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Renee Kohley

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

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

January 22, 2020

Enjoy Mongolian beef stir fry, loaded with veggies and without the soy, gluten, and processed sugar!

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

A little walk down memory lane…

So I was driving in Grand Rapids not to long ago, near a spot that I haven’t been by in a very long time. I noticed that a restaurant that my now husband and I used to go to as a very rare, broke college kid date night, and was so sad to see it gone! Mongolian Bar-B-Que…locals do you remember it?! I know, I know, it is probably the furthest thing from traditional or authentic Mongolian meals, but the all you can eat, make your own stir fry bowls to two starving college kids in love was seriously heaven. I remember thinking it was *the* best food in the world. Pretty much anything tastes amazing when you don’t know how to cook and are just starting out, eh?!

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

A little Mongolian re-make!

My girls were in the van as we drove by, and I told them about our memories there. I decided to try to re-make what I remembered being my favorite flavors there, and this Mongolian beef was born. I was probably so starved of nutrients back then, because I remember craving that beef stir fry like it was air!

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

The brown sugar dilemma

Most Mongolian beef recipes that you find use brown sugar as the main sweetener for the sauce. While I’m all about using (organic) sugar in moderation with baking and special times, I want to be able to have Mongolian beef on my menu rotation way more frequently than that! Did you know that brown sugar is just sugar and molasses mixed together?! Yep, whenever I need brown sugar for a cookie recipe, it’s just 1 cup of sugar to 1 tablespoon of molasses and you’ve got that warm sweetness in seconds! In the Mongolian beef sauce recipe here, I chose to use real honey and molasses, and the result is out of this world! You’ll never miss the processed sugar!

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!
Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!
Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

Let’s talk about the starches

I absolutely love using potato starch for anything that I want to get crispy. I use it to dredge the steak in this recipe because it works so well to give the texture you want in a Mongolian beef stir fry. Corn starch, tapioca, or arrowroot will work, but I just really love the result with potato starch. I use tapioca in the sauce recipe, because I prefer how that thickens sauces. The potato starch would work here as well, but again, I just prefer the texture result with the tapioca.

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

Heat preferences

If you have little ones at home, be sure to stick to more of the “pinch” of red pepper flakes versus going all out on the ½ tsp. While I love me some heat, some little kids aren’t quite there yet! I do have one that loves some heat, but because of one of my other girls, I tend to keep any heat to minimum. You can add a pinch or two of cayenne or red pepper flakes your individual plate if you would like some extra heat.

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

Serving ideas!

We are definitely team white rice here, but there are so many other options for serving your Mongolian beef! If you prefer brown rice go for it! If you are in a season of needing to avoid grains, I adore this sauce, beef, and veggie combo on top of a baked potato or sweet potato. It is fantastic just plain as well. You can beef up the veggies a bit more by adding shredded cabbage (my favorite), or more of the veggies already listed.

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

Mongolian Beef and Veggies :: Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Naturally Sweetened!

Author: Renee Kohley – Raising Generation Nourished

Ingredients

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • ½ cup coconut aminos
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 3 tsp molasses
  • 2 tsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch to ½ tsp red pepper flakes depending on your heat prefrence

FOR THE STIR FRY:

  • 4 tbsp ghee for cooking in, divided (butter, olive oil, tallow/lard, or avocado oil would work too)
  • 1 lb grassfed skirt/flank steak or round steak cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 small onion cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1 head of broccoli florets cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 handful sugar peas
  • 1 recipe of the above sauce

Instructions

  • Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl, and set aside for later.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While your skillet warms up, pat dry your strips of steak and then toss them with 2 tablespoons of potato starch. Place the coated steak into the hot ghee and cook until browned and almost crispy. This takes about 5 minutes. Take the steak out of the pan and set aside for later.
  • In the same skillet, warm another 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium heat, and add the onion, peppers, broccoli, and sugar peas from above. Cook the veggies over medium heat for a few minutes, until bright in color and still bite tender.
  • Add the cooked beef and the sauce into the skillet with the veggies, and simmer until the sauce thickens and the veggies are cooked to your liking, about 5 minutes or so. The sauce is plenty seasoned, but you can season to your taste if you wish.

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Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

January 15, 2020

These easy prep, freezer friendly, gluten free pizza pinwheels can be used for everything from lunchboxes to game day!

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

Reunited and it feels so good!

I feel like I spent my late summer and entire fall buried under a rock! Buried under a rock writing a cookbook, that is! We did come out and enjoy all that our Michigan fall has to offer, with hiking, beach play, and leaf piles, but I have missed communicating with you in this space, and I’m so excited to be back. My new lunchbox cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” is in the editing process for the winter, and will release later this summer! I couldn’t think of a better way to jump back into the blog than with a fun lunchbox idea, since I’ve spent the greater part of the last 6 months in lunchbox mode writing the new cookbook.

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

Pizza day with a twist…literally!

One thing that having 3 kids spanning grade levels from kindergarten to 5th grade has taught me is that everyone could use a mid-week “fun lunch.” If you follow my #RGNSchoolLunch hashtag on Instagram, you’ll notice a pattern to Wednesdays. They are typically more on the “fun” side of things. Not that the other lunches that are packed are “boring” per say, but something like a yogurt parfait, spaghetti thermoses, and pizza lunchable copycats (the recipe for the soft, grain free flatbreads for these will be in my new lunchbox cookbook!) just make the mid-week fly by. Instead of Wednesday being just another day, the kids will have something small to look forward to in their lunch, and before you know it  you are half way to the weekend!

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

These look…fancy – it must be fussy?!

Fast, freezer friendly, and something that moms are *actually* going to do (read, not complicated!)…those were all thoughts in the forefront of my mind when I was creating my new lunchbox cookbook. So when I had the idea for using the pinwheel concept that so many kids love, made into a pizza package, I knew that I needed to make it busy momma friendly. There is no dough rising, or extra steps. You’ll mix the easy pizza dough, roll it out, spread the toppings, and roll it into a log! Once you cut the pizza log into pinwheels, you’ll simply bake them in a muffin tin. And did I mention they freeze great?! Because that means you can make these on the weekend with the kids and stash them away for Wednesday!

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

Here’s the step by step for my visual friends!

1. While the yeast is blooming, you’ll get the rest of the ingredients into the bowl…

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

2. Then the dough gets mixed up – it’s so soft and easy to work with!

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

3. You’ll cut the dough in half and work with a small, rolled out rectangle of dough. It is easier to work with the dough this way.

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

4. Spread the sauce…

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

5. Add the chopped pepperoni…

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

6. Sprinkle the cheese…

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

7. Then roll it up!

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

8. Once you slice the log of dough, you can place them into your muffin pan and spray the tops – they need just 20 minutes in the oven after that!

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

How to Pack Pizza Pinwheels for little kids

Most of your littles will eat one or two pizza pinwheels, depending on how big you make them. The pinwheels are a decent source of protein, fat, and carb, so you can add some fresh fruit and veg on the side to make it a balanced lunchbox. If you have littles with bigger appetites, you might add a half avocado, some olives, coconut chips, or a handful of almonds.

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

How to Pack Pizza Pinwheels for big kids

Your older children will eat anywhere from 2 to 4 of these, and while I’m sure many grown teens could eat the whole muffin pan (ha!), the key to stretching this meal is all in the big salad. Send 2 or 3 pizza pinwheels along with a loaded salad to fill up your growing big kids. You can add nuts, hard boiled egg, and/or avocado to their salad to make it more filling, and add a fatty nourishing dressing and they should be good to go for the afternoon.

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

How to store pizza pinwheels in the freezer

Once you let your pizza pinwheels cool completely, you can toss them into gallon freezer bags into your freezer. They can be pulled out frozen right to your child’s lunchbox and they will be thawed by lunchtime. If you want to pull them from the freezer to warm up in the oven for a quick dinner, you can thaw them out and use a baking sheet to warm them back up in the oven.

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

Author: Renee – Raising Generation Nourished

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with avocado oil spray or olive oil spray.
  • Measure 1 cup of coconut milk into a liquid measuring cup, and pour it into a small sauce pan to warm up until it is warm to touch – not hot. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast. While the coconut milk warms, put the yeast and coconut sugar into the liquid measuring cup. Pour the warm coconut milk over the yeast and sugar, and stir with a spatula until frothy and combined. Let this sit to bloom the yeast while you prepare the rest of the dough ingredients.
  • Put the flour, egg, oil, baking powder, and seasonings into a medium mixing bowl. Once the yeast has made the coconut milk bubble (see above picture), it is bloomed, and you can pour this into the rest of the dough ingredients. Stir the dough with your spatula until the dough comes together. I start with my spatula and end kneading it with my hands.
  • Roll the dough into a ball, and cut the dough in half. You’ll be making 2 rolls of pizza pinwheels. It is easier to work with the dough this way.
  • Flour your counter and roll out one half of the dough into a rectangle, as thin as you can make it without it tearing or being to hard to roll up (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch). Spread 3-4 tablespoons of pizza sauce on the dough, sprinkle about ¼ cup of chopped pepperoni, and finally about ½ cup of shredded cheese.
  • Starting at one end of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough to make a log. Slice off the un-even ends and then make about 5-6 pinwheels (about 2 inches wide each). Place the pinwheels inside your sprayed muffin pan, cut side up.
  • Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the other half of the pizza dough, making another log of 5-6 pinwheels. Place these into the pan, and then spray the tops of all of the pinwheels with the avocado oil spray.
  • Bake the pizza pinwheels in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Let the pizza pinwheels cool 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack. They will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If you are freezing your pizza pinwheels, cool them completely and then store them in freezer bags in the freezer up to 3 months.
Gluten Free Pizza Pinwheels

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Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

January 11, 2020

Getting a nourishing breakfast in is easy with prep day sweet potatoes and these 4 simple sweet potato breakfast ideas!

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

A post just for *you,* dear momma

Dear momma, I know what you have been seeing in your news feeds, social media, and email box for the last few weeks. Weight loss this, “new you” that, and everything in between. I get it. I’m a New Year, fresh start, “jump-in-with-both-feet” kind of a person to the core. But I am here to tell you that we don’t need to complicate this whole healthy lifestyle thing. In fact, I prefer to simply call it, taking care of ourselves.

No guilt. No shame. No fear.

When we have healthy relationships with our bodies and the food that fuels it, we know that over doing processed foods will make us feel crummy. So we can positively make the decision to treat ourselves like the temples that they are – with respect, and with food that will make us feel amazing. With simple food. Real food. It doesn’t need to be fancy or filled with a zillion steps or ingredients. A simple bowl of soup and boiled eggs makes one of my favorite breakfasts.

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

I remember the exact moment I made this mind shift.

I grew up on Cheerios and toast, so this was a huge shift. I had my second baby and I was….exhausted. In fact, exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe it. One morning the only thing I had time to eat before she cried again was leftover soup from dinner and my toddlers leftover boiled eggs. The energy I felt was almost instantaneous. My mind could think. I felt clearer…my body had some fuel. From that point on I knew I needed to feed myself so that I could be my best for my babies. Did it happen perfectly every day? Not even close. But as I practiced, I got better. A rhythm formed in my kitchen. A framework for how my meals flowed was formed. And I never turned back.

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

Do you know how good you were meant to feel, dear momma?

Your kids are watching you. They see how you care for yourself, and will imitate that. I certainly was. And my mom was only imitating what she saw growing up. Be the cycle breaker in your family. Put the oxygen mask to yourself first so you can care for those around you. When a firefighter runs into a burning building, he doesn’t neglect himself to save those inside. He puts the oxygen mask to himself first so that he has the stamina to save the rest. He is literally no good to those inside the burning building if he falls over from lack of oxygen. Your kids deserve having a mom at her best.

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

But I have a baby…this sounds impossible!

I so hear you, dear momma, although those endless nights and jam-packed days are even more reason to care for yourself. You need fuel if you are ever going to make it! Here are some practical tips that I found helpful during this season…and I promise that it is only a season!

  • Put baby in a sling or carrier while you warm up leftovers or fix your breakfast, so you have hands free movement with baby close to you.
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting baby down on a soft blanket or bouncy seat near a window so she can look outside or at something interesting while you warm up your leftovers or make your breakfast for 5 or 10 minutes. Even just setting them down to watch you in the kitchen is eye catching for them. If they fuss for a few minutes they will still be ok – I promise! As they get older into their baby years, it is good for them to learn how to occupy themselves and play independently.
  • Utilize siblings if they are around! Even your toddlers make great entertainment while you prepare your food! They will feel so proud to be the one to show baby that book, or shake the rattle for their baby brother or sister!
  • Food prep when you have extra hands on the weekends. Let daddy or older siblings take a turn at holding the baby so that you can prep easy staples like muffins, soups, or these sweet potatoes so that during the week your meals are easier to grab. While I’m all for napping when the baby naps, sometimes prepping during naptime is helpful too. Listen to your body however, and don’t do this every day.
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

But I have a toddler…how do I make this work?

