8.05.2020

Date-Nut-Seed Energy Balls

Being pregnant in the summertime has not been so fun for me.  You guys probably know by now that I really hate the heat.  Give me an overcast 65-degree day over a sunshiny 80-degree day anytime.  Maybe this is the ultimate result of growing up and living in the Pacific Northwest.  

When I was pregnant with Ben I made several batches of oatmeal lactation support cookies to have before and after labor, but there was no way I was going to turn on the oven this time around.  So, these raw Date-Nut-Seed Energy balls were my solution.

When pulling together the ingredients, I essentially wanted to make these little calorie-dense healthy fat bombs to give me energy before, during, and after labor.  The fact that they store well in the freezer and taste great cold is a happy coincidence.  They can also be stored in the fridge for some time, or on the counter for several days... if they last that long.  

Date-Nut-Seed Energy Balls
Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 24 servings


Ingredients:
  • 6 tbsp raw almonds
  • 6 tbsp raw pepitas
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed dates, pits removed
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
(FOR A DOUBLE BATCH):
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 3/4 cup raw pepitas
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups packed dates, pits removed
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Instructions:
1.)  In a food processor, pulse the almonds, pepitas, and rolled oats until a coarse flour forms.
2.)  Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until a dough starts to form.
3.)  Pour blended mixture into a bowl and mix with a spoon to make sure all of the processed ingredients are well mixed together.
4.)  Using your hands, grab a small handful of the dough and form a tight ball, about the size of a ping pong ball.
5.) Place the balls on a non-stick baking tray or a plate covered with parchment paper.  Once all of the dough is used and the balls are formed, place the tray or plate in the freezer for 20 minutes before removing and storing how you prefer.


Amy's Notes:
In a perfect world, these would include some form of chocolate.  Because I primarily made them for after birth when I would be breastfeeding, I opted to not add any cocoa, chocolate chips, or melted chocolate coating (chocolate seamed to bother Ben when I breastfed the first time around).  BUT don't let that stop you!  If you wanted to add some chocolate, I would suggest you try adding 1-2 Tbsps of cocoa powder, 2 Tbsps of mini vegan chocolate chips, or dipping the frozen balls in a bit of melted chocolate and returning to the freezer to solidify.

Health and Happiness,

Amy

7.29.2020

My first experience with a CSA Membership

CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture.  Perhaps you've participated in one for years and this is nothing new; maybe this is the first time you've ever heard of it.  Or maybe you are somewhere in between like I was.  I've known for years that CSAs were a "thing", but I always thought of it as an expensive hippie-granola thing to do, and not accessible for our middle-class income.  Then the pandemic hit and I took a good look at our family's food security and the value in the ability to access fresh produce.

CSA Week 1: Dill, Cilantro, Asian Greens, Spinach,
Arugula, Romaine, Kale, and Potatoes

About a year ago I met Emily through a mutual knitting friend and learned that she ran a vegetable and fiber farm in the Puyallup River Valley.  I was so impressed that someone close to my age ran their own farm business.  As you can see from my lack of posting for over a year, I can barely run a personal blog.  Not only was she a vendor at farmers' markets around the region, but she also offered a CSA membership.  Thankfully, the pandemic convinced me that I wanted to secure some vegetable options close to home, so this year I went in on a large share every other week.

My first pickup started in early June and I have picked up a share bi-weekly since.  For me, each share has 10-13 different items.  Emily uses a CSA online portal that even allows members to swap or add items before their pickups.  One of my favorite adds so far have been fresh herbs like basil.  So far in the early part of the season (the CSA runs until the end of November), there has been a lot of green, and this mama couldn't be happier! 

CSA Week 2: Kale, Basil, Garlic Scapes, Senposai,
Napa Cabbage, Asian Greens, Spigariello, and Collard Greens

The couple of pickups I have gotten have already exposed me to veggies I had never tried before, and I've been Nutritarian for almost a decade now.  One of my new favorites is spigarello, which is a dark green in the broccoli family.  A cruciferous vegetable and a dark leafy green?  Yes, please!  A few other new-to-me vegetables include purple mizuna, senposai, frisee, and celtuce.

Now, what about the costs?  For me, the cost equals out to about $31 for every pickup.  But, because the nature of CSAs is to invest in a growing season before it starts, more of the seasons' cost was required to be paid upfront.  For me, that looked like 25% when I signed up, 25% the week of my first pickup, and the remaining 50% being paid in bi-weekly installments over the season.  In terms of produce value, each produce item is about $2.40-$3.10 each.  For how large the bunches of greens I have received thus far, I consider that to be a great price.

CSA Week 3: Broccolini, Collard Greens, Spigariello, Bok Choy,
Arugula, Purple Mizuna, Lacinato Kale, and Senposai

Since I am the one in the house that primarily eats most of the greens, I find that a large share, if stored properly, is perfect to last me two weeks.  I use the dark greens in smoothies and in simple onion and green saut├ęs.  I use fresh herbs in soup, bean, and grain dishes.  Then I use fresh lettuce in salads.  Once I receive my share, I mentally make a note of which items to use sooner and which will keep for longer wrapped in a damp towel.  For example, I know lacinato (also known as dinosaur) kale or any type of cabbage can last me a full two weeks, but the pea shoot microgreens should be used within a few days.

CSA Week 4: Garlic, Zucchini, Broccolini, Collard Greens, Spigarello,
Purple Mizuna, Celtuce, Frisee, Lacinato Kale, and Pea Shoots

I'm looking forward to seeing how my share changes over the season and wonder what types of gourdes and other veggies I have in store come fall.  I think it is safe to say I'll be repeating my CSA membership next year, and maybe opting for the smaller weekly pickups to get my veggies even fresher.


