Raspberry Mocha Pudding

Rasberry Mocha Pudding, a seriously energizing snack.

Rachel, the daughter

I used to be organized. My house used to be clean. I used to be prompt. I loved those things about me. I was that girl, that girl that appeared to have her life together.

Motherhood is humbling. I’ll leave it at that, without describing the current condition of my home.

This morning was Jackson’s first day of Mother’s Day Out. Last week at Meet the Teacher the teachers gave me a big cut out construction fish with, I’m sure, instructions on what to do with it.

At 11:00pm last night, just as my head finally hit the pillow, I remembered something about family photos for the fish. I think he needs pictures so they can decorate the fish, I thought. Of course, I’ve yet to print a single one of the 2,000 (I wish I was exaggerating) photos I’ve taken since Jackson was born. So I crawled out of bed and ordered some from a 24 hour Walgreens and set my alarm 20 minutes earlier so I could pick them up in the morning. I was so proud of myself for remembering the instructions and for pulling it off, even if I by the skin of my teeth. And though slightly late, we weren’t the last ones to arrive. I’ll take it.

I walked in and bumped into a friend whose daughter is in Jackson’s class. She was holding her daughter’s fish and it was the most beautifully decorated construction paper fish I’d ever seen. It had her daughter’s name in cute little die cut patterned letters, glitter, and a perfectly placed collage of their family’s recent professional photos.

We were supposed to decorate the fish?, I sighed. I thought the kids were going to decorate them! 

I didn’t pull it off. I wasn’t the mom who had it all together. On the first day of “school,” Jackson had a sad blank fish.

Fortunately, he’s one and had no idea he was that kid with that mom.

Later, I got a text from his teacher that said “Good eater! He has done sooo well this morning! Perfect child. :)”  And when I picked him up the teachers commented at how delicious his lunch looked. I may not be the craftiest mom or the most prompt mom, but I’m raising a good eater! He ate up most of his spinach, bean, and avocado rice pilaf and all of his grapes, and most of his coconut yogurt sprinkled with hemp seeds. He was happy and played well and didn’t cry when I left. He even took a nap on his big boy mat.

Maybe I’m not failing, maybe my priorities have just shifted with motherhood.

But you better believe he’ll have a pimped out fish to bring to school on Thursday morning.

After Mother’s Day Out, Jackson stood at the counter in his FunPod stool and munched on Super Green puffs, while I whipped up this deceptively healthy afternoon pick-me-up for myself. If I still worked at an office, I would totally pack this as my afternoon snack for that slump when you just need a little something to nibble on and a gentle jolt of energy to get through the rest of the day.

When you don’t have time for coffee and breakfast (or a snack)…

Raspberry Mocha Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 container of So Delicious Chocolate Cultured Coconut Milk (or chocolate pudding)
  • Slightly less than 1 T. of instant coffee
  • 3/4 cup organic raspberries (divided)
  • Coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk, but I think any creamer would work — half and half, whipping cream, regular coconut or almond milk)
  • Chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)

Chocolate Coconut Yogurt, Nuvia Instant Coffee, Organic Raspberries

Directions

Blend the chocolate yogurt or pudding and instant coffee. Add 1/2 c. rasberries, pulse for a few seconds. With a spoon, stir in remaining raspberries, cream to taste, and top with  chopped nuts (not pictured.)

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The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Rasberry Mocha Pudding
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Powerhouse Chocolate Pudding Pie

This treat is sweet and creamy and crunchy and chocolately and HEALTHY. Not just healthy for a dessert or healthy-ish. Every ingredient is nutritious. You could eat it for breakfast or feed it to your kids for breakfast. They’ll think you are the coolest mom, and you will be (for reasons they’ll understand when they are 30).

