Tag Archives: kids

Summer Sweet

23 Jun

No, that doesn’t say sweat.
It’s summer! Warm weather, sunshine, reduced responsibilities…this calls for a  treat!
It was difficult to choose which dessert I’d make from my long list (pinterest board) of desserts I’ve been wanting to try. Somehow I settled on popsicles; likely because my popsicle molds were brightly mocking me from my pantry, having sat unused for at least six months.
Out of the hundred or so popsicle recipes I’ve saved, I picked out the Berry Cheesecake from this compilation by weedumandreap because it seemed the most kid friendly out of all the deliciousness going on there.
This is a true indulgence, considering I bought real cultured cream cheese (Nancy’s) instead of going the non-dairy route. Frozen, organic blueberries from Costco saved me at least an arm, if not a leg, from the cost of 2.5 cups of berries. I went with just blueberries, because that’s what I like when it comes to cheesecake. I subbed raw honey for the maple syrup, only because I forgot to take my empty syrup bottle on my last trip to Marlene’s.

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When I got to this point in the process, it was more difficult than anticipated to resist the urge to grab a spoon and have at it. I resolved to licking the (other) spatula for the time being.

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Half of the recipe fit my popsicle molds, with perhaps 3 or so tablespoons leftover. Which led to…

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Yep, shameless.

Enough to satisfy my sweet tooth long enough for them to actually freeze.
Now I’m debating whether or not to tell the kids about them…
What are you waiting for? Go get a sunburn tan and make some popsicles…because I probably won’t share.

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Winging It

14 Oct

Whew. What a whirlwind October has been. Between adjusting to a heavier workload at school, keeping up with kindergarten toing and froing, achieving my Tough Mudder goal (and recovering,) and maintaining a functioning household, I feel like I’m just sitting down to really rest today. I have, of course, been cooking, baking, eating, and snapping photos of food this whole time; so don’t think I forgot about you folks.

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I love trying new foods. It’s like an adventure and a challenge. I also encourage my daughter to love good food as much as I do. Strolling through the produce section in the grocery store, I asked my daughter to pick any vegetable- any at all. She scans the stands, her sharp eyes gleaming with the opportunity to choose. For that moment, she was in charge; and she took full advantage of her independence by ensuring she chose the right vegetable from the entire selection. Sure, I could’ve inhibited her by asking her to hurry; but I didn’t. I knew that every minute in the store was a minute later that dinner would be ready. But, I suppressed my own urge to make haste and waited. I answered her questions about what certain things are called, “that’s parsley, and that’s cilantro.” I nodded and smiled as I confirmed each label she put to the many familiar vegetables.

Then we reached the squashes. “Yes, that’s right. Butternut, spaghetti, zucchini, and yellow squash. Very good.” Suddenly she drove her hands into the pile of squashes and attempted to pull one out as she excitedly asked, “What’s this one?” After helping uncover the mystery, she lifted up the unknown squash and announced that this was what she wanted. She was mesmerized.

The sticker said the squash was a gold nugget squash. Instead of hesitating and going for the “safe, known” squashes, I happily put it in the cart. I’d never heard of it, but I have my dear friend Mr. Google. A few days later, I found myself in between meal plans- a rare occurrence. I had this weird squash sitting on my counter and had forgotten to take any meat out of the freezer. Sadly, this is one of those times that Google failed me. And by fail, I mean the first six results for “gold nugget squash paleo” were not sufficient to my needs. I know, a shame. So I decided to just wing it. I know squash. I know how it works. Most of the denser ones roast the same. What could I do with roasted unknown-tasting squash and no meat thawed? Frittata. I always have eggs on hand- when we reach a dozen, that’s considered running low. Frittata is so versatile that anything savory thrown in is bound to be good.

Even though I felt a bit like this:
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I had a determination to captivate my daughter with her chosen vegetable. And so onward I foraged.
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After slicing it open, I felt more at ease. It’s just like a butternut, pumpkin, or acorn squash. I got this. I was a little pressed for time and thought that peeling and cubing this cute little squash would expedite dinner. Ha. Nope. The peel/skin was much thicker and tougher than it appeared to be. Coconut oil face down, so be it.

Just in case the squash ended up being not very flavorful (which I hoped not, because then the name would be so misleading. You’d think something called gold nugget would be awesome, right?) I fried up some bacon to add to the frittata.

I hurriedly scooped the soft flesh out and added brussels sprouts and tomatoes to some of my ramekins. I left one without tomatoes for my tomato hating husband.
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And you know what? They turned great.

