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How To Make Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

December 12, 2018

Learn how to make gluten free shortbread cookies, perfect for everything from your afternoon cup of tea to your holiday cookie plate!

It all began with a cup of tea and a book…

When my oldest was just a toddler, were reading a story (and in my sleepy momma stupor I cannot for the life of me remember which story, for her sister who is just 22 months younger than her was just a baby…and she gets the award for the toughest newborn sleeper in the house…). Anyway, this sweet story had a mouse or some sort of animal that was enjoying a cup of tea and cookies, and my little one thought that was just the bees knees…and from that day forward reminded me {daily} how we must try this tea and cookies deal.

My toddlers’ favorite “butter cookie”

For purposes of the SEO gods of Google, I’ve named these adorable cookies shortbread cookies because that is really what they are. But when Chloe was making them with me for the first few times and saw the big chunk of butter that was used to make them, she declared them “butter cookies” and from there forward, whenever she had a craving for tea and cookies she would ask for these amazing “butter cookies”…from the mouth of babes, right?!

Simple ingredients for busy motherhood

I couldn’t have asked for a simpler cookie to make than this cookie that my kids grew to ask for whenever they wanted a special treat to have with a cup of tea. Motherhood has a way of forcing the hand at time management, and with only 3 ingredients, shortbread cookies were able to find their way into my schedule easily – because let’s face it…momma kinda wanted a little cookie to go with her cup of coffee in the afternoon every once and a while too. 😉

Blender dough?! Yes please!

While a hand-held blender will work just fine for this recipe, I typically find myself just dumping it all into my food processor. In just a few minutes the dough is ready to roll out, and by the time the oven pre-heats the cookies are on the tray ready to go. This shortbread cookie dough is so very soft and easy to work with. You can re-roll it out easily to get every last little bit of it used up for your cookies too.

Shortbread cookie cutters

For years I just used a small mason jelly jar to make round circle shortbreads – this works just fine. While I do love the fancy scalloped edge of my cookie cutter, the mason jar is nostalgic for me because it is the way my girls ate them as little ones. If you want to get technical, and also have a better shortbread for dipping, the scalloped rectangle shortbread cookie cutter is the traditional way to shape these cookies.

Freezer friendly!

In fact, these little shortbread cookies are my favorite right out of the freezer. Which just so happens to mean that you can stash them away for those afternoons when all of the planets align making all the babes decide to take a nap at the same time…make your favorite brew and enjoy a cookie. Or for those times when you decide to take the school friends last minute and you want to win a few cool mom points for having fun cookies to enjoy after school.

 A blank slate

Shortbread cookie recipes are pretty endless as far as the possibilities to dress things up. This no-fuss momma just tends to keep them on the simple side with just a splash of almond extract or a dusting of real vanilla bean (my favorite). But you can dip them in chocolate and sprinkle with candy cane for the holidays (we LOVE these naturally dyed candy canes!), or fold in lavender or rose petals for a special valentine’s day treat. This basic shortbread recipe is fool-proof and has been a staple year after year in our oven!

How To Make Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with Silpat .
  2. Put the softened butter and powdered sugar into your food processor and blend to cream them. You could alternatively use a hand-held blender.
  3. Add the flour to the food processor, and blend to combine until the dough gathers. You could use a hand mixer for this part too.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a flour dusted counter top to roll out. You could use more Namaste flour blend or even just some white rice flour which is super inexpensive. You can use a generous amount of rice flour or Namaste to dust the surface and your rolling pin. Roll the dough out to your desired thickness and cut out the shapes you want. Traditional shortbreads are about ¼ inch in thickness.
  5. Place the cut cookies onto a Silpat lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the edges are just starting to become golden brown. The time will depend on how thick you made your cookies. The cookies in the images of this post take about 15 minutes. Cool for a couple minutes on the tray, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you want to dust your cookies with powdered sugar, it is best to do this while the cookies are warm so it sticks best.
  6. Store your cooled cookies in an airtight container, or freeze them for long term storage.

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

December 8, 2018

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

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

The wonder of Christmas morning!

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

Let them play

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

Easy pour blender batter – yes please!

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

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

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

Why soak the oats?

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

Tips for making a quick morning prep

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

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

Special tip for working with molasses!

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

5.0 from 13 reviews
Gluten Free Gingerbread Muffins :: A Perfect Christmas Morning Breakfast!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups oats
  • ⅔ cup full fat coconut milk (or whole milk if you tolerate dairy)
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut yogurt (or regular full fat yogurt if you tolerate dairy)
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil will work here)
  • ½ cup pecans (walnuts or almonds should work here. If you are nut free I think pumpkin seeds would be nice – sunflower seeds would work too)
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup grass-fed collagen (I think the recipe will work without this if you don't have access)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar (Organic pure cane sugar, maple sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup should work here. This amount leaves the muffins mildly sweet – if you have older kids used to sweeter things, you may want to add more.)
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses (older, adult palates might enjoy this bumped up by a tablespoon or 2 for a richer molasses taste - this is mild and kid friendly)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (if all you have is vanilla extract that is fine)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Instructions
  1. If you want to soak your oats for digestion, 7-10 hours before you want to make the muffins (usually the night before), put the oats, coconut milk, and coconut yogurt into your blender and do a quick stir with a spoon to combine – doesn’t have to be perfect. Put the top on the blender and let the mixture soak overnight. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the oat grain making it easier on digestion over time. (If you don’t wish to soak your oats, you can just put all of the ingredients into the blender to combine.)
  2. The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender, and blend to combine.
  4. Pour the muffin batter into a silicone muffin cup or paper muffin cup lined muffin pan, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan 5 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Gluten Free Dutch Apple Pie :: Plus Tips For Including Your Kids While Making It!

December 1, 2018

Learn how to make a simple and delicious gluten free Dutch apple pie with the kids!

It all started with a little extra time on our hands during Thanksgiving prep day…

Extra time?! With 3 kids in the house? I know, I know, it sounds unheard of, but we started some of the Thanksgiving dishes earlier in the week, so that day before Thanksgiving was pretty flexible. We had already put the pumpkin pie into the oven, and since we were planning on Grandma and Grandpa over for this year’s meal, we decided another pie was definitely warranted (it just isn’t worth all the pie making fuss if you don’t have leftovers to go with your coffee the next day, amiright?!).

No fuss apple pie, and a little West Michigan history

It’s really no secret how deeply rooted the Dutch history is along the coast of West Michigan. We live less than an hour away from literally Holland, Michigan, most of our friends have last names that are a mile long starting with either Vander- or Van-, and we spend first week of every May enjoying Tulip Time celebrations everywhere we look! I actually have 0% Dutch blood running through my veins, but I was born and bred here and have enjoyed learning the culture and traditions. I am definitely not a Dutch history expert, but Dutch apple pie is certainly a staple here, and I absolutely love how low fuss it is to make…you all know baking is not my favorite of things to do.

