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Sheet Pan Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets :: Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Grain Free & EASY Prep (NO Breading or Dredging!)

March 21, 2019

Fuss free, fast prep, freeze-able, and {oh so!} kid friendly in taste sheet pan gluten free chicken nuggets!

Glimpses of spring…

We can almost taste it! It really is melting! We are seeing consistent SUN, and sweet friends, spring is so close we can hardly stand it. Our beautiful frozen Lake Michigan beach is thawing out, and we can hardly wait to get our feet into it’s powdery sand.

Spring BUSY

As we started coming out of winter hibernation mode, and spring activities started blooming (<– see what I did there! 🙂 ), I had a panic moment looking at the rest of March, April, and May and had to take a minute! While those toddler and baby years were…a LOT…it really has nothing on tween years with a couple of school aged kids on the side. I know I’m totally in for it when they are all in their teens, but I’m loving that I get to ease into that one kid at a time!

Prep ahead goals

I will be the first one to admit that I literally live for standing stove side to cook. I know that isn’t everyone. It is therapy for me. I do make a point to get my “therapy” cooking into my schedule at least once a week, but a little #RealLife for you…I can’t do that every day. I decided to play around with a little idea I had for nuggets that I could make ahead for the freezer for busier school activity evenings, and make it as fuss free as possible. Bonus if they were simple enough to batch up and throw into lunchboxes too!

Fuss free kitchen time

The first day that I had planned to make these nuggets my day completely fell apart. It happens right?! I originally was going to do the typical “breading” for these nuggets, “dredging” them in something grain free, and decided to scrap that whole step all together because I was short on time. Big time bonus – they turned out even better with out that time consuming step, so this prep truly is fuss free.

No skimping on nourishment here!

Even though my goal was to make something that could be easily prepped for the freezer, for dinner, or lunchbox add-ins, I didn’t want to create something with empty calories. These busier months before summer break at school require big time fuel for growing and active kids. They need real food that packs a punch. I bulked up these chicken nuggets with a load of sweet potato for slow burning energy to fuel those growing kids. It also helps the meat budget when you can pack in some veggies and make the meat stretch.

The perfect texture!

Oh that texture you guys! It was one of the first things the girls mentioned when I started trying this recipe out – and I don’t have “picky” eaters. Nugget texture matters – these are not dry, have the perfect chew, and the flavor is out of this world. There is a slight sweetness from the sweet potato without adding any sugar or even honey, and they don’t taste like sweet potato. The secret is adding a bit of fat (coconut oil) to make up for the leaner chicken or turkey, and soaking up the moisture from the sweet potatoes with a little coconut flour. The result is a great chicken nugget texture that even the pickiest toddler nugget connoisseur will enjoy.

Freezer Tips

There are 2 ways you could freeze the chicken nuggets – choose which works best for you!

  • Your first option is mixing the meat mixture, form it into nuggets, and freeze flat on a baking sheet. When the nuggets are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag to store in the freezer. You can bake them off from the frozen state for dinner adding an extra 5-10 minutes.
  • OR you can mix and bake the nuggets fully, and then freeze them already baked off. I can see myself doing this for easy lunchbox add-ins. They are already cooked and you can toss them in to lunchboxes frozen – they will thaw by lunchtime.
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Sheet Pan Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets :: Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Grain Free & EASY Prep (NO Breading or Dredging!)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey or chicken I pick up organic ground turkey at Costco
  • 2 tbsp room temp coconut oil
  • 2 cups finely shredded sweet potato I just use my box grater. This ends up being 1-2 sweet potatoes depending on the size
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Everything into a medium mixing bowl and combine well.
  • Scoop small portions of the meat mixture (size of ping pong ball), roll into a ball, and then flatten onto a Silpat lined or parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can make the nuggets any size (and shape) you want. The nuggets do not spread out or puff up, so make them the size/shape/thickness you want.
  • Bake the nuggets for 12-13 minutes, flip them over using tongs, and then bake another 11-13 minutes depending on the size of your nuggets. Let them cool a few minutes before serving.

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Instant Pot Spring Leek & Asparagus Soup :: Gluten and Dairy Free!

March 7, 2019

Instant Pot leek & asparagus soup pulls the best flavors of spring with a quick pressure cook prep time!

Snow Day number 7,458…

Another lake effect snow storm, polar vortex, whatever you want it call it…is in the books! In March. It’s Michigan…I get that. By March I’m definitely over it, and I’m so ready to bring you some bright, fresh spring recipes! Since it is so cold here, we’ll start with spring produce in soup form to keep us warm, m’kay?!

Whatever state is sending us spring produce…THANK YOU!

We adore you. No really we do. Because we won’t see fresh Michigan asparagus until almost May, and I just can’t go that long without some spring in my life! When I saw the first asparagus sale from at the store a couple weeks ago, I snagged what I could and to the girls’ complete delight we had roasted asparagus with dinner that night – something other than winter veggies! They were in heaven! Leeks and lemons are such a bright and fun spring addition to this smooth and creamy soup too – it’s like spring in a bowl!

Flavors that will blow you away

It is just so good. This soup – you will want cup after cup after cupful. The mild leeky onion allows the rest of the veggies to really shine through, and that tangy bright lemon and yogurt put it over the top. Once you try the little hit of lemon in your asparagus soup, you’ll never go back. This soup would be a great appetizer or soup course item for Easter brunch or dinner. Your guests will be wondering what it is that is making the flavor so amazing, and it is really that combination of the perfect balance of sweet veggies, tangy finishes, and delicious herbs. It will vanish before their eyes!

Instant Pot quick!

I cannot wait to make this soup all spring long! If you happen to snag a great in season deal on asparagus this spring, you can really stock up your freezer with asparagus soup. Shopping veggies in season is defintely how to keep your real food budget in check. And since we can make the soup easily in our Instant Pot, the though of making it all season long doesn’t sound daunting! If you have the 8 quart, I bet you could double this recipe!

The perfect, kid friendly (and not so veggie loving person friendly) soup!

I made this soup on the “soup-ier” side so I could drink it from a mug easily, and so my younger girls could easily use a straw for their school lunch thermos. When my girls were older baby and toddler ages, they really loved eating soups like this with a straw. Between the pressuring cooking time and the blending of the soup, I promise there are no asparagus “strings” left and it is super kid friendly in texture. While I absolutely believe in making sure kids are exposed to every food texture, I understand how those bigger asparagus spears can be kind of stringy. The texture of this soup is soup smooth and creamy – perfect for kids and adults alike!

Freezer Friendly!

Absolutely fill your freezer with at least a couple quarts of leftover soup when you make it! When late fall and middle of winter hit your home, it is SO nice to pull out a jar of spring flavors to change up your menu! To freeze the soup, I like to cool it to room temp, and then fill BPA free freezer quart containers. If you freeze in glass jars, just be sure to leave the lid off for 24 hours in the freezer so it has room to expand and not break your jar. You can put the lid on once it freezes completely.

Print Recipe
5 from 21 votes

Spring Leek & Asparagus Soup :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp friendly fat to cook in I prefer the flavor of a combo of butter and olive oil. Ghee is lovely too.
  • 2 large leeks ends and green tips removed, sliced into rounds and rinsed of sand (Use the white and light green part. If you don’t have leeks 1 medium onion or a couple shallots would work well.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled (no need to chop – it will all get blended up in the end)
  • 2 bunches of asparagus woody ends removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small/medium yellow potato cubed
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth
  • 1 tsp dried dill if you have access fresh use about 2-3 tbsp
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut yogurt regular yogurt, crème fraiche, or sour cream (you can use raw milk or coconut milk if you don’t have these, but the tang of the fermented creams is lovely)
  • Juice of ½ lemon use about 1 tbsp
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Turn the Instant Pot to “Saute,” and melt the butter/oil. Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes until fragrant, soft, and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, and then turn the Instant Pot “Off.”
  • Add the asparagus, potato, bone broth, and dill, stir to combine, and put the lid on the Instant Pot. Be sure the valve is closed, and turn your Instant Pot on to “Soup.” Bring the time down to 10 minutes. (The IP will start automatically from here. It will take about 5-10 minutes to come to pressure depending on how cold your broth was, and then will start counting down the 10 minute pressure cooking time.)
  • When the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is done, release the valve and take the lid off. Blend up the soup using your immersion blender or regular blender until it is smooth.
  • Stir in the yogurt and lemon juice, and then taste for salt and pepper. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste, and serve.

More real food SPRING recipes you might like!

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Gluten Free Lemon Coffee Cake :: Paleo Friendly & Honey Sweetened!

February 28, 2019

Soft and lightly sweet gluten free lemon coffee cake with ingredients you can feel good about!

A bit of fresh citrus to brighten our long winter!

These long Michigan winters! We sure do make the best of it, but by the end of February we long for something to brighten our moods a bit! I’ll always be forever thankful for whatever areas of California and Southern states are sending the citrus our way during February each year, because we really enjoy it!

A fresh and bright new breakfast!

Lemons and honey are a match made in heaven, and this lemony sweet coffee cake is no exception! I have fallen in love with the grain free combo of cassava and almond flours together lately. You won’t miss the regular flour with the soft, almost “gluten-like” texture of this coffee cake. And the honey sweetened lemon brightness is the perfect start to the day!

Quick prep & low fuss!

Because real life, right momma?! Whether you are making this coffee cake for a special Easter brunch, or your weekend breakfast, the prep time won’t take you all day in the kitchen with these simple ingredients. Even the crumb topping is a simple mix into a bowl!

Ingredient swaps and tips

  • You can swap the 2 cups of grain free flours for 2 cups of Namaste GF Flour blend if you do well with grains. I love the resistant starch of cassava plus the fat and protein in the almond flours, but understand not everyone can tolerate those. I also plan to make the coffee cake with just the GF Flour blend as well as I truly think rotating our food ingredients and not always eating the same thing is important!
  • Egg free friends, this recipe only has ONE egg! Woot! That means a flax egg, gelatin egg, or other egg replacer should work just fine. I even think an applesauce egg would be ok.
  • I seriously love almond extract with the flavors of this coffee cake, but if you don’t have that around, vanilla extract will work too.
  • The crumb topping is super forgiving and customize-able. I have done coconut shreds mixed with some of the flour. I have done blended walnuts mixed with some of the flour too – you can use what you have on hand.

Freezer friendly

I did take some leftovers of one of the batches that I made of this lemon coffee cake to freeze, and it thawed out great. If you have an abundance of lemons, you sure could double this up into 2 square pans so you can freeze some slices of coffee cake for busy school day mornings.

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Lemon Coffee Cake :: Paleo Friend & Honey Sweetened!

Ingredients

FOR THE COFFEE CAKE ::

  • ½ cup softened butter or organic palm shortening if you can’t have butter/dairy
  • 1/3–1/2 cup honey coconut sugar will work here but will change the color of the coffee cake
  • 2 ½ tbsp lemon zest I had 2 lemons so this was what I got from 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp almond extract vanilla extract would be fine – the almond is SO good though
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk or raw milk if you can have dairy
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup juice from lemons I used 2 lemons
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING ::

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, and grease a 2 quart baking dish with butter, coconut oil, or palm shortening.
  • Blend the butter, honey, lemon zest, and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl until creamed.
  • Add the egg, coconut milk, ACV, and lemon juice, and blend to combine.
  • Add the flours, baking powder, and sea salt, and blend until just combined, and then pour the coffee cake batter into the greased baking pan.
  • Combine the crumb topping ingredients int a small bowl, and sprinkle over the top of the coffee cake.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the middle is set and the top is lightly golden brown. Cool the coffee cake at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. The coffee cake holds together and firms up as it cools. 

More real food LEMON recipes you might like ::

  • Simple Fermented Lemonade
  • GF Lemon Breakfast Cookies
  • Paleo Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins
  • DIY Electrolyte Drink
Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon :: Dairy Free Option Included!

February 7, 2019

Gorgeous wild caught salmon drenched in an elegant, smooth, and creamy garlic butter sauce!

A winter for the books!

Six consecutive days snowed in from school, and 3 days of ice in a row cancelling school the following week. YOU GUYS…we are so accustomed to snow (and a lot of it!) here on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and typically we can trudge through to school in just about any winter weather, but the last couple of weeks have truly made this a winter we will never forget!

A cozy winter dinner

By that second ice day, there had been an accumulation of almost 2 weeks of fun school activities and dates canceled, and we were ready for some warm comfort food! My kids truly needed a brain boost to lift their spirits, and wild caught salmon always makes them smile.

Easy weeknight prep for any occasion!

Whether you are snowed in, celebrating Valentine’s Day at home, or just have a house full of kids that need an omega 3 fatty fish boost in an amazing cream sauce, this salmon dinner is for you. The prep truly is weeknight fast for any busy work and school day, taking only 20 minutes to make! The elegant cream sauce would make any special dinner night at home perfect with pretty asparagus spears and glasses of white wine too.

How to make perfectly pan seared salmon

The magic lies in a super hot skillet, and I’m convinced ghee makes the best crust and flavor. Start by getting your ghee or other cooking fat super hot in the skillet and put the salmon that has been pat dry and seasoned with salt and pepper right in. After it has crisped up and sealed in the flavor on both sides, set the salmon aside to make the cream sauce. There is nothing like the flavor that comes from pan searing salmon, and all those bits from searing will cook right into the dreamy sauce.

Creamy, dreamy sauce without the dairy!

Unless you can tolerate dairy that is, of course! Because you can make it either way. Dairy free friends, I promise you won’t taste the coconut milk – there is so much amazing garlic goodness paired with ghee or olive oil, wine, and sweetly sautéed veg, that all you will taste is amazing flavor. We thicken the sauce with tapioca which makes the velvety sauce so elegant and special – and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of gummy tapioca sauces – this is NOT one of them! It is so silky and amazing.

Optional change ups

  • If we hadn’t gotten iced in, I would have picked up some mushrooms to saute in with the onion and garlic – it is my favorite way to make this dish. You will love it!
  • You can add some Parmesan cheese to the finished dish if you tolerate dairy ok!
  • I have used sun-dried tomatoes versus fresh before, and it is SO good. And a great way to make this dish in the winter when fresh tomatoes can be pricey or not have that summer sweetness.
  • You can add steamed broccoli to the finished dish for more veggie boost.
  • Asparagus is my favorite veggie add in. During those first days of spring when the air is still cool and crisp, but the first of that spring asparagus is coming in, this warm salmon meal with asparagus is so comforting.
Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon with Dairy Free Option Included!

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp ghee or butter, olive oil, or pastured lard/tallow
  • 4 large wild caught salmon fillets cut in half if you have little ones at home
  • Sea salt and pepper for the salmon
  • 3 tbsp butter or more ghee
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 7 cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup white wine bone broth would be fine here, though the flavor of the wine in here is fantastic if you can do it
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk or raw cream/milk
  • Heaping handful of baby spinach or baby kale
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot starch mixed in a couple tbsp water for the slurry to thicken
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Get your large skillet nice and hot and melt your ghee in the pan. While the skillet is warming up, pat dry your salmon fillets and sprinkle both sides with sea salt and pepper.
  • Put the salmon in the hot ghee, skin side down for 2-3 minutes until crispy, then flip the salmon over to the flesh side. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the flesh has a golden brown crust. Take the salmon out of the pan and set aside on a plate while you make the sauce. If your salmon is larger cut or thicker, you will want to bump up your cook time to more like 5 minutes each side.
  • Melt the butter in your skillet over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Mushrooms are a nice touch here too that we enjoy. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter for a few minutes until fragrant and starting to get golden brown.
  • Add the wine and tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 4-5 minutes to blister the tomatoes a bit, and cook off the alcohol in the wine. Be sure to scrape up any bits at the bottom of the pan – flavor!
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the baby spinach or kale, along with the tapioca starch slurry to thicken the sauce more. Stir frequently until everything thickens – you can add more wine or water if you want to thin the sauce out any.
  • Sea salt and pepper the sauce to your taste, and add the salmon fillets back into the pan to warm back up. Serve your salmon over white rice or rice noodles, over a baked sweet or white potato, or over a bed of steamed or roasted broccoli or cauliflower.

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Healthy Salty and Sweet Trail Mix :: No added sugar!

