Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

Trying to get your kids to drink more water? Me too. I can tell they haven’t been drinking enough when they are spending more “personal time” in the bathroom trying to do their business. Also without enough water, they seem to be crankier, tireder, and their skin is more dull. (Or maybe that was me…)

Anyway, here’s what I do to coax a little more liquid consumption:

Make herbal tea with raw honey.
Tea party? Sign them up! Even the boys like a treat in a cup. We do caffeine-free varieties like Chamomile or Peppermint. Here is one of my favorite blends:

 

Take water on the go in a toxin-free container.
Like the 50/50 stainless steal cups. We love these, and they keep the beverage cold (or hot) ALL DAY LONG.

Use ingestable essential oils to flavor water.
My favorites: spearmint, lemon, grapefruit, Citrus Fresh. Order individually or with membership here. I recommend membership for the savings and perks, and I offer a private wellness mentoring group for those who order with me.

Make a slushy drink.
The crushed ice is water, afterall! Our favorite recipe:
2 cups crushed ice, from our freezer crushed-ice feature
2 cups filtered water
Juice of 5 fresh limes
1/4-1/2 cup honey
3-4 drops Lime Vitality essential oil
handful spearmint leaves (optional)
Blend well in blender, serve immediately.

At home, designate toxin-free water cups for each child.
Label with a marker and keep near the water supply. Some of our favorite cups: handled jars and stainless steel.

A Little Something [Honey Brittle]

20121116-141850.jpg
Sometimes I just need a little something. A little dessert garnish, a little protein snack, a little candy on a stick, a little caramel drizzle.
Here is a little recipe. Three ingredients. But you could use it for many different things.

Honey Brittle (or taffy, or caramel)
1 stick Unsalted organic butter (can substitute 1/2 cup coconut oil if avoiding dairy)
2/3 cup raw honey
1/4 real salt

Melt together in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. When simmering, it will foam up; continue to whisk this down. Then when it starts to boil, it won’t foam quite as much, but keep whisking! You don’t want it to burn.

The length of boiling time will determine the texture of your finished product. On my stove, this is approximately:

1 minute: caramel
3-5 minutes: taffy (firm but stretches when cold)
5-7 minutes: toffee (hard when kept in fridge, will crack with jagged edges)

If you are whisking the whole time, you won’t be in danger of burning any but the toffee. In the past I’ve tried the hard ball/ soft ball/drop in water technique, but it’s failed me. So I watch the color; light caramel color for caramel, beginning to change to brown for taffy, and fully golden brown (toffee color!) for toffee. (Oh yeah, some people use a candy thermometer…maybe I’ll get one sometime…)

I’ve been making this a lot this fall. Isn’t caramel just a fall flavor?? Love it! Here’s how I use it:

Caramel
Pour hot into a glass bowl and refrigerate 1hour, serve with dipping apples.
Drizzle over mulled cider.
Drizzle into homemade ice cream with pecans.

Taffy
Wrap in individual papers (baking paper cut in squares).
Make nut power bars: when pulling from heat, mix in 1/2lb each cashews and almonds, and 1 cup raisins (or craisins would be great). Press into a greased glass baking pan (9×13), cut into squares when cool and wrap in paper with twine ties. Here is a picture of them in a jar in my pantry, waiting to be snacks for Friday School.

20121116-143658.jpg

Brittle
Toffee bits/pieces for garnish: Spread thin on a large papered baking sheet, top with Himalayan Salt, and freeze 1 hour, then crack.
Nuts may be added to the above for nut brittle.
Toffeed pecans: cut honey brittle recipe in half to candy coat 1lb of nuts. Separate before cooling or you’ll have a chunk. Cinnamon is a possible addition.
Toffee on a Lolly: pour 1 batch of honey brittle into two sprayed ice cube trays (16 count each, 32 total). Pop a small sized craft stick into each, and allow to cool to warm…pop each out and roll with squares of baking paper. Kids love these! For chocolate flavor, whisk in 1/3 cup cocoa powder after removing from heat.

20121116-142048.jpg

Winning Pie

20120916-072729.jpg
We went to a wedding last night; a friend got married in a park with a BBQ reception to follow. Fun, unique, and super casual. In lieu of serving wedding cake, they held an old fashioned pie contest.

Of course I couldn’t resist taking a couple entries, although I sometimes wish people understood how unfair it is to stack gluten-free, sugar-free baked goods against the “real” thing. Nonetheless, I wanted to have a couple of pie options which my kids could eat at the wedding, and when my oldest son heard that his friend Todd was planning to enter a pie, I suddenly had a band of eager kitchen helpers.

Roman helped me make a banana cream pie, GF and starch free, sweetened with honey, and topped with honey toffee bits. It was delicious, but unfortunately did not set up (without corn starch I tried increasing egg yolks, but it didn’t work). So we scooped all the banana cream “soup” out of the crust, and tried it a second time, with more yolks, and had something worth taking, although pretty running. It was still delicious and every bit was taken. And an scd friend gave me a good idea for how to make it more successfully in the future (folding a cooked custard into whipped cream rather than cooking the cream in the custard).

