dates

why I’m not a vegan nutritionist / rawesome pumpkin snowballs

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I am in fact a vegan but I am in no way a nutritionist. I’m a slacker nutritionist. Translation: I can’t do chemistry. I have a BA in English, which is for the most part useless. I’m well educated but lacking those shiny letters that start with an M or a P that are all the rage now. You have a college degree? Nobody cares. You have a Master’s or a Phd? Now you’re talking.

So several years back in my scheme to become a certified nutritionist, I bravely enrolled in Chemistry 101 – not once but on three separate occasions. Why? I obviously didn’t get the message the first two times when my eyes glazed over at the sounds of the words “covalent bonds.” Look, I’m not an idiot but when you’ve been out of college for five years, (and in those five years have been either living with your parents or on an island in the pacific waiting tables and bodysurfing), you forget things. Not important things like how to drive, make credit card payments, and which recyclables go in which bins, but those annoying things that are only relevant in an academic setting. Translation: how to find the area of a triangle, isolating X to find the answer, the difference between a mixture and a solution, finding the square root of some useless number, the necessity of litmus paper, graphing calculators, and three-ring binders, the importance of the Pythagorean theory, and the term degenerate as meaning things having the same energy instead of losers who steal cars. These are the things that evanesced from my brain like morning mist after a sunrise, lost forever beneath the blinding necessities of real life. But in Chemistry 101 I quickly learned that all of these things were incredibly important again. Needless to say, my brain rebelled. Everything the fuzzy bearded professor said went into my ears and was savagely attacked by a reckless horde of macrophages (yes, I do remember what a macrophage is. They are quite possibly the only thing I remember from my high school Biology class.)

I took notes, drew pictures, and tried to ignore the pimple-faced children surrounding me. But I quickly realized that I had become that weird older person that comes to class and no one knows what the hell they’re doing there. I lasted two classes. The second time I attempted Chemistry was while I was living in Hawaii. Need I say more? I made it through one class before realizing the absurdity of choosing Chemistry 101 over drinking beers on the beach. The third attempt was the most horrifying because I had come to the brilliant conclusion that the best way to tear through prerequisite Chemistry courses was to do accelerated classes. Translation: an entire semester of chemistry in four weeks for smart people with science backgrounds.

This time, the professor was hideously overweight with a wrinkled grey shirt that blended in perfectly with the cinder block walls behind him. The room was uncomfortably warm and smelled of pencils and stale chips, and in a matter of moments, he was scribbling furiously on the blackboard about atomic mass and density and other nonsense while I stared bug-eyed with horror at the equations and sweat rings under his arms. The other students nodded their heads with boredom, and I nervously asked the girl next to me why she was taking the course. I’m pre-med, she said, I just want to get a few classes out of the way over the summer. My height went from 5’9″ to 5 inches and I quickly learned that the other geniuses in the room were doing something similar. Pre-med, said one, Engineer, said another.

My fears only increased when we left the grey classroom and entered the lab. It smelled like vinegar and the countertops were freezing to the touch. An eyewash station with orange toggles hung by the door, and again the professor wasted no time before doling out beakers, Bunsen burners, graduated cylinders, and Erlenmeyer flasks. Then he announced that we were going to be finding the “Mass Percent Composition of an Aqueous Hydrogen Peroxide Solution.” That was about the time I started seeing unicorns everywhere.

rawesome pumpkin snowballs!

Now that you’ve failed at Chemistry and have decided to rescue ducks for a living, why not make yourself a sweet treat that’s autumnal and makes you want to carve pumpkins and dress in slutty costumes? Raw desserts are my favorite thing to make because they don’t need sugar (see my post “the devil is white and sweet, not in a 50’s housewife kind of way”), they don’t require any baking nonsense, and they’re good for you! This recipe combines pumpkin and cinnamon and everything that makes fall fabulous, minus the colorful leaves (because vegans don’t eat leaves I swear.)