Ideas for how to include your kids in the process

Because if you can swing it, making them a part of your kitchen happenings when you can is so worth it. Confidence, pride, and ownership…priceless. Truthfully I didn’t know how much of this pie I wanted to make them a part of – I am really fussy about how thin those apples are for apple pie, and we had already done quite a bit in the kitchen together. They ended up being right there from the first apple peel to the last sprinkle of the crumble topping, and I’ve got some tips for you!

  • Let them help with the crust! The dough is super forgiving from start to finish. Let the littles press the button the food processor and your bigs and measure the ingredients out. My oldest is able to roll a pie crust out, and with a little help get it into a pie plate. My older girls like crimping the crust too!
  • Let them peel! If you have a fancy apple peeler, fantastic! I have never had one, and have found that a simple Y-peeler works just fine. You’ll really only need to peel 5 or 6 apples so goes quick. You can start apple peeling as young as 2 years old. I have found Y-peelers to work the best for them. (Add one to your Christmas list for your littles! Pop it in a sweet little apron – makes a great gift!). My oldest can effectively use a regular peeler now, but Y-peelers are easier to use for littles. ALSO, don’t cut the apples right away – just let them peel all of the apples first so the insides don’t brown once cut.
  • Let them cut! Use an apple slicer to get it going, and then your older children or you can make those bigger slices thinner. My 7 and 9 year olds were able to help me with the thin slicing this year and they did better than I expected.
  • Let them measure and mix the filling! My 7 year old did this part by herself. The ingredients are so simple, and when you use a larger mixing bowl, there will be less mess. Show them first how to fold the apple slices with the sugar and cinnamon gently so they don’t get crushed, and then let them try.
  • Let them sprinkle the crumble topping! This is the fun part! They all enjoyed doing this, and the topping is one of the beauties in a Dutch Apple Pie – lattice tops can be fussy and time consuming to make with little kids let alone as an adult. The crumble topping can be done all by themselves.

What makes it a Dutch Apple Pie?

A buttery pie crust, and a sweet crumble topping instead of pie crust topping is key. Some traditional Dutch apple pies have added golden raisins.  It is usually really deep with filling as well – I love the layers and layers of thin apple slices. I have seen the crumble toppings made from anything from walnuts to flour, and we enjoy using flour the best. Usually brown sugar is mixed in with the crumble topping. Since I don’t keep brown sugar around the house (we just don’t use it that often, and it always ends up hard as a rock in my pantry), a mix of sugar and molasses do the trick for this topping – that is all brown sugar is anyway! I like the lightly warm taste of a lighter brown sugar, but you can add more molasses if you like it richer.

Let’s talk about pie plates…

My love affair with pies has more to do with getting to use pretty pie plates versus the actual making of the pie. Well, that and the delicious fillings! It is a small investment for that feeling you get when you pull them out of that very top pantry cupboard you barely use all year. I spend at least a few minutes envisioning the pie in each of my pies before choosing the lucky one. Here are some of my favoirites – treat yourself to one!

  • If you like a classic, clean line look to a pie plate, these are more your style.
  • If your style is more vintage, take a gander at these gorgeous pieces – I’m swooning!
  • I found some really pretty holiday pie plates that I definitely planning on adding to my collection!
  • I do love a good glass pie plate as well and get a lot of use out of them.

Make ahead options

Pie making always feels daunting to me, possibly because baking really isn’t my favorite. There’s so many pieces to the puzzle, but if you break it down, you can make it feel like less steps. You can make the pie crust days in advance, and even get it into the pie plate in advance. This can be a nice jump start to any holiday meal when you can’t prep anything else. You can also prep the crumble topping days in advance. Just pop the topping into an airtight container and stash it away in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

How do I serve Dutch Apple Pie?

You mean other than with a big mug of hot coffee the next morning for breakfast?! Ahem…For Thanksgiving, we used the thick and fluffy whipped cream we made for the pumpkin pie, but a big scoop of vanilla ice cream is my favorite!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Gluten Free Dutch Apple Pie :: Plus Tips For Including Your Kids While Making It!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. MAKE THE CRUST :: Put the flour, sugar, and cold butter into your food processor, and pulse until the butter is pea sized bits. Add water to the oil stream cup at the top of your food processor and blend to combine until the dough comes together – this takes about 30 seconds to a minute so be patient. Gather the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes – you can make this days ahead of time if you wish as well.
  2. MAKE THE CRUMB TOPPING :: Put all of the crumb topping ingredients into a small mixing bowl and either use your fingers or a pastry cutter to combine – there should be small bits of butter crumbs throughout. Put the crumb topping into the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  3. ROLL OUT THE CRUST :: When the crust has refrigerated long enough, roll it out and place it into your pie plate, crimping or designing the edges however you like. You can pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees at this point too.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING :: Put all of the apple filling ingredients into a medium mixing bowl, stir to combine, and pour into your uncooked pie crust.
  5. Sprinkle your crumble topping over the apple pie filling, and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Cool for an hour before slicing. Top with homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

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Pot Pie Soup :: Use Chicken Or Turkey! Gluten and Dairy Free Friendly Too!

November 25, 2018

Use chicken or turkey to make the comforting flavors of pot pie in an easy to make pot pie soup!

Savoring the season

It really just keeps getting better and better. I have moments of missing my babies as babies, but this is such a cool season of mommahood. Sure, those squishy cheeks and snuggles are missed, but OH…the holidays have become this amazing time of making precious memories with these little people that can communicate such intelligent discussions, have such glorious fun…and HELP so much in the kitchen!

Invite them in…

Because that is truly what it is all about. We slowed Thanksgiving down, and purposely pushed the time of the dinner being served so that my girls could help the whole time. We started making dishes days in advance, and they truly had their hands in every dish we made! So when my oldest asked if she could help turn the leftovers into a delicious meal for dinner on Saturday, we chose something to make together.

All of the chicken pot pie amazing-ness without the fuss!

Because I really wanted her to be able to do it on her own, and I didn’t want it to take up the whole day. I’m pretty sure I’ve made pot pie soup versus traditional pot pie more often than not – and most certainly the soup versus the pie on the weekend after Thanksgiving. I think we are all ready for a more fuss free meal after making Thanksgiving dinner!

