The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance


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Two short weeks left…

In two short weeks, Sugar Bee will be off to kindergarten. This will be the second biggest change in my life, her birth being the obvious first. (Getting married isn’t far behind.) This summer has been wonderful and I’m so sad that it will be ending soon. Actually, sad is an understatement. It’s borderline devastating for me.

Rare family picture - Florida, June 2016

Rare family picture – Florida, June 2016

As you may know, I am blessed to work full-time and be able to do it from home. This has given me the best of both worlds; to maintain a career and also raise my daughter. As hectic as it has been at times for me, and there have been plenty of days that I felt like a complete failure or that I needed 6-8 more hours in my day, I wouldn’t change a thing. We have (mostly) operated like a well-oiled machine with schedules and expectations. The result is this amazing, intelligent, feisty, independent, slightly OCD (okay, very OCD), incredibly outgoing young girl that I find myself having conversations with that often make me silently “wow” to myself. And I’m going to lose her and, surprisingly, miss her company.

Dress like a Pirate day at KCSMA

Dress like a Pirate day at KCSMA

Sugar Bee has been in morning preschool since she turned one as I knew how much she needed more socialization and stimulation than I could provide while working. The first year was easy having her home with me, but once she got mobile, I had no choice but to get help. Now for the last year and a half, we barely made it to car line before it ended at 9:15 AM. Her pre-k room this past school year was right next to the drop-off door (lucky us!) and her teachers were sweet and would see us coming, letting her in. She and I are clearly not morning people, but it is also because our morning snuggle time has become more important. We both cherished this time that I guess we could just deal with all of the rushing later because we wanted it. Even now, when she wakes up, she comes straight to my room and climbs in the bed to snuggle. Some mornings, we’ve both fallen back to sleep as long as we didn’t get sucked in to watching all the videos on the Weather Channel app. Our slow and lazy mornings are part of our daily routine. It’s all about to change.

Enter the start of summer. I had half of her summer activities booked long before school was even over. Everyone likes to make their comments about me being “so busy” and that Sugar Bee “always has something going on.” Um, hi. I work outside the home, in addition to all my household duties. I have a job, albeit I have an incredibly flexible schedule that lands me working until 11 PM or later several nights a week, but I still have lots of stuff to get done on a daily basis and deadlines to keep. She had over a week off between the end of school and her first week of camp. It was a nice break for us, but after that second week was ending, I was happy she had camp. Not because I wanted her away or needed “me time,” but because she needed to be somewhere, anywhere, and playing and being creative with other children. She plays wonderful on her own, by herself (since she could sit up, actually), but she enjoys other people just as much. She’s an only child and without a sibling, it’s obvious to me that life can get pretty boring at times.

Finale at Princess Dance Camp - I love her choice!

Finale at Princess Dance Camp – I love her choice!

The first week was her first experience with full-day camp, 9 AM – 4 PM, and it was at her future school. It was a great opportunity for us both! I got a lot done in all areas of my life and she was able to spend a week in the very school that she will be attending for kindergarten. She did fantastic despite the very long days and she had a blast! The following week was vacation bible school at our church and that was just mornings. I picked her up by lunch, as all of our other camps have always been. Then we were off to Florida for a week to spend time at my dad’s house, and when we returned, she had a week of half-day princess dance camp at her dance school.

The week of the 4th of July, she had the most awesome experience at an all-day, outdoor camp on a lake. It was only a four-day week, but she was outside all day long and had incredible experiences paddle boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming, rock wall climbing, singing, crafts, and making memories. And one of her friends from pre-k was there, too! This camp was from 8 AM to 4 PM and I was very worried about us being on time as it was over 30 minutes away. By the third day, she had already adjusted her wake-up time and I didn’t have to wake her. I think that we will be okay getting to kindergarten on time. It was excellent practice for us! However, I missed her those days at Camp Gideon. I found myself getting there way early, like those moms that I would poke fun at for being there 25 minutes early, waiting in an invisible carpool line, reading a book or Facebooking instead of going inside to pick up their kid. But there I was, excited to see my sweet Sugar Bee and hear all about the adventures of her day. I was there early so that I could get her when they first started dismissing the kids. I couldn’t wait to see her! There are times when this child makes my heart feel so full that I think it will explode. And it’s been happening almost every day this summer.