After the shift into toddlerhood, many parents find they wished their non-stop toddler was back to that infant that would just lay on a blanket for 5 minutes! In some ways toddlerhood is even tougher. Here are some tips for this season…and again it is truly just a season!

  • Establishing a routine is key. Toddlers adore a rhythm and expectations. If you tell them this is breakfast making time and give them expectations, they will catch on! Give them 2 choices – “While mommy fixes breakfast you can either color with these crayons on this paper, or play with the toys in this basket. You could also give the choice of standing on a stool to watch you prep (or help if there is something to help with). Before you know it, that certain time of day will just be associated with breakfast prep and you won’t need to remind them much at all what is expected of them during this time.
  • Keep a small drawer/cupboard of toys or safe kitchen tools (like wooden spoons and measuring cups) down low for them to reach so that they can play near you while you work in the kitchen. Many times these little ones just want to be near – unless they have a sibling they are following around, you are the center of their world and they are social beings! They can have their own drawer that they can reach themselves to play near you.
  • Pull up a stool, little helper stander, or a chair and make them a part of your meal making. Set them up with hard boiled eggs to peel, or at the sink with potatoes to wash. Even if you are just giving them a few cups in the sink to play with in a bowl full of water, they will be happily by your side.
  • Utilize older siblings to help if they are around! This is a great opportunity to show your older kids that you trust them with a task! Ask them to read your toddler a book, or play a game with them. You can put THEM in charge. My oldest loved creating a “schedule” for her little sisters when I needed kitchen prep time. And toddlers naturally follow older children’s whims and ideas (better than adults most of the time!).
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

But we have to be out the door for school SO early…how can we do this?

This is the season that I am in right now, and I’m sure I will have more to add to this as we go along, but for now, here are some tips that I am finding help!

  • Meal plan. This is NOT my favorite, nor do I even have an elaborate meal plan book – it isn’t even written out. Collective *gasp* from the real food crowd. I simply have a framework. I like to have some wiggle room – I don’t like to be nailed down to something if I’m feeling like having something else for breakfast. If you like a more rigid schedule, go for it! I have a certain flow that I like my week to look like and we do that. For instance, the girls have oatmeal on Mondays – I change it up with whatever fruit is in season or was on sale that week, and we throw add-in’s from the pantry. Or breakfast cookie Fridays! We pull from the freezer stash or make them fresh the night before.
  • Assign tasks for the kids for more help. Maybe your older children have a day of the week that they are responsible for the breakfast so everyone is helping. Maybe your younger children are helping you prep the egg cups or muffin batter the night before, or peeling the hard boiled eggs for you.
  • 10 minute prep the night before! This is a game changer for many. Just 10 minutes. You can do so much in the 10 minutes before you go to bed. Mix up muffin batter or get egg casserole or egg cups in the pan. You can take waffles or baked oatmeal out of the freezer to thaw. Lately, I have actually been baking in the evening so that I don’t have to do literally anything in the morning! It works for us right now and is pure bliss!
  • Breakfast bars! When you have all of the components all ready, such as breakfast cookies or muffins, and hard boiled eggs or yogurt, you can have the older kids set up a breakfast bar and everyone serves themselves! And if they are old enough to serve themselves, they are old enough to wash up their own dishes by the way dear momma!
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

SO, let’s prep some sweet potatoes!

Simple right?! My goal is to see you NOT over complicate eating well. I wanted to start with this concept because it is one of the first things that I was able to wiggle into my routine as a new mom. I had time to put sweet potatoes in the oven. I had time for simple sides like hard boiled eggs or sausage. And I had time to utilize leftovers.

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

How to prep ahead sweet potatoes

It doesn’t get any easier. Simply pre-heat the oven, poke your sweet potatoes, oil them up and bake them off. You are hands free while they bake and your sweet potatoes are ready for the week!

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

How To Roast Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 small to medium sweet potatoes of about the same size
  • 1 tbsp ghee, butter, or olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees, and poke a fork into each sweet potato 4-5 times.
  • Use your hands to smear the ghee, sea salt, and pepper over each sweet potato, and place them in a baking dish.
  • Roast the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be soft when you poke a fork in them. Store your sweet potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • To re-heat roasted sweet potatoes, place the sweet potato on a baking sheet and into a cold oven. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and once it is pre-heated you can turn the oven off and let it warm through to your liking. This doesn’t take any longer than 15 minutes.
Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

Ok! So how do I serve my sweet potatoes?!

The possibilities are endless but here are some of my favorite combos that require very little prepping or time! These ideas are pretty low carb and no grain because I do best that way for my breakfast. There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding more carbs or some grain if you do better that way! If you have young children that you are serving these to, you may want to add some fruit or grain, or some raw honey on the sweet potato!

Prep Day Sweet Potatoes and 4 Simple Sweet Potato Breakfast Ideas!

Prepped ahead sweet potato, prepped ahead hard boiled eggs (or you could fry them!), and avocado slices.

Prepped ahead sweet potato with leftover caramelized peppers/onion/spinach from paninis we had for dinner, and sauerkraut (I LOVE kimchi here even better!), and coconut yogurt (or regular yogurt if you do dairy) with granola, bee pollen, collagen, and acai powder.

Prepped ahead sweet potato with leftover stir fry from dinner, bacon, and avo

Prepped head sweet potato with avocado, crushed walnuts, and raw honey, and bacon

Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

December 15, 2019

Give your favorite fudgey gluten free brownies a holiday make-over with a hint of peppermint, and a festive candy cane sprinkle!

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

The countdown is ON!

…and boy is my crew READY! Just 5 more days of school to get through, and we cannot wait to get some baking done this weekend!

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

A fun favorite with a holiday twist!

Everyone loves a good brownie, and I couldn’t think of anything better than adding a hint of peppermint to the batter and a fun Christmas sprinkle of candy cane to the top! These fun peppermint brownies look fancy and special, but are just as easy as any pan of brownies to make!

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Peppermint Brownie Method

A pan of brownies is just about as easy as it gets. You’ll blend some melted coconut oil or butter into the wet ingredients, and then add the flours and cocoa powder. The batter is nice a shiny just like any other brownie batter. You’ll fold some chocolate chips into the fudgey stickiness and then spread it into your pan. Then the fun part! Grab the kids and let them pound on some candy canes to crush them up, and then they can sprinkle that and more chocolate chips onto the top of the brownie batter!

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Where do I find a better ingredient choice candy cane?

Well since my kiddos were little, I’ll definitely say the market is a much friendlier for finding naturally dyed candy canes! It is so worth skipping the Red 40 dyes that can cause hyper-activity and moodiness in many kids (and adults too!). You can find naturally dyed candy canes at just about every health food store. We don’t have big box health food stores closer than a 45 minute drive away, and even our little itty bitty health food store carries them! If you can’t find them where you live, you can Prime these naturally dyed candy canes! They ship super fast!

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Flour swaps

I haven’t played around with this brownie recipe too much (we ended up with 4 pans of brownies as it was to get this recipe down! Ha!), but I do want to mention that if you are nut free, you can swap the almond flour for more Namaste GF Flour. They both work well. I also think that you could swap 2 flax “eggs” for the eggs if you are an egg free house hold as those seem to work well for brownies in my experience.

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Freezer friendly!

OH yes! Because I ended up with 4 pans of brownies to get this recipe right, I did in fact freeze a bunch of these, and because I needed to make sure they tasted good out of the freezer, momma enjoyed one with a cup of coffee one afternoon, and they were SO good! Just perfect out of the freezer. So make them ahead of time if you need and freeze them up!

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8 inch square cake pan with coconut oil or palm shortening (or butter if you tolerate dairy).
  • Blend the coconut sugar, maple syrup, and eggs for 1 minute, and then blend the melted coconut oil in while the blenders are still going. I just hold the hand blender with one hand and pour with the other – you could use a stand mixer if you have one.
  • Add the peppermint extract, cocoa powder, Namaste flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt, and blend on low until just combined. Fold in ½ cup of chocolate chips. The batter is sticky and shiny.
  • Spread the brownie batter into the greased pan, and then sprinkle the 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate chips and the crushed candy canes on top. Tap the pan on the counter so the chocolate chips and candy canes on the top set into the batter (you could gently press your hand on the top too).
  • Bake the brownies in a 325 degree oven for 28 minutes, until a toothpick to the center comes out clean.

Notes

  • If you are nut free, swap the almond flour for more Namaste.
  • If you are egg free, I think flax eggs will work nicely in this recipe. The brownies may not puff up as much but they will bind well and might even be chewier.
Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

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Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

December 4, 2019

A gluten free cranberry orange bread perfect for celebrating the holiday season on any morning, from school days to Christmas morning!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

The December count down!

With bated breath we have entered December after a whirlwind fall of a fresh school year and the completion of a new book project. I am determined to make the next few weeks flow as slowly as possible, savoring every second of the holiday season…and my girls, who seem to be growing up before my eyes! We started with new Christmas jammies, hot cocoa, slippers, and a movie; and I set to the kitchen for a new breakfast idea that could be used throughout this month without the sugar crash!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

Those darn December school days…

It’s hard enough to get up early when the cold December air hits Michigan, and it can be even harder to head off to a day of learning when all you are thinking about is Christmas break coming up after a focused fall of school learning! I have found that having a few fun breakfasts just for this season make school mornings that much easier. The nostalgia you’ll be gifting to your kids is priceless – they will remember these little things, dear momma.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

Fun Christmas breakfast without the sugar overload!

Because they still have to focus for school all morning, right? I’ve packed out this special quick-bread with ingredients that count, so let’s break it down!

  • Cassava flour is a great pre-biotic fiber rich grain free flour. It will provide kids energy without the blood sugar spike, and nourish the gut while you’re at it!
  • Buckwheat flour made from the buckwheat seed, and is a good source of protein. It is filling, yet light and bakes very well. Despite its name, buckwheat does not contain wheat. While some in the paleo community consider buckwheat a pseudo-grain, it is a seed, and if you tolerate digesting it, it is a great tool to have in your pantry to rotate flours and ensure you aren’t just using the same ones over and over again on your gut.
  • Almond flour is a good source of fat and protein as well. If you are allergic to almonds, I would suggest using some tapioca flour in this place to ensure the softness remains. Sometimes if you use too much cassava flour, the taste can be off, but you could certainly try that as well. Remember that cassava flour is more absorbent than almond flour so you may way to use less amount.
  • Healthy fats from the coconut milk, palm shortening, and eggs are also a great addition!
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

The method

This cranberry orange quick-bread lives up to it’s name! The prep is easy and fast. You’ll cream the wet ingredients, blend in the dry, and then fold in the cranberries. The orange infused coconut milk helps keep the quick bread nice and soft, as well as reacts with the baking powder to make it rise. The ingredients can be prepped the night before to bake off in the morning if you prefer to do things that way. I baked and served mine the next day, and the bread was still very soft and delicious!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

How should I serve the cranberry orange bread on a school morning to make it balanced?

This quick-bread is actually quite balanced! You might find your little guys content with a slice of bread with a smear of butter and a cup of full fat raw milk if they do dairy, or full fat coconut milk if they are dairy free. Here are some ideas for your older children to round out the meal:

  • You can serve your bread with a smear of butter if you tolerate dairy to add a bit more nourishing fat – some dairy free children might like coconut butter!
  • A side of fried eggs
  • Sausage or bacon
  • A cup of full fat coconut yogurt or regular yogurt would be great as well.
  • If you have smoothie kids, you could do a smoothie with the slice of bread as well.
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with palm shortening (or butter if you tolerate dairy).
  • Pour the ACV and orange juice into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, and then pour coconut milk into the liquid measuring cup until you hit the 1 cup line. Whisk in the zest, and set aside for later. This is your orange infused buttermilk.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream the palm shortening, coconut sugar, and maple syrup using hand beaters. Add the eggs and blend until creamy and smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the cranberries, blend to combine until smooth, and then fold in the cranberries with a spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the greased 9×5 inch loaf pan (it will come almost to the top – this is ok!), smooth out the top, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until the bread springs back to tough and is deeply golden brown. Let the bread cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a cooling rack to cool further.
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread :: Gluten, Grain, & Dairy Free

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Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

September 22, 2019

This acorn squash pasta is all of the dreamy comfort that you love in a creamy pasta dish without the dairy!

