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!

 

Fluffy Pancakes {gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free}

Fluffy Grain free Pancakes

Next weekend, on his very special Halloween birthday, our littlest monster will be turning two. Scary!!!  Today, we decorate, so we have a big day of fun in store. That means we need a big, protein-packed breakfast to kick off the fun.

These little, golden, rounds of yumminess are very close to the “real-deal” pancakes, with the added benefit of a high protein count and a grain-free status. They check all the allergy-friendly boxes at our house and were the perfect treat for my three little breakfast goblins this morning.  Honestly – the best texture on a gluten free pancake that I have been able to accomplish, ever! I will definitely pull this treat out of my trick bag again!

Fluffy Grain Free Pancakes

1 cup garfava flour
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Pinch of salt

Whisk together your dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until your batter is smooth.

When cooking your cakes, look for bubbles in the CENTER of your cake to indicate readiness to flip. If you undertook these, they will be gummy in the center.

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Enjoy with your favorite pancake topping!

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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

“Chocolate Covered Strawberry” Paleo-Style Macarons

Chocolate Covered Strawberry MacaronsThese little cutie-pies were in the Paleo Valentine’s Day bake sale boxes. They were very simple. Simple to make. And simple to pop in your mouth and enjoy!  Here’s how I made these little treats:

“Chocolate Covered Strawberry”  Paleo-Style Macarons

The Cookie:
1 cup almond butter
1 pastured chicken egg
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoon organic maple syrup
2 Tablespoons organic cocoa powder
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons homemade vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees {Fahrenheit}

In a food processor, I combined all of the cookie ingredients and  processed on low until ingredients are well combined. Then, I transferred the dough to a piping bag. (You can use a zip-top bag and simply cut the tip if you do not have a piping bag). I piped little quarter sized swirls of dough onto unbleached parchment-lined baking sheet. {They won’t “grow” much during baking}

Piped Macrons in the Making

These are tiny little mounds of yumminess, so they don’t take long to bake at all. I set the timer for 5 minutes and that was just about right for a still-chewy center. Some stayed in for a full 6 minutes, and they were a bit over-done, in my opinion.

Macaron Cookies all baked.

At this stage of the game, you can chomp down on these tiny little chocolate cutie-pies just like they are seen above, looking like a cookie version of a little chocolate kiss.

Or, if you are feeling indulgent, you can take it one step further, as I did for the bake sale, and turn them each into a tiny little sandwich. I used this STRAWBERRY FROSTING as a filling and they were just delicious! Look at how yummy these look with a little sandwiching makeover!  I can’t wit to use this recipe over the summer to make all sorts of grain and dairy-free ice-cream sandwiches!  I hope these inspire you do get creative, too.

~Kendra

Chocolate COvered Strawberry Filled

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!

Gluten Free, Sugar-Free Chocolate-Glazed Donuts (Baked, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Option, Sugar-Free)

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Yes!! A donut made gluten-free and with NO cane sugar, even down to the delicious chocolaty goodness that is dripping from each heavenly little round of joy.

I can’t begin to post this recipe before, first, apologizing for the delay in posting. Life seems to happen, at least for me, in waves. Sometimes I feel ultimately inspired and the time seems to be so friendly, like we are working together, me and the hours of the day, so beautifully. Then there was November of 2013!  Haha! It really seems like amay have accidentally sneezed off the entire page of November from the calendar or something. But here I am, back in the saddle again and glad to be posting this delicious gluten-free treat!

When I need an idea for a recipe, I always hit the ol’ search engine for some inspiration. My five year old’s pre-school today was serving up a store-bought chocolate donut with pretzel antlers and a gum-drop nose. Well, yes, that sounds very cute and very creative, but I was just sure I could come up with an alternative for him that would be gluten free, sugar free, soy free, (high-fructose-corn-syrup-free). We do mostly a dairy-free diet, but for these, I did use one tub of yogurt that was from a quality source, grass-fed and organic. Because we are far less sensitive than we once were, this shouldn’t pose any real threat as a one-time treat.