(Rachel, the daughter)

There’s this cake my mom used to make. You’ve probably had a version of it. It has a shortbread crust, a layer of chocolate pudding and whipped cream topping, and maybe a sweetened cream cheese layer too. In some circles it’s known as “Better Than Sex in a Pan.” I’ve never had sex in a pan, so I can’t attest to that, but I do remember sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen island eating it strait out of the pan and being very satisfied.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had it (the dessert, that is), but I’ve been craving that shortbread crust and chocolate pudding combination for the last few weeks and trying to think of a healthy vegan version. Yesterday, I saw a recipe for chocolate chia pudding on the Engine 2 Diet’s Facebook page. They had frozen it into “fudgsicles.” Clever. Immediately, I was reminded of my favorite crust that I use in my frozen No Bake Apricot Bars. Made out of cashews and oats, it is rich and buttery like a shortbread cookie. It would be perfect for a cold puddin’ pie.

Chia seeds are like a nutritional powerhouse and they have virtually no taste. I put a tablespoon in my oatmeal and my smoothies. They basically offer all the nutrition of flax seeds, except they don’t have to be ground for our body to absorb the nutrients and they don’t have a strong taste like I find flax often does. The seeds absorb liquid and become gel-like, which is how they turn almond milk into “pudding.”

Chia Seeds

Jackson devoured the pudding and the frozen bar I gave him. I used dates to sweeten it, so I had absolutely no reason to feel guilty for giving my one-year old this dessert. In fact, it’s good for him. He needs the healthy fats from the cashews, coconut oil, and coconut milk; the fiber and protein from the oats; the omegas from the chia seeds; and the heart and skin protection from the flavonoids in cocoa powder (a super food for toddlers).

My little puddin’ pie. Why do boys always get the long eyelashes?

Oh, and I assure you, I don’t post a recipe I don’t love…so you know I loved it just as much as Mr. Long Lashes up there did.

Served frozen (as shown here) or refrigerated (as shown at the top of the post).

Powerhouse Chocolate Pudding Pie

Inspired by FatFree Vegan and Oh She Glows (two of my favorite vegan bloggers)

(NOTE: Plan ahead for this recipe. The pudding must sit for at least an hour and up to overnight.)

Pudding

  • 1 c. nondairy unsweetened milk
  • 3 T. full fat coconut milk (from a can)*
  • 3 dates, pitted and chopped (soak in a little warm water if they are tough or your blender isn’t very strong)
  • 2  t. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3 T. chia seeds

Crust:

  • 3/4 c. whole cashews (raw, toasted, roasted – whatever you have)
  • 3/4 c. regular oats (for Gluten-free, use GF oats)
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt (omit if cashews are salted)
  • 3  medgool dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted

Optional Toppings

Kitchen Gadgets

  • Blender
  • Food processor

Pudding Ingredients

Directions

Pudding

In a blender, combine the first five pudding ingredients. Pour into a tupperware bowl with a lid and add chia seeds. Use a whisk or fork to stir in chia seeds. Stir every five minutes or so until all the chia seeds have started to swell a little and turn light grey. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour, overnight is best. Stir it every so often if you can. You are looking for the seeds to lose all of their crunch and absorb the liquid until it looks like pudding.

The chia seeds immediately start to thicken the almond milk mixture. This is after stirring a couple of times.

Crust

Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, process cashews, salt, and oats until a fine crumble forms. Add dates and process until crumbly again. Add coconut oil and process until sticky. Press into pan to form a crust. Freeze for five minutes to harden or until the pudding is ready.

My favorite crust for no-bake desserts.

Pour the pudding over the crust and either refrigerate or freeze. Either way is delicious. The refrigerated version is a little crumblier and I’m assuming only keeps for a day or two. I loved it with a few sliced bananas on top. The frozen version comes out in nice bars and if kept covered tightly should keep for a few weeks.

(Update: After two batches and several taste tests, I decided I prefer it refrigerated rather than frozen. Both are good, but the refrigerated version reminds me of chocolate cream pie…mmmm.)

