Physical, Emotional and Environmental Support
Love Your Children
Love The Earth
Dr. Amalia Gardner, L.Ac. August 13, 2019
Welcome to Mother Lover, a space for all things mother, love and sustainability. This is my first blog and I’m sure I have a lot to learn about the process, but I’m excited to share my ideas with you. If you’re like me and have young children at home, you might be locked in the bathroom reading this, so I'll try to make it quick. As summer comes to an end and school is gearing up for the year, minimizing the amount of plastic waste our home spits out (which I have come to realize is A LOT) is on the forefront of my mind.
Let’s talk about snacks, baby! More specifically, school snacks. Plastic-wrapped, convenient, easy, smash them quickly in the lunch box and “for the love of god please put your shoes on,” snacks.
We all know stocking the lunchbox with organic fruits and vegetables is a great start but inevitably, our children will see their neighbor’s desired double-chocolate-super-sticky snack bar in the lunchroom and come home devastated they only get fruits and vegetables. The whining is enough to make my head explode. Add the weight of individually-wrapped, single-use packaging and I feel like I might spin out!
To tackle this problem head-on, I’m listing three organic, gluten-free, plastic-free snack recipes my children tolerate for you and/or your partner (if you have one) to make at home. I promise this will not be a recipe blog, but I wanted to throw down some ideas to make the return to school easier and more earth friendly.
Let me begin with sharing that I am not the best baker and I'm definitely not a creator of recipes. I snatched most of these recipes from websites/blogs and made a few shifts to make them easy and relatively painless for me. The majority of the ingredients can be purchased in bulk. Whole Foods even has bulk organic peanut butter where you can bring your own jar. You will also need parchment paper. For sending to school with the littles I love wax paper snack bags by lunchskins or just wrap in extra parchment paper.
#1 Popcorn: this is so easy to make at home in a pan with a touch of oil. Popcorn keeps well in an airtight ball jar and is wonderful with nutritional yeast (bin available). Organic popping corn can also be purchased from a bulk bin in a mesh bag and olive oil can be purchased in glass or even better refill an old bottle at your local refill station. If you live in Los Angeles you can refill high quality olive oil at Cookbook in Echo Park/Highland Park. I also love getting my bread at this amazing little shop. No plastic necessary!
#2 Fruit leather strips - adapted from simplyreciepes.com
8 cups chopped fruit of choice (apricot, berries, plums etc) Grapes add extra steps, I would avoid this fruit to save time.
1 cup water
coconut sugar (if needed)
1-3 teaspoons lemon juice
1. Rinse, taste, and prep the fruit: Rinse the fruit. If you working with stone fruit, take out the pits, chop the fruit. If working with apples or pears, peel and core them, then chop. If working with grapes, de-stem them.
Taste the fruit before proceeding. Note how sweet the fruit is. If very sweet you will not need to add any sugar. If still a little tart, you may need to add some coconut sugar in the next step.
2. Cook fruit with water, sugar, lemon juice, spices: Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add a half cup of water for every 4 cups of chopped fruit.
Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir.
Use a potato masher to mash up the fruit in the pan.
Taste the fruit and determine what and how much sugar and lemon juice to add.
Add sugar in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time if working with 4 cups of fruit), to the desired level of sweetness.
Add lemon juice one teaspoon at a time to help brighten the flavor of the fruit.
Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes (or more).
3. Purée the cooked, mashed fruit thoroughly in a blender or food processor.
Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary. The purée should be very smooth.
4. Pour purée into lined baking sheet: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour out the purée into the lined baking sheet to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
5. Slowly dry out in your oven at a very low temp: Place the baking sheet in the oven, Heat the oven to a low 140°F. If you have a convection setting, use it, it will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather.
Overnight in the oven is great for about 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface.
#3 chocolate chip granola bars (snatched from cookieandkate.com)
1 ¾ cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a food processor or blender to break them up)
1 ⅓ cup sliced almonds
⅔ cup mini dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt, to taste (decrease if your almond/peanut butter is salted)
1 cup creamy unsalted almond butter or peanut butter (optional)
½ cup honey or maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Line an 8 to 9-inch square baker with two strips of criss-crossed parchment paper, cut to size. In a mixing bowl, combine oats, almonds, chocolate chips, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine.
2. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, measure out the nut butter. Top with ½ cup honey and vanilla extract. Whisk until well blended. If you must, you can gently warm the liquid mixture on the stovetop or in the microwave, but make sure it’s cool before you pour it into the dry mixture (the chocolate chips will melt).
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Use a big spoon to mix them together until the two are evenly combined and no dry oats remain. The drier the mixture, the more firm the bars will be, so stir in extra oats if mixture seems wet.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared square baker. Use your spoon to arrange the mixture fairly evenly in the baker, then use the bottom of a flat, round surface (like a short, sturdy drinking glass), covered in a small piece of parchment paper (see photo), to pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible.
5. Cover the baker and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. Use a sharp knife to slice the bars. For portability, you can wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Bars keep well for a couple of days at room temperature, but I recommend storing individually wrapped bars in an air-tight container in the freezer for best flavor.
How do you prepare school lunches in a sustainable way?
With motherly love, Amalia