When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Worth keeping in your pockets: May 2013

I often discover things that I enjoy or find really useful and want to share them with others, but not all of these things really need an entire blog post devoted to them.  I've decided to start up a new feature here on Pocketfuls where I can highlight a collection of random stuff that people may be interested in.  (I promise you that you'll find more in this section than the rocks and sticks I used to always find in Will's pockets!)  So without further ado, here is a spring edition of "Worth keeping in your pockets".

Pea shoots:  I first tasted these delicious and nutrient rich microgreens last spring when we found some in our weekly veggie box.  The young leaves and tendrils of pea plants are crisp and sweet and offer a welcome first taste of the fresh produce to come later in the season.  I was so happy to find these again at a local food shop recently;  we've been enjoying them whenever we can, tossed in salads and rolled with other veggies in wraps.  Try them -- you'll love them! 

Rocky Mountain Soap Company: Always on the lookout for new natural and safe body care products to try, I discovered this Canadian company's products online and have been in love with their body lotions and butters ever since. The moisturizing lotions go on smoothly and absorb well into the skin, and the body butters are rich and perfect for really dry spots. They smell delicious (my favourites so far are apricot, cherry, and lemon-lime), and I feel good using these products knowing that they don't contain any harmful ingredients.

frank deresti and the lake effect:  It was wonderful to have my brother in town earlier this week; he and his friends/bandmates stopped in Waterloo to perform one evening as part of their most recent tour.  My friends and I all really enjoyed listening to some favourite tunes from the this time album presented live, as well as some beautifully written and performed new songs, which will be part of an album the group plans to record this summer.  If you haven't heard frank deresti and the lake effect yet, you can listen here.  If you live the in the Ottawa or Sarnia areas, you can still catch this talented group this weekend on the last few shows of their tour.

Lilacs: I love the lilacs that are in bloom this time of year. When I step out onto our deck and catch their wonderful floral scent wafting by on the breeze for the first time each spring, I am instantly transported back to my childhood. There was a pretty lilac bush in the back corner of our yard when I was growing up, and I still remember burying my young face in the dainty blooms to inhale their sweetness, and walking to school clutching bouquets of them to bring to my teachers over the years. Lilacs are one of the simple pleasures of the season that make me forget whatever else might be happening for a moment and just feel so grateful to be. If you don't have a lilac bush of your own, I encourage you to walk around your neighbourhood to find one and breathe near it -- I'm pretty sure it will make you feel happy, too!

Green Beaver Spray Sunscreen:  A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about mineral sunscreens as a safe alternative to chemical sun protection products.  Since then, it seems that sunscreens made from natural ingredients that offer broad spectrum protection from the sun's harmful rays have become more widely available, so there are now several good options to choose from.  We still like the Badger brand, especially for swimming because it's water resistant, but for everyday use, we often use Green Beaver's spray sunscreen now.  It's non-whitening, non-greasy, fragrance-free, free of nanoparticles, organic, and Canadian made, plus it is light and very easy to apply compared to the thicker zinc sunscreens that come in tubes.  You can find Green Beaver sunscreen products at health food stores or at well.ca .

Walking:  Since the arrival of nicer weather, I've had a standing date for a weekly walk with friends.  We meet at the start of a lovely trail near our homes just after we drop the kids off at school, and we spend an hour or so moving at a brisk pace, soaking up the sunlight and the birds' sweet morning songs while we talk about what's important or interesting to us.  It's such an easy and enjoyable way to get some exercise, and afterwards I feel energized for the rest of the day.  Walking is good for the heart in both senses, and this time of year the warm sunshine and pretty landscapes make it very appealing to get moving.  If you're feeling that you'd like to be a little more active, maybe the longer, cheerful days of spring can inspire you to head out walking, too!

Homemade Granola Bars:  I was determined this week to find a recipe for a homemade granola bar that was healthy, not too sweet, and free of ingredients that anyone in our family is sensitive to or is not allowed to bring to school due to allergy concerns.  This recipe from Goop.com was a perfect starting point.  I made several modifications to it, a bit skeptical at first that I would be able to stuff so many nutritious ingredients into a granola bar and have the boys still be willing to eat it, but they loved the end result!  (So did frank deresti and the lake effect -- they ate the rest of the bars the morning after their show here in Waterloo.  :)  )  I will make these often, experimenting with different add-ins once school is out and we can use nuts again.  They were very easy to make and are a great portable healthy snack!

1 1/3 cups certified pure oats, divided
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 cup of any combination of add-ins (I use about 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, about 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, and about 2 tbsp each of hemp hearts and cocoa nibs)
2 tbsp whole chia seeds
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, letting a bit of excess paper hang over the sides.

Grind 1/3 cup of the oats in a food processor until powdery.  Add them to a large mixing bowl with the remaining oats, the salt, cinnamon, and ginger, the add-ins, and the whole and ground chia seeds. Stir to combine.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil and maple syrup.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon the granola mixture into the prepared pan, and press firmly down on it with the back of a spoon to smooth it out and create a flat top.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the granola cool completely.

Once cool, lift up the edges of the parchment paper lining to easily remove the granola from the pan. Place it on a cutting board and slice it into squares or bars using a large, sharp knife. Store the granola bars in an airtight container.

That's all I've got in my pockets for now... come by and see what other interesting things I'll collect and share in the coming months!  Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!


  1. Those were the best granola bars ever! I used your recipe, used unsweetened coconut (about 25%) and carob chips (shh...don't tell my husband, he thought they were chocolate!) as the add ins. They were so delicious, I think I'm going to have to make a double batch next time!

    1. I'm so glad you liked them, Jenn (and your carob chip secret is safe with me!) :)