(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)
Twenty-something years ago now, my youngest son Gabe was around three and a half years old. One hot day I walked into the kitchen and downed a perfectly delicious glass of iced tea. Then I saw something wiggling among the ice cubes and almost gagged. Gabe was watching me, smiling sweetly. “I gave you a present!” he said, grinning proudly. “Aren’t they cute?”
My eyes still wide with surprise, Gabe walked to my side and pointed at his wiggly friends. “See how much they love each other?” he asked. “They are all just hugging and hugging!”
This story was told and retold in our family, until it eventually evolved into the title of a book of humor for moms called Worms in My Tea, and a spin-off children’s book called The Worm Surprise. I would eventually write a series of four books in the “Gabe & Critters” series.
Today that worm-loving boy is a handsome young man with a college degree, a good job, a home, and lovely girlfriend of six years. (And he still loves nature and all God’s critters.)
However, Gabe no longer digs up worms in the backyard (though he has a very nice vegetable garden), nor does he drop them into the glasses belonging to unsuspecting relatives.
What I love, though, is that he has a whole room dedicated to boy toys: a foosball table, a place for playing video games, his home computer, and various other game tables. My son has never lost his child-heart for play! A vintage pinball machine sits in one corner, and to my delight, on display above it were two of the books I wrote based Gabe in the “Gabe and Critter” Series so many years ago.
I took my grandson George over to play at his Uncle Gabe’s house yesterday.
Possibly inspired by the Gabe & Critters books, when Georgie asked me for a snack later that afternoon, I had worms on the brain.
“Would you like Nonny to make you some worms and apples?” I asked.
George giggled and said, “You are teasing me, Nonny.”
“No really,” I said. “You will love them. Pull up a bar stool to the kitchen counter and we’ll make them together.”
Worms & Apples (With Mud Sauce)
I took string cheese and tore it into four strips, microwaving them for about 20 seconds just until they were wiggly, wormy, and melty.
Then once they cooled to the touch, we wrapped the “cheese worms” around apple slices.
Just for fun, we squiggled some caramel sauce “mud” (caramel ice cream sauce) over the top. (You could also let the kids dip them in small bowls of caramel.)
Obviously, this creation was a great success. Georgie woke up asking for Apples and Worms for breakfast.
With kids home for the summer, begging for snacks, this is a treat you can feel good about giving them and it only takes a minute to make! (Feel free to omit the caramel for a healthier version.)
Variations: For vegans try using strips of vegan-cheese. Wrap cheese around peaches, strawberries, plums, or slices of cantaloupe! Use other kinds of cheese, cutting in strips and melting until just pliable. I must admit, that even as a grown up, I love these snacks for quick pick-me-up in the middle of the day.
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I’ve always loved a perfectly ripe banana for a quick snack. On hectic mornings, I’d often grab a banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, a swig of milk and call it breakfast. Once, when my four kids were young, we all headed in a crazed mass exit toward the car where I would drive them to school. Realizing I’d forgotten to eat, I instructed my then-thirteen year old son, Zach, to “run back in the house and grab me a banana.”
I watched, perplexed. as he ran to the front door of the house then took an odd pose, his head slightly to the right, his arms to his side, and then ran back to the car in this weird position. “What are you doing?” I asked. He answered in all seriousness, “I thought you told me to go to the house and then run like a banana.”
I swear, when puberty hits our children their hormones start eating their brain cells. But I digress.
Back to bananas for breakfast. As some of you know, I’m determined to eat my way to lower blood pressure. One of the ways to do this is to eat more potassium rich foods. And a banana is loaded with potassium. In fact, I read that a bite of a banana has more potassium than most potassium tablets. Almonds, too, are praised for all sorts of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
Another new food craze I love is salted caramel anything. So I combined a simple banana smoothie with almonds and unsweetened almond milk (only 35 calories a cup!) then added a touch of caramel and sea salt. (Sea salt does not raise blood pressure the way iodized chemically produced salt does, and you need less of it to flavor your food since it so rich in minerals.) There is only 2 teaspoons of caramel syrup (about 40 calories) in each shake, but because you use one of the teaspoons to rim the glass and as a decoration on top, you get the feeling that it is much sweeter as you get a tiny taste of the pure caramel with each sip.
This new smoothie/shake is the breakfast of my dreams. I’m hooked. It also makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack or a bedtime treat, since the ingredients also relax you for a good night sleep. It could be a fluke, but I have noticed my blood pressure has lowered since having one of these banana and almond treats per day.
Served in a martini or margarita glass not only adds more elegance but allows you to rim the glass in a bit more caramel and sea salt, and gives you more surface area to garnish the top with the same.
Becky’s Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)
1 rounded T. roasted almonds (salted or unsalted both work)
1 banana, peeled and chopped into 2 inch slices (preferably frozen)
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
4 t. caramel syrup, divided (There are several non-dairy alternatives for vegans, including caramel agave nectar, or google recipes for vegan caramel. )
½ c. ice
Sea salt – couple of tiny pinches
Into a blender put almonds, banana, and almond milk, 2 t. caramel syrup, ice and small pinch sea salt. Blend until smooth and almonds are just specks.
Pour about a teaspoon of caramel syrup around a plate, approximately the size of the rim of a martini glass. Sprinkle this circle with a tiny pinch of sea salt, lightly. Dip the rim of the glass into the syrup and salt, twisting and turning to coat evenly. Do this twice to prepare two martini glasses.
Pour half the smoothie/shake into each glass. Squiggle a bit more of the syrup (about 1/2 t.) to garnish the top of the drink, and sprinkle with one more tiny pinch of sea salt. Prepare to fall in love.
Variations: Add protein powder to buff up the protein and drink the whole recipe to make a complete breakfast smoothie.
Add liquor (rum, coconut or vanilla vodka) to turn this into a yummy frozen cocktail.
Try it with coconut milk instead of almond milk.
In a hurry? Skip rimming the glass.