Home Made Raw Bars

I always loved Larabars and we used to buy them by the case at Costco where the cost broke down to only $1.25 each. (a bargain compared to other retailers at $2 a bar)

If you have ever read the ingredient list on one of them, it is fairly simple.  Here is the ingredient list for their Chocolate Coconut bar:
Unsweetened Coconut
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

I thought, heck, I have all those ingredients.  I should try and make my own.  So I did.

They came out really good - totally yummy.  Hubby said they are better than Larabar.  Score!

Here is the recipe:
1 1/2 cups dates
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
very full 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (I will be doubling the coconut in the next batch - not 'coconutty' enough for my taste)
4 Tbs. Navitas Naturals Raw Chocolate Powder

Put all ingredients in food processor.  Put a sheet of plastic wrap over the container before putting the lid back on.  This will keep the powder from shooting out the seams when you process it.  Process until the mixture starts to clump together on its own.  Take a muffin tin and first put in a square of plastic wrap.  Then press approximately 2 heaping tablespoons of the mix into the tin and press down flat.  Fold the remaining plastic wrap over the top of the bar.  This made 6 bars or treats, as I called them, since I opted not to do a bar shape.  Fill all the muffin wells and then put in the refrigerator to set.  Once they have set up, you can remove them from the tin and they are all wrapped up and ready to go!  I am keeping them in the fridge to keep them fresh.

Happy New Year!

 Christmas in Pictures


Going through the stocking

Angelina was meticulous about throwing away each piece of paper.

Time for sledding

Daddy goes solo


 Cold Toes

I think the green smoothies have been giving me more get up and go.  Yesterday, after freezing my toes off in the kitchen, I decided it was high time for the wall between the living area and the kitchen to come down.  All we have is one little doorway to let any warm air come in from the corn stove and you can feel the difference when you walk through - from warm and toasty to cold.  This is only exacerbated by the arctic air coming our way this week.

So I got out the hammer and chisel and went to work.

I thought we had plaster walls, but to my great delight, it is only sheetrock after all.

The kids were very into cleaning up.  In fact, if I started to clean up, they would freak out and tell me that they were doing it.  Okay... who am I to get in the way of kids wanting to clean?!

Trinity took a turn at pounding down the wall.
(Girl Gone Granola - recognize the pants on Trinity?! They fit her perfectly and sooo cute!  Thanks again!)

Heeeeeeeere's Amy!

All work and no play makes Amy a dull girl! ;)

We have an opening!

Not only is it warmer in the kitchen now, but I love being able to see through that area.  I think our house will feel larger with the wall opened up.  The next decision will be if we want to continue the trend and remove the wall that makes the hallway down to the bathroom and bedroom.  I am leaning towards doing it as I see how nice it is to have the kitchen open.  It would be nice not to have a frigid toilet to sit on in the winter too.

May have to wait to do that project though.  We just can only do so much at a time since I don't have any way to dispose of the rubble except in our trash can!

Well, more wall needs to come down today... best be at it!

 Snippets of my Day

1st Green Smoothies

We bought a large bag of spinach, collard greens, and mustard greens today and I made green smoothies.  The girls love fruit smoothies and green juice, so getting them to drink a green smoothie was a no brainer.  They loved it and came back for more.  :)

Since I don't have a fancy blender, I was a little worried about it not blending well enough.  But it did just fine.  I guess that is what the "liquify" button is for. *duh*  Here is what I used today:

2 big handfuls spinach
1 large handful collard greens
1 large handful mustard greens
juice from 5 apples
1 frozen banana
9 or 10 frozen strawberries
frozen blueberries (didn't measure, just poured in on top)
1 stevia packet
1 Tbs ground flax seed

First I put in half the greens with apple juice, blended, added the rest of greens and blended.
At this point I had an almost full blender.
I added the banana, a few strawberries and a bit of blueberries and blended again.
Then I poured half out into a cup so I would have more blending room.  I added more berries and blended.  This had a nice purple color to it and is what I filled up the girls glasses with.
Then I poured the rest of the green juice back in, remembered the stevia and flax seed, and blended once more.

