Superfood Triple Berry Chia Pudding

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Today Angela made Skinnytaste’s Superfood Triple Berry Chia Pudding for Peter and herself.  We have made this often in different versions before…real easy, real delicious, and super healthy to boot! What’s not to like?  This reminds me that I could actually make chia pudding in the hotel room for breakfast or a refreshing after work snack. All I need is a bottle.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk of choice (She used unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 3/4 cup fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries work well)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • sweetener to taste (She used three packs of Safeway stevia which is just erythritol and rebiana, but I’m sure xylitol would work too)

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Preparation:

Mix it all up in a jar. Cover and shake vigorously, chill for 15 minutes, shake again and refrigerate overnight.

This makes a great breakfast, snack, or dessert! It’s beautifully minimalist, just like this post (I’m in Vegas shooting a short with Audrey but longer posts will be coming soon!)

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Adapted from:

skinnytaste.com

Gluten-free, Grain-free Coconut Chocolate Bars

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Angela told me today that she ordered an ancestry DNA test kit.  I asked her what made her do that, and she told me that she spoke to Nai Nai and Ye Ye (Peter’s parents) and for some reason or another, Nai Nai told her that her maternal grandfather was probably a white man, or half white.  As if this was not enough, Peter’s father chimed in as well, “My mother was not really a Han Chinese.  Her last name indicated that she was possibly a descendant of an Arab.”  Angela was speechless on the phone while they kept going on with the mysterious familial ancestry.  When Angela asked for more details, they couldn’t offer anything more concrete. 

This was the first time I heard about this.  Even Peter didn’t know.  We sat around the dinner table, closely scrutinizing photos of Peter’s grandmother to see if there is any Caucasian features in her face, and we couldn’t really tell.  She seemed to have prominent brow bridge and deeply set eyes. 

What happened?  How did it happen?  We really won’t know the truth until we get our results in a few weeks. We are very curious to find out more about the kids’ ancestry! I remember that someone at a dinner party mentioned getting his DNA tested and finding out that he was approximately 3% Neanderthal – who knows, maybe there’s another reason for my brute strength and forgetfulness!  Maybe I should have myself tested as well.

Neanderthal or not, everyone loves coconut flour chocolate chunk bars!

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These fluffy, moist bars with layers of dark chocolate and shredded coconut taste amazing. Coconut flour is also relatively lower in carbs, higher in fiber and full of healthy fats.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup honey, agave nectar or maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs, slightly beaten

¼ cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup coconut flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

3 oz your favorite dairy free dark chocolate bar, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup coconut flakes, optional

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PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8×8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, honey, vanilla, eggs, and almond milk. In a separate medium bowl whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined and batter is smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate, reserved a few tablespoons for sprinkling on top if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown and knife comes out with a few crumbs attached. The batter may look like it’s not all the way cooked but it will be. DO NOT OVERBAKE or it will result in dried out bars and no one likes that! I always bake mine for 20 minutes and don’t have any problems. Cool bars on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes so that they settle a bit, then cut into 16 squares. Enjoy!

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Adapted from:ambitiouskitchen.com

Chinese Shredded Pork + Homemade Graham Crackers

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Parenting drama erupted between Peter and Audrey.  Having been woken up multiple times two nights in a row and working without a weekend brought Peter pretty much to the brink of his  breaking point.  Audrey’s insolent attitude was all it took for him to fly into a rage.  I will not give you the blow by blow, but let’s just say it was pretty bad.  All of us were exhausted by the emotional strain.  Everyone felt hurt, victimized and guilty.

I escaped to the kitchen.  As I stepped away and began methodically cleaning up the kitchen, I felt a calm fell on me like a fuzzy blanket.  I remembered an old Chinese proverb 退一步海阔天空, which means “Retreat one step, the sea is wide, the sky limitless.”  The proverb is actually from a couplet that starts with 忍一时风平浪静, meaning “Tolerate one moment, the wind turns calm, the waves peaceful.”  I’m afraid I may have lost the beauty in the original words that carry such a visual sense of the sudden broadening of the horizon in front of you when you shift your perspective by taking one little step back. Of course we couldn’t all live in such a philosophical and detached manner as in Chinese proverbs.  We never feel we are good enough as parents simply because we love our children too much to feel anything is good enough.

There is a Shanghainese term for children 讨债鬼 — debt collecting ghosts — meaning whatever you do, you owe them.  When I was growing up I heard this phrase yelled out by neighbors and friends’ parents all the time, but I never thought much about it.  For some reason, my parents never called my brother and I 讨债鬼. They were too cultured for it, I suppose.  Certainly we gave them just as much grief. 

