Sunbutter Brownies

Photo of Sunbutter BrowniesOne of my nieces, C, has a wicked peanut allergy.  It’s the epi-pen-everywhere-she-goes kind of peanut allergy.  She’s dealt with it all of her 11 years, long before it was the popular allergy to have. C was my first exposure to the reality of how profoundly devastating food allergies can be. I vividly remember my sister-in-law cleaning out their pantry and offering me a box full of nuts and nut products. The gentle reminders via email or phone call from my brother about their new nut-free home before weekend visits and family vacations in an effort keep C safe.

At the time, I didn’t grasp how drastically every social interaction changed for my brother’s family the moment C’s allergy necessitated an epi pen. It was a very serious condition for such a tiny human to deal with, and although I was fully committed to keeping her safe, I still forgot to leave the cashews in the car sometimes or check the label on her treats to make sure they weren’t made in a facility that processed peanuts. Luckily, my brother, sis-in-law, and oldest niece were vigilant and wouldn’t let anything that even hinted at peanuts to cross the threshold. (As it turns out, it was crazy hard to find toddler treats processed in a peanut-free facility 10 years ago. Now, it’s a bit easier because food allergies are so prevalent. ) I wish I could go back to 20-something year-old Carrie and give her a good shake about the reality of food allergies, and the sonic effect families with food allergies experience.

In spite of her challenges, C has always had a resilient and sunny attitude, even when it meant missing out on a special treat or experience with her friends or big sister.  C bounces along, continually looking for the silver lining, sharing her bright energy and outlook with the world. I wanted to create something especially for C, since nuts of all kinds are off limits now, and her family is trying to cut back on sugar. She’s a total chocoholic (it runs in the family!). Of course you can always sub a different seed or nut butter, but these are so yummy, there’s no need!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz jar of smooth sunbutter
  • 2 eggs
  • 
1 avocado (yep, you read that right) or 1/4 cup coconut oil…but it won’t be as good as the avocado.
  • 1 cup coconut crystals
  • 
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
20 drops liquid stevia
  • 
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 bar of 90% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 
pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Mash the avocado until totally smooth. You can put it in the food processor if you’d like.
  2. Add sunbutter, vanilla extract, stevia, eggs, and blend VERY WELL.
  3. Combine baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and erythritol in a separate bowl, then add to sunbutter mixture, mixing well.
  4. Press mixture into 9×13 glass baking dish, and spread evenly. (A smaller dish is fine, too.)
  5. Sprinkle dark chocolate chunks over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

All-Natural Gummy Snacks

Photo of Gummy SnacksGrowing up, Halloween was always a loaded holiday.  In our circle of family friends, my parents were considered renegades.  We didn’t do Harvest Festivals.  We didn’t stay home and have family night.  We put on our best costumes and went door-to-door asking for treats (and occasionally getting tricked by neighborhood kids).  My parents were unapologetic about our trick-or-treating because it wasn’t about glorifying death and destruction, it was about dressing up, having fun and getting the best sugar high of the whole year.  And nobody I know ever got a razor blade in their candy bar or a poison candied apple.  Or possessed by demons.

I’m positive I was a fairy princess at least 5 times. Original, right?  Our move to Texas was pretty spectacular because I could actually wear my costume without my usual Alaskan uniform of  heavy raincoats and rubber boots.  People actually got to see more than my glitter star wand, tiara, and  make-up!  I proudly wore my mom’s fancy old pink and white bathrobe, glittery jelly shoes that made my feet hurt, fairy wings and plastic jewelry on those bone-dry Texas Halloween nights.  The only bummer came when mom and dad shelved the candy almost immediately afterwards, well out of my reach and doled out ONE PIECE per day.  ONE PIECE!  I’m positive they pillaged my stash, though, and so did my brothers.  It never seemed to last 100+ days, despite my careful calculations.

In my middle age, I realize I’m turning into Raisin Lady.  You know, the lady who hands out miniature boxes of raisins and calls them “nature’s candy”?  That’s me.  Except raisins contain way too much sugar for me to tolerate more than just a few.  Plus, I think they’re gross. Do me a favor and don’t tell the children of America I feel this way, okay? Because these little “treats” are moderately healthy and even though I would rather eat nothing at all than eat a raisin, SOME PEOPLE like them.

But I think I take Raisin Lady to the next level. In fact, I think next year for Halloween, I will dress up as 
”Homemade Gummy Snack Lady”.  It totally sounds legit, right?  Because if it wasn’t considered dangerous, ill-conceived, or sketchy, I would actually hand these tasty treats out to kiddos on Halloween.  Tart, sweet, with a little protein punch and a very low calorie content, these are amazing. And because these chewy treats have very few ingredients, they are ideal for our kiddos with food allergies.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp high-quality beef gelatin (I like this brand)
  • 
1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 20-30 drops liquid stevia (or to taste)

Optional Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp blueberry or pomegranite juice (not from concentrate)
  • 
Lemon, orange, or other fruit extracts for extra flavor
  • 
All-natural, non-toxic food coloring (like this from India Tree)
  • Fresh berries

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, juice and stevia.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
  2. Slowly add gelatin to liquids while continuously whisking until fully incorporated.
  3. Add food coloring until desired color is present.
  4. Pour into candy molds, soft latex ice cube trays or into a pan.
  5. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes or refrigerate for an hour until set.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Yep, these bad boys are stable at room temperature!

*If these are too chewy for you, increase the water content by 1-2 Tbsp. Just be careful, otherwise you’ll end up with jello instead of gummies.