Tips for Making Healthy School Lunches that Kids Will Actually Eat

healthy school lunches

Back to school can be challenging enough without having to think about making healthy school lunches that your kids will actually eat. Packing kids lunches is not always an easy task. As parents it can be challenging figuring out what to put in there that won’t come back at the end of the day half eaten and you’re wondering what your child had for lunch that day.

There are many ideas on recipes and creative things to put in kid’s lunches that will entice the kids to eat a healthy well balanced lunch but what I have learned is it is not all the fancy recipes and creativity that does the trick, though that certainly may help, it is knowing what your kids like and putting those items into their lunches that is the key. Or one of. In order to make a healthy school lunch that your kids will actually eat I have discovered the following tips that will create success.

Tips for Making Healthy School Lunches

1.Put in foods that you know your kids like – this is not the time to try out this new healthy food recipes. If kids don’t know what it is they will likely not touch it or tentatively take a bite and skip it. The best time to try a new food or recipe is at home, where you can offer a supportive and happy environment. If you discover that they like it, then you can pop it in their lunch.

healthy school lunches2. Get the kids to help – depending on the age of the child they can help or do it all on their own. Research shows that when kids participate in creating their own meals that they are more likely to eat it.

3. Offer them choice – this can be a win win situation. You as the parent can choose two healthy options and ask them which one they would like, ie the tuna sandwich or the ham. The child feels empowered because they got to choose what they wanted and you are happy because they have made a healthy choice that you are happy with.

4. Have variety – put in a variety of healthy items into your child’s lunch but in smaller portions. This way they have lots to choose from and enjoy and food is not wasted. My daughter often has a sandwich in her lunch but usually eats her spinach dip, apple, muffin and a bit of her sandwich. She is happy and is full and I know that she has gotten a variety of nutrients into her growing  body. It’s ok that she did not eat all of her sandwich as she saves it for the next day. The point is if I had only put in the sandwich and apple then she would have likely still been hungry and not had enough energy for her afternoon. There is also value in having variety from day to day or week to week. Change it up! as no one really likes the same thing day after day after day.

healthy sweet treats for kids5. Add in a healthy sweet treat – who doesn’t love a little sweet treat in their lunch? The kids will love it and see it as a bonus. There are lots of recipes out there for healthy sweet treats that you can feel good about putting into your kids lunch. Ones that are delicious and rich in nutrients so even if they eat that first you know that they are still getting good healthy stuff.

6. Make lunches fun and interesting – adding a little creativity to your kids lunches can not only make it more enticing to eat but can make it fun for you as well. There are many quick easy things that you can do like making faces out of their vegetables, cutting cheese out in shapes, make two tone sandwiches, etc.

7. Make lunch the night before – this takes so much pressure off you and makes mornings smoother and easier, with one less thing to do before you head out the door. If you make it the night before (I do everything except the sandwiches as I like them fresh), then you have time to put things in that are healthy and have the kids participate without everyone having to feel rushed and just tossing in whatever so the kids have at least something for lunch. When you’re not rushed you make better clearer decisions and it enables you to do any extra prep if you need to.

how to make tacos with kids8. Lastly, talk to your kids about their lunches. Ask them what they would like in them, offering a variety of choices that you are happy with. Ask them each day what they ate and enjoyed, what they didn’t like. Did they have enough in their lunch? Having a dialogue about their lunch not only gives you an idea of what they need and like (yes kids tastes can change often) but also helps you create healthy lunches that they will eat. One thing that is very important is to make sure that you do not reprimand your kids for not eating something or become upset, this will have the opposite effect of what you want, to get them to eat. Instead, ask them why they did not eat it – it may be as simple as they were full – or if they didn’t like it – ask them what they would like instead – again offering them choices. For example, if they didn’t eat their apple and tell you they’re tired of apples, offer them a couple other fruits that you would be happy with.

The two most important things that will help you create healthy school lunches for your kids are putting in what they like and getting them to participate. It can also be a great opportunity to spend time with your kids in the busy day doing something you have to do anyway. And guess what? If they help that means you have a little more time for yourself in the evening because lunch is already done.

Favorite Healthy Lunch Recipes

That being said it’s always nice to have a pool of recipes to pull from to create variety in your lunches. Here is a list of some of our favorite healthy lunch recipes for you to try (and remember if it’s new to you, try it at home on a weekend first before popping it into your kid’s lunch).