Last day at Camp Gideon

Last day at Camp Gideon

So last week was our first week of nonscheduled summer. Here I am at the start of the second week, with only 13 days left before her first day of real school. On August 1, 2016, Sugar Bee will be owned by the school system for the next 13 years. I will only get her and her snuggles on school holidays and vacations. I’m probably going to be so excited for next summer to have her to myself. I have not been to the gym in almost two weeks. This is highly unusual for me as I’m usually there for at least three classes a week. I did get on the trails a few times since then for a run, but I’m far from where I usually am with my exercise schedule. I just can’t get myself to go. I doubt I’ll be there much for the next two weeks, either. There will be plenty of time to double-up on my classes and run the pup on the trails once she starts school, but I will never have these two weeks with my little girl again. I am savoring every morning snuggle, I’m actually crawling into bed with her at bedtime (something I’ve pretty much never done so as to avoid creating a habit), I’m blowing off plans to do stuff with my mom, and I’m not finishing house projects that I started at the beginning of the summer. I will have plenty of time to do stuff with mom and finish projects at the house (and blog more) when August comes. I will never get these moments back and it looks like she is my one chance at experiencing all of this, so I will sit and soak it all up. Every little thing. All. Day. Long. She is my one and only, and even though I make her think that she’s not so she doesn’t become a total butthole in society, she is the center of my universe.

Sunset beach dinner tradition

Sunset beach dinner tradition

I know that Sundays will play an even more important role in my week. They always have been since it’s the only day of the week that we were all together while The Russian was finishing college, but now they will be the only day of the week when I can have my snuggler back. I still work my part-time job at the flight school every Saturday and I’m often off to work before she’s awake. So I will have Sundays. From six days of morning lovin’ to one. I’m sure when I check in at the end of next summer, I will (possibly) understand more of what all the other moms say about how they can’t wait for school to start and the kids are making them crazy and they want their time back, but right now, I don’t want this to end.

School starts on the 1st and then on the 5th, she will turn five. Her party will be the next day (also my mom’s birthday). It’s going to be a very overwhelming week to say the least. I’m sure there will be lots of wine (or vodka) to get me through the nights to balance out the coffee that will help me through the mornings. I will be sad and happy. Happy for her in so many ways – her bright future, new friends, new learning experiences, independence from me – but sad that I will have lost my baby. My only.

So here is where and how you will find us as much as possible during these last two weeks of freedom, when we are not on the trail with the pup and I don’t have a conference call.

View from my Desk

View from my Desk

It’s a rough life, but someone’s got to do it. And I’m going to do and love every single minute I can with her. We will never have these two weeks again.

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Zasta with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

My garden has been very productive this year. I’m quite proud of myself as each year I have learned something new that has led to this year’s success. I’m picking 1-3 dozen cherry tomatoes every day. I’ve had eggplants, zucchini, lots of jalapenos, and plenty of crookneck squash. This has led to some very delicious meals! And mostly free🙂

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

This was two weeks ago…it’s even fuller now!

While I’m still waiting for cucumbers and bell peppers to emerge, I’m enjoying the literal fruits of my labor. Most of the time, I’m throwing a bunch of fresh veggies into my breakfast, but not the other night. Two large zucchini, a ton of cherry tomatoes, and a stalk of basil, all from the garden, were sitting on the counter calling to me. So I listened. And ate them up.

Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

As a cheesemonger, nothing makes a meal better than adding cheese. In this case, it was goat cheese. I love the depth of flavor that goat cheese adds to dishes. The Russian and I ate the entire thing between the two of us. So fast, and of course my other two favorite dinner adjectives, cheap and easy, make this one a keeper and one worthy enough of blogging. After all, it’s been over 6 months since my last post! Obviously, life has gotten busy and with summer almost over here in Georgia, I’m ready to have time to start dedicating to this space. Can’t wait! Although it’s bittersweet…the increase of available time to dedicate comes with the fact that Sugar Bee is off to kindergarten in 2 1/2 short weeks. Time flies.

