Dole whip popsicles

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If Dole Whip isn't your favorite Disney park food, then what's wrong with you? For those of you who don't know, Dole Whip is basically pineapple soft serve. But's it's so so much better than that description implies.

I swear I'm going to tell you how to make it in a minute, but first I need to talk about some parenting challenges we're having. As always, skip to the next photo if you're only here for the food!

Lately, parenting has felt like being on a high ropes course. It's wobbly and scary and you rarely feel surefooted. Occasionally you reach a platform and feel like a badass who has everything figured out. But then you start the next leg of the course and feel even more wobbly because now you're tired and also annoyed at yourself for not learning enough from the earlier stages. And while you're taking all the necessary precautions, what if you prove the tragic exception?

The long and short of it is, M started preschool 2 months ago and isn't adjusting all that well. He's acting out a bit and having trouble sitting still and it's been hard to watch.

I want to chalk it all up to his being three and starting a new school (any school, for that matter), but words like "evaluation" and "sensory issues" have already been floated.

Maybe I'm just taking it too hard. To me, he's still the chubby cheeked baby with long eyelashes and a silly lisp, so to hear anything different is hard to accept. I'm sure most parents go through some form of growing pains the first time they get any negative feedback about their child. But oof, does it feel like a knife to the heart. 

And I'm doing my best not to let the feedback make me feel distant or separate from M. At first, hearing about his behavior made me feel like I didn't know him at all. But some 3-year-old acting out doesn't make him a bad kid and the more empathy I can have for him while we all hang in there and try to figure this out, the more successful he'll be when facing challenges in the future. 

But for now, it's just... rough.

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Anyway, this recipe is a great one to make with kids. M loves adding the ingredients and pushing the button on the food processor and that's really the whole shebang. He also calls Dole Whip, Dole "Yip," and it kills me.

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If you plan on eating this right away, then you get the true Dole Whip experience (well, a close approximation anyway). If not, and this recipe makes a lot so you won't likely eat it all in one sitting anyway, freezing it as popsicles is the most successful way to enjoy the leftovers. It freezes really hard, so trying to recreate that soft serve texture is nearly impossible later on. But the mixture makes oh-so-refreshing popsicles. Hang on to some for the first 90-degree day (here in CT, anyway) and thank me later.

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Dole Whip

2 large bananas, peeled and frozen
1 lb bag of frozen pineapple chunks
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 can full-fat coconut milk

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Eat immediately or pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Yield: 24 small popsicles or about 4 cups of soft serve

Dole whip bowl. Feel no shame about eating this for breakfast.

Dole whip bowl. Feel no shame about eating this for breakfast.

Banana bread doughnuts

I've been thinking a lot about feelings lately as M, in typical toddler fashion, has all of the feelings, all of the time. Well, not all of the time. But while it makes life harder for me when he has A DAY, I want him to know that feelings are fine and that "managing" them doesn't mean suppressing them. That reminder is for me more than him because he wants to fly his feelings flag high. Unfortunately, my first instinct is to talk him out of it in an effort to make him "feel better," but which is probably more like "feel nothing negative."

I've read a few articles lately about parenting boys like this one, which was a good reminder of things I already think about and do (and wrote about here). Most writings about raising feminist sons (or just sons who aren't jerks) mention encouraging their emotional vocabulary, but don't give a lot of specific data or instructions. However, this article gives both and made me think about how I talk with M about everything, not just his feelings.

Tiny tooth marks in the doughnut on the bottom right corner.

Tiny tooth marks in the doughnut on the bottom right corner.

Since reading this article, I've tried to be more curious with M, particularly when we're cooking together. He takes his little step stool and stands next to me at our (tiny) counter. I give him jobs and we make a huge mess and in the mean time, I have the opportunity to ask him a million questions about what he's doing, choices he's making, and what he feels while we work on this whole project. Baking is also a great way to teach patience because we can't eat the finished product right away.

M made (and tasted) every batch of these banana bread donuts with me. He loved them all, but I liked my final batch with a little more coconut sugar and a second egg, the best. This is truly a one bowl recipe: We mixed the wet ingredients first and added the dry ingredients directly to the wet batter and they've turned out really well each time (with minimal dish doing at the end). This recipe could easily be made as mini muffins, regular muffins, or a loaf of banana bread. But I quite like them as doughnuts because they bake very evenly and very quickly.

