Love: It Really Is All Around Us

About two years ago, my daughter Josie and I started a Love is Everywhere campaign. On a walk one day, we spotted the shape of a heart in a tree and decided that it was a sign that symbols of love are everywhere, we just have to slow down to find them. We promised each other that if we ever saw a heart while we were out, we'd take a picture of it. Our hope is that after we compile enough, we will make a book one day. Not a book to publish, just a book for our family to look at together. 

I love this campaign we have started for so many reasons: 

1. Since we have started this project, I find myself taking longer walks with our dog, slowing down and REALLY trying to notice my surroundings. I used to view walking our dog as something I HAD to do. Now, I view our walks as a chance to spot more hearts. 

2. I find myself feeling younger and more joyful over something that doesn't cost a dime. Finding a heart in nature, at the beach or in my salad greens causes a feeling of pure happiness and excitement inside of me that I haven't felt since I was a child myself. That's a good feeling! 

3. I can often feel myself slowing down to look for beauty in things that I would normally pass right over and dismiss without a second glance. Wait, did I REALLY just see a heart in that leaf on the ground? Hey, that chewed up gum on the sidewalk resembles a heart! It's an addictive habit that I am okay with. 

4. When I am on the road away from my family, this project makes it a tiny bit more tolerable. If/when I see a heart around me, I take its picture and then text it to Jesse. He is able to share it with the kids and I don't seem so far away. They get excited to see the love that I see. 

5. It pains me that we are living in a world where name calling, un-acceptance of others and a general sense of fear can creep into our lives if we let it. Our Love is Everywhere campaign is a reminder to me that love REALLY is all around us. Some days, we just may have to look for it.  

6. This campaign is our small way of not giving in to fear and hatred. I am not letting today's news bombard me and my family. I am not focusing on what is "wrong" with the world and the people in it. Josie and I are choosing to focus on what is beautiful and special and magical in this world.

7. Our whole family has joined in on our campaign. Zachary gets so excited when he sees hearts when he is out! When Jesse is traveling for work, I often get random pictures of hearts texted to me. It's the best kind of love letter! 

Will you join us? Share your heart pictures with us (jane@onestofoods.com) and we'll post them on the blog!

With love (and hearts!),

Jane

Honest, Delicious and Satisfying: Nuts About Chocolate Energy Bites
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Around 3pm each day, I find myself having a hard time focusing. Actually, that's not true at all. I am actually quite focused. I cannot stop thinking that I would do just about anything to get my hands on something sweet and chocolaty. Over the years, in my quest to become healthier and eat honestly, there is one thing that I absolutely will not give up: sweets. I cannot stress enough how much I love desserts and my kids have inherited that gene. But, just because we would much rather eat dessert first, it doesn't mean that we have to eat junk made with preservatives and modified ingredients.

My recipe for these energy bites is so good that my son's friend (not a health nut by any stretch) asks for them when ever he's at our house. They are the perfect answer to my afternoon chocolate craving, the most delicious dessert served with coffee, tea or a glass of red wine, a satisfying and energy-packed way to start the day or a healthy addition to your child's lunch box (if their school is nut-free, just substitute sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter and omit the cashews). The best part is that they are packed with sneaky healthy ingredients that your kids (or their friends) won't know they're eating, but will reap the benefits: more energy for sports, focused attention while doing homework, less mindless snacking on junk because they'll be satisfied...just to name a few! 

I always make an extra batch and keep them in a sealed container in our freezer. They will last for about 3 months, but honestly my family eats them long before then. Our favorite way to enjoy them is straight out of the the freezer. When you first bite into them, they are cold and frozen, but they warm in your mouth and get chewy and delicious. My kids think they taste like cookie dough balls, that's quite a compliment coming from two fellow dessert-addicts! 