January 22, 2019

From lunchbox additions and afternoon pick me ups, to game day munchies and movie night snacks, this salty and sweet trail mix is the perfect healthy choice!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Lunchbox ruts…

Dear momma, I am so feeling you! Halfway through the year, and that lunchbox rotation is starting to look a little blurry, the kids are bored of the same thing, and you are just squinting your eyes at any glimpse of summer break on the horizon 😊

Even real food bloggers need a fresh idea!

Because I’m human too. And I have a full schedule, 3 completely different kids, and seriously those lunchboxes don’t pack themselves! My youngest started asking for “trail mix” in the last few weeks, and I had an idea of what she was asking for. Usually I just take the easy route and pack the girls a hand full of nuts or seeds with a few pieces of raisin and call it “trail mix,” but my youngest was referring to a trail mix she fell in love with a while ago…

A healthier take on an old stand-by…

A year or so ago, Costco carried this cleaner than most trail mix that I had grown accustomed to having in my rotation for the girls’ morning school snacks, or as a quick lunchbox addition. Like Costco seems to be so good at doing, right when you get into a rhythm of using something of theirs that you love…they take it away! Amiright?! To be honest I didn’t love that the dried fruit in the mix had sunflower oil, but for the most part the mix was pretty clean, and it was nice to use once a week as a quick snack or lunchbox filler. Really this mix isn’t that hard to duplicate! I decided to grab a cleaner, healthier fat to make the trail mix feel rich, and make it fun with different pieces of dried fruit for the sweet, and a hit of sea salt for the salty – that makes for a fun snack!

Let’s break it down!

You can really swap the nut/seed/dried fruit combo for anything that you have in your pantry. I love having a big variety to take advantage of all the different vitamins and minerals that nuts and seeds have to offer, without overdoing it on one particular kind. If you are nut free, just use all seeds, and if you can’t have something on the list, simply swap it out. And as far as the dried fruit goes, the sky is the limit as long as it doesn’t have added sugar in my book, so go for it! I can hardly wait until strawberry and blueberry season so that I can dry some of those out to add to the mix!

Speaking of the fruit…

Dried fruit is super sneaky. You have to really look at the ingredient labels and be sure you aren’t getting sunflower oils and added sugar. Just be careful – I’ll add a link to each of the dried fruit elements that we love using here, and I’ll add a few more that I think work great too. All of these are oil and added sugar free! For the most part, I get the dried fruit between Costco and Amazon.

  • Raisins
  • Dried mango (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried apple (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried goji berries
  • Dried apricots (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Prunes (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dates (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried bananas (Sometimes called banana chips – I use these as snacks with pouches of Justin’s almond butter for lunches too!)
  • Figs (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)

To bake or not to bake?

If you are short on time, this mix truly does just come together to toss without the cooking fat and sea salt, and you’re good to go. Many of you with toddlers in the house can start out this way! As the kids get older and their palates mature, having that salty/sweet combo with the richness from a little butter makes a handful of trail mix go from good to amazing! When the girls got their hands on this, they literally thought we were having a treat. I’ll be packing this up in little containers for a popcorn swap the next time we visit the movie theater because it definitely is a nice salty and sweet snack. While I think butter or ghee has the best flavor, avocado oil or olive oil would work the same way. Use what you can!

Soaked/Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

All of the nuts and seeds that I use in this trail mix have been soaked and dehydrated (with the exception of the shelled pistachios). When I first started learning about real food years ago, I learned about the process of soaking in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook as something that our ancestors would have done. The soaking takes the phytic acid in the nuts and seeds down a few notches, making them easier to digest. If that feels outside your real food comfort zone just yet, don’t work yourself up over it. Just use what you have or buy and make this fun recipe! If you are a traditional foodie, you will want soaked or sprouted nuts/seeds. My process to make the soaking process simple and fast, is that when I buy the bags of organic nuts/seeds from Costco or Amazon, I soak and dehydrate them right away. They stay in containers in my pantry so that I can take a quick handful for lunchboxes, or scoop them out for a recipe like this!

Other fun add-in ideas

You can really dress the trail mix up for whatever you are using it for! This basic framework is great for everyday, if you are going to have a bowl of it out at a party or on game day, add in some healthier choice chocolate chips is fun (this does have added sugar just fyi if you have to watch that). I also think coconut flakes are a fun addition and when I have those around I like to add those in with the baking process to make them crispy like chips.

A quick note about saving money and where to shop

Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit can be super pricey if you aren’t careful. We want to have good stewardship with our real food budget, and so I suggest shopping around diligently to find your best priced source. For where I live, it is really between Costco and Amazon, though there are a couple of items with better pricing at our local grocer, such as the dates listed in the dried fruit above. In the links below in the recipe card, any of the nuts that you see with the “Kirkland” organic brand linked, I get at Costco. The rest of the nuts/seeds I buy on Amazon to save money. These items come with a lot, so build up your stash a little at a time, and you will be able to have more variety in your trail mix with time! 

Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Healthy Salty and Sweet Trail Mix

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Pour the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit right onto a baking sheet (NO Silpat or parchment paper for this recipe), and then toss with the melted butter and sea salt so that everything is coated evenly.
  • Divide the trail mix between 2 large baking sheets, spread the trail mix out, and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir the trail mix around (I just shake the pans a bit!), and then bake another 5-7 minutes.
  • Let the trail mix cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

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Sheet Pan Spatchcock Maple Mustard Chicken and Roasted Veggies

January 10, 2019

Sheet pan spatchcock maple mustard chicken is one healthy meal all on a couple sheet pans!

January thaw…

I live for them. Well technically, I live for the opposite 5 months out of the year where we get to be at the beach every week, but in the winter months, a January thaw somewhere in the midst of our frozen tundra is pretty predictable, and it’s something I totally look forward to. We enjoyed just that this past weekend with over 40 degree temperatures! A few long hikes was exactly what our holiday dazed bodies needed, and we enjoyed watching a calmer side of Lake Michigan, trails that weren’t icy or frozen, and even a few glimpses of some sun.

A winter sheet pan dinner

While 40 degrees is quite the heatwave for Michigan in the winter, we were still chilled to the bone when we came home, and flipping the oven on to roast some dinner for an hour was just what we longed for. I live for sheet pan dinners – a whole meal on a couple of sheet pans? Sign me up. This meal is low fussy and absolutely delicious. Warm, winter comfort food that can make an appearance on your weekly dinner menu throughout the cooler months of the year!

Spatchcock, butterflied, split…

Whatever you want to call it, we just love a juicy butterflied chicken! Splitting the chicken spatchcock style is easier than it looks to do, and it cuts the cook time down by about 1/4 of the time! Instead of a whole afternoon to slow cook, in around an hour, you can have super crispy, delicious skin with juicy and flavorful meat on the inside. All you have to do is use kitchen shears to snip down the backbone of the chicken, and you’re set!

The key to super juicy meat….

That butter! You can use olive oil or ghee of course, but if you tolerate butter, you are going to want to slide that right under the skin and let it baste the meat while it cooks. You’ll be so glad you did!

The maple mustard sauce!

Of course we’ve all heard of honey mustard, but have you ever tried maple mustard?! It is just amazing, and I can almost guarantee your kids are going to be completely in love. Slightly sweet and sticky, the outside of the chicken gets basted in this super kid friendly glaze that will have everyone asking for seconds. And with just TWO ingredients to whisk up in less than a minute, this easy peasy change up to a spatchcock chicken will be something you can actually put on the dinner menu rotation that you have time to make.

Make it a whole meal on a tray momma!

I’m telling you, once you go sheet pan dinner, you’ll never look back! I use sheet pan dinners more often than my Instant Pot or slow cooker – combined! *GASP*. Yep. Toss it all on the tray and hands free? Yes please! You can change up the veggies to what you have on hand – here are some ideas!

  • Cubed butternut squash and brussel sprouts (pictured in this post)
  • Cubed sweet potatoes and broccoli
  • Carrot or rainbow carrot “coins,” cubed potatoes, and chopped kale (add the kale at the end – last 10 or so minutes since it doesn’t need as long to cook)
  • Root veggie mix up! Just toss all those glorious winter roots on the tray – parsnips, rutabaga, carrot, beet! The possibilities are endless and changing it up not only keeps the meal interesting, it gets a variety of nutrients into your family!

Alllll that veggie prep…how do I do it on a busy schedule?!

I’ve got you covered, dear momma! I certainly don’t have time to be in the kitchen all day, but it is worth taking at least some time to get some real food on the table. If you really want to make it happen, it can be done! Here are some tips!

  • Prep the veggies the night before. I timed myself prepping the squash and brussel sprouts for this recipe, and it took me under 10 minutes. That is do-able before bedtime – and you can have the kids help you! I picked veggies for this meal that wouldn’t go bad getting cut up the night before – just pop them in a container with a lid and all you have to do when you get home from school or work is dump it on the tray.
  • Train the kiddos! Yes, dear momma! Get those little sous chefs in there to help you out. Put it on the big kids’ chore list to peel the squash when they get home from school, and have the littles scoop the seeds out. Whatever works. And let this be a message to my mommas with littles that are reading this…train them NOW, so that when life gets even busier when they start school (YES you heard that right – it gets BUSIER when school starts!), you have some trained helpers to get the meal on the table.
  • You can also buy veggies like this that have been pre-cut – if that makes your life easier, it fits in your budget, and it lands this recipe on your dinner menu instead of take-out, go for it my friend!

Treat yourself to some sheet pans for your new sheet pan dinner menu!

I use sheet pans more than almost anything else in my kitchen. Having 3 or 4 large sheet pans is a must in my kitchen, and you’ll see at the bottom of this post there are SO many different ways to make a sheet pan dinner – lots of variety! ALSO! You will want to roast your veggies on just the baking sheet – do not use a Silpat mat or parchment paper. They will steam this way and not roast, and you want that roasted flavor. You can roast the chicken on a silpat for easier clean up. The Silpat mats are also great for baking on your sheet pans.

Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Sheet Pan Spatchcock Maple Mustard Chicken and Roasted Veggies

Ingredients

FOR THE MAPLE MUSTARD SAUCE:

  • 3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 small onion, sliced into 4 rounds
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 recipe of the Maple Mustard Sauce from above You may make more separately for dipping later if you wish

FOR THE SHEET PAN VEGGIES:

  • 1 medium/large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, stems cut off and quartered (broccoli would work nice here too)
  • ½ purple onion, sliced into thick strips
  • ¼ cup melted butter or ghee
  • Sea salt/pepper to your taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and make sure you have your 3 oven racks in the middle of the oven.
  • Whisk the Maple Mustard Sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  • Split your chicken by cutting down each side of the spine to remove the backbone. (You can see how this looks in the picture above). Put the chicken breast side UP on a baking sheet, press the chest down flat, and place an onion round under each breast and leg. Put 1 cup of water on the baking sheet as well.
  • Loosen the skin of the breast using your fingers, and put about 2-3 tbsp of butter under the skin (see the above image). Brush a thin layer of the maple mustard sauce on the chicken (use about ¼ of what you made), and place in the 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, you can get your veggies ready. Toss the veggies with the butter/salt/pepper on a large sheet pan, and then split the veggies between 2 sheet pans. If you leave them super piled up and crowded they won’t cook as fast and won’t get the yummy roasted flavor. Use 2 sheet pans. If you have a smaller crowd to feed, you can use less veggies and cover 1 sheet pan.
  • When the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes, take it out, brush on more of the maple mustard sauce, leaving about ¼ of it behind for one more coat at the end. Put the chicken back in the oven along with the veggie sheet pans, and roast everything for 30 minutes.
  • Take the chicken out, brush on the last of the Maple Mustard Sauce, give the veggies a quick stir, and roast everything for another 5 minutes.
  • Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting – you can leave the veggies in the oven to stay warm.

More real food SHEET PAN meals you might like ::

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Instant Pot Cauliflower and Kale Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included! :: Gluten and Dairy Free!

January 4, 2019

Make super smooth and creamy cauliflower and kale soup in a fraction of the time with your Instant Pot!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Winter hikes, and warm bowls…

At this point in the year, my little Michigander children expect snow…and lots of it! Every once and a while we experience a “barely white” Christmas, and this year was one of them. With the last 2 weeks off from school, they’ve been less than impressed with the lack of fresh powder, but thankfully that leaves roads clear enough to visit some of our favorite hiking places to move around. We warmed up with warm bowls of this super smooth and creamy cauliflower and baby kale soup after a hike this weekend, and the rest will be saved for school lunchbox thermoses, and momma’s breakfast.

A mind-blowing breakfast revelation….

Those of you that follow my Instagram much in the last few years know that soup is on my breakfast plate most days of the week – especially in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring. Years ago a nutritional therapist that I was working with opened my eyes to just how many more vegetable minerals and vegetable fiber our bodies need on a daily basis, and one of the ways I have figured out to get veggies into this not-so-smoothie-loving girl’s plate is to use soup.

A new breakfast favorite!

Ever grab a head of cauliflower at the market only to forget about and find it a few days later with the beginnings of those little brown spots on it? Just me?! Well, it happened to me a couple months back in the thick of the beginning of the holiday season, and I decided to use the whole head up in one shot so it didn’t go to waste. I used what I had in-house, and this delicious soup was the result – and became my breakfast for the rest of the week! It has been a nice change up from my typical breakfast soups, which also means veggie nutrient variety for my body, and that is always a win.

What I eat with my soup for breakfast

When I eat soup for breakfast, I like to have it with sides of just about anything! That keeps things interesting, so you don’t get bored. Fried eggs or sausage, a healthy muffin or breakfast cookie…even dinner leftovers will work. Leftover soup warms up quickly, and can go with you in a to-go mug too.

Ok, breakfast soup for mom, but will the kids eat it?!

Well devour it is more like it in my house, but yes, this soup is super kid friendly. If your kids aren’t big soup for breakfast eaters, pack it along in their school lunchbox thermos, or serve it with dinner. It’s a great way to get in more veggie variety with an easy to eat, flavorful soup. The texture is super smooth which most kids prefer, and the flavors are pure and delicious versus super complex. Your toddlers/babies can use a straw if they want to do it themselves. Veggie soup purees were some of my girls’ very favorite first foods, and because we started out young, they crave these mineral rich soups!

Kale? But why?!

The baby kale (or baby spinach if that is what you have) just adds more nutrients to the soup without changing the flavor. Baby kale/spinach is super mild and wilts right into hot soup – I add it to many of my soups because it is an easy way to get those dark green leafies in! It obviously changes the color, but its nice to add more nutrients without any fuss to the flavor. You can certainly leave this ingredient out if you don’t have it around, or if the kids are going to complain about the soup being “green” 🙂

The key to amazing flavor from the Instant Pot

Get those veggie basics down into some flavorful fat on the “saute” feature first. You’ll be so glad you did because the difference in flavor is very different than if you were to just toss everything in and go. Pulling the sweetness out of the carrot and onion builds the flavor in the soup which is why it is so tasty without a bunch of complex seasonings.

Chop and GO!

One of my favorite parts about soup purees, is that the veggie prep is really carefree. You don’t need a fine, perfect dice on your veggies. It all ends up getting pureed in the end, so just a quick, coarse chop will do.

Some for now, and some for later

This cauliflower and kale soup freezes great. This batch was eaten for lunch after our hike, I packed a serving away to have for my breakfast the next day, and I packed a quart away into the freezer for another time. That is probably the only true meal planning tip you’ll ever hear from my end! Whenever I make veggie soups, I always pack a quart away into the freezer for another time. I pack thermoses for the girls twice a week, and having soup in the freezer helps with that!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Instant Pot Cauliflower & Kale Soup

Ingredients

Instructions

INSTANT POT METHOD:

  • Turn the Instant Pot on, and press “Saute.”. Put the ghee into the pot to melt, and add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion and carrot on the “Saute” function for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and sweet.
  • Turn the saute feature off, add the cauliflower and bone broth, and put the Instant Pot lid on. Turn the valve to closed, and press the “Soup” button. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically turn on, taking about 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes of pressure cooking time.
  • When the Instant Pot is done pressure cooking, release the valve to let the pressure out, and take the lid off the Instant Pot. Add the coconut milk and baby kale, and use your immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste after you puree the soup.