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It’s ok to wing it sometimes. You may surprise yourself with your genius. Have you ever tried something new without researching about it first? Ever have it turn out terrible? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Arachnids & Waffles

12 Sep

I’m pretty sure spiders are taking over the world. And by the world, I mean the acre around my house. It’s become a serious problem because I’m constantly walking into their stupid webs. They’re everywhere! Even in a big, wide open space that doesn’t seem like a feasible spot for a web to be, all the sudden there’s one across my face, right at eyeball height. What. The. Heck. The even-more-weird part about it is that it’s all the same kind of spider.  I’ve lived in my house house for two years and this has never happened before. At my place, we always have plenty of frogs and biting ants.

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Never before has there been a spider problem like this. In the dark mornings, as I walk to my car to go workout at JTS, I hold my arm out in front of me to keep the worst of it from hitting my face. One of my besties said that’s a good indicator for differing between country and city folk- understanding the gesture of holding your arm in front of your face while walking.

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This little sucker dive bombed into my open window while I was driving! I'm lucky to be alive.

On a somewhat related note- there were birds in Costco today.

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Anyways, on to the food. That’s why you’re here right?
I hate rushing. I despise being late. Therfore, I always get up with plenty of time to get ready in the morning. I always ensure I have enough time to cook and eat breakfast, as well as drink a cup of coffee at a reasonable pace. Breakfast is high on my priority list. I’m teaching my daughter to value morning time as much as I do, because I know she dislikes being rushed too.
That being said, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A suitable breakfast back-up plan is something that can be prepared quickly and store for a long time. Can you think of anything that fits that? Frozen waffles. Yes, like Eggos. But do you know what’s in those?

Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), water, vegetable oil (soybean, palm, and/or canola oil), sugar, eggs, dextrose, contains 2% or less of leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), modified corn starch, salt, dried blueberries, apple fiber, natural and artificial flavors, maltodextrin, cellulose gum, citric acid, whey, soy lecithin, blue 2 lake, red 40 lake.
Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium carbonate, vitamin A palmitate, reduced iron, niacinamide, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

Holy ingredients. That’s quite a long list just for waffles. Am I the only one disturbed by the word “OR” in an ingredients list? Mmm modified, colored, and artificial. So great for me. Or not. Those are the ingredients of the blueberry waffles, which were my favorite as a kid. Now that my knowledge of real nutrition has grown, I would not serve them to my child (no offense mom!)

Guess what? You can make your own waffles. You can freeze them. You can toast them. JUST like Eggos but without that crap that your body does not need. And your kids will love them just as much. Seriously, mine is crazy excited for them.

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CRAZY excited!

I didn’t take any prep pictures of them because I wasn’t sure if my Goodwill waffle iron would destroy them or not. Luckily it all worked out; best $10 spent.

The recipe can be found in the much admired Paleo Parent’s book-  Eat Like Dinosaur. But they were also extremely kind enough to put the recipe on their blog for folks like me.

Creamsicle Gummies

9 Sep

Oh goodness gracious. Today is the day my daughter started kindergarten. I’m sitting in my quiet house, all awkward. By myself. She will be gone most of the day and I don’t know what to do with myself. Before he left, my husband asked me what my plans were for the day. I told him I’d probably work on developing a nervous tick by 2 pm.

I, at least, started my morning off right with a great 6 am tabata. It felt fantastic.
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And because there was a birthday, we had this finisher that left me shaky. I haven’t done that many burpees in a row in I don’t know how long. With as much as I was sweating throughout, it was a cleansing experience; especially after a sugary dessert last night.
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I read about the benefits of gelatin from many different paleo/health bloggers and knew I wanted to give their recommended brand a try sooner or later. Well I finally took the $19 plunge and I’m ever so glad I did.  I’ve been putting a teaspoon in my coffee in the morning and tea in the evening; and whether by mere coincidence or the gelatin actually had a noticeable effect so quickly– my nails stopped breaking and have actually grown passed the ends of my fingers for the first time in two months. Plus, I’ve been munching on these gummies ever since I made them less than two days ago.

Squishy

Squishy

What I like about these:

  • Taste. Yum, creamsicle!
  • Balance- fat, protein, and carbs.
  • Collagen! Read about that in the link above.
  • Super simple.
  • Filling.
  • No artificial coloring, flavoring, or preservatives like the store-bought counterparts.

The little squares I cut the gummies into are so filling that I’m hoping this batch lasts a little longer than most of the snack foods I make. I’m not going to go into the science of absorption of protein, carbs, and fat together (I’m too busy drumming my fingers waiting for it to be 3 so I can go sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes waiting for my daughter to get out of her first day of kindergarten) but just know that having a great balance in one bite is an extra bonus on top of great flavor.

The pre-set flavor of the gummies is not a good indicator of the finished flavor. It might seem like a lot of honey or vanilla, but all the flavors mellow after it has set and is solid. My advice is to make the recipe as is first, and then tweek it to your liking after you taste a finished batch.

