New Recipes Are Fun

Can I just say how much fun I’m having with the recipes in the Against All Grain Cookbook?! I’ve been making my way through some of the recipes, quite successfully. Oh no! It makes me want to actually have the cookbook instead of borrow it from the library. But I’ve already done that recently with a cookbook so no more cookbook buying for me in the near future. (Santa do you hear me?)

I made the Allergy-Free Breakfast cookies. Oh my, they were so good it was hard to remember that they were a healthy breakfast option. They tasted like such a treat, especially warmed up.

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I adapted the recipe slightly to use pumpkin puree instead of the banana and added pumpkin pie spices to give them that seasonal flavor. They ended up being quite soft and needed to be handled with care. The cookies are made with coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sweetened with dates and applesauce.

Next on the list is chocolate swirl banana bread. The chocolate swirl was my own addition since it is our family’s favorite version of banana bread. But the base recipe for this banana bread was incredible! Grain-free, sugar-free banana bread that actually tastes like traditional banana bread! I’ve made grain-free banana breads before but they were too dense and just not quite what I was looking for in a banana bread. This recipe has mostly coconut flour in it and a little almond flour (and 4 eggs!). The bananas add most of the sweetness.

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Delicious slices of banana bread!

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We sprinkled the top of the loaf with mini chocolate chips to give it a special chocolate bonus. The bread is so moist and banana flavored. Chocolate swirl = excellent addition

I even packed some for Izzy to take as lunch one day this week. Since it’s filled with wholesome ingredients I don’t even feel bad about making it the main portion of her lunch:

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What’s for Lunch – School Lunchbox Edition

At the start of school Brian and I decided that one day a month Isabelle could buy lunch at school. We wanted to let her have the experience and once a month seems sufficient but not overly so. We looked at the menu for the month and she chose which day she would like to buy school lunch. Her choice for the month of September came this week. She chose beef taco salad as the one. As you can imagine she was ecstatic when the day came. So cute with her little baggy full of money and filled with excitement that morning. After school she gave me the rundown of what lunch was like. It was not what she expected. Since she choose beef taco salad she expected to be getting a salad with beef flavored like tacos. Instead she got a pile of chips “with hardly any lettuce” and beef and cheese on top. Don’t get me wrong she still ate it and thought it was good but it was not the salad she hoped for. Now, we know for next time. =)

Her brought from home lunches recently have consisted of the following:

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Turkey and mozzarella lettuce sandwiches, cauliflower, and peaches.

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Pickles and olives, bean and lentil mixed veggie salad, and apple slices.

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Green bean spaghetti, watermelon, walnut trail mix (with candy corn pieces!).

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Yellow lentils and millet (warmed), salad, and a banana.

Since these are all prepped and in the fridge a few at a time it’s fun to see what she feels like for lunch on any given day. I’m always surprised by her choices.

I must say I’d love it if my lunch choices were so put together. If I got to grab a hand-made with love lunch each day from the fridge I’d be pretty happy. Especially, compared to the rushed chopping and throwing together that usually happens to my daily lunch salad. Although, I am pretty lucky that I eat lunch at home with my best Lexi each day so there is that. And her lunches usually mirror Izzy’s lunch so hers are not as rushed to put together.

Side note: Isabelle has told me she gets to explain her lunch to the kids seated around her since most of the kids are used to seeing sandwiches and lunchables. So far, she doesn’t seem too concerned that her lunch is very different because she loves them. How do I keep her my confidant and well-adjusted six-year-old?! Not looking forward to when other people’s opinions affect her.

Twas the Night Before School

Exciting times at our house. Isabelle has been counting down the days until school begins again. After camping we spent the day getting prepped for the big day. Which meant lunch packing, snack prep, double checking the backpack, etc.

So here it is my first grader’s lunch for the first two days of school:

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Peanut butter and blueberry jam lettuce wraps, plums, carrots, and cherry tomatoes.

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Pizza wraps (pepperoni, cheese, sauce, olives, pineapple and spinach), grapes, broccoli, and a peanut butter ball.

