We commenced our third year of Thomson Academy this August and are enjoying all of our new books! After a laid back approach to learning this summer, we were ready to jump in to a more formal phase of education. It seems, for many people whom I meet, that the beginning of the school year also brings a resurgence of intentionality about choosing wholesome meals and snacks (almost like a mini-new year!) If you and your family are on the hunt for a delicious lunchbox snack (for little ones or grownups) or an afternoon sweet treat, here is a recipe for a decadent bite-sized truffle that is sweetened only by a surprising ingredient.
(Right now I am envisioning Tevye belting out this swelling chorus in my all time favorite movie “Fiddler on the Roof“!)
One of our favorite family traditions is a “tea time” in the afternoon (yes, even my Farmer Boys look forward to this special time and don’t mind the name of it as long as it means they can eat a treat.) Whoever has the privilege of preparing tea time for the day will combine a treat (sometimes homemade, sometimes prepackaged) with a more wholesome tidbit such as fresh or dried fruit, or nuts. I make sure that they have supplies that they can easily prepare but I don’t usually have a hand in tea time preparations because this occurs during my own “quiet time” in the afternoon. (As an introverted Mama, I need time and space in the afternoon to think, read, write… and nap!) They enjoy arranging the spread on the table to surprise us all (and they do their own food photography to boot!)
Here are just a few of our Little Farmers’ recent tea time creations!
Our afternoon tea time is a special time of unhurried conversation and enjoyment of each other’s company. Around four in the afternoon we come back together after our individual times of quiet and just enjoy being together for a short span. We don’t manage to have this every day, but we all miss it when we are too busy or our schedule doesn’t allow for it. A little snack helps put everyone in the right frame of mind for our evening tasks. Tea time also lends an opportunity for my Little Farmers to seek happiness in giving others delight as they arrange and prepare a snack for our family.
Sometimes I read poetry aloud from A Child’s Garden of Verses or I read the next chapter in one of our family’s current books, such as Raggedy Andy (a delightful and heartwarming collection of stories about the beloved doll) or Farmer Boy (that classic story that resonates with my own Little Farmers.)
Sometimes we discuss our upcoming calendar and chat about our week. (I have found that it is a good practice for me and for our Little Farmers if we discuss the upcoming week — or even just the upcoming few days — ahead of time.) Some of them need more structure and advance notice of plans than do others, but all of them like to feel included in our family plans.
During the summer we drink some ice water or lemonade kefir served in a little glass pitcher (they enjoy the chance to pour from the pitcher themselves) but come colder weather we will serve tea, hot cocoa, or Blackstrap Steamer.
A Fun Snack
Chocolate covered raisins (particularly their brand name counterpart) were one of my favorite candies as a child. While I won’t purchase these now for my family, I have an even better alternative. These truffles are an excellent natural source of healthy fats, fiber, and a host of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin E, making them an excellent choice for a snack or dessert. These will please even the most sophisticated taste buds — as much at home in a Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox as on a silver platter! This truffle is a fun snack to add to any afternoon snack time or would pack well as a special lunch treat.
Raisins are good for your teeth?!
These truffles derive their sweetness only from raisins. Owing to their extreme sweetness, raisins are not typically a dried fruit that I would choose to eat as an isolated snack (give me dried tart cherries any day!), but incorporated into this recipe their sweetness goes a long way! The raisins that I purchase are very plump and soft, but if yours are dry and shriveled, you may need to drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of warm water over the mixture in the food processor if it doesn’t seem to bind together well. (Or, you can soak the raisins for a few minutes in some hot water ahead of time to plump them up.)
Usually we hear that we should avoid raisins and other sticky fruits to prevent cavities. I heard some good news from my sister recently: raisins are actually good for your teeth! I had to research this a little more since raisins are one of my go-to wholesome snacks for my children but I always feel a little guilty if I don’t prompt them to go brush their teeth immediately afterwards. SunMaid Raisins, on the Research on Raisins section of their website, urges consumers to “[Re]-think what you have may have heard about raisins and dental health; science shows raisins have properties that inhibit cavity-causing bacteria” based upon this study¹. It turns out that raisins contain a phytochemical that fights two of the common oral bacterial that contribute to dental caries and periodontal disease. Also, the main carbohydrates in raisins are glucose and fructose, instead of sucrose, which actually is known to feed the pathogenic bacteria (a.k.a. the bad guys) in the mouth.
- ¾ cup rolled oats (I use freshly rolled oats, but old fashioned oats also work well)
- 2 cups total pecans or walnuts (divided into 1-1/2 cups and ½ cup) - about 12-14 oz. nuts
- 1-1/2 cups (packed full) of raisins (for best results, raisins should be fresh and at room temperature)
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add 1⁄2 cup pecans or walnuts to bowl of food processor. Pulse at 1-second intervals until nuts are finely chopped.
- Remove chopped nuts to toast lightly on a shallow pan in a toaster oven or in a skillet on medium low to medium heat until they are lightly golden and you can smell a nicely toasted aroma (watch very closely or they will burn.)
- Empty toasted nuts into a small bowl and set aside to coat truffles.
- Add oats into the bowl of a food processor and grind the oats into a powder.
- Add the pecans, salt, and cocoa powder to the oat powder and pulse at 1-second intervals until the pecans are finely chopped (but not too finely ground so as to become nut butter or they will become oily.)
- Add in the raisins, vanilla extract, and one tablespoon of coconut oil.
- Process until well combined (dough will begin to form a large mass that travels together around the food processor bowl.)
- Try to form a small ball from the dough. If it appears to not be sticking together well, you may add more raisins, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to create a sticky dough (1-4 tablespoons total). You may also add 1-2 teaspoons more coconut oil, but this will tend to make the truffle feel more greasy. If the raisins you used were very dried out, you may also drizzle 1-2 teaspoons water over the mixture if the dough seems too crumbly.
- Scoop dough with a cookie scoop or spoon and roll into one-to-two inch diameter truffles.
- Roll each truffle in the bowl of lightly toasted nuts to coat the outside (you can skip this step but it adds a nice touch!)
- Refrigerate the truffles for a bit until set.
- Enjoy! Store in refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness.
Serves: 17 small truffles (1 tablespoon), or 22 larger truffles (3/4 oz scoop)
A Convenient Source for Natural Foods
What about you?
Do you have a daily tradition that you enjoy and that provides you a time to connect with others, or just to rest and reflect? Why not begin this week? It doesn’t have to be complicated or take more than even 5 to 10 minutes, but you may just find yourself looking forward to a break from the fast-paced lifestyle we all live. Living a sustainably wholesome lifestyle means choosing to establish patterns now that you can continue throughout your lifetime. Taking time for rest and reflection and meaningful connection with others is vital to our wellbeing. You can be sure that I’ll be writing more on this in the upcoming months! Stay tuned!
Here’s to Wholesome! (and to afternoon tea time!)
p.s. If you have a favorite daily tradition, or if you start something new this week, I would love for you to share that with our Ingrained Community! Leave a comment below or drop me a line at Bethany@ingrainedliving.com
¹ Rivero-Cruz, J.F., et al., Antimicrobial constituents of Thompson seedless raisins (Vitis vinifera) against selected oral pathogens. Phytochemistry Letters (2008), doi:10.1016/j.phytol.2008.07.007