Gluten Free Gingerbread Muffins

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Gluten & Dairy Free Gingerbread Muffins (option for Grain Free)

1 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour {or Garfava Flour for grain-free}
2/3 cup Arrowroot Flour
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil {liquid measure}
2 eggs
2 teaspoons organic lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon grass-fed unflavored gelatin (like this one)
1 1/2 teaspoons organic ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons organic cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Makes 36 mini-muffins.

In a mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients and fork whisk to incorporate everything together. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl. Mix until your batter is smooth.

Line your baking tins with parchment / paper baking cups. Fill each cup 23 of the way full. Bake mini muffins for 11-13 minutes. (I haven’t baked them as regular sized muffins yet, but will check cooking times and update that when I do).

These are the prefect holiday-time muffin, and are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and cane sugar free, & free of xantham and guar gums.  I have not tested with egg substitutes, but I am almost positive that  flax egg or applesauce would work just fine.

30+ ways to ROCK a GRAIN-FREE lunch box [some SCD, some PALEO, all GRAIN-FREE]

You just aren’t cool unless you can ROCK a Grain-Free lunchbox (hah! At least in my own little world, that is).

So, we only have a few weeks left of summer vacation!?

Boy, does this bring on some MIXED emotions for this mamma-jamma. I am not quite ready to use that alarm setting on my phone, have a strict morning schedule, and start back up with things like packing lunches before the sun has even woken up and conducting the symphony of after-school activities; but, everyone at my house has honestly had their (albeit blessed) fill of togetherness and I think *everyone* is going to welcome the change & excitement of starting our next school year. We have so enjoyed our summer, don’t’ get me wrong, but when that bell is ready to start ringing, I know that we will be ready to be there. And I am starting early preparing myself for packing those daily lunches!

At our house last year, we were sticking to our clean eating, as we have for many years now. That means that we avoid any chemicals in our foods, we JERF (Just Eat Real Food), and we also avoid our own allergies and sensitivities, which include, for us, avoiding inflammatory grains like gluten and keeping our sugars and other grains in check.  Over the last year we have also been (sort of inadvertently)  transitioning to a Paleo-type plan, some of us here adopting more of an SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) plan.  That brings me back to the drawing board for this year’s Lunch Boxes.

Last year, I shared this post on 25 Easy Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas. There were some grain-free options included, but I really wanted to sit down and make myself a good, solid list of what we are going to be packing up starting in just a few weeks.  Eeek!

I am actually getting more and more excited as I type out this post. With ALL of the efforts I go through in my “special diet” kitchen, I want my kids to sit down at their lunch table and SMILE about what they will be chowing down on in front of their friends and peers. I am a total geak about packing those lunches   – hey, I figure, if you’re going to go domestic, you might as well do it right! I am all-in, 150% domestic over here, and waving my mom-flag high and proud. I now own more cookie cutters and silicone ice cube molds than I do shoes, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I am SO ready to ROCK this school year’s lunchbox,  and here’s how I plan on doing it:

30+ Ways to ROCK a GRAIN-FREE lunch box  [SCD & PALEO options, all GRAIN-FREE]

1) Homemade Tortillas – Oh – the endless possibilities of rocking your kids’ lunch box with a tortilla… am I right?  Whip up a double batch over the weekend and you will be so thankful during your school week!   My two favorite grain-free tortillas are Cauliflower Tortillas (which to me taste more like a pita (recipe here)  and Coconut Flour Tortillas (recipe here).  Beyond these two, honestly, you can experiment with making {essentially} crêpes / tortillas from ALL sorts of grain-free starches. These two are my favorite because they are SCD-legal and don’t include any of gummy, starchy flours that have been creeping into Paleo recipes because they are “Technically” not a grain (like arrowroot, tapioca, and I have even seen potato flours and starches). Getting by on a technicality is okay on occasion (I’m not perfect), but these really go against the true caveman concept that Paleolithic diet stems from and they are just flat out not allowed on SCD, so they  should be an exception insisted of a rule, in my humblest of opinions, especially if you have any gastro-intestinal or other inflammatory issues that are persistent. I digress…

For the Cauliflower Pita Tortillas, I tend to stick to the savory fillings, like leftover roasts or brisket, clean cold-cuts with lettuce, tomatoes & mustard/mayo, nitrite-free salami and basil with a pesto vinaigrette, grilled chicken and sweet peppers, or even mayo salads like chicken salad or egg salad (which we call “egg-sauce” at our house).
You can also crisp these up in a frying pan or flat top and cut into pita wedges and serve with a dip. (Hummus for some Paleo eaters, or even a nut butter or yogurt dip for SCD).