Izzy gets a snack at school as well which is parent provided for their child only. While this is a bit of a hassle because I have to prep a snack in addition to lunches I’m glad that she won’t be getting fruit snacks every single day. And because the snack is eaten in the classroom it has to be nut-free. We are so not nut-free! The girls’ favorite snack is trail mix so nut-free is not for us. Anyways, we made our own sunflower seed butter to assist in the snack process and that was no easy feat. My food processor did not appreciate the continuous processing to try to get the sunbutter smooth. Eventually, we got it smooth enough and I put it on celery with cranberries and cacao nibs. The other snack options are grapes and a seed trail mix (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, roasted edamame, and raisins).

Since it was our first day home after camping we had soup for dinner. Predictable but delicious!

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Side salads as usual. The soup is a veggie mixed bean soup filled with green beans, broccoli, onions, yellow squash, and peas. In mine and Brian’s I added cheeze sauce (milk and nutritional yeast) to make it cheezey vegetable soup. Mmmm. Also made for a delicious breakfast!

Enjoying my Girls

Yesterday the girls went to the dentist. Poor Izzy’s teeth are a mess and braces are definitely in her future. We took advantage of being in Tacoma on a sunny day and visited the Tacoma Nature Center. The place was really fun. We walked some trails, saw some turtles, and the girls played on a natural scapes playground. We finished our adventure with a picnic lunch alongside the beginning of the trail.

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I’m pretty lucky that I get to have lunch daily with these cuties. We packed carrots and cauliflower, grapes, yogurt with blackberries, and peanut butter balls. Once school starts I’m so going to miss this.

After all our outside time that morning you’d think the girls would be done but since it was such a nice day they wanted to run through the sprinkler. I got distracted being outside with them and came in to quick prep dinner. Dinner was going to be yellow squash pesto noodles which since there is no actual cooking required should have been a breeze to get on the table. I say should have because when I went to shred my yellow squash into noodles I found out it was much more like a winter squash than a summer squash. Meaning there were sizeable seeds inside and it needed to be peeled and cooked in order for us to eat it. Hmm… not quite the quick prep dinner I was hoping for. What to do, what to do? Well, I had some roasted cauliflower in the fridge so I changed dinner to roasted cauliflower, shredded carrot, and chicken pesto bowls.

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Homemade dairy-free pesto! This version was a little different since I used toasted walnuts and added some spinach. It’s been awhile since I made my own pesto and both girls noticed the difference immediately (read: didn’t love) from the store-bought variety they have become accustomed to (oops!). I loved the pesto and had some on my breakfast. Since there is no cheese the basil flavor comes through even more and I really like basil (and most other herbs!).

I am really relishing these last few lunches with both my girls. We had errands to do this morning but made it home in time for me to make salads to go along with the items I had hurriedly packed this morning just in case.

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These salads were so good loaded with veggies and next to them a hard-boiled egg, bean salad, and an apple.

Earlier this week I mentioned the girls requesting salads for this week’s menu. Lunch included both bean and greens salads so for snack I made fruit salad (Lexi’s request). The fruit salad has apples, nectarines, grapes, and blackberries. I drizzled a honey lemon dressing over the top and mix it all together. Fruit salad was topped a with a little yogurt and I baked up some homemade tortillas for little chips.

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Fruit salad is a big win. Homemade chips equally as good.

Last night’s dinner loss (i.e. yellow squash) was tonight’s dinner win. I cut and peeled the squash and roasted it. After a small break the veggie bowl made its way back into our lives. We grilled broccoli, okra, onions, and power greens to go with the squash. The bowls had barley at the bottom and were topped with a cherry tomato cilantro salsa. The salsa brought a fresh summer feel to the veggie bowls.

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Veggie bowls were a welcome change from all the raw salads we’ve been having. Cilantro salsa helped take these bowls from fall to summer. The squash did have me thinking ahead to fall and I can’t wait for veggie bowls to make a regular appearance on our menu.

No Toast French Toast

French toast, a kids favorite. I have very fond memories of eating french toast for breakfast as a kid and it was a regular on our breakfast rotation in times past. Nowadays the girls will randomly suggest it for breakfast but I often shut it down so we don’t start the day off on a bad note (see: tummyaches before lunch!). I wondered if there was a way I could make french toast without actually using toast and I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin for squash french toast. It’s basically zucchini pancakes but with cinnamon and vanilla to up the french toastness of it.

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The girls called it pancakes but they did really like it. The egg and cinnamon really do add to the french toast flavor even if it doesn’t look like french toast.

