Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Better Brownies

I do not have enough space in my house to store the hundreds of cookbooks that I would love to have so I rely heavily on the library and the internet for new and exciting recipes for my family. My only issue with searching the internet is that when you put in a dish it is hard to search through the hundreds and even thousands of recipes to find one that has healthy ingredients. It seems that one after another has yucky cream of something, vegetable oil, corn syrup and my list goes on. Also, I am very much an impromptu cook. I never plan for anything and I very rarely have all of the ingredients that are needed so I am always trying to find something that will work in its place. Sometimes it turns out fantastic and sometimes it goes straight into the trash.

Well, today I typed in "brownies" as I was appointed the task of making brownies for a play date tomorrow. I clicked on the first recipe that came up and I was disappointed to see the first ingredient be vegetable oil. What I did like though was the simplicity of it though. So I was looking around wondering what I could substitute for the vegetable oil. At first my eyes went to my very expensive bottle of grapeseed oil but considering that I needed a half of a cup from my small 12 oz. bottle I was less than thrilled. Then I remembered the 54 oz. tub of organic coconut oil in my pantry (thanks again Liz!!), I thought the nutty sweetness would be perfect for brownies. Next on the list, white sugar...that's a no brainer, throw in organic evaporated sugar cane juice plus some organic, pastured eggs. As for the vanilla extract, I have been out for months and trying to use up my bottle of almond extract and it is so yummy. Whole wheat flour is pretty much always used in place of all purpose flour in our house. Unsweetened cocoa powder is something I just never remember to pick up when I am stocking my pantry for baking items but carob powder is always in there. Also, having a really good quality salt is extremely important. I really urge you to look into Real Salt, which is the only salt that we ever use in our home. Now look at that...boring not so great for your body ingredients all replaced with interesting ones that are a much better choice.

I will admit that it took some work to get the coconut oil to cooperate. If you try this recipe please remember to liquify your oil before trying to mix. I did not and had to heat up the outside of my mixer bowl with hot water and then move on to mixing everything together. After getting everything mixed together I took a quick little taste test before pouring it into the pan and I was blown away!!!! The batter was so good! I think that the next time I make these I may even try and go egg free and use the flax seed egg replacer.

Next, what came out of the oven were some of the yummiest tasting brownies I have had in a long time. So yummy that the ladies will be lucky if I even have any left for the play date tomorrow.

If you are looking for a new brownie recipe please try this and be sure to let me know what you think.


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup organic evaporated sugar cane juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 organic, pastured eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup carob powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Real salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease (with coconut oil) a 9x9 inch baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, carob, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Magical Moments

There are those moments in a mothers life where you just realize how magical childhood is. Today I had that moment...

We were at a big playground surrounded by many children and off in the distance was a large hill. The children asked to go to the hill so we all headed over there. As the 3 older ones ran up the hill Peylyn and I sat at the bottom. She nursed while I watched them scramble up to the top. Zola and Ajay asked if they could roll down it. After I shouted yes they all got on their bellies and began to roll down colliding into one another. It was hilarious. Then Zola had the idea to roll up the hill, as they all tried to do this they just rolled in circles. Peylyn and I couldn't take it any longer so we ran up the hill to play with them and to take our turn at rolling down the hill.

Does a day get any better than that?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Slowing Down

I am making a vow right here and now to slow it down. Come on, who is with me?

This evening Peylyn and I went to return a light bulb at Wal-Mart and as usual I put her in the cart and bolted through the parking lot, made a bee line to customer service and headed off to the kitchen section. Yeah, don't judge me...I returned a light bulb that we ended up not needing and put my money towards a glass loaf pan.

I decided to also head to the back and grab a bottle of wine. Peylyn was squirming and trying to get out of the cart and I am desperately trying to entertain her. So I grabbed a bottle and decided to take her out and let her walk. My biggest worry about letting a little one walk is always all of the other people that are too absorbed into their own shopping to bother watching out for little ones. Being the awesome little girl that she is she gladly took my hand and we very slowly made our way to the front of the store.

It was the sweetest thing ever! She had my hand in one hand and my wallet in the other and she was just taking it all in. Touching bags on shelves, feeling the produce and rubbing fabric...why on earth do we rush through awesome experiences like this? As I was walking back to the wine I thought to myself how dizzying the lights are in stores like this and add on top of that going at fast speeds, I can only imagine how it feels from their perspective. The lights were not half as bad when we went through the store at Peylyn's speed.

It hit me that I have been having to teach myself to slow it down and be patient in the kitchen with all of my new cooking and fermenting to get great results, of course if I slow it down with my kids I will also get great results there as well. We rush through life expecting them to take it in so fast and then we have 10 year old that are acting like 16 year olds and we can't figure out why. I was having such a great time with her that even the people that huffed and sped around us didn't bother me. Normally I am the person huffing at all of the people that are holding me up.

So, right here and now I am taking the vow that I will do my best to let my kids lead the way. I will go at their speed and let them take in everything that they want and not complain that they need to "hurry it up."

I just wish that this lesson would have come before we took our after dinner walk (thank goodness for warmer weather) this evening. Looking back I know I sounded like a broken record...come on, keep up, let's go, speed it up guys...ugh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Unfriend Button for Real Life

Yes, I know that all of this social networking has us all completely screwed up in our relationships, but did you ever wish that real life was a little more like your facebook life?

First of all I am a much braver person on facebook. I wish I had this set of balls when it came to dealing with people in real life. When someone posts something that I don't agree with I have no problem saying "Ya know what, that makes you seem like a real asshole." In thomasabook I just shrug and walk away.