The secret to amazing broth…

…is making your own. Whether you are making your soup from Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, or your Sunday roasted chicken, take the time to make your bone broth from scratch. You will be so glad you did. You can either make the broth easily in your slow cooker or your Instant Pot. Fill the broth pot with your favorite herbs, garlic, onion, and carrot/celery and let it all infuse. This broth gets rich and creamy from a just a little bit of flour and milk – it is silky and smooth and just brothy enough to still feel like soup. You can, of course, add more flour if you wish for your soup to feel more like a stew.

What about the crust?!

Don’t worry, I am totally a soup dunker, so I promise I won’t leave you hanging on that part! You have a few options here. We did play around with using my pumpkin pie crust (cut in half) to make little pie crust rounds to dunk or crumble in the soup, and the girls thought that was the coolest thing. I think I am more inclined to want a soft and buttery biscuit, but it truly just depends on what you prefer. Here are some options:

  • GF Pumpkin Biscuits (This has a 5 minute blender dough and they are so soft and fluffy!)
  • Grain Free Butter Herb Biscuits (This also has a 5 minute blender dough and they are soft and fluffy too!)
  • Use your favorite pie crust to make little crust toppers or crumbles for your soup! Just make the crust and chill it while you get the soup going. Then roll the dough out, and use a mason jar or circle cutter to make rounds. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes depending on how thick you made the rounds. (You can find the pie crust recipe that I used in this pumpkin pie post – I halved it and it was plenty for a dinner meal)

Veggie options

I like to stick to the traditional “pot pie” veggie fillings (carrots, peas, and corn) and I also think the little bit of potato adds some starch to the broth to help with the creaminess. But you can absolutely switch things up to what you have on hand. Sweet potatoes work really well in place of the potatoes, as do parsnips for the carrots. If you don’t tolerate peas, add something else green in there that you enjoy. Even just wilting chopped kale or spinach adds some pretty color.

How to roast chicken or turkey for your soup

Plan a pastured chicken or turkey into your Sunday dinner plan, and then use the leftover meat for this quick and simple soup on a busy weeknight. You can see how to slow roast a simple chicken in this post, and my method for dry brined pastured turkey is in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings. We make our yearly Thanksgiving turkey that way each year and it is so delicious. You can use the carcass of your chicken or turkey to make bone broth and then make your soup.

Freezer friendly?

If you are overloaded with Thanksgiving turkey, or batch cooking whole chickens, you can definitely stock up on this soup for the freezer, for a pregnant or new momma that needs a meal, or someone who is ill. A comforting meal makes such a great gift to a brand new momma. To freeze the soup, cool it completely and store in freezer safe containers.

5.0 from 17 reviews
Pot Pie Soup :: Use Chicken Or Turkey! Gluten and Dairy Free Friendly Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp of friendly fat to cook in (butter, ghee, olive oil, tallow/lard etc)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small yellow potatoes, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Namaste GF Flour Blend (rice flour, or even cassava flour will work. If you want the soup thicker, or more like a stew, add 3 tbsp – the 2 tbsp leaves the soup smooth and creamy)
  • 3 cups bone broth
  • 1 cup whole milk or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste per your family’s heat preference (Optional - if you are preparing this for little guys, leave it out, and you can always add it to your bowl if you enjoy the heat)
  • 1-2 cups leftover chicken or turkey, cubed or shredded
  • 1 cup frozen organic peas
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in your soup pot over medium/high heat, add the onion, carrot, and potato and stir in a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes so the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and flour and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the broth, coconut milk, parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, and chicken, and bring to a simmer until the broth thickens from the flour. This takes a few minutes.
  4. Add the peas and corn and simmer a few minutes until they thaw. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste.
  5. Garnish with more parsley, and pie crust biscuits or regular biscuits if you choose. See the above notes on biscuit options for more details.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Biscuits :: Easy, 5 Minute Blender Batter!

November 15, 2018

Bring a basket of dinner rolls to the table every week with these fast prep, 5 minute blender batter gluten free pumpkin biscuits!

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.

What an amazing fall!

We couldn’t have asked for anything better – well, other than asking for more weeks of perfect hiking weather?! Thankfully we have been able to hit all of our favorite trails to see the leaves change during the last couple months, and boy has the season definitely taken a change in the last week or so. We warmed up after a cooler than usual hike last weekend with hot bowls of autumn chicken stew and these fluffy and comforting pumpkin biscuits – I just had to share them with you!

Blender batter and a can of pumpkin?!…*gasp!*

Those of you who have been around here long enough know that I am not a baker – I don’t love the fuss of it all. I’m all about a simple blender batter that will yield me delicious biscuits to go with any dinner or any cup of soup for lunch. These biscuits have been so fun to play around with that we have even enjoyed them with a plate of eggs and sausage for breakfast! If a biscuit dough is fussy and hard to work with, I’m just not going to make them. This dough comes together super fast – and yes, dear momma, go ahead and use that can of pumpkin if you don’t have any leftover squash around. These days, I rarely ever have “leftover” squash to use for recipes since my crew is getting older and like to make it their life goal eat all the things. Organic canned pumpkin works great.

My biscuit must have list…

Gluten free baking can be tough. We aren’t gluten free because it is trendy, or because we are following the crowd. I literally just don’t tolerate it, so we just keep the whole house gluten free for the sake of my health. And let me tell you…I’ve had my fair share of brick hard gluten free biscuits. Crumbly and brittle gluten free biscuits. And chalky tasteless gluten free biscuits. These biscuits are lightly crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy inside which, if you ask me, is the perfect biscuit combination! Super easy and fast prep checked off the list as well, and we have a winner.

Ingredient notes

  • Butternut squash or freshly baked pumpkin purees would work fine in this recipe if you have that on hand.
  • Most GF Flour blends should work if you don’t have access to Namaste GF Flour Blend. I have not tried grain free swaps such as coconut flour etc, so you will have to play around with the ingredients if you need to go that route.
  • There is only 1 egg in this recipe, so if you are egg free, I do think a flax egg will work for the bind. They might not puff up as much because the eggs do help with that, but they will bind and still taste great.
  • If you are nut free I think you could take the almond flour out and use more Namaste – you won’t need the same amount though. The almond flour does help with that lightly crispy crust out the outside of the biscuit which is why I like using it.

Freezer friendly

Prep ahead, and always have biscuits ready to go! You can either freeze the dough, or freeze the baked off biscuits.

  • To freeze the dough, blend up the dough, portion the biscuits out on a tray and freeze. Once the biscuit portions are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag. When you want to bake the biscuits, take them out to thaw, and bake according to the instructions below.
  • To freeze already baked biscuits, let the baked biscuits cool to room temperature, and then put them into a freezer bag. If you plan to freeze longer than a couple months, I recommend individually wrapping the biscuits in plastic wrap or beeswax wrap to prevent freezer burn.