For lunch we had vegetable tacos. Cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and peppers with taco seasonings. We ate these in lettuce with a side of lentils and some mango.

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Lunch love! The girls managed to eat these without making a huge mess and Lexi was convinced she needed more.

Over the weekend we camped for one night in Yakima. Since we were in eastern Washington there was a no campfire burn ban in effect. Nobody really talked about s’mores but on our drive home the girls kept playing that they were making s’mores and marshmallows for their toys. I think they realized they had missed out on some camping s’mores. Since then, I’d been thinking how we could recreate them at home (and no, not in the microwave). I searched my recipes and found this for peanut butter s’more bites. It’s marshmallows cut in half, spread with peanut butter, and dipped in chocolate. I coated our bites with actual graham cracker crumbs.

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In addition, I made some apples the same way. These were tasty but maybe a little too indulgent. I guess that is what s’mores are all about.

Tonight was girls only dinner. Brian got Mariners baseball tickets from work so he ate dinner there. It’s been a little while since we had a girls only dinner and nobody had ideas of what they wanted. Eventually, we came up with chicken nuggets. Not just any chicken nuggets, homemade chicken nuggets! The chicken nuggets are coated with almond and walnut meal, flax seeds, and some herbs. Also they were baked and not fried.

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Since I was baking the chicken nuggets I made some kale chips to go with it. Raw vegetables rounded out dinner. The girls have finally come around to homemade chicken nuggets! They used to not really like my homemade ones and preferred the store-bought junk filled kind (story of just about everything!). The less I feed them that stuff the more they come around to the homemade stuff. Macaroni and cheese, though, that is a battle I may never win. Kids and their love for chicken nuggets, macaroni, and french toast. What’s with it?!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The girls and I went to the Tacoma Rainiers game today. We’ve been waiting for a day game that worked for our schedule all summer and today was the day! I love watching baseball! It’s more of an outing for me that the girls can have fun at too. The game was at 11:35 am so there was no way around lunching at the game.

Before we could go anywhere we had banana nut porridge for breakfast. There are very few ingredients in this porridge. Some soaked nuts, a banana, almond milk, and cinnamon. All that gets processed in the food processor until smooth and then warmed up. While it’s warming the porridge thickens up a bit.

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This breakfast tasted similar to cream of wheat (in texture too) but it was wheat free (yay!). The girls liked it and I like that the recipe makes enough for two days worth of breakfast. So we started the day off right in anticipation of the goodies we would get at the game.

As I said, being an 11:35 game, there was no way around eating lunch at the stadium.

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Here’s the girls with their “main” portion of lunch. Lexi had a bunless hotdog and Izzy got the best deal in the park, a beef taco (fresh lettuce, cheese, salsa that they put on right in front of you!) for $2.50. Seriously, they sell anything in the stadium for $2.50?! It looked amazing but I didn’t get a bite so I’ll take her word that it was good. I snuck in (yep, I’m a rebel) an apple and a small bag of raw veggies. It’s not like there is anywhere you can purchase those items in the park. In addition, we snacked on popcorn and peanuts (peanuts were my lunch, ha, that’s how many I ate). Popcorn was crazy salty and we could only get through half of it. It also is what I believe did in Lexi’s tummy. She had a slight tummyache when we got home.

For dinner we did a repeat of tuna salads from last week. There was a little wild caught tuna leftover from last week so I added that and some avocado with pretty much the same stuff as before. Nobody minded the repeat since it was so yummy the first time. Plus, with Lexi’s tummy and our baseball food, salad seemed like the best option. Raw food helps heal the tummy.

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Sadly, that is all the wild caught tuna we have so we won’t be experiencing the yumminess of this salad again in the near future. Do you think I will be more inspired this week to make something other than salad for my family? I’m not sure, I don’t have a meal plan yet but in the morning I am going to try my hand at french “toast” with no toast and squash instead. We will see if it is kid approved or not. Seems like not, but since going mostly grain free the girls are much more open to my kitchen creations. Squash french toast, oh yes I’m going there!

Grilling Streak

Three nights in a row, I busted out the grill! Last night I made steaks, leeks, green beans, and wilted super greens. I also grilled granola bars and nut granola. That brings the grilled eats to just about everything: veggies, meat, eggs, cookies, granola bars, and nuts.