Audrey had a complete recovery from her hysteria in the afternoon when a friend came to visit and they ate ice cream sandwiches together.  Audrey was chatting and laughing like nothing had ever happened.  Her friend said that she didn’t have eaten and began eating the leftover shredded pork that I made for lunch.  She loved it, “This chicken is really good,” she kept saying.  And I wasn’t sure if I should tell her that this was not chicken.  I was afraid she might be grossed out.  I have learned that in America, not everyone likes pork as I do.  Instead of explaining the dish, I casually asked her if she ever fought with her father.  She nonchalantly said yes, about once a week.  I asked what about and she said usually over small things.  I felt somewhat relieved that what happened this weekend was not unique to our household.

The two girls went shopping at Target, each bought a bag of “things.”  Audrey bought a pair of bunny ears for Easter, lolly pop, Febreeze and a pink rabbit mold, all for 11 dollars.  The shopping spree gave her the leisurely pleasure she wanted today, but I’m sure these things will be forgotten and get piled up somewhere at a corner in a couple of weeks. Once again sabotaging my efforts at “discarding what no longer spark joy” as per Marie Kondo.

When Peter came back from work at 8 pm, Audrey went to him and said, “I’m sorry I gave you the attitude.”  Peter’s exhausted face lit up as he gave her a big bear hug.  I am proud that Audrey instinctively understood to “retreat one step.”

I thought of a passage from Housekeeping, one of my favorite books by one of my favorite writers Marilynne Robinson: “At a certain level housekeeping is a regime of small kindnesses, which, taken together, make the the world salubrious, savory, and warm.  I think of the acts of comfort offered and received within a household as precisely sacramental.”

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Shredded Pork Tenderloin with Peppers

Ingredients for the Marinade:

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp minced ginger

Ingredients for the Dish:

8 oz. pork tenderloin

1 tsp corn starch

1 tsp pure sesame oil

1 large jalapeño pepper, sliced lengthwise

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

3 tbsp scallion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced (1/2 for the marinade and 1/2 for cooking)

1 1/2 tbsp canola oil

Ingredients for the sauce:

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp xylitol or brown sugar

1/4 tsp corn starch

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Preparation:

Wash the pork and slice the pork into 1/4 inch by 2 inch strips.  Rinse the pork until all the pink in the water is clear, drain.  Marinate pork in wine and soy sauce for 30 minutes to 2 hours in the fridge.

In the meantime, slice the peppers, set aside.  Mince the garlic, ginger, scallion.  Add 1/2 tsp minced ginger in the marinade and mix the rest with minced garlic and minced scallion in a small bowl. 

Drain the marinade from the pork and add 1 tsp corn starch, 1 tsp sesame oil and mix well with your hand or a spoon.

Heat the oil on high heat in a wok, sprinkle some minced garlic, ginger, scallion and let it sizzle for a while.  Add the shredded pork and stir for one minute.  Add all the garlic, ginger, scallion and stir for one more minute.  Add the peppers and continue to stir for another 2 minutes.  Pour in the sauce and give it a few good stir before turning of the stove. 

Homemade Graham Cracker

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp whole-wheat flour (or white, or arrowhead mills gf will work, too)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt

3 tbsp xylitol

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp blackstrap molasses(or maple syrup)

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tbsp water or milk of choice

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Preparation:

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet in a separate bowl, then mix together. Form a ball with your hands (or, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, put the mixture in a plastic bag and squish into a ball). Place the ball on a piece of wax paper, then place another sheet on top and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into very thin (graham-cracker) width. Cut into squares or cookie-cuttered shapes, and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, depending on whether you like your graham crackers super-soft or crispy.

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Adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie

Nutty Fruity Scones 2.0

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Saturday morning has been a peaceful couple’s time for Peter and me.  The girls are now at an age that they like to stay up late and and sleep until noon or for Angela afternoon on weekends.  Peter loves this scone recipe and I have made it many times for him as energy bars, snacks, and breakfast.  They are easy and quick to make and packed with nuts and fruits, so the combinations are as varied as there are nuts and fruits.

We sit here, sipping tea, reading the paper and talking about whatever that comes to mind.  Mostly we talk about the children.  I savor and cherish these simple moments.  Ever since the children were born, I feel more acutely the transient nature of all things.  Angela will be away in college in a year and half.  There is nothing we can do to stop time from fleeting; we can only stay present and pay attention to the immediacy and fullness of life.

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Nutty Fruity Scone 2.0

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

1/3 cup pistachio nuts

1 large egg

2 tablespoons honey

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and soda.

