Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monuts- Chocolate Edition

What kid doesn't love chocolate? And what kid doesn't at least occasionally turn up his nose at green stuff?

So what if you could somehow make the best of this situation by giving them chocolate with some strategically placed green stuff hidden in the mix?

Enter the Chocolate (and avocado- shhhh!) Monut.

In case you've forgotten what a Monut is, click here for the original version and the story of how Healthy Mona and Not-so-Healthy Donut came to find common ground... hence, the Monut.

But why stop there? Because everything's better with chocolate, right? And what's better with creamy, dreamy, fudgy chocolate than avocado? That's right, avocado. Much like chocolate, it's also creamy and dreamy, and it really deserves more than just a ride on the occasional tortilla.

Avocados are a superfood- loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, and nutrients, and can be easily added to many baked goods, puddings, and smoothies without altering the taste.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly an advocate of hiding vegetables in food. I really believe that kids need to know what they're eating and why they're eating it.

But I'm also a fan of reality, and in reality even my veggie-loving kids who live in a home where there are only 2 menu options (take it or leave it) have anti-green tendencies. So if you need to pull the occasional sneak maneuver, trust me when I say I won't judge. Neither will your kids when they bite into these delicious, chocolaty donuts. I mean, Monuts.

1/2 ripe avocado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk (I used almond, but soy or cow's milk would likely work just as well)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray donut pan with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the avocado and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine the white and wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the avocado alternately with the milk, until all is incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into the donut wells and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the donuts spring back when you touch them. Cool completely before removing from the pan.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Unofficial School Supply List for First Graders

I've heard the horror stories about new math, inventive spelling, and lattice multiplication, but I thought I had a few years before my children's schooling left me dazed and confused. After all, my oldest is only going into first grade- how hard can it be?

Then along came glue dots.  

I remember glue pots, glue bottles, glue jars, and that awful gluey rubber cement stuff we would inhale and then use to make fake boogers (admit it- you did too). I'm familiar with glue guns and glue sticks, but glue dots? What are they and why are they on the first grade school supply list? 

Even Target couldn't answer my question, and in my book, if they don't sell it at Target, you just don't need it. Unfortunately, St. Patrick School does not feel the same way, because glue dots are apparently very necessary to first grade success. 2 packs of them, to be exact.

So what to do about this important but elusive supply so critical my child's academic future? I couldn't very well send him off to face first grade lacking in the appropriate adhesive, now could I? I searched the other big box stores and was still glue dotless until finally I turned to the one source I knew would not let me down: Facebook.

My trusty friends were quick to the rescue, and although the answer was slightly terrifying, for the sake of my oldest child I put on my big girl pants, stepped boldly where I usually fear to tread, and purchased 2 packs of glue dots from the craft store.

Once the dust settled on Operation Glue Dots, I got to thinking about the supply list. As comprehensive (and expensive) as it was, it still seemed so incomplete compared to what was ahead. How I wished I could arm my son with everything he'll need to tackle the challenges of the next 12+ years of formal schooling. But there's no Trapper Keeper (do they even still make those?) big enough for that. If I could I'd fill a 5-subject notebook (single ruled) with the mistakes I made and make him memorize them every night with a quiz each Friday, but I know he needs to find his own way. So instead, the best I can do is pray I've prepared him to do just that.

Still, there are a few tweaks I'd like to make to the official supply list.... 

Washable markers are great, but sometimes life's most meaningful projects are the messiest ones, the ones that leave our fingers stained, our shirts a streaky mess, and our minds a blur. While some marks are permanent, I'll always be there to help with the clean-up. Or better yet, to pass on the tools he needs to clean up on his own. 

64 crayons sounds like a fantastic deal, but more isn't always better. I pray he won't be dazzled by metallics or mesmerized by glitter. It takes years to figure out your own true colors, much less anyone else's, but when you surround yourself with the colors that bring out your best and you can't go wrong. I don't care if no one else likes Burnt Sienna. What I do care is that he becomes the kind of kid who sees that no one is eating lunch... I mean coloring...with Burnt Sienna and he reaches out to Burnt Sienna to give it a chance. Because sometimes the most beautiful colors are left sitting in the box.

What's with all the No. 2 pencils? Why not a No. 1 pencil, or a No. 3, or a No. 658? I hope this dear child never stops asking questions, never loses his curiosity. May he fill his pencil box with it and always keep it sharpened.

And I completely agree with the fine folks at St. Patrick School. Adhesive will be necessary. Life is sticky, and he'll need to be even stickier to get through it. He'll need to stick true to what he believes, to stick by his friends, to stick up for those who need a hand, to stick with his goals and his hopes and his dreams. And we'll need to stick together through it all, especially since the path to becoming a trapeze artist/astronaut/garbage collector/doctor isn't an easy one.

So for my sweet boy as he enters first grade I wish endless supplies of whatever sticky substance will keep his gentle spirit grounded, his innocence intact, and his heart and mind open.

Even glue dots.