Creamsicle Gummies

Recipe tweeked from Tiffany of The Coconut Mama

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (separated cream on top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup gelatin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions

  • Heat juice and cream over medium heat in a saucepan.
  • Pour gelatin over liquid. Whisk gelatin into mixture.
  • Add honey and salt and continue to stir until the gelatin dissolves.
  • Bring the mixture to a light boil, stirring constantly. This could take several minutes, depending on your burner and pan.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Let cool 5-8ish minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Pour mixture into a 8×8 square pan. Cover pan and refrigerate until gummy snacks are set, about 4 hours or overnight.
  • Cut into small squares and store in air tight container in the fridge.

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As successful as these were, I’ve added some fun shaped, silicone molds to my wishlist. They would be so cute in star, heart, or bear shapes, don’t you think?

Are there any snacks that you buy that you wish you knew how to make at home? Tell me in the comments below and I might give it a try!

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds & Trail Mix

3 Sep

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It’s back to school time around my neck of the woods. My daughter will be starting kindergarten in less than a week; and while I may have a calm exterior, internally I’m fighting the urge to freak out. I know my social butterfly 5 year old will love kindergarten. She went to half-day preschool last year at a public school, so many things won’t be new or scary to her. What I’m not  freaking out about is me. This is the beginning of a decade of making school lunches, driving, more driving, and coordinating my classes to work with whatever school or extracurricular activities that interest her.  I have a resolute stance that yes, I can handle it all like a champ. But then I have this meek, inner doubt trying to squeak out, are you sure you can keep up with it all? 

Last year was a breeze. My husband was off of work due to an injury, and was available for driving, meal making, and keeping up with housekeeping. I had few classes on campus, and therefore a highly flexible schedule. My daughter was in school for 3 hours, and ate all her meals at home. This year, my husband is back to working full(and over-)time, I have many hours where I have to be on campus for classes, and my daughter will have to eat lunch at school for the first time ever. That means I’m the main meal maker, including portable lunches for both my husband and daughter. 

Needless to say, I’ve been preparing for weeks. Influencing posts by Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo persuaded me to purchase a LunchBot for my daughter to use. It comes in the mail tomorrow and I think I’m more excited than she is. Michelle has some great lunch ideas that I’m sure I”ll refer to when I get tired of making my go-to lunches. 

A challenge I’ve recently faced is making foods that are easy to eat while driving, because my husband’s career isn’t always accommodating with a lunch hour at a table or with access to a kitchen. Beyond raw, cut vegetables (that are always included in his lunch box whether he chooses to put them in or I lovingly slip them in after I notice he hasn’t packed enough) I wanted to make something that is closer to a balanced snack that is fantastically delicious, to the point of looking forward to eating it. Something with fat, protein, and sweet goodness. In comes trail mix to save the day! I spent some time in my favorite place (Marlene’s bulk cooler) and scooped baggies full of the good stuff. 

For the sweetness part, I perused a list of real snacks compiled by Katie of Girl Meets Nourishment and immediately wanted to give the cinnamon roasted almonds a try. The original poster uses pure cane sugar, which I don’t use. I did have a bunch of coconut sugar though, and honestly I had no idea if it would work as a substitute for this particular recipe; but I was willing to sacrifice having sticky nuts if it didn’t turn out right. I figured if it could become granulated/crystallized once, I could do it again. 

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted almonds (if using raw, you can roast them beforehand for 10 minutes at 350°)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 TB water

In a big skillet, add all your ingredients except the almonds. Mix it all together until if forms a paste.

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Add the almonds and stir to coat. 

Place the skillet on a burner over medium, and stir. Stir, stir….constantly for 7-10 minutes. 

This is what stirring looks like, in case you didn't know...

This is what stirring looks like, in case you didn’t know…

Don’t walk away from them, you have to keep stirring and watching them like a hawk. After a while, the mixture will begin to solidify.

Keep stirring until the sugar crystallizes onto the nuts.

Immediately remove from the heat and pour onto some parchment to cool.

Hardened coconut sugar

Hardened coconut sugar

They are perfect on their own. Maybe a little too perfect. Without restraint, I’m sure I could have eaten the ENTIRE batch in one day. To prevent myself from eating handfuls of them at a time (besides that first one, of course) I put them into my fantastic trail mix. 

 

Yum Nom Mmmm Nummy

Yum Nom Mmmm Nummy

Trail Mix

  • Cinnamon roasted almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Raisins 
  • Goji berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Use whatever proportions you like. You know you’re going to pick out your favorite ones anyways.

 

What do you pack in your kids school lunch or your own lunch?

 

SB&J

27 Aug

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Since easing my (bread loving) five year old into paleo, the one thing she still asks for on a regular basis is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After a few weeks of explaining that we don’t even have bread in the house to make a pb&j, she has started to ask, “did you buy bread yet?” It’s difficult for her to grasp/remember that we’re not eating peanuts OR bread anymore.  Having never liked peanut butter, it’s hard for me to empathize with her craving for this lunch time treat. She does enjoy almond butter, which is a great for me since I don’t have to convince her to like other nut butters. She even saved up a dollar of her earned money to buy a squeeze packet of Justin’s maple almond butter.