NUTS ABOUT CHOCOLATE ENERGY BITES (GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN OPTION, NUT-FREE OPTIONAL)

(Makes 12-15 bite sized balls depending on how big you make them. These can be stored in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months) 

  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I love using Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Gluten-Free Rolled Oats)
  • 2 TBSP ground flax meal
  • 1 TBSP black chia seeds
  • 1 cup medjool dates (pitted and roughly chopped)
  •  1/4 cup roasted and unsalted cashews (if you want to make this recipe NUT-FREE, omit the cashews and add 1/4 cup dried cranberries or 2 TBSP sunflower seeds instead.)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I love Teddie Peanut Butter, they only use peanuts from the US and they are a huge sponsor of Best Buddies-If you want to make this NUT-FREE, substitute 1/2 cup sun butter here.)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (if you want to make this vegan, Enjoy Life's Vegan Dark Chocolate Morsels are amazing, this is what I use and my kids don't notice a difference.)
  1. In a food processor, mix all the ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Pulse about 8-10 times, don't over mix, it will get gummy tasting. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit more of the oats. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 TBSP water. 
  2. Dump mixture into a large bowl and add the chocolate chips. Mix well with a spoon, or your hands.
  3. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a sheet of parchment paper to rest. . 
  4. I put 6 bites per parchment paper and then layer on top of that. I wrap the entire stack in plastic wrap, then put in a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag and put in the freezer. 
A "Winning" Basic Vinaigrette: With Variations
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Jesse and I have an ongoing competition as to who can craft a better salad dressing from scratch. I honestly don't think that we have had a jar of store-bought dressing in our fridge in the past 7 years. Eating salad at lunch or dinner is a staple in our house, so we are each constantly trying to perfect our recipes. At any point in time, you will find a mason jar full of some type of dressing or concoction in our fridge, ready to be tasted. I sometimes complain that Jesse's recipes are too vinegary for my taste, while he thinks that mine can often be too creamy for his palate (I have a secret love affair with home-made mayonnaise!). However, after testing this Basic Vinaigrette recipe on our kids (the most opinionated judges!) and at our friends' New Year's Eve party, everyone agrees this recipe may just be a winner! My kids can't stop dipping their carrot and cucumber sticks in the jar. And, several of our friends that had the salad I brought to the party have reached out asking for the recipe...pretty flattering! 

I hope you enjoy this vinaigrette as much as we do. I think it's a nice balance between the hit of tart vinegar that Jesse loves and the creamy texture I go for (no mayo in this, I love using tahini paste as a more shelf-stable alternative). Also, please read below for some delicious variations on this dressing: Healthy Peanut Sauce for chicken and noodle lettuce cups, Citrus Glaze for marinading/grilling chicken or fish, Lemony Tequila Drizzle over tacos and a Mediterranean Marinade for vegetable kebabs. 

BASIC VINAIGRETTE (GLUTEN-FREE, NUT-FREE)

Seriously, this stuff is addictive! 

(makes about 1 cup or half of one mason jar, this can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks,  just take out and let come to room temperature before using.) 

  • 1 large lemon, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (I don't recommend using fresh garlic, as it won't last as long in the fridge)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 TBSP tahini paste (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP honey
  •  3/4 cup + 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a mason jar (or a bowl), zest of one half of the lemon.
  2. Next, squeeze in the juice of one half of the lemon.
  3. Add the next 6 ingredients, whisking well so the acid from the lemon and the vinegar basically "melts" the honey, tahini and sea salt. 
  4. Finally, add the olive oil and mix very well (either by whisking or capping the jar and shaking vigorously). 

VARIATIONS: 

HEALTHY PEANUT SAUCE (for chicken and noodle lettuce cups)

  • To the Basic Vinaigrette, add 1 TBSP hoisin sauce, 1 TBSP toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp red curry paste and mix well.

CITRUS GLAZE (for marinading/grilling chicken or fish)

  • To the Basic Vinaigrette, add 1/4 cup of honey, one orange zested, juice of half of an orange, 2 tsp soy sauce and mix well. (Marinate chicken or fish in the fridge for no longer than 30 minutes as the acid from the citrus and the vinegar will start to cook the protein)

LEMONY TEQUILA DRIZZLE (for your favorite tacos)

  • To the Basic Vinaigrette, add 1 TBSP tequila of your choice, 1/4 cup tahini, 1 TBSP honey, zest of one lime, 1/4 tsp chile powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder and mix well. (If you want to thicken the sauce and cook off the alcohol, simmer in a sauce pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes)

MEDITERRANEAN MARINADE (for vegetable kebabs)

  • To the Basic Vinaigrette, add 1/2 TBSP fresh minced oregano, 1/2 TBSP fresh minced flat leaf parsley, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil and mix well. (Marinate for no longer than 30 minutes in the fridge. Then, keep basting on the vegetables while grilling or roasting.)