Rawesome Pumpkin Snowballs

Makes about 12-14 balls

1/2 cup raw pecans

1/2 cup pitted dates, any kind will do

2 T unsweetened shredded coconut + more for rolling the balls in ( I recommend Let’s Do Organic)

1 T pumpkin puree (I recommend Fig Foods)

1 T virgin coconut oil

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice blend (I recommend Frontier Naturals)

1 tsp coconut nectar (I recommend Coconut Secret)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

rolling the balls in toasted hazelnuts

In a food processor, add dates and pecans and pulse until starting to crumble. Pour in the remaining ingredients and blend until mixture resembles a large, gooey ball. In a shallow dish, pour some shredded coconut. Now roll quarter-sized balls in the palm of your hand, and then afterwards, in the shredded coconut. For a variation, you can also roll your balls in other toppings like toasted hazelnuts, cocoa powder, or anything else that makes you happy. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and serve to 6 Chemistry dropout unicorns in need of a sweet fix.

buying a new car / key lime & coconut tarts

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DSC_0285My husband and I recently bought a subaru.
Go ahead. Tell me that I’m a liberal, a lesbian or a homeschooling mother of three because to you I will simply say Ha! I am destroying that stereotype, one granola bar at a time. But let’s be honest, stereotypes develop for a reason…
Take my car buying experience. As soon as I walked through the door, I was royalty; the most beautiful and interesting person they had ever met (translation: ignorant car buyer going to slaughter). Everything I said warranted a light chuckle and a nod of the head. I could do no wrong in this fantasy world of shiny cars and shinier smiles; all they wanted to do was help me. Or so I thought. Now I’m not so ignorant as to be fooled by these kinds of sales tactics, and fake niceness is right at the top of my list of least favorite things. Believe me, I’ve been there, on the other side, handing out orchids to tourists and pretending to care about their Hawaiian vacation when I’ll I really wanted to do was con them into buying timeshares. And I did. Again and again with the slyness of a used car salesman. All they wanted was directions to the Cheesecake Factory and now they are going to a free luau with orchids behind their ears after buying a timeshare they don’t want = Job done (I quit that job to save myself from becoming the slime of the earth). But I digress…
So I’m buying a new car and I don’t know about you, but in my estimation there can only be so much conning going on. I know the msrp is a joke and I can work with that. I just have to play their game, hem and haw over everything and scrunch up my face so that I appear to be in deep contemplation. Lie and tell them I’ll come back later after I’ve thought about it some more (even though I already know I’m going to buy the car). I know what I’m doing…
The sales guy I’m working with keeps disappearing with a line like “I don’t have those numbers in front of me, in fact I’m not privy to them, but I can check with my manager and see if he can work something out for you”. Because I’m special, right? Wrong, they say the same bs to every poor slob who walks in, and you know what, most of them probably eat that crap right up.
I finally get the numbers in front of me after negotiating with the guy for an hour (translation: I ask for a deal, he theatrically sighs and carries on, then talks to the manager, then comes back, then sighs and tell me that they don’t normally do this, but he wants me to be happy, etc…bs, bs, bs).
