things

Remember when it was your turn for Show & Tell?

“Wear the old coat and buy the new book.”

~ Austin Phelps

Happy Easter everyone!

Ever stopped to think about all you can do and why that makes you great?

I hinted a little in my last post about the grade 2 artwork that was on display (proudly I might add) in the hallway for all to see at my daughter’s school this week.

Each child was assigned a few questions, and their answers were posted with a photo of themselves and their proud, handwritten answers to (what I gathered) were questions like this:

  • What are you good at?
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What hobby or sport do you do well?

I bet you all can relate to this one with me (just a little) – (or a lot).

Do you get tired when you run? I think everyone does. I wonder if this girl lets getting tired stop her from running.

With self-discipline most anything is possible.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

It seems all so simple and refreshing doesn’t it? Celebrating the simple things.

The gifts we are given, and the skills we learn. Elementary stuff really.

I loved this one especially.

“Anyone can cook”

~ Chef Gusteau, from the movie ‘Ratatouille’

With all we do, and all we see, do we celebrate our own simple qualities and skills enough?

Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.

~ Elizabeth David

Is it possible our joy is always right within us – in our own talents, gifts, and interests?

The ones just waiting to be shared?


I know it sounds simple. But I like it.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

~ Winston Churchill

I think blogging is a bit like grown up show and tell – where we can share our creations, our thoughts, and what we are excited about.

The beauty is we don’t really have to wait our turn like we did as kids.

That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Here are a few of my favorite things from this week.

It starts in my garden, where my magnolia tree finally decided to start blooming (it’s crazy late this year).

A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

~ William Wordsworth

One of my most favorites is cascading rock cress. This is not my garden (though I wish it was).

We are starting to plan this trip. Three whole weeks in France this August for the family.

Like a child I am getting giddy already and the conversation around the dinner table tends to focus on this (just a little).

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

~ Nelson Mandela

This is not a small thing.

It is a big thing.

You can bet we’ll be revelling in the lead up and planning a ‘less is more’ trip.

I’ll be sharing a lot more about this in the coming months.

You can bet on that!

I’m stoked about these moccasins. And happy to have feet that take me places.

I am grateful we can enjoy simple foods like when we were kids. Homemade mac’n’cheese makes me a popular mom. I don’t mind that at all.

Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know I’ve been waiting for spring to come and save me, to renew me, and fill me with that sense of youthful promise we long for (maybe just a little) once we are grown.

Could it be that staying youthful is all about just sticking to (and celebrating) the basics?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I hope you all have a most wonderful spring weekend – whatever it is you do to celebrate Easter. We’ll be hunting for eggs and gathering around the table as always.

I think this year I might just make (a little) toast to myself. You know, for the little things 😉

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

~ Robert Brault

Happy holiday weekend dearest IPOM readers – I’m looking forward to what YOU have to share this weekend….and thank you all for the blogging inspiration, feedback, and enthusiasm!

You all just make my day.

Yours in Less,

44 Comments

Filed under Aspirations, Children, Family, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Photography, Rejuvenation, Success, Travel

Recipe: Honest Vegetable Soup

Everybody loves a good honest bowl of soup.

 

Doesn’t everyone love a good soup?

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ahhh, Saturday is here. It was a long week. Ain’t that the honest truth..

I’ve battled a cold (some say I get man-sick), and it’s been a tough weather week here in Vancouver – can you say endless grey and rain? Add to that a smattering of snow, slush, drizzle, mist, wind, and pretty much everything else and you’ve got a perfect reason to make:

A pot of Honest Soup!

“What?”

Yep, I am calling it Honest Soup because when it comes to making a killer soup, you don’t have to be a master in the kitchen, or even a super confident cook (in my humble opinion anyway).

Honestly, once you find a few tricks when it comes to proportions, you rarely even need recipes. And if you (like me and especially my family) enjoy reveling in a little flavor, you know that the secret to a delicious veggie soup is in the butter, the salt, and the cheese* (that’s for you, Charlie).

*unless you don’t.

I like dairy free soups too (all you wonderful vegans out there, that’s for you), and the same rule applies. A few tricks are all you need!**

But (let’s be honest here) what home cook doesn’t already know that?

All you need is:

  • (just a little) onion
  • (usually) potato or sweet potato for starch
  • a random selection of vegetables
  • a blender or hand blender
  • and (just a little) inspiration!

Since this blog is all about living with (just a little) less, last night was also a perfect opportunity to forego an unnecessary shopping trip to the market and clean out the fridge. All this blogging, recipe writing, and cooking has me pretty inspired, and I had a real beautiful mess of random veggies left in my crisper.