Before I get to the recipe details, short as they are, I need to give proper credit to the term “zasta” that I’m using. The daughter of friends of mine had the same thinking as me and didn’t care for the term “zoodles” so she came up with “zasta.” I love it and will forever refer to zucchini noodles as zasta. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did!


Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese

Super fast and easy with very little cost, especially if you have a rockin’ garden this year, this vegetarian meal will be a keeper!
INGREDIENTS
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 dozen or more cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced small (jarred okay)
  • 2 zucchini, spiralized into noodles
  • 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, 1-2 Tbsp chopped
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute or two until fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes or until skins start to wrinkle. Add red pepper and simmer 2 more minutes.
  3. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and a bit more EVOO, tossing to coat evenly. Don’t cook too long or all the water will release from the zucchini. You want a little bit of juicy, saucy goodness, but not soup! (See last picture below. We loved the sauce!)
  4. Add almost all of the goat cheese (reserve 1-2 Tbsp for topping when serving) and stir to toss completely and melt the cheese.
  5. Divide between two plates and top with basil and remaining goat cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Zasta with tomatoes and goat cheese | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Sweet, saucy deliciousness

 

 

 


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Mexican Squash

IMG_20151207_204651It’s Day 7 of this kick I’ve been on over at my Facebook page, sharing recipes to help you get hot meals on the table during these busy holiday weeks. Monday night, I made up one of my own to share. I dug around and just used what I had in the fridge and pantry, and I will offer other ingredient ideas below that you can include depending on what you have on hand. I also tailored this a bit to Sugar Bee’s tastes as she was the one that chose between Mexican and Italian as options for the spaghetti squash that The Russian had cooked up for me the night before. (I ran out of steam to finish cooking dinner Sunday night, so I stashed it in the fridge to use the following night.)

It was actually even faster to make this dish than it usually would be because the squash was precooked (but not pulled into threads). I just put it in a closed container and popped it in the fridge that night. It was all set to get spaghettied and thrown into the pan when the time came the following night. Even better was that I didn’t have to worry about burning my hands off after the squash came out of the oven because I’m too impatient (and often pressed for time) to allow it to properly cool off. And it’s amazing as leftovers because the flavors have time to meld together. Play around with this one. I’m sure it will be slightly different every time I make this!IMAG7154


Mexican Squash

After purchasing a spaghetti squash and 1-1.5 pounds of ground beef, sift through your pantry and see what you come up with. You could use diced tomatoes (I would have included a can of fire-roasted, but Sugar Bee is on this “no tomatoes” kick these days and I’m picking my battles), taco seasoning instead of the spices I used, enchilada or tomatillo sauce in place of the tomato sauce, sliced black olives (again, Sugar Bee or they would have been in there), or kidney beans. Then from the fridge, you could add shredded carrots (when you start the onions), sliced scallions (when you top with cheese), or sour cream to mix in. The possibilities are endless! You could even swap the beef for shredded chicken or lose the meat completely and triple the beans instead. This one-pan meal is perfect for a busy weeknight, especially if you cook the squash earlier in the day or even the night before!

