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[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W[/dropcap]hen I decided to quit my corporate job designing chocolate biscuits (cookies) over 4 years ago, there was one thing I knew I was going to miss… working as part of a team.
I’ve absolutely loved the transition to full time blogger and entrepreneur. And these days with social media, I never have to worry about being a lonely writer.
But I have missed collaborating and the energy that comes from working with other people.
So when my sister Nao and I were tossing around the idea of starting a blog together I was super excited about it on many levels.
Having a dedicated space to talk about how I’m navigating the world of introducing a child to the joys of eating was definitely an attraction.
Working with my littlest sister was equally exciting, especially as we have a similar philosophy on cooking and eating.
We’ve been having so much fun with it.
So today I thought I’d share an interview I did with Nao so you can learn some of the tricks behind her slender waistline and feeding two little girls.
3 Quick Questions with Nao Cronan
JULES. I’ve always wanted to ask you this! What’s your secret to maintaining your amazingly slender waistline?
NAO. I think it’s my love for fruit and veggies. I prefer to have greens like kale and spinach with my meal rather than rice, bread or pasta.
I do have a pretty sweet tooth so I tend to eat a lot of fruit everyday. And, water. Lots of water.
JULES. What are the 1-2 most useful habits you have that help you and your family eat as healthy as possible?
NAO. I find cutting up fruit and veggies and storing them in the fridge when you buy them means they are an easy go-to snack so you won’t resort to snacking on biscuits and chips.
I also like to find new ways of incorporating vegetables in our diet.
When making muffins I try to include fruits and vegetables to make them a nutritional snack and to show to my girls that they do like vegetables. Our favourite at the moment is a processed sugar free applesauce and zucchini muffin.
JULES. You have two adorable little girls, and I know the oldest one is a bit of a fussy eater. What has been the most helpful thing you’ve found for helping to deal with it?
NAO. It can get very frustrating and stressful when your little one won’t eat, however, the more relaxed I am about food, the more receptive they are. So, I’m all about making food fun!
If the girls are having fun, they are definitely more agreeable AND more open to trying new things.
We like to do games with food (forget what your mum told you about playing with your food!) like being apple monsters and seeing who can crunch their apple the loudest or play sword fights with our asparagus spears.
Jemima is at the age where she likes to tell you everything she knows about something so we might talk about carrots and use as many adjectives as possible to describe them – long, pointy, hard, crunchy, orange and also talk about where carrots grow and who else likes to eat carrots? The Easter Bunny!
Another way to keep meals fun is to have fun names for foods/dishes. For example, it’s not broccoli, it’s a ‘dinosaur tree’. And if you eat dinosaur trees you’ll grow big and strong like a dinosaur!
Or, this week I found a recipe which I tweaked a little. It is basically honey chicken with corn and black lentils aka ‘bumblebee stew’. So much more appealing to those little taste buds with a fun name!
Nao’s Caramel Slice
Recipe by Nao Cronan from theyellowbench.com
Our Mum used to make a super decadent caramel slice that was so tasty but full of processed sugar. Nao’s version is just as delicious (maybe even more so!) and it avoids refined sugars and gluten. Although there’s still plenty of sugar in dates so I wouldn’t call it exactly ‘guilt-free!’.
That being said, I love how the caramel filling comes together and am keen to try it with peanut or almond butter instead of the tahini.
for the base:
100g (3.5oz) almond meal (1 1/4 cups)
100g (3.5oz) coconut oil, melted (1/2 cup)
75g (3oz) pitted dates (1/2 cup)
150g (10oz) pecans (1 1/4 cups)
for the caramel:
250g (9oz) pitted dates (1 1/2 cups)
250g tahini (1 cup)
150g maple syrup (1/2 cup)
for the topping:
200g (7oz) dark chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a rectangular slice tin, approx 28 x 18cm (11″ x 7″), with baking paper.
2. Process the base ingredients, almond meal, coconut oil, dates and pecans in a food processor until you have a sticky crumb.
3. Press base into the prepared tin. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until starting to brown. Cool.
4. For the caramel, process dates, tahini and maple syrup until smooth and sticky.
5. Spread caramel over the cooled base. If too sticky to spread, use the back of a spoon dipped in boiling water. Leave in fridge while you get the chocolate ready.
6. Melt chocolate and spread over caramel. Leave in fridge to set for approx 1 hr.
Processed Sugar-Free – replace chocolate with cocoa nibs melted with rice malt syrup.
No maple syrup– haven’t tried it but you could soak pitted dates in boiling water and use the boiling water instead of the maple syrup, or replace with raw honey.
Short on time – make base out of a packet of biscuits (cookies) processed with some melted coconut oil and press into lined tin and leave to set in freezer for 10 minutes.
Nut free – replace almond meal and pecans with 1 cup self raising flour and an extra 1/4 cup dessicated coconut.
Oven-free – for the base use 1/2C of pitted dates, 1/2C peanuts and 1/2C pecans with 1/4C desiccated coconut and process til crunchy, crumb and spread into lined tin.
No coconut oil? – use melted butter.
No tahini? – replace with peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter.
Yum…..you have me drooling here, these look so good. And all that good stuff mixed in together. Thanks for this great recipe. BTW, I just read your ‘About’ and see you are in Australia and your husband is from Ireland. My daughter-in-law is also born and raised in Ireland and I have a 3.5 y/o grandson named Sheamus Fergus! Sounds a little bit irish :)
Greetings from Ireland!
Just took this out of the fridge – omg can’t stop testing it!! I think I’d maybe reduce the proportion of ‘caramel’ in relation to the base and chocolate, but I may have gotten my measures a bit out as I halved the recipe (why???).
Thanks for all your great ideas :)