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Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

January 30, 2021

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

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

Finally!

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

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

Balancing Macros {Fats, Protein, Carbohydrates}

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

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

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

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

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

Meal Planning Baby Steps

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

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

A quick note about location, seasonal food, and availability

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

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

SO! Let’s get started!

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

Want to build your own meal plan?

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

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

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

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

Stay tuned…

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

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}
Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips School Holidays

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine’s Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

January 20, 2021

Use these decadent gluten free chocolate cupcakes for everything from birthday, Valentine’s Day, and everything in between!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut 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.

Everyone needs a staple chocolate cupcake recipe in their back pocket!

And if you have tween and teen girlies in the house, it is an absolute must! This recipe is quite truly a few years in the making, as I have tried and tested it out every so often on holidays or birthdays. I can confidently say that this will become your very favorite, fool-proof chocolate cupcake on everything from birthdays to Valentine’s Day…and everything in between!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

Let’s talk about this dairy free thing!

I’ve become such a huge fan of using palm shortening for creamy frostings since my need to be off dairy years ago. While I can tolerate butter now, I still tend to go back to the palm shortening for frostings – if you are dairy free I think you are going to be so relieved to find a replacement to still make a “buttercream!” If you tolerate butter, you can swap the palm shortening for unsalted butter, and swap the coconut milk for regular milk in the cupcake recipe.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

No gluten, nuts, or soy either!

Because I want you to be able to host a birthday party for your little one’s, dear momma! And we want safe cupcakes for those birthday treats at school – even the schools with nut free school zones, or kids that have celiac. I promise the texture of these cupcakes feel exactly like regular cake – kids that are not gluten free will never know!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

Soft, fluffy, rich, and decadent!

These sweet little handfuls are everything you want in a chocolate cupcake. A few friends that have tested them out for me cannot even tell they are gluten and dairy free. So let’s just get right down to it! I’ll show you how the cupcakes are made, and then we’ll get to the fun part – dressing them up! I have so many ideas for you!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

The Method :: The Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake batter is about as easy as it gets. A one-bowl wonder, chocolate cake batter is a simple mix of wet and dry that come together into a very rich, dark batter loaded with chocolatey goodness! Over the years I have become a huge fan of coffee to replace some of the liquid in chocolate cakes – you’ll never taste the coffee, but it does, in fact give the chocolate a richness and depth that you can’t achieve with plain water or milk. So a simple half and half mixture of coconut milk and brewed coffee make up my cake liquid. You can see the Notes section of the recipe card for swaps if you are sensitive to coffee. Once the chocolate cake batter is mixed, you’ll scoop the decadent mixture into your cupcake tin and bake.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!
Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

The Method :: The Chocolate Frosting

Once you cupcakes are cooled, you can blend the frosting ingredients until smooth. Adjust the amount of coconut milk to your frosting texture preference. Around these parts, we like our frosting rich and thick, so just a few tablespoons is enough! You can spread or pipe your frosting, and if you don’t have a fancy piping bag, simply snip the corner of a zip top freezer bag, and voila! You can pipe your frosting!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!
Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

Let’s dress them up! :: BIRTHDAYS!

There is nothing like a chocolate cupcake to celebrate your birthday! While I’m perfectly giddy about a generous swirl of chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles for my birthday, if you have kiddos in the house, you’re sure to want to have these rainbow sprinkles on hand! I am also a huge fan of fun cupcake toppers using the theme of the birthday for my girls. For instance, we’ve done a beach birthday bash for my summer birthday sweetpea with these beach themed toppers! {HERE are the polka dot rainbow cupcake liners in the birthday cupcake images in this post!}

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

Let’s dress them up! :: VALENTINE’S DAY!

Is it even Valentine’s Day without chocolate?! I think not! We are absolutely here for it in our house, and there are some great options for naturally dyed Valentine’s Day sprinkles now.

  • I used these Valentine’s Day sprinkles in the images for this post, or there is this option too.
  • I also happen to think that poking a little hole in the top of your baked cupcake, putting some strawberry jam in the middle, covering with frosting, and topping with a strawberry is the perfect heart day chocolate strawberry treat!
  • Another idea for your chocolate cupcakes on Valentine’s Day is using some freeze dried strawberries or raspberries blended into the frosting to give it a chocolate covered fruit flavor.
  • You could also skip the chocolate in the frosting and use the freeze dried strawberries or raspberries to make pink fruit flavored frosting.
  • {HERE are the cupcake liners used in the Valentine’s Day cupcake images!}
Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

Let’s dress them up! :: NEW YEAR’S EVE!

We rang in 2021 with the chocolate cupcakes pictured below that I posted to IG, and I truly couldn’t have thought of a better way to say good-bye to 2020! We sprinkled sugar crystals on the top – although I think the best adult way to make them would have been with flaked sea salt on the top! YUM!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

A cupcake for every occasion!

I can’t wait to see your chocolate cupcake creations this year! Be sure to tag on Insta or the Facebook, send emails or private messages, and comment below! Happy cupcake-ing to you!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Chocolate Cupcakes :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

Ingredients

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CREAM FROSTING

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 dozen cupcake tins with paper liners.
  • Brew your coffee while you prepare the batter.
  • Mix the ACV and coconut milk to make coconut “buttermilk.” Put the eggs, olive oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut milk/ACV into a large mixing bowl and blend until smooth.
  • Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, and brewed coffee, and blend until smooth and combined.
  • Scoop the batter into your cupcake tins (you’ll fill 24 cupcakes around ¾ full of batter). Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Bake time depends on oven variations, and cupcake tin material/color (Darker pans will bake faster than lighter pans or silicone pans.) A toothpick should come out clean from the center and the middle should spring back to touch.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool.
  • Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Blend the frosting ingredients and frost to your liking.

Notes

  • If you tolerate dairy, you can swap the coconut milk for regular milk, and the palm shortening for unsalted butter.
  • If you are sensitive to coffee, you can swap the coffee for coconut milk or even just hot water (coffee is really just coffee infused water!). I had a friend trial the cupcakes with the coconut milk swap and the texture was great.
  • I have not tried this recipe with other GF flour blends. I think most will work, but if your blend does not have xanthan gum, you might want to add that for texture. I also have not tried the recipe with regular flour since I cannot have it. If you do try, let us know how you did in the comments!
  • This recipe only has 2 eggs, so I would imagine you could use egg replacer or flax egg if you are egg free. The cupcakes might not puff up as much, but it would bind ok with that! 
Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes For Birthday, Valentine's Day, or any Occasion! :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free!

