Browsing Category

Real Food 101

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

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!

More real food recipes you might like ::

Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Products & Books We Love! Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches

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
Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

June 16, 2020

Strawberry season just got a bit sweeter to enjoy with this easy prep, show stopping gluten free strawberry pie!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

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 strawberry picking season!

Strawberry season always makes its debut here in Michigan right around the Summer Solstice, so it always feels like the official start to summer to me! That first week or so of real warm summer temperatures in the beginning of June ripens those beautiful berries making them absolutely burst with sweet strawberry juice!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

My strawberry picking crew, and a new fun treat!

We met up with friends on the first day of picking this year, and berries were so plentiful, making for very easy picking. The kids had a ball, the littles had strawberry juice all over their faces, and my older kids were asking for a strawberry treat when we got home! It’s been a while since I’ve made strawberry pie, so I decided that was definitely something we deserved to have on our menu this week! The girl were more than happy to help at the thought of strawberry pie for dessert!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie
Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

Busy mommas…hear me out!

Dear momma, I know the last thing we have time for right now is a fancy pie crust! So I decided to show you how to make this special, simple little pie with a rustic galette style crust. If you have a favorite pie crust, you can use that, and if you don’t, you can use the one in the recipe card below. Instead of a fussy, fancy edge, you’ll simply be folding the crust edges right over the top of the pie filling – it is so easy!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

Notes on the strawberry filling

This strawberry filling is about as simple as it gets. A little starch to soak up and thicken the strawberry juices, and a bit of sugar. I used 1/2 cup of sugar, but truly these strawberries were already like candy, so I think I could have even gotten away with just 1/4 cup. If you are using store bought berries, or your berries are out of season, you may want to stick with the 1/2 cup and even bump it up a little if needed. It is, after all, a pie! Such a special treat!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

What if I don’t have the cast iron skillet?

I absolutely adore using my cast iron for pies, but if you don’t have one, you can use a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. I used a 10-inch cast iron for this pie for reference. You may want to watch the baking time a bit using a pie plate as different materials (cast iron versus a glass or metal pie plate) conduct heat differently.

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

Can I use other summer berries?

Absolutely! Use what is in season. My girls are already dreaming of blueberry season in July and raspberries for August. I think blackberries would be amazing as well. My oldest even made the connection, thinking out loud as we were making this pie, that we could definitely make this pie again with the rest of our summer berry picking! Smart kid 😉

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

Ingredients

FOR THE PIE CRUST ::

FOR THE STRAWBERRY PIE FILLING ::

  • 3 pints of strawberries about 7-8 cups after cutting (hulled and cut into halves if small berries, or quartered if larger)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • ½ – ¾ cup organic cane sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

Make the crust ::

  • Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor and pulse 5 times to mix. Add the butter, and blend until the butter is incorporated making little bits in the flour. Add the water to the drip cup on the lid of the food processor, and press blend until the dough comes together. This takes about a minute.
  • Wrap the pie crust dough in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
  • Get the crust into the skillet ::
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Flour a counter surface with the Namaste flour or rice flour and roll out your dough. You’ll want to leave it wider than your 10-inch skillet so you have enough to fold over the top. Gently set the crust into your 10-inch skillet, and softly press it down the sides. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with the beaten egg. This keeps the crust from getting soggy.

Make the filling and assemble the pie ::

  • Put the filling ingredients into a medium mixing bowl, gently mix, and pour the prepared strawberry filling into the crust.
  • Fold the edges of the pie over the filling, brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Let the pie cool completely before cutting.
Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

More real food strawberry recipes you might like ::

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie
Breakfast Ideas Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

April 28, 2020

Funfetti Birthday Scones make the perfect birthday breakfast for every kid (and adult too!)

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

Birthday girl!

We have a brand new *9* year old in the house this week! Claire is my full-of-energy middle kiddo! She adores all things animals, is an avid bird watcher, and will stump you with the most inquisitive questions! She is the reason I began drinking coffee daily, and she definitely keeps me on my toes. We are so excited to celebrate her birthday this week, and we decided we needed a new birthday breakfast tradition in our house!

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

A love affair with tea, and a fun new recipe to go with it!

My 3 girls love having herbal teas with their breakfasts in the morning, and what better breakfast accompaniment for their cup of tea than scones! A crispy, buttery outside, with a lightly sweet, and flaky-soft inside…it is the perfect match with a hot cup of tea or coffee. I took my favorite base scone recipe, dressed it up birthday style for the birthday girl this week, and a new birthday breakfast tradition was born! All 3 girls are now looking forward to their sprinkle filled Funfetti® inspired birthday scones when their birthday rolls around!

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

The Method :: The Scone Dough & Baking The Scones

Scones can feel intimidating, but truly it doesn’t get any easier. A simple dry ingredient combination, and let the butter shine! You’ll crumble the cold butter into your flour, and then mix in your buttermilk. I left instructions for making your own buttermilk or coconut buttermilk, which will give these scones a fluffed up, soft texture on the inside. Once your dough is moist with buttermilk, you’ll fold in your naturally dyed sprinkles, and then you are ready to knead the soft dough, and form your disk.

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

The Method :: Forming The Scones

Once you flour your counter, you can knead your dough a few times before you form your disk. You’ll notice flecks of butter throughout the dough, and that is exactly what you want. The hot oven will hit the cold butter and make for fantastic texture and yummy buttery flavor. The pretty light golden color of the scones will give away just how much butter you’ll be using for these special scones! Once you form your disk, use a rolling pin to roll the disk to about one inch, cut your disk into eighths, and place on a baking tray to bake. You can brush the tops of your scones with more milk and sprinkle a bit of sugar to make for a crispy, top.