This is what it looked like to start (not terribly glamorous, folks!):

Honest Vegetable Soup:

  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium/large yellow onion)
  • 2 cups potatoes, chopped (skin on)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli (including the stalks)
  • 1 lonely celery stalk, chopped (broken in 2 pieces!)
  • 2 cups green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 cup heaping grated sharp cheese (tonight it was an English Dubliner Cheddar)(optional for vegan soup)
  • 1 cup milk (optional for vegan version)
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (optional)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • black pepper

Chop all your veggies and separate veggies in bowls according to cooking time.* Heat olive oil on medium high and add onion and one tbsp. of salt. Cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes until brown. Add chopped potatoes, and cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add water and broccoli, broccoli stalks, and celery and bring the water to a very gentle boil on medium heat with the lid on. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, until stalks are soft. Add cabbage and kale (stir them in gently) and cook, covered for another 5 minutes.

With your hand blender (or blender in batches), blend all to a very smooth puree in the same pot you cooked it in. Add grated cheese, milk, remaining salt, and pepper.

Anything tastes good with cheese, salt, and butter (but there are other ways too). And a good blender is a must.

Turn heat to low and stir until creamy and all the cheese is melted. Add butter if desired, and season to taste with pepper. Serve in bowls topped with chopped fresh herbs, more black pepper if desired, and (always) (just a little) swirl of olive oil.

*Always cook veggies according to their type: 2-3 minutes for leafy greens, 5-8 minutes for celery, carrots, cauli/broccoli, 10+ minutes for potatoes and starches.

**For a delicious vegan soup, I simply omit the additional milk after blending and add a few tbsp to taste of medium miso to the soup. This adds flavor, richness and a yummy salty kick in the pants (honestly). Top with green onions and olive or sesame oil.

Serve this soup with crusty bread or crackers, a good glass of wine, and an (honest) smile.

A warm bowl of soup on a cold night can’t be beat, and my fridge is looking pretty sweet this morning too.

Here I come kitchen 🙂

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

~ Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

 

I’d love to know how you clean out your fridge and make use of the random bits that just don’t make it into your delicious creations throughout the week.

Stay tuned this week, I’ve got a killer kale pesto to share and another creative (and tasty) use for almond pulp!

Thanks to two of my favorite bloggers for the Versatile Blogger shout out – I’ll be reciprocating some of that love over the weekend…you guys are all amazing!

Happy Saturday folks!

Yours in Less,


36 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Family, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Finding more in Good Karma Croutons and (still) waking early.

Got bread? Increase your daily karma quotient with croutons….a great way to use up old crusty bread ends.

I don’t know about you guys but we’ve got bread in the house constantly. Personally, I don’t tend to eat it as I am mostly wheat-free, but the kids do.

You see if I had my way, there would be no bread, no ketchup, and never an oreo in sight in this house. But I’ve got kids. And a husband who is an athlete. I don’t deny them the odd treat and I try my best to raise them in a way that teaches moderation in all things (especially to diets that are too limiting or too strict unless totally necessary for good health).

So we have bread, always good quality bread, baked without yeast or sugar or additives. And a couple times a week, we have leftover bread. As simple as it seems, croutons are still often a store bought item in so many salad loving homes. Here’s the deal on the homemade goods.

The Less:

Less packaging is a bonus with home made croutons. Guaranteed you will ingest less sodium, additives, and rancid stale oils too. Less waste as you stop chucking those poor bread nubbins, unless you happen to be one of those folks who likes to eat them. Less cost too.

The More:

Kids love making croutons. They just do. More things to do with your kids in the kitchen. More good karma for your economic and healthful ways. More taste from real sea salt and quality olive oil. I call those things all wins.

Here’s how:

Homemade Good Karma Croutons:

You need:

  • a few slices of old bread, new bread, any bread
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • optional pepper, garlic powder, or dry herbs!

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop your bread into bite sized cubes and toss them in a bowl. Drizzle enough olive oil to moisten and mix with your hands – or get a loved one to do this with you. Add a sprinkle or a pinch of salt (careful not to over-salt), and maybe a little garlic powder or herbs if you like.

Lay flat on a cookie sheet in one layer and bake for 15 minutes or so, checking often and turning once or twice. Remove when golden and fragrant. Allow to cool and see if they make it to the salad!

Don’t want to eat them yourself? Surprise your neighbor with them. How’s that for a nice thing to do?

I use the best sea salt I can find….coarse salt from France. I know, it’s not cheap, but you use less and it tastes and feels so much better than the iodized salt from a box. The same goes for olive oil – make sure you are getting true Italian or Spanish or Greek – always extra virgin, always cold pressed. So many oils these days are using olives grown in China, then processed in Europe. Check your labels if you can!

I am preparing for a fast tomorrow with a green smoothie today. I’ll post more about that soon.

As an update, I was up early this morning. It felt good and my family really needs me right now. This parenting gig isn’t easy, but it’s worth every late night and early morning in the world.

