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

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 ~

“Sugar” Cones {Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Cane-Sugar-Free, Paleo}

Bring on the CONES!

On this Memorial Day weekend, I really wanted to make something light and fun for the family. At first, I was thinking of some sort of ice-cream sandwich. Maybe blueberry and chocolate. Next, I was mulling over a cherry tart, but for some reason, that was still falling a bit flat. Finally, my imagination stopped on an old classic: a crispy, sweet, melt-on-your-tongue, SUGAR CONE. My mind was set, now I needed a gluten free, sugar free version of THAT to surprise the kids with. So, this is what I came up with.

I wanted to use a grain-free flour and I had some cashew meal in the pantry. I knew I wanted a flat, baked round that would be elastic enough to be rolled after baking without cracking, so tapioca flour seemed like the best choice for that. For a short ingredient list and a quick bake time, these will definitely be made again! I can’t wait to come up with all sorts of delicious ways to fill these!

Gluten-Free “Sugar” Cones
Makes 4 cones.

1/2 cup cashew meal (or almond meal would also work)
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 heaping tablespoons of coconut sugar / coconut crystals
1 tablespoon coconut milk (or milk of choice)
1 large egg (preferably pasture-raised

Simply stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Pour out 4 equal rounds onto a greased, parchment lined, or to copy my efforts exactly, a Silpat-lined perforated baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon and/or a little tapping of the tray, thin out the batter rounds to be flat and thin (maybe 1/4 inch think).

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. The edges will be browned and the rounds still flimsy. Remove from the oven and very carefully, as they will still be hot to the touch, peel of your rounds and roll them into cones shapes. If you want, you can tie them for good measure like I did, but they do harden pretty quickly, so I would suggest having your system in place before you pull them out of the oven.

If you decide to try them, I would love to know what you decide to fill your with, too! Happy eating this Memorial Day Weekend, Canaries! Love, Kendra

Ours got filled tonight with some dairy-free black Forrest Ice Cream ~ so very delicious!!
Black Forrest Ice Cream Cone

Saturday Breakfast, Gluten-Free Breakfast Quesadillas

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Saturdays. Sweet, sweet Saturdays.

It seems like a recurring theme for me. I always try to pretend like I am going to steal some time for myself come Friday evening, like I am going to sleep in, no matter what the rest of the family need on Saturday morning! . Most stay-at-home moms will probably understand that sentiment. I FINALLY have an extra pair of hands home for two full days and I won’t have to rush out of bed to get the day started, get lunches packed, get kids motivated to do their morning routines to get off to school without their teachers or peers knowing JUST how close we are each morning to NOT making it to school in one piece {let alone with a special-diet lunch & snack in tow for two kids}.

Every week on Friday evening, I take a deep breathe and celebrate the weekend, and I tell myself, “I am totally sleeping in in the morning.”. 

Every Saturday morning, I wake up {halfway} to a nursing baby who has been by my side since the first time he cried from his crib in the middle of the night. I wake up a little more when my seven year old come and wraps her little arms around me and steals all of my fuzzy cover for herself. And then, I wake up almost completely by the time my five year old makes himself a nest in the bend of my knees and starts whispering, “Momma. Momma, is it time for breakfast yet?”

He is a boy after his Mommy’s heart! Breakfast is hands-down my favorite mealtime. I am a waffle-a-holic, a crepe-addict (never planning to recover, either), and a lover of breakfast muffins and breads! But, today, I was in the mood for some eggs, and so I set the kids up with a cartoon, waited on my husband to roll out of bed and start a pot of coffee, and I began whipping up all the fixings for some breakfast quesadillas: got some nitrite-free bacon cooking in the oven, had some organic refried beans warming in a small saucepan, and scrambled up some beautiful pastures eggs.  I oiled the griddle with a little coconut oil and placed a brown rice tortilla down {I had some from Trader Joe’s}. The, I smeared some refried beans onto the tortilla, piled on some eggs & some bacon pieces, and topped with another brown rice tortilla. I let it all crisp up a bit and then flipped. I cooked that side to a golden brown and then transferred to a cutting board to cool and slice.

Me and Daddo  {this is my husbands official father name, by the way} had some salsa Verde and some raw cheddar cheese on ours and called it a delicious start to our day! Hope yours was delicious, too!

Lemon Cake & Lemon Cake Truffles {Grain-Free, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Cane-Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free}

Lemon Cake Truffles

Lemon Cake Truffles

Oh my! These little bites of lemony goodness and such a delight! The cake, itself, if very easy to throw together, and can certainly be enjoyed on it’s own. Actually, it would be wonderful for breakfast with a cup or organic tea, or as an afternoon snack. It’s a pretty dreamy treat!

There are so many almond flour recipes out there, I decided to change it up a bit on this one. One of our family’s favorite nuts is the cashew. We love the creamy texture and the mildly sweet flavor. So, for this lemon cake, I decided to use Cashew Meal. It turned out with a beautiful crumble, I think!