This is what David and I drank. (and the girls when they wanted more - I think they just liked having green moustaches!)  It was actually even more delicious than a regular fruit smoothie, in my opinion.  Something so incredibly fresh tasting about it and even a hint of spicy flavor - must be one of those greens.  Really a delicious combination.  Essentially, this was my lunch because I just ended up being too busy to eat and I didn't feel hungry and felt good.  I'm looking forward to making these a regular part of our diet!

Winter Gardening

I got a second seed catalog in the mail and decided to turn it into a craft for the girls.  I taped together sheets of brown construction paper and gave them to the girls to be their garden plots. (except for Trinity had to have one brown sheet and one black sheet - you can't fool that girl - she's seen Iowa dirt! lol!)  Then they each got a catalog to cut out pictures of veggies, fruits, and flowers to plant in their gardens.  They had the best time and have beautiful gardens. :)


We were almost out of corn, so our neighbor graciously made another run to the elevator with his pickup.  This time we got a smidge over a ton of corn.  We had to be creative to come up with enough containers to hold all the corn!  David started out in the back of the pickup filling up containers, but we quickly figured out I couldn't muscle the bags out that he was filling. (supposed to be 50# each, but he filled them waaaay higher and since they are open at the top, you can't just heave them over your shoulder)  So I took over filling bags and containers and he hauled bags into the basement and checked in on the kids regularly.

Near the end of the bagging, I gave my back a break and stood up for a stretch.  I was wishing I had my camera.  The sun was almost down and the sunset was a beautiful contrast to the snow covered world.  There is something so peaceful about a world blanketed with white.  I just enjoyed the crisp breeze and appreciated how good it felt to be working hard to provide us with the means to heat our home.  There is something that just feels right in my soul when I am working up a sweat actually doing something vs. exercising for the sake of exercising.  It didn't matter that it was less than 20 degrees out.  It was soul work.

 Wanna Winna Wild Bar?

These sound like they would be really good for you.  According to Chocolate-Covered Katie, they are also really tasty.

And, you can try to win some by going here.  Bonus!  I know I'm hoping I win a case of these.  What a great treat that would be!

 Getting Geared Up For the New Year

Okay, so over the holiday weekend I talked with my brother and sister-in-law.  I knew from talking with my mom that they were eating vegetarian and raw foods so thought I would find out what was going on for myself.  I had a great time talking with them both and especially found inspiration from my SIL in how well she has managed to stick to a high raw diet.  Kudo's Sharon!  I know how hard it is to feed a family that may or may not be completely on the same page with you in what they want to eat.  

At least my girls are young enough that I still control what they eat.  It is just a matter of weaning them off of the unhealthy stuff.  I am trying to educate them so that they will understand why mommy is making different choices for our meals.  I may be creating little monsters out of them as last week when I was in Walmart, they were loudly chanting, in unison, "Fruit Loops are not healthy, Fruit Loops are not healthy, Fruit Loops are not healthy!"

Anyway, back to my inspirational siblings.  One of the books that my SIL had brought home from the library that got my brother fired up was a book by George Malkmus.  He is the guy responsible for the Hallelujah diet which I had heard of back when I was a raw foodist.  So I decided to check the site out again, as I am in that search mode - looking for whatever will inspire me and educate me so that I will stick to eating healthy. (and stay away from the lifetime supply of krispy kremes in the basement!)