More real food recipes you might like ::

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

Sheet Pan Nachos with Slow Cooker Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

January 13, 2021

The most perfect sheet pan nachos with easy slow cooker pulled beef for game day or fun Friday night!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

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 story about the girls’ first nacho experience

A couple of summers ago my girls had their first experience with a big pile of loaded nachos! We live in a little beach town, and each summer we pick one weekend to play “tourist” – we ride the trolley, go to the touristy shops and attractions, play at the busier beach instead of the quieter beach, and also enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. That year, one of the girls asked what “nachos” were on the appetizer menu, so we decided to give them the experience! These nachos were no ordinary nachos, with plain corn chips and fake cheese. They were loaded with real pulled barbeque beef, green onions, peppers, crispy fried jalepenos, super yummy aoili and guacamole – the works!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

A new fun weekend at-home nacho idea!

My kids just adored the family style way of getting to eat the nachos at that restaurant, and they talked about it for days! Every so often my middle one would reminisce about those nachos, and asked if we could try to make them at home. How could I say no to that?! We get a half grass-fed cow each year, and I just happened to have a brisket that I hadn’t decided what to do with yet. We slow cooked the brisket in my taco seasoning mix, let the girls dress up some nachos on a big sheet tray, and a new fun weekend dinner treat was born!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

The Method :: Preparing the Beef and Sauce

The ingredients for the pulled beef is very simple. Your favorite taco seasoning mix and an easily whisked sauce – that’s it! The beef cut is really up to you on this one. Any cut of beef roast or brisket will do. (And really you could do a pan of ground beef taco meat if you don’t happen to have a roast around.). I keep a jar of my own taco season blend in my cupboard, so the prep for the beef goes really fast. Over the years, I have discovered that tripling that taco season mix into a jar works best for me, so feel free to do that and enjoy having taco seasoning already made up a lot longer!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

The Method :: The Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

Once you season your beef roast with a generous amount of your favorite taco seasoning, take the time to sear the sides. The crust on the meat gives amazing flavor, and that extra 5-10 minutes of prep is so worth it. You get to tuck the seared beef into the slow cooker for the rest of the time anyway so take your time and get a nice flavorful sear on your beef! You’ll slow cook the beef roast for 8-10 hours on low, and boy oh boy will it just fall apart after that. Perfect for pulling apart with a couple of forks for your sheet pan nachos! Whisk some of the juices from the slow cooker with a starch of choice and you have a delicious sauce to mix in with your shredded beef for the nachos.

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

The Method :: The Sheet Pan Nachos

And now we get to do the fun part! If you want to get the kids involved, prepare a “topping bar” type set up so that they can sprinkle toppings onto the sheet pan nachos to their little heart’s desire! Such a fun way for kids to try new veggies like finely chopped peppers – they make the nachos so pretty and get super sweet once cooked! I like to get the cheese onto the chips first, and then let the girls do the rest. You can let them sprinkle a little extra cheese on top after they get the toppings on too.

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

A note on the chips and cheese brands

Because I know that there will be questions on chips and cheese brands! I do get the organic tortilla chips from Costco, but there are so many decent brands out there now! Get the best you can afford – this is an every once and a while fun dinner! I also use the manchego cheese from Costco, but any cheese that you love will work. My oldest and I do better on sheep’s milk cheeses so we use manchego which is also super melty!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter to sear the beef
  • 2-3 pounds grassfed beef brisket or roast I have found any beef roast cut works!
  • 3-4 tbsp of taco season mix divided (I use my own taco season blend. I keep a jar of a triple batch of the seasoning in my pantry, so it is easy to use!)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar honey, maple syrup, or sugar works here – it cuts the acid in the tomato paste.
  • ½ – 1 cup beef broth chicken broth or water would be fine if that is all you have – I also happen to think swapping some of the liquid for a good beer or red wine tastes amazing
  • 1 large onion sliced into strips
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips of choice
  • Cheese of choice if using
  • Nacho toppings of choice
  • 1 tsp starch of choice *you may not need this if you are using a taco seasoning mix that already has starch or flour in it – this is to thicken the sauce. You can use potato starch, GMO free corn starch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot.

Instructions

  • Warm a skillet over high heat with the olive oil and butter while you season the beef. Pat dry your beef roast and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of taco season ON EACH SIDE of the beef, rubbing it into the beef on each side. (Total of 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning on the beef roast – if your roast is on the bigger side, you might use a bit more than 2 tablespoons)
  • Put the seasoned beef roast in the hot oil to sear. LEAVE the beef in the skillet for a few minutes until a nice crust forms – if the beef is sticking when you pull it up that means it might need a bit longer. If it pulls away from the pan easily, you’ve made a nice crust on the beef! Turn the beef roast to the other side to sear for a few minutes.
  • While the beef roast is searing you can whisk the sauce. Put 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning into a medium mixing bowl. Add the tomato paste, coconut sugar, and broth and whisk to combine until smooth.
  • Put the whisked sauce, sliced onion, and minced garlic into the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the seared beef. I like to put the beef into the sauce, then turn it over so that it is coated on both sides. Put the lid on your slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Remove the cooked beef to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Strain out about a cup of the sauce from the slow cooker, and whisk a teaspoon of potato starch into the liquid – this will make a thicker sauce for the beef. Mix the shredded beef with the thickened sauce – you can use as much of the sauce as you want to your desired consistency, and you can make more if you want it saucier!
  • To make the sheet pan nachos, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line your sheet pan with tortilla chips. Sprinkle the cheese, then the shredded beef, and then the toppings of your choice. You can sprinkle extra cheese on the top if you want!
  • Bake the sheet pan tacos in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Garnish with green onion, fresh herbs, sour cream – whatever you like!
Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

More real food recipes you might like ::

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

January 9, 2021

Add this easy, 20 minute skillet chicken and kale with garlic mushroom sauce dinner to your busy weekday menu!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

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

Happy new year!

