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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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10 Minute Asian Almond Cucumber Noodle Bowls :: Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free

August 4, 2018

Fresh and crisp cucumber noodle bowls tossed with a savory Asian almond dressing, all in just 10 minutes of 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.

Sweet summer moments

I’m treasuring them! We are officially less than a month away from the school year, and I’m savoring all I can!

Same nourishing goals, less kitchen time

For myself, summer can be too easy to fall in to settling on the same lunches, or quicker, easier options for meal time. There is certainly nothing wrong with that – especially if you can still make it quick, easy, AND healthy. Summer presents a load of amazing produce to stock your kitchen with every week, so the possibilities are endless really.

Summer cucumber abundance

This is the time of year where you either have cucumbers coming out of your ears from your own home garden, or you are unloading the abundance of cucumbers coming out of your local farmer’s garden! It is such a money saver to your budget to buy produce in season, and when those summer veggies are in full swing, you can really take advantage of the abundance and save some money on your grocery bill.

Cucumber “noodles?!”

Honestly, I hesitate to even call them noodles, because this self proclaimed carb lover adores her some real pasta every now again! But when you spiralize cucumbers they look just like noodles (This is the spiralizer I have), and this noodle bowl is  so satisfying with the savory Asian dressing to go along with the crisp crunch of the veggies. The best cucumbers to spiralize are the long, skinny kind. They don’t have as many big seeds, and they are less watery. They are nice and firm, and hold up in the spiralizer well. Just cut the ends off, and then cut the cucumber in half, then spiralize away! I also spiralized the carrots in this recipe – if you can get your hands on some thick carrots, they spiralize really well. If your carrots are on the skinny side, just peel strips of the carrot instead.

10 minutes?!

YES! This means that not only could it make a great potential lunch, it also makes a very fast prep dinner side dish. Which is how I have been using it the majority of the time. This recipe as written feeds my family of 5 for one dinner as a veggie side dish. It is fast to prep while hamburgers or chicken are grilling.

Make ahead tips

If you want to bring this noodle bowl to lunch with you at work, or a park trip, you’ll want to pack the dressing on the side. The dressing draws the water out of the cucumber noodles after it sits for more than 15 minutes. Also, your dried goji berries will start to pick up some of the liquid from the cucumbers when it sits too long, so if I am taking this along with me, I keep the goji berries on the side to add in with the dressing. My girls actually like it when the goji berries re-hydrate and get super soft, so if that is your preference, go for it!

Other add-in options:

The recipe as written is bare bones minimum which we definitely love! If you want to change things up here are some other ideas to add in, or swap around!

  • Hardboiled eggs. One of my favorites, and a great way to make this a full lunch meal.
  • Other nuts and/or seeds. It’s always nice to change things up for different flavors, and for adding different nutrients to your diet. Try sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or cashews!
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Thinly sliced bell peppers
  • Leftover roasted chicken or beef
  • Mushrooms

5.0 from 20 reviews
Asian Almond Cucumber Noodle Bowls :: Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE NOODLE BOWL:
  • 2 cucumbers, spiralized (the long, skinny kind work best.)
  • 2 large carrots, spiralized (I don’t even peel mine since I buy organic, but you can if you wish. The nice wide ones will spiralize best)
  • 3-4 stalks of green onion, sliced
  • ½ cup goji berries
  • 2 handfuls of walnuts, crushed (I just take 2 handfuls of walnuts, and crush it in my hands. It’s about 1 ½ cups – you can chop through with a knife or in the food processor if you want them smaller pieces)
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ⅓ cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste. You probably won’t need sea salt since the coconut aminos (like soy sauce) is salty. Taste the dressing before adding any salt.
Instructions
  1. Toss all of the noodle bowl ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Put all of the dressing ingredients into a pint size mason jar and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, you could add the dressing ingredients into a food processor except the oil. Then, while the food processor is blending, use the oil drip cup on the lid to drizzle the oil in slowly to emulsify into the dressing.)
  3. Start with pouring ⅓ cup of dressing into your salad and then add more per your preference. You will not use all the dressing most likely, but it keeps in the fridge for weeks, so you can make this noodle bowl (or even a regular salad”) more often and quicker with the dressing already made!

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Healthy Instant Pot Potato Salad :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, & Paleo Friendly!

July 19, 2018

Learn how to use clean ingredients to make classic potato salad in a fraction of the time using your Instant Pot!

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

Summer vacation bliss!

The best. I’m so thankful for you all being so gracious with me while I took some time off to enjoy the summer sun. Thank you! We just got back from the best time of Petoskey stone hunting, wave riding, river bank hiking, and family time.

Summer routine

And as much fun as we had for a get-away, I’m ready to hop back into our “at home” summer routine. Part of that summer routine means having cold salads on hand for quick lunch or dinner side dishes. It gives us a chance to be outdoors as much as possible and still keep the food on our plates real food so we aren’t tempted to eat junk or go out to eat.

My summer salad and side staples

Coleslaw is one of my staple veggie side dishes for summer weekdays. I make it up on Sunday nights and use it for the first half of the week. I also like making our favorite fresh herb filled Paleo Ranch for cold veggie platter dipping or big salad sides. And this summer, potato salad has made one of my summer side staples thanks to my Instant Pot!

Potato salad for more than just that special picnic!

If you were to ask me last year if potato salad was one of my summer staple sides, I would have probably told you no. The time it takes to boil the potatoes was more than I am willing to do for anything more than a special picnic occasion. But my goodness has the Instant Pot changed that for me! In about 10 minutes of time including chopping, cooking, mixing, and clean up, I can have a week’s worth of potato salad ready to go for dinner sides to partner grilled hamburgers and barbeque chicken, or a lunch bowl topped with some crushed walnuts!

Pile it all in!

No really! Just add a cup of water to the bottom of your IP, place a steamer basket down at the bottom, and pile on the cubed potatoes! (I don’t even peel the potatoes, although you may if you wish!) You can just toss the eggs right on the top of the potatoes, and once the Instant Pot comes to pressure, you’re 3 minutes away from perfectly cooked potatoes and hard boiled eggs. And you can totally tailor this to your taste. If you like more or less eggs, you can certainly adjust that! If you like a crisper potato in your potato salad, back the time off to 1 minute. (You may need to pressure cook your eggs separately to get them fully hard boiled if you back off on the potato cooking time).

That dressing, though!

While I’m all about the Instant Pot magic, the dressing is really where it’s at. If your dressing is boring and bland, your potato salad isn’t going to taste great. While your potatoes and eggs are pressure cooking, whisk up this amazing dressing – your family will be licking their plates clean because of this part! The key is to add the dressing to the potatoes while they are still warm, so they soak up all the flavor. This also makes the prep part go super fast! You don’t need to wait for the potatoes to cool down at all!

Mayonnaise options

There are a lot of different options for the mayonnaise part. Browse through this list, and see what fits your family best!

  • I love and use the Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayo. You can find it just about anywhere these days. Just be sure it is the avocado oil mayo – the “classic” mayo in this brand uses sunflower oil, and you want to avoid that.
  • While I absolutely LOVE my Paleo Avocado Mayo recipe, it does turn the potato salad a different color, so I tend to use regular mayo for this salad. If that is the kind of mayo you tolerate, and you don’t mind the change in color, I have made it using that Paleo mayo recipe and it tastes SO good!
  • If you can’t have the eggs in homemade mayo or store bought, you can try my egg free mayo recipe (this recipe does have dairy, but I think you could swap the sour cream for plain coconut milk yogurt if you do not tolerate dairy).
  • I also wanted to add that plain sour cream works well for a mayo sub if that is what you have and can tolerate dairy.

