Have you ever thought of what you would like to pass onto your kids? I'd like to think that I am instilling a love of laughter, not to take anything too seriously as well as a curious and optimistic attitude. I feel like those three tenants have gotten me to where I am and ensure that I love that place. Of course there are many other ideas, stories and values that I hope get passed along the way. I love how each member of the family has something to expose my kids to. This past Sunday Hudson, my oldest son, had an amazing day.
We kicked off the day watching his Dad complete his second triathlon in Comox. Hudson loved that it was a race. He was the best cheerleader and had his Lightning McQueen water bottle all ready for his Daddy at the finish line. Hudson was also super pumped that his Dad had won the whole thing (not quite). On the surface I love that this triathlon exposes our kids to a love to activity. On a deeper level it demonstrates goal setting, perseverance and a continuation of sport through adulthood. I am always inspired by my husband’s undertaking. A few years ago he could hardly swim two lengths of the pool when he decided he wanted to complete a triathlon. I love that through re-locating, raising two boys and having a body that likes to sink, he did it. Extra bonus for having your son think you are the coolest guy ever.
After that we were all off to The Port Theater in Nanaimo to watch Hudson’s Granny in her choir performance. It was a lively show with a great variety of songs. Hudson was literally dancing in the aisle (along with a somewhat eccentric fellow a few rows down) and was pretty excited to see his Granny up on stage. Given mine and my husband’s limited participation in the arts I was so happy to have the opportunity to give him some arts exposure starring his own Granny. His Granny has shown him that taking a risk to join a choir when you are new to town pays off. You get to sing your heart out and spread some joy.
I feel so, so lucky to have close family around. Our kids get to see and experience so many different passions, views, challenges and successes. I sometimes find myself staring at my kids wondering what passions are locked in there. What things will come easy, what will require extra time and attention? Our job, I think, is to show them around and follow their lead.
Enough story, onto the food! I have been looking for a good homemade granola bar type recipe. There can be many down falls when making them; they crumble when you cut them, they don’t hold together enough to cut or taste like sawdust. I think the biggest problem is that many claim to have “no added sugar”, but are loaded with honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, etc. This recipe solved all those problems, along with being gluten-free and vegan. Recipe adapted from here.
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of old fashioned or large flake oats
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl mash the banana. Stir in the remaining ingredients until combined.
3. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper. Then spread the batter in an even layer.
4. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the edges are golden brown
5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into slices
Of course I doubled the recipe. I used a combo of almonds and walnuts because that is what I had on hand. The result is a fairly soft bar that holds together and freezes well. They taste great too, kids loved them. There is a lot of room to play around with the recipe, you could change up the nut butter to almond or cashew butter, vary the nuts or use seeds, substitute other dried fruit in place of the coconut. When compared to the store bought variety these bars are lower in calories, sugar and sodium…..yes. Watch the portion though, cut into small bars. They make a great on-the-go throw in your purse kind of snack for yourself or your kids and are easy to grab for part of a fast breakfast (great paired with a piece of fruit and a low fat latte).
I guess I have also been exposing my kids to cooking, baking and a lot of different foods. They might be on the road to making excellent husbands one day.
I have been doing a lot of strange things lately. Maybe the most shocking is that I ate a piece of quiche over the Easter holidays. I am the all time egg hater; gagging, watering eyes, etc. It just looked so damned good. Plus I have always felt deprived of all these seemingly delicious egg dishes. I went for it, and it was well worth the risk. It must be noted that this quiche was loaded with Swiss cheese and bacon. Great flavor maskers, there was only one bite that was a little dicey. I powered through. It was the most egg I have eaten in a sitting. Ever. To be clear, my adventuresome egg tasting hasn’t progressed any further.
I have also had an overwhelming urge to garden, or at least make the yard look better. I tried a veggie garden a few years ago, didn’t love the process. I am in full agreement with my mother in law when she confirmed that she was perfectly happy to buy from local farmers and leave the work and expertise to them. This year I have planted a few flowers, some succulents and have been tending to the perennials that we semi-neglected last year. I have also better equipped myself to tend to things, better garden gloves, a watering can, tools and a little fertilizer. The boys are both at a great age to be outside and be really interested in the garden (usually worm and bug hunting). Fingers crossed. I will keep you posted.
I also spray painted, yes me the not crafty person. I picked up a weather wicker garden stool a few years ago at a garage sale. It has been in our back yard for the past few summers, but was starting to look tired. My first thought was white. I quickly tossed that idea out and decided yellow. Way more fun. The process was pretty fast and easy. My kind of project. The only downside was after priming and spraying two coats I had some pretty serious trigger finger (who knew your pointer finger could be out of shape). It now sits happily on our front porch, providing some much needed colour. Adding some colour to our house was one of my New Year's resolutions....so getting there.
I don’t know who I am anymore. Oh no wait…I am sharing a soup recipe. Sneaking in one more before full blast spring weather. Old me is back. Spinach, Bean and Pasta Soup, once again this is from the Spilling the Beans cookbook.
Canola or olive oil
1-2 turkey or chicken Italian sausage (optional)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups water
1 cup dry whole wheat pasta
14 oz can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 tsp dried oregano or basil
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 handfuls of spinach, torn or chopped
19 oz can of red or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Freshly grated parmesan for serving
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, drizzle in oil and sauté the sausage. Break up with a spoon and cook until no longer pink. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft.
Add water, pasta, tomato sauce, stock, oregano and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes (until pasta is tender). Add the spinach and beans and cook for another 3 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.
I loved how fast this soup came together. I also had everything on hand. I used navy beans because that’s what I had. The kids liked it because there was pasta in it, all the good stuff comes along with the noodles. One more soup day left I am sure…..
Anyone else been doing strange things? Maybe it is spring, a time of new starts.
Tiffany McFadden, RD