Written by WonderCow co-founder Erica Diepersloot
A little background on our heritage
A few years ago when we were pregnant with our second daughter, a relative of my husband took the liberty of telling me that I looked quite a bit bigger with this baby. (insert incredulous emoji here:) I surprised myself by not having much of a reaction to this at the moment; I think I mumbled “Ok” and looked for someone else to talk to. And while I imagine that most people have the social awareness not to say something like that to a pregnant lady, I have learned to not take these blunt statements too personally anymore, just because it comes with the territory of being married to a Dutch man.
This whole “speaking their minds matter of factly” was a stereotype of Dutch people that I was not aware of until I met my husband’s family. I am also of Dutch heritage (both sets of my parents’ parents were from Holland, but I guess they were raised on another side of the country where they don’t speak bluntly). I didn’t mean to fall in love with a guy also of Dutch heritage, but by coincidence – I happily did 🙂 All that to say, our little family is proud to be American, but we still enjoy some Dutch traditions that come with our heritage.
The Dutch impact on baking
Outside of their blunt manner of speaking, the Dutch stereotypically have a lot of wonderful attributes including their strong work ethic and a tradition of koffietijd (coffeetime) which might include sweet treats like stroopwafels or oliebollen. Another strength of their culture is their language. Don’t get me wrong, it is not notably the most beautiful or romantic language with all the rough double-consonants and the long double-vowels.
The Dutch language does have a word to describe everything, and there sometimes isn’t an exact English equivalent to each word.
An example of this is gezellig – it’s a Dutch adjective to describe a situation as cozy or comfy, but it’s a little more than either of those, a little better. And once you start understanding the word, you realize that neither cozy or comfy does it quite justice; you just want to use the word gezellig.
Another such word is knoeien – this is a verb that we would translate to stir or mix, but again it’s a bit more than just that. My parents would describe one of my toddler’s favorite activities as knoeien. It’s that type of play when they start with a bowl and a spoon, pretty soon they’ve added ice or sand or spaghetti, and they’re just happy to mix and add and stir; all that is called knoeien. And when I say that was one of my toddler’s favorite activities, I mean it has been all of my kids’ favorite activities as toddlers. I think this is probably due to the fact that it is so sensory-friendly and most two-year-olds tend to be fascinated by texture.
What baking with toddlers is like
One of my kids’ favorite places to perform such knoeien has been in the kitchen, so sometimes I attempt to put their talents to use in baking. Of course, time in the kitchen with toddlers can be comical… we love giving our 4-year-old the benefits of self-sufficiency by trusting her to scoop oats into a bowl but we also recognize that her sticky fingers want to grab everything they can reach. She has learned the difference between baking soda and sugar the hard way (baking soda really should not be eaten raw), but even that has given her confidence when she teaches her little sister which ingredient she should taste-test.
She has learned the difference between baking soda and sugar the hard way.
We have a lot of fun in the kitchen together and baking can be a (messy) bonding experience with kids because it puts you on the same team– the team to create. And from their little perspectives, it almost seems like magic to mix a bunch of ingredients together in a bowl, put it in the oven, and end up with a loaf of banana bread.
One of our favorite, easy, no-bake recipes
Like many kids, our daughters most enjoy the creations that include chocolate. We try to be conscious about how much sugar we consume– respecting the balance of enjoying the food that we eat and being aware of how those foods affect our bodies. So while our whole family greatly enjoys the original recipe of Nestle chocolate chip cookies, it has been fun to also find creative alternatives that contain a little less sugar. One of these creations is lovingly called ‘cookie dough balls’ by our daughters because it tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough, but I love knowing that they are getting extra health benefits from natural superfoods like chia, flax seed, and colostrum, all without any sugar.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Energy Bites (aka ‘Cookie Dough Balls’)
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (spread in a pan and toast this for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven before mixing into the recipe)
- 1/2 cup creamy almond butter (you can also use peanut butter, sunflower butter, or whatever nut-butter you like)
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (the mini ones mix the best)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup WonderCow colostrum powder
- Stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.
- Cover the mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
- Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. (This should make about 15 cookie-dough bites)
- Then enjoy!
Or, make them into cookie dough bars!
Another variation is to press the mixture into a square baking dish and cut into flat cookie-dough bars. You may refrigerate either option in a sealed container for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Whether you want to label this recipe with a phrase like ‘clean eating’, ‘functional foods’, or if you just like to be aware of healthier options, this is an easy way that our little family sets up the fun of a picnic outside to enjoy a sweet treat, that has ingredients that are actually good for you and your kids.
And I’m not going to defend myself against what that Dutch relative had to say to me a few years ago (especially because my doctor has kept all my stats and the numbers have stayed consistent with each pregnancy so far, thank you very much), but you are correct if you guessed that I got rid of the dress that I wore that night of the Christmas party – I never wore it again. Nevertheless, I would imagine that based on her blunt opinion, that old Dutch relative would probably say it’s a good idea that I found a recipe to cut down on sugar 🙂