“Backyard” Bowls

Emma here again. With only two days of summer left and a quiet afternoon with nothing to do, I thought that I might as well get another blog post in. Once school starts, most of these rare afternoons will be unfortunately spent doing homework. This posting is about one of my favorite inventions ever – well, I didn’t invent it, but I was able to recreate it pretty well at home. A couple of years back after a swim meet in Santa Barbara, my friend Bethany introduced me to Backyard Bowls, an unassuming smoothie shop next to Santa Barbara Roasting Co. in downtown Santa Barbara. What could be better than a thick smoothie topped with granola and wayyyy too much honey? Nothing can beat it, especially on hot summer days, coming or going from the beach. Every time we make the trip 30 minutes north up to SB, my dad (the acai monster) and I have to make a pitstop at Backyard Bowls. Our addiction got so bad that I started shrieking one day when we were at Lassens, a local health food store, and I saw Sambazon acai packets in the frozen section. At $7.19 for 4 small packets (2 make a large bowl), they are definitely not cheap; this usually means that dad, not mom, has to be the grocery shopper in order to get them. They make heavenly, quazi-healthy treats, almost as good as Backyard Bowls.

Here are our adapted acai bowls. I will give several variations/add-ins to suit everyone’s palate.

To make the smoothie part:

  • 2 Sambazon acai packets (unsweetened)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • a large handful of other frozen berries
  • a dash of apple juice (to add sweetness and aid the blending)

Several optional additions include:

  • frozen mango (highly recommended!)
  • substitute almond milk or coconut milk for the apple juice (my favorite way, makes it a little creamier and a little less sweet – dad and sister prefer apple juice though)
  • flaxseed or chia seeds
  • scoop of protein powder (I use vanilla flavored hemp protein) This makes it a little thicker too!

This recipe makes one large bowl or two smaller ones. Once everything is blended, pour puree into a bowl and add none, some, or all of the following toppings:

  • granola
  • chopped almonds or pecans
  • coconut
  • chocolate chips (my mom’s favorite)
  • sliced bananas and strawberries
  • goji berries (the new superfood! and quite tasty)
  • honey (Olivia loves this part!)
  • a dash of yogurt (European style Straus is my pick)

Backyard Bowls has several options as to ingredients and toppings. My dad and sister love the Berry Bowl – simple acai, banana, berries, and apple juice topped with granola, goji berries, banana, strawberries, and honey. I love the Island Bowl and Green Bowl. The Island Bowl is made with mango and coconut milk on top of the basic blend and topped with granola, coconut, bananas, and honey of course. The Green Bowl blends veggies, ginger, and lime into the acai base and is topped with granola and honey. I always add yogurt to my bowls.

I hope you enjoy this delicious dish as much as we do. If you have ideas about possible additions or toppings, let us know!

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Vegan Pancakes and some Cinnamon Rolls (to keep the balance)

Emma here reporting over the last few days. Olivia had a few friends sleep over last night to celebrate the end of the first week of school. I was babysitting at a neighbor’s house and got a call from my mom, checking up on me. She was, of course, at Trader Joe’s picking up cinnamon rolls, a sleepover staple, for the next morning. These are the ultimate easy breakfast: take the dough out of the can, put it on a cookie sheet, stick it in the oven, and 10 (not 20 like the can instructs) minutes later comes out warm, slightly doughy, cinnamon rolls. Absolutely delicious, especially topped with the icing that comes in a packet on the side.

My dad was still making early morning rounds when this scrumptious creation was removed from the oven.  We made sure to reserve the largest roll with the most cinnamon and icing for him. He arrived home an hour later, bolted to the microwave to heat it up (the man cannot stand previously hot food cold) and added an unnecessary portion of butter to it. The plate was empty in a matter of seconds. I think he liked it…..

On the topic of breakfasts, I found myself with some rare leisure time at 9 o’clock last Friday morning. I had woken up slighty punky with large lymph nodes and a funny sounding voice, and my cross country coach sent me home with instructions to take the morning off from running and rest up. I went home, frustrated at the prospect of being sick (I absolutely loathe being sick, just ask my mother) and feeling lonely with the house all to myself. Tummy rumbling, I decided to whip up some pancakes for myself. Since I can never experiment when my sister and father are part of the eating party, I decided to take a little liberty this morning and try something new – and voila! my new favorite (vegan) pancake recipe was born. Partially based off of my mom’s oatmeal pancake recipe, famous marathoner Ryan Hall’s “cytocakes”, and a little bit of my own invention. Ryan Hall adds Cytomax protein powder to his; I didn’t have any of that, but I decided to use some hemp protein we had in the cupboard.

Here’s my recipe (I didn’t measure everything, so it is partly an estimate):

Emma’s Morning Cakes

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup hemp protein powder (vanilla flavor from trader joe’s!)
  • 2 tsp ground flaxseed meal plus 6 tsp water
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 2 tbsp blue agave syrup

Combine oats, flours, soda, powder, and protein in a bowl. Mix flaxseed and water in a separate bowl until thick and gelatinous. Add soymilk and agave to flax/water mixture. Then fold liquids into the dry ingredients. Let sit for a few minutes while heating up the griddle and flapjack away! I ate my pancakes topped with earth balance and vermont maple syrup (from trader joes!) with greek yogurt and fresh raspberries on the side. So yummy. I am planning on trying them with Tera’s Whey acai protein next! (My dad is a big acai fan-I think I might win him over with acai pancakes).

Back to School Scones

Yesterday morning I took my youngest daughter to her locker.  6th grade, middle school,  hormone ridden adolescents wandering the halls, distracted glances, unfocused nervous faces.  She smiled nervously up at me and said, “I’m fine Mommy”. Of course she is fine.  She walks up to some friends and listens in on the conversation, she giggles, and twists her braid and checks out her new Toms and bright white socks.  The other girls are not wearing socks. But, she does seem fine.  She’s navigating this place in her world.

It’s an interesting place in parenting when you want your little legacies to be independent and strong and yet…. still need you and be who you want them to be.   She does need me though, and I  need her and this moment to grow me and stretch me and point me to Truth. She is so young, so sweet, so impressionable.  I look back, slightly hidden behind the corner of a building.  She is so beautiful, my heart twists in a myriad of directions.  Please give her confidence.  Confidence in herself, not her shoes, nor her beautiful black hair-don’t let her define herself by anything but as a deeply loved child of our living God.  Let me drop my expectations, give me grace and peace to joyfully embrace her and her gifts.

Six hours later and it is an hour to pick up time.  I have kept myself busy working most of the day, but was able to get home in time to make chocolate chip scones-make that chocolate chips scones with fresh yoghurt and raspberrries on the side.  The perfect treat to finish this first day of middle school.  I wait to see her sweet face emerging from the crowd of backpacked kids.  There she is smiling and waving, looking a little tired, hair falling out of the braid, and funny thing,  she is no longer  wearing those bright white socks….hmmm.

Here is my Mom’s, affectionately known as Nanny’s, recipe  Of course I have added chocolate chips, and occasionally I will throw in some dried cranberries or pecans.  And yes, she is British and it is indeed a full fat recipe.  Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Scones

  • 2 cups flour (I used part whole wheat on the last round due to lack of white flour, and they tasted great!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 8 tbsp chilled butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cream ( I like Trader Joes whipping cream) or  (I sometimes substitute greek yogurt or half ‘n half)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients. Cut cold butter to small pieces and add to dry mix. Keep your hands cold, and mix with you fingertips. Add in chocolate chips or another embellishment. Whisk together egg and cream, and then add to dry ingredients. Loosely form 12 mounds of dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.