Other ingredient notes and swaps

  • Your potato salad will feel a bit different if you use yellow or red potatoes. Russets are “drier” and have more room for absorbing the dressing which is why I like using them. Red/yellow potatoes will work, but I think you might want to adjust the time for cooking since they tend to cook faster and get softer.
  • If you can’t have eggs, simply leave them out! I use duck eggs a lot since that is what we tolerate best.
  • I have been picking up the Bubbies pickle relish this summer and *loving* it! If you can’t find that, you can just chop up regular pickles (we like the Bubbies fermented pickles) for the chopped pickle ingredient. Just watch your ingredients – bread and butter pickles have a ton of added sugar.

5.0 from 18 reviews
Healthy Instant Pot Potato Salad :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, & Paleo Friendly!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 lbs Russet potatoes, cubed (It’s been about 6 medium sized potatoes for me)
  • 4 pastured chicken or duck eggs (optional if you don’t tolerate eggs)
  • 1 cup of your favorite mayonnaise (I like Sir Kensington's Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. See above "Mayo Options" section for more choices. You can use homemade mayo, or your favorite mayo made with avocado oil or olive oil. If you tolerate dairy, full fat sour cream works fantastic too. We avoid mayos with soy and/or canola oils.)
  • 2 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard (regular mustard works just fine here too)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ - 2 tsp sea salt to taste (start low and you can always add more to your taste)
  • ½ tsp paprika (I love the flavor that smoked paprika gives if you can find that)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ½ tsp dried dill (or about 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill)
  • ⅓ cup chopped pickles
  • ½ cup green onion
Instructions
  1. Put the water in the bottom of your Instant Pot liner, and place a steamer basket inside. Put the cubed potatoes in a steamer basket, and lay the uncooked eggs (in their shell) on top of the potatoes.
  2. Put the lid on your Instant Pot, close the valve, make sure the pressure is set to “High,” and press “Manual.” Bring the time down to 3 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 5 or so minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 3 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes and eggs are cooking, make the dressing. Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, sea salt, paprika, pepper, and cayenne in a small mixing bowl, and chop your pickles and green onion.
  4. When the Instant Pot beeps that the 3 minutes of pressure cooking is done, turn the IP off, and turn the valve to release all the pressure. Take the lid off the Instant Pot, and use tongs to place the eggs in a bowl of cold water to cool off so you can peel them.
  5. While the eggs are cooling off, you can scoop the cooked potatoes into a mixing bowl. Pour the whisked dressing over the potatoes and stir to combine. Peel and chop the hard boiled eggs, and then fold in the chopped eggs, dill, pickles, and green onion.
  6. Chill the potato salad and then taste for sea salt and pepper.

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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 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.

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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.

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Instant Pot Chipotle Chili :: Stove Top & Slow Cooker Directions Included! Bean free & Paleo friendly too!

November 4, 2017

Slow cooked chili flavor with a special smoked twist, all in record time! 

Snow dusted roof-tops…

…the last week of October. Yup. We woke up to our first light covering of snow this week, as if October just wanted to nudge us a little reminder of what’s to come in the next month. We already had the heavier coats, hats, and mittens dug out of the basement in preparation, and I can’t tell you how my little Michiganders are excitedly anticipating measurable snow in the coming weeks!

So I’m rolling with it…

Chilly fall evenings definitely call for chili! My slow cooker sprouted chili is a family favorite, but this week set ahead of me just happened to be a bit more packed in schedule than my usual, and I just didn’t have time to get beans sprouting. In fact, I decided one morning that chili just had to be on the menu that night, and that figuring out Instant Pot chili was going to happen! I am so glad I pushed myself to figure it out, because this chili is probably going to take over the family favorite status!

Instant Pot versus Slow Cooker versus Stovetop

It’s a hot debate. And I get it. I’m coming from more of an old school, “love my stove-top cooking” type feeling, and I did have a really hard time adjusting to my Instant Pot. I love the flavor that comes from getting veggie down in fat to sweeten and soften, and the slow simmered flavor that comes from the time and patience that stove-top cooking brings. And slow cookers and chili just go hand in hand because that all day low bubble just makes for amazing flavor.

But man, I’m here as a stove-top cooking lover to admit to you that using the pressure cooker Instant Pot the right way gave JUST as amazing depth of flavor as a slow stove top simmer – and gets it done in record time for the busy family.

Weeknight dinner game changer!

Typically chili is something I save for weekend meals since the prep and cook time take a bit longer, but with the Instant Pot, I was able to have this meal done in record time, and it was so satisfying to serve on a Tuesday night!

One of my favorite features of the Instant Pot pressure cooker is the Saute setting. It allows me to get the caramelized flavor out of the veggies that stove-top cooking gives before pressure cooking. While you definitely could just dump all the veggies in and pressure cook it, trust me, the extra 10 minutes of cooking that veg down in some fat makes the flavor SO worthwhile.

Tips for making this chili all YOUR own, and on a weeknight in record time!

I know many people are very passionate about what makes a good chili. I have my list, and yours may look different! If you love a thicker chili, leave out the bone broth. I like a bit more liquid to mine so I can dunk my cornbread or crackers. If you have a certain spice blend that is all yours, do it up! If you prefer beans in your chili, add more liquid/broth and add those beans in there! I don’t tolerate even sprouted beans like I wish I did, and so I’ve learned over the last few years how to enjoy chili without the beans.

While this chili dinner is not a quite 15 minute meal, it definitely is do-able in 30 minutes with an Instant Pot, or right around an hour-ish stove-top so long as you do a few things in prep the night before or on a prep day!

  • Chop the veggies the night before or on your prep day – this saves you a good 10 minutes between all the veg washing and chopping.
  • Cook the squash for dinner the night before and save the cup you need for the chili so you just have to dump it in. Or save some extra time and use canned pumpkin/squash.
  • Cook the beef and bacon the night before or on your prep day. Just be sure to save the fat to cook the veggies in – that flavor is unmatched!
  • Always have bone broth on your prep day plans. I never let my freezer bone broth stash get below 2 quarts so I’m always ready for making dinners like this.
  • You can also always make the chili on your prep day and then warm it through in a slow cooker or stove-top during the week. If you are serving to a crowd at a gathering, a slow cooker will keep the chili warm all day on the warm/low setting. The chili freezes up great too. My kiddos LOVED taking this chili to school in their school lunch thermos, and my husband took leftovers in his travel crockpot he warms at his desk at work!

Toppers and Sides!

Here are some weeknight fast toppers and sides for your chili meal!

