Santa Clause Is Coming to Class

Santa Clause Is Coming to Class
Who says healthy Food Can’t be Fun?!

This year, I have two school-goers. My second grader, and my kindergartener. If you follow my posts, you might have heard a little of my griping about pre-school last year. Last year proved to be QUITE busy for me, keeping up with the daily snack of Standard American sugar and gluten-filled fare. Don’t get me wrong, I am a total sucker for a cute theme-based treat, but powdered sugar donuts and food-dyed icing galore, and every single DAY…. well, I was creating our own versions of the theme food every single morning to send with my little healthy eater.

This year, I sent out my standard email to the room moms in both kids’ classrooms.  The room mom for my kindergartener replied right away and I was thrilled that she was understanding! She Said that her own son had allergies, so she would LOVE to hear more suggestions. Of course, I have tons of those up my sleeve :P. LOL! SO, I sent back a reply with a couple of crafty ideas and waited to hear back. Except that I never did. And then I got the sig up sheet for bringing Chex mix, Capri Suns, And the craft was going to be decorating a sugar cookie. Of course with your standard food-dyed toppings. Big sigh.

But then, my Christmas angel appeared! My second grader’s room-mom was BEYOND understanding, she was an angel! I will keep it short and simple: This was the very first class party in all of our years on our special diet that my Molly got to show up and have & do everything that every one else was getting to have & do! She made requirements for special gluten-free fare and only organics on the fruit. Honestly, an amazing would to understand to the limits that she did. And to create an environment that didn’t exclude a single soul! My appreciation was sky-high.

And, for the kindergarten party, I signed up to bring fruit (the only healthy time on the list) and I didn’t just bring ANY fruit tray 🙂 I guess I like to take my frustrations out creatively 😉 And so the Santa Scene Fruit Tray was created.

The tray: an 11×14 glass found in the framing section at the craft store

Santa’s Hat and Suit: Strawberries
Santa’s Beard: Bananas
Santa’s Nose: A Cherry
Santa’s Belt: Blueberries
Santa’s Buckle: Watermelon
The fuzz on Santa’s hat and the ball: Rice Whip whipped cream.
The tallest tree: Green Apples
The middle tree: Red Apples
The Smallest Tree: Orange Segments
Stars: Watermelon
Ornaments: Blueberries
Writing and Santa’s face details: Melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Some helpful tips:
*I soaked the apple and orange slices in lemon water
*I put the bananas on last (they lasted about 3 hours before they started browning too badly)
*I used a little rice while to outline the belt so that the outline of blueberries would stay I place. I also did this to secure a few of the edge strawberries just to keep everything in place.

Thankful Givings

g&gcoverI have been hard at work creating a DELICIOUS feast of Thanksgiving recipes that are entirely GRAIN & DAIRY free, and I really, really want to share them with you.

I share hundreds of recipes a year on my blog and on my Facebook groups, and I don’t do so to get rich. {chuckle}. I do it because it is my art, and like most artists, it is the craft that feeds my soul. It is my purpose, as small as that might seem to some. My “thing” is helping people eat food that works for them and not against them, and to do it in a delicious way!

So, when one of my very best friends in this world was given the opportunity to have her daughter (who has Autism) seen by one of the leading physicians for Autism in this country, arguably in the world, I immediately wanted to use my craft to help.

This Thanksgiving compilation was created for Ashlyn. For a small $10 donation {or more if you feel it in your heart}, this DELICIOUS grain free Thanksgiving cookbook can be yours.

Giving thanks for your generosity and hoping that each of these recipes will bless you and your family!

Some recipes included:
Grain Free Pumpkin Waffles
Grain Free “Corn-Bread” Dressing
Grain-Free Pecan Chocolate Chunk Pie
Maple Marshmallow topped Sweet Potato Casserole
Grain & Dairy-Free Green Bean Casserole
& more…..

You can make donations through Ashlyn’s fund page at http://www.gofundme.com/ashlynsrecovery

Or you can email me at kendra@greatertots.org for more details.

Sauerkraut & Kielbasa

Oktober Feast

This is by far one of my favorite meals that my mother passed down to me.  I honestly have no idea where this recipe originated from, But it is a favorite and it has transitioned wonderfully into my gluten-free, whole-food kitchen! I made a few changes to the original recipe, like making sure that our kielbasa is nitrite free and humanely raised without any hormones or additives and buying naturally fermented sauerkraut of making my own from scratch. I also add apple to mine, which my mom never did. But, for the most part,  it is the same meal & this remains a staple during the fall and winter at our house.

1 large jar naturally fermented sauerkraut (recipe below)
About 2 cups cubed organic potatoes (* FOR SCD use celery root/celeriac instead of potato)
1 large organic apple, cubed
1 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil 1 organic onion (small to medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Real Salt
1 package (4 links) Applegate Farms Pork Kielbasa* (or your favorite nitrite free kielbasa)*
1-2 cups filtered water

*For SCD, look for a kielbasa that is free of nitrites and has no sugar. You can find some here.

Heat oil in a large dutch-oven over medium heat.  Add in your onion and garlic and cook until soft.  Add in the sauerkraut, potatoes, and apple pieces. Season with about a teaspoon of real salt and add in about 1 cup of water, stirring to combine all of the ingredients.
Cover and continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low, adding more of the water of you need to. Recover  and continue cooking for 30-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Check on it about every 10 minutes to be sure more water isn’t needed.

This has always been one of my favorite fall one-pot dishes. Growing up, my mom always served this dish with steamed rye bread. Since Rye is not a gluten-free grain, try pairing this gluten-free meal with some Udi’s Millet & Chia bread.

Tip:  If you don’t eat pork, try the Applegate Farms Chicken & Apple Sausage instead.

Home-Made Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut

2 ½ pounds of cabbage; green, purple, or a combination of the two.
1 tablespoon Real Salt
1 quart-sized glass canning jar

Finely shred cabbage. Start by placing a couple of handfuls of the cabbage into your jar and sprinkle just a little of the Real Salt in. Using the back of a wooden spoon, pound your cabbage to release some of the juices. Continue with a couple of handfuls of cabbage and a sprinkle of salt, tamping each layer down and repeating over and over until your jar is filled.
Place the lid on loosely and let your jar rest for 30 minutes to an hour, allowing the juices to
come out of the cabbage and form a brine ( If you still need extra brine, mix ½ teaspoon of Real Salt to ½ Cup of filtered water. )
Open your lid and press down on the cabbage to see how much brine the cabbage made. There should be enough liquid to completely cover the cabbage, and you will want the cabbage to stay moist as it soaks up the liquid during the fermentation process.
Tightly screw on your lid. You will let the jar sit at room temperature for 3 weeks*. After 3 weeks, check your jar by opening the lid and checking to see if there are little bubbles on top. Re-lid and then place in the refrigerator to continue fermenting to your taste. You can eat it at this point, or let it sit for longer to let the flavor come out even more.
*Tips:  -You may have to gas (open the lid of) the jar occasionally as it ferments. If you press the top of the lid and it doesn’t give at all, simply open and reapply the lid.  -Do not use unfiltered tap water. Be sure it is filtered.

Maple Marshmallows {the best cane-sugar-free S’MORE marshmallow ever!}

I have made marshmallows about a half a dozen times, and these were by far my favorite combination for s’mores! I have made them with beet sugar, with granulated maple sugar, with honey, with maple syrup , ad with a combination of maple & honey. Once or twice, I have gotten distracted and ended up with marshmallow blobs, like last year, when I salvaged them by making them into these Marshmallow Ghosts, which were still very tastey 🙂

GhostMallows
GhostMallows

This year, I increased my gelatin amount in the hopes that they wouldn’t melt quite as quickly over the fire when we made our s’mores. I think they turned out wonderfully!

Maple Marshmallows
The recipe:

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (I used Great Lakes orange bottle)

In a mixing bowl or the bowl for your stand mixer, dissolve your gelatin in the water ad set aside.

Before you begin cooking your sugar, grease & powder a 9 x 11 casserole with either palm shortening or coconut oil & dusted with arrowroot powder. (you could use powdered sugar, but the whole idea here is supposed to be creating a marshmallow that is free from cane-sugar).

In a medium / large pot, cook your sugar (the maple syrup) over medium to medium high eat until you reach 240 degrees (if you do not have a candy thermometer, this is the soft-ball-stage).

Be extremely careful not to get the hot sugar on your skin, carefully & slowly drizzle in your heated syrup into the gelatin, preferably while mixing (I like to use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment, on low to medium speed) Whip the mixture until you have the consistency of a marshmallow cream, not quite set to a full marshmallow stage.
You have to work fairly quickly, as the gelatin will start to set up pretty quickly. Pour the creamy marshmallow mixture into your greased & powdered casserole and spread out. I dust mine with another sprinkle of arrowroot and then place parchment paper on the top. Leave out for several hours, or overnight, to set up and dry. I cut mine into squares and served them up with festive ghost & skeleton picks. But, we also made them into delicious gluten-free s’mores!  These roasted up beautifully over our fire! Picture to come soon! 🙂 Happy S’moring!

Halloween Gummies

Skull & Cross Bones Gummies

We LOVE gummies at our house, and I am, admittedly, building up quite a collection of molds!  The new additions so far to the Halloween molds are these cute little pumpkins and skull & cross-bones.  IN case you’ve missed previous gummy recipe posts, here is the formula again in 1,2,3:

Pumpkin gummies1 cup juice* (the pumpkins are blueberry, the skulls are grape)
2 tablespoons organic lemon or lime juice
3 tablespoons good quality gelatin (I use Great Lakes  in the orange or the red)

*For the most flavorful results, you will want a very concentrated flavor, so either select a juice variety that has a strong flavor, or boil the juice down to get to your 1 cup (for example, the apple cider bears that I make, I start with 1 1/2 cup of organic cider and I boil it down to 1 cup). Happy Gummy-Making!

Vanilla Pear Ice”Cream” {dairy-free, maple & fruit sweetened}

Vanilla Pear Ice "Cream"
Vanilla Pear Ice” Cream”
3 organic pears
1/2 cup cashew meal
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Blend in high powered blender (I have a Vitamix) until smooth and creamy. To freeze, either use an ice cream maker, or transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze. 🙂  

Carrot Cake Bars with Dairy-Free “Cream Cheese” Frosting { grain-free, dairy-free, cane-sugar-free}

Carrot Cake Bars

 

I LOVE carrot cake! I tried to come up with a cross between a carrot cake and a “bar” that would be packed with protein & quick and easy to serve the kids for breakfast or an after-school snack {and one that wasn’t too sweet or sugary, but rather nourishing and delicious!} Here is what we came up with:

Carrot Cake Bars:

1/2 cup cashews butter (you could use peanut, almond or even sunflower seed butter as well)
1/2 cup garfava bean flour
1 cup packed carrot shavings/fine shreds
1 tablespoon baking powder (I use Hain’s)
3 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup organic raisins

I made this batter in my food processor.  Simply shredded my carrots (about 5 small-medium sized organic carrots), then added the rest of my ingredients, adding the raisins in last and simply pulsing to incorporate.  Pour into a square baking dish (lightly greased). Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes.

For the Frosting:
I rinsed out my vitamix from the batter and added to it…
1 1/4 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon of honey
4 teaspoons of organic lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Blend the ingredients on high until you have a creamy, frosting-like texture. You can also use Stevia if you prefer this over the honey. Just pulse with your favorite combination of sweetness and tartness, and thickness as well. You can reduce the liquid or increase the nutmeal to get a thicker consistency. 

Enjoy!

 

Coconut Flour Quick Bread

COCONUT FLOUR QUICK BREAD
coconut bread
Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/4 cup + 1 T coconut oil liquified (and cooled so as not to cook the eggs)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions:
I did this in my blender, first adding the eggs and blending for 20-30 seconds. Then, I added in the other ingredients and blended another 20-30 seconds. I let it sit for a few minutes while the oven preheated so the batter could thicken.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease small loaf pan with coconut oil – the one I used was a glass corningware,  8 x 5. Bake for about 35 min. 

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~