Banana bread donuts

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

3 medium bananas, smashed
¾ cup coconut sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup full fat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick oats
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400. Smash the bananas in a large bowl and thoroughly mix in the rest of the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the same bowl containing the wet mixture and mix until just combined and no dry flour can be seen. Spoon the batter into greased dougnut pan and bake for 12-13 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pushed. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to let cool completely.

Yield: 14-16 doughnuts

Whole 30 snacks and a recap

Strawberry and cherry energy bites | Me & The Moose. Dried fruit and raw nuts combine to make an easy and filling snack. #meandthemoose #energybites #snacks #snackrecipes #whole30 #whole30recipes #almonds

Today is the day! Last day of my Whole 30! This was my hardest round of Whole 30 eating so far. I blame world events for my extreme wine desire throughout the month. I'm sure the plan's founders would blame my "sugar dragons" and suggest that I stay the course and keep Whole 30ing until I truly didn't want it anymore, but...that's not happening. Mostly because it already happened. I caved a few days ago. I think that, as much as January is a great time to clean up your eating, perhaps this January was an exception.

No matter, I made it for most of the month and I feel pretty good, all things considered. Something I did out of some desperation was to pick a meal every day and make it a little special. This happened at breakfast with extra herbs and salmon roe. And often, a little extra effort with a snack made a difference to my motivation later in the day. Here are some of the "treats" that got me through the winter of my discontent and ALL are toddler-approved. There was a day last week when M refused anything other than the kale smoothie below and homemade pickles.

Strawberry and cherry energy bites | Me & The Moose. Dried fruit and raw nuts combine to make an easy and filling snack. #meandthemoose #energybites #snacks #snackrecipes #whole30 #whole30recipes #almonds

Strawberry and Cherry energy bites

1/2 cup dried strawberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 Tbsp water

Put everything in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency, adding 1 Tbsp of water if needed to bring everything together.

Recipe notes: Give your dates a rough chop because I've never had a batch of "pitted" dates without any leftover whole pits or pit shrapnel. Nuts.com is the only place I've found dried strawberries that were Whole 30 compliant, but Trader Joe's carries dried cherries and dates without added sugar.

Yield: About 16, 2-3 bite snacks

 

Deviled eggs | Me & The Moose. These deviled eggs provide a tasty hit of salt and protein to satisfy snack cravings. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #deviledeggs #snacks #snackrecipes

Deviled eggs

2 hard-boiled eggs
2 tsp avocado oil mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
pinch paprika
s/p
pickles, salmon roe, capers, olives, leftover bacon

Hard-boil your eggs. I like to use Martha's method and find that it leads to a very clean peel. However, I almost never peel the eggs right after cooking them. If making these for a larger crowd or just care a lot about aesthetics, hard boil your eggs one day in advance and store in the fridge. Peel cold.

Slice your eggs in half length-wise and pop the yolks into a bowl. Add the mayo, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper and mash with a fork. Add back to the egg whites and top with your choice of accoutrements.

Yield: 1-2 servings, depending on your hunger level

Persimmons with coconut cream and pepitas | Me & The Moose. Dress up your fruit with some good fat from coconut cream and some crunch from pepitas. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #persimmons #snacks #snackrecipes

Persimmon with coconut cream and pepitas

1 fuyu persimmon, peeled and sliced
2 tsp coconut cream
2 Tbsp pepitas, roasted
pinch cinnamon

Peel and slice your persimmon. I like to toast a bunch of pepitas ahead of time and store them at room temperature, but if you don't have any on hand, roast in the oven or toaster oven at 350 for about 5 minutes or until they begin to smell nutty. Add the pepitas, coconut cream, and cinnamon. Eat immediately.

Yield: one serving
 

Kale smoothie | Me & The Moose. This smoothie is a bit of a whole30 cheat, but a good way to sip on some extra veggies and prolong that snack. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #kalesmoothie #snacks #snackrecipes #smoothierecipes

Kale smoothie

Adapted from Minimalist Baker
1 cup kale, packed
1 cup frozen peaches
1 apple
1/2 inch piece of peeled ginger (about the size of your thumbnail)
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp water

Add everything to the blender and process until smooth.

Yield: 1 adult smoothie and 1 toddler smoothie, or 1 very large adult smoothie, or 2 toddler smoothies
 

Bananas with cardamom and pistachios | Me & The Moose. Dress up your fruit with some nuts and coconut cream for more protein and fat to keep you full. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #bananas #snacks #snackrecipes #coconutcream #pistachios

Bananas with cardamom and pistachio

1 banana
1 tsp coconut cream
1 Tbsp shelled pistachios
pinch cardamom
pinch sea salt

Slice or mash a banana and add the coconut cream, pistachios, cardamom, and salt. Eat.

