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11 Healthy Packaged School Snacks For Kids

August 15, 2018

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

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

So here we are…

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

*Cue the real food police*

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

Grace, dear momma…

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

Because they are watching.

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

Morning snacks

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

Snack time goals

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

How to make it into my approved packaged snack list!

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

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

Couple final notes…and some ground rules

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


Chia Squeeze


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


Nut Butter Pouches


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


Larabars


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


Grassfed Beef Sticks


These were tough for me to find for a while, but in the last couple years there are some great brands out there that are also affordable. We like the SoGo Grassfed Beef Sticks, as well as the Field Trip Grassfed Beef Sticks. The girls pack these alone, but if you have older kids, you could toss a slice of cheese or piece of fruit in there as well.


WholeMe Grain Free Clusters


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


Guacamole or Hummus Dippers


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


Shine Pouches


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


Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix


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


Seaweed Snacks


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


Lark Ellen Farm Sprouted Seed & Nut Granola Clusters


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


Pressed by Kind Fruit & Chia Bars


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

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

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

August 9, 2018

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

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.

Weekend escapes!

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

Portable nourishment

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

Breakfast on the go

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

Revisiting an old recipe…

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

On that note…some flour tips!

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

Why cassava flour?

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

Freezer friendly?

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

A  note on the “sweet”

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

5.0 from 8 reviews
Paleo Cinnamon Raisin Zucchini Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free
 
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup full fat plain coconut yogurt or coconut milk (I get 32oz tubs of plain full fat So Delicious Coconut Yogurt at the store)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil (avocado oil or melted coconut oil/butter would be fine too)
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar (If you have real little ones around you can get away with ¼ cup for sure. Raw honey or pure maple syrup would work here too.)
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of cassava flour (OR 1 cup cassava flour plus 1 cup blanched almond flour works lovely too if you can tolerate nuts (This is also my favorite version). Please note that brand of cassava flour DOES matter. I use THIS brand – if you use a different brand, you may get different results – that has always been the case for me with cassava.)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 TB cinnamon
  • 2 cups packed shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with silicone muffin liners or grease them with butter or coconut oil.
  2. Blend the eggs, coconut yogurt, olive oil, coconut sugar, vinegar, and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl for 1 minute.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon and blend until combined. It will feel a bit dry but the zucchini will provide plenty of moisture - do not add more liquid!
  4. Stir the shredded zucchini and raisins into the batter with a spatula.
  5. Scoop the batter into a 12 cup muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove the muffins to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

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Paleo Strawberry Chia Jam Muffins :: Grain & Dairy Free :: Works With ANY Flavor Chia Jam!

June 28, 2018

Sweet strawberry chia jam swirled into soft Paleo muffins, perfect for breakfast 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.

Summer night paradise

This really has nothing to do with strawberry chia jam muffins, but we’re right in the thick of summer, and we are pretty much parked at the Lake Michigan shoreline daily! That warm powdery sand and crystal clear fresh water makes for the best evening playground to wear out kids of every age for bedtime, and we take full advantage of it being right in our backyard!

A new breakfast option!

We picked strawberries last week, and boy this heat has them turning so fast! I used the last bit of strawberries that were turning too fast to make some chia jam so that it wouldn’t go to waste, and as one of my girls was spreading it on her banana muffin for breakfast one morning, I had an idea! That chia jam would be so amazing swirled right up into a breakfast muffin!

Summer’s best produce jammed up…chia style!

I was pretty late to the party jumping onto the chia jam train. I know it’s all the rage, but there was just something about that once a year task of choosing a summer fruit and cooking it down for jam that was so satisfying! Last year I just didn’t have the kitchen time to spend making traditional jam for our strawberries, and really fell in love with making them into chia jam.

No strawberries? No problem!

This muffin recipe will really work with whatever chia jams you are making this summer, and better yet, if you are jamming up the traditional way, that jam will work too! Really any summer fruit will work just fine!

Texture perfection!

Almost tipping on the addicting side of things, the texture of these muffins are perfectly soft and satisfying. You’ll never know they aren’t loaded with gluten! Not only are they gluten free, they are free of grain too for those following more of a Paleo lifestyle or need to avoid grains for gut healing.

Some notes on the jam

If you have already canned your favorite summer fruit jam, you can use that for this recipe! Or, if you are done picking fruit, and only have store bought jam on hand, you could use that too. The chia jam recipe I will leave in this post is a super basic chia jam – always about a cup of fruit to a tablespoon of chia seed and sweetener to taste. I think if you have some real little guys in the house you could get away with just a half or so tablespoon of the honey for that jam. If you are going to use store bought, just watch the ingredient list and be sure there isn’t anything funky added to the list.

Muffin ingredient swaps notes

I haven’t tried these muffins egg free, but if you don’t tolerate eggs, I do think a couple gelatin or chia “eggs” would work in here. There are only 2 eggs in the whole recipe so that usually swaps out ok. The muffins might not puff up as much since the eggs make that happen, but they will hold together and still taste really good. The only flour swap that I have made is the Namaste Gluten Free Flour – that will work to swap for all of the cassava, almond, and coconut flours if you happen to have that on hand and prefer to use that. I love the nutritional profile that the specialty flours give to add to breakfast, so that is why I love those other flours. If you are nut free, I do think that using all cassava flour would work.

Ohhh yes they are freezer friendly!

As you move through your summer, picking and enjoying all the special fruit that the warm summer months have to offer, make a batch of chia jam muffins to preserve the fruit! Stashing them away will make your school morning breakfasts easy peasy come fall! To freeze, simply let the muffins cool completely to room temperature, and then put them in a freezer bag. The texture stays super soft even after they thaw out!

5.0 from 17 reviews
Paleo Strawberry Chia Jam Muffins :: Grain & Dairy Free :: Works With ANY Flavor Chia Jam!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CHIA JAM (if using your own jam, you will need ½ cup total jam – this chia jam recipe makes exactly ½ cup) ::
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • 1-2 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • FOR THE MUFFINS ::
  • ½ cup avocado oil (melted butter or coconut oil would work too)
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk plus 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar mixed in to make “buttermilk” (you can use raw milk here or if you have access to quality raw buttermilk you can use that)
  • ½ cup plain full fat coconut yogurt (I get big 32 oz tubs of the SoDelicious brand at the store. You can use homemade coconut yogurt, or if you tolerate dairy, you can use plain full fat regular yogurt.)
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup of chopped strawberries (I quarter them, and then dice)
Instructions
  1. MAKE THE CHIA JAM: Put the strawberries and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Squish the strawberries with a potato masher and let them cook down and break apart over medium/medium-low heat for about 8 minutes. Pour the chia seeds into a small jar, pour the cooked strawberries over the top, and stir to combine. Place the jam in the fridge to set up. This will take an hour to cool off and set up.
  2. When you are ready to make the muffins, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Blend the oil, honey, vanilla, and eggs in a medium mixing bowl for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the milk, yogurt, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt and blend to combine.
  5. In a separate small bowl, stir together the diced strawberries with the strawberry chia jam, and then fold the jam/strawberry mixture into your batter. Don’t stir this too much – you are going for more of a swirled look.
  6. Scoop the batter into silicone muffin cups or paper muffin cup lined muffin pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Recipe makes about 16 muffins. Let the muffins cool the pan for 5 minutes, and then put them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They will come out of the paper liners or silicone cups the best when completely cooled.

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How To Make A Healthy Yogurt Breakfast Bar :: A simple weekday breakfast idea!

June 23, 2018

Letting the kids serve themselves with nourishing, power packed yogurt toppings will become one of your weekday breakfast staples with this easy, healthy yogurt breakfast bar!

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.

A fresh new summer

I’m sitting here writing this post trying to figure out where the last 9 months have gone! Moments of this past school year seemed to be never ending, while most of it really and truly feels like a blur to me! Regardless of how the last year has looked for you, I invite you to look at summer a little outside the box than most.

Relaxed, yes. Taking advantage of summer energy – totally!

I don’t know if it’s the sunshine that my body so desperately needs, but summer always brings a renewed energy toward fresh projects, organizing previously unorganized spaces, and, as a blogger, a flood of new ideas to use this space to help others. While many use the summer to take off work, take it easier, and back off on things, I tend to have more creative energy in the summer, and really find it is a good season for me to knock out new ideas. Will there be relaxing beach days? More than you can count! You bet! But between juggling my 3 girls, getting our feet in the beach sand, and home life, I’m hopeful to stir things up over in this space a bit more in the next few months.

With the season change this year, comes a brand new season of life for this momma.

Nine years. The last 9 years of my life have literally revolved every minute of every day around the little people here in our home. I wouldn’t trade the last 9 years for anything! But this fall, all THREE of my babies will be in full time school, and quite frankly, I am SO many things. I am literally all the above. Happy, sad, joyful, terrified, lost, accomplished…relieved to have made it this far and still have kept all 3 alive.

A new kind of busy

While I completely and utterly bow down to my newborn momma readers here today (I do promise you, sweet momma, that they will sleep someday!), I always imagined this season of life as having a more time to play in the kitchen with new ideas. That has really proven to be false, as I’m outside of the home way more now than when I was a newborn mom! It really is all about perspective and priorities. My health goals and priorities are always a non-negotiable, but I’ve figured out some “short-cuts” to allow some of my other “outside of the kitchen” priorities still happen – in other words…balance. Right?!

Self Serve Yogurt Breakfast Bar!

Once your littles get to the age of being able to self serve (don’t underestimate this – I’m not talking 9 or 10! I’m talking 3 years old, and for those little “responsible beyond their years” first borns…you could probably start this around 2), this breakfast idea will become one of your weekly menu rotations. The possibilities for loading these bowls up is literally endless. The kids will be full and focused for a full day of play and school starting their day off on this foot!

First things first! The yogurt!

So let’s talk yogurt! Dairy free or non-dairy, homemade or store-bought, you have so many options. There won’t be any claims of one right way, or superior yogurt style here. Only what works best for your family, their digestions, and your schedule. We want a sane mommathat is the end goal. If store-bought yogurt means momma feels more on top of her day, then grab that {quality, non-sugar added} store-bought yogurt. If making your own yogurt makes your heart feel full and accomplished! Girl, you make that yogurt then!

If you are going for store-bought yogurt here are some things to make sure you look for:

  • Plain/No Sugar Added. Sugar or sweetener doesn’t need to be in the ingredient list. You can add fruit or control your own sweetener like honey this way. Many store bought sweetened yogurts are worse than candy bars when it comes to grams of sugar.
  • Full Fat/Whole Milk. Low fat or fat free isn’t don’t anyone any good. Our cells, organs, hormones, blood sugars all need fat to survive and thrive. It will make the kids feel more satiated, and it will feed their ever growing brains the fat they need.
  • Dye Free. If you are meeting the above 2 points, you probably don’t need to look out for this, but I’m just mentioning it in case! Yogurt shouldn’t need fancy colors – they mess with kid’s brains and moods. Just be mindful of it, and watch those labels.

Safe Store-Bought Yogurt Options (Dairy & Dairy Free):

  • Any local whole milk yogurts. The area I live in is pretty abundant in either Amish farms, or all grassfed farming practices that also make yogurt. This is really going to vary where you live. I would recommend if you would like to find local yogurt, to check farmer’s markets or local health food stores. Ask around!
  • Maple Hill Creamery Full Fat Grassfed Yogurt
  • Organic Valley Full Fat Plain “Grassmilk” Yogurt
  • Stoneyfield Full Fat Plain Grassfed Yogurt
  • {Dairy Free} SoDelicious Full Fat Coconut Yogurt (Plain or the Vanilla both don’t have added sugar). Our local grocer and health food stores carry the 32 oz tubs of plain and vanilla which is great on the budget buying in that size. If you don’t see it where you live, ask for it! It can never hurt to ask for your stores to carry something!
  • {Dairy Free} CoYo Full Fat Coconut Yogurt
  • {Dairy Free} The Coconut Cult Full Fat Coconut Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt Options:

Here are some great recipes for yogurt if you would like to try making your own! It is so rewarding, and I still do this some of the time!

Now the FUN part!

The toppings and add-ins! Not only is this part fun for the kids, this is the part that will add even more nourishment to their bowl to make this a full, balanced meal that will stick with them all morning. Here are some ideas:

  • Fruit. This can be seasonal for sure. In the winter I do a lot of bananas. In the summer it is usually berries. Wintertime means some dried fruit occasionally as well when most fruit is out of season. The fruit also helps add a bit of sweet to the bowl. If you have really little guys at home, I’d skip the honey all together and just keep them used to fruit and the sour taste of yogurt. All 3 of my girls still eat yogurt without honey (ages 9, 7, and 4). They just have never had it any other way. It is possible to train their palates to loving the tart yogurt taste.
  • Seeds. Rotate these around each week to change up nutrients! Chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds – so many options!
  • Nuts. Again, rotate these around to change up nutrients. I think the nuts do best with yogurt when you chop them up a bit just fyi.  Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios  are all great, and places like Costco are now starting to carry their nuts in organic too! That is awesome on the budget!
  • Grassfed Collagen. This is a no-brainer to me now, but might not be something you would think of right off the bat at first! Grassfed collagen adds a great little protein punch to your yogurt bowl (10 grams for per scoop!), and especially for those using coconut yogurt which is lacking in protein, it is a fantastic addition. This real food source of grassfed protein is tasteless and also has a gut healing component to add as well.
  • Granola. There are a number of granola recipes on the blog here, and if you need pre-made, I found a bunch of great granolas to try on Amazon if you just search “sprouted granola” or “paleo granola.” Here are a few of the more popular recipes on my blog (I do make our granola for our household to save on the budget since we go through it pretty fast) :: Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Granola, Simple Cinnamon Granola, Morning Glory Granola, and Honey Cluster Granola (this uses rhubarb but you can sub for apples).
  • Other “superfood” boosters. My kiddos LOVE the Acai Berry Powder from Perfect Supplements. Not only does it make their yogurt a super cool purple color, it makes the yogurt a bit more berry in flavor. They love it, and it is a great superfoods berry with loads of antioxidant power for them. I also think this is a great spot to add in probiotic powders, vitamin C powders for immune boosting, etc if you have a hard time getting your kiddos to swallow/accept those items. My girls all swallow caps, but as babies, I used yogurt as a vehicle for supplements a lot!
  • Real food sweeteners. This is super optional, but if you have older kiddos used to sweeter things, do not try to force them on the no honey train. It isn’t worth it. Raw honey is loaded with minerals and enzymes that are great for them, and you don’t need a ton of it to make the kid’s sweet tooth happy. Raw local honey, pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar is just fine in small amounts.

