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Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Baked Oatmeal Cups

December 9, 2017

Tart, seasonal cranberries meet bright, sweet oranges to make a compact, portable, easy to make breakfast for little hands, or on the go!

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.

T’was the night before Christmas…

It’s the best isn’t it?! I take this picture the “night before Christmas” every year, and I seriously pinch myself with each passing year because it just gets better and better as the girls are at these amazing ages of understanding the wonder of this season. The kids always have a way of reminding me to be a kid again (ie chill out and just enjoy it all!)

Slowing down

The last couple years have given me this sense of needing to slow down and just enjoy it. I know that while the holidays will always be fun with my family, the type of “fun” will be in ever-changing ways as the girls get older, and I want to savor this little kid season we are in right now. While this foodie momma would just *love* to plan out an elaborate Christmas morning breakfast for everyone to help make and enjoy eating, breakfast is about the last thing on these little one’s minds on Christmas morning!

Fun and fast food prep!

A happy medium is the answer right?! Last year I created these super yummy blender batter cranberry breakfast cookies that became a huge hit on this blog even outside of the Christmas season. They made a fun, fast breakfast the kids could munch on while they enjoyed tearing into their gifts and playing with a new toy.

Last year they ended up working perfectly as a “first breakfast,” and then we had a nice brunch later in the morning when I had some time to cook. We fell in love with this concept, so I decided to create another fast holiday breakfast option to have fun with this year.

A faster, more portable baked oatmeal

This summer, a bushel full of peaches inspired me to fill my freezer with school morning friendly *portable* peach baked oatmeal cups. They have been so nice this fall on busy school mornings, and I thought maybe I’d do a spin on those with a more holiday season flavor profile!

Fresh cranberries versus dried…

Sweet and tart cranberries and a subtle bright freshness from an orange…what’s not to love?! I have made at least 6 batches of these cranberry orange muffin baked oat cups, and I’ve got some tips to help you customize them to your family’s preferences!

  • I’ve made batches of all fresh cranberries, and some with all dried cranberries, and both turn out well! It all really boils down to your flavor preferences. If you love the tartness of a fresh cranberry, there is enough sweetness in the muffin to balance it so you aren’t puckering! This was our favorite way to make them. If you prefer sweeter dried cranberries, go for it! It turns out great too!
  • I made one batch with chopped fresh cranberries – it does back off the tart punch if you are afraid of that. We still really loved the whole fresh cranberries as our favorite.
  • Don’t leave the orange zest out! It really helps with the hint of orange flavor. The juice isn’t quite enough!

A practical solution to enjoying a childhood full of fun Christmas mornings!

I really hope that what has become a family tradition of fun, faster prep Christmas morning breakfasts for our family will help you to enjoy this precious time with your kids at this age even more. I’d love to see what you end up making – if you post to Instagram, hashtag #raisinggenerationnourished and give me a tag so I can see! Wishing you and your family a merry Christmas!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Baked Oatmeal Cups
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups oats (Not quick oats. If you are gluten free, make sure your oats say gluten free like these.)
  • 1 cup Namaste gluten free flour blend
  • 1 cup coconut milk (or raw milk if you tolerate dairy)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • ¼ cup juice from your zested orange (this has been about the juice of about 1 medium orange for me}
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or melted butter, coconut oil, or ghee )
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries or ½ to ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • Coconut sugar to sprinkle the tops (optional, but the flavor is so good with these!)
Instructions
  1. Put the oats and gluten free flour blend in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice. The mixture will be thick. Cover with a towel and let the mixture soak overnight about 8 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the oats and flour, making it easier on digestion. It also allows the nutrients in the grains to be absorbed better.
  2. The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Blend the eggs in a medium mixing bowl for 1 minute until frothy. Add the beaten eggs along with the rest of the ingredients to the oat/flour mixture that soaked overnight, and stir to combine (this takes a minute at first as the oat/flour/milk soaked mixture is a bit thick – do NOT add more liquid. It will loosen up as you incorporate the wet ingredients you added.)
  4. Scoop the batter into a muffin tin lined with silicone muffin cups (or, if you don’t have silicone muffin cups, you can butter your muffin tin to prevent sticking). Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with coconut sugar if you choose.
  5. Bake the baked oat cups at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the tops are golden brown (check them around the 30 minute mark in case our ovens run differently). Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan before turning them out to a cooling rack for 10 minutes before eating.
  6. Recipe makes 12 large muffins. You could make them smaller and get 18 – if you have real little ones in the house, I’d make them smaller so they can eat a whole muffin. You will probably need more like 30 minutes to bake if you make them smaller.

More real food recipes you might like ::

Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips School Holidays

Paleo Cinnamon Snowflake Christmas Cookies Using Coconut Sugar :: Grain, Gluten, Dairy, & Egg Free

November 25, 2017

Celebrate the season without the sugar overload and make these festive and fun Paleo cinnamon snowflake cookies!

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 first snow…

My little winter babes are still anticipating the first measurable snow approaching the first week of December, peeking their little nose at the windows each morning to see if today is the day! I seriously have no idea where they get it from {self proclaimed beach bum here…}, but growing up here my whole life, I do have to say that there is just something magical about that first snowfall!

Bringing a little snowfall to our kitchen!

So while we await fresh powder to play in outside, I decided to bring a little snowfall to the inside! These sweet little powdery snowflake cookies made the girls completely giddy, and I loved that my oldest could make the entire recipe on her own. Sure the littles in the house loved helping here and there. But there is just something about this age 8…bam! She is not one of the “littles” anymore…she is genuinely a huge help in the kitchen, and so mature it blows me away!

Ownership…

And while we are on that note…man, oh man. Do I ever get it. It takes a little extra time to let them help in the kitchen, doesn’t it? This “Type A” and “go go go” personality momma has really had to learn how to step back and let my kids do their thing. Especially this age. Ownership means the world to them. Being able to edify them in front of their family or peers that *they* made the cookies does amazing things for their confidence.

And that whole “life skills” thing is pretty important too. Believe me. Growing up in a microwave generation and having to teach myself to cook in my 20’s has given me a new appreciation for making sure this generation knows how to make themselves some food. Get your kiddos into the kitchen this holiday season and help them start mastering those kitchen skills – start somewhere!

The holiday sugar trap…

It’s a tough one, isn’t it? I have worked on this balance for years now, and feel like I’ve come up with some happy mediums so that we can both enjoy the fun of the holiday, but also stay healthy and well so that we can actually attend all of the parties and have some fun. Sugar does, after all, feed those sick bugs in our bodies, so party after party, and holiday event after event can really wreck havoc on little ones especially.

{You can read more tips on keeping kids healthy during the holiday season in this super important post!}

A game changing combo!

These cinnamon snowflake cookies are not only super adorable, but they make a much healthier choice for a sweet treat when your kiddos have been “sugar-ed out” and you still have some holiday parties to attend! The nut flour keeping the starches down, coupled with the lower glycemic coconut sugar, make for a winning combination to keep blood sugars at bay.

Ok, fine…coconut sugar…so, how does it taste???

So good! There is a warm, almost light molasses flavor to coconut sugar, so it really gives these cookies in particular a gingerbread cookie flavor with the added cinnamon. It is so festive! I’ve switched to coconut sugar almost exclusively in some of my baking and my family really enjoys the flavor.

Kid friendly serving sizes

Make ‘em small and super cute, dear momma! They won’t know any differently! Here are some super cute mini cookie cutters you can use to make at least 2 dozen cookies (I made over 30 with mine). So instead of having to break apart a huge cookie for your 4 year old, and they feel slighted for only getting half a cookie, they get to have a whole one! Or even 2!

A note on the powdered sugar…

If you have super little ones at home and no bigs…I’d just leave it off 😉 They really don’t know any differently, and the cookies taste amazing without it! If you have some older kiddos at home like I do…I’m telling ya…the illusion of these looking snow dusted with the powdered sugar is SO worth the look on their faces! Do it up! Grab an organic/non-GMO sourced powdered cane sugar, and let them shake it on. Just watch those sweet faces light up!

Ingredient notes

Five batches in, and I was able to at least narrow this one down to gluten, dairy, and egg free! I know, I know, my dear nut free friends! Sigh. I didn’t get to trying these with a seed meal – I really think a sunflower seed type deal just might work. Blend it up into a “flour” and give it a go! And please comment below if you tried it so others who need to be nut free may try. I feel like I worked out the rest of the common allergens like dairy, gluten, and egg though!

If you don’t have access to coconut sugar, then organic cane sugar will work fine. I also think that soaked, blended dates might work. I think honey or maple syrup will be too runny/sticky, but you could give it a try.

5.0 from 14 reviews
Paleo Cinnamon Snowflake Christmas Cookies Using Coconut Sugar :: Grain, Gluten, Dairy, & Egg Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Put all of the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl, and blend to combine. The dough should press together well. It shouldn’t be tacky or wet though. From here, you can either roll them right out, or refrigerate the dough until you are ready to roll it out. I have done both, and rolling out is easy both ways – I feel like the cut-outs came out of the cookie cutter a little easier when the dough was chilled.
  3. To roll the dough out, you can either use parchment paper, or dust the counter with Cassava Flour. I have done both and they both work well. Roll out the dough, cut the snowflakes out, and place them on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. I found that dipping my little cookie cutter into a bowl of olive oil made the cookies slide off the cutter easiest. Or dip in some cassava flour to flour it before cutting.
  4. Bake the snowflakes at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. You can dust the cookies with the organic powdered cane sugar at this point. After they cool a couple minutes on the baking sheet, move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

More real food Christmas ideas you might like!

 

Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

30 Minute Gluten Free Kale Stuffed Grassfed Mini Meatloaf with Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies :: Kid Friendly Taste, Paleo

November 17, 2017

A nourishing, nutrient dense meatloaf dinner in weeknight fast prep time!

I see you, dear momma…

I see your endless nights with newborns and toddlers…

I see your taxi driver miles put on the van carting kids to school, events, activities, and friends…

I see that work you are doing both inside and outside the home while the kids are in school, or that on the side work you are doing while your kids sleep at night…

I see you taking the time to navigate teen friendships, homework, and activities.

And I see your heart to want to nourish your family with healthy meals while still keep up a schedule like this…

Because we all can’t do it all

YES balance is good. Yes sometimes things need to be trimmed to make priorities happen.

But I also get that we all can’t stay at home all day and be in the kitchen. We all can’t quit a job that is paying our bills to make sure healthy dinners are on the table every night. And I’ll be the first one to stand up for the stay at home mom to say that it isn’t just playing dress up with babies all day and dollies with toddlers. No one can do it all. No one.

You can still do this

So even if you never try the recipe in this post today (I hope you do!), please walk away from reading this post feeling a sense of hope. You CAN do the real food thing not only on a budget, but on a time crunch. And it is so worth being able to get through your day with that much greater ease because your body is nourished with food that fuels.

Did you hear that part? I didn’t even mention your kids…yes nourishing the kids is great (and so important so they can get through their day too!), but YOU dear momma. YOU need to be fueled because this ship sinks without you being well.

The ultimate nutrient dense dinner…meatloaf!

It is no secret, my family is obsessed with my meatloaf recipe. My husband, in particular, favors it over most any dinner I make. This momma loves that it is packed out with nutrient loaded grass-fed beef AND liver and that it is happily gobbled over and over.

But I don’t, however, always love that it is not very weeknight friendly to prep, and an hour and half cook time just doesn’t work on a Tuesday night…

A weekend dinner made for the weekday!

My meatloaf recipe is so good, but I’ll be the first to admit, that it is more of a weekend meal. Especially when you want to go the extra mile and make special sides like really amazing mashed potatoes. On weekdays, I need quicker prep time, quicker cook time, and just over all less fuss

Quicker prep time, cook time, and less fuss? How can that be for a meatloaf dinner?! I’m so glad you asked!

  • Less fuss with prepping the meat. While I love the flavor that the cooked mirepoix gives in my original meatloaf, it does take some extra time and steps that a weeknight just doesn’t call for. Instead, I packed these little guys out with amazing flavor using seasoning you probably already have in your pantry, and it makes the meatloaf taste really yummy.
  • Less cook time. One-third of the cook time to be exact! Pop everything into the oven for 30 minutes while you help the kids with homework, play a game, give the baby a bath, or read books to the toddler and dinner  is done! Super hands free!
  • Quicker veggie sides – but still kid friendly! I think it’s pretty safe to say most kids will accept sweet potatoes on their plate – especially when they are roasted sweet, and have tasty seasoning. But you can change up the veg to what your kiddos love too! Sheet pan veggies are super fast and kids love the taste.

Tips for making this work on a weeknight

Ok, so I get it. 30 minutes is still 30 minutes, right? So this meal probably doesn’t work on that 2 hour gymnastics practice night, or the night you work late and the kiddos are one their own, or the day you have a fussy, teething baby or sick, needy toddler. But this definitely works for most run of the mill weeknights, *especially* if you do just a little prep work the night before!

  • Get the meat into the pan the night before. Mix it up, divide it up, cover it up, and stick it in the fridge til it’s time to cook!
  • Or, prep the meat into servings and freeze big portions. Put this on your prepday and triple batch! That will make 3 dinners for the next month! Simply freeze the mini loaves and pop them into a freezer bag. You can pull out however many minis you need for dinner that night, thaw them, and cook.
  • Chop the veg the night before. It’s one of the reasons we eat sweet potatoes over white potatoes more often – they don’t brown, so I can prep them ahead! Chopping the sweet potatoes and broccoli the night before will save you at least 5 to 10 minutes of prep time. On dinner night, just dump them onto your trays, oil & season them, and they are ready to go!
  • Use leftover roasted veg from the weekend or night before! Seriously, I do this all the time. When I’m cooking one meal, I might as well double it up I figure. I can use the leftover veggies for my breakfast or dinner the next day.

5.0 from 12 reviews
30 Minute Gluten Free Grassfed Mini Meatloaf with Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies :: Kid Friendly Taste, Paleo
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE ROASTED SWEET POTATOES & BROCCOLI ::
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets (save the stems for broccoli soup!)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil, butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp all season salt
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • ¼ - ½ tsp pepper to the kid’s taste
  • FOR THE MINI MEATLOAF ::
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 heaping cup of baby kale, chopped finely
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup gluten or grain free flour of choice (I’ve used tapioca, cassava flour, and white rice flour. Nut flours and coconut flour do NOT work in my experience)
  • 3 tbsp full fat coconut milk or raw milk/cream
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ - ½ tsp pepper to the kid’s taste
  • Ketchup to top the mini meatloaf (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare the veggie trays. Toss the sweet potatoes and broccoli florets in a large mixing bowl with the oil and seasonings, and divide between 2 sheet pans.
  3. Prepare the mini meatloaves. Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together by hand in a small mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into 6, and distribute the meat into a half dozen muffin tin. Spread ketchup on the top of each mini meatloaf if you wish.
  4. Roast everything together at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring the veggies around at the halfway point.

More real food recipes you might like ::

 

 

Healthy Kids and Teens Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

4 Steps To Mastering Safe Kitchen Skills With Kids PLUS! A Break Down Of Appropriate Kitchen Tasks By Age

November 11, 2017

“Raising a real food generation in the real world” starts with getting little ones in the kitchen! Learn the 4 steps to mastering safe kitchen skills with kids age by age!

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. 

Where it all begins…

This post is so full circle for me. I literally have chills as I write these first few sentences, because other than writing about nourishing babies with real food and stopping the cycle of processed food, this topic is what I had envisioned writing about more as my kids get older.

Because this is where it all begins, yes? If we want to see the next generation of kids know where their food comes from, and “raise a real food generation in the real world,” it must start with the littles in the kitchen.

…We must stop the cycle of disconnect with our food, and be ok with messy hands, spilled milk, and egg shells in the batter.

…We have to be ok with dinner prep taking a few minutes longer so the toddler can be the one to wash up the potatoes, and 9 year old can be the one to do the chopping.