*Freeze leftover coconut milk in an ice cube tray. You can add it to smoothies, oatmeal, or make coconut covered cherries with it later.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Powerhouse Chocolate Pudding Pie
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-CK
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

(The Mama)

Greg and I are in Neskowin, Oregon this week — a tiny little beach town with impossibly cute houses surrounded by brilliantly colored flowers, some blossoms as big as dinner plates.  I hit the beach cooking, barely having time to gather in a car load of groceries before cooking dinner for a dozen on Saturday night (sour cream chicken enchiladas).  Yesterday, I cooked lunch for 22 of Greg’s extended family members dropping by to hug, share stories and sit a spell between strolls to the beach.  Greg lost both of his parents when they were just in their 50’s (our age!) so connections to them now — people and places — are doubly meaningful.  Since Greg and his siblings were young, Neskowin was the family vacation spot and is where all of them return to, as Greg says, “fill our souls.” So while they are filling their souls, I am filling their tummies.

For the lunch crowd, I served sandwiches and tortilla soup, with blueberry-raspberry bars for dessert. It was perfect for a cool, foggy day at the beach, huddled up with people we love.  Plus it makes a bunch!!

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

1 seeded red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 t. poultry seasoning
2 t. cumin
1 T. brown sugar
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (medium to hot heat level), available in small cans in Mexican and Spanish food section of market.*

1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, divided in half
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (divided 1 and 3)

3 to 4 cups roasted chicken, pulled off bone and diced or shredded ( roasted chickens are available in most grocery delis)
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, dice

 

steak or grill seasoning (or salt and pepper), to taste

1/4 cup bar-b-que sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Topping Options:
crushed tortilla chips
grated cheese
chopped green onions
diced avocados
sour cream or Greek Yogurt
wedges of fresh lime
cilantro

Directions

In a blender or food processor put the first seven ingredients (bell pepper through chipotles), half of the crushed tomatoes, and one cup of broth. Blend well.

Pour this mixture into big soup pot and add the rest of the crushed tomatoes and broth.

To this add frozen corn, chicken, and zucchini.

Simmer over medium heat until zucchini is tender and soup is heated through. Season with Steak or Grill Seasoning (or salt and pepper) to taste. To make a creamier soup, you can add 1/2 cup of cream.

To serve, put a handful of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup blow. Carefully ladle on soup, then top with your choice of toppings.

Vegetarian Version: Use veggie broth, pinto, ranch or black beans in place of chicken. Vegans omit cheese and cream

*I keep the leftover Chipotles in Adobo Sauce in a small Ziploc bag in the freezer and break off what I need to add depth of flavor and heat to other Mexican dishes.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chicken Tortilla Soup
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-wA
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Chocolate Avocado Pudding (It tastes just like “real” pudding!)

Avocados for dessert? Yep. The proof is in the pudding.

I think much of my passion for good tasting healthy food comes from my Grannie. For most of my life, she’s been a real health nut. She and I can talk food and health all afternoon. We get excited sharing our latest nutritious food finds. When I was pregnant, she sent me a bar of dark chocolate, a baggie of walnuts, and a box of healthy cookies with instructions to eat a piece of chocolate, a walnut, and a cookie all in one bite for a not-too-bad for you treat that hits the spot. She knows my kind of perfect bite like no one else.

Rumor has it that she wasn’t always this way, though. There are tales from my mom and aunt of rich, sugar-filled, high calorie desserts after almost every meal. I suppose I could see this in Grannie.  She still gets giddy over a delicious dessert. She sent me this recipe (below) and I had to wonder if my Grannie and I are the only two women in our family who can get  this excited about pudding made from avocados, cocoa, and dates? She sold me on the recipe with this adorable email. This is why I love her so!

Hey Babe,

I’ve found a recipe for pudding that calls for no dairy, no milk, and no eggs! And it tastes really good! So, in case you’re hungry for pudding here’s the recipe….

A sprinkle of toasted almonds is nice, and half a maraschino cherry on the top makes it elegant — and how much damage can 1/2 a teeny, sugary cherry do?

I tried a small recipe first. It was yummy, so like Goldilocks visiting the Three Bear’s house, I tried a MUCH BIGGER bowl.

Much love,
Grannie

Isn’t she adorable? And don’t you want a bowl of chocolatey avocados now, too?