As luck would have it, they are starting a 60 day challenge on January 7th to do their diet program.  I looked over the basics and it is extremely similar to the Fit For Life, Not Fat For Life principles that I wrote about back in 2007.  You can read all about the hallelujah diet here but here are the basics:

85% raw, uncooked, unprocessed food
15% cooked

Breakfast - Barley Max
Mid morning - fresh vegetable juice or piece of fruit
Lunch - another serving of Barley Max, followed by a vegetable salad
Mid afternoon - fresh vegetable juice or raw veggies
Dinner - first a serving of Barley Max, then a LARGE salad, followed by cooked vegan whole foods if desired
Evening - fruit or fruit juice

This reminds me so much of FFL principles - eating at least 50% raw food, nothing but fruit til noon, making a big salad the first part of a meal so you won't eat so much cooked food - all great tips to reduce cooked food from your diet.  I signed up to participate in the 60 day challenge even though I know I will not do it exactly as written.  For one, I am not buying Barley Max.  Barley Max is no doubt a great product, as it is a blend of raw organic alfalfa and barley which are highly nutritional.  But I will make my own green smoothies and fill them with a variety of greens that are also highly nutritional and not widely eaten.  At the very least I can be inspired and have the accountability and support through their program.  I'm gettin' excited!

I may even get David to eat better.  I showed him this video from Green Smoothie Girl's website.

(note: scroll down and pause the music player at the bottom of the page before playing video)

He said he would drink a green smoothie every day if he could have meat.  

He hasn't quite gotten it yet. But if I can keep this up, hopefully he will get on board as he sees the changes it is making for me. Plus, I was re-reading some of my entries back in 2007 and he totally feels better when he is eating raw. It is just the need to make it easier for him to eat raw foods and he will do it. Green smoothies is a good place to start. :)

Anyone else game for a 60 day challenge?

 Reality Check

You know, when you read other people's blogs you get this mental image of what their life is like.  Typically, almost an idyllic image filled with good times, happy children... perfection wrapped up in a bow.  Let me shatter that image right now.  My life is mostly chaos, punctuated by moments that transcend into spheres of normalcy, and those are the moments that get blogged.

Here is a reality check of what my day to day life is really like.

Hubby went off to work today and it was me and the kids, as usual, snowbound in the house.  After lunch, I fell asleep on the couch.  I should have known better than to get horizontal - I have been in a constant state of sleep deprivation since having kids, so sleep overtook me.  Anyone with kids knows you don't fall asleep on duty.

I woke up to Angelina standing in front of me, whining.  Probably for juice, but I was just waking up so I'm not sure.  But what I noticed was this chunky wet mess all down her shirt and pants.  "Oh, my gosh - she's thrown up all over herself," I'm thinking.  Nope.  The kids set me straight on that one right away.

"She didn't throw up," says Trinity.  "We were making an experiment."

A mother's worst nightmare.  Those are not words you want to hear.  Well I'm off and running... into the kitchen to get a rag and clean up Angelina.  That's where I notice that all of the bananas that were hanging on their stand on the counter are now gone.  My heart sinks.  An entire bunch of bananas - gone.

I would like to say that I handled the situation calmly and firmly and that I would make SuperNanny proud.

But I would be lying.

I wigged out.  It wasn't pretty.  By the time I found their experiment (upstairs in the playroom - they needed their play kitchen, don't you know) I was practically in hysterics.  It ended up with me collapsed on the kitchen floor crying.  Not my proudest moment as a mom, but this is my reality.  And sometimes I just can't deal with it.

So here is the final ingredient list on their cooking experiment:

6 bananas, mashed  (that I just bought with our WIC check)
a quarter a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for some reason, they actually spared me some evoo, but they did leave a paint brush in the bottle that I can't get out)
almost an entire bottle of pancake syrup
1 package tapioca
1 package vanilla pudding
1 8 oz bottle yellow mustard

Right up until the mustard, you could almost salvage the mush to use in a bread or muffin recipe.  But the yellow mustard killed that.

These are the days that make me feel like a failure as a mother.
Ever been there?

Here's hoping your day after Christmas was better than mine!

 It's Christmas!

 Is Santa Real?

This has been a very different Christmas season for us.  It started with our last paycheck before Christmas being significantly short to our budget thanks to a couple of sick days which didn't get paid and Thanksgiving, which also didn't get paid.  I don't think we have ever been more broke, financially.

I have been wanting to "live slower" - a lifestyle of consumerism rejection.  Trying to find ways other than spending money to meet your needs.  Dumpster diving, no shampoo, family wipes are all a part of this shift in life choices.  It seems fortune (or misfortune) is helping to force this paradigm shift in our lives.

