friday finds: coconut oil & sunscreen

100_2153Perhaps a bit random, but I just had to share these two items as we head into the weekend…

When I posted my recipe for Calico Brownies last month, I mentioned in the Recipe Notes section where I recently found fair trade coconut oil and fair trade cocoa powder for a better price online than my local natural foods store. And in my inbox this week was an email from Abe’s Market advertising Dr. Bronner Fair Trade Coconut Oil for half price! The only thing better than fair trade coconut oil is fair trade coconut oil on sale. I’m not sure how long the sale will last, so head on over while you can. Tip:  Abe’s offers free shipping on orders over $49, so stock up on your favorite shelf stable products to save on shipping costs.

And not that you can eat it, but I wanted to share EWG’s guide to sunscreens. Because what you put on your body can be just as important as what you put in it. With school winding down and the temperatures heating up, now is the perfect time to consider how to protect your skin.

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one of my favorite pictures from our favorite vacation spot circa 2012

Several years ago, I learned that mainstream sunscreen products can be just as harmful to your health as the sun itself. Since then, I’ve made the switch to better grade suncare products. They can come with a heftier price tag, but in this case, I think it’s worth it. Abe’s Market also sells sunscreens as does Vitacost* (my other go to online source for healthier products).

100_9550*I participate in Vitacost’s Refer-a-Friend program. If you click the link and make a purchase from them, will get $10 off on your order of $30 or more and I will also get a $10 credit.

calico brownies (gluten free, low sugar, vegan) + fair trade

100_2143Disclaimer: This is a post that starts out seriously but ends in chocolate.

My husband and I are reading the book, “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” It’s written by an American journalist living in Haiti when the earthquake struck five years ago. However, it’s also a book which details Haiti’s volatile history, sometimes of their own making, but also from in the influence of foreign powers rocking their boat. With the earthquake that just happened in Nepal and more natural disasters of increasing intensity on their way, it’s a timely book to be reading.

But what does Haiti have to do with brownies?

calicobrowniesNot much. At least in the sense that Haiti isn’t a large producer of the world’s chocolate  or coconut oil (it does export some). However, many of the trade practices which adversely affect Haiti on other fronts (which Katz relates in the book), also are in place with countries that do produce the most of the chocolate and coconut oil we consume.

For those of us living in affluent nations, the sad truth is that certain imported foods we enjoy at low cost to us comes at a high cost to others. (If you are interested in learning more about the importance of fair trade, I’ve included some links at the end of this post following the recipe.)

But I believe this can change because every time I make a purchase decision, I am casting my vote not only for the product but also for the business practice that brought it to the shelf.

So when a recipe calls for an ingredient that largely is produced and exported from a developing nation, I cast my vote in favor of fair trade as much as possible.

(Here’s where the brownies come in!)

Unlike most brownies which carry a high sugar content, these Calico Brownies, which are adapted from the “Peanut Butter Brownie” recipe found in “Vegan Planet”* on page 508, derive most of their sweetness from dates. They also feature fair trade cocoa power and fair trade coconut oil…which I think makes them taste all the sweeter.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the calico brownies recipe

 calico brownies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

 Serves: 16 brownies

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 T ground flax + 6 T water)
  • ½ cup fair trade coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 cup agave or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 cup date paste
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup fair trade unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 3 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼-1/3 c. no sugar natural peanut butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In small bowl, combine the flax seed and water to make the flax eggs. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt oil, add in vanilla and agave, then turn off heat.

Break date paste into smaller pieces and stir into liquid mixture – using a potato masher works well to further break up the date paste.

Add in flax eggs and stir.

Add in dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine (the mixture will appear dense and crumble in large pieces.

Pour mixture into greased 8×8 glass baking dish and press down firmly with hands.

Pour peanut butter over batter and use a knife to work it in, then press down batter again (keeping your hands moistened with water helps prevent the batter from sticking to them.

Bake 20 minutes.

Let it cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

Typically, I’ve purchased Equal Exchange’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa at my local health food store, but recently found Frontier’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa for less at Abe’s Market. (you can get free shipping on orders over $49.) I usually buy Br. Bronner’s brand of fair trade coconut oil.

Make sure the stevia you use is 100%, otherwise results will vary. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own scoop.

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 *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.