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Rainbow Broccoli Salad

March 24, 2021

All of the colors of the rainbow in this healthier choice broccoli salad with less sugar, no dairy, and lots of fun, flavorful veggies kids will love!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad
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.

Glimpses of warmer weather

Michigan likes to do this thing in the spring, where it plays around with 60 degrees one day, and back down to 30 degrees the next day. But my goodness, has spring ever been nice to us this year so far! Lake Michigan is thawed out, our toes are in the sand, and we are ready for warmer weather sides, like fresh spring and summer salads!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

A better choice broccoli salad…that still tastes amazing!

I’ve been a sucker for a creamy broccoli salad even as a kid. Most broccoli salads are loaded with cheese, bacon, loads of dairy, and sugar…a lot of sugar. Usually anywhere from a quarter to half cup of white sugar is in the typical broccoli salad recipe. What’s not to love about that, right?! I knew when my oldest got to the age where she could manage salads and raw veggies to eat that I had to figure out a better way to make one of my favorite salads with way less sugar. And not that there is anything wrong with cheese, bacon, and dairy, but there is something wrong with the picture when the star of the show in a salad is anything but the veggies. I wanted to teach my girls that salads and veggies can taste amazing without being covered up by sugar.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Tips for making raw salads like broccoli salad kid friendly

Be sure to pay attention to the Notes section in the recipe card of this post. There are tips and tricks mentioned that will make salads like this easier for little kids to eat, and your older kids will be more likely to accept this new food keeping some things in mind:

  • When chopping the broccoli and cabbage, remember that if you have real little ones, taking the time to finely chop the veg will really help with their ease of being able to spoon the salad and manage chewing it in their small mouths! As they get a little older, you can leave the pieces bigger.
  • If your kids are funny about the pungency of onion pieces, sub the finely chopped onion for 1-2 tsp of onion powder. My kids love the flavor of sweet onions raw when they are cut up small, but I know that is not always the case. If you have littles, don’t shy away from at least trying. This is how my girls’ palates were formed young! Mince them up and try it!
  • Change up the veggies! Beets and tomatoes swap well for the red. I love using roasted butternut squash for the orange, and did this often when the girls were very little – the sweetness is amazing for little ones and the soft squash is so easy to chew. You can use green cabbage too! Add a little bite of pretty fruit to the bowl if you think the kids will like that. My girls typically complain the salad is too sweet when I do this, but yours might like it! My favorite is pineapple or apple, but raisins and blueberries work nicely too.
Rainbow Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Dressing

One bowl side dishes are totally my jam. The dressing consists of 4 simple ingredients that get whisked up right in the bowl that you will serve the salad in. Less dishes, and less prep time! The creamy base is lightly sweetened with a spoonful of raw honey instead of white sugar, and it is plenty sweet. Keeping the vinegar amount lower helps with not needing to add as much sweetener as well. I prefer more of a bite to my broccoli salad, so I tend to add a splash of vinegar to my bowl. You can always add some raw shreds of apple or pineapple to the salad if the kids are already used to a sweet broccoli salad. Using fruit is a much better choice than adding more sugar.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Veggies

I think you’ll find that chopping the veggies really small is worth the time that it takes. The kids will be able to spoon it easier, and your little ones will chew smaller raw veggie pieces easier this. Chop the veggies up and toss them with the simple dressing and the salad is ready to eat!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Yogurt and Mayonnaise Options

There are so many ways to make the creamy base for the dressing suit your dietary needs. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, plain yogurt and your favorite healthy oil based mayo will do the trick. If you are dairy free, you can swap the regular yogurt for full fat coconut yogurt, or just use all mayo and thin it out with a little splash non-dairy milk like coconut milk or a nut milk. Our favorite store bought mayo using healthy fats is Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayo that we get for a great price at Costco. There are so many avocado oil mayonnaise choices for great prices now though, even if you don’t have access to Costco. If you are egg free, store bought mayo can be super tough. But I have a solution! There are 2 egg free mayo options on the blog. This Simple Egg Free Mayonnaise is dairy based if you can have that. And this Paleo Mayo is dairy and egg free.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

More than just a dinner side!

Meal prep this Rainbow Broccoli Salad on Sunday, and you can use it for your a lunchbox veggie side for the kids, and also for your lunches. This kind of preparing helps keep kitchen food prep time at a reasonable amount for busy families. Broccoli salad packs fantastic in lunchboxes, and is such a great change up from regular veggie sticks. To pack Rainbow Broccoli Salad in a lunchbox, I would suggest a leakproof container, or something that seals the sides a bit. For my youngest’s Rover Planetbox shown below (she is 7), we use the little silicone cups that come with the Planetboxes that seal up to the sides. The salad is not drippy, but just in case a little condensation is there, it will prevent little drips. My older girls (almost 12 and 10) have the larger, Launch Planetbox, and they use the bigger Rounds bowl with a lid that the Planetboxes come with for their salads since they are bigger. When packing for little kids, remember the veggies don’t need to be the star of the show for a long school day and a short lunch period. I save bigger veggie portions for her breakfast and/or dinners. Time is of the essence when at school, so I want her filling up on protein and fat packed bites of food. My older girls can eat a bit quicker so they pack bigger salads.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Easy French Dressing

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Everything into a pint jar with a tight lid and shake well to combine. Shake before each use as well. This dressing is also a great one to use on taco salad night – it is very similar to the “catelina” type dressings some restaurants use on taco salads

Notes

You can use an immersion blender to blend this dressing and it will emulsify even more than shaking it to become creamier in texture.
Rainbow Broccoli Salad

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Creamy Cabbage Soup

March 15, 2021

Creamy and velvety cabbage soup, packed with nutrients and full of flavor!

Creamy Cabbage Soup

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

It’s been over 15 years.

About 20 years ago I got the diagnosis that would change everything for me. Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune thyroid disorder. I’ll spare you the details of the 3-4 years after that diagnosis of trying to actually figure out what that meant, and how to feel even an ounce of better. After a few years of trying everything mainstream medical and not feeling any different, I saw more of a natural, functional medicine practitioner. Answers and more of a “root issue” approach helped me quite literally peel back layers and layers of healing that my body needed. I learned how to listen to my body. I learned what worked for me, what the red flags and warning systems looked like, sounded like, and felt like….and I have felt what “good” really and truly feels like.

Back to the basics

And because certain things like stress (hello 2020), infections, inflammatory foods, and toxins can trigger an autoimmune “flare,” I’ve learned how to nail down those triggers so they don’t spiral out of control. I’m feeling one of those “flares” in the season I’m in right now, and after about 6 months of ignoring the red flag symptoms (because we have all been in survival mode in 2020, amiright?!), it’s time to get back to what I know I need to be doing for my body. And for me, that always means getting back to less inflammatory foods even if they are considered “healthy” for most, and hello to more cooked veggie minerals at every meal. It has, and probably always will be a game changer for me. It is one of the biggest reasons there are so many veggie soup recipes on the blog, and in my cookbooks, and why you’ll always hear me talking about “breakfast soups.”

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Breakfast Soup

And lunch an dinner soup. Cooked veggies just digest easier, and it is so much easier to get a variety and abundance in when you roast or “soup” your veggies. Souping your veg doesn’t have to be boring either. There are so many ways to change things up, and give your body the mineral variety it needs! If you are new to veggies at breakfast, soup might sound so strange, but hear me out. A little mug of steamy soup, a muffin, and some sausage or egg? It is perfectly dreamy to be honest. Sure, a veggie hash or a smoothie with greens works for breakfast too, but there is something about souping breakfast that has been the ticket to feeling amazing for me for years.

Cabbage…nutrient packed and anti-inflammatory

And did I mention a big time budget saver? Because let’s face it – that part matters too! Cabbage is about as cheap as it gets, but it is also loaded with micronutrients and minerals. Cruciferous veggies like cabbage can also be anti-inflammatory. For some, cruciferous veggies can be a problem digestively, especially in the raw state, but cooking can help with digestion. It also helps to eat these veggies with a healthy fat, so cooking the veg in a nutritious fat that works for you such as butter or olive oil is perfect. If you are someone that tolerates cabbage well, you are going to love this soup!

But how does it taste, and will my kids eat it too?!

The last thing I want you to be doing is making a bunch of meals that the rest of the family won’t eat, dear momma. Even though I have seasons of needing to eat a little differently than a growing, metabolism burning kid, it doesn’t mean that they can’t also be eating many of the same foods! The girls love just about every soup blend that has come out of my kitchen for their lunchbox thermoses. When they were babies I served them soups for breakfast often right along with myself. It is perfect for those seasons of sleepy babyhood for everyone to eat the same. These days it looks a little more like the kids having a muffin with eggs and a packed out smoothie, and mom having the same muffin, but with some meat, and a mug of soup. This works for our metabolisms where they are right now in the season we are in at the moment. The cabbage for this soup cooks down and and gets sweet with sautéing and really is a blank slate for whatever flavors you want to add in. I use some nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor without the dairy, as well as some of my sausage seasoning blend to give the soup the warmth of cooking with sausage.

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Simple, easy soup making method

This is a one pot deal, and I think that is something just about everyone can handle these days! Just use the slow sauté approach to bring out the sweetness and flavor from the veggies, toss with some potato starch and then simmer them with your broth. The potato starch gives the soup a grain-free velvety, creamy texture that is to live for! You’ll use your immersion blender to puree the soup to a perfect creaminess once it is finished, but if you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender too.

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Other creamy soup purees that work well for any meal of the day!

My rhythm has most often been to make a soup for the week on the weekends or on Monday’s. If you don’t like to eat the same soup for days in a row, make a couple different kinds and start building your freezer stash. If you store a quart of soup into the freezer each week, you’ll soon have a lush soup stash to pull from so that, perhaps, on an extra busy week you don’t have to cook a soup. Or so that you can pull some variety throughout the week.

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp butter to cook in bacon fat, olive oil, or avocado oil work well here too
  • 2 small onions halved and sliced into strips
  • 1 carrot coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery coarsely chopped
  • 1 small/medium head of cabbage sliced into strips
  • 3 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast optional but lends a cheesy flavor without the dairy!
  • 1 tsp of my sausage season blend optional, but gives the flavor of having meat/sausage in the soup
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 1/2 – 1 cup full fat coconut milk or regular milk if you tolerate dairy
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat, and saute the onion, carrot, and celery for a few minutes while you chop the cabbage. There is so much cabbage, so give the first few veggies a few minutes to get started first.
  • Add the sliced cabbage and saute over medium high heat until the cabbage reduces down about half, and gets really soft and sweet. This takes a good 10 minutes to achieve and the flavor is amazing. Stir throughout the cooking process.
  • Put the potato starch, nutritional yeast, and sausage seasoning blend into the pot, stirring to coat the veggies in the starch and seasonings.
  • Pour the broth in, stir, and bring the soup to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the stove off, pour in the coconut milk, and blend the soup with your immersion blender or in a regular blender until smooth. Salt and pepper the soup to your taste once it is blended.
Creamy Cabbage Soup

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Sheet Pan French Fries

March 10, 2021

Make easy sheet pan French fries for the perfect compliment to any burger, or the most fun munchy snack for game day or movie night!

Sheet Pan French Fries

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.

Like peanut butter & jelly…

The beach and flip flops. Peanut butter & jelly. Spring time and muddy children. A burger with the perfect French fries. Like so many things that just go together, I really think that having a great, healthy option for French fries is an absolutely must in any kitchen! Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with this French fry method, and I think it will become a staple in your house for every burger night, or munchy snack need too!