Soups to go with your biscuits!

The pumpkin biscuits will go with just about any dinner meal, from your roasted pastured chicken, beef roast, or chili, but I also wanted to leave you with some soup recipes. My favorite real food in the real world life hack is making a big pot of soup for dinner, and then packing the leftover soup and biscuits in to lunchboxes for school the next day. Cook once, and eat twice!

5.0 from 11 reviews
Gluten Free Pumpkin Biscuits
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper
  2. Put the flours and cold butter into your food processor, and pulse until the butter is pea sized bits in the flour.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, and blend to combine.
  4. Scoop the biscuit batter onto your baking sheet into the sized biscuits you want, and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of your biscuits (smaller biscuits will not need as long – the ones pictured in this post took 15 minutes). Let them cool for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

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

November 14, 2018

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

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

Simple & Sweet

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

Back to the basics…

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

Team Oven Roast or Team Instant Pot???

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

Sooo…what does it taste like?

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

What do I serve mashed acorn squash and parsnips with?

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

5.0 from 11 reviews
Roasted Acorn Squash and Parsnip Mash :: Oven Roasted or Instant Pot Method
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium acorn squash or 2 small acorn squashes, quartered and seeds scooped out
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ medium/large sweet onion
  • 1 clove of garlic (don’t peel it if you are doing the Roasting Method)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. ROASTING METHOD ::
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Toss the squash, parsnips, onion, and garlic onto a baking sheet with the olive oil and a big pinch of sea salt. Bake the veggies at 425 degrees for 45 minutes until everything is soft.
  4. Peel the garlic, and scoop the squash out of the shell, and then put all of the roasted veggies into your blender or food processor with the butter. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and add that to your liking.
  5. INSTANT POT METHOD ::
  6. Fill your IP with 1 cup of water and place a steamer basket inside. Put the squash, parsnips, onion, and peeled garlic into the IP on top of the steamer basket.
  7. Put the lid on, close the valve, and turn the IP on to “Manual.” Bring the time down to 15 minutes. The IP will start automatically. Once the IP comes to pressure, the 15 minutes will count down.
  8. When the veggies are done pressure cooking, turn the IP off, release the pressure, and transfer the veggies to your food processor. Make sure to scoop the squash out of the shell. Add the butter to the food processor, and blend until smooth. Sea salt and pepper the veg to your taste.

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

November 10, 2018

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

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

Purposely slowing it all down…

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

A kid soup favorite

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

A soup (and pantry!) staple

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

Pea Powerhouse!

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

Split Pea Soup

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

Instant Pot Pro Tip…SLOW DOWN…

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

To blend or not to blend?

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

Soaking/Sprouting Tips

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

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

Tips for making split pea soup stove top

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

Freezer Friendly

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

5.0 from 20 reviews
Healthy Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb split peas (this is about 1 ½ cups of dried split peas if you buy in bulk)
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter plus 1 tbsp leftover bacon grease for sauteing (you can use all ghee or butter if you don’t have the bacon grease – the bacon grease gives a lovely flavor and hint of smoky pork)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth (less if you want your soup very thick)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Six to 12 hours before you want to make the soup, soak the split peas. Soaking helps reduces the phytic acid in the legume, making them easier on digestion. You’ll notice around the 10 hour mark that the peas will have the start of a little sprouted “tail.” Sprouting legumes allows the nutrients in the bean more readily available to absorb. Soak for at least 6 hours and no more than 12.
  2. When you are ready to make the soup, turn your Instant Pot on to “Saute,” melt the cooking fat (ghee and bacon grease), and add the onion, carrots, and celery with a big pinch sea salt. Saute for about 10 minutes until the veggies are very soft and sweet. Slow down and don’t skip this step! This is flavor!
  3. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and Saute for 1 minute, then turn the Instant Pot to “Off/Cancel.”
  4. Drain and rinse your soaked split peas, add them into the Instant Pot along with the bone broth and bay leaf, and stir to combine.
  5. Put the lid on your Instant Pot, turn the valve to closed, turn your Instant Pot on to “Soup,” and bring time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes. When the timer beeps that the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is done, turn the Instant Pot off, and leave the Instant Pot alone for 5 minutes. This naturally will let some of the pressure in the Instant Pot release and finishes the cooking process without overcooking the split peas. Release the rest of the pressure after 5 minutes, and take the lid off the Instant Pot. Remove the bay leaf.
  6. Scoop out 2-3 cups of the soup to a small mixing bowl, and blend with an immersion blender (you could use a regular blender), and then return the blended portion of soup back into the pot with the rest of the soup (it makes the broth nice and creamy!). Stir to combine, and sea salt/pepper your soup to your taste. The split pea soup will thicken a bit more as the soup cools since the peas continue to absorb liquid. You could alternatively blend the entire soup – my toddlers enjoyed using a stainless steel straw to drink their soup this way!
  7. Drizzle olive oil and/or splash raw cream or coconut cream into each bowl of split pea soup to garnish if you wish.

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

October 25, 2018

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

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

October school lunch burnout…

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

Wait…what?!

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

A framework, a rhythm, and a flow

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

What exactly is a framework?

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

So let’s zero in on the veggies

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


4 School Lunches With Veggie Variety!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

How many veggies should I pack?

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

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

Packing gear in this post

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

Salad Dressing & Veggie Dip Recipes for all those veggies!

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

School Lunch Packing Resources ::

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

 

 

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

October 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

Teaching a princess to bake

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

Princess Pumpkin Muffins?!

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

A mini muffin favorite…revisited!

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

A batter fit for a bowl or blender!

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

Simple ingredients for little attentions spans

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

Ingredient tips

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

Equipment and freezer tips

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

5.0 from 19 reviews
Gluten Free Mini Pumpkin Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • ⅔ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup olive oil (avocado oil or melted butter/coconut oil works too)
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar (raw honey or pure maple syrup would work too)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (3-4 tsp pumpkin pie spice would be fine too – my kids enjoy cinnamon over pumpkin pie spice so I tend to lean that way)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, and spray a mini muffin pan with avocado oil spray.
  2. Put the eggs, pumpkin, oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla into your food processor or blender, and blend for 1 minute until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and blend to combine until smooth.
  4. Scoop the batter into a mini muffin pan, and bake the mini muffins at 375 degrees for 13 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let the mini muffins cool for a couple minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack. The muffins hold up really nice and are ready to eat in a just a few minutes of cooling! To freeze the muffins, let them cool completely and then toss them in a freezer bag to freeze.