STOVETOP METHOD:

  • Melt the ghee in a large soup pot, and add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt. Saute the veg until it is soft and sweet.
  • Add the cauliflower and bone broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is soft, and then turn the heat off.
  • Add the coconut milk and baby kale, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste after you puree the soup.

More real food recipes you might like ::

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20 Minute Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

December 29, 2018

Just 2 sheet pans and a super easy recipe for 20 minute sheet pan steak fajitas!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Fresh, new year menu!

True to my typical “Happy New Year” blogging style, we’re keeping things kid/family friendly, super delicious, and do-able for “real families in the real world.” I’ve got some great meal ideas for you to plug into your meal plan for the winter that will keep real food on the table, and everyone in the family happy.

A healthy menu that will STICK in the new year

Because really, if your new year healthy eating goals aren’t sustainable, they will be thrown out the window by January 27th – right?! Easy does it, and baby steps are always (always!) the way to go. Jumping onto the latest diet, or food trend bandwagon sometimes gets you a great kickstart. Go ahead and do a Whole30 if you need to break the sugar habit, or get some food elimination for a period of time on GAPS or Paleo if you need to do some gut healing. But BIG PICTURE, friends. It’s really just all about real food…

Real food that works for YOUR body

That is going to look different for everyone, but the main point here is…would your great-grandparents (or for some of us great-great-grandparents) have eaten it? If they did great. If they didn’t, I’m out for the most part. Simple real ingredients? YES! Mile long list of fake food-like ingredients? I’m out. It really can be that simple. Simple, real food eaten in a balanced way without over-doing one food group, item, or nutrient is always the way our ancestors would have eaten.

So let’s talk about fajitas!

And more specifically lets talk about SHEET PAN fajitas, because boy, oh boy will this blow your mind! We sure do love our Instant Pot for quick, healthy meals on busy days (you will be seeing a lot of those around the internet in the next few weeks!), but truth be told…sheet pan dinners are STILL my go-to on busy weeknights. You can’t beat oven roasted flavor (sorry Instant Pot!), and it doesn’t get much easier than throwing it all on a sheet pan.

The season blend…

The fajita season blend here is super easy to make, and very kid friendly in taste. On purpose! I love me some fajita heat, but if I made them as hot as my husband and I like it, the girls would be a no-go. So this blend is mild on the heat without skipping that amazing fajita flavor, and you can add more heat to your liking (or a squirt or 2 of sriracha to your personal fajita to spice it up!).

The key to juicy, tender grass-fed round steak…

It’s all in the marinade and the cook method. The marinade breaks that tissue down a little bit (you could also tenderize your meat if you want), not only adding a load of flavor, but also making it more tender to chew. And then a super quick, hot broil is the perfect way to lock the steak’s juices in without making it tough.

Serving options (and some wrap/tortilla ideas!)

Here are some of our favorite tortillas/wraps to rotate around!

But don’t just limit yourself to wraps. Sometimes I don’t have them in house, or we just want a change up, and the fajita steak and pepper filling tastes so good on top of a baked potato or sweet potato – in fact the sweet potato is on of my girls’ favorite serving methods.

Topping ideas!

  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Raw cow or goat cheese
  • Fresh chopped cilantro/parsley
  • Sour cream
  • Sriracha
  • Lime juice
Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

20 Minute Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

Ingredients

FAJITA SEASON BLEND

FOR THE STEAK/MARINADE

  • 1 lb grass-fed round steak or flank steak
  • 2 tbsp Fajita Season Blend from above
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime

FOR THE VEGGIES

  • 4 medium bell peppers, cored, de-ribbed, and cut into strips
  • 1/4 large head of cabbage, cut into strips
  • 1 medium/large purple onion, halved and cut into strips
  • 3 tbsp ghee, melted
  • The rest of the 1-ish tbsp Fajita Season Blend from above

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the Fajita Season Blend, and set aside.
  • Put the Steak/Marinade ingredients into a glass container with a lid (or a freezer bag), stir to combine, and set in the refrigerator to marinate at least 30 minutes, or up to a day. If you have a busy day, get the steak marinating before you leave for the morning, so it is ready to cook when you get home.
  • When you are ready to make the fajitas, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Toss the Veggie ingredients together on a large sheet pan, and then divide the veggies onto 2 large sheet pans so they are spread out well for roasting. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Take the veggies out of the oven, and combine the veggies onto ONE sheet tray, scooting them over to cover just half of the sheet tray. Put the marinated steak onto the other half of the sheet tray, and broil on HI for 4 minutes until the steak is cooked to your liking (this leaves just a slight pink in the middle. If you make thinner strips of steak than what is shown above, you will want to cut the broil time down by a minute or 2.)

More real food SHEET PAN meals you might like ::

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Gingerbread Granola :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

December 20, 2018

Gingerbread granola is perfect for your last minute gift giving, and a healthier “all holiday season long” breakfast!

Last minute momma…

Oh man, you guys. I am usually never the person to be “last minute” on gift giving, but this whole having 3 kids in school thing has made me…not as organized, ironically! I think I figure I have all this time during the day to get stuff done, and it gets pushed off to get work done, or clean the house, or…well you get the idea! This year I really did think that I had all of my gift set, and then remembered I hadn’t covered all of the teaching staff that our family so desperately loves! Once again, that whole all 3 kids in school thing…times a teacher and assistant in each class, plus office staff and the beloved specials teachers. These people are a part of my village and I love to take care of them!

A granola tradition

We’ve been jarring up granola for teachers for years – since my 4th grader was in preschool! It is such a simple gift that everyone will love. I always picture these hard working teachers sitting back with their coffee and a big blanket enjoying their first breakfast of the well deserved 2 week holiday break on us! We usually make this cranberry orange granola for Christmas, and this honey rhubarb granola for the end of the school year. It is always so loved, and the girls like making it.

Short on time!

Because those well loved recipes require soaking (read, time), and I was short on that commodity, I decided to use sprouted oats, so we could skip the soaking step (if you have regular oats, you can still make this too!). I also didn’t have cranberries or oranges on hand for the cranberry orange granola, and with a little one that had to stay home with an upset tummy, there was no store running on this day. I scanned through my cupboards and when I got to the spices, I hit the jackpot! Gingerbread flavor. No special store runs – I bet you have all of these ingredients right in your pantry! I also decided to forgo the dehydrator and just bake this granola. It went super fast, only taking just over 20 minutes to finish! I had the entire granola mixed, onto trays, and fully baked in a half hour.

Homemade gift giving

The kids can truly help make this granola from start to finish, and then scoop it all up into mason jars with a pretty ribbon for their teachers. It is so special to be able to let them say “I made this!” when they hand over those jars! Of course, this crazy momma did wait last minute and ended up making it for the girls, but I’ll be having them jar it up and write notes on the jars which is just as special. It is such a simple gift, and so many people get sweets and treats for these kind of gifts – it’s a nice change up to give them something with holiday flavors that can be used as an actual meal!

How to use your gingerbread granola

  • Top your breakfast or snacktime yogurt or coconut yogurt with it!
  • Pour raw milk or coconut milk over a bowl of your granola!
  • Mix it with coconut, nuts, and seeds to make a trailmix for holiday road trips!
  • Pack it up in lunchboxes or morning snack boxes throughout December for a fun Christmas snack throughout the season!

Sprouted versus regular oats

If you only have regular oats on hand, I’m totally going to tell you to use them (this is the Non-GMO brand of oats that I use). I would rather you make this with regular oats, then not make it at all and have to buy something for a gift at the store. If you have time to order, we love these sprouted oats, and I keep them on hand for times that I don’t have time to soak. Once isn’t going to be the end of the world not to soak, but over time it is a good idea to eat your oats soaked or sprouted for easiest digestion.

A note on the “sweet”

This granola is a bit sweeter than I typically make our “everday” granola. When I created this, I was keeping gift giving in mind, which a lot of the times means people that are not used to mildly sweetened foods. I made a second batch for my girls and backed off on the coconut sugar and maple syrup by half and it tastes really good still. Do not back off on the molasses – this is what gives the gingerbread flavor! If you have really little guys around the house that you will be making this for, I would consider backing off the sweet by a bit. As written, this granola totally tasted like a treat to my girls – ha! It is nice a sweet, and perfect for a sour/tart bowl of yogurt. Or to give as a gift to someone who is more used to sweet breakfast cereals.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

 

Another year has literally flown by, and I am so honored to continue to be able to write in this space, and share conversation with you all. Healthy and happy new year to you!

Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Gingerbread Granola :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

We've been jarring up granola for teachers for years - since my 4th grader was in preschool! It is such a simple gift that everyone will love.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free granola recipe, gluten-free granola, pecan granola
Servings: 20 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 1/2 cups oats I like to use sprouted oats for best digestion over time
  • 3 cups pecans coarsely chopped (you could use other nuts and/or seeds here.)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar regular organic sugar would work here too. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index and has a great warm flavor
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • Melt the coconut oil, maple syrup, and molasses in a small sauce pan. Turn off the heat, and add the vanilla extract.
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients (the dry ingredients) into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in the melted coconut oil/syrup/molasses, until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto 2 large baking sheets and bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Take the trays out, stir the granola, and then return to the oven. Bake for another 13 minutes. Take the trays out, stir the granola, and then let the granola cool completely. It will crisp up more as it cools. Store your granola in airtight containers up to a month in the pantry, or months in the fridge or freezer.

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Healthy Gluten Free Gingerbread Muffins :: A Perfect Christmas Morning Breakfast!

December 8, 2018

Healthy gingerbread muffins with warm gingerbread flavor and healthy ingredients, perfect for Christmas morning breakfast!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

The wonder of Christmas morning!

We take this picture every year, and I’m pretty sure I create a post surrounding this special time each year, and it just never gets old. They serious grow up before your eyes!

Let them play

I have talked about Christmas morning breakfasts often. Years back, I came to the realization that when you are in a season of these littles running around, having a quick, portable {not sugar-filled} breakfast for them to munch on while they play with a new toy is the key to happy kids with stable blood sugars. Sure, you can still make your fancy Christmas brunch later on that morning, but most kids need a little something when they wake up in the morning, and it is really hard to pull them away from the excitement surrounding the Christmas tree! We have created a number of handheld breakfast ideas for Christmas morning over the years – here are a few:

Easy pour blender batter – yes please!

Because as much as I know you want to have a special homemade breakfast out for the kids on Christmas morning, it is even more special if you get to sit in your favorite chair to watch them enjoy the special morning, or join them on the floor as they play with their new toy instead of being in the kitchen all morning. Kids spell love T-I-M-E, and you can enjoy special time making these easy muffins together, as well as enjoying the wonder of Christmas morning. In fact, my oldest (age 9 this holiday season), was able to make a batch of the muffins completely independently, so this would be a fun “night before” or morning of activity for your older kids to give them something to do too!

How to create a warm, gingerbread flavor that kids will love

Gingerbread can really be all over the board as far as “spiciness” or more of a mild, warm sweetness. I admit, that as an adult, I will totally go for a really spicy gingersnap and totally love it with my tea or coffee. Little kids might find it strong on their young palates though! I feel like I found a very happy medium between have a very apparent gingerbread flavor without being overpowering for little kids. I also love the warm sweetness that coconut sugar brings to the table pairing with the stronger molasses – these muffins are mildly sweet versus cupcake or cookie-like, which makes these gingerbread muffins perfect for a healthy breakfast.

Why soak the oats?

Soaking grains like oats in an acid medium (the yogurt in this recipe) reduces phytic acid in the grain. Over time, phytic acid can upset digestion, so it is a good idea to practice what our ancestors would have done with grains, and soak them. If you really don’t have the time, don’t sweat it. I would rather you make the recipe than not make it and buy store bough muffins instead. It only takes one minute to set up the soak the night before. If you happen to buy sprouted oats, you can skip the soaking process.

Tips for making a quick morning prep

Plan ahead just a little bit, and it can make the morning run even smoother.

  • The soaking actually helps you along! Part of the recipe is already done and in the blender!
  • Measure out all of the dry ingredients (nuts, flours, spices, etc) beforehand – the gingerbread spices are a pain, I know, but the flavor is SO worth it, so just measure them out the night before so you can just dump it all in.
  • Have your muffin pan lined and ready to go the night before too.
  • These muffins are freeze-able too! You can make them weeks ahead of time, and just pop them in the freezer until Christmas morning!

Special tip for working with molasses!

Here is my super special trick that will make your hands less of a sticky mess! You will be measuring out the oil in a ¼ cup measuring cup. This will line the measuring cup with slippery oil, and if you measure your molasses in that measuring cup, it will slide right out without having to touch it! Since you only need 2 tbsp of the molasses, you can fill the ¼ cup measure half way with the molasses which is the same as 2 tablespoons! You’re welcome!

Print Recipe
5 from 20 votes

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Muffins

Healthy gingerbread muffins with warm gingerbread flavor and healthy ingredients, perfect for Christmas morning breakfast!
Prep Time7 hrs
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time7 hrs 20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gingerbread muffins, gluten-free gingerbread muffin recipe
Servings: 12 muffins
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2/3 cup full fat coconut milk or whole milk if you tolerate dairy
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut yogurt or regular full fat yogurt if you tolerate dairy
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup avocado oil melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil will work here
  • ½ cup pecans walnuts or almonds should work here. If you are nut free I think pumpkin seeds would be nice – sunflower seeds would work too
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup grass-fed collagen I think the recipe will work without this if you don't have access
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar Organic pure cane sugar, maple sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup should work here. This amount leaves the muffins mildly sweet – if you have older kids used to sweeter things, you may want to add more.
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses older, adult palates might enjoy this bumped up by a tablespoon or 2 for a richer molasses taste - this is mild and kid friendly
  • 1 tsp almond extract if all you have is vanilla extract that is fine
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • If you want to soak your oats for digestion, 7-10 hours before you want to make the muffins (usually the night before), put the oats, coconut milk, and coconut yogurt into your blender and do a quick stir with a spoon to combine – doesn’t have to be perfect. Put the top on the blender and let the mixture soak overnight. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the oat grain making it easier on digestion over time. (If you don’t wish to soak your oats, you can just put all of the ingredients into the blender to combine.)
  • The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender, and blend to combine.
  • Pour the muffin batter into a silicone muffin cup or paper muffin cup lined muffin pan, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan 5 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Mashed Acorn Squash and Parsnips :: Oven Roasted or Instant Pot Method

November 14, 2018

Mashed acorn squash and parsnips is a sweet, rustic, healthy change up to your dinner side dish menu plan!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Simple & Sweet

Sometimes the best things come in the simplest of packages. One of the things I love the most about this space I am so blessed to get to write in every week, is opening messages from…you. This week I got the sweetest message from a new momma, that was not unlike so many other messages I get on a daily basis. That whole…“how in the world do I get this thing done?!” question. I felt an urge to hop on my IG Stories and chat about baby season, and it was really nostalgic to look back on those blur of a days that infant season brought to my life. One of my answers to the “how do you get it done” question is…keep it simple and sweet dear momma. 

Back to the basics…

Because sometimes as a blogger, I get caught up in needing to post the next fun dessert, or fancy food prep that will draw eyes to the blog, when really what I know you all need is real life. That is why I am here in the first place – when I was a brand new momma I didn’t have very many places to turn for real life recipes. I didn’t want another momma to have to figure this thing out on her own, and that is one of the drives behind this writing space. So here I sit, writing to you about simple split pea soup, the basics for how to roast a whole chicken, and then make a simple chicken stew out of the leftovers…and how to take budget friendly in season veggies and turn them into a nourishing side dish that the whole family will love.

Team Oven Roast or Team Instant Pot???

Believe it or not, when my babies were babies, I didn’t own an Instant Pot! I didn’t have one until I was well out of the baby years – it’s only been about 3 years since my Instant Pot became a staple on my counter. While the Instant Pot has revolutionized my kitchen routine, the oven does tend to draw me in during these cold winter months. There is just something about the flavor that embeds into those veggies when you roast them in an oven. Don’t get me wrong – I still totally make this side dish in the Instant Pot if I’m making it on a whim and haven’t the time for the oven roasting, but this sweet and earthy veggie mash has it’s roots in my babyhood season of life…and during those years, it was all done in the oven.

Sooo…what does it taste like?