For the Coconut Flour Tortillas – you can really go savory OR sweet. Apply any of the aforementioned, or try bananas and nut butter drizzled with honey, or pear and prosciutto, or Nut butter & Applebutter for a “PB&J” roll-up.

Absolutely have NO interest whatsoever in making your own tortillas? Try a coconut wrap like this one.

2) Cauliflower Fried “Rice” – This is not only a SUPER easy weekday dinner to throw together and pack as leftovers, but it really isn’t too difficult to throw together in a pan in the a.m. if you *have* to. I use frozen organic veggie blends (without corn), and if you can find the frozen Cauliflower already “riced” in stock at Trader Joe’s, its even easier! [although, they are always out of stock at mine]. One of our favorite Fried Rice dishes is Pineapple Fried Rice, which has chicken, some vegetables,  cashews, and pineapple.

For Paleo diets, and for some who can tolerate in later stages, you can use Coconut Aminos (order here).  If that product doesn’t work well for you (it actually doesn’t here at our house) try another salty addition like Ume Plum Vinegar. This is what we use and it works great for us.

3) Caveman Kabobs – There’s just something about eating from a skewer that makes the meal seem more interesting. For a simple, protein-rich addition to that lunchbox, pound out & weave a skewer into a piece of your favorite steak cut (or lamb, or chicken, or even bacon!). If you pound out and marinate the night before, you can grill them quickly in the morning and either serve cold, or stick them into a heat-proof container, like a thermos.  How to ROCK-STAR ROCK this one? : Always be on the lookout while you are out shopping for fun party favor sticks / skewers. I know it doesn’t seem to scream “kids section”, but there are some really fun picks for adult beverages (like umbrellas, swords, bamboo skewers and such) that make fantastically FUN skewers for tiny little hands. I also sometimes find some on the aisles at TJ MAX or HOME GOODS stores, and always check the isles at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. I keep a bin in my pantry so that I always have a bag of tricks.

4) Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets This recipe is really fantastic! You can keep the dry mix pre-mixed in a bag or container in the pantry. Batch cook these bad boys on any given weekend and freeze them for easy reheats. Send them woth some homage dipping sauce, like honey mustard or probitoic ranch dip.

5) Honey Mustard Bacon “Chips” – Take your favorite Paleo or SCD-friendly bacon (this means there’s no sugar added – this is one of my favorite resources )  and cut each slice of bacon into bite-size pieces (in 4-5 pieces).  In a separate bowl, mix up some honey and some organic mustard. (about 1 tablespoon honey to 2 teaspoons of mustard). Brush the bacon pieces with your honey mustard and sprinkle with a tiny bit of Himalayan Salt. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until your bacon is perfectly done for you! Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Can’t. Even. Explain. The. Amazingness.

6) Devilled Eggs – an absolute FAVORITE in our house. I make a batch every week and they get devoured. My quick and easy recipe – I add some homemade mayo ( or this mayo if I  feel like purchasing instead of making my own, and there is a great cost savings on THRIVE market, if you don’t already have an account, you can get one here.), then I add a splash of pickle juice from the lactoferment jar (or Bubbie’s are our favorite store-bought) a squirt of organic mustard and salt & pepper. That’s it folks. Sometimes when I am feeling extra fancy I add some bacon or a little pickle round to the top. These are great additions to a lunchbox, as long as you send a napkin 🙂  if they don’t like the yolk or can’t do yolk for one reason or another, just send the hard boiled rgg-white.

7) Homemade Yogurt –  We are very pro probiotics in our house, especially during the school year when we are trying to keep our little immune soldiers bulked up and beefy and filling in all those nooks and crannies so that bad buggies can’t creep into them and set up shop. One of the easiest ways for me to do this with the kids is with yogurt. I keep them some homemade yogurt in rotation in the warming drawer or yogurt maker. (This is the yogurt maker we use just for ease, but mostly, I use a quart size jar and gferment it in the warming drawer under my oven).  Be sure you sign up with your email to get updates on the next yogurt-making cook & chat for a live guided tour through making dairy AND non-dairy yogurts in your home.  There are lots of very simple ways to enjoy homemade yogurt! We have been rotating a new dairy yogurt into our routine that odd, but the benefits are very exciting! Village be posting about that latest saga soon. 😉

8) Coconut Macaroons or Meringue Cookies – Two easy little sweet treats with zero cane sugar and very minimal effort! The meringues take a little longer to cook, but you won’t regret it!