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Gluten Free Halloween Cupcakes :: Ghost Cupcake Treat PLUS Other Halloween Cupcake Decorating Ideas!

October 6, 2018

These gluten free Halloween cupcakes will be the hit of Halloween night! Make them ghost cupcake treats or other Halloween characters with these fun ideas!

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.

Age 9 has not been as “scary” as I thought it was going to be…

You know…when your sweet baby goes from all things little girl to occasionally throwing in some “tween” mannerisms, it can really throw you for a loop! As with all things “first born child,” I was not prepared for age 9, but honestly I’m finding this mom gig getting sweeter by the day. Nine year old’s are so fun to chat with – like real conversations. Not just discussions about their 4th favorite color, or why they have to wear socks today like you do with toddlers and little guys. Like real life stuff – friendships, passions, and real books. Oh sure, she is still completely and utterly obsessed with unicorns, fairy tales, and pretend play {we’ll hang onto that as long as we possibly can!}, but I’m really loving this age. And this age LOVES to bake – and still shows her little girl side when she gets to bite into a fun treat for Halloween 😉

Let’s chat about being a “real food mom” on Halloween…

Because we all come from different stages of our real food journey. Some of us have true food allergies or health crisis situations where Halloween treats are going to have to take a back seat for a year or more. Others are literally on day 1 of trying to get processed food out of the house and just want to celebrate the way they always have. And yet others are pretty in between. Last year, I went out on the line and admitted that I’ve been the “lame” Halloween mom before that kept all the fun away simply to avoid the junk food. I’ve learned that honestly, kids just want to have a fun day to dress up and run around – in other words, be kids. And I would highly recommend hopping over to this post to learn about how I’ve made fun Halloween traditions for our kids that include some treats without compromising my standards on GMO’s, processed food, food dyes, etc.

Halloween treats for toddlers versus tweens…

There is a really big difference here. When your little guys are tiny, they are not going to know any differently if they get a fun fruit parfait made of Halloween colors and a sticker, or they get a real cupcake. Keep them in that fruit parfait space as long as you can, but as your little guys turn into big kids, let’s turn it up a notch. Toddlers don’t understand that you can’t have cupcakes everyday of the year – and they will let you know that with their meltdown the next day when they can’t have another one. Big kids can comprehend this concept, and so letting them indulge in a fun treat like this on Halloween is so work the look on their face!

Gluten AND Dairy Free!

Woot! This cupcake recipe is one that I’ve been using for the girls’ birthdays for the last 2 years, and I’ve never blogged it! I did change up the flavors a bit to make them “fall flavored” with maple, but the texture and taste of these cupcakes is so out of this world, you’ll never go back. You can see how they turned out for my daughter’s Tinkerbell Party and Unicorn Party linked here. We also did Hatchimals Party for my youngest this August using it! You won’t believe the texture even though they are gluten free. It also just so happens that palm shortening makes THE best frosting. While I still love me some buttercream, you really won’t miss the dairy when you try this palm shortening based frosting. Filled with friendly fats, and a gorgeous “ghostly white” color, they make the perfect goulish look for your Halloween night!

Other ideas for dressing up your cupcakes for Halloween!

  • We LOVE these Halloween plant based natural food dyes – we made fun pumpkin shaped sugar cookies with the orange and black last year! You could color the frosting with the orange food dye, and then make the face with the black.
  • If you use that same Halloween plant based natural food dye, you can split your frosting into orange, purple, and black and make swirl frosting on the top. Just put the 3 colors into the piping bag as separately as you can, and then as they come out of the tip, they will swirl together! You can see how my daughter’s Unicorn cupcakes for her birthday turned out using this technique here.
  • You could make a “Candy Corn” frosting top using those same Halloween plant based natural food dyes. Just make divide the frosting into 3 bowls leaving one white, and coloring the other 2 with the orange and yellow. You can stack the frosting with 3 different piping bags to make a candy corn look.

Tips for the classroom {and for littles!}

  • I thought the full-sized cupcakes with the frosting done like it is makes a huge cupcake for littles, or for a classroom party. For little guys, or classroom treats, I would highly recommend doing these cupcakes into mini cupcakes using a mini muffin pan! You can get the same cool parchment paper wrappers in the mini size too. I think you will have to pull the baking time down – maybe check them around the 10-15 minute mark.
  • If you have really little guys at home, not only can you make them into mini cupcake form, you could also just spread the frosting and put the chocolate chips on top so the frosting isn’t piled so high. The big kids think that is pretty amazing, but little ones won’t know any differently!

Ingredient notes

  • I’m pretty sure most gluten free flour blends will work to swap for the Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend – I hear the Trader Joe’s brand is very similar to it.
  • Be careful on the maple extracts – a lot of them have junky ingredients. The one linked here is fine, or just use vanilla extract if you can’t find a good one. The maple syrup in the cupcake will make it taste like maple too.
  • Butter can be swapped for the palm shortening in the frosting, but the frosting will not be as white to look like a ghost since butter is yellow. It does work though!

5.0 from 14 reviews
Gluten Free Halloween Cupcakes :: Ghost Cupcake Treat PLUS Other Halloween Cupcake Decorating Ideas!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with parchment paper cupcake liners. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes, but it does work doubled too, so you can double for 24.
  2. In a 4 cup Pyrex liquid measuring bowl OR in a medium mixing bowl combine oil, maple syrup, sugar, and eggs, and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients for the cupcakes and mix with beaters until combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners, and bake for 20-22 minutes – the cupcake should “spring” back when you touch it, and a toothpick will come out clean. Check the cupcakes at the 18 minute mark just in case our ovens run differently.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. When you are ready to frost, blend the frosting ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and fill your piping bag, and frost your cupcakes. Use the mini chocolate chips for the ghost eyes and mouth!

More real food HALLOWEEN recipes you might like! ::

 

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Kid Friendly Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

October 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

Holding out on turning the heat on…

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

Two birds, one stone

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

Kid favorites packed with healing bone broth!

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

Soup for breakfast?!

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

Freezer friendly

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

Babies, Toddlers, and Lunchbox Thermos Tips

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

5.0 from 16 reviews
Kid Friendly Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium acorn squashes, halved and seeds scooped out
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil or butter, divided
  • 1 medium/large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne or to taste if you like heat
  • 1½ - 2 quarts bone broth depending on how thick/thin you prefer your soup
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish with coconut milk/yogurt or sour cream, and a drizzle of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread olive oil over the flesh of your acorn squash halves and sweet potato halves, and then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place the squash and sweet potatoes flesh side down on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
  3. You can start the rest of the soup when take the squash and sweet potatoes out of the oven so they are cooling while you work – you’ll want the squash cooled so you can handle it to scoop the flesh out.
  4. In a large soup pot, add 2-3 tbsp of butter and the onion with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the thyme, broth, and roasted squash and sweet potatoes, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, and blend the soup with an immersion blender, or pour it into a regular blender to puree. Garnish each bowl with a splash of coconut milk or dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

September 29, 2018

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

My toughest transition….