Grain-Free Lemon Cake

2 1/2 cups cashew meal
1 teaspoon Real Salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups cup raw organic honey
1/4 cup liquid measure virgin coconut oil + more for oiling pan
Juice and zest of 1 organic lemon
3 pastured chicken eggs
2 teaspoons organic lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees {Fahrenheit}

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients {the cashew meal, salt,  & baking soda}.  Make a well into the center of the bowl and add to it the remaining liquid ingredients and lemon zest. Give it all a stir to combine.

Oil a loaf pan or a square baking dish with coconut oil. Pour your batter into the oiled pan and give it a spread with the back of your spoon or a spatula to even everything out.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. This is definitely one of those cakes that you can “smell” when it is done. To the look, it will have a nice brown color and should not have any liquid seen on a toothpick inserted into the center {although it may carry out some crumbs with it}. Remove from the oven and cool as long as you can before sneaking a little sliver to taste. {I am guessing I am not the only one who does this ;)}

~For the Cake Truffles ~

You will need: 1 prepared Grain-Free Lemon Cake from above ~plus~ The following lemon glaze:

Lemon Glaze: 1/2 cup tapioca flour 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder 5 tablespoons organic grade B maple syrup 1 teaspoon organic lemon extract 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Simply blend all ingredients together in your blender. Can be stored in the fridge. Makes a great glaze for cookies or bars, and makes the perfect “glue” for these delicious lemon truffles!!

Preheat the 350 degrees if you haven’t already.

Crumble your cake in a large bowl. Stir in about 3 tablespoons of your lemon glaze. Now, Using a tablespoon (#70) scooper, pack the scooper full of the crumb mixture, pulling up against the side of your bowl to really pack it in. Pull the trigger to drop your scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Simply reshape the top of your truffle if the scoop has been too rough on it. It should be a nice, tight little mound of sticky lemon crumb. Keep lining these mounds up on your parchment-lined baking sheet. They can be placed fairly close together, as no rising will occur at this point.

Bake the truffles for 6 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Now, using a piping bag with the smallest piping tip, usually used fro writing {or, honestly, most of the time I just grab a zip-top sandwich bag and snip off the corner}. Drizzle a zip-zag line across the top of each truffle as the finishing touch.

The taste of these lemon cake truffles is perfection for me. The healthy fats from the nuts and coconut oil and the sweet, lemony flavor really remind me of my mom’s lemon bundt cake she made a lot when we were growing up. There’s truly nothing better than turning a nostalgic {unhealthy} treat into a copy-cat recipe that meets all of our dietary restrictions in a delicious way!

Hope you enjoy, they sounds like a lot of steps, but honestly, they are not difficult to make!

Happy Cake Truffling, Canaries! ~Kendra

Strawberry Frosting {Grain-Free, Paleo, and SCD legal}

Simple Strawberry Frosting {Grain-Free, Fruit Sweetened, Palo, SCD-legal}:

1 cup Spectrum organic Palm Shortening
1/2 cup freeze dried bananas, ground up in a spice grinders, mixer, or blender until it makes a powder
3 Tablespoons freeze dried organic strawberries, crushed {I like to have some larger chunks to see and taste}

First, I mixed the shortening with my hand mixer just to get a creamy consistency. Next, I added in the powdered banana and blended until well combined. I added the strawberries in last and mixed just until incorporated.

I transferred the icing to a piping bag. This was the perfect filling for the “Chocolate Covered Strawberry Macaroons” that were in the Palo Valentine’s boxes we did this year

.Chocolate Covered Strawberry Filled

This was  also the perfect topping for the Paleo Mini Lemon Muffins I made last week. :9 Oh the deliciousness!

Flourless Cherry Sweetheart Cookies {Grain-Free & Paleo}

These were created with LOVE for the Valentine’s Bake Sale Boxes that got delivered last week. In keeping with my passion, I was thrilled to get to bake up some delicious treats for kiddos and families that are very particular with their ingredient lists; and, better yet, I was able to raise a little money for a couple of charities that are local to me and to my heart. I know I keep saying this, but it really was the Best. Bake Sale. Ever.

Grain-Free Cherry Sweetheart Cookies

super- duper simple nut butter cookies turned into these:

Cherry Sweetheart Cookies
1 cup organic almond butter
1/3 cup organic raw honey
1 pastured chicken egg
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar
10 + 24ish dried organic & unsulphered cherries
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees {fahrenheit}.

I find these are easiest to mix together in a food processor.  I hope you love how easy these are as much as I do!

In your food processor, combine the almond butter, honey, egg, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and 10 of the cherries. Pulse or mix on low spear until ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. I used my #70 disher (or 1 tablespoon) spring disher. YOU can use a large spoon or even a tablespoon measuring spoon, but if you do not own a #70 disher, just hop onto Amazon and purchase one for your kitchen drawer. They are so great for cookies and mini muffins!