Tips for keeping the “self serve” part {ahem!}…mess free…

I know, I know. Seriously, I get it. It is SO much faster and less mess to just do it yourself. But I promise you, that if you do a few of these tips, you can have a really streamlined yogurt bar flow even for a Tuesday school morning that won’t leave you with a big mess to clean up when they are done.

  • SHOW them and practice (and not on a school day!). So plan your first and second yogurt bar on a day that the kids don’t have to be out the door by 8am. Set it up on a Saturday morning so you can demonstrate and help them practice how to serve themselves appropriately.
  • Use the right sized serving bowls. If they are too big and cumbersome, you are sure to have a mess.
  • Use the right sized serving utensils. This will help with portion sizes.
  • Give them portion specifics. “You may take 1 teaspoon of chia seeds.” “You may take 4 spoonfuls of yogurt”. If you use the same serving bowls and utensils each time this will make this part easier. I typically serve the yogurt, for example, right out of the yogurt tub (most of the time I get the SoDelicious coconut yogurt in the 32oz tubs) with the same serving spoon. The girls know that my youngest gets about 3 “scoops” with that spoon, and my oldest knows she takes about 6 “scoops”. I have teaspoons or tablespoons set out for seeds and nuts or other toppings. They  have learned appropriate portion sizes this way, so they don’t under-fill or overfill their bowls and end up with an unhappy amount of one thing or another. I have a bunch of these little teaspoons and these tablespoons so I can set them out easily to serve.

Balance is the key to sustainability.

When it comes to eating real food in the time and space we live in today, keeping it going without quitting a month in all boils down to balance. YES our society needs to take a step back, get out of the drive through, and step into the kitchen a little more. We need to turn off the TVs and phones and turn on the stove. Put some boundaries around extra events and get around the table with family more often. BUT…we also don’t live in the same world our ancestors did. We do have different responsibilities and lives than they did. I’ve been going at this real food thing for well over a decade now. What constitutes sustainability for that long? Making sure there is some grace in my meal plan. I cook breakfast from scratch a good portion of the week, but I *big puffy heart* love my Wednesday morning yogurt breakfast bar! I hope this breakfast idea gives you some inspiration to keep at your real food goals! XO, Renee

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10 Minute Gluten Free Ramen Noodle Bowls

April 6, 2018

You are just 8 simple ingredients away from 10 minute gluten free ramen noodle bowls perfect for dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day!

Simple, real life…

It’s what I love the most about you guys. I’m being totally and completely serious. Every time that I hesitate to post something to Instagram because it might be “too boring” or “too simple” you all are all over it asking for a method or a recipe…and I love that about you. You are totally my people…simple, real moms just trying to make this thing work with some real food on the table that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day.

A humble staple

My husband found these safe ingredient ramen noodles last summer, and I have to tell you, they have become somewhat of a once a weekly staple in my house. A meal I don’t have to think about. A simple, budget friendly, filling lunch or dinner that the girls completely devour, and one that can be tailored to veggies that are in season.

Cook once, eat twice

Because I hardly ever cook for just one meal, this ramen dish is no exception! I started making this my Tuesday or Wednesday night dinner menu item, and then bulked it up so that I could fill up school lunchbox thermoses for the next day or later in the week! Seriously, dear momma, make that kitchen work do double time for you – there is no need to be in there all day long every day. You can see an example of how I pack the leftovers for school lunches below, and follow my Instagram with the hashtag #rgnschoollunch for more ideas.

One meal, but oh so many possibilities!

There are so many ways to fancy up this dish. The ingredients laid out in the recipe section is super bare bones minimum – though it really has so much flavor. My kids adore this prep, but they get just as excited about it being seasoned with curry, or coconut aminos (a great alternative to soy sauce). Change it up to keep things interesting, and to broaden the kids’ palates.

Veggie change ups!

My biggest piece of advice when it comes to real food and produce is…keep it in season. If you have a budget to stick to, your wallet will thank you. Swap the veg out for what is in season near you, and not only will your budget stay on track, your palates will appreciate the change up too! I tend to shop the organic produce at Costco and can really save my budget there during the winter months, but when spring, summer, and fall hit, it is so nice to keep it local and seasonal.

Optional added protein

Very often I’ll make this dish for dinner with some leftover chicken or make some quick meatballs. Then I’ll take the leftover veggie stir fry and noodles without the mean to pack for school lunches. You can add protein to this meal in so many ways. In fact, my favorite way is topping the noodle bowls with a drippy duck egg. The girls also enjoy chicken, beef, or crushed walnuts – there are so many options. If you are packing the veggies and noodles for school thermoses, you can always add a side of mixed nuts, or leftover meat from dinner the night before.

Tips for leftovers and school lunch thermos packing

I’ve had the same thermoses for hot lunches since my 3rd grader was in Kindergarten – they have served us very well! And the girls love having a hot lunch a couple times per week – wouldn’t you?! It is so easy to warm it up in the morning before school. Just fill up your empty thermoses with hot water from your tap water to “temper” the thermos – otherwise the cold thermos will cool off the hot food too easily. I let the thermoses temper while I’m fixing breakfast or while I’m in the shower. They only need 10 minutes, tops, to be effectively tempered. Warm up your ramen noodle meal, adding a splash of water or bone broth while you warm it up. This loosens up the noodles, helping them warm up easier. Dump the hot water out of the thermoses, and fill them up with the ramen meal and you’re good to go!

Quick portioning tip! This recipe feeds my family for one meal. When I want to have more left for lunches the next day, I bulk this up a bit more!

5.0 from 16 reviews
10 Minute Gluten Free Ramen Noodle Bowls
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tbsp ghee to cook in, plus another 2 tbsp to finish the ramen (Butter or olive oil works too. I love the flavor of the ghee for this dish though)
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small/thin florets (sugar peas, asparagus, or sliced cabbage work well here too)
  • 1 medium orange, red, or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips (if you have real little guys at home, you can dice this for them to manage it easier. Mushrooms give a nice flavor here to if you don’t have peppers.)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Heaping handful of baby spinach, chopped (baby kale works here too)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • 4 gluten free rice ramen noodles
  • Optional sliced green onion to garnish
Instructions
  1. Get your water boiling for the ramen while you chop and cook the vegetables.
  2. Melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the onion, broccoli, and peppers with a big pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine and add a splash of water or bone broth to help the veggies cook quick and keep them tender (just a couple tbsp of water is good). Cook the veggies until they are the texture you like (I cook for about 7 minutes to keep a little bit of a bite to the veggies. If you want the veggies softer, you can cook them longer.)
  3. When your pot of water comes to a boil, add a few tbsp of avocado or olive oil to water to help the ramen from sticking, and then add the ramen noodle squares to the pot. After a minute, break apart the noodles, and cook another 2-3 minutes to keep an al dente, bite tender texture. If you like your ramen noodles softer, you can cook further to your liking.
  4. Scoop the ramen noodles with a slotted noodle spoon, and add them to the cooked veggies. I don’t let every drip of water drain off because the extra little bit of starchy liquid helps keep the noodles from sticking. You can use some of the liquid to make the stir fry saucy if you have added a curry seasoning or coconut aminos to dress yours up.

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Paleo Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins :: Gluten/Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, & Refined Sugar Free!

March 24, 2018

Healthy paleo lemon poppy seed muffins are your answer from everything to Easter brunch to your weekday school morning breakfast rotation!

