You know what is a total buzzkill? Fitting triumphantly into your skinniest pre-pregnancy skinny jeans one week and the next having someone ask you if you're pregnant again. You know, because of your belly?
Yes! (I mean Yes! that happened. Not Yes! I'm pregnant.)
It's okay, I've mostly gotten over it and I do think this friend is far more mortified (still) than I was. Also, I'm still nursing and my belly was never my best feature, let's be honest, and yadda yadda yadda, I have a beautiful baby boy in exchange, so who really cares, right? Except of course that one does care even if one is sort of amazed at how much less one cares now than one would have before one became a mother. Oh, self! You contain multitudes.
Luckily for me, I can identify pretty clearly the factors standing between me and Rock! Hard! Abs!, or, you know, Abs That Do Not Look Like They Are Encasing A Fetus. And those factors would be 1. Total and absolute sedentariness (is that a word?) and 2. My afternoon cookie-cake-whatever-as-long-as-it-is-sweet-and-delicious break that I've been doing religiously since Hugo's birth.
Since daily exercise is really limited only to what I can do at home during Hugo's naptime, it's the afternoon cookie break that I'm training my eyes on. It needs serious reforming and Sara Forte's The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook is currently my reform master.
Specifically, her recipe for Sesame Date Yogurt Cups, which jumped out at me last year when I was reviewing the pages for a blurb (full disclosure!) and hadn't left my mind since. They're so simple - just dates mashed with sesame seeds and then layered with yogurt that's been flavored with a pinch of cinnamon and crisped brown rice - but so much more than the sum of the parts. I mean, flavoring yogurt with cinnamon? So good. Pairing dates and sesame seeds? Of course! Putting them together with crisped rice on top for texture? Lady, you are so smart. These lovely little treats are as satisfying as they are virtuous. I really love them.
(If salt is your vice, not sugar, may I direct you to the recipe for nori popcorn on page 161? You're welcome.)
Sara's cookbook is full of little gems like that; healthy ingredients matched up in inspired ways that would have never occurred to me and that taste so, so good. Sara's idea of enlivening that old standby pesto with lemon zest and lemon juice to serve with lentil meatballs is so easy and yet I'd never tried it before. I usually ignore pesto, but now I plan on using this combination as a dressing for grain salads and cooked beans, anything, really, that needs a little kick. I loved her zucchini roll-ups, in which za'atar and Greek yogurt give grilled zucchini slices new style. And I cannot wait to try what sounds like breakfast cereal nirvana: pearled barley cooked in coconut mik and cardamom, then topped with toasted coconut, pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Yes?
YES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Happily, I have an extra copy of this lovely book for a giveaway! So for a chance to win a copy of The Sprouted Kitchen, please leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner at random tomorrow. Good luck!
Update: Erin is the winner and has been emailed! Thank you all for participating - comments are now closed.
Sara Forte's Sesame Date Yogurt Cups
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
7 Medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
Sea salt, optional
2 cups whole-milk plain yogurt (or Greek or goat's milk)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup crisped brown rice
1. Soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes to soften. If the dates are soft enough, skip the soaking. Put the dates in a bowl with the sesame seeds and a pinch of salt, if using. Mash together to create a chunky paste. Press a fourth of the date mixture into the bottom of four small glasses.
2. In a bowl, stir together the yogurt and cinnamon, then spoon 1/2 cup of the yogurt into each jar. Sprinkle a few sesame seeds and a couple of spoonfuls of the crisped rice on top. Eat immediately.