Sheet Pan French Fries

The Method :: Cutting the fries

Whether your kids have had restaurant French fries or not, one of your favorite kitchen tools for making fries is going to become the crinkle cutter. This inexpensive cutting tool not only dresses your fries up to look more like restaurant fries, or fries from the frozen section of the grocery store, you can also use it to crinkle cut veggies to jazz those up too! I also find a crinkle cutter an easy to grasp tool for toddlers that want to try learning how to cut soft veggies. To cut the French fries, I like to use a straight knife to cut medium potatoes into thirds lengthwise. Then lay those pieces flat to cut the crinkle fry shape. Be careful with the thickness of the fries – if you go to thin, they will cook really fast and not have that fluffy potato center.

Sheet Pan French Fries

The Method :: Seasoning the fries

Once the potatoes are cut, toss them in a bowl with olive oil and seasoning. It doesn’t get much easier than that! I like using simple sea salt and pepper with a little paprika and parsley for color. But you can dress them up however you like here!

Sheet Pan French Fries

My favorite French fry method…

The secret to fries that don’t stick to the pan, and the perfect crispy outside all lies in the screaming hot sheet pan. One burger night, a very long time ago, I turned the oven on to pre-heat while I prepped my potato fries, and didn’t realize that I had inadvertently left my sheet pan in the oven from earlier in the day. When I went to put my fries on a sheet pan, I couldn’t find it, and, of course, remembered it was in the oven. The sizzle when the oil coated fries hit the pre-heated sheet pan made me wonder how these fries would turn out, and much to our utter happiness, we couldn’t believe how amazing the texture was.

Sheet Pan French Fries

Bake, toss, bake, toss, bake…

Sounds fussy, but I promise it just takes a few seconds to toss those fries around. Let them sear on the super hot sheet pan for about 15 minutes, and then toss them around. Bake another 15-20 minutes, and then toss again. You’ll do one more round of 15, and then you’re fries are ready. Moving them around every 15 minutes or so will ensure the super hot oven doesn’t crisp just one side of your fries. And I’m not talking perfection here – I definitely do not sit there and meticulously flip each fry. I just use a spatula to flip them around, give the pan a shake and toss it back in the oven.

Sheet Pan French Fries

Dipping ideas!

I know, I know…ketchup. But think outside the box a little bit, and one of my favorite fry dipping modes lately in a restaurant has been any kind of aioli they serve! Or as my husband puts it, “fancy mayo” 🙂 You can use your favorite healthy store bought mayo, or make your own. On the blog, I have a great dairy based egg free mayo, and a Paleo egg free mayo to try. There is also 2 great aioli recipes on the blog! Try my chipotle lime aioli or my garlic aioli – both are dairy free!

Sheet Pan French Fries

Does this method work for sweet potatoes?

Absolutely! I tend to flip sweet potatoes a little more often because they tend to burn easily, but stirring them around the 10-12 minute mark seems to do the trick. It all depends on the size of your cut.

Sheet Pan French Fries

Sheet Pan French Fries

Ingredients

  • 5-6 medium russet potatoes
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp sea salt to taste start with around 1 tsp – you can always add more later but you cannot take it away
  • 1 tsp smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Put a large, unlined baking sheet into your cold oven, and then pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. You want the sheet pan to be in there to pre-heat as well. This will prevent sticking and make for crispier potatoes.
  • Cut your potatoes into French fry shape. I like to cut the potato lengthwise in thirds using a straight knife, and then use a crinkle cutter to cut the flat pieces into thirds again making a crinkle cut.
  • Toss the French fries in large mixing bowl with the oil and seasonings until the potatoes are coated evenly. I think using my hands works the best here.
  • Once the oven pre-heats, take the hot sheet pan out of the oven, and pour the seasoned and oil coated French fries onto the hot pan (listen for the sizzle!). Use a rubber scraper to get all the oil out of the bottom of the bowl. Spread the French fries out on the pan.
  • Bake the French fries at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir the fries, and then bake another 20 minutes. Take the French fries out again, stir the fries, and the bake another 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. If you cut your French fries smaller/thinner, they will take less time. If you cut them bigger, you will want to add more time.

Notes

  • You can leave the paprika out, but I love the color it gives, and the slightly smoky flavor to a smoked paprika. If you use a sweet paprika you won’t taste it as much so that would be a good option for little ones that might not like the smoked flavor, but would still give the pretty and appealing color.
  • Change up the seasoning to what you are serving it with! Try rosemary with a steak, or dill when serving with crispy fish!
Sheet Pan French Fries

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Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

February 17, 2021

More winter inspired meal planning to create 2 more full weeks of nourishing winter meals!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

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.

Winter Inspired Part 2!

You asked, and I’m all ears, dear momma! I was hesitant to hit publish on my first Meal Plan a couple of weeks ago, but my heart is just so full with the messages and posts about how this has helped your families. So I’m back with more! ***If you have not had the chance to read my first Winter Inspired Meal Plan, you’ll want to hop over there to start. You’ll read a lot of great tips for portion sizing, balancing macros, and ideas for making your first baby steps into meal planning with real food.*** There is a full 2 week printable meal plan with winter inspired foods there, and another full 2 weeks on this post – that is a full month of meals to play around with, and I can’t wait to hear about your meal planning successes!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Winter Inspiration

I know there are readers from all over the world that visit this space, so I want to be sure that I reiterate my recommendations on the first meal plan to buy what is in season where YOU live. February in Florida, or somewhere in Australia looks very, very different from February in Michigan! But I also realize that while I’m drooling over your beautiful farmer’s markets this time of year, our farmer’s markets and available in season produce will be bursting at the seams during the summer months. We just have very different growing seasons. Keep in mind where you live, and shop produce that fits in your budget within the season that you are, and you’ll be good to go!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

A note about my husband!

I left this out of the Part 1 Meal Plan, and for that I apologize! My husband eats all meals with us on the weekend. He is a commuter on work days, and so he takes his breakfast and lunch with him Monday through Friday (he has been working from home since April, but still preps his food the same way). In the winter, his breakfast is prepped on Sundays. He makes a skillet of potato hash with spinach and sausage for all 5 days, and takes that with him to work. He warms that up at work and adds an egg most days. A nice travel thermos or electric travel mini hot pot works well for anyone that does not have access to warming things up. In the warmer months of summer, he will do smoothies more often. For his lunches, he preps some sort of meat main (typically chicken or beef), and brings enough salad for the week with him. He keeps all of this at work. He eats dinner with us most nights of the week, though sometimes he fasts dinner. {He did not always prep this himself by the way! That started happening when I was pregnant with baby 3…sometimes momma just can’t do everything! He enjoys taking that off my plate, so he still does this, but I know that is not the case in every house. Do what you can!}

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Warm meals for cold days

That is the name of the game in the winter months here. If you live somewhere warmer, feel free to swap some of our hot meals for cooler ones! Just look at this frozen Lake Michigan beach in the winter months! We enjoy really warm dinners in the winter, so you’ll see that reflected in the meal plan for the winter months. That does not, however, mean that I want to be in the kitchen all day! I think you’ll see how I’m able to stretch meals into the next day, and repurpose food for new meals to help with time management.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Let’s talk about lunchbox food products!

I love homemade hummus…but 3 kids into this thing I found the convenience of hummus cups to be a bit of a sanity saver. You just can’t always make everything all the time, least you burn out, dear momma. Same with guacamole. We just can’t afford the avocado prices here where they don’t grow, so guacamole cups are a very nice alternative. I do some of this shopping at Costco, and some online, so here is a great post with some of the packaged convenience lunchbox snacks, including crackers and granola bar options that you’ll see in the meal plan too. I do sometimes make these from scratch, but it sure is nice to have the option to buy them during certain seasons.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

SO! Let’s get started!

Here is a PDF for you to download of my full 2 Week Winter Inspired Meal Plan with links to recipes included. {See below this section for a blank version if you want to fill in your own!}

Want to build your own meal plan?

Go for it! My way of doing meals is definitely not the only way! And my recipes are not the only recipes around! Here is a blank PDF for you to print and fill out your own.

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

I know that not every single dinner idea on my blog or in my cookbooks is everyone’s cup of tea, or perhaps you have other ingredients available or in season right now where you live. So here are some other dinner ideas to swap for the dinner section of the meal plan that fit with the idea of “winter inspired!” OR, fill in your own family favorite meals! Most of this list is from right here on the blog. Any recipe links that have a page number are from my cookbooks. Those with page numbers in green are from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, and those with page numbers in pink are from Nourished Beginnings.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Spring is right around the corner!

I hope you enjoy the 4 total weeks of cold weather meal planning I’ve created for you! I am going to be working on some spring inspired meal planning in the next month or so, and would love any feedback or questions you might have as I prepare to create those! Drop some comments below!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie
Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips RGN Meal Plans school lunches

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

January 30, 2021

Learn how to build a 2 week meal plan for your family centered around whole, real food found in the winter, busy schedules, and nourishing families!

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.

Finally!

After 7 years of blogging, 2 cookbooks, and countless in person workshops…I’ve made a meal plan! *Sound the trumpets and throw a parade!* I know so many of you have asked throughout the years, and I just never did it because really I never thought I was much of a meal planner. I have always had a bit of a “framework” in my head, gone shopping and bought seasonal food on sale for the week, and then built my week around that – for the last 11 years that I have had children in the house! But more and more of you are asking, and I decided that there definitely could be some value in showing you how I keep our menu seasonal to fit in our budget, as well as show you how I build a week of meals for a normal, “real world” family of five!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Balancing Macros {Fats, Protein, Carbohydrates}

Healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates – they all matter when it comes to kids. It’s all about the balance/ratio that works for you and your family. This will look different for each family – and possibly each child! We are talking about normal, healthy children, without inflammatory diseases, etc here. There are special circumstances where a spurt of a more “keto” or other type eating style would benefit a child, or an adult working on healing some things. But for most normal children, a good balance of all 3 macros is the key to stable moods and blood sugars, really good sleep, and laser focus for every life activity. Keep in mind that growth spurts, seasons of stress/sports/extra activities will make the ratio need for each macro vary for your child. Listen to their body – kids are smart. Most of them don’t live to eat, they eat to live. And they crave what their body needs at that very moment. So make your meal planning mantra…“Make every bite count!” When you look at any given meal, are all 3 macros represented in a healthy way? If so, you are on your way!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Portion Size Considerations **VERY Important – Don’t skip this section!**

One of the reasons I have always hesitated making meal plans trying to portray portion size and meal prep for every kind of family. Every kid has different appetites (even within the same age group!), and every family has a different number of kids at varying ages! The way that I made meals when I had very small children in the house is actually quite different than how I make meals now. The meals are the same, but my method is different. Back then, I used to have way more leftovers! I think I ate leftovers for breakfast almost daily. Or we had leftovers for dinner at least 2 times per week. I’m lucky to get 1 dinner of leftovers for my whole family of 5 these days with 2 pre-teens in the house! I have to be intentional if I want leftovers. That means purposely doubling or tripling something so that I can use the meal again. SO! With that in mind, if you have older children or MORE children in the house than my 3, you may want to consider doubling some of what I have listed. And if you have just a toddler or 2 in the house, know that you probably won’t have to make as many dinners as I do! You’ll have more leftovers to pull from.

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Meal Planning Baby Steps

If you pull up this meal plan and feel overwhelmed, slow down, and breathe a minute. Baby steps is key to not quitting. Most of the people that I polled wanted all 3 meals represented, and 2 weeks or more at a time. But if you are new to cooking and real food, you might need to back off on changing everything all at once. This is the real world, and I get that momma. This can be done without overwhelming time in the kitchen. Promise. I don’t have time for it, and kitchen work is part of my job! I don’t want you to quit, so please read through these thoughts!

