It’s been almost two years now that our family has been gluten and dairy free (well mostly – we’ve had our share of accidents and will power failures). It’s been remarkable to see how we have begun to heal ourselves by changing the fuel we have put into our engines. I’ve seen dark circles disappear from under my daughter’s eyes, discomfort vanish from hubbie’s tummy, a fog begin to lift from my little man’s reality and joint pain and exhaustion vaporize from my own daily existence. Has it been worth it? Being gluten and dairy free? Yes. Every day I see my family feel better, I know it has been worth it. While the absence of gluten and dairy has been significant for all of us in its own way, we followed the recommendation of a pediatrician to remove sugar from our son’s diet, as well. Not just refined white granulated sugar, but sugar in almost every form, including fruit juice, corn syrup, molasses, agave, artificial sweeteners, and stevia. Unless it came in the form of a whole food, an apple, banana, or pear, for example, then it was off limits. We were reminded to eat foods the way they were intended, in their whole and natural state. Skin, pulp, fiber included. Although initially skeptical, I was hopeful to bring another level of presence to our son, beyond what the gluten & dairy free lifestyle provided. After just a few days without processed sugar, we noticed that life became much more consistent for him. It has now been six months and I am in awe that a 10 year old can be so cognizant of the connection between the food he eats and how he feels and reacts to life. Can you imagine, a 10 year old boy being able to say “no” to cookies, cake and ice cream? Well he does, because he acknowledges that he feels better without those foods. If his own behavior doesn’t speak to the dietary correction that is possible today, I don’t know what does.
So here is a recipe I created for him, to assuage my guilt of him living in a world seemingly sustained by sugar. I don’t know many other kids who face this challenge with such courage and dedication. I am proud of him. Here is my Chocolate Nut Butter “Milkshake”. Suitable for breakfast, dessert, or a snack. It finds its sweetness from Medjool dates. The “King of Dates” or “Nature’s Candy” as they have been called, are exceptionally sweet and soft. Their skin is decidedly thinner than other dates making them a suitable food to puree into “milkshakes” and baked goods to provide a natural sweetness. Dates are high in fiber, contain the minerals copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium, as well as three B vitamins: B-6, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
The addition of the raw Incan Superfood maca powder (known as a source of healing and used to combat fatigue), flax seeds (a source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber and thought to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke) and raw cacao (featuring antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and iron) take this “milkshake” treat to a superfood level. Packed with so many good things for his growing body and with a taste that reminds me of a peanut butter cup. I hope he wants it every day for breakfast so I can drink what’s left in the blender after I fill his glass.
- 7 fresh Medjool dates, pits removed and discarded
- 3 Tablespoons nut butter (I have used peanut butter and almond butter with success)
- 1 heaping Tablespoon raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon maca powder
- ½ teaspoon golden flax seeds or flax seed meal
- ⅔ cup milk of your choice (I have used unsweetened almond, rice, and coconut milk with success)
- 7 ice cubes
- Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and secure the lid. I use a Vitamix.
- Select Variable 1.
- Turn the machine on and gradually increase speed to Variable 10.
- Turn the machine to High and process for 1 minute or until shake is smooth.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy.