Oat Nut Fruit Gems

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(Becky, the Mama)

My mother, Ruthie, went from loving her sugary desserts (a la last week’s Honey Slice cookie recipe) to a diet almost completely without sugar a couple of decades ago.  A health crisis with her blood pressure and heart, meant major changes in her daily diet – all for the better.  Out went everything white: sugar, white flour and white rice… and in came the brown and fiber-filled replacements.  But, we are not the sort of women to suffer deprivation in our family.  Being the creative and resourceful cook, Mother found several ways to satisfy her sweet tooth while also getting healthier, sporting an adorably slim figure, and having more energy than women decades younger than she!

This is one of my all-time favorite sweet, healthy, satisfying treats that she baked. She served them in a pretty cloth-lined basket at a family supper and they disappeared in what seemed like minutes. Everyone from kids to adults raved about them.

The basic ingredients are so simple:  oats, mashed bananas and grated apples.  From there you can throw in the kitchen sink:  any nuts, seeds, flavorings or dried fruit that you like.   Another bonus is that you can serve this recipe to most of the people in your family (or friends) on special diets.  The recipe is naturally vegan, and if you use gluten-free oats, it is gluten-free and can easily be adapted to use less sugar or made sugar-free.  Kids not only love them, but as you can see from my little helper below, they also love to help make them.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

If you want to create warm memories of baking with little ones this Christmas, but prefer not to send them into a Sugar Orbit in the process: this is the perfect mom and child, or grandma and grandchild project, to whip up together.

The texture is somewhere between a muffin, an oatmeal cookie, trail mix, and baked oatmeal.  Made with sugar they get a nice crunch on the outside but are moist and slighty chewy on the inside.  Perfect for quick breakfasts-to-go, they also make great snacks for school lunch boxes and any outdoor enthusiasts in your family.  Wrapped in foil they are wonderful sources of energy when hiking, camping or snow-boarding.

This recipe makes 2 dozen.   Best stored in fridge and then heated for a few seconds in microwave.

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 Oat Nut Fruit Gems

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed (use 3 if bananas are small)

2 large peeled apples, grated (use 3 if apples are small)

3 cups oats (I like Old Fashioned Oats for the chewier texture)

½ t. sea salt

1/3 c. raw organic sugar (or use other sweeteners such as brown sugar or coconut sugar or even  Stevia, according to taste )

½ c. dried chopped fruit (I used dates and dried cranberries. Coconut also works well in this recipe.)

1/2 nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts and pecans)

2 t. vanilla

 

Directions

Mix all of the above together in a large mixing  bowl.  Spray or oil muffin pans.  Fill them about 2/3 full and gently press down with back of spoon. if you want them to look more muffin-like you can mound them a bit in the middle, as they won’t rise. (No leavening or eggs.)

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Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until just golden brown around edges and top.

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When cool to touch, gently remove from pan.  If not eaten in a day, store in fridge in a sealed bag or plasticware and zap for a few seconds in microwave to warm.

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
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The Title: Oat Nut Fruit Gems
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toast with Pumpkin Butter (Cooking with Kids)

Turkey Toast

(Becky, the Mama.)

Over twenty years ago now, I walked into a classroom in my debut as a first grade teacher.  

And then, I retired after 9 months of faithful service.

I was a great teacher, in that I loved my students, taught them well and had loads of fun.   On the other hand, you may have noticed that most teachers are gifted at organization and rather enjoy (or at least have a knack for) ordering small children to do their bidding immediately. Organization was never my strong suit: just counting the morning’s lunch money and turning it into the office could bring me to tears.   And I’m more of charmer and a cajoler than an “orderer.”

I slept-walked through much of that fuzzy year.  I do remember the day, however, when one of my students raised their hand and asked, “Teacher, why do you have one red shoe and one black shoe on?”   I looked at my feet and sure enough, the child was correct.  The only answer I had to offer was pure mental exhaustion.  

Now that I am a grandmother, however, I get the best of both worlds.  I get to play and create with the grandkids, and have all the time in the world to give them focused individual attention. 

This recipe is so simple and fun for Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving,  breakfast or snack-time,  that moms, grandmas and teachers can all let their little charges have a go at it.  And as treats go, this is a pretty healthy one, especially if you use a good whole grain bread.

The toast is slathered with a simple pumpkin spice peanut butter, then after you cut it into the desired shapes to create either a pumpkin or a turkey,  the kids can smear it with the pumpkin butter and decorate it with a variety of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips or marshmallows.

Turkey Toast with Pumpkin Butter

 Makes one toast turkey large enough to feed  two to three small children.

