I’ve been told by some that I am too early, but in my books it is never too early to start planning Christmas, especially the food. When it starts getting dark earlier and your breath comes out in clouds I can close my eyes and feel the nostalgia. My chest always gets tight and although it’s now tinged with sadness, I can’t help but feel happy as well.
Christmas was nearly year round in my house, my mum had a tree ornament business and would spend her days making them by hand with clay. I can still picture her with her tray on her lap forming the shapes into little whimsical animals. More than anything it goes to show you that you can take something you love and make a life out of it. I’ve touched on it a few times but now that it’s getting to the time of year that I consider hers, I want to talk about her more.
My mother beat cancer once only for it to come back bigger and more monstrous. I feel like my family lived in this bubble of ignorance where we knew what food was good and bad and yet not enough. I wish more than anything that I could turn back the time and change things, so maybe she could have had longer. I have a lot of guilt for how things worked out for her, that I dare not air out for others because I am ashamed. But the food we consume is something I’ve taken from it that blew my life wide open and made me want to show others.
My mum was an amazing cook and baker, but many of the things she made were not largely on the healthy side always. But growing up I was insanely picky, my sister was vegan and my dad had a very large appetite so I know she was making what could feed all of us. A few months before she passed away she told me she was tired of my inability in the kitchen, and that once she was better she was going to spend the whole summer showing me how to cook. It was May 29th when I lost her and we never got our chance. So, distraught I spent the summer in the kitchen alone to feel closer to her and for the last 5 years I’ve been showing myself. I like to think though that I get everything I can do from her.
If you haven’t caught on yet, my mothers name is Julia. Before I thought I’d ever start a blog I imagined having a food truck or cafe, and I wanted to call it Foods For Julia, because I do everything with her in mind, because she is in everything I do. I’m just sticking with the blog for now though, so I can share my healthier ideas so maybe someone else can change their future.
She made traditional date squares every holiday, they were rich and luscious and buttery. I loved them. I think she’d like my ode to them, although they are very different. I’m going to continue sharing my version of things she always made around the holidays so you guys can get an idea of just how lucky I was, and how lucky I am now to be able to twist these recipes to fuel our bodies right.
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2 cups dates
1 cup water
2 anise stars
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup oats
1 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamon
1/2 cup tahini (I used black tahini but if you want them to look less goth you can use white)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tbsp sweetener like maple syrup or mung fruit
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 8×8″ square pan.
-In a small saucer pan add the pitted dates, water and anise stars. Bring water to a boil and let simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.
-Remove anise stars and with a wooden spoon mash the dates, adding vanilla and salt until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and let cool.
-In a large bowl combine oats, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg and sweetener.
-Now add the tahini and coconut oil, mashing with a fork until well combined. You can also use a a food processor but I honestly find a fork does the job a little less messily.
-Take about 2/3 of the crumble mixture and flatten it along the bottom of the pan, packing it well.
-Pour the date mix over it and even it out with the back of a spoon.
-Take remaining crumble mix and distribute it over the top of the date, pushing it down lightly.
-Bake for 20-24 min until it is lightly browned.
-Leave to cool completely to set.