I think both parsnips and acorn squash are overlooked a lot during the fall and winter, getting passed up for the more popular butternut squashes and carrots or sweet potatoes. But let me tell you about these great veggies! Not only are both acorn squash and parsnips loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and an array of other nutrients, they have really mild kid friendly flavors. Acorn squash is sweet and buttery, and when you cook parsnips they become like a sweet carrot. The added roasted onion and hint of that little clove of garlic really take the mashed veggies to another level.

What do I serve mashed acorn squash and parsnips with?

My babies ate it as is! It makes a great first foods start (you can leave the onion and garlic out if your baby is just starting food but my babies over 7-8 months old were eating all of this). But really your mashed acorn squash and parsnips will go alongside just about any dinner. Here are some meal ideas to serve it along with:

Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Roasted Acorn Squash and Parsnip Mash

Mashed acorn squash and parsnips is a sweet, rustic, healthy change up to your dinner side dish menu plan!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: mashed parsnip, roasted acorn squash
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 1 medium acorn squash or 2 small acorn squashes quartered and seeds scooped out
  • 2 medium parsnips peeled and quartered
  • ¼ medium/large sweet onion
  • 1 clove of garlic don’t peel it if you are doing the Roasting Method
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

ROASTING METHOD ::

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Toss the squash, parsnips, onion, and garlic onto a baking sheet with the olive oil and a big pinch of sea salt. Bake the veggies at 425 degrees for 45 minutes until everything is soft.
  • Peel the garlic, and scoop the squash out of the shell, and then put all of the roasted veggies into your blender or food processor with the butter. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and add that to your liking.

INSTANT POT METHOD ::

  • Fill your IP with 1 cup of water and place a steamer basket inside. Put the squash, parsnips, onion, and peeled garlic into the IP on top of the steamer basket.
  • Put the lid on, close the valve, and turn the IP on to “Manual.” Bring the time down to 15 minutes. The IP will start automatically. Once the IP comes to pressure, the 15 minutes will count down.
  • When the veggies are done pressure cooking, turn the IP off, release the pressure, and transfer the veggies to your food processor. Make sure to scoop the squash out of the shell. Add the butter to the food processor, and blend until smooth. Sea salt and pepper the veg to your taste.

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Healthy Instant Pot Split Pea Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!

November 10, 2018

The humble, pantry staple split pea made into a delicious, healthy split pea soup using your Instant Pot OR stovetop!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Purposely slowing it all down…

I woke up a week or so ago with the thought that we are almost through fall, and I didn’t even realize it! So we are slowing it down, taking more off the schedule, and making more time for spending with family outdoors before that cold snow hits!

A kid soup favorite

Part of me slowing down has been to ask the girls some of their favorite fall and winter foods that we want to be sure to include in our meal plans over the next few months. We all want those most looked forward too meals, and the girls were excited to collaborate on a few favorites. Of course indulgent lasagna, Thanksgiving meal staples, casserole, biscuits, and hot cocoa were all on the list. But want surprised me was some of the simpler foods that my kids looked at as “comfort foods” in their eyes – like this split pea soup. They’ve been eating this exact recipe for split pea soup since they were toddlers! It took me a bit to figure out the exact timing for making it in the Instant Pot, loosely following the IP instruction manual time table for different legumes, but I’ve got it how I like it now, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

A soup (and pantry!) staple

The humble split pea. It is almost always on my pantry shelf, for a myriad of reasons! I first learned about peas/dried peas in the very first real food cookbook that I bought, “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. So much of the traditional food preparation that I do even today stems from what I learned in this priceless book! At a dollar a pound, dried peas are really one of the most cost-effective ways to feed my family in balance with other nutrient dense food staples. Peas, along with many other legumes are also a great “perfect food” balance of slow burning carbohydrates for energy, and protein. While we are not an exclusively plant-based diet family, properly prepared legumes like peas help me balance meals – because most people don’t need to be eating meat for their only source of protein all day long. And one of the biggest reasons dried peas are almost always found in my pantry is because my kiddos adore them! I purchase split peas in the bulk section of our local health food store. Check around where you shop, or local food co-ops. You can also find them on Amazon.

Pea Powerhouse!

Peas are more than just their fiber – which is a fantastic nutrient benefit by the way! They are also packed with protein, three different B vitamins, and essential minerals that our organs depend on to function together the way they were meant to. We already talked about how the combination of slow burning carbohydrate energy and protein makes peas a great balanced food, so the added bonus of these nutrients is fantastic!

Split Pea Soup

Typically, split pea soup is flavored with a ham hock and/or chopped ham. It is really rare for me to have pastured ham around other than Easter, so over the years I have perfected that smoky pork flavor that infuses split pea soup with so much amazing taste with a couple secret ingredients. Using smoked paprika works so well, and it is a cost-effective staple that most people have in their pantry. If we happen to have a little bacon grease leftover from weekend breakfasts, a small spoonful of that into the cooking fat also adds smoky pork flavor. The flavor also comes from cooking the veggies the right way……

Instant Pot Pro Tip…SLOW DOWN…

Seems a contradiction, eh?! I know it, you bought the Instant Pot so you could make meals…instantly! But if there is one thing this stovetop soup lover has learned, it is that if I want that amazing flavor that so many veggies have to offer…I’ve gotta slow down and let that saute do it’s magic. Don’t skip that step. Get your veggie basics down in the pot with some flavorful fat – I promise it is worth the 10 minute wait. The flavor is a night and day difference.

To blend or not to blend?

That is all up to you! Pictured in this post is the more traditional way of serving split pea soup – un-blended. The little bits of peas and carrots are so fun and colorful. Truth be told, because I served this soup to my little ones as toddlers and tended to blend it up completely so it was easier for them to serve themselves with a straw, all 3 of my kids prefer the soup totally blended. It transforms into this super velvety bowl of soup – the texture is amazing.

Soaking/Sprouting Tips

Since split peas are technically a “legume,” we know that soaking will help reduce the phytic acid in the split peas, making them easier on digestion. You’ll notice around the 10 hour mark of soaking that the peas will have the start of a little sprouted “tail.” Sprouting these little “tails” in legumes allows the nutrients in the bean more readily available to absorb. Dried peas are very easy to sprout because they naturally “split” during the drying, but you can certainly just do the minimum 6 hour soak if that is what you have time for (I end up in this boat more often than not!). Soak for at least 6 hours and no more than 12. You can approach the soaking a couple different ways (it truly just depends on how your schedule works – there is no one right way!) ::

  • Get the peas soaking first thing in the morning when you wake up to make the soup around dinnertime.
  • Or soak them overnight to make the soup in the morning/early afternoon.

Tips for making split pea soup stove top

You can definitely make this soup stovetop, and I did for years – literally the girls’ entire babyhood! I didn’t have an Instant Pot until my youngest was 2! The absolutely lovely part about making this recipe stovetop, is that you can totally double it up into a large stock pot. In fact, this recipe that I have been using in my kitchen for years is halved to fit into my Instant Pot. I made and froze batches of the large batch for years. Simply follow the same sautéing instructions in the recipe, and then when you get to the bone broth part, just pull your heat up to make the soup simmer until the split peas are cooked through. It will take about 45 minutes to simmer stove top.

Freezer Friendly

Cook once, eat multiple times, dear momma! This batch typically feeds my family of 5 for two to three lunches. It freezes up great. As mentioned in the above paragraph, you can double this into your stockpot and cook it stovetop if you want more leftovers. If you have a larger Instant Pot (I have the 6 quart IP), you may be able to get away with a double. I’m not sure if the IP pressure cooking time changes with it doubling into the 8 quart pot – if you do happen to try it, let us know!

Print Recipe
5 from 21 votes

Healthy Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

The humble, pantry staple split pea made into a delicious, healthy split pea soup using your Instant Pot OR stovetop!
Prep Time6 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time6 hrs 30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant Pot split pea soup, pressure cooker split pea soup, split pea soup recipe
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 1 lb split peas this is about 1 ½ cups of dried split peas if you buy in bulk
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter plus 1 tbsp leftover bacon grease for sauteing you can use all ghee or butter if you don’t have the bacon grease – the bacon grease gives a lovely flavor and hint of smoky pork
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2-3 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks of celery diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth less if you want your soup very thick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Six to 12 hours before you want to make the soup, soak the split peas. Soaking helps reduces the phytic acid in the legume, making them easier on digestion. You’ll notice around the 10 hour mark that the peas will have the start of a little sprouted “tail.” Sprouting legumes allows the nutrients in the bean more readily available to absorb. Soak for at least 6 hours and no more than 12.
  • When you are ready to make the soup, turn your Instant Pot on to “Saute,” melt the cooking fat (ghee and bacon grease), and add the onion, carrots, and celery with a big pinch sea salt. Saute for about 10 minutes until the veggies are very soft and sweet. Slow down and don’t skip this step! This is flavor!
  • Add the garlic and smoked paprika and Saute for 1 minute, then turn the Instant Pot to “Off/Cancel.”
  • Drain and rinse your soaked split peas, add them into the Instant Pot along with the bone broth and bay leaf, and stir to combine.
  • Put the lid on your Instant Pot, turn the valve to closed, turn your Instant Pot on to “Soup,” and bring time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes. When the timer beeps that the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is done, turn the Instant Pot off, and leave the Instant Pot alone for 5 minutes. This naturally will let some of the pressure in the Instant Pot release and finishes the cooking process without overcooking the split peas. Release the rest of the pressure after 5 minutes, and take the lid off the Instant Pot. Remove the bay leaf.
  • Scoop out 2-3 cups of the soup to a small mixing bowl, and blend with an immersion blender (you could use a regular blender), and then return the blended portion of soup back into the pot with the rest of the soup (it makes the broth nice and creamy!). Stir to combine, and sea salt/pepper your soup to your taste. The split pea soup will thicken a bit more as the soup cools since the peas continue to absorb liquid. You could alternatively blend the entire soup – my toddlers enjoyed using a stainless steel straw to drink their soup this way!
  • Drizzle olive oil and/or splash raw cream or coconut cream into each bowl of split pea soup to garnish if you wish.

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4 School Lunches With Veggie Variety PLUS Tips For Avoiding Lunchbox Packing Burn-Out

October 25, 2018

Pack school lunches full of veggie variety with the greatest of ease, and learn how to avoid lunchbox burn-out!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

October school lunch burnout…

If there is anything I have learned 3 kids into this school thing, it’s that lunchbox burnout is totally a thing. We are exactly 2 months into school, and I am already getting messages, emails, and questions about how to get into a school lunch rhythm, how to get variety into lunchboxes, and why, oh why do we have to do this 5 days a week?! You guys, I completely get it. I have been there.

Wait…what?!

Yep, the food blogger that literally makes her living off of blogging about feeding kids healthy and Instagram’s daily school lunch posts (#rgnschoollunch) has struggled with school lunch packing burnout. Because there really is a human, normal, everyday mom behind this screen, and it is completely normal to feel the burnout. <—- Please read that part again. Don’t give up on it all and beat yourself up, because lunchbox burnout is a very real thing, and I can’t wait to give you some seasoned momma tips on how to avoid it for as long as possible.

A framework, a rhythm, and a flow

I recently recorded a podcast with my friend Kristin from Live Simply. At the beginning of the interview, I remember telling Kristin how google eyed I always am at her meal planning posts, because I have simply “never been a meal planner.” As it turns out, we discovered that there is definitely a “framework” to how meals flow at my house – it just might not all be down on paper in a pretty planner. I really do think that having this rhythm and flow to how I pack school lunches is how I have been able to avoid the burnout. A framework takes the thinking out of packing – you just follow the pattern!

What exactly is a framework?

I love the idea of calling this meal planning style a framework because it leaves plenty of wiggle room for variety. And that matters for multiple reasons. Not only does variety help save your budget by allowing you to buy whatever produce is in season and on sale depending on the time of year, variety also allows us to get a good diversity of nutrients into our ever-growing kids’ bodies. So for instance, if you follow my #rgnschoollunch tag over on Instagram, you’ll notice a rhythm to Monday’s. I almost always use leftover GF waffles from weekend breakfast to make sandwiches, and then the fruit and vegetable are constantly changing. Seriously momma, it is that simple. Don’t complicate this thing – it is one of my secrets to NOT burning out. So that veggie might be a salad, or veggie sticks with dip, or whatever roasted veggies were left-over from dinner that night – there is so much wiggle room depending on what vegetables are in season and on sale.

So let’s zero in on the veggies

I’m all about baby steps, so let’s take this one thing at a time. Since all things vegetable is one of the most commonly asked about lunchbox questions I get, I thought we could focus on that. How do we get the variety in and how much do I pack? 


4 School Lunches With Veggie Variety!


THIS, dear momma, is seriously where it’s at. Cook once, eat twice. Dinner leftovers aren’t just for the main meal or thermoses like spaghetti. You are absolutely allowed to take your kiddo’s regular PBJ lunch and add dinner veggie sides to it! Kids LOVE roasted veggies – and who wouldn’t?! Roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness, and it is so easy to eat. Veggie “mashes” also work so great. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are only the tipping point! You can get squash mashes in there or even roasted root veggie mashes blended with carrots, potatoes, and a little green.

  • Veteran Momma Tip #1 :: YES, my kids eat this stuff cold. If your kiddo won’t have anything to do with that, you might need to use a thermos. If you happen to be reading this post, and you have younger children (babies and toddlers), I encourage you to start NOW. Train their palates to be cool with leftovers at room temp, and I promise the lunchbox packing years will be so much easier.
  • Veteran Momma Tip #2 :: Make more veggies than what you really need for dinner to ensure you have those leftovers. If you usually make one sheet tray of veg, make 2! You already have the oven on anyway, you might as well work ahead. You can fill up lunchboxes, and also use the leftover veg for your own breakfasts or lunches.

There is so much you can do to change up a salad. The veggie toppings can change weekly, and you can add in extras like crush nuts or seeds, dried fruit, cheese, or hard boiled eggs to make them fun and interesting.

  • Veteran Momma Tip :: Because younger children typically take a longer time to manage eating a salad, it is important to realize that salads are sometimes better suited for kiddos past Kindergarten/1st grade. In these cases, just “de-construct” the salad. Put the different components of the salad in to the lunchbox and add some dip. Not having to manage a fork to work at a salad helps with time management, because at school they don’t necessarily have an hour to eat. Leave the salad eating practice for dinner time at home for your little guys, and just make it easier to eat in their lunchbox.
  • Veteran Momma Tip #2 :: You do not (I repeat, you do NOT) need to go overboard making veggies into fancy shapes and patterns (unless that is your thing of course!). But you CAN make the veggies more interesting and even more easy to eat by using things like a julienne peeler to make strips of carrot versus sticks. They are easier to eat that way for some kids. Or, cut disks/coins of carrots and cucumbers for easy dip scooping.

Peas and little mixed frozen veggie bags from the freezer section, dear momma! They are a finger food snacktime lifesaver as babies and toddlers, and they are a lunchbox lifesaver for school aged kids! I get the big bags of frozen organic peas and mixed veggies at Costco. You can put them in frozen and they thaw by lunchtime!

  • Veteran Momma Tip :: If your kids prefer some butter/seasoning on their veggies, simply warm them up in a pan real quick to coat them with butter and sea salt and then pack them in. One of my girls prefers them this way, so I take the extra minute to do that and lunchboxes come home empty. The extra fat consumption and minerals from the sea salt is a bonus too!

Because seriously how fun is that?! You can make a fry out of lots of different kinds of veggies – white potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, yucca, carrots, parsnips…the list is endless!

  • Veteran Momma Tip #1 :: Make a sheet tray of fries to go with dinner, and while you are at it just add in a second sheet tray so you have enough for lunchboxes. Cook once, eat twice.
  • Veteran Momma Tip #2 :: There is something about crinkle cut fries that literally make kids think they hit the jackpot! Just get a little crinkle cutter and watch how fast the veggie fries go!
  • Veteran Momma Tip #3 :: A little ketchup never hurt anyone 😉 If it means they will get the veggie fries in, I say go for it. My kids don’t necessarily need it, but I do like to play the fun mom every once and a while and pack some ketchup along.