I took a look back at some of my new year recipe posts over the years this week, and I noticed a trend. They are all about getting back to the grind, eating well, but with kids in mind. Because those little guys don’t feed themselves, and they sure as the sun aren’t going to eat a boring kale salad everyday just because you have a few health goals 😉 {Go on ahead and call the real food police on that one – they already know I am not a fan of kale salads 🙂 }

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Get the kale in, but in a kid friendly way!

The kids need to eat dinner too – and you don’t want to be a short order cook, I’m guessing. Veggie variety is the key, dear momma. Those kids don’t need kale everyday – and quite honestly, neither do you. We have a variety of veggies, every color of the rainbow, available to us for a reason. Those colors equal different nutrients, so it is important to change it up. But on those days that you’re going to get those dark green leafy nutrients in, you might as well make them taste amazing…amiright?!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

All in one skillet dinner in 20 minutes?!

YES please! We all need yummy weeknight dinners that are easy to make, and don’t fill up the sink with a load of dishes. You’ll need a pot to boil your pasta in if you choose to serve with pasta, but the rest of the dinner is done in one skillet in about the time that it will take the boil the water and cook the pasta – and that is a recipe for the perfect weeknight dinner!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Chicken

I have a secret place in my heart for the delicious flavor of seared chicken thighs, but if you are more of a chicken breast person, you can totally use that. Simply whisk the seasoning in a shallow dish, coat the chicken, and sear it off in a super hot skillet. The key to the flavor is allowing it to form a little golden crust!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Flavorful Veggies

There is just something magic about a hot skillet, sliced mushrooms, and a little time. The golden color after cooking mushrooms is big flavor that will infuse the creamy sauce along with the garlic – don’t skip this part! It doesn’t take long! And one of the reasons I chose fast cooking veggies like kale and frozen green beans is so that you don’t have to spend extra time cooking that part. You’ll simply add the kale into the pan after the mushrooms turn golden and make the rest of the sauce. The green beans will cook while the sauce simmers. And bonus! All of these veggies have fat soluble vitamins – so eating them with the fatty cream sauce not only makes them easier to eat for kids, it makes the vitamins absorb better for their growing bodies!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Dairy Free Cream Sauce

I know what you’re thinking…how can you get a cream sauce without dairy?! I also know what your first thought will be when you see coconut milk. Let me be the first one to tell you – I am not a fan of coconut…of any kind! So let that be the proof that the sauce doesn’t taste like coconut – it really takes on the flavors of the rest of the skillet, and just leaves a super creamy heaven for the chicken and veggies to soak in. {You can call the real food police on the coconut admission too…they already know it isn’t my fav!} And a quick note for those that tolerate dairy – cream or whole milk will work just fine here if you would rather use that.

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

To pasta, or not to pasta?

If you have kiddos, and they can tolerate pasta of any kind, I’m thinking you’re going to find the dinner goes down even easier mixed with some fun pasta! Whether you like regular pasta, or gluten free, there are so many healthier choice varieties these days, and if you are off pasta for a bit, you can just serve your plate without the pasta. I think it tastes amazing over a baked potato or sweet potato.

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Skillet Chicken & Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 5-6 boneless chicken thighs
  • 4-6 tbsp olive oil ghee, or butter
  • 6 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 2-3 cups chopped kale
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine broth would be fine here
  • 1 ¼ cups full fat coconut milk or cream/milk
  • 2 handfuls of frozen green beans
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked pasta of choice to serve over About 3 cups dry pasta. I use the Gluten Free Jovial or Tinkyada rice pastas

Instructions

  • Whisk the basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper in a large dish until combined. Pat dry the chicken thighs and toss them with the seasonings in the dish until the chicken is coated well. You can do this up to 24 hours in advance. If you season the chicken in advance, put plastic wrap around the dish and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to make dinner.
  • Melt 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the seasoned chicken thighs to cook until both sides are golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Take the browned chicken thighs out of the skillet onto a plate and set aside while you cook the veggies and sauce. *Keep all the leftover oil and browned bits in the skillet to cook the rest of the veggies in – so much flavor!
  • Melt another 1 tbsp of ghee in the skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are fragrant and golden. Add the kale and garlic and cook for a minute or two.
  • Bring the heat up to medium high, and add the wine to deglaze the pan, simmering for a minute or 2. Add the coconut milk and green beans, stir, and bring to a simmer. Put the cooked chicken thighs in the skillet sauce, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken with mushroom garlic sauce over cooked GF pasta of choice. If you are grain free, you can serve this over a baked potato or sweet potato!

Notes

  • If you have fresh green beans versus frozen, you’ll just have to cook them in the pan a bit longer but it does work.
  • You can use spinach instead of kale, but it does cook up faster, so just add it at the end to wilt in.
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

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Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

December 30, 2020

Healthy comfort food for your dinner rotation! Stuffed Butternut Squash packed with flavor, and creamy without the dairy or gluten!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy 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.

Happy new year!

How about a new dinner idea for your menu rotation this winter? We’ve been enjoying these stuffed butternut squashes all fall long, and my girls have devoured enough of them that I thought it about time to share the recipe with you!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

Fancy presentation, easy peasy prep!

I know the idea of a stuffed squash seems time consuming, but it really is very little hands-on time. The oven does most of the work for you, and you can get so much done while dinner is in the oven! You could even roast the squash on a prep day if you do that, so that it is ready to go during the week. This also makes the perfect weekend comfort dinner when you do have a bit more time at home!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

The Method :: The Roasted Squash

A simple slice down the length of the butternut squash is all the cutting you need to do for this squash dinner. No peeling or dicing – my kind of dinner prep! After you scoop the seeds out, rub some olive oil over the flesh and sprinkle salt and pepper and you’ll be hands free while the squash caramelizes and sweetens in the oven.

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

The Method :: The Filling

While your squash is roasting, the filling can be made in about 15 minutes. That gives you plenty of time to clean up the kitchen, help with homework, or tend to kiddos while the squash finishes roasting! To make the filling you’ll sweeten your aromatics before adding some grassfed ground beef. The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor to the cream sauce without cheese! Heaven! Once the veggies and beef are cooked, you’ll coat them in potato starch so that the coconut milk will thicken once it hits the pan. You can swap an starchy flour you like here from tapioca to arrowroot. I leave the broccoli to add until the end so it doesn’t get too mushy. If you prefer your broccoli very soft you could add it earlier. The creamy filling is just so decadent and flavorful!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

The Method :: Assembling and Roasting the Stuffed Squash

Once your squash is finished roasting, you’ll easily be able to scoop little spoonful’s of the soft squash into your skillet filling. This does 2 things – it makes a perfect little well for the skillet filling to stuff into the squash, and secondly it stirs into the skillet filling, making it even creamier and buttery in taste! After stirring the squash into the filling, you can “stuff” the squash! A little sprinkle of the almond flour based topping and the stuffed squash is ready for the oven!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

An Important Note on Squash Size and Doubling!