Because of all the uncertainty about the banana pie, I decided to make a second pie; chocolate peanut butter. Hudson helped stir and melt and press, so he was super excited to have his pie win 3rd place (out of about 30 homemade pies)!

20120916-074150.jpg

I was amazed at how well this pie crust held up, especially with the abuse of being used twice for the banana cream pie. Served well out of the pan, too.

SCD Pie Crust
Blend together:
1 packed cup blanched almond flour
1 Tb coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Add:
2 Tb soft butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 small egg
1/8-1/4 cup honey

Blend just till smooth, press into a greased pie plate, using seran to spread smoothly on bottom and sides.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown begins to show on edges, 10-12 minutes. Cool before filling.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Filling
Melt in double boiler:
10 oz. very dark chocolate

I don’t have an actual double boiler, but a glass Pyrex bowel over a saucepan of simmering water works great.

Spoon half of melted chocolate into pie crust and spread over bottom and sides of crust. Place pie pan in freezer to harden.

Using beaters, whip together:
3/4 cup soft creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2-3/4 cup honey

Spread over hardened chocolate, drizzle remaining melted chocolate in stripes over top of pie.

Baby Snacks

20120830-160240.jpg

With my first baby, I gave Cheerios to develop the “pincer” coordination. Nine years later, with my fifth baby, it’s organic raisins.

She began eating solids last month at eight months of age. Bone broth/veggie soup, egg yolk, avocado, and banana were the first foods…but she has liked everything I give her from our plates. She’s now getting about half her calories from breastmilk and the other half from food, I’m guessing. Happy and healthy!

Chocolate Cupcakes (GAPS, SCD)

ImageThis recipe was a real hit for my two year old’s birthday! I developed it from a family recipe which has held many, many candles since I was a kid, and even before I was born. This new version is just as tender, but with less sweetness as I substituted honey for sugar.

Image
This cake has a great crumb for a flourless cake!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Melt in saucepan:
1 stick butter
2 Tb. water
6 Tb. cocoa powder

Pulse/mix in Cuisinart with blade:
3 packed cups almond flour (fine, blanched)
2 Tb. coconut flour
1/2 tsp. salt (less if butter is salted)
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1 Tb. cinnamon

Add to dry:
butter/cocoa mixture
1 cup honey
1/2 cup yogurt (24 hour yogurt to keep this lactose free and GAPS/SCD approved)
1 1/2 droppers English Toffee flavored stevia (Sweet Leaf brand)
2 lg. eggs (I used duck eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend just until smooth. Divide into 2 paper lined cupcake pans (24 count). Bake @ 350 for 25 minutes.

Top with Cream Fraiche and/or Raspberry Compote:
1 1/2 fresh/frozen raspberries
1 Tb. honey
juice of 1 lime
Simmer on stove until reduced and thickened.

Pure Maple Sugar Candies

I found these delicious maple candies at my local Fred Meyer last December.

I was impressed that they are made from pure maple syrup. Maple Grove Farms also has other candies with blends of maple syrup and cane sugar, so choose carefully.

Of course this company also sells maple syrup, although not at the great prices of Amazon.com or Trader Joes.

To find a retailer in your area, you can check this page on the Maple Grove website.

Good Fat Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie to Die For (Gluten Free!)

I just made the most fantastic, tender yet crisp-edged and crumbly, peanut butter cookies. They are gluten free. They also have good fats. (And they do have sugar in them, so they are a “once in a while” treat.)

OK, so fat has a bad reputation, but the healthiest peoples of all time have savored fats and oils. We all need a balance of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. The difference between good fats and bad fats is the processing.

  • boiled and bleached coconut oil: bad
    VS.
    virgin unrefined coconut oil: good
  • butter from stall kept/medicated cows: bad
    VS.
    butter from grass fed healthy cows: good
  • Olive oil from sprayed fruit, heated process: bad
    VS.
    organic cold pressed olive oil: good

And of course, your kitchen is the final process: if you heat your oil above what it can handle, it quickly becomes a toxic fat. To read more about fats, check out this article on the Weston A. Price site: The Skinny on Fats.

So, give me the peanut butter cookie recipe already, right? OK, here it is:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Preheat convection oven to 320 degrees, or set it at 345 degrees if your oven is like mine and automatically heats the oven 25 degrees less when in convection mode. Why 320? Peanut oil should not be heated above this temperature.

In medium bowl, mix together:
1 cup organic sugar
1 TB molasses (or decrease sugar to 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and omit molasses)
1/2 cup organic creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1 stick organic butter, at room temperature (or 1/2 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, and over-measure the salt)
1 large pastured egg

In separate bowl, whisk together, then add to wet ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups Bronwyn’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (see below)
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum, heaping
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2  tsp. baking powder, non-aluminum
1/4 tsp. unrefined fine salt, such as RealSalt

When fully mixed, spoon out tablespoon sized pieces of dough, and roll in the palms of hands just until round (don’t handle too much or they begin to melt). Then roll tops in:

extra organic sugar for rolling

Two happy cookie-rolling helpers!