 

Originally, this post was supposed to be cold lunch/bento box style lunch focused, because I know not everyone uses thermoses. I just couldn’t leave this idea out though. One of the ways I really love packing the veggies into kids is using soup. Soup purees to be exact. The added bone broth is extra protein and nourishment – it’s truly win-win. THIS is the thermos I’m using!

  • Veteran Momma Tip #1 :: Stainless steel straws are your friend! The make the soup less messy, faster to eat, and much easier to eat, so the kids are more likely to get it all down.
  • Veteran Momma Tip #2 :: Cook once, eat multiple times. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but utilize this! Make a big pot of broccoli soup, squash soup, or tomato soup for dinner, and then scoop the leftovers into thermoses for lunch the next day.

How many veggies should I pack?

This is literally going to depend on each and every individual child. It is definitely not going to look the same even within the same family. Here are some things to consider::

  • If your child is not really into veggies, focus on veggie eating at breakfast and dinner at home. You want your child to be full and focused at school, and if you pack it full of veg they probably won’t eat, you are risking them going all afternoon without fuel.
  • If you have a younger child (1st grade and under I would say), consider how long raw veggies take for your child to eat. Specifically salads which take some coordination with a fork and extra time to chew, sometimes these veggie meals are best kept for dinner time at home to practice. Roasted/steamed veg or just veggie sticks are easier to manage for little guys.
  • Another thought on the very little guys that are in their first or second year of school. Their brains are literally on overload. A school day is a lot to take in. If they have never eaten at a daycare as a baby/toddler, eating at school with a bunch of their peers is so different. It is exciting! And they are going to be slower to eat. The star of their lunch should not be veggies – make sure there are enough filling items in their lunchbox so they can fill up as much as possible before their afternoon begins.
  • Consider the time your school allows the children to eat. Unfortunately, the 25ish minutes my girls have to eat is probably not the norm – I hear of schools that only allow 15 minutes. Consider this, and save larger portions of veggies for dinner time – you want to make sure what they do have time to eat is going to fuel them for their afternoon.

Packing gear in this post

We’ve been using our Planetbox’s since my 4th grader was in Kindergarten! They still look like brand new, and they are so easy to pack and wash up. Make sure to check out the accessories tab for the “Pods” that you can use to separate compartments, the leakproof “Dippers” for their condiments (each Planetbox comes with one of these), and the leakproof bowls for drippy food (each Planetbox comes with one of these). Also pictured in the “bonus” number 5 lunch idea is the gear I use for soup days. It all fits right into the Planetbox bag too. I use the Lunchbots brand 8oz thermos and have the Trio and Duo Lunchbots trays.

Salad Dressing & Veggie Dip Recipes for all those veggies!

Hey, listen, if the vitamins in our veggies are “fat soluble,” we might as well pair them with delicious fat based dips to allow those vitamins to absorb. Let the kids pick what they love and dip away!

School Lunch Packing Resources ::

  • If you are a paper and pen sort of a person, you MUST check out Kristin’s Simplified School Lunch Kit over on her blog – absolutely invaluable for new school lunch packers and visual learners!
  • Here is my Lunch Gear Resource Guide if you  want to learn more about the lunch gear I use and why.
  • Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the real food podcast recorded with Live Simply – there are so many tips and real life examples from my own home menu, including lunchboxes.

 

 

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Gluten Free Mini Pumpkin Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

October 16, 2018

Gluten free mini pumpkin muffins made just right for little hands and big imaginations!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Playing dress-up, and a little story about Princess Pumpkin Muffins…

So it all started a couple weekends ago when my oldest ventured off to the store with Daddy to get started on a school project, and my littles were left home to play. These two in particular have the wildest imaginations, and when left to themselves, their stories would captivate just about any crowd! They were both curious about the muffins I was making that morning, but were torn between the princess story they were playing out, and seeing if they could stick around to help long enough to lick the bowl clean…{which, as you can see, they did, in fact, accomplish!}

Teaching a princess to bake

Because why wouldn’t you want to bake in your best gown?! I invited the girls up to the counter, gowns and all, to help me make some pumpkin muffins. They were full captivated, and with each little giggle, egg crack, and sprinkle of cinnamon, I was convinced that baking in a princess gown is definitely something that everyone must try!

Princess Pumpkin Muffins?!

Well, that is what the girls claimed they shall be called, as they sprinkled the “sparkles” {coconut sugar}, over the tops of the muffins! We’ll label them just pumpkin muffins for the sake of the blogging SEO gods, least I never get seen by the mighty interwebs…but by all means, these special little muffins are most certainly fit for the mightiest of princesses and totally deserve the title “Princess Pumpkin Muffins.”

A mini muffin favorite…revisited!

As you can see in the above photos, my original plan was “regular” sized muffins. After a couple batches, I decided to make these muffins “mini” in honor of my mini-est little princess since she just adores muffins that fit right in her little hand. For those of you who have been around here long enough, you know that the girls love taking the Paleo Mini Banana Muffins to school – a lot! (See my hashtag #rgnschoollunch to see how we pack them!). Since banana and pumpkin behave similarly in baking, I decided to use that framework for these muffins, and the results were simply delicious.

A batter fit for a bowl or blender!

I just LOVE that this batter can be blended up right in a blender or food processor. I pulled a bowl and hand mixer out for my littles when they were making their batch, mostly because it gave them more space to spread out – and what little one doesn’t love using a hand mixer!? But absolutely, dear momma, utilize your blender or food processor to whip that batter up super fast on a busy morning or prep day – it goes so fast.

Simple ingredients for little attentions spans

This recipe is simple enough for the littles to stick around from start to finish. That feeling of making a recipe from the first egg crack to the last sprinkle is priceless – and these 2 were so excited to serve “their” muffins to their big sister for lunch when she got home! I’m even letting you go ahead and use that can of pumpkin to save on some time, unless you make your own pumpkin purees! For these muffins, the can definitely works. I also think that cinnamon suits little ones’ palates over the whole pumpkin pie spice deal (at least in my household that is the preference) – cinnamon is warm and sweet and makes the muffins really delicious – if you are a pumpkin pie spice fan, though, by all means use that!

Ingredient tips

  • If you don’t have access to coconut sugar, raw honey or pure maple syrup are a fine substitute for the sweet. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index, and the warm sweetness goes really well with pumpkin which is why I love using it for this recipe.
  • If you make your own pumpkin purees, go for it! Canned pumpkin works just as good, and is a time saver for how I run my kitchen, so I chose to use that. Since the recipe doubles up so well, you can double the recipe to use up the can of pumpkin, or use the rest of your canned pumpkin puree for pumpkin raisin breakfast cookies, or pumpkin spice latte (which, let’s face it, you are totally making that latte 😉 )
  • I have not tried other flour options for this recipe. With the right combination and ratios, this could be done with other gluten free flours though, I’m sure. They are already grain, gluten, nut, and dairy free so that covers a lot of bases!

Equipment and freezer tips

I am pretty convinced that every house with little kids ought have a large mini muffin sheet pan! I have gotten so much use out of this pan in the last couple years, and my only regret is not having it around when I walked through years and years of toddlerhood. I use this safe avocado oil spray to grease it down super fast and easy, though you can use mini muffin paper liners if you wish. The mini pumpkin muffins freeze up fantastic. Simply let the muffins cool down all the way, and then pop them into a freezer bag. You can take them out to warm in the oven for breakfast, or pop them into lunchboxes completely frozen, and they will thaw by lunchtime.

Print Recipe
5 from 19 votes

Gluten-Free Mini Pumpkin Muffins

Gluten-free mini pumpkin muffins made just right for little hands and big imaginations!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time13 mins
Total Time18 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free muffin recipe, dairy-free pumpkin muffins, gluten-free pumpkin muffins
Servings: 24 mini muffins
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, and spray a mini muffin pan with avocado oil spray.

  • Put the eggs, pumpkin, oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla into your food processor or blender, and blend for 1 minute until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and blend to combine until smooth.
  • Scoop the batter into a mini muffin pan, and bake the mini muffins at 375 degrees for 13 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let the mini muffins cool for a couple minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack. The muffins hold up really nice and are ready to eat in a just a few minutes of cooling! To freeze the muffins, let them cool completely and then toss them in a freezer bag to freeze.

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Kid Friendly Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

October 3, 2018

Warm up this fall with this savory and sweet velvety roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

I’m just going to cut right to chase today…

This soup doesn’t need much of an intro. It’s chilly in Michigan. Tank tops and flip flops have been traded for hoodies and baked oatmeal {notice I haven’t traded my flip flops yet? Yeah, that’s a Michigan thing 😉}, and I’m all about the warm veggie soups for just about any meal of the day.

Holding out on turning the heat on…

It’s a Midwest thing, just like those flip flops we refuse to give up until snow is tickling our toes, and the only way I can get away with it, is by keeping my oven running. This beach bum isn’t as hardcore Midwest as most who hold out on turning the heat on until November, but I can get away with getting through the first week or so of October. Especially when I can get my oven going for an hour to roast some yummy squash and sweet potatoes, and warm the house up at the same time!

Two birds, one stone

The oven not only kicks the warmth up in a chilly house for a while, it also makes the most amazing flavor come out of just about any vegetable. Just oil up the flesh of your squash and sweet potatoes and lay them flesh down – they will get a gorgeous caramel color and flavor that will add an amazing warmth to your soup. Add in a pinch of cayenne and a hint of maple syrup and everyone will be wondering just what all that great flavor is coming from!

Kid favorites packed with healing bone broth!

It’s no secret that squashes and sweet potatoes are some of the most kid friendly vegetables around. The sweet taste and smooth texture is pleasant for just about any kid, and when you fix those veggies into soup form, you can also pack a gut healing bone broth punch to your little guy’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Soup for breakfast?!

Yes, absolutely! If you have followed my Instagram for any length of time, you know that soup purees like this are in my breakfast bowl many days of the week. (Check out my hashtag #RGNMorningMommaFuel to see!) It is an easy way for me to get veggie minerals in, and it tastes amazing with an apple muffin and side of eggs. The girls most often take theirs along in a thermos for lunch at school, but as babies and toddlers they ate soup for breakfast many days of the week. It was an easy way for me to get food into myself and baby, and those little guys don’t know any better than soup might not be considered a “breakfast food!”

Freezer friendly

Absolutely grab onto those great fall farmer’s market and grocery store deals on your in season acorn squash and sweet potatoes and get your freezer stocked up! It is so nice to be able to pull out a quart of soup on a busy day where there isn’t time for cooking. The soup just needs to be cooled to room temp before you put them in freezer safe containers, and you can stash them away!

Babies, Toddlers, and Lunchbox Thermos Tips

Your babies and toddlers will adore this soup. Use a spoon, or try a short, wide smoothie straw for them to drink it right up. Straws were a favorite way for my littles to drink soup so they could do it all by themselves. Pack school aged kids yummy soup in a thermos along with an apple muffin with butter, a chicken wrap, or some crackers! It makes for a great lunchbox change up, and can be packed this way for daycare too.

Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

Kid Friendly Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Warm up this fall with this savory and sweet velvety roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup!
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: acorn squash and sweet potato soup recipe, acorn squash soup, sweet potato soup
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 2 medium acorn squashes halved and seeds scooped out
  • 4 small sweet potatoes halved lengthwise
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil or butter divided
  • 1 medium/large onion chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne or to taste if you like heat
  • 1 1/2 - 2 quarts bone broth depending on how thick/thin you prefer your soup
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish with coconut milk/yogurt or sour cream and a drizzle of olive oil

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spread olive oil over the flesh of your acorn squash halves and sweet potato halves, and then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place the squash and sweet potatoes flesh side down on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
  • You can start the rest of the soup when take the squash and sweet potatoes out of the oven so they are cooling while you work – you’ll want the squash cooled so you can handle it to scoop the flesh out.
  • In a large soup pot, add 2-3 tbsp of butter and the onion with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the thyme, broth, and roasted squash and sweet potatoes, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and blend the soup with an immersion blender, or pour it into a regular blender to puree. Garnish each bowl with a splash of coconut milk or dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

September 29, 2018

Preserve your apples, and send the kids off to school with healthy gluten free apple cinnamon breakfast muffins!

My toughest transition….

Apple season is just about one of the only ways you can drag me kicking and screaming out summer and into the autumn equinox. I know some of you live for all your pumpkin spice, wool mittens, and cozy blankets, but this beach bum has a hard time saying good bye to her flip flops and hello to fuzzy boots. Last weekend we celebrated the autumn equinox with our first apple picking of the season, and we couldn’t have asked for better fall apple picking weather, or any better of a farm experience!

A new organic apple farm favorite!

We were lucky enough to get a chance to visit Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery, a “new to us” organic apple farm, one their first day of their apple picking season. There trees were simply gorgeous boasting a variety of apples to choose from, including Ida Reds and Jonagolds, which is what we picked! There were buckets of bruised or dropped apples near their goats and horses that the girls had a riot feeding to the animals. It was such a fun day trip, and felt so good to show the girls the importance of supporting farmers that care for their plants and land in a way that is sustainable and safe.

A bushel of fun!

We brought home a bushel of apples, and my goodness have we had some fun with our apples this week! I did end up making some apple baked oatmeal right off the bat, and then the girls and I settled in at my Instant Pot to pump out quart after quart of delicious “Kid Prep” applesauce for the freezer. When I was down to my last 5 pounds of apples, I decided to create a new muffin for school mornings, and we are so in love with these fluffy, delicious apple cinnamon muffins.

High muffin standards…

Because if I’m going to be sending my girls off to school fueled on a muffin, they are going to have to make it through my checklist! Our household has to be gluten free, but I also want the ingredients “count.” Which means I want balanced macro-nutrients in the muffin. These muffins have a great balance of protein, satiating friendly fat, and energy fueling good carbohydrates. They also happen to taste and feel amazing, which is also on my checklist, because that does matter!

How to make these work on a school morning!

  • Get all of the dry ingredients into a small bowl so you can dump them into the wet ingredients super quick in the morning.
  • Have the muffin tin ready to go the night before. Line the muffin tin with either silicone muffin cups or unbleached paper liners.
  • You can measure out the oil and coconut sugar right into the mixing bowl the night before as well. Then, in the morning, all you have to do is add the eggs to beat, and all the rest of the ingredients go in after that while the oven is pre-heating.
  • Use an apple cutter and your food processor to make the apples easy to manage. It literally takes less than a minute to cut 2-3 apples with your apple cutter, and then just buzz them up in the processor quick instead of hand chopping to save time.

Freezer friendly?

Yes! That actually happens to be one of my criteria for a “keeper” on my muffin list. If I can stick the leftover muffins in the freezer, or make a double batch to stock up my freezer and preserve the apples, then I’m totally in! And these muffins definitely fill that need. Having freezer muffins make for easy grab and go school morning breakfast or lunchbox additions.

A note on ingredients and swaps

Please know that it is impossible for me to test out every possible ingredient swap. I noted some alternative swaps in the recipe. Any unanswered questions you can drop comments at the bottom of this post, and I will try my best to help!

Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

Preserve your apples, and send the kids off to school with healthy gluten-free apple cinnamon breakfast muffins!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free apple muffin recipe, gluten-free apple muffins, gluten-free muffin recipe
Servings: 12 muffins
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs I haven’t tried egg free, but I would imagine flax eggs or applesauce “eggs” would work – the muffins will probably not puff up as much but they would still taste great.
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar Raw honey or pure maple syrup would work too. If you have older kids used to sweeter things, I would bump this up to ½ cup. As is these muffins have a mild sweetness, perfect for a healthy breakfast muffin for little ones.
  • ¼ cup olive oil or melted coconut oil or butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut milk or raw milk/yogurt if you tolerate dairy
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour If you are nut free, you could try more cassava flour
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups chopped apples it ended up being 2-3 small apples for me – I just buzz them up in the food processor quick for the chop

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with silicone muffin cups or unbleached paper cups.
  • Beat the eggs, coconut sugar, and olive oil for 1 minute until frothy.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, blend to combine, and then fold in the apples.
  • Scoop the muffin batter into your lined muffin tin (recipe makes 12 large muffins), and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean if they are done. Let the muffins cool 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. To store leftovers in the freezer, let the muffins cool completely, wrap them up in plastic or beeswax wrap, and then into a freezer bag.