  • Don’t change everything overnight – even if you are a jump in with both feet kind of person. Start out with one meal of the day. Maybe just start with fixing your breakfast routine. Once you have a rhythm set for that meal that feels good to you, then you can move onto lunch, or dinner.
  • Sit down with the whole family and make a menu TOGETHER. Everyone gets a favorite somewhere in the week. TELL THEM why – they will understand! You could go in so many different life skill directions in this conversation too. Everything from helping them see how good their bodies will feel eating real food, to helping them see how planning meals out helps the family budget.
  • Don’t shy away from a “rotation.” Once you figure out your rhythm…trust me it is like auto-pilot and so nice! You’ll see some similarities within each week, and you’ll see how I plan Sunday breakfast and dinners to help me on Monday every week. There is plenty of variety and change, so that things do get boring, but there is also some predictability. There are some things that look the same but have veggie or fruit switches depending on what I find on sale or in season, and you can do the same according to where you live.
Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

A quick note about location, seasonal food, and availability

I found out real quick when I started doing my weekly shopping trip Stories on IG how vastly different food cost, availability of food, and seasonal differences are depending on location! I love getting messages and learning about how food is bought all over the world! Please keep in mind that where I live may not be where you live. Where I live, buying a half grass-fed cow for the year is affordable for many, and very available. That is definitely not the case everywhere. So where you see beef on my menu, you may have to swap for a different protein, or whatever meat is the best you can afford. I have readers from Europe that ask why we don’t eat much lamb, and people from East and West Coasts of the US that ask why we eat fish only occasionally. Both lamb and fish are quite costly where I live, so it is just not something that fits more than just weekly, if that. In the winter you will probably never see summer fruit like berries, or spring veggies like asparagus, because it is out of season in the frozen tundra of Michigan, and very expensive. Stick with the seasonality of where you live, buying the very best you can WITHIN the budget that you have for your family. Don’t go broke eating real food – you can do this smart within a budget.

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

SO! Let’s get started!

Here is a PDF for you to download of my full 2 Week Winter Inspired Meal Plan with links to recipes included. {See below this section for a blank version if you want to fill in your own!}

Want to build your own meal plan?

Go for it! My way of doing meals is definitely not the only way! And my recipes are not the only recipes around! Here is a blank PDF for you to print and fill out your own.

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

I know that not every single dinner idea on my blog or in my cookbooks is everyone’s cup of tea, or perhaps you have other ingredients available or in season right now where you live. So here are some other dinner ideas to swap for the dinner section of the meal plan that fit with the idea of “winter inspired!” OR, fill in your own family favorite meals! Most of this list is from right here on the blog. Any recipe links that have a page number are from my cookbooks. Those with page numbers in green are from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, and those with page numbers in pink are from Nourished Beginnings.

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Stay tuned…

YES, I would like to make more of these! Stay tuned for another winter inspired meal plan in the coming weeks, and then I’ll jump into spring inspired meals when we get there! Since I am newer at making meal plans for sharing with readers, I would love to have your feedback so that this is as relevant for you. Let me know how you like the layout, etc. If I’m going to spend the amount of time I did to put this one together, I want to make sure they are going to be used!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}
Dinner Ideas Feeding Babies Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

October 26, 2020

Veggie vitamins need healthy fat to absorb, so we might as well make them taste amazing with kid approved creamed vegetables using any veggie!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

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

Back to the basics

Last week, I happened to Instagram a quick veggie side dish that has been one of my go-to, “clear out the veggie bin at the end of the week” side dishes since my crew was very little. I was pretty blown away by the interest in the recipe specifics, but I can’t say super surprised, because it is one of the things that I adore the most about this RGN community. The following here is one of actual, real, everyday moms trying to do this real food thing with normal mom schedules and budgets…and this is as real life as it gets my friends!

A busy momma’s best friend!

This easy veggie side dish is going to become a regular on your dinner rotation – I happen to know because it most definitely was when my babies were very little, and still as as my girls have grown. An auto-pilot, nutrient-loaded way to get vegetables into my growing girls that they willingly (happily even!) inhaled each and every time when they were tiny, and ask for a lot as older kids! In right around 10 minutes, this kid approved veggie side can go alongside everything from a Sunday roasted chicken or beef roast, to a weekday pan seared fish.

One of my girls as a toddler gobbling creamy veggies!

For nutrient absorption, fat is where it’s at!

Dear momma, I hope you’ve hear the news by now that healthy fats are not the enemy. If you are anywhere near my age (I’ll be 41 next week!), I’m willing to bet that you grew up with a plethora of low fat food items in the pantry, and heaven forbid there ever be a stick of butter in the house. No, we grew up with a tub of rancid margarine in the fridge, and were told to stay as “low fat” as possible to be healthy. Thankfully the we have learned more about real, healthy fats, and their importance in our bodies. For hormones, for brain function…and for nutrient absorption! Fat soluble vitamins in many fresh foods from vegetables to pastured animal products need fat to even get into the tissues of our body. The very word “soluble,” meaning “able to be dissolved” should clue us in on how these fat soluble vitamins should be consumed. I love this article from my friend Jenny at Nourished Kitchen explaining the role that fat takes when eating fresh food.

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!
Go on and butter up those veggies, dear momma! They help the vitamins in those veggies absorb and make them taste great for kids! Missing my babies at this age!

Ok, I get it! Fat is good to consume with veggies! Now how do we make the creamy veggies?!

I’m so glad you asked! One of the reasons I have never posted this recipe is because I kinda thought it might be too simplistic. The reality is, however, that these simple dishes happen more often in my house than fancy baking, fun treats, or elaborate dinners. This is the everyday grind, and I am committed to helping the moms of this generation learn how to cook real food everyday – not just every once and a while!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Let’s talk about what veggies to use!

The total amount of veggies including the onion is about 6-8 cups chopped. The whole point of this kind of skillet side is to use what you have, so change up the veg to what is in season in your veggie bin, and what you have leftover that needs to be used up at the end of the week. Add some frozen corn if you can have grains to add an extra pop of color! You can swap the carrot for sweet potato or bell peppers. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, or asparagus swap well for broccoli. And zucchini swaps great for the green beans. Chopped spinach always wilts in at the end very well. Just remember 6-8 cups totally veggies – the cooking of the veg in the fat will bring out any veggies natural sweetness and make them super kid friendly in taste 😊

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

The cooking method

The key to making these veggies palatable to children lies in the cook method and the fat. Let the veggies get super soft and sweet, cooking in that fat for a good 5-10 minutes before making the cream sauce. You will be so glad you did. This method is the same that I use for the base of just about every veggie soup on the blog, and many dinners as well. It helps the veggie’s natural sugars shine and kids really love them!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Budget friendly

Because if we are going to do this real food thing, there are some things that are going to be spendy, such as buying quality meat and eggs. In order to balance that out in my budget, we pile high the budget friendly veg. Cabbage, green beans, carrots, spinach – we’re talking high nutrients with very little cost. The veggie fiber is priceless, and we already talked about how that little bit of fat swirled in helps all of the nutrients absorb. That is a big time budget win!

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Serving suggestions

I used this creamed veggie skillet as a side to everything from a big Sunday dinner to an easy weeknight meal. Here are some ideas:

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!
How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!
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5 from 1 vote

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp healthy fat to cook in butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, etc
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • ¼ – ½ medium cabbage sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 head broccoli florets chopped
  • 2 handfuls frozen green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp flour of choice to thicken any GF flour blend or regular flour, rice flour, or if you are grain free, you could use tapioca starch, potato starch, or arrowroot
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk or regular milk/cream if you can have dairy
  • ½ cup cheese of choice shredded (If you cannot have dairy and tolerate goat or sheep milk cheese, that would work great. Or if you can’t have that, try adding in about 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast to add some cheesy flavor)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion, cabbage, carrot, and broccoli with a big pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine and cook over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes until the veggies are soft and sweet.
  • Stir in the frozen green beans and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour into the cooked veggies and stir to coat them well. Then, pour the coconut milk into the pan, and stir until the sauce thickens about a minute or 2. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cheese. Salt and pepper the veggies to your taste.

Notes

The total amount of veggies including the onion is about 6-8 cups chopped. The whole point of this kind of skillet side is to use what you have, so change up the veg to what is in season in your veggie bin, and what you have leftover that needs to be used up at the end of the week! Add some frozen corn if you can have grains to add an extra pop of color! You can swap the carrot for sweet potato or bell peppers. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, or asparagus swap well for broccoli. And zucchini swaps great for the green beans. Chopped spinach always wilts in at the end very well. Just remember 6-8 cups totally veggies – the cooking of the veg in the fat will bring out any veggies natural sweetness and make them super kid friendly in taste 😊
How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

More real food recipes you might like ::

Batch Up Meals Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

September 9, 2020

Easy to make, super soft, gluten free flour tortillas with only 5 ingredients!

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

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

Sweet friends, and a special story…

(Preface :: I got permission from mom to share these girls’ important story and the picture below. Please be the amazing supportive community that my readers always are to this dear friend of mine with positive, uplifting comments.)

See the sweet girls with my crew in the picture below? We met this precious family during Caitlyn’s Young 5’s year at school, and you know those friendships that just click in place like they were always meant to be? Their momma is amazing, and our kids just go together like peanut butter and jelly. Earlier this summer, this family finally figured out what was making their 2 sweet little girls’ tummies ache so much, and experience so much digestive distress all the time from early toddlerhood…a new, VERY positive Celiac diagnosis. For both girls. Talk about life coming to a screeching hault in order to learn all things gluten free! I watched as this strong momma bear gutted her kitchen of all utensils, pots, seasonings, appliances, and foods that might have traces of gluten on them or in them, and then joined her for a shopping trip to fill her kitchen with safe food for her babies.

I have to admit, I was thinking this shopping trip would be super easy. I’ve been gluten free for…gosh, has it really been 15 years?! You’d think an old gluten free pro would be able to help a newly diagnosed celiac family grocery shop. What I found was that gluten free shopping when you have a gluten sensitivity is VERY different from gluten free shopping when you have an autoimmune Celiac disease. SO many packaged gluten free items are NOT made in dedicated gluten free facilities. For people that can’t even have a trace of gluten residue, that is a prescription for disaster. And there were a few times this summer that they found out just that – even foods that we thought were gluten free, definitely “glutened” these sweet girls, making them very sick. Anything that wasn’t labeled “made in a dedicated gluten free facility” was absolutely out of the question.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

A Gluten Free Tortilla Challenge!

Over a decade ago during my new gluten sensitivity diagnosis, I tried my hand at some homemade gluten free tortillas, but honestly the abundance of store bought gluten free tortillas has sky rocketed as “gluten free” has become more popular, so I chalked up tortillas as one of those store bought conveniences that I would take advantage of. There is a variety of “gluten free” tortillas out there, but as I shopped with my friend, we found that there were NONE with healthy ingredients that were made in dedicated gluten free facilities. NOT ONE! This really frustrated me! It’d been a long while since I tried my hand at homemade tortillas, but I really wanted to create something that my friend could safely use for her girls. Gluten free flour blends have REALLY improved in the last 15 years, and I had a feeling Namaste would be a really good candidate to trial with tortilla making.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

5 Ingredients?!?!

Just 5 ingredients?! YES, dear momma, because I want you to be able to make this weekly or bi-weekly, or monthly – whatever your prep day looks like. I don’t want you to dread it or put it off because it feels like a fussy project. I had that friend of mine in mind with 2 Celiac daughters who can’t just pop into the store and grab a quick bag of tortillas. She doesn’t have a choice, but she also has a life to live, kids to take care of, a house to run…and needs realistic kitchen projects so her girls can eat safely. The ingredients are affordable and accessible, and the method couldn’t be easier!

