I asked the Owl yesterday what his kitchen would be like when he grows up. What would be in his refrigerator, cupboards, etc. His answer was fries, ice cream cones, and oreos. Not bad! I asked him if he would be the one making the oreos (we have never found any store-bought sandwich cookies that are safe for him). He said he would make them and let me eat them! Then I asked him what he would serve for dinner if I came to visit. He got very thoughtful and then responded, "hmmm, maybe something like fries and Plentils, and chocolate ice cream cones for dessert." (Plentils are lentil chips.) He grinned thinking about the prospect of having me as a guest for dinner. I'm looking forward to it!

There is something therapeutic about cooking, at least for me. Perhaps because I love eating a little too much, and chocolate a lot too much. And also because it is so rewarding to make something that the Owl can eat, and does eat, and actually asks for more. So while I have a post sitting in my drafts folder about things I never thought I would be up against as a parent, I'm not sure about publishing it yet. I turn to chocolate and desserts instead.

For coffee hour at church several weeks ago, someone brought in a pan of those peanut butter rice crispy treats with chocolate frosting on top. I have noticed that kind of bar is really popular here in Minnesota, there are a lot of versions of them. The recipes vary, but they are full of gluten-containing cereal, of course peanut butter, and often butter, likely soy in the chocolate (since soy is in everything!), and clearly off-limits for my youngest son. He doesn't usually ask to eat anything at coffee hour, we always have safe snacks for him. But for whatever reason, he was really drawn to those bars and asked me to make a safe version for him. So we've been doing some experimenting at home--a dangerous thing because when we make a whole pan of bars that taste good but don't hold together, what is a person supposed do besides eat them? And then after finally making the perfect pan of bars, it is hard to resist eating even more. Now that I have the recipe mastered, we are planning to make more to share at church! If you haven't discovered No Nuts Golden Peabutter, I highly recommend it! If you are avoiding gluten, be careful not to buy the regular Rice Krispies, look for the gluten-free version that is often in the natural foods aisle. Or you could use Erewhon or another GF brand.

Peabutter & Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats

¾ cup sugar
1 cup agave nectar
1 ½ cups No Nuts Golden Peabutter
6 cups gluten-free Rice Krispies

10 oz. package Enjoy Life chocolate chips
¼ cup NoNuts Golden Peabutter

Heat sugar and agave in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula until sugar is fully dissolved. Add peabutter and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and mix in cereal. Press into a 9x13 pan greased with Spectrum palm shortening.

Add chocolate chips and additional peabutter to saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring until mixture is a smooth liquid. Pour over the top of the bars in the pan and spread evenly.

Cool & eat!

I was trying to think of something cheerful to blog about that didn't include any deep thinking. So what better than chocolate! One of my favorite things. This time of year brings so many goodies. If I'm going to over-eat, I might as well enjoy it. And it might as well be safe for my youngest son to be around me when I have sticky fingers. So I'll share my fudge recipe, super easy and very chocolately. It is allergy safe for all the top 8 allergens, plus our random list of other allergens.

Holiday Fudge
3 ¾ c confectioners sugar, sifted
½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
Dash of cinnamon
¼ c coconut oil
¼ c coconut butter
¼ c So Delicious coconut milk
1 T vanilla extract

Grease an 8x8 pan.

Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon.

Heat non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and coconut butter over low heat, stirring with a silicone spatula. Turn off heat, add vanilla. Pour in sugar mixture and blend well.

Pour into pan and allow to set in refrigerator for about an hour.
So I have to continue the chocolate theme I started in the last post. I think it is currently the key to getting my youngest son to eat! We met with a developmental pediatrician last week and the subject of nutrition came up. I lamented that most of the "healthy" things the Wise Old Owl eats are hidden in chocolate and sugar. He gave me permission to feel OK about that. Phew! We do a lot of cereal bars with hemp protein and chocolate chips, and our modified chex puppy chow has Neocate Jr. mixed in it. One that I am really excited about lately, though, is chocolate pudding. It is a pretty big deal to get him to eat something "wet" like pudding. I started out making it REALLY thick and serving it warm, so that helped. He would lick a tiny bit off of a spoon, and progressed to eating a whole bite, to finally a bowl of pudding! Gradually (like over the last 8 months) I have been thinning it out and making it more like the consistency of a nice creamy pudding.