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

The Method :: The Icing & Sprinkle Topping!

Once your scones have baked and cooled completely, you can drizzle a fun and simple icing on top if you wish. Of course this is optional, but we are celebrating a once a year birthday in the house, so we are most definitely enjoying it! The icing whisks in seconds before you drizzle over the top of the scones, and of course a fun sprinkling of some extra sprinkles is necessary for a proper birthday celebration. The sprinkles will stick to the icing and the icing will harden within about 20 minutes.

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

Where do I find naturally dyed sprinkles?

Most grocery stores and natural health food stores carry naturally dyed sprinkles these days, which is so convenient. I did however find this source of naturally dyed sprinkles for a fantastic price compared to our grocery stores though, and I wanted to share it with you! At just $0.57 per ounce, you can have a container of sprinkles all ready for every birthday in the house, and maybe a few holiday cookies too!

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

Are these birthday scones “healthy?”

Dear friends, I’ll be the first one to let you know that I will not, in fact, be serving these scones on a daily, or even weekly basis! These will be special occasion scones in my house. Birthdays are so special! While the Funfetti® scones aren’t inherently “bad,” they are a bit more of a carb overload than I typically care to serve for the first meal of the day. We will be serving the scones with a side of eggs and/or sausage to balance things out, and my younger kiddo will probably be getting half of one. They are certainly better than many store bought pastries, with a much simpler ingredient list, but these scones will not be an everyday breakfast in my house. This will make them even more special when birthdays arrive!

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

Can I freeze the scones?

I am happy to report that the scones freeze fantastic! I tucked this batch away in the freezer until my daughter’s birthday later in the week. I took one out yesterday to check on texture and taste, and they did great! This means that you can get a jump start on birthday planning when your kids’ birthdays come around, because we all know birthday weeks can be very busy! Just freeze the baked, cooled, and iced scones flat on a tray, then pop the frozen scones into a freezer bag until you are ready to use them.

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

Ingredient swap notes

I would imagine that most gluten free flour blends that include xanthan gum will work in this recipe. If your blend doesn’t include the xanthan, simply add a good teaspoon to the flour. I typically use honey or coconut sugar for more of a “on the regular” scone, but honey can to burn in baking sometimes, and coconut sugar would have changed the color of these scones more than I wanted – we want the sprinkles to shine! If you choose to swap for a more natural/healthier sugar like turbinado or coconut sugar, just plan on the color being darker. I also wanted to address the butter. If you are truly dairy free, and cannot have butter, I am quite sure that cold, organic palm shortening would work.

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make your buttermilk first if you don’t have store-bought buttermilk.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt.
  • Use a pastry cutter or your hands to cut the cold butter into the flour. You want to still be able to see small pieces of butter throughout. See the picture above for reference. I do not have a pastry cutter – I just use my hands!
  • Pour the buttermilk and extracts into the flour/butter mixture and use a rubber scraper to mix. Add the sprinkles to fold in gently. I use the rubber scraper to start, and finish with my hands.
  • Flour your counter, and knead the dough a few times. Make a disk with your hands, roll the dough to about 1 inch thick, and then use your hands again to shape the disk into a perfect circle.
  • Cut the disk into eighths, and place the triangles onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a light coating of milk or coconut milk, and sprinkle with a little sugar if you wish.
  • Bake the scones at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool the scones completely before icing.
  • To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar and 1 tbsp of milk in a small dish and drizzle over the tops of the cooled scones. Sprinkle the scones with extra sprinkles after drizzling the icing and it will stick to the icing! The icing will dry and harden within about 20 minutes.
Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

More real food recipes you might like ::

Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

April 6, 2020

These are the softest, fluffiest gluten free carrot cake cupcakes, perfect for any occasion!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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

Signs of spring!

The snow is officially gone…the grass is slowly coming back to life with hints of green, and we can finally feel the warmth from that glorious sunshine in the sky! We couldn’t be more excited, and with the promise of spring, I decided to try out a new little carrot cake cupcake in the kitchen for our spring Easter celebration this year.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The Method :: The Cupcakes

These carrot cake cupcakes will be quite possibly the lightest, fluffiest cupcakes you’ve tasted! Instead of a rich, dense batter, I wanted a light and fluffy cake, and boy this batter didn’t disappoint! You’ll cream the wet ingredients before adding the dry ingredients and carrots, and the result is a fluffy, creamy cupcake batter that rises beautifully, springs back to your touch perfectly, and is so moist and flavorful.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The Method :: The Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting and carrot cake…it’s like peanut butter and jelly – they just go together! This thick, rich frosting has a mild cream cheese tang that goes perfectly with the sweet warmth of the carrot cake muffin. Simply cream the cream cheese ingredients and either spread or pipe the frosting onto your cooled cupcakes!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

How’s the “spice” for kid palates?

Traditional carrot cake does use those beautiful warm spices for the staple flavor you think of when you think of carrot cake. You can use just the cinnamon if you wish, but this version, as written is very mild on the nutmeg and cloves, so the kids will probably just feel like it tastes like a sweet cinnamon, or pumpkin cupcake. My 6 year old was calling these cinnamon muffins most of the day. If you like a stronger spice, start with what is here, and increase to your taste!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Make ahead, and freezer tips!

Because I wanted to get these cupcakes up for you well before Easter this weekend, I was able to test them out in the freezer for you! My cupcakes are neatly tucked away in the freezer, ready to thaw out to have after Sunday dinner. My suggestion would be to cool the cupcakes completely, and freeze them unfrosted. I did freeze a few frosted since they were ready from these photos, but you’ll have to freeze them solid before putting them in a freezer bag or container. It is much easier to just freeze the unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer bag, and then frost them quick before you serve them.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Add In Options!