Veggies & Dip

Wraps

Salads

Muffins

Healthy Sweet Treats

Do you have a favorite healthy lunch recipe? Share in the comments below.

Camping Recipes – Campfire Nachos

campfire nachosOne thing about exploring new camping recipes this summer is that it has definitely expanded my horizons and opened up my thinking; as well as adding more variety to our camping menu! For instance I had never thought of making nachos while camping. It just never entered my mind. And really the question is why couldn’t you?

Campfire nachos adds great variety to the camping menu and is almost a treat. It is also a quick easy, healthy, and well balanced recipe (ok except maybe the chips), but it’s another one of those quick ‘one pot’ deals that I love while camping.

campfire nachosWe made it on one of those lazy and enjoyable camping days where we had floated down the river in the morning and were just hanging around the campsite in the afternoon. I had precooked the ground turkey that afternoon, knowing that we were having the nachos for supper and saving me that step when it came time to actually put them together.

Matthew made the fire as usual and I prepped dinner. The thing that I like about this recipe for campfire nachos is that you do not need a bed of coals to cook it. Simply a good fire and cook on top of the grill. It also does not take very long as you are literally heating through and melting the cheese. Saves your hungry campers drooling over it and constantly asking when it is ready!

I did mine in two batches due to the size of our grill, but I would recommend doing it in two batches regardless. Doing it this way makes it easier to move on and off the grill without spilling it and carrying it to the table.

Everyone gobbled it up of course and asked for seconds. The beauty of nachos as well is you can really put any ingredients you like on them. I’ve even heard of people putting on fruit or pickles! Whatever ingredients you choose you know they are going to be delicious.

Campfire Nachos

1 lb. ground turkey meat (may also use chicken, beef, pork)

1 – 500 g bag tortilla chipscampfire nachos

2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 pepper, chopped (choose your color green, red, yellow, orange or a mix)

green onion, chopped

1 pkg. Daiya cheddar cheese shreds

Earth Balance Vegan Spread for lightly greasing foil

1 container Earth Island Vegan sour cream for topping

heavy duty aluminum foil

Brown meat in a frying pan either on camping stove or over the fire (this step can be done in advance and stored earlier in the day if you wish).

Chop tomatoes, peppers, green onion and set aside. Tear off 2 large pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil (approx 22 x 12 inches) and place shiny side down on table. Lightly grease both pieces of foil with Earth Balance.

Make two batches by doing the same for each or you can make two different kinds if you like.

campfire nachosPlace tortilla chips in a single layer on top of the foil, then sprinkle turkey, tomatoes and pepper evenly over chips. Sprinkle cheese and then green onions on top.

With a second piece of foil place shiny side in, lightly over top of nachos, tenting it so that it does not rest on top and stick to your toppings. The second piece of foil helps the cheese to melt faster and prevents any pieces of ash that may spark up from getting into your nachos. Place prepared nachos on top of grill on fire and cook, approximately 10-15 minutes. Check nachos periodically to make sure they do not burn. They may also be ready sooner depending on the heat of your fire.

Once done – heated through and cheese melted, remove from grill of fire using oven mitts and serve with sour cream. Enjoy!

Serves 4 

campfire nachos*a quick tip to help you transfer the nachos from table to fire is to use a wooden cutting board. I just slid them onto the board and took them over to the fire, then gently slid the nachos onto the grill. I did the same when taking them off, aligning the cutting board with the grill and then sliding them off using oven mitts onto the board. I recommend a wooden board because you can get it close to the fire even top the side of the grill without melting or damaging it.

Missed out on our other camping recipes this summer? Check out Campfire Lasagna, Potato Boats, Campfire Corn on the Cob, Cinnamon Apples, Banana Boats, and Pineapple Upsidedown Cake.

Camping Recipes – Potato Boats

potato boats

On my hunt for new camping recipes I discovered this neat recipe for potato boats (which honestly is a glorified baked potato but it’s still fun). I really liked the idea of the variety it offered and also found it similar to TFD’s (tin foil dinners, another favorite camping recipe in our family).

