Snacks

Sesame Edamame and Avocado Dip

I post a lot of recipes on this blog, and lately I’ve been asking myself the question, “why?”. ¬†How does posting recipes on a weekly basis keep within the entire idea of what Keeping Willow is and who it serves? ¬†The answer, honestly, is that I just like doing it. ¬†I get excited about food and I tend to think that everyone gets as excited as I am. ¬†While it is certain¬†that everyone eats and most people are searching for some meal inspiration, the truth is, the WAY I have been developing recipes for Keeping Willow has been entirely self serving rather than serving you, the people who take the time to read these posts on a regular basis.

So, I am taking a little time to think about how food and cooking can play a more inclusive role in the Keeping Willow narrative. ¬†That being said, I would like to open up a discussion. ¬†When it comes to food, what interests you? ¬†Are you a foodie, a fast and simple, an “I have picky eaters”, a health nut or …? ¬†Leave a comment in the comment section, I would love to hear what is going on with you and the meals in your home.

Now that I got a little business out of the way, let’s talk about this dip. ¬†I will leave the pictures to do most of the talking but this light and savory dip was a hit in our house, even with Willow. ¬†It’s extremely simple and really tasty. ¬†You can use fresh or frozen edamame and serve it with just about anything dip-able. ¬†Our favorite were sesame rice crackers and red pepper slices. ¬†Serve with a little drizzle of sesame oil, a dash of soy sauce, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and some toasted sesame seeds and the brilliant green of this dip will stand out at any dinner party. Or, smother it on a sandwich with some tofu and some veggies. It’s just a great, healthy afternoon snack. ¬†I hope you love it.

If try one of the recipes here on Keeping Willow, be sure to snap a picture and share it using the hashtag #keepingwillow.

xoxo

Sesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping WillowSesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping WillowSesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping WillowSesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping WillowSesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping WillowSesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping WillowSesame Edamame and Avocado Dip.  Simple.  Healthy. Delicious // Keeping Willow

Sesame Edamame and Avocado Dip
serves 8

Ingredients//
1 lb (500g) shelled edamame (if frozen, thawed)
1 avocado
1 clove garlic, roughly diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt
Garnishments// 
toasted sesame seeds
red pepper flakes
sesame oil
soy sauce

Method//
1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender.  Allow to puree until nice and smooth (maybe 3-4 minutes depending on the quality of your device) scraping the sides at intervals.
2. Serve with a toasted sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and a light drizzle of sesame oil. ¬†Serve with sliced veggies, crackers, bread, dry seaweed…etc.

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Snacks, Sweets

Raw Granola Bars // Surviving February

Friends,

February. ¬†It’s almost over. You’ve almost made it. ¬†The month from H-E-double hockey sticks, with it’s bitter cold and blanket of mute, gray clouds will be a distant memory. ¬†Next month, the hope of Spring is on the horizon. ¬†Although for those of us who are northerners, this hope is still pretty bleak. ¬†But there is hope nevertheless.

Unlike most Februarys, for me, this has been a very good month. ¬†I’ve had lots of time off, time alone with my honey and some upcoming visits from friends and family. ¬†I have made it outside for a walk everyday and I have been dramatically cutting down my sugar intake (mostly on accident but very much in my favor).

So, how are you going to make through the next 2 days of this wretched month?

Tip #3:
Sing. ¬†Yep, you read that right. ¬†Not just singing under your breath or humming a song that is stuck in your head. ¬†I am talking about full on, lung bursting, belting. ¬†Get in your car or wait until you’re home alone, crank up the stereo to some of your favorite singable tunes, and sing your freakin’ heart out. ¬†And hand motions are mandatory. ¬†Journey anyone?

I’m sorry if that’s weird for you. ¬†But it works. ¬†If you feel sad, just try it. ¬†Singing is like crying or yelling. ¬†It blows off some steam and connects your body to your emotions but in a fun and constructive way. ¬†If singing isn’t your thing, substitute with dancing. ¬†Or just have a dance party. ¬†Win, win.

Recipe #3:
These mouth watering little morsels (far better than any granola bar I’ve ever purchased from the store) will make you feel good because they’re so tasty but also because they are packed full of foods that will give you energy and a balanced mood. Bonus: they are ridiculously easy to make. ¬†The easiest recipe I have every posted on this blog.