Maybe not every night, but making a commitment to include our kids in the kitchen will save them the years and years of relationship issues with food that the last few generations are still digging out from. 

Where to start!

So here I am, 8 1/2 years after having my first baby, and having ZERO culinary background or schooling, to tell you that kids really can learn how to master kitchen skills. I’ve found that even with my 3 very different personality kids that there is a really concrete flow for teaching them how to master these skills without tears or frustration. Here is my method!


4 Steps To Mastering Kitchen Skills With Kids


These steps are evergreen for any kitchen skill at any age. The process will look a little different between showing a 3 year old a new skill versus a 10 year old, but the concept is the same. The goal is to set the kids up to succeed and not fail.

  1. Show Them. YOU do the task and explain what you are doing along the way. SLOW DOWN, so they can see what you are doing and process it. You may stay at this step for 1 run through, or for ages. For instance, washing up produce really just takes showing your 2 year old how you want the apples washed, how to do it with care so they don’t bruise, and where to set them when they are done washing. How to clean up their splashes and how to dry the apples. Easy peasy. But my toddlers watched me most of their toddler-hood before they used a sharp knife. Anytime they were up in their little helper stander watching me chop, I was telling them what I was doing. It all starts there.
  2. Hand Over Hand. Get right up over their shoulders and help. Even with the washing example, a 2 year old will still need help along the way until they have done it a few times and know what to expect. You can hand over hand peeling carrots, chopping fruit, stirring a pot of soup or muffin batter, etc. This is really key to helping kids feel confident – because you can keep them safe at the same time. Slip ups and mistakes will still happen, but you are still there.
  3. Supervised Independence. This is where the setting them up to to succeed comes in. Stick around until they feel confident on their own. Letting a 2 year old go to town on a sink full of produce will only end in a mess to clean up and an irritated mom if you are not right there next to them in the beginning to let them know it is not ok to pour a cup of water on the floor. When expectations are clear, they are set up to succeed. This step also is important with older children as well. My 8 1/2 year old is still not out of this step for chopping with a sharp chef’s knife. She mastered using a kid safe kitchen knife years ago, but last year we introduced a kid hand sized, regular sharp knife, and I’m still watching over her shoulder here and there as she goes along. It gives me a chance to correct a posture or holding technique so she doesn’t get hurt.
  4. Mastery. When the child has demonstrated independence over a period of time, you can confidently let the know they have mastered that skill. Kids love this – they literally eat this kind of challenge up. I learned this terminology from watching my girls in their Montessori school – mastering certain skills or work stations gave them such pride.

So let’s talk about age appropriate tasks!

Here me on this first, and repeat after me…every kid is different. EVERY kid is different! This is not concrete, rather a general guideline. I remember thinking sometimes, there is no way my kid could do this or that, and then got gutsy and tried it, and they blew me away at their ability. Other times I would try something that one of the other children was responsible to do at a certain age, or caught onto fast, and was quickly reminded that not every kid is ready for everything at the same time!

Let this be your inspiration! 


Best Kitchen Tasks Ages 6 months 2 years old


  • Mixing Practice :: As soon as those little guys can sit up on the floor, grab those empty mixing bowls and spatulas and let them have at it! Empty bowls of course at first, but you can even toss some blocks or pretend food in. As the little ones are able to stand safely in a little helper stander, you can stand them right up next to you and they can pretend at the counter while you work. A 2 or 3 year old might also do well stirring a small bowl of water to start learning the cause and effect of spilling and splashing. I’d rather have them learn this consequence with a bowl of cool water than a pot of hot soup – 3 kiddos into this thing and we’ve never had a burn from splashed soup because they learned very young that you need to stir gently or it makes a mess that you have to help clean up. (In the image below, you’ll see my then 4 1/2 year old stirring a small pot of soup independently, while my then 2 year old stirs a bowl of water that she is totally pretending is soup 🙂 )

  • Scooping Seeds Out :: Squash clean up is such a fun task for little ones! The sensory play is fantastic, and it is great activity for toddlers

  • “I Chop, You Dump!” :: Toddlers love putting things in and out of bowls, filling up cups, and just feeling like they are helping momma. Tell them you need some help getting those chopped veggies in a bowl and they will proudly puff their chests out to be the big helper. I’m telling you, give a toddler a board full of chopped carrot coins and they’ll put them from bowl to bowl or cup to cup for a good half hour of focused play! I used to start dinner early just for this great occupying play!

  • Washing Produce :: Hop those toddlers up on a Little Helper Stander and let them help scrub the potatoes up, wash up the apples, and rinse of whatever produce you are preparing. A bowl full of water and chopped leeks are great sensory play to get the sand out (and they will inhale this creamy potato leek soup after they rinse the leeks!).

  • Pre-Chopping Skills :: We purchased this toddler chopping toy for my oldest’s 1st birthday, and it has been passed down to each of the other girls – it is a GREAT way to introduce the process of chopping to little ones in a safe way and start building and coordinating their hand muscles for this task.

  • Other odds and ends :: Toddlers big puffy heart love buttons! Let them push the blender, mixer, or food processor on! They also just love being a part of whatever you are doing. Take the time to let them take a turn to stir the muffin batter, put the muffin cups in the muffin tin, put the veggie peel scraps in the garbage, hand over hand scoop the biscuits off the baking sheet, and butter the pan for the bread. You’ll be surprised not only at how much they really can do, but what this does to puff up their confidence in other life tasks.


Best Kitchen Tasks Ages 3-5 years old


Not only will these little guys transitioning into more preschool ages still thoroughly enjoy the tasks from their babyhood, ages 3-5 is a fun age because they are gaining more fine motor control and can reason about hot/cold, cause and effect of splashing, and some are even trustworthy to start some simple knife skills.

  • Same Kitchen Tasks from the Above Babyhood Section :: Just take it up a notch. Give them more responsibility such as counting out how many potatoes need to be washed and dried – and clean up the splashes that happen. Let them mix a bit more when you are making muffin batter.

  • Peeling :: One of my girls was peeling with a Y-Peeler by the age of 2, but she was extremely trustworthy and followed directions well. I usually like to start peelers around age 3, but again, follow your child’s lead. Follow the “4 Steps to Mastering a Kitchen Skill” from above, and you’ll probably never have to peel a carrot as long as they are around! Your older 4 and 5 year olds will also enjoy the Julienne Peeler to make strips of veggie “noodles” for stir frys – they are always a big hit here!

  • Cracking Eggs :: This is a good age to start this skill, though my experience has shown me every kid picks it up differently – one of mine took a good year to master this skill while another just a few tries. Just follow the “4 Steps To Mastering A Kitchen Skill” from above and they’ll catch on!

 

  • Measuring :: I typically start introducing this skill around this age by measuring it myself and letting them dump into the bowl. As they get closer to age 4 and 5, you can start with some independent measuring using smaller measuring spoons and work up to the bigger cups and liquids.
  • Pouring :: Don’t start with something you need poured precisely right away. Start with just a couple of simple tea cups or small pitchers with water only a quart of the way filled up and let them practice pouring from one pitcher to another. Back and forth. You can even start with something dry like rice or beans, and when they master pouring that, use a little bit of water.

  • Special Tools This Age Can Manipulate :: This age does well peelers, Julienne peelers, spirilizers, and little choppers for dicing onion or chopping nuts. Apple cutters work well if you get them started. Don’t try a full apple until they are a bit older – cut some rings of apple and let them do the rounds versus a full apple – full soft pears work well though! They also still love pushing buttons, so let them make the hummus in the food processor, or blend up the smoothie.

  • Messy Sensory Tasks! :: Let them butter up the pan for the muffins or bread, scoop out the seed for the squash (let them put the seeds in a bowl and have at it – they will play with it for hours!), and wash up the dishes. This is big time prime age for helping with cleaning up. They have a deep need for order (this is not just a personality thing – ages 2-4  years old is a Montessori Sensitive Period for “order” where they are seeking out where things should be and how things should be – it is why they melt down when things aren’t just so!). Show them how to wash up the dishes (I keep the sharps out of the dishwater), and how to stack them up on the drying rack neatly – they LOVE this! It is one of the biggest reasons I can’t do without my Little Helper Stander! When they are done with the dishes, let them play in the water a bit 😉

  • Pre-Chopping Skills :: At this preschooler age, I like to introduce a these kid safe knives and start hand over hand chopping practice with soft things like steamed veggies, bananas, strawberries, or soft pears. You will definitely find that chopping responsibility age varies from kid to kid. My first born was trustworthy with a small, paring knife (paring knifes are sharp) for strawberries and other soft veg around the age of 4, while my other 2 were not. My 6 ½ year old is just now starting to use a sharp knife (this chef’s knife is my favorite knife for older kids as they start needing sharper knives for real chopping) safely and I think this is probably more the norm.

  • Hot Food Prep :: Just like knife skills, trustworthy-ness for hot food prep will vary in age from kid to kid. My first born was standing next to me in her Little Helper Stander at the age of 2 and 3 helping me stir a pot of soup. Never leaving her side, but she was very trustworthy. I learned real quick that my second born was not the same way from the second I set her up there and she was going to test my warnings of “hot” herself. Simply let them know you are going to scoot their stander over to the other side of the counter where they can stir a bowl of pretend soup (water) until they are ready to be safe with hot food. It isn’t a big deal! They’ll catch on! She was safely stirring a pot of soup closer to 4 ½ and this is the same for my third born.


Best Kitchen Tasks Ages 6-9 years old


  • Refinement of Toddler Section Skills :: Now is when I’m going to start telling you to let go a little 🙂 Let them make a mess a bit while they learn how to measure flour precisely, let them get  a little egg shell in the batter as they refine their egg cracking skills (just scoop it out before you mix!), and let them have a salad with roughly chopped versus neatly diced carrots. Their confidence and skill mastery will only sharpen with letting go!

  • Follow a Recipe :: While my toddlers and preschoolers watch me refer to my recipes while cooking all the time, when my Kinder age kiddos start reading, I start pointing out what I’m reading and why. Let the 8 and 9 year olds follow a simple recipe for making hummus, a salad dressing, or simple soup.

  • Measuring and Pouring :: Let it go momma, and let them try 🙂 Put the flour in an easy to scoop container (I actually find freezer bags are just as good for the little bags of gluten free flour). Instead of pouring milk from a large jug, let them measure it out from a smaller pitcher. Yes, more dishes to clean and a little extra time, but it is worth it every so often to let them practice this skill.

  • Blending, Mixing, Whisking, Folding :: Follow the “4 Steps to Mastering a Kitchen Skills” and show them the difference between stirring and folding. Show them the different tools and the why behind wanting to fold something versus blend it up with a mixer.

  • Special Tools This Age Can Manipulate :: This age should be pretty independent with peelers and soft veggies like zucchini for the spirilizer. If you get the child up high on a step stool, up and over the apples, an apple cutter works well too – I still find that halving the apple at least so there is a flat, even side to rest on the table so it doesn’t roll around is best. Rolling pins, cookie cutters, and piping bags can all be introduced by age 5 or 6 and refined as they get older. My 8 1/2 year old understands how to independently use the blender for a smoothie, food processor buttons, and the Instant Pot! I’ll be out of a job soon 😉

  • Slicing and Chopping :: This age will still most likely need a step stool for safest chopping. Getting them up and over the work area gives them better control and leverage (try chopping something sitting at the table even level with what you are cutting – it is much easier to be up and over what you are slicing). I like starting with these kid safe knives at first, and then move to these kid hand sized sharp chef knives that are nice and sharp. Remember, the duller the knife the harder they will have to press and that will cause slips and accidents. When the knife is nice and sharp, they won’t have to work as hard and accidents won’t happen. Start using a sharp knife with softer veggies like zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans, and fruit like strawberries. You can core an apple and have them slice those too. When they master being able to handle these softer items, move to carrot sticks and potato cubes, again following the “4 Steps To Mastering Kitchen Skills.”

  • Hot Food Prep :: This age should be pretty good to go on helping stir a pot of soup, but this is also a great age to start teaching how to make a simple egg in a pan, flip a pancake, and sear some meat. It takes some time to supervise and help them learn the coordination of it all, but it is worth it when they can fix themselves an egg in the morning without your help! Again, I think it is best to keep them up and over the work area, so even my 8 year old still uses a step stool at the stove for safe hot food prep.

  • Pre-Meal Planning :: This is a good age to start testing all that you have taught them as little ones with regards to eating in a balanced way! Start having them help you plan out the breakfast menu, pack a balanced lunchbox, and prepare dinner. Every family’s eating style will be different even within this RGN real food community, so I won’t tell you what that should look like. As an example in our home, there is always a healthy fat, veggie, and protein at each meal. It will look differently from household to household, but my kiddos by this age know how to plan a meal and what might be missing.


Best Kitchen Tasks for Older Children (Tweens/Teens)


So here’s were I’m going to make this post an ongoing work in progress! My oldest is 8 1/2! I don’t have older children yet, so I’m not going to pretend that I know what I’m doing here. I do have a few thoughts that I will share, but as my kids reach through these ages, I’m hopeful to update this section as we go!

I think these older kiddos, just like our little guys, are capable of much more than we think. I’m just now starting to work with my 8 1/2 year old on more refined cubing of potatoes and dicing of veg for soups. Following bigger recipes and taking things in and out of the oven. I think tweens and teens ought probably be helping plan and make most of one meal once or twice a week, and packing most or all of their lunchboxes. I would really love to hear what your tweens and teens are doing in the kitchen at home! Inspire us with little ones by using the comment section below to tell us all that your teens can do!


My favorite kitchen tools for kids


Here is a comprehensive list of the tools I love using with my kids – I have tried and tested SO many different kitchen tools with them. Some have been disasters, and so this list is truly all of my favorite tools to make working with my kids in the kitchen safe, easy, and fun!

One of the tricks I used to adding to my kitchen tool collection for the girls, was getting these tools on their gift lists for holidays, birthdays, etc. Wrap them up in a fun apron, or slide a great recipe in with the gift with the promise of some kitchen time together!

 

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Grain Free Pumpkin Raisin Breakfast Cookies :: Kid Friendly & Freezes Great!

October 6, 2017

Get out the door fast with breakfast cookies made with sweet pumpkin and warm fall spices to make any school morning more cozy!

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 joy {and busy-ness!} of autumn…

…has made me really re-think my morning routines! This is my first year of having all 3 kids in school at least part time, and I will be honest in saying that I envisioned having a little more time to sip my coffee every morning! That is just hasn’t proven to be the case yet with 3 sets of field trips speckled through the month, projects to be done, after school activities, and of course lots of fun fall family outings to be had!

Keeping up but slowing down to savor

One busy morning it finally hit me. We had already made it to the middle of September, and I hadn’t made one pumpkin thing in my kitchen. I also had gotten into a rut of the same sort of breakfast routine every day. Nourishing? Yes. But savoring this season that we only get to enjoy a couple months out of every year? No!

So I set out to create a special something for breakfast that would help us enjoy the season, but not leave momma stressed for time on a school morning.

Breakfast Cookie Fridays!

Oh yes! It’s a thing, dear friends!

A few years back, I instituted “breakfast cookie Fridays” not only as a fun way for my girls to end the school week, but also as a way for myself to be kicked back and enjoy my coffee a little longer on a Friday morning. I set up a “breakfast bar” with a tray of breakfast cookies, a bowl of hard boiled eggs, and hot tea or raw milk to drink. The girls help themselves and I am hand free. It is a beautiful thing!

A new breakfast cookie Friday addition with a fall twist!

So in my intentional decision to savor the fall despite our busy schedule, these pretty little pumpkin raisin breakfast cookies were born! Warm spices with sweet pumpkin and maple syrup make for a cozy morning with a cup of tea or coffee (or my favorite pumpkin spice latte?!). I’m telling you, your kitchen is going to smell *amazing* after baking these simple little cookies off!