I started with a recipe from The Gluten Free Goddess for baked donuts. Her pictures looked very promising and yummy! I made a few tweaks here and there; used an all-purpose flour blend instead of individual flours for simplicity {and because I found a large bag of Namaste Perfect Flour Blend for a thrifty price at our Costco}, I opted for piping my batter out into donut shapes, since I don’t have donut pans and my batter was a bit stickier (probably due to more liquid ingredients, since I used coconut oil instead of palm shortening, and maple syrup instead of brown sugar. I also used real eggs, since we rotate those into our diets now, too. I chose to dip ours in a cane-sugar-free chocolate syrup.  Um, yum. Yes, that’s it, just three letters to sum that up. Yum.

Hope you enjoy :o)

The DONUT.
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups Namaste Perfect Flour Blend GF Flour
3 tablespoons blanched almond flour (I keep this on hand in my freezer)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon real salt

Wet ingredients:
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid measure
1/3 cup organic grade b maple syrup
2  eggs (or 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer powder mixed with 1/4 cup water for egg-free option)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used organic unsweetened rice milk)
1 small container of grass-fed, organic, plain yogurt (I used Maple Hill Creamery)
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, I whisked together all of my dry ingredients (I just really hate sifting because I always make such a mess, so this is my compromise – using a wire whisk for my dry ingredients.)

In another container, I combined all of my wet ingredients, poured the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and carefully stirred everything together.

I used a large zip-top bag and cut about a half an inch corner off to pipe out my rings. I eye-balled the piped out rings into about the size of a mini-donut you would find in a hostess package. They do rise a bit in the baking process, so if you want  a hole in the center, which I DID for my cherry “Rudolph nose”, be sure to make your ring large enough for the expansion during baking.

I used my fingertip dipped in a little coconut oil to smooth down the seems and help give a little better crisp during the baking process.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before dipping.  {You could also sprinkle with some cinnamon & coconut sugar at this point and not dip in the chocolate at all}

The CHOCOLATE DIP:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grade b organic maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

Heat the first three ingredients in a small sauce pan just until melted and dippable {oh, sure, that’s a word!))
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Now, simply dip those donuts, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture and return to the wire rack to dry.

For our Reindeer, we used Tillen Farms Dye-Free Bing Cherries for the Rudolph nose, and two halves of a gluten free pretzel on each for the antlers. Picture of those to come, they are lost for now on my cell phone, which took a plunge in the bath tub just this morning. I will make a new batch of donuts tonight and hopefully recapture the delight, for now, at least I have one!

~Happy donut-making, Canaries.

Honey Caramel Popcorn Balls {Sugar-Free Caramel Corn}

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Oh, sweet Caramel.
Such a beautifully, buttery sweetness, melting on my tongue; oh my caramel, how I do love thee.

On our journey to sugar-free eating, I wondered if I would ever achieve quite the same delight I had always so loved in the flavor of caramel but in a healthier allergy-friendly version. I now wonder no more. This caramel popcorn is so delicious! And it is the perfect recipe as the holiday season commences. Perfect for the Halloween treat-table, or to gift for the holidays.

{dairy-free, sugar-free, additive-free, clean eating ingredients!   mmmm, mmmm, good}
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This caramel is simply made with honey instead of over-processed, highly-refined brown-cane-sugar. I molded mine into these kid-friendly popcorn balls and we so enjoy the treat. From our happy kitchen to yours, we hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

6 cups popped organic non-gmo popcorn
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 (generous) cup raw honey
1 1/2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda***
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

***If making popcorn balls, OMIT the baking soda and add 1/4 cup of water to the liquid mixture.

Heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat the oil, honey & molasses ***(and 1/4 cup of water if you will be making popcorn BALLS as opposed to just caramel popcorn).

Bring to a boil , then turn heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes without stirring.

Remove heat source and:
OPTION 1 for caramel corn: stir in the salt, baking soda***, and vanilla. The caramel will fluff and rise like a delicious science experiment.
Pour over the popped popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Do this with a bit of finesse, as the caramel will be very hot!  Fold out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes

OPTION 2 for Popcorn Balls: stir in the salt and vanilla.
Pour over the popped popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Do this with a bit of finesse, as the caramel will be very hot!
When the caramel corn has cooled enough to be comfortable to handle, form your popcorn balls. Let cool completely ~ if you can keep your hands off of them long enough!

