High Protein Take-Along Tasting Chocolate (aka, What all Mommies Need in their Diaper Bag)


I first caught on to the idea of a tasting chocolate from a friend. She whipped up a rich, creamy, chocolate with a spread-type consistency using cocoa and coconut oil and a few other ingredients. I watched her eat it by the spoonful.

Flash forward to my friend Shannon, during her pregnancy and afterwards, turning to her Justin’s brand nut butter with maple syrup, or chocolate in a little squeeze tube like a ketchup packet for a protein rich treat.

I gave that stuff a try and loved it, but felt guilty about the packaging waste, and was somewhat stunned by the ticket price $1.79 on average per little packet. I guess you pay for the convenience of it. It was nice to just reach in my bag, pull one out and discreetly ingest it ( I have two kids under five years…having something for yourself means hiding and discreetly ingesting, ok!).

Eating nut butter or even chocolate in this way is revolutionary for me. Not sure why it has taken me so long to really try it out myself. I’ve had ample examples from friends over the years. I remember watching my high school buddy eating peanut butter by the spoonful, but back then I just thought it was odd. I was locked into the idea that nut butters needed to be on something, not stand alone. It’s taken me this long to get on the band wagon!

I’ve been really craving these small portions of nut butter during the day, but couldn’t bring myself to buy the packs, for the reasons listed above. I decided, I can make this myself by combining the tasting chocolate idea with the nut butter protein pack.

Last post I wrote about my DIY chocolate nut butter. This is just a little different, a little more indulgent, with a few additional ingredients and smoother consistency.

Here is what you will need (keep in mind you can make this as indulgent as you want with the ingredients you choose. Choose a Dutch chocolate for superior cocoa flavor, but pay the additional cost, etc.):

1 baby food sized container with lid 

1 heaping tsp organic cocoa powder

1 tsp coconut oil

3 heaping teaspoons creamy, non sweetened nut butter. I used sunflower seed butter (Trader Joe’s now carries a sunflower seed butter that is un-sweetened)

1 tsp maple syrup (you can use honey instead)

Optional ingredients: 1/4 tsp maca powder, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, or cinnamon powder to taste.

All of this is to taste. The approximate ratio for nut butter to everything else is 3:1. However, if your nut butter is a more thick/dry consistency (almond butter can be this way) you may want to ad more coconut  oil, a tsp at a time.20180625_084544

Combine nut butter, cocoa powder, and maple syrup and mix thoroughly. I like to ad a pinch of maca powder too but this is optional. Then add coconut oil, one tsp at a time to make it the consistency you want.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine a bit of vanilla extract would be nice, or a pinch of cinnamon. But that would be hypothesis on my part and not field tested. If you try it, let me know!

Once mixed it should be a nice creamy, slightly thick consistency that sticks to your spoon. Enjoy one spoon (or two) at a time. I like to pop the container, along with a spoon into my bag and pull it out when I need just little pick me up.

Enjoy and tell me what you think!

S

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DIY Chocolate Nut Butter


I have this thing for chocolate nut butter. It started late in life, like, after having two babies. Before that, I never really craved anything sweet, and chocolate was a take it or leave it thing. It still is often a take it or leave it. I don’t have a stash of chocolate in my pantry (most of the time), and I can go months without it. But not too long ago I stumbled upon a jar of chocolate almond butter at our local Grocery Outlet. The only reason I even considered it was because it was discounted AND the deciding factor was that the ingredients list was relatively simple.

Well, that started the slide. Not only did I really enjoy it, but my hubs really got into it too. Subsequent trips to the GroOut left us empty handed, as same stock is not guaranteed.

I didn’t grow up with Nutella. I know why, now, after reading the label. My mom was much too health conscious for that. The ingredients list reads like a horror story for any individual remotely aware of what is good or bad to put into your body.

When my hubs had asked several times whether I had tracked down a bottle of the stuff, and I kept coming up empty, I decided, what the hey, maybe I can make it myself

Turns out, I can, and for really cheap. Plus, you know what you’ve put in it, and there are no extras.

For under the cost of a pre-made jar (usually about $12 around these parts). I’d say I spent maybe $8 and the jar is larger than most of the choco nut butters you can find. So without further ado, I give you the magic ingredients:

1 jar of raw creamy almond butter ($5.99 at Trader Joe’s)- or whatever nut butter you’d like (the simpler the better, check to see if it’s just ground nuts or if they’ve added a whole bunch of junk. Also note that nut butters can cost a lot, depending on where you shop…so that’s why I gave you the hint on the TJ’s brand one- and no, they are not paying me!)

Approx imately 4 TBSP honey (I think I got mine from TJs for $6.99 keeping in mind you are only using a fraction of the jar).