We have been enjoying them over the last few weeks while I perfected the ingredient ratios and tried some swaps, and the girls have finally given me the big 2 thumbs up for being post-worthy!

Ingredient notes and swaps!

  • Keep your eyes peeled in the ingredients for how to swap out the nuts. I have made a couple batches all seed based, and they taste so good! Even if you aren’t nut free, sometimes it’s nice to rotate around and get some nutrients from seeds you don’t have often.
  • These breakfast cookies are naturally egg (and dairy) free too! Pumpkin makes a great egg replacer, and the flax seed meal also provides a natural bind so that I could skip the egg.
  • I have made 1 batch with a good few tablespoons of grassfed collagen for extra protein and gut nourishment. They turned out great, so that is an addition you can put in if you wish!

Embrace the fall, my friends!

I sincerely hope I’ve sparked a bit of thought into you to enjoy this season, dear momma. The kids will remember these warm smells coming from the kitchen as they get older, and I’m telling ya…as my oldest nears more pre-teen ages, I’m starting to be more aware of the need to be intentional at memories versus the survival mode that the newborn years were! Embrace this change of season!

5.0 from 12 reviews
Grain Free Pumpkin Raisin Breakfast Cookies :: Kid Friendly & Freezes Great!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut (If you have a coconut allergy and can handle some grain, rolled oats or sprouted oats will work)
  • ½ heaping cup walnuts (Swap for an even ½ cup of sunflower seeds if you are nut free)
  • ½ heaping cup pecans (Swap for and even ½ cup seeds of choice here if you are nut free)
  • ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup flax seed meal (chia seeds should work here too)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup nut or seed butter of choice (I've made these with almond butter, tahini, cashew butter, and almond butter. Sunflower seed butter should be fine too.)
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup pure maple syrup (Raw honey would work here too. I think the warmth of the maple syrup works well with the pumpkin and pumpkin spices!)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coarsely chop the walnuts, pecans, and pepitas. (I like to buzz them up in my food processor to get coarse bits.)
  3. Put all the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and combine well with a spatula.
  4. Form the dough into cookies using your hands, and place on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the cookies cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool further (or you may eat them before they cool!)

More real food PUMPKIN recipes you might like:

LOVE the idea of BREAKFAST COOKIE Friday’s?! Here are more recipes to add to your own breakfast cookie morning rotation!

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Paleo Wild Caught Salmon Burgers With Dairy Free Garlic Aioli

September 30, 2017

Enjoy these light and flaky, Paleo wild caught salmon burgers with creamy dairy free garlic aioli for a fuss free dinner prep perfect for any 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. 

Salmon…a household baby favorite!

Years ago, when my older girls were really little, I started making little salmon “cakes” or “patties” – whatever you like to call them! It mostly started because I did not grow up eating fish, and I needed a way that I could…get it down! My babies were completely obsessed with fish, and making salmon cakes was one of the ways I was able to mold my adult palate toward the fish.

You can see my special, nutrient filled ways to introduce baby to wild caught fish in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings! I truly believe that starting my little ones out with little bits of wild caught salmon while they were young paved the way for their love of fish!

A much needed trip, and a fresh idea!

This summer, my husband and I got away one day {without kids!}, and enjoyed some time to savor each other’s company, shopping…and good food! The trip itself was refreshing, but one particular meal at Fish Lad’s, a fish monger dedicated to wild caught, sustainable fishing methods, had me absolutely over the moon with joy. With each amazing, dilly, juicy bite of their delicious wild caught salmon burger, a new idea on how to make salmon “patties” was realized!

It’s all about the texture

I was never really able to nail down what was missing from every other salmon “cake” or “patty” recipe I tried, until that day. With every bite I remember thinking “this is so light and airy, and yet so hearty, and meaty…and satisfying. It didn’t feel like a dense, egg-y, fish patty. It also didn’t taste like a salmon meatloaf stuffed with breadcrumbs.

Salmon worthy of the name…burger!

Not that there is anything wrong with those typical salmon patty textures, but this salmon…THIS felt like the texture of a burger. I could see tiny flakes of salmon with each airy, juicy bite, and it hit me.

They hand chopped this fish. And it was fresh fish.

You see, most salmon cake recipes used pureed fresh fish, or canned fish. Since fish is SO delicate, it turns into a paste when you puree it, so you add an egg or two to bind it all up, some breadcrumbs to soak up all the moisture, and you get a beautiful salmon “meatloaf” type texture. It works…but this salmon burger texture was nothing short of amazing. And I’m here to tell you it is absolutely worthy of the “burger” name.

My first try…

My first few attempts at my new salmon burger approach this summer had my kiddos absolutely in love, and I was completely sold on this new approach. Instead of pureeing the fish to oblivion, I hand chopped it. I bought a whole wild salmon, skinned it, cubed it…and then ran a chopping knife through it. The result was the texture of what you would be used to feeling with beef hamburger – little small bits of meat.

I was so nervous to see if it would stick together without an egg. But if we make hamburgers without a binder, shouldn’t this stick together too? This chopped salmon texture really does, and it is as fast prep as making hamburgers too, which is SO nice for a quick Friday night dinner.

Because a burger this special deserves a special sauce!

I have been able to nail down my seasoning ratios on the salmon burgers in my last few attempts, as well a brand new aioli topping that everyone will love! The aioli is a dilly, creamy, garlicky dream, and it just puts these burgers over the top – just like the aioli I had on my salmon burger at Fish Lads! It will make your Friday night in feel so special, and because it is loaded with friendly fats and healthy ingredients, you can feel free to pile it up high.

Of course, just like any burger, these salmon burgers are really a blank slate!

Change up the seasonings to your style, and enjoy! You can make them Asian style, or give it some heat with cayenne or flavorful chipotle (this is my favorite way of detailing my specific burger!), use Italian seasoning – whatever suits you! We served the burgers this night with roasted sweet potatoes, but you can change that up too! Homemade restaurant style french fries are always a hit too!

Supporting local…and some thoughts on fish quality

I can tell you that I am 100% sure that Fish Lads’ salmon burgers will be my staple order whenever I’m in Grand Rapids, but I’m so glad I can replicate their masterpiece even by a little at home! If you are newer to adding fresh fish to your household menu, know that the quality does matter. Wild caught fish is superior not only in taste, but in nutrition. If the salmon isn’t that super bright pinkish red flesh, it is farmed and not as good in quality.

Thankfully wild caught Alaskan salmon can be found so much easier these days. Even places like Costco carry fresh, wild caught salmon in the freezer section of their store! Look up your local fish mongers. The demand for quality has risen as  more and more people become aware of the importance of fish being wild caught. Ask the fish mongers questions – my findings have been that these people love what they do, and they want to tell you about their skill!

Onto the salmon burgers!

5.0 from 15 reviews
Paleo Wild Caught Salmon Burgers With Dairy Free Garlic Aioli
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SALMON BURGERS ::
  • 1 - 1¼ lbs fresh wild caught salmon
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup friendly fat to cook in such as avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, tallow, etc.
  • 3-4 tbsp potato starch to dredge (optional but gives amazing aroma, flavor, and crispy seared texture. If you tolerate white rice flour, that has the same effect.)
  • FOR THE GARLIC AIOLI ::
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil (I used a garlic infused olive oil which was even more amazing!)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic (if you don’t care for the “heat” of raw garlic, you can use 2 tsp of powdered garlic)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp dill
  • ¼ - ½ tsp sea salt per your taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or more to your taste
Instructions
  1. Skin and cube up your salmon. Then run a chopping knife through the cubed salmon until the bits are small but not to a puree. The texture should resemble that of ground beef.
  2. Combine the chopped salmon and salmon burger seasonings in a medium mixing bowl. Place in the fridge while you prepare the aioli.
  3. To make the aioli, put all of the aioli ingredients into a pint mason jar, and blend with an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend everything except the oil with your food processor, and then drizzle the oil in slowly while it blends. Set the aioli aside in the fridge while you cook the salmon burgers.
  4. Heat a skillet with your friendly cooking fat of choice over medium-high heat while you form your salmon burgers.
  5. Divide the salmon mixture into the sized burgers you want, and form burger patties with your hands. This takes just a little bit of time, but it is worth working the patties gently so they come together and aren't too overworked.
  6. Dust the salmon burgers on both sides in a small bowl of potato starch. Place the potato starch dusted salmon burgers into the hot oil, and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook another 3-5 minutes, until both sides are golden brown, crispy on the outside, and cooked on the inside. If you make smaller salmon burgers your cook time will be shorter - this cook time was for 1 pound of salmon formed into 4 burgers.

Make sure to check out my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings for safe recipes to introduce your baby to wild caught fish – create that broad taste palate for enjoying fish, and they will be enjoying salmon burgers with the family as they grow toddlers!

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Healthy Homemade Nut Free Granola Bars :: Nut Free School Zone Safe and Naturally Refined Sugar Free!

September 13, 2017

Nut free school zone safe homemade granola bars that are fruit sweetened, and definitely kid approved!

Fall fun!

I feel like every mid September I start to feel the crunch. As in…you have T-minus 2 more months until that weather turns, and instead of sinking your toes in the sand and soaking up the sun’s rays, you’ll be sinking your toes into warm, wool socks and soaking in the warmth from thick blankets while snow surrounds your house!

We are on the go until that winter mess happens, and that means snacks need to be portable!

My granola bar nemesis conquered…

Granola bars have been on my goal list for at least 2 years now. I just could never get them right. I tried a few recipes when my oldest started Kindergarten a few years back, but the ingredients were never to my standard using puffed cereals, rice syrup, and oats that weren’t properly prepared. I would make swaps to meet my ingredient goals, and the whole darn thing would fall apart.

Turns out you really need the right kind of “sticky-ness,” and *just* the right ratios of solids to liquids to get these puppies to hold. I would give up for a couple months and then re-visit them…and this time around, I hit the nail on the head!

So worth 6 batches!

If you are a follower to my Instagram school lunch posts (just search the hashtag #rgnschoollunch on IG!), you are going to be seeing these granola bars often this year. The girls are obsessed with them, and they are going fast. I did end up making 6 batches to make sure my consistency was perfect with certain swaps, and I have a nice stash of them in the freezer for quick, pack-able school morning snacks or lunchbox additions. I have been grabbing them to go for myself as well.

Minimal prep is the name of my game!

Listen, I know it is just as easy to grab a healthier version of granola bars at the store. So my goal in making these was not only to make the nutrition far superior to that found in store bought granola bars, but I also needed it to be something I was willing to make weekly, or even just monthly to keep in my school packing rotation. I don’t have extra time to be spending on picky little steps and long drawn out processes for making a simple granola bar.

You are going to flip at how easily these come together!

Nut free school zone safe!

While my kiddos are not at a nut free school, I have been feeling the questions from you, my dear readers, about nut free snacks for your kids who may be in nut free schools, or who have kids at home that need to be nut free. These granola bars are seed based, and even if you don’t have kids that have to be nut free, it is such a good idea to keep a variety of foods in front of them so they are getting different nutrients.

Hold up! These are not just for nut free kids!

My kids tolerate nuts and eat nuts just fine, but let’s face it….Between that PBJ a couple times per week at school, granola or nuts on their oatmeal once or twice a week, and using almond flour here and there for baked goods, it doesn’t hurt to change things up a bit. I fully plan on making these granola bars with some different nut varieties too, but it was a really fun challenge to make these completely seed based so that our nut free friends could enjoy them too.

Change it up!

Since these granola bars are SO easy to make, they will soon become a staple in your lunchbox packing game! Here are some ways to change things up so that you can keep things interesting!

  • Swap the raisins for another dried fruit (dried cranberries, dried mango, dried apples, dried blueberries, dried apricot) or healthier option chocolate chip
  • Swap the cinnamon for pumpkin pie spice and use dried apples for a fun fall flavor.
  • Change out the seed butter for different flavor seed butters or, if you tolerate nuts you could try some different nut butters.
  • If you tolerate nuts, you could swap some of the seeds for nuts.

5.0 from 12 reviews
Healthy Homemade Granola Bars :: Nut Free School Zone Safe and Naturally Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 6 large Medjool dates soaked in warm water to soften, plus 3 tbsp of the date water to make the date paste (I find our dates in the produce section at our local grocer or at Costco)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds (I buy coconut shreds in bulk at our local health food store)
  • 1 cup raw pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds), coarsely chopped (I buzzed them up about 5 long pulses in my food processor)
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, coarsely chopped (I buzzed them up about 5 long pulses in my food processor)
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal (I buy our flax seed meal at Costco)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (I buy our chia seeds at Costco)
  • ¾ cup - 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp sea salt (if your seeds or seed butter are salted, you will want to cut this back by at least half)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup tahini (This is sesame seed butter. Sunflower seed butter should work too. Or if you tolerate nuts, use a nut butter of choice like almond or peanut butter. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind with the seed or nut butters is that you want something that doesn't have a bunch of other added ingredients/oils/sugar etc. Just check the ingredient labels.)
Instructions
  1. Fill a small bowl with warm/hot water from the tap and place the dates in the warm water while you prep the rest of the ingredients. They need to soak at least 5-10 minutes to moisten and soften.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, and line a small baking pan with parchment paper. There is no need to grease the pan or the paper. Make sure the sides of the paper go over the sides of the pan so you can lift the granola bar mixture out of the pan easily.
  3. Put the pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax meal, chia seeds, raisins, salt, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl, and stir with a spoon to combine.
  4. Pit the dates, and put them into a blender along with 3 tablespoons of the warm water that the dates were soaking in. Blend to make a smooth date “paste.” Put the date paste and tahini in a small sauce pan. Warm the date paste/tahini mixture until it melts and starts to sizzle a little, stirring along the way. This only needs about 1 minute to melt and warm so that it is easier to mix into the seeds.
  5. Stir the warm date paste/tahini mixture into the mixing bowl with the seeds using a spatula. It will be thick and sticky. It will seem dry at first but do not add more moisture or they will not set right. It will start to combine as you mix.
  6. Press the granola bar mixture into the parchment paper lined baking sheet. I use my hands – press it in tight. Press it into the sides and corners, and slide the edges and corners down to compact in.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, take them out of the oven, and use the back of a wooden spoon t gently press the granola down a bit more so it really compacts in to set. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then use the parchment paper sides to lift the solid bar mixture onto a cooling rack to finish cooling (I keep it on the parchment paper while on the cooling rack). Do NOT cut the bars until they are cooled – it sets up as it cools off, and it will fall apart if you cut it while it is still hot.
  8. Once the granola is cooled, cut the bars into the sizes you want, and either freeze or store in an airtight container.

More real food lunchbox ideas you might like!

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How To Make Soy Free and Refined Sugar Free Teriyaki Sauce :: Plus! A 20 Minute Beef Teriyaki Stir Fry Recipe!

September 9, 2017

Learn how to make soy free and refined sugar free teriyaki sauce, and a bonus 20 minute beef teriyaki stir fry recipe for those busy weeknights!

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 transitions…

While most that are unfamiliar with Michigan think we are buried in snow most of the year, the reality is…we have just about the most amazing summer you’ll find anywhere on the planet! And while that snow *is* our reality about 3-4 months out of the year, having distinct seasonal changes is what keeps me in love with this place we call home.

We are hanging up our body boards and swimsuits and welcoming the new school year with open arms!

Season changes and new school routines

The new school year brings a different kind of busy to our house. With 3 young children, we kept pretty “busy” all summer long, but the school year type of busy is just a little different. There are places to be *on time*, lessons and practices to be *on time*, and bedtimes that are not as flexible as the lazy days of summer.

Which brings me to dinner…

Efficient but nourishing is the name of my game!