Place sugar side up on a baking stone. Use a fork to press a criss-cross pattern in the tops. The whole roll/ sugar/fork process is really fun for kids to help with!

Place full stone in your oven. Again, the oven should be 320 degrees and blowing, for an “equivalent” temperature of 345. This will not actually damage the peanut oil, but will allow the cookies to bake correctly. Leave them in for 10-12 minutes, or until you can see the edges starting to turn golden. Remove from oven, and leave on baking stone/tray for at least 5 minutes, until they have set, then move to cooling racks.

Makes approximately 30 cookies. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold, fresh, raw milk!

Bronwyn’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

1 part organic brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca flour

Xanthan Gum is required in all recipes with this flour, and should be whisked in prior to adding the flour to other ingredients. Here are the amounts needed for different types of baked goods.

Add per cup of All Purpose Flour used:
1/4 tsp. for cookies
1/2 tsp. for cakes
3/4 tsp. for muffins and quick breads
1-1 and 1/2 tsp. for breads
2 tsp. for pizza crust

I am linking to linky parties at theinspiredroom and at FunkyJunkInteriors.

Sweet Treats: Unrefined Sweeteners

It’s holiday time again, and if you’re like me, you’re thinking about making some sweet treats for family and friends.

Surprisingly, there are a bunch of great recipes which can be successfully made (and enjoyed!) with honey and maple syrup (and other whole food options) as the sweeteners, rather than white sugar. I have several which are my favorites . . . I’ll have to share them in time. For now, I’m excited to tell you about a blog my friend Krista writes: http://thenourishingapron.blogspot.com/ .

Every recipe on her blog is made without cane sugar, and she does a beautiful job of presenting her methods, always with a picture to get your mouth watering!

I just made her Protein Bars yesterday. They were super easy, no bake, and gluten free. Were they good? Well, they’re GONE! (Answer: Yes.)

Happy treat making!

Natural Egg Dyes

I’ve been intrigued by the idea making your own egg dyes from foods. Artificial dye isn’t a great thing for anyone to be eating, and although we don’t eat the egg shells, in years past some dye has soaked through the shells onto the hardboiled eggs. So this year I decided to try making my own dye.

First I hardboiled 9 white duck* eggs (I have a chicken egg allergy) and placed the boiled eggs into glass jars. Then I made these dyes:

  • yellow: orange peel boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • pink: the juice from a can of pickled beets
  • purple (blue?): several large purple cabbage leaves boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • orange: dried outer skins from several yellow onions boiled in 1.5 cups water, with 1.5 tsp. white vinegar added when dye is poured over eggs
  • brown: leftover strong coffee, with the grounds thrown in with the egg as well (I put some vinegar in with this for good measure, although some people don’t as the coffee should already be acidic enough to set the color)

We had several blue and green chicken eggs, as well as brown, which came ready-dyed from the hens. 🙂 So I decided not to attempt more blue and green colors. If you are wanting to add these colors then the following could be used:

  • blue: 1 cup frozen blueberries boiled in water, with 1 tsp. vinegar added for each cup water
  • green: spinach boiled in water, with 1 tsp. vinegar added for each cup water

You can see in my picture the array of colors in the jars. They are so jewel-like; the picture doesn’t do it justice. For several colors I did not have enough dye water to cover the eggs completely, so I stuffed some of the oranges, beets, and cabbage down around the eggs to raise the water level. Boiled orange peel smells heavenly . . . can’t say the same for the cabbage! 🙂

The eggs should be left in until you are happy with the amount of color, and then removed from the dye and dried with paper towels. It looks to me like the beet colored ones may be done tonight (after only 1-2 hours), but the rest will be going in the fridge in their dye overnight.

I will post a picture of the final product tomorrow!

My children thought the whole process was amazing, especially which kind of food we were using for each color. Of course, the event wasn’t the same as the dipping procedure we’ve done in the past . . . it’s more watch and wait, and less hands-on for the kids. (But it’s also less mess for mom to clean up!) They will get to help me pull the eggs out in the morning and dry them. If we had started earlier in the evening, we would have had time to use a white crayon to make designs on the eggs before their dye bath; maybe next year!

Update: Next Morning

Here is a picture of our eggs the next morning. (Left to right dyes: natural chicken blue eggs, orange peel, yellow onion skin, cabbage, beet juice, coffee -back, natural chicken brown -front.)

I was surprised that it wasn’t the beet juice that gave the strongest color, but the cabbage and onion dyes. I actually took the eggs out of the onion dye last night, leaving all the rest in overnight.

The yellow (orange peel) was a disapointment, with only a tinge of yellow staying on the eggs. Perhaps a naval orange isn’t the right kind of peel, but I think I’ll try paprika boiled in water next year.

We noticed that it was easy to make smudges on the eggs when blotting the eggs dry, so be careful, or rub with an intentional pattern in mind.

All in all, it was a colorful success!