So here’s the plan. ¬†Throw a party. ¬†Make these bars. ¬†Add karaoke. ¬†Add mix of epic dance anthems. Watch season 3 of “House of Cards”.

And that’s how you end February with a bang, folks.

Lavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping Willow

Lavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping WillowLavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping WillowLavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping WillowLavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping WillowLavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping Willow

Lavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate
Makes 24 bars

Ingredients//
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup pumpkin seeds + a small handful to press on top
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
1/2 cup hemp hearts
3 tsp dried lavender buds
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1 bar dark chocolate, optional (70% cacao or more)

Method//
1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for reserved pumpkin seeds and chocolate.  Pulse until you get an even meal that will easily clump into a ball when you squeeze it in your hand.
2. Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with wax or parchment paper. ¬†Put granola mix into pan and press firmly down into the pan to make a nice even layer. ¬†Sprinkle reserved pumpkin seeds evenly over the top. ¬†Press in lightly just so they stick. ¬†Refrigerate 1 hour.
3. Once your bars are chilled, lift bars out of the pan with the paper.  Cut into desired size bars.  Break chocolate into smallish pieces and melt over a double boiler.  Drizzle melted chocolate over bars.  Sprinkle with extra lavender buds.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long) or the freezer for a frozen treat.

Note:  To make this raw, make sure you buy raw nuts.  If you are paleo or avoiding sugar, find some chocolate that is suitable for your diet or throw in some cocoa nibs into your granola mix.  Because lavender tastes so much better with chocolate.  You can find lavender buds at your health food store, at an herbalist or for very cheap online.

xoxo

Lavender and Cardamom Raw Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle // Keeping Willow

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Health, Snacks

Surviving February // Mood Boosting Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

The grey, dark days of winter are starting to grow longer. ¬†The frigid cold seems like it will never come to an end, your skin may be dry and itchy, and the yearning for summer grows ever stronger with each passing day. ¬† For many people, these symptoms of the deep winter of February brings a sweep of uncontrollable sadness. ¬†Last week my tip for surviving February was to force yourself to go outside everyday. ¬†I believe this winter has been bearable for me simply because of the fact that I spend much of my day walking outside just to get around. ¬†While getting out and about has been easy for me, putting good food¬†into my body has not always been so easy. ¬†Often times when we need comfort we seek some of our favorite foods and, let’s face it, most of us don’t consider broccoli to be our favorite food. But the reality is, the food we eat greatly affects our mood. ¬†So theis weeks tip will address this issue.

Tip 2:
Avoid sugar! ¬†Few things will impact your mood in a¬†negative way, with the exception of alcohol, as much as sugar will. ¬†And yet, isn’t that one of the first places we turn when we’re sad. ¬†I have a vivid memory of a rather brutal breakup where the first thing I did to ease my pain was to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. ¬†Chubby Hubby to be precise. ¬†I did a little research, and the consumption of large amounts of sugar causes inflammation of the brain which is linked to depression. ¬†If you’re in the mood for something sweet, opt for honey instead (especially raw honey), which actually enhances mood and collects the cancer causing free radicals that cane sugar releases into the body.

Recipe 2:
In conjunction with the tip for this week, through further research, I have created a recipe full of ingredients known to enhance mood but also gives you a little sweet fix: salted chocolate dipped coconut macaroons.  These sweet and savory cookies are delicious, healthy, and pleasing to the eye.  They will give you that sweet fix without a raging sugar crash.  Oh, and they are super easy to make.  I hope you love them.

Mood Boosting Salted Chocolate Dipped  Coconut Macaroons | Surviving February // Keeping WillowMood Boosting Salted Chocolate Dipped  Coconut Macaroons | Surviving February // Keeping WillowMood Boosting Salted Chocolate Dipped  Coconut Macaroons | Surviving February // Keeping WillowMood Boosting Salted Chocolate Dipped  Coconut Macaroons | Surviving February // Keeping WillowMood Boosting Salted Chocolate Dipped  Coconut Macaroons | Surviving February // Keeping Willow

Salted Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
makes 16 cookies

Ingredients//
2 1/2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 1/4 cups canned, full-fat coconut milk
2 eggs, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1 organic, very dark, chocolate bar
sea salt