 

The Magic of Christmas: It Shouldn't Cost a Fortune
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I know I am not alone in saying that I absolutely LOVE the holidays. I cherish experiencing the pure magic of Christmas through my children's eyes. To share in their wonder and excitement over everything related to Santa, his elves and those reindeer, makes me feel like a child again, myself. I love the smells and aromas that waft out of our kitchen after an afternoon baking with my kids. I marvel in seeing the love and kindness that seems to seep into everyone's souls at this time of year.

Strangers even seem to be friendlier and more patient with one another (okay, maybe not at the malls). We all seem to be a bit more generous. I love that people seem to really embrace the spirit of giving. But, this doesn't mean that we need to max our credit cards and spend money we don't have just to show people we care. In my family, giving gifts at the holidays doesn't cost a fortune. Each Christmas, I love exchanging hand-made gifts with my three sisters. 

Over the years, we've shared treasures of hand-made jewelry, candles, soaps, family cookbooks, knitted scarves, pottery and my personal favorite: food! Is there a better way to show someone you love them, than by taking the time to create something with your own hands? Each time I put on my beautiful blue, aquamarine necklace one of my sisters made me, I feel her love and kindness wrap around me. Every time I make my younger sister's Savory Monkey Bread, I think of her and her infectious laugh. And, every time it is cold and I reach for my oldest sister's soft, hand-knitted scarf, I smile and feel my heart grow warm. If you feel inspired to create a gift, rather than buy it, try one of my favorites below. I think they'll be the perfect way to show that special someone you love them! 

 

Christmas Morning Banana Muffins (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free)

These are seriously SO GOOD that you (and your guests) won't have any clue that they are vegan and gluten-free. And, they are perfect for your kids' school lunches as they are nut-free! I love baking an extra batch or two and freezing them for up to 3 months (they don't ever last this long!). And, they are so easy to make, all in one bowl, minimal clean up. 

(makes 12 large muffins or 24 mini muffins and takes about 5 minutes to prepare and about 25 to bake)

  • 1 1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 medium or 3 large)
  • 2 TBSP ground flax seed (make sure it is ground!)
  • 1/3 cup plant-based milk (I like almond milk, or water works fine too!)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (you can substitute apple sauce, but the muffins won't be as fluffy)
  • 2 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 TBSP coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free oat flour 
  • OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: Chia seeds, sliced bananas, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a bit of the melted coconut oil to grease the muffin tins. 
  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana until almost smooth (I like to leave a few chunks as I love biting into these in my muffins, but mash according to your texture preference). 
  3. Stir the wet ingredients (ground flax, milk/water, melted oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract) into the banana until combined.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients (sugar, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour) into the wet mixture. If the mixture seems too runny to you, add a TBSP more of the oat flour. 
  5. Spoon the dough into the muffin tins and fill until about 3/4 way full. This is the time to add any of your toppings, if you chose to.  You may have to press them gently into the batter to make sure they stay put when baking! 
  6. Bake for about 22-24 minutes depending on your oven. I check mine with a toothpick in the center after 22 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, they're done! 
  7. Cool completely (if you can wait that long!) and enjoy with someone you love. 

Blue Cheese Cranberry Spread (Gluten-Free, Vegetarian)

This has been a long time favorite of my family and friends for a few years now. I may be biased, but I think this spread goes amazingly well with our Onesto Sea Salt crackers! This cheese spread is also pretty tasty smeared on a baguette, broiled and then topped with some prosciutto or left over turkey from your holiday dinner! 

(serves 12-14 generously as an appetizer, takes about 10 minutes to prepare and and additional 30 minutes to chill)

  • 4 ounces of your favorite type of blue cheese (we love Great Hill Blue from Marion, MA)
  • 1 x 8 ounce container of organic cream cheese
  • ¾ cups of raw nuts (walnuts are preferable)
  • ¾ cup organic dried cranberries
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • Lots of freshly grated pepper
  • A good drizzle of local honey
  1. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts and toast until they are fragrant and browning, about 3-4 minutes. Don’t leave the pan, they burn quickly!
  2. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all of the other ingredients and don’t mash when you stir. Try to fold the ingredients. Taste as you go along to make sure you have enough salt, enough heat from the cayenne and enough sweetness from the honey. Your amounts may vary depending on your preferences.
  4. Chill for about 30 minutes before serving. 
  5. Serve in a beautiful bowl or dish with your favorite Onesto crackers

Easy Cheddar and Gruyere Tarts (Gluten-Free, Nut-Free)

I dare you to try to eat just one. These tarts make my house smell amazing and keep everyone in the kitchen at dinner parties waiting for them to come out of the oven! 

