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valentine cookies

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Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

February 6, 2016

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with these special sugar cookie hearts with naturally dyed frosting!

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

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 or service I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Happy Valentine’s week to you!

I did the volunteer thing for the classroom Valentine’s Day treat this year, so I figured what better way to get *all* these cookies done…than with a couple sweet little 6 year olds?!

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

Little kids and cookie decorating!

Chloe got to invite a friend over to decorate these cute little hearts and these girls are just too fun. The giggles were endless, and the cookies turned out so great.

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

This is my go-to gluten free sugar cookie cut out recipe – it is so easy to work with!

I am not much of a baker and don’t really like to mess around with fussy recipes. This dough is very forgiving and very nice to work with – especially for a gluten free dough. I found this little heart cookie cutter that is perfect for a class treat – not oversized and not too tiny.

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

Natural *beautiful* color!

We used freeze dried raspberries for the great Valentine’s Day frosting color, and left a handful of them frosted white in case any of the little guys in class were afraid of pink 😉 Freeze dried strawberries would work for that pretty color if you want too!

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

The frosting is just delicious!

Soft and sweet with amazing raspberry flavor – and that color! So pretty! Completely free of artificial dyes – because I don’t know about you, but if I were a school teacher I don’t think I would want my classroom all hopped up on Red 40 for the afternoon! I also think swapping the butter for cream cheese would make a delicious, tangy raspberry cream cheese frosting.

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

And since my kitchen was full of little girls for the afternoon, we of course had to break out the sparkly sprinkles!

You can get naturally dyed sugar sprinkles and they are so fun to keep on hand for holidays! There are so many to choose from!

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies With Naturally Dyed Frosting

Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Gluten Free Valentine's Day Sugar Cookie Hearts With Naturally Dyed Frosting

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with these special sugar cookie hearts with naturally dyed frosting!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time11 mins
Total Time21 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free sugar cookie recipe, gluten-free sugar cookies, gluten-free Valentine's Day cookies
Servings: 24 cookies
Author: Renee -



  • 1 cup softened butter if you are dairy free, you can use palm shortening
  • 1 cup organic pure cane sugar could use sucanat but the color will come out darker
  • 1 egg if you are egg free you can use a flax egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup sorghum flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum Do NOT leave this out – it helps the cookies rise. You will have a melted mess without it...I have the mess to prove it! It also makes rolling out the dough so much easier.


  • 3 TB blended freeze dried raspberries Just put them into a blender and blend into powder. I used about 3/4 of a 1.2oz bag of freeze dried raspberries. You can add the rest if you want a deeper color. I blended the whole bag and am keeping the leftover powder in an airtight container for another time.
  • 2 cups organic powdered cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 3-4 TB milk or coconut milk


  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  • Add the egg, vanilla, and salt and blend.
  • Add the flours and xanthan gum. Mix until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge, and let it come to room temp for about 30 minutes.
  • Lay out some parchment paper on the counter and flour it with white rice flour. Flour your hands and use the warmth of your hands to gently knead the dough, and then roll out the dough. (Use white rice flour on the rolling pin and parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking)
  • Cut out your hearts and bake on a silpat (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool completely before decorating. To make the frosting, just blend the frosting ingredients until smooth. You can add more milk if you wish for a thinner, more royal icing type of frosting.

For more real food treat ideas you can follow my Treat Ideas Board on Pinterest!

More real food recipes you might like:
Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Blender Cookies

Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Blender Cookies
Chocolate Cake (Can be made cupcakes too!)

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

DIY Whipped Cream


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!





  • 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.


  • 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 ::

Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips School Holidays

Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Brownie Cookie Cut-Outs

February 1, 2019

The possibilities are endless with your favorite brownie flavors in an easy to work with gluten free cookie cut-out dough!

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.

Friday nights, little girls, Valentine’s Day excitement…and chocolate!