  • Avocado slices with chives and parsley
  • Sour cream or raw cheese and chives
  • Crackers (I grew up with “oyster” crackers in my chili, and these GF blender batter crackers taste and feel JUST like those! If you are grain free, try these easy blender batter plantain crackers, or we like the Simple Mills grain free crackers – even Costco carries them now!)
  • Cornbread (This version is gluten free – if you want to make it dairy free too, swap the butter for ghee or palm shortening, and swap coconut milk for the milk and sour cream. The corn bread pictured in this post is done with ghee and coconut milk! If you do not tolerate corn,  you could try swapping the cornmeal for almond flour – I actually think this would work ok!)
  • Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuits (This is a super fast blender batter and they are so good! If you do not tolerate butter, you can use palm shortening or ghee.)
  • Squash Drop Biscuits (This is another good one to swap if you can’t have corn and need dairy and gluten free too.)
  • Salads with any of these popular kid friendly dressings, or my personal favorite with this chili is the Olive Garden Copycat dressing.
  • Big veggie platters with clean ingredient Ranch to dip. It doesn’t get any easier than just making a family style platter of veggie sticks to share around, and you can make either this egg free Ranch or my Paleo egg free Ranch dip if you are dairy free. If you can tolerate eggs, we also love this squeaky clean ingredient store bought Ranch from Primal Kitchen.

Notes for my Slow Cooker & Stove-Top friends!

Unless it’s worked into your budget, or coming on a birthday or holiday wishlist, there is no need to rush out and grab and Instant Pot just for this recipe. One of my mantras has always been…don’t go broke trying to eat healthy! I spent quite literally the first 9 years of my real food journey with just a stock pot and soup pot at my stove while I learned how to cook, and you can definitely do this thing without an Instant Pot. If it fits in the budget and you are a super busy family that would benefit from the ease and fast cook times, I think you will be so happy with your purchase!

I left both stove-top and slow cooker directions in the Instructions, and you can comment below if you have further questions – I am happy to help! 

5.0 from 15 reviews
Instant Pot Chipotle Chili :: Stove Top & Slow Cooker Directions Included! Bean free & Paleo friendly too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in, divided (Ghee, butter, tallow, lard, coconut oil, or avocado oil)
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced (you can use more if you wish but we found this to be plenty of flavor and texture!)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 small zucchini cubed or diced depending on your size preference
  • 3 jalapeños, de-ribbed/seeds & ribs scraped out, diced
  • 1 cup cooked & pureed squash (acorn, butternut, or koboucha work well. I think canned pumpkin would be fine too.)
  • 1 – 15oz can organic diced tomatos
  • 1 – 15oz can organic tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups beef bone broth depending on how thick/thin you like your chili (chicken bone broth would be fine too)
  • 3-4 tsp sea salt (start out small and you can always add more when it’s done to your taste)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp chipotle powder
Instructions
  1. Brown the beef and cook the bacon in 1 tablespoon of ghee or other friendly cooking fat. If you are using an Instant Pot using the “Saute” feature to do this. If you are using your soup pot, cook over medium heat until cooked through. Scoop the meat out with a slotted spoon so the fat stays behind for cooking in.
  2. Add the rest of the cooking fat to your IP or soup pot and sauté the onion and peppers with a pinch of sea salt for about 10 minutes until soft and sweet.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
  4. Return the meat to your IP or soup pot along with the rest of the ingredients. Give the chili a stir to combine. IF YOU ARE USING THE INSTANT POT, put the lid on, close the valve, press “Manual,” and bring the time to 15 minutes. The IP will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure, and then will pressure cook for 15 minutes. When the pressure cooker beeps that it is done, turn it off and let the pressure release naturally about 5 minutes before opening the lid. IF YOU ARE USING THE SOUP POT, put the lid on and bring to a low simmer for about 1 hour. You could alternatively use a slow cooker from this step cooking on low for 6-8 hours.

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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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Crispy Baked Eggplant Dippers and Italian Meatballs

July 20, 2017

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

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

 

We are complete and utter beach bums in the summer…

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

Summer eggplant love

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

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

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

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

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

Little kid sized fun!

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

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

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

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

Ingredient notes/swaps

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

A note about leftovers!

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

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

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Pectin Free Cherry Jam :: Honey Sweetened Too!

July 7, 2017

Preserve the best of cherry season with delicious cherry jam, perfect for all of your jam topping dreams!

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.

It’s no secret…

We love cherry season! Cherry picking has become one of the summer activities my older girls look forward to all year, and my youngest is really starting to get the hang of this whole cherry picking thing too 😉

A short but sweet season!

Only about a week or so long, we try to get right in there as soon as we hear word of those cherries being ready to pick, because before you know it – they are gone! This year, we had a late spring frost that damaged a lot of the cherry blossoms, but thankfully some were salvaged and we have been enjoying every juicy {messy!} bite of the 60 pounds we picked.

Novice cherry jam maker…

As many years as we have been picking cherries, I have never made cherry jam! I usually pick one fruit from the summer to make jam with, and this year I decided cherries were the lucky ones! I was so thankful that despite the frost this spring we were still able to pick, and I really wanted to do something special with them.

Since our cherry picking was literally the day before the 4th of July holiday, I didn’t have time to get to the store to buy the pectin for jam making I like…(If you are really loving jam making season, THIS is the safe, preservative free pectin I like to use!)

…So a pectin free trial run happened…

…and while my first batch was a bit runny (made a great syrup for pancakes!), we loved the result once I got it right! Since making the first trial, I have made 3 batches of this jam, and really nailed a great consistency for all your jam topping dreams, as well as the perfect amount of sweet and cherry flavor.

A note on the “sweet” and types of cherries

I have made a couple batches of this jam with our favorite local raw honey, and 1 batch with organic cane sugar to be sure it worked, and to get the amount right. For those of you who don’t have access to a good raw honey that tastes really light and delicious, the organic cane sugar is your best bet at a good jam. If your raw honey is too floral, dark, and rich, it will overpower the cherry flavor, and you don’t want that in this kind of recipe – the cherries are SO good!

Be sure to taste your jam before jarring it up. We all have different sweet palates, and your cherries might have a different level of sweetness. If you are using sour cherries you will probably have to double the sweet. Ours were sweet cherries that were perfectly ripe – almost over ripe and were very sweet.

Storage!

In my house, homemade jam is a treat, so I just don’t make a ton of it anymore. Jam for run of the mill use like PBJ’s for school are reserved for a cost effective organic brand from Costco – 3 mouths to feed, times 3 sandwiches, a few times per week equals a lot of jam! I reserve our homemade jam for a treat to top weekend pancakes, or to stir into yogurt, or to swirl into homemade ice cream!

That said, you can batch up and store this jam however you wish. I am just keeping mine in the fridge – it will go that fast!  Since I made some extra batches to prepare for this post, I’ll be giving some away as gifts, and I stored the extra in the freezer as freezer jam. If you like to can, you can water bath can the jars and just be sure to check the seal the next day to make sure it took. If they are good to go, you can pantry store them, and if you get one that doesn’t seal right just freeze it.

Recipe size and jar storeage

This recipe makes enough jam for four 8oz jelly jars. I happen to think this style is much cuter for gift giving by the way! You could also use eight 4oz jelly jars which also make wonderful gifts, or are great for storage when you don’t want to pull out a larger jar of jam. I freeze my jam for 24 hours, and then put the lids on to prevent the jars from breaking.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Pectin Free Cherry Jam :: Honey Sweetened Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups sweet cherries, pitted (you can use sour cherries, but will have to adjust the honey/sweet to your taste)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup juice)
  • ¾ cup raw honey (organic pure cane sugar will work too. Be sure you enjoy the taste of your honey – pick a light color honey – if it is very floral in taste it will cover up the cherry flavor. If you can’t find one you love, I’d suggest using organic cane sugar!)
  • 2 tsp almond extract (optional but so good!)
Instructions
  1. Put the cherries and water in a pot and bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher or spoon to squish the cherries while it simmers for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon, honey, and almond extract and bring to a constant, rolling boil until it thickens, and you can feel it thicker to stir, about 20-25 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking and scorching. You will see the jam thicken up toward the 20 minute mark, looking more viscous. You can jar it up and put it in the fridge or freezer, or water bath can it at this point! Recipe makes 4 of these 8oz jelly jars.