We tried it out potato boats this past week when we were camping in Writing on Stone Provincial Park for my oldest son’s birthday (He’s 13 now a real teenager in my home – yikes:). It’s a beautiful park in a part of the Badlands with magnificient hoodoos along the Milk River. This park is also a sacred landscape that contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.

I thought Matthew would really like this recipe and since it was his birthday I let him choose what he wanted to have for supper. When I offered potato boats his eyes lit up and he practically salivated all over me. He even got the fire going so that I could get them started.

They turned out really well and all the kids loved them, Matthew practically inhaling his. They were a little too big though for the twins, in the future I would make one potato and give them each half. I also found it a bit too much for me as the portion was just too large.

potato boatsThe other downside with this recipe is that you have to bake the potatoes first and pre-cook your bacon. Then slice them put in the cheese, bacon, ham, etc. and then heat. For me, this was too many steps for a camping dinner and took too long. When I am camping I like recipes that are hearty, filling and delicious, but that are also quick and easy. The fact that I had to cook the potatoes and the bacon first and then put them together and cook some more wasn’t really appealing to me. But I made them anyway to see how they would turn out. And as I said they were delicious. I can see this recipe being one that would work well at home over the BBQ.

When we were camping, we did them over the fire, which I love because there are less dishes! but the flipside is it did take a little more time. First you have to build your fire and let it burn down to nice hot coals. You do not want flame as this will burn your potatoes. This can take at least an hour or more to get the coals you need, and then at least an hour to bake your potato – great if you’re kicking around the campsite.

Potato Boats

(amounts are based on one potato per person and is dairy free – may choose to serve half depending on appetite and age)

1 baking potatopotato boats

1-2 slices of bacon, cooked

1-2 sliced ham

1 Daiya cheese slice

green onion, chopped for topping

Earth Island’s non-dairy sour cream

Wash and prep potatoes for baking. Poke holes with fork all over potato and wrap in single layer of heavy duty foil. Bake potatoes in hot coals of campfire, approx 1 hour, turning once. When potatoes are soft, remove from fire and open foil. Cut 4 slices along the potato, do not cut all the way through to bottom. In each sliced section put in cheese, bacon and ham. Rewrap in foil and place back on coals for about 10 minutes.

potato boatsRemove from coals once cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and green onions on top.

In making these and deciding there were too many steps for me making while camping, I came up with a couple of things that could make this dinner easier and a little bit faster if you don’t want to spend two hours making dinner.

If you were having this meal for your first night you could bake the potatoes and cook the bacon at home then simply stuff them and reheat them on the coals of the fire. You would still need to build your fire and get it to coals but then the actual cooking time would be cut almost in half as it would only take about 20 minutes on good coals to heat through.

It is definitely a hearty delicious meal and you could certainly change up what you ‘stuff’ into the slices. I had planned to serve grilled veggies with it but just ended up serving them raw in the end. You could also serve with a side of fruit if desired.

potato boats

Try it out and share your thoughts in the comments below? Did you stuff it with something else? How did you enjoy it?

 

Camping Recipes – Campfire Lasagna

camping recipesI love camping! There’s just something about packing up your stuff and living with only what you’ve got for a while (either all packed into the car or the camper). It often makes me wonder why we have so much stuff in our houses when we can live happily with so little when camping? I love being outside all the time, not concerned about dishes or cooking as I’m outside; and the kids love it to to. We never run out of things to do, places to see or explore.

Camping is very freeing. Though there’s still a rough routine I find there’s no strict timelines, the kids play or ride their bikes, go to the playground or we happily all sit around the campfire watching the flames spark and pop and adding our wood as needed. Everyone’s always engaged in something, even if we are just sitting there.

camping recipesOne thing I have found with camping is that the food always tastes good. Maybe it’s just our ravenous appetites from being outside and active all day but whatever’s on the menu always tastes delicious. That being said we have our favorite camping recipes that we tend to make on a regular basis as I find that they are not only quick but satisfying (and usually contain a lot of meat – though we are not big meat eaters at home). This season though I was feeling that we were having a lot of the same old and though I enjoy our meals when we’re camping, I was looking to add a little variety and eager to try out some new recipes. What else we could create enjoy and add to the favorites (creating a little more variety in the menu)?