It’s just a match made in heaven right?! I decided to start working on this little brownie cookie concept the week before we had a house full of girls over to play after school, and the timing was just perfect! You just can’t do Valentine’s Day with a gaggle of girls without chocolate, and these cookies were just so fun!

A cookie dough you actually want to work with!

I’m all about fuss-free when it comes to sweet treat baking. I know it can be fun to get all fancy with 100 different steps and a really cool finish, but most of the time, I prefer an easy to deal with dessert, and this cookie dough is so lovely. You can knead it and roll it out multiple times without getting dense or crumbly, and the cut-outs don’t break. Just 8 ingredients is definitely my kind of recipe too!

The perfect texture!

Ok, so I know people can be really (really!) funny about their brownie textures! There’s those cake texture people, fudgy texture, and there’s just something about that brownie “chew!” These cookies are definitely more of a “cookie” feel, but you can tailor your finish the way you like! Less cook time and they will be nice and soft – it still feels like a cookie, but if you like a cake-like brownie, this one is for you. And if you go a bit longer on the cook time, you will get this amazing light crisp to the outside with a great “chew” to the inside. SO good!

Fun topping ideas!

Because it’s Valentine’s day right?! While the cookies are seriously amazing and perfect as is, you could certainly give the tops a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Just put some powdered sugar in a sift, and dust the tops. You could also make an icing if you prefer. Leave it plain white, or you can see how we dyed these great Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies with naturally dyed pink frosting here.

Freezer friendly!

YES these have been freezing great, dear momma! You know what that means? Oh yes…make that second batch while you have the kitchen counter a mess, and freeze that extra set just for your afternoon coffee 😉 They are super yummy right out of the freezer. It also means you can make these up way ahead of time and be ready for that Valentine’s Day school party!

Cookie Cutter options!

We typically use a medium sized heart cut-out for my aged girls. I have this set of heart cut-outs, and you can even make the cookies “sandwich” style by cutting out smaller ones inside the bigger ones to make them like “Linzer” style cookies with frosting in the middle. When my girls were smaller, more toddler ages, I had these fantastic small cookie cutters. That way they still feel like they are getting a WHOLE cookie, or even 2, versus you cuttting a big one in half, and they are smaller so they aren’t getting a portion that isn’t appropriate for their size. The smaller cutters are also perfect for classroom parties where there are going to be multiple treats and the kids don’t need a huge cookie.

Swaps and tips

  • I am pretty sure organic palm shortening will swap for the butter if you are dairy free
  • I have a feeling coconut sugar will swap for the organic cane sugar if you want to try keeping the glycemic index lower. Coconut sugar will darken the cookie a bit more, and will change the flavor a bit – coconut sugar has a warmer, molasses flavor. I would not lower the sugar amount anymore than it is, or the texture will be off. These are cookies, after all, and it is a once a year treat. The recipe makes at least 2 dozen cookies so it’s pretty spread out – and you can always make them smaller for your little guys! See the above section for ideas on how to make that happen.
  • I’m sure other GF flour blends will swap for the Namaste. I am not sure how to swap a whole wheat or Einkorn as we cannot have gluten. If you give that a try, let us know in the comments how you swapped for it, so others who can have gluten can know how to do it!
Print Recipe
5 from 23 votes

Valentine’s Day Brownie Cookies



  • Cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Blend until creamy and well combined, about 1 minute.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, and blend to combine the dough. Scrape the bowl down, turn the dough out and form into a disk. Wrap the dough or cover it in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • When you are ready to cut out your cookies, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Toss some of the GF flour blend onto a clean surface, and roll out your dough – just like sugar cookies, only I made mine just slightly thicker – you can see in the pictures above. Put the cut-out cookies onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, depending on how thick you made your cookies, and how you want the texture to be. I’ve done about 6 batches with varying times – if you go lower time, they will be softer but still hold together well like a cookie, and if you go a little longer, they will be slightly crisp/firmer on the outside with some “chew” to the brownie inside – they are still soft this way, but it is a different feel. The cookies do firm up once they cool a bit. Cool on the tray for a couple minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool. You can leave the cookies as is, dust powdered sugar over the top, or frost with icing when they are cooled completely.