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

June 23, 2017

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

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

Little kids and Ranch dressing…

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

But back to the kids and Ranch!

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

So what’s the problem with commercial Ranch dressings?

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

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

All the flavor, using real ingredients!

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

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

Lightning fast prep!

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

Why dairy free?

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

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

A note on the fresh herbs versus dried

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

Different ways to flavor your Ranch!

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

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

A note on tools…

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

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

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

June 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

May 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Fermenting tools

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

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

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

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

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

5.0 from 9 reviews
Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1½ to 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill OR 1 ½ tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends discarded (spears should fit into a quart mason jar with a good inch of headspace at the top. Trim up the ends if you need to accommodate this)
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the sea salt into the warm water and set aside. This is your brine to pour over the asparagus later.
  2. Put the garlic, mustard seeds, dill, and red pepper flakes into a clean, 1 quart mason jar. Then the pack the asparagus spears into the jar as tightly as you can.
  3. Pour the salt water brine over the packed in asparagus and spices, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top. Be sure the asparagus is completely submerged under the brine (I like to use a weight, like this Pickle Pebble, to keep the veggies down).
  4. Seal your jar with your fermenting seal of choice. I use these Pickle Pipes. See the above section about sealing options.
  5. Let the sealed jar sit at room temperature until the taste is to your liking, anywhere from 5-14 days. You can taste them every couple days to see where they are at. Remember that if you live in a warm climate, the fermenting will go faster. It is still quite chilly up here, and so my veggie ferments take over a week to get to where we like them.

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Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!

May 20, 2017

Flavorful smokey heat meets creamy chicken veggie soup, without the dairy or gluten, and in record time!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included 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.

This picture has nothing to do with chipotle chicken and veggie soup…

…but I just had to show you that despite posting such a lovely, warming comfort soup today, spring really has sprung around here! My youngest has been enjoying our lilacs while she patiently waits for her sisters to be done with school for the summer!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!So why the soup recipe when summer is around the corner?!

Because this isn’t just any old pot on the stove soup! This is an Instant Pot soup, and that, my friends, means extra time before dinner to play outside! Which is really where we all want to be this time of year, anyway!

I’m all about the faster prep dinners that don’t heat my house up in the warmer months of the year. I probably use my Instant Pot in the spring and summer more than any other time of the year!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Star players, and an amazing finish!

Smoky chipotle gives this soup my favorite heat – a flavorful heat. You can adjust the heat to your preference, and since the nature of chipotle is flavor versus “in-your-face” heat, it really is a kid friendly way to add a little heat to your meal. Coconut milk tames this heat and brings out more of the smoky flavor as well as adding creamy indulgence.

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Noodle options…and swaps!

The recipe as is uses gluten free noodles. Here are some gluten free noodle options – these should all cook up about the same in the Instant Pot.

Gluten Free Options ::

If you are grain free, use veggie noodles! Take the broth down by a cup or so since the broth gets cooked into the regular noodles and you don’t need that extra amount for veggie noodles. You can also get away with 1-2 minutes versus 3 minutes for the cook time. In fact, if using zucchini noodles, I would leave the zucchini out while you pressure cook the soup/broth and then add the zucchini noodles in at the end with the kale to just wilt in. It doesn’t need much cook time.

Grain Free Options (Use a spirilizer, Y Peeler, or Julienne Peeler to make these veggie noodles! Also, back off on the bone broth by a couple cups and make a tapioca starch or cassava flour slurry to make the broth smooth and have the starchy feeling of noodles) ::

  • Zucchini Noodles
  • 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. I have not used an Einkorn noodle in the Instant Pot, so I am unsure of if the time will need to be adjusted for that. If you give it a try, leave us some notes in the comments so others may know what to do!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Tips for stovetop prep!

I didn’t forget about you, dear stove top friends! This soup was actually born on the stovetop this past winter, and I only recently converted it to the IP.

Simply sauté the veggies over medium heat in a large soup pot, following steps 1 and 2. When you get to step 3,  add the ingredients listed, except the noodles, and turn the heat up to high in order to bring the soup to a simmer. Once the soup is simmering, add the noodles, and boil until the noodles are al dente. Then stir in the kale. It’s as simple as that!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, tallow, or lard
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium celery, diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder (This will leave the soup with a mild smoky, flavorful heat that is kid friendly in our house. If you prefer to half this for your kiddos, you can always add more to your bowl if you want more heat. I usually add more to mine from this amount as I like it pretty spicy.)
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth (You can use Instant Pot Broth, or here is my slow cooker method)
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (this is my favorite brand that doesn't have gums, fillers, or sweeteners added)
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (Use leftovers from your roasted chicken, slow cooker chicken, or Instant Pot chicken)
  • 8oz gluten free noodles
  • ½ lb baby kale, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Set the Instant Pot to “Saute” and melt the friendly fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper with a big pinch of sea salt. Saute about 5-7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and chipotle powder, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the bone broth, coconut milk, cooked chicken, and noodles. Turn the “Saute” off, and push “Soup,” then bring the time down to 3 minutes using the (+/-) button. (Make sure the valve is closed so it can come to pressure! The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure and then will count down the 3 minutes.)
  4. When the Instant Pot is done counting down the 3 minutes, turn the Instant Pot off, and release the valve (use a towel so you don’t burn your hand with steam!). Take the Instant Pot lid off, and stir the baby kale in to wilt. Sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste and serve.

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

May 12, 2017

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

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

When the magnolia tree blooms…

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

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

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

Here are some tips for doing that:

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

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

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

Here’s a little break down!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

April 9, 2017

Creamy paleo coleslaw will become your quick & cool summertime veggie staple!

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

Spring is {finally!} in the air!

And everything is starting to wake up and perk up around these parts! Despite the really cold temperatures during spring break week, we made the best of our time off, enjoying one of our favorite spring stops! The butterfly gardens!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Less kitchen time is the name of my game…

With spring time also comes busier schedules. I need to get these little people out in that sunshine they have been so desperately lacking over the winter months, and let’s just be honest…I need it too! After being cooped up for months on end, I’m ready for more park time, beach sand, and bike riding!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Less kitchen time doesn’t have to mean compromising on real food

In the warmer months of the year, it is still important to keep the kids and myself fed well so we have energy to do what we want to do! It’s one of those work smarter, not harder things! And one of my work smarter not harder mottos is – bulk up!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Keep it simple and don’t over-complicate!

In the fall and winter, I bulk up on soups to pull from the freezer, and steamed veggies to scoop from a container in the fridge. In the summer, while we still drink a lot of veggie soup (Hello fresh summer tomatoes for the best fresh tomato soup!!), cooler veggie sides like veggie sticks, salads, and slaws rule the week. Fresh veggies are so easy to grab at farmer’s markets this time of year. They pack up for on the go so fast too!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Prep ahead once, eat all week long!