From raisins to crushed walnuts, the sky is the limit, and everyone has their idea of what “makes” a carrot cake! These little cupcakes are a blank slate for you (my personal preference), so you can add all the little options you want! Crushed toasted walnuts sprinkled on the frosting makes a great addition, or you can mixed the crushed nuts into the batter with the carrots. Golden raisins would be pretty in the batter too!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the GF Carrot Cake Cupcakes ::

For the Cream Cheese Frosting ::

Instructions

For the GF Carrot Cake Cupcakes ::

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cup liners or silicone muffin liners.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of ACV into a small liquid measuring cup, and then add coconut milk until you hit the ½ cup mark. This is your buttermilk for the cupcakes. Set this a side to add later. You can also start melting your coconut oil here.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, blend the eggs and coconut sugar using hand beaters until smooth.
  • With the hand mixer still running, pour in the melted coconut oil and blend until smooth. Add the coconut milk/ACV mixture to the wet ingredients, and blend until combined.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, including the carrots, and use your hand mixer to blend on low until the batter is combined well.
  • Scoop the cupcake batter into your muffin pan, and bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 22 minutes, until the tops spring back to your touch, and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting ::

  • Blend all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth. When the cupcakes are cooled you can frost them how you wish!
Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

More real food recipes you might like ::

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

Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

April 3, 2020

You are one bowl and a 5 minute prep away from the best gluten free banana bread you’ve had in your kitchen!

Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

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.

Rainy day kitchen helpers

“Momma, can I bake with you?” Pretty hard to turn a request like that down, no matter how dreary the day, or how badly I just wanted to curl up with a book and a blanket! We were days from a grocery trip, so I wasn’t sure what we were actually going to bake, but but those sweet eyes, I sure was going to figure something out.

Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

Basic ingredients and one bowl

With a few bananas past their prime sitting in the fruit bowl, and a bag of flour, I decided we would try a really simple banana bread. We love making our favorite Paleo banana breakfast mini muffins, but I didn’t have the right flours, and I really wanted this to be a project that my 6 year old could do herself with really simple ingredients. Just 8 ingredients and 1 bowl, and we were on our way!

Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread
Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

One Bowl Banana Bread :: The Method

This simple banana bread comes together into the bread pan before the oven even has time to pre-heat! Just blend the wet ingredients together before combining with the dry, and then dump the batter into your loaf pan. The banana bread turns out so moist with the best texture chew for a quick-bread thanks to the yogurt and simple ingredient list.

Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

Tips for baking with kids

There is such a beautiful simplicity to the measurements and ingredients in this recipe, which makes it a perfect baking project for kids, no matter the age. Here are some age appropriate thoughts as you take on baking with kids:

  • Most kids can take a fork to a banana and mash it up in the bowl! Get it started for your toddlers so it is a bit easier, and then let them try. Show them exactly what you want them to do.
  • Even toddlers can be taught the start of how to crack an egg. Crack the egg hand over hand to show them how it works, and before you know it they will be cracking their own eggs for more than just baking.
  • Have your reading children read the recipe to you while you bake! Older kids learning fractions can help with finding measuring cups and measuring things out too. With your younger children and toddlers, go ahead and measure it out perfectly, and then let them dump it in the bowl. Baking is precise so you really want to be sure it is measured correctly.
  • Hand over hand the blender with your littles, and before you know it they will be able to manage a blender on their own. Show them how to hold it steady and how to move it around.
  • Little kids love buttering the pan! Wash up their hands good and put a pat of butter in the pan for them to smear around!
  • Don’t forget to have the kids wash up their mess too! These are life skills, dear momma, and your littler ones especially will love this task. You can really stretch this out to occupy the kids while the banana bread bakes by filling up the sink and letting them play in the water for a while.
Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch (1.5 quart) loaf pan with butter (coconut oil if you can’t have the butter)
  • Blend the mashed bananas, eggs, coconut sugar, and yogurt in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  • Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and sea salt and blend on low until smooth and combined. Be sure to "fluff" up the flour a bit before measuring – if it is too packed in the measuring cup there will be too much flour.
  • Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes until the top springs back to touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let the banana bread cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before turning it out to cut into slices.
Easy One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread

More real food recipes you might like ::

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

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

March 25, 2020

Put snack packing on auto-pilot with this list of 15 portable healthy snacks for kids that you can rotate!

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

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

School snack time…my nemesis

Ok, so that might be a strong word. But if you have been around this space long enough, and have read my other school snack posts (my very first snack post, written when I had littles, all about preschool snacks here, and the ever popular, healthy store-bought school snack post here), then you know that I have kind of a love hate relationship with the morning snack at school.

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

A vital necessity

It isn’t that I don’t think the kids need it. Many of these kids are having breakfast at 7:30 am or earlier and don’t have a lunch period until 12:30pm or 1 – the morning snack helps bridge that long gap. It has more to do with the time and thought going into packing one…more…thing…for the day. We spend time packing thoughtful, balanced lunchboxes, and the morning snack matters too. Popping an easy bag of pretzels or crackers in their bag is tempting, but defeats the purpose of helping kids focus until the lunch period. Carb loading without a balance of fat or protein only sugar crashes these kids who rapidly use up whatever energy their body is given as their brains work hard in class, and their bodies work hard at playing and growing.

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

Busy momma, I see you.