More real food Valentine’s Day treats you might like!

Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips School Holidays

How To Make Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

December 12, 2018

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

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

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

My toddlers’ favorite “butter cookie”

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

Simple ingredients for busy motherhood

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

Blender dough?! Yes please!

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

Shortbread cookie cutters

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

Freezer friendly!

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

 A blank slate

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

Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

How To Make Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

Learn how to make gluten-free shortbread cookies, perfect for everything from your afternoon cup of tea to your holiday cookie plate!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free shortbread recipe, how to make gluten-free shortbread
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: Renee -



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

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The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

July 22, 2020

It all started during now 11-year-old’s first year of school…

Kindergarten. I remember being pretty geeked about packing lunches, and the first week or two it was so exciting. Being a child of the ’80s and spending my teens in the ’90s, I discovered that this lunchbox thing had gotten pretty cool since I had finished school. I would even go as far as to say it had become a bit fun compared to the wrinkled up brown paper bags that we all grew up with. It was about two full months into my daughter’s kindergarten year before it hit me….

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Colorful Rainbow Chicken Salad Pinwheels from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a BriGenius Bento Box)

“I have to pack this thing again?!?!”

You know what I’m talking about: blankly staring into the lunchbox and wondering, “What in the world am I supposed to put in here?!” Because as beautiful as that lunchbox was, I still needed to fill those compartments. And the parents of today are doing that whole “know better, do better” thing—we know our kids need more than a bag of chips and an apple to get through the school day. But I still had an infant and a preschooler at home (who apparently needed lunch too!), and I couldn’t spend all day preparing my kindergartener’s lunchbox.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Easy Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Tots from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Planetbox Rover)

An easy, predictable rhythm

I started creating a rotation to our lunch routine that was both exciting with variety and nutrients, and predictable so that I could still live in the unpredictability that is a household filled with little people. The quickest way to lunchbox burnout is making everything from scratch. I found out real quick that making everything myself was a one-way ticket to lunchbox burnout, and one frustrated, tired momma. While I wanted to include real, whole foods in her lunch everyday, it just wasn’t realistic to scratch-make everything. I remember feeling like I was trapped somewhere between throwing Twinkies® in a brown paper sack and creating elaborate “Pinterest Mom” bento box works of art.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Healthy Alphabet Soup Copycat from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Soup is in a Lunchbots Thermos)

There is a better way, dear momma.

Introducing “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!” You absolutely can pack school lunches that nourish your growing children and can be packed on a busy schedule. My biggest goal for each lunchbox represented in this cookbook (besides being filled with a balanced, whole-food meal that kids will eat!) was for each lunchbox to have just one homemade item. One homemade item per box is realistic!

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Lunchbox Friendly Real Food Sloppy Joe Bites from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Bentgo)

Why does packing a healthy lunch matter?

I get it dear momma. With the schedules we try to pull these days, it’s any wonder we don’t absolutely crash at the end of the day. Why, oh why do we have to make sure our kids’ lunches are clean and nourishing?

  • The average school aged child grows 5-7 pounds & 2 ½ inches per year. Pre-puberty/puberty (Age 10-14 for girls, & 11-16 for boys) is the second largest growth spurt your child will have! (The first is birth to age 3.). <—-Let that sink in a minute! If you think you are out of the woods once you are out of toddlerhood, you are in for a big surprise! These pre-teens grow…a lot! I have one that has entered this season, and it is truer than I ever thought it would be!
  • School day hours are long, and their brains/bodies are working overtime. Most kids are eating breakfast around 7:30am, and even earlier if you have a child in middle or high school with earlier school start times. To expect that these rapidly growing children to not need a big fuel up mid-day is like expecting your car to go on a cross-country trip without a stop at the gas station.
  • The bottom line is…kids and teens are NOT mini adults. You may not understand their appetite as your adult metabolism slows, but there is rapid growth happening in your child, & they need REAL fuel!
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Fast Prep Brain Boosting Bow Tie Pasta Salad from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is BentoRyte)

