Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Recipes and Flow

It has been so pleasant taking this journey through snack time at our house! I've enjoyed putting down on paper exactly what it is that I do, and more importantly, why. I know that I would have appreciated fresh ideas when I was struggling a year ago, so maybe this will get your wheels turning about creating a List of your own, or simply tweaking an existing List to better serve you!

I think it's important for us to remember that each of our homes and circumstances are different- many struggle with allergies to gluten and other foods, or face financial strain. And buying all organic all the time is just not possible for most; even having a vegetable garden can be difficult depending on where you live. So we mama's need to do the best we can with what we have- for example, our cupboards still hold a stash of goldfish to pop in a container for worship, there is refined sugar in our cookies, and, thanks to WIC, cold cereal boxes sit on the breakfast shelf to be sprinkled on top of our granola.

But when it comes to snack time, I love ensuring that my children always have yummy food available, and that when it comes to snacks, I know exactly what ingredients with which they were made. The children don't recognize the fact that I wake very early and spend hours on this weekly project, but when I drop a warm, homemade muffin into their hands after breakfast, they smile and say, "Thank you, Mama!" And it does my heart good.

(To clarify something from my last post, I rise at 5:30 on Baking Day- if my baking is taking longer, then things are probably still in the oven and clean up is most likely occurring while breakfast is prepared... ideally was the key word!)

Okay, on to Baking Day! Or, more accurately, Baking Morning.

So, first of all I begin the Crackers!

I bake my own crackers for two reasons: One reason being that we eat a lot of them, and it helps us to slow a little when we know how much work goes into their preparation. The second reason being that we eat a lot of them, so I like to know EXACTLY what goes into them! I have made this recipe exactly the way it was written, and then I've also tweaked it half a dozen times in other ways. Here are the ingredients for the way I enjoy making them right now:

  • 1 1/2 cups millet flour (I buy the millet whole at my local WINCO and just grind it as needed, because I also grind it fresh for Gideon's cereal and use it whole in our baked oatmeal and the muffins on The List.)
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water with 2 tablespoons white vinegar
(I have found that the combination of these flours make it the most "crackery"- but you can use many combinations with a satisfying result.)

This soaks covered overnight and then all I have to do on Baking Day is knead it with one teaspoon of sea salt and one and a half teaspoons of baking powder, divide it into fourths, roll it out on a countertop dusted with lots of white flour, cut with my pizza cutter into squarish shapes, prick with a fork and bake. While the first batch bakes I roll, cut, and prick the rest so they slide into the oven in tandem. These crackers are the favorite snack during school hours- we slice little squares of cheese and make *sandwiches*- a delicious little protein boost!

Next I begin the protein bars, since they need time to refrigerate in between steps. Originally almond bars found here, but they are so forgiving- you can use many different substitutions! Here is my tweak:
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. raw honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate, melted
Place first six ingredients in blender and pulse till mixed (again, I grind my almonds the night before because of the noise- these six ingredients together are not nearly as loud!)
Mix melted butter, honey and vanilla together in a bowl and add to pulsing ingredients in blender until they pull away from the sides of the blender a bit, making a coarse paste.
Press into an 8x8 glass baking dish and chill for one hour. Pour melted chocolate over the top and spread thinly. Refrigerate again until chocolate hardens, then cut into bars.
Store in refrigerator- for as long as you can; Daddy enjoys taking them to work for a snack, and Mama enjoys one mid-afternoon for an energy boost!

Now I am free to mix the muffins!

The only changes I make are to replace 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour with flax meal, use milk instead of buttermilk, and we love to add craisins and fresh peeled and diced apples. These are so buttery and indulgent-tasting, but good for you! Sometimes I double the recipe and freeze half, so Baking Day the next week is a bit lighter.

After preparing the muffin batter, I fill the tins and set them aside and begin mixing the peanut butter bites.

Peanut Butter Bites (or Flax Balls)

These must be stocked at all times. Mama needs them even more than the children, for those Sunday mornings when I haven't time for breakfast, and all the other days that meals slip my mind. These little bites mix together very quickly, and they are last on my list so that if I'm still baking when they rise, my children can help with the rolling- so much fun!

And once the crackers are finished baking, I slip the muffin tins in the oven and begin clean-up. A busy, tiring, beautiful start to a day.

It's worth it!

I apologize for the length of this post, so I'll save one more treasure for tomorrow... Tea Time.

'Til then, dear reader!

17 fellow travelers shared:

Bekki said...


Emily said...


I so appreciate you sharing this! As you said, it can be so helpful and inspiring, to hear the ideas and rhythms of other mama's ... so, thank you!

I am finding, as a first-year homeschooling mama, that the snack question is constant!! So, having both a list and a plan about what to have on hand, is so smart!

I just mixed up a batch of the crackers recipe to soak overnight- what a fabulous idea! I love thenourishinggourmet blog so much and don't remember seeing this recipe there.