So as usual I went searching and found some great recipes which I am going to feature here over the next few weeks. From campfire dinners to desserts, there are some great things to choose from.camping recipes

The first one I found happened to be a recipe I’d had for years in a recipe book from my mother, but had never actually made, in fact I don’t know if she has ever made it. I loved that it was a one pot deal, throwing everything in the pot and just waiting for it to cook. This was the essence of easy and I hoped taste.

We tried it out earlier this summer when we went on our camping trip to Vegreville to see the Giant Ukrainian Easter Egg – which is definitely a site to see and worth the stop, if you are ever in Northern Alberta. And it was quite delicious! It was a great mix of flavors and a nice variety in a pasta dish, as opposed to the regular spaghetti and tomato sauce we typically had (not that there’s anything wrong with spaghetti!) This offered something yummy and different and got our ‘meat requirement’ in. Ha ha

This recipe can be made on the stove or over the fire and is literally ready in 30 minutes!

Campfire Lasagna

1 lb. ground chicken (or turkey or beef)camping recipes

1 tsp. oregano

2 c. spiral macaroni (we use brown rice pasta, gluten free)

1 pkg. onion soup mix *

1 – 796 ml can tomatoes

2 c. water

1/3 c. non-dairy parmesan cheese

1 c. Daiya mozzarella

In a large pot, brown meat. Add onion soup mix, oregano, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and stir in macaroni. Cook uncovered, until macaroni is tender. Stir in parmesan cheese and mozzarella.

I often make my own spice mixes as well as I like to avoid the MSG and other preservatives they put into the pre-mixed ones in the store, so I did create my own ‘onion soup mix’ which turned out to be quite flavorful and definitely did the trick for the desired taste.

*Homemade Onion Soup Mixcamping recipes

2 1/2 tbsp. dried minced onion

1 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. homemade chicken boullion mix (or beef boullion if prefered)

Mix all spices together.

This recipe was such a hit that Luke asked for the leftovers the next day for lunch. That’s a really good sign.

Do you have a favorite dinner camping recipe? Share it in the comments below so we can try it out.

Frozen Sweet Treats – Peach Slush

peach slushA highlight for many in the summer is slushy frozen drinks. Often times we would simply pop to the 7-11 and grab a slushy, but once I started paying more attention to what actually went into these slushies (can we say mountains of sugar and artificial flavors?) I was on the hunt for a slushy recipe that I could easily make at home (and without all the sugar!)

When I started browsing for ideas I came across this recipe for a peach slush; which it turned out I had already saved a while back in my recipes to try. It was also the perfect time to try it as we had just returned from the Okanagan with a mountain of fresh peaches.There is nothing like using your fresh fruit to make your delectable treats! It was a perfect fit. Peaches are also rich in vitamins such as Vitamin A, beta carotene and Vitamin C, as well as many minerals so super good for you!

At first I was a little hesitant to make it cause though it was a quick mix of ingredients in the blender, it was the 1 to 2 hours of waiting and stirring that deterred me a little bit. I kind of like instant! Plus I sometimes forget when I have to pay attention to things to stir every so often. But I found a way to make it work and honestly it was not that bad. Plus it makes a great easy, healthy, naturally sweetened frozen treat that you can make and enjoy at home.

The original recipe did not call for any sweetener but I found it needed just a little bit so I added in a teaspoon of honey. Depending on your level of desired sweetness will depend on whether you opt in to add it yourself. I can also see this recipe working well with other fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, maybe even watermelon.

Of course the kids enjoyed it. They are great little testers of Mom’s new recipes and help me adjust it when needed. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Peach Slush

2 fresh peaches, peeled and chopped

1/8 c. waterpeach slush

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. fresh lime juice

Peel peaches by putting them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Chop peaches into chunks and put in a blender.

Add water, honey and lime juice. Blend until smooth consistency.

Pour into a 9×13 pan and freeze in freezer for one to two hours. Stir a few times so that it does not freeze into a solid block.

When ready stir and whip it up with a fork so it has a nice slushy consistency.

Serve immediately in a cold dish. Makes 2 small servings

Have a great slush recipe? Share in the comments below.

Frozen Sweet Treats – The Fresh Fruitsicle

frozen sweet treats

One of the things that is great about summer is the delicious frozen sweet treats that you get to enjoy on a hot summer’s day. Creamy fudgsicles, ice cream, freezies, slushies, popsicles and more all offer a refreshing cooling treat.