A lunchbox book for EVERY type of mom and dad

I knew from the minute that my first cookbook, “Nourished Beginnings Baby Food” published, that I wanted to write a sequel or a spin off. Sure, the absolute high from accomplishing that book was reason enough to want to do it again, but there was more. Babies don’t stay babies! They grow into little people that still need to be fed well, and I wanted to help moms make that transition. “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” helps parents make the jump from babyhood to school-aged children without compromising the real food foundations that they set in those first few years. While I was writing, I also had a goal to reach a broader audience of moms. Some parents don’t learn about real food until later, and I wanted them to be able to pick up this book, be empowered, feel some grace, and know that they could do this as well.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Build Your Own Nachos “Lunchable®” from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is an UpBento)

Allergen Friendly Recipes!

Because nut free school zones are so common these days, as well as the danger that celiac kids face with traces of gluten, I’ve made “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” entirely nut, gluten, and soy free. Of course, there is nothing inherently bad or unhealthy about nuts or well cared for wheat if you don’t have an allergy to them, so you may swap the seeds in any recipe for nuts that you might have in your pantry, or play around with using regular flour where appropriate if your school doesn’t have those precautions. And because so many kids have trouble digesting processed dairy, most of the recipes are dairy free, or have swaps for any dairy!

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Crunchy Honey Oat Nature Valley® Granola Bar Copycat from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Bentgo)

A vision for a well-used cookbook at the heart of your kitchen

My vision is for the pages of The Little Lunchbox Cookbook to be dog-eared, dripped on, written on, faded, and loved on so much that this cookbook becomes a permanent fixture on your counter. I want your kids to be able to point to their favorite recipe. I want your menu plan to become a rhythm of recipe rotations from the pages of this book. You are the reason this generation is going to know how to fuel their bodies to feel well. It starts with you. You will be rewarded with children that are nourished to grow and know what foods make them feel their best.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Pizza Lunchable® Copycat from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Planetbox Rover)

Every chapter with YOU in mind, dear Momma!

The pages of “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” were a labor of love. Everyday that I get up and get to communicate with you all on social media, and in this space, I count myself blessed. As I wrote each section, I had you and your kids in mind. I can’t wait for you to read each one!

  1. Beyond Peanut Butter & Jelly–Fun & Delicious Sandwiches! :: I’ll help pull you out of your sandwich rut with a fun rotation to add to your sandwich days each week!
  2. Lunchables® Copycats :: You know the kids see the store bought ones everyday! Making your own Lunchables® with healthier ingredients is so easy and much more filling for a full afternoon at school.
  3. Warm and Comforting Thermos Lunches :: For the kids that like hot lunches! This section has a good mix of kid friendly soups like creamy broccoli, and fun hot dishes like Spaghetti-O’s, Mac ‘N Cheese, and stir fry.
  4. Nuggets, Dippers, and Bites :: Because I don’t know any kid that doesn’t love to dip! Make anything bite sized and kids will be all over it!
  5. Colorful Kid-Approved Salads :: I promise this isn’t just for the older kids (although I had tweens and teens in mind when writing this section!) – fun, colorful salads and pasta salads filled with brain nourishing fats will make getting veggies in super delicious!
  6. The Finishing Touches–Snacks & Sides :: From muffins and granola bars, to easy trail mixes, energy bars and bites, this is a fun one to stock the pantry with!
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Comforting Beef Noodle Soup from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Soup is in an Arder Live Thermos)

Bonus sections in “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!

The last 2 sections in the cookbook are my bonus gift to you!