Dinner was delicious. I put some feta on Brian’s steak and added sungold cherry tomatoes to everyone’s plate.

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I missed taking a picture but I put my steak on super greens, topped with chopped broccoli, the tomatoes, some of the grilled granola, and a cocoa chili dressing. AMAZING! The granola and cocoa chili dressing added something very special to the steak salad.

The granola bars and granola were a little overcooked (so hard to keep watch when it’s on the grill!). But they are both still pretty tasty. I’m hoping the granola bars will come in handy for our weekend adventure. We are planning on going to Yakima and camping for a night and then heading to Mount Rainier on Sunday on our way back home. Car trips and mountain hikes seem like granola bar activities.

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I considered going for a four night streak of grilling since I was going to bake sweet potato fries. They would have been delicious on the grill but I just couldn’t bring myself to put in the extra work of heading outside to start the grill. Shoot, I barely found a chance to heat my oven to put the fries in. The girls and I were engrossed in a tie dye craft session as well as me trying to do a million other things from being gone all day. Before we started our crafting I mixed up this blackeye pea salad. I’m very stuck on salad right now as that’s pretty much all I want to make or eat. The blackeye peas added a new twist and were very well received by the fam. And, anything next to sweet potato fries is a win.

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Big bowl of blackeye pea salad. As long as there is a ton of veggies and beans mixed together in a big bowl I figure we have enough food for dinner.

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It may not seem like much but the salad is packed full of broccoli, greens, tomatoes, onions, and blackeye peas.

Vacation bible school is going really well and is proving excellent practice for school. Despite having to drive to the same location multiple times per day I’m doing ok with it. The girls are loving it and Lexi wishes she could stay for as long as Izzy does. But Lexi and I have been using our time to do things we wouldn’t normally do. Such as, I took a nap with her two days this week! And today I took her to dance class on her own and to a new park to play. Since the camp is all week long I’ve had a chance to go for mid morning runs, do some shopping, and even sit child free in a coffee shop. Thank goodness for things going well, I was very nervous on Monday (more so than the girls!). Tomorrow is a half day for both girls so today was Izzy’s last packed lunch:

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Grilled egg cup, sungold cherry tomatoes, carrots, peaches, and a broccoli, carrot, beet slaw. Lexi had the slaw yesterday for lunch. Both girls adored the slaw.

A lot of planning has gone into this week. From packing all the lunches and breakfasts to remembering my workout clothes, towel, shopping lists, sunscreen, etc. Each night I’ve been having a major prep session for the next day but that is my tendency anyway. I’m a planner so I do my planning for the day ahead and try to embrace the things that come up that I didn’t plan for (need lots of practice with that). With all the thinking about the week I’ve hardly had a chance to figure out what needs to get done so we can leave Saturday morning for our weekend adventures. That’s what tomorrow is for. Packing, cooking, planning, and enjoying the afternoon at home. In anticipation of our travels, I’m going to make a chocolate cookie with some very interesting ingredients. Hopefully, I’ll have a good post with that tomorrow. =)

Practice for School

Vacation bible school is this week! Lexi attends from 8:45 to 11:30 every day and Isabelle attends from 8:45 to 3 pm. When I signed them up I was not so sure about the extended day for Isabelle but then I figured it will be a good practice week for us to see what it will be like when she is gone all day at school in just one short month. Isabelle did a VBS a few years ago and loved it so I was just waiting for Lexi to be old enough to attend one as well so they could both go. As the youngest, I worry Lexi gets short-changed a lot and is stuck watching her sister do fun stuff or is being dragged around to Isabelle’s activities. Mindful of that, we skipped the last few years of VBS.

Since Isabelle is there all day she needs to bring a lunch. Practice for me to get lunches ready for her and for Brian each day since that is exactly what it will be like come back to school. At least I still get Lexi to eat lunch with. I’m a huge fan of prepping more than one day’s lunch at a time and having a few options at the ready for her to grab and go. With that in mind I packed three lunches to start us off:

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Leftover vegetable nachos, strawberries, and roasted almonds with chocolate chips.

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Peanut butter banana muffins (amazing 5 ingredient recipe with no sugar or grains!), carrots, and apple slices.

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Peanut butter and jelly in lettuce, carrot, cucumber, pickle, apple slices, and a small no bake granola bar.