CSA Week 5: Red Torpedo Onions, Fava Beans, two bunches
Collard Greens, Spigariello, Bok Choy, Purple Mizuna,
Kale, Pea Shoots, Basil, Thai Basil

If you are interested in seeing if a CSA is available near you, my CSA uses the online portal of a website called Harvie.  In case you are in western Washington and wanting to support Emily's farm along with me, her farm is called Local Farm and Fiber and you can also find her on Harvie.

Health and Happiness,

Amy




 

7.20.2020

Millet with Mushrooms and Garlic

Some personal stuff.

It has been a minute.  I have been so far out of the blogging routine because Instagram has been such a quick and easy way to share my day-to-day and quickly thrown together recipes.  But, for the sake of followers (and myself), I thought I would start posting some of my regular recipes again on the blog.  Yes, I totally use my blog as a personal recipe box, with my Three-Bean Chili and Vegan Ranch Dressing being the two recipes I look up and cook most often.  Hopefully, you get as much use out of my recipes as I do. ;)

Lots of things have been happening around the kitchen and our household since I last formally posted on the blog.  Like most of you, the virus has created a fairly isolated Spring and Summer of 2020 so far.  BUT, we have an additional reason to quarantine at this time.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you already know the answer... We are due with baby #2, a girl, in August!  At 37 weeks currently, it feels like it is just around the corner and I still feel like I have a million things left to get done.


I'm so grateful to have had a reasonably comfortable pregnancy with no health issues.  Many of my appointments with my midwife this time have been virtual, which I really don't mind not having to drive or mask up for very many visits.  At this point, baby girl's growth is great and we are just counting down the days until she makes her appearance.  Her official due date is 8/8, and with Ben's birthday being 10/10, we think that would be a wonderful pattern to have with our kid's birthdays.  We'll see if she agrees when the time comes.

The attempted family photo over 4th of July weekend. 

Literally the best family photo we've ever taken. 
This was on a lovely hike near the Carbon River in Rainier National Park.

Ben checking out a special tree cubby in Rainier National Park. 
This area of the park, north of the mountain, is all old-growth forest.

The last few weeks I have been organizing and preparing her room and the house before the birth (the nesting instinct is STRONG this time!).  I'd like to leave no to-do list item unchecked, so when I get any burst of energy, I take it and waddle with it (see what I did there ;)).  This weekend we cleaned out and cleaned up the garage, got the car seats cleaned and resituated, and I did some freezer meal prep (Three-Bean Chili to the postpartum rescue).

Some recipe stuff.

This Spring I read Dr. Fuhrman's newest book, Eat for Life (affiliate link), and took a week or so to mourn the need to ditch rice varieties from my diet.  He explains in the book that rice, even organic brown or wild rice, should be limited since they contain arsenic.  The arsenic is now so prevalent in US soils that cultivate rice from decades of pesticide and herbicide abuse, that we are unlikely to find rice in the US that doesn't have some amount of arsenic in it.  That is all to say, millet and I have become good buddies since I've resolved to severely limit my rice intake.


Millet is not a grain, but, like quinoa, is actually a seed.  Now, quinoa is great, and it definitely tastes better when you give it a good rinse and cook it properly, but I have never been crazy about it.  The Husband, on the other hand, loves quinoa and will gladly eat it most days of the week.  I have come to prefer millet over most whole grains, so it is now my go-to "grain" for hot dishes and hearty salads.  It cooks up about as quickly as quinoa and has a great fridge shelf life of 5-7 days depending on the type of seasonings or sauces you add.



Because millet is a small seed, it can be a bit tricky to wash it.  In my recipes, I always suggest fine-mesh strainer, but I actually don't own one.  I have one of these OXO strainers specifically meant to wash grains and seeds.  If you're looking to add to your kitchen tools, this is the one I use and love.



I have found that sometimes millet gets a little dry sitting in the fridge, so if I'm going to reheat it, I add a tablespoon or two of water or vegetable broth before reheating.  This can usually be avoided if I add a dressing, but adding sauce often shortens its fridge storage time.

Millet with Mushrooms and Garlic
Time: 5-minute prep, 30-minute cook time
Servings: 4 servings


Ingredients:
        1 cup dried millet, rinsed and drained
        3 cups water (or no-salt vegetable broth)
        1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped (or 1/2 cup dried mushrooms)
        4-6+ cloves garlic, minced
        Liquid aminos and nutritional yeast to taste

Instructions:
1.)  In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse and drain the millet.
2.)  In a medium saucepan, bring the water (or broth), millet, mushrooms, and garlic to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cover and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or so, checking occasionally and turning the heat off once all of the liquid is absorbed.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on and removed from the heat.
3.)  Stir lightly to fluff with a fork.  Serve hot and topped with liquid aminos and nutritional yeast to taste.  See notes for serving suggestions.


Amy's Notes:
I like to serve this millet hot as part of a nourish bowl.  For example, I served 1 cup of millet for lunch the other day with water sauteed greens and onions, sweet potatoes, tofu, zucchini, avocado, and a tahini mustard sauce.  (Please note that I am pregnant, so this is more avocado than I would normally add otherwise.  And I'm not mad about it one bit!)



Want to up your salad game? Add 1/2 to 1 cup of this millet dish from the fridge to your next big green salad.  I particularly like it with raw kale, a bean or lentil, pepitas, raw red onion, shredded apple, and a creamy cashew dressing like my Vegan Ranch Dressing.



Health and Happiness,



Amy