Secondly, I have no problem cutting people out of my life that have wronged me on facebook yet I have people in my real life that I allow to walk all over me all the time.

Recently I came across a "note" that someone posted about a matter that is too stupid to even bring up. I think that since many people knew that we were no longer FB friends that the knife in my back would not be felt. People that knew my side chose to play both sides of the fence by commenting with shit like "hugs, I am so sorry this happened to you." Then there were the worst, people that knew absolutely nothing of the situation, but know both of us and said that "She knew that ----- had absolutely no fault in the situation." Wait, what????? Oh, so that is how a friend behaves when they think that you can't see!

So, being very hurt by this I did what any facebooker would do...I hit "unfriend."

What I really wanted to do was to drive over to her house, ring her bell and say "You know what, what you did to me was really crappy. You know nothing of the situation so how dare you!" At this point I would hand her a card that says "You Are Unfriended." No, instead I avoid her like the plague because I know that the thomasabook me will see her and just smile and shrug when she talks to me and then go home and cry about how she wronged me and then I will have to listen to my husband go on and on about how only men actually know how to have real friendships. I would never admit this, but sometimes I think he is right. When women get into a fight it can go on for months and even years. When men argue, they punch each other and move on. What gene are women lacking that we can't do the same?

Every Family Has One...

Ugh, I guess that 1 out of 4 isn't too bad, especially when those numbers are referring to the number of picky eaters in my house. But sometimes trying to get good healthy food into my 8 year old daughter feels like a never ending battle.

I try everything I can, she cooks with me and we are always talking about how important it is for our bodies to feed it the best possible foods. We have even had a garden for the past 3 years and we have taken advantage of the awesome farmer's markets we have been blessed to have in our neighborhoods. Yet, with all of this she would be content to spend her days eating nothing but white and processed foods.

One day I was even having a safety talk with the older 2 about strangers and Zola said "Mom, I know why it would be bad if we were kidnapped. Because they might not feed us organic food." I wanted to say, yep they may just feed you processed food and then you wouldn't want to be found.

I would love to know what others have done for their picky eaters. I have even gone so far as to buy the cookbooks that you sneak the veggies into the food. That is a real pain in the ass! Creating all of those purees, especially when I following Baby Led Weaning, was so time consuming and then they didn't even want to eat the food because they knew there was something weird in their mac n cheese or whatever else I had made.

This evening I had a delicious tabouli, everyone else had a second helping and she wouldn't even try it because it had "green leaves" (cilantro and parsley) in it. Peylyn and Taj fight over my cups of kombucha and she wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. I guess what annoys me the most is that all of my other kids will at least try something once to for an opinion on a food or drink. She forms her opnion solely based on what she sees. It seriously makes me want to beat my head against a brick wall.

1 cup whole wheat couscous (cooked according to directions) Let cool then add the following
1 diced and seeded tomato
1/2 cucumber diced
1 small red onion chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 - 3 Tbsp of olive oil
fresh herbs to taste: chopped mint, parsley and cilantro
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients chill for about an hour or so before serving. I really like to make to let it sit covered in the fridge overnight, it really brings out the flavors of the herbs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rethinking Meat

For about 7 years of my life I was a very strict vegetarian. I guess you could say that I became a bit of a hippy when I went off to college, I certainly dressed the part and I decided that giving up meat was the right way to go. Though I have to admit it was difficult coming home for Thanksgiving telling my parents that I gave up meat because of all of the chemicals while smoking a Marlboro Light, but I digress. For the most part I was very content with my decision.

In 2002 I became pregnant with Zola and I started to be more concerned about my diet because now I had a whole other life that I needed to feed. So after talking with a fellow student at my massage therapy school and doing some research I decided that I would start to incorporate some fish into my life. I started to notice that just by adding a portion of fish about once a week that I was feeling better and had a little more energy through the pregnancy. I continued on with eating occasional fish after the pregnancy.

Ten months after Zola was born I discovered that I was pregnant with Ajay. I was really craving meat through this pregnancy. I used to go out on my lunch break from work to a deli that served an amazing ham pot pie (pot pie in PA is much different from other places, it is like a thick, creamy, doughy stew), it had huge hunks of ham that I would pick out and toss and I tried to calm my cravings with just the flavors of the ham.

It was the same way when I was pregnant with Taj, any time I had the chance I would have beef gravy on my food to once again try to calm my cravings for meat.

As the years have gone on and I have researched different types of diets I have started to rethink my vegetarian ways. Perry used to be into eating for your blood type and the books said that type O (me) should not be vegetarian and that a little red meat was good for our bodies.
But knowing what I know about meat there was no way that I could eat just any old meat.

One of the biggest factors for making the switch was reading the cookbook Nourishing Traditions and my introduction to the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Last fall I was talking with Perry about how I was thinking about slowly incorporating some meat back into my diet, but it would strictly have to be organic meat. So he put me in contact with a customer at the co-op that raises organic free range chickens. She was just about to butcher so I bought 3.

I thought that I was going to cook these and feed them to my family and reserve the bones to make broth for myself to eat. At the time I really didn't have any intention on eating the meat. It was kind of scary how when that 1st chicken came out of the oven how easily I dove into it. Perry sat there staring at me as I tore the meat off of the bones enjoying every bite. A few weeks later I was given a pound of local grass fed organic beef. I decided to make meat balls with it for Perry and the kids, once again when they came out of the oven they smelled too good to resist. So now about once per week I have been enjoying a big plate of meat for dinner.

I believe that is where the answer lies for a great way to eat. Listen to your body. Give your body what it is craving but in the healthiest form possible.