Then Christmas rolls around and I have young children - still in that small window of time where Santa is real and Christmas morning is magical - and I start to experience a small symphony of emotions.  It starts with sadness - that my kids will realize Santa isn't real this year.  Then a smattering of self-pity - that I can't give them all the things I would like to.  Then it moves on to nostalgia - thinking back on years past, the excitement of their little voices calling out, "Mommy!  Daddy!  Get up!  Get up!  Santa's been here!"  And finally, I settle into determination - accepting our circumstances and ready to make the most of what we have and continue in the pursuit of a non-consumer Merry Christmas.

After all, we are truly blessed.  We have all the food we could want, a warm home to protect against the cold, and a job - something many in our country are without this Christmas.  And I'm selfishly thinking about my own lack of "things" to give my kids??  It shouldn't be about the things at all.  It's supposed to be about the birth of Jesus.  The birth of my Saviour, my King, my Lord.  The keeper of my every breath.  The One who loves me with an unconditional love.  A love so big that He would be born for the very task of dying for me.

That puts it back in perspective.

So off I go on the Saturday before Christmas to the free-store in Indianola.  It is a thrift store where everything is free.  We already have a wooden doll house to give the girls, which was given to us by Grandma Mary when we moved from Arizona, to give them whenever we saw fit.  This Christmas they are both old enough.  But I am hoping to sneak a few stocking stuffer type toys into my bag while the girls are otherwise occupied rummaging through the toy bins to round out the Christmas morning experience.

God is smiling on me as I find some great little stocking stuffers that will also be great companion pieces to the dollhouse.  Plus I get a battery powered guitar for Trinity and a set of nice, wooden bongo drums for Angelina, and a princess teapot so they can have a proper tea.  My heart is warmed at the thought of their delight come Christmas morning.  So much so, that it doesn't pain me in the least to tell them we don't have the money to buy all the gimmicky Christmas stuff on display when we go in to Walmart to cash in a couple of our WIC checks.

But God isn't done yet. (But God.... such a familiar phrase for Bible readers!)
David calls that afternoon to let me know he is done with his last job and coming home.  He says, "you won't believe what this customer gave me for the girls."  Hard to guess.  He comes home with all sorts of things that customers give him while he is there to set up their Dish Network - bags of garden produce, bottles of ketchup, candles, health drinks, apples, jeans, wine, home made jerky... all of these and more I can't even think of right now have all been gifted.

He tells me and I'm speechless.  Are you kidding me?!?  When David gets home I sneak out to the garage to take a look.  We were given one of these:

It looks to be almost new.... certainly in great condition.  I just look up and say, "God, are you laughing at me?!  O, ye of little faith and all that?"

Then my friend Cheryl stops by that evening with a couple of presents for the girls.

Then we get a package from my Aunt Cookie full of gifts - one being an electronic keyboard complete with a large supply of extra batteries.  God is really getting a good laugh now since I was wondering how I was going to get batteries for the guitar for Trinity.   "Don't worry," He says, "they are on the way along with a keyboard to round out your musical Christmas!"

I started out worrying about having enough for the girls come Christmas day.
I ended up worrying about the girls getting too much come Christmas day!

And this is such a perfect example of how God works.  Did he fix everything in my life?  No.  We still have a broken water pipe, a broken garage door, and broken teeth.  But did he take care of the things that were weighing most heavily on my heart?  Yes.

It's His way of reminding me, gently and lovingly, that indeed He is in control of all our circumstances and is with me through them all.

So when Trinity asks me if Santa is real, I know exactly what to tell her.  The conversation goes like this:

Trinity:  Mom, is Santa real?

Me:  Santa is real like Dora is real, and like Elmo is real and like Sponge Bob is real.

Trinity:  The song says that Santa only brings presents to kids who aren't naughty.  And I've been naughty.

