Tag Archives: refined sugar free

Gluten Free School Lunches for Kids

My Kids on the First Day of School

I’m trying to reduce the amount of wheat I send in my kids’ lunches. While I’ve always tried to include milk and a vegetable, reducing the wheat is even more of a challenge, because it affects the easy sandwich. While I can use gluten free bread, I’m also trying to be a bit more creative and up the protein quotient.

Here are the parameters I set when packing school lunches:

  • No peanuts (although my kids aren’t allergic, there are kids in their school with life-threatening allergies to peanuts and I don’t believe that peanuts have any place in schools where this is the case.)
  • Must include milk
  • Must include a vegetable and a fruit
  • Must include a protein
  • Something sweet is nice to end the meal with

I have plastic sandwich boxes for each of the kids (no waste) and last year I purchased silicon cupcake cups by Wilton that fit inside the sandwich boxes and serve as flexible partitions for various foods.  I also have a few convenience products for the sweet/fruit component of my kids’ lunches, but they are all organic and pure.

Here are some of the lunches I’ve sent with my kids.

French Toast Sticks (made with Udi’s Gluten Free bread) and Homemade Breakfast Sausage (just meat and spices)

Served with 100% maple syrup for dipping, organic apple slices, organic yogurt, organic fruit & veggie shredz, and organic milk.

Another Variation…Homemade Gluten-Free Pumpkin Waffle Sticks with Mixed Dried Fruit (no sugar added)/Nuts and Homemade Sausage

Homemade Chicken Nuggets (made with almond flour and coconut oil)

Served with organic ketchup for dipping, organic carrots and cherry tomatoes, organic apple slices, yogurt (not organic this time…my mother in law bought it), dark chocolate square, and organic milk.

Plain Organic Unsalted Brown Rice Cake with Sunbutter for Spreading

Served with an organic apple, organic yogurt, seed/dried fruit mix, and organic milk.

Brown Rice Cake and Cheese

Served with organic carrot sticks, baby sweet pepper, Laughing cow cheese for spreading on the rice cake, string cheese, cashew and freeze-dried strawberry mix, organic fruit and veggie smoothie, and organic milk.

Organic Brown Rice Cake (Tamari with Seaweed Flavor)…can you tell my kids like rice cakes?…with Turkey Pepperoni and Cheese

Served with dill pickle (from the farmer’s market), cheese (from the farmer’s market), Laughing cow cheese for spreading, organic fruit and veggie smoothie, dark chocolate square and organic milk.

Gluten Free Pizza Bagel (made on Udi’s Bagels)

Served with turkey pepperoni, organic carrots, organic fruit and veggie smoothie, homemade fruit sweetened brownie (adapted from this recipe), and organic milk.

When All Else Fails…GoPicnic

Sometimes I don’t have time to make lunch. And my kids think these GoPicnic gluten free lunch boxes are a real treat. They only get them for special occasions (they’re $4 a pop). I also give them a choice between buying pizza lunch at school on Fridays or a GoPicnic box. They choose this about 50% of the time. These are their favorite flavors:

Now obviously some of these lunches (but not all!) require some forethought. I tend to cook up a large batch of pumpkin waffles or french toast and chicken nuggets on the weekend, and freeze some for lunches for the week. Pizza bagels can be made in the toaster oven in the morning.

What do you send with your kids for lunch?

6 Halloween Candy Alternatives That Aren’t Lame

It’s the beginning of October. That means my kids are eagerly making their plans for the sugarfest more commonly known as Halloween. I live on a street that sees a LOT of kids on the 31st of October, and most houses are well stocked.

When the kids come home with their loot, we carefully ration it out so that they  don’t overload in a couple of days, but rather make it last for months. But even so, there’s a part of me (the part that doesn’t buy candy for my kids) that doesn’t really want to hand out candy. I don’t want it in my house, and the kids in the neighborhood are going to get more than enough of it.

But I still want to participate in the fun, and I also don’t want my kids to have to deal with the reputation of being the house that hands out toothbrushes. So here are some suggestions for things you can hand out on Halloween that aren’t candy, but also aren’t lame, so your kids can show their faces in school the next day.