The trouble is with most frozen sweet treats is the amount of added sugar (and color) that is in them to make them ‘sweet’. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sweet treat just as much as the other guy, but in eliminating refined sugar at our house, we have learned not only how to naturally sweeten our treats, but also that we don’t need it as sweet anymore. Our tastebuds have adjusted and we enjoy the natural flavors and sweetness of fruit (and foods) without the added sugars.

frozen sweet treatsWhen I was growing up it was not uncommon for my mother to make popsicles simply by pouring fruit juice into popsicle molds and freezing them. As long as the juice was unsweetened we were already enjoying a yummy cooling sugar free treat.

When I became a mother I made these kinds of popsicles for my kids as well. The thing is, I often found that once you sucked on them for a while, all the juice was gone and you were left with ice on a stick. I was looking for a frozen sweet treat that would have flavor all the way through and of course, naturally sweetened.

My first discovery was Grasshopper Popsicles, a mixture of blackberries and spinach, yes I said spinach, and a few other ingredients to put it all together. For a while this was our staple popsicle, which the kids really enjoyed. It was my mother when visiting one summer, who introduced us to this simple creamy popsicle that has added a little more variety to our popsicle pickings.

The Fruitsicle, as she calls it, is a fruity, creamy, dairy free, sugar free popsicle that is super easy to make. You just put all the ingredients into the blender and mix, then pour into the popsicle molds and wait for it to freeze. (The waiting is the hardest part, my kids were continually asking me if they were ready yet).

The Fresh Fruitsicle

1-2 cups fresh strawberries, trimmedfrozen sweet treats

1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks

½ cup coconut milk

1 to 2 tablespoons raw honey

Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for 6-8 hours or overnight.

*if you’d like your popsicle to be a little sweeter simply add more honey or more strawberries to the mix

Makes 8-9 popsicles depending on the size of your popsicle mold

2 Fabulous Watermelon Salad Recipes

watermelon salad

Watermelon is such a refreshing snack in the summertime. Full of vitamins and minerals, it can be more then just a cut and serve option.

For some reason I had always thought that watermelon was just that, cut, slice and serve, that you couldn’t really do anything else with it. I have no idea why I thought that, maybe it was just the ease of preparing a refreshing summer snack. But lately I started exploring a few other watermelon recipes (like a watermelon smoothie, oh my so yummy!).

I had always heard of a watermelon salad but kind of thought it was weird. I’d often see them at an event or a buffet and pass it by as it just didn’t appeal to me. Well I had no idea what I was missing!

watermelon saladWhen I decided to explore watermelon recipes I knew that a watermelon salad was the first one to try! It turned out that I found two that are really good. Both are uniquely different and delicious, so I can’t really say that one is better than the other. It honestly depends on what flavors you are looking for in the moment. Both have the lovely addition of fresh lime juice, which is not only nice in the summer, but actually brings out the flavor and sweetness in the watermelon.

The first watermelon salad is the more common recipe with feta cheese and red onion (which honestly at first I thought it was totally weird to add feta and onion to watermelon), while the second is a nice crisp, refreshing fruit salad. Which I actually quite enjoyed, even though it called for blackberries. In general I do not like blackberries and usually buy them for the kids and skip them myself. But since it was in the salad I decided to try it. I actually found the blackberries to be quite lovely, they added a really unique flavor to it, and I enjoyed quite a bit.

Both watermelon salads were a hit with the kids! They gobbled them up and asked for more (I think they were quite enjoying my experimentation with these recipes). And I have to say myself, a watermelon salad is a very nice change in how watermelon is served (and it does not take long to prepare – I am all about ease, especially in the summertime!)

Both salads are best when made just prior to serving. When the watermelon sits for too long it tends to get limp and soggy. Make one hour or less before ready to eat.

Watermelon Salad

4 c. watermelonwatermelon salad

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

2 tbsp. fresh chopped mint leaves

1c. feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 c. olive oil

3/4 of lime, juiced

1/4 tsp. pepper & a shake

Cut rind from the watermelon and cut into 1 inch chunks. Place watermelon into medium size bowl. Chop mint. Combine olive oil, lime juice and pepper to create dressing.