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

The Method :: The Dough

This super soft, pliable dough will blow you away! It is really forgiving, and rolls out easily. Whether you plan to use a rolling pin or a tortilla press, you’ll find the dough really easy to work with. Simply mix all of the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. I start with my spatula, and then finish by kneading with my hands. When measuring the water, I wanted to mention that to make it easy, I fill a 2-cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup to exactly 3/4 cup mark, and then use a tablespoon to add the 2 tablespoons of extra water. If you don’t do this your dough will be tougher and drier. If you use a full cup of water, your dough will be too wet – trust me and do the exact measurement!

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

The Method :: Rolling Pin or Tortilla Press!

In my recipe card, I included both rolling pin and tortilla press methods. I borrowed a friend’s tortilla press so that I could test it out both ways. I do feel like I was able to get the tortillas a bit thinner using my rolling pin. I did 3 batches with the tortilla press, and found that I could get them thinner by rotating the pressed tortilla, and also making sure I pressed down for a good 5 seconds wait. I would LOVE to hear about tortilla presses that you love, and/or tortilla press techniques for a novice press user, so please comment below in the comments section! I’m still on the fence for purchasing one for myself! The rolling pin method is super easy, though I have to admit finding the right tortilla press could change my mind. You’ll want to work with parchment paper when rolling your dough out with either method because adding a floured surface will fuss with the texture of the tortilla. Roll the ball of dough in your hand, flatten it slightly on your counter or the tortilla press, and then either roll it out, or press it out! Get the tortilla dough as thin as you can, and then you are ready to cook. If you are rolling your dough out with a rolling pin, I love using my 8-inch soup pot lid to cut a perfect circle! You can toss the dough scraps back in with the dough to keep making more tortillas.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Pinch off a 2 1/2 inch ball of dough and roll it until smooth.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Lay a Silpat on the counter to keep your parchment from sliding. Slightly flatten the dough ball with your hand before your roll it out.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Place parchment over the top of the dough and roll out as thin as you can.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Use an 8-inch soup pot lid to cut a perfect circle!
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Toss the scraps back in the bowl with the rest of the dough to roll out more tortillas!

The Method :: Cooking the Tortillas

The tortillas cook up so fast! Just a minute on each side over medium heat, and you’re done. It is important to use a dry pan! Don’t oil your pan at all! Keeping the tortillas soft and warm while you cook all of the tortillas is as easy using a tortilla keeper (so inexpensive!), or a simple plate covered with a towel. I have been able to make tortillas quick in the morning or afternoon when I have a minute, and they stay warm until dinner using a tortilla keeper.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

Tortilla Storage

Use your fresh tortillas right out of your tortilla keeper or plate, warm and soft! Leftovers are best kept frozen to maintain moisture, softness, and pliability. What I have found is that you can toss the leftover tortillas into a freezer bag, and they don’t even stick together in the freezer bag! When you want to use a tortilla, simply take a frozen tortilla out and it will thaw within 20 minutes. You could warm in the oven or a pan too if you wish.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

Ideas for using your tortillas!

Other than the obvious Taco Tuesday night (which is an absolute must!), the possibilities are endless for these tortillas! Here are some ideas!

  • Considering GF bread is really difficult to make, and super expensive to buy, using these tortillas as sandwich wraps, is probably the must functional use that I can think of. From tuna salad and chicken wraps, to ham and cheese and even PBJ, you can make any sandwich into a tortilla roll-up! You can find my “Kid-Approved Apple & Tuna Salad” and “Sweet & Sour Chicken Wrap” recipes in my cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!”
  • Quesadillas! There is a really great “Garden Party Quesadilla” recipe in my cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” using a really yummy, simple bean spread and roasted veggies, or you can make your own up!
  • Pinwheels! Little kids love these, but I’m telling you right now, my 11-year old also adores pinwheels! They are so fun and easy to eat! You can try my egg salad pinwheels, or in my new lunchbox cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” you can try my “Healthy Chicken Salad Pinwheels” or “Colorful Rainbow Pinwheels!”
  • Tortilla Chips! Check out my tortilla soup recipe and see how you can crisp your tortillas up to make chips for scooping and dipping!
  • Tortilla Pizza! Check this one out for a really easy Friday night pizza night!
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Tuna Salad Wrap in a lunchbox!
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Garden Party Quesadillas in a lunchbox! Recipe is in my cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

Ingredient swap thoughts

I am sure that other gluten free flour blends will work with this recipe, though different blends have different ratios of flours, so you may need to play around with the amount just a touch to get the right consistency if the flour absorbs differently than Namaste. For the most part, any GF Flour Blend that has xanthan gum should behave about the same (the gum gives that “gluten-y texture” to the tortilla. The palm shortening is important. Coconut oil or butter just won’t give the same outcome. I really would just stick to the palm shortening. You can find organic, sustainable palm shortening here.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

Gluten Free Flour Tortillas

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat while you mix the ingredients. Put all of the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and use a spatula to combine. Once the dough comes together, knead the dough with your hands until it is all incorporated well. If you are in a very humid, wet environment, you may need to add a tablespoon or so more of flour if your dough feels too wet and sticky. I had to do this in the warmer, summer months.

ROLLING PIN METHOD ::

  • Lay a Silpat mat on the counter, and tear 2 pieces of parchment paper. Lay one piece of parchment down on the Silpat. (The Silpat will keep the parchment paper from sliding all over your counter while you roll!)
  • Pinch off a palm-sized, 2 ½ – 3 inch ball of dough, and roll the ball of dough in your hands until smooth.
  • Put the ball of dough on the parchment paper and flatten with your hand slightly. Place the second piece of parchment paper over the dough, and roll out as thin as you can get the dough, around 1/16th to 1/8th inches. Use an 7 or 8-inch pot lid to cut out a perfect tortilla circle!
  • Place the rolled-out tortilla circle in the hot skillet (do NOT oil the skillet!), and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You can roll out a second tortilla ball during this time if you want. Or you can roll all of the tortillas out first, and then cook. When the tortilla has finished cooking on both sides, place it in a tortilla keeper or on a plate with a towel covering the plate to keep the tortillas warm and soft.

TORTILLA PRESS METHOD ::

  • Tear 2 small pieces of parchment paper and lay one of them on the bottom of the tortilla press.
  • Pinch off a palm-sized, 2 inch ball of dough for an 8-inch tortilla press (if you have a larger tortilla press make your dough ball about 3 inches), and roll the ball of dough in your hands until smooth.
  • Put the ball of dough on the parchment paper that is on the tortilla press, and flatten with your hand slightly. Place the second piece of parchment paper over the dough, and use the tortilla press to press the tortilla down, holding for 5 seconds. Open the press, rotate the tortilla 90 degrees, and press again.
  • Place the pressed tortilla in the hot skillet (do NOT oil the skillet!), and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You can press a second tortilla ball during this time if you want. Or you can press all of the tortillas out first, and then cook. When the tortilla has finished cooking on both sides, place it in a tortilla keeper or on a plate with a towel covering the plate to keep the tortillas warm and soft.

STORAGE ::

  • Use your fresh tortillas right out of your tortilla keeper or plate, warm and soft! Leftovers are best kept frozen to maintain moisture, softness, and pliability. What I have found is that you can toss the tortillas into a freezer bag, and they don’t even stick together in the freezer bag! When you want to use a tortilla, simply take a frozen tortilla out and it will thaw within 20 minutes. You could warm in the oven or a pan too if you wish.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

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Summer Broccoli Salad

August 2, 2020

This light and fresh broccoli salad is perfect for hot summer days!

Summer Broccoli Salad

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 2020…

It sure wasn’t what we thought it was going to be, eh? (See there’s that northern accent coming out in me!) While summer 2020 wasn’t what many of us dreamed it would be, we *did* decide to make the best of what we could actually do, and as it turns out, it was a pretty amazing summer! Hiking, waterfalls, cold and rocky Lake Superior shorelines, and hot powdery sand beaches along Lake Michigan…the outdoors wasn’t canceled and we were totally here for it!

Summer Broccoli Salad
Summer Broccoli Salad
Summer Broccoli Salad
Summer Broccoli Salad

A new summer staple!

I know we are inching our way toward the start of another school year, but there is still plenty of warm weather ahead, and I thought I’d share a new salad obsession of mine! I’ve perfected it this summer and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Summer Broccoli Salad

The busy momma kind of food prep…

My gracious has the last few months been a bit…extra…on us mommas! I made this salad up on a particularly busy week. I wanted to be able to pull a veggie side out of the fridge for myself without any prepping, and this salad has become a staple for me this summer! A shake up in the jar dressing and just 4 veggies to chop, this summer broccoli salad is something everyone has time for.

Summer Broccoli Salad

But will the kids eat it?!

Bonus! This broccoli has been a big hit with the kids as well! The super fun colors, and kid friendly dressing makes this broccoli salad easy on young taste buds. I can see packing this broccoli salad in school lunchboxes as veggie side this fall! I would recommend chopping the salad pieces quite small if you plan on your kids eating it. If the pieces of veggie are too big, it will make it harder to manage for kids. So as much as I love a big strip of onion in my salad, diced will work better for littles. And that extra chop of the broccoli and cabbage will make it easier for kids to eat.

Summer Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Salad

Just chop and toss – it really is that simple! You can add or subtract veg based on your preferences. I have added sunflower seeds before, and even a hard boiled egg to my bowl.

Summer Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Honey Mustard Dressing

I use a small 8 ounce jelly jar to measure and shake up my dressing. It is so fast and at this point in the summer I have it memorized because the ingredients are so simple! The dressing is sweet and tangy – perfect for everyone on the family. And instead of the heavier creamy broccoli salad dressings we are all used to (nothing wrong with those!), this light and crisp dressing is perfect for hot summer days.

Summer Broccoli Salad

Storage and serving

The broccoli salad is ready to eat as soon as it is tossed, and it keeps so well for about 5 days. This makes a great prep day item so that you can ensure that you have some veggie side to go with your lunch or dinner every day. I love that this salad doesn’t get soggy even with the dressing on it! If you prefer, you could just add the dressing when you are ready to eat it. The dressing will keep in the fridge for weeks.

Summer Broccoli Salad

Summer Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

FOR THE BROCCOLI SALAD

  • 4-5 cups of chopped broccoli florets
  • ¼ head of cabbage sliced into strips
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • ¼ red onion sliced into strips (or diced if you like smaller pieces)
  • ½ cup manchego cheese Or whatever cheese you have on hand. You can leave this out if you are dairy free!

FOR THE HONEY MUSTARD VINEGARETTE

  • 3-4 tbsp raw honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar I liked more bite of vinegar, but my younger girls ate this happier with 1 tbsp
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Put all of the broccoli salad ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously to combine. You could use an immersion blender if you wish. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Start with ½ of the dressing and add more to your liking. It really depends on how much dressing you like on your salad. I use the whole jar most of the time. Any leftovers taste great on any salad you make and will keep in the fridge for weeks.
  • This broccoli salad will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Make some on the weekend and use it as your weekday lunch veggie each day!

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Raising Generation Nourished School Lunch Gear Resource Guide

August 2, 2020

This all-inclusive school lunch gear guide will help you select what lunch gear works best for YOUR family and how YOU pack lunches in YOUR home!

Raising Generation Nourished Lunch Gear Resource Guide

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.