Most of the time when I am grocery shopping, I pick out the short, fat little butternut squashes. I would consider them to be “small” butternut squashes. The recipe as written uses a small butternut squash, and feeds my family of 5 for one meal. If you need more servings, this recipe doubles very easily. You could use 2 small butternut squashes, or one large. I feel like the large butternut squashes take longer to roast, so when I do want more leftover, I tend to just make 2 small butternut squashes in a large, 9×13 baking pan, so they cook faster. And let me tell you, the leftovers are *ahhh-mazing* for breakfast the next day, dear momma!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

Can I Use Dairy or Cheese If I Tolerate It?

Absolutely! I know many, like myself, find too much dairy to be inflammatory, so typically this time of year, my body is ready for a little dairy break after the holidays. If you tolerate cheese, that makes such a yummy topping for the stuffed squash. We did that a couple times this fall with some Manchego, a sheep’s milk cheese that my dairy sensitive daughter and I tolerate very well. You could also sub real milk or cream for the coconut milk if you have access to that.

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!
Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients

For the Roasted Squash

  • 2 tsp olive oil butter is ok here if you tolerate that
  • 1 small butternut squash halved and seeded
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

For the Filling

For the topping

Instructions

For the Roasted Squash

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Rub the olive oil over the 2 halves of squash, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a baking dish for 40 minutes at 425 degrees until soft. You can make the filling while the squash roasts.

For the filling

  • Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and add the onion and pepper. Sprinkle some sea salt and cook over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute
  • Add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and coconut aminos and cook until the beef is browned. Stir and break up the meat into small pieces as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is browned, stir the nutritional yeast and potato starch into the mixture, and combine until everything is coated well. Pour the coconut milk and broccoli into the pan and stir until the coconut milk thickens, a couple of minutes. The broccoli will still have some bite to it, but it will cook more in the oven – if you add too early it will get too mushy.

Assemble the stuffed squash

  • Once the squash is done roasting, scoop some of the flesh into the filling mixture in the skillet and stir to combine. Make enough room in the squash to be able to “stuff” it, leaving some squash around the sides and bottom.
  • Once the squash has been stirred into the filling mixture, scoop the ground beef mixture into the squash to stuff it.
  • Mix the topping ingredients with a fork in a small dish, and sprinkle over the top of the squash. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, until the topping is golden.

Notes

  • If you need more servings, this recipe doubles very easily. You could use 2 small butternut squashes, or one large. I feel like the large butternut squashes take longer to roast, so when I do want more leftover, I tend to just make 2 small butternut squashes in a large, 9×13 baking pan, so they cook faster.
  • If you tolerate cheese, that makes a delicious topping too!
Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

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How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

October 26, 2020

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

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

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

Back to the basics

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

A busy momma’s best friend!

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

One of my girls as a toddler gobbling creamy veggies!

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

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

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

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

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

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Let’s talk about what veggies to use!

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

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

The cooking method

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

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Budget friendly

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

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Serving suggestions

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

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

How To Make Kid Approved Creamed Vegetables With Any Veggie!

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

October 21, 2020

The most perfect buttery scones swirled with sweet pumpkin and warm fall spices!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

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.

Fall fun, and a new pumpkin breakfast treat!

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fall weekend for picking out pumpkins for Halloween! Pretty blue skies, and even a little warmth to the sun had my little Michigander kiddos peeling off their coats despite the crisp 50 degree air! The hayride was filled with anticipation, and when their eyes saw caught a glimpse of the pumpkin patch, you would have thought it was Christmas morning. These fields were packed! The girls will be working on carving their Halloween pumpkins this weekend, so I decided to work on a fun pumpkin scone recipe for them to savor this fun season!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

A birthday treat favorite with a fall twist!

Last spring we created what has become our household birthday breakfast tradition in these Funfetti Birthday Scones. I had a feeling I could use that recipe for just about any scone flavor, so this summer I played around with various summer berries with some successes that I’ll probably share next summer! I fell in love with the warm spices of pumpkin pie in these scones, and they are going to be so perfect for Halloween morning and Thanksgiving brunch!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

The Method :: The Pumpkin Scone Dough

I promise this scone batter is easy to work with and fuss free. Scones used to intimidate me because I’ve had numerous overly dry scones in my life! While the crispy, almost crunchy outside of a scone is a staple texture, one that falls apart in a crumble is not my idea of a great breakfast treat! These scones will gift you with a crispy outside and a super buttery, flaky inside – just perfect with your cup of coffee (or your favorite pumpkin spice latte!). Simply use a fork or pastry cutter to break up the butter into the dry ingredients, and then mix in the wet ingredients until a dough of cookie batter texture forms.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

The Method :: Rolling & Cutting the Pumpkin Scone Dough

Once you’ve kneaded your pumpkin scone dough, you can flour your rolling surface and create a disk. Roll your disk out to about 1 inch or so, and then make sure the edges are smooth using your hands to form it into a perfect circle. I like to use my pizza wheel to cut the disk into eighths.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze
Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

The Method :: Baking the Scones

Before you bake off your scones, you can sprinkle the tops with a bit of sugar if you are feeling sassy enough 🙂 You’ll want to completely cool your scones before moving on to the fun part – the brown sugar glaze!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

The Method :: The Brown Sugar Glaze

Once the scones have cooled, you’ll whisk the glaze ingredients in a small dish and then let the kids have at it with the drizzle! It doesn’t have to be perfect and they will feel so proud to make their own swirly glaze designs!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

How mild is the pumpkin pie spice?