Macaroons Recipe:
2 egg whites
3 T honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla (opt)
1 teaspooon organic lemon juice (opt)
2 1/4 cups shredded organic raw coconut shreds
Pinch salt

(Preheat oven to 325) Whisk eggs and all ingredients except coconut shreds for 30 seconds to 1 minute until frothy. Fold in coconut. Scoop out (I use a #70 scoop) onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Meringues Recipe:
2 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
1/3-1/2 cup honey drizzled in while still beating.

Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or silpat).
Bake at low temp (200 degrees) for about an hour and a half. Let cool completely. They harden as they cool.

9) Zoodles “Pasta” Salad – One of our favorite people in the world made this Zucchini “pasta” Salad for a party she hosted in hopes that we would be able to partake in SOMETHING festive even with our crazy special diets 🙂 and she totally hit it out of the park! It has since become one of our favorites, and you can make your own version any way you like it. Basically, Anything you would put into a traditional pasta salad with the grain-pasta replaced with Zucchini noodles (zoodles). The one we have been making is a basic vinaigrette dressed salad with black olives and some cold cuts and some carrots, cucumbers, and artichoke hearts. It’s seriously delicious! If you haven’t hopped on the great ride that is the spiralizer yet – you NEED one of these in your life. For real. They are really fun! I will come back and post the recipe for her dressing as soon as I can. It was SO good!

10) Coconut Flour Crackers Recipe Here These are pretty easy and were created basically to meet my kiddos’ ingredient lists and be a vessel and a crunchy addition on occasion.

11) Sliders – My kids love little sliders wrapped in lettuce or in a tortilla. Stack a few slider-sized burger patties into your thermos and then pack up some lettuce or tortillas and other toppings or sauces on the side for a build-your-own-slider lunch. Perfect with some butternut squash chips and a side of homemade pickles ;9 yummy-time!

12) Pancakes – yep, you read that right. Pancakes, or any breakfast/brunch item for that matter, can be a really fun lunch  box break from the norm. And they don’t have to be sweet pancakes, you can make savory pancakes, like veggie cakes, chicken pancakes, or even crab-cakes. I find that these travel perfectly well in the thermos for lunchtime. This is the thermos I use and it has worked very well for us.

13) Snickerdoodles or any other nut butter Cookies – Quick. Easy. No grains. No sugar. 5 ingredients. Add in your favorite cookie ingredients. Voilà.   Recipe Here.

14) Gummies – 1 cup organic juice, 3 Tablespoons gelatin, splash of lemon or lime juice. Collect all sorts of fun silicon ice-cube molds and keep them guessing on what fun shapes will be in their lunch boxes each day. The gelatin I use is this one.

15) Spiced Macadamia Nuts or Cashews – you use YOUR favorite nuts or seeds that are on your allowable foods list, obviously, but these are ours 🙂 Toss nuts in a couple teaspoons of coconut oil, spice with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, bake at 275 degrees for about 25 minutes, stirring once in the middle of your bake time.

16) Sauerkraut Slaw – This sounds… odd…  I know. But, it was the perfect way for me to get my kiddos into eating the probiotic-rich sauerkraut that I was making and we liked it so much that it just stuck, especially as a topping to fish tacos or hot dogs. I simply mix together organic broccoli slaw mix from the grocery store, homemade sauerkraut, a little mayonnaise and a drizzle of honey and then salt and pepper. Add some cashews and some raisins and you have yourself a delicious slaw with the added probiotics of the sauerkraut. If you still want some sweetness, you can add some shredded apple to the mix as well.

17) Herbed Cream Cheese – Serve up with #10, Coconut Flour Crackers. Drip your homemade yogurt through a coffee filter for a thicker, cream-cheese consistency. Add your favorite organic all-purpose seasoning and some salt & pepper for an herbed cream cheese that is SO good with some smoked salmon or on a cracker under some salmon roe. Sometimes I stuff a little into some olives, too. Again, added probiotics to the lunchbox in a delicious way.