Yield: 1 serving

 

Babaganoush | Me & The Moose. What’s better than a dip that’s mostly veggies? #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #babaganoush #snacks #snackrecipes #diprecipes

Babaganoush

I like Epicurious's recipe, but I halve the amounts, use the smallest Japanese eggplants I can find so that I can use the whole thing (peel and seeds included), add 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, and add 1 Tbsp of avocado oil mayo for some added creaminess.

Yield: about 2 cups

Happy snacking!

 

Chocolate banana reindeer pops

Chocolate banana reindeer pops | Me & The Moose. Sliced bananas and pretzels dipped in chocolate are an easy, festive, and healthier way to celebrate the season. #meandthemoose #bananas #snacks #pretzels #Christmassnacks #Christmasrecipes

The treats train has not slowed down since Halloween and we still have a month to go until we all resolve to stop eating like there's a food shortage coming. But thankfully, we can feel full of holiday spirit, and not junk with these chocolate-covered banana reindeer. I tried this with a few different types of fruit, and bananas worked better than apples, strawberries, or grapes.

Chocolate banana reindeer pops | Me & The Moose. Sliced bananas and pretzels dipped in chocolate are an easy, festive, and healthier way to celebrate the season. #meandthemoose #bananas #snacks #pretzels #Christmassnacks #Christmasrecipes

These treats are also easy to make allergen friendly. Melted carob worked just as well as regular milk, dark, and white chocolates. I used spelt pretzels because this ancient grain is easier to digest than regular wheat and the Happy Herbert brand's ingredient list is blissfully straightforward. However, there are many types of gluten-free pretzels out there that would make a good substitution. The coconut oil that thins out the chocolate also makes these frozen pops a little tropical, which reminds me that there are warmer days ahead. Eventually.

Chocolate banana reindeer pops | Me & The Moose. Sliced bananas and pretzels dipped in chocolate are an easy, festive, and healthier way to celebrate the season. #meandthemoose #bananas #snacks #pretzels #Christmassnacks #Christmasrecipes

Chocolate banana reindeer pops

2 large bananas      
12-14 thin wooden popsicle sticks
Mini pretzels
Chocolate chips (milk, dark, white, carob, or dairy-free chips https://enjoylifefoods.com/our-food/baking-chocolate/chocolate-for-baking-mini-chips/

Cut each banana into thick slices (you should get about 6-7 slices from each large banana). Snap 12-14 pretzels in half and remove the middle nubbin.

Stick the ends of each pretzel into the sides of the banana pieces to make antlers. Stick a wooden popsicle stick into the bottom of the banana slice. Place all bananas with antlers and sticks onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for at least one hour, but up to one day.

Chocolate banana reindeer pops | Me & The Moose. Sliced bananas and pretzels dipped in chocolate are an easy, festive, and healthier way to celebrate the season. #meandthemoose #bananas #snacks #pretzels #Christmassnacks #Christmasrecipes

Once the bananas are frozen, combine ½ bag of your preferred chocolate with 2 Tbsp unmelted coconut oil in a large bowl and melt in the microwave. Cook for 30 seconds on high and then in 10 second bursts until liquid, stirring between each burst. Let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bananas from the freezer one by one and dip in the melted chocolate. Tap off the excess and, using a small plate, transfer back to the baking sheet in the freezer and repeat with the other frozen bananas.

Let the covered bananas freeze for at least one hour, but up to five days before serving.

Yield: 12-14 banana reindeer

Chocolate banana reindeer pops | Me & The Moose. Sliced bananas and pretzels dipped in chocolate are an easy, festive, and healthier way to celebrate the season. #meandthemoose #bananas #snacks #pretzels #Christmassnacks #Christmasrecipes

Spooky seed butter graveyards!

Seed butter graveyards | Me & The Moose. This spooky take on worms and dirt have chocolate candy skeletons, graves, and various types of dirt for your Halloween treats. #meandthemoose #halloween #veganoption #glutenfreeoption #dairyfreeoption #nutfreeoption #graveyards #wormsanddirt

Speaking of scary: I count myself so incredibly lucky that M doesn't have any food allergies. He's outgrown the tomato sensitivity he had early on, but that was an annoyance, not a life-threatening emergency. I can't even imagine worrying that a farmer, factory-worker, chef, teacher, babysitter, or other parent somehow mislabeled something or included an ingredient that could really hurt my kid. Especially from mid-October to January, there are treats everywhere!