Then one day Taylor Made It Paleo posted these pb&j bars (which don’t really have peanut butter in them, but sunflower seed butter and cashews) and I thought I’d give them a try to help my daughter transition easier. I’m going to call them SB&J bars-sun butter and jelly- because that seems more logical to me.

Despite all I’ve heard and read about how great they are, I’d never bought or tried Chia seeds before. I knew exactly where to find them though, so I picked some up in the bulk section of Marlene’s. Kinda off topic-that little cooler room in the back of the store filled with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and all sorts of natural goodies is one of my happy places. Does it make me crazy that I could joyfully spend an hour a week in that little room? Probably. But I’m ok with that.

Anyways, back to the bars. The SB&J ones, not the kind with alcohol and single creepy guys. The crust was super easy and much like many other paleo snacks/desserts that use dates and nuts. The jam middle layer is so super simple and amazing that I wonder why I don’t make my own jam this way. In my opinion, reduction > pectin. (Oh yeah, I threw in some Tuesday morning math symbols. You are welcome.)
As for how they turned out, not only did my daughter love them, but my husband’s first response was, “Do you have enough ingredients to make more? I could eat one of these in my lunch everyday.” I’d call it a win.

SB&J Bars
Courtesy of Taylor Made It Paleo

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut cream
10 dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
pinch of salt

Directions:
Place blueberries and honey in a small saucepan over med-high and bring to a low boil.
Turn heat down to medium-low, and continue to cook while mashing blueberries, and stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Add chia seeds and coconut cream and continue to cook/stir until you get a jam-like consistency (about 20-25 minutes).

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Thick and jam-like

Put mixture in the fridge to cool while you make your crust.
In a food processor, combine dates, cashews, sunflower seed butter, and salt until all ingredients are well incorporated.

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Separate mixture into two “equal” parts. They’re just as awesome if one layer is a little thicker, so unless you’re a perfectionist, don’t fret too much about it.
Line a small bread pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper for easy removal.
For the crust, take one half and press down into the bread pan using a spatula to compress.
Remove jam from fridge and spread evenly over the crust.
Crumble the rest of the crust mixture over the top of the jam and press down to evenly form top layer.
Place in the fridge for 30-40 minutes before using the plastic wrap to remove it from the pan and cutting.

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Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

12 Aug

As a kid, I hated coconut. The smell, taste, and texture did not appeal to me in the least. Now? Now I can’t get enough of the stuff. If coconut wasn’t so healthy, it’d be a problem. Thankfully, it’s a freaking awesome food to be in love with. As Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom explains:

Unlike most tree nuts, coconut does not contain omega six fatty acids.  Instead, coconut is rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), a very special “short”-chain saturated fat (unlike the longer saturated fatty acids typically found in animal fat).  MCTs do not require bile salts for digestion.  They diffuse passively from the intestines into the blood and do not require modification before being used as energy for your cells.  They are metabolized very easily and, because they are a fat and not a sugar, they can be used by your cells for energy without a spike in your insulin. Also, because MCTs are a saturated fat, they do not oxidize easily or produce free-radicals.

Like I said, coconut is amazing. I use extra-virgin coconut oil in cooking and baking, unsweetened shredded coconut in sweet and savory dishes, coconut flour in both goodies and main dishes, coconut cream concentrate 10 different ways, and coconut milk in a million different ways. I even have been known to mix my protein powder with some coconut water for post-workout goodness.

I found this recipe when searching for grab-and-go snacks for family paleo camping. Things I like about these cookies- ridiculously quick to throw together, doesn’t use a ton of cocoa powder but still has a chocolatey flavor, and my kids and husband love them. The one downside is that heating up raw honey cooks out all the goodness of being raw, but what can you do?

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Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

 

2 cups dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/3 cup raw, local honey

1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder (or cocao powder for extra goodness)

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup almond butter

1 teaspoon real vanilla

  1. Measure out your almond butter to have it ready.
  2. Put honey, cocoa powder, and oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Watch it as you bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula to prevent burning. It’ll bubble like a weird brown science experiment.
  4. Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the almond butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in coconut until everything is coated.
  6. To get the shape of my cookies, I used a spatula to press a little of the mixture into a small Tupperware and packing it firmly. Then add a little more and pack it  in more. Because of the coconut oil, it’ll fall right out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I have found that this shape crumbles less when bitten into.
  7. Alternatively, you can simply scoop out spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.
  8. Toss into the fridge until set- a few hours at most. Once that happens you can transfer them into a container and store in the fridge. (If camping, keep an ice pack on top of the container.)

If you try any add-ins, let me know in the comments below!