I get that it is one more thing to pack. I understand that you are already trying to balance their breakfast and lunchboxes for school, and the snack seems insignificant. But I am here to tell you I have seen the kids in these classrooms carb crash with my own two eyes. These teachers are doing their best to help the kids make it to lunchtime, and could use a little help. Packing a balanced snack does NOT need to be hours of homemade “Pinterest Mom” creations. It can be as simple as adding a protein or fatty rich sidekick to that bag of crackers, such as hummus cups, cheese, guacamole cups, boiled egg, or nut/seed butter. The protein/fat will slow the carb burn and satiate their hunger for that extra hour or two until lunch. It really can be that simple…

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

So I say, let’s simplify it

A few years back I was getting burned out from snack packing, and decided that my oldest was old enough to be in charge of her morning snack (she was in 2nd grade at the time). One less thing off my plate! Since she was still learning how to pair the right foods as a balanced snack, I made her a list of options she could choose from each day. That rumpled up piece of paper is still in the cupboard, and now my middle kiddo has joined her in independently packing her own school morning snack. It is a list of simple, easy pairings filled with variety, and the best part is that each snack idea requires ZERO help from me. Two kiddos down, and 1 to learn! I’ve almost got this whole school snack packing thing completely off my plate!

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

My gift to you, dear momma

I want to gift this to your home. I spent some time making a kid friendly, colorful chart filled with my morning snack time ideas that you can use for your own kids. The chart can hang inside a cupboard in the kitchen for your big kids to refer to when packing their own snacks, and if you have littles in the house, they can help pick their snacks from the chart as well. And because I know this list of snacks is not all inclusive, and you may have different diet restrictions we do not have, I am also gifting you a blank chart that you can fill in yourself. You can tailor each snack choice to your household and the kids can pick from your list. If you have access to a laminator, you can mark up your chart with a dry erase marker week after week with new choices based on what you have in the house!

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

The breakdown!

So here is a breakdown of these snack choices so you can see them up close and give the kids a visual for how this can be packed. I would recommend supervision the snack making/packing for a bit so that you can help them choose appropriate portions for their age/appetite, and also help them with strategies for cleaning up. Remember, you can adjust the portion sizes in these snacks for your kids’ ages and appetites. No 2 kiddos are a like! Be sure to check out the TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL SNACK PACKING below the snack visuals!

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

1. CRACKERS & HUMMUS

Use snack pack hummus cups, or make your own hummus for a dip container (my own super simple, super smooth hummus recipe will be in the Staples chapter of my new cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” on pre-order now!) and pack your favorite crackers! I prefer to keep an eye on the oils in store bought hummus to avoid rancid oils like sunflower, canola, soy, or safflower oils, and I’ve found the Lilly’s hummus cups to be the best using olive oil. The crackers pictured here are Mary’s Gone Crackers GF crackers. (Snack box pictured below is the Sistema Small Split)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

2. CELERY WITH SPREAD OF CHOICE & RAISINS

Spread options are endless here! Nut butters or seed butters are typically the go-to, but spreadable soft goat cheese is a favorite here, and cream cheese is yummy too! (Snack box pictured below is the Planetbox Round container that comes with Planetbox lunchboxes. They can also be sold separately.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

3. COCONUT CLUSTERS

Store bought or homemade for this one, dear momma! Do what you can! I will say that the homemade version is very cost effective AND super fast to prep – just 5 minutes! These sweet, crunch clusters are super kid friendly and packed with fat and fiber from the coconut! (Snack box pictured in this post is the Sistema Snacks To-Go)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

4. MEAT STICK/JERKY WITH CRACKERS & CHEESE

These are my favorite kid friendly meat sticks, but you can use anything you like! Just watch those ingredients. As far as the crackers and cheese go, use your favorite crackers (pictured here are the Simple Mills Almond Crackers) and the best cheese you can afford. Pictured here is a spreadable goat cheese my kids love – you can spread or dip! (Snack box pictured below is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the medium size. I used our Planetbox condiment container for the goat cheese.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

5. YOGURT WITH GRANOLA

Get whatever is the best full fat yogurt you can afford (coconut milk yogurt would be a great option for dairy free kids). You can make your own granola (very cost effective and easy!), or purchase a quality store bought granola for the pantry. (Snack box pictured below is the Sistema Snack Capsule To Go)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

6. VEGGIES WITH FULL FAT DIP

I find raw veg to be slower to eat for little ones, but as your kids get older, this makes a great crunchy snack! Let them use a crinkle cutter to make the veggies super fun dipping vehicles too! You can see a full list of kid friendly dips here to make at home, or these are a good store bought brand with healthy oils. (Snack box pictured below is the Sistema Snack Attack To Go)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

7. HEALTHY GRANOLA BAR

The sky is the limit here. Since my kids started school, the demand for healthier granola bar options has sky rocketed, and companies are hearing you, dear momma! There are many brands out there using heathier oils, less sugar, and better ingredients all around! My favorite store bought granola bars are the Autumn’s Gold and these Healthy Warrior nut free bars. Of course making your own will almost always be more cost effective – and I’ve got 2 on the blog you can try! This nut free chewy granola bar, and this nut free crunchy buckwheat and apricot granola bar! (Snack box pictured below with the homemade bar is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the small size)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

8. FRUIT SLICES OR FRUIT CHIPS WITH NUT/SEED BUTTER OR COCONUT BUTTER

From fresh apple slices or apple chips to a banana or banana chips, this is always a fun snack. The pantry dried fruit chips make winter packing much more affordable when fresh fruit is expensive. Sunbutter will work best for nut free school zones, but I encourage you to also try coconut butter – it is basically the flesh of a coconut blended into a smooth butter. It is sweet and creamy – so good! (Snack box pictured below is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the medium size.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

