I’ve been writing blog posts in my head for some time now and then I sat down at the computer…it’s a LOT harder to commit to each word once I see it glaring back at me in stark black and white. I promised recipes (mostly Shabnam joon’s and a few of mine!) and that’s what you’ll get…mixed in with some random thoughts, unsolicited advice and a funny story here and there!
Boostan Kids has been a labor of love. In October 2013 desperate for a preschool and preferably a Persian language immersion preschool for my daughter Neeka, I was disappointed to find that the only one (Golestan Kids) was both too far and had too long of a waiting list (over 2 years-YAY Golestan!!) So, I did what any rational, sane mother of a 15 month old would do, I started my own program! I enlisted the help of my very talented sister Shabnam joon and together with the generous help and support of Golestan Kids (www.golestankids.com) we started our own program. My second baby, Boostan Kids was born on April 2, 2013; it’s hard to believe Boostan will be 1 in a few short weeks! It is true, time really does fly when you are having fun…and in our case not only are we having fun, we are learning, creating, building, cooking, laughing and sharing our beautiful Iranian language and culture with a small group of amazing baches (kids!) THANK YOU Boostan Families for indulging us and entrusting us with your amazing children.
Without further ado, blog post #1:
I used to roll my eyes when I heard people say “nature’s candy”, I would think, ya raisins are awesome…in oatmeal-raisin cookies….coconut is amazing…in a Mounds bar!! Needless to say, my perspective shifted when I became a mother.
When my daughter started solids and I was deciding…ok, I was obsessing, not deciding, I mean I AM a Persian mom, even if I am first generation, it’s in my DNA!! So as I obsessed over every perfectly prepared, organic, locally grown morsel that entered the perfect heart shaped mouth of my most precious baby girl, I also started to look at food in a different way. I started to see it as fuel for my over-the-top-climb-walls-jump-from-any-surface-active baby-girl! No “sugar highs” and “crashing” for us, she would be fueled and nourished. In this information age, it didn’t take much digging to find that sugar and processed foods are basically empty calories void of any nutritional value-so I decided to basically avoid them. This is the same philosophy we use at school and we are so lucky to have a talented and creative chef-de-cuisine at Boostan Kids. Shabnam joon is constantly amazing me (and I think many of the parents too!) with her delicious, healthy and (refined) sugar-free treats.
After eating these, most delicious and sweet date bars at school I became obsessed with them and have made them nearly every week for the last six-weeks or so! We call them “Boostan Bars” and they are Shabnam joon’s version of a “power bar”, but unlike many of the conventional, store-bought energy bars, ours have NO REFINED SUGAR! They can be molded into little “candy” balls, cut into larger bars or rolled and cut into little pinwheels, the possibilities are endless. Eat them for breakfast or as a sweet treat with your chai (tea)!
This is a great recipe for little fingers-get your kids involved! Neeka loves helping me cook and this is a favorite recipe because we taste as we go…A LOT! Have your little one help you count out cups then dump the ingredients in the bowl; every item in the recipe is delicious on its own so feel free to snack as you cook! Oh! So maybe, DON’T let the little ones help you pit the dates because they might accidentally throw the pit in the bowl instead of the compost bin and then you might actually pulverize said pit and then you might almost break a tooth when you go to sample it!! JUST SAYING!
*at Boostan Kids we are committed to using organic ingredients whenever possible
7 large pitted Medjool dates
1 cup toasted pecans (if you have raw pecans then just throw them on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 7-9 minutes-(WATCH THEM CLOSELY they burn very quickly!)
1 cup roasted and salted cashews
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup coconut flakes
¼ cup water
*set aside a tablespoon or two (each) of cashews, pecans and coconut to chop for garnish
**This recipe requires a food processor of some sort to grind all ingredients. We have a Ninja at school and I have a VitaMix at home so I have used both-I even tried using a hand blender once (not a great method!!). The Ninja requires more time as you constantly have to open the lid and mix but you get a nice chunky consistency, the VitaMix pulverizes everything into nearly liquid, in fact it creates coconut oil which I have to drain off with paper towels.
In a small saucepan put the cranberries, dates and water and cook on medium heat just until they have absorbed the water and plumped up a bit, set aside to cool.
Throw everything in the blender/food processor and blend. The ingredients are sticky and tend to need help blending, so you may find yourself opening the lid often and pushing ingredients down and mixing.
I like to have some chunks to sink my teeth in, so I prefer that the mixture is a bit rough, you can decide what texture you like best.
Cover a cookie sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper and use your hands to flatten the mixture evenly. Use a paper towel to drain off any oil that may have accumulated.
Press your chopped nut and coconut mixture over the top to cover the entire thing; it should be nice and sticky so it takes it all nicely. Cover with more plastic or parchment and put it in the refrigerator for an hour or so to harden a bit. Remove from the refrigerator and slice as desired, Shabnam joon even took the time to mold them into tiny balls and wrap them in parchment paper to look like little bon-bons! A BIG hit with our Boostan Kids!
I have been meaning to roll the entire sheet into one big tube and try slicing pinwheels, the possibilities are endless, but no matter how you slice them, they are nutty, perfectly sweet and filled with goodness.
NOOSH-E-JAN! (Persian version of “bon apetit!”= basically means nourish your soul!)
226 W. Hillsdale Blvd.
San Mateo, CA 94403