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.

Signs of spring!

I saw my first robin of the spring last week, and while that might not seem like huge news, it pure joy after bitter cold and snow for the last 4 months! We are perfectly giddy to put the snow gear away, and have been enjoying more daylight, sunshine, and the promise of warmer air coming soon! I hope you are seeing signs of spring where you live too.

Easter brunches memories

Lemon poppy seed muffins are about as spring as it gets! I remember the little lemon muffins piled up across brunch buffets for Easter years back, and was always drawn to the bright, fun flavor. I don’t know why it never dawned on me to try to make them myself, but I have been having so much fun testing the idea of these little mini bites in a healthier way, and my girls have fallen in love with the idea as well.

Best of both worlds

Let’s face it…sometimes gluten/grain free baked goods just aren’t the same. They can turn out dry and crumbly – we have all been there. After over a decade of baking gluten free with years scattered in there that had to be grain free, I will be the first one to admit it takes some practice. You will love how soft and fluffy these lemon poppy seed muffins feel though! I am always blown away when I work with cassava flour – when you do it right it really has a great, soft, gluten-like texture. And of course you can’t go wrong with lemon and honey for the flavor! I think my favorite part is the hint of almond extract that really takes it over the top.

Quick and easy batter *and* freeze-able…yes please!

Because these mini lemon muffins are not only perfect for the Easter brunch! They pack perfectly for your hiking adventures, and be a great addition to your weekly school morning breakfast rotation too. The batter blends right up into a 4-cup measuring cup to pour right into your muffin pan, and can be blended up ready to go in less than 10 minutes! I did my freezer test on the muffins last week, and the texture holds up as well as taste. Bulk up and make your mornings easier!

How to make lemon poppy seed muffins a school morning breakfast

Because it is what I do best…let’s get practical 😉 Easter brunch is great, but these muffins are so great for a quick school morning breakfast too. Here are some ways to make it a balanced meal for your kiddos:

  • Lemon muffins and glass of raw milk/coconut milk (You can pack the milk in a thermos if on the go. I used these for travel drinking for my little ones). You can spread butter on the muffins too.
  • Lemon muffins spread with coconut butter, and dish of coconut yogurt. You can add collagen to the yogurt for extra protein too. If doing this to-go, just put the yogurt in a to-go container.
  • Lemon muffins with breakfast meat and a banana. (Bacon, sausage, or even dinner leftovers like chicken or beef – I served my kids meat leftover from dinner for breakfast since infanthood so they really don’t know any differently. If you have little guys at home, start now – it makes life so much easier down the road!)
  • Lemon muffins, raw cheese/goat cheese, and grassfed beef jerky make a great on the go bowl of little bites!
  • Lemon muffins, cubes of avocado, a few almonds, and a clementine make a great on the go bowl of little bites too!

Don’t forget the lunchboxes!

The girls have loved having the lemon poppy seed muffins in their lunchboxes to go with a thermos of soup, or in their morning snack container for mid-morning. It is a great boost of energy that isn’t full of sugar and has blood sugar stabilizing protein, fat, and fiber in a balanced combination.

Ingredient notes

  • Make sure to measure out the lemon juice – my lemons may be more, or less juicy than yours, and the liquid makes a difference in the final product.
  • You can swap the sweetener for your choice. We get a local raw honey from a farmer we love and the taste is so amazing. Just be sure to pick a honey that you love the taste of. If you get a very flowery honey, your muffins will take that taste on (which might be a good thing if you like that!). If you don’t have access to a quality raw honey, this is a good brand. I think coconut sugar or pure maple syrup would swap well too – the honey goes with the lemons so well though.
  • You can swap the coconut milk for raw milk/cream if you tolerate dairy. I don’t think rice milk will be fatty enough. Cashew or almond milk/cream should be fine. I do not recommend consuming soy milk.
  • I have not tried other swaps for the cassava flour. Even if you are not grain/gluten free, I would recommend giving your guts a break from the typical flours you use and try something new! Cassava flour is made from the cassava plant which is a root vegetable. It has numerous health benefits from gut flora feeding PRE-biotic fiber and healthy, energy giving carbohydrates.
  • Egg free friends, I think you could make a few flax eggs to swap here. I would add a splash of ACV to help react with the baking soda to help with some rise – the muffins might not puff up as much as these since eggs really help with rising, but I know they will bind well and should taste great. I have made these with duck eggs if you happen to tolerate those better (my daughter and I tolerate duck eggs better than chicken eggs). If you try an egg free alternative, please let us know how it turns out in the comments so that other egg free readers might gain from your experience. Thank you!
  • I think you could leave out the collagen if you don’t have access to that. I love the extra bit of protein and gut nourishment it provides, and collagen tends to lend some softness to baked goods that I love.

Little hands friendly, and toddler approved!

I’ve been a bit laid up over the last 6 weeks healing a broken wrist (boo!), and I’m telling you, dear momma, I am so thankful for this mini muffin pan that I just happened to get not to long before that. I have been able to have a freezer bag filled with quick, healthy muffins for my littlest to munch on for early school mornings, and I can back off on too much breakfast cooking. Toss a few mini muffins in a little bowl with a hardboiled egg, and your little guy can have a nutritious breakfast on the way to dropping siblings off to school, or packed up in a container to have for breakfast at daycare.

4.9 from 20 reviews
Paleo Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins :: Gluten/Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, & Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup raw honey (This is mildly sweet - you can taste the batter and add more to taste if you like. I get raw honey from a local farmer. If you don't have access, THIS is a good brand.)
  • ⅓ cup avocado oil (Melted coconut oil or butter should work too)
  • ¼ cup juice from a lemon (this has been 1 medium/large lemon for me)
  • 2 tsp almond extract (Vanilla extract would be nice too if you can't have nuts or don't have almond extract around)
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ¼ cup grassfed collagen
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 heaping tbsp lemon zest (this has been the zest of 1 lemon for me.)
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds (optional if you don’t like them)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease your mini muffin pan. I like to use this avocado oil spray for ease, but you could dip a paper towel in some avo oil to wipe the pan.
  2. Blend the eggs, honey, oil, lemon juice, and almond extract for 1 minute on high. I have been making my batter right in my 4-cup liquid measuring cup to make for easy pouring right into the muffin pan – it fits perfectly. A small mixing bowl works too.
  3. Add the coconut milk, cassava flour, collagen, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds, and blend on low until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased muffin pan and bake at 375 for 11 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. To freeze the muffins, let them cool completely before putting into freezer safe bags.

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Gluten Free Mini Pancake Muffins :: Easy Prep, 8 Ingredient Batter Too!

March 17, 2018

On-the-go breakfast just became kid friendly, mess free, and super delicious with these portable, pack-able, freeze-able gluten free mini pancake muffins!

So close we can almost taste it…

Spring that is! We have had some glimpses of spring teasing us with its promise of more sunshine, and we are soaking in all that we can as we climb out of our winter hibernation! I hope you all have been able to see peeks of spring near you in the last few weeks that I’ve taken off while nursing a broken wrist. Thank you for your patience while I heal – it has been so hard to no be able to type, and I have missed you all! Here’s to plenty of sunshine, and lots of spring and summer recipes on the way to fill your table and nourish your family’s bellies!

Little hands and early mornings…

I’m on the tail end of about 8 years in a row of the toddler and preschool years through 3 different personality kiddos, and dear momma, I have learned so much. While those little guys seem to have early body clocks most days, it always seems like the days that we need to be out the door early are the days that they decide to be pokey in being ready to go for the day…who’s feelin’ me?!