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Kid Prep Instant Pot No Peel Applesauce! :: Let Them Make It Start To Finish!

September 29, 2018

Give them ownership over a kitchen project with Instant Pot no peel applesauce! Let the kids make it start to finish!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Still making time for it…

A little real food blogger confession. As the girls have been getting older, I’ve been less likely to invite them into the kitchen to work with me. Shocking, right? The real food blogger that literally shoves it into your face the importance of getting your kids into the kitchen with you, struggles with making time for it now that the littles aren’t so little anymore? Well, when those babes are super little, they are constantly needing you, hanging on you, and forever by your side, so inviting them up to the counter to help is really survival mode many days, yes?! {And all the toddler mommas are nodding their heads!} Now that the girls are older, more independent, and off doing their own thing a lot, I really have to make a conscious effort to make them a part of what I’m doing in the kitchen.

A big job, made into a family project

So I also must confess that I was somewhat dreading apple season. I knew we wanted to go picking – it is the highlight of the fall me to watch them, and the girls love it. But man, oh man, the food prep that goes along with picking a bushel or 2 of apples! It is a lot of work! Older kiddos also mean less time at home, busier schedules outside the home, and the desire on their part to do more adventuring outside the home. Catch the theme? Less home time, means mom gets stuck doing all the kitchen work tending to the apples, and I decided on a plan to get through the apples and maintain my sanity! Make them a part of it! So off we went apple picking…!

A one day job!

What used to take me a full week to get through with a bushel of apples and applesauce on my mind, now just takes a day thanks to the Instant Pot. We started making applesauce in the IP last year, and I’ll literally never go back! It still locks in all the nutrients in the apple, and gets the job done in a fraction of the time. Remember that whole, away from home, busy schedule thing? This definitely is right up my alley right now!

So kid friendly, you can just leave it up to them!

Kids eat up independence. When you let them know that they can have a whole kitchen task to themselves, well, that ownership is magical, dear momma. I gave my 2 older girls a quick lesson to remind them of how to make applesauce with the Instant Pot, including having them write down step by step instructions, and I left the kitchen. Did you hear that part? I left. They have made it with me so many times, cut apples since they were toddlers, and respect kitchen tools, so I just left them to it. Sure I popped in if there was a question, and I popped in simply because I wanted to spend time with them, but I left them to own their project. And I can’t tell you the pride that that gives a child – to make their own food.


How To Make Kid Prep Instant Pot Applesauce!


1.) Wash and Cut The Apples

Your toddlers can help with washing the apples! In fact find yourself some laundry to fold, because your toddler will probably want to wash your apples for a good half hour! They just love it. Use an apple cutter for the easiest slicing. This task can be tough for littles if the apples are very hard. Get them up and over their work surface because the leverage helps cut in. Standing on a chair at a kitchen table works well for little ones. My oldest still uses a step stool to get up and over the counter best.

2.) Put The Apples Into The Instant Pot

Dump them in! All ages can help with this part! Fill the Instant Pot up to about half inch below the “Fill” line.

3.) Add 1 cup of Water

Dump it in! Your older children around Kindergarten on up can measure 1 cup if you show them how, and all ages can help pour the water in. Hand over hand with your littles to show them, and let your bigs do it themselves.

4.) Put The Lid On the IP, and Set the Timer, and Quick Release

Make sure the valve on your IP lid is closed, press “Manual” and bring the time down to 4 minutes. The Instant Pot will start automatically. Once the IP reaches pressure, it will count down the 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes is over, you can do a quick release. I make my girls cover their hand with a towel to open the valve, so they don’t accidentally get steam on their hand. Older children around the age of 7 or 8 and older are best for this job.

5.) Put the Cooked Apples Through The Food Mill

Let the apples cool off for about 10 minutes so the children don’t burn themselves with the steam, and then let them scoop the apples into your food mill to churn. My toddlers needed hand over hand help to learn how turn the food mill, but were independent with this job after a bit! Let everyone take a turn! The color of your applesauce will depend on the type of apples you used! Namely, the color of the skin. If your apples have red skins, your no-peel applesauce will be pink in color. If your apples were more gold/light green, the applesauce will be golden in color!

To sweeten or not?

I’ve never had to sweeten our applesauce. Fresh picked apples are plenty sweet if you get the right variety. If your apples happen to be on the tart side, you can add some raw honey to the hot applesauce after it is run through the food mill. Cook and taste the applesauce first though and see what it needs. If you have really little guys at home, I’d skip it!

How we store our applesauce

I use these BPA free freezer containers and just freezer ours. We don’t make more than maybe 6 to 8 quarts, so it really doesn’t take up a lot of room in our freezer, and we eat it pretty quickly! If you tend to make more, and like to can it, you can certainly do that.

Freezing time…

One thing that you cannot, in fact do, is freeze time. It is always so worth slowing down to spend some time making and sharing food in the kitchen with your kids!

Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Kid Prep Instant Pot No Peel Applesauce!

Give them ownership over a kitchen project with Instant Pot no peel applesauce! Let the kids make it start to finish!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade applesauce recipe, how to make applesauce in the Instant Pot, Instant Pot applesauce
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • Apples cored
  • 1 cup of water you can add more if you like thinner applesauce

Instructions

  • Fill your Instant Pot liner with apple slices to about half inch below the “Fill” line, and then pour 1 cup of water in.
  • Put the IP lid on and close the valve. Press “Manual” and then bring the time down to 4 minutes. The Instant Pot will start automatically. Once the IP reaches pressure, it will count down the 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes is over, you can quick release the valve.
  • Run the cooked apples through a food mill for the smoothest applesauce. You can use a blender if you wish as well.
  • Taste your applesauce for sweetness at this point. You can add raw honey if your apples were more tart, or leave as is if the apples are sweet enough.

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Paleo Trail Mix Breakfast Cookies :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free

September 20, 2018

Your favorite handful of sweet and salty trail mix combined into one amazing Paleo Trail Mix Breakfast Cookie!

Breakfast cookie Friday’s!

You say you’ve never heard of Breakfast Cookie Friday before?! Well let me tell you, dear momma, it is totally a thing. (Check out my hashtag #BreakfastCookieFriday on Instagram!).

It all began with that sweet and spunky second born that so many of us end up scrambling after!

My second threw me for a complete loop as a baby and toddler, tossing me every single opposite behavior as my mild natured first born. If you looked up “infinite energy” in the dictionary, her name and picture would be right next to it, along with the definition of “sleepless.” Breakfast cookie Friday started as a way for me to feed my non-stop, busy toddler at the end of the week when I was completely spent and awaiting the weekend reinforcements to arrive (otherwise know as…Daddy!).

Same breakfast idea, different reason…

So “breakfast cookie Friday” became a “thing” in my house to survive the inexhaustible days of the toddlerhood season of life. Today, we still enjoy our Friday breakfast cookies, but for different reasons. Now I have a houseful of 3 school-aged kids, and breakfast cookie Friday is a fun way for us to end the school week – the girls look forward to it every Friday. I set up a “breakfast bar” of sorts, with a bowl of breakfast cookies, a bowl of hard boiled eggs or container of yogurt, some hot tea, and some plates and the girls help themselves. Oh yes, dear momma…you totally have permission to eat your breakfast cookie with a cup of coffee just a little longer because the kids can do this by themselves. *cue the round of applause! *

*Another* breakfast cookie recipe?!

I know it. There are so many on the blog – you can use the search bar for “breakfast cookies” and find all of them. (I will also link some of them up later in this post). But yes. I did create another recipe. I was inspired by some trailmix that I started making over the summer as an on-the-go snack for the girls. They were obsessed with all the flavors, and I ended up playing around with making it in cookie form. Having a variety of different breakfast cookie options not only gives our family a change up every Friday so we don’t get bored with the same flavors, it also allows me to play around with different combos of ingredients so that my readers are able to find something that fits their unique dietary goals.

All the trailmix fun in a portable, handheld breakfast on the go!

Just think of your favorite trail mix! Think of all the fun components and flavors. Salty, sweet, crunchy, and just fun to eat! Everything from nuts and seeds, to dried fruit and crispy dried coconut, it’s really all in here!

Notes on the dried fruit

This is the super fun part to change up. Depending what you have available where you live, go for it and have some fun! I will say that in the 6 or 7 batches of these cookies that I trialed making (including lots of different dried fruit trials), chopped figs were my kids’ favorite flavor. My favorite was a toss-up between the chopped figs and dried cherries. I’m able to get dried figs at a very good price at Costco or on Amazon, so it is cost effective for me. If it is pricier where you live, then simply use some raisins – they are tasty too!

What are cacao nibs?

Essentially, raw cacao nibs are little bits and pieces from a real cacao, which are the little seeds from a cacao tree. What we know of as “chocolate” only contains a little bit of cacao plus a load of sugar. They taste “bitter” on their own, but sprinkled into a honey sweetened breakfast cookie with swirls of fig or other dried fruit, and they really taste like little chocolate bits! These little cacao nibs are packed with phyto-nutrients, and you can read more about them and their benefits here.

Other ingredient notes and swaps

*Please note it is impossible for me to trial every single ingredient possibility. I did up to 6-ish batches of these cookies with various combos and I have a few swaps to suggest. If you have dietary restrictions that are not mentioned here, feel free to ask and I can try to help.

  • You can swap sprouted oats for the coconut if you can tolerate grains.
  • If you are nut free, you can swap “seed meal” for the almond flour. Just blend up sunflower seeds super fine, but don’t take it all the way to “sunbutter.” Also, if you are nut free, you can swap pumpkin seeds for the walnuts.
  • There are notes right in the recipe for my egg free friends. This is one swap I am sure of because there was one day that I ran out of eggs and didn’t have a choice! I thought the fruit puree worked fantastic.
  • If the “heaping 1/3 cup” of raw honey scares you, remember this is divided among about 16-18 cookies depending on how big you make them. It is pretty minimal. If you prefer, you could swap the honey for coconut sugar with lower glycemic index. Keep in mind that will change the color a bit darker because of the color of the coconut sugar.

Freezer notes

One of the coolest things about Breakfast Cookie Friday, is that if you plan a little ahead, you can just pull your cookies out of the freezer for breakfast – it doesn’t get any more convenient for real food than that! Cool the cookies to room temperature before putting them into freezer bags and into the freezer. I pull them out frozen the morning of and just warm them up in the oven a little. You can leave them on the counter overnight and just eat them at room temperature too.

Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

Paleo Trail Mix Breakfast Cookies

Your favorite handful of sweet and salty trail mix combined into one amazing Paleo Trail Mix Breakfast Cookie!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Paleo breakfast cookies, Paleo trail mix breakfast cookies, Paleo trail mix cookies
Servings: 12 cookies
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup cassava flour
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds finely chopped (I use my food processor to buzz them up. You can combine flavors of seeds and use a variety of seeds if you wish.)
  • ½ cup walnuts finely chopped (I use my food processor to buzz them up. You can combine flavors of nuts and use a variety of nuts if you wish.)
  • ½ cup nut or seed butter of choice
  • 2 eggs OR if you are egg free, you can use 2 chia “eggs,” OR 2 “fruit puree eggs” (1/2 cup mashed banana, applesauce, or pumpkin puree).
  • Heaping 1/3 cup raw honey if you have older kids used to sweeter things, you can bump this up to ½ cup for sure
  • ½ cup dried fruit such as dried cherries chopped figs or dates, raisins, goji berries, etc.
  • ¼ cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp almond extract vanilla extract would work too if that is all you have
  • ½ tsp sea salt if your nuts are salted you can skip this ingredient

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Everything into a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Form the cookie dough into the size cookies you want. These will not spread out, so just roll, and flatten into a disk, and set them on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 18-19 minutes. Check the cookies around the 15 minute mark in case our ovens run differently. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

 

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Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Baked Potatoes :: PLUS! How To Make Baked Potatoes With The Crispiest Skin & Creamiest Inside!

September 12, 2018

Shepherd’s pie loaded baked potatoes take that classic comforting dinner we all love, and make it in to a family dinner made for a weeknight! 

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Back and forth…

You just never know what you’re gonna get in September here in Michigan. One day, we’re enjoying the beach and 80 degrees, and the next day, we get a fall preview, waking up to 50 degrees, hoodies, and hot tea! I love that about Michigan though. It’s as if she knows you can’t just swap our blissful summer days for the chill that late fall brings. We ease into it around here. The chill does last for quite a while around these parts, after all.

Cooler weather menus

I’ve been sitting on this recipe since last spring! It happened to be one of those cooler spring days where I decided to use the oven to warm up the house and snap a few pictures while I was at it. The late day lighting suggested warmer weather was on the way with summer around the corner, and I just tucked this recipe away for the inevitable fall cool down, when you all would want to turn your ovens back on again. When the chill hits the air where you live, I hope you can give this recipe a try.

All the shepherd’s pie comfort with less fuss

Because, real life, ya know? It’s so fun to make a big pan of shepherd’s pie on the weekend, but if you’re craving that warm comfort on school night, this method of loading the creamy shepherd’s pie filling right on top of a perfectly baked potato is just the ticket.

The perfect baked potato

This is important! If you’ve never had a really well done baked potato with a creamy inside, and crispy skin on the outside, you are in for a treat! The method will seem so simple, but sometimes that’s the way to go – the less fuss the better. Avocado oil makes things super crispy, which is why I usually reach for that. And making sure the potato skin is coated in sea salt helps dry it out and crisp it up! I also have had nice crispy skin using olive oil. Seasoning the outside of the potato really well not only helps to crisp the skin, it also seasons the potato so you really don’t have much to do after cooking, other than pile on the shepherd’s pie filling!

Can I use sweet potato instead?

Absolutely! In fact 2 out of my 3 girls prefer their shepherd’s pie over a baked sweet potato versus the white potato. The prep method and cook time is about the same – sometimes if the sweet potato is a bit larger, it can take an hour to bake. Just prick the sweet potato with a fork around the 50 minute mark to see if it is soft on the inside.

Shepherd’s pie filling 101…

Savory, creamy, and hearty – that is what should come to mind for a shepherd’s pie filling. The gravy-like sauce is the perfect topping for your bake potato, and the taste will make any kid ask for seconds. I kept the veggies very “classic” shepherd’s pie with peas and carrots, but you really can use whatever you have on hand. If you are grain free, you can also leave out the corn. I love adding diced butternut squash to replace the corn in the fall. Again, pictured here in this post is the classic shepherd’s pie filling with the corn.

How to make the perfect “nest” for your shepherd’s pie filling

When your potatoes are done baking, use a knife to slice a lower case “t” along the top of the potato – one line down the length of the potato, and another across the width. Then pinch the ends of the potato until it “pops” open – the perfect little bowl to nestle all the shepherd’s pie bits and gravy into.

Weeknight prep tips

Both the potatoes and the shepherd’s pie filling can be prepared in advance. If you are a “prep day” kind of a person, you can make the filling on your prep day, and just stash it away in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use it. The baked potatoes can be baked off as well, and just warmed through to crisp up in the oven prior to eating. Since the filling freezes so well, you really could double up, and save part of the batch for another time.

Print Recipe
5 from 19 votes

Shepherd's Pie Loaded Baked Potatoes

Shepherd’s pie loaded baked potatoes take that classic comforting dinner we all love, and make it into a family dinner made for a weeknight! 
Prep Time50 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked potato shepherd's pie, Shepherd's Pie, shepherd's pie stuffed potatoes
Servings: 5 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

FOR THE POTATOES:

FOR THE SHEPHERD’S PIE FILLING

  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil will work well. I like to use half of this as leftover bacon fat for flavor
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp tapioca flour depending on how thick/saucy you like your filling
  • 2 tbsp organic tomato paste
  • ¾ cup bone broth or water
  • 3-4 tsp coconut aminos it is fine to leave this out if you don’t have it – it does really add to the flavor though! It mimics soy sauce in flavor.
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ cup frozen organic peas
  • ½ cup frozen organic corn omit if you are grain free/paleo. Butternut squash subs well - dice it and cook it through at the beginning
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste to finish

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Make sure the potatoes are dry. Poke a fork into each potato 2 times. Rub the oil all over each potato, and then rub the salt over each potato.
  • Set the potatoes in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes until fork tender.
  • While the potatoes are baking, you can make the filling. Melt your friendly fat in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots with a small pinch of sea salt, and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic to stir in.
  • Add the beef to the cooking veggies along with the sea salt and pepper and brown the beef.
  • When the beef is done browning, stir in the tapioca flour and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the broth, coconut aminos, and thyme, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, bring the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 7 minutes.
  • Take the lid off, stir in the peas and corn, and return the lid, cooking for 5 more minutes.
  • Taste the filling for salt and pepper, and then top your baked potatoes with the beef/veggie shepherd’s pie filling.
  • **Filling can be made days in advance for quick, weekday dinners!

