Summer Coleslaw

I love salads in summer and I love to experiment with adding in different fruits and vegetables to mix it up at dinnertime.

Two weeks ago I put together this summer coleslaw and it’s been a favourite of ours ever since.  While the kids aren’t going crazy over it (“What is the purple stuff?”), Tom and I are eating it even for breakfast.

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Salad Ingredients

1/2 purple cabbage, shredded

6 large carrots, shredded

1 large gala apple, chopped thinly

1/2 c pumpkin seeds

1/2 c raisins (or cranberries)

Dressing Ingredients

1/3 c olive oil

1/4 c rice vinegar

2 large tbsp homemade mayonnaise

Directions

Just mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and serve.

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Easy Homemade Mayonnaise

Today I want to share with you a simple recipe to make homemade mayonnaise.  Confession: I really like am obsessed with mayo.  It’s so delicious.  So creamy.  And so great to add on burgers, as a dipping sauce, or as a base for salad dressings.  The problem with store-bought mayo is that it’s full of disgusting additives and has a ridiculously long shelf life (months or years, depending on what you read).  So, for a while now I’ve made my own homemade mayonnaise.

But here’s the problem with traditional homemade mayonnaise.  It takes forever to make and is so easy to ruin.  Either my right arm would get tired from whisking.  Or my left arm would get tired from holding the measuring cup while it drip…drip…drip….drips oil into the mixing bowl.  Or I would get 3/4 of the way through making it and suddenly the mayonnaise stops emulsifying and done – your mayonnaise is a sloppy mess.  So frustrating!

So, I happened across this ridiculously easy way to make homemade mayonnaise that literally takes less than 30 seconds.  Maybe even less than 15.  It was so quick that I didn’t bother to count.

Ingredients for Homemade Mayonnaise

Ingredients for Homemade Mayonnaise

Ingredients

1 cup oil (I use equal parts avocado oil and olive oil)

1 egg

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp grainy mustard

Kitchen Tools

1 immersion blender

1 large mouth mason jar (you could use a bowl I suppose but this way I just screw the top on the mason jar and stick it in the fridge)

Directions

1.  Put all ingredients into mason jar.

2.  Place immersion blender into the mason jar so that it touches the bottom.

3.  Start to blend but keep the immersion blender on the bottom until half of the mayonnaise is emulsified.

4.  Start to slowly move the immersion blender up and down until all mayonnaise is made.

5.  You’re done.  How easy is that?

I threw together a video because it was this easy!  And also because I promised myself I would make more videos this year.  I’ve made two.  Which is two more than last year so I’m reaching my goal.  🙂

Want to amp it up a bit with your mayo?  Here are some great ways to make mayo an “any day event” in your home.

  • mix in a little sriracha sauce for some heat as a great dipping sauce for meats or seafood (mmmm, shrimp)
  • add in your fav spices for a veggie dip sauce
  • use it as a base for a creamy salad dressing
  • throw it in either a potato, chicken or egg salad

Homemade Almond Milk

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This recipe is honestly so simple.  It is milky, creamy, and delicious.  It is also so much better than the tetra pack almond milks you can grab at any grocery store.  One of the challenges with buying store-bought almond milk (and other non-dairy milks) is that they contain added sugars and another nasty ingredient called carrageenan.  Without going into too much detail (you can get all the rest of the story on carageenan HERE), it’s massive drawback is that it has been linked to causing inflammation of your digestive tract.

So, homemade it is, right?

Tastes great?  Check.

Easy to make?  Check.

Healthier than store-bought almond milk?  Check.  Allright, let’s make it then.

Ingredients

1 cup almonds (raw)

2 cups water (plus more to soak the almonds in)

1 tsp pure vanilla

cheesecloth

measuring cup

glass bottle

Directions

1.  Soak the almonds in a glass bowl overnight or up to two days. (the longer you soak, the creamier the milk!)

2.  Drain and rinse almonds.

3.  Place almonds in blender with two cups of water.  Blend on high for about 90 seconds or until almonds are well ground down.

4.  Place cheese cloth over mouth of measuring cup and pour about 1/3 cup of the milk and almond mix on top.  Squeeze the cheese cloth to strain all the milk into the measuring cup and keep the almond meal in the cheese cloth.  Place the almond meal aside and continue to strain the milk until finished.

5.  Pour milk into glass bottle and enjoy.

So, what do you use the almond meal for?  Easy – baking.  I place the remaining almond meal on a baking sheet and dry it out for about 2 hours at 200F.  Then the creativity starts!  Use it in any recipe that calls for almond flour.  Because it tends to be a bit more “mealy” than almond flour purchased at the store, I like using it in either muffins or cookies where consistency isn’t crucial.