Simplifying life

It is so very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the lunchbox choices that we have today. While we have certainly improved from the squished brown paper bags and endless plastic baggie waste of our 1980’s and 1990’s youth, we have also been inundated with enough lunch gear choices to make any mom’s head spin. My hope is to give you a comprehensive guide with my own veteran momma thoughts on packing so that you can select gear that works for YOUR household.

“Build Your Own BLT Lunchable with Amazin’ Bacon Dipping Sauce” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a Bentgo Kids Box

There’s no one right way to pack a lunch

This has become a mantra of mine when teaching about lunch packing every school year, and I mean every word of it. Every household has a different rhythm, and my rhythm does not have to be your rhythm. Your bestie momma friend’s rhythm does not have to be your rhythm. We all have different schedules, different likes and dislikes, and of course – different kids!

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
“Colorful Rainbow Pinwheels” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a BriGenius Bento Box

So as you walk through this guide think about how YOUR household runs.

How YOU like to pack lunches. And then match that rhythm to lunch gear that fits.

  • If you like to incorporate dinner leftovers, soups, and warm items weekly, be sure to check out the thermos options section.
  • If your kids prefer “snackier” cold lunches with lots of choices, then a multi-compartment bento might work better for you.
  • If your child gets overwhelmed by too many choices, pick a simpler box and set up.
  • If your kids like lots of variety, you might want to invest in both a thermos type of lunch box as well as a cold lunch bento. You are truly in the driver seat!
“The Best Chinese Take-Out Copycat” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a thermos

BENTO BOX OPTIONS

Planetbox

Planetbox has been a favorite in our household since pre-school ages, my now 11-year-old still uses the same Planetbox she had from her early elementary years!

  • Material :: Planetbox styles are all stainless steel.
  • Design :: These lunchboxes are multi-compartment bento boxes depending on the style – see the styles below. The bento box comes with magnets to customize the lunchbox if you want (be sure to pull these off before washing however or the steel will rust underneath!)
  • Leak-Proof? :: The actual compartments do keep items separate very well, but they are not leak-proof. Each Planetbox does come with leak-proof containers though, so things like salad dressings, ketchup, other dips, can go in a condiment container neatly in the box. And other leaky items like juicy fruit, applesauce, and yogurt can go in the larger round containers. Again, these leak-proof containers come with your Planetbox.
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: Planetbox and all of the accessories are dishwasher safe. I would recommend pulling the magnets off before washing to prevent water from getting under the magnet and rusting the box.
  • Age Group :: Depends on the style Planetbox – see each style below.
  • Planetbox Style #1 – “The Shuttle” :: The Shuttle is a really nice size for toddlers and pre-schoolers. My youngest was in Young 5’s two years ago, and we used this for her for the first part of the school year.
  • Planetbox Style #2 – “The Rover” ::The Rover is really the ultimate elementary aged sized lunchbox. Lots of compartments to separate food without being overwhelming, easy to open and close, with everything presented just like a plate at home. My kindergarten through late elementary aged kids used this box.
  • Planetbox Style #3 – “The Launch” ::The Launch lunchbox is a great size for middle school ages and beyond (I even used it to pack sometimes as an adult!). If you have an upper elementary aged child that has a really good appetite, then the Launch might work well for him as well.
  • Lunch Bag :: You’ll have to use the Planetbox lunch bag to fit the unique design of the planetboxes. These have lasted my kids many years. I have only bought a new one for my oldest once, and it was mostly because she wanted a different color.
  • Price Point :: While the price point on this lunchbox feels high, I have considered it a very worth investment as it is the only lunchbox I’ve had to buy my kids in 7 years of schooling so far!
“Charcuterie Board Lunchbox from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a Rover style Planetbox
“Colorful Rainbow Chicken Salad with Fruity Poppyseed Dressing” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a Launch style Planetbox

BriGenius

The BriGenius has been a fun lunchbox to play around with, and I can see this working very well for both younger and older children with it’s simple set up for ease of eating for little kids, and plenty of space to pack for older ones.

  • Material :: The BriGenius bento box is made of BPA free wheat fiber. (Does anyone know what this means for Celiac kids? I tried researching this and came up empty – please comment below!)
  • Design :: The box is a 5-compartment bento. It feels lightweight like plastic and washes up well. This bento box comes in one color, but the lid is plain and might do well with a some fun laptop stickers to customize!
  • Leak-Proof? :: The compartments keep food separated well, but only the middle compartment is leak-proof, perfect for dips. I did not think it did well with thinner dressings, but thick dips like ketchup, hummus, or a creamy dressing do well.
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: This bento box washes up well and fuss-free. It is dishwasher safe.
  • Age Group :: While this box advertises “older kids and adults,” I can see this bento box being great for little kids too. It is a simple set up for little ones and easy to open/close.
  • Lunch Bag :: This lunchbox would fit in most lunch bags you can find at the store measuring 7 inches X 8.7 inches X 2.7 inches.
  • Price Point :: I love the price point on this lunchbox, though I have only had it about a year, so I can’t comment on how long they last. If anyone has one and would like to comment, please do below!
“Best Busy Kid Approved Veggie Nuggets” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

Bentgo Kids

Bentgo Kids is perfectly made for your younger crew!

  • Material :: Bentgo Kids is made of BPA free plastic.
  • Design :: The box is a 5-compartment bento box. You can get Bentgo Kids in one color designs, two-tone color designs, or with patterned designs too.
  • Leak-Proof? :: Bentgo Kids is totally leak-proof.
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: The tray comes out for dishwasher safe washing, but outside of the box with the leak-proof seal is recommended to be washed by hand to maintain it’s leak-proof nature. I have a feeling you will want to pull the rubber leak-proof parts out to wash here and there unfortunately or it might start to smell/mold.
  • Age Group :: They recommend ages 3-7, though I can see your younger toddlers being able to manage this box. Also, my 7 year old is able to fit her portion sizes into this box, so I can see this box working through 1st or 2nd grade.
  • Lunch Bag :: The box measurements are 8.5 inches X 6.5 inches X 2 inches, so it is going to fit in most store bought lunch bags. I have found the Bentology bags to fit most bento boxes perfectly.
  • Price Point :: The price point on this lunchbox is great, and it does have a 2 year warranty. I’m not sure if that means they plan on it being worn down by then or not! If anyone has experience with years of use using a Bentgo, we would love to hear from you below!
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
“Crunchy Honey Oat Nature Valley® Granola Bar Copycat” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

UpBento

The UpBento brand is very similar to Bentgo in design and age range, but I liked the versatility of having 2 trays with different set up options that this box gives. It makes it stretch past the age 7 in my opinion.

  • Material :: The UpBento box is made of BPA free plastic.
  • Design :: The box comes with 2 tray set-ups (a 4-compartment tray, and a 6-compartment) for versatile food options. There is just the one, 2-toned color pattern for the lunchbox, but it does come with some fun stickers that your child can personalize their lunchbox with. I’m not sure how long those stickers stay! If anyone has experience with this lunchbox, please let us know below!
  • Leak-Proof? :: The UpBento is totally leak-proof.
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: This bento box is dishwasher safe. The leak-proof lid has a part that removes to wash – I think water will get underneath and start to smell if you don’t do that often just FYI.
  • Age Group :: They advertise the box as ages 3-8 but I know that my 7 and 9 year olds’ portions fit just fine in here (my 9 year old is going into 4th grade).
  • Lunch Bag :: The UpBento measures 8.9 inches X 6.9 inches X 2 so it will fit most store bought lunch bags. I have found the Bentology bags to fit most bento boxes perfectly.
  • Price Point :: This box has a 180 day warranty and an affordable price point.
“Party Time Confetti Bean Salad” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in the 4-Tray Option of the UpBento Box
“Carnival Corndog Copycat” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in the 6-Tray option of the UpBento Box

OmieBox

I’m putting the OmieBox in the Bento Box section even though it has a thermos, because it is the only bento box with a thermos option! If you are a thermos packer, this is such a great option for your elementary aged children. Instead of a separate thermos and box to manage, everything is all in one which is perfect for little kids.

  • Material :: The OmieBox is made of BPA free plastic. The thermos is stainless steel.
  • Design :: The box has 3 compartments plus a thermos compartment that is completely removable for days that you don’t want to pack hot food – it is the perfect size for a sandwich or larger food. The thermos holds 6 ounces of hot food – which is truly a perfect size thermos for little ones. The other 3 compartments are plenty deep and hold a lot of food.
  • Leak-Proof? :: This box is totally leak-proof.
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: This lunchbox is dishwasher safe, though the rubber sealed parts do need to be removed to wash here and there or they start to smell – I have had this happen!
  • Age Group :: Pre-school to around middle elementary school years. My 4th grader’s portions would still fit in this box. I would say anything past 4th grade this box will be too small though. I will mention that my 4th grader thought this box was “too baby-ish” last year in 3rd grade though, so keep that in mind.
  • Lunch Bag :: I love that this box has a handle for carrying – you don’t need a separate bag! You could purchase the OmieBox carrying bag however in case you have to pack a cold pack sometimes.
  • Price Point :: Considering you are getting both a bento box and thermos in one, I consider this price fairly affordable.
I gave our OmieBox away to a friend – apologize for the stock image! If you have other OmieBox questions, I used it for 2 years and can answer them!

Stackable Bento Boxes

I wanted to share one other option for bento boxes that you might not think about! I can see stackable bento boxes working very well for middle school and high school, especially for kids that want a more space saving, compact lunchbox. This age carries around so many books and devices, that I think the compact nature of this style might be nice for them.

  • Material :: You can find stackable lunchboxes in stainless steel or BPA free wheat straw type plastic materials. It depends on how you like to clean your lunchboxes, as well as if the weight of the lunchbox matters to you. The plastic boxes will be lighter weight.
  • Design :: The main concept of these Japanese style lunchboxes is 3-5 separate compartments that stack easily on top of each other. The boxes are nice and deep, holding a lot of of food for older kids. I love that these compartments not only work well for staples like sandwiches, but also for big salads like taco salad, pasta salad, cobb salads, or chicken salads, and then have a compartment for sides like chips, fruit, etc. Great lunch options for older kids!
  • Leak-Proof :: Many of the stackable designs are completely leak-proof as each compartment has a separate lid.
  • Dishwasher Safe :: Most of the stackable designs are dishwasher safe.
  • Age Group :: Upper elementary through high school and college. I wanted to also mention that the reason I wouldn’t pack these for younger kids is because of all the separate boxes and lids that aren’t attached. It is just too much for little ones to manage (and not get lost!), so for that reason, I wouldn’t recommend this style for little ones.
  • Lunch Bag :: Many of these stackable designs have a strap or carrying handle making it so easy to travel. I think a taller lunch bag would be nice to have around though for packing with ice packs as needed. I found many on Amazon.
  • Price Point :: I just love the price points on the stackable lunchbox styles! I’m not sure how long they hold up, but I think they are quite affordable and super compact!
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
“Fast Prep Brain Boosting Bow Tie Pasta Salad” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
“Taco Tuesday” Fajita Salad from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

THERMOS OPTIONS

LunchBots

We’ve been using LunchBots thermoses for years now, and I would say I’ll probably buy them again if we wear them out!

