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Deliciously Organic: June 2009

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Version of Larabars

Since I was a teenager, I've had a phobia to protein bars. It all began back when I was 16 and my parents took my two brothers and I on a family vacation to British Columbia. To be economical, my Mom made huge batches of granola (you know, the kind with dried fruit, peanuts and m&ms) and she also bought several boxes of some type of protein bar. For three weeks, most of what I remember is sitting in the back of the minivan looking at mountains and glaciers while eating gobs of granola and protein bars. Don't get me wrong, every day we ate regular meals, but unfortunately, my only food memory of that trip of these 2 staples my Mom provided. By the end of the three weeks, just thinking about having another protein bar made my stomach turn. Apparently I wasn't the only one; I soon found out my Dad and brothers felt the same way. At the end of the trip we kindly asked Mom not to buy any more of those bars. For the next several years, before heading out to Sam's Club she would ask if we would like for her to pick up some protein bars. We would all reply "No!" in unison.

So, as I've been packing for our summer trip I was trying to come up with some type of economical food to bring that would be filling enough for, say, breakfast. I began looking all over the web and came upon the "Larabar". The ingredients fit the bill but unfortunately, here in our little FL town, Larabars are no where to be found. So, being the good organic cook that I am, I decided to buy the ingredients listed on the package and make some. (yes, go ahead and laugh...I am usually the first to admit that sometimes my methods are a little crazy....healthy, but crazy.) I wanted to try a hand at the pecan pie bar because that was a flavor I could foresee me eating many times over the next few weeks. I put my processor to work and blitzed away and I have to say, I came up with something that is pretty darn good.

This afternoon, as I was cutting and wrapping my bars, I was thinking about all of the great friends and family we are going to see and what fun we are going to have on our trip. Then the thought came to mind, that in three weeks, I hope I still love these bars as much as I do today.

Pecan Pie Larabars
Makes 10 bars
I had really hoped to get a good picture of these, but being that my food photography is mediocre, I thought I just couldn't do these bars justice. So, you'll just have to make them for yourself and see.

4 1/2 cups pitted dates
3/4 cup almonds
3/4 cup pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

1. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (horizontally and vertically) and then brush with coconut oil.

2. Pour dates into food processor and process until they become paste-like and form a ball in the bowl (if your dates are very dry you can add a tablespoon or two of hot water to help them break down). Pour dates into a large mixing bowl. Place almonds and pecans in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour the nuts over the dates and also add the vanilla, cinnamon, and pinch of salt. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until combined. Press mixture into baking pan, cover (I just used the parchment that was hanging over the sides of the pan) and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and cut into 10 evenly-sized bars.

**You can subsitute just about any type of nut for the ones I have listed. If you used all almonds, then some almond extract would be great (omitting the cinnamon). Other dried fruits would work well with these too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mom's Favorite Salad

The past few weeks my husband and I have been planning our summer trip with the kids. We will be passing through several southern states to visit old friends, taking the kids to camp, and then off to TX to visit family. As I was thinking about our past summer trips to my parents’ home - hot summer days, sitting in the rocking chairs on the back porch, watching thunderstorms roll in, trips to my Mom's kitchen and coming back with lots of goodies, the kids hanging out with Papa D and Cookie (my parents), and my Mom and I whipping up something in the kitchen at the end of the day - the taste of my Mom's salad inevitably came to mind. It would take me days to tell you of all of the many fabulous and labor intensive meals that come out of her kitchen, but one dish that my Mom could eat almost every day is what we call "Mom's favorite Salad". There hasn't been a visit to my parent's house that I can remember where she didn't make it. It is extremely simple to prepare, as a dish in the heat of summer should be. I can almost taste the sweet burst of cranberry and the creaminess of the Roquefort now. Ok, now I’m hungry.

Mom's Favorite Salad
Serves 6
Make sure to look at the ingredient list on your dried cranberries because many dried cranberries that are sold have sugar and hydrogenated oils added to them. Try to find organic cranberries without any additives.

1 bag mixed baby greens
1/2 cup pecans toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 ounces Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

In a large bowl, combine greens, pecans, cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese. In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Pour half of the dressing over the salad, toss and taste. Adjust seasonings and add more dressing if needed.

For those of you who don't know, my Mom is one of the leading caterers in Dallas. I urge you to take a few minutes to look at her website.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Almond Butter

I have to admit, I've always had a sweet tooth. A friend of mine has said for years that it is because of a lack of something in my diet but no matter how perfect my diet is I just can't get past the need, yes need, for something sweet. I think it is purely psychological, but I can live with that.

I am constantly thinking of ways to create new recipes using natural sweeteners, and almond butter has become my latest "fix". It's the perfect mixture of sweet and salty and is as close to a candy bar as you can get without, well, eating one. I always have a jar of it in the fridge and when I need a pick-me-up I go get a scoop full and devour every little morsel. Something I haven't done yet, but plan on trying, is to scoop the almond butter into little balls and then dunk in organic chocolate. Mmmm...I think that would be bliss.

Almond Butter
adapted from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon
Yields about 2 1/2 cups
This butter tastes best after the flavors have had time to meld in the fridge. Also, make sure to buy organic almonds since now all almonds in the U.S. are pasteurized. The organic almonds are pasteurized with steam instead of propylene oxide.

2 cups dehydrated almonds (recipe below)
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
1 teaspoon sea salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a jar and keep in refrigerator.

Dehydrated almonds
I always have bags of these in the pantry for a quick snack. I first soak them to help neutralize enzyme inhibitors and aid in digestion.

2 cups almonds
1 Tablespoon salt

Put almonds and salt in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. When the almonds are finished soaking, spread them out on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven overnight at 160-170 degrees until crispy.