Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"WE only eat organic"

Something has been bugging me for awhile and I thought it was appropriate to blog about it. I realized that there are people in the world who get so wrapped up in eating well, that they forget how to live well. This is a very real (and common) trap which would be easy for me to fall into. In fact, I kinda did. While I still think it's great to buy local, organic, cook fresh and from scratch, etc., it has become less of a priority. As a Christian, it is equally important to me to care for others, particularly the poor. It is also extremely important for me to care for my family beyond just cooking for them. We aren't wealthy, and as such, we have to make choices about our money. We can't have it all. And as much as I value caring for our bodies by eating well, I cannot value it above being able to feed the poor. As much as I want my kids to eat well, I also want to feed their souls, give them a somewhat organized home, and save for their future. We were spending too much time and money on food. And in reality, how much difference will those little choices I stressed over make on their well-being? And how much more important for them to see us giving, even if it has to hurt a little? Don't get me wrong...I'm not here to tell you that it's wrong to buy raw milk from a farm, or use organic apples. (That would be funny, coming from this blog!) I'm just realizing this isn't for us--at least for now. Maybe someday when we are in a different financial position, we will do some of those things. But this has given me food for thought. Is MY child so important that he should eat a PERFECT diet while other children die of starvation? It is our God given responsibility to care for our bodies, but there is a line between careful and phobic. Between wisdom and worship. We are responsible for many things, and I want to be more aware of keeping those things in balance. For now, I've gone to buying regular meats, dairy and vegetables from ALDI. We buy specialty items (like GF and dairy free items or treats) from Trader Joe's. And of course the occasional trip to Costco for a few things and stuff for HATC. I still cook mostly from scratch (which saves money and is healthier) but have tried to simplify our meals. We have more money, less stress and more time with the kiddos. I'm pleased with this switch. It feels right for this era.

The world has changed...

...for the better! You probably haven't heard that much. We often tend to see the negative and only focus on all the work that lies ahead of us in this life. I have observed something lately and wanted to share it by way of encouragement...

Today I was reflecting on trips to the "Health food store" as a child with my Mom. (Way to go, Mom, for being crunchy way ahead of her time!) This involved driving in our car for what seemed like an eternity to go to some sketchy hole in the wall run by stoned hippies. There were shelves of strange concoctions, crudely labeled, with high pricetags. And some prepared foods. I think I recall honey sticks and fruit leather--both of which always looked appealing but were inevitably a disappointment. I don't think there was ANY fresh food at these stores? I didn't learn the word "organic" until "Fresh Fields" (which eventually became WholeFoods) moved into Annapolis in the 90's.

NOW... a huge variety of healthy foods exist, and are readily available! Right down the street I have an excellent small organic market. Whole foods and Trader Joe's are 15 minutes away. And EVERY grocery store has a "health food" section and a huge selection of quality produce. Not to mention the farmers markets in every neighborhood! There are tons of delicious, healthy options. I love this. And this is when you KNOW the world has changed... when you go to Costco and find "UDI gluten-free" bread in the freezer! (Along with soy milk, natural peanut butter, organic chicken, etc) People have been using there buying power to make better choices, and now even the big guys are taking the hint. :) Keep it up, people!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies

Yes, I know I've been M.I.A. for an eternity. I have a few things I'd like to say, but haven't been organized enough to keep up with the basics of wifedom/motherhood. So alas, they will have to wait a bit longer. But since I wanted to write this recipe out anyway, I figured I'd post it for you to enjoy. Since I last wrote, my husband has gone Gluten-Free and I've had to let go of dairy again. It has been a crazy adventure, but our health is greatly improved. 

I adapted these from the Gluten-Free Goddess blog. They were absolutely delightful! Here is the original recipe: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2006/01/dark-chocolate-brownies.html (They looked just like her photo, too!)

And here is what I did :)

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies 
{Gluten-free & dairy free}

5 ounces dark chocolate (check ingredients for dairy)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup hazelnut flour (almond would probably be fine too)
1/2 cup gluten free baking flour mix of your choice (I love Better Batter)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
hazelnuts, to taste
chocolate chips, if desired.


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with foil and lightly oil the bottom.

Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat, gently stirring. (or melt at half power in microwave, stirring occasionally. This is what I did.) 

In a mixing bowl whisk together the brown sugar, flours, salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract and melted dark chocolate mixture. Beat on low-medium for two minutes, until the batter begins to come together. Beat until it thickens and becomes smooth and glossy. Gently stir in hazelnuts. Place in pan and top with chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 for 32 to 35 minutes, or until the brownies are set. The top should look cracked when done. 

Cool on a wire rack; and remove the cooled brownies from the pan by gripping the foil edges and lifting the brownies out as a whole.

Allow to cool for an hour before cutting if you don't want them to fall apart.

Yield: 12-16 servings