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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

PUMPKIN PIE ChiaSCAKE

Delcious layers of pumpkin and a cheesecake you don't have to feel guilty about eating.
Delcious layers of pumpkin and a cheesecake you don’t have to feel guilty about eating.

PUMPKIN PIE ChiaSCAKE

Have I mentioned that I LOVE THE FALL ~ well, I haven’t mentioned it yet today, so there it is. Guilty!

My husband would tell you that I have been distracted as of late. My kids would likely say that I have not been a “good listener”. Well, if you could be a fly on the wall of my brain, you would know perfectly well that all this spaciness is due to the pumpkin eclipse that occurs once a year in October!  All I can think about is pumpkin : how crazy we should get with carving, which grocer to grab from, which patch to patron, and mostly, what creative pumpkin concoctions can I come up with in the kitchen?!

This year, I really wanted to test out an idea for a pumpkin cheesecake. Being dairy free, this would be a pumpkin cheesecake without cheese. Yes, you read that right. Many of the dairy-free cheesecake recipes call for vegan cream cheese. This is not my favorite option. I really wanted to find a different way to do a dairy-free cheesecake, one that seemed somewhat healthy and had no artificial ingredients and no cane sugar. So, my creative juices started to flow down a pumpkin path of a freezer cake, a layered freezer cake, and I thought about the creaminess I can get from chia seeds, like with the chia pudding that I sometimes make.  This is what I came up with:


This recipe is done in stages, but it is not difficult, so please don’t let the long explanation scare you off. I suggest reading through the instructions before you begin so that you can plan for each step.

LAYERED PUMPKIN PIE FREEZER ChiaSCAKE

Prior to making your cake/pie, soak 1/2 cup pecans and 1 cup of cashews in the refrigerator (seperately) for two hours. If you can plan ahead, it is easy to simply soak them in the fridge over night.


THE CRUST

{This part is a work in progress. I loved the flavor of this crust, but the consistency was a bit too gooey to me and made the pieces hard to serve, I will revise when I come up with a better solution, but my next try will be more nuts and less dates} :

1/2 cup pecans (or nut of choice), soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
10 medjool dates
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Combine in food processor or blender. Press a thin, even layer into a glass pie pan or a 6-cup pyrex dish (8x6x2)*
Set aside and move on to the PUMPKIN PIE LAYER.

THE PUMPKIN PIE LAYER
1 can of organic pumpkin puree
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cup coconut milk, full fat
1/3 cup organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
pinch salt
I always opt for the simplest method possible. I combined all the ingredients into my Vitamix and blended until smooth. (You may see some specs from the chia seeds. This is okay)  Spoon the mix over the crust and smooth out with a spatula. Stick in the freezer while you rinse out your blender and move onto your ChiasCAKE LAYER.

THE ChiasCAKE LAYER
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours and rinsed)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Combine all the ingredients for the ChiaSCAKE Layer into your Vitamix or blender. Blend, starting on low and moving up to higher speeds, until you reach a thick, creamy consistency. There may be some specs from the chia seeds again. This is okay. Take the dish out of the freezer and add this layer to the top.

Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.

When ready to serve, take the freezer cake out of the freezer and thaw on the counter for 20-30 minutes, just until it is thawed enough to cut into pieces. Cut and serve.

The first time we tried this, I was not sure how the flavors would go over for the kids (they are 5 and 7). They looked at it skeptically at first, which could always go either way. After the first bite, I could see it written all over their faces. We had a winner, folks! They were soon licking their forks clean and asking {politely, of course} for another piece.  {Music to a momma’s ears.}  2 pieces each for breakfast the next morning and 1 more for an after-dinner-dessert and we managed to polish off this cake in close to a 24 hour period. Not too shabby!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

~Happy Dairy-Free Cheesecake eating ~