Stir in dried fruit and nuts.

In a small bowl, combine egg and honey.

Stir wet ingredients into dry.

Use your hands to form dough.

Shape into desired shape.

(I used a little coconut flour to prevent sticking when I handled the dough.)

Bake at 350° on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes

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Nutty Citrusy Kumquat Muffins

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 I got a call today from a friend whom I haven’t heard from in a long time.  She is very much into astrology, and some years ago she had my astrological chart read by some very renowned astrologist in Shanghai unbeknownst to me.  She shared the findings with me afterwards and I remember one of the things was that I should never wear the color brown.  She meant well, but I told her I didn’t believe in astrology.  Through out the years though, what she said would pop up in my mind whenever I shopped for clothes.  And subconsciously I avoided buying anything that was brown.

Today’s call was about some dissonance between my astrological sign in the Year of Ram.  My friend had my sign read again and was calling to warn me to be extra careful.  Now what do you do with a call like this? 

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Well, the Chinese remedy everything by eating the right kind of food.  One of the lucky foods that we eat during Luna New Year is Kumquat.  As a matter of fact, any citrus fruit is considered lucky because the word “citrus” sounds like the word “auspicious.” Kumquat is the most auspicious because it sounds like “golden auspicious.”  

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Nutty Citrusy Kumquat Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cup 100% whole wheat flour

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup Kumquat jam (see note)

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup pecan nuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup nonfat lemon Greek yogurt

1/4 cup xylitol or sugar

The recipe makes about 16 – 18 muffins.

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Preparation:

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add all wet ingredients in the mixed dry ingredients.  Mix well, but don’t over mix.  Leave a little lumpiness in.

Preheat oven at 375, line or grease muffin pan.  Add muffin mix to the cups and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. 

Serve with Greek yogurt and kumquat jam.

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Note:

I made the kumquat jam the day before with about 1 pound kumquats, 1 cup xylitol (or sugar), 1 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract.  Cut and seed the kumquats and cook with all ingredients for 30 to 40 minutes. 

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No Bake Almond Coconut Chocolate Mousse Tart

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Amongst the bills and junk mail I found two packages that made me happy:  One is the Bay Area Consumers’ CHECKBOOK and the other is a certificate of commendation plus a check for Angela. 

This month’s CHECKBOOK is featuring top doctors rated by their peers.  Practicing physicians in the Bay Area were asked which doctors they considered most desirable to care for their loved ones, and Peter received the highest number of votes in the field of cardiology in San Francisco.  I am so glad that my perpetually overworked husband has the respect and trust of his peers.

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Hubby (the one on the right) doing teaching in an animal lab with his friend

Angela won a community service grant to promote healthful eating and exercise in low-income children. When she was in Andover, she volunteered at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club to teach kids karate.  When she came back to San Francisco she started our blog with the intention of promoting healthy home cooking, starting from this household.  This grant will encourage her to continue her efforts.

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It is time to celebrate!  In my younger days, I never allowed myself to enjoy the little victories in life.  I felt that if I became pleased with myself, I would stop improving.  But now I can feel proud and rejoice in every achievement of my loved ones.  Life is worth celebrating.  Period.  Hence this delicious tart.  It is an easy to make grain-free, sugar-free tart that you won’t feel guilty after eating a slice or two. You don’t even need to own an oven to make it.  (For another excellent no bake cake, please check out Healthy Raspberry Cheesecake.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CRUST

1 1/4 cups raw almond meal or almond flour (or you can grind 1 1/2 cup of almonds)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

(You can add a little more coconut oil if the almond mixture feels too crumbly.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder

2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

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TOPPING:

Unsweetened coconut chips

Sliced almonds

Raspberries

PREPARATION:

In a mixing bowl, mix almond meal and shredded coconut with melted coconut oil and xylitol. Line a tart pan with food safe plastic wrap.  Using a rubber spatula, spread nut mixture into the bottom of the lined tart pan.  (The plastic wrap makes it easier to lift the tart out of the pan.)

In a small saucepan, mix the cocoa powder, xylitol, coconut flour and xanthan gum.  Pour coconut milk and vanilla into the saucepan.  Mix well.  Stir over low heat.  After the mixture thickens, turn off the stove and let rest for 1 minute. Pour chocolate filling into tart (or pie) shell. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 6 hours or overnight. (If you are in a hurry, you can leave the tart in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.)

When ready to serve, toast coconut chips in a small frying pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Allow the coconut to cool. Sprinkle coconut chips, sliced almonds on the tart. Decorate with raspberries. Slice and serve immediately.