  • Section 7 includes a really fun selection of lunchbox treats! It is so important that our kids have a healthy relationship with food – including occasionally getting to have a sweet treat to celebrate their birthday, or a holiday! From birthday cupcakes and fruit packed gummy bears, to Valentine’s Brownie Bites and Halloween Pumpkin Harvest mini cookies, I’ve got you covered with healthier choice, allergen friendly mini treats to surprise the kids on a special day!
  • Section 8 is packed with real food kid staples for your kitchen. Everyday items like homemade 5-minute Ranch and hummus for dipping, as well as a handful of “how-to’s” to make life easier like how to batch cook beans, hard boiled eggs, and chicken/beef for fast protein additions.
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Valentine’s Day Brownie Bites from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook”

What others are saying!

“A great resource! Renee’s recipes are a creative twist on healthy and satisfying with tons of ideas and beautiful images to match.”

Natalie Monson, founder of and

“Renee has not only made real food doable for busy families, but has created healthy kid-friendly recipes that appeals to children of all eating styles and offers parent fueling ideas for those lunch boxes. Chocked full of variety, easy recipes and inspiring lunch box images, this book will become a kitchen staple for parents and caregivers.” 

Taesha Butler, Founder of 

“As a parent, figuring out how to nourish our kids in a traditional, real food way while living in a fast-paced, processed food society can be quite the challenge. Renee offers us simplicity and encouragement with practical ideas, beautiful photo inspiration and guidance, and delicious, easy-to- make recipes. No matter the age of your child or season of life, Renee breaks down nourishing lunches in a doable and approachable way!” 

Kristin Marr, Found of LiveSimply.ME

“I love that Renee’s approach makes it easy for parents to make and pack healthy meals. Plus, kids love her recipes!”

Amy Palanjian, founder of and author of Busy Little Hands: Food Play!

Is it possible to be both jaw-dropping and doable? I’m just tickled that so many of Renee’s incredible whole food, allergy friendly recipes are together in one place to help other moms feel like superwoman. 
Renee’s advice to strive for one homemade item in each box is perfect for busy families, and then the rest is just putting together puzzle pieces according to her quick tips for balance. With recipes for unique sandwich options, homemade Lunchables® and Spaghetti-O’s® copycat, 8 different dippables and more, your kids’ lunches are about to be the talk of the cafeteria… And the only risk may be that your kids will be so inspired they will grab this cookbook and you’ll work yourself out of a job!

– Katie Kimball of Kids Cook Real Food
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Buttermilk Biscuit Breakfast Sammy from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Lunchbots Trio)

You can find “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook here!


Barnes & Noble



Book Depository

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
5-Ingredient Fast Prep Chicken Nuggets from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is an UpBento)
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Paleo Chocolate Nut Butter Tart :: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, and Egg Free

February 17, 2018

This easy prep chocolate nut butter tart is rich and decadent using all real food ingredients!

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 season for everything, and grace for everyone…

Every once and a while, it gets to me. The winter. It’s so long here, and while I truly do love the 4 seasons of living in Michigan, getting through the winter “blah’s” takes some practice. First, I’ve learned this is not the time of year for crash diets. Eating real, nourishing, nutrient dense food not only keeps my body from getting sick, it also keeps my brain from being starved and going crazy while we wait for a little sunshine. I wait for that sunshine energy to fuel any spring cleansing, and save winter time for enjoying rest and fueling.

A little grace…and a piece of pie

Second, I’ve learned to have a little grace. I’ve found that when I allow my body to rest a bit more during the winter, spring and summer can run at full force, loaded with energy. There’s a season for everything. And during a season of rest, it is totally cool to settle in with a cup of coffee and a slice of your favorite treat. Food was meant to be enjoyed. It was meant to nourish your soul, not just your stomach. And while we enjoy every nourishing meal to the fullest every day, putting some love into a special treat to share with your family can nourish your sense of joy even on the darkest winter day.

Rich and indulgent real food

Of course, you can make these treats with real ingredients too! I won’t pretend that a little maple syrup isn’t still sugar. Sugar is still sugar. It isn’t something we have every day. But a special Valentine’ Day treat was definitely in the cards for us this year, and we used some simple real food ingredients to create a decadent treat that filled us with joy, and didn’t leave our tummies feeling crummy because of processed ingredients.