Spoon your dough onto your parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. I have found that the amount of “spread” that these cookies get depends on the amount of oil in the nut butter. But, they always taste delicious!   Now, take the remaining cherries one at a time and, using a knife or the tip of your fingernail, make a small slit in one of the edges and separate it, mimicking the shape of a heart. Press the heart-shaped cherry into the center of each dough mound.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 9 minutes. remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Refill your pan with the raining batter and repeat.

I get 24-28 cookies per batch. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container, that is IF they make it that far.
The cherries give each cookie a sweet and tart element, the fact that the entire batch only has 1/3 cup of honey as its sweetener, and the simple, throw-in-the-food-processor method here make these so very appealing to me as the chef of my household. And this basic recipe has endless possibilities! Chocolate chips are the obvious choice, yes, but I enjoy experimenting with less ordinary treasures.

Hope you Enjoy these as much as we did. <3
~Kendra

Quinoa Sweet Potato & Pecan Tamales (TaMOLLYs)

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Quinoa Sweet Potato & Pecan Tamales

When it comes to the title of a recipe, I have been known to get QUITE CHEESY (especially for a dairy-free cook). What can I say? Being that I am a momma bear, sometimes I have to sell my kids on the healthy foods I want them to love, and what makes selling easier than a catchy name! I’m just marketing :)! My sweet Molly Rose got quite a kick out of dinner being named after her last night.

We live in Texas, and in Texas, everyone knows what a tamale is. Traditionally, they are done with masa harina (corn flour).   I have been thinking about the execution of a corn free TaMolly for a while now, and yesterday, I had some sweet potatoes that were staring at me from the potato basket and some corn husks that were wanting to be used, and so began the makings of a ‘Meatless Monday’ masterpiece ~ a QUINOA TA”MOLLY”! They were so yummy and have oodles of potential for flavor and filling combinations. I can’t wait to post more as I make these again and again.

What you will need:

1 bag of Corn husks (found at most grocers)
1 cup Organic white quinoa
1-2 teaspoon Salt of choice (I like “Real Salt”)
2 Sweet potatoes
1/3-1/2 cup pecans, chopped (if you don’t soak and dry your nuts already, just soak them while you prepare the rest of the meal and drain them when ready to use)
1/2 teaspoon organic chile powder
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water (homemade stock is best, if buying, try to avoid yeast extracts in the ingredients)
1/4 cup coconut oil (straight from the jar, no need to liquefy)
A Steamer or way to steam the TaMollys (I use a stacking bamboo steamer basket like this one)

First, submerge your corn husks in water for at least 30 minutes to soften them. I like to do about half the bag so that I can choose the best of the bunch and have enough to cover my ingredients. (You can also do these in double batches or more and freeze for later)

Peel and dice your sweet potatoes. Cover with water in a sauce pot, add a nice pinch of salt to the water, and boil for 10-15 minutes to soften your potatoes. They don’t have to quite be fork tender because they will continue to cook in the tamale. Strain the water out of the pan and fork-mash a bit, stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

In a spice grinder, food processor, or blender, grate 1 cup of quinoa until you have a fine to medium-grained meal (similar to a corn meal texture).

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring together the quinoa meal, 1 3/4 cups of vegetable stock or water, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Stir slowly and frequently just until the mixture comes together to a thick consistency similar to a breakfast porridge and stir for about 5 minutes to soften the quinoa. Remove from heat and set aside.
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Bring your 1/3 -1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the assembly party, along with your quinoa mixture, your sweet potatoes, and the soaked corn husks.

To assemble your TaMollys, simply spoon some of the quinoa mixture onto a soaked corn husk. I like to fold the husk over and use a pulling motion to spread the meal across. You will want about 1/4 inch thickness. Top with some sweet potato and a pinch of pecans. {You can see my photo of a layered husk before it is bundled up}. Now, Fold in the sides and place the bundle seems down onto a steamer tray. Try not to stack them directly on top of one another if you can help it. This bamboo steamer basket that I use was perfect!)   Continue with more tamales until your fillings are gone. I was able to get 11 tamales last night.

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Steam for 1 hour. Make sure you check our steaming water frequently and add more when needed.  Pull them out and get ready to open a little gift of food love.

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They may not look like much as you stack the corn-husk-bundles onto a serving tray…
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But when you unravel the contents inside, you find a delicious texture, very similar to that traditional corn-cake layer; and, inside, you have the deliciously mushy sweet potato and the perfect texture and nuttiness of the pecans. SO YUMMY!

For the vegan option, these were delicious served with a tiny drizzle of cashew sour cream*.  If you prefer the real deal dairy, then a regular or raw sour cream would be equally as yummy.

The best part of recipes like these are the endless possibilities for variety! I am already dreaming up some flavor combinations to try again very soon:
Chicken and Green Chile, Chicken Tomatillo, Braised Beef and Sweet Peppers, Chicken & Apple, Pumpkin and Black Bean ….. Okay, now I’m hungry again. I might have to make more of these today!

~Happy Eating, Everyone! Ole’~

* Cashew Sour Cream: Process or Blend 1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup pure water
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional, garlic powder and/or onion powder to taste

Scared Of The Dark Cherry Gummy Bears

scaredofdarkgummy

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