2 heaping Tsps cocoa powder ( I already had it in my pantry, but let’s say around $6, more if you get organic, or the Dutch kind)

First you are going to need to mix the almond butter since it is most likely separated. Then you will have to use a bit of it to make some space in the jar for the ingredients you will be adding. I put the hubs to work on that, and he consumed several tablespoons worth on his  breakfast toast.

Now, put in all of the above ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. You should taste test it and ad any additional amounts to suit your taste. I don’t want mine particularly sweet.

You can also substitute sweeteners, maple syrup is a great alternative choice. Different nut butters are also an option. I don’t do peanut butter, but I love sunflower seed butter if you are going for a more “peanutty” flavor.

This chocolate nut butter is great on crepes, on toast with raspberry jam, slathered on a graham cracker or just by itself!

Enjoy!

Next time I’ll share with you another great guilty pleasure- tasting chocolate that packs a high protein punch!

It Begins Anew


So, the hubby was home this weekend – the WHOLE weekend which was a true miracle as he usually works. So we decided to put in some time on the house. Our master bedroom is now completely sheet-rocked, our tub re-caulked for the third time (don’t ask), we have a treasure trove of great tiles from the Re-Store for our bathroom remodel(half off on tiles that day!)  and…we started a garden!

It had to be done. We have a massive back yard. So big that we are completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with the landscaping. Especially landscaping on a budget. So, we thought, the one thing that was doable was re-assembling the planter box we’d taken from our previous garden at our old rental. Hubby had gotten two loads of composted rhino dung from work (he’s a guide at a place called Safari West here in Nor Cal) so we tossed that in and then went to our local garden center to pick up some regular soil to mix in and did a little cheating by buying our veggies already sprouted. Insta -garden!

lettuce of two varieties
lettuce of two varieties

 

 

arugula!
arugula!

 

bok choi
bok choi

Since we have no idea what rhino dung can do, we were afraid it might just kill the plants, so as a back-up I also planted a few veg in some little planters with regular soil.

planter with lettuces, arugula, bok choi and rainbow chard
planter with lettuces, arugula, bok choi and rainbow chard

 

snap peas
snap peas

Et voila! It was just about he easiest thing we could have done to feel like we were moving forward on making the yard our own.

voila!
voila!

Latest Rock Painting


Painted on a scrap of bamboo board.

Finally I finished this painting. It’s been in the works for a while – not because it takes long to paint, but because I had to walk away from it for a while because my energies were focused elsewhere. It was really  nice to return to it and have it happen really easily. Like I was saying to my sister, painting rocks feels like a spiritual practice; it’s deeply calming and peaceful. I hope to do many more of these. As it is, it is only my second rock painting.

 

S

From the Lavender Laboratory


What to do with 8 oz of Lavender oil and 2 cups of lavender buds?

I don’t know. I haven’t come close to using all that, but I can show you what I did do to use about 16 drops of that 8 ozs.

Important: Before beginning experiments, decant lavender oil into a dropper bottle; this will make life a lot easier.

Lavender Laboratory Experiment #1 : Lavender Relaxation & Refresher Spray

  • Fill clean, dark-coloured, spray bottle with filtered water (can be distilled but not necessary)
  • add 4-8 drops lavender oil
  • That’s it. What? You expected more? If this were rocket science, I would not be doing this my friend.

Shake and spritz liberally. But not too liberally if you need to get things done because it might put you to sleep.

Lavender Laboratory Experiment #2: Foot Scrub

What you need:

  • Clean container with screw top lid
  • sugar (any kind; the grain and texture is up to you. I used pure cane sugar)
  • olive oil
  • Approx. 8 drops lavender oil
  • pinch of lavender buds

My jar was a small face-cream-sized jar, so I used a 1/4 cup sugar and filled the rest with olive oil and mixed it. You can use another oil like almond or grape  for example, but a thick oil is nice for something as gnarly, dry and cracked as your feet very moisturizing for your deserving tootsies.

Note that lavender buds are optional…they can look a little bit like mouse turds on the floor of your tub after a good foot scrubbing…so if you’re not easily spooked (meaning you don’t have a tendency to jump into the air landing on the most elevated surface available while screaming “mouse! mouse!”), it’s easy enough to wash down the drain and adds a nice touch to the scrub, otherwise just leave it out.

Lavender Laboratory Experiment #3: Lavender Salt

  • Any amount kosher salt  (in this case about 3 tablespoons)
  • An appropriate amount of lavender as to not over or underwhelm the salt (in this case, a pinch)
  • Combine.

Note: If you have a sea salt mill, combine coarse sea salt and lavender buds in the mill for a more fragrant salt.

Aye, aye captain, but what to do with lavender salt?

It’s amazing combined with lemon and butter(or olive oil) as a rub for chicken destined for the grill…or so I’ve been told and plan on trying.

Or perhaps on buttered popcorn…yum!

Here’s what I did do:

Pan fried asparagus with butter and lavender salt.

Need I say more?