9. MUFFIN LEFT FROM BREAKFAST WITH BUTTER

Tuesday’s are muffin mornings here, and with a pan of a dozen muffins, there are leftovers for snacks! Our favorite breakfast muffins that pack well for snacks are these protein banana muffins, GF blueberry muffins, GF paleo mini banana muffins, GF oat bran muffins, and these GF baked oatmeal muffins. Get a big smear of butter on those muffin halves and that is one easy peasy snack! (Snack box pictured below is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the small size.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

10. HARD BOILED EGG WITH FRUIT CHOICE

Every Sunday, I hard boil a dozen eggs so that there is a container of easy to grab snacks in the fridge. They keep for 5 days so it is perfect for the school week. Let the kids pick whatever in season fruit you bought for the week, or dried fruit from the pantry. Figs and dates are so rich in minerals, so I always keep a bag of those in the pantry! (Snack box pictured below is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the medium size.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

11. HEALTHY TRAIL MIX

Homemade or store bought here, dear momma! Do what you can! Homemade will tend to be more cost effective, and you can control the ingredients in bit more if you are in a nut free school. There is one really great seed based store bought trail mix that we love though from Enjoy Life! If you need that convenience, these are great, and they come in snack pack bags or larger trail mix bags to pack yourself. (Snack box pictured below is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the small size.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

12. UNSWEETENED FRUIT POUCH WITH CHOICE OF FAT/PROTEIN

We love these fruit and veggie pouches and chia squeezes, and there are so many other safe/organic brands to choose from, so get whatever is the best that you can afford. You can give the kids a choice of fat/protein to go with their pouch based on what you have for the week. Things like hard boiled eggs, jerky, cheese, olives, or nuts/seeds are all great choices. (Snack box pictured below is the Sistema Small Split)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

13. NUTS OR SEEDS WITH FIG OR DATE AND CHEESE

Super simple, and easy to eat! This is a popular one in my house. Figs and dates are rich in minerals for busy kids and keep in the pantry well. (Snack box pictured below is the Kid Basix Safe Snacker in the small size.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

14. MINI LARABAR OR ENERGY BITES WITH FAT/PROTEIN OF CHOICE

Larabars are great snacks. If you have older kids you could pack them a full size Larabar, or if you have younger children, the mini Larabars are great. Since they are mostly dates (fruit), I like to pack the minis with a fat or protein of choice such as olives, cheese, jerky, or boiled egg. Energy bites are also fun to make (there is a chocolate covered banana energy bite recipe in my new cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” on pre-order now!). (Snack box pictured below is the Planetbox Round container that comes with Planetbox lunchboxes. They can also be sold separately.)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

15. GUACAMOLE CUP WITH TORTILLA CHIPS OR CRACKERS

We get these little guac cups at Coscto, but just about every grocery store carries them now! Pack them with some tortilla chips or crackers and this super fun snack will become a quick favorite! (Snack box pictured below is a Lunchbot Duo)

15 Portable Healthy Snacks For Kids :: FREE Snack Chart PDF Included!

Tips for successful snack packing

A little planning goes a long way, and I want to see you succeed in this, dear momma. Here are a few tips that I have learned throughout the years to make snack/lunch packing smooth and fast.

  • Food prep. On Sundays I typically hard boil a dozen eggs for the week, and make a jar of dip or dressing for veggies. It takes me all of 15 minutes and really sets me up for easy packing. The girls know where the container of eggs is for quick snack packing, and always have a veggie dip available as well. Once a month (yes just ONCE a month), I’ll stock my pantry with “something” – sometimes that “something” is granola or granola bars, and sometimes it’s trail mix. I have a shelf for these in my pantry in a spot that is easy to access for the girls to pack their own snacks.
  • Snack access. The rest of the snack items (such as nuts/seeds, pouches, and bars in the pantry, and then fruit/veggies, cheese, etc in the fridge) are kept in easy to reach spots in the pantry or fridge so that they don’t have to go digging through my things making a bigger mess. The time it takes to quick organize a shelf of snacks in the pantry and fridge is SO worth saving your frustration, dear momma!
  • Easy to use gear. Let me tell you…I have been through a LOT of lunch gear and snack box gear. I get things sent to me to try out all the time, and I have also purchased a lot on my own. Have a cupboard or drawer designated for your snack boxes that the kids can reach without your help so that you don’t have to search around for things. I have linked each snack box you saw in the snacks above – the ones pictured are my favorite brands.
  • Set them up for success. Explain your snack packing expectations. If you have older kids packing their own snacks, use the “Notes” section on the side of your chart to list your expectations. For instance, maybe you want to say that they can only repeat the same snack twice in one week so you can ensure they are getting variety. Or maybe you have a certain day of the week that you want something used up. Or maybe that week you don’t have a certain item on the list, so you want to let them know that that isn’t an option this week. My girls know that my rule on packaged, store-bought snacks (such as a packaged granola bar, jerky, or pouches) is 2 per week; it isn’t that they aren’t healthy – it is for saving my budget! For your littles, you can help them pick what snacks on the chart they want to eat for the week. Do NOT send new food to school without trying it at home first. This will end in un-eaten snacks and frustrated kids.

Ok! Talk to me! Tell me about your favorite healthy snacks in the comments below! We can keep this list growing!

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

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

March 18, 2020

Busy week? This 30 minute BBQ chicken thighs and roasted veggie dinner is a full meal on 2 sheet pans!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

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

So close we can smell it!

