Blueberry Cookie Dough Truffles (Gluten-Free)

(We’re still away visiting family, but we couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you. With any luck, we’ll be making it again in Chicago!)
blueberries

We’re walking through the grocery store, and Tim’s telling me about this idea he has for using up the case of blueberries in our cart (because apparently it’s an annual tradition).

“It’d be like a cookie,” he’s saying, “but you wouldn’t bake it, and there’d be blueberries mixed inside. Then, we’ll dip them in chocolate!”

I hear my mouth say something like OK even as I’m rounding another aisle on the hunt for flour, but honestly, all I’m thinking about is cracking open a pint as soon as we can get in the car. In the checkout line, when our cashier inquires about our blueberry plans, Tim’s ready. “Well, we’ll bake some, we’ll eat some and then we’ll freeze some!” he tells her, as excited as it were a conveyor belt of diamonds and rubies, not berries, that we are sending down the line.

And minutes later, as we’re feasting on fistfuls of blueberries while exiting the parking lot, talking excitedly about scones and pancakes and smoothies, I think to myself, man, there’s just nobody like Tim.

blueberry cookie dough on tray

We’ve only been married eight-and-a-half months, a time span not quite long enough to complete a school year, qualify for employee vacation time or in most cases grow a child, and yet there are so many things I already find myself taking for granted about our life—like the way we read to each other, in bed at night, on car trips to nearby towns or at the table when one or the other of us finds an article that’s interesting in the middle of our workdays; or the random way we’ll enter deep discussions, like when I ask him “Why do you think people are so drawn to laughter?” one afternoon, driving in the car.

In many ways, Tim is just like me: enjoys reading, a homebody, gets frustrated when something is imprecise. In other ways, he’s not: doesn’t fear what people think, for one; is full of faith, for another. I told our friend Jared a few weeks ago that I think marriage is sometimes like a mirror and what I meant was this: there’s something about the very close, very personal day-to-day interaction with another human being that makes you better able to see yourself. Through eight-and-a-half months of living with Tim, sharing our meals and our work and our weekends, I’ve seen things about myself I don’t like, areas were I lack—mostly because they are areas where he doesn’t.

tim making cookie dough truffles

I, it’s becoming clearer and clearer, am what you might call a cynic, a person prone to suspicion and doubt. I like proof and want evidence and probably won’t believe something until I can see, for sure, that it’s true. You could blame this on authority figures I had who lied to me or to the social environment I grew up in that deceived and hid grace, but the larger issue is me—me and my fear and my doubt. A few years ago, in a Bible study I was in, we were reading about the apostle Thomas, the one who had to see Jesus’ hands, and I starting sobbing when I read Christ’s response: no censure, no condemnation, just “Put your finger here. See my hands.” I think about that sometimes when Tim and I talk about the future and wanting to give more, and I have to rehearse in my mind promises, promises that I’ve seen to be true, like evidence, right before my eyes.

And I think about that when he talks animatedly about blueberries, to a stranger at the grocery store, without inhibition or caution or a guard up, and I think about it when he tells me his hopes for the future, hopes I’d throw away as impossible or too big. What a gift to live life with a man like this, what a gift to rub up against him and feel my faith sharpened, see my hope grow. And what a gift to eat blueberry-filled, cookie-dough truffles covered in chocolate, the ones he envisioned and I couldn’t see, the ones that are crazy, almost unbelievably, good.

 

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Citrus Honey Basil Creamsicles

popsicle mold

Have you ever noticed how everyone wants to speak into your life—give you advice, tell you how to do something, show you what they know? In a perfect world, this would be great but in reality, here’s the thing: advice is often wrong.

grapefruit cutting

The week before Tim and I got married, we were told the honeymoon would be nothing like we expected but probably bad; newlyweds don’t know each other at all; give ourselves some time and we’ll probably hate married life; the first year of marriage is the best; the first year of marriage is the worst; and we have no idea what we’re in for.