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

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.

Busy school days, and comforting meals…

This isn’t exactly the image I was imagining connecting with this warm, comforting meal that I can’t wait to share with you this week! But, as Michigan has a way of doing in early fall, our autumn hike this weekend landed us through the woods and dunes to the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the 80 degree, humid air begged my girls to the water! They are like moths to a flame, and we welcome all the sunshine and warm we can get before things start to turn! These kids work so hard in school all week and one of my greatest joy is having a comforting meal for them when they get home – and to spend the weekend relaxing and exploring!

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.

Weekday comfort in a weekend feeling meal

While pasta dishes may feel fancy, they are actually one of my go-to meals toward the end of the week, when we all need a little dish of comfort, and momma needs a simple prep. It doesn’t get any easier than using delicious aromatic veggies and a creamy fall squash to flavor that comforting pasta.

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

Natural creaminess without the dairy

There is truly nothing wrong with a good, quality dairy if you can tolerate that. I have so many readers that cannot, however, or do not have access to quality, and so meals like this are truly a need for them. And even if you don’t avoid dairy, you’ll love the way you can get mineral rich acorn squash into your family using this creamy, dreamy sauce made almost entirely from this smooth and creamy fall vegetable.

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

The method :: The sauce

You’ll start with either roasting or pressure cooking your acorn squash until is soft and ready to blend into a smooth, decadent sauce. If you are a meal planner, you can plan this into your prep day, cooking the squash days in advance so that it is ready when you need it. You could freeze portions of the blended squash or full sauce if you want as well. The sauce is simply blended with starchy pasta water, creamy coconut milk, and silky butter – if you are dairy free ghee tastes lovely or you can finish it with some olive oil. A little salt and pepper and this is one easy sauce!

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

The Method :: The Veggies, Flavor, and Chicken

While the squash is cooking, you’ll draw all sorts of flavor magic out of your aromatics. The onion, mushroom, and garlic will marry with that creamy sauce and make for comforting experience that will make everyone around the table happy. Don’t skimp on the time in this step – this is the money step. This is where you’ll build flavor.

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

Pasta Choices

There are so many options for healthy, quality, better choice pastas today. This list may even change as the years go by! If you truly cannot have any of these pastas, by all means use zoodles, squash noodles, parsnip noodles, carrot noodles, or sweet potato noodles by using your spirilizer.

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

Veggie swaps

While I love the mild, buttery flavor and light texture of acorn squash, other fall and winter squashes should swap fine such as butternut or buttercup. If you have other veggies besides the broccoli and kale, you could swap those too. Use what you have. I would keep the mushroom, onion, garlic the same, as that flavor base is essential to the flavor of the dish, but adding carrots, peas, asparagus, or whatever you happen to have in the veggie bin will be fine!

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

Prep ahead tips

  • This meal is the perfect next day meal after you have your weekly roasted chicken or Instant Pot chicken. The leftover chicken piles right into this pasta meal perfectly.
  • The squash can be made ahead of time as well on a prep day. Store in the fridge, or even make portions for the freezer.
  • You can chop the veggies the night before so that when you get home from school and/or work you can just dump in the pan and go!
  • Leftovers are great in thermoses for school, or travel crockpots to warm up at work!
https://amzn.to/2QxHwdY
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • 3 tbsp butter to cook in or ghee, olive oil, or avocado oil if you are dairy free
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups finely chopped kale
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken I use leftover chicken from our weekly roasted chicken or IP chicken – alternatively you could brown up some chicken before you start the veggies
  • 12 oz pasta of choice We like the Jovial Brown Rice Pasta Bow Ties for this dish
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk or regular raw milk
  • ½ – 1 cup of pasta water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast optional if you don’t have it – it gives the sauce a cheesy flavor
  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee, olive oil, or avocado oil if you are dairy free
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • You’ll want to cook your squash while you make the rest of the meal. Slice your acorn squash in half and scoop the seeds out. If you have an Instant Pot, you can fill the bottom with 1 cup of water and pressure cook on HP for 15 minutes with QR. If you do not have an IP, you can roast the squash in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until fork tender.
  • While the squash cooks, melt 3 tbsp of butter in a large skillet and add the onion and mushroom with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion and mushroom over medium heat for 10 minutes until caramelized and fragrant. You can get your pasta water going at this point too so that you can boil your pasta while you get the skillet ingredients cooked.
  • Add the garlic to the onion and mushroom, and cook for a minute. Add the broccoli, kale, and cooked chicken, stir to combine, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until the broccoli is fork tender.
  • To make the sauce, scoop the cooked flesh of the acorn squash into your food processor and add the coconut milk, pasta water, nutritional yeast, butter, and sea salt/pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and then add this sauce along with the cooked pasta to the skillet with the cooked veggies and chicken. You can add more pasta water, broth, milk or even water to thin the sauce out if you want. Stir to combine and taste for salt and pepper.
Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)

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Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

September 15, 2019

Sunday dinner comfort using sweet butternut squash layered in a flavorful lasagna casserole!

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

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 changes and fresh menu plans!

Those fall schedules do something to you, don’t they? The warm air hangs on for a while around here, but we catch glimpses of cool, crisp mornings, and with new school routines speckled into our weekly rhythm, I’ve been feeling the itch to turn the oven on for slow cooked, comforting dinners on the weekends.

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

Lasagna cravings!

Oh yes, it is absolutely a thing! And when you don’t have those special noodles in the pantry, you figure out a way to still get those flavors in the oven. One week, I thought about making lasagna soup instead, but I had squash on the counter and other various veggies that I did not want to go to waste, so we did this lasagna in a veggie casserole style, and I’m telling you, it is definitely a keeper! And listen, I love traditional lasagna – there is absolutely nothing wrong with it! This was just a fun dinner change up – and I think you will find that the kids will love this new squash prep! It is so fun!

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The method :: Squash

While the different components look intimidating at first, I promise you that this prep rolls fast. Especially because there are no noodles to fuss with! Use a very sharp knife to slice thin rounds of squash for the “noodle” layer in your lasagna casserole. You’ll want between 20 and 30 rounds. If you make your squash rounds any thicker than what I’m showing here, you’ll just want to adjust your cook time longer.

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The method :: The meat sauce

Here’s where you’ll want to spend some time. I promise that caramelizing the onions, peppers, and mushrooms is worth the 10 or so minute wait. Melt some butter into your large skillet and let the heat do some work on those veggies. Everyone will be “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the meat sauce flavor! You could make the meat sauce on your prep day if you want to pull it out easy from the fridge as you assemble your lasagna.

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole
Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The method :: The bechemel cream sauce

It’s easier than it sounds! This cream sauce is just a seasoned, thickened milk mixture. This creamy addition feels so decadent swirled into the lasagna – like an indulgent, cheesy dream in the middle of the casserole. And the added bonus of only taking a few minutes to prep doesn’t give you any reason to leave it out!

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The casserole assembly

You’ll first cover the bottom of your casserole pan with that flavorful meat sauce and then start layering those squash rounds. Just like with any lasagna, imperfection is all a part of being homemade. There is no reason to make the squash fit perfectly – overlap the ends and cover every inch! You’ll spread that creamy bechemel sauce layer and then add more meat sauce – this heavenly mixture of savory meat sauce with that creamy mixture is what makes this casserole feel so comforting. You’ll do another layer or so, and then bake the casserole for a half our before topping with…cheese of course!

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

Prep Tips

While this amazing dinner is more weekend prep in nature, I do think that with a few prep ahead tips, you could make this on a weekday.

  • Make the meat sauce and cream sauce on your prep day. You could do one or both on a Saturday or Sunday prep day, and just store it in an air tight container in the fridge until you need it.
  • Slice the squash ahead of time. I promise this does go fast once you get the hang of it! If you decide to peel and cut ahead of time, just store the rounds in an air tight container so they don’t dry out.
  • Assemble the entire casserole ahead of time and store it in the fridge covered. You can pull it out on the night you need it and just pop it in the oven. This would also be a great way to prep for a friend in need (new momma, an ill friend, or just because!) – what an easy to digest meal for just about everyone!
Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole
Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

Ingredients

FOR THE MEAT SAUCE

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 2-3 cups chopped kale
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cups of your favorite marinara sauce

FOR THE BECHEMEL CREAM SAUCE

FOR THE REST OF THE SQUASH LASAGNA

  • 1 small to medium butternut squash peeled and sliced into thin cross-section slices
  • Your favorite cheese to top the lasagna – anywhere from 1-3 cups per your preference.

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

MAKE THE MEAT SAUCE

  • Melt the butter into a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion, pepper, mushrooms, kale, and a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until the veggies are soft, fragrant, and slightly caramelized.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute, and then add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Break the beef up and mix it into the cooked veggies, browning the beef.
  • Add the marainara sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.

MAKE THE BECHEMEL SAUCE

  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, and then whisk the flour in to make a paste.
  • Slowing pour the milk into the sauce pan, whisking along the way so that the roux incorporates into the milk to thicken it. Whisk the salt in pepper in as well.
  • Simmer until the cream sauce thickens about a minute or so.

ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE SQUASH LASAGNA

  • Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce along the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Line up one layer of the squash rounds, overlapping them some, and then spread ½ of the cream sauce over the top of the layer of squash.
  • Spread another 1/3 of the meat sauce over the top of the cream sauce, and then add another layer of butternut squash rounds, overlapping them making sure to fit squash in every spot – you can cut the rounds a little if you wish so that they fit.
  • Spread the last 1/3 of the meat sauce over the top of the squash and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Pull the lasagna out of the oven, top with shredded cheese, and bake another 5-10 minutes until bubbly and melted.
Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

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Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

September 4, 2019

Fill those cool, crisp fall weekend mornings with the smell of fresh gluten free apple cinnamon coffee cake!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

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

Summer good-byes

It is always so hard to pull those hoodies out for the first time after a summer filled with sandy toes, tank tops, and beachy glows, but thankfully Michigan is really good at easing us into the thought of fall. We’ll dance between 50 and 70 degrees until November, and that is perfectly fine with me. The beach will still call our name for at least the next month, and we’ll answer with more beach hikes and rock hounding in hoodies versus swimming and water play!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

New fall beginnings

The thought of fall has me longing for apple all the things, so instead of focusing on the changing weather and fading sun, I decided to bring you a new apple recipe, in hopes of filling your fall weekends with a fun new breakfast idea for those cool crisp mornings. My kids were perfectly giddy when I brought home the first bag of apples they’d seen since late winter, and we set to work right away coming up with a fun apple themed coffee cake this year!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Perfect coffee cake texture – easy peasy technique!

So I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is an easy weekday school morning breakfast (though if you prep it into the pan the night before it could work!), but I will promise you that this recipe is not as fussy as the beautiful presentation makes it seem, and you will be blown away by the soft texture and warm sweetness, of course making it the perfect accompaniment to your Saturday coffee or Sunday brunch cup of tea.

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

The method

It is worth taking the time to make the 2 separate layers to a coffee cake if you are wanting to have the pretty swirl of cinnamon-y sweetness running here and there throughout your coffee cake. It makes a dreamy presentation when cut, and the flavor is out of this world. Start with making the cinnamon sugar pecan topping with crushed pecans. The buttery pecans balance out the warm sweetness of the coconut sugar and molasses – absolute heaven. You’ll spread a layer of the honey sweetened cake batter into your pan and then sprinkle apples and the pecan sugar topping. Layer another spread of the cake batter and sugar sprinkled apples on the top and then the magic happens! Gently swipe and swirl through the batter with a butter knife and you’ll have a coffee cake straight out of your favorite bakery!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Notes and swaps

  • You can swap the pecans for walnuts or almonds. If you are nut free, I think pumpkin seeds would be nice, or you can leave them out all together.
  • Not only do I love the warmth of coconut sugar, I love that it is lower on the glycemic index. If you don’t have it around, or you don’t have access to it, you could use turbinado, rapdura, or organic cane sugar. I think maple sugar would be lovely too.
  • If you can’t have eggs, I do think this recipe would work with 2 “flax eggs” – it may not puff up as much but it will still bind and taste great.
  • I think this coffee cake would also be lovely with some firm but ripe pears.
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Ingredients

FOR THE PECAN TOPPING

  • ½ cup pecans crushed (I just use my half cup measure to crush them in a bowl or baggie)
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp molasses

FOR THE COFFEE CAKE:

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or coconut oil an 8×8 baking dish.
  • Make the pecan topping by using a fork to mix the topping ingredients in a bowl. Set this aside.
  • Blend the yogurt, coconut oil, eggs, honey, and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the flours, baking powder, and salt, and blend until just combined.
  • Spread half of the coffee cake batter into your greased baking dish. Sprinkle half of the apples, gently press them down, and then sprinkle half of the pecan topping over the apples. Spread the other half of the batter over the apples, then put the other half of the apples and pecan topping on the batter. Use a butter knife to make swirls throughout the coffee cake.
  • Bake the coffee cake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Check your coffee cake around the 35 minute mark in case our ovens run differently – dark pans cook faster too. Let it cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

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Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

August 15, 2019

This simple, staple gluten free blueberry muffin will be a hit on your breakfast menu rotation!

