Monday, March 31, 2014

Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (vegan & gluten free)

You should make these as soon as possible because they are amazing! I'm not a huge fan of peanut butter (i know, i know) and to makes things even crazier I don't get super stoked about the peanut butter/chocolate combo BUT my life has changed for the better after eating a few of these bad boys over the weekend. 

Bob and Lars both love peanut butter and we, of course all love chocolate.  I was looking to make something that wasn't drowning in sugar and these were the perfect fit.  They are so simple to make! 

Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

What You'll Need:

3 cups crispy brown rice cereal 
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup brown rice syrup 
1 (10 oz) bag semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 scant cup almond milk
1/4 cup whole peanuts
sea salt
How to do it
- Place crispy brown rice cereal in a food processor and pulse until no large crispy chunks remain.
- In a small sauce pan combine peanut butter, brown rice syrup and a good pinch of sea salt, mix well over low heat until well combined.
- In a large mixing bowl combine peanut butter syrup and crispy brown rice cereal.  Mix well.  Form mixture into 1" balls, placing on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
- Place chocolate and almond milk in a double boiler over medium low heat, stirring to combine until melted. Set heat to low.  
- Using a spoon dip peanut butter balls into chocolate, covering completely, and return to baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and finely chopped peanuts.
- Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.   Store in refrigerator with wax paper separating layers.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Two Vegan Dinners

I am completely slacking in posting menus, recipes and food porn.  It's just so hard to photograph dinner when I'm trying to cook, feed Lars, get some laundry done, etc...

Here a two meals from this week that have been quite delicious.  They are vegan but you would never know it.  This week has been an all vegan dinner menu.  They are happening more and more.  There's just so many lovely vegan recipes that I want to try.

{BBQ tempeh, curried coconut sweet potatoes, steamed collard greens, brown rice and edamame}

Our dinners don't usually consist of quite this many ingredients but they all seemed to be perfect together.  

For the tempeh - slice it up into strips, marinade in your favorite sauce for 30 minutes and cook in a pan over medium heat with a little oil.

Collard Greens are simply steamed in a little water and olive oil with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg

Curried  Coconut Sweet Potatoes - instead of butter I used coconut oil and instead of maple syrup I used agave

Brown Rice and Edamame - Easy as it sounds.  

{Green Goddess Soup}

There's this great place in Austin called The Soup Peddler that I frequent way too often for lunch.  They serve delicious soups, smoothies, juice, gourmet grilled cheese, salads and wraps.  I'm a sucker for their green goddess soup.  It's crazy good.  A few months ago I searched around the internet looking for a lead to the recipe and FOUND IT! I was so excited.  It's so simple and so tasty.  This is the second time I've made it and this time was better than the last. 

Green Goddess Soup - This time I left out the Parmesan cheese (keeping it vegan) and I didn't really notice a difference.  I added a touch more salt than last time. YUM

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Birthday Party for two

We were in Lake Charles last weekend for a joint 2nd birthday party for Lars and his cousin Margo.  It was a whirlwind but so much fun!

The birthday party was just perfect and Lars and Margo stole the show.  It was a pink and blue zoo!

{seriously, this couldn't be any sweeter.  they were leaning in for a kiss}
{yay for sweet baby kisses}

{it took him a few tires but he blew out the candles all by himself!}

{this is Margo's infamous 'cheese' smile.  Could possibly be the cutest cheese smile ever!}
{mama's and their babies}

{he found some plastic animals and was a happy happy boy}

{sometimes Lars is the biggest social butterfly I've ever seen and other times he finds a little place and sets up all his's a nice balance.  my sweet boy}

{uncle robert and aunt jennifer score major points with Lars for having this toy}
{oh boy! nana got him a tricycle!}

{with their new bikes}
{just because it's the cutest picture ever}

For the party I decided to make Lars a homemade coconut cake with lemon filling.  I was off to a good start on Friday night but come Saturday morning when I started putting the cake together, I felt like everything that could have gone wrong did! The icing that I had made the night before was a disaster, one of the layers had stuck to the plate I had it on and on the drive over to the party the top layer slid off.  

I cried and cursed like a sailor over a damn coconut cake but in the end with a little help and encouragement from my mom we made it work and it actually looked really adorable and was crazy delicious.  The recipe is here but I would highly recommend using another frosting recipe especially if you're someplace humid.  I wish I would have used this frosting.  I think it would have held up to the high humidity. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Coming to the decision:a natural childbirth

My decision to have a natural child birth was not made without some fear, anxiety and lots of research.  I would like to say that I made the final decision based on the latter of that list (research) but in all honesty it was heavily based on fear. But not necessarily the fear of the pain, the long hours of labor, the NOT so glamorous side of it, the fear that I may fail and not be able to do it, but is was based on my greatest fear... medicated hospital birth.

Before I continue, let me say this:  I pass no judgement on how women choose to deliver their babies. I will forever be pro natural childbirth because it was such an epic experience for me, but in general, I feel that women make the best choices for themselves and their babies and that's all you can ask for. I think hospitals are key to helping mothers and babies in certain situations.   Now, back to the discussion. ....

I feared the hospital, the medicine, the wires, being confined to a hospital bed, the potential of my baby not being immediately placed on me, the fear of being forced into a decision I did not want to make. These things made my decision very easy. Once I decided that a natural child birth was something I wanted to do, we toured The Austin Area Birthing Center and I fell in love.  We then signed up for The Bradley Method birthing classes.  If you're looking for a good birthing class, check out The Bradley Method.

