Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemade Halloween Candy


This is a super simple recipe for making your own refined sugar-free, nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free candy. It has only two ingredients plus a little sea salt. It kind of reminds me of a Tootsie Roll but without all of the cell-damaging hydrogenated oils, genetically engineered corn syrup, artificial flavors, and sugar!

I am not sure how we have gotten so offtrack when it comes to celebrating holidays. Holidays have become completely commercialized. Halloween is now celebrated by giving pounds of chemical and sugar laden "food" to children wrapped up in plastic packages that end up in a landfill. Our children don't need one more thing damaging their growing bodies. But what do you do? Keep your children from a tradition that has been taking place in our country since the 1930's or let them be part of the fun?

Our tradition on Halloween began when our first daughter was three years old, which was her first year trick-or-treating. We take our children out early, all dressed up in costumes (this year purchased at our local consignment store). They trick-or-treat for about an hour. Then come home and get to choose one piece of candy to eat, usually a lollipop. Then the rest gets put under their bed for the Candy Gnome. The Candy Gnome lives off of candy alone and is very happy to find it there waiting for him. So in return he gives the children each a special treat (a healthy treat)! This is usually a pomegranate, fruit leather, and an herbal tea bag for each child. Our children are thrilled when they wake up on November 1st. Seriously. Though last year the Candy Gnome didn't get much to eat because they happily gave most of it away to other trick-or-treaters later in the evening!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Kale Chips


Warning: Kale Chips are highly addictive! There are so many different ways to make kale chips. Usually I just toss kale pieces in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Blended cashews, red peppers, lemon, and nutritional yeast is another popular combination. Here I combine a little almond butter, lime, olive oil, maple syrup, and chili flakes to create a very addictive, yet healthy snack. This kale chip recipe is the perfect thing to bring to any spooky Halloween parties you may be attending this weekend!

Kale chips can be baked at a low temperature in the oven or dehydrated in a food dehydrator at 115 degrees overnight, or about 10 to 12 hours. I always have great intentions of making large batches of kale chips and then storing them in glass jars on the counter for the kids to munch on but they never make it that far. I prefer making kale chips with curly kale because all the good stuff that you drizzle over the kale tends to stick a bit more. But since we have a lacinato kale forest in our back yard that is what I have been using. Lacinato kale is also called black kale, Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale by the way.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes



After multiple failed attempts to create a grain-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free cupcake recipe I finally got it! We couldn't decide whether or not to call these muffins or cupcakes.....so when frosted they are cupcakes and when plain they are muffins. I sweeten these little treats using pureed medjool dates. Combined with the coconut flour, they taste fairly sweet!

I have found that different brands of coconut flour yield very different results. Most of my coconut flour creations needed to be composted (ok, I have much more experience using grain flours) until I began using a different brand of coconut flour. Has anyone else experienced this? If you bake with coconut flour, what is your favorite brand? Please leave a comment if you have a moment. I have had best results using the Let's Do Organic! brand of coconut flour.



For detailed instructions on making your own pumpkin puree go to the post I did last year on How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree. It is important to make it correctly otherwise your puree could end up too moist which would affect how the cupcakes turn out. I use a Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe I posted over a year ago. I didn't have any opened jars of applesauce so I used 1/4 cup of Tom's freshly made dairy-free coconut yogurt (I normally use 2 tablespoons applesauce). I also increased the coconut oil to 6 tablespoons.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Harvest Green Smoothie


It is harvest time and we are working on ways to not only preserve the harvest but also to use up nature's bounty while it is nice and fresh. Green smoothies are a great way to use up fresh produce. Plus, they are the perfect vehicle to deliver raw, digestible green vegetables to your children! We began giving green smoothies to our children when they were around nine months old. We always made them without lemon until they were at least twelve months old because citrus can sometimes be harsh on a baby's digestive system.

Offering smoothies when they are young primes their taste buds and other sensory organs, such as the eyes, to like and beg for these drinks. Children who don't get them when they are very young sometimes have a harder time adapting to drinking something bright green when first introduced. Our 3 year old twins love green smoothies. You can watch them help prepare a smoothie with Tom in this video when they were two years old. The other day, I told them that I was going to make a green smoothie but I was still busy in the kitchen with another project. One of my twins said...."mommy when are you going to make the green moothie......momMY, PLEASE make the moothie NOW!" After I made it they each gulped down about 12 ounces. If your child isn't fond of green smoothies, try making them with mostly fruit and maybe only one kale leaf, then, over the days and weeks that you make them, slowly add more greens to let your child's taste buds adapt. Keep trying! Sometimes it takes 15 times of tasting something new for your child to accept it. A straw can also make smoothie time fun! I don't buy plastic straws, but if I were ever to buy some I would purchase either stainless steel or glass drinking straws.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Plum Cobbler


This simple gluten-free oatmeal cobbler is also refined sugar-free and vegan, though you can use butter if you like. I make it with Italian plums but you could use any variety of plum or pluot. It can also be made with peaches, blueberries, or blackberries. I've been dehydrating Italian plums like crazy lately. My children love to eat them as a snack in the winter. I keep filling up glass jars and storing them in the back of the pantry. Italian plums can also be halved, pitted, and frozen to use throughout the year. In fact, I have also made this recipe using frozen plums from last year!

Every year in late summer or early Autumn I take the kids around town and harvest plums with them. Usually there are so many trees with plums dropping to the ground and never enough people picking them. We just knock on doors and ask if we can pick plums. People are usually more than happy to have help with the harvest. And we are more than happy to have boxes of local plums to enjoy. This year plums trees around here were not as bountiful so we bought cases of plums from Eastern Washington.