…okay, just a little more:

As you can see, my experiments are none too scientific as I didn’t provide any measurements ( okay, I did mention a ‘quarter cup’ once and ‘a pinch’ more than that…but how big are your fingers compared to mine? See what I mean?),which is to say, experiment for yourself and see because how am I supposed to know how much scent or flavour you like? Have fun and let me know how your experiments turn out. Got any amazing lavender recipes or home-made cosmetic ideas? Please share!

S

Yay Success! A Succulenteur’s Propagation Story Has a Happy Ending!


Hellooo!

So, way back when, I started a little propagation  experiment with some cast off succulent leaves I found at the local nursery.

Check out my April post title “Never Go Near A Garden Center a.k.a. Human Magnet” to see where it all began.

This is mostly a success story, but as with all good stories there is also a little bit of bad, so let me get that out of the way:

Back in April when I got some new succulents I bought one that was called Bear Paws. Loved them. Planted them right alongside the other one I’d purchased. I kept them indoors out of the frost, coddled them, kept them in filtered light and spritzed lightly with water. It did great for several months, and then inexplicably, the paws started to drop off. At first I thought it was because the curtain had snagged one and amputated a paw…but over several days they all started to droop and one by one they fell off. Needless to say, another one bites the dust. I don’t even have a picture to show you because it all happened so quickly there is literally nothing left to show.

On a happy note, even though it’s neighbor died a horrible and inexplicable death, this succulent is thriving and starting to form a flower!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But oh how I loved that Bear Claw. I will have to give it a go one more time. I will not be defeated!

Now on to the success story! Remember the cast off leaves and the bed of Perlite and the beginning of growth? Check this out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I’d been waiting for, the original leaf is now shriveled and discolored which means the new plant forming at its base has used up all the leaves good stuff and needs to be planted. Glad to oblige!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out that root action!

 

I just so happened to have the perfect little planter: a retro, made in Japan, cute as can be, ceramic girl with puppy planter:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Et voila! If I can do it, you can too! All it required was patience waiting for the little bugger to start doing something. It’s really quite enjoyable to watch the process inch along.

So get busy, start scouring for those poor abandoned succulent leaves at your local garden center!

 

 

S

Experiments in the Kitchen: Panko Crusted Ahi Tuna on Coconut Rice with Soy Sauce Reduction


As always, let me start by saying that I am an instant gratification type of cook. Keep it simple geniuses, remember?

So, as fancy as this might look, it really didn’t take much time to whip up.  If it can’t be made in an hour or less,well, then it can’t be made…not in my world anyway.

I’ve been on a “cooking as creative outlet” kick. Who knows when it will abruptly end, but I am riding the wave while I can. This was my first experience with panko breadcrumbs and I think I will definitely be using it again…maybe next time on shrimp!

What you need for the tuna is:

Ahi tuna steaks (thawed or fresh)

Panko breadcrumbs

Oil  (preferably not olive oil as it will be exposed to high heat)

Salt & pepper

Simple right?

Okay, timing is everything, so rice needs to get going first.

I used Jasmin rice ( I like how each grain stays separate and it’s wonderfully fragrant) well rinsed and instead of water I used coconut milk. Fill until about one fingers width above the rice. Bring to a boil, stir and then set on simmer until all the liquid has cooked off.

To add to the flavour, on a whim, I threw in two star anise:

Okay. That’s on the stove. It will take about 20 minutes.

(side note: you could forgo the rice and just make a fresh salad instead!)

In the meantime, you can start the soy sauce reduction which will take 15 minutes:

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp light soy sauce (optional)

2 tbsp honey

Simmer and stir often. I threw in sesame seeds just for shits and giggles.

Stir! And then remember to come back and stir it again! Or..keep it super low until you can give it your full attention.

Now, the tuna:

Pat the tuna dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I’m on a kosher salt kick – love the stuff)

You will only need a few minutes, so make sure your rice is done before you start this adventure.

Fill a pan with an eighth of an inch of oil and heat.

Then dip the salt and peppered tuna in the panko ( I mashed the panko with the bottom end of a small bowl to make it a little finer, but you don’t need to do this).

Then carefully, gently place the steaks in the pan.

For me, this is where it all went to hell. I was not so gentle and oil splashed. I have a pretty ugly if superficial burn on my arm now. So, to spare you this experience, gently place the steaks and don’t freak out if there are some popping noises coming from the pan.

You can see the tuna cooking upwards toward the middle. Let cook for roughly 50 seconds and then flip. If the panko is nicely browned, then you did good! Leave for the same amount of time on the other side and then plate!

Hopefully you remembered to stir the reduction. Drizzle it over the tuna and rice.

I had to keep the reduction warm up until the very end because the honey I used was ridiculously thick, so as soon as it started to cool it was almost like taffy. I could work on the consistency a bit more, but the flavour was delicious!

Yummers. Successful, and all told it took about 35 minutes.

S