Fancy presentation…minimal fuss!

Because this momma doesn’t have time for that! And while we’re on that note, I’m also not a baker. Those of you who have been around long enough know that baking is just not my thing. This chocolate nut butter tart may have pretty layers, but it is anything but finicky to work with. The crust will take you about 10 minutes to prep, and the other 2 layers will be 5 minutes or less! Promise that even my non baker readers are going to love this one!

Tart pan versus pie

Originally, this recipe started out in one of my pie plates. I made it half dozen times since then, until I found a tart pan on sale last month 😉 I love the presentation that the tart pan gives, so that is how I’ve prepared it for this post (and the removable bottom makes the presentation SO much easier!). That said, the recipe below is based on my pie plates, and I had some crust leftover when I made it in the tart pan. So the recipe fits in a pie plate if that is what you have, or if you happen to have a tart pan, just know that you will only use about ¾ of the crust. I also had some chocolate left (which made for really yummy chocolate dipped strawberries for Valentine’s day!). I think mini tarts in muffin tin or mini tart pan would be adorable too!

Ingredient notes

  • Let’s start with the crust. You really can use any crust recipe. This crust is nutty, and sweet, and goes so well with the chocolate nut butter flavors. I have not tried other ingredient swaps for this crust, so you’ll have to play around with that yourself. If you really can’t have the nuts, or another ingredient in the crust, here is my gluten free crust recipe you can use instead.
  • For the nut butter filling, I do think that sunflower seed butter would swap for the nut butter if there is a nut allergy. Sunflower seed butter always tastes like peanut butter to me anyway, so I think it would work!

A little grace, and a piece of pie

Deep breath momma. Winter with littles can feel closed in. Bundle the babes up, stick them in the snow for a few minutes, and then have some grace. Come on back inside, settle them with some toys, and warm up with your favorite hot cup and a slice of some chocolate nut butter tart. We’ll make it to spring soon! Cheers!

Print Recipe
5 from 25 votes

Paleo Chocolate Nut Butter Tart

This easy prep chocolate nut butter tart is rich and decadent using all real food ingredients!
Prep Time1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Paleo chocolate nut butter tart, Paleo chocolate nut butter tart recipe
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Renee -




  • 1 cup nut butter of choice you can combine different nut butters to make the 1 cup too
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup if your nut butter is already sweetened, you may not need this
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt if your nut butter is salted, I would leave this out or halve it



  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put the flours, coconut shreds, and sea salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend to combine – the crust looks dry, but it presses into the pan well, so don’t add more liquid!
  • Press the blended crust into a 9-inch tart pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Place the crust in the freezer to speed up the cooling off process (Or you can make the crust ahead of time).
  • While the crust is cooling off, you can make the nut butter layer. Put the nut butter layer ingredients into a small sauce pan and warm through over medium heat until everything is melted together and smooth. When the crust is fully cooled off, you can pour this nut butter layer into the crust. Put the tart pan back into the freezer for 1 hour to set the nut butter later.
  • Once the nut butter layer is set, make the chocolate layer. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a small sauce pan, turn the heat off, and add the chocolate chips. Let the chocolate sit in the hot milk for one minute, and then whisk it in until smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the nut butter layer in the tart pan, and place the tart pan back into the freezer to fully set.
  • Garnish your chocolate nut butter tart with flaked sea salt if you desire. You can store your tart in the fridge. It cuts well at room temp, fridge temp, and frozen, so you can serve it at whatever temperature you prefer.