In the months since, women have told me marriage can’t stay sweet; we’re only happy now because it’s the beginning; we should have a baby; we should wait two years to have a baby; we should be having sex X number of times a day, a week; all women get sick of their husbands; we won’t like working together at home for long; etc. etc.

grapefruit

It’s not just people, either. There are TV shows and movies, magazines and books, advertisements, websites, Pinterest. The messages they give can be subtle or aggressive, obvious or covert: make more money! your house should be beautiful! this will make you happy! want this! buy this! be this! go!

What’s worse is that I’ve believed them. I’ve believed them and I’ve repeated them—to myself and to other people—growing this cycle of half-truth and lie by perpetuating opinions and ideas rooted in nothing.

orange

orange peels

But I had a lightbulb moment last week, the climax of many months, I think, when it hit me: just like choosing what to eat and drink during the week, in many cases, the one who chooses who’s speaking is ME.

Far from a victim, I am the willing subscriber to that voice of negativity, materialism, jealousy, despair. I seek out that person. I put myself in situations where that will be the norm, the perspective, the tone. I say those things.

But if it’s true that everyone is selling a message, one that I can swallow whole, it’s also true that I don’t have to take it—that in many cases, I can “guard my heart” in the same way I guard my body, being careful what I take in.

and mixing

fresh basil

raw honey

vitamix!

Saturday morning, pulling out a grapefruit for these citrus basil honey popsicles, asking myself whether to juice it or blend it whole, I asked Tim which would nourish my body best. Turns out that while both are good (and juicing might make a more typical popsicle), blending the pith and seeds and all adds the nutritional benefits of what’s essentially the whole-foods version of grapefruit seed extract, a powerful, disease-fighting ingredient shown to have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties; work against yeast; and combat many bacteria and viruses, including E.Coli. Once I saw that, it was an easy choice—I saw how it would help my body by giving it what is good.

drink at the table

You can drink it as a juice/tonic, at once bitter from the grapefruit pith and sweet from the honey, or you can freeze it in popsicle molds (ours were a wedding gift and we love them!).

citrus honey basil tonic

popsicles
citrus honey basil creamsicle

In our little household, while we ate popsicles this weekend, enjoying God’s good gifts of grapefruit, orange, basil and honey, pureed into bittersweet frozen form, I thought how easy it seems now, in our life together, to crave fresh fruit like this, how satisfying and sustaining and, good.

In the same way, I hope that the more I feed on faith-filled voices of truth and love and authenticity, the more and more they become the sources I look to to feed my soul and, more than that, that more and more they become my voice.

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Raw Brownies + Chocolate Avocado Frosting

raw brownies

This past week, Tim and I did sort of a cleanse, wherein we ate mostly raw: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, raw dairy, dried fruit. We added homemade chicken soup, nettle and Tulsi teas and, at a maximum of once a day, roasted vegetables, but otherwise it was, for the first time in our lives, an experience in raw eating.

ingredients for brownie base

It was interesting.

ground up brownie layer

First of all, it wasn’t hard, at least not in the way typical cleanses are. I wasn’t starving, I didn’t get major detox reactions, there was no need to summon all my willpower not to eat a cookie. A couple times, one of us would say to the other, doesn’t a taco sound good?, but, for the most part, we felt like there was so much we still could eat: a bowl of juicy grapefruit; fresh pomegranate arils sprinkled with flax seeds and coconut; caprese salad (tomatoes, raw mozzarella, fresh basil), morning smoothies, giant green salads (and you know how I like those), frozen fruit mixed with nuts in raw milk, homemade pecan nut butter on celery sticks—all along with our soup and roasted vegetables, so, as you can imagine, we were quite full and satisfied.

prepared loaf pan

Also, it was really, well, cleansing, just as we hoped it would be. The week made us feel good—really good—from our skin to our digestion to our energy levels. After the holidays, I had been fighting a little bit of a sore throat/cold/infection, the first one since I changed my diet in 2009. This cleanse week killed it, knocked it right out of me.

chocolate avocado frosting

But there’s one more thing, too, a thing that’s been especially fascinating and something I didn’t expect or plan for: this week has started to open my eyes to the world of raw eating. It’s something. You know, there are raw restaurants, raw blogs (like my new favorite g0lubka), raw cookbooks. And it’s not like you just eat an apple and a carrot and call it a day, either: there are crazy inventive raw recipes for things like raw donuts, raw cookies and chocolate avocado pudding, for example.

pan of raw brownies

I mean, have you ever had a raw brownie?