(makes about 12-16 mini tarts, takes about 1 hour to prepare and bake)

For the Tart Pastry: (Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month.)

  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free, all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 6 TBSP chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2  large cage-free eggs, beaten to blend
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Whisk sugar, salt, and 1 cup flour in a medium bowl.
  3. Add butter in by mixing it in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces remaining.
  4. Drizzle 1 beaten egg over butter mixture and mix gently with a fork until dough just comes together. You will have an easier time manipulating the dough if you let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Don't chill, it is harder to work with. 
  5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (a few dry spots are okay). 
  6. Roll to out to about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Gently oil mini muffin tins with olive oil or coconut oil.
  8. Using a circular cookie cutter (I recommend one with a 2-3 inch diameter) cut out circles and then carefully place them over the muffin holes. Using your fingers, carefully press them into the molds. 
  9. Using the second beaten egg, brush each tart and PARTIALLY bake for about 6 minutes. 
  10. Set aside to cool and increase the oven to 375 degrees F. 

For the Filling:

  • 2 1/2  cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. container of cream cheese
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
  • ¾ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, diced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion
  • 2 TBSP fresh thyme, minced
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Mix Gruyère, Cheddar, cream cheese, mustard, oregano, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add onions and minced thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until dark brown and caramelized -- about 30 minutes.
  4. Spoon about a TBSP of the cheese mixture into the tart shells
  5. Top with a teaspoon of the caramelized onions. 
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese mixture is bubbly.  
  7. If freezing, let cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and storing in an air tight container. These freeze well for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, let come to room temperature and bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm. 

Assorted Dark Chocolate Truffles (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free Options)

Guilt-free dessert? Check. Easy recipe to follow? Check. Fun for the whole family to make together? Check. This recipe has it all! 

(makes about 30-40 truffles, takes about 20 minutes to prepare and an additional 20-30 minutes to chill)

  • 8 ounces of high quality (dark chocolate 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Optional Toppings:

  • Finely chopped nuts (walnuts, cashews, macadamias and pistachios are my favorites!)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Coconut flakes
  • Minced dried cranberries
  • Ground flax meal
  • Crushed peppermint candies (think candy canes)
  • Crushed pretzel pieces (sweet and salty combos are amazing)
  1. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat bring the coconut milk to a simmer (this may take a while, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes).
  2. Place the chopped dark chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the heated milk over the chocolate, add the vanilla extract.
  3. Slowly mix together until smooth and shiny. (This chocolate base is called a ganache).
  4. Place in the refrigerator for about two hours.
  5. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes until firm.
  6. Arrange your toppings in low/shallot plates or bowls. Roll the truffles in the toppings and place back on the parchment paper.
  7. Store the truffles in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week or freeze for up to 3 months. 

With Love,

Jane

 

Decadent Brownie Bites (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
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As I type this post, I am happily snacking away on these decadent, moist, chocolaty and GUILT-FREE brownie bites (I may even have some chocolate on my face). My kids are my most enthusiastic cheerleaders and can also be my most vocal critics when it comes to taste-testing any new recipes I'm working on. Like most kids, they don't hold anything back! That is why I am so excited to share this recipe with you. It garnered two BIG thumbs up, especially when I topped their brownie bites with our favorite whipped topping: So Delicious Cocowhip

(makes 12 mini muffins and takes about 15 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to cook)

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 vegan egg substitute (3 TBSP warm water mixed with 1 TBSP ground flax meal, stir and let rest for about 10 minutes, this will resemble the consistency of egg whites)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar 
  • 2 TBSP warm water
  • good drizzle of pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder 
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • optional add ins: 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (I used a silicone mini cupcake pan, but if you are using a regular tin pan, line with paper liners or coat with coconut oil) 
  2. In a large bowl, mash the avocado very well, add the melted coconut oil and egg substitute, mix well getting rid of any lumps or bumps! Add the coconut sugar, warm water, vanilla extract, dark cocoa powder, and sea salt. Mix well. Add the oat flour until just combined, don't over mix. If you are using any of the add ins, fold in now. 
  3. Scoop evenly among the mini muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean. Because they are so moist, the toothpick won't come out completely clean! 
  4. Remove from oven and try to resist eating them before they are completely cooled! 
  5. Eat withing a few days, stored in the fridge in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months. 