In the meantime, make the most of your day, and be sure to tell your loved ones that you love them.

Because you just can’t do that enough.

Yours in Less,

2 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Family, Happiness, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Waking Early

Finding More in Tofino. And (just a little) oatmeal.

Finding more in just a little less busy-ness. We spent the weekend away. It was quiet, it was relaxed, it was oh so needed! (We spent the weekend in beautiful Tofino).

The Less:

This week I felt great during my fast. I thought a lot about clutter and how I can really streamline things and get rid of a lot of junk. Now I’m home and feeling inspired to organize and tackle a few big home projects I have been putting off (time to clean out that garage). Being away does wonders for the mind. I disconnected. Less clutter and less noise meant more much needed sleep and quiet time.

The More:

Delicious and satisfying oatmeal provides more energy, more stability, and more gounding than many other breakfast foods:) I always find fasting on a vacation travel day superb…no driving stress or routine demands. Just music, the sounds of my family, fresh hydrating water, and best of all, my husband doing the driving! Bliss. More relaxing, more family time, more peace of mind!

Here is how I found more this week with glorious healthy oatmeal:

Apple Oatmeal:

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1.5 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • a few generous dollops of fresh Cashew Cream
  • nuts and currants for the top
  • Cinnamon and brown sugar or maple syrup (optional)

Combine oats, water, apples, and salt and bring to a light boil. Turn the heat down. Cook, 8-10 minutes on medium low with the lid on until the apples are soft.

Serve, topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, Cashew Cream, toasted nuts, and currants. Add extra sweetener if you like.

This is fiber-rich, super-inexpensive, and wonderfully satisfying in the morning!

I sometimes call it endless oatmeal, there is no need to specify servings here as leftovers can go right in the fridge. The next day, simply add more water, more apple, more whatever and heat up again! It never ends and there are so many different ways to enjoy it. I like to use soft or slightly wrinkled apples – It’s economical and makes me feel good not to waste (I am very picky about fresh apples).

I am feeling rather invigorated after a mellow weekend catching up on sleep and fresh air with friends and family. Amen.

I’ll start planning the impending spring clean this week. I just want to enjoy this feeling a little longer…

  • Are you feeling cluttered in life?
  • What are some things you could do to get rid of?
  • What brings you peace of mind?

I’d love to know.

Yours in Less,

_


8 Comments

Filed under Cashews, Cheap, Children, Cooking, Family, Fasting, Happiness, Inspiration, Nut Recipes, Oatmeal, Photography, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Cashew Cream.

Cashews. Are. Amazing.

It’s true! Everyone loves them. Children love them. Husbands love them. Friends love them.

Cashews just might be the best thing in the world if you are on a path to eating less dairy.

(or even if you are not)

Cashews – the seed of a tropical fruit – grow in tropical countries and are native to South America. They are a treasure for their creamy texture and, when soaked and eaten raw, can satisfy anyone’s appetite for a rich treat.

You will notice as more recipes get posted at this site that these versatile nuts find many ways into my dairy-less cooking and preparation. They aren’t cheap, but no nuts are these days, and like anything high in calories – when eaten in moderation – are worth every penny.

Buy whole cashews if you can, as the pieces don’t soak up as well in the water, though pieces can be a stand-in if that is what you have available. Just be sure they are raw – no salted or roasted nuts here!

Store cashew nuts in the fridge or freezer if you can to keep them away from heat and air. This helps to keep the oils in nuts from going off.

Here is how to make it at home in just a few simple steps:

Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews (whole or pieces – whole are best)
  • 2-4 pitted dates
  • 2 cups water for soaking
  • 1 1/4 c cold water

Soak cashews and dates together with 2 cups water in a bowl for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to blender with the 11/4 cup cold water and blend on high until smooth and creamy – about 2 minutes.

You may need to agitate the mixture a few times with the edge of a spatula to get the blending running smoothly.

Refrigerate in a sealed jar until ready to use. These ratios will make 2 cups and should keep 4-5 days in the fridge. Feel free to play with amounts!

Enjoy this satisfying treat on its own, on top of hot cereal in the morning, or with fruit salad (especially good with bananas and blueberries).

**If you want to make cashew milk, simply add water after the first round of blending until you reach the consistency you want. Some people drain the cashew pulp with cheesecloth, but I like it best kept intact myself. Find what you like best!

I hope you enjoy this if you are new to it and will let us know if you try it! I’ve heard many times – “what is that?” – as unsuspecting people don’t know what they are eating….they just know it’s delicious.

If you have made it before drop me a line to let us know how you prefer it and what you like to eat it with…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Yours in Less,

17 Comments

Filed under Cashews, Children, Nut Recipes, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Vegan, Vegetarian