Gluten Free Blueberry 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.

Summer blueberry bliss…and a new RGN project!

Happy August, my friends! I cannot wait to share this new, fun blueberry muffin with you – it is sure to be a school morning staple! But first! We have had a whirlwind of a summer filled with sprinklers, park play, of course all the beach time…and a new book deal! I am so excited to be able to share with you where I have been pouring my heart this summer. It’s been quiet around the blog for good reason, and I promise you that this new lunchbox concept cookbook is going to be worth the wait! I’ll be sharing more over on Instagram throughout this process, giving you snippets of peeks during recipe development, and I’m so honored to bring this piece of my home to you.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

On to the blueberries!

Because man alive did we have to wait for them this year! Michigan had a slow start to produce season because of the cold and rainy start to the summer, but it sure has been worth the wait with these gorgeous Michigan blues. Since we are so close the school year with these late blueberries, I decided to come up with a new, fun school morning blueberry muffin that will work right out of the freezer, and also pack in lunchboxes well. Win-win!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

My school morning blueberry muffin checklist…

If I’m going to be using these for school mornings, they need to be fast to prep, and hold up well to travel, lunchboxes, and the freezer. Most often on school mornings that involve muffins, I’m pulling them from my freezer stash. Whenever I bake, I make sure to stash at least a few a way, so that I have something to pull from when I need fast breakfasts. These blueberry muffins have a super soft texture, and keep well in the freezer.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Because flavor matters…

I’ve tried lots of different sweetening options and landed on coconut sugar or maple sugar being my favorites. The subtle warmth is the perfect light sweetener for a school morning so that blood sugars don’t go through the roof, but also keep kids happy.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Fruit swaps?!

I am so excited to play around with this muffin base with other in season fruit…namely apples that will be in season this fall. I think this muffin recipe will be very versatile to whatever fruit you have laying around, including dried fruit from the pantry later this winter when nothing seems to be in season. From banana slices, to strawberries, I look forward to updating this post throughout this year to let you know what works! If you happen to try a new fruit in the blueberry’s place, let us know how it works out in the comments below.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Flour swaps

If you cannot have the almond flour, you can use all Namaste, just use half the amount of the almond flour amount (1/2 cup). I preferred the texture of the muffins with the almond flour, but the all Namaste flour muffins did turn out. If you need a grain free version, you will love these buckwheat flour blueberry muffins! If you do not have to be gluten or grain free, these are the loveliest sprouted grain blueberry muffins from Nourished Kitchen!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

A new journey…

I’m so grateful to this community for patiently waiting this lunchbox book out. I am thinking of every single one of your kiddos and mine as I write every word, and my hope is that this book will be the most loved, tattered, torn, dripped on, and dog-eared cookbook in your library!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar plus more to sprinkle the tops if you wish (Turbinado, maple sugar, or sucanat would work too)
  • ½ cup melted butter or olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract or another tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup buttermilk You can make buttermilk by putting 1 tbsp ACV in a liquid measure and then filling to the ½ cup mark with coconut milk or raw milk
  • 1 cup Namaste GF Flour Blend
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with silicone muffin cups, or unbleached paper cups.
  • Blend the eggs, coconut sugar, butter, and extracts in a medium mixing bowl, about 1 minute.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except the blueberries and blend until just combined, and then fold in the blueberries.
  • Scoop the batter into your lined muffin tin. If you want to sprinkle the tops of the muffins with more coconut sugar, you can do that at this time too.
  • Bake the muffins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and spring back to touch.
Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

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5 Summer Platters For Cool and Easy Lunch or Dinner!

July 11, 2019

Keep playing and turn the stove off! Enjoy these 5 summer platters filled with nourishing bites for a cool and easy summer lunch or dinner!

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 fun and summer FOOD!

I feel like we have hardly been home this summer! This is my first summer without a napper in the house in a DECADE! What?! You know what that means? It means that instead of hanging out at the beach for the morning, then scurrying home with tired crabby kids that need lunch and a nap, I have kids that can seriously hang, spending all day at the beach, park, splash pad, zoo…you name it! THAT my friends is a game changer – and so stinkin’ much fun! But it also means I need to have some meals up my sleeve that are fast to prepare, and summer friendly (read – no cook because it really does get hot in Michigan – promise!).

5 Summer Platters For Cool and Easy Lunch or Dinner!
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

3 birds, 1 stone!

We started making summer lunch platters a couple summers ago, and these quick meals really hit both of those needs. They are both summer friendly/no-cook, as well as fast to prepare! And a bonus third point…they are so FUN! I know at least for my kids, having a presentation change up from the same lunchboxes all year, as well as some new summer foods, make coming to the lunch table even more enjoyable.

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

So what is a summer lunch platter?

If you want get super fancy, this is basically like eating charcuterie board style! A bit on a smaller scale and, at least in my case, with less fancy/expensive food because we like to make these at least twice a week. Grab a big plate or even just your big wooden cutting board, and load it up with small bites that everyone can share. Community eating always goes over well with little ones, so don’t shy away from trying this with your toddlers. Eating should always be a fun experience, and they will love this. Fill the plate up with a variety of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat), in ratios that your family enjoys eating.

https://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2014/04/diy-salad-dressings-5-recipes-whole-family-will-love/

What do I do if my kid will only pick one thing off the plate?

  1. Be pro-active. If you have never served a platter meal before, start with some ground rules before the eating even begins. If you have toddlers through age 5, be very specific. For example, let them know that they need to take at least 2 pieces of protein, 1 piece of green veggie, 1 piece of other color veggie, 1 fruit, and that fat has to be somewhere on their plate whether that be as a dip or somewhere else (This was an example only! Use whatever ratios work for your family!) The choosing is still up to them, but you are helping them learn the importance of variety and portioning. As your children get older, you should be able to be a bit more general – they need to have veggie, fruit, fat, protein, for example. My girls have been eating this way for years, and I rarely need to say anything anymore. They will actually check their plates for variety like they are on auto pilot without my cue! I will even hear them remind each other to make sure they take a green veg and another color. They are doing my mom job quite nicely! Ha!
  2. Put the ball in their court. If the children do not cooperate with creating a healthy variety on their plate, then in my house, they haven’t shown that they are independent to enjoy a fun lunch like this, and mom will have to go back to making their own plate for them. YES, I have had to have this conversation with my toddlers! You’re in charge, dear momma! Once they have demonstrated independence with following the instructions, then they are free to create their own plate! There is still a ton of wiggle room within setting those parameters of having all of the macro-nutrients on their plates. My girls’ plates always look vastly different from each other! I have one that is always packed with all the protein – but she still gets her veggies and fruit in. I have one that loads up the veggies and I still have to remind her about getting a bite of protein on her plate every once and a while. Every child has different needs, and you can help them learn the importance of the macro-nutrient variety while listening to their body’s needs for more of a certain food.
https://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2014/04/diy-salad-dressings-5-recipes-whole-family-will-love/

The possibilities are endless

They truly are, and while I’m planning on showcasing 5 platter meal examples in this post, within each platter there are so many different ways that you can change things up. Use whatever veggies and fruit are in season or on sale near you for that week, and rotate your protein and fat sources! Not only does that keep the routine from getting boring, more importantly, you are changing up the nutrients that your family is getting for more variety.

https://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2014/04/diy-salad-dressings-5-recipes-whole-family-will-love/

On to the platter ideas!

Again, these are only to spur your inspiration. Pull from each platter what YOUR family loves and make your own! These are examples from actual lunch platters the girls have enjoyed throughout this summer so far!

https://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2014/04/diy-salad-dressings-5-recipes-whole-family-will-love/

Platter #1 :: Scoop City!

Kids love to scoop and dip, and the scooping and dipping options are endless here! Use lettuce leaves, crackers, bell pepper “boats”, carrot sticks to scoop and dip. The dipping is where the meal magic is – you can really load up the brain building fat, and sustaining proteins here. Top to bottom this platter is:

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #2 :: Real Food “Lunchable!”

Think crackers, cheese, and meat where you can make little cracker sandwiches! Kids are always all over these kind of meals. (I am too!) Top to bottom, this platter is ::

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #3 :: Stuff Your Own Pita Platter!

Spread the inside with some hummus, and then stuff with with a pretty rainbow of veggies and salty cheese! Top to bottom this platter is ::

  • Grapes
  • GF Pita Bread (We get the Sami’s Bakery GF Pitas at our local health food store)
  • Hummus (I absolutely have a quality store bought here, but you can certainly make your own hummus! I get the Lilly’s Hummus which is made with olive oil versus soy/corn/canola/sunflower oils, in the big tubs at our health food store.)
  • Rainbow carrots
  • Baby bell peppers
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Cheese (Pictured is the Kerrygold Dubliner from Costco)
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomato slices
  • “Ants on a log” (Celery sticks with any nut or seed butter, and topped with raisins)
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #4 :: Lunchtime Fiesta!

Mexican flavors are always a hit with kids! In this platter I made Instant Pot Refried Beans – basically my refried bean recipe made in the IP versus the stove. You could use leftover taco meat too. And while the chips are fun too, give those cabbage leaves a try as a “soft taco shell” for the beans, guac, and salsa – it is so good! Top to bottom this platter is ::

  • Apples
  • Tortilla chips (we get these organic from Costco)
  • Refried beans (this recipe makes a lot and it freezes great for an easy pull out lunch!)
  • Cabbage leaves
  • Salsa (I get organic salsa from our grocery store)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Bell pepper “boats” (these also work great as a vehicle for the beans and guac!)
  • Guacamole (You could buy a quality store bought version too!)
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #5 :: A European Vacation!

That’s right, my friends. Momma’s pretending like we are blissfully sitting in an Italian Cafe dipping bread in gorgeous European olive dipping oils… Ahem…back to reality! This is truly one of the girls’ favorite platter concepts and every drop of that oil is gone by the end of lunch – talk about a brain boost! Top to bottom, this platter is ::

  • Cherries (truly just do whatever fruit is in season – it happens to be cherry season right now!)
  • Tomato slices with sea salt and pepper
  • Grassfed Kielbasa (we get this from Costco)
  • Goat Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Baby bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrot sticks
  • Olive oil dipping oil (see the recipe below!)
  • Strips of pita bread for oil dipping (You could use whatever bread or crackers your family enjoys!)
  • Broccoli
  • Applegate pepperoni (I get this from our local health food store)
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Seasoned Olive Oil for Bread Dipping

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Whisk everything in a shallow bowl good for dipping bread!

Notes

Olive oil sourcing does matter. If you are in the USA, look for the COOC label to ensure your olive oil isn’t cut with other cheap oils. We like the Bari Organic Olive Oil which is available at most grocers now. Recently, California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, which I have used up until a few months ago, lost their seal and I cannot trust their process right now. I have recommended them in the past and do not at this time. 

More real food SUMMER recipes you might like!

Healthy Kids and Teens Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips Snack Ideas

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

June 28, 2019

You’ll be blown away at the flavor of these pineapple watermelon popsicles – no added sugar needed and allergen friendly!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

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

A leftover bowl of fruit, and sweet summer bliss

How is it possible that we have already been out of school 3 weeks?! I also stepped away from this space to help my crew settle into summer routine, and I missed you all too for that long! We’ve been enjoying every ounce of the sunshine, local parks, and all of our favorite Lake Michigan beaches! Of course those long summer days sometimes lead to forgotten bowls of fruit, and we have been cooling off with super fun blends of fruit popsicles most days of the week to use it all up.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

A new household favorite fruit blend!

Hands down one of our favorites has been watermelon and pineapple! Who knew?! There was a stretch of a couple weeks where our grocery store had them on sale as buy 1, get 1 one free (!), and that kind of summer bounty definitely calls for a frozen treat!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

All of the flavor without adding sugar!