Stop rushing them, and roll with it dear momma

Because it just isn’t worth it. About 2 kiddos into this thing I realized it wasn’t worth fighting. Having some on the go options that pack well for the morning school drop off/carpool/whatever your morning schedule looks like has been a lifesaver for me since my first born started school years ago. Those of you wondering why there are so many breakfast cookies on my blog can now understand how those were born! (Use the search bar up top and search breakfast cookie to see what I mean!). Roll with it and keep your sanity. You can still make healthy, filling breakfasts that can easily pack and travel too.

Saturday pancakes made for a Tuesday morning!

Because most of us don’t have time to mess with fussy 15 ingredient batters, or sit at a griddle flipping pancakes on a school morning! One of my biggest goals with these mini pancakes was less than 10 ingredients. I want even my busy work-outside-of-the-home mommas, and my new-to-real-food-cooking mommas to be able to get these on the breakfast menu weekly and not be intimidated. I’d say these 8 ingredients are pretty simple, and I hope that the fact that they freeze well will also make this a winner for every kind of household schedule.

Freeze-able?!

Absolutely, dear momma! Double up baking the mini muffins for your Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast, and save one of the batches for the middle of the school week! The kids will love the change up, and you will never look back because this freezer batch up business is seriously where it’s at! My freezer routine for these kind of baked goods is to take the freezer bag of muffins out before I go to bed so they thaw over night. Then in the morning just pop them in a cold oven on a sheet tray. I pre-heat the oven to 275 and turn the oven off. They warm up perfectly in the pre-heating time. They do also taste great without being warmed through by the way!

Making these mini pancakes a balanced breakfast

There are so many ways to make this breakfast have a happy balance of macros so the kids are full and focused. On the go ways at that! Please keep in mind every kid is different. Some kids need more of certain macros than others – this is simply some suggestions. Use the shopping cart method and pick and choose what works best for your unique kiddos.  Here are some of the other items I serve with the mini pancakes on busy days that my littlest needs to eat in the car/on-the-go:

  • Plain pancake muffins with hard boiled eggs and glass of raw milk/coconut milk (pack the milk in a thermos if on the go. I used these for travel drinking for my little ones). You can spread butter on the muffins too.
  • Pancake muffins spread with coconut butter or nut/seed butter of choice, and dish of yogurt. You can add collagen to the yogurt for extra protein too. If doing this to-go, just put the yogurt in a to-go container.
  • Plain pancake muffins with breakfast meat and a banana. (Bacon, sausage, or even dinner leftovers like chicken or beef – I served my kids meat leftover from dinner for breakfast since infanthood so they really don’t know any differently. If you have little guys at home, start now – it makes life so much easier down the road!)
  • Plain pancake muffins, raw cheese/goat cheese, and grassfed beef jerky make a great on the go bowl of little bites!
  • Plain pancake muffins, cubes of avocado, a few almonds, and a clementine make a great on the go bowl of little bites too!

 Ingredient Tips

  • Measure the maple syrup to taste. If you have little ones use that 2 tbsp – they won’t know any differently. If you have older kids, that 4 tbsp will make it tasty to the point they won’t want to dip it in more maple syrup like real pancakes. I have found that when I make them with less syrup with the thought of letting them dip the pancakes in syrup, they use way more syrup than if I just add that extra syrup into the batter and don’t offer the dipping. Do what works for you though!
  • I’m sure other GF flour blends would work, but I have not tested them. I hear the TJ’s GF mix is very similar to Namaste. Let us know in the comments if you try a different GF flour blend and how it works!
  • For my grain free friends, my goal with this recipe was super, super simple for even new real foodies to be able to make, which is why I stuck with the simple GF flour blend. I have not tested the recipe with grain free flours, though I think it is definitely do-able. Amounts will need to be adjusted for sure, and you will probably need a couple different types of grain free flours to make it work – if you like playing around with that let us know what you try and what works! I’m sure there are others who will love to learn from you! In the meantime, have you seen the Paleo (grain free) mini banana muffins posted last month?! They are ahhh-mazing!
  • Egg free friends! If you can’t swap the chicken eggs for duck eggs, go ahead and swap eggs for flax eggs. I think it will work just fine. You may want to add a tbsp of apple cider vinegar to react with the baking powder to help with the rise of the muffin since the eggs not only help bind, but also rise.

My newest kitchen love…

Gah! You guys this mini muffin tin. I swear if I could go back to my really early toddler days with 3 kids under 5 years old, I would totally gift myself one of these! It is such a game changer for little hands. Sure, regular sized muffins are a big hit with little kids, but these mini muffins are easier to eat, less messy, and you have less of a chance of that thing happening where they say they want another muffin, take one bite, and then say they are full…*all the eyerolls* right?! Seriously…you deserve to gift yourself one! I also want to mention that I’ve found this avocado spray to be the best way to grease mini muffin tins – it is way faster and makes clean-up a breeze.

Embrace it, dear momma

I used to hate hearing it, because most toddler days just don’t seem to “go by so quickly”…but it truly does. I am not going to say I miss it, because quite frankly it was exhausting. I also truly did savor my babies, so I’m ready for the next stage! Embrace those quirky little guys with up and down appetites, funky requests, perfectly timed melt-downs, and endless unconditional loved kisses and give them a few mini muffins to make the morning a little easier 🙂

5.0 from 13 reviews
Gluten Free Mini Pancake Muffins :: Easy Prep, 8 Ingredient Batter Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (olive oil, melted coconut oil, or melted butter would work too)
  • 2-4 Tbsp pure maple syrup (See notes in the "Ingredient Tips" section for tips on this)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups coconut milk (raw milk would work too)
  • 2 cups Namaste Gluten Free Flour (See notes in the "Ingredient Tips" section for tips and swap notes on the flour)
  • 3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your mini muffin tin. I like to use this avocado oil spray. You could dab a paper towel with avocado oil or butter to grease them easily too.
  2. Blend the eggs, oil, syrup, and vanilla extract on high for 1 minute.
  3. Add the coconut milk, flour, baking powder, and sea salt and blend on low to combine. A few flour lumps are ok.
  4. Scoop the batter into your mini muffin pan filling each cup ¾ of the way full. It should fill up a full 48 cup mini muffin tin.
  5. Bake the mini muffins at 350 for 15 minutes until they puff up and are golden brown on the sides. Cool in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer the mini muffins to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. They slide right out, so I just dump them right on the cooling rack. If you plan to freeze the muffins, cool them to room temp before putting them in a freezer bag.

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Instant Pot Alfredo :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

February 10, 2018

Classic Alfredo flavors in a fraction of the time, and made gluten, dairy, and nut free too!

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.

Mid winter pick-me-ups…

I hear Lake Michigan is over 50 percent frozen these days, and from the looks off the pier down the road at the beach…I believe it! During this frigid time of year, we are definitely in need of some dinner comfort to warm our bellies, and I’ve got just the ticket for you if you’re feeling the same way.

Comforting Alfredo

I remember the first time I ordered alfredo pasta at a restaurant as probably a teen or 20 something. I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t fall in love after the first creamy bite, and I remember thinking this must be the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I also remember thinking…there is no way I could ever make something like this!

Dairy free Alfredo?!