You know that feeling when you take a hike and you can just smell spring in the air?! When the kids get warm enough to pull jackets off after hiking and climbing trees for hours? There is just nothing like the feeling of making it through another Michigan winter season. It has thawed out a bit early this year, and I am totally here for it!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

Quick dinners & more outside time

Sheet pan meals are my go-to for busy days that I am not at home much. Everything for one meal on a couple of sheet pans? Sign. Me. Up. If you pop to the bottom of the recipe in this post, you’ll see just how many sheet pan meals are on the blog, and why I love them so much. And one of my sheet pan goals is always to make sure that everything can go in at the same time and cook at the same temp – I’ve got you covered on the prep time and simplicity, dear momma!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

The method :: The Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs

The chicken thighs can be prepped in less than 10 minutes *AND* can be prepped in the dry rub ahead of time – even up to 24 hours ahead of time. This means you can prep the meat the night before if you plan to be gone all day, or if you have nappers at home, you can get the chicken ready while babies are sleeping so that when dinner time arrives (aka “the witching hour” for those of you with babies!), all you have to do is toss the meat and veg onto the sheet pans and bake them off while you tend to the kids. Simply whisk the dry rub ingredients into a large dish, toss in the chicken thighs, and you can bake them off from there, or you can wrap the dish up and put it into the fridge until you are ready to bake them for dinner.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!
30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!
30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

The Method :: The Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies

This is about as easy as it gets – just chop, toss, and roast. You could chop the carrots and broccoli ahead of time, but you’ll want to do the potatoes right before you put them into the oven, or they will brown with air if you chop them too far in advance. The roasted veggies cook right alongside the sheet pan chicken thighs, and everything is done at the same time. The veggies can also be swapped out for whatever is in season or on sale. Once spring hits, you can swap the broccoli for asparagus! In the summer, take advantage of all that great farmer’s market produce! And in the fall, swap the potatoes for sweet potatoes or squash! You can serve everything as is, or add a pile of buttered rice if the kids need a little extra.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

How spicy is the rub?

This rub is really mild – perfect for kids. If you love extra heat, I would very highly recommend swapping the sweet paprika for another tablespoon of smoked paprika – that is my favorite way to eat this chicken, and I often make a separate batch of extra heat chicken thighs just for me! I love the leftovers sliced over a salad for lunch the next day.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

Chicken thigh sourcing

If you are lucky enough to grab thighs from a local farmer that keeps their chickens on pasture, that is always going to be the best bet! But, I also am not against the organic chicken thighs I’ve been able to find at Costco. It is a great price point, and it is so nice to have in the freezer for those times when I need a really quick meal for my family, and it will always be 1000% better than choosing take-out for dinner.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

Ingredients

For the Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken

For the Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with Silpat or unbleached parchment paper. You will need a second sheet pan for the veggies but you won’t need to line the second sheet pan.
  • Whisk the seasonings for the BBQ chicken in a large dish and set aside. Use a paper towel to pat dry your chicken thighs, and then place them into the dish with the BBQ rub. Mix the chicken thighs with the seasoning blend, coating each thigh completely. (You can do this hours or up to a day in advance, wrapping the dish up with plastic wrap and letting it marinate in the refrigerator.)
  • Place the BBQ rub coated chicken thighs on the Silpat or unbleached parchment paper lined baking sheet and set aside.
  • Toss the veggies with the olive oil, sea salt, and all purpose season on the second sheet pan, until coated evenly.
  • Bake both sheet pans in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. If you cut your potatoes too large, that sheet pan might need an extra 10 minutes – be sure to make your potato cubes around ½ – ¾ of an inch.
30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

More real food SHEET PAN DINNERS you might like!

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:

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

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

February 24, 2020

Just like Asian take-out without the soy and gluten, this light, crispy coated white fish with fresh veggies has a gooey Asian stir fry sauce the kids will love!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

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 tween take-out inquiry (and some Michigan winter love!)

Ah, these tween years are interesting, eh?! My oldest asked what “chinese take-out” was the other day, as her friends were gushing over something they had for dinner the other night. Hormonal girls and savory, salty, sweet, indulgent take-out! Sounds about right, yes?! I’m all for that umami goodness too, and during our school’s mid-winter break, I decided to show my sweet tween just what her friends meant by those to-die-for flavors. We mimicked that take-out with flying colors! We headed out for a mid-winter break hike and came home to take-out…real food style!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Having our cake and eating it too…

I’ll take any excuse I can to get brain nourishing wild caught fish into my kids. Truth be told, because we started them eating it so young, they would be happy clams if we fed them plan skillet cooked fish on the daily! It’s fun to change things up though, and instead of using chicken or beef for this take-out copycat, I pulled out some omega 3 rich wild caught Mahi-Mahi. Super delicious take-out style dinner, and super healthy? Talk about having our cake and eating it too!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: The Fish

You’ll start your stir fry by preparing the fish. You truly could use whatever protein you have on hand from chicken to any fish. I’d stick with a firm fish like Mahi or salmon – cod is really delicate and might fall apart with the batter and cooking. This fish batter is a wet batter, and it doesn’t get any simpler. Just mix it up in a medium bowl and toss with the cubed fish. You can set the fish aside while you prepare the sauce and the veggies for the rest of the meal – once those are done the rest of the meal comes together super fast!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: The Sauce

I think one of the reasons I love Chinese cuisine so much is because their approach to sauces is so right up my alley – toss everything into a sauce pan, whisk it up, and done. No fuss or crazy extra steps! For this sauce, you’ll whisk the ingredients and simmer a few minutes to thicken it up. You can make it ahead of time on a prep day too!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: How to Cook The Crispy Fish

Coconut oil is the name of the game here, but you can use any high heat oil you like. I love the sweetness that the coconut oil gives the crispy batter, though my favorite high heat cooking fat is a good grassfed tallow or lard. Ghee works fantastic as well and has such a good flavor. Butter is going to burn too easily, and while I love a stir fry done in a good olive oil, to crisp this fish up, that delicate olive oil is going to burn a bit and get a funky taste. To cook the fish, simply heat the oil super hot and cook the fish in a couple batches until crispy. Use a wire rack or paper towel after cooking so the crispy fish doesn’t get soggy.