I know many of you picture this foodie blogger momma floating around the kitchen all day preparing elaborate meals for her family. That is just not my reality! This house is about as real as it gets, and as a work at home mom with kids that need to be taken to and from school, as well as still has a little one that isn’t in full time school yet…well, dinner needs to be efficient.

But how do we make a quick dinner, and still meet those goals of using real food instead of convenience foods?

My veteran momma school year dinner prep tips!

Well, maybe not veteran, but I do have a few years under my belt with school aged kids, and I have learned a few things about dinner time during the school year that I hope will help you.

  • Make weekend meals stretch into the weekdays. Plan your big roasted chicken for Sunday dinner, and use the leftover meat for a stir fry on Monday. Plan a doubled up stir fry on Saturday or Sunday and use the leftovers for dinner on Tuesday. You get the idea. Take a good 1-2 days out of that 5 day work week to use leftovers, and the week of dinners will feel less daunting.
  • Prep “the little things” ahead of time. Salad dressings, dips, sauces (like this teriyaki sauce!) may take just a few minutes to make, but that few minutes on a crammed out Wednesday night of activities will rush you. Every Sunday I like to make some “little things” like salad dressings, mayo, or a sauce for dinner and just stash it away for the week. Repeat after me…one. less. thing. (!!)
  • Take 5-10 minutes before bed to prep anything for dinner the next day. Again, it doesn’t take long to chop veggies, but that 5 minutes of time is precious on a school night. Chop your veg, slice meat (or get it marinating!), peel garlic, and make that dinner prep fly by the next day. You can even do things like make the rice for this dinner meal the night before. This could be considered one of those “little things” from the above point. If you know you eat rice 1-2 times per week, make that rice up while you are having your prep time in the kitchen over the weekend.
  • And a quick tip for work at home or stay at home moms! I know this isn’t everyone, but since I fall in this category, I do have a tip to share for my friends in this place. Make dinner before school gets out – or at least have it ready to go, on a sheet pan, chopped, half way made, etc. I don’t know about you, but my kids are starving after school, and a lot of times we just go ahead and have dinner when they get home around 4pm. Most days, I make dinner when I put my toddler down for her nap so it can run quick without interruption, and I’ll just warm it back up when the kids get home from school. Again, I understand this is not do-able for every momma. If you are a work outside the home momma, we would absolutely love to hear your tips and tricks for dinner time in the comments!

Naturally sweetened teriyaki sauce {made in 5 minutes!}

Sticky and sweet teriyaki sauce will make just about any hesitant stir fry eater in the house change their minds! Most teryaki sauces you find on the market or in restaurants are loaded with corn syrup or sugar. In just about 5 minutes, you can make your own teriyaki using natural sweeteners, and it seriously tastes like anything you would love right out of a restaurant!

5.0 from 13 reviews
5 Minute Teriyaki Sauce
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup coconut aminos (Most health food stores carry this now. It tastes just like soy sauce, so you can avoid the soy!)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp ground ginger (more if you want some heat – this is very mild kid friendly)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot mixed with 1 tbsp water for the thickening slurry (tapioca starch would work, or if you can tolerate grains, you can use GMO free cornstarch)
Instructions
  1. Put everything except the arrowroot slurry into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the arrowroot slurry and whisk until the sauce thickens. This will take less than a minute.
  3. Pour your sauce over any stir fry! You can freeze your sauce in ice cube trays or small freezer containers too. This recipe makes a little over 1 cup of sauce – enough for 1 family sized stir fry.

So I’ve got my 5 minute teriyaki sauce made…now what???

Well…you make a stir fry with whatever is in season near you! Here’s a quick template recipe, but it is really forgiving. If you have chicken instead of beef, use that. If you have different veggies on hand, swap them out!


20 Minute Beef Teriyaki Stir Fry


For the beef ::

  • 2 tbsp potato starch (arrowroot or tapioca starches would work, but I like the crispy finish that potato starch lends)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ lb swiss steak, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as tallow, butter, ghee, or coconut oil

For the stir fry ::

  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as tallow, butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • ½ large white onion
  • 2 small or 1 large bell pepper (I used orange)
  • 1lb frozen broccoli, thawed (or 1 head fresh broccoli. I get large bags of frozen organic broccoli at Costco)
  • 1 large carrot peeled into strips (I use this Y-peeler to make the cool, noodle like strips!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 recipe of the teriyaki sauce above
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions :: 

  1. Make the teriyaki sauce, and set aside. See the above instructions for the 5 minute teriyaki sauce!
  2. Make the beef strips: Whisk the potato starch, sea salt, and pepper in a bowl and toss the beef strips in to coat. Melt your fat in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the beef, and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Set the crispy beef aside.
  3. Make the stir fry: Melt the friendly fat in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and broccoli and cook for 5 minutes. You can cook this for an additional 5 minutes if you prefer your veggies softer. Add the garlic and carrot strips and cook another 3 minutes. Add the crispy beef and teriyaki sauce and simmer 3-5 minutes. Sea salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. You can serve your stir fry as is, or over a bed of cauli rice, bone broth cooked white rice, veggie noodles, or gluten free rice ramen.

More real food recipes you might like ::

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Paleo Plátanos Calados :: Stewed Spiced Ripe Plantains

August 23, 2017

Plátanos Calados are a creamy and sweet fall spiced glazed plantain treat that everyone in the family will love!

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 received a promotional copy of Latin American Paleo Cooking for review purposes for this post.

September is approaching, and fall is right around the corner!

We are moving into full blown back to school mode! My older 2 girls are getting antsy to get back to their friends and the daily routine of the classroom, and my youngest is beyond ready for her preschool year! With the anticipation of getting back into the classroom, my oldest 2 were having a particularly “bored” day, and I decided to have a little “school” here at home…

A little taste of Latin American culture

My little Montessorians are used to studying world maps all the time in school, and they were thrilled at the chance to learn more about a unique part of the world we call Latin America! My dear friend, Amanda, from The Curious Coconut just happened to send us her brand new cookbook, Latin American Paleo Cooking that week, and it was the perfect opportunity for the girls to brush up on their map skills, as well as learn about a unique, and very special culture.

A whole new cookbook experience!

I was prepared for Latin American Paleo Cooking to have super fun, gorgeous recipes knowing Amanda (which it totally does!), but what I wasn’t anticipating was the added cultural learning I was going to glean from the cookbook – and that dear friends, is priceless.

My older girls poured over the delicious recipes “ooo-ing” and “ahhh-ing” over the stewed meats, pretty folded little empanadas, and of course luscious sweet treats. My oldest noticed the flags with each recipe indicating what country in Latin America the recipes were from, and was soon glued to the computer maps trying to find the countries. We talked about the people from these countries, their heritage, what the weather is like in these tropical regions, as well as what kind of food grows there. It was a great learning opportunity!

Latin American Paleo Cooking Features and Stats!

Here’s the low down on this amazing book!

  • The cookbook has over 80 traditional recipes made Paleo and as authentic as possible, with over 90% being AIP or easily adaptable
  • All recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free; all but 1 are egg-free. 2 recipes use white rice BUT there are grain-free options for both of those.
  • The countries represented include: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and Brazil, each marked with that country’s flag for easy reference. Some recipes are so ubiquitous that they cannot be attributed to a single country, and are designated as pan-Latin.
  • Platos de la Familia (Family Dinners) includes recipes meant to feed a crowd, and many of these recipes are great for batch cooking.
  • Comida Fiesta! (Party Food!) includes Paleo versions of Latin recipes that people get ridiculously excited about, like pupusas, pandebono (“cheese” buns), empanadas, arepas, plantain sandwiches, and more.
  • Rapido y Facil (Quick and Easy) includes recipes that are, like the name says, quick and easy to prepare. Some are still great for batch cooking, too, extra bonus!
  • Accompañantes (Sides) includes many ways to enjoy tropical starches like yuca, malanga, boniato, and plantains PLUS both a starchy and non-starchy rice replacement AND starchy and non-starchy BEANS replacement!
  • Un Poco Dulce (A Little Sweet) is a short but delicious desserts chapter
  • Lo Esencials (The Essentials) includes cooking bases, sauces, marinades, condiments, broths, and more, which are used throughout the book and can be the launching point for readers to get creative with numerous uses! Of note is the QUESO BLANCO recipe that is unlike any other “cheese” recipe I have seen in the Paleo/AIP community. It melts and stretches like mozzarella!
  • While over 80 recipes are written, this book comes with numerous suggestions and options to create dozens of other recipes using different combinations of meats/fillings/breads/pastry shells/condiments/marinades. It is written to empower the reader to try new combinations!

Fall spices meet tropical fruit!

One of the recipes the girls kept coming back to was the stewed and spiced Plátanos Calados, meaning “drenched/soaked plantains.” This recipe originates in Colombia, and showcases sweet plantains glazed in warm and sweet spices we typically associate with the fall. Think pumpkin spice meets caramelized bananas…it is truly a match made in heaven.

A word about adventurous taste palates…and some veteran momma wisdom

Those of you who have been around here long enough know that I am a huge fan of exposing kids to the tastes of YOUR unique home. As far as our house goes at least, there is no such thing as “kid food” and “adult food” – all food is kid food. It’s family food. Starting these kiddos out young with the tastes and flavors of your home, and different cultures sets them up to be excited about trying new food. Those kids will never bat an eye at new things on their plate when they have been given the opportunity to have a wide variety of flavors and textures instead of being boxed into just “kid food.”

So while this recipe certainly is super fun (who doesn’t love sweet, creamy glazed fruit?!), there are other recipes in this book that I am absolutely planning on making that I have no idea what they will taste like! And you know what? The girls are biting at the bit for me to make something new! I promise you that getting little ones started out eating a wide variety of flavors, tastes, and textures will reward you with the same adventurous eaters I enjoy every day.

This picture right here below, is that of pure and utter foodie kid joy!

A quick note on some additions I made!

Amanda just knows me way to well! She mentioned to me that because I love “making every bite count” when it comes to feeding little kids, that possibly swapping some of the water for nutrient dense, fatty coconut milk might be a good idea to bump up the nutrition. I was all about that. So I swapped 1/3 cup of the water for coconut milk and it was delicious. I think you could even swap more, if not the whole 1 cup. We weren’t sure if the glaze would get too thick using all coconut milk but I think there is some room for more than the 1/3 cup that I did.

I also backed off the sweet a little bit. My kids’ palates aren’t real used to super sweet, and I had a feeling this would almost be more sweet than they would enjoy. They thoroughly enjoyed every bite of these Plátanos Calados with half the coconut sugar. The caramelized ripe plantains were more than enough sweet for them. If you have really little guys in the house, I would definitely recommend doing this. If you have older kiddos in the house used to sweeter desserts, the ¼ cup will definitely please them – I made a half batch just for myself with the full amount and was in absolute heaven eating it with my café con leche 😉

When you start thinking pumpkin spice this fall, put Plátanos Calados on the menu for a quick and delicious sweet treat!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Plátanos Calados :: Stewed Spiced Ripe Plantains
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Latin American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4 servings
 
Plantains are so extremely versatile and can be appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert! This recipe utilizes very ripe plantains that are mostly black and soft to the touch. They are naturally very sweet on their own and pair wonderfully with the warm spices. In the fall when everyone is going crazy for “pumpkin spice” everything, make a batch of these!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (235 ml) water
  • ¼ cup (60 g) coconut sugaror grated panela sugar
  • 1 tsp (2 g) ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp aniseeds
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil
  • 2 large, very ripe (mostly black) plantains, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
Instructions
  1. In a small pot, combine all the ingredients, except the plantains, and stir well.
  2. Add the plantains and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 to minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the plantains are cooked throughout and tender.
  3. Serve with a generous portion of sauce and enjoy!
  4. AIP compliant: Omit the aniseeds and optionally replace with ½ teaspoon of ground mace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gluten Free Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal Cups :: Baked Oat Muffins To Go!

August 16, 2017

Portable, healthy, on-the-go gluten free peaches and cream oatmeal!

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.

We are…slowly switching gears…

You know…switching back into school routines. In just shy of a month, our lazy summer mornings, and sandy beach lunches will be swapped for out the door school morning breakfasts, and lunchbox noon meals!

And I’m pretty serious when I say we are *slowly* switching gears, because summer is just so sweet where we live. We really are soaking in every last ray of sunshine that we can!

A new breakfast idea to savor summer!

We picked up a bushel of local peaches last week, and while I dreamed of peach sherbet, my practical side took over and decided to create something useful for busy school days using our peaches.

My plans for preserving our blueberries into blueberry granola for the pantry were spot on, and I have been tucking these little peach baked oatmeal cups into the freezer for a cool fall day when those fresh peaches are long gone!

A favorite summer breakfast with a twist

Every August, the girls’ favorite breakfast is peaches and cream oatmeal. Those warm bowls of oats drowning in fresh cream and sweet peaches is nothing short of amazing! These baked oatmeal cups are like wrapping those bowls of peaches and cream oatmeal into a little hand held muffin cup, perfect for on the go and for tiny hands.

Ingredient notes and swaps

I have a few swap thoughts, but if you happen to try some other flour blends, please comment below so others can see how they worked out!

  • Egg free friends, I’m pretty sure these baked oatmeal cups will work great with flax or chia eggs. They may not puff up as much but it will still work great
  • If you don’t have access to the Namaste gluten free flour blend, I’m sure most gluten free blends will work well. You could also try using a couple gluten free flours that you like to bake with and make your own blend.
  • If you are a gluten free household, please be sure that your oats are gluten free as oats can carry traces of gluten from processing.
  • I used coconut milk (this is my favorite gum/additive free brand, or I make it quick myself) and lemon juice to make “buttermilk” for soaking the grains. If you have a quality, well sourced buttermilk, you can use that instead, or use raw milk with lemon juice.
  • To change things up, I did try one batch swapping the 1 cup of Namaste flour for 1/3 cup each of almond flour, coconut flour, and cassava flour. They turned out great, and it’s a great way to change nutrients up.
  • I tried one batch with a few tablespoons of grassfed collagen in the batter to add another level of nourishment, and it turned out great. I know some do not have access to grassfed collagen, however, and for those friends, this recipe turns out just as good without the collagen.

No peaches? No problem!

Whatever fruit is in season near you, I’m quite certain they will swap nicely! Here are some ideas, and let us know if you try any of them!

  • Apple Cinnamon (just swap the peaches for diced apple, and I’d add a bit more cinnamon or maybe some cloves or apple pie seasoning blend!)
  • Pear Cinnamon (swap the peaches for pears)
  • Strawberry (swap the peaches for strawberries and leave out the cinnamon. I think almond extract would taste really good versus the vanilla)
  • Blueberry (swap the peaches for blueberries and leave out the cinnamon. I think almond extract would taste really good versus the vanilla)
  • Banana (swap the peaches for diced banana)

Freezer friendly tips

I mentioned I’ve been stashing some of these baked oatmeal cups away for school mornings, so I wanted to give you some tips on making that happen!

  • Let the muffins cool completely before freezing them
  • Put the cooled muffins into a freezer bag and then into the freezer. I would freeze them right away – same day that you make them. This locks in the moisture so they don’t get dry. So if you are making them for breakfast, eat what you need for the meal, and then freeze the rest.
  • To thaw and warm back up, you have 2 options. You can thaw them on the counter overnight. Or you can pop them on a tray right from the freezer and set them in your oven. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and by the time it pre-heats, the muffins will be thawed and warmed.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten Free Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal Cups :: Baked Oat Muffins To Go!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put the oats and gluten free flour blend in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice. The mixture will be thick. Cover with a towel and let the mixture soak overnight about 8 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the oats and flour, making it easier on digestion. It also allows the nutrients in the grains to be absorbed better.
  2. The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a small mixing bowl beat the eggs and honey for 1 minute until frothy. Add this to the oat/flour mixture that soaked overnight, along with the oil, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir to combine (this takes a minute and some muscle at first as the oat/flour/milk soaked mixture is a bit thick – do NOT add more liquid. It will loosen up and the peaches will add a lot of moisture.
  4. Fold in the diced peaches, and scoop the batter into a muffin tin lined with silicone muffin cups (or, if you don’t have silicone muffin cups, you can butter your muffin tin to prevent sticking). Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the tops are golden brown (check them around the 30 minute mark in case our ovens run differently). Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan before turning them out to a cooling rack for 10 minutes before eating.
  5. Recipe makes 12 large muffins. You could make them smaller and get 18 – if you have real little ones in the house, I’d make them smaller so they can eat a whole muffin. You will probably need more like 30 minutes to bake if you make them smaller.