Method//
1. Preheat the oven to 350¬į F. ¬†Combine shredded coconut, coconut milk, egg yolks, vanilla and honey.
2. Beat egg whites until they reach medium, stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into coconut mixture. If the mixture is very runny, add a little more coconut.
3. Onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan, spoon 1 tablespoon of macaroon batter spaced 2 inches apart.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until macaroons are slightly caramelized.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.
4. Once the cookies have cooled, chop chocolate bar into fine pieces.  Over a double boiler, melt chocolate.  Dip each cookie into the chocolate and place on wax paper, chocolate up.  Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt.  Allow chocolate to set.  Eat and maybe share.

xoxo

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Snacks

Citrus Carrot Smoothie with Blood Orange, Grapefruit and Turmeric // Surviving February

February is the worst month of the year. ¬†Besides the fact that a few good friends were born in February, there is nothing good about the bloody month. ¬†It is that dead spot in the winter. ¬†The excitement of the first snow is gone. ¬†The glitter and glitz of the holidays, kaput. ¬†The energy and excitement of a new year, just about gone (raise your hand if you’ve already stopped your New Year’s resolution). And then there’s February. ¬†Standing between you, the first hope of Spring, and maybe a little vacation. ¬† It’s cold. ¬†It’s dark. ¬†It feels utterly hopeless. ¬†Is it any wonder it was made the shortest month of the year. ¬†So this month, I’m here to help you survive February with short¬†tips and recipes to get you through the most horrible time of the year. ¬†Hey, I could use the encouragement too. ¬†So here we go.

Tip 1: Get out of your hermit shell and go outside.  Everyday!  We are all suffering from a little vitamin D deficiency.  I promise you, if you go for a walk every day, just for 10 minutes, you will feel 100% better about life.

Recipe 1: Eating foods that make me think of warm weather and sunshine often make me feel a little sunnier inside.  This smoothie is bright with a citrusy punch.  Just the perfect combination of tart and sweet.  And not to mention good for you in so many ways.

Citrus Carrot Smoothie with blood orange, grapefruit and turmeric // Keeping WillowCitrus Carrot Smoothie with Turmeric | Surviving February // Keeping Willow
Citrus Carrot Smoothie with Turmeric (aka a vitamin C kick in the face)
Makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

Ingredients//
1 pink grapefruit
1 lemon
1 blood orange
2 medium size carrots, cut into 1″ chunks
1 tsp grated fresh turmeric
2 Tbsp orange juice
4 large ice cubes

Method//
Cut off the skin of your citrus fruits (this is way easier than peeling them).  Throw them into your blender whole, seeds and all.  Add the rest of your ingredients and blend until super smooth.  Drink with a straw and maybe a mini umbrella. [side note: this would be VERY good with gin]

Only 22 more days until March! You can do it!

xoxo

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Snacks

Chocolate Milkshake Magic

This milkshake is like a chocolate frosty on steroids.  It is so unbelievably good, rich & chocolaty, and velvety smooth.

You really have to try it.

The other day I posted an update on my “motivation-less diet” where I revealed my denial of refined sugar and flour. ¬†This milkshake is a product of trying to find something decadent and sweet to consume that is nutritious and doesn’t break my 30th birthday vow.

Ergo, I have created a milkshake that is as¬†deceiving as an opossum playing dead -without the ugliness and varmintness. ¬†It tastes like an unbelievably decadent, heart attack inducing milkshake, but has none of the ingredients to make it such. There is no ice cream or sugar. ¬†Don’t let this ingredient list scare you, because like I said, it’s ridiculously creamy and delicious: avocado, dates, cocoa power, ¬†raw cacao coconut butter, vanilla almond milk, & ice.

Avocado pairs beautifully with chocolate -as in you can’t even taste it- but also adds that rich creaminess that is quintessential to a proper¬†milkshake. ¬†The raw cacao, coconut butter makes it that much more decadent (you can buy this in Grand Rapids at the Cascade Harvest Health or here). ¬†Please, give it a try and let me know if we can be milkshake friends.

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Chocolate Milkshake (with Avocado)

Ingredients
1 cup ice
4 medjool dates, pitted (I made that mistake once)
1/2 avocado
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp or 1 packet Artisana Raw Cacao Bliss Coconut Butter
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened (you can use other milk too)

Method
Load your ingredients into your blender in the order listed above. ¬†Blend until creamy smooth. ¬†If you have a cheap blender like me this could take a few minutes. ¬†The milkshake should be thick and rich. ¬†If it’s too thin add more ice. ¬†Too thick, add more milk. ¬†Drink with a straw and swoon.

x0x0

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