Because truly it doesn’t get any sweeter than a fresh pineapple, and when you are using watermelon as the “liquid” for blending, it gets even sweeter. So these popsicles are literally all fruit based – go ahead and pop these out of the freezer every time that ice cream truck rolls around! The kids will be so geeked, and you can feel good about not loading them up on food dye and high fructose corn syrup filled pops from the ice cream truck.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Just 2 ingredients and a loaded freezer

No fuss is the name of my game in the summer. I want to be outside playing and soaking the sunshine as much as I can. Whenever I can fill up my 10-pop popsicle mold with leftover fruit, I’m filling my freezer. Just a quick blend and pour and it’s done. I have a little shelf in my freezer during the summer dedicated to popsicles, which also allows my kiddos to serve themselves…#winning!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Let’s talk about popsicle molds!

I’ve had my 10-pop popsicle mold ever since I realized how quickly 3 kids can go through popsicles – 3 kids times 5-7 days a week…you do the math! I have had this 10-pop mold for a while now, and love it. Grab a box of wooden craft sticks super cheap, and you’re set. If you have older kids, or a gaggle of kids that gather at your house during the summer, you’ll want to grab that one! There are so many fun popsicle mold shapes though – sit down with the kids and pick something out that works for you!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

A few notes on your TODDLERS!

While I love my big, 10-pop popsicle mold, I DO, however, remember those days of having smaller children, and that 10-pop popsicle mold makes big kid sized popsicles. Mini popsicle molds are a lifesaver with toddlers and older babies because there is less waste and dripping. I had these mini popsicle molds with the easy to hold handles – they were so nice when I had little ones! I also found these teething pop molds that are even smaller – perfect for older babies.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
One of MY babies with a mini popsicle! So nice for teething babies and little hands! (This recipe is in THIS POST and makes more like “smoothie popsicles”)

Freezer stocking tips

Remember that whole shelf just for the popsicles trick I mentioned earlier?! That whole kids serving themselves thing?? Stock up different flavors (see the bottom of this post for a whole list of flavors!), making a bunch of popsicles here and there throughout the week! Once the pops are frozen, run the popsicle mold under a little warm water to ease them out, and then wrap them up in plastic wrap (or beeswax wrap if you prefer to use that). They stay individually wrapped this way, and easy for the kids to grab.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Raising independent kitchen helpers (if you only read 1 thing in this post – read this!!!)

One quick note before we get to the recipe! Early on in this mom gig, I spent a lot of time talking about getting your kids in the kitchen. I remember, more than anything, thinking that the result would be that the girls would remember that time spent together, and that they would hopefully pick up a few kitchen skills that I never had along the way. But as my older girls have reached the ages of 10 and 8 years old, there are days that I am in awe of just how much they are capable of. Your 10 year olds can have popsicle making on their chore chart, dear momma. <—Read that part again! What a fun “chore” to have responsibility of! One less thing off your plate, and this fun task feels less like a drag while still building independence in your kids. And YES include the clean up as part of that chore. If you have little ones, start small. Let them help you put the fruit in the blender and push the button. Let them wash up the counter. Putting the wooden sticks in the popsicle mold will absolutely take longer, but it will not only help them feel useful, it is great fine motor work!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon rind removed, and cubed
  • 3 cups pineapple rind removed, and cubed
  • Optional raw honey or other sweetener of choice to sweeten to taste if needed (I haven’t been sweetening these for my kids, but if you have kids that are used to really sweet popsicles, you might want to add a few tablespoons. I made one batch with raw honey that was delicious.)

Instructions

  • Blend the fruit (and honey if using itogether to puree completely. I use the “juicing” button on my Blendtec, but just blending it through smooth on a regular blender works too.
  • Pour the pureed fruit into your popsicle mold. If your blender blended high speed enough to make some fruit “foam” form at the top, you can spoon that off, and add more fruit puree. Put the tops/sticks onto your popsicle mold, and freeze overnight.

Notes

  • This recipe fits my 10-pop popsicle mold perfectly. If you are going to make this for more of a mini popsicle mold (or these super cool, small “teething pop molds” for your little ones, you could cut the recipe in half or even quarter it.
  • I like to run the popsicle mold under the hot water tap for just a few seconds to loosen them from the mold when pulling the frozen popsicles out.
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

More real food POPSICLE recipes you might like!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches Snack Ideas

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

May 31, 2019

Little bites of honey nut granola, reminiscent of childhood cereals, made with healthy, real ingredients, perfect for yogurt topping and on the go snacks!

Summer splendor and warm weather breakfasts

We are counting the days down. We just have to get through 4.5 more days of school and we are free for carefree summer bliss for the next couple months! Warm, muggy summer mornings call for cool and quick loaded yogurt bowl breakfasts, and this breakfast bar yogurt concept has become a summer morning staple at least a couple times per week during the warm months of the year. We stir in all sorts of great add-ins, and granola just happens to be a favorite of the girls.

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

An old, childhood breakfast favorite with a real food twist

Oh come on 80’s and 90’s kids…you know what I’m talking about. The cold breakfast cereal that so many of us had in our bowls as little kids – Honey Nut Cheerios! While I didn’t set out for this granola to taste like a nostalgic cereal from my childhood, I was totally blasted to the past when I took the first bite. A cross between those honey sweetened O’s and another childhood favorite – Honey Bunches of Oats – these crispy little granola bits are certain to remind you of childhood.

Power packed ingredient line up!

While we love a good granola base focused on oats, I wanted to create something with a bit of diversity. Why, you ask? Well, beyond adding a super fun crispy crunch and amazing flavor, adding some different grains, nuts, and seeds in the mix also creates a breakfast platform that offers a variety of nutrients instead of just one or two. So let’s talk about these great, sometimes forgotten, players!

Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat is a seed used in many Asian culture’s cuisines. If you have ever enjoyed soba noodles before, or one of my cherry buckwheat muffins, you’ll know that the nutty sweetness is irresistible, and as it lightly toasts in the oven for this granola, it crisps into that familiar “kasha” cereal like texture. Buckwheat has an impressive protein content for such a small seed, and since it also boasts fiber nutrition, it makes a really perfectly balanced superfood bursting with minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. You can typically buy buckwheat groats in bulk at any health food store, or you can get organic buckwheat groats online. You can also buy sprouted buckwheat groats for even more optimized nutrition.

Millet

Millet originates in Chinese and African cuisine, seen most often in couscous dishes, as well as porridge dishes and breads. Millet contains prebiotic fiber, essential for feeding the good bacteria in your digestion. This sometimes forgotten super grain is a good source of magnesium and calcium as well as B vitamins and antioxidants. Millet is has a more mild nuttiness, and takes on the flavor of whatever you are using with it to cook in – in this case it gently crisps up in the granola and tastes of honey and nuts! You can pick up hulled millet in bulk at most health food stores, or you can buy hulled millet here online. I have never been able to find sprouted millet, but you can sprout it yourself if you wish.

The oats, nuts, & seeds

Of course we love the simple, and humble oat as well. Amazingly, these days you can find sprouted oats very easily – this is my favorite brand. Using sprouted oats optimizes nutrition and is easier on digestion, but if you can’t find sprouted oats, you can certainly use a regular rolled oats. For the nuts and the seeds, use what you have in the pantry, but I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and change things up too! I found the buttery flavor of walnuts and classic almond flavor together give the granola the taste of the cereal that we all know and love really well. But I wanted to add in the sunflower seeds for some variety. I also made this once using Brazil nuts in place of the almonds and loved the outcome. If you are completely nut free, try pumpkin seeds, flax, and sunflower to change things up. There are so many to try in both the nut and seed family that you can really bring a variety of nutrients to your granola.

The process

While making your own granola may feel daunting, and look fancy, it is truly one of the easiest kitchen swaps you can make from buying store bought. Not only does it allow you to control the sugar content, it also allows you to use safer, healthier oils. Even many of the “healthy” looking granolas at the store are made with junky fats like canola, sunflower, and safflower oils. We use simple coconut oil in this recipe, but you could easily use olive oil, butter, or avocado oil. Simply toss the dry ingredients into a bowl with the melted fat and honey and it’s ready to go. Stir it around a few times and a half hour later you have granola for stashing away in the pantry. This recipe lasts my family of 5 a good couple of weeks or longer!

Can I skip the grains?

Sure! One of my favorite things about making granola is that it is super forgiving. If you need to be grain free for your household, you can swap the oats and millet for any combination of the following. (Buckwheat is technically a seed, and is not in the wheat family as it is not a grass. It is actually in the same family as rhubarb! Some in the paleo community consider it a pseudo-cereal, but I’ll leave whether you want to consider it a grain up to you! I go by what my family tolerates and feels good on, and we love buckwheat – if it doesn’t agree with you, by all means swap it out!)

  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, or coconut flakes
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp
  • Flax seed (chia seeds are already in the recipe in a good amount — I wouldn’t add any more than what is already written)

LOVE the granola yogurt breakfast bar idea?!

Here are a few more granola recipes to try, to change things up a bit!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and set out 2 large sheet pans.
  • Put the oats, buckwheat groats, millet, nuts, seeds, and coconut sugar into a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a small sauce pan, turn the heat off, and stir the honey to melt in. Add the extracts to the oil/honey and stir.
  • Add the melted coconut oil/honey mixture to your dry granola ingredients in the large mixing bowl, and stir to combine well.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto 2 large baking sheets and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir the mixture and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Stir the mixture one more time and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove the sheet trays from the oven and let it cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools. Store the cooled granola in an air tight container.
Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

May 24, 2019

Fluffy, silky sweet honey cake with a starburst of tart rhubarb!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Spring’s first garden harvest, and celebrating a decade of my first spring baby…

I almost choked on my coffee as I just typed that. A decade? How can that possibly be? Ten years ago, Chloe made me a momma, and literally nothing will change my life quite like that day did. I truly know of no other person in my life with a heart like this kid – if you’ve ever crossed her path you know that you leave a better person every time. My sweet first born just happens to adore the rhubarb in our backyard that always seems to be ready to harvest right around her birthday. Last year we made creamy rhubarb ice cream (topped with rhubarb sauce!), and the year before that rhubarb water kefir soda. This year, we decided to celebrate her 10th birthday with a special cake swirled with sweet local raw honey, and decorated with a sunburst of rhubarb at the top!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Fresh picked

Whether you pick the rhubarb right out of the backyard, or the local farmer’s market, be sure to snag a few stalks with a super bright pinkish red hue to make the sunburst at the top of your cake really stand out. Rhubarb color can vary even from the same plant with some stalks boasting a bright green fading into pinks and reds, and others standing out with an almost shocking red color. The rhubarb’s lip puckering tartness is tamed with baking, and when married with a sweet, raw honey, the flavor is reminiscent of sweet tarts, and almost that kettle cooked caramel flavor.

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Some notes about the honey

If you’ve never tasted a local honey from the area where you live, I would absolutely encourage you to visit your farmer’s market and ask for some samples. I love visiting new places and getting a taste of what the honey bees in that area are picking up. This cake will take on a hint of whatever honey you choose, so be sure to use one that you enjoy the flavor of. If too many flower notes are overwhelming to you, choose something lighter. If you love that flowery essence, by all means infuse this cake with that!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Achieving a fluffy honey cake

Because I wanted that gorgeous honey to really shine with the rhubarb, I knew there was potential to make this cake dense by the weight of the honey. My first few attempts were, although tasty, a bit on the dense side. Gluten free baking has a way of hefting the weight of baked goods too, so I had that going against me as well. I decided to try a trick that I use in my gluten free waffles – whipping the egg whites to a whipped cream consistency. It worked beautifully, and the result is a light and airy honey cake where you can actually taste hints of honey swirled throughout!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Fun garnishing ideas

We opted for the dramatic powdered sugar look for this cake, though a few of my cake attempts were drizzled with raw honey for a really pretty sheen added to the top. We chose the powdered sugar to celebrate Chloe’s birthday, and she adored dusting the top of her cake with that.