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: The Stir Fry

Once these simple sauce and fish part of the meal is set (and it truly doesn’t take more that 15 minutes!), then you are ready to assemble the stir fry. This part goes fast! Just stir your chopped veggies into some cooking fat and cook until bite tender and then toss with the crispy fish and stir fry sauce.

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Serving options

This part is up to you! You can go the traditional route with white or brown rice, or even some gluten free ramen (try cooking your rice or ramen in bone broth to soak in extra nutrients, and be sure to add a generous pat of real butter to the rice!). Or you can eat it straight from the bowl sans the rice.

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH BREADING BATTER:

FOR THE STIR FRY SAUCE:

  • ½ cup water or bone broth
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey you can bump this up if you need more on the sweet side
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ½ inch knob of ginger minced (or about 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • ¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes more if you like more heat
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch

FOR THE STIR FRY:

  • 1-2 tbsp ghee for cooking in or butter, olive oil, coconut oil
  • ½ medium onion sliced into strips
  • 1 medium bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 3-4 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cups frozen green beans thawed

Instructions

MAKE THE BATTER AND MARINATE THE FISH:

  • Mix the starch, flour, baking powder, coconut aminos, and olive oil in a small mixing bowl. Toss the cubed fish in the batter, coating each piece, and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

MAKE THE STIR FRY SAUCE:

  • Whisk all of the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan thoroughly until the starch dissolves. Put the sauce pan over high heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens, just a few minutes. Set the sauce aside until the stir fry is ready.

COOK THE FISH:

  • Heat your wok or large skillet over high heat, adding the coconut oil to get nice and hot. Cook the battered fish in 2 batches, flipping the fish to crisp each side until golden brown. This will take a couple minutes for each side. When you take the first batch out, set the crispy fish on a wire rack or paper towel so the fish doesn’t get soggy.

MAKE THE STIR FRY:

  • Heat your wok or large skillet over medium high heat and melt a tablespoon of ghee. Add the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until crisp tender. Add the thawed green beans, crispy fish, and the stir fry sauce, combine and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  • You can serve your crispy fish stir fry over white rice, GF ramen, or just eat it from the bowl!
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

More real food recipes you might like ::

Batch Up Meals Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Instant Pot Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches Soup

Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

February 11, 2020

Fast and easy prep white chicken chili with a smooth, creamy texture, and out of this world flavor!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

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 & (kid friendly!) warm chili

I’ve learned that if I just don’t get out in it, I become a big grump by February my friends. So we pull on the winter gear and trudge through the snow, no matter how deep it is. Every weekend. Some winters we can barely tolerate 20 minutes the cold is so bitter and the snow is so deep. Other winters, like this year, we are left wondering if this really is still Michigan or not with the mild(er) temps and small dusting of snow! No matter the winter, a warm bowl of chili is always a good idea during the darkest months of the year!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

An old recipe made (so!) much easier!

White chicken chili has been one of my favorite slow cooker recipes for years. The creamy broth base is super kid friendly, and my version is not only packed with chicken, but boasts a load of veggie variety that contributes to it’s amazing flavor. With busy schedules that come with the territory of having older kids and not as much time at home, I was finding that I wasn’t making my favorite white chicken chili as much because it did feel a bit time consuming!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Enter the Instant Pot, and an easy peasy secret to the creamy broth!

When I wrote that recipe, oh so many years ago, the Instant Pot was not even a thought! Since my trusty IP has become my go-to for our favorite regular chili, I decided it was time to give my favorite white chicken chili a face lift – Instant Pot style! And since I don’t always have time to make the cream of chicken soup for the creamy base, a little coconut milk and potato starch did the trick so well!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Dump it all in!

Other than a quick little saute to pull some flavor and sweetness out of the veggies in the beginning, this recipe is a dump and go! *Cue the busy mom applause!* The beauty of the Instant Pot is quick cook times and flavorful, juicy meat outcomes, and this recipe does not disappoint. Simply put all of the ingredients into the IP after sauting the veggies, place the raw chicken breasts on top, and when the Instant Pot is done pressure cooking, you’ll have easy to shred chicken to stir into your chili!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

A note on the heat (and to bean or not to bean!)

This recipe is mild in heat and very kid friendly. I left the jalapeno as optional in case your kids are sensitive to heat. I use just one jalapeno in mine, and while I’d love a bit more heat to my bowl, I want my kids to inhale the chili too! I tend to add a hit of cayenne or chili flakes to my bowl to heat it up. One of my tricks to “cooling down” a bowl of chili for little ones is to be sure you top the chili with sour cream. The cool, fatty dairy cuts the heat well. You can use coconut yogurt or coconut milk if you are dairy free. This recipe as written does not contain beans, but if you want to add some white beans, you may!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Storage and school thermoses!

This white chicken chili freezes really well! I love that this hearty chili can be packed in school thermoses on a cold winter day! They play so hard outside at recess! You can pack a side of cheese or sour cream to add on top in the thermos too. To freeze the chili, cool the chili to room temperature, and store in freezer safe containers.