More real food recipes you might like:



December 19, 2013

Soaked Oat Pancakes
Sweet Potato and Greens Breakfast Saute
Ulimate Breakfast Cookie (GF, DF, EF, Refined sugar free)
Banana Bread (GF, DF, EF, NF)
Soaked Oatmeal Basics – Plus 6 Different Recipes!
Spinach & Sausage Egg Muffins
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Versatile Sausage Season Blend
Strawberry Baked Oatmeal (GF, DF, EF, NF option)
Strawberry & Cream Muffins (GF, EF, NF, DF option)
Blueberry Muffins (GF, NF, EF/DF options)
Cinnamon Raisin Zucchini Muffins (GF, NF, EF/DF options)
Apple Harvest Breakfast Bars
Sour Apple Breakfast Bread
Simple & Quick Gluten Free Pancakes
Immune Booster Smoothie
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
Breakfast Porridge For Baby (Gluten, Nut, Legume, and Refined Sugar Free)
Morning Glory Muffins (Gluten & Refined Sugar Free)
Gluten Free Breakfast Biscuits
Simple Cinnamon Granola
Simple Homemade Coconut Yogurt
Blueberry Breakfast Bars :: Gluten, Nut, & Refined Sugar Free
Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Granola :: Nut Free Option
Honey Rhubarb Granola (Can sub green apples for the rhubarb if it isn’t in season!)
Strawberry Quinoa Granola
Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins
Lemon Breakfast Cookies
Strawberry Quinoa Granola
Our School Morning Breakfast Menu With Free Printable
Cranberry Orange Granola
Gluten Free Savory Spinach & Cheese Breakfast Biscuits
Practical Tips For Re-Thinking Breakfast
Protein Packed Molasses Breakfast Cookies
Nutrient Dense Green Smoothies for Kids

Roasted Garlic Soup
Creamy Vegetable Soup
Sprouted Refried Beans
Chicken Salad Pepper Cups
Radish and Leek Soup
Savory Sweet Potato Biscuits
Fresh Tomato Soup
Broccoli Soup
Summer Vegetable Soup
Cauliflower Chowder
School Lunch Packing
Simple Soaked Granola Bars (GF, EF, DF, & Refined Sugar Free w/ NF Option)
Pizza Muffins (GF/NF w/ DF/EF options)
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
French Onion Soup
GF Chicken Noodle Soup
Simple Baked Applesauce
Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Creamy Potato & Spinach Soup
Potato Chips
Gluten Free Soup Biscuits
Real Food Mac N Cheese
Potato & Leek Soup
Asparagus Soup
Tuna Salad For All Ages!
Simple & Quick Homemade Crackers :: Gluten Free with Grain Free Option
Sweet Potato Noodles
6 Packable Lunches Besides Peanut Butter & Jelly!
Italian Daikon Radish Salad
Spring Coleslaw
Simple & Quick Thin Crust Tortilla Pizza
Spring Dandelion Salad w/ Garlic Oil Dressing
Pita Bread :: Gluten Free quick and easy!
Molasses Protein Bars
Cream of Zucchini Soup
Chicken “Zoodle” Soup
Gluten Free Pita Bread
School Lunch Resource Guide
Egg Salad Pinwheels

Crockpot or Oven Roasted Chicken for Fast Weekday Meals
Nourishing Chicken Bone Broth
Nourishing Beef Bone Broth
Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls
Spring in a Bowl – A Spring Veggie Stir Fry
Vegetable Beef Soup
Slow Cooker Fiesta Soup
Potato Salad
Sprouted Baked Beans
Chicken Nuggets :: Grain, Dairy, Egg Free
Pizza :: Gluten, Egg, Dairy, Nut Free
Classic Coleslaw
Pasta Salad (Grain Free)
Spinach Lasagna Soup
Italian Chicken Meatball Soup
Classic Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
Beef Roast
Slow Cooker Sprouted Chili
Gluten Free Cornbread
Autumn Harvest Chicken Stew
Slow Roasted Pastured Chicken
Sprouted Black Eyed Pea Soup
Real Food Sloppy Joes
Gluten Free Dinner Biscuits
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Thai Peanut Sauce (For Stir Frys or Dipping)
Sweet & Sour Sauce Stir Fry
Slow Cooker Irish Stew
Irish Soda Bread Biscuits
Parmesan Baked Zucchini Spears
Parmesan Baked Veggie Quinoa
Sweet Potato Noodles
Gluten Free Lasagna
Simple & Quick Thin Crust Tortilla Pizzas
Spatchcock BBQ Roasted Chicken
Light & Crispy Kale Chips
Parmesan Roasted Italian Potatoes
3 Kid Friendly Stir Frys!
Beef & Kale Soup
Quick Gluten Free Blender Squash Drop Biscuits
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Quick & Delicious Gluten Free Pizza
7 Minute BBQ Shredded Beef From Leftover Beef Roast
20 Minute Spring Stir Fry with Garlic Butter Sauce
Golden Beet Slaw
Vegetable Beef Curry Soup
Kale & Herb Stuffed Meatballs
15 Minute Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
Instant Pot Bone Broth
Instant Pot Whole Chicken
15 Minute Asian Noodles – Lo Mein Copycat
Nutrient Dense Meatloaf
15 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup and Kid Friendly Guacamole
Instant Pot Italian Sausage Stew
Bone Broth Gravy
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing
Stuffed Pumpkin