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

A new organic apple farm favorite!

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

A bushel of fun!

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

High muffin standards…

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

How to make these work on a school morning!

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

Freezer friendly?

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

A note on ingredients and swaps

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

5.0 from 17 reviews
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs (I haven’t tried egg free, but I would imagine flax eggs or applesauce “eggs” would work – the muffins will probably not puff up as much but they would still taste great.)
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar (Raw honey or pure maple syrup would work too. If you have older kids used to sweeter things, I would bump this up to ½ cup. As is these muffins have a mild sweetness, perfect for a healthy breakfast muffin for little ones.)
  • ¼ cup olive oil (or melted coconut oil or butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (or raw milk/yogurt if you tolerate dairy)
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour (If you are nut free, you could try more cassava flour)
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups chopped apples (it ended up being 2-3 small apples for me – I just buzz them up in the food processor quick for the chop)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with silicone muffin cups or unbleached paper cups.
  2. Beat the eggs, coconut sugar, and olive oil for 1 minute until frothy.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend to combine, and then fold in the apples.
  4. Scoop the muffin batter into your lined muffin tin (recipe makes 12 large muffins), and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean if they are done. Let the muffins cool 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. To store leftovers in the freezer, let the muffins cool completely, wrap them up in plastic or beeswax wrap, and then into a freezer bag.

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

September 29, 2018

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

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

Still making time for it…

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

A big job, made into a family project

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

A one day job!

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

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

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


How To Make Kid Prep Instant Pot Applesauce!


1.) Wash and Cut The Apples

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

2.) Put The Apples Into The Instant Pot

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

3.) Add 1 cup of Water

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

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

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

5.) Put the Cooked Apples Through The Food Mill

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

To sweeten or not?

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

How we store our applesauce

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

Freezing time…

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

5.0 from 8 reviews
Kid Prep Instant Pot No Peel Applesauce! :: Let Them Make It Start To Finish!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Apples, cored
  • 1 cup of water (you can add more if you like thinner applesauce)
Instructions
  1. Fill your Instant Pot liner with apple slices to about half inch below the “Fill” line, and then pour 1 cup of water in.
  2. Put the IP lid on and close the valve. Press “Manual” and then bring the time down to 4 minutes. The Instant Pot will start automatically. Once the IP reaches pressure, it will count down the 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes is over, you can quick release the valve.
  3. Run the cooked apples through a food mill for the smoothest applesauce. You can use a blender if you wish as well.
  4. Taste your applesauce for sweetness at this point. You can add raw honey if your apples were more tart, or leave as is if the apples are sweet enough.

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

September 20, 2018

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

Breakfast cookie Friday’s!

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

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

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

Same breakfast idea, different reason…

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

*Another* breakfast cookie recipe?!

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

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

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

Notes on the dried fruit

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

What are cacao nibs?

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

Other ingredient notes and swaps

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

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

Freezer notes

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

5.0 from 15 reviews
Paleo Trail Mix Breakfast Cookies :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup cassava flour
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds, finely chopped (I use my food processor to buzz them up. You can combine flavors of seeds and use a variety of seeds if you wish.)
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped (I use my food processor to buzz them up. You can combine flavors of nuts and use a variety of nuts if you wish.)
  • ½ cup nut or seed butter of choice
  • 2 eggs (OR if you are egg free, you can use 2 chia “eggs,” OR 2 “fruit puree eggs” (1/2 cup mashed banana, applesauce, or pumpkin puree)).
  • Heaping ⅓ cup raw honey (if you have older kids used to sweeter things, you can bump this up to ½ cup for sure)
  • ½ cup dried fruit such as dried cherries, chopped figs or dates, raisins, goji berries, etc.
  • ¼ cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work too if that is all you have)
  • ½ tsp sea salt (if your nuts are salted you can skip this ingredient)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Everything into a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Form the cookie dough into the size cookies you want. These will not spread out, so just roll, and flatten into a disk, and set them on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-19 minutes. Check the cookies around the 15 minute mark in case our ovens run differently. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

 

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

September 12, 2018

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

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

Back and forth…

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

Cooler weather menus

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

All the shepherd’s pie comfort with less fuss

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

The perfect baked potato

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

Can I use sweet potato instead?

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

Shepherd’s pie filling 101…

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

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

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

Weeknight prep tips

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

5.0 from 18 reviews
Shepherd's Pie Loaded Baked Potatoes :: PLUS! How To Make Baked Potatoes With The Crispiest Skin & Creamiest Inside!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE POTATOES:
  • 5 medium organic russet potatoes
  • 4-5 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 3-4 tsp sea salt
  • FOR THE SHEPHERD’S PIE FILLING
  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in (butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil will work well. I like to use half of this as leftover bacon fat for flavor)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp tapioca flour (depending on how thick/saucy you like your filling)
  • 2 tbsp organic tomato paste
  • ¾ cup bone broth or water
  • 3-4 tsp coconut aminos (it is fine to leave this out if you don’t have it – it does really add to the flavor though! It mimics soy sauce in flavor.)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ cup frozen organic peas
  • ½ cup frozen organic corn (omit if you are grain free/paleo. Butternut squash subs well - dice it and cook it through at the beginning)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste to finish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make sure the potatoes are dry. Poke a fork into each potato 2 times. Rub the oil all over each potato, and then rub the salt over each potato.
  3. Set the potatoes in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes until fork tender.
  4. While the potatoes are baking, you can make the filling. Melt your friendly fat in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots with a small pinch of sea salt, and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic to stir in.
  5. Add the beef to the cooking veggies along with the sea salt and pepper and brown the beef.
  6. When the beef is done browning, stir in the tapioca flour and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the broth, coconut aminos, and thyme, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, bring the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 7 minutes.
  8. Take the lid off, stir in the peas and corn, and return the lid, cooking for 5 more minutes.
  9. Taste the filling for salt and pepper, and then top your baked potatoes with the beef/veggie shepherd’s pie filling.
  10. **Filling can be made days in advance for quick, weekday dinners!

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

September 5, 2018

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

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

Simple.

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

Yummy flavor, minimal work.

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

Crispy fish method

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

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

Fish sourcing

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

Can I use other fish?