Soup Swap

So I’ve been invited to a Soup Swap tomorrow.  I’m very excited about this for two reasons.

1.  I love soup.

2.  The host is serving wine.

Oh and there is a third reason.

3.  I’m going without my kids.

So I have three fantastic reasons to get together with five other awesome women and swap soups.   It’s a very simple concept.  Each woman prepares a big vat of a soup of their choice.  We make enough soup to provide one Mason jar of soup to each of the other woman in attendance.  Essentially I bring five litres of soup and I leave with five litres of soup.  But I get to bring home five different types of soup.  Fun, right?

[Side Note: I now totally get why my brother guffawed – yes GUFFAWED – when I mentioned that I was going to a soup swap….yes, Chris, it does sound like a “classic cliche mom thing to do”.]

Fun Fact:  January 25, 2014 is the National Soup Swap Day.  

So I made a Coconut Curry Vegetable soup that is awesome.  It was pretty basic, I just went into our crisper and found some vegetables that would work well together.  This recipe makes just over 5 litres (to be exact, it made 5 litres and 2 bowl-fuls).

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Total Prep Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

3 litres chicken stock

1 litre coconut milk, full fat

2 zucchinis, med size

1 large yellow onion

2 carrots

1 butternut squash, med size

1 bell pepper, your colour of choice

6 cloves garlic

1/4 c honey

Spices:  curry (3 tbsp), onion powder (3 tbsp) garlic powder (2 tbsp), salt, pepper.  Or just add as much of each as you like.

Directions

1.  Put oven on broil.

2.  Skin and chop all vegetables into small pieces.

3.  Place vegetables and fresh garlic on cooking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

4.  Broil vegetables on high for 10 minutes, or until roasted.

5.  Heat chicken stock and coconut milk in large soup pot, bringing to boil.

6.  Once vegetables are roasted, add them to the soup broth.

7.  Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.

8.  Blend soup with immersion blender until smooth.

9.  Add spices and honey as well as salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well.

10.  Divide into Mason jars and enjoy the remainder.  🙂

Ready for the soup swap!

Ready for the soup swap!

Fall Foodie

Oh how I love fall. I love everything about it. I saw a great Facebook update yesterday (the first official day of fall) that said “What does fall mean to me? It means a change in temperature. Switching from chilled white wine to room temp. red”.

I concur. Mmmmmm, red wine.

I also love the change in outside temperature too. The cooler weather means jeans and sweaters, which I love. I love throwing on the long pants and long shirt for a run. And in the early morning, I can even add a hat.

I love the changing colours outside too. There is the most beautiful maple tree on our street that changes to this vibrant red earlier than the other trees in our neighbourhood. It’s stunning against the blue sky. I look forward to it changing each year. And as the rest of the trees follow suit, and their leaves fall to the ground, I have such great memories of my kids throwing them up into the air.

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Fall also means fun in the kitchen. Being a fall foodie is the best. Apples. Squashes. Cranberries. Sweet potatoes. Pears. Pumpkin. And all of the flavours that go along with these foods – cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Soups and chilis are back in style. Apple crisps and ciders. Zucchini muffins. Comfort foods.

An easy fall recipe for you….

Baked Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients:

4 apples (diced)

3 tbsp butter

2 tsp Cinnamon

Method:

Dice up apples into bite sized pieces. Melt butter in pan. Add apples to pan and saute for about 8 minutes. Add cinnamon with one minute to go.

Serve up hot. To indulge, add a tough of high fat cream. Mmmmmm.

 

 

Nut free Snacks? No problem.

We’re into the final part in a four part series of our eat by design school lunch series.  You can check out the previous steps here:

A Full Fridge

School Lunch Basics

Making Lunch Fun

Okay, okay.  Yes, if we get the kids to eat the proteins, veggies, fruits, and fats it’s awesome.  But they are kids.  And at school they are surrounded by other kids.  Other kids with lunch boxes that contain candy, chocolate chip cookies, chips, chocolate bars, crackers, and other things that just don’t equate in my world to stuff I want my kids eating.

Case in point.  I took this picture at the grocery store the other day.  What used to be on the shelves for one day a year, is now marketed towards kids and their parents for back to school “treats”.

Gross, right?

Gross, right?

I don’t know about you but if a big box of 95 candy bars are in my home, most will be consumed in a short amount of time.  That’s why I don’t keep them in the house.  Period.

Here are my food rules.  I want my kids to grow up with an appreciation for good food. I want my kids to grow up with the understanding of why we choose to eat healthy food.  I want my kids to grow up with a healthy relationship with food.  But I also remember what it’s like to be a kid, see lots of other kids (if not every other kid) with a treat in their lunch box, and be happy that I have a treat too.

