Ireland is gorgeous, in case you were wondering. Wildflowers are absolutely everywhere, peeking through the cracks in ancient stone walls and clumping along the sides of the roads. There are rock-bordered, green fields for miles, thanks to the soft, misty rain that falls almost every day.
We loved exploring traditional Irish farms and learning about the simplicity and resourcefulness of country life 100 years ago. We loved trying to pronounce the Irish language signs posted all around. We loved that a typical playground in Ireland has ziplines for kids and exercise equipment for parents. We loved the stunning, hazy mountains and cliffs that loomed over the Atlantic ocean. And don’t even get me started on how cool it is to find crumbling stone ruins everywhere you look.
Traveling with two preschoolers was basically the worst, and that’s all I’ll say about that. (Check out my oldest throwing a tantrum instead of looking at the camera. This is literally the best family photo from the whole trip. Just so you get a clear idea. I’m not exaggerating.) But if you are ever going to travel abroad with preschoolers, you should definitely do it in Ireland, because the people there are so kind and understanding and friendly. They actually love kids. And they do not give you irritated, patronizing looks when yours are screaming and losing their minds in public places.
Another great thing about Irish people is that they are unflinchingly generous. For example, when we were staying in Killarney, they served this rhubarb jam with breakfast, and Dave basically ate a pint of it over four days. (He must have genetically inherited his love of rhubarb, because rhubarb desserts were on almost every menu and in every bakery in Ireland. He tried all of them.) When I asked for the recipe, the kind proprietors of the inn immediately wrote down a copy for me!
So here we are. Thank you, Ireland, for your kindness and generosity, and thank you for the rhubarb jam.
Lately, I’ve been eating it almost every day, with beet hummus, for breakfast scrambled with eggs, instead of rice with Indian food.
And then Sarah and I decided to combine our powers for good and make a colorful, healthy lunch totally based on cauliflower.
I am NOT on the low-carb bandwagon. Wheat would have to go extinct for me to give it up for the rest of my life. Despite these truths, I really love replacing grains with cauliflower.
Here’s the thing. I am the type of person who wants to spend time eating. It’s hard for me to feel “done” eating if my plate is clean in five minutes or less, even if I’ve actually had enough calories to fill me up. This is why vegetables, and cauliflower specifically, are amazing. More volume for less calories, longer meals with less overeating just because I still have the munchies.
This rainbow bowl is delicious and surprising. There are a lot of components, but all together they make an incredibly satisfying meal!
Admit it. You love veggie burgers. You can’t escape the truth.
Veggie burgers are one of the best things about being vegetarian, in my opinion. (Why eat something boring when you can eat something creative?) And these beet burgers with quinoa and black beans are no exception! They are delightful and hearty and a little smoky.
They are also a brilliant backdrop for all sorts of toppings, so pick your pleasure and take a big bite.
Them be fighting words, people. Favorite is a strong statement.
It’s almond butter cups. You know, like peanut butter cups, but with almonds. And, surprise! Oats! And coconut oil! And maple syrup! Instead of a dry, crumbly nut center, these cups have an almost cookie-like base with homemade chocolate on top.
And the kicker is that they are actually good for you, as far as desserts go! You see, they are full of healthy ingredients like raw cacao powder and raw nuts and unsaturated fats.
I swear no one will never eat one of these and think, “This dessert must be healthy.” Every time I set them out for a group of friends, they disappear practically in the blink of an eye. You should make these. You should make them right away!
If you know me, you may know that I occasionally go on a one-woman crusade against refined sugar.
(Whaaaat!? Give up refined sugar? But…what about dessert? For heaven’s sake, your blog is named after brownies, girl! No one can live without sugar. Forget diamonds, chocolate is a girl’s best friend.)
This first started as I became aware of how much sugar is in everyday foods, such as mayonnaise and bread and salad dressing and granola. At that time I had a young baby, and I was bound and determined that he would not eat any refined sugar, ever (hah). I started researching the effects of sugar on the body, and it led to making a New Year’s resolution to avoid all refined sugar for 31 days.
I never intended to give up sugar long-term, but here are a few things that happened during that month:
at first, I was reallly, reallly hungry, and quite a bit cranky, but then my hunger levels started to regulate;
I became more adventurous in what I ate;
I stopped binge-snacking during my kid’s nap time because I was thinking more about what would be good for me to eat, and I was avoiding most of my lazy snack foods;
people started telling me how thin I looked. I didn’t really lose weight during this time, but eating no refined sugar and less highly refined carbs in general actually made my body shape change! I did not exercise one single time, so this was definitely a result of my sugar fast;
I felt really proud of myself;
I still totally ate dessert! Because, let’s face it, no big change in your diet will be sustainable unless you find ways to include the things you really love. For me, that is dessert!
everything tasted sweet even without refined sugar. When I finally started eating sugar again, I ate much smaller amounts (initially anyway) because it was overwhelmingly sweet and honestly made me feel a little sick for a few weeks.
I write a food blog and I love to bake, so I did go back to eating sugar. But I enjoyed my sugar fast more than I expected! So much that I repeat it a few times a year, especially if I have been going overboard with sugary foods or if I am feeling out of balance or mentally/physically/emotionally unhealthy.
Since my first refined sugar fast, clean eating has become quite trendy. Basically, eating “clean” involves aiming for whole, nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding highly refined foods.
These raw brownies totally fit that bill, and they are completely delicious. Not only are they sweetened entirely by the naturally occurring fruit sugars in Medjool dates, but they are full of healthy things, like raw nuts and raw cacao! They are chewy and dense and chocolatey and rich, so rich. (Plus, they are other good things, like vegan and gluten-free!)
Raw brownies will satisfy any dessert craving, and you can feel good about eating them!