18) Build Your Own Lettuce-Wrap Tacos – Oh the beauty of letting them have a DIY lunch! Not only do they get to help me pick out the ingredients to include (usually, for us, this means olives, sauerkraut or slaw, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon pieces, shredded carrots, some of our cheese or Veg-veeta, and some honey mustard or other homemade dressing)

19) Toasted Honeyed Coconut – Stir coconut flakes (I like to use the wide raw unsweetened flakes) in a bowl with 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1 tablespoon honey. Spread out into an even layer on a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 5-10 minutes.

20) Smoked Salmon/ Lox. (Also great with crackers from #10) For pretty much the best seafood source in the history of ever, order from here. They are pricey, but the quality is unbeatable. If you purchase elsewhere, try to find a source that is wild caught if possible, and check the package ingredients for sugar or other additives that would take you away from your grain-free path.

21) Antipasti Skewers – nitrite free salami or pepperoni, olives, pickles, artichokes – build your own antipasti masterpiece on a stick – or let your little school-goers help!

22) Cream Cheese Stuffed Olives (see #17)

23) Roe, Roe, Roe your boat! – I want to take this time to remind everyone that you (or your child) should try 15 times with introducing a new food to a child (or an adult for that matter) before giving up on that item. Salmon Roe / Salmon Caviar has too many health benefits to list in this already lengthy post, but most importantly, they are a fantastic source of brain-healthy fats ( ounce of Salmon Roe has over 1,000 mg of omega 3 fatty acids) to keep those thinkers going for the rest of the school day! This is a premier source for anything seafood, again – and quality absolutely matters. Yes. Yes I did just suggest that you pack Caviar in your kids’ lunch box.<—- I just did that. But, hey, would you rather splurge on some fancy designer shoes, or invest in some lunch box ingredients that boast such benefits as alleviating ADHD symptoms in some children and increasing academic achievement (Okay, maybe don’t answer that. Maybe just buy the Roe without thinking about how much it costs ;)) . source

24) MAYO salads – Creamy Zoodles Salad, chicken salad, egg salad, crab salad, tuna salad. Homemade mayo is above and beyond better than any store bought, BUT, if you just have no desire to make this condiment for yourself, Primal Mayo is SCD/Paleo compliant. The best prices I have found on this mayo are through THRIVE Market, but it can also be found on Amazon. If you dont already have a THRIVE account, sign up here.  It’s my new favorite!

25) LEFTOVERS!!! – always a lifesaver to go to bed with lunch for the next day already prepared!   I would say that our top 5 thermos leftover lunches are 1) Roast and veggies 2) Chili 3) Lentil or Taco Soup 4) Meatballs 5) Bacon Wrapped chicken tenders … but, obviously, you can send anything leftover! 

26) Bread & Breadsticks – This the grain-free bread that works in our house and is a very simple recipe. I like it because its easy, it only has a few ingredients, and it doesn’t have any yeast. Here’s the recipe we are using for bread at this stage of the game. .

Once the bread is made, I cut slices and freeze what I won’t use that week.  For lunch boxes, I like to cut the slices into strips so that I have little rectangles or breadsticks . Then, I have a few things that I do with them from there.
>I use them as breadsticks, sprinkling all-season salt and garlic power on top and serving with an organic marinara dip (watch those store bought brands for sugar).
>I toast them with cinnamon and ghee.
>I toast them and serve them with the “caramel” / honey-butter in #29.
>I cube them and brush them with coconut oil and bake as croutons.
Or, of course, use for traditional sandwiches, or NOT SO traditional sandwiches, like these delicious Strawberry-Cream Cheese Sammie. So,  so good!

27) Lacto-fermented Veggies – pickles, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, sweet peppers. – probiotics and salty goodness – need I say more? These are So fun and easy to make.

28) FRUIT & VEGGIE ART (those who know me HAD to guess that this was coming! Ha!)

29)  Salted “caramel” –mmmm. I think I just drooled on the keyboard a little.  If you are dairy-free Paleo, you could do a mix of honey and Super food Shortening like this one from Nutiva, or you could use coconut oil instead.

You can use this a few different ways.  You can melt down your ghee and honey mixture, , add a little salt and freeze into silicone ice cube molds. They do melt a bit once they are removed from the freezer, so for these to hold their shape, you would have to be putting them into a cold-storage method until lunchtime.

If you want to serve it more as a dip or spread (like honey butter) – send with some toasted grain-free bread or crackers.