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Walnut Crusted Crispy Mahi Mahi :: Kid Friendly and Gluten Free!

September 5, 2018

Quick, kid friendly, and gluten free, walnut crusted crispy mahi mahi is perfect for dinner any night of the week!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Simple.

That’s the way we’re keeping life around here these days. My girls are all back to school, and anyone that has ever had a brand new pre-K or Kinder kiddo in the house knows that after school melt downs can be a very real thing. Since this is my third time around this block, I was prepared long before my fresh new pre-K sweetheart set foot in that classroom last Monday, and I planned out our menu that week accordingly.

Yummy flavor, minimal work.

Because that sweet little wee one in the picture above has needed some downtime after her exciting days of pre-K! She *big puffy heart* loves fish of any kind, so I just knew I had to plan that into our first week back to school. This minimal ingredient, and minimal hands on time crispy fish is always a favorite. After she ate 2 helpings, she was a complete chatter box telling me about all her exciting school time adventures!

Crispy fish method

I don’t take that whole “minimal work” thing lightly. Just a few ingredients into a bowl to “bread” the fish and then crisp it up in a skillet. Finish the cooking in the oven and it’s done. The key to the crispy outside lies in a few things:

  1. The right flour. Walnuts are pretty oily when you blend them up, so adding another flour to the ground walnuts makes up for the oily walnuts and gets the outside of the fish really crispy. White rice flour is one of my favorites because it is cost effective and nice a dry – which makes a nice crispy outside. But if you are true Paleo/grain free or do not tolerate white rice flour, you can use coconut flour which works to crisp things up just as good.
  2. The right oil. I feel like avocado oil or animal fat such as pastured tallow or lard makes anything crisp up the best. Butter and olive oil tend to make things softer. Also, scalding olive oil in the kind of heat you need for a crispy fish, can make it taste bad. Coconut oil will work just fine as well, but you will have the coconut taste there (which is fine if that doesn’t bother you!).
  3. And a super hot skillet. Big time cast iron skillet fan here, but if you don’t have one, a regular skillet will work just fine. Just don’t crowd the pan! If your skillet is smaller like mine, do the crisping up in batches so the temperature of the skillet stays hot.

Fish sourcing

We started finding the wild caught Mahi Mahi at Costco a year or so ago – I’m so thankful they now carry it along with wild caught salmon and cod so we can keep some variety to our fish night menu rotation. We also have a couple of local fish mongers that carry wild caught fish. Look around where you live – even our local grocer now keeps a selection of wild caught fish. To read more about why wild caught fish is more superior to farmed, visit www.eatwild.com.

Can I use other fish?

Sure! Wild caught cod is more fragile, so just handle it carefully – it also cooks a bit faster so back off the time. Smaller pieces might work better in the pan so it doesn’t fall apart, since cod is very delicate. Salmon works fine too if you have access to wild caught.

Side dish ideas

This part can really throw off your plans for a “quick and minimal work” dinner! Just keep it simple. My older girls are big time salad lovers. While my youngest will tolerate them, I ended up roasting her some sweet potatoes and serving buttered peas with them. Again, super minimal hands on work, and the sweet potatoes can roast right alongside the cooking fish. Here are some other ideas:

  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Steamed mixed veggies
  • Salads (here is a great Olive Garden salad dressing, and Ranch too!)
  • Roasted potatoes (you can roast other veggies like broccoli right alongside these too)
  • Squash (my kids’ favorite side – Instant Pot or roast it and blend with butter – keep it simple)
  • Bone broth cooked rice with veggies. This is so simple to do with those frozen mixed veggies – just pop the veggies right in with the cooking rice and top it all with butter.

Well fed, *and* well nourished

Because it is in fact possible to be fed and still not feel well and energized. My biggest goal when thinking about feeding children is making every bite they take count. Man, those school days can be long and exhausting. It is so important to snuggle them close, and let them unload from the day, but it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on re-fueling them if time to cook is short. Replenishing their little bodies can be as easy as a simple fish dinner, bowl of soup, or omelet. It can be fast prep, and nutrient loaded for their ever growing bodies. Happy school year to you!

Print Recipe
5 from 19 votes

Walnut Crusted Crispy Mahi Mahi

Quick, kid-friendly, and gluten-free, walnut crusted crispy mahi-mahi is perfect for dinner any night of the week!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: crispy mahi-mahi, gluten-free mahi-mahi
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts finely chopped (I buzz mine up in a food processor into a “meal”)
  • ½ cup white rice flour or coconut flour if you are grain free/Paleo
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika optional but lovely color and flavor
  • 1-2 eggs whisked
  • 4 wild caught Mahi Mahi fillets
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • ¼ -1/3 cup avocado oil for the skillet enough to completely cover your skillet generously
  • Lemons and parsley to garnish if you choose.

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Combine the walnut “meal,” rice flour, and paprika in a shallow dish or plate. Set up the whisked egg in a bowl next to the walnut mixture and a clean plate for your coated fish at the end.
  • Coat the Mahi Mahi in the whisked egg, and then the walnut/flour mixture on all sides. Place the coated fish on a clean plate while you finish coating the rest of the fish. Sprinkle the tops of the coated fish with sea salt and pepper to your taste.
  • Heat the avocado oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. When the oil is hot, place 2 of walnut crusted Mahi Mahi fillets in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes ON EACH SIDE until the outside of the fish is golden brown. The less you move the fish around the crispier they will get – I even set a timer for about 3 minutes so I am not tempted to peek! When those 2 fillets finish cooking, place them on a baking sheet while you cook the other 2 fillets. You can cook all 4 in the skillet if your skillet is large enough, but do not over crowd them. I think the fish gets crispier using a cast iron skillet, and mine is smaller so I just do 2 at a time.
  • Place the baking sheet with the crusted fish into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking the middle. Garnish with lemons and parsley if you choose.

 

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How To Make Soaked Baked Oatmeal :: A framework for a nutritious baked oatmeal that you can flavor any way you choose!

August 30, 2018

Learn how to make traditionally soaked baked oatmeal using a framework of nutritious ingredients that you can flavor any way you choose!

So, are we easing in yet?

Back to school rhythms? While my household definitely longs for the routine of school by September, we do tend to still cling to summer and the warm air for a bit longer. Before we know it, hats and scarves will be out, so for now…we enjoy our beach-y sunsets and the warm sand in our toes.

Breakfast staples for the school year

As always in using this space to write, I’m hoping to keep my recipes this fall super relatable, sustainable, and *practical.* I love finding super fun, “over the top” recipes to play with, but quite frankly in this season of life I very much get you, dear momma. With a 9, 7, and 5 year old at home, working from home, and everything that goes along with those items, I just need my life to have a flow. A rhythm. And a few ounces of practicality. And that includes having some breakfast staples that I don’t have to think too hard about.

Bake once, eat twice…

Or three times! This mindset is a game changer for so many busy families. Baked oatmeal is one of those breakfast staples that just about any kid will eat *and* just so happens to make enough for at least 2 breakfasts for most small to medium sized families. I’m also willing to bet larger families can double this into two 9×13 pans and have enough for 2 meals – if you have the oven on, you might as well do double time!

A baked oatmeal framework

There are so many different ways to dress up baked oatmeal. Keeping your baked oatmeal breakfast menu rotation full of variety is what will keep everyone from getting bored of having “the same thing” every week. This also ensures keeping the humble oat as budget friendly as we brag about it being. So the base of your baked oatmeal is always the same, but we can change up the flavor! You won’t find our winter baked oatmeal loaded up with fresh blueberries or peaches, because summer fruit is triple the price here in the winter, and that just isn’t sustainable. Instead, in the wintertime, you’ll find our baked oat slices filled with fresh apples or bananas, or  sprinkled with dried fruit like raisins or cranberries that you can get year ’round.

More than just oatmeal

This is loaded oatmeal! And by that I mean filled to the brim with *balance.* Satiating and filling fats and protein from the nuts, seeds, eggs, and coconut milk (or milk), along with the slow burning fiber filled oats will make this breakfast last way past the first school hour of the day. And for so many kids, that is HUGE. Make every bite of their breakfast count – it is all packed into these little oatmeal squares.

Why soaked?

In short, it is what your ancestors would have done with any grains. Soaking any grain in an acid medium, such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, whey, lemon juice, or vinegar reduces anti-nutrients like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors (which all grains contain). Grains have gotten a bit of a bad rap in the last decade or so, and while I think many Americans “over grain” their plates, eating it way more frequently than our ancestors would have, they do serve purpose in our diets if there isn’t a true food allergy present. Whole grains, like oats, contain an impressive nutrient profile, so long as you don’t cover up those nutrients by eating them without soaking first.  Just a couple minutes to add the oats and acid to your mixing bowl the night before is really all you need. It actually helps with prep time the next day since that part of the recipe is already in the bowl!

Onto the flavor choices!

They are truly endless. You can keep it as basic as can be with just a bit of honey and cinnamon, or dress  it up with pumpkin and apples for the fall, cranberries for winter, strawberries in the spring, and peaches for the summer! Just follow the basic frame work, and here are some ideas to change flavors up:

  • apples
  • pears
  • bananas (cinnamon and bananas is seriously amazing!)
  • raisins
  • cranberries (Fresh or dried – and try almond extract versus the vanilla. So good!)
  • pumpkin or butternut squashes (cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blends work well here!)
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • blueberries (Fresh or dried)
  • peaches
  • raspberries
  • Or, skip the fruit, and go with more of a maple flavor using syrup instead of honey, or use honey and cinnamon for flavoring your baked oatmeal. Sometimes less is more, and the girls love just cinnamon baked oatmeal too!

Add in options

I kept the nuts and seeds section of the recipe pretty general, so that you can change that part up too. Different nuts and seeds have different nutrient components, so it is nice to have some variety there. And since nuts and seeds have anti-nutrients like phytic acid just like grains, I do prefer to use soaked/dehydrated or sprouted nuts and seeds. You can soak/dehydrate yourself, or buy them sprouted (here you can find already sprouted seeds or sprouted nuts). I usually buy the organic nuts or seeds at Costco and just soak/dehydrate myself to save on my budget. If you have a nut free household, all seeds works just fine, or you can swap the nuts/seeds for shredded coconut or more oats. Directions for doing this is right in the recipe. Here are some nut/seed ideas to try:

A note on sweeteners and amount…

While 1/2 cup of sweetener may feel like “a lot,” keep in mind this is spread out across an entire 9×13 pan of baked oatmeal – it’s a lot of baked oatmeal. The half cup of honey leaves this baked oatmeal with a nice, mild sweetness. If you have older children used to sweeter foods, you may want to add a bit more. Or bake it off this way, and you can drizzle a little honey on the top of theirs if they mention that it doesn’t taste sweet to them. You can use whatever sweetener you feel comfortable using – honey, pure maple syrup, etc. I do like to use coconut sugar lately because we love the warm taste, and it has a lower glycemic index. Keep in mind coconut sugar does make the baked oatmeal darker in color because of the coconut sugar’s darker color. It just looks more rich to me. Pictured in this post is a combination of honey and maple syrup.

How to freeze and re-heat leftover baked oatmeal

Because that is really why we are here right?! To learn how to make a breakfast that serves itself twice!

  1. Completely cool the baked oatmeal.
  2. Cut the baked oatmeal into the sized servings you want.
  3. Individually wrap each slice of baked oatmeal with plastic wrap (you can use beeswax wrap if you wish), and then place them into a freezer bag. This will ensure they don’t get freezer burn. Alternatively, you can just put the squares into a freezer bag without individually wrapping them. If you plan to use the baked oatmeal within 2 weeks, you are not likely to get the freezer burn. If you plan to have them frozen for over 2 weeks, my suggestion is preventing the freezer burn, and using the wrap.
  4. The night before you want to serve the frozen leftover baked oatmeal, take the servings out of the freezer, and set them on the counter to thaw out. They will be thawed by morning and ready to warm up!
  5. To warm up the thawed out baked oatmeal, I like to place the servings on a baking sheet and set the baking sheet in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to pre-heat to 350 degrees. By the time the oven pre-heats, the baked oatmeal is gently warmed up! You can turn the oven off, and serve.

Print Recipe
5 from 19 votes

How To Make Soaked Baked Oatmeal

Learn how to make traditionally soaked baked oatmeal using a framework of nutritious ingredients that you can flavor any way you choose!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Soak8 hrs
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked oatmeal recipe, how to make baked oatmeal, soaked baked oatmeal
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 5 cups oats Not quick cooking oats. If you are gluten free, be sure your oats say they are gluten free like THESE
  • 2 ½ cups full fat coconut milk or raw milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened full fat coconut yogurt or dairy yogurt. (Our grocer carries the large 32oz tubs of So Delicious plain coconut yogurt which is what I use.)
  • 2 cups of nuts or seeds of choice chopped (I buzz them up in my food processor quick. I like to use soaked/dehydrated nuts for best digestion. *OR* you can skip the nuts/seeds and add in 1 more cup of oats to the soaking process. *OR* you can skip the nuts/seeds and add in 1-2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut. A mix of nuts/seeds and shredded coconut works too.)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup sweetener of choice Raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-4 tsp cinnamon depending on the fruit you are using – I like more with apples, bananas, pears, or raisins. And less if using berries and peaches
  • 3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups of fresh fruit OR 1 cup dried fruit (see above notes for ideas!)

Instructions

  • Soak the oats 8-24 hours before baking. The day before you want to make this for breakfast, put the oats, coconut milk, and yogurt in a medium mixing bowl, stir to combine, and cover with a towel to soak overnight. You can also butter your 9x13 baking dish the night before so it’s ready.
  • In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add everything EXCEPT the fruit to the soaked oats, and mix in thoroughly.
  • Fold the fruit into the batter, and pour the batter into the buttered the buttered baking dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. You can use the toothpick method to make sure the middle is set – it should come out clean if the baked oatmeal is done cooking.

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Breakfast Stuffed Peppers {Sausage Hash & Egg Stuffed Pepper Cups!}

August 24, 2018

Every bite you love about breakfast packaged into perfect little breakfast stuffed peppers!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Season shifts…

Ahhh…we are literally soaking up every last ounce of summer beach time that we can before those school doors open! There’s still plenty of warm weather left, but these last few weekend escapes have me savoring as much of sweet summer as I can!

A new kitchen favorite!

This fun stuffed breakfast pepper idea has become a weekly staple in at our table this summer. While it might not necessarily be school morning friendly in prep time, it will definitely hop onto my weekend rotation for the school year, because the girls really love them!

It all began with leftovers…

Breakfast hash leftovers that is! Tuesday’s are breakfast hash days here at my house (you can see my school weekday breakfast rotation HERE – it looks a little different these days, but is similar). I made more than I needed for one breakfast one Tuesday, with thoughts of using the leftovers for my breakfasts in the coming days, but ended up not using it. I found it in the fridge a couple days later, and decided to try making it into something new!

Everything you love about breakfast, in one happy place!

Little kids love little packages. I think sometimes we overwhelm little ones with huge portions and so many choices, that they end up shutting down. Little bites of potato, egg, sausage, and pepper in one pretty little pepper cup is such a great way to get a variety of food groups into little kids!

Sausage notes

Use whatever sausage you love using for this ingredient. If you have a favorite farmer or good quality, clean store-bought brand, use what you and the kids like to eat. We have a local farmer I love to get ground pastured pork from, and I season it with my own Sausage Season Blend. Or we get the organic ground turkey from Costco, and season that with that same DIY sausage season blend.

To scramble or not to scramble…

That is up to you! The best part about these little pepper cups, is that you can customize each pepper to how your kiddos like their eggs. My household is pretty split! One of my girls and I love a drippy yolk to stir into our pepper cup, while the rest of the family prefers scrambled. Do what works for you!

