Orange and Greens and Coconut Cream

I haven’t written about food in a while. And I can’t say it’s because I haven’t been spending time in the kitchen. A large portion of my everyday is devoted to preparing produce, cooking up recipes, washing dishes, washing dishes, washing dishes. That hasn’t changed. I grocery shop on a daily basis and our produce box is still providing us with weekly organic delights. But still, things have been feeling a little uninspired in that favorite nook of mine lately. New recipes are at a standstill. Homemade energy bars and hummus have been replaced with the packaged variety. Meals are cooked and consumed without even a thought to pause and pose them for photos. My heart just hasn’t been in it lately, I don’t know why. Yesterday morning I happened to emerge from my cave of an office just in time to catch that one, elusive stream of morning sunlight as it made it’s brief daily pass by the kitchen window. And I suddenly realized that my recent lack of inspiration and creativity in the kitchen is simply a matter of light. It is the light that brings color to my foodie realm.

Light is always an issue in that dim, dull kitchen of ours. The entire house, as a matter of fact, is quite devoid of natural light. So, capturing those vibrant colors, making food look attractive and appealing without the proper tools is always a challenge. But in the winter months, I am finding it’s near impossible.It is not for lack of sunshine. Mother nature is providing plenty of that this glorious January (in fact, I do believe she may be confusing January with June). It’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Leaving for work as the sun begins to rise and arriving in the kitchen just before it sets…there’s absolutely no hope for weekday food photos. Weekends have been busy, too, spent out and about, playing around in all this beautiful sunshine. So yesterday, when I happened into the kitchen at just the right moment, I was suddenly inspired. Ah! There it is! Quick grab the camera! Let’s showcase something sweet to eat.

Serendipitously, I happened to have a batch of energy bars in the fridge, just waiting for a moment in the limelight. I had made them just the day before, in an attempt to liven up our dreary repertoire of packable trail treats. I recently resorted to purchasing packaged bars in my uninspired state. Not that hubby minds. He’s more than happy to snack on his favorite Larabars anytime, whether it be on the trail or on the couch. I, on the other hand, am a little more fickle. I like change and tend to tire of the same old, same old, as far as food is concerned.  Larabars come in a multitude of flavors, but the variety available for purchase in this town is very limited. Looking through the list of possibilities, I was overwhelmed with a sudden urge to try them all! But I liked the sound of Coconut Cream Pie. So I gave it a try.

A quick perusal of the web revealed so many recipes for homemade Larabars. With very few ingredients and a standard base of nuts and dates, you can easily invent any flavor combination your creative mind can dream up. In my production I decided to cast cashews with almonds, starring coconut and chocolate playing a supporting role.

Now, I would normally use cacao nibs in a recipe like this, simply for less sugar and the superfood kick that raw unprocessed cacao provides. However, I felt this particular situation called for a little something special, so I used chocolate chips…mmm. This little treat was a pretty big hit! And so easy to make. Like most raw, vegan treats and bars, throw a handful of ingredients into the food processor, mush ’em together, wrap ’em up and they’re ready to go.

Coconut Cream Pie Larabar Impersonators

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of your favorite nuts (Any type of nut will do. Try pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews or hazelnuts. Try a combo of your favorite few. The possibilities are endless!)
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded organic coconut
  • A handful, large or small, of dark chocolate chips (I use SunSpire organic bittersweet 65% Cacao chips)
  • And just a pinch of salt
  1. Combine nuts, dates, coconut and salt in the food processor and grind until a course dough forms. If your dough is too dry, add more dates or a tiny bit of water until it sticks together when pinched.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few more times.
  3. You can form the dough however you see fit. I made full size bars this time, but mini bites or truffle-type balls would be suitable for snacking, as well.
  4. Refrigerate until firm.

I suggest making a double batch leaving some for now and some for later. You can wrap individual bars and store them in the freezer so you have a grab-n-go stash on hand. Experiment with different flavor combinations, add your own favorite bits and pieces, you really can’t go wrong. It’s your production, your show, make what you want of it. Up next for me? I’m envisioning chocolate orange…or cherry lime…or cranberry pecan…oh boy.

Snapping close-ups of all that yumminess caused a sudden rumble in my belly, so I wrapped it up and moved on to breakfast. With light still sneaking through my kitchen window, I caught a tiny beam resting on a sunny orange and for some reason I thought citrus and greens.

Green smoothies are all the rage and with so many recipes out there to choose from, there are many delicious ways to get your daily dose of healthy greens. Although, even with the unlimited possibilities and my propensity for changing things up, I rarely stray from my favorite green smoothie. I love the sweetness that mango and apple add to the earthy flavor of spinach and kale. But today, for some odd reason, I decided to deviate from my norm.
I suppose it was the mood of coconut cream that led my mind to orange dream. You know, like an Orange Julious or Creamsicle. I haven’t had one of those in ages, but I always adored that dreamy orange flavor! Why I thought to pair it with greens, I have no idea. Could have been the big bag of picture-perfect organic baby spinach from our CSA box that kept falling out of the fridge every time I opened the door. And the sunshine on that vibrant orange citrus…ah, that light, you see? It’s nature’s way of inspiring me.

I used Julie Morris’s Orange Mega-C Smoothie recipe as a guide. Simply replacing my ever-loyal mango and apple with fresh oranges and banana, transformed my classic standby smoothie into a creamy, dreamy orange and green delight. Not to mention the immunity protecting, super-C power of camu powder is a wise addition with the cold and flu crud so prevalent right now.

Orange and Greens Smoothie

  • 1 whole orange, peeled
  • 1 frozen banana (if using a fresh banana, you may want to add a little ice)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh organic kale
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lucuma powder
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon camu powder
  • 1/2 cup of water (use more or less to create your desired consistency)
  1. Whir it, stir it, blend it. You know how it goes.

Hmm. I am suddenly overcome with a strong desire to make a smoothie. I’m off to the kitchen. Unfortunately, this morning’s sunlit kitchen adventure will be slightly obstructed by cloud cover, but that’s all right. I have orange and greens and coconut cream. I have the day to myself. I feel creative, I feel inspired and my spirit is infused with sunlight.

Here’s to sunshine. Enjoy your day :)

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