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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 medium-large spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat/lard/ghee/EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1.35 lbs ground beef
  • 2-3 Tbsp of chili powder, depending on desired spice level (I used 3)
  • 2-3 Tbsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (I was actually out of garlic or this would be 2-4 cloves of minced garlic)
  • 4-oz. can of diced, fire-roasted green chilies (I use Ortega as there’s not a lot of junk in their stuff)
  • 15-oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8-oz. can of tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I prefer a Mexican blend)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Rub insides with a little olive oil and place cut side down onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Squash is ready when skin gives slightly when pressing on it. Try not to overcook or you will get mush instead of spaghetti strands. Remove and allow to cool.*
  2. When squash is finished cooking and is waiting to be pulled into spaghetti, melt fat or oil in large, oven-safe skillet (broiler proof, preferably) over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for a few minutes until softened.
  3. Add ground beef and spices to pan. Cook until meat is almost finished and you can’t see any pink. Preheat broiler on high.
  4. Add chilies, beans, and tomato sauce, stirring well to combine.
  5. Shred the squash into spaghetti strands with a fork and add to meat mixture. You may want to taste and see if you need to add more spices once everything is coated and combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Even out the squash and meat mixture so it’s flat. (If you don’t have a pan that can be used under the broiler, transfer to a broiler-safe baking dish.) Top with shredded cheese and place under broiler for 3-4 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve with some sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, and/or sliced scallions. Enjoy!

* You can do this the night before and store in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to use. Just don’t shred it until you are about to throw it into the pan!


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Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

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Rain. We have seen enough rain this fall in Georgia to last us all winter. Once the rainy days turned cold, it got worse. I knew yesterday was supposed to be the last day of this dreary weather until next week, but there was such a chill in the air that I knew that soup was what was needed for dinner. So here’s a down-and-dirty, super-short, no-frills post with the recipe.

This was originally inspired by a recipe in the magazine that I receive from Kaiser Permamente as an insured member (they actually have some good recipes in there!), but of course I have made several changes to it, improvements, if you will. It’s hearty and full of vitamin A thanks to the sweet potato, while the black beans fill you up with fiber and deliver almost all of the magnesium and iron that you need for the day. Between the two, you get 100% of your daily intake of potassium in a serving of each (one cup of each).

The best part? Fast, cheap, and easy (my favorite things) and only one pot to clean. Sure, there’s a cutting board and a knife, but that’s really it. This honestly does only take about 30 minutes, start to finish. Yippee!


Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

Super fast, cheap, and easy meal for any day of the week, especially a cold one. Almost no mess and very little prep time, this one is sure to be a keeper! Even Sugar Bee likes it🙂

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, butter, ghee, or other oil of your choice
  • 2 cups of peeled and diced sweet potatoes; 1 large or 3 small
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp tumeric
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock if not vegetarian and you want a richer taste)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of organic black beans, rinsed
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I use one can of regular dice and one can of petite dice)
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Shredded cheese for topping (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add spices (garlic, paprika, cumin, tumeric, chili powder) and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the sweet potato is tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Add the beans, tomatoes, and lime juice. Increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  6. Top with cilantro and cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

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There’s a first time for everything

This morning was the first time I have ever felt any anxiety at all when leaving my daughter off at school. Aside from maybe the first time I left her at the church school when she was one, this morning was new for me.

My daughter isn’t like all the other girls her age. Her preferences are cars, planes, (used to be trains), construction, and anything at all that she can build with. Dolls and dressing up? Not so much. She has a doll, but it doesn’t get any love whatsoever, poor thing. I was thrilled when at the beginning of the summer she said that she wanted to try ballet and tap. She’s struggling over wearing tights, but other than that, she absolutely loves it. And she’s pretty good, too.IMAG2995IMAG4273

I have finally been successful at getting her to watch some Disney princess-type movies with her. The order she’s seen them so far (her choice as I own a bunch of them); Mulan, Brave, Pocahontas, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and recently, Aladdin. She has some awareness about the other princesses and their names; between me, her school friends, and ballet class, she doesn’t have much choice. I have been used to the Cars and Planes movies playing all the time, and she loves action ones like Bolt, Big Hero 6, and the Lego Movie. She is a spirited kid with an engineer mind and I have never felt any concern for her and her amazing personality. Until this morning.

On the way to school, she was going on about her costume and how she can’t wait to see what all her friends are dressed up as. I asked if she had talked with any of them about what they were dressing up as and she started to fill me in. Her boyfriends in the class whom she plays with the most will be anything from Darth Vader to a Transformer. Then I asked about what the girls will be dressing up as: Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Jasmine (although I think she made that last one up). All a common occurrence just like last year when I had two dozen Annas and Elsas come to my door.