NOTE:

Coconut oil becomes firm in the refrigerator due to its high melting point, which helps the crust on this tart solidify. It will remain solid below temperatures of 76°F.

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Recipe Inspired by:

siftandwhisk.com

Chocolate Banana Souffles

I have been in and out of airports quite a lot in the past two weeks and all the flying was getting on my nerves.  It is pathetic how I’m on the top level of airlines’ frequent flyer programs year after year.  This is the one area of my life I wish could be different.  I’m adventurous only in a spiritual sense — meaning in my thinking and imagination.  My physical self is unbelievably timid and just wants to be home.  When Angela was a toddler, I took her to Shanghai to see my parents and my childhood friends.  They asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and Angela said she’d like to be a tree on Filbert St.  That homebound gene came from me.

Today, I heard that the 2nd season of Marco Polo will again shoot in three remote countries.  In the 1st season, I only had to be in one of them, but in the new season I will most likely be in all three countries.  I was stressed out just thinking about all the flying I will have to do, and the long months away from my family. 

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I had to bake some yummy treats after I heard the news.  The kitchen is my refuge, my shrink. Before I came to the US, I had never heard of shrinks.  The first time I learned of Freud’s Couch I couldn’t understand how anyone would feel better after letting their time, money, and precious life experiences spill out like vomit.

I’ve saved a lot money and breath cooking in the kitchen instead of lying on the couch.  I free associate better with a mixer in hand.

These Soufflés are light and fluffy and they were made mostly of egg whites, which is great if you are on a reduced carb, or gluten free diet.  This was the first time I ever made soufflés and I was curious how they would turn out.  I was staring at the oven almost the entire time watching them rise.  My excitement grew as the soufflés rose higher and higher in the oven, but the minute I took them out they started to deflate.  It was a good thing the kids were already home when they came out of the oven.  They should be eaten within 15 minutes before they lose the fluffiness.

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Chocolate Banana Soufflés Ingredients:

2 ripe medium bananas, mashed

2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large egg whites

3 tbsp sugar (I used 2 tbsp of xylitol and it was sweet enough)

cooking spray

Preparation:

Preheat over to 400F. Coat 4, 6 oz ramekins with butter flavored cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, mash bananas and vanilla together. Sift cornstarch and cocoa powder over bananas and stir well.

In another medium bowl, beat egg whites with sugar until they form soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into banana mixture. When incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites. Spoon mixture into ramekins.

Wipe the top 1/4 inch “collar” of the ramekin to remove any excess batter so that the souffle will rise straight and place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Recipe adapted from Baking Bites

Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

Vegan Blueberry Muffin Bread

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One simply feels blessed coming back from anywhere to California in wintertime.

I have been traveling between China and the US many times a year for more then 30 years and I still suffer from jet lag.  Before the children were born, I would get up in the middle of the night and begin moving heavy furniture around the house.  I would put towels under the legs of the furniture and move almost anything by myself.  When Peter woke up in the morning, he’d be surprised to see how the rooms had changed.

Nowadays, when I’m jet lagged I just get up and cook.  Peter got called to the hospital at around 3 AM this morning and when he walked downstairs to the kitchen, I already finished baking the vegan blueberry bread.  The warm toasty aroma brought a smile to his tired face. 

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As I sit here in the afternoon sun writing the blog, I hear peals of laughter from Angela who is reading George Saunders’ story “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.”  I make a mental note to read the story and see if it will appear to be funny to me as well.  I usually don’t understand the newspaper comics that the girls love.  And they don’t think I have any sense of humor.  They also get exasperated when I laugh at inappropriate times when others don’t see anything funny.  I suppose humor is the hardest thing to translate.  The girls, though, believe simply that my brain doesn’t function so well anymore.

I sometime wonder if they will ever understand the cultural gulf that I have managed to cross to be who I am.

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Vegan Blueberry Bread Ingredients:

2 cups 100% whole wheat flour (250g)

1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional

1/2 cup xylitol or sugar of choice (100g)

1 cup almond milk or milk of choice (240g)

1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar (15g)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (30g)

1 1/2 cups blueberries (200g)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grease a 9×5 loaf pan. In a large measuring bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients. In a separate measuring bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients except the blueberries.

Pour wet into dry, stir until just evenly combined, then add the blueberries and VERY gently stir them in only until evenly mixed. Do not over-stir, as this would break the blueberries and you’d end up with purple bread.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake 45 minutes on the middle rack. Do not open the door, but turn off the oven and let the bread sit inside the oven for another 30 minutes. Makes 10 big, fat slices.

This recipe has been adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie.