Interestingly, Alfredo bases are really nothing more than a little garlic, butter, milk, and Parmesan. I am a huge fan of raw dairy, but if you are one that can’t tolerate that (sadly myself and one of my daughters included), there is another way! I have found coconut milk and nutritional yeast to be a great swap – you really can’t taste the coconut. I have a couple of coconut taste critics in my household, and this dinner gets gobbled up time after time without complaint. Cooking the noodles in the coconut milk allows the pasta’s starches to thicken the sauce and there really isn’t anything like indulgent, drippy, creamy, garlic infused Alfredo sauce!

Weekday fast in the Instant Pot!

It’s no secret, the Instant Pot has really been a game changer for a lot of family kitchens, and this traditional real foodie is one of them. It did take me a while to get the hang of it (let’s be honest – it took me 2 months to even take it out of the box!), but it has become a counter staple for weekly bone broth, soups, and whole chickens, and full meals like this alfredo dinner.

Literally one pot for the whole meal – that is definitely weekday friendly!

Pasta favorites

If you tolerate gluten/wheat, I recommend the Jovial brand of Einkorn pasta. If you need a gluten free diet, here are some of my favorite gluten free pastas:

If you are grain free, I would recommend separately making this DIY alfredo sauce, and then just add some spiralized zucchini or sweet potato noodles. My kiddos love this dinner too, and it is a great way to get some extra veggies in. The recipe done in the Instant Pot using veggie noodles will not turn out. The starches from the pasta helps thicken the alfredo sauce, and the cook time would make veggie noodles way to soft.

Add-ins to change things up!

I wanted to keep this recipe as simple as possible, so that there were no more than 10 ingredients. This also leaves some room so you can put your own creative spin on it! I happen to love adding cherry tomatoes to the cooking veggies in the first step. I also tend to add a big hand full of spinach to wilt in after the pasta cooks. If you chop it really small, your littles won’t even know it’s there if that is something that would normally bother them – it is taste free and it just looks like herbs. One of my kids particularly loves it when I add peas, while the another likes when I add bits of bacon.

Important Notes

  • Frozen broccoli gets too mushy. Believe me – I’d love nothing more than to just dump a bag organic frozen broccoli into the pot, but it just doesn’t work.
  • Different pasta brands might have different cook times.
  • I think cashew or almond milk would work if you don’t have coconut milk and like using those. If you tolerate raw milk/cream that should work great. I don’t think rice milk is thick/fatty enough, and I do not recommend soy milk.

5.0 from 20 reviews
Instant Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Alfredo :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup ghee (If you tolerate butter, you can use that. If you don’t tolerate ghee, you can use avocado oil. Coconut oil will change the flavor too much.)
  • 1 small onion, diced small (or ½ large onion)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine or bone broth to de-glaze the pan (white wine adds a really good flavor to the final dish)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (about 1 ½ chicken breasts), cut on a bias or cubed
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional but gives the cheesy flavor of parmesan. You could use a good 2-4 tbsp parm if you tolerate the dairy. If you don’t have this on hand, a little extra sea salt will help with the salty bite of parm.)
  • 1 ½ quarts coconut milk (I like to use this entire 33oz carton of coconut milk which is about 1½ quarts. If you tolerate raw milk/cream, you may use that)
  • 8 oz gluten free pasta
  • 1 head of fresh broccoli, cut into florets (not frozen broccoli)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Turn the Instant Pot on using the “Sauté” button, and melt the ghee. Add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt, stir to combine, and cook for 5-7 minutes so the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, and then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Simmer the wine for a minute or 2 to burn off the alcohol. Turn the Instant Pot “Off.”
  3. Stir the chicken and nutritional yeast into the cooked onion/carrot/garlic mixture. Pour the coconut milk in the pot, and then put the pasta in. Make sure the pasta is submerged in the coconut milk. Put the broccoli on top of the coconut milk/noodle mixture – do not mix the broccoli in, or the noodles will not stay under the coconut milk and won’t cook all the way through.
  4. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, and be sure the valve is closed. Press the “Manual” button and bring the time down to 2 minutes. The Instant Pot will take a few minutes to come to pressure, and then it will count the 2 minutes down.
  5. When the Instant Pot beeps after the 2 minute countdown, turn the Instant Pot off (do NOT release the pressure valve yet), and set a timer for 3-4 minutes. 3 minutes will leave your noodles with an al dente bite, and 4 minutes will leave them softer. After 3 minutes, release the valve for the rest of the pressure in the Instant Pot, and take the lid off. Stir everything up – I like to let it sit for a few minutes to absorb some of the liquid – this will also allow the noodles to soak in more liquid. Sea salt and pepper the alfredo to your taste and serve!

More real food Instant Pot recipes you might like ::

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Paleo Mini Banana Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Kid Friendly & Easy Prep!

January 27, 2018

Head out the door with fast prep Paleo mini banana muffins, packed with filling, nutritious ingredients to fuel your little ones for the day!

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.

Third kid in, and I’m still learning…!

I am definitely not one to pretend that I have this motherhood thing all figured out. How could you when each child is so individually different and beautiful? Certain lessons pass from one kid to the next, making little aspects of subsequent kiddos added to the mix run a bit smoother, but for the most part, I still take one day at a time figuring this thing out just like everyone else!

My how my mornings have changed!

One routine that looks quite different from my first born in the toddler/preschooler years to my third born is breakfast. Sure, the nutrition is still there, and my standards for quality, nutrient dense meals still remains my number 1 priority, but the mornings themselves just look different. With that first and even the second kid, there was time to help with getting those last few bites down by helping feed them a little if there was an appointment or work to attend. I dare say our mornings were pretty laid back. Even though I worked outside the home during those days, overall there were just fewer distractions and it made for easier meals.

Little hands, little bellies…and busy mornings

The youngest in my house has had to tag along for school drop offs, appointments, and after school activities and play dates since the day she was born. She basically was groomed to go with the flow, but we still struggle with this age that can be pokey at the breakfast table – especially when the big sisters have to be to school by 8:15. There are mornings she sleeps in, and I’m literally popping her from bed to the car seat in her jammies, and other mornings where she has it in her head she is going to play instead of eat when she gets up in the morning – and darn it I’m going to let her do that because she’s 4!

It never fails on those mornings though…she will remind me how hungry she was right as we are loading up the van for school 😉

Mini muffins to the rescue!

One of the reasons breakfast cookies are such a popular and abundant recipe selection on my blog, is because they were my go-to for my youngest for on the go breakfast. I recently saw some mini muffin pans for sale, however, and I thought I might mix things up a little and try some muffins. Larger muffins tend to get pretty messy, or in those smaller ages, sometimes they eat half of a large muffin and don’t need the rest. I never thought to try mini muffins – and it has been on of those lessons learned on this third kid that has really been a life saver!

Priorities…

Because of our busier schedule, my kitchen routine has also evolved a bit with more kids. When babies are home and you are pretty “stuck” at home, it is really easy to have kitchen time almost daily. I really don’t have that privilege anymore, and so prep days are vital, and I need food that can be made in big batches to eat throughout the week or freeze to pull out easy on a busy morning. With that said, here are the goals I had for the development of these muffins!

  • Nourishing ingredients
  • *Minimal* ingredient list (less than 10 ingredients)
  • No fuss prep (batter is done and in the muffin tin in the time it takes the oven to pre-heat!)
  • Keep well on the counter for a few days
  • Freeze-able
  • Pack well in school lunchboxes (because I might as well make these bad boys do double time as not only an option for a school morning, but as a quick add-in for lunchboxes!)
  • Taste good!