With Love,

Jane

 

Vegan Corn Chowder (With a Kick!)
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This weekend, we had some wonderful friends over for dinner. They are lucky enough to have family that owns a beach house in Maine, so understandably, we don't see them much over the summer! To celebrate their return to our neighborhood, Jesse planned us a feast and cooked all day on Saturday (in between soccer and flag football games!) I was in charge of dessert: Sneaky Healthy Avocado Brownies with Coconut Whipped Topping (recipe to be posted on another day!). We happen to live across the street from a wonderful family run farm, so our friends offered to bring us some corn. It was tender and sweet and the perfect addition to our late summer meal on our patio. Because they brought so much corn, we had A LOT left over. I decided to make us all a corn chowder for our mid week meals. This recipe is so delicious. It has a slightly spicy kick that is the perfect balance to the corn's natural sweetness. Fully blend the corn and red pepper for a smooth soup or leave some chunky so you really taste that corn. We served ours with a crusty baguette drizzled in olive oil, perfect for dipping in the chowder. 

(serves 6-8 people and can be prepared and cooked in about 30-45 minutes)

  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 ears of local corn, husked and shaved off the cob
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • pinch celery salt
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast
  • minced chives for garnish
  1. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, red bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn.
  2. Next, add the corn, smoked paprika and celery salt, cook until the corn and bell peppers are tender and the onions are translucent. 
  3. After about 5 minutes, add the white wine vinegar and stir. Taste to see if you need to add more seasoning. 
  4. Add the vegetable broth, stir the veggies and bring to a low boil. Then, lower to a simmer, cover with the lid and cook for about 30 minutes.
  5. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add the coconut milk and nutritional yeast and stir well. 
  6. When done, turn off heat and blend using an immersion blender. If you don't have one, transfer chowder to a blender and blend to your desired consistency. Be careful when blending hot liquids! 
  7. Serve warm with crusty bread and top with minced chives for added color. 

With Love,

Jane

COOL CHANGES: WE'VE GONE SOLAR!
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We couldn't be more proud to announce to you that as of Monday, September 11, 2017 Onesto crackers are now baked using solar power! It has been a long road, but we finally made it. When we first started Onesto in January of 2014, we had two missions: to create amazing food using REAL, honest ingredients and to do it as eco-minded and socially responsible as possible. 

One of our first decisions was to hire a company that would help us create our packaging in a responsible, green way. From the very beginning, our cracker boxes have been made using 100% wind power and are printed with vegetable dyes (much more sustainable and won't harm the soil when recycled), they are made with 100% recycled cardboard and in turn are 100% recyclable. 

Fast forward to late 2015 and the search for a solar powered facility was on! We cannot say enough about the state of Vermont. We LOVE it there. If we weren't Massachusetts natives, we would definitely be Vermonters! Thankfully, our search led us to the most wonderful team of bakers in a little town in Vermont. After many test runs, tears and (some) profanity, we nailed the baking process and made the switch! And, in the spirit of being eco-minded, our new bakery was a former kombcha brewery...how's that for re-purposing?! 

We hope that the next time you bite into our crispy, nutty, delicious gluten-free crackers, you will know how much care and thought went into baking them, not just for you but for Mother Earth too! 

Much Love,

Jane

Raising Healthy Kids: All Things in Moderation
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Setting good examples for our kids can be tough. Some days tougher than others. Heck, some months are tougher than others. Over the years of raising my kids, I have realized that when it comes to food, moderation is best. When my son was first born and I was a new mom, I had the best intentions. I was going to make all of my son's baby food, he would only eat organic, non-gmo foods and he would NEVER have soda. But, then two years later, my daughter came along and I was tired and he was crying...

Now, here we are, over a decade later and I am going to be honest, when we go out for dinner, my kids love ordering Shirley Temples. They LOVE ice cream and they generally only eat the frosting off of birthday cupcakes. Yes, I try to get my kids to eat a heavily plant-based diet. Yes, I try to make a home-cooked, healthy meal each night. Yes, I know cafeteria food is generally disgusting and not good for my kids. However, some nights, those Applegate Chicken Nuggets are so easy to put in the oven after a 10 hour work day. And, some mornings, it is so much easier to give my son $2 for the school pizza and hope he picks the apple instead of the bag of chips. 