Crispy Ginger Bread Apple Tart

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Audrey is extremely innocent and sweet by nature.  She always chooses to see the prettier side of things and is quite oblivious to the obscene or the complicated.  I often think that she lives in a more graceful world than the rest of us.  A few years ago, we were traveling in Shangri-La and I had to relieve myself in the wilderness and Peter took a picture of me as a joke.  Later he asked Audrey, “What’s Mommy doing in this picture?”  Audrey said, “Mommy is smelling flowers.”  We didn’t even see the beautiful flowers in front of my nose as I squatted until Audrey pointed that out.

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While hiking on New Year’s day we talked about two friends of mine who recently divorced.  Peter asked about the man’s Russian girlfriend and I said, “I haven’t talked to them for a while.  But the last I heard, she was still Russian.”  Audrey asked, “She changed her nationality?” 

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We had guests over today and Audrey wanted to created her own version of ginger bread apple tarts.  She was mixing, kneading, rolling the dough like she used to do with her play dough and had a wonderful time.  Audrey was pleased with the flower shaped tarts with pink fillings while Angela said, “Ewww, they remind me of bloody guts.”

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Baking is a precise science, which both Audrey and I are still learning to master, but the oven is an amazingly forgiving invention.  Most baking recipes we have tried turned out quite rewarding especially when we eat our creations fresh from the oven. 

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Tart Crust Ingredients:

1 cups 100% whole wheat flour

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg white

2 tablespoon molasses

Apple and Cranberry Mixture Ingredients:

5 medium Fuji apples, peeled, sliced

1 cup frozen cranberries

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons 100% whole wheat flour

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup xylitol or sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

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Crust Preparation:

Preheat to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl; stir well to mix.  Add the coconut oil, egg white, xylitol and molasses.  Knead the dough with hands until well mixed.   Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours. Separate the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and flatten with rolling pin on a layer of dry flour. Place the thin flattened dough into muffin cups. Bake the for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Fruit Mixture Preparation:

Mix all ingredients well in a mixing bowl.  Cook the mixture in a pan on medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Fill the Tart shells with the fruit mixture and serve immediately.

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Sweets for the “Birthday Girl”

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This morning, Angela told me that her short story “Birthday Girl” won the best story of the month in November on Every Day Fiction, where it was published.  She will be interviewed by the magazine tomorrow.  “Birthday Girl” was a first person account of a kidnapped girl.  I remember the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I read the story for the first time. The entire piece was only two and half pages long, but it was pregnant with complex circumstances and feelings.

Angela was a precocious and sophisticated child at four.  When her preschool class witnessed the metamorphosis of a butterfly, everyone marveled. But Angela saw the fledging butterfly on the ground and stepped on it.  All the kids gasped, and some of them started to cry.  The teachers were concerned and informed us of the incident when I picked her up.  When I asked her why she did such a horrible thing, she said simply, “ At home you kill moths.  The butterfly was just another moth.  And it wasn’t happy. It didn’t deserve to live.”  I knew then that Angela would always look at things or respond to things a little differently from most of her peers.

I believe that we become creative to save ourselves. In “Birthday Girl, I saw a little girl trapped in the basement of her own inescapable “Inside” and, on a more hopeful note, I also saw her heroic rescue—the rescue of the little girl who might be herself.

To celebrate Angela winning the Best Story of November, I made two simple and healthy deserts.

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Dates with Mascarpone and Toasted Walnuts

Well, the ingredients are exactly what are in the name—a simple but perfect combination:

Trader Joe’s Fancy Medjool Dates

Trader Joe’s Mascarpone

Walnut halves (raw or toasted)

Just open the date with a knife, take out the pit and spread a dollop of Mascarpone on it.  Press the walnut half in the Mascarpone and fold the date.  You can serve it as part of your cheese platter or as a light dessert.  Or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  Since I love coconut, I served the dates on a bed of coconut chips.

The combination of dates and nuts is a tasty way to make raw desserts such as the bake-less cake featured in the blog by our guest writer Kim.

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Steamed Egg Custard

2 eggs + 1 egg white, or 4 egg whites

1 cup of milk (any milk of your preference, such as almond milk or coconut milk etc.)

2 tablespoon of xylitol or sugar (I used xylitol)

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

A pinch of cinnamon

A pinch of nutmeg

A pinch of brown sugar

Beat the eggs with the xylitol or sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract.  Pour in the milk and beat some more.  Spoon the mixture into the cups of your choice and steam on low for about 25 minutes or until congeal completely.  The more slowly you steam the custard the more smooth it will turn out.

Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar before serving.

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