Then it gets interesting…I buy the stupid car so they should be happy, right? Well they are, but not until I’ve bought all of the extra crap that I don’t need. The extended warranty I understand, but why doesn’t it include everything? I have to buy tire and wheel coverage separately, dings and dents separately, and the worst of all? A little extra called glasscoat. This is a poly-based paint that bonds to the paint job on the car and apparently protects it (translation: covers it with an extra coat of paint that it doesn’t need so the dealership can make more money off of you). As I write this, I’m embarrassed/pissed that I fell for it. The salesman that sold me the car hands me off to the king of slime balls, the dreaded “manager”. He’s a greasy, baldheaded guy stuffed into a wrinkled shirt, who’s about to see how stupid I am. A few stories and two framed photos of his family later, we’re big buddies and he’s let me in on a little secret: this glasscoat stuff really works, and it’s only $7.99 per month. With horror in his eyes he recalls to me the dangers of tree sap and road salt. How could my precious new baby subaru handle it? So I sign up, then realize three days later (thanks to my father’s brilliant opinion: “that’s *$%^!”) that I don’t want it anymore. Now upon signing, my “new best friend” had told me that I could easily alter anything if I changed my mind. Yea, right. I called them up and told them I didn’t want it anymore. They were shocked! stunned! stupified! and told me I had to bring in my contract and that it was going to be very complicated. Great. So I went in and my same bff tried to sell me on it again with the premise: “I’m not going to try to change your mind, but…(enter sales pitch here)”. After he ranted on for several minutes, I told him that I didn’t understand why a brand new car needed another coat of paint. He brought up the tree sap again and I started getting antsy.
“I don’t want it, period”, I finally said. And that was the end. No more glittering smiles and fake chuckles; I had become the dreaded customer with an opinion. He grumbled and started punching keys on his computer, all the while telling me that no one had ever canceled glasscoat before, so he wasn’t even sure if he could cancel it. Now I really hate this guy. Not only is he blatantly lying to me, he’s making me feel like I’m the problem. I want to say “I’m on to you, you money grubbing snake!” but instead I say, “you expect me to believe that this is the first time a customer has ever canceled glasscoat?” He looks at me with beady eyes and lies to my face again. Then he says he can’t change the contract because it’s already “in” (in where? a secret vault of untouchable contracts?), so he’ll have to write me a check for the amount.
“Does this mean that I’m going to be paying interest on it?” I ask. In a nutshell, yes. Then he asks me if I want the tax back. Um…duh, I think to myself. He says he might not be able to get it back. I am ready to scream at this point and my unicorn friend has decided to test drive the new outback while waiting for me. I whisper to him to park under a pine tree and wait for sap. Then I look back at my enemy, the stuffed turkey of a manager, and ask “if I return something to a store, do they give me my money back and keep the tax? No, because that would be illegal.” He smiles and says he totally understands, but somehow this is different, more complicated (translation: he wants to keep the tax because he’s a thieving bastard). He calls someone named Debra who must have all the answers, but alas she’s unavailable. He’s going to have to get back to me on that. Oh, but he’ll take my credit card number and call me once he finds out. I look at him square in the face before I leave and say, “you’re on my side, right?” His sweaty palm grabs my hand and I want to say so many horrible things to him, but my unicorn friend anxiously flags me down. I go outside and we get into my shiny new subaru, and my unicorn friend tells me that he accidentally stabbed his horn through the sunroof of the outback he was test driving. “Great”, I say, “there goes my tax.”