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

Side dish ideas

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

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

Well fed, *and* well nourished

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

5.0 from 19 reviews
Walnut Crusted Crispy Mahi Mahi :: Kid Friendly and Gluten Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped (I buzz mine up in a food processor into a “meal”)
  • ½ cup white rice flour (or coconut flour if you are grain free/Paleo)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (optional but lovely color and flavor)
  • 1-2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 wild caught Mahi Mahi fillets
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • ¼ -1/3 cup avocado oil for the skillet (enough to completely cover your skillet generously)
  • Lemons and parsley to garnish if you choose.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine the walnut “meal,” rice flour, and paprika in a shallow dish or plate. Set up the whisked egg in a bowl next to the walnut mixture and a clean plate for your coated fish at the end.
  3. Coat the Mahi Mahi in the whisked egg, and then the walnut/flour mixture on all sides. Place the coated fish on a clean plate while you finish coating the rest of the fish. Sprinkle the tops of the coated fish with sea salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. Heat the avocado oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. When the oil is hot, place 2 of walnut crusted Mahi Mahi fillets in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes ON EACH SIDE until the outside of the fish is golden brown. The less you move the fish around the crispier they will get – I even set a timer for about 3 minutes so I am not tempted to peek! When those 2 fillets finish cooking, place them on a baking sheet while you cook the other 2 fillets. You can cook all 4 in the skillet if your skillet is large enough, but do not over crowd them. I think the fish gets crispier using a cast iron skillet, and mine is smaller so I just do 2 at a time.
  5. Place the baking sheet with the crusted fish into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking the middle. Garnish with lemons and parsley if you choose.

 

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

August 30, 2018

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

So, are we easing in yet?

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

Breakfast staples for the school year

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

Bake once, eat twice…

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

A baked oatmeal framework

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

More than just oatmeal

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

Why soaked?

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

Onto the flavor choices!

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

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

Add in options

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

A note on sweeteners and amount…

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

How to freeze and re-heat leftover baked oatmeal

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

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

5.0 from 19 reviews
How To Make Soaked Baked Oatmeal :: A framework for a nutritious baked oatmeal that you can flavor any way you choose!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 5 cups oats (Not quick cooking oats. If you are gluten free, be sure your oats say they are gluten free like THESE)
  • 2 ½ cups full fat coconut milk or raw milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened full fat coconut yogurt, or dairy yogurt. (Our grocer carries the large 32oz tubs of So Delicious plain coconut yogurt which is what I use.)
  • 2 cups of nuts or seeds of choice, chopped (I buzz them up in my food processor quick. I like to use soaked/dehydrated nuts for best digestion. *OR* you can skip the nuts/seeds and add in 1 more cup of oats to the soaking process. *OR* you can skip the nuts/seeds and add in 1-2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut. A mix of nuts/seeds and shredded coconut works too.)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup sweetener of choice (Raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-4 tsp cinnamon (depending on the fruit you are using – I like more with apples, bananas, pears, or raisins. And less if using berries and peaches)
  • 3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups of fresh fruit, OR 1 cup dried fruit (see above notes for ideas!)
Instructions
  1. Soak the oats 8-24 hours before baking. The day before you want to make this for breakfast, put the oats, coconut milk, and yogurt in a medium mixing bowl, stir to combine, and cover with a towel to soak overnight. You can also butter your 9x13 baking dish the night before so it’s ready.
  2. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Add everything EXCEPT the fruit to the soaked oats, and mix in thoroughly.
  4. Fold the fruit into the batter, and pour the batter into the buttered the buttered baking dish.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. You can use the toothpick method to make sure the middle is set – it should come out clean if the baked oatmeal is done cooking.

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

August 24, 2018

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

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

Season shifts…

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

A new kitchen favorite!

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

It all began with leftovers…

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

Everything you love about breakfast, in one happy place!

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

Sausage notes

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

To scramble or not to scramble…

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

Make ahead tips

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

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

Tips for stuffing the peppers

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

Cooking medium advice

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

5.0 from 20 reviews
Breakfast Sausage Hash and Egg Stuffed Peppers :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in, such as butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or tallow/lard
  • 1 lb of your favorite clean ingredient sausage (You can use my sausage season blend to make your own with plain pastured ground pork or turkey, or purchase from the farmer’s market or store)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium potatoes or sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach or baby kale, chopped
  • 4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, and seeds/ribs scooped out
  • 8 pastured eggs (you can skip the eggs if you are egg free)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley to taste to garnish (you can also melt shredded raw cheese or goat cheese on the top if you tolerate that)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the butter to melt in. Add the sausage and onion cooking until the sausage is almost browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook until the potatoes are browning and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. You can pre-heat your oven at this point as well.
  3. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook for one minute, and then turn the heat off. If you are prepping ahead, your hash is done at this point, and you can cool it, and store it away until you are ready to use it.
  4. Put ½ cup of water in the bottom of a large casserole dish or roasting pan that has a lid. Place the bell pepper halves in the bottom of the pan, and fill each pepper with hash. Be sure to leave enough room for the egg! Crack an egg into each bell pepper, on top of the hash. Or, you can scramble the eggs and pour them into each cup if that is how your family prefers eggs!
  5. Put the lid on your pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes for sunny-side up eggs, or 30-40 minutes for scrambled. Check the peppers at the minimum times so you can be sure the eggs are set to your liking. You can take the lid off the pan for the last 10 minutes to melt cheese up top if you want too! Sea salt and pepper the tops as well as garnish with parsley if you wish.

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11 Healthy Packaged School Snacks For Kids

August 15, 2018

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

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

So here we are…

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

*Cue the real food police*

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

Grace, dear momma…

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

Because they are watching.

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

Morning snacks

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

Snack time goals

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

How to make it into my approved packaged snack list!

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

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

Couple final notes…and some ground rules

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


Chia Squeeze


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


Nut Butter Pouches


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


Larabars


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


Grassfed Beef Sticks


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


WholeMe Grain Free Clusters


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


Guacamole or Hummus Dippers


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


Shine Pouches


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


Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix


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


Seaweed Snacks


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


Lark Ellen Farm Sprouted Seed & Nut Granola Clusters


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


Pressed by Kind Fruit & Chia Bars


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

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

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

August 9, 2018

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

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 18 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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Thin & Crispy Oven Baked Paleo Zucchini Fritters PLUS, A Creamy Garlic Dipping Sauce! :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

July 27, 2018

These oven baked crispy bites are about to  less hands on time and the most amazing creamy garlic dipping sauce!

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 zucchini overload!

I just never tire of it! It is my favorite summer vegetable to play with during this season, and zucchini fritters have been on my mind since June!