Cool veggie sides like veggie sticks, slaws, and salads make the perfect warm weather meal addition for busy families. Coleslaw is one of my favorites to prep for the whole week because the flavors just get better as the week goes on…if it lasts that long! You might be surprised at how much your kids take to creamy slaw salads. Because of their smaller, bite sized, shredded pieces, my toddlers took to slaws quicker than they took to big kid salads.

And have I mentioned how amazing coleslaw is on top of a grilled summer burger?!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Notes on ingredients and swaps!

This coleslaw makes enough for a family gathering, picnic, or BBQ, filling a medium sized serving bowl. This amount is also great for keeping in the fridge all week to scoop from just for your family. If you have a smaller family, you can half the recipe – my crew quite literally inhales this just shy of a week!

The dressing I use in this coleslaw is derived from my Paleo Egg & Dairy Free Mayo. You can use whatever clean mayo you like – here are some options for you! {Don’t forget to add the hint of heat in the recipe and the paprika – it takes the flavor over the edge amazing!}

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ head purple cabbage, sliced thin
  • ½ head green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of your favorite clean ingredient mayo or homemade mayo (Amount depending on how creamy you like your coleslaw. Pictured here is about 1 ½ to 2 cups. I use this homemade egg & dairy free paleo mayo – it blends in the jar in just minutes! This is another great mayo we love too.)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Optional ⅛ – ¼ tsp cayenne for a flavorful heat kick (or chipotle powder for a flavorful smokey heat kick – my personal favorite!)
  • Sea salt & Pepper to your taste
Instructions
  1. Put everything into a large mixing bowl and combine. Put the coleslaw in an airtight contiainer in the fridge to let the flavors marry for at least an hour before serving.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}

April 9, 2017

Just 5 minutes and this creamy paleo mayo is ready to go for your favorite salads, slaws, wraps, and more!

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

When life hands you a lemon…

…you make lemonade, of course!

I don’t consider myself a natural optimist. I have always been quite the black and white realist when it comes to pretty much everything. But, if there is anything that I have learned in almost 15 years of autoimmune thyroid disease, it is that getting down about healing roadblocks and restrictions only makes life gloomy. And when you have a house full of kids, that just plain doesn’t work well.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Life handed me a big ‘ol bucket of lemons

Healing roadblocks and autoimmune diet restrictions have been some of my best moments – because this stubborn go-getter fights back making gallons of lemonade out of those lemons. Sometimes it takes those flare ups to get fired up. I had a few days of feeling sorry for myself, and then I got busy. Why? Because I know this isn’t a life sentence. And I know that some of my best work comes during these times.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Why no eggs?!

Pastured eggs are so healthy – I mean they are full of really good fats, vitamins, and minerals. But, my friends, just because a food is inherently “healthy” doesn’t mean that it works for every “body.” After a Hashi’s flare up that we are thinking is in part due to an EBV infection coming out of dormancy, I decided to pull eggs out of my diet to help calm the flames of inflammation. Eggs are just one of those foods that can be inflammatory for those with any autoimmune conditions.

Within a month of keeping the eggs out of my diet I had lost 10 pounds. In essence, 10 pounds of inflammation. Even though I was not experiencing digestive distress when I ate them, eggs just weren’t working for me!

(I highly recommend the book Hashimoto’s Protocol by Dr. Isabella Wentz if you have not explored root causes and effective treatments for Hashis – according to her book, the vast majority of Hashimoto’s sufferers should be off eggs {along with dairy, gluten, and soy}. I want to make sure you all know that I am NOT a doctor, and what is working for me, may not necessarily be the case for you. Especially when it comes to autoimmune/Hashis/thyroid stuff, the root cause for one is not always the same for the other. Dr. Wentz’s books have been life changing – highly recommended!)

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}No eggs (or dairy)?! No problem!

I’ve been there and done that – in fact I’ve already been off dairy for the last few years because I know it just doesn’t jive with thyroid conditions. I also couldn’t eat eggs with any of my newborns least they be super fussy, and one of my girls couldn’t eat eggs during her babyhood/toddlerhood. Might there be a genetic component here? Could be. I have had numerous food allergy and sensitivity tests done in the last decade, and I never have come out as allergic or sensitive to eggs. It very well just may be that my body doesn’t do well with them – especially when my thyroid is acting up.

We’ll talk about baking without eggs another day. To be honest, I’m not doing a ton of baking. I’m keeping things as simple, rustic, and gentle as possible right now while I calm my system. Back to the basics…it’s cheaper, easier to plan, tastes amazing, and you know what? It works. If you are needing to calm inflammation, keeping it simple is key.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}With a good, staple mayo, you can make just about anything!

Why mayo? Because with a good mayo, you can make Ranch dressing, flavored aioli, and just about any slaw, salad, or creamy dressing you need!

I have been craving coleslaw and salads! Probably that spring fever bug that is bitten me! I have been using my Italian dressing, French dressing, and Asian dressing (subbing almond butter for peanuts right now), but I have been wanting my Olive Garden dressing and tuna salad which both need a scoop of mayonnaise to make it taste really amazing! Eggless mayo isn’t a new concept to me – I created this mayo years ago when my toddler couldn’t eat eggs. It is so amazing, and if you can tolerate dairy it is so good – you’ll love it!

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}The real deal…legit…whatever you wanna call it – I want it to taste GOOD!

Over the last month I have been working on this egg and dairy free mayo making sure it tastes *just* like the real thing – ie one that does NOT taste like avocado or coconut! Ha! And I want that smooth, creamy consistency – not too thick and not too thin.

Thank you for being so patient with me as I perfect these recipes – I know my Instagram followers have been asking for these egg free recipes as I post them! I want them to be the real deal before I post, and I am confident your family will love this! The taste *and* texture is just like what I grew up on – you know…that blue lidded container! Only this is made without the rancid soy oils and preservatives!

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Ingredient notes and swaps!

  • Olive oil will swap for the avocado oil if that is what you have. Avoid vegetable/canola oils. I purchase avocado oil from Costco.
  • Almond or cashew milks should swap for the coconut milk if that is what you have. If you are following an anti-inflammatory (AIP) type diet, coconut milk would be the best option over a nut milk. I promise this doesn’t turn out tasting like coconut! (I love this coconut milk that doesn’t have gums or preservatives, and keep it on hand in the pantry. You can also make your own coconut milk.) If you tolerate dairy, raw milk/cream works too.
  • You can leave the raw honey out if you are sugar free. Organic pure cane sugar or coconut sugar would work too. The hint of sweet makes it really taste like Miracle Whip if that is what you are used to. Without the sweet it tastes more like a Hellmann’s type mayo and is really yummy too! I purchase raw honey from a local farmer.
  • Make sure you taste the mayo once it is blended for sea salt/pepper to your taste, as well as “tang” – you can add more mustard or lemon juice if you want more tangy bite.

I literally eyeball everything into a mason jar – mason jars have measurements on the side so I just fill the avocado oil and coconut milk to the levels on the jar and toss in the rest – it takes less than 5 minutes!

5.0 from 12 reviews
Homemade Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ - ½ cup avocado oil (depending on how thick/thin you like your mayo)
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 small/medium avocado, pitted
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Put everything into a pint mason jar, and use your immersion blender to blend until smooth and thick. (I think this would work in a food processor if you drizzle the oil into the oil drip cup to slowly be added in to emulsify.)
  2. Taste for sea salt/pepper to your taste, as well as “tang” – you can add more mustard or lemon juice if you want more tangy bite.
  3. Store your mayo in the fridge up to a week.