This was an idea that had never before occurred, let alone appealed, to me.

sliced raw brownies

And I know they say, when you take yourself away from something for a little while, say from sugar, for example, you change your tastes. So I know it’s possible that these brownies won’t seem sweet enough to the average palate or chocolatey enough compared to the typical brownie.

raw chocolate brownie

But to me, they were amazing, enough to make me wonder why I’ve trained my brain to think I need things sweeter than they have to be. I loved them. I made them twice. And both times, when I saw the simple combination of dates, walnuts and cocoa powder make a brownie and the ability of half an avocado with honey, cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon, along with just a pinch of salt, to create a velvety chocolate frosting, I marveled. It’s the same feeling I’ve had looking at a piece of segmented grapefruit or the inside of a pomegranate: what amazing foods we’ve been given. It’s good to celebrate them.

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Curried Coconut Chicken & Peanut Butter Noodles

Listen, it’s not like I never do adventurous things. I mean, you know: I ride roller coasters. I cut 11 inches off my hair. I launch out into self-employment. And hello, there was that mountain in Maine I won’t let anyone forget about. Remember?!

But when it comes to my kitchen and new types of cuisine, even I will admit that I stick pretty close to the basics: American, Italian, sometimes Greek, but pretty rarely anything outside that. And if it weren’t for my friend Stacey, who came over Tuesday night to, at her suggestion, try making Thai food, that would all be exactly the same.

peanut butter noodles

Our plan of attack was simple: pick two recipes, adapt the ingredients to be fully natural, follow the instructions and cook.

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Birthday Giveaway Three (or, how far we’ve come)

It’s pretty easy to see things I’ve inherited. I have my dad’s olive skin, my mom’s round face, the bump on my nose found in both sides of my gene pool. I like good conversation, working in the garden, making a big meal to eat with people I love. And, sometimes, when I laugh very hard or hear myself telling a story like it’s a routine, I think how my grandma used to do those things.

homemade granola

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Birthday Giveaway One (or, basil and peaches!)

(This giveaway is now closed, and the winner [Alicia!] has been contacted. Thanks to all who entered!)

You know what it’s like when you start noticing what you appreciate about something, be it food or a place or a person you’ve just met, and then it goes and gets better? Almost as if your thankfulness were the cause, that thing suddenly pulls out even more of its charms: that dark chocolate’s topped by sea salt, that person makes you laugh especially hard, that neighborhood looks much more lovely when the sunlight hits the trees a certain way. You already knew you liked it, but now. Oh, now! Now you’re sold, smitten, goooone.

Well, that’s what summer’s gone and done, since I wrote that last post.

And has it ever.

fresh peaches

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finally getting it now

fresh strawberries

I don’t remember the first time I ate a strawberry. Do you?

I wonder if I liked it right away or if it took some time. I wonder if it was like tomatoes, where at first I hated the texture, and then I had some sliced on pizza and didn’t hate them, and soon started to want them (on pizza, on sandwiches, growing more plants every year). I kind of feel like I always liked strawberries, but who knows? I mean, some things take time to warm up to.

soaked spelt berry muffins

For example, I do remember the first time I soaked flour, and it was no strawberry. Remember that bittersweet soaked whole grain bread experience, the one where I was never quite sure if I’d done it right and the yeast plus my inexperience added up to ho-hum? I could have given up right then. I could have said no more soaking! It’s not easy to like! But then again, where would that attitude get me? I’ll tell you where: to a world without tomatoes, cherries, cheese, kefir, eggs, exercise and, heck, even some of my favorite people.

So I persevered. And go figure! I think I’m finally getting it.

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