  • My biggest love for these thermoses (other than the fact that they keep food hot and my kids can get the lid on and off) is the size. These thermoses hold 8 ounces of hot food, which is the perfect size for most kids. It is a bit big for your really little guys (see the OmieBox in the bento box section above if you want a really small thermos), but my kindergartners have “grown into” their thermoses, and this thermos is still a great size for my 6th grader. I literally search every year for a thermos that holds 6-8 ounces, and have only found this one! Most other popular thermoses for kids (Thermos Brand, Skip Hop, Foogo) are all 10 ounce thermoses – they hold a lot of food but it really is a lot for kids. These sizes will work for older kids I’m assuming. The problem with a container that is too big, is that the food will get cold faster if the container is not filled up at least 3/4 of the way. By getting a smaller thermos, you can be sure the food won’t have a bunch of empty space to compete with keeping the food warm.
  • LunchBots thermoses are stainless steel and dishwasher safe. They are easy to clean by hand if you have to do that too.
“Creamy Tomato Bisque” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a Lunchbots Thermos

Mira

The Mira Thermos was a new to me thermos while I wrote The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, and it’s a nice one!

  • This thermos is stainless steel and dishwasher safe – it cleaned up nice.
  • The Mira thermos holds 9 ounces of hot food – as I said in the above Lunchbots Thermos section, I have found 8 ounces to be a good size for most elementary school aged kids, so you can judge what would work for your children.
“Back To School Fall Harvest Soup” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a Mira Thermos

Larger Thermoses for Middle & High School

So I’m planning on updating this section as my crew gets bigger. As of right now, my oldest is in 6th grade, and I am still finding the 8 ounce Lunchbots thermos works for her. If you have older kids, I would love to hear your thoughts on how many ounces of hot food they like to pack! Here are some bigger thermoses that I think older kids would like the look of and the amount of food they hold is great. I would really love to hear from you if you try any of these out, or have a thermos that your middle or high schooler loves! Please comment below!

  • HydroFlask – holds 12 ounces (These are popular with water bottles in this age group, so I think they would be more likely to pack a hot soup or dinner leftover with a thermos in the same brand!)
  • Thermos Brand – there is a 10 ounce, 16 ounce, and 24 ounce option here
  • Capsule – this brand has a 16 ounce food capacity and a sleek look I think older kids would like.
  • Iconiq – there is a 10 and 16 ounce option for this brand. I love the stackable option and the spot for the fold-able spork!
Dairy Fake Out Mac ‘N Cheese” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook in a larger, ArderLive Thermos that might work well for High School aged kids.

SMALLER BOXES FOR THERMOS SIDES OR SNACKS

I wanted to include some ideas for the side items that get packed on a thermos day! You don’t need a huge lunchbox in addition to the thermos, so I have a small container that I use for things like their main items to go with a thermos of soup, or their side items to go with a thermos of spaghetti.

LunchBots

On most thermos days, I pack a Lunchbots Container with the girls’ main or side items to go with the thermos. I like the Uno or Trio for days that I want to pack something like a sandwich or wrap to go with a thermos of veggie soup, or a salad to go with spaghetti. And I like the Quad for days that I want to pack snacky sides to go with a thermos of dinner leftovers like stir fry.

  • Material/Design :: Lunchbots has a variety of set-ups from the Uno (one compartment) to the Cinco (5-compartment). They are all stainless steel.
  • Leak-Proof :: These boxes keep dry food separated well, but they are not leak-proof. They do have accessories like condiment containers that keep dips and dressings leak-free.
  • Dishwasher Safe :: These simple stainless steel designs wash up nice and are dishwasher safe.
  • Age Group :: These boxes are easy to use, but do have a lid that is not attached. If your little one tends to lose things, you might practice before school starts for your child to put the lid under the box while eating so they are in the habit of keeping it in a safe spot. I think the portion size of these boxes is good for holding food to go with a thermos lunch for older kids. You might not need this much room for younger ones.
  • Lunch Bag :: I always used my Planetbox bags for thermos days that included side items too. I think you could put a thermos and Lunchbots container in just about any lunch bag.
  • Price Point :: While you may feel like these boxes are pricey when you have to buy a thermos to go with it, I have not needed to replace our Lunchbots containers since my 6th grader started school. No rusting, no damage – they look brand new. They are made very well and are a great investment!
“Winter Blues Buster Creamy Potato Soup” from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook with sides in a Lunchbots Trio

Kid Basix

From thermos side items to morning snacks, we love these containers!

  • Material/Design :: Kid Basix boxes are a one compartment, stainless steel with a BPA free plastic lid that is attached. There are 3 sizes – small, medium, or large and a variety of lid colors.
  • Leak-Proof? :: These boxes are not leak-proof. I have found both Planetbox and Lunchbots condiment containers do fit in these boxes though, so if you need to pack a dip you could do it that way.
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: Yes
  • Age Group :: I used these most often for my younger girls on thermos days. They are smaller and have an attached lid! These also work fantastic for any age group for morning snack packing.
  • Lunch Bag :: I always used my Planetbox bags for thermos days that included side items too. I think you could put a thermos and Kid Basix container in just about any lunch bag.
  • Price Point :: These containers have a great price point and have lasted us literally years – since my oldest started school.

DRINKING CUPS

So let’s also briefly talk about drinking cups! Let me tell you a secret, dear momma! I am a drinking cup SNOB. I *loathe* washing drinking cup straws and accessories, so I am a minimalist. This is list is not all inclusive – just my favorites for ease of washing and safe materials. I don’t have a dishwasher, so part of my weirdness surrounding drinking cups has to do with the fact that I can’t just toss everything into a magic dishwasher!

Life Factory

I know, I know, glass. But hear me out! If your school allows it, I truly just love how glass washes up, and I have never had one break – even with my kindergartners.

  • Material/Design :: Glass with BPA free drinking top parts. There is an open spout option or straw (probably the ONLY straw cup I’ll use because it’s easy to wash!). Because these cups are glass, they are going to feel heavier than some stainless steel – though the insulated stainless steel cups are pretty hefty too.
  • Leak-Proof? :: Yes
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: Yes, however I recommend a cleaning brush for straws in the straw version.
  • Age Group :: The smaller, 12-ounce cups are great for Preschool through middle elementary. You can start with the straw top for littles, and buy an open spout lid when they are ready! The sizes for older kids come in 16 ounce or 22 ounce.
  • Price Point :: The price point on these cups are so affordable, and they last so long. I have never had to replace one or any of the parts.

Klean Kanteen

My favorite stainless steel option for cups with a simple, easy to clean design.

  • Material/Design :: All Klean Kanteen options are stainless steel with BPA free plastic lid/spout options. The single walled cups are very light-weight while the double walled/insulated cups are heavier.
  • Leak-Proof :: Yes
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: Yes, however I’m not sure how long the spouts hold up using a dishwasher since I don’t have a dishwasher.
  • Age Group :: The smaller, 12-ounce cups are great for Preschool through early elementary. They have a sport top spout. The sizes for older kids come in 18-ounce or 27-ounce.
  • Price Point :: These cups have an affordable price point and we have had our cups for about 5 years without any issues.

Hydroflask

I am including Hydroflask because we are trying them out this year. I know it is a “popular” brand and I wanted to give them a try so that I can speak from experience. In my research, I have found that Hydroflasks made after 2017 do NOT have the lead “dot” at the bottom (if you are unsure of what I am talking about – just Google how insulated water bottles that have the little dot at the bottom of the bottle have lead – it is eye opening!). So any Hydroflasks made after 2017 are safe.

  • Material/Design :: Stainless steel with BPA free lid options.
  • Leak-Proof? :: Yes
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: Yes – I’ll keep you posted on how the spouts hold up.
  • Age Group :: The smaller, 12-ounce cup is good for pre-school through middle elementary and has a straw spout. The size for older kids comes in 21-ounce size and has a sport cap top. There are some other larger sizes that perhaps might be good for high school aged kids.
  • Price Point :: I’ll keep you posted if the investment is worth it! These are pricey IMO!!!

Yeti

I am also testing out Yeti for kids this year. One of my older girls is getting a Hydro Flask and the other a Yeti, and I’ll keep you posted! I know both are popular and I want to be able to report on how they hold up if your kids are asking for one. From my research, Yeti does not contain the lead “dot” issues that some insulated stainless steel cups have.

  • Material/Design :: Stainless steel with BPA free lid options.
  • Leak-Proof? :: Yes
  • Dishwasher Safe? :: Yes – I’ll keep you posted on how the spouts hold up.
  • Age Group :: The smaller, 12-ounce cup is good for preschool through middle elementary and has a straw spout. The sizes for older kids come in 18-ounce or 26-ounce but you have to buy a straw spout or spout top separately. It is just a wide-mouth open cup otherwise.
  • Price Point :: Again, I’ll keep you posted if the investment is worth the hype – I know that I have loved my Yeti coffee travel mug for years, but I’m skeptical if having this spendy of a water cup for kids is necessary!
Raising Generation Nourished Lunch Gear Resource Guide

Want more school lunch ideas?!

My cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook has over 60 ideas with full color photos of balanced lunchboxes! Just one homemade item per box, these lunch ideas are do-able for the busiest of families! You can read more about The Little Lunchbox Cookbook here!

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

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

March 9, 2020

Keep the pantry stocked with these easy 10 minute prep, nut free school zone safe, crunchy buckwheat and apricot granola bars!

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Early spring?! We’ll take it!

It sure feels like spring has sprung rather early in these parts, and while I know there is a very good chance we will still see a March snow storm where I live, we’re soaking in every ounce of any sunshine and 40 degrees that is thrown our way with complete and utter delight!

Busy kids and healthier on the go snacks

Spring is a very *busy* time of year for my crew, and having grab-and-go snacks on hand that won’t sugar crash my growing kids is truly the name of the game. Real food fats, proteins, and healthy carbohydrates to sustain and satiate active kids, while still tasting good isn’t as hard as it sounds. Keeping fast and easy hard boiled eggs, fresh veggies with fatty dips, and even some healthier choice packaged store-bought snacks on hand keeps us from blowing our budget on empty calorie snacks and kids that are hungry every hour of the day. When we “make every bite count,” filling our kids up on food that satiates, they won’t be asking for snack after snack.

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Homemade, made easy

It’s no secret, I’m passionate about seeing kids filled up on nourishing, real fats, sustainable protein building blocks, and energy fueling real food carbohydrates. But I am also a real mom, with 3 very real kids, and this truly is a very real family behind this computer or phone screen that you are reading. There needs to be a balance between store bought everything and homemade all the things if it is going to be sustainable. This quick, 10-minute prep granola bar is made for busy families! The granola bars also store in the pantry, just like regular granola bars, so they will be just as convenient for the kids to grab for lunchbox packing or snack time.

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Star players

So let’s talk about this fun granola bar change up, and why it is a great idea to keep ingredient variety in our diets. Instead of an all oat based granola bar, I’m focusing on mineral rich seeds for this crunchy, satisfying version. One of my girls has a nut free snack time at school this year, and while nut free is easier than you think, I have also challenged myself to create some seed only snacks (like these copycat coconut clusters) for her this year to change things up. Buckwheat is a seed packed with minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. I feel like it is a really overlooked, mineral rich ingredient, and it has a nutty, toasted taste when baked into a crunchy granola bar. I’ve also added mineral rich pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to add to the nutrient variety and flavors, and of course some traditional oats make these pretty granola bars picture perfect. The kids will love these honey toasted seeds in a convenient little bar, and the dried apricots are a fun little surprise sprinkled throughout!

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

The Method

You’ll start by pouring all the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. I use my food processor to buzz up the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, so this part goes fast. After you melt the coconut oil and honey over the stove, you’ll pour that over the dry ingredients and stir them to coat everything evenly. The granola mixture gets pressed into the pan and you can tend to other kitchen tasks or the kids while it bakes! After the granola bars cool completely, you can cut the bars in the sizes you like. The beauty of making your own granola bars is being able to control the size of the bars you like. I tend to make squares so that they can be a small snack or a small addition to lunchbox since my kids are still young. This works well for toddlers too since a large granola bar can be a lot to finish. If you have older kids, you can make regular sized bars.