In that vein, these Halloween goodies are nut-free and egg-free and can easily be made gluten- and dairy-free as well. The chocolate is all store-bought, so use your go-to brands to be safe. ALSO- and most importantly- these treats are SOOOOOOOO GGGGOOOOOOODDDDD and relatively healthy!

Spooky seed butter graveyards

Chocolate skeletons
1 oz milk or dark chocolate
Wilton skull and bones sprinkles

Seed butter graveyards | Me & The Moose. #meandthemoose #halloween #veganoption #glutenfreeoption #dairyfreeoption #nutfreeoption #graveyards #wormsanddirt

Heat the chocolate in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, until melted. On a plastic wrap covered plate, make nickle-sized circles or ovals of melted chocolate. Carefully place the skull and bone sprinkles into the chocolate. Refrigerate until set.
 

Chocolate mug cakes
Adapted from this recipe

6 Tbsp whole wheat flour (or gluten-free flour mix)
3 Tbsp + 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 tsp olive oil
6 Tbsp milk (I used dairy milk, but almond, cashew, or soy would also work)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to remove lumps. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Pour equal amounts into two ungreased mugs. With one mug at a time, microwave on high for 1 minute, check for doneness, and cook for 30 more seconds. (Note: we have a very weak microwave, so if you have a stronger one, check after 30 seconds. I usually tip the cup around to see if anything is moving.) When cakes are cooked, use a fork to remove them from the mugs and let them cool on a plate. Don’t worry about removing them cleanly, as they’ll be broken up for the “dirt” in the graveyards. Let cool.

Seed butter graveyards | Me & The Moose. Chocolate mug cakes are the easy and surprisingly healthy. #meandthemoose #halloween #veganoption #glutenfreeoption #dairyfreeoption #nutfreeoption #graveyards #wormsanddirt

Sunflower-seed butter chocolate avocado pudding
Adapted from this recipe

¾ large ripe avocado (mine was about 7.5 oz with pit and peel)
½ large ripe banana (mine was 7 oz with peel)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup Spiced seed butter
2 Tbsp milk (I used dairy, but almond, cashew, or soy would also work)

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. If making the Spiced Seed Butter specifically for these graveyards, be sure to read the directions and follow them exactly. You won't be sorry; this seed butter is GREAT. Makes about 1.25 cups of pudding.

Seed butter graveyards | Me & The Moose. Chocolate mug cake, avocado chocolate pudding, and some store-bought candies make an easy, festive Halloween treat. #meandthemoose #halloween #veganoption #glutenfreeoption #dairyfreeoption #nutfreeoption #graveyards #wormsanddirt

Assembling the graveyards

Remove the chocolate skeletons from the fridge to warm up. Pour a few chocolate rocks on the bottom of your graveyard container(s). (Possible substitutions include chocolate-covered raisins, chocolate chips, carob chips, or you could skip this part entirely.) Nestle your chocolate skeleton(s) on the side of the glass container, pressing gently to try and mold the chocolate to your container (or skip this step too for allergen sensitivity, if needed).

Crumble the chocolate cake completely and gently add a layer of cake crumbles, pressing down lightly. Be sure to keep the cake crumbles behind your chocolate skeletons, if using.

Add a pudding layer and press gently to remove air bubbles. Clean up the sides of the glass container. Cover with more cake crumbles.

For the graves: Roll out a small amount of gray or white fondant using powdered sugar to prevent sticking. (I bought a tiny container of Wilton gray fondant at Michael's and threw away the box before checking the ingredients and can't find the information online. If fondant isn't an option, gluten-, dairy-, and/or egg-free cookies or marshmallows also make good "graves.") Cut out a very small square and tap with your fingers to round the corners. With an edible pen, melted chocolate, or gel frosting, write RIP on the grave and nestle into the cake crumbs. Place a crumb or two behind the grave to prop it up.

Yield: 4 medium graveyards or 6 small graveyards

Seed butter graveyards | Me & The Moose. Chocolate mug cake, chocolate avocado pudding, and some store-bought candies make an easy and festive Halloween treat. #meandthemoose #halloween #veganoption #glutenfreeoption #dairyfreeoption #nutfreeoption #graveyards #wormsanddirt
Seed butter graveyards | Me & The Moose. Chocolate mug cake, chocolate avocado pudding, and some store-bought candies make an easy and festive Halloween treat. #meandthemoose #halloween #veganoption #glutenfreeoption #dairyfreeoption #nutfreeoption #graveyards #wormsanddirt