I love avocados and wish my kids would eat them, too. This recipe uses one and a half avocados because whenever I make it, I like to have a turkey sandwich first and put the other half on my sandwich. :) It's good for me to eat something healthy with the avocado before the chocolate version. The Wise Old Owl will not eat the sandwich, so he ends up with chocolate avocado pudding for lunch. But according to the doctor, that's better than nothing, so I am not letting that stress me out at the moment.

I have to give credit to Jessica Seinfeld for the inspiration from her cookbook "Deceptively Delicious." I made her avocado/chocolate pudding a few years back for Herbie. He loved it at the time, but he's moved on and no longer likes pudding. I pulled the recipe back out last year and substituted coconut oil for the margarine and it came out pretty much the same. She cooks it over the stove and adds corn starch at the end to thicken it. I've gotten to the point where I can leave out the corn starch and he will still eat it. I like to thin it down with coconut milk, that is the only milk I've tried in this recipe. I just really love So Delicious coconut milk, because, well, it is SO delicious! And the DariFree is my way of adding a little calcium, but it's not needed for taste. As a bonus, there is no need to wait for this to set up in the fridge!

Chocolate Pudding with Avocado

1/4 c. coconut oil (melted)
1-1/2 ripe avocados
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c. chocolate flavored DariFree powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. (or more) So Delicious vanilla coconut milk

Puree the avocados and coconut oil in a food processor. Add the dry ingredients, then vanilla, and add coconut milk to achieve the desired consistency.

Note: Depending on the ripeness of the avocados, it may taste somewhat avocado-y. Warming it up seems to take care of that.
I have officially given up on feeding therapy for the Wise Old Owl. It is a long story, but basically after 2 years, I have decided that our time and money could be better spent. So we are adding more speech therapy and letting him eat more fries and cookies. I am trying to reduce the stress in our home around mealtime, it gets pretty intense. I have a feeling we may return to feeding therapy down the road. But for now, we really needed a break.

The administrative assistant at my kids' OT clinic gave me a recipe for black bean brownies that she feeds to her picky son. It wasn't allergy safe, but she figured I could doctor it up, and I did! I served them to the Owl, told them they were his "protein brownies," and watched him happily gobble them up. I actually had a hard time not eating them myself. Now I admit that regular brownies with no pretense of nutrition taste better. But these were still quite good. And with some protein, calcium, omega-3's, and plenty of chocolate. I can envision myself serving a dinner of all brownies. It might be something like a black-bean brownie for protein, a quinoa brownie for the grain, a spinach brownie for a vegetable, and maybe a blueberry brownie for fruit. And of course a real brownie for dessert. I'll have to work on the spinach and blueberry versions.

Here is my recipe for anyone with a picky eater with allergies who loves chocolate and baked goods. (My apologies to the folks with legume allergies!) I added DariFree and flaxseed meal because, well, I add those things to anything that can hide them. They are probably not crucial. The chia and sweet rice flour may seem a little random. I was worried that the egg replacer might not be enough since the original recipe called for 3 eggs. I like the gel that chia forms (and chia is really nutritious!).  I didn't really play around with the recipe since it worked on the first try. I have found that baking is more forgiving than people think, there is a pretty wide range of acceptable textures when it comes to brownies. (But bread is definitely more touchy.) When the Wise Old Owl "helps" me bake, he is not the most precise at measuring, and it always turns out OK. So I hope someone has fun with this and gets a little extra protein into their child.

Black Bean Brownies

Puree wet ingredients in food processor:
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
3 T coconut oil
1 T vanilla
1 T Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 6 T warm coconut milk

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl:
¾ c baker’s sugar
¼ c cocoa powder
1 T ground chia seeds
2 T sweet rice flour
2 T chocolate DariFree powder
¼ c flax meal

Mix the wet & dry together, fold in ½ c chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is safe for us). Bake in a greased 8x8 pan for 40 minutes @ 350F.

When my husband is not around, I love to make pancakes for dinner. (He thinks it is silly and will not eat them!) I don't think my kids realize it is not typical dinner fare since we have it so often.
Anyway, I have a new favorite recipe for pumpkin pancakes. They are gluten-free, vegan, and delicious. I pretty much followed the recipe besides increasing the vanilla and dumping in some flax meal for good measure. My kids gobbled them up, pretty much finishing the whole batch between the two of them. Quite amazing considering the Wise Old Owl does not usually have that big of an appetite (for lunch today, he took a whole hour to consume 2 chicken nuggets). As Herbie asked for his third serving he commented, "these are always good, even when they're cold!" Hooray for a dinner with no battles for a change.