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free
Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free
Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Swap thoughts

Even if you aren’t in a nut free school or have kids at home with nut allergies, I would love to see you try these seed based bars! The nutrient diversity is good for your gut and growing bodies. That said, if the you have nuts on hand to use up, I do think that they will swap in this recipe for the seeds. If they are bigger nuts like almonds or walnuts, you might want to use a heaping ¼ cup of nuts to make up for the small seeds that fill up the quarter cup. If you don’t have dried apricots just yet, raisins should work just fine, though if you get a chance the apricots are so fun and pretty too!

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and line an 8×8 baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.
  • Put the oats, buckwheat groats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat flour, and apricots in a medium mixing bowl, and set aside.
  • Melt the coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan and then pour over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Stir the granola bar ingredients thoroughly so that everything is coated with the coconut oil mixture.
  • Pour the granola bar mixture into the lined pan and press the mixture down using the bottom of your half cup measuring cup so that everything is pressed into the pan evenly. Pay attention to the sides and corners so that everything is straight and even.
  • Bake the granola bars at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Do NOT cut the bars until they have cooled completely. The will harden as they cool and be easier to cut. Once the bars have cooled completely to room temp, pull the sides of the parchment paper so the granola bars come out in one square. Use a long sharp knife to cut the granola bars into the sizes you want.
Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

More real food LUNCHBOX recipes you might like:

Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches Snack Ideas

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

February 6, 2020

From lunchbox snacks to on the go toddler munchies, these copycat coconut clusters are kid approved and safe for nut free school zones!

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

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February thaws and a new favorite snack

Good gracious these Michiganders of mine aren’t quite sure what to do with this mild winter we are having so far! The first weekend into February and we had such a huge thaw that we could play in the beach sand and hike without snowpants! We’ve been extra active this winter, which is so nice, and it also works up little appetites! Let me tell you about a new favorite of ours!

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!
Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

From a Costco find to a homemade copycat!

Earlier this fall, we picked up these cute new coconut cluster snacks at Costco, and my kids really liked them. I loved the simple ingredients, and that they were packed with fatty coconut and mineral rich seeds. I did not, however, love that they were sweetened with brown rice syrup and sugar. I decided to try a bag anyway, and when I discovered how much the girls liked them, decided I better figure out a better way to make them so they weren’t having brown rice syrup and sugar on a weekly basis. The snack was such a great idea otherwise, so we gave it a shot!

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

The prepping method

Because in all actuality, the store bought coconut clusters were really just as simple as a bunch of coconut flakes and seeds baked with their mode of sweetening! You’ll start by adding your coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia into a large bowl and then mix with just the right amount of mineral rich pure maple syrup.

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

The baking method

Then, you have two baking choices! If you like neat little cluster rounds, you can spoon your coconut mixture into small cookie sized shapes. Or, you can spread the entire mixture onto the baking sheet, and break it up after it bakes, leaving uneven little clusters. The choice is yours! Both work great!

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!
Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!
Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!
Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

Sweetener choices

I loved the warmth that the pure maple syrup brought to these little coconut clusters. I do think that raw honey might work here, however honey has a tendency to burn a bit, so be super careful as they bake. I have not tried a combo of maple syrup and coconut sugar but I do think that might work. You do need some sort of liquid sweetener though to get the stick that you need for the clusters to come together. I’d love to know what you’ve tried, if you want to comment below! As it is, the fat and fiber in the coconut and seeds balances the sweet, and this is a side or snack, not a full meal, so all in all I don’t tend to worry about it!

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

Can I swap the seed for nuts?

If you can handle nuts, and want to change things up for more variety, any nuts will work here too. If they are heftier nuts like almonds or walnuts, I would consider a rough chop to make the pieces a little smaller.

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

Storeage

Good news! These little guys store right in your pantry for easy peasy lunchbox additions or snacktime! Just put the baked and cooled coconut clusters in an airtight container in the pantry up to 3 months.

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

Copycat Coconut Clusters :: Nut Free School Zone Safe!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 sheet pans unbleached parchment paper.
  • Mix all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, until thoroughly coated in the maple syrup.
  • To make clusters, use a spoon to drop a couple tablespoons of the mixture into a cluster onto the sheet pan, lining up the clusters like you would cookies on a cookie sheet. To make one large sheet pan to break up into uneven clusters and smaller chunks, divide the mixture between the 2 sheet pans and spread the mixture out evenly, making sure everything is touching so it sticks together.
  • Bake the coconut clusters at 350 degrees for 14 minutes until the coconut is lightly toasted. Do NOT touch the coconut clusters for about 1 hour so that they harden. Leave them on the sheet tray. Once the coconut clusters are completely cooled, they will be hardened and stick together well. If you made a large sheet pan full, you can break apart your clusters once they are cooled. Store your coconut clusters in an airtight container in the pantry up to 3 months.
More real food LUNCHBOX RECIPES you might like! GF Pizza Pinwheels Paleo Mini Banana Muffins Instant Pot Tomato Soup for Lunchbox Thermoses GF Pizza Muffins Honey Nut Granola for Lunchbox Yogurt Parfaits Nut Free Granola Bars

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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
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

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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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. 

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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 16 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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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 18 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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Healthy Salty and Sweet Trail Mix :: No added sugar!

January 22, 2019

From lunchbox additions and afternoon pick me ups, to game day munchies and movie night snacks, this salty and sweet trail mix is the perfect healthy choice!

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.

Lunchbox ruts…

Dear momma, I am so feeling you! Halfway through the year, and that lunchbox rotation is starting to look a little blurry, the kids are bored of the same thing, and you are just squinting your eyes at any glimpse of summer break on the horizon 😊

Even real food bloggers need a fresh idea!

Because I’m human too. And I have a full schedule, 3 completely different kids, and seriously those lunchboxes don’t pack themselves! My youngest started asking for “trail mix” in the last few weeks, and I had an idea of what she was asking for. Usually I just take the easy route and pack the girls a hand full of nuts or seeds with a few pieces of raisin and call it “trail mix,” but my youngest was referring to a trail mix she fell in love with a while ago…

A healthier take on an old stand-by…

A year or so ago, Costco carried this cleaner than most trail mix that I had grown accustomed to having in my rotation for the girls’ morning school snacks, or as a quick lunchbox addition. Like Costco seems to be so good at doing, right when you get into a rhythm of using something of theirs that you love…they take it away! Amiright?! To be honest I didn’t love that the dried fruit in the mix had sunflower oil, but for the most part the mix was pretty clean, and it was nice to use once a week as a quick snack or lunchbox filler. Really this mix isn’t that hard to duplicate! I decided to grab a cleaner, healthier fat to make the trail mix feel rich, and make it fun with different pieces of dried fruit for the sweet, and a hit of sea salt for the salty – that makes for a fun snack!

Let’s break it down!

You can really swap the nut/seed/dried fruit combo for anything that you have in your pantry. I love having a big variety to take advantage of all the different vitamins and minerals that nuts and seeds have to offer, without overdoing it on one particular kind. If you are nut free, just use all seeds, and if you can’t have something on the list, simply swap it out. And as far as the dried fruit goes, the sky is the limit as long as it doesn’t have added sugar in my book, so go for it! I can hardly wait until strawberry and blueberry season so that I can dry some of those out to add to the mix!

Speaking of the fruit…

Dried fruit is super sneaky. You have to really look at the ingredient labels and be sure you aren’t getting sunflower oils and added sugar. Just be careful – I’ll add a link to each of the dried fruit elements that we love using here, and I’ll add a few more that I think work great too. All of these are oil and added sugar free! For the most part, I get the dried fruit between Costco and Amazon.

  • Raisins
  • Dried mango (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried apple (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried goji berries
  • Dried apricots (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Prunes (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dates (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried bananas (Sometimes called banana chips – I use these as snacks with pouches of Justin’s almond butter for lunches too!)
  • Figs (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)

To bake or not to bake?

If you are short on time, this mix truly does just come together to toss without the cooking fat and sea salt, and you’re good to go. Many of you with toddlers in the house can start out this way! As the kids get older and their palates mature, having that salty/sweet combo with the richness from a little butter makes a handful of trail mix go from good to amazing! When the girls got their hands on this, they literally thought we were having a treat. I’ll be packing this up in little containers for a popcorn swap the next time we visit the movie theater because it definitely is a nice salty and sweet snack. While I think butter or ghee has the best flavor, avocado oil or olive oil would work the same way. Use what you can!

Soaked/Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

All of the nuts and seeds that I use in this trail mix have been soaked and dehydrated (with the exception of the shelled pistachios). When I first started learning about real food years ago, I learned about the process of soaking in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook as something that our ancestors would have done. The soaking takes the phytic acid in the nuts and seeds down a few notches, making them easier to digest. If that feels outside your real food comfort zone just yet, don’t work yourself up over it. Just use what you have or buy and make this fun recipe! If you are a traditional foodie, you will want soaked or sprouted nuts/seeds. My process to make the soaking process simple and fast, is that when I buy the bags of organic nuts/seeds from Costco or Amazon, I soak and dehydrate them right away. They stay in containers in my pantry so that I can take a quick handful for lunchboxes, or scoop them out for a recipe like this!

Other fun add-in ideas

You can really dress the trail mix up for whatever you are using it for! This basic framework is great for everyday, if you are going to have a bowl of it out at a party or on game day, add in some healthier choice chocolate chips is fun (this does have added sugar just fyi if you have to watch that). I also think coconut flakes are a fun addition and when I have those around I like to add those in with the baking process to make them crispy like chips.

A quick note about saving money and where to shop

Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit can be super pricey if you aren’t careful. We want to have good stewardship with our real food budget, and so I suggest shopping around diligently to find your best priced source. For where I live, it is really between Costco and Amazon, though there are a couple of items with better pricing at our local grocer, such as the dates listed in the dried fruit above. In the links below in the recipe card, any of the nuts that you see with the “Kirkland” organic brand linked, I get at Costco. The rest of the nuts/seeds I buy on Amazon to save money. These items come with a lot, so build up your stash a little at a time, and you will be able to have more variety in your trail mix with time! 

Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Healthy Salty and Sweet Trail Mix

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Pour the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit right onto a baking sheet (NO Silpat or parchment paper for this recipe), and then toss with the melted butter and sea salt so that everything is coated evenly.
  • Divide the trail mix between 2 large baking sheets, spread the trail mix out, and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir the trail mix around (I just shake the pans a bit!), and then bake another 5-7 minutes.
  • Let the trail mix cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

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Instant Pot Poblano Potato Soup

January 15, 2019

Poblano potato soup is winter comfort food…with a Mexican twist and in a fraction of the time with your Instant Pot!

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

A fresh week, a delicious soup, and a brand new cookbook…

For this real food blogger, it really doesn’t get any better than that – specifically that last part. A sparkling new cookbook filled with so many amazing possibilities! My dear blogging friend for so many years, Emily, from Recipes to Nourish sent her second cookbook, “Amazing Mexican Favorites with Your Instant Pot” to me this weekend, and authentic Mexican food makes this momma so happy!

Fun Mexican favorites…and some new ideas!