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp ghee to cook in butter, coconut oil, olive oil, or tallow/lard work too
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1-2 small jalapenos optional if you like the heat
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp potato starch Not potato flour. Tapioca or arrowroot would work here too
  • 2 tsp taco season I use my own DIY blend
  • 2 to matillos diced
  • 2 small zucchinis large dice
  • 1 – 4oz can green chilis
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 lb
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Cilantro, lime wedges, and avocado slices per preference to garnish (optional shredded raw cheese or sour cream if you tolerate that)

Instructions

  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “saute” and melt the ghee. Saute the onion and bell peppers with a pinch of sea salt for about 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Turn the Instant Pot “off,” and stir in the taco season and potato starch until the veggies are coated. Stir in the tomatillos, zucchini, broth, and coconut milk, and then set the chicken breasts in the liquid.
  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot, and close the valve. Turn the IP on to “Soup,” and bring the time down to 20 minutes. The IP will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 15 minutes. When the 15 minute timer is up, turn the IP off and let it naturally release for 5-10 minutes before releasing the rest of the valve pressure.
  • Take the chicken breasts out of the IP, shred them with a fork, and then return the shredded chicken to the IP, stirring the chicken into the chili. Season the chili to your taste and garnish each bowl with cilantro, lime, and avocado slices per your preference.
Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

More real food INSTANT POT 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!

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.

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

More real food LUNCHBOX RECIPES you might like!

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

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

January 22, 2020

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

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

A little walk down memory lane…

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

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

A little Mongolian re-make!

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

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

The brown sugar dilemma

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

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

Let’s talk about the starches

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

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

Heat preferences

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

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

Serving ideas!

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

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

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

Author: Renee Kohley – Raising Generation Nourished

Ingredients

FOR THE SAUCE:

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

FOR THE STIR FRY:

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

Instructions

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

More real food recipes you might like!

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

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

More real food recipes you might like:

Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Real Food 101 Real Food Tips Taking Care of Momma

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

January 11, 2020

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

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

A post just for *you,* dear momma

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

No guilt. No shame. No fear.

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

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

I remember the exact moment I made this mind shift.

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

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

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

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

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

But I have a baby…this sounds impossible!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO, let’s prep some sweet potatoes!

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

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

How to prep ahead sweet potatoes

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

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

How To Roast Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

December 15, 2019

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

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

The countdown is ON!

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

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

A fun favorite with a holiday twist!

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

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Peppermint Brownie Method

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

https://amzn.to/2POCea7

Where do I find a better ingredient choice candy cane?

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

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Flour swaps

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

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Freezer friendly!

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

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownies

Ingredients

Instructions

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

Notes

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

More real food Christmas Treats you might like!

Breakfast Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

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

December 4, 2019

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

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

The December count down!

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

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

Those darn December school days…

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

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

Fun Christmas breakfast without the sugar overload!

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

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

The method

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

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

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

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

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

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Bread

Ingredients

Instructions

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

More real food recipes you might like:

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

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

September 22, 2019

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

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

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

Busy school days, and comforting meals…

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

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

Weekday comfort in a weekend feeling meal

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

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

Natural creaminess without the dairy

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

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

The method :: The sauce

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

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

The Method :: The Veggies, Flavor, and Chicken

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

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

Pasta Choices

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

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

Veggie swaps

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

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

Prep ahead tips

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

More real food recipes you might like!

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

Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

September 15, 2019

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

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

Season changes and fresh menu plans!

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

Lasagna cravings!

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The method :: Squash

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The method :: The meat sauce

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

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

The method :: The bechemel cream sauce

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

The casserole assembly

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

Prep Tips

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

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

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Lasagna Casserole

Ingredients

FOR THE MEAT SAUCE

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

FOR THE BECHEMEL CREAM SAUCE

FOR THE REST OF THE SQUASH LASAGNA

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

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

MAKE THE MEAT SAUCE

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

MAKE THE BECHEMEL SAUCE

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

ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE SQUASH LASAGNA

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

More real food recipes you might like ::

Breakfast Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

September 4, 2019

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

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

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

Summer good-byes

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

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

New fall beginnings

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

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Perfect coffee cake texture – easy peasy technique!

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

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

The method

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

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

Notes and swaps

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

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Ingredients

FOR THE PECAN TOPPING

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

FOR THE COFFEE CAKE:

Instructions

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

More real food APPLE recipes you might like ::

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

August 15, 2019

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

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

Summer blueberry bliss…and a new RGN project!

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

On to the blueberries!

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

My school morning blueberry muffin checklist…

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Because flavor matters…

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Fruit swaps?!

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Flour swaps

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

A new journey…

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

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

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

More real food blueberry recipes you might like!

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

5 Summer Platters For Cool and Easy Lunch or Dinner!

July 11, 2019

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

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

Summer fun and summer FOOD!

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

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

3 birds, 1 stone!

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

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

So what is a summer lunch platter?

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

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

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

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

The possibilities are endless

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

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

On to the platter ideas!

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

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

Platter #1 :: Scoop City!

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

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #2 :: Real Food “Lunchable!”

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

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #3 :: Stuff Your Own Pita Platter!

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

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

Platter #4 :: Lunchtime Fiesta!

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

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

Platter #5 :: A European Vacation!

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

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

Seasoned Olive Oil for Bread Dipping

Ingredients

Instructions

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

Notes

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

More real food SUMMER recipes you might like!

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

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

June 28, 2019

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

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

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

A leftover bowl of fruit, and sweet summer bliss

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

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

A new household favorite fruit blend!

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

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

All of the flavor without adding sugar!

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

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

Just 2 ingredients and a loaded freezer

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

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

Let’s talk about popsicle molds!

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

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

A few notes on your TODDLERS!

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

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

Freezer stocking tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

More real food POPSICLE recipes you might like!

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

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

May 31, 2019

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

Summer splendor and warm weather breakfasts

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

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

An old, childhood breakfast favorite with a real food twist

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

Power packed ingredient line up!

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

Buckwheat Groats

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

Millet

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

The oats, nuts, & seeds

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

The process

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

Can I skip the grains?

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

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

LOVE the granola yogurt breakfast bar idea?!

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

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

Ingredients

Instructions

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