Your home is going smell amazing while these scones are baking! If you love the aroma of pumpkin pie, you will be wanting to bake these off every weekend! I felt like the pumpkin pie spice flavor was very mild – in fact my non-pumpkin anything husband tried a slice of the scone and really liked it. That said you could swap the pumpkin pie spice for cinnamon if you think that might go over better.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

Tips and swaps for the Brown Sugar Glaze

While we simply adore the dark brown sugar flavor that a full teaspoon of molasses gives, I understand that some may find that strong. If you prefer a milder, light brown sugar taste, just use half of a teaspoon. I also think that the glaze would be amazing as a Cinnamon Glaze! Leave the molasses out and sprinkle in some cinnamon if you think your crew would love that! The glaze drizzles so nicely and then will harden on the scone within about 20 minutes.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

Freezer Friendly

Scones freeze so nicely! You can either freeze the scone dough, or you can bake the scones off and freeze them that way. I prefer to freeze them without the glaze, and then just glaze them when they thaw out, but you could glaze and freeze. This makes for a very nice make ahead breakfast or brunch idea for Thanksgiving – make the scones days in advance for your company, and you won’t have to bake them on Thanksgiving morning!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Scones:

For the Brown Sugar Glaze:

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the coconut milk, pumpkin puree, molasses, vanilla, and vinegar until smooth. I use my 2 cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup so that I can just measure the coconut milk and pumpkin right in the cup, add the molasses and vinegar, and whisk. Set this mixture aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cane sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and sea salt.
  • Use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the cold butter into the flour. You want to still be able to see small pieces of butter throughout.
  • Pour the coconut milk/pumpkin mixture into the flour/butter mixture and use a rubber scraper to mix. 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. (At this point, you can 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 drizzling the glaze on top.
  • To make the brown sugar glaze, whisk the powdered sugar, molasses, and milk in a small dish and drizzle over the tops of the cooled scones. The glaze will dry and harden within about 20 minutes.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

October 7, 2020

Put a fall spin on your favorite Taco Tuesday enchiladas with an easy and delicious and pumpkin enchilada sauce!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

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.

Jackets, jeans, and fuzzy hats…

Yup, we pulled out the ‘ol fall bin of outside gear this past week, and it looks like it’s pretty much here to stay! It kinda feels like I just put all of this stuff away, but the reality is, our fall season is pretty amazing, and we’ll take all the chilly autumn hikes and pretty fall colors as we can!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

A new spin on a family favorite!

Enchiladas are always a very enthusiastic dinner night in our house! Maybe a once a month treat during warmer months, they become more like an every other week thing when the weather turns cold. Last fall, I played around with the idea of a pumpkin base for the enchilada sauce instead of my original tomato based enchilada sauce, because I didn’t have tomato sauce in my pantry. The result was a very rich, perfectly decadent pumpkin enchilada sauce with subtle hints of the fall season. My crew was in love!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

The Method :: The Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

In under 10 minutes, your pumpkin enchilada sauce will be done, and I think you are going to be floored at the rich flavor! You can make your sauce ahead of time on a prep day too. Just cook the aromatics in some butter and then simmer with canned pumpkin, broth, and warm seasonings. You’ll then use an immersion blender to smooth it all out into a velvety sauce for the enchiladas.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

The Method :: The Pumpkin Enchilada Filling

You’ll have to restrain yourself from sneaking spoonful after spoonful of this enchilada filling before you stuff your tortillas! The veggies cook down super sweet, not only giving the filling amazing flavor, but also packing out the meal with mineral rich veggies for the family! You can use whatever protein you wish! We purchase a half of a grass-fed cow each year, so I usually use our ground beef, but chicken or beans work great here too. Once the filling cooks, you will stir in some of the pumpkin enchilada sauce and some cheese, making a seriously addicting enchilada filling!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

The search for the best gluten free tortillas

If your household has to be gluten free, it is SO worth the little bit of time it takes to make your own tortillas with my new tortilla recipe! Most gluten free wraps that you get from the store are fussy to work with, and they are so expensive! You can make a batch of these tortillas up to a day in advance, and they will roll right up for you with the greatest of ease. You could also make them on a prep day and just stash them away in the freezer so that you can use them when you are ready.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

Feed a crowd!

I think this fun spin on a classic would be perfect to serve on Halloween night before trick-or-treating, or at any fall parties! The recipe as written feeds my family of 2 adults and 3 older kids for one meal with some leftover for one or 2 people the next day. If you have a smaller family or younger children, this will definitely feed you for 2 meals. If you are feeding a crowd, perhaps roll the tortillas tighter with less filling, or cut the tortillas in half so that the enchiladas themselves are smaller, party sized portions.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas
Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

Ingredients

FOR THE PUMPKIN ENCHILADA SAUCE ::

FOR THE ENCHILADAS ::

  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil for cooking in
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • ¼ head of cabbage sliced into strips
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn
  • 1 heaping handful of baby spinach chopped
  • 2 cups of cheese divided
  • 1 recipe of the above Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce
  • 8-10 tortillas of choice depending on the size of your tortillas (I use my own GF Tortillas, but store bought is fine too)

Instructions

Make the Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce:

  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium high heat and add the onion and pepper with 1 tsp of sea salt. Cook the veggies until soft and sweet, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon and stir to combine, cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add the pumpkin, green chilis, and water, stir to combine and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off and use an immersion blender or regular blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Sea salt and pepper the sauce to your taste.

Make the Enchilada Filling:

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, and add the onion, pepper, and cabbage with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes until the veggies are soft and sweet.
  • Add the ground beef and cook through until browned.
  • Add the corn and baby spinach and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat until the spinach wilts and the corn is soft.
  • Turn the heat off and stir in ½ cup or so of cheese, and 1 ½ cups of the Pumpkin Enchilada sauce.

Assemble and bake the Pumpkin Enchiladas:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spread 1 cup of the Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish or casserole pan.
  • Scoop the pumpkin enchilada filling into your tortilla shells (I use my own GF Tortillas but store bought is fine too), roll them up, and line them up in the casserole pan. The amount of filling in the shells will depend on what the size of your tortillas are.
  • Once you have all of your enchilada tortillas filled and lined up, pour the remaining pumpkin enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled up tortillas and sprinkle with 1 – 1 ½ cups of cheese.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the sauce and cheese are bubbling. You can put the pan under the broiler for a few minutes if you would like a pretty browned top.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

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Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

September 28, 2020

Chewy oatmeal raisin cookies with that perfect warm, sweet flavor and gluten, dairy, and nut free ingredients!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut 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.