3 pieces of bread (I used Ezekiel Sesame Bread), buttered and toasted (Vegans can use Earth Balance butter)

2 heaping Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree

1 heaping Tablespoon peanut butter (or almond butter or any kind of butter you prefer)

1 t. brown sugar

1 T. pure maple syrup

Pinch salt

½ t. cinnamon

¼ t. ginger

 

Assorted toppings, about ¼ cup each in small bowls (or little piles on a big plate)  coconut, chopped nuts, edible seeds of any kind, chocolate chips, dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins or cherries.

Instructions:

Butter & toast the bread (preferably just toast the top by broiling it as it cuts a little easier).

Leave one piece of the bread whole, then cut one piece like this:

Cut the next piece like this:

 

Mix the next 7 ingredients until smooth with a fork in a small bowl.  Spread the pumpkin-spice peanut butter on the toast and assemble the turkey. (I used a large dried cherry for his wattle.)

Let the kids decorate the turkey’s toast “feathers” with the various toppings, then dive in and eat!

 

You can also make three pumpkins, by turning the toast upside down, then cutting the corners of the toast – rounding them a bit and leaving a fat stem, like so:  (Note: Most marshmallows are not vegan, you may just let the kids use raisins for mouth.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toast with Pumpkin Butter
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing

Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing

(Becky — The Butter Lovin’ Mama)

When my five year old grandson Georgie was about three and a half, my husband Greg (“Poppy” ) took him fishing with my son, Georgie’s Uncle Zeke.  The thing about Zeke is this:  he is the most optimistic person in the universe.  So he over-estimates the fun and “ease” of everything, while disregarding things like obstacles, mileage, gale force winds, the limits of the human body, gravity, and reality.

Zeke with his youngest son Titus, trying to “fish”

Zeke told Greg that there was a great fishing hole “just a little walk down the road” where they could let Georgie and Zeke’s two little boys (Nate and Titus)  wet a line. Knowing Zeke as he does, Greg should not have been surprised when Zeke’s definition of a “little walk” would turn out to be at least a mile long hike (each way). This,with three preschool boys in tow, not to mention poles and tackle boxes.

Georgie and his Poppy “fishing” — which means mostly throwing in the line and “untangling”

George and his cousin Nate (Zeke’s eldest) fishin’ on a mountain lake

In the end Greg carried Georgie the mile back home on his shoulders, and both of them arrived after their “evening of fishing with Uncle Zeke and cousins,” at our house, exhausted and famished.  Little Georgie disappeared into the kitchen pantry, then came out dragging an enormous warehouse-purchased bag of tortilla chips that was at least as tall as he was.  Tugging the bag over to his Poppy with his last ounce of strength, Georgie sighed and declared: “I want ALL of dem.”

I know how Georgie feels.

Last night for some reason, I was especially craving fruit salad.  On a lark, I whirled some dried cantaloupe I bought a local health food grocery store, with about a cup of creamy coconut milk in my Vitamix blender.  The result was more than I bargained for: it was perhaps the best fruit salad dressing I’ve ever tasted.  I poured this gorgeous pastel orange cream over a small bowl of berries and kiwi, and it was so good, I ate it all, and had another bowl. Then another.  Yes, I ate “ALL dem” berries and kiwi because the creamy dressing was just that scrumptious.

I bequeath this easy delicious two ingredient recipe to you.  If you are like me, this will be your new favorite topping for everyday and holiday fruit salads.  Though I am also an optimist at heart (Zeke’s outlook doesn’t fall very far from his Mom’s personality tree), I promise you I’m not exaggerating.   And if you want to get your kids to eat their fruit, this is a great way to get them  to eat “ALL of dem.”

Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing

Becky’s Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk (not “lite”)

1/3 cup chopped dried fruit (cantaloupe, apricots, papayas, or mangoes recommended)

Dried cantaloupe  You can also use dried apricots, papayas, or mangoes in this recipe for similar results.

*If the fruit is particularly hard, or your blender not particularly powerful, try soaking the fruit in hot water for about 5 to 10 minutes, then draining water off before blending

Pinch salt

The two main ingredients for Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing

Directions:

Into powerful blender or food processor, put coconut milk and chopped dried fruit.  (If you can find the dried cantaloupe, I loved it in this recipe.  I found mine at Sunflower Market.) Start it on low and then move to most powerful setting and blend until the fruit is completely emulsified and the “dried fruit cream”  has no grainy pieces in it.  Add pinch salt (about 1/4 t. or less) and blend again.  It tends to thicken up in the fridge as the coconut milk gets cold.  I like it fresh from the blender and also from the fridge.  Delicious both ways.

Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing (Made from coconut milk and dried fruit)

Arrange fruit on pretty plates and drizzle on dressing.   A beautiful side dish, snack or summertime dessert. Coconut oil and milk has some impressive health benefits. Click here for peer reviewed research.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing
The URL:  http://wp.me/p1UwM9-mz
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved