Monday, January 4, 2010

Sugar and spice, and everything nice

The holidays are over, but you can still be festive. Everyday is worth celebrating.

For instance, a recent Vegetarian Times e-newsletter suggested using up leftover candy canes to make this yummy chocolate pudding. Problem is, most of us wouldn't think of whipping up something this decadent right now for fear of breaking a resolution (cleaning up one's diet/getting in shape tops the list of most popular goals in the new year, so I hear).

Lucky for me, little lady's appetite keeps my waistline in check. I have to eat more to fuel her food supply, and her frequent feedings sometimes leave me feeling like I've run a marathon (I also work out regularly, just because I like it).

However, I did resolve to revamp my diet somewhat in an effort to meet all of Hayden's nutritional needs. Most of what I consume doesn't just taste good; it also serves a purpose.

For instance, last month, I probably would've made a richer pudding like the maple syrup sweetened, coconut-based one from "Raw Food Real World," with crumbled pieces of my candy cane cookies (which also look cute hanging over the edge) or raw candy cane pieces (finely ground coconut flakes mixed with mint extract and agave, formed into the desired shape and dehydrated until crisp).

But in the new year, I've opted to make my modified Brendan Brazier pudding (fresh fruit alone provides the sweetness) with the addition of some mint extract and sprinkled with some chopped goji berries and coconut flakes (like in Michelle and Lori's candy cane macaroon recipe).

I also boosted the nutrition in my wicked warm chocolate, inspired by Jacques Torres. Mine is served at room temp, relying on the spices for a warming effect. Giada De Laurentiis hyped the original up on an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," noting its richness, complexity of flavors and almost pudding-like texture.

My mug is full of the same cinnamon, allspice and peppery additions (I used cayenne and chili powder to simplify the recipe), as well as cocoa powder, of course. Then, to thicken it all up, mine is actually a green smoothie (the romaine was subtle enough to hide behind the chocolate hue) with avocado, fresh cashew milk (no straining required) and dates for that added sweetness.

Now I've explained the sugar and the spice, so what's up with the everything nice?

Well, I'd like to think my Hayden is nice, and her new trick is quite sweet, too. As I mentioned in my last post, I hoped to train her to drink from a sippy cup in the new year for those times she cannot get her feedings "straight from the tap." I am happy to report that she successfully tried 1 ounce of pumped breastmilk yesterday morning and followed it up later with a whole 4 ounces from the cup.

Looks like she's got a handle on things (make that two handles). That's something to celebrate :-)