our new subaru impreza sport!

It’s the middle of winter and you’ve just gotten screwed over by a car dealership. Solution? Indulge in some velvety smooth key lime tarts to lift your spirit! This recipe is raw, free of refined sugars, gluten free, soy free, and guilt free because it’s made from healthy ingredients like avocado! Hooray!

DSC_0275Key Lime & Coconut Tarts

Crust:
1/2 cup almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup dates, pitted
pinch of sea salt

Filling:
2 avocados, pitted and removed from skins
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
2 T coconut nectar (you can substitute agave nectar or honey)

Topping:
Handful of shredded, unsweetened coconut (I use Let’s Do Organic)
Zest of one lime

Add crust ingredients to a food processor and blend until crumbly and moist. Press mixture into six ramekins or muffin tins or vessel of your choosing. Now blend the filling ingredients in a high-speed blender (like a Vita-Mix) until smooth and fluffy. Add a dollop of the filling to each ramekin and spread over crust. Top with a sprinkle of zest and coconut flakes. Chill in the frig for at least an hour before serving. Makes 6 ramekin-sized tarts, enough for 6 unicorns seeking revenge.DSC_0276

apartment charm / rawesome brownies

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Hy husband and I (and Dragon and Toast and Frodo and the unicorns…) live in an apartment. Let’s just say it’s cozy (translation: pet hair is part of my daily protein intake). Actually, I read somewhere that there are crazy cat ladies and dog people who collect their pet’s fur and–yes, literally knit themselves sweaters and scarves out of it. Umm…I already think it’s freaky how much pet owners look like their furry companions without dressing and smelling like them too. Zolts. Anyway, our apartment is on the first floor of an old house. It’s old in that charming New England way, complete with rusty sideboard heaters, rotting wood in the bathroom, and closets from the 1800’s. What I want to know is, how can a person actually fit all of their clothing in one of these tissue-box sized closets? My husband can’t even have his clothing in our bedroom because there’s no place to put it, so his stuff is in the “guest room” (translation: office / ironing board / dog crate / musical instrument room / place to put that thing that has no place).
The rotting piece of wood in the bathroom drives me crazy. I’ve asked our landlord to fix it a hundred times, but he suffers from that “sweet but dumb” syndrome, and I always feel guilty when I ask him to do anything. He looks at me with that friendly, deer-in-headlights stare that says “I don’t know what you’re asking, but I like cookies”. Needless to say, there is a piece of wood that falls out of the wall and onto the floor, revealing lovely mold, paint chips and other niceties that one ought to have in a bathroom. I push the stupid piece of wood back into place again and again and again, but every time I return to the bathroom, it’s fallen out again (not to mention Dragon plays with the paint chips…hopefully she doesn’t eat them, although that would explain a lot).
We also have neighbors. A wacko living in the garage, a perpetually drunk “carpenter” and his girlfriend in the basement, and an eccentric but friendly loner on the second floor (who gave us a card with a sailboat on it saying “welcome to the neighborhood”). The sailboat guy and the drunk have since moved out, but lucky for us, there’s still the wacko in the garage. The landlord is in the middle of a lawsuit with this guy because he hasn’t paid rent for over a year. He sports a mullet that would make Michael Bolton jealous, and he’s got one of those bouncy walks…you know the ones where the person never puts weight on their heels? Yup, one of those. Apparently some old lady gives him $500 a week to “help her out” (translation: he’s stealing an old lady’s money). Every time I leave the apartment I check to make sure he’s not outside. The problem? He’s always at home…one of those annoying habits of the unemployed.
For a while, I worried that we would get new neighbors of the same variety, but then a nice man from Greenwich Town Hall came to the door and asked how many apartments there were. I said “Four” and he said “Really?” and I said “Why?” and he said “It’s only zoned for two”.
We haven’t seen anybody new since…

So I never eat dessert (yup, I’m perfect). It’s partially due to my eternal hatred / fear of sugar, but also because of the way sweet things make me feel after I’ve eaten them: crazy, bug-eyed wildcat followed by something along the lines of a sluggish Eeyore. Solution? A kick-ass dessert without sugar, without wheat, and without baking?!? Yes, I’m giving you the recipe to RAW brownies, and let me tell you…they are so freaking good that you’ll want to make them every day. And the best part? This recipe takes about 10 minutes to make. Go ahead and thank me for making your life better. This recipe is adapted from amazing raw foods chef Laura at The Rawtarian.

Rawesome Brownies with Chocolate Frosting
2 cups raw pecans
2 cups fresh dates, seeds removed
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 T coconut nectar
1 tsp sea salt
for frosting:
1 cup fresh dates
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
¼ cup virgin coconut oil
¾ cup water
For brownies, pulse pecans in a food processor until crumbled. Add dates and process until incorporated, then add the rest of the ingredients and process until mixed. Pour mixture into dish of choice and press down firmly. Top with frosting and refrigerate a little before serving. For the frosting, place all ingredients in a blender (I use a VitaMix and so should you). Blend on a slow speed and then increase, allowing mixture to blend until velvety and smooth. Top on brownies. Serves 12 unicorns in need of a sweet pick-me-up after another boring day of unemployment.