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Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

April 7, 2017

Light and crispy outside, fluffy and chewy inside! You’ll never know these gluten free waffles are packed with protein and nourishing fat!

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

You guys have been so patient!

Thank you for that! I have been posting about these waffles for the last couple months as leftovers in my girls’ school lunches, and my poor Instagram followers are about ready to throw rotten tomatoes at me if we don’t get these bad boys up pronto!

afe waffle iron recommendations!All the texture and flavor you want in a waffle…without the sugar crash!

Because who needs a carb overloaded toddler anyway?! {No thank you!} I’m so proud of the breakdown of ingredients in these waffles. I’m even more proud that they don’t feel like a brick, they don’t crumble in your mouth, and they keep a fantastic texture for leftovers. Which means momma can do double time and save kitchen time! Yeah!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!If you want the right waffle texture, you gotta play the waffle game…

Which means those darn separated eggs and whipped egg whites. Friends, there is just no doubt about it. If you want super fluffy batter, crispy but soft and airy waffles…you can’t skip this step! Believe me – I have made plenty of brick texture waffles in my day!

I promise it doesn’t take much more than an extra few minutes, and your family is going to rave over these airy, light, and crispy waffles!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!All star player ingredients!

Ok, so we want that great flavor and texture, but we also want those stable blood sugars, and even a nutrient component to these, right? So here’s what I came up with! Instead of a waffle with all grain flour, I mixed a great gluten free flour blend with some protein and fat rich almond flour. The grassfed collagen keeps the texture soft as well as bumps up the protein even more.

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Filling and satisfying

Because these waffles are so satisfying, I actually found that my kids are eating less waffles than when I used to make an all grain based waffle. Sure, I always paired their waffles with eggs, raw milk, and even bacon sometimes, but carb-filled waffles are easy to down one after the next. These waffles are light and airy, but they are also very protein and friendly fat rich – which makes them satiating! Next to a side of eggs or sausage, the kids will be full in one serving!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Which means leftovers for school!

***Big time round of applause from the busy mommas!***

Because if I can pack Monday’s school lunch right after Sunday morning breakfast…#winning! I slather almond butter and jam, or coconut butter and raw honey in the middle, and then look at all the possibilities!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Ingredient notes

  • My sweet egg free friends! Give me a few more weeks – I am on the verge of a waffle that I have been working on for myself since I cannot have eggs right now. This recipe just doesn’t work the same without the eggs. If you are an egg free pro and end up with a swap, leave us some of your wise notes in the comments section!
  • If you are nut free, swap out the almond flour for more of the GF flour blend. I actually think that buckwheat would be a nice swap here too. Buckwheat is a seed, so make sure it doesn’t fall into the family of nuts or seeds you can’t have. It is high in protein and minerals to boot too!
  • I’ve been using coconut milk instead of raw milk for our waffles lately since our milk share is low until late spring. Coconut milk works great!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Safe waffle iron recommendations

I have had my ceramic coated, safe waffle iron for a couple years now and it still works like new! I love it! Here are some safe waffle iron options ::

3

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flours, collagen, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Separate the egg whites into a small mixing bowl. Put the egg yolks in a different small mixing bowl along with the milk, oil, syrup, and vanilla extract
  3. Blend the egg whites for a couple minutes on high speed until they are fluffy like whipped cream. Set aside.
  4. Blend the yolks and wet ingredients to combine for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the egg yolk wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients, and blend to combine.
  6. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter onto a hot waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron directions. Mine takes about 2 minutes.

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Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!

March 21, 2017

How do you make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget? Let this veteran real food momma show you how!

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!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.

Early mornings. Clingy toddlers. School work. Never ending bills. Babies that just…won’t…nap.

Dear momma, I am right there in the trenches with you. I get it. I get the time crunch. I get the budget. I get your desperate desire to feed your family well and just not knowing where to start, or where to put your priorities into what part of it is the most important.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!Baby steps.

Here is some veteran momma wisdom for you. Let’s start somewhere. Instead of getting overwhelmed with fancy food prep, elaborate meals, and time consuming recipes, let’s get back to the basics. Real food at its core. Because let’s face it…our ancestors would have kept it that simple.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!How to save time among the chaos of mommahood

I do not, I repeat, I do NOT spend all day in my kitchen. Here are a few ideas for you to make your meals work for YOU!

  • Dear momma, make that meal work double time for you. I almost always make more of a meal than we need. Especially when it comes to soups, casseroles, and baked goods etc double up that recipe and use it later in the week when you don’t have time to cook.
  • Get the kids in on the action. I know what you are thinking…doesn’t that make it take longer?! Well, yes at first. But let me give you a little perspective. If the problem with getting the meal made is the kids being around, isn’t getting their hands busy washing, peeling, or playing with scraps at the counter keeping their hands busy so you can do your thang?! YES! Secondly, I promise you that over time, those hands that fumble over a peeler, and need constant supervision at the stove, will become your best soux chefs! My little helpers have become my right hand in the kitchen at times.
  • Prep day. Or prep afternoon or evening. Or prep hour even! Whatever you can do, have one set aside time during the week where you can have a little prep time. Wash and chop veggies (so you don’t have to buy the expensive pre prepped veg!), make salad dressings, mayo, and other simple staples you need for the next couple weeks. Make a huge pot of soup to eat from on busy days so you can avoid reaching for fast food or convenience foods when life happens.
  • Lastly, keep it simple. I love a fancy meal just as much as you. But life doesn’t always allow fancy food prep time. You can still put a delicious, satisfying meal on the table keeping things simple.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!A little dose of real life…

One of my goals in every post, and every book I write for you, dear readers, is to keep myself as relate-able as possible. My real life is about as real as it gets. We lived for years on one income. We’ve been the one car family, the laid off family, the food stamp family. We have been the sleepless night family, the 3 kids four years old and under family, the both momma and daddy working family.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!My heart is to show you that despite “life,” this real food thing really can happen.

Because of this real life that I live, I am very choosy about projects that I take on. I’m talking super picky. I only have so much time to pour into projects with my busy family, and I want to be ensured that every project I take on will have meaning for you, my readers.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!A new project!

Which is why I quite literally jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the 30 Minute Clean Eats On a Budget e-book project. When I read through Kelly’s vision for this E-book my heart leaped.

Her vision for this ebook project included:

  • Recipes need to be free from most common allergens and Paleo friendly. (Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free.)
  • Recipes need to be 30 minutes from start to finish, and must be made in a pot or pan (No slow cooker or Instant Pot recipes because not everyone has one or can afford one).
  • Recipe cost needs to be under $20 for 4 people (the lower the better).

Doesn’t that just make you perfectly giddy?

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!

Well, we did it!

Along with a talented group of 19 veteran real food bloggers, we have compiled an affordable E-Book cookbook of over 80 budget friendly, time crunch friendly, real food meals for the whole family! Not only is this e-book loaded with recipes you can make today, there are tried and true real food budget tips to help you baby step your way into this lifestyle.

You can snag up your copy of the 30 Minute Clean Eats On a Budget e-book here right now! Let us hold your hand through this lifestyle change – we are so excited for you!

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!

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Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free Options

March 17, 2017

Give that bowl of classic chicken noodle soup a ginger and leek flavor upgrade!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsProduct 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.

