Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clean Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

First of all, wow, it is so nice NOT to be blogging from an Ipad mini. It's not good on the eyes, or at least my eyes. I've never had great eye sight. I've worn glasses since second grade. I'm not such a young chick anymore though. I finally gave in and got progressive bifocals last year. So, yeah, the eyes aren't what they used to be.

I'm going to state something obvious here. The great thing about hanging out with like minded people is, well, they are like minded. Usually, I go to a party or some gathering and I'm overwhelmed with food that leaves me feeling heavy and lethargic. Especially since I have cut refined sugars out of my diet and mainly eat a clean diet. Celebrations full of greasy pizza, coolers loaded with sugary sodas, heavily processed meats, meager vegetable trays, and the overly sweet cake loaded with frosting. I can't eat these things anymore. So I may have been overly excited last month when I attended my Crossfit box's potluck to celebrate the end of the 2017 Opens. These are my people. The food was delicious, and whoever brought the paleo chocolate cupcakes is an angel. They were heaven, and I didn't feel like I was going to crash and burn after eating one.

I just wish I had gotten the recipe. Because I became fixated on chocolate cupcakes. But after some searching I came across a chocolate cupcake recipe worth trying.

I couldn't head to the gym last night because the kid was running a fever, so I baked up a batch of these cupcakes instead. They use coconut flour, which can be tricky to work with since it soaks up liquids, but this recipe creates a moist cake worthy of any celebration. I used Wholesome organic chocolate frosting on mine simply because I had some on hand, but the next time I bake up a batch of cupcakes I'm going to experiment with a couple cleaner, healthier frosting recipes. Adding a raspberry to the top gives them a festive look and adds a whole other yummy taste experience. Strawberry slices would also be delicious.

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder (or 1/4 tsp of baking soda)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine all dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Let batter sit for a couple minutes then pour into cupcake liners, filling about half way. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost with desired frosting. Store in tightly sealed container. 

Makes 8-10 cupcakes

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is Minimalism Poverty Appropriation?

I have a firsthand knowledge of poverty. There was a period of time growing up where my family lived in a home that was dark, drafty in the winter, and way too small. The roof leaked. I feared that the bathtub would fall through the floor every time I took a bath because the floor was so rotten. My parents drove $500 cars with the muffler tied up and the seats worn. I was embarrassed to have friends over and hated the cheap clothes I wore to school. Sometimes Mom would have to get creative to feed us. Dad became bitter and angry. He worked so hard, but it wasn't enough. We were among the rural poor of America.

I found myself struggling as an adult, five years ago, after my marriage to a very emotionally abusive man fell apart. I lost my job because I lacked childcare for my then three year old son. I had to rely on assistance to feed us. I had to beg, borrow, and take on odd jobs to keep the rent paid. I've dealt with the humiliation of having the lights cut off. I've dealt with the struggle of having to decide between getting the car repaired so I could drive to work or paying the bills. I eventually was offered a job as a teaching assistant in a little private school and now work as an art teacher at a different school. I still don't earn a lot, but we get by enough that I am no longer on government assistance.

So, yeah, I know a little bit about poverty.

Today I came across an article entitled The Troubling Trendiness of Poverty Appropriation by July Westhale. Westhale makes the connection between minimalism, the tiny house movement, and poverty appropriation. She admits "This idea of "returning" to a "simple" life is one I struggle with." She tries to make the case that by wealthy people choosing to simplify their lives is poverty appropriation simply because poor people are limited by choice. 

I want to point out three things. One, poverty does not equal living a simple life. There is nothing simple about poverty. Two, poor people still have choices and are still capable of making bad choices that further hinder their situation and good choices that may lead to a more satisfying life. Three, minimalism isn't some feel good trend for the wealthy. In fact, in my experience, minimalism improved my standard of living even though I was poor. 

This is the second article I have come across trying to equate minimalism trends with poverty appropriation. I just don't see it. Yes, there needs to be more conversation on poverty in America, as well as an understanding of the unique challenges of the urban and rural poor. I see a huge rift between the really wealthy of our country and the poorest. In our current political climate that rift seems to be growing at an alarming rate. But I actually see minimalism as part of the solution to the issues surrounding poverty. 

Minimalism uses up less resources. It encourages thrift and moves us away from capitalism. It demands a respect for environment, lifting quality of living. Embracing minimalism actually allows  me to live on a lower class salary and truly embrace simplicity. I still struggle. I still make bad choices from time to time. Hey, I'm human. But minimalism has improved my standard of living.

I feel like Westhale doesn't fully understand minimalism and harbors some resentment for her years living in poverty. I get it. I feel that resentment at times, too. But I realize it's a struggle inside of me and doesn't help. I think she also uses a couple really fringe groups to make her point that poverty appropriation is even a thing. 

I agree with her that poverty sucks. It's nothing to mock and it is far more complicated than the stereotypes our culture assigns to it. However, she misuses the word appropriation. I see no glorification of the poor through minimalism. It is possible to be poor and choose minimalism as a way to better one's life. It is also possible to be wealthy and choose to embrace minimalism as a means to escape the rat race overconsumption of our society. Neither is better than the other. Neither is an insult to the other. Both are living their lives the best they know how. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Figberry Box Review: Cocoa Cherry Bites

I discovered Figberry about a month and a half ago while browsing through Instagram. They offer a monthly subscription service for vegan snack kits. The kits contain healthy, plant based ingredients to make a dozen all natural energy bites. The boxes are geared toward all ages and simple enough for young chefs to make. The pre measured ingredients come carefully packed in a small box with a recipe card that also includes interesting nutritional facts.

My son is a moody chef, and even though I sent for the box thinking we could make these together, I ended up making them alone while he went on a back yard adventure with our chickens. It was just too beautiful of an evening to spend in the kitchen. He headed out play with the chickens.

The recipe was easy to follow. There is no cooking or baking involved, but you do need a food processor. I don't have a stand alone food processor, but an attachment for my blender. The mixture was a bit thick for my setup, so when I went to add the cherries in the last step, they weren't getting mixed in, but just sat there on the top. I added a bit of the water from soaking the dates and that seemed to do the trick.

My mistake was rolling all of them in the dried coconut. Mr. Picky isn't a big fan of dried coconut and refused to eat them. But I enjoyed them. They were quite flavorful and made a great pre workout snack. I'm not giving up on the kid yet, though. I plan on ordering another box so we can try a different flavor. This time, no rolling in coconut.

The only downside to the Figberry box, or any subscription box for that matter, is the packaging. I washed the little container the tahini came in to reuse, but I felt guilty about the little cellophane bags I threw away that contained the dry ingredients.

If you would like to try a Figberry box subscription click here. They currently have a code on the subscription page you can use for $10 off your first box. Figberry also now offers the option of ordering a single box from previous flavors.