So, I feel like part of my compromise with Eating by Design is that I give my kids something that makes them smile each time they open their lunch box.  They may be healthier versions of a treat but they are still a treat.  The first goal of eating by design is to eat real food.   To me that means that I choose whole foods over and above processed ones.  But the 80/20 rule means that I send a treat in my kids’ lunch boxes.

[Side note: Eat by Design recipes are very similar to Paleo recipes.  One of my biggest beef with many paleo bloggers and foodies is that they have tried to “paleoize” some of the worst foods on the planet – doughnuts for example.  I eat by design because it’s the way I was designed to eat.  My body functions at its absolute best when it’s fed eat by design foods.  It does not function well on a paleo doughnut.  Stepping off soapbox now.]

Back to my kids lunch boxes….

Some of the treats that my kids and I agree upon are:

  • nut-free homemade granola bars
  • homemade dark chocolate bark
  • by design muffins
  • by design cookies
  • nut-free trail mix
  • fruit leather  (how easy is this!!)

You’ll notice I keep mentioning “nut free”.  Of course any parent sending their kids to school these days knows of “peanut free” or “nut free” schools.  This hampers some of the treats I make at home, including granola bars & trail mix because nuts are completely out of the question.  Here’s the good thing – seeds are okay.  So is coconut.  So, stick with those two base ingredients for treats and you’re golden.

EBD Granola Bars

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(modified from Paleo Chewy Granola Bars from PaleoMom)

  • 2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup pepitas
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil  melted
  • ¼ cup sunflower butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1½ Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup your favorite chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.)

1.    Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease a 9”x13” baking pan with coconut oil.
2.    Mix ground flax seed with water and let sit for 3-4 minutes.
3.    Pulse pepitas in a food processor a couple of times to break up to the size of sunflower seeds.
4.    Add coconut oil, almond butter, eggs, honey and vanilla to flax goop and mix well.
5.    Add coconut flour and baking soda and stir to combine.
6.    Add shredded coconut, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chocolate chips and dried fruit.  Stir to combine.
7.    Spoon batter into prepared baking pan.  Spread out and flatten well with your hand or the back of a spatula.
8.    Bake for 22-23 minutes, until golden brown.  They will puff up slightly while baking, so immediately after removing from the oven, flatten the bars with the back of a spatula (or something else heat resistant and flat).
9.    Let cool completely in pan before cutting into bars (I actually like to refrigerate before cutting).  Cut into bars (I usually get 18-20) and wrap individual bars in plastic wrap.  I prefer to store these in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Bark

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I don’t make this often because it doesn’t last long.  It’s that freakn’ good.

  • 2 c dark chocolate
  • 2 1/2 c of add-ins (raisins, cranberries, coconut, bacon [oh yes, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it], goji berries, pepitas, etc.)
  • coconut oil

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  While melting, grease an 8×12 dish with coconut oil.  Pour melted chocolate into dish and sprinkle add-ins on top evenly.  Let cool completely and break apart.

By Design Banana Muffins 

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My favourite EBD muffin is the Simple Blueberry Muffin by Paleomg but they contain almond butter and almond flour so they are out for school lunches.  But honestly, they are awesome for breakfast or snack around the house.

So I give you a delicious (modified) banana bread recipe, which I make into muffins, from Civilized Caveman instead.  A note on using sunflower butter.  When heated & combined with baking soda, sunflower butter turns green so if your muffins have a greenish tinge, it’s all good.  Eat and enjoy.

  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c sunflower butter
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Combine your bananas, eggs, and nut butter, and grass-fed butter in a bowland mix well (if using a mixing bowl I use a hand mixer)
  3. Once all of your ingredients are blended, add in your coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt and mix well
  4. Grease a 9×5 glass pan with a fat of your choice (I used coconut oil). If you use a metal pan it will probably bake in 35-40 minutes so start checking at 35 to ensure the middle stays moist
  5. Pour in your batter and spread it evenly throughout
  6. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  7. Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling rack
  8. Slice and serve

Ginger Cookies from Paleo Parents

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  • 1/2 c sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 c grass-fed butter
  • 1/4 c soaked dates
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/3 C coconut flour
  • 1/3 c tapioca flour (not by design….it’s a compromise)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 oz (1/3 c) crystallized ginger, diced finely diced

1.  Combine wet ingredients in food processor

2.  Add dry ingredients except for ginger to wet ingredients and pulse until combined.

3.  Fold in crystallized ginger.

4.  Form balls with your hand, about the size of a tablespoon

5.  Set dough balls on cookie sheet and press down with palm of hand to flatten.

6.  Bake at 325 for 10-14 minutes.

7.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

EBD Trail Mix

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I make a batch of this and keep it in a large mason jar in our fridge.  So delicious and easy to grab a handful for a snack.