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Rhubarb placing tricks

I played around with multiple arrangements of the pretty rhubarb stalks on the top of my cake attempts. My biggest recommendation would be to slice the stalks for the top of the cake thin the long way. If you have thick rhubarb stalks you make even have to do more than that. Putting thick stalks up on the top makes the top a bit soggy in my opinion and those thick stalks can get a fibrous texture. Slicing the rhubarb thin allowed for easier decorating, a really sharp looking finish, and just the right tart rhubarb flavor to the top that cuts into ever sweet honey cake bite!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 10-inch springform pan or 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.
  • Put the egg yolks into a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Put the egg whites into a small mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Set the egg whites aside.
  • Add the olive oil, honey, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and almond extract to the egg yolks, and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt to the wet ingredients and combine with a spatula – some lumps of flour are ok. When the batter is combined well, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter until just combined.
  • Smooth half of the cake batter into your springform pan, and sprinkle the cubed rhubarb over the top evenly. Smooth the other half of the cake batter over the top of the sprinkled rhubarb.
  • Arrange the stalks of rhubarb on the top of your cake how you like. I recommend halving or quartering your stalks of rhubarb length-wise, depending on the thickness of the stalks. If you leave them as is they get mushy and hard to manage/arrange in the pan. Making them thinner baked up prettier and the slices cut nicely. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and springs back to touch.
  • After the cake cools 10 minutes in the pan, you can turn it out to a cooling rack to cool completely. You can garnish the top with a drizzle of raw honey or dusting of organic powdered cane sugar when it is cooled.
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

More real food RHUBARB recipes you might like!

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Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

May 16, 2019

This kid friendly, week night easy mango marinade and sauce is perfect for fish, chicken, veggies and more!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

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.

Frog hunts, sunshine, and fresh, fast dinners!

That pretty much sums up the last few weekends in our house, enjoying some steadier spring temperatures, and the scheduling fun that comes with the month of May and three kids in school! What is it about May?! All the trips! All the concerts! All the after school fun! And you know what? My girls love it ALL. May is so fun. But just because we are busy doesn’t mean I can set meal planning on coast…in fact just the opposite.

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Brain fuel for busy kids

When things get busy, it can be easy to pull out easier meals, and we absolutely do healthier hot dog dinners, and grilled burgers in the warm months of the year when we want to be outside versus in the kitchen all day. But with just a few minutes of prep, you can have just as quick of a dinner, that tastes just as fun for the kids, and packs some big time brain fuel for growing kids. While this mango marinade and sauce will work for chicken, and tastes amazing with mineral rich veggies that we all need too, I like to use it with wild caught fatty fish – brain fuel!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Two minutes to fresh mango marinade!

If you have a blender, you can make this marinade in 2 minutes flat! Just dump it all in and puree! It’s so fast, that you can prep it in the morning before everyone heads out the door for the busy day, or do it before you go to bed the night before. It only needs about 30 minutes to marinade your fish, but up to a day is even better. Then all you have to do when you get home is a quick pan sear of your fish or chicken!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Double up!

Because this mango marinade also makes an amazing sauce for your sides of veggies, rice, or as a dip for your fish or chicken! If mangos are on sale or in season near you, double up for a meal, and then freeze some for another time as well.

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Print Recipe
5 from 36 votes

Mango Marinade & Sauce

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Everything into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Ok, I’ve got my marinade! Now how do I make dinner???

Simply pour the mango marinade over the top of your favorite wild caught fish or chicken, and let the meat marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to a day. You can marinade veggies in this for kabobs too. See the recipe below for very basic dinner – change things up based on what you have in house and what is in season near you.

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Quick sides?

Because whats a quick dinner idea if the side dishes are fussy and long to prep? Here are some great side dish ideas for your mango fish!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Print Recipe
5 from 36 votes

Mango White Fish with Roasted Veggies

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of the above Mango Marinade you can double the sauce recipe if you want extra for mixing into the veggies or rice, or for dipping the fish
  • 1 lb wild caught white fish such as Mahi Mahi or Cod
  • 3 tbsp ghee butter, or olive oil to cook the fish in (I like to use ghee)
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts halved or quartered depending on the size (broccoli and asparagus will work here too – use what is in season)
  • 1 lb carrots cut on the bias
  • 3 tbsp butter for the veggies
  • Sea salt and pepper for the veggies to taste

Instructions

  • Marinate your fish anywhere from 30 minutes to a day in advance. Pour 1 recipe of the mango marinade over the fish in a bowl or freezer bag. I like to cut the fish into the size portions that my girls eat. Seal the bowl or bag and set the fish in the refrigerator to marinade until you are ready to cook it.
  • When the fish is done marinating, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and toss the veggies on a sheet pan with the butter, sea salt, and pepper. Roast the veggies at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes depending on how big the veggies are cut.
  • To cook the fish, heat up a large skillet and the cooking fat over medium high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the fish directly from the marinade. Don’t scrape off the marinade – in fact I dip it in and scoop some of it out onto the fish while it cooks. Cook the fish 2-3 minutes on each side. Cook time will depend on the size and thickness of your fish. If your fish is larger/thicker than what is pictured here, you will need more like 5 minutes each side.
  • Plate your cooked fish over long grain white rice, or with a side of sweet potato or baked potato, and the roasted veggies. You can toss the roasted veggies and/or the rice with another batch of mango sauce.
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

More real food recipes you might like ::

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

Gluten Free Oat Bran Muffins :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

May 9, 2019

Soft and sweet with nutty knobs of bran, these gluten free oat bran muffins will become a weekly breakfast staple!

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

A last minute idea, a new recipe, and some love for every teacher

I’m not very much of a last minute person. Oh, sure, I don’t use an elaborate meal plan, but I have an idea or a framework for most weeks. But when it comes to planning something like an event, I’m a details person. Earlier this year I was assigned to “Teacher Appreciation Day” at our school, typically a luncheon at some point during Teacher Appreciation Week. Having all 3 kids in full time school this year has given me some extra hours to help out at school, and last week I had this revelation…1 day of celebrating our teachers simply wasn’t enough. I am in awe every time I help at that school. My village. I wanted to do something each day of the Teacher Appreciation Week. With a tight budget, a couple mom friends, and determined personality, my mind was made up, and we made it happen! We already had the pot luck style luncheon set up, I had a super talented thrift store super shopper friend that found some great gifts for one day, a beautiful gardening friend that brought flowers one day, and…probably the most anticipated day of the week – this Friday, myself and 7 other parents are doing a “recess take-over” giving the staff an extra long lunch while we man the playground duty! Gold!

Muffins and coffee

A simple muffin. A cup of dark coffee. It is so simple, but you guys the day during that Teacher Appreciation Week that we brought in boxes of coffee from a local coffee shop and 4 dozen simple oat bran muffins, you would have thought we brought them the world. These sweet teachers’ faces were priceless. I wish you all could have seen the picture. In fact, I’m challenging you to make your *own* picture. These teachers are capital D.O.N.E for this year, and to surprise them with a simple coffee and muffin on a Tuesday morning would absolutely fuel their hearts to get through one more week.

So let’s talk about these muffins!

Super cost effective (I had a budget to stick to, remember?!), healthy, filling, and the most important thing when you are baking for someone else…they are delicious! Bran muffins should have a warm, molasses-y sweetness to perk them up, and I was so happy with how the coconut sugar brought that warmth and fun flavor without adding a ton of sugar. Those knobby bits of oat bran throughout add a lovely nuttiness as well.

The softness secret, and that beautiful rise though!

Buttermilk. A simple soured milk gives these muffins a soft texture despite the coarse bran, and you can make it yourself if you don’t have access to quality buttermilk. In fact, you can even make it with dairy free milk if you need to be dairy free. I love the fatty richness that coconut milk has, and soaking the grains in that coconut buttermilk made for such a rich, satisfying muffin. A quick whisk of some apple cider vinegar and milk, and that’s it! The acid in the buttermilk also acts as a soaking medium for the grains. If you choose to soak the grains in the buttermilk over night, you’ll be rewarded with an easier food for your digestive system to manage as the phytic acid is broken down.

Add-ins?

Sure thing! Since I was making these muffins for a crowd, I left them as is, because some people aren’t fans of dried fruit. But I made a batch of the oat bran muffins for my girls with chopped dried apricots and the girls thought they hit the jackpot! We made a batch with chopped dried figs as well – my youngest’s favorite by far. You could use raisins, dried blueberries, or chopped dates as well.

Freezer friendly

I made 2 double batches of this muffin recipe for that Teacher Appreciation morning, and they really held up for the 2 days that they sat in a bag on the counter. If you are going to make more than you need, I would recommend putting extras in the freezer right away, however because it will lock in all of the moisture. These muffins will make great grab and go lunchbox add-ins and breakfast on the go with hard boiled eggs!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Oat Bran Muffins :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

Ingredients

Instructions

  • The night before you want to make the muffins, put the oat bran and GF Flour in a medium mixing bowl. Make “buttermilk” for soaking the oat bran and flour by putting 1 ½ tbsp of ACV in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup and pouring coconut milk in until you reach the 1 ½ cup mark on the measuring cup. Whisk this together – this is “buttermilk.” Pour the buttermilk over the oat bran and GF flour, and mix together. It is thick – do not add more liquid. Cover your bowl and set on the counter overnight, 8-12 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the grain making it easier on digestion over time.
  • The next morning pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a dozen cup muffin tin with silicone muffin liners or unbleached paper liners.
  • In a small mixing bowl beat the eggs, coconut sugar, and vanilla with electric beaters. Add those wet ingredients to the soaking oat bran/flour mixture and blend slowly to combine. The oat bran/flour mixture will feel dry and thick at first, but the liquid will loosen it up. I start with the beaters and finish with my spatula.
  • If you are adding dried fruit to your muffins, you can add them at this time.
  • Scoop the muffin batter into your muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and spring back to touch. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can freeze leftover muffins in freezer bags.

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Wild Caught Salmon Meatballs with Simple Pesto

April 28, 2019

Turn wild caught fish into your kids’ favorite dinner with salmon meatballs and simple pesto for dipping!

Quick dinners and warm weather herbs

We are all about extra beach time during the warm months of the year. We are just at the tip of beach season in Michigan, and on those gorgeous spring days that feel like summer is knocking at our door, I swap our favorite slow roasted dinners for fresh spring and summer meals.

Salmon…meatballs?!

I’m telling you…make anything into a meatball and kids will be all over it. Needing to get more greens in? Try a meatball! Need to add some nourishing liver to your diet? Yup – those same kale stuffed meatballs have liver too! My girls truly adore wild caught salmon – as evidenced by so many salmon recipes on the blog, but if you have kids tentative about fish, I invite you to give this a try! Salmon is a summer staple because it is so quick to fix, and these meatballs are no exception.

Simple ingredients & no fuss!

I learned a couple years back that the *best* salmon burger is made by hand chopping the meat instead of pulverizing or blending it, and NOT using eggs for any binding. The salmon is first chopped into bits about the size of ground beef, and mixed with some simple seasoning. A splash of olive oil to add some fatty moisture and some tapioca for a soft texture and to hold in some of the moisture and that’s it. It will take you no longer than the time it takes the oven to pre-heat to roll up the salmon meatballs and then dinner is done in 15 minutes!

Dips for all the days!

Because if there is anything I know about kids, it’s that they *big puffy heart* love to…dip! So if they are going to dip these delicious, nourishing salmon meatballs, let’s give them something equally as mouthwatering and bump the nutrition past the same ‘ol ketchup stand-by. Something like pesto! I would totally even serve the meatballs on toothpicks for dipping in the pesto – what fun for the kids!

{And as a side-note, if those kiddos of yours will only eat the salmon meatballs with a side of ketchup, by all means roll with that – I would rather them get that brain nourishing fatty fish into their growing bodies than none at all. If you do the polite bite thing in your house, I would definitely give that a go with the pesto first (don’t even put the ketchup out as an option), but pick your battles, momma!}

But back to the dreamy pesto…

I truly can’t think of anything we use our garden herbs for more in the summertime than pesto. It makes such a great, nourishing, budget friendly lunch with a side of bread or crackers and veggie sticks. And big time bonus…my older girls can make it without mom’s help! *All the moms in the house cheer!* Basil itself is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, but the kids don’t necessarily care about those details – make them a part of *planting* and tending to that garden basil, or picking the basil out at the farmer’s market this summer, and ownership will take over as the star of the show. Basil is one of the first seeds my oldest has asked for to plant the last couple of spring seasons, and it is solely for the purpose of her beloved pesto! Using pesto as a side dish dip or scoop-able dressing is also a great way to get olive oil into the kids’ diets. A proven brain booster, this power-packed mono-unsaturated fat is super tasty and mild – perfect for kids.