Early fall colors, long hikes, and cookie treats!

This momma was born for the summer. Barefoot, sandy beach days, tan lines, and all the sunshine are totally my jam. But there is this little sweet spot when summer turns just ever so slightly into fall where we have this dance between cool, crisp mornings that quickly warm up into gorgeous 70 degree days. Add in little pops of leafy fall color, and the fact that most of the bugs are gone, and you could say early fall runs a very close second to my favorite season of the year. We take advantage of this little weather sweet spot for as many weekend hikes as we can, and sometimes packing an extra special cookie in our lunchboxes for the long hiking day is warranted!

Oatmeal raisin cookie nostalgia

Because we all grew up eating them out of Grandma’s cookie jar right?! I remember my Grandma had a little tin of cookies ranging from windmill cookies and crisp little chocolate chip cookies, to chewy oatmeal raisin. When the weather turns a bit cool, and I don’t mind having my oven on for a little bit, it’s fun to surprise the girls with a little cookie treat in our hiking day lunchboxes. These little oatmeal raisin cookies are as easy as can be to make, and they make a fun treat!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

Busy momma style cookie dough prep!

I made these cookies for the weekend during that little hour window of time that I usually have before picking the girls up from school on Friday. You can have the cookie dough done before the oven even pre-heats! The cookie dough is very fool-proof and easy to work with – the kids will love making these with you too! The oatmeal raisin cookie dough starts by creaming the wet ingredients before blending in the dry. It really does prep fast, and then you can stir in the raisins.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

To raisin or not to raisin?!

We absolutely raisin in this house – my kids adore them! But if your kids don’t love them, try swapping them out for a dried fruit that they do love. One of my girls likes these cookies the best with chopped figs! Dried apricots are lovely as well. And yes, I will totally give you permission to swap the dried fruit for chocolate chips if that’s how you like to roll!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

Chewy versus crunchy

I know this can be a very strong topic! People care about their cookie textures! I have the perfect texture baking time just for you! If you prefer a chewy oatmeal raisin cookie, you’ll bake your cookies around 12 minutes. For a crunchier version, simply add on a few minutes of cook time to your liking and they will crisp up!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

Healthier version, but still a treat!

I’m super proud to say that these cookies are safe for gluten and dairy free friends! If you are very sensitive to gluten, or have celiac, just be sure that your oats are certified gluten free. I also used half coconut sugar, and half regular organic sugar. Some of that purpose is because of the warm flavor that coconut sugar plus the touch of molasses gives to the cookie – it is like brown sugar! It also reduces the glycemic index a bit – coconut sugar is lower! That said, a cookie is still a cookie, and I’m not going to pretend that we should have one of these everyday. Just keep that in mind! They are fun, and certainly a better choice than most store bought versions.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

Freezer friendly

Because this recipe makes 16 large cookies, I tend to freeze what we don’t eat. That makes pulling out a fun “just because” treat on a Friday night that much easier! Or when you have “drop in” friends that visit, you can pull out a fun cookie to enjoy with them. Just cool the cookies completely, and pop them in a freezer bag. They thaw pretty quick, or you can put them in a warm oven to thaw and get warm.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free
Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or unbleached parchment paper.
  • Cream the palm shortening, coconut sugar, sugar, molasses, and vanilla with hand beaters, and then add the eggs and blend until creamy.
  • Add the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt and blend to combine. Add the raisins and use a spatula to combine evenly.
  • Roll 2-inch balls of cookie dough in your hand and place on the lined baking sheet. Press the dough into a disk with the palm of your hands, being sure to leave space around each cookie.
  • Bake the oatmeal raisin cookies at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown for a chewy cookie. For a crunchier texture, bake an extra 2-3 minutes. Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. They will be soft at first and firm up as they cool.
  • The oatmeal raisin cookies will keep on the counter or pantry in an airtight container for 2 days before they start drying out too much. If you have some left after a day or so, I suggest freezing them to maintain their chewy texture and moisture. They can go into a freezer bag easily, and they thaw out fast at room temp, or you can put them in a warm oven.
Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Nut Free

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Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

September 22, 2020

Super soft and fluffy pancakes with a fresh apple twist and warm fall flavors!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

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.

Apple abundance!

Michigan apple trees are quite literally bursting with fruit this year! We are having fun apple orchard hopping each weekend, supporting as many of our favorite farmers as we can…and having a lot of fun in the kitchen with apple recipes too!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Breakfast goals

When I’m creating breakfast recipes for my kids, I usually have a few goals in mind. Sometimes I’m creating fun “every once and a while” recipes like apple coffee cake to be enjoyed on the weekend, that might be more on the “treat” side of things. Most of the time, however, when I’m recipe developing, I have school mornings and growing kids in mind. That means I don’t just want a pancake that will create a carb overload – I want every bite to count. That means a good balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and that can get a bit tricky when you are picky about texture.

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Power packed ingredients with a super fluffy finish

The stars of the show in these pancakes are nutty, warm buckwheat and almond flours. Buckwheat is a seed that has a warm and nutty flavor that works so well with apples. There is a nice balance of protein and fiber making for a filling ingredient. It blends well with mild tasting almond flour, which also gives some healthy, filling fat and soft texture. Serve a stack of these pancakes with a side of eggs or sausage, or just have them alone with a pat of butter, nut butter, or coconut butter! Either way, the kids will be full and focused all morning!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

The Method :: The Egg Whites

Don’t skip this part! The key to super fluffy pancakes is just taking a minute to whip the egg whites separately. You’ll fold the egg whites into the batter at the very end, and I promise you will be glad you did when you see how light and fluffy your pancakes are.

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

The Method :: The Apples

From apple chunks to applesauce, I’ve tried just about every kind of apple pancake almost every fall season. I have found over the years that my favorite way to make apple pancakes is with shredded apple. It doesn’t weigh down the pancake like applesauce does, and keeps them light and fluffy instead of soggy like they get when you use chunks. So grab a grater and quick give them a shred – the flavor of apple permeates every bite of light, fluffy pancake!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

The Method :: The Batter

Once you’ve separated your eggs, and whipped the whites, you’ll blend the wet ingredients, and then add in the dry. The batter will feel a bit thicker than usual pancake batter, but moisture will be added with the apples and egg whites, so hang tight and don’t be tempted to add more liquid! Once you stir the apple shreds in, then you can gently fold in the egg whites to make a super light and fluffy pancake batter for your griddle.

