Chocolate hummus

Chocolate hummus!

Even the best intentioned parents fall into bad habits when it comes to toddlers and food. I swore we would never make M a separate dinner from ours and yet, here we are. I also swore that I would never cave to bedtime snack requests, but…you guessed it.

Look, we have a lot of good habits and we course correct pretty fast when we realize that we’re off track. And we try not to sweat it when things change or don’t work around mealtimes. But f*&$@#ing hell is it frustrating.

While M isn’t a huge snacker between meals, he would happily eat all “snack” food for his meals. For lunch, I’m more okay with packing him a collection of finger foods (hard-boiled egg, veggies and hummus, fruit, mini muffins, etc), but for dinner, it’s hard for me to swallow guacamole and chips as his main course (pun intended).

I mean, he has an entire adolescence to make bad food choices, so we have to get some goodness in while we can, right?

All this to say, we’re struggling with food right now. One strategy we’re implementing is trying to ensure that M’s whole day is rounded out with good stuff so that one bad meal isn’t a big deal.

Chickpeas, dates, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Blend until really smooth for a protein-packed after school snack.

I started making my own chocolate hummus after being introduced to this magical concoction (seriously, how did I not know that chocolate hummus existed until about 2 months ago?) at my book club.

Chocolate hummus: free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and all animal products. Basically, the perfect after-school snack.

This sweet dip is mostly chickpeas, which have a ton of protein and fiber, plus some natural sweeteners and a couple of spices. It takes about 15 minutes to make and most of that time is spent waiting for water to boil. This snack is also free of nuts, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and any animal products.

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A couple of notes:
- Soak 4 dates, though you may not need them all. This dip tends to get sweeter as it sits in the fridge, so be careful about adding all four dates up front.
- If the dip doesn’t taste sweet enough after two dates, try adding another pinch of salt. The salt really brings out the sweetness and the chocolate, so you may not need additional sweetener.

Chick peas, dates, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.

Chocolate hummus

1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained |
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup maple syrup
2-4 dates, soaked in boiling water for 5-10 minutes
1/8 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp vanilla extract

Boil some water and pour over 4 dates. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse your chickpeas and pour them onto a paper towel. Dry them lightly. Add to a food processor.

Measure the other ingredients and add to the food processor. When the dates are soft, add them to the other ingredients and blend until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Yield: 1.5 cups or about 14.5 ounces

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Chocolate hummus!

Possibly the perfect lunchbox treat or after-school snack.

Purple kale pesto

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This recipe is really just an excuse to make tomato hearts. Because TOMATO HEARTS! (See the easy peasy tutorial below.)

As always, scroll to the next photo to skip the life update coming at you: I've been with my mom in the hospital for the past few days, hence the long pause in posting. I'll spare you the details, but it was pretty brutal for my mom and will continue to be a rough course of treatment in the coming weeks and months. 

Seeing someone I love be so sick brings out competing urges in me. On the one hand, I want to be optimistic and wait to freak out until we see what happens in the next few weeks. On the other hand, I want to mentally prepare for the worst, or, as I usually do, talk about/worry about "the worst" as though somehow saying it out loud or thinking about it constantly will keep it at bay. Like the Scheherazade of cancer.

Anyway, as always, I can only control what I can control. I'll try my best to carry on and eat well and get veggies into my child and not let him watch all the television though I mostly want to curl into a ball and stare at the wall.

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This pesto is so vibrant and delicious. And purple feels on brand for Valentine's day, no?

Though I'm always in favor of shortcuts in recipes and against dirtying unnecessary dishes, you really must blanch the kale before making this sauce. But I sometimes go straight from the pot to the food processor (shaking off the excess water in the process) and skip the post-blanch ice bath that is supposed to stop things from overcooking. I find that the blending does the trick and a little excess water doesn't hurt the mixture either.

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This guy is Whole 30 compliant but adding in some Parmesan wouldn't hurt one bit. This is also a great way to get vegetables into your child since they're blended into the sauce. I find that the purple color is fascinating to small people and some of it comes out in the blanching water, turning it a gorgeous shade of lavender, which is also compelling to the wee ones. If nuts are a no-go for your kids' lunchboxes, try swapping in tiger nuts (they're not actually nuts) or pumpkin seeds for the cashews.

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Here's a quick tutorial for the tomatoes:

A couple of tips: Look for tomatoes that are longer than they are round and cut them on the diagonal, but toward the middle, leaving a little bulb on each end. When you've cut the tomato in half, flip the right side over so that the two fat parts and the skinny tips meet. Stick a toothpick or skewer through the middle like an arrow. Done.