More real food recipes you might like ::

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Paleo Blueberry Granola :: Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free Options

August 2, 2017

Paleo blueberry granola will bring a sweet blueberry taste and a light crispy crunch to your breakfast bowl and snack time!

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.

Ah, the signs of late summer…

Sun kissed hair, scraped up toddler knees, sandy feet…and bottomless buckets of blueberries! I haven’t even gotten a chance to freeze any blueberries this summer yet, as my crew of 3 hungry, growing kiddos has been devouring them by the pound!

A new way to preserve our summer blueberries

We’ll see if I get a chance to freeze any of those pretty berries, but this week, I tried preserving some of the blueberries into granola, and the result was…delicious!

Versatile, forgiving granola

Homemade granola may sound like a daunting task, but hear me out! This is just about the easiest, most forgiving type of food you will ever make! Those of you who know me well, or who have been following my blog for very long, know that baking is not my favorite kitchen task.

Dehydrating granola is so forgiving. You can flip flop around the ingredients to what you have in your kitchen, and the result dries out in the dehydrator no matter what…that’s my kind of “baking!”

Waking up to warm blueberries…

I set up my blueberry granola to dry out in the dehydrator overnight. I always look forward to the smell of warm granola the next morning, so overnight dehydrating is my favorite. But friends….oh my! The scent of warm blueberries when we woke up that morning was like nothing I have ever made before! Everyone – including my (not real blueberry loving) husband noticed how amazing it smelled.

The little flecks of dried blueberry infuses this granola with the most amazing flavor too.

One granola…so many possibilities!

I keep granola in my pantry at all times because it is so useful. It makes a great breakfast cereal with a splash of raw milk or coconut milk,  lunch time yogurt topper, or quick packing school snack. It is also great for little hands. This granola is light and crispy – which makes it easy to chew for little guys. (Keep in mind that babies under the age of one year should not eat nuts or seeds yet, so this recipe is not good for them. If your toddler is over the age of 1, and tolerating nuts/seeds, you are good to go!)

Ingredient swaps and notes

Here are my ingredient swap thoughts. Again, granola is pretty forgiving, so as long as the fat (oil) and raw honey are about the same, you can swap around the dry stuff as much as you want.

  • For those that are new to buckwheat, this power packed seed is a great source of protein and fiber. If you can’t tolerate buckwheat, swap it with coconut flour or other flour of your choice. (If you choose the coconut flour, you can skip the soaking in step 1.)
  • For the nuts and seeds,  I used a combo of walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pecans. If you are nut free, use all seeds – pumpkin, flax, sunflower, chia are all good choices! I used soaked/dehydrated nuts/seeds for best digestion.
  • I used coconut oil for the fat, but you could use butter, avocado oil, or olive oil.
  • For the raw honey, start with 1 cup and add to your taste after tasting the granola mixture. I used 1 cup which was sweet enough for my crew that isn’t used to super sweet cereal.
  • I chose to pulse the blueberries a few times before stirring them in. I wanted the flavor of the blueberry infused in the granola, and that definitely happened! If you prefer to keep your blueberries whole, I think that would work. Just keep an eye on the blueberries to be sure they dry out completely or they will go bad quick.

Dehydrator notes

I’ve had the same dehydrator for over 5 years now. It really has done it’s duty, but I do have to admit that I feel like the temperature isn’t staying quite as even in the last 6 months, and it may be puttering out. Things still dehydrate, but it takes a bit longer or higher temperature setting. That said, my little “middle of the road” dehydrator has definitely served its purpose! It is a great starter dehydrator. I haven’t decided yet if I will splurge on the fancier dehydrators with the promise that they will last longer yet 🙂

5.0 from 7 reviews
Paleo Blueberry Granola :: Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free Options
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 cups nuts/seeds of choice, ground into bits (I pulsed them in my food processor.)
  • 1 ½ cups almond flour (If you are nut free, use more seeds ground into flour, or more coconut shreds or flour)
  • 1 ½ cups coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 cups raw honey, melted (Just melt your oil first, turn the heat off and stir in the honey to melt.)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons almond extract (or vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped (I did 5 pulses in my food processor)
Instructions
  1. Stir the buckwheat, water, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the mixture soak 7-10 hours. This soaking process makes the seed easier to digest and makes the nutrients more available to absorb.
  2. After the buckwheat has soaked, add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.
  3. Spread the granola mixture over your dehydrator trays (I line mine with these "clean screen" tray liners since this mixture is wet and can fall through large tray holes), and dehydrate at 135 degrees until dry. This time will vary depending on how well your dehydrator keeps it’s temperature, how wet your mixture is from the blueberries and water, as well as how thin you spread the mixture out on the trays. Should be anywhere from 12-24 hours. It will continue to crisp up as it cools too. You can dehydrate at a higher temp such as 165 degrees and have it dry out a bit faster if you want.
  4. When the granola is dry, you can crumble it into an airtight storage container and keep it in your pantry. I like to keep some larger pieces for easy snacking too.

More real food blueberry recipes!

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Fast Prep Blueberry Coffee Cake :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo Friendly

July 27, 2017

Enjoy the very best of summer without fussing in the kitchen all morning with Fast Prep Blueberry Coffee Cake!

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.

We kicked off blueberry season a couple weeks ago!

The picking was a little early, but we got a good start, bringing home about 20 pounds of beautiful blueberries to enjoy until the warmer weather brings some easier picking.

We are literally surrounded by gorgeous blueberry fields where we live, so every summer we take advantage of supporting these amazing farmers by putting up about 70 pounds. The frozen blueberries make for great school morning smoothies, warm bowls of oatmeal on cold, snowy mornings, and yogurt topping snacks on a busy day.

Embracing a new season of life…

This summer has brought on more activities than we have done in past summers, now that my kiddos are getting older. I don’t have as frequent of a napper anymore, and the girls love seeing more of their friends from school. I normally have a bit more time to fuss with special recipes in the kitchen, but to be honest, I just haven’t had it in me this summer!

After scouring the interwebs for a coffee cake idea to use up some of our blueberries, I was about to scratch the whole idea after dreading all the fuss of making the filling and all the separate steps…

A new recipe for this busy momma

I scraped everything that I dreaded, and decided to try something new. Something…not fussy. Something that would make me want to make this special breakfast more than just once a summer. Six times to be exact! I made the recipe 6 times in the last week to try different combos and ratios to get it just right – and also to make it friendly for anyone needing to avoid grains etc.

The best coffee cake texture!

Perfectly spongy, and so satisfying! The mild sweetness is perfect with a cup of coffee – or a big glass of raw milk like my girls had with theirs. I think my favorite part is the sweet and salty combo of the crumble topping – it hit every taste bud in my mouth and the girls literally raved over it with every bite. Little foodies I have, I tell ya!

One recipe – lots of options

And in a few different ways too. If you are not in blueberry season, swap the fruit for raspberries, peaches, or blackberries.

I found the coffee cake to be super forgiving with each batch that I changed things up. Obviously I can’t trial every different special diet, but I did hit some of the bigger ones and loved the outcomes with each time. Note the recipe swaps for things like nut and grain allergies in the recipe card. For my egg free friends, I did make one batch with flax eggs, and while the egg version was my favorite, I did enjoy the flax egg version. It doesn’t puff up as much but it stayed together and tasted really good!

School morning breakfast bake off???

So my prepping for this post lead to 6 batches of coffee cake making…what did I do with all that coffee cake?! My family would have easily pounded out a whole pan of it in one shot, but no one needs that much coffee cake everyday for a week! I froze squares of coffee cake and tested how they warmed up in the oven from the frozen state. It was just perfect! So…hello school morning breakfast pick me up!

What a great way to store away those special summer blueberries. It will be so fun to pull out that coffee cake on a cool fall morning, or a blizzardy snow day home from school this winter!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Fast Prep Blueberry Coffee Cake :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo Friendly
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE ::
  • 3 eggs (or 3 flax eggs if you are egg free)
  • ⅓ – ½ cup raw honey (you may use more if you have older kids used to sweeter things – this is a mild, little kid friendly amount of sweet)
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk (or raw milk/cream)
  • ⅓ cup avocado oil (or melted butter, ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work – the almond is so good!)
  • 2 cups Namaste GF Flour Blend (If you are grain free, use 1 cup cassava flour and 1 cup almond flour. If you are nut free, all cassava flour will work – let us know in the comments if you try it!)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
  • FOR THE TOPPING ::
  • 1 heaping cup of pecans, finely chopped (I buzz mine up in the food processor. If you are nut free, I think sunflower seeds would work nice – or shredded coconut.)
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil (or melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work – the almond is so good!)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter small baking dish or pie plate.
  2. Whisk the eggs, honey, coconut milk, avocado oil, and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour and baking powder, fold in the blueberries, and pour the batter into a buttered baking dish.
  4. Mix the topping ingredients in bowl, and then sprinkle the topping over the batter.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the coffee cake cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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20 Minute Chicken, Mushrooms, and Kale With Tomato Basil Cream Sauce :: Gluten and Dairy Free

July 26, 2017

Savory, creamy and delicious tomato basil cream sauce with chicken, mushrooms, and kale – all in 20 minutes!

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.

Summer is flying by!

We are soaking in every bit of sun that we can – and counting our blessings that we don’t go back to school until September around here! I’ve got 3 little water bugs and that basically means this beach dweller is in absolute heaven!

Being at the beach most days also means dinner needs to be…fast!

20 minutes start to finish?!

Yes please! And since it is summer we are going to clear out the herb garden of that overgrown basil, use up a bowlful of those pretty cherry tomatoes, and a handful of garden kale while we’re at it!

Basil, little cherry tomatoes, and kale are some of the easiest summer garden items to grow – and can be done in pots on the patio if you don’t have the garden space. Its a good one to get little kids in on to help with and start fostering that idea of knowing where their food comes from!

Secrets to meal prep, fast summer meals, and optimizing kitchen time

I am not in the kitchen all day, dear momma. Stretch a whole chicken to last you at least 2 meals, and you will have a lot more time to spend at the beach – promise!

We happened to use some leftover chicken from our Instant Pot chicken over the weekend for this meal. I’ve been using the Instant Pot a lot this summer for my whole chickens to avoid heating the house up – and it is so fast too. If you don’t have and IP, you can use your slow cooker! After cooking your whole chicken, simply save most of the chicken breast, slicing it up, and plan it into this meal the next day.

Ideas to change it up!

You can definitely change up the meat part of the meal however. Homemade sausage or pan seared wild caught cod would taste really good with this. And if you happen to have chicken breasts, just sear them up and slice before you make the meal.

Noodle Options!

The tomato basil cream sauce in this recipe is made for soaking into dreamy noodles! Here are some noodle options for both those who can tolerate grains and those who cannot! I promise, dear grain free friends, the veggie noodles feel just as amazing as regular noodles. I serve this dish that way often – especially when zucchini is at such amazing budget friendly prices during the summer months.

Gluten Free Options ::

Grain Free Options (Use a spirilizer, Y Peeler, or Julienne Peeler to make these veggie noodles!) ::

  • Zucchini Noodles (see the notes in the recipe card for how to make your zoodles!)
  • Sweet Potato Noodles
  • Butternut Squash Noodles
  • Golden Beet Noodles
  • Parsnip Noodles
  • Carrot Noodles

If you are not on a special diet, and can handle the gluten, I recommend using a wheat based noodle using Einkorn flour for best digestion.

One last note on the finishing oil, and a fun momma story 😉

I love finishing pasta dishes like this with really good olive oil. I promise you will find it takes the flavor and texture to a whole different level.

My husband and I were able to get away for a couple days last week to Grand Rapids, and we visited the Downtown Market while there. If you are every in the area, be sure to take a couple hours to browse and try all of the amazing food! We were able to eat these amazing wild caught salmon burgers, drink local kombucha, watch fermented pizzas be made, and enjoy every last bite of local grassfed milk ice cream – it is truly amazing!

There are also some stores within the market selling local spices, teas, wine…and olive oil! We sampled numerous bottles from Old World Olive Co. (it was so fun!) and I decided on an herb infused olive oil. The flavor is out of this world, and I am savoring it every chance I can! It was a fun trip that we rarely get to do with 3 kiddos in the house, and I really loved every minute! It was a foodie’s dream!

5.0 from 8 reviews
20 Minute Chicken, Mushrooms, and Kale With Tomato Basil Cream Sauce :: Gluten and Dairy Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tbsp friendly fat of choice to cook in (butter, ghee, avocado oil, lard, tallow, or coconut oil)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms of choice, sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste – ½ tsp is kid friendly mild in heat)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, sliced (I used leftover chicken from my whole chicken cooked in the Instant Pot the night before)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (or raw milk/cream)
  • ¼ cup white wine (or more coconut milk or bone broth)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped kale
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Pasta of choice or veggie noodles (like zucchini noodles) to serve over (See the above section about noodle options!)
  • Good olive oil to drizzle over your plate to finish
Instructions
  1. Warm a large skillet with your friendly fat of choice over medium heat. Add the onion and mushroom with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and chicken. Cook over medium heat for 7 minutes until the tomatoes soften.
  3. Add the coconut milk, wine, lemon juice, and kale. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until the kale wilts and the liquid reduces/thickens.
  4. Add the basil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Sea salt and pepper to your taste and serve over pasta or veggie noodles of your choice!
  5. (If you are serving over zucchini noodles (zoodles!), simply spirilize your zucchini, place the zoodles in a strainer in the sink with a big pinch of sea salt, and let them drain while you cook the rest of the dinner. Squeeze out the liquid before serving. You can pan cook them for a minute to warm them up, but take care not to overcook them, or they will get too soft and not feel like a noodle.)

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Crispy Baked Eggplant Dippers and Italian Meatballs

July 20, 2017

Change up your eggplant routine and make a kid friendly, dip worthy dinner with crispy baked eggplant dippers and Italian meatballs!

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.

 

We are complete and utter beach bums in the summer…

…and as my girls reach the not-so-baby ages, we are enjoying the waves and powdery beach sand by our home almost daily at this point! The evening sunsets and waves have my girls all heart eyes over summertime, and I’m more than willing to indulge them every last bit as the school year approaches ever so quickly!

Summer eggplant love

Another one of our favorite summer spots is the farmer’s market, and pretty purple eggplants are my girls’ favorite summer veggie! Don’t pass them up when you see them out this summer. Eggplant is one of those produce finds you can only get a few short months a year – the first eggplant find of the summer is so exciting!

Eggplants are a great source of veggie fiber, as well as numerous vitamins and essential minerals. The purple skin is also loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients.

So pretty…but what do I do with this thing?!

A few weeks ago I let the girls pick out their own eggplant (it was fun to see what colors they picked and why!), and I set out to make a few fun dishes with them.

I am always quick to grab up those really big, dark purple eggplants, with my mind on roasted eggplant & tomato soup and this veggie spaghetti sauce, but I was really glad that the girls wanted to try some of the smaller, pretty colors because it made me think outside the box to cook with them – I wanted to do something special!

Little kid sized fun!

My 3 year old picked some pretty light purple swirly striped eggplants, and I envisioned them as being perfect for her little hands. This age *big puffy heart* loves anything that they can hold in their hands…and dip too! The small eggplants made the perfect sized little dippers for her, and my older 2 girls ended up devouring theirs too.