I’ll be the first one to admit that my Mexican food comfort zone revolves around the basics…tacos, fajitas, and maybe a little tortilla soup, so I was really happy to step out of my comfort zone and learn a few new food ideas from this beautiful cookbook. There are so many great taco, burrito, and fajita ideas that I can’t wait to learn how to make in my Instant Pot, but there are also a handful of recipes that I have never heard before…and that my friends, is where the magic lies…

Giving your kids the gift of a broad taste palate…

Here’s the deal dear momma! When your goal is creating broad taste palates for your kids, it goes so much further beyond just eating their broccoli at dinner. I honestly didn’t know how the girls were going to like this soup, but what I DID know, was that they were going to happily come to the dinner table that night, even if there was new food in their bowl. Mealtime has been, and always will be positive, and they have been exposed to a variety of flavors from early on. The flavors in this book are super authentic, and this soup is bold and SO amazing…and all 3 of them liked it – my oldest in this picture ate 2 bowls (she adored it!).

That spark in her eye…

She asked to look through the book more and I love that it sparked an interest for a different culture of food. We talked about where Rudy, Emily’s husband, has family roots, and while she knew where Mexico was on the map, it was really cool to see her eyes light up learning about the food culture there. THIS is where it’s at dear momma. Don’t be afraid to put different cultures of food, bold and bright as they may be, in front of your kids. They will grow into adults that appreciate the variety in culture that surrounds us, and have a deep appreciation for food!

Winter comfort food…with a Mexican twist!

SO, let’s talk about this amazing Poblano Potato Soup! I have definitely had my fair share of potato soups – we LOVE creamy and comforting potato soups in the winter – but THIS! This potato soup has the most delicious Mexican twist to it. The smoky paprika flavor, and the mild, sweet heat from the poblanos was so surprising to me. It really was so different…and we adore this soup!

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Since I made the Poblano Potato Soup for the first time at the beginning of the day, I ended up eating the bowl of soup for my breakfast with a side of eggs and figs – it was so satisfying, not to mention FAST using my Instant Pot! The fiber and slow burning carbohydrates in potatoes along with the cooking fat and my side dish protein made for a really balanced meal. My girls ate theirs with fish sticks for dinner – it was a real hit!

A quick note on the heat for your littles

All 3 of my girls loved the taste of this soup at first. Like I said earlier, my oldest ate 2 bowls and really enjoyed every single bite. My younger 2 girls, who are still a bit sensitive to heat, started heating up after about 3 bites. They both said they wanted to keep eating it but their mouth felt too spicy. I asked Emily personally where the heat was coming from – was it the poblanos or was it the smoked paprika? She is thinking it is more the peppers, so I am planning on making this soup again and cutting back on the poblano peppers by 1 or even 2. My poblanos were…HUGE – as you can see in the photo above! It could have just been that too! I LOVE that each recipe in the cookbook has a spicy heat level attached – mild, medium, and hot. This soup recipe is labeled as “medium,” and so it makes sense that my littles found it to have more heat than they are used to. I felt like most of the recipes in the book were labeled as mild, and the ones that are labeled hot or medium, are easily adjusted for heat if you have little guys not used to it.

Notes for my dairy free friends

Since we don’t tolerate dairy, I did swap the cream for a mix of coconut yogurt and coconut milk – I think all coconut milk would be fine too. I did not taste the coconut. I also left the cheese out. I think it would taste even more amazing with the cheese, so if you can tolerate the dairy – enjoy that!

Print Recipe
5 from 13 votes

Poblano Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 3 tbsp 42 g butter, ghee or avocado oil
  • 1 leek white and pale green parts only, sliced
  • 5 fresh garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 russet potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups 1 L chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup 230 g sour cream or 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ cup 55 g shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ lb 225 g pan fried Spanish style chorizo, sliced into small pieces

Optional Toppings

  • Sour cream
  • Freshly chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to broil with a rack in the highest position.
  • Place the poblano peppers on a baking sheet and broil until they start to blacken, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, carefully peel the blackened skin off. Remove the stems and discard. Coarsely chop the peppers, then set them aside.
  • Add the healthy fat of your choice to the Instant Pot and press “Sauté.” When the fat has melted, add the leek, sautéing for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic, salt, dill, paprika, cumin and black pepper and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button. Add the potatoes, roasted peppers and broth.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the steam-release valve is sealed. Press the “Manual” button and set for 9 minutes. When the Instant Pot is done and beeps, press “Keep Warm/Cancel.” Using an oven mitt, “quick release”/open the steam-release valve. When the steam venting stops and the silver dial drops, carefully open the lid.
  • In batches, ladle the soup into a blender, taking care to fill only about half of the blender (hot liquids will expand, so please use caution). Blend on a low setting just until puréed and combined. Add the puréed soup back to the Instant Pot and press “Sauté,” bring to a boil and give it a few stirs. Add the sour cream and cheese and stir until fully combined. Turn off the Instant Pot by pressing “Keep Warm/Cancel.”
  • Serve immediately garnished with browned chorizo and the toppings of your choice.

Notes

Notes: For a vegetarian version, omit the chorizo and use vegetable stock instead of the chicken broth.

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Instant Pot Cauliflower and Kale Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included! :: Gluten and Dairy Free!

January 4, 2019

Make super smooth and creamy cauliflower and kale soup in a fraction of the time with your Instant Pot!

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

Winter hikes, and warm bowls…

At this point in the year, my little Michigander children expect snow…and lots of it! Every once and a while we experience a “barely white” Christmas, and this year was one of them. With the last 2 weeks off from school, they’ve been less than impressed with the lack of fresh powder, but thankfully that leaves roads clear enough to visit some of our favorite hiking places to move around. We warmed up with warm bowls of this super smooth and creamy cauliflower and baby kale soup after a hike this weekend, and the rest will be saved for school lunchbox thermoses, and momma’s breakfast.

A mind-blowing breakfast revelation….

Those of you that follow my Instagram much in the last few years know that soup is on my breakfast plate most days of the week – especially in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring. Years ago a nutritional therapist that I was working with opened my eyes to just how many more vegetable minerals and vegetable fiber our bodies need on a daily basis, and one of the ways I have figured out to get veggies into this not-so-smoothie-loving girl’s plate is to use soup.

A new breakfast favorite!

Ever grab a head of cauliflower at the market only to forget about and find it a few days later with the beginnings of those little brown spots on it? Just me?! Well, it happened to me a couple months back in the thick of the beginning of the holiday season, and I decided to use the whole head up in one shot so it didn’t go to waste. I used what I had in-house, and this delicious soup was the result – and became my breakfast for the rest of the week! It has been a nice change up from my typical breakfast soups, which also means veggie nutrient variety for my body, and that is always a win.

What I eat with my soup for breakfast

When I eat soup for breakfast, I like to have it with sides of just about anything! That keeps things interesting, so you don’t get bored. Fried eggs or sausage, a healthy muffin or breakfast cookie…even dinner leftovers will work. Leftover soup warms up quickly, and can go with you in a to-go mug too.

Ok, breakfast soup for mom, but will the kids eat it?!

Well devour it is more like it in my house, but yes, this soup is super kid friendly. If your kids aren’t big soup for breakfast eaters, pack it along in their school lunchbox thermos, or serve it with dinner. It’s a great way to get in more veggie variety with an easy to eat, flavorful soup. The texture is super smooth which most kids prefer, and the flavors are pure and delicious versus super complex. Your toddlers/babies can use a straw if they want to do it themselves. Veggie soup purees were some of my girls’ very favorite first foods, and because we started out young, they crave these mineral rich soups!

Kale? But why?!

The baby kale (or baby spinach if that is what you have) just adds more nutrients to the soup without changing the flavor. Baby kale/spinach is super mild and wilts right into hot soup – I add it to many of my soups because it is an easy way to get those dark green leafies in! It obviously changes the color, but its nice to add more nutrients without any fuss to the flavor. You can certainly leave this ingredient out if you don’t have it around, or if the kids are going to complain about the soup being “green” 🙂

The key to amazing flavor from the Instant Pot

Get those veggie basics down into some flavorful fat on the “saute” feature first. You’ll be so glad you did because the difference in flavor is very different than if you were to just toss everything in and go. Pulling the sweetness out of the carrot and onion builds the flavor in the soup which is why it is so tasty without a bunch of complex seasonings.

Chop and GO!

One of my favorite parts about soup purees, is that the veggie prep is really carefree. You don’t need a fine, perfect dice on your veggies. It all ends up getting pureed in the end, so just a quick, coarse chop will do.

Some for now, and some for later

This cauliflower and kale soup freezes great. This batch was eaten for lunch after our hike, I packed a serving away to have for my breakfast the next day, and I packed a quart away into the freezer for another time. That is probably the only true meal planning tip you’ll ever hear from my end! Whenever I make veggie soups, I always pack a quart away into the freezer for another time. I pack thermoses for the girls twice a week, and having soup in the freezer helps with that!

Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Instant Pot Cauliflower & Kale Soup

Ingredients

Instructions

INSTANT POT METHOD:

  • Turn the Instant Pot on, and press “Saute.”. Put the ghee into the pot to melt, and add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion and carrot on the “Saute” function for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and sweet. Add the garlic, stir in, and then turn the “Saute” feature “Off.”
  • Once you turn the “Saute” feature off, add the cauliflower and bone broth, and put the Instant Pot lid on. Turn the valve to closed, and press the “Soup” button. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically turn on, taking about 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes of pressure cooking time.
  • When the Instant Pot is done pressure cooking, release the valve to let the pressure out, and take the lid off the Instant Pot. Add the coconut milk and baby kale, and use your immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste after you puree the soup.

STOVETOP METHOD:

  • Melt the ghee in a large soup pot, and add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt. Saute the veg until it is soft and sweet.
  • Add the cauliflower and bone broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is soft, and then turn the heat off.
  • Add the coconut milk and baby kale, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste after you puree the soup.

More real food recipes you might like ::

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

November 15, 2018

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

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

What an amazing fall!

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

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

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

My biscuit must have list…

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

Ingredient notes

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

Freezer friendly

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

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

Soups to go with your biscuits!

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

Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

Gluten Free Pumpkin Biscuits

Bring a basket of dinner rolls to the table every week with these fast prep, 5-minute blender batter gluten-free pumpkin biscuits!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time17 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free biscuit recipe, gluten-free pumpkin biscuits, pumpkin biscuit recipe
Servings: 12 biscuits
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

Instructions

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

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

November 10, 2018

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

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

Purposely slowing it all down…

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

A kid soup favorite

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

A soup (and pantry!) staple

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

Pea Powerhouse!

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

Split Pea Soup

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

Instant Pot Pro Tip…SLOW DOWN…

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

To blend or not to blend?

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

Soaking/Sprouting Tips

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

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

Tips for making split pea soup stove top

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

Freezer Friendly

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

Print Recipe
5 from 21 votes

Healthy Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

The humble, pantry staple split pea made into a delicious, healthy split pea soup using your Instant Pot OR stovetop!
Prep Time6 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time6 hrs 30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant Pot split pea soup, pressure cooker split pea soup, split pea soup recipe
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Renee - www.raisinggenerationnourished.com

Ingredients

  • 1 lb split peas this is about 1 ½ cups of dried split peas if you buy in bulk
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter plus 1 tbsp leftover bacon grease for sauteing you can use all ghee or butter if you don’t have the bacon grease – the bacon grease gives a lovely flavor and hint of smoky pork
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2-3 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks of celery diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth less if you want your soup very thick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

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

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

October 25, 2018

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

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

October school lunch burnout…

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

Wait…what?!

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

A framework, a rhythm, and a flow

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

What exactly is a framework?

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

So let’s zero in on the veggies

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


4 School Lunches With Veggie Variety!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

How many veggies should I pack?

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

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

Packing gear in this post

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

Salad Dressing & Veggie Dip Recipes for all those veggies!

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

School Lunch Packing Resources ::

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