One last warm, wintry soup for the season, ok?!

I’m staring out the window at more snow falling. On March 17…

It’s pretty safe to say I’m over it, but for the moment I’ll embrace the last of winter hanging on…as long as I have a warm bowl of soup like this to cheer me up!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsA chicken noodle soup make-over

My kids rarely tire of classic chicken noodle soup – in fact 9 times out of 10 when one of my girls requests soup, chicken noodle is definitely her jam. She asked for it a few weeks back and I decided to change things up a little bit. We were getting over a bit of a cold and I had some ginger to use up from making our cold busting ginger tea. It made simply the most amazing noodle soup we’ve had in a long time!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsAn early taste of spring!

We needed a bit of cheering up after fighting our cold, and the brightly colored rainbow carrots and fresh green leeks seemed like just the ticket – and made the perfect swap for the typical carrot and onion. Since I wanted the ginger flavor to shine, the leeks were a lighter background onion flavor, and the pretty yellow carrots were a hit with the kids.

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle SoupWhether you have special diet needs or not, we’ve got a noodle for that!

Gluten Free Options ::

Grain Free Options (Use a spirilizer, Y Peeler, or Julienne Peeler to make these veggie noodles! Also, back off on the bone broth by a couple cups and make a tapioca starch or cassava flour slurry to make the broth smooth and have the starchy feeling of noodles) ::

  • Zucchini Noodles
  • 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.

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsDon’t forget to pack the leftovers for school!

And work too! My husband loves his travel crockpot to warm up soup right at his desk without ruining all of the nutrients in the bone broth in a microwave. He keeps the base at work and just brings the liner home to clean and fill back up. You can read more about the thermoses I like to use for the girls at school here – they keep the soup very warm all the way to lunchtime!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsHere’s to happy spring thoughts coming our way!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 TB friendly fat to cook in such as butter, tallow, coconut oil, or avocado oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (I like to use 1 orange carrot, and 1 yellow carrot for more color)
  • 1 large stalk of celery, diced
  • 2-4 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 TB of grated ginger will leave a very mild ginger flavor and almost no heat. 2 TB of grated ginger will leave more flavorful heat to the soup - we like the heat!)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, leaves and roots removed, quartered lengthwise, then chopped (soak in a bowl of water and strain to get the sand out)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (save some of the green to garnish the top)
  • 2 quarts bone broth (You can use Instant Pot Broth, or here is my slow cooker method)
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken (Use leftovers from your roasted chicken, slow cooker chicken, or Instant Pot chicken)
  • 6oz gluten free noodles
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat, and add the carrot and celery. Add a big pinch of sea salt and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to get the carrots softening.
  2. Add the grated ginger, minced garlic, leeks, and green onion. Cook for another 3-5 minutes over medium heat until fragrant and soft.
  3. Add the bone broth and chicken, turn the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Add the noodles and cook over medium/high heat until the noodles are cooked to your liking. Sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.

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Classic Vegetable Soup

February 17, 2017

The classic nostalgia of that red can of vegetable soup, loaded with mineral rich bone broth and packed with nourishing vegetables, all in about 20 minutes!

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!

A trip back in time!

A couple weeks ago I showed a quick Instagram Story about my prep day, and I just happened to be making a simple, quick, and frugal vegetable soup. One that I make quite often with varying vegetables depending on what I have in house.

I had mentioned that the flavor is very similar to those little red cans of veggie soup in the soup isle at the grocery store, and you all were very excited about learning how to make it! Even though the nutrition in those little red cans is not stellar, it really brings back a lot of memories for people, I think, and you really can make it taste amazing with real food so your kids can have the same memories!

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!It’s all in the flavorful base…

That same sweet, tomato-y broth that the those store bought cans of veggie soup have is very easy to duplicate using real food! Something magical happens when you get that veg down in some butter and let a little time do some work on it. It sweetens the tomato paste as it cooks, and makes for a really delicious broth!

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!If it’s in season, it will work!

The beauty of this soup is that it really can be tailored to the veggies your family likes, and what is in season. You can pack it out with as much veg as I do, or add more broth if you want it a brothier soup.

I like keeping the veggies pretty simple – similar to that in the red can, with a few favorite add-ins like mushrooms, and, because I’m always looking for a way to get green in, a couple handfuls of spinach always wilt in so easily adding more nutrient punch to this simple soup.

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!

Easy peasy lunch packing!

Because this simple vegetable soup freezes up so nice, it makes a great lunchbox addition. I shoot for a veggie at every meal, so for my kids, soup fills that veg gap a lot of the time. I like to freeze in quart containers for my crew so it is easy to pull out one container that will feed all 3 girls and myself for one meal. You can freeze in smaller portions if you need.

I can also send a quart container with my husband to work for the week that he can have here and there, warming it up in his travel Crockpot.

Toddler tips!

Sometimes those little guys have issues with “pieces” – I know I have one of those right now and there’s no rhyme or reason to it other than…she’s 3! She waivers between not caring about the pieces and caring very deeply about it, so I have a couple tips to save your sanity!

  • Blend it up! Most little ones are more apt to eating smooth, texture free soup so just buzz it up. I have gone from complete refusal to more than willing to eat the soup with just this approach. Choose your battle and just get it into them that way, I say!
  • Let them pick out what veggies are going in. If they get a say in it, they are more likely to eat it. You can set it all out in front of them and ask them to pick 2-3 vegetables they want (in addition to the onion, garlic, tomato paste etc). On that same note you can let them help you cook it too!
  • Make sure it is a good temperature. I don’t talk about this often enough, but most kids are really sensitive to extreme temperatures of food. In fact what is warm or sip-able to you, is most likely scalding hot to them. Same goes cold food. My toddlers always preferred lukewarm to room temp soup, and when it came to stuff right out of the fridge, I usually let it warm up on the counter for a bit.

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!Soup and crackers go hand in hand!

Here are some ideas for you to keep in the pantry for easy additions to the lunchbox packing!

Classic Vegetable Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 TB friendly fat to cook in, such as butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, tallow, or lard
  • 1 small/medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 cups frozen organic green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces (fresh works too if it is in season!)
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 6oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained (if tomatoes are season, use fresh!)
  • 2 quarts bone broth (You can use Instant Pot Broth, or here is my slow cooker method)
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach or baby kale
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot, melt the friendly fat, and add the onion, carrot, green beans, potato, mushrooms, and corn with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium/medium-high heat for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften.
  2. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook for a couple minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and bone broth, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat off and wilt in the baby spinach, and then sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.

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Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!

February 4, 2017

Cleaner oil, quick blender batter, 5 easy ingredients…what’s not to love in these simple gluten free crackers?!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

When the sun shines up north in January….

You drop everything and get outside! Literally!

A couple weekends ago, it felt like mid-spring around here and we ditched our winter coats and snow boots for hoodies and rainboots! (Unheard of for January in Michigan!!) I quickly dropped all of my kitchen plans that weekend, and I was so glad I had these gluten free crackers to fall back on for quick, warm bowls of soup and crackers after our outside excursions!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!Modern convenience…

Store bought crackers have really upped their game in the last handful of years, boasting organic labels and safer ingredients. And while many of them still use iffy oils, I have found myself leaning on them here and there in a pinch when life gets busy.

There is nothing wrong with that in my opinion!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!Cheaper and cleaner.