  • Helium balloons. I still remember the one house we always tried to hit in our neighborhood on Halloween when I was a kid. They rented a big helium tank and handed out black and orange helium-filled balloons. A glance into their house showed that they had balloons floating all over their living room. And you could tell every kid that had been there because they all had their balloon while they were trick or treating in the rest of the neighborhood. What a fun idea!
  • Glow novelties. This is one I’ve done a few times, and it’s always a hit with the little kids, as well as the teenagers! I buy a bulk pack of glow necklaces, bracelets, or whatever I can find, and crack them so they glow right before trick or treating begins. I’ve even seen glow in the dark vampire fangs! It’s especially nice at night, and gives a little more safety to kids as they wander the streets after dark.
  • Organic fruit shreds. Now I don’t mean organic sugar sweetened gummies. But the ones that are basically organic fruit puree and nothing else added rank right up there with handing out gummy bears, in my opinion. I like this kind.
  • Bubbles. Now this may go over better with little kids than big kids. But those little bottles of bubbles (same size they use at weddings) can be tons of fun.
  • Coins. There’s one house I know of where they save up their loose change all year, and then hand it out at Halloween. Now this isn’t one you can use for self-serve. But if you’re willing to dole it out to each goblin at your door, this is always a good one. And if nothing else, you’re prepared for the kids that trick or treat for UNICEF.
  • Individual sized microwave popcorn. Now I’m a little bit torn on this one, because I’m not super fond of all the chemicals in microwave popcorn, not to mention the fact that corn in the US is genetically modified. But if you’re trying to avoid sugar, we’ve done this in the past and it’s been well-received.

What do you hand out at Halloween? Do you have additional suggestions? Please share them in the comments below!

Nutty Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (Grain-free, Gluten-free, Fruit-sweetened)

Occasionally I like to have a treat waiting for my kids when they get off the school bus. I don’t think there’s much more inviting than walking into the house after a long day and smelling fresh-baked cookies coming out of the oven.

But with this new eating plan, I’ve been trying to cut back on the wheat and sugar for them, as well as me. That makes cookie baking a bit more challenging.

I’ve been working on this cookie recipe for a while. At first, they were too soft…almost like cake. But I finally perfected it. They’re not TOO sweet, have a nice crunch, and are absolutely delicious. I hope your kids enjoy them as much as mine do!

Nutty Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 6 pitted dates
  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) organic butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond butter (or nut butter of your choice), room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used raw almonds)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Here’s What To Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes or until soft.
  4. In a blender, combined drained dates, banana, egg, melted butter and vanilla until dates are completely pureed.
  5. In a large bowl, combine almond butter and date mixture until completely combined.
  6. In a small bowl, combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda. Add to almond butter mixture in large bowl and stir until combined.
  7. Mix in chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
  8. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart (these will not spread much while baking.)
  9. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
  10. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then remove from baking sheet.
  11. Enjoy!

I hope you and your family enjoy these cookies as much as we do!

Kelp Noodle Japchae Recipe (Gluten free, Refined Sugar free, Grain free)

My beautiful babies (not so little anymore!)

My 3 kids are adopted from Korea. In learning about the culture as we prepared to adopt, I fell in love with the country, as well as the food. Korean barbeque (Bulgogi) is phenomenal, and kimchi is a spicy, addictive condiment that I love. (I even made kimchi once or twice…a process that takes several days…and my sweet son prefers mine to anyone else’s…good boy!) But one other dish I really enjoy is japchae, which is a stir-fried noodle dish made with sweet potato noodles.

The best japchae I ever had was cooked by my son’s foster mother in Korea. When we went to her apartment to meet our new son for the first time (he was 2) she had a huge spread of traditional Korean food. It was SO delicious!

I’ve made japchae in the past, but I always messed up a bit with the sweet potato noodles, which can easily be overcooked. However recently, I finally took the plunge and ordered some kelp noodles. I had been reading about them on various gluten-free food blogs, and I was curious. The reviews for them on the Amazon product page were really positive. They are not a grain, but rather a sea vegetable. And there are only 18 calories in an entire package (6 calories per serving.) For real!

But the best part is that they are, of themselves, fairly tasteless. They take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with, but they retain the texture of a rice noodle. Plus they’re full of nutrition. They have more than 70 minerals, including potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and iodine. They also contains enzymes, vitamins, trace elements, and more than 21 amino acids. It’s safe to say they’re really good for you.