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Purple kale pesto

6 oz purple kale, stalks removed (1 large bunch)
1/3 cup basil
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup roasted, unsalted cashews or cashew pieces
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Rinse the kale and rip the leaves from the stalks into large chunks (this part is cathartic). Put in the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Give it a few stirs to ensure that all of the kale is submerged. Add directly to the blender or food processor.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you've reached your desired consistency. If too thick, add more water or oil by the tsp to thin out.

Yield: 18 oz or about 3 cups (This recipe makes a good amount of pesto and was more than enough for a lb of pasta.)

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January Whole 30! (and Kale pesto!)

Kale pesto | Me & The Moose. If you’re doing a January Whole 30, cutting down on dairy, or just looking to add more nutrients and veggies anywhere you can, make this kale-packed sauce that is equal parts tasty and healthy. #meandthemoose #januarywhole30 #whole30 #whole30recipes #kalerecipes #kale #kalepesto #pestorecipes

Friends! It's Whole 30 times again. If you want to read about our first go round with this way of eating, check out this post, this post, this post, this post, and this post. And if that last one depressed you about Whole 30 (it depressed me!), read this post that was a little more uplifting after I had some distance from those first 30 days. Technically speaking, we've been easing into this Whole 30 since Christmas because we lost track of how many cookies, cakes, bars, appetizers, cocktails, and glasses of wine we had during the holidays. And technically speaking, yesterday was our first day of this Whole 30. However, today feels like Sunday (even though it's Monday) and since it's the first day of the official #JanuaryWhole30, it felt like the right time to post.

This month, I'll be publishing only Whole 30-compliant recipes here and on Instagram that we're eating regularly and that we also feed to M. Because the only thing harder than doing a Whole 30, is doing it with a kid. While he's not actually doing Whole 30 with us (he'll be eating plenty of grains, legumes, and dairy), I don't want to cook much for him that isn't acceptable for us too because, a) I don't have that much self-control; b) we're making super healthy stuff, so why wouldn't we want to feed it to our kid?; and c) I'm lazy. 

A couple of things we've done to prep for this Whole 30: 
1) Roast a ton of vegetables (and I mean, A TON). At the beginning of a Whole 30, I get really snack-y and while part of the program is about checking in with yourself before grazing to make sure that you're physically hungry and not mentally hungry, the first week is really hard and doing a little damage control is helpful. And by damage control, I mean, cooking things that you can snack on that are Whole 30. Once you get into the swing of things, you can work on eliminating those extras.

2) Stock the fridge and freezer with things that are easy to throw onto a sheet pan or into a pressure cooker. In our freezer right now: Salmon, shrimp, cod, Whole 30 compliant chicken sausages, ground chicken, and skinless, boneless chicken thighs. 

3) Make/buy all of the sauces:
Ketchup, BBQ sauce, and mustard
Mayonnaise
Basil Pesto
Caesar dressing
Romesco
Chimichurri
 

Kale pesto | Me & The Moose. If you’re doing a January Whole 30, cutting down on dairy, or just looking to add more nutrients and veggies anywhere you can, make this kale-packed sauce that is equal parts tasty and healthy. #meandthemoose #januarywhole30 #whole30 #whole30recipes #kalerecipes #kale #kalepesto #pestorecipes

Kale pesto

Adapted from The Kitchn
4 cups packed chopped kale
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp olive oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and fill another large bowl about half way with ice water. Wash and chop kale, but don’t worry about removing the tough stems because everything will be blended anyway. When water is at a rolling boil, add the kale and swirl with a slotted spoon a few times. When kale is a bit wilted (about 1-2 minutes), remove it from the boiling water and immediately add it to the bowl of ice water. I don’t drain the kale very thoroughly (I just take it out of the water and shake it a few times) because I think a little extra water helps to thin the sauce without adding more oil, but you can pat the kale dry if you want a thicker pesto. Add to your blender or food processor.

Roast the walnuts in a 350 oven or toaster oven for about 5 minutes or until just lightly browned and starting to smell nutty. You can also toast them in a sauté pan on the stove top. When browned, add them to the blender or food processor as well.

Add the garlic, salt, and lemon juice and start to blend, slowly adding the olive oil in a thin stream. If using a small food processor or a blender without a top that opens, just add the oil with the rest of the ingredients and process together. Blend until you've reached your desired consistency.

Yield: 1.25 cups or 10.5 oz

Kale pesto | Me & The Moose. If you’re doing a January Whole 30, cutting down on dairy, or just looking to add more nutrients and veggies anywhere you can, make this kale-packed sauce that is equal parts tasty and healthy. #meandthemoose #januarywhole30 #whole30 #whole30recipes #kalerecipes #kale #kalepesto #pestorecipes