But what if I showed you how to make a load of crackers for the pantry using a healthier oil in very little time, and for a fraction of the cost?! It is possible!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!#MomGoals

My biggest goal with this cracker project was to create something using as little ingredients as I could so it would be something I would actually want to do. When there is a counter full of ingredients, it just makes a project like making crackers every week less appealing. I wanted it to be something I could take 5-10 minutes on a food prep day to throw in the oven easily.

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!Fuss Free!

I also didn’t want it to be fussy. I have just about been there and done that with every cracker recipe on the planet. I have said before that I am not a baker…like not even close. I get zero joy out of figuring out batters and dough and trial and error-ing {usually lots of error-ing!}. I wanted a fuss free dough that rolled out easy so that, again, I would actually want to make these crackers!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!The perfect cracker texture

Crispy, light, and salty!

The texture and taste actually reminds me of Oyster crackers (that will take you back!)! They keep in a airtight container in the pantry for weeks without spoiling, and keep their crispy texture for whatever you are going to use them for.

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!Our favorite cracker uses!

Oh the possibilities!

  • Soup toppers and dunkers
  • Hummus or guacamole dippers (I don’t always have time to make my own hummus, and love the organic hummus at Costco if you are looking for one! I also like their organic guacamole in a pinch or if avocados are not available at a decent price – which definitely happens where I live! When looking at store bought, be sure you are looking at oils used as well as other added ingredients.)
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Nut butter, coconut butter, or cream cheese dippers

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!Soup ideas for your crackers!

Because I had to share with you my obsession over bone broth based soups! There are so many ways to make getting bone broth into the kids – especially when they get to stir in some yummy crackers to their soup!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!I truly hope these crackers are able to become an easy part of your prep day!

Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Simple Gluten Free Crackers :: 5 Ingredient Blender Batter & Easy to Roll Out!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend (I pick mine up at Costco. I think other GF flour blends will work but you might have to play around with water amounts - start with less water and you can always add more if you need. I hear the Trader Joe GF flour blend is similar to the Namaste, but I don't have a TJ's near me to look - if someone wants to comment below if they try it, that would be helpful!)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (I pick mine up at Costco. I think melted butter or coconut oil would work too)
  • ½ - 1 tsp sea salt (depending on how salty you like your crackers)
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1 cup water (again, if you are using a different GF flour blend I would start out with less and add more if it needs it just in case absorbency is different)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put all of the ingredients into your food processor and blend to combine until the dough comes together in a ball.
  3. Divide the dough between 2 Silpats (or 2 pieces of parchment paper). Lay plastic wrap over the top of the dough and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out as thin as you can make it fit the Silpat. Get a butter knife wet with water and make the crackers the size you want. A pizza cutter would work well here too.
  4. Sprinkle sea salt to the top of the crackers if you want, and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (I like to rotate the pans about halfway through). You can check them around the 10 minute mark in case our ovens run differently. After 15 minutes, turn the oven off BUT keep the crackers inside the oven for another 10 minutes or so to crisp up/dehydrate all the way. They will continue to crisp up as they cool.
  5. Store your crackers in an airtight container in the pantry.

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Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!

January 12, 2017

Soft and buttery biscuits to go with everything from soup to a plate of breakfast eggs!

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!

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 I’m thinking we could all use a little biscuit love to get us through mid January?!

We eat a lot of bone broth based soups all year round, but in the winter we have it daily here in our frozen tundra we call home! Somehow we make it outdoors every day despite the snows and wind chills least momma, ahem, I mean the kids go completely stir crazy. That means warming soups are on the menu most days of the week to take off the chill.

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!And every bowl of soup deserves a piece of bread to go with it!

Even better, every bowl of soup deserves a butter biscuit to go along with it. These savory butter biscuits are the perfect match for a warm bowl of soup packed with so much buttery flavor. The kids will be all over these, and I’m willing to bet even the most skeptical gluten lover will too!

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!Lighting fast, 5 minute blender dough is my answer to a busy day!

I have been using my Instant Pot weekly to make one huge pot of veggie soup for the whole family to eat from throughout the week – what good is a super fast prep soup if the biscuits are going to take forever to make?

I can get these biscuits onto the tray faster than it takes my oven to preheat! I’ve been testing these out for the last month with my weekly pot of soup. Once I get my soup in the pot and pressure cooking, I can have the biscuits done by the time the soup is done!

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!The perfect weekend project, and some freezer pro tips!

Weekends are perfect for making a huge pot of soup for the family. You can double or triple up some biscuits into the freezer to save for your busiest weeknight. My biggest suggestion if you plan to freeze them is to wrap them up individually as soon as they cool off and get them right into the freezer. This locks in the moisture that can sometimes end up ruining gluten and grain free baked goods after they have been baked.

On your busiest weeknight, all you have to do is pull the biscuits from the freezer, pop them on a tray and into your oven to thaw and warm through. With my oven, all I have to do is set the tray in and preheat to 350. I turn it off from there and they are perfectly thawed and warmed through. Every oven runs differently so play around with yours. You can have the perfect, hot out of the oven bread to go with dinner every time!

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!Don’t forget about breakfast!

These are my go-to right out of the freezer for fast morning momma fuel with a cup of leftover soup and some fried eggs. So fast! The kids will love a side of cheesy scrambled eggs and some fruit with their biscuit and you can feel good about starting their day off with stable blood sugars.

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!Flour swapping answers!

I chose coconut flour for these biscuits for a few different reasons. First, I already have a staple biscuit in our house with some grain. I am not against grain in the least for those who can digest it! (By the way the squash drop biscuits I’m speaking of freeze just as great as these to keep on hand!) We handle gluten free grains in our house just fine, and I think they definitely have a time and a place. I don’t, however think, at least in my family, that we need to have grains at every single meal. It is nice to have a grain free biscuit option if we have already had enough grain for the day.

I also love using coconut flour because it is a great source of fiber, protein, and fat. It really makes every bite count for those little guys with little stomachs, and it makes a really great start to the day instead of shooting blood sugars up only to crash an hour later.

Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!Nourishing soup recipes to enjoy with your biscuits

All of these soups pack well and freeze well! Use your school thermos for the kids and a travel crockpot for yourself if you are away from home during the day! You can have a warm meal on the go!

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Put everything except the egg into your food processor, and pulse/blend until the butter is smaller than pea sized pieces. Add the egg and blend until the dough forms a ball. Pinch off your biscuits, gently roll them, and flatten a bit onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking tray. I always make 5 biscuits with this recipe. Bake at 375 degrees for 14 minutes. Let the biscuits cool a good 5-10 minutes before handling so they can set up.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuit :: 5 Minute Blender Prep!
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Ingredients
  • ½ cup cold butter, cubed
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup grassfed cold soluble collagen
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (dried rosemary, oregano, or and basil work too depending on what you are serving the biscuits with!)
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 eggs (if you are egg free I do think 2 flax eggs would work here - they might not puff up as much but it would still work - perhaps add a bit of baking powder for the rise? Let us know in the comments if you try something!)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put everything except the egg into your food processor, and pulse/blend until the butter is smaller than pea sized pieces.
  3. Add the eggs and blend until the dough is combined well.
  4. Scoop some of the dough with a spoon, gently roll them, and flatten a bit onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking tray. I make 5-6 biscuits with this recipe.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 14 minutes. Let the biscuits cool a good 5-10 minutes before handling so they can set up.