30) Grain Free {love} MUFFINS or quick breads – a couple of grain-free muffin recipes that are versatile are this one (made into muffins instead of bread) , This grain-free pumpkin muffin recipe here. Or even these Carrot-cake bars (these are grain-free but use some bean flours)

31) Nutbutter Nuggets – take your favorite nut or seed butter and roll it with ingredients like shredded unsweetened coconut and/or dried fruit.
What I do NOT pack {unless I am desperate & out of options} in the lunch box:
I try to avoid super stinky food, I typically don’t put sliced bananas (if I do a banana it is typically a whole banana for snack time or one that I slice in half and leave the peel on), and I don’t do avocado. Avocado is fantastically nutritious, but I choose to add it to morning eggs or afternoon snacks or dinners instead.

I will continue to add to the list, I’m sure, as this year gets rolling. And I will be uploading some photos, too. I hope that this helps someone with some ideas! 🙂 Be sure to sign up for the email list so that you don’t ever miss an update.  ~Happy eating, as always!

 

Coconut Flour Tortillas

SCD-Friendly COCONUT FLOUR TORTILLAS

2 full eggs
5 egg whites
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons nut or seed milk or Water
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or other oil, lard, or ghee) for greasing the pan

In a mixing bowl, combine all of your ingredients and stir until there are no lumps left.

Heat a crepe pan or flat bottom skillet over medium heat and grease with a little of your oil (you don’t have to use it all at once).

Pour or spoon in about 1/4 cup of batter into your greased and heated pan. Roll your pan around to spread out the thin batter into a flat round. (Remember that coconut flour can be very absorbent, so if you need to use a little more water to thin out your batter that is fine, or you can also use the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread your batter out thinner).

Cook for about a minute to a minute and a half on the first side, carefully flip, and finish cooking on the other side.

Make sure in between each tortilla that you have enough grease in your pan to prevent sticking.

Continue until your batter is gone. I usually get 5 tortillas, so you may want to double the batch if you don’t want to making these again tomorrow. 🙂

Grain Free Table Crackers

 

cutest little grain free snacker crackers

Nut flours.   Ever notice how so many *healthy* grain-free/paleo recipes call for cupfuls of nut flours?  Yes, nuts can be a healthy addition to a diet (if they are not an allergy, if you are at a place in your diet journey where they can be digested well, and if you don’t need to limit oxalate or even salicylates or histamines in some cases) – but, let’s face it, if you are here looking for grain free recipes you very possibly fall into one of those aforementioned categories.

These crackers are coconut flour based, so you can keep your oxalate levels low, your salicylate levels lower than if using almond flour, and they are perfect for my little canaries at my house! 

Stay tuned, or be sure to subscribe – you won’t want to miss the recipe for this mystery dip! I betcha you will be very surprised by the secret ingredient!! ♡♡♡

 

Crackers & Mystery Cheese (eek!)

GRAIN FREE TABLE CRACKERS

3 Tablespoons Nutiva Palm & Coconut Oil Shortening (you can buy it here)**

1 egg

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon real salt (plus more for tops)

1 teaspoon water if needed

Parchment
[ **You could substitute with straight coconut oil if you had to, but the palm shortening really works best.]

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 

In a mixing bowl, mix together the shortening, egg, vinegar, coconut flour, and baking soda. Your batter should be a crumb that can be pressed together, like a pie dough. If it is still on the dry side, you can add a little water until it comes together nicely.

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cracker dough

Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut into desired shapes. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges start to brown and the crackers are crisp.

Enjoy with your favorite snack cracker topping!

This is a very basic recipe, so the sky is the limit with the flavor combinations you could try as additions. Rosemary, Basil, pretty much ANY herb, jalapeños or red pepper flakes, garlic & onion powder, chili powder…. come on! Show me what you can come up with I would really enjoy a comment with your best cracker flavor from this trusty basic ^!

~Happy Eating~

 

Butternut Squash Chips {SCD, PALEO, GFCF, GRAIN-FREE}

 

 

Butternut Squash ChipsBUTTERNUT SQUASH CHIPS :
These are a great for anyone! But, when it has been weeks since you have tasted a potato and you are really craving the crunch of a carb – These little chips of wonder hit ALL the right spots!! I swoon.

Oh, and fried in duck fat, I mean … let us take a moment to hang on that thought…

SCD-compliant. Butternut Squash. Duck Fat. Party. My mouth.

