Joan adores dates. I can totally appreciate why she does, as to me, they are nature’s ultimate candy. They’re sweet, rich and energising, and completely satisfying if I’m low on energy or craving something sweet. It tickles me to see that Joan feels the same way. Sultanas? Nope, she’s very dubious. Dried figs, yeah, she enjoys them…but dates…dates, she loves.
When making smoothies together I give her a little portion of date to nibble, and I always throw a few in my bag for emergencies, like if she’s grizzling in the car or if she hurts herself and is inconsolable. In our attempts to gradually and gently wean bubba, I am finding dates are a wonderful breastmilk replacement, offering comfort and distraction from whatever has made my babe upset.
One hot afternoon last week, I had an urge to make a sweet and refreshing snack that required very little preparation and no time in the oven. Dates are delicious on their own, even more so with a spoonful of tahini, but on this day I wanted to do something a little different. The week prior I had been gifted some festive cookie cutters that I was keen on trying out, and I imagined a fast, freezer fudge made with dates + nuts + coconut oil would satisfy both my appetite and my desire for gingerbread people-shaped treats. As it turns out the date fudge was insanely easy to make and tasty to eat, but it fell short in appearance, as the gingerbread-people didn’t resemble people at all, rather brown blobs. Delicious blobs, indeed, but blobs nonetheless. So I set the cookie cutters aside, fashioned the fudge into squares and took our plate of snacks into the garden, where Joan and I sat with our feet on the grass and stuffed our faces with our happy food.
DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps. NEXT to me, this time. Not in the carrier. Big changes. See this post for details.
HEARING: The cicadas outside – boy are those things loud! It negates the need for a white noise app.
DRINKING: right now, a coffee. It’s 11:52am and until this dreamy cup of coffee I hadn’t had any caffeine. That’s weird for me, usually I need a cup of green tea to revive me. My smoothie must have done the job! We’ve been having smoothies practically every morning, mostly green or cacao+oat.
EATING + COOKING: it finally feels like SUMMERRRRRRRR. So we’ve been having a lot of salad bowls, as well as mangoes and cherries. Joan remains obsessed with sardines, so we’ve continued to eat a lot of those. We made fish tacos with friends, which included this corn and a fresh cabbage/carrot/ coriander slaw – perfect Summer entertaining food. Oh, and our Transition Farm seasonal box has started again (woop woop!), which is why we’ve been loving on salads so much. Their greens are divine, nothing else compares and I’m reminded of this every year when the weather warms up. Their spinach is fantastic in those green smoothies – I add spinach, frozen banana, oats, chia or hemp seeds, yoghurt and milk, and then blitz it up. I pour out a portion for Joan then jazz mine up a bit, adding a bit more spinach and milk to the blender, along with a Medjool date, a bigger portion of hemp powder or hemp seeds, coconut oil and then sometimes other things based on cravings and what I have on hand.
Oh, and we’ve also been nibbling on dried fruit (organic and preservative-free – always! I’m picky with my dried fruit). I decided to make fancy trail mix for gifts this year, which explains the picture at the top of this post. I wanted something that people could munch on that was a lighter alterntive to all the baked goods on offer during this time. It could be a car/plane trip snack, or sit in handbags for those pekish moments. Or obviously it can be used as hiking fuel too! Anyway, here’s the recipe mix, in case you feel like doing it too.
I’ve always known that vegetables make me feel good. Even as a kid I recall viewing my mum’s lentils as “power food”, and to this day my brother and I regularly request a serve when we’re run down or busy or just need a dose of home. As I grew, I continued to recognise that food was powerful stuff, and that what you eat acutely influences the way you feel and function. This became really apparent to me as I moved out of home and began preparing all my meals (well, except for those deliveries of lentils and bolognese), while at the same time diving into my University studies and all the funky projects we were required to do in order to become nutrition experts (like collecting our urine for an entire weekend and then analysing it in a lab. True story. People gagged). Being on a major student budget meant I had to get crafty about my vegetable consumption. Dinners looked like frozen peas + rice + chickpeas + soy sauce and and lunches were big salads with cans of tuna I “borrowed” from my parents’ pantry (and giant cheese cubes, too. Man, I love a good cheese cube) with bread. Sometimes I’d splurge on a turkey+ cranberry+spinach focaccia at the University cafe (remember the days of big, toasted focaccias?) and cheap sushi rolls (though let it be known, the words “cheap” and “sushi” should never follow each other), but mostly I saved my pennies and put them towards groceries (and overseas travel, but that’s another story). Only occasionally would I curse my inclination to buy vegetables and rice and “borrow” my roommate’s food (Pippa, I’m sorry for all the Pocky I took). I’ve just always been a vegetable girl.
In my early twenties I developed a mouth infection following my wisdom teeth removal (this isn’t a complete departure from the topic of vegetables, stay with me). Oh, that was a charming period! The pain killers I took messed up my bowels something shocking, which lead me to become committed to vegetables with more emergency (well, vegetables AND psyllium husks in water. Gag). I’m sorry, is this too much toilet talk? Come to think of it, is there ever an acceptable amount of poo talk? Dietitians are used to talking about this stuff so I find myself lacking social graces in that department. My point is that vegetables are my number one category of feel good foods for a well functioning mind and body, and my love for them only increases as the years go by. This isn’t news, I have spoken many times on this topic, but today I wanted to share a little on how I make sure I eat them. It’s easy to grab a carrot, and many days I do just that, but I mostly fancy meals that are slightly more interesting than straight up raw veg. This requires time. And so, to make sure I’m eating in my feel good way, I meal prep.
Ok, folks, this will be a quick one. Joan is to my left, napping peacefully after 50 minutes in the bed. See my instagram posts here and here for some details as to why this is such a big deal for us. Actually, you know what? I am going to copy what I wrote and post it below and then throw a few more thoughts at you. I guess this won’t be a quick one anymore (surprise, surprise, the lady loves to talk).