27 April, 2016

CHEWY CRANBERRY COOKIES [DAIRY-FREE, SUGAR-FREE, GLUTEN-FREE]



This post contains the recipe for one of the best cookies we have ever tried. Seriously, ten thumbs up from the Hopkins household. We all had two after dinner last night, and Peter took a few more to work for breakfast this morning.

The best parts: they're completely sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and guilt-free, they contain simple ingredients you probably already have on hand, and they require no fancy kitchen equipment.

We will seriously make these again and again. They make great on-the-go snacks, breakfast cookies, and a completely satisfying dessert. I'll probably double this next time to (hopefully!) make them last a bit longer.



Chewy Cranberry Cookies
Serving: makes about 18 cookies

ingredients:

3 cups / 270g organic oats (choose gluten free if intolerant)
1 / 150g cup dried cranberries
4 very ripe bananas 
4 red apples, grated
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Method:

Preheat oven to 390ºF/200ºC. 

In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas until smooth and no lumps remain. Grate apples with peel still on, squeeze them with your hands to strain most of the juice out of them (and pour this in a glass to drink!), and add to the mixing bowl with bananas. Toss the fruit together then mix in remaining ingredients. 

Grease a tray with coconut oil or butter.

Scoop a heaped tablespoon or two of the mix, form a ball, and flatten to a thick patty. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.





Recipe adapted from here.

25 April, 2016

QUINOA PIZZA



One of my favourite recipes we've recently discovered is quinoa pizzas. I've long been looking for an alternative to carbohydrate-loaded pizza dough that just leaves us all feeling awful, and cauliflower crust just hasn't cut it for us (though I am looking forward to trying a new recipe I found...I'll be sure to share if it passes our test).

This really is it! Peter even commented that he felt so great after eating this. If you're looking for a fluffy, American-style pizza crust, chances are you'll be a bit disappointed by this recipe. Or, you may enjoy it, but call it something other than pizza. However, I have found that since moving to the UK where it is impossible to find a thick crusted pizza (even if somewhere claims their crust is thick, it just isn't), we've adapted and actually enjoy crisp and light crusts with fresh toppings. So, maybe you can change too. ;)

Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, so this pizza leaves you perfectly satisfied without feeling heavy or guilty. Add fresh, even raw, toppings, and it's just perfection. You can top these pizzas with as much or little as you like-- the original recipe doesn't even use cheese, but we do tolerate and love cheese, so we used it on ours.



Quinoa Pizzas
serving: makes one 8" pizza

ingredients:

3/4 cup quinoa, soaked overnight (the soaking is very important for both digestion, and to soften the grains so they form the dough)
1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar (like this or this)
1-2 teaspoons dried organic oregano 
pinch of sea salt
sprinkle of chilli flakes, if desired

toppings:

pizza sauce 
plum tomatoes, halved
pitted olives, sliced
 fresh mozzarella
handful of rocket/arugula



method:

Soak quinoa overnight in filtered water, ensuring quinoa is totally covered in water with even a bit above for expanding.

Just before it is time to eat, preheat your oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Drain any water remaining in the quinoa bowl using a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. You want to be sure you've gotten nearly all of the water out.

Add quinoa and remaining ingredients to food processor and blend until it forms a smooth, soft dough. You may still have whole seeds in this, and that is alright.

Generously grease a pizza pan with olive oil and pour the dough onto the pan, spread to the edges, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the case is firm and golden.

Remove from the oven, add your toppings, and eat straight away or leave it all raw!


Original recipe via

13 April, 2016

ALONG THE THAMES




A few weeks back when the weather was cooler I took the kids on the shores of the Thames to hunt for treasure. There was a man doing the same, only he had a proper metal detector, so my plans for bone and rock hunting were a bit foiled when the littles followed him around instead, asking hundreds of questions in hopes of getting dibs on the treasure chest he was certainly about to discover.

The only treasure we left with was a few animal bones (!), some smooth stones, and a pingpong ball, but they turned out to be treasure enough, because they're all still sitting on our mantel.

We have great memories of this adventure, and meeting their Papa at the sweet shop afterwards for a treat. Next time we'll wear our wellies and bring the metal detector. ;)


12 April, 2016

LATELY



I know I've mentioned how I love to live slowly. How somehow, doing nothing, gives me everything. I think it's a beautiful thing to teach children-- it breeds contentment and thankfulness and excitement in the daily things that are easily mundane.

Friday morning the littles and I planned to do something fun together as Peter had to be away. It was a sad day as we had earlier dropped by family off at the train station, and with Peter being away, we really needed our spirits lifted. We decided we'd have a picnic on the rooftop outside of our master bedroom. It's a gorgeous and cosy spot, and one Peter and I share a lot of nights on.

We talked about this plan all day long, and even washed some duvets to kick up the cosiness a notch. We visited the market and bought our favourite snacks, picked up some new candles, and then set to work prepping everything we'd need.

That simple little night resulted in, "THANK YOU for being our Mama!"and "You are just the best mother, ever!", and we're still talking about it today.

Life is so rich.


08 April, 2016


The littles and I dropped my family off at the train station this morning which was a heart-wrenching experience. I don't know that there was really any way I could have better prepared my children, but we said goodbyes while the train was still three-minutes out, and when it pulled up and they boarded the platform was shaking with sobs and howls. Maybe it was the train pulling away. But either way, enormous tears were rolling down my sisters' cheeks, my mom's, my grandma's. One of my girls were shrieking, "Can we not go with them?!" while the other sobbed uncontrollably.

We've had small bursts of breakdowns since then, but are focusing on all the many wonderful things we did and saw and ate while they were here. Many of our nights ended after fits of hour-long laughter, sharing wine and old memories. My mother's stories can make anyone burst a gut from laughing. I had sweet quiet moments with my sisters, and intentional quality time with my grandma, which was so dear to my heart. My mom's mom is hardly old enough to be my grandmother and since I've had children and moved to the United Kingdom, she's become one of my dearest treasures. There's a reason we FaceTime her four days a week!


I'll miss the fullness of our wee 700-square-foot cottage packed with the people we love most. I'll miss my grandma humming all throughout the day, and having my laundry washed and folded before I even remember to get to it. I'll miss coming downstairs in the morning to a house bustling with life.

We packed a lot into their two weeks here, and I even got to see new parts of this city we call home. Most of us had different high points from the trip, which made me smile because it proved just what a dear time it all was. Discovering new places is always a favourite of mine, but simply doing our daily quiet life with family alongside was a real treasure. 

And Peter's cooking. That's always a treasure.

Goodbyes suck, and we've done them so many times since moving across the pond, but they truly never get easier. I'm leaving these photos here for us to remember always. What a treasure family is.