Culling Cookbooks, saying Farewell

I never thought of myself as someone who finds “good-byes” hard, but I do find change difficult, and aren’t they really the same thing?  Moving from a place of comfort to something new and unknown is just like saying good bye.  So instead, Farewell seems more palatable (excusing the pun.)

Because my three sons span a gap of 29 years, I always thought I would not be one of “those” mothers who cried at their youngest one’s graduation or who couldn’t bear the transition of having him leave home. I’ve been doing it full time for almost 30 years, so I am so ready to be free of full-time mothering!! or so I thought…

Recently I got maudlin sorting through (and weeding out) old cookbooks. Gone are the days of the “feeding 5 in under 30 minutes” and shortcut desserts. Now I am a integrative nutritionist: a healthy eating maven and plant-based whole foods clean eating cook; I no longer use any processed “shortcut” foods.

Still, with a mild sadness and sense of loss that I suspect is connected to my youngest son preparing to leave for college, I tried to weed out those old cookbooks. I own quite a large collection of baking cookbooks, quite a few devoted entirely to cookies, to chocolate, to biscotti, pies and tarts; I even have a dessert-only cookbook from the legendary Olives of Boston, now closed.

These sweet-based cookbooks could present a challenge for me, to avoid sugar and perform a makeover of some of the recipes but instead I am mourning the lost innocence I had when I used to regularly make cookies and cakes with white sugar and flour and butter.

It’s not like I ever thought these treats were “healthy”; it’s just that I didn’t realize how bad they were. I have to say goodbye to that lost innocence even if I occasionally bake that way again. (Homemade treats that aren’t healthy are still better than a store-bought unknown-ingredient-laced bakery item.)

It was simply more fun when sugar didn’t symbolize an inflammatory-causing food for me.

Kudos to the old saying, “you can’t go back again”. Innocence lost cannot be regained, just as grown children, my 6’2″ tall youngest son, cannot reasonably ever be my baby again. When I see school buses picking up youngsters waiting with their parents, I get a profound jolt, a mix of sadness and joy.

My kids will never be there again, and neither will I.

My mantra is often to stay in the present, and yet, change and loss gets foisted on us even as we live in the moment. I believe that learning to accept change, to embrace the new even with its accompanying loss is, in fact, one of the keys to happiness.    Yogic wisdom asks that we discontinue yearning for what might be or has been or could be and accept, even Love, what is.

So with all that said, I might add, for those who missed me, that I wrote this a few months ago hoping to come up with the perfect makeover recipe my youngest sweet-loving son would happily embrace.  I even made homemade peanut butter balls with honey and coconut flour coated in chocolate he thought were disgusting.

Truth be told, my children don’t embrace the healthier snacks and treats.  After all, they weren’t raised on them!

So here’s one, adapted from Vegetarian Times, that we adults enjoy.  I might as well embrace the empty nest…

Oat and Almond Balls (raw and gluten free and vegan)

oat almond balls

oat almond balls

2 1/2 Cups rolled oats (can be regular or quick-cooking.) Gluten free if necessary…

1/2 Cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/4 cup raisins

1/3 Cup raw cacao nibs (if you don’t want to splurge on nibs, just use 1/2 Cup raisins as per the original recipe)

2 Tbs, raw sunflower seeds

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 Cup almond butter

1/3 plus 1 Tablespoon raw honey

2 Tbs. sweet brown rice syrup or barley malt syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

optional : 4 squares of dark chocolate at least 70%)

1. Grind 1/2 Cup oats and 1/4 Cup pumpkin seeds with or without the chocolate in a food processor until a powder forms.  Transfer to a flat bowl and set aside.

2. Combine the remaining 2 cups oats, the remaining pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Then, add the almond butter along with the honey, syrup, and vanilla, Mix well until a dough forms.

3.  Get your hands wet and keep a moist towel nearby (it’s sticky!!) and roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Coat each ball in the oat-pumpkin seed (and maybe chocolate) powder.  Place in freezer for 20 minutes to set and then serve or store in the refridgerator.

Adapted from Vegetarian Times Oct. 1, 2005