We made it! It’s a new year, and the opportunity to reflect and go forward. I’m ready – in fact, I might have too many things on my list, but I always aim high in the hopes that I come close to accomplishing at least some of my goals.
I’m so grateful for all the feedback from readers, so a special thank you if you’ve ever commented on a post, the Facebook page, or tweeted a post. I learn so much from comments, and from private mail I receive from readers. I especially relate to the many parents, kids, and adults with Crohn’s, like my son, who are trying to find a way to stay healthy and navigate the options.
Like many of you, my life is spread in many directions and I don’t get to everything, all the time. Still, I consider Comfy Belly one of the best things I’ve done for my family, myself, and others. If you can take risks to improve your life, kudos to you. While you may stumble, have momentary lapses, or even feel like you’re failing, don’t give up. Keep working to find a way to balance and live the life you want for yourself, your loved ones, and the beautiful planet we inhabit. What else is there really?
Here are some of my goals for 2011, as they relate to food, health, and Comfy Belly:
- Create tasty meals centered around vegetables and fruit
- Experiment with other natural sweeteners (besides honey and maple syrup)
- Streamline healthy meals so they are easy to prepare and eat
- Experiment with new foods to find what makes me feel light and happy
- Dig deeper into WordPress
- Continue my current obsession with yoga
- Bike more often
For now, here’s a recipe for an easy treat – caramel nut clusters, or bars. I used Spanish dry roasted peanuts, but feel free to use your favorite nut. And, yes, peanuts are not a nut (they’re a legume), but don’t let that stop you if you eat them. I want to try pistachios and hazelnuts next. And feel free to add some seasonings to this, like cinnamon, ginger, or even chili pepper, to give it a bit of a zing. I like it plain with vanilla because it reminds me of a candy bar. This recipe is also another way to make granola bars. Just exchange the nuts for raisins, and other granola ingredients.
Tip If you want the full candy-bar effect, once cooled, slice the cluster into rectangles with a sharp knife (on a cutting board), and then dip the bottom of each bar into chocolate. Set the chocolate by cooling the bars at room temperature, or in the refrigerator (if don’t want to wait).
Caramel Nut Bars
Ingredients (makes about 8 bars)
- 1 cup of dry roasted, unsalted nuts (organic is recommended for peanuts; I use organic Valencia peanuts)
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 pieces of parchment paper
- Boil the honey, butter, vanilla, and salt in a saucepan for about 10 minutes, or until it gets very dark. The darker it is, the more the nut cluster will harden when it cools. If you want it to be more like brittle, bring it close to burning. If you’re using a candy thermometer, it should reach about 250 degrees F.
- Cool the liquid for a minute or so and then add the nuts. Stir until all the nuts are coated.
- Place the nut mixture on a piece of parchment and then place the other piece of paper over it and use your hands or a flat surface to spread the nuts out evenly.
- Let it cool fully to harden. If you find it is a bit too sticky after fully cooled, you can place it in a dehydrator or warm oven for about an hour, or put it in the refrigerator and eat it when cold.