I want to also add that I appreciate your reminder in the beginning of your post ... that we are all in different places, financially, allergy-wise, etc. And I say that from a mama who is so passionate about whole foods/real food eating ... yet, it hasn't always been this way for me! And I have SO far to go. I think that this passion about whole/real food can become a stumbling block, of pride, of comparison -- and I never want that to be the case (if that makes sense). So, thank you for the gentle reminder.

I love your other recipes and am bummed that w/my daughter's allergies (nuts, especially) we won't be able to try them! But, they look awesome.

Blessings to you and your sweet family,

Jenny said...

Thank you for the recipes. I cannot wait to try the Peanut Butter Bites. When my 5yo was a baby, if I ate chocolate or peanut butter, his little tummy would hurt. So for a year I gave up those two things...I missed the peanut butter the most!

spergerswoman said...

Fantastic! The key here is getting myself out of bed! Oh how my down comforter weighs me down pressing it's warmth over me and keeping my eyes heavy! :Sigh: I guess it's a matter of finding what works for you. My son wakes me at 6:30, and the girls are not allowed to leave their room until the clock says 7 0 0. :o)
(Something I actually remember your mom telling Abby! Aaron didn't think it would work, but it does!)
Thanks for the recipes and ideas. I've got to find my own "flow", I'll keep you updated!
Love you friend!

Sandi said...

Thanks for sharing these Elise. I am still on the learning curve to continue to eat better. We have found a cracker I am happy with just don't like the price :o)homemade is always better. I've asked for a tortilla press for Christams to make my own....the kids love them but once again homemade is better.

Do you grind your millet in a coffee grinder?

I make baked oatmeal but have yet to start soaking it...this helps push me to try it.

Once we move in Janurary the idea of a baking morning sounds like a great kids are often up at 6am but I''l just put them to work ;o)

Stacey said...

Elise -
Thank you for these posts. They are a great encouragement to me to add some new things to our snack list. We do several baking days a month, but not "weekly" per se. I may start doing that.
I do not have a mill. :( So I can't make the crackers. But I would love to try that one day!
Thanks for the inspiration!


Naomi Lewis said...

Elise! It's Naomi (Sciscoe) Lewis! I am so happy to have found you here! What a joy to read of your sweet family and all of these adventures.

It was an encouragement to read of all of your baking and thoughts on what works well for your family. Our two girls are still very little (2.5 and just 1) so I am still figuring out the basics. But oh, what happy basics! What a privilege to be domestic to the glory of God. Thank you again for sharing.

Many blessings to you and yours,

carriebutler said...

Elise, I love your blog, I can't wait to spend some more time here, I love your writing style!! I hope you were able to print your pictures ok! (and I hope your sons beautiful eyes are sparkling in them!!!)

Linda said...

We don't have any children at home any more, but I'm thinking those snacks would be nice just for the two of us - and of course for when the grands visit :-)
Thank you Elise.

mamabear said...

Thank you for sharing this! And for popping over and answering my question last night. You are a dear person--Proverbs 31 for sure!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I just "happened" upon your site this morning. We found out last week that we need to cut wheat from my toddler's diet (he is also allergic to eggs, dairy, soy and nuts!) Its overwhelming to figure out what he can eat, especially when he is such a hungry little guy and I don't have much on hand yet. I've been wanting to find a cracker recipe, and now I've got one from you that I can tweak to his needs. Thanks! Amy

tonia said...

oooh. thanks for the GF cracker recipe. we will for sure try that. i just bought a teensy package of crackers at the store for $6!! because we were all craving that crispy cracker-y taste.

(do you have a GF little one, elise?)

i think you are pretty marvelous! thanks for sharing.

Sarah said...

Thanks for a great post Elise. My husband and I have been struggling to find solutions to snacks that fit our dietary restrictions/budget and your recipes were really inspiring - I'm looking fwd to trying them out.
Sarah :)

Rebecca M said...

Oh! These all look delicious! And I love the idea of rising early one day a week with this particular purpose!
Thanks for sharing all these tasty treats and another way to serve our families.

Anonymous said...

Hi Elise,

We're already fans of your peanut butter bite recipe that you've shared before, so I knew that I had to try these recipes out, too.

Both the protein bars and the muffins were a hit in our house this week! (I haven't tried the crackers yet.)

Thanks for sharing your recipes for all of us to enjoy! :)


Beka said...

Just stopping by to whisper my thanks to you for the protein bar recipe-- I'm hooked! Perfect snack for a nursing mama who's almost always hungry, and who quickly runs out of healthy snack ideas.

Anna at Joy In Every Step said...

Hi Elise,
I greatly enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for sharing these snack ideas. I do have a question. I can not find millet flour, but I have found millet. What do you use to grind your millet? I have never used millet before, I do not want to mess it up :-)!
Thanks, Anna

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