Sooo many versions…

It really just depends on what kind of a person you are! Do you like soft pillowy zucchini fritters? Then most fritter recipes you find will give you that crispy outside with a soft pillowy inside. I don’t mind those, but last year I accidentally squished my fritters in the pan super thin, and realized just how much I LOVE a thin, crispy zucchini fritter! It is serious heaven!

Oven baked freedom!

But what about all that hands on time? I love a good pan seared zucchini fritter, but honestly I would probably make it twice a summer if I had to fuss with standing at the stove for 30 minutes for one side dish. You can only fit so many in one pan, and with my large crew to feed, well…it takes a while! I timed myself the last couple times I’ve made these oven-baked zucchini fritters, and from start to finish including making the batter, and flattening them onto a tray for the oven and it takes me 10-15 minutes (depending on kid interruptions!). From there, it’s as simple as popping the tray into the oven and then your hands are free to make the rest of dinner, or tend to kiddos.

Thin and crispy secrets to success!

There is definitely a method to the madness!

  • Get the water out of the zucchini. I know it seems like pain to drain the water from your zucchini before making your fritters, but this is really key. I like to speed the process up by adding the sea salt to the shredded zucchini. It draws the water out while I add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and you can squeeze that water right out.
  • Skip the other water-logged veggies. While I’m all about extra veg in my food, adding onion and other veggies just adds more water to the mix. I use dried herbs and dried onion/garlic for these to avoid the extra water.
  • Baking sheet surface matters. I love my Silpat liners, but I have just found that things crisp up better without them. From roasted veggies to these zucchini fritters, I tend to fore-go the Silpat or parchement paper. I use this avocado oil spray to spray the pan down (you can spread butter or coconut oil if don’t have that), and the zucchini fritters crisp up and slide right off.
  • Squish ‘em down! The cassava flour and egg really help these fritters come together, so they aren’t super fragile. Form them into your hand, get them onto that greased baking sheet, and use your hand to lightly flatten them a bit more.

That sauce though!

This quick sauce just takes these zucchini fritters over the top! It is so special, you’ll quite possibly lick the bowl clean! The smooth and creamy garlic dipping sauce is dairy free and you’ll never miss it. In fact you may just want to let everyone have their own little dipping bowl of sauce because you’ll definitely want to double dip this one! Here are a couple notes on the sauce to tailor it to what you have around, or what you have to do for special diets:

  • I prefer whole plain coconut yogurt for the base. I get large 32oz tubs of plain So Delicious coconut yogurt at our grocery store.
  • Full fat coconut milk or cream would work as the base as well as would raw milk/cream if you tolerate dairy.
  • Sour cream or full fat dairy yogurt would work for the base if you tolerate dairy.
  • Finally, tailor the garlic amount to your taste. I tend to boost the garlic on just about any recipe I come across, so my palate for garlic is pretty in love. If you prefer your food lighter on the garlic, I’d halve the amount.

5.0 from 20 reviews
Thin & Crispy Paleo Zucchini Fritters PLUS, A Creamy Garlic Dipping Sauce! :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE ZUCCHINI FRITTERS:
  • 4 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (I use the grating blade on my food processor to grate it faster. I have measured this a couple times for you and it’s been around 8 cups once grated.)
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup cassava flour
  • avocado oil spray, or melted coconut oil, or butter, or olive oil for the tray
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • ½ cup plain full fat coconut yogurt (see above notes for other options here)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place a thin kitchen towel over a colander, dump the grated zucchini in, and toss the zucchini with the sea salt. Let the zucchini/salt sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients into a bowl. The sea salt draws all the water out of the zucchini, so you can squeeze it out easily.
  3. Put the eggs and seasonings into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together.
  4. Pull up the sides of the kitchen towel that the zucchini is sitting in, twist, and squeeze out as much of the water from the shredded zucchini as you can.
  5. Put the grated and drained zucchini into the bowl with the egg/seasoning mixture, add the cassava flour, and mix together.
  6. Spray 2 baking sheets with avocado oil spray – this helps with sticking and also helps the fritters crisp and brown up. DO NOT line your baking sheet with parchment paper or with Silpat – the fritters will stick more with them (trust me) and they get much crispier on just the plain baking sheet. Make flat disks out of the zucchini batter, place them on the baking sheet, and then lightly flatten the disks on the tray using your hand a little more.
  7. Bake the fritters in the 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Take the tray out, flip the zucchini fritters over, and bake for another 10 minutes until crispy, golden brown. Let the fritters cool before handling.
  8. To make the dipping sauce, put all of the sauce ingredients into a pint mason jar, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

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

June 28, 2018

Sweet strawberry chia jam swirled into soft Paleo muffins, perfect for breakfast on the go!

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Summer night paradise

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

A new breakfast option!

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

Summer’s best produce jammed up…chia style!

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

No strawberries? No problem!

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

Texture perfection!

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

Some notes on the jam

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

Muffin ingredient swaps notes

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

Ohhh yes they are freezer friendly!

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

5.0 from 18 reviews
Paleo Strawberry Chia Jam Muffins :: Grain & Dairy Free :: Works With ANY Flavor Chia Jam!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CHIA JAM (if using your own jam, you will need ½ cup total jam – this chia jam recipe makes exactly ½ cup) ::
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • 1-2 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • FOR THE MUFFINS ::
  • ½ cup avocado oil (melted butter or coconut oil would work too)
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk plus 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar mixed in to make “buttermilk” (you can use raw milk here or if you have access to quality raw buttermilk you can use that)
  • ½ cup plain full fat coconut yogurt (I get big 32 oz tubs of the SoDelicious brand at the store. You can use homemade coconut yogurt, or if you tolerate dairy, you can use plain full fat regular yogurt.)
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup of chopped strawberries (I quarter them, and then dice)
Instructions
  1. MAKE THE CHIA JAM: Put the strawberries and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Squish the strawberries with a potato masher and let them cook down and break apart over medium/medium-low heat for about 8 minutes. Pour the chia seeds into a small jar, pour the cooked strawberries over the top, and stir to combine. Place the jam in the fridge to set up. This will take an hour to cool off and set up.
  2. When you are ready to make the muffins, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Blend the oil, honey, vanilla, and eggs in a medium mixing bowl for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the milk, yogurt, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt and blend to combine.
  5. In a separate small bowl, stir together the diced strawberries with the strawberry chia jam, and then fold the jam/strawberry mixture into your batter. Don’t stir this too much – you are going for more of a swirled look.
  6. Scoop the batter into silicone muffin cups or paper muffin cup lined muffin pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Recipe makes about 16 muffins. Let the muffins cool the pan for 5 minutes, and then put them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They will come out of the paper liners or silicone cups the best when completely cooled.

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