Super fun veggie side, but what about the rest of the meal?!

Dear momma, you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging, did you?! Of course I know you need something to go with your eggplant dippers, and since we are on the little hand sized fun theme, we might as well do meatballs, right!?

I doctored up these quick prep meatballs with the same marinara/Italian flavors as the eggplant dippers, and this finger food dinner is right up any kid’s alley! They are just as easy to prep and can cook right alongside the dippers. We had quick side salads with this Olive Garden Copycat dressing, and it felt like we were dining in a fancy Italian restaurant!

Ingredient notes/swaps

You can note the flour options/swaps in the recipe card – feel free to play around with it though. I have found you can coat these with just about anything. I do happen to like the potato starch the best as it gives the crispiest finish. If you are egg free, you can use a flax or chia egg for both the egg wash for the dippers, and for the bind in the meatballs.

A note about leftovers!

While preparing for this post, I baked off quite a few eggplant dippers! They were so good as leftovers the next day. My kids ate them right out of the fridge, but you could probably warm them up in the oven for a few minutes. We ended up having tomato soup the next day, and the girls were dipping their eggplant dippers in the soup – so good!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Crispy Baked Eggplant Dippers and Italian Meatballs
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE EGGPLANT DIPPERS ::
  • ⅓ cup potato starch
  • 1 egg whisked with a splash of water
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • ⅔ cup white rice flour (If Paleo/grain free use almond flour, or cassava flour)
  • 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1-2 small eggplants, sliced into thin rounds
  • Your favorite marinara sauce for dipping!
  • FOR THE MEATBALLS ::
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp white rice flour (If Paleo/grain free use cassava flour)
  • 2 tbsp marinara sauce or pizza sauce
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil (or about 1-2 tsp dried basil)
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh oregano (or about 1-2 tsp dried oregano)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Set out 3 bowls. Put the potato starch in the 1st bowl. Whisk the egg/water in the 2nd bowl. Whisk the coconut shreds, rice flour, Italian season, salt, and pepper in the 3rd bowl.
  3. Dip each eggplant round in the potato starch 1st, then the egg/water bowl 2nd, and finally the flour bowl. Line up the coated eggplant dippers on a Silpat lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake the eggplant dippers at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, flip the eggplant dippers and bake another 20 minutes (You will be putting the meatballs in to bake for that last 20 minutes too!)
  5. While the eggplant dippers are baking the first 25 minutes, you can roll your meatballs. Put all of the meatball ingredients in a small mixing bowl and combine. Roll the meatballs and line them up on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes along with the eggplant dippers that you have flipped. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping and salads on the side!

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Paleo Cherry Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, & Dairy Free!

July 7, 2017

Paleo cherry buckwheat breakfast muffins will wow your family with fluffy, soft texture, and juicy sweet cherries!

Our family has been enjoying Michigan cherry season!

We have the Cherry Festival up in Traverse City on our bucket list to do as the girls get older (and easier to travel with!), but in the meantime, we are literally surrounded by cherry farmer’s where we live right along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

There is just something about the weather and soil in this area that is the perfect growing condition for cherries!

Hands on learning where their food comes from…priceless.

There are some great places around us that offer U-Pick cherries so the girls can get right in there and see how their food is growing. It just doesn’t get any better than that! We are grateful for the experience, and the girls look forward to it every year.

New recipe goals!

I guess I’m feeling a bit adventurous this year, as I have been doing just about all new recipes with my cherries this season! We perfected cherry jam over the weekend, and this week have been enjoying multiple batches of these cherry buckwheat muffins! After the first attempt, I just knew I had to get these just so and share them, because they are so good and very satiating.

Ingredients that count

Those of you following me for very long know that one of my mottos when feeding kids is “make every bite count.” In other words, little kids have small stomachs – stop thinking fillers and start thinking nutrient dense fueling. Fueling kids with food that satiates and nourishes keeps them focused longer – and keeps you from having the fix snacks every hour!

These cherry buckwheat muffins are not only loaded up with friendly fats from coconut milk, eggs, and coconut oil, the flours I’m using have a purpose too…

What is buckwheat flour, anyway?

Despite the sound of it’s name, buckwheat flour is ground up buckwheat seed – its a seed, not a grain! Many people that cannot tolerate gluten or grains can tolerate buckwheat, and it has a host of nutritional benefits. Buckwheat has an impressive protein content and is packed with essential minerals our bodies need to function at it’s best.

Even if you can tolerate gluten/grains, it is a good idea to rotate your food around. Using the same flour day in and day out in your baking will wear on the gut. Change things up a little! The buckwheat gives these muffins a mildly sweet, nutty flavor that goes so well with cherries!

Some notes on cassava flour

Cassava flour is a newer gluten/grain free flour to my kitchen in the last 9 months. I’ve been playing around with it a lot, and this is my first real recipe on the blog using it! I have fallen in love not only with the ease of baking it provides and incredible finished texture to baked goods, but also the nutritional benefits. Specifically the prebiotic fiber.

Cassava flour is dried and ground up cassava root. It is a tuber vegetable and it is loaded with these amazing starches that actually feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. We are learning more about prebiotic importance – it isn’t enough to just populate your gut with probiotics. They are living organisms and need “food” to feed on. That is where prebiotic fiber in foods such as the cassava root come in!

More than just a muffin!

With all of these amazing ingredients, these muffins are more than just a starchy filler to the breakfast plate. They are filling and satisfying – and will please even the biggest kid muffin critic in texture and taste – I’m sure of it! They are SO soft. It really feels like all purpose flour was used to make them.

And you can’t beat juicy, sweet cherries in every bite!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Cherry Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, & Dairy Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (or raw milk, buttermilk, or yogurt if you tolerate dairy)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup cassava flour (or if you Namaste gluten free flour blend if you tolerate grains)
  • ¼ cup softened coconut oil (or butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ -1/3 cup raw honey (If you have older kids used to sweeter things, you can bump this up to ½ cup. If you have really little guys in the house, I’d keep it on the low side – it may taste light on the sweetness to you , but they don’t have a frame of reference for that yet! You can always drizzle a bit of honey on the muffin you are eating.)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 2 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work too)
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted and halved (you can chop them up if you want the bits of cherry smaller in your muffins – that is personal preference)
Instructions
  1. The night before you want to make the muffins, put the buckwheat flour, coconut milk, sea salt, and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl, combine, cover the bowl with a towel, and let it sit overnight (8-9 hours). This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the buckwheat seed so it is easier on the gut, and also makes the nutrients in the buckwheat more available to absorb into the body.
  2. When you are ready to make the muffins, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the cherries into the bowl, and stir to combine, and then fold in the cherries.
  4. Scoop the batter into silicone muffin cups (my personal preference), or paper muffin cups, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool 10 minutes before taking them out of the muffin tin to finish cooling on a cooling rack.

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Paleo Ranch Dressing and Dip :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, and Filled With Healthy Fats!

June 23, 2017

From salad dressing to dip and everything in between, Paleo Ranch dressing is everything you love about Ranch, without the dairy!

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.

Little kids and Ranch dressing…

It’s a bit like my 6 year old and toads…they just go hand in hand! We’ve been enjoying all the creatures that summertime brings…especially this little one who I am pretty sure is destined to be some sort of animal scientist!

But back to the kids and Ranch!

I don’t remember using many other dressings as a kid, and I don’t know too many kids who don’t love Ranch dressing! As the commercials usually show, most kids will gobble up just about any vegetable if there’s Ranch involved!

So what’s the problem with commercial Ranch dressings?

Store bought Ranch dressings (yes, even many with “healthy” claimed on the bottle), are filled with rancid vegetable oils, soy, preservatives, sugar, and other additives. Kinda ruins the idea of the kids loading up on mineral rich, healthy veggies when they are drowning in it all that doesn’t it?!

It’s truly just not worth it. We have generations of kids (including my generation) that grew up on these toxic, rancid fats that did our bodies zero favors. Everything from our brains, to organ function, and even hormone regulation relies on real, healthy fats to work right.

All the flavor, using real ingredients!

Real food is so delicious dear friends! Big box companies just have to bottle up that flavor somehow faster and cheaper, as well as make it last long on the shelf. Which is why they have to add so much junk to it!

The good news, is that when you stick to the basics, and make it yourself, not only does it take just minutes to make, the real flavor from everything from the onion-y scallions to the herb-y dill and parsley give that dressing the Ranch flavor without even having to work hard!

Lightning fast prep!

I’m talking literally 5 minutes to dump it all in a jar and blend it up. It is easy and fast enough to prep on your prep day every week – if it will last that long. This dip/dressing goes really fast in my house – I swear the girls would drink it out of the jar if they could, and they definitely lick the bowl clean!

Why dairy free?

I’ll be the first one in the room to raise my hand when asked if raw dairy is a good food source. I am a huge believer in the power of raw dairy – and I love our local raw dairy farmers! Sadly, I just don’t tolerate it. So while it is a very healthy food, it just doesn’t work for some people, and that’s where I come in! You can swap the coconut milk for raw milk or cream easy peasy if you tolerate dairy and wish to!

And my dear dairy free friends, I hope you enjoy this creamy dreamy Ranch – I promise you won’t taste the coconut! Pinky swear!

A note on the fresh herbs versus dried

This time of year, my herb garden is loaded to the brim with herbs to make Ranch. In the winter we swap to dried herbs a lot (simply figure cutting the amounts of the fresh herbs down to a couple teaspoons of dried to make the swap). I do think that fresh herbs just make the Ranch that much sweeter…it really just takes the flavor up a few notches. If you have access to fresh, do it!

Different ways to flavor your Ranch!

Change things up a little big with these really fun ways to flavor your Ranch for a fun dip or dressing. My kids to tend to prefer just the plain Ranch, but 2 of them really love the Asian dressing mixed with a slaw salad – don’t knock it til you try it!

  • Chipotle Ranch :: Add 1 tsp chipotle powder (start with this and add more if you like more heat)
  • Bacon Ranch :: Swap the avocado oil for 2-4 tablespoons of bacon grease. You can also fold in chopped crispy bacon after blending
  • BBQ Ranch :: Add 3 tbps of your favorite BBQ sauce (we like this safe ingredient 5 minute homemade BBQ sauce)
  • Asian Style Ranch (so good on a cabbage slaw salad!) :: Swap the avocado oil for sesame oil. Swap the parsley for 1/2 tsp or more of ground ginger to your taste. Swap the white wine vinegar for 2 tbsp coconut aminos (tastes like soy sauce without the soy).

A note on tools…

It is easiest to make this dressing in a quart sized jar. The recipe makes a little over a pint of dressing. The quart jar just gives you more room to get all the fresh herbs in there, as well as use the blender. And speaking of the blender…the immersion blender will become your most beloved kitchen tool if you have never tried one before! Put it on your wishlist – you won’t be sorry. It gets daily use in my kitchen from dressings to soups!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Paleo Ranch Dressing and Dip :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, & Filled With Healthy Fats!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole coconut milk (I like this gum free coconut milk. If you tolerate dairy, raw milk would work)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (Olive oil would work too.)
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 large green onions, chopped (use the green and white part!)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill (no need to chop)
  • ¼ cup fresh chives (no need to chop)
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley (no need to chop)
  • 3-4 basil leaves (no need to chop)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (1 garlic clove would be fine but might adds a bit of heat to the dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Everything into a quart mason jar (I just measure the liquids using the measurements right on the jar instead of dirtying measuring cups!).
  2. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Taste for salt/pepper to your taste.

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Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!

June 16, 2017

Kid favorite tomato soup made with nourishing bone broth and fresh tomatoes in a fraction of the time!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!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.

Wait, 92 degrees in June? {In Michigan?!}

I can’t even begin to describe how excited about this I am! I am a hardcore beach bum, and this weather totally suits my style!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!It does not, however, jive with some of the cooking projects I had planned this month!

I wasn’t anticipating this weather when I picked up some fresh tomatoes destined for soup. It is just too hot to have that stovetop heating my house up. My kids were really looking forward to that soup, so I decided it was time to get the pressure cooking method  perfected on this family favorite soup recipe.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!A family favorite staple soup

My original tomato soup recipe is a family favorite – one we have almost weekly all year round! During the summer I use as many tomatoes from our small family garden, along with a good bushel full from a local farmer, and stash it away for cooler months. I happened to see these greenhouse grown tomatoes at the farmer’s market this week, and just had to get started on my stash!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Same soup…WAY quicker cook time!

I’ll be honest, the first time I pressure cooked tomato soup, I wasn’t planning on it taking on the same slow cooked taste as my original. I was curious, however, and boy was I wrong. It literally tasted the exact same! The key is that buttery sauté in the first step before you pressure cook the rest!

And the quicker cook time {plus not heating up my house!} thanks to the Instant Pot has basically sold me on making all of my summer tomato soup this way.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Step 1 – Flavor Infusion

Turn the Instant Pot  to “Saute,” melt the friendly fat, and sauté the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten. Add the garlic and tomato paste, combine and cook for 1 minute. Turn the Instant Pot to off (“cancel”).

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Step 2 – Set It and Forget It!

Add the bone broth, tomatoes, and basil. Put the Instant Pot lid on, and make sure the vent is closed. Turn the Instant Pot to the “Soup” setting. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take around 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Step 3 – Blend, Season, and EAT!

Once the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is complete, turn the Instant Pot off, release the valve, and take the lid off. Add the honey, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste once pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can pour the soup into a high powered blender to puree)

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!School {Or Work!} Packing Tips

I mentioned above how nice this soup is to bulk up on, and use for school lunches. Here is how I make that work without being in the kitchen all the time.

  • Whenever I make the soup, we eat it for a meal, and there is usually enough to fill 1 quart of soup for the freezer. That way, every time I make it, I’m building my stash. You cannot double this recipe in the Instant Pot (although I think  you could in the newer 8 quart Instant Pots!), but you can double or triple in a stockpot if you wish to cook stovetop. That is typically how I do things at the end of the summer when I purchase a bushel of tomatoes from a local farmer, to get a bunch done in one shot. I may do both stovetop and Instant Pot this summer!
  • I freeze soup in these BPA free freezer containers. When my family was small, I froze in pint containers. At this point, I generally freeze in quart, though sometimes in half gallon. I like to thaw on the counter overnight, but in the fridge for a day is fine too. If I’m in a real pinch and forgot, just a sink full of hot water will thaw it out in a half hour 😉
  • We have had these fantastic soup thermoses since my oldest was in Kindergarten – going on their 4th year of use multiple times per week all school year long, and they still look AND keep food warm just like new. They are a great investment.
  • These stainless steel, shorter straws are fantastic for babies and toddlers to drink their soup. In fact my youngest 2 (age 3 and 6) still prefer to have soups like this with a straw. My 6 year old especially for school so it is easier to eat and doesn’t make a mess. My oldest is too cool for a straw anymore as I was promptly told not to pack one earlier this year 🙂
  • My husband takes soup to work in a Travel Crockpot – the base stays at work and he brings the liner home for me to fill up. That way, he can warm it up right at this desk.  We’ve had this for years – longer than the thermoses – and it still works like new!
  • Re-heat your soup stovetop so you keep all the bone broth benefits!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Instant Pot Tomato Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as butter, avocado oil, tallow, lard, or coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 5 large tomatoes, seeds scooped out (no need to chop finely – I just halve them)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (or a tbsp or 2 of dried basil)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Turn the Instant Pot to “Saute,” melt the friendly fat, and sauté the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and tomato paste, combine and cook for 1 minute. Turn the Instant Pot to off (“cancel”).
  3. Add the bone broth, tomatoes, and basil. Put the Instant Pot lid on, and make sure the vent is closed. Turn the Instant Pot to the “Soup” setting. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take around 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes.
  4. Once the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is complete, turn the Instant Pot off, release the valve, and take the lid off. Add the honey, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste once pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can pour the soup into a high powered blender to puree)

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Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!