So I decided to attempt japchae again, this time with kelp noodles. And it was perfect! It’s safe to say I’ll never go back to sweet potato noodles for this dish again.

Some of the ingredients in the japchae

Kelp Noodle Japchae
Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • 3 Tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 3-4 Tbsp sesame oil, divided (or more as needed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 green onions, sliced, divided
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, divided
  • 1-2 boneless organic chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (dried are great in this but you have to soak first, you can also use fresh)
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 organic cage-free egg, scrambled

Here’s What To Do

  1. Rinse the kelp noodles in cold water.
  2. Boil some water in a large pot, and add the kelp noodles. Cook for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Let it sit in the hot water until you’re ready to use the noodles.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 2 Tbsp tamari, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 chopped clove of garlic, the ginger, 1/3 of the chopped green onion, and 1/2 of the sesame seeds in a small bowl.
  4. Slice the chicken thighs into strips, and add to the tamari marinade. Let sit while you slice the carrots, mushrooms and spinach.
  5. After all vegetables have been prepared, heat a tsp of sesame oil in a large frying pan, and add a little of the garlic. Add the chicken and all of its marinade, and stir fry until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the meat from the pan and put on a plate.
  7. In the same pan, add another tsp of sesame oil and some garlic, and cook the carrot strips until softened, but still with a bit of crunch left.
  8. Remove the carrots from the pan and put on the plate with the meat.
  9. In the same pan, add another tsp of sesame oil and some garlic, and cook the mushrooms until softened, about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and put on the plate with the meat and carrots.
  11. In the same pan, add a bit more sesame oil and garlic, and toss in the spinach. Cook for a minute or so, until wilted.
  12. Remove the spinach from the pan and put on the plate with the meat and vegetables.
  13. Add enough sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and then add the scrambled egg. Tilt the pan to cover the bottom with egg, and allow it to cook in a thin sheet.
  14. When the egg is almost done, use a spatula to break it up into bite sized pieces, and then remove the egg to the plate with the meat and vegetables.
  15. Drain the kelp noodles.
  16. Add another tablespoon of sesame oil and the remaining garlic to the pan, and then add the kelp noodles. Stir-fry for 2 minutes to get up all the pan flavors that have accumulated into the noodles.
  17. Dump the plate of meat, vegetables and egg on top of the noodles, along with the remaining green onion, and stir fry it all together for another 2-3 minutes.
  18. Taste and add another Tbsp of tamari if the flavor needs it.
  19. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sesame seeds, and serve!

Hungry yet?

Have you tried kelp noodles? What did you think of them? How do you like to prepare them? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Favorite Gluten-Free Recipe Roundup

Chicken, Bacon, Dates and beet greens. Total yum! A recipe I’ll share next week!

This week I’ve been exploring some new recipes from some of my favorite food bloggers. All of them are gluten and refined-sugar free. I wanted to share some of these fantastic recipes with you today. Enjoy!

  • Slow-Cooked Coconut Ginger Pork: The juice this dish produces in the crockpot will blow your mind. It is so succulent. About 30 minutes before it was done cooking, I threw in some baby spinach and sliced carrots which added a nice nutritional punch, plus some color. If you do grains, you could serve it over rice. Otherwise serve it in a bowl. You’ll want to drink the liquid for sure!
  • Rosemary Spaghetti Squash Egg Nests: I’m realizing that I have quite a few vegetables I’ve avoided over the years because of some less than pleasant early experiences with them as a child. Spaghetti squash was one of them. However when I saw this recipe from the Urban Poser, I knew I needed to give it another chance. I am SO glad I did. This is awesome, and quite filling. One is more than enough to fill you. Next time I make it I’ll prepare the nests ahead of time, and then I can cook them with the egg inside when I’m ready, and I can keep the yolks gooey (they cooked solid before the nests were done.) This makes a great breakfast or even dinner.
  • Red Chicken Coconut Curry: OK, this one is one of mine. But it’s a meal that comes together SO quickly, that I had to include it. In 20 minutes, dinner is done!
  • Blueberry Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake: It’s pumpkin pie in a glass. No lie. I’m not even all that big a fan of pumpkin pie, but I LOVE this shake. And the best part is that it leaves me full and totally energized all morning.
  • Coconut Cream Pie Larabar Recipe: I’m a big fan of Kind bars, and typically prefer them to Larabars. But when I was in the grocery store this week I was starving and saw these in the checkout line so I picked one up. TOTAL yum! Because I don’t love the price on any of these bars I quickly looked up a recipe on how to make them at home. This one is great.
  • Cinnamon Bun Muffins: This is the first recipe I ever made from the Elana’s Pantry food blog, and it’s still one of my favorites. (I replace the agave with 100% pure maple syrup.) Make them. You can thank me later!