Sprinkled with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, it tasted like Almond Joys.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 avocados
1 c.  dates, soaked in water for an hour, then pitted and chopped
2 t. vanilla
3 T. cocoa (up to 5 T. if you like it more chocolatey)
1/2 c. – 1 c. non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 t. agave (optional)

Topping options: almonds & shredded coconut for Almond Joy Pudding. Crumbled Oreo cookies & gummy worms for kids Worms in Dirt dessert. Coconut whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Shortbread cookies and raspberries.

Directions

Soak dates for one hour.

In a small food processor bowl (or high power blender), combine avocados, pitted and chopped dates, vanilla and about 1/2 a cup of milk. Blend, adding more milk and scraping down the sides as needed. I did have to stop and scrape several times, but with some patience it eventually got very smooth. Add cocoa a tablespoon at a time until it’s as chocolatey as you like. Taste for sweetness and add agave (or your preferred sweetener) if desired.

Top with your choice of toppings. Serve immediately.

Note: I haven’t tried refrigerating this to store it since there have been no leftovers when I’ve made this yet! My mom has a great method for storing guacamole by putting leftovers in a plastic Ziplock style sandwich bag and pushing as much air out as possible. Since the recipe uses avocados, I think this might be the best way to store it.  Let me know if you make it and have enough leftover to store it!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chocolate Avocado Pudding
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rB
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Stewed Summer Veggies

Stewed garden vegetables with white beans. Great for curling up with a good book and a blanket on a rainy day.

I’m packing up my suitcase (or three) for a tropical island vacation south of Tampa, but it looks like the most tropical thing about the trip may be Tropical Storm Debby. Our family that’s already there spent last night without water or power and hasn’t seen the sun in days. Much of the island is covered in water. Getting three suitcases, a diaper bag, groceries, and a one-year old onto the ferry (no cars on this island) and down the 1/4 mile rocky path to the condos without Jared, who will be joining us two days later, is going to be harder than I expected if this doesn’t clear up soon.

I had a menu in mind for the week, including lots of fresh, crisp fruits and veggies to cool us down as we came in from the hot sandy beach. But, this summer stew might be a better fit if it turns out to be a rainy vacation. Actually, curling up on the lanai (that’s a fancy word Floridians use for a screened in porch) with a good book and a bowl of these warm summer veggies, while the rain falls around me and and waves crash against the shell-lined beach, sounds like paradise to me.

Fresh potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and squash from our uncle’s garden were the base of this savory satisfying stew, finished off with white beans for a mild-flavored protein, and kale of course. No dish is complete without it! Smoked paprika, one of my favorite spices to add depth of flavor to beans and vegetables, makes it taste almost like it was cooked with a hunk of ham.

Rain or shine, cool salads or warm stews, I’ll be enjoying our little tropical paradise very soon. And I’ll finally be reuniting with my husband when he gets done with his week long out of state baseball tournament…just in time to celebrate our anniversary on the same island where we said “I Do” five years ago!

Rachel’s Stewed Summer Veggies

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

~1 T. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 large onion, diced
4 small potatoes, chopped into bite size chunks
1 yellow squash (or zucchini)
3 cups of tomatoes (I used a combo of whole cherry tomatoes & chopped larger tomatoes)
1 T. white wine vinegar
3 stalks of kale, torn off the rib and into pieces
1 cup of water or veggie broth
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt & pepper
seasoning salt
smoked paprika

Directions

Pour evoo into a large tall-sided skillet or sauce pan and heat on medium heat. Add onions & a dash of salt and saute for about five minutes. Add potatoes, squash, tomatoes, water or broth, and vinegar. Reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in kale and gently mash the tomatoes so they release their juices. If it needs more liquid, you can add another cup of water or broth. Gently stir in the beans and season to taste with seasoning salt (like Lawry’s or Tony’s), smoked paprika (use just a pinch for a nice smokey flavor) and a little salt and pepper if it needs it.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Stewed Summer Veggies
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Roasted Okra & Green Beans

Roasted okra and green beans. A healthy alternative to fried okra or french fries, and so much easier to make.

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

In our huge haul of garden veggies from Uncle, we had a small batch of fresh okra. I’ve been planning to fry them up, as any good southerner would do, but I’m not really the frying kind of gal. It’s just so messy.

There you have it. The secret to eating  healthy is to be too lazy to clean up greasy pots and pans.

