8 months + energy bars

8 months old: 2 teeth, a catching smile, a loud babbling voice, a strong set of crawling limbs, and–God bless him–an easy going personality, not mention some pretty handsome hair.

Time waits for no one, but oh I wish it would wait for me.  Precious moments whir by each day with dizzying speed, and I rush around desperately trying to pick them up and clutch them all.  But there are too many to count.  Recently I found myself identifying with a character in a book we read to Cadel:  the small penguin in the book aptly entitled I Am Small, who seems to speak right to me when he says, “The world is fast…and I am small.”  True that.

Some pics from recent days, including our first vacation with Cadel, a restorative weekend getaway to nearby Whidbey Island:

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banana

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So, a good friend just invited me to join her for a 7 day “sugar detox,” which means I can forget about my afternoon muffin or chocolate snack this week.  But with Cadel working on finding trouble wherever he can crawl, I am sleepy as ever and the late afternoon is right when I crave my sweet treat.  What to do?  Enter these fruit and nut energy bars.  I created this recipe after a brief Larabar addiction during which, whilst hungrily downing one of those chewy morsels, I examined the wrapper and noticed that the little bar contained just 2 ingredients:  dates and nuts.  I instantly felt like a fool for continuously paying too much for what are essentially dates mashed into bar form, and I vowed to quit buying them and make my own.

The great thing about making your own energy bars is that you have total control about what goes into them; for instance, you can choose organic ingredients (whereas Larabar sells you non-organic) and add whatever dried fruits and spices you like, although you’ll want to keep some dates in the mix because they make a good binder.  I added cocoa powder to these to make up for the chocolate bar I’m missing.  They are the perfect grab-and-go snack, and also a nice grab-and-sit treat.  You could even cut them into thin slices and serve on a cheese plate.

Chocolatey fruit and nut bars

80g (7-10, depending on size and variety) dried figs, de-stemmed and torn in half
70g (about 4-5, depending on size) dried pitted medjool dates
35g (2 1/2 or 3 tablespoons) whole nuts (I used a mixture of almonds and walnuts)
1 T natural cocoa powder*
pinch ground cardamom, as fresh as possible (optional)

Place figs, dates, half of the nuts, the cocoa powder, and the cardamom in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely chopped and beginning to clump together. Add the rest of the nuts and pulse a few times to mix.

Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and use the plastic or parchment to firmly press the mixture into a log shape. Wrap it and rest it in the refrigerator overnight. Slice into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Re-wrap until ready to eat. (If the bars seem too moist, allow them to dry out a little by leaving them unwrapped for several hours or more).

*I used Stirs the Soul brand “raw” cocoa powder, which has a great chocolate flavor and can be found at natural food stores in the Portland area. Whatever you do, just be sure to avoid “Dutch processed” cocoa powder, which has been treated in a way that destroys the health properties of the cocoa.

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