Me:  Would you like to know a secret about Santa?  It isn't Santa that provides the gifts.  It's Jesus.  And when Jesus was born, He came to bring us mercy.  Mercy is when we don't get what we deserve.  So even though you were naughty, Jesus forgives you, and will still bring you gifts.  Just remember, when you find gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, they all came from Jesus.

And that is the truth!

 My Cuties

Time for some gratuitous pics of the grandkids. :)
The girls dressed up for "Christmas" Sunday.  Daddy did their hair for them before we went to church.  They looked lovely.... for about 15 minutes! Ha!

Now if I could just understand why this picture looks like this, while the one snapped right after it is crystal clear...  such a bummer 'cause Angelina is looking like quite the cupie doll in this shot. (though I could live without the pucker up from Trinity!)

 We Got an Early Christmas Present from God

David is really getting into this diving for food now.  He hit up one store on the way home from work yesterday and had an excellent score for right before the holidays:

2 really nice cauliflowers (now I can go ahead and toss the not so nice ones we picked up earlier this week)
3 perfect heads of lettuce (iceberg is not my fav, but I have been adding it to the slaw mix we picked up and it makes a great salad base)
1 package broccoli (still completely sealed)
4 cucumbers (2 will be for juicing as they are a little past firm)
2 sealed containers of salsa
5 boxes of gourmet cookies (sell by date, that day - 3 boxes Oatmeal/Cranberry, 2 boxes Peanut Butter/Peanuts/Chocolate Chunks - omg!  too delish!)

Then today we hit a few dumpsters on the way home from church.  We went back by Krispy Kreme where we picked up a lifetime supply (ha!) and then we saw Bruegger's Bagels just down the road so checked out their trash.  We got 4 packages of "Last night's Bagels" - yummy!  Another grocery store stop netted us a stash of sweet potatoes, 3 dozen eggs, 2 bottles of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, 4 boxes of Breakfast cookies, 2 bananas, 2 containers of sour cream dip, and more apples and tomatoes.

All I can say is we have got to stop hitting the dumpsters because we have SOOOOO MUCH FOOD!

BUT, let's not forget the piece de' resistance - the early Christmas present.  We decided to stop and check the dumpter by the little grocer in our home town.  I hopped out of the car, climbed up on a pile of snow so I could look in, lifted the lid and peered over the side.  Then I stood there for several moments, stunned.  I was looking at a vacuum cleaner.  This was truly a gift from God because it was laying on top - hadn't had food dumped all over it - and works perfectly.  Ours died some time ago and we just have not been able to replace it.  I finally just rolled up our area rug in the living room since we couldn't vacuum it and have been just sweeping with a broom. (like the good ol' days :)  What a blessing to fill our need with an unexpected find in the trash!

God is Good!

 A Happy Discovery

Since we had found all those mangoes from last weeks dumpster diving adventure, I decided we should make a smoothie.  I peeled and chopped up all the mangoes - 2 went into the blender, and the rest into the freezer for future smoothies.

We also put about a banana and a half in the blender. (frozen from long ago when Aldi's had a big table of very ripe bananas on sale for like 10cents a pound)  Here Trinity is juicing some apples and a couple carrots for our liquid.  The girls love to help make smoothies.

The mango smoothies were delicious!  Got me wanting more fresh stuff.  So the next day we made carrot/apple juice with 1/2 lemon squeezed in.  We juiced the carrots first and as I watched the gorgeous carrot pulp coming out into our discard bowl, I had an idea.  I had just tried out a muffin recipe earlier this week using up some old bananas in the fridge to make banana nut muffins.  I thought, heck...why not use the carrot pulp and make carrot muffins?

So that is what I did.  I added the carrot pulp (from 7 carrots) raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chopped walnuts to the basic muffin recipe from  The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

Hubby says these are the best muffins I ever made.  Wow!  Guess I'll be making them again!
I also decided to use up some of the Rice Krispies that we have since the kids are not big fans of it as a cereal  to eat.  This is a vegan Krispies treat.  Here is the recipe:

1 cup pancake syrup (recipes generally call for corn syrup, but this was in my pantry from the food bank and is mostly corn syrup - worked just fine)
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
8 cups Rice Krispies type cereal

Heat the first 3 ingredients together in a large pot until combined.  Stir in chocolate powder.  Remove from heat and stir in cereal until thoroughly coated.  Spread in 9x13 pan and put in refrigerator to cool and set the treats.