June 8, 2017

Honey rhubarb water kefir soda is a naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!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.

Spring rhubarb, spring temperatures…and spring birthday babies!

Well she isn’t really a “baby” anymore, but my oldest turned 8 years old a couple weekends ago, and I’m declaring I’m still allowed to call her my baby!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!We celebrated her birthday with canvas painting, blowing out candles, and enjoying her friends!

This sweet baby has the kindest heart and more compassion for people than anyone I have ever met. She is so special, and I am truly blessed to call her mine.

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!My late spring birthday baby also just happens to *big puffy heart love* rhubarb!

Rhubarb is always in full swing around her birthday, and making her a special bubbly birthday drink with rhubarb for her special day has become tradition! I can’t wait to share this recipe with you!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!Water Kefir Basics…

Water kefir is a mild, kid friendly fermented drink. The gelatinous water kefir “grains” (not a grain at all by the way!) are little colonies of beneficial bacteria that infuse the water it breeds in with numerous cultures and food enzymes. It has a mild lemony flavor upon fermenting, and you can flavor this finished kefir however you wish. In today’s recipe, we are flavoring our finished kefir with raw honey and rhubarb.

For more in depth information on the who, what, when, where, and why of water kefir, see this post, Water Kefir Basics, to learn more, and then hop back over to make your honey rhubarb soda.

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!It’s all about that flavor!

If I’m gonna take the time to do a second ferment on my water kefir, I want it to have a super fun, bold flavor. Usually loading up the bottle with whatever chopped sweet fruit is in season does the trick. Rhubarb is a bit tricky because it is so tart. The flavor is so amazing, however, so infusing some water with that big flavor and then sweetening the deal with our favorite local raw honey makes the most amazing, bright pink “rhubarb syrup” to flavor our water kefir with!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!Ingredient notes, and tools of the trade

  • Honey Notes :: I know so many love rhubarb and strawberry, but let me tell you…rhubarb and raw honey are a match made in heaven. It is my favorite way to sweeten up rhubarb, and if you have a fantastic local raw honey source that you just love the taste of, you will not be disappointed! If you don’t have a local raw honey source, this is a good raw honey to use, or you can swap it for organic cane sugar.
  • Fermenting Tools :: You will read in my Water Kefir Basics post that I love fermenting my water kefir using Pickle Pipes, and then finishing off those flavored second ferments in air tight, grolsch type (swing top) bottles. It makes the fermentation more efficient, giving way to a super effervescent fizz you will love.
  • Recipe Size :: Also keep in mind that if you are only brewing a quart of water kefir at a time, you will want to half this recipe. I ferment a half gallon at a time so this recipe represents what I always make.

Rhubarb and raw honey are a match made in heaven.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 7-8 stalks of rhubarb, sliced (Since rhubarb sizes can vary, you will need about 5 cups of sliced rhubarb)
  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ gallon (2 quarts) finished water kefir
Instructions
  1. Bring the sliced rhubarb and water to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is disintegrated. Strain out the rhubarb fibers, leaving behind the pink, rhubarb infused water.
  2. Leave the rhubarb infused water to cool a bit before stirring in the raw honey to dissolve. Add the vanilla extract at this point too.
  3. When the rhubarb syrup has cooled to room temperature, add the finished water kefir to the bowl (if you add the finished kefir to the rhubarb syrup when it is still hot, it will kill off the bacteria, so be sure it has cooled off). Stir the rhubarb syrup and kefir together, and pour the rhubarb kefir into swing top bottles using a funnel (Leave a few inches of headspace at the top to account for gas build up. This batch will fill up 4-5 of these sized swing top bottles.).
  4. Seal the tops and ferment the drink for 1-3 days to your taste. You can open the bottles daily to release the built up gasses and taste if it is done to your liking. Fermentation rates are variable upon temperature of the room as well as the strength of the culture. When it is above 70 degrees, I have found water kefir doesn’t need more than a good 24 hours.

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How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

June 2, 2017

Sweet and sticky, this balsamic reduction sauce is the perfect, kid friendly compliment to any meal!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

Ladies and gentlemen, we made it to the beach last weekend!

I’m not real sure what is going on with the cooler late spring temps around here, but we just couldn’t help it! Because I have 3 big time water bugs, I decided to go with the bathing suits despite the 60 degree weather, and 54 degree water temps (!!), because inevitably they are like a moth to a flame when it comes to the big lake.

I bundled them up in sweatshirts on top of their suits and off we went…my oldest and youngest flung their sweatshirts off the second their feet hit the sand…and yes my dear friends they did the polar plunge and totally swam in the icy water!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!Three extremely busy kiddos, means 3 extremely hungry kiddos!

Summer time beach days sometimes call for light, snacky suppers, but more often than not, that doesn’t fly with my kids! They burn through everything so fast – they really need meals that count when they are so active. And I’ve got a super quick one for you today that will still give you enough time to spend the whole day at the beach if you want!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!One sauce, multiple possibilities!

I am not sure that balsamic reductions are the first sauce that comes to mind when it comes to kid friendly meals, but I’m telling you – my kids ask for this over ketchup any day of the week! Sweet and sticky, it makes any dinner meal that I drizzle it over completely disappear.

Balsamic reduction sauces are so versatile, tasting amazing over everything from chicken and fish, to steak or even salads and roasted veggies. It’s a great sauce to keep in your back pocket when you want to dress something up a little bit and need a little change up.

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!So here’s the balsamic reduction sauce recipe!

Use your sauce however you like! If you are stuck on a whole meal idea, keep scrolling for the sheet pan dinner idea to use your sauce with!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

5.0 from 5 reviews
How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
Instructions
  1. Put everything into a small sauce pan and bring to a low boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half, stirring occasionally along the way. This will take about 15 minutes. It will be viscous and sticky when finished. You can fix the rest of your meal or bake/roast a sheet pan meal while the balsamic sauce is simmering.

So what about that “quick” meal you were talking about?!

I promise I’m not going to leave you hanging. This sauce sounds amazing, but how do we make it work into a meal idea that is not only kid friendly, but do-able on a time crunch?

I’m so glad you asked!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!Sheet pan dinners to the rescue!

I’m all about these hands free cook methods, dear friends! Pile up that sheet pan with whatever veggies are in season and let the oven do the rest. While your veggies and meat are roasting, you can simmer your balsamic sauce up on the stovetop (recipe above!). Start to finish the sauce just takes 15ish minutes so it is perfect timing for a sheet pan meal!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon & Roasted Veggies:

Ingredients:

  • ½ large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
  • 3 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil (or other friendly fat to roast with)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 3-4 salmon filets (If you have little ones like I do, you can cut the filets in half for smaller portions – I use 3 filets and half them to make 6 total servings.)
  • Avocado oil to brush over the salmon
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste to sprinkle over the salmon
  • 1 recipe of the balsamic reduction sauce from above

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss all of the veggies with the avocado oil, sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill on a large sheet pan. Spread them out evenly and roast for 10 minutes while you get the balsamic sauce going and prepare the salmon.
  3. While the veggies are roasting you can get your balsamic sauce simmering on the stove (see recipe above). You can also brush each salmon filet with avocado oil and sprinkle sea salt and pepper to your taste on both sides of each filet.
  4. After the veggies have roasted 10 minutes, take them out and stir the veggies around. Place the salmon fillets on top of the veggies and roast another 20 minutes until the veggies are bite tender and the salmon is cooked through to your liking. If you like your veggies softer, you can cook them longer than that first 10 minutes. The salmon will only need the last 20 minutes of cook time.
  5. Spoon the balsamic reduction sauce over each salmon filet and drizzle over the veggies as well before serving.

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Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

May 26, 2017

A big probiotic boost and delicious salty, sour bite from your fresh spring asparagus!

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)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.

We’ve been jarring up some yummy Michigan asparagus over the last couple weeks!

This is a fun project to get the kids in on. The steps are so easy that even a toddler can follow along! (And said toddler will probably be more willing to eat them if he gets to help!)

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Little helpers and seasonal produce!

My littlest helper in the house has been eager to hone her asparagus snapping skills, and she makes a really good jar stuffer too, packing those spears of asparagus in like a pro does!

Here are some great tips for including little ones in your kitchen tasks (without losing your ever loving mind 😉 )

  • Show them first. Literally do each step you want them to do. Break it down momma. They haven’t done this before!
  • Hand over hand next. For the really little guys, get your hands over theirs and show them how to do what you are asking them to do. Whether that is stirring, cracking an egg, or snapping some beans. They need to feel it.
  • Let them try with you narrating the steps. Slow down. Yes I know that is so hard when there is so. much. to. do., but it is worth it when they will be able to do it independently. I promise you will be more frustrated if they are doing it the “wrong way” over and over again because you didn’t show them the proper way to do something. (Please learn from my experience!)
  • Tell them the why! If you are snapping the ends off the asparagus, tell them why. If you are slicing the stems off the strawberries, let them know why! Giving them purpose and a reason will help them remember how to do what they are doing better instead of just blinding doing a task.
  • Keep it positive. Spills happen. Mistakes will happen. You’ll see that I even let an asparagus go into the jar that is right here in this post that Caitlyn forgot and snapped the wrong end so it ended up really short! Go over the steps again and show them. You’ll frustrate them and tear them down if you get angry or frustrated with them. If it turns out they can’t handle a task, simply let them know we’ll try something else, and maybe we will try this task again another time.

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Sooo…Asparagus “Pickles?!”

Yep! I brine these babies just like I would pickling cucumbers, and they disappear just as fast as regular pickles around these parts! A little sour and salty bite, I use the same dilly, mustardy, garlicy blend I do with cucumbers and add a bit of heat with red pepper flakes. It leaves a perfectly kid friendly taste, and I even make a jar just for momma with a little extra heat for my liking 😉

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)2 birds…1 stone!

Not only do pickled asparagus taste amazing, they are loaded with beneficial bacteria for our guts too! The salty brine keeps the bad bacteria at bay, and allows the naturally good bacteria in the vegetable to proliferate and grow. Adding a spear or 2 of pickled asparagus to that lunchtime salad or wrap will not only get your veggie minerals in, but it will nourish the gut with the most cost effective source of probiotics around!

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Fermenting tools

While you can definitely get your ferments going today with just glass jar and a plastic lid (metal lids will corrode over time so plastic is recommended), as you get going you may want to take a look at fermenting tools that make the process even easier and stress free.

Vegetable ferments do best in an anaerobic environment (that is, “no oxygen” using an air tight seal). Plastic lids work fine, though some air does get through, and as the gasses build up in the ferment you need to “release” them by opening the lid here and there. The air that gets through also makes it easier for stray airborne microbes and molds to get in which can make the whole jar go bad.

There are a couple of sealing options you can choose from, and I really have found these to give the best fermenting results. The one that I use is the first recommendation, the Pickle Pipe.

  • The Pickle Pipe :: I am convinced a busy, “every day” mom invented this fermenting tool! Talk about zero fuss, *easy to clean,* and affordable! The Pickle Pipe creates a seal with a simple (easy to wash!) silicone disk, and the metal ring your jar comes with. The “pipe” part of the silicone disk has a special opening that only pressures open when the gasses build up in the jar and need to be released. So basically…set it and forget it! You don’t have to check for pressure everyday at all. I also am in love with their Pickle Pebbles which weight down the ferment at the top so you don’t have to worry about molding or the tips of the veggies going bad from being out of the brine. Invaluable! I have never had a ferment go bad or mold using my Pickle Pipes and Pebbles.
  • Fido Jar :: Fido jars create an incredible anaerobic sealed environment and are super easy to clean and take care of. No crazy parts to clean, and they are beautiful lined up in the kitchen to ferment! You will need to “burp” these every day or so to let the gasses out but they work very well! They are pricier than mason jars (especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home, and can just get some Pickle Pipes to top them off), but they will last forever and, again, they are beautiful!
  • Traditional Fermentation Crock :: I have to be honest…I love these! I really do! They are on my foodie dream list and when I can afford a really beautiful new fermenting crock I really, really want one for my kitchen! They are gorgeous, easy to clean and work fantastic. They come with a weight to keep the veggies down to prevent molding and they create a perfect anaerobic environment.
  • Air-Lock Lids :: These are a really great, inexpensive option – especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home. I think the Pickle Pipes are easier to clean and use, but if you have some of these lying around don’t let them go to waste – they work great!

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

5.0 from 8 reviews
Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1½ to 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill OR 1 ½ tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends discarded (spears should fit into a quart mason jar with a good inch of headspace at the top. Trim up the ends if you need to accommodate this)
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the sea salt into the warm water and set aside. This is your brine to pour over the asparagus later.
  2. Put the garlic, mustard seeds, dill, and red pepper flakes into a clean, 1 quart mason jar. Then the pack the asparagus spears into the jar as tightly as you can.
  3. Pour the salt water brine over the packed in asparagus and spices, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top. Be sure the asparagus is completely submerged under the brine (I like to use a weight, like this Pickle Pebble, to keep the veggies down).
  4. Seal your jar with your fermenting seal of choice. I use these Pickle Pipes. See the above section about sealing options.
  5. Let the sealed jar sit at room temperature until the taste is to your liking, anywhere from 5-14 days. You can taste them every couple days to see where they are at. Remember that if you live in a warm climate, the fermenting will go faster. It is still quite chilly up here, and so my veggie ferments take over a week to get to where we like them.

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Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy Free

May 12, 2017

Portable, pack-able, and power packed! Paleo chia honey power bars are a busy family game changer!

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeProduct 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.

When the magnolia tree blooms…

I always feel like spring has finally sprung! It bloomed on the early side this year, and the girls always feel like they have their own personal flower palace to play in for the week or so that the magnificent blooms stick around.

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeSpring also brings busier schedules for us…

…and less kitchen time for me! This is always the time of year that I have to take a step back and really prioritize so I’m not saying “yes” to all the things, and forgetting to enjoy the season. One of the ways that I can say yes to more outside-the-home-activities, is to be sure I optimize any kitchen time I have.

Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Plan 1-2 hours (or a morning/evening) for a prep day. During this prep time, get ahead on whatever you can to make your meals run smoother for the week. I have one prep day (about 2 hours) every week. My prep time almost always includes, making bone broth for the week, salad dressings/mayo for the week, a dozen hard boiled eggs for the week, and veggie soup for the week to use. Bone broth and eggs are pretty hands free, but it is cooking along while I take a few minutes to stir up dressings, and get a pot of soup going. Once you get in a “mode” it’s easy to move from one thing to another in one shot.
  • Prep odds and ends to make meal prep flow faster during the week. On your prep day add whatever else might be needed for that particular week such as veggie chopping to make dinners run smoother, making crackers or granola (which I usually replenish once a month or so), or getting breakfast cookies, pancakes, or bars like these chia honey bars into the freezer so breakfasts and snacks run quick.
  • When making dinners, double up to optimize your time. It’s always nice to take a couple nights per week off from making dinner! Warming up dinner leftovers really helps on busier nights. Also, consider taking a longer prep dinner such as roasted chicken, to have on a less busy day like the weekend. Then, as you are de-boning the chicken pop the bones into your crockpot or Instant pot to make bone broth right off the bat. The leftover meat can be used Monday night when everyone is busy from their day back to school or work for a quick stir fry or salad, and the bone broth can be used for a dinner meal of soup later that week.
  • Allow yourself a non cook night 😉 Or two! It is totally acceptable to have a family style platter dinner night! Load up a big tray of veggies and dip, fruit, cheese, nuts, olives, and hard boiled eggs. Or have a salad bar night using veggies, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, leftover meat, or avocados.
  • Ask. for. help. 🙂 You are allowed! If those kiddos are old enough to feed themselves off a plate, they are old enough to peel carrots, chop fruit, stir a pot of soup, and wash the dishes. It’s ok to teach the kids that many hands make light work 😉 The more you can get done with your crew of hands, the more park time, beach time, zoo time, play time!