Out of nowhere, I started to get nervous…for her. She’s one of the youngest in her class at barely over 4 years old. She has already been to a few 5th birthday parties and nearly everyone in the class will be 5 before May when school breaks for the summer. I have personally witnessed some of the older girls in the class being cliquey at school and parties. At 5??!!! Good Lord, it’s going to be a loooong road for this generation. The good thing is that Sugar Bee doesn’t seem to mind. She notices….she’s a noticer that misses nothing at all…but she goes on about her way and finds someone or something else to play with. She’s confident at four. It’s the future that worries me.

This is the costume that she picked out of racks of them at the store:IMAG6542She has loved fire trucks since she was teeny tiny and that love has never left her. She’s wearing the hat that my cousin gave to her when we visited his fire house in Ohio last month. She’s very proud of herself and loves her costume. She wanted me to put “dragon makeup” on her so she looked like she just finished fighting a fire. I told her we can do that on Halloween. She’s so creative and is always acting out rescues with her Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, along with all her larger police and fire vehicles. She even wanted to bring her three fire rescue cars to go with her costume!IMAG6547My ramblings and slight anxiety are about my parenting. Face it, we all know kids can be mean and ostracizing. And normally, I would have never given this a second thought for her since she’s just in pre-K. But I have seen it starting already, mostly with the ones that have older siblings that then gather the ones that will be “the followers.” I just keep shaking my head, thinking, “Already?! They are only FOUR and FIVE!”

Have I taught her enough yet to make her confident about her choices? Will she be able to defend her thoughts, likes, and preferences when questioned, or worse, bullied? I could never have imagined that I would have these thoughts before elementary school; 2nd or 3rd grade was the first I really expected to have to even worry about this stuff. On the way home, I kept imagining the girls in class telling her that she’s wearing a “boy” costume. Women are firefighters, too, dammit! And it’s not like they wear a different outfit than the men to do their job.

This is only the beginning for me. For her. I’m sure I’m overreacting and that nothing like this is going to happen today. If it does, I only pray that she retains her confidence with who she is and what she likes, and that she talks with me about it. I am sure that we will face this eventually. I never want to see her spirit squashed. Looks like I will have work to do before she hits public school.PhotoGrid_1446124321957*****UPDATE***** So I went to the second half of her class party to observe and she was incorrect on a lot of the costumes…surprise, surprise. She’s four. Clearly she was the only girl in a neutral costume, but she told me that everyone said to her, “Hey, Sasha! I love your firefighter costume. It’s really cool!” I’m taking that one for what it is because even if it’s not true, she clearly felt good about herself and that’s what matters most. Watching the class play in the big room inside because it was getting yucky outside (and who wants to mess up a costume on the playground?), I could see that she does have more in common with the boys than the girls with the way she plays. I watched her try to break in and participate a few times with “the” group of girls, but with no avail. I plan on talking with her about it at some point, once I can find the right words to help give her the tools that she needs. Wish me luck!


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Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots | The Half-Crunchy MamaTater tots. We all used to look forward to them that one day out of the week when the cafeteria would serve them up for lunch. Of course that deep-fried goodness isn’t particularly a part of my family’s current eating lifestyle and I actually have no means (or clue) on how to deep fry anything. Sorry, South. Guess I’m still a Yankee.

I don’t have anything against potatoes and I love a few good french fries once in a blue moon, but when I first heard about swapping white potatoes out with cauliflower in tot form, I was definitely excited about trying them. I have been making different varieties of mashed cauliflower for years now, so this seemed to be the logical next step. So far, I have made two batches of cauliflower tots from different recipes on the web, but both times, The Russian was far from enthusiastic about the taste and Sugar Bee wouldn’t even try one. She’s the cauliflower freak (raw with hummus, of course) and I thought she was going to be the perfect tester. Nope. I ended up eating both batches (these were two very separate instances) and I felt like there was a thing or two missing from each recipe. Which brings me to last week when I finally decided to play around and create my own version of cauliflower tots. They are so fast, cheap, and easy (my three favorite things) that you will hit yourself on the head as to why you haven’t tried any of the many recipes out on that Pinterest thing.