She went with the muffins for today’s lunch. The method seems workable. I can tell you I feel a lot better knowing I only need to come up with one more lunch for the week (early release on Friday) and hopefully I can fill that in with leftovers. Plus, since I’m already doing the prep work Lexi’s lunches are somewhat made already too since they match what Isabelle has. Isabelle said she was nice and full from lunch and finished everything. She did notice that every other kid had a sandwich, though. That, I’m sure, will be very typical of her lunch experiences.

For dinner tonight we had a grilled vegetable salad bowl. I grilled zucchini and yellow squash, corn, peas, and onions. Over the weekend I made some lentils in anticipation of lunches or whatever so we mixed those in with the vegetables, added some tomatoes, and this vegan green goddess dressing. The dressing was a great added touch since it was made with avocado.

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We may have been a little too full to adequately enjoy these veggie bowls because while they were cooking I was mixing up almond thumbprint cookie dough to cook on the grill after dinner.  The cookie dough was so yummy and very, very filling since it is made primarily of almonds and almond butter.

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The thumbprint cookies are topped with cherry chia jam and a few just have chocolate chips. These cookies do have a bit of brown rice flour in them but they are sweetened with only honey, yay!. They are yummy but very filling. I like cookies like that, when you can eat just one but be completely satisfied that you don’t feel the need to eat more and more.

All in all, a pretty good little Monday. Maybe back to school won’t be so scary after all? Not likely, I was so nervous for both girls to be away from home today, that may not change.

 

Salad in Various Forms

We had a couple of types of salad today. Salad being my favorite, I love when I can get the girls to eat a salad as well. Granted neither of these salads were lettuce green salads but they were filled with veggies so I’m not complaining.

Both girls had swim lessons followed by dance class this morning so we ended up eating lunch in stages. Also, Lexi was incessantly hungry today so maybe she is growing? Breaking up lunch into 3 mini meals/snacks seemed better than filling her with snacks so she wouldn’t be hungry for the good stuff in the main meal. While we waited for dance class to begin the girls shared a peach. Two girls in cute dance outfits sharing a very juicy peach is pretty funny. With every bite I’m cautioning them to not drip peach juice all over their outfits. After dance they got their side of veggies with hummus as a snack on the way home.

I figured it would be a little hectic with both activities this morning and then getting home in time to make a decent lunch so I prepared this tabouli last night. Completely grain-free and could not be easier! It has tomatoes, peas, cucumber, onions, parsley, and hulled hemp hearts. Isabelle loves this kind of thing. Give her some veggies mixed together with some spices, herbs, and olive oil and she is a happy girl.

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Next to the tabouli they had red cabbage and gluten-free pretzels. We tried them at Costco and really enjoyed them. While they are not the healthiest thing in the world I like that they are gluten-free. I’d like to put as little gluten in my family as possible but still enjoy the occasional thing like pretzels. These pretzels are super crunchy and we didn’t feel like we were missing out one bit!

The girls and I went on a shopping adventure today. We planned on going to Target to pick up a backpack and some shirts to tye-dye later, that’s it. Target, so dangerous! We came out with all of Izzy’s school supplies and some extra stuff. They hooked me with their low prices that I just got everything at once. All the unexpected purchases led to us getting home late (after Brian!). Mexican bean salad had already been prepared and was waiting for us when we got home. The recipe is heavily adapted to include kale, broccoli, less peppers, no corn, and light on the spices. The mix of beans, onions, garlic, oil, vinegar, and spices is so good. Again, right up Isabelle’s alley. Lexi  surprised me as she was very excited to put her bean salad in a lettuce wrap like I did. Most of the salad fell out but at least she got some bonus greens in.

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Simple dinner of carrot sticks, bean salad with avocado and cashew cheeze sauce (adults only), and homemade tortilla chips. Lexi finished this up quick and was worried I was giving all the leftovers to Brian for lunch tomorrow. Not to worry, sweet Lexi, mommy saved you some Mexican bean salad. As I said she was ultra hungry today so after she finished dinner in record time she asked for more bean salad. I love that my kids love stuff like this. It’s good that we all get to eat these delicious nutritious meals together instead of me making this for the adults and feeding chicken nuggets to the kiddos (I used to do that at least weekly).

Guess what else…..I made peanut butter cookies! Must share this later as it was my first real attempt to recreate my favorite cookie of times past.