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeSo let’s talk about these chia honey power bars!

I love hand held snacks just as much as everyone. I put so much thought into every single ingredient in these bars, so that with even the littlest of kiddos in the house, “every bite counts!”

Here’s a little break down!

  • Chia Seeds :: The tiniest of superfoods, chia seeds are not only loaded with fiber, protein, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids, they are a mineral powerhouses of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and manganese.
  • Friendly Fat Focus :: Filled to the brim with long chain fatty acids, the shredded coconut and avocado oil feed growing brains and satiate the hungriest of appetites (because “I’m hungry” every hour doesn’t jive in this house!)
  • Protein Balance :: The chia provides some protein and there is also a nut sourced protein as well as grassfed collagen sourced protein. It’s a great balance and helps keeps the kids fuller longer as well as help feed their muscle growth.
  • Non Refined Energy Source :: These are power bars for active kids after all! Listen, kids expend a LOT of energy. The raw honey and banana not only make the taste more palatable for kids, it also provides a great energy from a safe source to keep kids going. The fat and protein will keep blood sugars balanced so they aren’t crashing on you within an hour.

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeTips for freezing

These bars freeze up fantastic. If you have those bananas starting to turn too ripe on the counter, grab them up and double batch into honey chia power bars for later. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to say “yes!” to an impromptu park picnic or beach day and pull a nourishing snack or meal addition out of the freezer. Not having to worry about what the kids are going to eat when they {inevitably} get hungry, is a game changer, dear momma!

You can pop your honey chia power bars right into a freezer bag. For lunch packing, just put them right in the lunchbox from the freezer – they will thaw by lunchtime. If you are serving them for breakfast, you can either set them on the counter the night before to thaw overnight, or you can pull them out of the freezer and warm them up in the oven.

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy Free

5.0 from 7 reviews
Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chia seeds (flax seeds should work here too)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 small ripe bananas (I think 1 cup of applesauce would work here)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or melted coconut oil or butter)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour (If you are nut free, I think ground sunflower seeds will work, or swap for cassava flour or sorghum flour. You may want to back off the amount to ¾ cup with the sorghum.)
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup grassfed collagen
  • ¼ cup honey (you can taste the mixture and add more if you need. If you have really little guys in the house I’d stick to this or even just a few tablespoons. For the little ones, go with less sweet than your preference as they really don’t know any different!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Blend the chia seeds and water so the chia seeds are more of a “meal” versus seed texture. Set aside to thicken while you make the rest of the batter (It will get goopy, almost pudding like. It will act like “glue” to bind the bar.).
  3. Put the bananas in a medium mixing bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, along with the chia/water mixture, and mix everything to combine.
  4. Press the batter into a small baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the bars cool 10 minutes before cutting.

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Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

May 5, 2017

Start your day off quick and nourished with crispy, crunchy, and honey sweetened morning glory granola!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!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.

We celebrated a brand new 6 year old in the house last week!

Claire is my mid spring babe! She is chock full of ideas and opinions, and you’ve never met a 6 year old so full of interest for birds and bugs of all kinds. The kid overflows with joy describing birds to you, taking her Michigan bird guide with her wherever she goes! In fact, bird guides quite literally taught her how to read this year! She was so bored with typical beginner reader books, but would sit for hours with a bird guide!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!We celebrated with her friends at a local canvas painting studio painting…birds of course!

I can’t take credit for any new cake ideas (she asked for this strawberry birthday cake, which was totally fine with me!), but I do have a new recipe based on the busy week that leads up to a birthday! Granola is a pantry staple in the house, not only because it is an easy grab and go snack or meal, but also because it is not fussy to make.

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Real food and busy schedules

With a little planning ahead, you really can still keep the food real on a busier than usual week. Dinners can be fast and easy skillet dinners or sheet pan dinners, and breakfast a quick smoothie or egg muffins. For me, though, it’s those packable school snacks (that they have to have for a morning snack *every* day!), or mornings that the kids just want something different that can throw me off!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!A new granola idea!

There are so many granola recipes on the blog here – usually I just make granola based on what I have in the kitchen at the moment. Which is why I love granola making so much – it is SO forgiving! I just loved how this granola turned out, and I decided to call it morning glory granola because of all the goods that got dumped in!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Lemons into lemonade…or something like that!

I had a bag of carrots that had been forgotten about, and while they certainly weren’t rotten, they would need to be cooked into soup or something to get any use. I decided to see what they would do drying out in the granola – and it made the prettiest orange flecks in each cluster! Add a little cinnamon, honey, vanilla, and raisins, and it tastes just like a morning glory muffin – with a crisp!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Notes on recipe size and dehydrators!

This recipe makes…a lot! Which is how I like it because I don’t like to make granola all the time. It filled up 4 gallon freezer bags for me. You can half the recipe if you don’t want as much in the end.

I have had this dehydrator for about 4 years now, and it’s still kickin’! You can bake the granola off in the oven if you want to – I would set it for something like 300 degrees and just be sure you are stirring it around frequently so the bottom gets dried out. Because this granola is soaked, it is wet, and takes a while to dry out. If you have already soaked/sprouted nuts, you can skip the soaking part and the mixture won’t take as long to dry out.

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Nut free friends!

Remember that thing above where I said that granola making is super forgiving? Well this is where that all comes in! You really can swap the nuts in this recipe for whatever you CAN have! Seeds of any kind will work (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, etc). You can also use more of one of the flours such as coconut flour. If you are able to tolerate oats you could swap some of the nuts for oats – I really wasn’t kidding when I said how flexible granola can be!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups raw walnuts, chopped (I buzz mine up quick in the food processor)
  • 3 cups raw pecans (I buzz mine up quick in the food processor)
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (I buzz mine up quick in the food processor)
  • 2 TB sea salt
  • 6 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chia seed, ground into meal
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour (if you are grain free, you can use buckwheat flour, or more almond/coconut flours)
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 5-6 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups raisins
  • ½ -1 cup raw honey (start with the ½ cup and taste the mixture – you can always add more if you need. You can do the ½ cup if you have really little ones, and add more honey to your bowl of cereal if you want it sweeter)
  • 2 TB cinnamon
  • 2 TB almond extract (vanilla would work too)
Instructions
  1. Put the chopped walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with water just until the nuts and seeds are covered. Let the nuts and seeds soak 7-12 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the nuts/seeds and makes them easier on digestion. I like to get everything soaking first thing in the morning and then before I go to bed at night I'll put everything onto the dehydrator to dry out over night. You could soak overnight and dry out all day if you wish.
  2. After the nuts/seeds have soaked, add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Put the granola mixture onto your dehydrator trays, and dry out the granola according to your manufacturer"s instructions. Since this is a soaked granola, the time may take a bit longer since it is wetter, a little over 12 hours if drying out under 150 degrees.
  4. Once the granola is dried out, you can crumble it into storage bags or containers and store in the pantry.

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Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

April 21, 2017

It doesn’t get any better than a whole meal made on 2 sheet pans with this Paleo friendly honey mustard crusted salmon and veggies!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

Spring has definitely sprung!

We are jumping in puddles, running barefoot, planting seeds, enjoying the extra sunshine…

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!…and new bird and bug friends!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Spring also means busy, *hungry* kids!

Did I say hungry? I meant ravenous! I watch these little people go non stop at a park visit from the time they set their foot off their bikes, to the minute they are back at home. No seriously, it is any wonder they are so hungry when it comes to meal time!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Smart refuel

So what is a budget and time crunch conscious mom to do? Fuel the kids with something that is going to sustain their needs – their growing bodies and exponentially growing brains. And pile all that goodness up onto a couple sheet pans so you can still have time to play outside, get the dishes done, change that diaper, and rock the baby!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!YES I’m calling a meal with wild caught salmon affordable!

Wild caught salmon really can be a budget friendly meal. Meat portions don’t need to be much more than the size of your palm (and for the kids the size of their palm!) – I think especially many Americans  “over meat” their plates. Even a small, palm sized portion of wild caught salmon is packed with brain building essentials and fat that will satiate even the busiest of kids. The slightly sweet and savory coating on the outside of this fish is so good too!

And veggie sides are huge budget savers!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Pile on the energy fueling veggies!

Even the youngest of kids in my house knows that half of our plates every night is saved for veggies. They are filling, satiating, and nourishing. And when you cook them just right…oh! They are so tasty! You can pick whatever veggies you have in house for the roasted veggie part of this meal. Carrots and potatoes are so cheap – they are true budget savers in my house!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!And I don’t know of really any kid that doesn’t like french fries!

Sides of potatoes are great, but what is it about making that french fry shape that is like a moth to a flame to kids?! These french fries are no fuss and zero special prep. The come out crispy and tasty too! Potatoes provide a fantastic energy replenishing source for active kids. I literally can watch my worn out, hungry little ones go from zero to full speed again with a meal like this.

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!So there you have it!

A little real life from my home! This is where the nitty gritty of the day in and day out of a real food kitchen starts. Yes, fancy treats, and fun baked goods are great. But what’s for dinner on Tuesday night? What are we going to feed a growth spurting child that needs fuel that will help him grow without us going broke? That is where my commitment to you lies. The every day life. Because I want you to see how this thing can work for you with all of my being.

Happy dinner success to you!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 large russet potatoes, sliced into fries (cubes work too)
  • 6 tbsp avocado oil, divided (other high heat friendly fats would work – butter, coconut oil, tallow, or lard)
  • 3 tbsp organic all season salt, divided
  • 4 tbsp dried parsley, divided
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut on a bias into coins (I used rainbow carrots for more color!)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • ⅓ cup blanched almond flour (if nut free use coconut flour)
  • 2 tbsp organic mustard
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 4 wild caught salmon fillets, skinned (If you have little guys in the house like I do, you can slice the fillets in half making 8 servings)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss the potatoes, 3 tablespoons of avocado oil, 1 ½ tablespoons of all season salt, and 2 tablespoons of parsley on a Silpat lined baking sheet so everything is coated evenly. Put the seasoned potatoes in the 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, STIRRING AROUND AT THE 15 MINUTE MARK, while you prep the other veggies and salmon.
  3. While the fries get started cooking prepare the veggie and salmon sheet. Toss the broccoli and carrots with 3 tablespoons of avocado oil, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and sea salt/pepper to taste on a Silpat lined baking sheet so everything is coated evenly. Spread the veggies to cover about ½ to ¾ of the baking sheet, leaving room to put the salmon on the same sheet.
  4. Combine the coconut shreds, almond flour, and 1 ½ tablespoons of all season salt in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk the mustard, raw honey, and mustard powder.
  5. Pat your salmon fillets dry, then brush the honey mustard mixture over the top of each salmon fillet. Sprinkle the coconut shred/almond flour mixture over the top of the mustard coated salmon, giving it a generous coating. Place the coated salmon fillets on the same baking sheet as the veggies. (You could do this on a third tray if you have a bigger crew and need to do a full sheet pan of veg and salmon!)
  6. After the fries have cooked for 30 minutes, stir them around again and place back in the oven along with the veggie/salmon sheet pan. I like to put the veggie/salmon sheet pan on the middle rack with the fries on the rack just below. Cook everything another 15 minutes, until the fish is golden brown on the top and the veggies are bite tender. (This 15 minute cook time leaves the veggies with a little “bite”, which is how I prefer them. If you like your veggies softer, you can put them in the oven for 15 minutes before putting the salmon on the tray, so they will get a total of 30 minutes. Be sure to stir them around at the 15 minute mark when you add the salmon to the tray. The salmon doesn’t need any more than the 15 minutes.)

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“Everything But The Kitchen Sink” Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!

April 13, 2017

“Everything but the kitchen sink” paleo breakfast cookies are filled with power packed protein, and satiating friendly fats, making it a great on the go, portable breakfast for anytime of the year!

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!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.

Did you know that the Easter bunny cooks at our house???

Yep! Every Easter since this momma had a gaggle of little ones racing around for Easter eggs every Easter morning! I remember the first Easter I realized that my plans for a beautiful, elaborate Easter morning breakfast were dashed with toddlers that cared more about Easter eggs and new crayons than eating…

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!A new tradition!

The following year I decided that I needed to have something similar to the quick, handheld breakfast I started doing on Christmas morning (something similar to these festive Christmas cranberry breakfast cookies!). A portable, quick breakfast that the girls could eat while hunting for eggs and reading their new books.

The night before Easter I was about to “nibble” on the carrots the girls left out for the Easter bunny when it hit me!

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!That silly ‘ol Easter bunny made the girls a fun breakfast cookie out of some of the carrots the girls left out for him!

That’s one talented bunny! But my kiddos thought it was the coolest thing in the world! And they got a nourishing breakfast starter to eat that kept blood sugars in check and made for happy moods.

Now that my oldest 2 have caught on to who the Easter bunny really is this year (whaaa!!!!), they still asked for their Easter bunny carrot cookies this year, and wanted to play along with their littlest sister who still thinks there’s a bunny baking in the kitchen!

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Everything but the kitchen sink!

These breakfast cookies are loaded with so many fun surprises! Bits of walnut and chunks of sweet apple, tiny shreds of bright orange carrot, and raisins dotted throughout! There is a good mixture of a variety of flours so there is a good balance of protein, fat, and of course fantastic texture.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Streamlined cookie prep!

While the list of ingredients may look like a lot, remember this momma isn’t a huge fan of baking – I made the process super simple. And big time bonus! These cookies freeze up GREAT. Double up and into the freezer so you don’t even have to make them in the morning! In fact I love them right out of the freezer.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Ingredient notes and swaps

  • Egg free swaps like chia or flax eggs work great in this recipe! In fact, what is pictured in this post is using 2 chia eggs. It adds some extra omega 3’s and fiber to the cookie too! To make 1 chia or flax egg, blend 1 tablespoon of chia seed or flax seed into a “meal” and mix it with 3 tablespoons of water (so double this for the 2 “eggs” you need in the recipe). Let the seed/water mixture sit for 5 minutes to gel and then use your “eggs” in the recipe. I like to make my egg replacements before I even start the recipe so it is ready to go by the time I need them.
  • Nut free friends, I would sub sorghum flour, cassava flour, or other GF flour you like for the almond flour. I wouldn’t use the same amount – more like ¾ cup-ish since those flours are drier than almond flour. For the chopped walnuts, I would use ground up seeds that you can tolerate, or more coconut shreds.
  • Softened butter should swap for the coconut oil fine.
  • Maple syrup should swap for the honey fine if you have little guys that can’t have raw honey yet.
  • I think the recipe will work fine without the collagen. I used to make them without it a handful of years ago before I used to have it around, though the collagen sure does make the texture super soft. Maybe add a bit more tapioca if omitting the collagen. I love the added protein the collagen gives to the cookie as well.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!

5.0 from 8 reviews
"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup softened coconut oil (I get that brand at Costco)
  • 3-4 TB raw honey (We get our raw honey from a local farmer, but this is a good brand too)
  • 2 eggs (Or 2 “chia eggs.” Plus 1 TB apple cider vinegar to puff the cookies up like eggs would do. Pictured in this post is the cookies made with chia eggs! It works great!)
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour (I get that brand at Costco)
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup grassfed collagen
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp almond extract (vanilla would work)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I pulse them up in the food processor, but hand chopping would work too. I buy ours at Costco.)
  • ½ cup finely shredded carrots
  • ½ medium apple, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Blend the softened coconut oil and honey until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs or chia eggs and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. I start with a spoon and then finish it with my hands. The dough will feel dry at first, but I promise the moisture from the apples and carrots will make the cookies moist. You should be able to form cookie dough balls with the mixture.
  5. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and put form your cookies on the baking sheet. I form a ball and then carefully flatten them on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool a good 10 minutes before handling so they set up. This batch makes about 1 dozen medium sized cookies.

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