But what about filling up the older kids?

I’m all about making each meal fit for every kid in the house – you don’t need to be in the kitchen all day, dear momma.

I am also finding that as the kiddos get older, they ebb and flow in and out of times of what feels like you can never keep them full! Bottomless pits if you will! During times like these (that can also happen with toddlers by the way!), just be sure to have other options around to add to their bowl or plate of food. The muffins are part of the meal. Easy sides like hard boiled eggs, breakfasts meats (bacon, sausage, jerky, or even meat from dinner last night), yogurt, smoothies, etc are just as easy to add to the meal and will fill growth spurting kids up easily.

Mini muffin breakfast side items {that are fast!}

These little muffins are a great source of fiber (coconut flour) and fat (coconut flour, healthy oil, and eggs), but unless you want the whole pan gone in one shot, here are some fast side items to balance out the plate.

  • Eggs (hard boiled eggs can be made ahead of time on a prep day – I make a dozen at a time for easy pull out snacks or breakfast)
  • Raw milk or coconut milk tonics (this is a fatty blend of nourishing ingredients – the recipe I use is in my cookbook Nourished Beginnings)
  • Yogurt or coconut yogurt
  • Breakfast meat (sausage, bacon, jerky, or even whatever meat was served for dinner last night)
  • Green smoothies

Batching & Freezing Tips

I am loving my 48-cup mini muffin tin! This recipe fills between 36 and 40 of the mini muffin cups, so if you have 2 of these muffin trays, you could definitely double up and put them in at the same time. To freeze the muffins, let them cool completely, and put them into a freezer bag to freeze. They can pull out to the lunchboxes and thaw by lunchtime, or you can leave them out the night before to be ready to go in the morning.

5.0 from 11 reviews
Paleo Mini Banana Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Kid Friendly & Easy Prep!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 small bananas, peeled (If your bananas are larger, or you are going to use applesauce, my 2 small bananas have been measuring out to about ⅔ cup)
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup avocado oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar (raw honey or pure maple syrup would work too)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the bananas in a medium mixing bowl and mash them with the back of a fork until smooth. Add the rest of the wet ingredients (eggs, oil, coconut sugar, & vanilla) and blend with hand beaters for 1 minute until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the flours, baking soda, and salt and blend to combine until smooth.
  4. Scoop the batter into a mini muffin pan. I like to use this safe avocado oil spray to lightly grease the tin before scooping. You could use mini muffin liners or butter - I find the spray faster for so many little muffins. I get about 36 mini muffins out of this batter.
  5. Bake the mini muffins at 375 degrees for 12 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let the mini muffins cool for a couple minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack. The muffins hold up really nice and are ready to eat in a just a few minutes of cooling! To freeze the muffins, let them cool completely and then toss them in a freezer bag to freeze.

More real food fast breakfasts you might like ::

 

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Mahi Mahi Fish Taco Buddha Bowls With Dairy Free Chipotle Garlic Lime Aioli :: Paleo Friendly Real Food!

January 19, 2018

Quick prep “fish taco” inspired Buddha bowls the whole 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.

Let’s give dinner a little change up!

I get it. We all have been there. Just because food bloggers make meal time look effortless, doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with meal planning sometimes. Many of us still have a houseful of kids with normal busy lives and schedules, and that means dinner ruts – even for a food blogger.

The busy mom’s answer to any meal!

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, when I’m in a rush and need something fast for a meal, the ever popular “Buddah bowls” are the answer. I consider myself somewhat of an expert at piling high my biggest bowls with whatever I can to make a meal – having 3 kids in the space of just over 4 years will do that to you!

Meal bowls, (or “Buddha bowls” if I want be popular 😉 ) are quick and easy to make, and can be customized to whatever is in season or in your fridge this week.

How to customize buddah bowls for little kids!

Listen, I love myself a good crisp, raw salad, or a buddah bowl crammed with crunchy coleslaw and slivers of raw veggies. And even though my kids are open to meal bowls with raw veg and salads/slaws, I am here to tell you that using roasted/cooked veg in your buddah bowls will get WAY more veg in the kids – especially the really little guys.

Don’t wait to serve buddah bowls to your kids until they are older and can handle chewing raw veg. Get a little bowl in front of those older babies and toddlers with a variety of roasted vegetables and meat, and let them have at it two fisted! They will be so used to eating them at those young ages, that they won’t bat an eye at this being a regular rotation in your meal plan – and that, dear momma, is a priceless time saver.

A little sheet pan love

Because most nights, I certainly don’t have time to sit at the stove at cook…I love my sheet pans!

Pile a load of your favorite veggies right on, and you are hands free while it roasts right along with the fish. Not only is this method time saving, roasting gives veggies a super kid friendly sweet flavor that irresistible. The meal possibilities are endless with that veggie bin full of produce!

Notes about swapping the fish type and sourcing

While we really love the mild taste and light texture of mahi mahi, if you don’t have access to a wild caught source of mahi mahi, by all means use what you have. Wild cod and wild salmon will work, and if there isn’t a safe source of fish near you, swap the fish for whatever quality meat you love to eat in your house.

We are pretty thankful to have sustainable source of wild caught fish mongers in our area, but that is definitely not the case everywhere. The demand is growing however, so don’t be afraid to look at even regular grocery stores. Our Meijer carries wild salmon, and many times we pick up our wild caught fish at Costco. If you don’t have access to beneficial fatty fish, using a quality cod liver oil in your house regularly will ensure you and the kids are getting the DHA and EPA oils that are so important for nervous system function.

A note about taco seasoning

One of my biggest goals for this particular meal, was to keep the ingredient list to a minimum. Which means go ahead and use that taco season blend you love, dear momma! I keep a tripled up batch of my DIY taco season blend in the pantry so it’s easy to scoop from, or you could keep your favorite brand on hand.

Here are some safe brands with no MSG, fillers, or starches added:

But this sauce though!!!

So let’s talk about this dreamy aioli to drown your fish taco bowl in!

Honestly, I’ve been putting it on just about everything I can lately, from this sheet pan fish taco bowl, to salads, wraps, and even as a dip for homemade french fries. Creamy and flavorful without the dairy or additives, it almost feels too good to be true! I have one “not” spicy fan in the house – this creamy sauce is mild enough for her and should work for most kiddos. You can halve the chipotle to start with just in case, however. All 3 of the girls were licking their bowls clean on this one!

Serving Options & Add-In Choices

The sky is the limit here! Our family tolerates an organic long grain white rice just fine, but there are so many different delicious options for serving your buddah bowls with! And while I would love to sprinkle fresh mango or pineapple over our bowls, winter in Michigan yields over priced fresh tropical fruit, so dried fruit is just as delicious, and keeps my budget happy. The brightness from the fruit also keeps the kiddos smiles around making dinner a bit more fun.

