Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Coconut Haystacks

    I've brought these to a couple potlucks over the last several months and have been asked if I'd share the recipe. My mom used to make chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies for us when I was a kid, but since my kids can't eat sugar or oats I came up with this version for them. It's gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free, no bake, vegan, a one pot wonder, and best of all, just plain yummy. (Even people who can have all those things love these!) They have just a handful of ingredients and come together in as many minutes, which makes them perfect for this busy season of life. Enjoy!

Coconut Haystacks

1/2 C. Peanut Butter
1/2 C. Coconut Oil
1/4 C. Honey
1 t. Vanilla
Sea Salt

2 1/2 C Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut

Chocolate Variation:
Increase honey to 1/3 C. and add 1/2 C. Cocoa powder

Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and sea salt and stir until well combined. (Resist the temptation to eat this by the spoonful.) Remove from heat and add the shredded coconut; combine. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop onto a baking sheet that's been greased or is lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, then remove from the pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter  Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday, and Real Food Forager's Grain Free Round-up.

Monday, January 03, 2011

What I Like About You

This picture didn't make the "final cut" for our Christmas card, but I liked the real life quality to it.

    I used to write letters to my kids on their birthdays, describing what they were like, the things that interested them, and maybe some of the funny things they did or said. I've had great intentions of continuing with this, but it hasn't happened in a while. Quite a long while, I'm afraid.

    In the vein of choosing to focus on things to be thankful for, I've been thinking on traits I'm really enjoying in my family right now. It's not quite a letter to each, more like a sentence or two. 

    Erik, you're just a good man. What can I say? As we come up on our nine year anniversary, I'm so, so glad that I get to be the one to spend this life with you. Among many other things, I sure appreciate how you more often than not clean the kitchen for me after dinner. Also, it's sure nice of you to play Scrabble with me even though it's totally not your game. Thank you!

    Peregrine, my biggledy boy, I like how confident you are, how you are ready to take on the world, and have no doubts that you will win. I like how, now that you've learned to cook a few things, you seriously think you're pretty much one of the best cooks around. I like how pleased you are that you're able to take my place in the kitchen sometimes. Keep on learning!

    Poppy Joy Girl, I love how thoughtful you are of others, how you're so generous and kind, thinking of how you can bless others with what you have. I also love how much you adore your baby sister. I hope as you grow that you will be so blessed as you share this love!

    Raphael, you are one busy boy! I like how you really think that between you, Daddy, and tools, anything in the world can be fixed. I'm also loving how you are confident, but not precocious; you just know what needs to be done and jump right in and do it. And, one more thing; even if it makes a huge mess in the kitchen, I'm sure glad you like "water play" at the sink, because it's just about the only thing that will keep you in one place for more than two minutes.

    Brigid, my dear little Pearl, dolly girl, dovey doll, sweetums, cheeky monkey, you are just sweet, sweet, sweet! Have I ever known such a happy and content baby as you? You have the plumpest, most kissable cheeks around, and kiss them I do! I love to hear your little voice as you try out different sounds; you're pretty shy with your voice, but I'm sure you'll warm up soon. I'm so, so happy that I get to be your mama, and I can't help but wonder what you're going to be like as you grow.

    This is the life I've always wanted, and I want to relish it, enjoy the moments, and be able to look back on it knowing that I didn't waste my time grumbling! 

Saturday, January 01, 2011


    Everyone's doing it: naming their year, choosing their one little word, the word they hope will define the new year for them. I've been thinking on it for a while, but really, I didn't have to think too hard. One of the prompts for reverb10 was to choose a word that defined 2010 and think of one that you hoped would be a fitting title for 2011. My choice was simple. I chose Joy.

    It's something I struggle with holding onto in the busyness of my days. My house is loud, and often crazy. Of course it is, you may say, you have four young kids! A lot of the noise though, is inside; the part of me that craves distraction, that flits between imagining the future and remembering the past. It's the part of me that doesn't want to face the present moment with its needy children and dirty dishes and poopy diapers, that would rather check email or facebook one more time and put off the thing that really needs doing. It's the part that sometimes spends more time reading about home management than actually trying to implement those good ideas, that often feels utterly overwhelmed and lost in the myriad of daily responsibilities that pile up along with the laundry. Or that feels like my children are an intrusion into my time, my plans, my day, as if my life is not about serving them, loving, and pouring my life into them.

    My desire is to become more aware of those feelings as they pop up, the feelings of frustration, of being critical, or angry, the ones that steal the joy right out from under me. I want to meet them at the door, firmly tell them they're not welcome in my life, and by the grace of God not invite them in. Instead I'm inviting thankfulness and gratitude to take their place; that's the plan. I'm going to actively look for things to be thankful for in the situations that tend to frustrate me. I believe that in doing this, I will find the joy I so long for.

    So, this year, I plan to cultivate joy, knowing that it will not be an overnight change. Like planting a garden, I will seek to ready the soil of my heart, plant seeds of thankfulness, water those seeds, pull the weeds of ingratitude, and look forward to bearing some fruit in time. I will try to say yes to my kids more often, to live in the moment, to quiet my inner noise so I can really listen to the precious voices of my children and savor the moments I'm given with them. I will try to obey Saint Paul's instruction to to give thanks in all things. I know I'll fail, many times, but I will remember the mercies that are new every morning. I will, by God's amazing grace, choose Joy.