Do you have some favorite gluten and refined-sugar free recipes? Please share them in the comments!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash (vegetarian, gluten free)

Canned corned beef hash…Yuck!

When I think of the word “hash” I hearken back to pink stuff that came out of a can with teeny tiny cubes of what I think were potatoes that my mother used to serve with eggs. Yeah…this isn’t that.

I love sweet potatoes. They’re delicious all by themselves. But they are also fantastic as a base for this delicious breakfast dish (that actually could be served at any time of day.)

I also have a bit of a problem when it comes to black beans. We buy cans of black beans by the case (yes I know I could do it with dry beans in my crockpot, but I haven’t gotten myself together enough to do that and properly store them.) I love that they are an amazing protein source that all of my kids will eat and be happy about it.

So it was a natural thing to bring sweet potatoes and black beans together for this dish. Then in keeping with my desire to add as many veggies to each dish as possible I threw some more in. The result was an absolutely beautiful (and totally delicious) hash that I think you’ll love. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash
Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 baked sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup torn baby spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbsp pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

Here’s What To Do:

  1. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
  2. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until fairly soft.
  3. Add the cubed sweet potato to the pan, and cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add the black beans to the pan, and cook 2 minutes more.
  5. Turn off the heat, and add the spinach leaves. Stir until JUST wilted.
  6. Place on plate, and sprinkle with pepitas.
  7. If desired, top with a fried egg.

 

Red Chicken Coconut Curry (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free)

I originally  gave up bread and refined sugar to lose weight. (Then I started reading…darn the internet!) Since this was (at least originally) primarily about weight loss (and then maintenance) for me, I keep a close eye on the scale. And I find I do best when I make vegetables the foundational element in my diet. Now this doesn’t mean eating salad all the time. But it does mean that I try to incorporate vegetables in all 3 meals a day. In doing so, I get more nutrition, and I find that my weight remains stable.

But wait! you may be saying. Veggies for breakfast? Really? Yep. There are 2 primary ways I do it.

  1. Eggs and Omelettes. This is the easy one. Our favorite omelet is mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, and some cheese. Sometimes I’ll throw in tomatoes.
  2. Smoothies. I giggle inside a little when my son automatically reaches for the baby spinach in the fridge when making his own smoothies. Fruit-based smoothies can include spinach and carrots and, if you use blueberries, you’ll never know they’re there!

I’ve also been known to do a soup for breakfast of broth and veggies. You can throw in rice, protein of your choice, or drizzle in a scrambled egg. If you like things spicy, adding some kimchi is delicious too (and you won’t be able to eat too fast, which ensures you’ll stop when you’re full.)

Here’s a quick and easy recipe full of veggies that my husband RAVED about when I made it. (And don’t let the word “curry” scare you. It’s not spicy at all!) His exact words were “It’s so buttery!” And there’s no butter in it at all!

Red Chicken Coconut Curry

Red Chicken Coconut Curry
This made enough for lunch for 2 adults.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. raw chicken, cut into strips or bite-sized pieces
  • Salt & pepper (or all purpose seasoning of choice)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • coconut oil
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste (have I mentioned yet how addicted I am to this stuff?)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florettes
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup prepared brown rice
  • 1 big handful spinach

Here’s What To Do

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, or seasoning blend of your choice.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
  3. Press the garlic clove into the oil.
  4. Add the chicken slices and cook until browned on each side.
  5. Add the cauliflower and carrots, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk and red curry paste, and stir gently until well combined.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add brown rice and cook for another minute.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Stir until just wilted.
  10. Serve!

How do you incorporate veggies into your meals? Please share in the comments!