 

Oh, life is good.

 

Elderberry Gummy Bears

Elderberry Gummy BearsI don’t know where you live, but here in North Texas, it went from summer to fall seemingly over night this past weekend! The winds came through, the cooler temperatures kissed our skin, and, unfortunately, the fall allergies rushed the field.

It is the best of times and the worst of times, this FALL, this AUTUMN! I absolutely love this season, but for some reason, it just does not love me back most of the time. I have definitely been feeling the effects and have some kiddos with some runny noses, too, so this morning, after I had my two school goers shuffled off to their school,  I decided to load up on artillery for the onslaught of the allergy season!

I started my morning by juicing some carrots, apples, and fresh ginger.

Then, I made some Elderberry Gummy Bears! If you haven’t read about the benefits of elderberry, they are abundant for this season. To list a few:

~ a very powerful antioxidant
~ anthocyanin levels make it anticarcinogenic
~ more vitamin C than oranges
~ antiviral
~high ORAC
~improves the coordination of the immune system

This article is worth the read and gives all the proper props to Elderberry!

Recipe:

1/2 cup Elderberry Concentrate
1/2 cup organic pomegranate juice
2 tablespoon organic lime juice
3 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (I used Great Lakes, the orange bottle)

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a small sauce pan and then heat just to almost a boil/low boil and remove from heat. I like to let mine cool down for 5-10 minutes before transferring to my molds. Refrigerate until set.

You can use any silicone mold for these, or even a glass dish and then simply cut into squares. I found my bear molds on Amazon.com.

These are certainly the most expensive$ gummy bears I have ever made, but I know that my kiddos will be so happy to chomp these down, and I will be equally as happy knowing that they will be getting such great nutritional benefits from this healthful & protective treat.   ~Happy Fall~

25 Super Easy Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas that DON’T include Ants-On-A-Log :)

When Back-To-School ads start up, some moms start planning out outfits, and some start sorting out school supplies. In our house, this mom’s brain goes straight to the box ~ the LUNCHBOX! I am constantly considering how to send interesting foods to school with my kiddos, lunches that will make them SO excited about eating lunch that they will forget all about what the majority of their classmates are sitting down to {less than ideal school lunches of empty calories, lacking nutritional value, and a lot of allergens that we must avoid}. 

I put together 25 quick and easy ideas this morning. I hope these can inspire you to get creative with your lunch box options as you send your students off to the lunchroom this year.

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1. Apples with Nutbutter or Seedbutter: Sliced apples can be soaked in lemon water, or in water with a drop of lemon or lime essential oil (food grade & organic preferably). Pair this with a small container of almond butter or, our favorite is Cashew Butter. There are a few companies that even offer small single serving pouches that are great to pack in a lunch box. For all-natural varieties, try Justin’s or Barney Butter. If you want an organic, raw variety and are willing to spend a little extra money, look for the Artisana brand.
Apple & Nutbutter

2. Gluten Free Pretzels and Mustard for dipping
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3. Mama Chia Pouches, or your own homemade chia pudding.
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4. Spring Rolls. I love to make these rice paper spring rolls. I can fit ALL sorts of raw veggies into them. I like to quickly blend some frozen mango, a little lemon or lime juice, and a little avocado oil to make a quick dipping sauce, too!  The rice paper can be found at most grocery stores on the ethnic isle. Give yourself some practice time, but I know you will be able to roll a spring roll in no time!
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5. Ham or Prosciutto wrapped pears or apples. Yummy!
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6. Lunchmeat Pinwheels. Roll with cheese, or, if you are dairy free, you can use hummus and veggies and roll them up into your favorite nitrite free lunch meat. Serve as is, or slice into little bite-sized pinwheels.

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7. Gluten Free Bread (toasted optional) or Organic Rice Cakes topped with Nut or Seed Butter. We like to vary these. Sometimes we top with fruit and almost always our mix of cinnamon and organic granulated coconut sugar.
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8. Bento pressed rice. These are just fun and cute and kids love them! You can find some fun bento molds and cutters on amazon.
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9. Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps – Perfect for leftover chicken. I use homemade mayo or even hummus as a dressing and send in lettuce wraps.