While waiting on me to get over my anal retentiveness, some of my okra and a handful of green beans started to wither away. Still not ready to conquer the mess of slicing, coating, and deep frying the okra, I decided to try out a cooking method I know and love for green beans, roasting, on the okra, too.

I may not be a traditional Southern gal in many ways, but this plate of roasted green beans and okra is my kind of southern treat. In less than 30 minutes, these are prepped, cooked and on your plate. You could serve them as a healthy afternoon snack for kids (almost 11-month old Jackson loved them), a party appetizer, or a side dish to any southern cuisine.

Rachel’s Roasted Okra & Green Beans

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 c. fresh okra (not frozen)
1 cup fresh green beans
3 t. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. of cayenne

Directions

Preheat oven to 450. Put okra and green beans on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Pour the oil over the veggies and rub into them to make sure they are all evenly coated.

Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the veggies after 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a tad more salt as they come out of the oven.

I dipped them in Muir Glen’s organic ketchup (my fave), because I’m a ketchup-aholic, but they really didn’t need anything. Feel free to play with different spices, too.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Okra & Green Beans
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

I have this dramatic little plant on my kitchen table. When she get’s a little parched (it’s most definitely a she), she goes from her perky upright position to draping her long thin limbs all the way over the side of the pot as if she’s fainted. I give her a little sip of water and within minutes the color returns to her cheeks, she brushes the dirt off her skirt, and gets back to work brightening up my kitchen.

As much as I would love to have a green thumb and to have the time, desire, and talent to have a garden, I’m just not there yet. My plants have to literally bend over backwards to get me to notice them. Every attempt at an herb garden has been a miserable failure. One day, when I grow up, I hope I find my inner plant whisperer. Until then, I’ll stick to dramatic plants that practically scream for my attention.

On the bright side, Jared’s Uncle Philip, we just call him Uncle, has an organic garden. Once or twice a year, when his harvest overfloweth, he spreads around the veggie love. This week, he sent us squash, zucchini, cucumbers, a big bag full of beautiful cherry tomatoes, okra, and green beans. Fresh, local, organic, free veggies make my heart go pitter patter!

Some of the zucchini and squash had grown a little too much. When it comes to produce, bigger is usually not better. I hate to waste any vegetable, so I decided to use the zucchini as a pretty vessel for a cherry tomato stuffing.

The zucchini was still a little bit bitter and took longer to bake than a smaller variety, but the stuffing of sweet cherry tomatoes and garlicky croutons was insanely delicious. Smaller zucchini would be perfect and tender enough that you could eat the whole thing, skin and all. If you’re looking for a way to make use of any summer squash that got a little too much time on the vine, though, this is a clever way to use them up.

I have more veggies from Uncle’s garden coming tomorrow and I’ve hardly made a dent in the first round. What’s your favorite way to use up garden veggies?

Rachel’s Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 large zucchini or 4 normal sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise & seeds scooped out
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
course ground pepper

2 slices of whole grain bread, cut into small cubes
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. garlic powder

1/2 small onion, diced
1 leek, dark green section removed, chopped into thin half moons & rinsed well
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups baby spinach

Pesto
1/2 c. spinach
1 T. walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 t. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Look at all those pretty cherry tomatoes. That’s only about half of what we got from Uncle’s garden!

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Place zucchini cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and course ground black pepper. Bake until fork tender. 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the zucchini.

Toss bread cubes with olive oil and garlic powder.  Pour onto a baking sheet and bake in the same oven as zucchini until crispy, about 10 minutes.

In a skillet, heat a little olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and leeks and saute until transclucent, add garlic and tomatoes, continue sauteing for about five more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach.

When the zucchini are fork tender, remove from the oven, stuff generously with the filling and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

Blend all of the pesto ingredients together, starting with 3 t. of water and adding more until the pesto is thin enough to drizzle easily.

Serve the stuffed squash on a big family platter, drizzled with pesto on top. Can be served as a main meatless dish or as a side.

The skin on the larger squash is too tough to eat, but the flesh did get tender while baking.

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The Title: Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved