PALEO EASTER FEAST

Easter Sunday will be the 1st day AFTER the 30-day GRAIN FREE challenge group that I hosted and tested out with my own family.  Guess what my husband said to me?  It went a little something like this:

>>>”I was thinking, this hasn’t been so bad. Maybe I can be mostly grain-free with a splurge every now and then”<<<

Hello, music to my ears! 😀 I can’t tell you how proud it makes me when I have been able to feed my family healthy meals that they don’t want to run away screaming from. {insert the fist and arm pump and an empathic “YESSSS!!!”}

So, for the upcoming weekend of Easter festivities, we have decided to stick with our grain free program that we are all feeling great on!  I am putting together a delicious {if I do say so myself} menu and I am too excited NOT to share it with the world. I hope this helps someone ull off an amazing Easter meal without using any gluten OR GRAINS at all. Sending out some food love for your family this Easter. Here is what will be on our table for this year’s Easter Feast:

First, I am going to have TWO homemade dips that will be entwined in the day’s meals. Here are the two sidekicks that will enhance several dishes for our day:

Dip 1) Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette ~ This will be served in a small bowl for an optional dip for the Brussels Sprouts Chips; This will be drizzled over the grilled lamb chops; This will be drizzled over the Avocado and Mango Skewers

  • 1/2 cup fresh organic parsley leaves
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons good quality organic olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh organic lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, organic
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, organic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, organic

Dip 2) Dill Aoeli (or, basically, mayonnaise) ~ This will be used as a base for the Peppered Cucumbers, This will be used in the Slaw, This will be used to make Deville Eggs

  • 1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
  • 1 cup oil of choice (like organic olive oil or organic expelled pressed sunflower oil)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill
  • Salt & pepper to taste

*The key to making this homemade aioli (mayo) is to start with your egg in a food processor and drizzle the oil in VERY, very slowly until it comes together. Add in the dill and lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.

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>>Now to SET the TABLE<<

Devilled Eggs – Yolks Fork-Whisked together with some of the Dill Aioli, some mustard powder, and some pickle juice from lacto-fermented pickles (if we don’t have any of our own made up, we LOVE Bubbie’s brand) Pepper to taste. Perfection.
*Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

A cold relish Tray of Bubble’s Pickles & Lacto-fermented Dill Carrots

Creamy Peppered Cucumbers  (I got this idea from Southern Living Magazine and made a few tweaks~ delicious!)-
3 cucumbers cut into wedges
1/3 cup Dill Mayo
1 tablespoon organic lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

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Mango, Avocado & Cucumber Skewers – Chunks of Mango, Cucumber, Mint, and Avocado all skewered on a festive food stake and drizzled with a tiny bit of the Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette

Creamy Kraut&Broccoli Slaw – I LOVE adding some homemade sauerkraut into our slaw. First, it’s like a traditional cabbage slaw with a facelift of probiotic goodness; and second, its just plain tasty 🙂 Our concoction will be a mixture of Organic Broccoli Slaw mix, homemade sauerkraut, and a palmful of organic raisins. *Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

The dressing:
1/3 cup Dill Mayo
1-2 tablespoons of organic lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of raw honey
Salt & pepper

Sprouted Lentils –  made with 1 cup sprouted lentils, 3 cups broth, 1 bag of frozen organic lease and carrots, and some seasonings to taste. {* Lentils are not technically found on all Paleo & Primal allowable lists. We do well with them in our house and our Grain-Free plan is more of a modified Specific Carbohydrate Diet, so lentils are on MY PERSONAL allowable list, and they will most definitely be on my Easter table because a couple of my kiddo actually LOVE them! We buy them already sprouted here}
*Can be made ahead of time & reheated

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Brussels Sprouts Chips –  Hand peeled Brussels sprouts leaves peeled, tossed in oil, and baked at 350 until they start to crisp up and brown. We will be serving these along with a tiny dipping bowl of the lemon parsley vinaigrette. *Serve these fresh out of the oven.

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Roasted Beets & Organic Tri-Colored Carrots – These will get chopped roughly, tossed in about 3 tablespoons of the Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette,  and roasted at 400 degrees for nearly an hour. I’ll stir a couple of times through the baking time just to get everything evenly roasted.

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Grilled Lamb Chops – Salted and Peppered lamb chops will get grilled to perfection and drizzled with a little Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette. Um… yes puhlease.

Lamb Chops with Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette

>>THE SWEET STUFF<<

Apple Cinnamon Nutbutter Bundt Cake – <Click for recipe
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& maybe even some of these Avocado-Lemon tarts because they are so pretty :).

Lemon Avocado tarts

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~

Grain Free Lemon Muffins / Cake {and a cake-ball fail}

So, I happened upon this really cute cake-ball photo on pinterest or instagram, I can’t remember which now. The little cake balls were made into golf balls for Father’s Day. I happen to have a cute little silver tin that my mind was picturing filled to the brim and over flowing with these tasty golf-ball-cakes! Since the plan was to serve these to dad for Father’s Day, the obvious flavor selection here at our house was a lemon-cake. I have made a variation of this lemon cake before and we all really enjoyed it, I changed a few things up and baked these in my large muffin tins {the idea was to have more of the browned edges in my cake balls for added flavor}.

Lemon Cake

Step one turned out deliciously! One taste test, honestly, was not quite enough.

Then, I crumbled the muffins in my mixing bowl and added a mixture of 1/4 cup of honey and the juice of 1/2 of a large organic lemon (careful to not include any seeds). I rolled this delicious crumble of goodness into golf-ball-sized balls and stuck them into the freezer for a bit while I concocted my icing.

Crumble

Enter: The icing, a.k.a the beginning of the end, a.k.a the reason for this epic cake ball FAIL! 😀

I think it is just as important, on occasion, to post about the flops as it is to post about the successes. Even those of us who have been gluten free home-chefs for as long as we can remember will have a recipe that just doesn’t quite come together. Don’t ever be discouraged about the misses, because you will learn a little something from each one! Maybe that’s why I have learned SO much over the years! 😀

Today’s Grain Free Lemon Muffins / Cakes:

1 1/2 cup cashew meal
1 cup almond meal*
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
3 large pasture-raised eggs
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 large ORGANIC lemon
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut)
2 teaspoons organic lemon extract
Juice of 1 lemon

* you could also use almond flour here, I just only had meal on hand and we are okay with the thicker crumbles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix first your dry ingredients until well combined. Then, add in your wet ingredients. Stir well. Transfer to oiled muffin tins. I used large tins and this made 6 large muffin sized cakes.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges and top begin to brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes in your tins.

NEXT STEP IF MAKING CAKE BALLS:

Next, I crumbled the muffins into a mixing bowl. I added a mixture of lemon juice from 1/2 a large lemon (about a tablespoon) and 1/4 cup honey. I stirred this mixture up and then rolled cake ball shaped in my hands.

THE ICING FAIL:

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So, I tried using a mixture of honey and cacao butter for an attempt at a white-chocolate dipped icing. I really wanted it to be white for the golf balls. My idea was to use the end of a stir stick to make the dimples once the chocolate started to set up. HAH!! This never really occurred. I couldn’t quite get the consistency of the white chocolate right. The recipe I was going from was from the amazing blog site The Spunky Coconut. Kelly has a recipe for strawberry white chocolates that use these ingredients along with coconut mana / coconut butter and powdered freeze-dried strawberries to sweeten instead of the honey that I used. It was a good thought, but just didn’t quite work for this application, so I may just have to go back to the drawing board on this one ~ but our Daddo still enjoyed the cake-balls, even though they never quite made it to the golf-ball stage.
Cake Ball Fail
I will say, though, the concoction worked as chocolate candies, so we used the last little bit in our mustache molds for these little cuties. All-in-all the project at hand was not exactly a success, but we all enjoyed our time in the kitchen and got some delicious eats from the venture ~ Happy Failures, canaries! ;o)
White Chocolate Mustaches

Watermelon Lemonade {no sugar}

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Ever notice that MELON and LEMON have all the same letters? Sounds like a perfect match to me!

Fresh watermelon juice was created by blending fresh seedless watermelon (cut from the rind) in my Vitamin blender. Once it was well blended, I strained it all through a fine-mesh nut-milk bag to get a smooth and grit/pulp-free juice.

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Strain blended watermelon through a fine-mesh bag to get roughly 2 cups.

Now comes the hard part. Okay, just kidding – now simply add in 1/4 cup of organic lemon juice. Yes, that’s it!  SO very refreshing and SO watermelony 🙂       {watermelony? … Works for me!}

Once special touch that I did add to these cups of melon goodness is the flake-salted rim. Does this sound odd to anyone? My mom is a salt-lover. My daughter is also a salt-lover. Both of these girls-of-my-world seem to believe that watermelons and salt go hand in hand; one simply can’t happen without the other. So, I thought the perfect way to celebrate this combo was to do a salted rim. The salt I used was a pink Himalayan flake salt. I thought it was an interesting and fun addition, and it definitely got a thumbs up by my sweet girly.

Happy Weekend!

Watermelon Lemonade In The Grass

To DO List: Eat Mo’ Vegetarian Brekkies ~ Our Pick 4 Omelet Station

Batman eats veggies!
I am mom. This may not be the case in every household, but I am also cook. To me, the fact that I am responsible for filling their plates every day means that I am also responsible for the nutrition that my children receive. Its a job I take seriously – yes, in a fun and silly way, but still, seriously.

One of the constant goals of mine as the NUTRITION-PROVIDER of my household is to not only get it in ’em, but teach them along the way to LOVE the nutritious choices, so that when I am no longer the one in charge of filling their plates, hopefully the lessons they are learning now will carry over. It is constantly in my mind as I plan out meal times, even planning the treats! I explain to them every step of the way the reasons “WHY” I am selecting certain ingredients and constructing a balanced plate of food, or sometimes a balanced day of food, since every single meal isn’t perfect nutritionally speaking. I truly aim to make the healthy decisions be appealing and fun! This is all a part of my master plan to grow healthy, happy eaters who WANT to be healthy, happy eaters! {don’t tell them , but I think it’s working}

My favorite meals are ones that encourage the whole family to try new textures, new tastes, and new colors of food. This may seem very elementary, like the classic phrase,” EAT THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW”, but even as adults, sometimes, we get sedentary on what we know and forget to broaden our taste buds on occasion. Every color of food makes up the phytonutrients and vitamins that our bodies need to function at their best.  Meals like this are great for EVERBODY to explore something new, and for some reason, it makes it more fun to get to have control over those choices! I am talking about our super fun breakfast this morning BUILDING YOUR OWN omelet.

To begin our Omelet bar, I used a dozen farm-fresh, soy-free, gmo-free, pastured chicken eggs and cracked them into a bowl for a good whisking. The carton was now empty, so I thought: What a great vessel for dividing our omelet selections. Because there are 3 kiddos here, I simply cut the carton into 3 equal sections of 4 “holes”. The rule: PICK FOUR!  Want to know what the coolest part was?  They all picked more than 4! :D. I love this.

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So, I chopped from the fridge some piles of tomato, orange bell pepper, broccoli, and spinach {we only buy organic produce as to reduce our exposure to pesticides and herbicides}. From our home garden {organically grown}, I collected, chopped, and piled some parsley, some rainbow chard, and some chives.  The kids took turns filling their sections and we labeled their containers and lined them up for cooking.
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It was so much fun watching them get excited about their selections and watching their faces as they cheered on each other’s omelets over the flat-top and excitedly waited for their own to cook.  We made omelets, we made a fun memory, and we all had something green for breakfast. A win, win, win in my book!!! 🙂

~Happy Omelet Making, Canaries ~

Red, White & Blue Gluten-Free Grilled “PB-J’s”

Red White & Blue holiday pails

These little pails of yumminess put HUGE smiles on my kids’ faces this Memorial Day weekend. This festive treat may have to make a second appearance for the 4th of July!!

easy-peasy: Some gluten – free bread, organic almond butter (or nutbutter of choice), coconut oil, fresh blueberries, and glutino gluten-free pretzels for the I food ingredients.

$1 bin red, white

& blue pails, picnic pattern basket liners or napkins, and 2/$1 mini flags for the presentation.
I simply grilled up some “PB-Js”, like you would any other grilled sandwich, except I used coconut on the grilling-side of the slices instead of butter, and inside, they got filled with Organic Almond Butter & a delicious organic blueberry fruit-only jelly. Once the sammies were browned to perfection, I transferred them to a cutting board and sliced them into 4 long rectangles.

Grilled "PB-J's"
The flags serve as the prefect skewers for a pattern of blueberries and gluten-free pretzels.

Blueberry & Pretzel Flags

 

Once everything was ready to be served, I simply lined each pail with the picnic-patterned basket liners, arranged the  sandwich sections sticking up out of the pail, and inserted the blueberry & pretzel-lined flag. There ya go! Easy gluten-free food fun perfect for any red, white & blue occasion!! Enjoy!

Raspberry Beret Macaroons {Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, SCD-Legal}

If you like a classic coconut Macaroon, you will love these subtly sweet nuggets. These were created for the Valentine’s Day bake-sale boxes we did to raise money for a couple of local Autism non-profits that we know and love. They are light not overly sweet with the delicious tang of raspberry. So yummy!

Raspberry Beret Macaroons
Raspberry Beret Macaroons

1/2 cup raw organic honey
3 cups unsweetened coconut
3 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 Tablespoons crushed freeze-dried organic raspberries
1/2 cup coconut milk
Juice + Zest of 1 large organic lemon
1 white from a pastured chicken egg
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees {Fahrenheit}

First, in a Vitamix or your blender, pulverize the dried coconut for about 1 minutes until you have super-fine shreds.
Dump into a large mixing bowl and add in the wet ingredients {coconut milk & lemon juice & zest} and mix just to combine.

Next, in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix your egg white and pinch of salt until soft peeks form {a couple of minutes}. Take the egg whites over to the shredded coconut mixture and fold them in lightly. Sprinkle the coconut flour and crushed dried raspberry into the bowl and lightly fold again, just until well combined.

Now, with a #70 tablespoon scooper {I use this SO often, if you don’t have one your kitchen is missing a wonderful family member, hop on over to amazon and order one!}, fill the scoop tightly, pull it up against the side of the bowl to pack in the mixture.  Pull the trigger and dump out onto an unbleached-parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue filling up your tray.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-22 minutes. I rotated my tray half-way through, a habit I got into after coking my way through the BabyCakes cookbook. After 2o minutes, my macaroons were getting slightly brown on the edges, so I removed and transferred the entire sheet of parchment to a wire rack to cool.

For the Valentine’s Bake-Sale boxes, I mixed a little of the powder from the freeze dried raspberries into a tiny bit of this lemon glaze, turning it perfectly pink and raspberry flavored. Using a zip-top sandwich bag with the tip snipped off, I drizzled the glaze lightly over the macaroons for a finishing touch. Mwah!