Time saving tips

  • The pesto can be make super quick while the salmon meatballs are baking in the oven.
  • The oven temp is perfect for cooking other veggie sides along with the salmon meatballs, so make your oven do double time. The timing of the meatballs cooking is the perfect timing for spring asparagus, or summer zucchini or broccoli.
  • Or, skip the oven baked veggies, and just make some quick side salads such as Paleo Coleslaw, Olive Garden Copycat Salads, or kid favorite Ranch dressing drenched salads (use this Paleo version, or this classic version using dairy!)
  • The salmon meatball mixture can be made up the night before and sit in the fridge until everyone is home from work and school – that way all you have to do is roll them up and bake them off.
  • The salmon meatball mixture freezes well! Roll up the salmon meatballs and freeze them on a sheet tray. Then pop the uncooked frozen salmon meatballs into a freezer bag.
Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Wild Caught Salmon Meatballs with Simple Pesto

Ingredients

FOR THE SALMON MEATBALLS ::

  • 3-4 wild caught salmon fillets skinned (about 1 – 1 ¼ lbs of salmon)
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley if you have fresh parsley, use 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill if you have fresh dill, use 2 tsp chopped leaves of the fresh dill
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

FOR THE PESTO ::

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • Heaping 1/3 cup walnuts If you have access to pine nuts use 1/3 cup of that. Pine nuts would be the more traditional way of making pesto – I don’t have access to quality pine nuts, so I usually use organic walnuts
  • ½ cup raw cheese or goat cheese shredded
  • ¼ tsp sea salt start here and you can always add more to taste depending on the saltiness of the cheese you are using.
  • Pinch of pepper to taste
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic (If you are a garlic fanatic do the 3 – you won’t regret it! It does add a slight spicy bite since raw garlic has some heat to it – it is my favorite way to eat pesto. If you have kids eating the pesto, use 1 clove of garlic. Two of my girls love the garlic packed version, while my youngest still feels like it is a bit spicy for her and will gobble it down with just 1 clove. If you are new to pesto, start out with 1 clove – you can always add more if you want more garlic flavor.)
  • ½ cup olive oil

Instructions

FOR THE SALMON MEATBALLS ::

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper
  • Skin and cube up your salmon. Then run a chopping knife through the cubed salmon until the bits are small but not to a puree. The texture should resemble that of ground beef.
  • Combine the chopped salmon and the rest of the salmon meatball ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Roll the meatball mixture into balls and place them onto the Silpat lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the salmon meatballs at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs. 

FOR THE PESTO ::

  • Put the basil leaves and walnuts into your food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  • Add the cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic, and pulse several times to chop through until everything is very small and combined well.
  • With the food processor running, use the oil drip top on your food processor to slowly add in the olive oil. This will allow the oil to emulsify, thickening the pesto, and keeping everything sticking together so the oil doesn’t separate. If you prefer the oil to be more separate from the herbs (I like it this way too!) you can just do a quick blend through or even just stir in the oil.

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Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancake Mini Muffins With Berry Dipping Sauce :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

April 16, 2019

A healthy buckwheat pancake, in the perfect “little hand sized” package – mini 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.

Birthday girl!

I’m pretty sure I get more excited about the girls’ birthdays than they do 🙂 I love remembering being pregnant with them and experiencing their birth stories, and telling them about how they were when they were babies! This sweet and spunky middle kiddo of mine turns 8 next week, and we started celebrating a little early with a fun breakfast idea that is totally up her ally…

On. The. Go.

If you look up busy bee in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure Claire’s picture would be right next to it. From the day I felt her strong, *non-stop* kicking in utero, to her blazing fast, “sunny-side up” delivery, never-ending toddler years, and now these smart as a whip school age years, we are definitely kept on our toes with this one, and on-the-go breakfasts have become a specialty of mine in her honor.

Pancake…muffins?

Absolutely! While we love a slow start Saturday filled with a fluffy stack of pancakes, in reality, busy weekday mornings just don’t have room for that. Last year we created *the* pancake mini muffin – a perfect, portable substitute for that fluffy pancake stack. I hear from you guys all. the. time. about how much your kids love them, so I’m giving you another option to add to your rotation to get some new ingredients into the mix!

A new ingredient line-up…

So many of you have messaged me asking how to make my original pancake muffins egg free and/or grain free, so this version is dedicated to you. But wait! If you don’t happen to be a “free” anything household, these delicious buckwheat pancake muffins are still for you too! Food rotation is so important to get a variety of nutrients into your family. Eating the same thing over and over again can wear on the gut, and can create imbalance in your nutrient levels.

What is buckwheat?

Despite the sound of it’s name, buckwheat flour is ground up buckwheat seed – it’s a seed, not a grain! Many people that cannot tolerate gluten or grains can tolerate buckwheat, and it has a host of nutritional benefits. Buckwheat has an impressive protein content and is packed with essential minerals our bodies need to function at it’s best. Even if you can tolerate gluten/grains, it is a good idea to rotate your food around. Using the same flour day in and day out in your baking will wear on the gut. Change things up a little! The buckwheat gives these muffins a mildly sweet, nutty flavor, and the vanilla and warm coconut sugar make them taste like pancakes!

Allergen friendly!

It is pretty tough to get a muffin to look like a muffin without eggs, my friends. Let alone feel like a muffin and taste like a muffin! But for some reason, I have found that buckwheat batters have some “stick” to them almost like a chia seed, so the egg binding isn’t always needed. And add in a bit of baking powder to react with an acid, and you’ve got yourself a nice puffy muffin top without the egg rise!

Little kids love to dip!

That is no secret to you, I’m sure, dear momma! So instead of dipping these little pancakes in a load of sugary maple syrup, we’re going to cut the sugar down and use some fruit, and then mix it with some fat to keep blood sugars balanced. Use whatever berries are in season near you, or thaw out some frozen berries to use if it is wintertime. The sauce takes no time at all to make, and you can customize it to your kids’ taste for sweet. If you have really littles in the house, I’d skip the added honey all together. If you have teens in the house used to sweeter foods, that touch of honey will really bring out the berry’s sweetness, and it will still be less sugar than dousing them in maple syrup before a school day.

Not just for breakfast!

This recipe as written fills my 48 cup mini muffin pan! That, my friends, is the epitome if the whole “cook once, eat twice” mantra so many of us try to live by on busy schedules. The girls enjoyed taking the leftovers from breakfast in their school lunch the next day topped with butter, and with a thermos of soup. They freeze fantastic too, so if you don’t have a need for the extras right away, just pop them in a freezer bag for another time.

A note on the soaking

If you are newer to the more traditional real foods movement, this whole soaking process is probably new to you. In a nutshell, soaking grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is an ancient practice that helps reduce gut disturbing phytic acid, making digestion more sound over time. It takes only minutes to prepare, though remembering to get the flour soaking the night before is part of the process! And because I totally, and utterly understand that, I’m going to step out and be a little taboo for a minute…if you are a hardcore traditional foodist, you’ll want to cover your eyes for this part… Skip the soaking if that means you’ll make these instead of opening a box of cereal, dear momma. I’d rather have you make this healthy, nutrient dense breakfast for your kids without the soaking versus not making them at all. If you are totally into the soaking, go for it! I actually love it because it means most of the recipe is made the night before.

Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancake Mini Muffins With Berry Dipping Sauce :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

Ingredients

FOR THE BUCKWHEAT PANCAKE MINI MUFFINS ::

FOR THE BERRY DIPPING SAUCE ::

  • 1 cup berry of choice quartered if large like strawberries
  • 2-4 tsp raw honey or coconut sugar depending on how sweet your berries are
  • 1-2 tbsp butter optional if you don’t tolerate dairy

Instructions

FOR THE BUCKWHEAT PANCAKE MINI MUFFINS ::

  • The night before you want to make the muffins, put the buckwheat flour, milk, vinegar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and let the mixture soak overnight 7-10 hours. This soaking process helps break down the phytic acid in the buckwheat seed making it easier on digestion over time.
  • The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray a mini muffin tin with avocado oil spray or use mini muffin liners
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients to the soaked batter, and spoon the batter into your prepared muffin tin.
  • Bake the mini buckwheat pancakes at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (if you are making regular sized muffins, bake for more like 25-30 minutes). Let the muffins cool for a couple minutes, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can keep the muffins in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for months. 

FOR THE BERRY DIPPING SAUCE ::

  • Everything into a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, letting the sauce simmer and break down for about 3-4 minutes. A potato masher helps this along well.
  • Taste the sauce for sweetness, and then blend until smooth. The berry sauce will keep up to a week, chilled in the refrigerator. 

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Probiotic Rich Fermented Red Onions & 10 Minute Sheet Pan Fish Tacos!

April 10, 2019

Sheet pan fish tacos topped with tangy, probiotic rich fermented red onions are a match made in heaven!

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.

Beach days, rock hunting, & fish tacos…

We made it. Our feet were grounded on the Lake Michigan shoreline all weekend, and we couldn’t be more full of joy! While we spend most of our spring and summer days with our feet in the soft, powdery sand of our hometown shoreline, we do love to beach hop to some special places along Lake Michigan with a more rocky landscape so that my rock hunters can find special treasures! My oldest has become quite the geologist in the last few years, with such a love for collecting different rocks and fossils. And my oldest also couldn’t think of a better way to re-fuel after our first spring beach day than fish tacos!

The obsession began a few summers ago…

We were enjoying a rare to us night out at a restaurant after a long, hot beach day, and my oldest, who was about 6 at the time, ordered fish tacos. They were just about the biggest hit you could ever dream of for her, and she still talks about them to this day. They had the avocado crema, mango salsa, and those pretty little pickled red onions sprinkled on top – the works! She was obsessed, and I just knew I had to duplicate them for our menu rotation after that!

The real deal “pickled” red onions

Quick little refrigerate pickled red onions are great, and truly is nothing wrong with them, but what if there was a way to make them the “real deal” way? Instead of pickling them in vinegar for the sour punch, letting nature do it’s work with a little sea salt and water, and allowing the natural, good bacteria in the vegetable ferment the onions to tangy perfection – the way your ancestors would have preserved and “pickled” onions! And let me tell you…the tangy, sweet, salty, crunchy red onions make *the* best fish taco topping!

A quick fermentation 101

It’s as simple as making a little salt water brine to suspend your onions, a clean, air tight space to allow the science to happen, and a little time. When you add the salt water brine to vegetables, the good bacteria in the vegetables starts eating away at the natural sugars in the veggie. The lactic acid left behind from this veggie sugar metabolizing gives the vegetable a tart, tangy taste, and is also just so amazingly good for our bodies! It is a great way to keep beneficial bacteria in our gut flora (probiotics), and it balances stomach acid.

Ok, so what do I need to get started fermenting my onions?

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

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

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

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

Do the kids like them?

Well, 2 out of my 3 give these little onions 2 thumbs up. My youngest is still warming up to them, but onions are strong in the first place, and probably aren’t a great fermented food to start out with for really little guys. My suggestion for littles and fermented foods is to start out with fermented carrots and sauerkraut. Sour pickles and fermented asparagus are fantastic options that are kid friendly too. I also loved this recipe for Ranch Dressing made with Kefir (a style of fermented milk) to dip your veggies in! The littles will love it, and you can feel good about what their gut being nourished. All in all, be inspired to give even the smallest of children in the house a try of fermented foods. My girls were eating small shreds of sauerkraut and shredded fermented carrots by the age of 9 months old, and developing that taste palate is priceless.

Fermented onions first, then onto the tacos!

So grab a mason jar and get some fermented red onions going! Then plan a fish taco night into your menu plan this month and just wait until you see how fun fish taco night is! Here is the recipe for the fermented onions, and the tacos will follow.

Print Recipe
5 from 32 votes

Probiotic Rich Fermented Red Onions :: The Perfect Topping for Fish Tacos, Salads, Wraps, and More!

Ingredients

  • 1 pint warm water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar optional

Instructions

  • Dissolve the sea salt in the warm water.
  • Put the sliced red onions and sugar into a mason jar, packing them in tightly.
  • Pour the salt water brine over the onions leaving a half inch to inch of headspace at the top.
  • Add your fermenting weight over the onions in the brine to be sure the onions stay submerged. If you do not have a weight, just be sure the onions are completely submerged in the brine or you will get molding.
  • Put your fermenting lid on the jar (I use pickle pipes) and leave in a warm space in your kitchen on the counter or in a cupboard for 1-3 weeks. You can taste the onions along the way to get your preference of tartness. If your house is warmer, it will ferment faster, and if your house is cooler, it will take longer. Everyone has a different taste for fermented foods. Your fermented onions should smell oniony and taste pleasantly tangy/sour. The longer you ferment the more beneficial bacteria will be present. I ferment my onions around 3-4 weeks if it is winter time and cooler in my house, and it takes more like 2 weeks in the very warm summer months.

