This fudge is RAWsome

I have a tendency to go through food phases. I’ve managed to stick with the vegetarian thing for almost six years, so I suppose that no longer counts as a “phase,” but I’ve periodically flirted with various lifestyle trends and stuck to few to none of them. There’s been my rocky relationship with veganism, macro affair, superfood obsession, coconut-oil-in-everything fling, and my most favorite, the raw phase.

Most of my romances with different diets start with reading something that compels me to “change.” So, it was inevitable that after  reading Brandon Brazier’s book The Thrive Diet in the spring of 2010, I fell head-over-heels with eating raw. And when I fall, I fall hard. I went from eating a pretty standard vegetarian diet on a Thursday, to eating a completely raw diet on the Friday and for the next six weeks.

The first week was rough. I skipped the chapter on adapting to the diet (turns out that is super important) and went through a pretty uncomfortable detox. Starting from the second week, though, I ate raw almost exclusively. And I felt awesome. Seriously. I had real energy, not caffeine induced pseudo-energy. I lost fat, had clearer skin, and felt “lighter.”

Unfortunately, my relationship with eating raw began during a semester that quickly got hectic, as most semesters do. I started lapsing, became negligent and inattentive. The usual stuff that leads to break-ups. After six weeks, my affair ended. I went back to my triple-shot lattes and pre-heating my oven.

Lately, I’ve found myself reminiscing on that spring of 2010. I remember the smoothies that usually served as my breakfast. The almond-flaxseed burgers with sundried tomato sauce. The sensation of falling asleep at night without the rock in my stomach caused by pizza or hoagie sandwiches…

Ergo, I’m returning to the raw diet and begging for another chance. Next week, during my Spring Break, I’m reigniting my relationship with raw foods with the help of my sister, who is also intrigued, interested, and has self-discipline to spare. As a token of renewed affection, I’m making fudge. Chocolatey raw fudge. (See Recipes We Love section for fudge recipe)

~V

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Life and Pie

In early February of last year, an ultrasound showed that my then 18-week-old little baby had a rare and lethal condition that guaranteed he wouldn’t live past delivery. My husband and I decided to carry to term, and on June 22, our baby was delivered, blinked, then passed away. He was beautiful.

As hard as it was for me to understand knowing the severity of my baby’s condition, our doctors confirmed over and over that our baby was happy and comfortable in utero. In one ultrasound we even saw him yawn. Our doctors also assured us that the problem was not genetic, chromosomal, or caused by any issue with me or my body. In fact, several times my doctors commented that I was “remarkably healthy.”

I had been trying to stay healthy during the pregnancy up to that point. I tried to remind myself that everything I ate or drank went to my baby first, and I wanted my baby to eat well. Thankfully, I was blessed with very little nausea, so eating a variety of foods was no problem. After getting the diagnosis, I became even more committed to giving my baby as pleasant a life as possible. I couldn’t save him outside of the womb, but I could control much of what might cause him stress in the womb.

I had already limited caffeine, eliminated alcohol, and I never was a smoker, so I concentrated my attention on food. I kept notes of what I ate, counting protein intake, fiber, micronutrients, vitamins. I’d already spent a couple of years learning more about nutrition and was introduced through research to several foods with high nutritional value, some even considered “super foods,” like chia seeds, spirulina, quinoa, and goji berries. I still occasionally ate cheese dip or cookies or frozen yogurt, but I tried to make sure that I hit necessary nutritional marks every day.

For several weeks after our baby was born, friends and people from our church brought us meals. One woman who is close with my mom brought us a lovely meal made with many of the ingredients and foods I’d been trying to consume regularly during pregnancy. The main course was a quinoa, vegetable dish, and for dessert, she brought what she calls “Spunky Pie.” It’s a dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, delicious (trust me) chocolate pie. The crust has almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, chia seeds, and flax meal. The filling is made with avocados, raw cocoa powder, and liquid stevia for sweetness. The recipe is available in the Recipes We Love page of this blog.

After saying good-bye to our baby, I fell away somewhat from the healthier approach to food I had taken during the pregnancy. Food became, instead, a source of comfort in the form of sugar and carbs rather than fuel. But I’m using the new year to recommit to eating healthily and for nutrition as well as taste. I’m planning on making a “Spunky Pie” soon to inaugurate this renewed approach to food, and also because the pie is so stinkin’ tasty. This pie is proof that a healthy, nutrition-dense recipe can be comfort food.

Food was a tool during my pregnancy, but my friends (particularly including the wonderful women on this blog) and family were lifelines. I thank them, not often or well enough, but I thank them for their continued support and love. As a token of gratitude, I offer them a pie, a weird, healthy, and chocolatey pie.

~V

2013: New food adventures

Here at Flavorbombs, we are looking forward to the potential inherent in a new year. The past year had its share of hurts and troubles, mixed with joys and delicious moments, but we look forward to 2013 as a year (hopefully) filled with new food adventures shared with each other, with family, and with friends (new and old). Here are a few of our favorites (not so much resolutions as hopes):

– With my amazing new Kitchenaid stand mixer (a generous Christmas gift from my sweetie), I hope to start making healthy whole grain bread for nutrition and to save money. – AMo

-With my large kitchen in my new house, I hope to start baking/creating/designing delicious sweets again. I miss it. -Adele

– I’d like try more new recipes and have my family eat dinner at the table together, like we used to. -Mo

– This year, I hope to eat “cleaner,” to use food as an ally in efforts to lower health risks…while still enjoying food, of course. -V

– In 2013, I hope to help my husband and myself introduce ourselves to food as a delicious resource rather than as a reward or emotional comfort.  I hope my toddling daughter will learn these good habits from our example. -A.Hab.

-In the upcoming year, I’d like to entertain family and friends more. I envision lots of laughter and good food around the table. ~Robin

The joy of holiday cookies

Ginger. Cloves. Cinnamon.

Flour dust. Sugar sprinkles. Butter smears.

Teaspoons. Tablespoons. Cups.

These are the technical tools of the baking season. The holidays. A time to unleash my inner baker and create deliciousness to share with friends, family, and my love, J.

Upon gobbling another orange-glazed cookie this past weekend, he looked at me and said, “You bake a good cookie.” Delivered with all of the seriousness normally reserved for more serious subjects, this warmed my heart. He has talked before about what a good cook his ex-wife was, and although I know he dislikes her immensely, his praise of her cooking stung just a touch. So weeks later, when he praised my cookies, I felt we had passed another threshold of sorts.

Twenty-two months and going strong. Our second holiday season together. More importantly, our second cookie-baking weekend.

J and I share cookie baking duties, dividing executive and sous chef responsibilities, moving around one another like two people who have known each other much longer than 22 months. This ease and comfort of being together, working together, talking and laughing together, continues to be evidence of the lasting nature of our relationship, or at least our confidence in this idea.

The harmony we feel as a couple is poured into the seven different kinds of cookies that we work together to create: Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, Bourbon Date Bars, Holiday Biscotti, Orange-Glazed, Walnut Balls, and Ginger Snaps (recipe listed in the “Recipes we love” section of this blog).

As we pack up and deliver boxes of these delectable treats for friends, co-workers, and family, the reviews start. “Love the little spice cookies!” “What’s the recipe for those date bars?” “Oh, that biscotti! Yum!”

These affirmations of the cookies resonate with me in a more personal way, simply because I know of the work, effort, and time we put into their creation. “Baked with love” is such a cliche, but in this case, it is a positive reminder that the energy we put into whatever we create will spill out into the world in equal measure, making it doubly nice when that energy is driven by compatibility, kindness, and love.

Happy Holidays to one and all!

– AMo