  • 1 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c pepitas
  • 1/2 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c sesame seeds
  • 1/3 c cranberries (or raisins, dried banana chips, dried apple chips, etc.)
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips

Mix together and enjoy.  If you want some flavour changes, roast the pepitas on a frying pan for 10 minutes at 325 with a bit of cinnamon.

So, there you have it.  Some treat recipes to add into your kids lunches.  I hope this series of posts has helped in getting your kids lunches prepped.  I love the conversations that have evolved from friends, emails, comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in the office as a result of these posts.

Parents, know that you’re not alone when it comes to feeling overwhelmed with healthy school lunches!  You’re in great company!  Keep evolving.  Try new recipes.  Get your kids involved.  And remember…even if something bombs with your family, it’s a step in the right direction.  And that direction is BETTER HEALTH.  And you’re a rock star for starting a movement in your own home towards it.

Making Lunch Fun

So after yesterday’s post, I hope it’s made it is easier to imagine how to create a healthy, by design lunch for kids.  Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s make it fun for kids. Remember, the basics are protein, veggies, fruits, and fats.  It can maybe appear boring but there are lots of ways to make food combinations and/or create funky ways for the food to be presented that makes the kids smile when they open up their lunch box. Here are some ideas:

  • Roll up the all-natural cold cuts with avocado, Julienne vegetables, cheese (if you choose to eat that, we rarely do), mustard, or other fillings.  Think of ham & pineapple, chicken & guacamole, turkey slices rolled with red pepper, or more.
  • Skewers.  Pick up some of the fun sword skewers at the grocery store and then cut up veggies, fruits, and meats and make kebabs.
  • Dips.  Other than my kids, most little people love to dip their food.  Make guacamole, homemade ranch dressing, homemade mayo-based dips, homemade condiments, or salsas to dip foods into.
  • Turn veggies into fun shapes.  I made a heart-inspired lunch for Caleigh on Valentine’s Day this past year.  Just start practicing with a knife and carrot peeler.  Here is a tutorial to get some idea for fruit, it would work well with vegetables too.
  • Use lettuce leaves (if your kids love them) to make sandwich wraps in lieu of bread.  We use collard greens because they hold up better.  Fill it with tuna, salmon, all-natural cold cuts, vegetables, etc.  There are wraps that are made from coconut meat & coconut water that mimic tortillas but I haven’t tried them to know how well they work.

Hopefully this post gets the creative juices in you flowing.  Share your ideas!  You can check out my Facebook page and as people send me their brilliant lunches, I’ll post them there. I do love sending notes to my kids while they are at school.  I don’t remember every single day but Caleigh loved it when she could read something from home.  AND it was cute because she started writing back to me.  (“I love you too mama!”).  Here are some pics from the web for inspiration.

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Fruit or veggie kebabs. Add in some pork and chicken and it’s a meal! Smaller skewers for kids lunches.

Pic from the great NomNomPaleo.  Use sunflower butter!

Use sunflower butter!

Skip the crackers and put some vegetables in there. I'm not big on plastic bags but this is darn cute!

Skip the crackers and put some vegetables in there. I’m not big on plastic bags but this is darn cute!

Choose heirloom carrots for different colours than just plain orange.

Choose heirloom carrots for different colours than just plain orange.

Kids love cauliflower?  Mix it up with different colours!

Kids love cauliflower? Mix it up with different colours!

Zucchini noodles with meatballs.

Again, from NomNomPaleo, zucchini noodles with meatballs. Get a spiralizer to make the noodles. It’s my new favourite kitchen tool!

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Meat skewers

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Sweet potato fries. Spice them with s&p or cajun spices.

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Zucchini pizzas. Add whatever topics you want!

Eggs, sausage, tomatoes & grapes.  Does it get any easier?

Eggs, sausage, tomatoes & grapes. Does it get any easier?

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Kale & sesame chips. Google it and discover a new way to add greens into your kids lives.

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Cut hardboiled eggs! Or devil them with homemade mayo or avocado mayo. Delicious!

Sharpen your culinary skills!  Make stars, moons, hearts, and flowers!

Sharpen your culinary skills! Make stars, moons, hearts, and flowers!

Rolled meats & veggies tied with chives and mustard to dip.

Rolled meats & veggies tied with chives and mustard to dip.

Swap out the hummus for guacamole.  Delicious!

Swap out the hummus for guacamole. Delicious!

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For a fun treat, try russet potatoes.

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Can’t wait to make these for Blake! Apples & grapes with tooth picks.

Chicken salad.

Chicken salad.

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A favourite breakfast repurposed for lunch. Ham slices in a muffin tin and pop in an egg. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes and your’e good!

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Write a note in the skin of a banana with a tooth pick. It will turn brown through the day!

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Cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of fruits & vegetables.