Crispy Salted Almonds
Energy Bars
5 Nourishing Summertime Popsicles
Simple Soaked Granola Bars
Potato Chips
Simple & Quick Homemade Crackers :: Gluten Free with Grain Free Option
Antioxidant Rich Berry Gummies
Light & Crispy Kale Chips
Electrolyte Popsicles
Molasses Protein Bars
Crispy Plantain Crackers
Chocolate Banana Mineral Power Smoothie
Vitamin C Gummies
Chocolate Chip Fruit & Nut Bar (Compare To Larabar)
9 Packable Nutrient Dense School Snacks

Momma’s Honey Lemon Tea
Simple & Quick Holiday Eggnog
Winter Wassail
DIY Electrolyte Drink
DIY Coconut Milk
Fermented Lemonade
Fermented Strawberry Soda
Fermented Cherry Almond Soda
Nettle Infusions for Kids

DIY Salad Dressings : 5 Recipes!
Barbeque Sauce
Blueberry Jam
Caesar Dressing
Mayonnaise (Egg Free)
Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Just like the canned – for casseroles or adding creaminess to stir frys and soups)
DIY Taco Season Mix
Thai Peanut Sauce
Sweet & Sour Sauce
Asian Salad Dressing
DIY Olive Garden Salad Dressing
How To Render Tallow
Spanish Chorizo Season Blend
10 Minute Enchilada Sauce

Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry Popsicles
Rehydrating Electrolyte Popsicles
Post Tummy Bug Recovery Smoothie
How to Make a Post Partum Recovery Package

Chocolate Birthday Cake
Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
Strawberry Birthday Cake
Cherry Vanilla Sorbet : DF option
Cherry Pie :: GF, EF, NF
The Perfect 1st Birthday Cupcake (Grain, Egg, Nut, Dairy, Refined Sugar Free)
Maple Vanilla Ice Cream (Refined Sugar Free with Dairy Free Option
Apple Pie
Simple & Quick Gluten Free Pie Crust (Sweet or Savory friendly!)
Simple & Quick Whipped Cream
Simple & Quick Holiday Eggnog
Winter Wassail
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies
Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies
Tahini Molasses Cookies (Grain, Nut, & Refined Sugar Free)
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream :: Dairy Free Option
Tropical Blender Sorbet
GF Blueberry Birthday Cupcakes
Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream
Carrot Cake :: Gluten, Egg, Nut, & Dye Free!
Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Creamsicles
Real Food Fudgsicles
Simple & Rich Chocolate Ice Cream
Caramel Swirl Ice Cream
Real Food Grapesicle
Peach Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Blueberry Peach Crisp
Gluten Free Vanilla Bean Cake
Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Blender Cookies
Gluten Free Apple Crisp
Homemade Honey Sweetened Caramel Corn
Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs and Decorating Ideas
Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies with Naturally Dyed Frosting