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Pancake finishes

Here are some ideas!

  • Traditional butter and maple syrup – you can’t go wrong with that!
  • Coconut butter! If you have little guys at home, they will think this is like frosting – super sweet and loaded with friendly fats and fiber, it is so good for them!
  • Whipped cream or coconut whipped cream – this is usually how I serve pancakes on a school morning to avoid sugary maple syrup. You don’t get as much sugar that way, and it still tastes fun! You can dust the top of the whipped cream with cinnamon too.
  • Nut or seed butter and a dusting of cinnamon!
  • Sautéed apples with cinnamon would be fun too!
Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Separate your egg whites into a small mixing bowl, while putting the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form in the egg whites – this will take about a minute. Set the egg whites aside.
  • Add the coconut milk, ACV, coconut sugar, and molasses to the medium mixing bowl with the yolks, and blend until smooth. Add the almond flour, buckwheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and sea salt, and blend to combine. This will feel thick, but do NOT add more liquid – the apples and egg whites will do that!
  • Fold the shredded apple into the pancake batter using a rubber scraper, and then gently fold the whipped egg whites in until smooth and fluffy.
  • Coconut oil or butter your hot griddle or skillet over medium heat, and cook your pancakes. I use a small ladle to pour mine. A ¼ cup measuring cup works well too. Cook the pancakes until you see little bubbles on the sides, about 1 minute, and then flip, cooking another minute or so until the pancakes are cooked through and golden brown.
  • Top your warm pancakes with butter and maple syrup! My kids were totally into a topping of coconut butter on theirs one of the times I served these too.
  • To freeze the pancakes, cool them, and then put into freezer bags to freeze. To warm up leftover pancakes, put them on a baking sheet into a warm oven.
Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

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Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

September 14, 2020

The best savory and sweet flavors of fall, all in one breakfast casserole the whole family will love!

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast 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.

Michigan apple season has arrived…

…and we are totally here for it! Honestly with the way 2020 has been going, I wouldn’t have been surprised if this year was one of those years where we got a late frost in the late spring to ruin apple blossoms, but as it turns out, Mother Nature wanted to gift Michigan with a bumper crop of sweet, delicious apples this year! The trees are quite literally loaded!

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

A new, savory apple recipe

We’ll for sure be picking apples many weekends this fall, which means we’ll have plenty for those apple pies during Thanksgiving, and of course sweet breakfast muffins before school, and apple coffee cake on the weekend! I’m planning on making a freezer batch of butternut squash and apple soup, but had a craving for a warm savory breakfast using our freshly picked apples. I played around with this idea of a savory and sweet breakfast casserole last winter, and I’m ready to share it!

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Gorgeous presentation, fuss-free prep!

I know, I know…this probably isn’t much of a weekday breakfast. But that’s what weekends are for right? We get to look forward to warm, comforting breakfasts that take just a little longer in the oven to make. While this breakfast casserole probably isn’t school morning prep material, it is definitely really easy to get into the pan, and then you can enjoy your jammies and fuzzy slippers under the blankets while it bakes on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

The Method :: The Sausage

Whether you have a local farmer that you love to get sausage from, or you make your own, you’ll start by flavoring your skillet with warm sausage flavor, browning your sausage through. We purchase a half grass-fed cow every year, so typically I just season some of our ground beef with my own sausage season blend.

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

The Method :: The Veggies & Apples

While the star of the show for this breakfast casserole certainly is the big, chunky sweet apples, I did manage to sneak in some pretty sweet potatoes too. The sweet potatoes add some bulk to the casserole, not to mention pretty color and a little starchy veggie sweetness. You’ll start caramelizing the sweet potatoes first, since they take a bit longer to cook. Cooking the veggies in the sausage drippings adds flavor that you just can’t create any other way! The rest of the veggies and the apples will soften rather quickly and then you can stir the sausage back in with a healthy cup of cheese.

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

The Method :: Assembling the Casserole

Once you pour your veggie, apple, sausage mixture into your casserole dish, all you have to do is pour in some whisked eggs and milk of choice, and bake it off! The prep time takes about 15 minutes and then you can be hands free. On a weekend that absolutely means you can hop back in bed, or snuggle up with your favorite blanket on the couch with the kids for cartoons!

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Swaps and Subs

While I absolutely recommend the exact veggie/apple/sausage combo in this recipe card (please trust me – the balance of savory/sweet will knock your socks off!), I know sometimes you just don’t have everything on hand. I do think you could swap bacon for the sausage, or just leave the meat out if you wish. If you leave the meat out, you’ll want to bulk up the casserole with more veggies. You can swap kale for the spinach. You can swap regular white potato for the sweet potato, and I think squash would be lovely here too.

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Does it freeze?

The jury is still out on that. I’ll update you later this week though! I froze one square of the casserole and will thaw it out next week and update here! Stay tuned! What I WOULD do though, is bake this off on a Saturday or Sunday, and refrigerate any leftovers. You can eat the leftovers on Monday or Tuesday before school by warming the squares up in the oven. If you aren’t baking for a crowd, you could halve this recipe and make a smaller portion too.

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Holiday morning perfect!

I was having a conversation with friends earlier this week while I was preparing to photograph this recipe and one of my friends mentioned how perfect this casserole sounded for Thanksgiving morning brunch. I couldn’t agree more! I also think it would be so great for Christmas morning as well!

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of butter or olive oil or combo of both
  • 1 lb ground sausage of choice I make my own using plain ground beef or pork with my own sausage season blend
  • 2 small sweet potatoes ½-inch cube (2 cups of ½-inch cube sweet potato. I didn’t peel but you can if you want)
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 2 medium apples 1-inch cube (I didn’t peel, but you can if you want)
  • 1 – 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic fine chop
  • 1 handful of baby spinach chopped
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups cheese of choice shredded
  • 12 eggs
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk or milk

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9×13 casserole dish.
  • Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter, and brown the sausage. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the browned sausage out of the skillet, leaving the fat behind to cook the veggies in.
  • Add the sweet potato to the fat in the skillet over medium-high heat, and cook for a few minutes. Sweet potato takes a bit longer to cook than the other veggies, so don’t add the others just yet.
  • Once the sweet potato has cooked for a few minutes, add the onion, pepper, apples, sea salt, thyme, and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cook the veggies for about 7-10 minutes until soft and sweet.
  • Add the garlic and spinach to the skillet, stir, and cook for one minute. Turn the skillet off, and stir in cooked sausage and the shredded cheese.
  • Dump the cooked veggie/sausage mixture from the skillet into the buttered casserole dish, and spread the mixture out evenly. Whisk the eggs and milk in a medium mixing bowl and pour over the veggie/sausage mixture.
  • Bake the breakfast casserole for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees until the eggs are set, and the top is a pretty golden brown. Let the casserole rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Apple, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

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

September 9, 2020

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

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

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

Sweet friends, and a special story…

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

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

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

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

A Gluten Free Tortilla Challenge!