Then, enjoy these delicious, chocolatey, peanut buttery, not good for you but oh, so delicious treats!

Follow up note:  Having had my awakening about the serious issue with our food supply here in America, I can not leave this recipe without adding my two cents.  First, I wouldn't ever make these again for my kids.  There isn't any way to make this healthy.  Yes, you could use real maple syrup, raw nut butter and organic cane sugar to make it healthier.  But you still are using Rice Krispies cereal and there is nothing healthy about those.  Better to just make some raw chocolate treats (click on raw chocolate in the topic cloud) and get your kids off the high sugar/processed foods.

 The Agony of the Wait!

I can't wait to see this!  How fascinating to see four different cultures through the lens of the first year in the life of babies.  My girls love watching this trailer over and over and over....

 The Princess and the Frog

No, this isn't a review, as we don't go see movies in the theater unless it's during the special free movies that happen around here occasionally.  Rather this is a trip down memory lane as one of my friends from highschool landed the role of Louis in the upcoming Princess and the Frog.


His name is Michael-Leon Wooley, but we all affectionately called him Wooley Bear.  Why?  Because he is a big, sweet guy -  like a big teddy bear. :)

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a horrible memory.  Recalling hilarious highschool stories just isn't my forte' because I simply don't remember much.  But I do actually remember one infamous night that involved Wooley Bear.

Here's that lovable lug!

It was the summer after I graduated from highschool.  I was 18 and (I'm sorry to say) had just discovered alcohol.  At that time, eighteen was the legal drinking age in Washington D.C. and I lived in the suburbs.  So getting something to drink was just a quick trip across state lines.

So one fine night, myself, Wooley Bear and my friend Cindy got ahold of some liquor and headed over to Foxhill Park to drink.  I seem to recall a 6-pack of Mt. Dew (my fav!) so Cindy and I were probably making some disgusting version of a wine cooler with the soda as a base. (gag!)  But when you are eighteen and unsophisticated, it just doesn't matter, eh?  Wooley Bear, older and a bit more sophisticated, was drinking something harder for sure - not our pansy little Mt. Dew coolers.

Anyway, we had set ourselves down on a bench next to one of the baseball fields and were drinking and talking and laughing.  We noticed a cop pull into the parking lot of the park.  Now we hadn't been foolish enough to park there because the park is closed at dark.  We parked at the highschool next to the park and walked over.  But, someone else had parked in the lot and the cop put it's big floodlights on it.  Apparently, whoever had parked there had moseyed off to some other area of the park and the cop decided to try and find them.  To our horror, the cop car started driving around the perimeter of the far baseball field and then started our direction.


We couldn't carry all our sodas and drinks so we shoved them under the park bench and headed for the nearby woods.  Now you have to remember, it's night, and there are no lights.  I started running through the woods, in the direction of the school.  I seem to remember losing my shoe at one point and then suddenly, a massive sticker bush was blocking my escape.

I didn't have much time to figure out a way out of this predicament as Wooley Bear was right behind me.  He started pushing me forward yelling, "Go! Go! Go! Go!"  You have to remember, he is a big guy!  He literally just used me as a human shield to tear through the sticker bush.

I finally managed to peep out, "stickers!"

I don't actually remember extricating myself, or what happened with the cop car.  (I don't think it ended up coming all the way down to the end where we were)  What I do remember was standing under the lightpost in the school parking lot and looking down at myself.  I was covered with little bloody scratches all over my arms and legs.  I looked like a victim of a bad piranha movie.

I also remember going home to get cleaned up and Cindy running in to tell mom, "She's really okay, it just looks bad!"

So there is my fond memory of Wooley Bear.  Okay, fellow thespians from Bowie Highschool, what is your favorite memory of Wooley Bear?