When Gia was younger, she had this preschool teacher named Mrs. Brennan. She was the sweetest little woman who was so good at inspiring the little ones to learn. Her voice was high pitched and when she would get excited, it became even higher, often times sending the kids into an equally exhilarated state about the lesson at hand.
Because I have always enjoyed packing lunch and snacks for the kids, even back then, I packed Gia’s snacks in her little lunchbox complete with juice boxes that featured her favorite Sesame Street characters. I remember when I ran out of juice boxes one day, I asked Mrs. Brennan if she could just give Gia water from the tap (yes, we drank water from the tap in NY) because I had yet to go food shopping.
She quickly agreed and said that she will be sure to give Gia “God’s Juice,” at snack time.
I giggled and quickly agreed that water was in fact “God’s Juice,” and thought about what I usually packed in her snack box at that time. The little Sun Maid mini boxes that accompanied her snacks were a staple, and I quickly adapted to calling them “Nature’s Candy,” after hearing Mrs. Brennan refer to water as “God’s Juice.”
Fast forward to today, and Gia cannot stand raisins in her food, but tolerates them in trail mix or if they are covered in dark chocolate.
Luckily, my other “little” girl, Gelli, absolutely LOVES “Nature’s Candy” in any way she can have them. She loves them in her snack box (I still pack the little red Sun Maid boxes.) she loves them in her cereal, and in her trail mix too. In fact, lots of times she just asks for California Raisins and peanuts as an afternoon snack.
Actually, come to think of it, if we want to apply “Nature’s Candy” to ANY kind of dried fruit, we can. I just have a special affinity for California Raisins because it’s also a brand that I grew up with.
In fact, even just the mention of California Raisins reminds me of this:
This was the commercial that was released in 1988 and yes, it harks back to my own childhood, where I would lay down on the floor with my feet up on the wall, watching tv on a huge box in the family room…all of which I have fond memories…
Healthy and Versatile
All of which, I pleasantly looked back on after attending the California Raisins event today at at Ikomai and Tochi.
Chef James Antolin teamed up with Dr. Klaus Tenbergen to showcase exactly how nutritious and versatile this dried fruit is by incorporating raisins into the whole lunch menu, and by showing us two super easy vegan recipes where our sweet little treat shines.
From Wasabi Salad that was topped with a Crispy Raisin Fruit Leather, to Roasted Salmon, Gyoza, and Garlic Chahan, our entire lunch menu included California Raisins in ways that I had not yet imagined would work!
I was pleasantly surprised with the way Japanese food could be prepared using an ingredient not usually found in Japanese cuisine.
But because I am always looking for new ways to get my family to enjoy healthier alternatives to sweets, I was really looking forward to the vegan demonstrations that husband wife team Klaus and Priscilla would share.
I was surprised to learn that California Raisins are:
- naturally high in fiber (which means they are great for digestion)
- rich in calcium, iron, and maganese
- high in potassium
- rich in natural sugars
So here is something I will definitely make for the kids’ lunchboxes very soon:
Easy Coconut California Raisin Bites are packed with energy and fiber. I can see myself even adding some additional items for added texture, like chopped cashews, or even peanuts. It’s good to know that these can stay in the ref for about a week.
And this is something that I can encourage the kids to make when we are at Mama’s place (because she has a microwave) because they love baking and this mug cake is super easy.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Mug Cake was so super easy to throw together and perfect for when the kids bring surprise friends over after school. Plus they can make it on their own because it’s throwing all the ingredients in one bowl and popping it in the microwave!
It truly was a treat to leave Ikomai and Tochi with a newfound inspiration in the kitchen!
So in honor of my new found inspiration, and of my childhood, Gia’s childhood, and the childhood that Gelli is enjoying with her own little red boxes of California Raisins in HER lunchbox, I will share a very ADULT like VEGAN recipe that reminds me of Autumn in New York.
There aren’t many things that I long for, now that we have been living in Manila for more than 12 years. In fact, I have slowly seen almost everything that I love and miss about New York (except for my family) become available here in various grocery stores and even through online purchases.
If you like the flavors, scents, and the feel of Autumn, (like I do) then you must try this deliciously healthy salad which evokes all the earthy feels of leaves changing, crisp weather, and wearing cool fall sweaters while sipping on warm apple cider.
- 1/2 c California Raisins
- 1 c Roasted Pumpkin cubed
- 1 c Roasted Broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 c sweet Fuji Apple cubed
- 1 c cooked quinoa
- 1/4 c shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 c pistachios
- handful of shelled sunflower seeds
- 1/2 c California Raisins soaked in water just to cover
- 1/4 c raw cashews
- 1/2 c EVOO
- Juice of one lemon
- After roasting the pumpkin and broccoli, let cool completely.
- Lightly toss all ingredients and salt and pepper to your liking.
- Top with California Raisins, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.
- Meanwhile, add all ingredients to the dressing into your blender and blend until emulsified.
- Dressing will be thick and creamy because of cashews but will have the natural sweetness from California Raisins.
- Substitute any kind of cruciferous vegetables in place of broccoli.
- Substitute pears for apples.
- Substitute adlai or couscous for quinoa.