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10. Gluten-Free Tortilla Wraps – Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Tortillas work well here at our house. There are also potato tortillas, corn tortillas, or venture out and make your own, like these cauliflower pita wraps!
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11. Yogurt & Berries
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12. Meatballs – We do meatballs in our thermos often! You can send them just alone, or put some rice, quinoa, or mashed potatoes in the bottom. Kids love a hot meal at lunch.
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13. Fresh Fruit and/or Nuts – Need I say More?
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14. Gluten Free Pasta Salad – I like to use a organic brown rice pasta, like Tinkyada brand or Jovial brand. Great for leftover pasta, you can dress with a vinaigrette, like one of our favorites by Annie’s Naturals called Papaya Poppy-Seed, or you can use a high-quality or homemade mayo, or even hummus. Be sure to add lots of fresh veggies. Olives are a favorite here, too!
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15. Organic Rice Crackers sandwiched with nutbutter or seed butter
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16. Yogurt with Granola – We are Dairy, Soy, and one of us is Coconut Free, so this Almond-Milk based yogurt by So Delicious is a great option for us!
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17. Hard Boiled Eggs : serve them any way you like them. We do them plain, we do them deviled, and we do them “Greek”, with the yolk removed and replaced with hummus! You can even replace the yolk with guacamole, although I find that avocados don’t always last well all the way until lunchtime, so we save our avocado-eating for home where we can serve them up fresh. 🙂

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18. Veggies & Hummus – we love the individual size organic hummus from Costco. They are really friendly on the budget, too. Serve with any raw veggies you like! My kids really like sweet peppers, blanched green beans, carrots, even black olives!
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19. Gluten Free Garlic Bread Sticks with Pizza Dip – This can be as simple as taking your favorite brand of GF bread  {or your homemade cauliflower pita), rubbing it with butter or coconut oil, sprinkling with garlic, and toasting. Cut into strips, & serve with a side of Organic Pizza or Pasta Sauce. If you really want to get fancy, wrap the bread sticks with nitrite free lunch meat or pepperoni, too!
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20. Oatmeal in a thermos – who says you can’t send breakfast for lunch?! My daughter loves oatmeal, ANY time of day! { Or really porridge of any kind }. We do a thermos of oatmeal sometimes, and then I send a small container of dairy-free milk and some great healthy toppings for her to create her own lunch masterpiece with.

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21. Nitrite Free Pepperoni or Salami
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22. Skewered Chicken & Pineapple – another great way to use leftover chicken!
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23. Thermos of leftovers – I could create another 25-log list on JUST the leftovers I have sent in a thermos to school! I love a good crock pot meal that leaves enough leftovers for the next school day! Meatloaf, soups, stews, roasts, pulled pork, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut sugar and pecans, sauerkraut and hot dogs, beans, beanie weenies… ANYTHING!
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24. This kind of goes along with the previous, but there are lots of store-bought soups that go great in your thermos as well. One of my daughter’s favorites is Pacific Foods’ Lentil Soup. For gluten-free options, check the labels and try to avoid anything with a rue or with regular pasta. For dairy free, be sure you check the bottom of the ingredients list for the words CONTAINS: MILK or check highlighted ingredients inside the list.
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25. Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers – For some reason, anything skewered become more appealing to kids! This is one of my son’s favorite combinations. We look for organic, preferably raw mozzarella when we can find it. For my dairy-free kiddo, we just do veggies and leave off the cheese. We love raw cauliflower in our house.
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Best of luck getting your little ones off to a healthy school-lunch start this school year! Share you successful lunch box stories with us! And share your ideas if you have them, too! I would love to hear the healthy ways you are navigating the lunchroom!  ~Happy Lunchboxing~

Apple Cider Gummy Bears

Apple Cider Gummy Bears

2 cups organic Apple Cider
3 Tablespoons Gelatin

Simmer the cider down to 1 cup liquid. Thoroughly mix in your gelatin until there are no more lumps.
Let cool almost to room temperature and pour into molds.  I found these molds here.

Also, see the cherry bears for another flavor option. These are super fun and very yummy! It can also be a fun vessel for vitamins or probiotics. Happy Eating!

* I added extra cinnamon to the cider just for more fall flavor. So yummy!

Scared Of The Dark Cherry Gummy Bears

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I’m not quite sure when Halloween became synonomous with massive quantities of food-dyes and high-fructose-corn syrup, but I don’t have to tell you that these are not the healthiest selections for our kids. The last thing you want to read, I’m sure, is another study about how dangerous some of theses  chemical food colorings can be (or why many other countries don’t allow them into their foods), or how high fructose corn syrup will get your child closer to diabetes by the day.