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

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

5 Ingredients?!?!

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

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

The Method :: The Dough

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

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

The Method :: Rolling Pin or Tortilla Press!

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

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

The Method :: Cooking the Tortillas

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

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

Tortilla Storage

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

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

Ideas for using your tortillas!

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

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

Ingredient swap thoughts

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

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

Gluten Free Flour Tortillas

Ingredients

Instructions

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

ROLLING PIN METHOD ::

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

TORTILLA PRESS METHOD ::

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

STORAGE ::

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

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Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

September 2, 2020

Skip the fussy prep and make skillet stuffed peppers with the most rich, delicious flavor, sure to make the whole family happy!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan 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.

Back to school and fall routines!

To say we were pumped for school to start this week is an understatement! This crew (and this momma!) thrive on routine, and while we absolutely enjoyed every ounce of our summer beach time over the last few months, the first day of school brought some of the biggest smiles I’ve seen in months! The promise of seeing favorite teachers and reuniting with friends was almost too much to handle!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

Long school days call for easy, comforting skillet dinners!

Re-thinking stuffed peppers into an easy weeknight prep skillet was born on a particularly long remote schooling day this late spring. The kids were capital D.O.N.E. and this momma had literally forgotten every ounce of 5th grade math from her youth, so a comforting, easy dinner was in store for all! Instead of actually stuffing the peppers, this fast deconstructed version is weeknight friendly, and *oh so* satisfying!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

One pan dinner – veggies included!

Because one pan was about all I had the time and energy for that day, I decided to stuff this stuffed pepper skillet with enough veggies to be able to say the whole thing was a full meal so that I didn’t have to make extra sides! Not only are the super sweet, kid friendly bell peppers scattered throughout, I also added a whole box of chopped baby spinach. The baby spinach wilts into the skillet meal, and the kids will never taste it. This is truly one of my secret weapons in getting greens into so many of my meals.

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

The method

The secret to the rich, savory sauce for this skillet dinner lies in getting a good caramelization of the onion and garlic, and then using the seasoning combination with the coconut aminos to flavor the beef. Once this important skillet work is done, all you have to do is dump in veggies, rice, marinara sauce, and broth, and sit back and let it cook until the rice is tender. Of course adding the cheese at the end and sliding the whole skillet under the broiler is what takes this dinner over the top!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

Leftovers ideas

I’ve made these stuffed pepper skillets a hand-full of times during this summer, even though it screams fall and winter food! Every time I make it, the girls ask if I can put it in their thermoses for school lunches this fall. I’m a huge fan of “cook once eat twice,” so I’m all about that! The recipe as written makes a large skillet full, and my family of 5 usually has at least a couple of kid portions leftover for the next day. If you are a smaller family or have smaller kids, you’re sure to get 2 meals out of this!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 ½ – 2 tbsp coconut aminos this is like a soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 – 5oz box baby spinach chopped
  • 1 ½ large or 2 small/medium bell peppers large dice
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 – 32 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 cup water or bone broth I do like to make about ¼ cup of this liquid a really dry red wine but that is completely optional. I think it makes the sauce even richer – totally up to you though!
  • 1 cup cheese of choice to top shredded

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large, oven safe skillet (I use my 14-inch cast iron skillet. A dutch oven would work too). Add the onion and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until lightly golden and fragrant.
  • Add the garlic, cook for a minute, and then add the beef, Italian seasoning, coconut aminos, sea salt, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir everything together, and cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.
  • Add the spinach and bell peppers, and stir to combine. Then add the rice, marinara, and water and stir until everything is combined well. Bring the skillet to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer with a lid on the pan until the rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Once the rice is cooked through, turn the heat off and give the skillet stuffed peppers a stir, tasting for salt to your taste.
  • Turn the broiler on in your oven to “HI.” Top your skillet stuffed peppers with shredded cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for 2-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden to your liking. Every oven broiler runs differently, so check the cheese around 2-3 minutes in case yours runs hot. Mine takes about 5 minutes.

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Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!
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Summer Broccoli Salad

August 2, 2020

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

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

Summer 2020…

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

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

A new summer staple!

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

The busy momma kind of food prep…

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

But will the kids eat it?!

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Salad

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Honey Mustard Dressing

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

Storage and serving

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

Summer Broccoli Salad

Summer Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

FOR THE BROCCOLI SALAD

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

FOR THE HONEY MUSTARD VINEGARETTE

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

Instructions

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

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Raising Generation Nourished School Lunch Gear Resource Guide

August 2, 2020

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

Raising Generation Nourished Lunch Gear Resource Guide

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

Simplifying life

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

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

There’s no one right way to pack a lunch

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

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

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

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

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

BENTO BOX OPTIONS

Planetbox

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

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

BriGenius

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

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

Bentgo Kids

Bentgo Kids is perfectly made for your younger crew!

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

UpBento

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

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

OmieBox

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

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

Stackable Bento Boxes

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

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

THERMOS OPTIONS

LunchBots

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

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

Mira

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

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

Larger Thermoses for Middle & High School

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

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

SMALLER BOXES FOR THERMOS SIDES OR SNACKS

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

LunchBots

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

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

Kid Basix

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

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

DRINKING CUPS

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

Life Factory

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

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

Klean Kanteen

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

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

Hydroflask

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

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

Yeti

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

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

Want more school lunch ideas?!

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

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
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
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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

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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

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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

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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.)

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2020 :: We found these little Duke’s meat sticks at Costco this summer and love them too! You can get them on Amazon as well just in case your Costco doesn’t have them!

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!

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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:

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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 ::

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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

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