Make ahead tips

Here are a couple tips I’ve been utilizing that make this breakfast come together super quick:

  • Make the hash ahead of time. You can make it the night before, or on your prep day and stash it away. Then all you have to do is stuff the peppers and into the oven when you want to bake them off.
  • Make the hash work double time! Double the hash and serve half of the hash with extra veggies and a side of eggs or some shredded cheese, and save the other half of the hash to stuff the peppers with later in the week.

Tips for stuffing the peppers

  • Larger peppers are easier to stuff and fit a whole egg into.
  • Make sure to dice the potatoes small so the hash fits every nook and cranny!
  • Leave room for the egg when you are scooping the hash in.
  • If you are doing a sunny side up egg, I have found that poking the egg white membrane near the yolk to break it up a little helps with it cooking all the way through the best.

Cooking medium advice

I have tried cooking this so many different ways this summer. From sheet pan prep, to a lidded pan, the yolky eggs really cook best with a lid. I am not a fan of using aluminum foil, but if all you have is a baking dish, then that should be fine. If you have a casserole dish with a lid that is large enough, that works, or I used my large roasting pan with a lid with the best results.

Print Recipe
5 from 20 votes

Breakfast Sausage Hash and Egg Stuffed Peppers

Every bite you love about breakfast packaged into perfect little breakfast stuffed peppers!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast stuffed pepper recipe, breakfast stuffed peppers, sausage stuffed peppers
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or tallow/lard
  • 1 lb of your favorite clean ingredient sausage You can use my sausage season blend to make your own with plain pastured ground pork or turkey, or purchase from the farmer’s market or store
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 medium potatoes or sweet potatoes diced
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach or baby kale chopped
  • 4 large bell peppers halved lengthwise, and seeds/ribs scooped out
  • 8 pastured eggs you can skip the eggs if you are egg free
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley to taste to garnish you can also melt shredded raw cheese or goat cheese on the top if you tolerate that

Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the butter to melt in. Add the sausage and onion cooking until the sausage is almost browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and potatoes and cook until the potatoes are browning and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. You can pre-heat your oven at this point as well.
  • Add the spinach to the skillet and cook for one minute, and then turn the heat off. If you are prepping ahead, your hash is done at this point, and you can cool it, and store it away until you are ready to use it.
  • Put 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of a large casserole dish or roasting pan that has a lid. Place the bell pepper halves in the bottom of the pan, and fill each pepper with hash. Be sure to leave enough room for the egg! Crack an egg into each bell pepper, on top of the hash. Or, you can scramble the eggs and pour them into each cup if that is how your family prefers eggs!
  • Put the lid on your pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes for sunny-side up eggs, or 30-40 minutes for scrambled. Check the peppers at the minimum times so you can be sure the eggs are set to your liking. You can take the lid off the pan for the last 10 minutes to melt cheese up top if you want too! Sea salt and pepper the tops as well as garnish with parsley if you wish.

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11 Healthy Packaged School Snacks For Kids

August 15, 2018

Give yourself some grace, dear momma, and stock your cupboard with these 11 healthy packaged school snacks for kids to help you balance homemade food with real life!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

So here we are…

The start of the school year! I’ve got a handful of amazing back to school fall recipes up my sleeve that I just can’t wait to share with you. But first…my favorite packaged morning school snack ideas for back to school!

*Cue the real food police*

Packaged?! *Gasp!* Yes, my friends. Three kiddos into this school thing, I have discovered one key to keeping a happy household. That one thing is keeping momma sane. Keeping momma from burning out. Keeping momma…mentally healthy. And sometimes (for this momma at least), that means pulling a “better than most” packaged snack from my cupboard to take care of that dreaded morning snack for school.

Grace, dear momma…

Because we don’t give ourselves enough of it. Like, at all. Give yourself some grace dear momma who was up all night with a newborn and needs to get her preschooler to playgroup. Let up on yourself dear momma who has a brood of kids to get into the van by 8 for school. Take a deep breath and give yourself a break dear momma of that busy teen that you stayed up talking to just trying to help them figure out…life.

Because they are watching.

The kids. They are watching you. They are not only watching how you take care of yourself by choosing healthy meals to cook day in and day out, they are learning from you what self-care means. And sometimes self-care means taking a break from making things from scratch, admitting you cannot, in fact, do it all, and make some careful choices on some packaged items to reach for when life gets busy to avoid burn out.

Morning snacks

I think most elementary school aged children have a morning snacktime. I struggled with this concept for years when the girls started school, because I typically never “snacked” my kids. They ate really balanced breakfasts, and when they got hungry again, we ate lunch, and then dinner. I found out real quick that doing a morning snack lead to un-eaten lunches, and that gets super frustrating. I bagged snack time all together…that is until school started. And truthfully, these school aged children do need a small snack most of the time to get them until the lunch hour. Eating breakfast at 7am and expecting a young, growing child to make it to noon without a snack is not going to happen.

Snack time goals

“Make every bite count” has always been a goal of mine, and if you have been around this blog long enough, you know that is always my mantra when it comes to anything kids are taking in as nourishment. You can check out my “9 Fast Prep School Snacks Post” for my favorite rotation of morning snacks that take some preparing. These work well for every age, are filling, nutritious, and satisfying. But in the last couple years, I have made a few packaged snacks a part of the morning snack rotation to give myself some grace on needing to prep *everything*. I use these packaged snacks for 2-3 out of the 5 school morning snacks during the week. Will that change as the years go by? Possibly. Is that what you have to do? Absolutely not. If you choose to make the morning snack something packaged every day, no one (at least in this community) is judging you.

How to make it into my approved packaged snack list!

I can guarantee this list is NOT inclusive of every packaged snack that has a great list of ingredients and is safe, nutritious, and satisfying. I find new items every year, which is fun and exciting, actually! The real food community is growing, and manufacturers are listening to where we are spending our dollars – and responding with making really great packaged choices for those times we just don’t have time to make things from scratch. Here are some of my criteria when I’m looking at something packaged:

  • Zero high fructose corn syrup
  • Very little to no added sugar
  • Healthy fats only (no sunflower, safflower, soy, vegetable, canola oils)
  • Zero food dyes
  • Natural or zero preservatives
  • Some sort of fat or protein for satiating – not just all fruit or all grain.
  • Gluten free (many of these snacks are also dairy, grain, and egg free)
  • Under $1.25 per snack to keep my budget happy
  • And finally…something my kids will eat 😉

Couple final notes…and some ground rules

  • Please, use the “shopping cart method” while browsing my snack list. If there is something you don’t agree with as “healthy,” simply leave that item “on the shelf” and move on. Pick up ideas from the list that appeal to you and check on out!
  • Also, I realize that some of you are in nut free school zones. Our school is not a nut free zone, so I am able to use all of these. More than half of this list is nut free, so there is plenty to choose from.
  • Finally, keep in mind this is a snack. Not a meal. My goal is not to make the girls “full” with this – it is something to give them some quick burning fuel, so they can make to lunch time. Meaning…I want them hungry at lunchtime! Morning snack time is a great break from classroom time – it’s a brain break and should be enjoyed!


Chia Squeeze


I grab for Chia Squeeze Pouches over plain fruit pouches not only because of the mix of veggies with the fruit, but the added chia seed brings some satiating sustenance to the snack. They are nice a filling and taste great!


Nut Butter Pouches


There are a lot of options to squeeze the nut butter pouches onto! My girls love dried banana chips to dip, so I’ll just toss some of those in our favorite snack container with a pouch. My only note to take on this one would be that the pouches works best for older children. My youngest (age 4) is messy with the pouches. You can scoop some nut butter from a jar into a condiment container to make this same snack, but again, I’m trying to keep the prep and wash up time at a minimum, so my older girls will take these for a morning snack. Also, keep in mind some of the Justin’s nut butter pouches are a bit high in sugar and other ingredients – just watch for that. I usually just get the plain almond butter, but occasionally our Meijer will put the Maple one on sale for a really great price and I’ll grab those (as you can see pictured!)


Larabars


A staple for many real food families. There are so many options here now as well. The girls have really been loving the Fruit & Greens Larabars in addition to their regular flavors. They also enjoy the Nut & Seed Crunchy Larabar (they are so good!).


Grassfed Beef Sticks


These were tough for me to find for a while, but in the last couple years there are some great brands out there that are also affordable. We like the SoGo Grassfed Beef Sticks,  Field Trip Grassfed Beef Sticks, and we just got a brand new product from New Primal Brand called  “Snack Mates” Meat Sticks For Kids, and they are fantastic! The New Primal brand also has meat sticks using chicken or turkey if your little one can’t have beef. The girls pack these alone, but if you have older kids, you could toss a slice of cheese or piece of fruit in there as well.


WholeMe Grain Free Clusters


The WholeMe Clusters taste so good and have a great ingredient list, packed with nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and honey. I toss a hand full into our favorite snack box for the girls to take to school.


Guacamole or Hummus Dippers


Costco is my best friend on these items, but you can find them just about any store now. I like the Organic Wholly Guacamole Minis, and the Kirkland Organic Hummus. Pack along veggie sticks if you don’t mind the prep – I tend to load up the girls’ lunchboxes with veggies, so I toss Simple Mills Crackers (I get the crackers at Costco too), or Plantain Chips in with these. The dippers and crackers fit in the medium size of these snack boxes we have had for years and love! (Please note the hummus does have sunflower oil. The Kirkland hummus is organic/non-gmo so to use for every once and a while, I don’t worry about it. I have yet to find a hummus dipper mini with good oils – please let me know if you find one!)


Shine Pouches


I like the ingredients on this Calm flavor and Purify flavor the best, and these are my oldest’s favorite snack. One note for you on these would be that they are bigger than most pouches. My youngest (4 years old, almost 5) rarely finishes a whole pouch. I tend to opt for the Chia Squeeze above for her if we want to do pouches. But because these are bigger, they make a great option for older children that might not feel filled up after the smaller pouches.


Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix


The Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Packs are fantastic especially if you are in a nut free school zone and the kids want some trailmix! This is the only snack on the list that has some added sugar in the form of a few mini chocolate chips per pouch – super minimal. My kids love these. My only hang up with them, is that my youngest cannot open the pouch easily. When I pack it for her, I dump it in our favorite snack box. You can also buy the seed & fruit mix in a big pouch to take handfuls from for snack boxes.


Seaweed Snacks


Salty and crispy, Seaweed Snacks are a fun one to munch on, and full of nutrients! Be very mindful of ingredients when you look for seaweed though. Many seaweed snacks use questionable oils and have soy or other flavorings that do not meet my criteria for a snack to use regularly. In this GimMe brand I go for the one that says Olive Oil, and the ingredients are minimal and safe.


Lark Ellen Farm Sprouted Seed & Nut Granola Clusters


These granola clusters are super tasty, and I love that the nuts and seeds are sprouted. Great ingredient list too. I just toss a handful into our favorite snack box for the girls to take along to school.


Pressed by Kind Fruit & Chia Bars


The Kind Pressed Fruit & Chia bars are just fruit, veg, and chia seed! That’s it! These are nice portions, filling, and taste really good! Our Meijer puts them on sale a lot so I snag them that way most of the time, but the Amazon pricing is decent too.

Give yourself some grace, dear momma! Happy fresh start to the school year to you!

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Paleo Cinnamon Raisin Zucchini Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

August 9, 2018

Put your summer produce to work in these super soft, power packed paleo cinnamon raisin zucchini muffins!

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Weekend escapes!

We have spent the last few weekends escaping to our favorite Lake Michigan shoreline spots both up North and South of us, soaking in as much sand and lake time as we can before that school bell rings!

Portable nourishment

One of my tricks to keep the food real for travel is taking a bit of time before we leave to prep a bit of food. Not only does this save money, but it keeps us from needing to eat out where there may be questionable ingredients. I’m not against heading out to eat here and there (we have done this, still do this, and ENJOY it!), but in my house, going out to eat is an occasional treat, so I’ve got to have some recipes up my sleeve that travel well and will keep my busy girls sustained for all of their adventures!

Breakfast on the go

Last week, I perfected these grain free zucchini muffins using a pile of zucchini I picked up. The recipe testing I worked on made for a fantastic, portable breakfast for us while we headed up North for the weekend, and the girls just loved these sweet little muffins.

Revisiting an old recipe…

Some of you that have been around here long enough might know that I already have a gluten free cinnamon raisin zucchini muffin here on the blog! I hesitated posting this recipe because of that, but because the ingredient amounts are quite different to accommodate the grain and dairy free nature, and because I have had a number of readers ask how to swap the flours in that recipe for grain free, I decided it would be worth investing some time for those of you that truly need a grain free and dairy free version. If you tolerate grains and dairy, and like my original gluten free version, these muffins taste exactly like those! If you like to change things up, and get some variety of nutrients into your diet by using different flours, give this one a try! You’ll see it is just as easy, feels just as soft, and tastes amazing.

On that note…some flour tips!

In the recipe as written, I’ve given you 2 grain free options for the flours. I have baked both of these versions at least twice each, and I love both – truly. So, pick which one fits your diet requirements the best. I tend to opt for the combo of cassava with almond flour just because I like the added protein/fat that the almond flour brings. However, I do understand there are those of you with either nut allergy and can’t have almond flour, and so there is a cassava flour only option too. Note that I have tried this recipe with a combo of cassava and coconut flours and the results weren’t my favorite. It worked, but it wasn’t my favorite.

Why cassava flour?

Cassava flour is dried and ground up yucca. Yucca is a ground tuber that is a good source of fiber, folate, and potassium. Cassava flour is also a great source of PRE-biotics, which feed the good bacteria in your gut so that your gut flora can stay at a healthy population and thrive. Not only is cassava flour a healthy, grain free choice for baking, it creates fantastic baking results. Instead of dense, dry grain free baked goods, cassava flour muffins are light and fluffy. The only way I can describe it to help you understand, is that it feels the closest to a muffin with gluten as you can get!

Freezer friendly?

Absolutely! If you have an abundance of zucchini from your garden, or find a steal of a deal at the farmer’s market while zucchini is in season, camp out for a couple hours in your kitchen and stash some zucchini muffins away for the school year. It will make for a quick morning breakfast, OR lunchbox addition to go with a thermos of soup. To freeze these muffins, cool them completely first, and then put them in a freezer bag to freeze. When I thaw out muffins, I just leave them on the counter overnight, or pop them in a warm oven for a bit. You can put them in a lunchbox frozen and they will thaw by lunchtime.

A  note on the “sweet”

You can definitely play around with the amount of “sweet” in this recipe, as well as the source. I enjoy coconut sugar for the taste and the lower glycemic index, but bake with raw honey or real maple syrup sometimes too. If that is what you have, go for it. If you have real little ones in the house, I would back off the sweet to about quarter of a cup. They won’t know any better, and that what I do often with my girls still.

Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Paleo Cinnamon Raisin Zucchini Muffins

Put your summer produce to work in these super soft, power packed paleo cinnamon raisin zucchini muffins!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Paleo cinnamon raisin muffins, Paleo zucchini muffins, zucchini muffin recipe
Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup full fat plain coconut yogurt or coconut milk I get 32oz tubs of plain full fat So Delicious Coconut Yogurt at the store
  • cup olive oil avocado oil or melted coconut oil/butter would be fine too
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar If you have real little ones around you can get away with 1/4 cup for sure. Raw honey or pure maple syrup would work here too.
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of cassava flour OR 1 cup cassava flour plus 1 cup blanched almond flour works lovely too if you can tolerate nuts (This is also my favorite version. Please note that brand of cassava flour DOES matter. I use THIS brand – if you use a different brand, you may get different results – that has always been the case for me with cassava.)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 TB cinnamon
  • 2 cups packed shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup raisins

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with silicone muffin liners or grease them with butter or coconut oil.
  • Blend the eggs, coconut yogurt, olive oil, coconut sugar, vinegar, and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl for 1 minute.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon and blend until combined. It will feel a bit dry but the zucchini will provide plenty of moisture - do not add more liquid!
  • Stir the shredded zucchini and raisins into the batter with a spatula.
  • Scoop the batter into a 12 cup muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove the muffins to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

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