 I questioned myself a lot.....was I going to be able to deal with the pain, the long labor, could I really do this, what happens if something goes wrong? But those thoughts never outweighed my uncomfortable feelings that came along with the idea of a hospital birth. So all in all, my decision was actually a little selfish. I did feel that a natural birth was the safest and healthiest way for Lars to come into the world, but I also knew that if I were in a hospital being told what to do and when to do it, I would be in a very bad place which in turn would have made for a troubling birthing experience.

There are so many anxieties and worries when it comes to making a birthing decision. I had big worries and little worries, more like hang ups. What about the whole pooping thing, who do I want in the room, is it going to hurt if I tear....

All those concerns went straight out the window when I went into labor. I didn't give a flying crap about any of that.  When I was pushing, I would not have cared if there was poop flying out of my butt, a homeless man was in the room and I was buck naked (which i was). You know what I cared about at that time? Getting that baby out and SLEEP.

To be honest towards the very end the idea of being able to sleep when it was over got me through it. I was SO tired. Tired isn't even the right word!(oh the irony of that because once Lars was born I didn't sleep for 12 months)

During the birth, (you can read my birth story here) I felt like I was in survival mode. I was in another world and I was coping.  I tried staying focused, I was worrying about the health of my baby, I was wanting it to be over and I wanted to sleep. There's so much going on, that all those little 'hang-ups' didn't even exists when I was laboring. Even the dreaded fear of tearing (ewwww...i know i know) isn't a spot in your thoughts.  I had NO idea I tore. None whatsoever, until our midwife told me and by that time I had a little precious baby on my chest and you could have told me the world was ending and I would have laughed and said I love you. My experience at the Birthing Center and my lovely midwife helped make my birth something I could have never imagined!

Birthing a baby is miraculous and wonderful no matter how you choose to do it. Anyway you decide to do it. It will be the most glorious and memorable thing you will ever do in your entire life! Guaranteed!
{sometimes I really miss being pregnant}

{it's easy to forget how tiny they are in the beginning}

{oh my precious baby Lars. so in love}

{a tad bigger but still so in love}

{your crazy hair will forever be one of my favorite things about you}

Monday, March 17, 2014

Toy guns...yes or no?

Lars has not yet asked for a toy gun or made anything in to a gun....yet.  I know it's inevitable.

I grew up in family, in a town and in a state where guns were and still are more common than not.  Every guy in my family hunted, my dad kept some of his hunting guns under the bed.  I would often watch him clean them.  Every little boy I knew growing up had toy guns, BB guns, pop name it, they had it.

I know that playing with toys guns doesn't mean a child is destined to grow up to be a crazy lunatic.  There's obviously clear proof of that every where I turn, but I still have a hard time being OK with Lars having toy guns.

It seems a little contradicting to me.  We stress over and over that guns are not toys yet here's a gun that looks like a toy for you to play with? I don't know.  I understand that education and a respect of guns is what's most important but I'm just not yet sold on the idea of my child walking around pretending to shoot things.

I read a study that said boys have a natural tendency to 'protect the cave' and to play good cop/ bad cop and also were driven to play the 'hero.'  I get that. Boys will be boys, right? Part of me understands this and the other part sides with keeping toy guns out of the house.  There a trillion other things that he can play with to express his instinctual desire to 'protect the cave.'

I'm not sure what our decision will be when the time comes to make one.  I don't stress over it, I just ponder it.

In the mean time, here are some shots from our weekend.  It was nice to be home and not have to go anywhere.

{he was attempting to get something at the bottom of the toy box}

{there he goes}

{we built lots of towers and bridges}

{and made forts}

{a very serious conversation about the panda bear on the cereal box}

{helping make pizzas} 

{my own personal pizza chef}

Friday, March 14, 2014

This n' That

I whipped up some tasty homemade granola yesterday evening.  Lars loved it mixed with some greek yogurt and blueberries.  He told me he had ice cream.  Sure sweetheart.....enjoy your 'ice cream.'  Whatever works. 

You'll need:
3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied pecans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup cranberries
1 1/2 cups vanilla greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh fruit, we used blueberries

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.

Mix first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine honey and vegetable oil in saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until smooth. Pour warmed honey and oil over oat mixture; toss together. Spread on prepared baking sheet. Bake granola until golden, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 40 minutes. Once granola is slightly cooled, stir and break up pieces. Mix in cranberries.

Next, place greek yogurt in a bowl, drizzle with honey and top with a big spoonful of granola and fresh fruit. Enjoy with your favorite cup of coffee or tea. It's quite delicious! 

I, of course had a helper who was stealing all the cranberries and suggested that it was too bright in the kitchen and that he needed his sunglasses. 

{he put them on his head and said, 'i wook wike mama'}

Most evenings Lars is a big ole Mama's boy which is lovely and my favorite but some evenings it's pure boy time and if I try to join in Lars tells me, 'no mama.'  I get it.  They wrestle and tackle each other, Bob lets him jump on the couch and tells him that he better hope that I don't see him, they throw the football and do other testosterone inspired activities but sometimes this happens and I melt.

{It's magical really. }

After Lars went to sleep,  we ate dinner and cleaned the kitchen and this is what was left on the island.  My craving for granola, a bottle of wine Bob brought home for me, I lit a stress relief candle I was given as a gift and these little purple flowers Lars picked.  It's nice to slow down for a bit even if it's only for an hour. 

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