Here are some add-ins to choose from:

5.0 from 18 reviews
Mahi Mahi Fish Taco Bowls With Dairy Free Chipotle Garlic Lime Aioli :: Paleo Friendly Real Food!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FISH TACO BOWLS ::
  • 4 wild caught mahi mahi fillets
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning to taste for the fillets (I use my MSG/starch free DIY Taco Season)
  • ½ small head of purple cabbage, sliced
  • ¼ small head of green cabbage, sliced
  • ½ Spanish onion, sliced
  • 2 jalepenos, halved, de-ribbed, and sliced (The heat lives in the seeds and ribs, so if you like more heat, leave it in!)
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Your choice add-ins to the bowl! :: tomatoes/salsa, fresh or dried mango, cauli-rice or long grain white rice, avocado slices, fresh sliced veggies like pepper sticks
  • CHIPOTLE, LIME, & GARLIC AIOLI ::
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp chipotle powder (this leaves the aioli with a mild, kid friendly taste – feel free to add more if you like more heat)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425. You can also get your rice cooking at this time if you are serving your bowls with rice – it will be done by the time you finish the fish!
  2. Season both sides of the mahi mahi with taco season, and place on a sheet tray. Toss the cabbage, onion, and jalepeno slices with avocado oil, sea salt, and pepper and spread out on another tray.
  3. Place the veggie tray on the middle rack of the oven, and the fish on the rack below that. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until the fish is cooked through, and the veggies are lightly caramelized.
  4. While the fish/veggies are baking, you can make the aioli. Place all of the aioli ingredients into a pint mason jar, and use an immersion blender to blend into a creamy sauce. If you do not have an immersion blender, put everything into your food processor EXCEPT the oil. Press blend, and then use the oil drip cup to slowly drizzle the oil in as it is blending so it can emulsify.
  5. After the fish/veggies cook, you can assemble your bowls. Veggies and rice (or cauli-rice) down first, and everything else surrounding it! Drizzle the aioli and serve with lime wedges.

More real food sheet pan and quick prep dinners you might like ::

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Fig Breakfast Bars :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free

January 5, 2018

Make breakfast or snack time count with quick prep, freezer friendly, and power packed gluten free fig breakfast bars!

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 great winter produce dilemma!

Well in the north it’s a dilemma at least – especially if you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for out of season fruit and veggies. We are enjoying all that winter brings to us though, including almost daily sledding trips during the long holiday break!

Settling in for the long winter…

While I’ll be looking forward to grabbing up some early strawberries from my Floridian and Californian friends this March (thank you for shipping them to Michigan – we are so thankful!!), this time of year we like to enjoy what is left from our summer blueberry and cherry picking freezer stash so we don’t grow tired of the same oranges and bananas through the long winter months.

Because we have such long winter here, we do rely on dried fruit a bit! Drying fruit throughout the seasons is something our ancestors would have done to preserve the food growing in their area for times like winter when food is at lower supply, and it is so smart! Dried fruit keeps in the pantry easily, and provides a real food source of some pretty important vitamins and minerals our bodies need – not to mention tasting pretty amazing!

Figs!

Dates and figs are probably our household favorite, and since organic fresh produce was slim pickings this week (or way more than I care to afford!), we’ve been enjoying figs! (The linked brands are what I pick up at Costco).

Not only do figs taste pretty amazing, they are packed with potassium and magnesium – minerals that most of us could use a little more of! They are a great, real food source of fiber, as well as vitamins like B6 and K. They are readily available in most stores, and they are really cost effective on Amazon or at Costco.

A new breakfast change up

My kiddos have been ready for a breakfast change up, so my big bag of dried figs from Costco was the perfect reason to hash out a new recipe just for them…and for you! Sweet, dried figs layered with some power packed, fat and protein loaded ingredients make for a great addition to any school morning breakfast, or an easy, pack-able morning snack for school too.

Busy momma, I haven’t forgotten you!

Because let’s face it…none of us have time for a fussy breakfast prep on busy school mornings! Not only are these fig breakfast bars easy enough to make the night before school, they are freeze-able! Which means you can double batch them on the weekend (or whenever your “prep day” is), and keep them in the freezer. The kids can pull their own bars out in the morning on the way to school, and that is about as hands-free prep time as it gets!

Prep time tips

I’ve made these bars at least a dozen times over the last week, and I’ve got some tips to help your kitchen time flow super fast!

  • The pan can be put together in the time it takes your oven to pre-heat if you simmer the figs while you prepare the crust in the pan.
  • The bars need to cool completely to set up before cutting, so you could potentially bake them off in the evening and stash them away in the pan in the fridge til morning when you cut them up for breakfast. Otherwise, getting the bars made up on your prep day list will be beneficial – you can double up and store them away.
  • Do not try to double the recipe into a larger pan – the middle doesn’t cook or set up as well. Instead, I doubled up into two 8×8 pans, and they cooked beautifully.

How to use your fig breakfast bars

For some children, a fig bar and a cup of raw milk or coconut milk would be the perfectly portioned breakfast. For others, a fig breakfast bar with a side of hard boiled eggs or sausage and a cup of yogurt will be best. Still others will be one way this week, and the other way the next! Bottom line…all kids have different appetites and growing periods, so listen to that.

For the toddlers who tend to eat 2 breakfasts, this is a great second breakfast mid morning! Start them off with some eggs and/or veggie hash, and milk in the morning when they get up, and finish off their morning with a bar when they get hungry while you are out grocery shopping! I’ll be using these bars for my school aged kids in their morning snack boxes a lot I think. When I use them for breakfast, they will be having theirs with sides of sausage and raw milk or coconut milk.

Ingredient notes and swaps

While I did make quite a few batches of the bars, there is no way I can possibly test out every swap option. I’ll list out what my thoughts are, and if you do try a certain swap not listed here, we would love it if you would leave your results in the comments so others may use your method if they need that swap too!

  • Fruit swaps: dried apricots, dates, and dried mangoes should all work quite well. I also think that even just a fruit jam you have sitting around would work, though watch the added sugar on some of those.
  • Coconut shred swaps: Sprouted oats work well for the coconut shreds if you can tolerate oat grain.
  • While I did not test swaps for the almond flour, I do think that sunflower seed meal should work fine. If you try a different gluten free flour, start out with a smaller amount – you can always add more if it’s too wet.
  • Chia seed swaps: Flax meal works well if you prefer that, or you can swap the chia out for more coconut shreds which also works. I like the variety of having a healthy seed in there, but if you do not tolerate chia go ahead and swap it out.
  • The grassfed collagen is optional if you do not have it around. If you have it sitting around, it does add another protein component to the bars.

5.0 from 19 reviews
Fig Breakfast Bars :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put the dried figs and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes while you prepare the crust.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients (shredded coconut, chia, flours, coconut sugar, baking soda, and salt) in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Melt the coconut oil, turn off the heat, and add the vanilla. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Use your 1 cup measure to take out 1 cup of the crust mixture, and set aside. Press the rest of the crust mixture into the bottom of a greased 8x8 baking pan (grease your pan with organic palm shortening, coconut oil, or butter).
  5. Blend the simmered water/fig mixture in your food processor, and spread over the top of the pressed down crust in the pan. It spreads really easy like jam. Sprinkle the reserved 1 cup of crust over the top of the jam and lightly press it down, making sure to get the sides and corners too.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until the crust is lightly browned. Let the pan cool completely before cutting the bars so they can set up. If you cut the bars while warm, they will fall apart. In fact, I found that cooling it in the fridge or freezer made for the cleanest cutting. Once the bars are cut, you can store them in an airtight container for a few days, or pop them in a freezer bag to freeze up to 3 months.

More real food breakfast ideas you might like ::

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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 15 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 ::

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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!

 

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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 ::

 

 

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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!)

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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 coconut shreds, 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.

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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 14 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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Real Food 101 Real Food Tips Snack Ideas

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.

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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.

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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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