But getting back to those fish tacos!

A couple months back, I had dinner with some friends at a local restaurant. It was all about conversations that didn’t revolve around slime, school work, or Hatchimals; glasses of wine, and great food – it is such a necessity of mom life to do this! One of my friends and I ordered the fish tacos, and, after we quite literally devoured them, I had a renewed desire to get a fun, family friendly fish taco recipe to the blog!

Sheet pan prep for busy families

…Because fish tacos on a Wednesday night is just the bees knees, and I promise it will be *the* thing that gets you through the rest of the week. Just a quick slice through some wild caught white fish, a toss through some taco season of your liking, and 10 minutes at the most in the oven. That is weeknight dinner at it’s best.

What kind of fish?

Any wild caught white fish will do, though we have certainly enjoyed fish tacos with wild caught salmon! Use whatever your family likes to eat. We pick up wild caught mahi-mahi, cod, and salmon at Costco. We also have a local fish monger that has the fish here and there. Check around where you live, and ask! Fish mongers are always happy to tell you about where their fish comes from!

Fish Taco Bar topping ideas!

  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • Coleslaw
  • Fermented Red Onions (Recipe is below!)
  • Raw cheese or goat cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Shredded carrots (or ease your littles into the fermented topping idea by using shredded fermented carrots – my youngest eats them this way)
  • Salsa
Print Recipe
5 from 32 votes

10 Minute Sheet Pan Fish Tacos

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH

  • 4 fillets of white wild caught fish such as cod or mahi mahi Cut into strips, or bit sized chunks if you have little ones at home.
  • 3-4 tsp taco seasoning I use my own taco season mix.

FISH TACO TOPPING OPTIONS

  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • Coleslaw
  • Fermented Red Onions (See above recipe)
  • Raw cheese or goat cheese
  • Gauacamole
  • Shredded carrots
  • Salsa

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line your baking sheet with Silpat, or spray with avocado oil spray, or lightly grease with butter or coconut oil.
  • Toss the cut up fish with the taco season and spread the pieces of coated fish onto the sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes. If you made smaller pieces for little kids, you will have a shorter cook time.
  • Serve on your favorite tortillas with toppings of your choice!
My sweet tween, happily inhaling said fish tacos after the photoshoot 😉

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Spring Onion Soup

April 3, 2019

Spring onion soup made sweet and mild, perfect for sipping on a cool spring day!

It’s no secret that spring takes it’s good ‘ol time sprouting around here…

We bounce between winter coats and boots one weekend to hoodies and tennis shoes the next! While we await a more consistent warmer spring air around these parts, I’ll share one more warming soup for the spring season.

What are spring onions?

Spring onions (also called scallions) are just early onions, harvested before the onion bulb forms. You can find spring onions with a slightly larger bulb than what is pictured here if you can find them at farmer’s markets. This is more typical of what I can find organic in a grocery store around here, and either works great for this soup. Spring onions have more of a mild onion flavor, so we love eating them raw on salads in the summer, and it makes for a very sweet and mild onion soup – perfect for adults and kids alike.

The process…

This spring onion soup couldn’t get any simpler as far as ingredients go. A simple potato crisped to perfection for flavor in sweet butter. A gentle and flavor enhancing saute, and a quick simmer with some fresh baby spinach for color and nutrients. A blend through with an immersion blender or in your regular blender, and you have a super smooth, sip-able soup for your mug, or the kids’ tea cups that will warm your belly and nourish your body with spring at it’s best.

But will the kids like it?

If you have older kids that enjoy a French Onion soup, they will love this mild onion soup flavor. If you have little guys, say age 3 and under (even your 9 month old’s are in this category – perfectly safe to try if baby has started some bone broth and veggies just fine!), I say ladle some of this gentle soup into a little tea cup with a straw and let them have at it. Introducing my babies to veggie soup purees from very young is, I’m almost positive, why they accept just about any new veggie soup puree I put in front of them. Including this one, which was a new soup for them. “New” foods can be a struggle for ages 3-6, and my 5 year old was not an exception. She did ask what it was, but knew that she just had to take a couple of “polite bites” to try the new food, and if she wasn’t a fan she could be done. As it turns, out she slurped down 2 small bowl-fulls and asked for it in her thermos for school. My oldest asked if there was any left the next morning for breakfast…like her momma, she is becoming, I tell ya!

Breakfast soup?

This beautiful and delicious spring onion soup has been a favorite breakfast of mine over the last month while I’ve perfected my ingredient ratios for you. Super hot in a mug with a side of hard boiled eggs and a muffin to be exact! Bone broth rich soup is a wonderful way to start the day, and truth be told, as the weather turns warmer, I’ll be swapping my breakfast soups for smoothies more often, so I’m savoring all I can of this beautiful season.

Topping ideas

SO many possibilities here! Our favorite so far has been the sweet and salty bite of shaved Parmesan or your favorite cheese on top. If you don’t tolerate cheese, you can add some nutritional yeast flakes during blending to add the cheesy bite. We also loved a swirl of tangy coconut yogurt. You could do sour cream if you wish too. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds gives great crunch as well.

Freeze-able?

If you see an abundance of spring onions this season at your farmer’s market for those amazing in season prices, take advantage and double or triple this soup up. It freezes fantastic, and I even think the flavor enhances with time!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Spring Onion Soup

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp butter, ghee, or olive oil to cook in
  • 1 russet potato cubed
  • 4 bunches of spring onion chopped, including whites and greens included)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Garnish with cheese of your choice, or dollop of sour cream or coconut yogurt

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium high heat, and add the potatoes with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook until the potatoes start to slightly brown and crisp. This will take a good 5-10 minutes depending on how big you cubed your potatoes.
  • Add the spring onion and garlic, stir, and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant and the spring onion wilts and the whites soften.
  • Pour in the wine, scrape up any bits at the bottom of the soup pot, and lightly simmer for one minute.
  • Add the bone broth and spinach and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, blend the soup with your immersion blender or regular blender, and then sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.
  • Top the soup with your choice of cheese or a dollop of sour cream.

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Spring Instant Pot White Bean Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included!

March 28, 2019

Light and refreshing spring flavors, creamy and comforting without being heavy, this Instant Pot White Bean Soup is your answer to cool spring days!

We had our feet in Lake Michigan this weekend!

Well, let me rephrase that…my Michigan born and bred kids had their feet in the “just starting to thaw” Lake Michigan waters that were registering in at an invigorating 32 degrees Fahrenheit 🙂 I enjoyed my thermos of coffee from ashore in my winter boots! They are like a moth to a flame to this beach, and I love watching them enjoy it in every season!

Cool spring days meals

Spring has a way of really messing with us here along the lakeshore. We see that sun finally peeking out, and most Michiganders trade snow boots for beach flip flops at a mere 40 degrees. The girls saw the slightest bit of water thawed at the lake, and their boots and socks were off faster than I could say “barley thawed.” The sun is deceiving with chilly air still hanging around, so warm meals with spring freshness has become a bit of an expertise of mine.

The key to warm spring meals…

Despite the cool air, our body clocks definitely still shift in the spring. So the key for me has been to invite those fresh spring flavors into light spring soups. We enjoy spring Nettles and garlic in this roasted asparagus and garlic stinging nettle soup. We make fresh skillets of spring veggies, and this spring I’ve been using my Instant Pot a bit more since, well…life, right?! I created this Instant Pot leek asparagus soup with fresh lemon that we have been literally guzzling by the mug full weekly – it is so addicting! And this week, we enjoyed this lighter version of bean soup.

More…soup?!

Ummm yes, because, at least where I live, March is notorious for spring colds, the last of the flu viruses, and various other bugs that kids like to pick up. Packing nourishing, healing bone broth based soups in our lunchboxes for school, or soup bowls for dinner is vital at this time of year. If you have never made bone broth before, please check out how easy it is to make with these recipes either in your Instant Pot OR slow cooker!

Creamy and comforting bean soup without the heaviness…just in time for spring!

Because I really do feel the shift from winter to spring – while we crave those heavier comfort foods during the cold winter months, our bodies shift in the spring to the desire of refreshing spring food. This brothy soup is light and airy, with a bit of creaminess to the broth for comforting and amazing texture. Kids tend to like soups with a creamier feel, and this one will not disappoint. The spring dill and bright lemon juice finish at the end is fantastic.

Instant Pot OR Stovetop!

Because I’m hearing from more of you on my last IP post that stovetop is still your main cooking jam, and I *big puffy heart* love that! You are my people! I love my stovetop cooking, and while my Instant Pot has made it’s way to a permanent spot on the counter, if I have the time, I will choose the stovetop every time. Please see the Stovetop directions below to adapt this recipe to how you cook!

Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Spring Instant Pot White Bean Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry navy beans
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 tbsp butter to cook in bacon grease, olive oil, ghee, or other cooking fat of your choice will be fine
  • ½ large onion diced
  • 1 large carrot or parsnip peeled and diced
  • 1 large celery stalk diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • A pinch to 1/4 or more tsp of red pepper flakes depending on your heat preference this amount leaves the soup with a very mild kid friendly heat.
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth
  • Juice of ½ lemon about 1-2 tbsp
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale de-ribbed and chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

INSTANT POT METHOD

  • Put the 2 cups of dry navy beans and sea salt in a medium bowl with warm water to cover by 2-3 inches. Let the beans soak for 8-10 hours, then rinse and strain and set them aside until they are ready to add to the IP.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “Saute,” add the butter to melt, and then add the onion, carrot, and celery with a pinch of sea salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic, paprika, dill, and red pepper flakes, stir and saute for 1 minute. Turn the IP to “Off.”
  • Pour the drained beans and bone broth into the IP, stir to combine, put the IP lid on, and turn the valve to closed.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “Soup,” and leave the time at 30 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically turn on, and will take about 10ish minutes to come to pressure (depending on how cold your broth is) before counting down the 30 minutes. When the time beeps that the 30 minutes is done, turn the Instant Pot “Off,” and leave the valve closed and lid on to naturally let the pressure release. This gives the beans time to finish cooking and locks flavor in. After about 15 minutes, you can open the lid.
  • Ladle out about half the soup, puree it in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, and return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the lemon juice and kale to the soup and stir. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale, and you can season your soup with salt and pepper to your taste.

STOVETOP METHOD

  • Put the 2 cups of dry navy beans and sea salt in a medium bowl with warm water to cover by 2-3 inches. Let the beans soak for 8-10 hours, then rinse and strain and set them aside until they are ready to add to the soup.
  • Warm a soup pot over medium heat, add the butter to melt, and then add the onion, carrot, and celery with a pinch of sea salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic, paprika, dill, and red pepper flakes, stir and saute for 1 minute. 
  • Pour the drained beans and bone broth into the soup pot, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the beans are cooked and tender. This will take 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally and check the beans for done-ness.
  • Ladle out about half the soup, puree it in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, and return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the lemon juice and kale to the soup and stir. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale, and you can season your soup with salt and pepper to your taste.

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

March 21, 2019

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

Glimpses of spring…

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

Spring BUSY

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

Prep ahead goals

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

Fuss free kitchen time

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

No skimping on nourishment here!

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

The perfect texture!

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

Freezer Tips

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

  • Your first option is mixing the meat mixture, form it into nuggets, and freeze flat on a baking sheet. When the nuggets are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag to store in the freezer. You can bake them off from the frozen state for dinner adding an extra 5-10 minutes.
  • OR you can mix and bake the nuggets fully, and then freeze them already baked off. I can see myself doing this for easy lunchbox add-ins. They are already cooked and you can toss them in to lunchboxes frozen – they will thaw by lunchtime.
Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

March 7, 2019

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

Snow Day number 7,458…

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

Whatever state is sending us spring produce…THANK YOU!

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

Flavors that will blow you away

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

Instant Pot quick!

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

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

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

Freezer Friendly!

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

Print Recipe
5 from 21 votes

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

February 28, 2019

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

A bit of fresh citrus to brighten our long winter!

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

A fresh and bright new breakfast!

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

Quick prep & low fuss!

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

Ingredient swaps and tips

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

Freezer friendly

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

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

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

Ingredients

FOR THE COFFEE CAKE ::

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

FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING ::

Instructions

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

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Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon :: Dairy Free Option Included!

February 7, 2019

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

A winter for the books!

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

A cozy winter dinner

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

Easy weeknight prep for any occasion!

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

How to make perfectly pan seared salmon

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

Creamy, dreamy sauce without the dairy!

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

Optional change ups

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

Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon with Dairy Free Option Included!

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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