I know this is a major sugar-buzz-kill for so many parents. They escape into the “one day out of the year won’t hurt them” mentality, and they may be perfectly right (at least a percentage of them). As a family who already battles a neurological disorder, I have made a choice to remove all chemical additives from our diet, so most of the store bought “goodies”, we simply walk past as if they are a piece of store furniture,  When I happen upon a circumstance where I have to admit to the layman that…

“We Don’t Eat Candy.”
or
“My Kids Are Allergic To Sugar”

…I undoubtedly get a look that, if I could freeze-frame the moment, would most appropriately be marked with a scribbled thought bubble and a big. red. question-mark.  Then comes the pity. Its really kind of comical at this point. Do I dare tell them the real kicker? That even if they weren’t allergic I wouldn’t give them sugar. {{{(gasp!)}}}

Huh?
Huh?

I assure you, though, that I AM NO PARTY POOPER!  My kids have fun stuff. Almost daily! And holidays are just a creative person’s dream because they provide a theme, a canvas for creation.   Halloween is no exception.

The past few Halloweens, I have ordered some really great candies from our go-to allergy-friendly candy shoppe, Natural Candy Store. But even here, it is tough to find candies that aren’t made with sugar.  So, it has been my mission this year to create some great home made candies and treats (adding more by the day) to make our Halloween celebration SCARY FUN this year!

These Gummy Bears will be PERFECT.

Three Littel Bears


SCARED OF THE DARK CHERRY GUMMY BEARS (also, see below the Valentine’s Version)

1/2 cup black cherry concentrate*
1/2 cup pure water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons gelatin**

*You can find this in the supplements section of most health food grocers, or simply order online from a source like amazon or vitacost.
**For the healthiest option, try a brand of gelatin that is from grass-fed cows. I use the Great lakes Brand {the red or orange can, not green}.


Directions:

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine all the liquids.

In a saucepan over medium heat, I started with about half of the liquid mixture and all of the gelatin and whisked together while the pan was heating. When I had a sort of paste, I added the remaining liquid in and continued to whisk until the gelatin was completely dissolved.

I turned off the heat and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, just to cool.

The next step is where the fun comes in! I added powdered probiotic at this stage and then poured into my molds. You do not have to add anything at this point, but the sky is the limit if you want to make these “gummy-vites”.

Pour into your mold or desired dish. Refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours).
I used these fantastic bear ice cube trays. I first saw them on one of my favorite blogger’s sites (Elana Amsterdam’s Elana’s Pantry) and marked them as a MUST HAVE!! She had done some other great bear flavors, as have many other bloggers, so this is by no means a new recipe. They are a healthy take on the old “Knox-Blox” recipe (A favorite of our Papa’s … hopefully we can pass these off as the knox-blox he loves so dearly and save him from himself! :))    I found the bear molds here.

The existential Gummy Bear

As you can see, there is much fun to be had with these gummy bears. PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!

When Halloween night comes this year, I will be making a batch of these “Sacred Of The Dark Cherry” bears, and also an Apple Cider version. Yummy!!

~Happy Halloween Eats~

For Valentine’s Day, I ordered these cute little heart-shaped molds and we had a blast making Very Cherry (with cherry-pomegranate juice) and Very Berry (with Cherry & Raspberry Juice) Gummy Hearts. <3 <3 <3

Very Berry Gummies

Grain Free Pumpkin Muffins

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Baking this morning with my very own “admiral underpants”. There’s really nothing like an underoo-clad 4 year old to make your baking experience a delight. With slow-but-steady little four-year-old-sized fingers, he carefully pulled apart each little mini-muffin liner and placed them into the muffin pan. My mommy-hands hovered above, pressing the scooper lever to fill each of his liners. Soon, we were ready to bake, and a short time later, we shared some pretty big smiles as we devoured 3 muffins each. Memories officially made.

PALEO / GRAIN-FREE PUMPKIN MUFFINS

First, we preheated our oven to 325 degrees f.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic peanut butter
3 eggs, pastured-raised
1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
1/4 cup +1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon organic cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons organic lemon juice

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In a mixing bowl, we lovingly combined these grain-less ingredients, spooned them into our lined mini muffin cups, and placed in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

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Perfect, golden, fluffy, yummy, grain-free pumpkin muffins were ours for the tasting!

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Happiness.

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