Take out food processor, chop cauliflower into rice-like pieces……Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots | The Half-Crunchy Mama …put in bowl with all of the other ingredients and mix thoroughly…Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots | The Half-Crunchy Mama…spoon into greased mini muffin pan and bake.Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots | The Half-Crunchy MamaSeriously so freaking easy. Just try it tomorrow. Or maybe even tonight.Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots | The Half-Crunchy MamaDid I mention that they are delicious?? The Russian easily ate a third of the batch after tasting his first one. Not only did Sugar Bee try one, she ate three of them at dinner. And I could have eaten the whole batch. This version has cheese and I am going to work on a dairy-free version next, inspired by a comment from my Instagram of this success.Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots | The Half-Crunchy Mama


Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Tots

Ditch the deep-fried potato goodness and give these healthier baked tots a try. Extremely high in Vitamin C and a great source of B-6, magnesium, iron, and calcium, a head of cauliflower also offers you around 11 grams of protein. After you make these, it will be easy to eat half of a head in one meal as you fill your belly with this kid-approved tater tot replacement.

INGREDIENTS
  • One small head of cauliflower (or 2/3 of a large head)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I have used both a Mexican and an Italian cheese blend)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • a few grinds black pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with cooking oil or spray.
  2. Remove main stem from head of cauliflower and break into pieces. Place in food processor and pulse until finely shredded. Smaller stems are okay to include.
  3. Place the shredded cauliflower in a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. (Note: I let mine sit out and get room temperature before working with it and I find that there is less moisture released, so this step can be avoided if time allows.)
  4. In a large bowl, combine the shredded cauliflower with all of the remaining ingredients, stirring well to distribute evenly.
  5. With a spoon, scoop the mixture into each muffin cup, pressing down firmly with your fingertips as you go.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Enjoy!

 


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Maple Spiced Pecans

This recipe has been such a hit, that I have decided to only make double batches from now on. If I bring them out while guests are over, I will end up with an empty container. But I love feeding those I love, especially when it’s something that is healthy and nutritious. The Russian and Sugar Bee alone could eat the whole batch, so I can’t fault my friends for loving these nuts.

This is so super easy; one bowl and a foil-lined pan means minimal cleanup. That makes me happy. These would be awesome in the fall and around the holidays because of the flavors, but my BFF’s mom had sent her several bags of pecans harvested from their grove (Gerry’s Pecan Grove) and she shared a few bags with me this spring. So I went to work messing with a recipe from the chia seed book I’ve mentioned in previous recipes (Lemon Chia Balls and Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips). Now I’m buying pecans all the time from Aldi just so I can keep up with our habit. I will be emailing the grove for more soon and see if I can get set up with a regular shipment. I’m thinking these would make nice Christmas presents this year.🙂

Maple Spiced Pecans | The Half-Crunchy MamaIn a large bowl, whisk together maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and sea salt. Then stir in pecans, chia seeds, and chopped cranberries until everything is well coated. Maple Spiced Pecans | The Half-Crunchy Mama Transfer to a baking sheet lined with foil and spread out in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.Maple Spiced Pecans | The Half-Crunchy MamaOnce they are done in the oven, transfer them to waxed paper and let cool completely (if you can).Maple Spiced Pecans | The Half-Crunchy MamaStore in an airtight container…if they are not all eaten that day.


Maple Spiced Pecans

The health benefits from the pecans, cranberries, and chia seeds make this snack a great choice. Its sweet crunch is addicting and I have yet to find someone who doesn’t fall in love. This can easily be split in half if you are making this snack for one….then you would use 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1+ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A few shakes of ground nutmeg
  • A good shake of ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 4 cups pecan halves (raw are best)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup with the spices and salt. Stir in the pecans, cranberries, and chia seeds, tossing until well coated.
  3. Lay the mixture out in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large piece of waxed paper and allow to cool completely.
  5. Store in an airtight container in a cool place and enjoy while they last!
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