Pour dressing and chopped mint over watermelon. Toss gently to coat.

Pour crumbled feta over salad and stir gently to combine. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Watermelon Blackberry Saladwatermelon salad

3 c. cubed watermelon

1 1/2 c. blackberries

2 tbsp. fresh finely chopped mint

Juice of one lime

Cut the rind off the watermelon and cut into one inch chunks. Place watermelon into medium bowl. Chop mint and add to bowl. Add blackberries. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the fruit. Gently toss to combine and serve.

Serves 4

Have a fantastic watermelon salad recipe? Share in the comments below

A Refreshing Twist on Watermelon – The Watermelon Smoothie

Watermelon SmoothieThe other day my youngest son said he had an idea to make a watermelon smoothie. We love watermelon especially in the summer! It is such a nice refreshing snack. For us, we usually just slice it and eat it, I had never really thought of doing anything else with it. Sure I had heard of people putting watermelon into salads or other recipes but I had never thought of putting it into a smoothie. It just seemed odd to me.

But really, why not? You can put basically anything into a smoothie and with the right combination, can be absolutely delicious! And we love smoothies at our house and enjoy trying different combinations. In fact, I have been experimenting this year with creating my own smoothie recipes. It’s fun figuring out what goes well together and what might not. When I create a really good one, I get very excited. Like when I created this yummy green smoothie in the spring with grapefruit, orange and dandelion greens- yum!

The other thing I didn’t realize is that watermelon is actually chalk full of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, potassium and magnesium to name a few. Plus it has many health benefits benefiting cardiovascular health, anti-flammatory and antioxidant support. Here I thought it was just water and that you didn’t get much else out of it. Even better!

So I set out on a hunt for watermelon smoothie recipes to see what was out there. There are many that are a combination of watermelon and strawberries (which seemed quite popular), some with almond milk, even some with coconut water (which I am going to have to try that one). But the one that I was drawn to the most was this combination with raspberries, fresh lime and mint. All favorite ingredients of mine. I love mint and am really into lime lately. I also liked that it was described as ‘the most refreshing smoothie, ever‘. It quickly made me think of hot summer days when you’re looking for something a little more than just a glass of water. I could see myself, sitting on the deck, smoothie in hand, relaxing and enjoying the hot summer sun…

When I whipped it up this afternoon I was not disappointed! It was fabulous. I could not believe how delicious it was and even though it was not super hot that day, I could see how enjoyable it would be on a hot summer day. Not to mention I love the rich red color and how sweet and fresh it tastes. I can’t wait to make it for the kids who were away for the weekend, especially my son, to not only thank him for the fabulous idea, but to see how much they enjoy it as well.

Watermelon Smoothiewatermelon smoothie

1 c. watermelon

1/2 c. frozen raspberries

fresh lime juice (squeeze 1/4 of a lime) or 1 drop lime essential oil*

2 sprigs of fresh mint

Put all ingredients into blender. Mix until well combined and is smooth. Pour into glass and enjoy!

*note: if you’r using lime essential oil ensure that it is safe to ingest as all brands of essential oils are not created equal and not all are safe to take internally

Serves 1

Gluten Free Bran Muffins with Raisins & Hemps Seeds

gluten free bran muffinsI have always been a fan of muffins. They are a great grab and go snack that will fill your tummy and give you some good nutrition. They are also a fantastic make ahead and freeze for later option as well – something you can quickly grab out of the freezer to add to lunches, road trips or just a quick snack.

I have been dabbling more and more with gluten free recipes as I have noticed that my body does not seem to tolerate it like it used to. Often feeling tired after bread, muffins or anything wheat based, I have been slowly expanding and experimenting with my recipes. I was a little worried about changing my muffins though, as I had found many gluten free muffins to taste grainy or gritty and certainly not to my liking. But I knew that they couldn’t all be that way and that if it was the difference between energy boost and energy drain then I had to give it a whirl. So I started experimenting…

I am a big fan of bran muffins and have been since I was little. I know most people don’t care for bran muffins, more like a love it or hate it relationship, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed them. And it wasn’t just because of the benefits of bran! They were yummy. So it was only natural that one of the first muffin recipes I converted would be a bran one.