Here is what I have learned as my kids (and I) are growing up: 

  • I can't control everything they eat, but making sure I have healthy options in our fridge, freezer and pantry at all times is a very good first step. 
  • If my kids go to a friend's house and eat Doritos and drink Pepsi, they will be okay, they will not grow a third arm. I will make sure they have an extra helping of fruit or veggies at their next meal. 
  • Letting my kids eat ice cream every night (if they weren't at previously mentioned friend's house eating crap) doesn't have to be a bad thing. They always watch their portions, and we have REAL ice cream made from REAL ingredients in our freezer at all times.
  • Exposing my kids to all kinds of healthy, real foods is important. Eventually they will try things, and they just may surprise me! Case in point: the photo above is of our 8 year old daughter, Josie, trying oysters for the first time...and LOVING them! Her comment after her first slurp? "Mmmm, tastes like the ocean." Proud moment! 
  • When baking treats for them at home, I always try to sneak in healthy foods (dark chocolate and beet muffins are our new favorite!) 
  • As long as my kids have healthy options and feel like they have a say in what they eat, we are all one big happy family (expect for when we all have to agree on what movie to watch on Friday nights). 

With Love,

Jane


Recipe for Dark Chocolate and Beet Muffins

  • 2 eggs (or can substitute ground flax seed and water for a vegan cupcake. You won't taste the difference! Mix 2 TBSP ground flax with 6 TBSP warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes) 
  • 1 cup (about 2 small sized beets) pureed. I generally use Love Beets (the messy work is done for me!) 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup coconut or raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips + more for topping
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 12 muffins with paper liners or grease with coconut oil. 
  2. If using the flax substitute for the eggs, prep now in a large mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, should have the consistency of egg whites when ready.
  3. Add beet puree, melted oil, maple syrup, milk, sugar, baking soda, salt and whisk thoroughly.
  4. Add cocoa powder and flours and stir with a spoon or spatula until just combined. The batter should be scoop-able, not pour-able. If the batter feels too thick, add a bit more milk. 
  5. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips. Then divide batter evenly between muffin tins (should be enough for between 11-12) and sprinkle with a few more chocolate chips (optional)
  6. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts (optional)
  7. Bake for 17-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before removing from the pan. If you aren't going to eat these within a few days, they freeze wonderfully! 

Did I mention that my kids love topping these muffins with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert???!

With Love,

Jane


ONESTO: WHAT WE PROMISE AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO US


Onesto means "honest" in Italian. In the Ciccone household, eating honest is our goal (some days better achieved than others). As parents of young kids, it has always been important to us to reduce unhealthy, overly-processed foods in our home. From the very beginning, we've made our crackers with care, love and the best possible ingredients. We may be a bit bigger than we were 4+ years ago, but that philosophy hasn't changed, in fact, it's gotten even stronger. When we started Onesto, we made a list of things that were important to us and would help us shape our company. They became our promises (see below).

To this day, every thing we do, every decision we make stems from this list. We don't want to be a company that just makes delicious crackers (that also happens to be gluten-free!). We want to be good people, doing good things. So while it is extremely important to us to be transparent with our ingredient list and never use any chemicals, it is equally important to us to be generous and kind to others. Our promises are not just words, but philosophies and commitments we stand by, every day. 

There is nothing that unites us more than sharing food with loved ones. Truly great things can happen when people gather around a dinner (or coffee) table. If Onesto can be a small part of that, we couldn't be prouder. 

Thank you for your support over the last 4+ years. We are so humbled and honored that you choose to purchase our crackers and share them with others. We know how many options you have when you shop, so, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for choosing Onesto to be a part of your family's and friend's gatherings. 

We are so excited about what the future holds for Onesto and this wonderful movement towards sustainable, responsible, honest food. Thank you for being on this ride with us!

Much love,

Jane


 AT ONESTO, WE PROMISE TO:

- be honest in every way, with everyone.

- never use chemicals, preservatives or junk...ever.

- be generous.

- take a chance.

- have fun.

- only create food that we would want to eat.

- smile at least 5 times a day.

- always be appreciative.

With Love,

Jane