I found the original gluten free bran muffins recipe online and loved the addition of hemp seeds for the added nutrition. I also liked that I could create my own gluten free flour as all brands are not created equal, and this way I could choose what went into my mix. A quick modification for the sugar and the dairy I had the perfect recipe, which my boyfriend at the time, loved and he was not a gluten free guy. In fact to this day they are still his favorite muffin that I make.

The kids love them to, though they tend to like banana more, but they will eat them without complaint and I love the hemp seeds and flax added in there.

Gluten Free Bran Muffins with Raisins & Hemp Seeds

1/2 c. ground flax seedgluten free bran muffins

1/2 c. rice bran

1 c. almond milk (unsweetened coconut milk or other non dairy milk of choice)

1/3 c. olive oil

1 large egg

2/3 c. coconut sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour (*easy to make your own gluten free flour mix)

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. baking sodagluten free bran muffins

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tbsp. hemp seeds

1/2 c. raisins (I like lots of raisins so I add another 1/4 c. but you don’t have to)

In a medium bowl mix together flax seed, rice bran and almond milk. Let sit for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.

Next, in a large bowl combine gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and hemp seeds.

In a different medium bowl, beat together the oil, egg, coconut sugar and vanilla. Add the ingredients from the first medium bowl (almond milk/ flax seed mixture) to the egg mixture and stir well.

Stir the almond milk mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended. Fold in the raisins.

Spoon batter by the teaspoon into greased muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes then remove muffins from muffin tin to allow cool completely.

Store in an airtight container or freeze for easy quick grab and go healthy snacks.

* I found this combination for your own gluten free flour mix online. I make a batch and store in an airtight container so it’s on hand when I need it.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

4 c. superfine brown rice flour

1 1/3 c. potato starch (not flour, they are different)

2/3 c. tapioca starchgluten free bran muffins

Easy Strawberry Banana Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe

One of the things I definitely miss going dairy free is ice cream. A regular staple at my house when growing up; we often had it after supper, asking my parents hopefully if we could have some. Unless we were out, they usually said yes. Knowing that this was one thing I could not give up completely I set out to find some dairy free ice cream recipes.

dairy free ice cream recipeWhen I first started searching for dairy free ice cream recipes I thought that I would always have to make it in an ice cream maker using some kind of dairy free milk and natural sweetener. But what I have discovered is it can be even simpler than that. In fact it is so easy to make a great creamy, dairy free sugar free ice cream that as soon as you’re done reading this post, you’ll probably hop up and make some. Five minutes, maybe less, honestly you’ll be done.

Not to say that using an ice cream maker and an alternative dairy free milk is not a good option. In fact, I have some super yummy ice cream recipes made with coconut milk, like the peanut butter ice cream, that is so creamy and delicious it is worth the few extra minutes to make it. But sometimes you just want a quick treat. Not too much work and not too much thought being put into it. This is why I like this recipe for a dairy free strawberry banana ice cream. Super simple, super tasty and the only thought you have to put into it is do I have frozen bananas?

Dairy Free Strawberry Banana Ice Cream

This easy dairy free ice cream recipe gives you a nice soft serve ice cream in less than five minutes

dairy free ice cream recipe1 frozen banana (*peel banana before putting into freezer)

1 c. frozen strawberries

Put frozen banana and frozen strawberries into Vitamix blender. (If you do not have a Vitamix, a high powered blender of some kind is recommended due to the fruit being frozen and to prevent burning out your blender. If you have a standard blender, just proceed slower or blend fruit in smaller amounts to prevent burnout). Turn Vitamix on starting at low speed and slowly turn up to high. You may need to use tamper to push frozen fruit down to thoroughly mix. Once you have a soft serve consistency ice cream is ready to serve. Scoop into bowls and enjoy!

This dairy free ice cream recipe can also be made with different kinds of fruit, substituting the strawberries for raspberries or mango, etc. We have found though that the banana is a key part of the recipe in order to get that nice ice cream consistency and should always be present.

This is also a great recipe to make with kids as it is super easy for them to help with by putting the fruit into the blender or turning it on under the direction of an adult. It’s perfect for a hot summer day when you want a yummy cool treat and super quick to make. With just a little pre planning by having frozen fruit ready in the freezer you can literally whip it out in no time!