A Plethora of Apples – Yummy Apple Recipes for Your Fall Harvest

apple recipes

Each Fall we end up with an abundance of fresh apples. Whether it be from our own tree or given to us by the grandparents we usually have large buckets of them. As a result over the years I have created and tested many different apple recipes to make use of all these delicious apples. Of course we make the traditional apple crumble and pie, but as yummy as that is, we do like a little variety. And I do like to experiment.

The kids love just coming home and grabbing a fresh apple from the bucket to enjoy. In fact they eat so many apples that you would think that we might actually make a dent in them. Unfortunately this is not the case – so baking it is! (and other creative uses)

I found and/ or developed a number of dairy free, sugar free and even some gluten free recipes that use apples. Giving us lots to choose from and enjoying whatever suits us on any particular day. I am still on the hunt though for a recipe that uses a large quantity of apples at once, as many of these recipes use maybe 4 apples at once. That’s a super long process of getting through our bucket! Even when I double the recipe.

If you have a plethora of apples this Fall or are just looking for some yummy apple recipes – here’s what I’ve discovered and tested so far:

Yummy Apple Recipes

Muffins:

Cakes:

Crumble:

Pie:

Pancakes:

Smoothies:

Snacks:

  • Apples & Peanut Butter (simply slice your apple and dip in peanut butter)
  • Apples & Caramel Dip (don’t be deceived this is a sugar free healthy dip)

I have yet to try an apple cookie – but it’s on the list! and when I am getting towards the bottom of the bucket I usually start to make apple juice with our juicer, or even apple sauce (just boil the apples til soft, drain and puree in blender, add a little cinnamon and voila!).

What are some of your favorite apple recipes? Share in the comments below

Easy Afterschool Snacks

easy afterschool snacks

It’s that time of day when the kids arrive home from school ravenous and hungry, ready to eat anything in sight! They are poking their heads in the fridge, looking for an easy afterschool snack. Eyeing things hopefully on the counter, hoping to grab a quick bite to fill their tummies. You’d like them to have something healthy and with sustenance what do you do?

Afterschool is one of those key times when kids need something nutritious and healthy, but not something that will fill them up so much they won’t eat their supper. You also want a combination of options that they can just grab and go or something that they can easily make themselves, so you don’t always have to pause what you’re doing and make it.

I love that my daughter will come home and grab her own yogurt, simply asking me for a bowl (and if I just move those into a bottom cupboard I wouldn’t even have to do that) and she scoops it up herself. This allows me to continue either working or making supper without having to stop and get her a snack.

The best afterschool snacks are ones that provide essential nutrients and that energy boost – so snacks that include protein, healthy fats and are rich in vitamins are important. Even a little of sweet or salty to please the palate.

Easy Afterschool Snacks

Some of the snack recipes and suggestions below are make ahead, but once made go into the fridge or freezer ready for the kids to help themselves. They are also easy recipes that you can make with the kids (so they can help), or depending on their age, may even be able to make it themselves.

Peanut Butter & Apples

easy afterschool snacksMy kids came home one day asking for this. I have no idea where they got the idea but it makes a great snack. Gives you your protein and sweet. For an extra added boost add in raisins or pumpkin seeds.

apple, sliced

big dollop of unsweetened peanut butter

Put peanut butter into a small bowl. Slice apple. Dip apple slices into peanut butter and enjoy.

Granola

Pumpkin seeds are a great energy food. High in magnesium, zinc phosphorus and omega 3’s they are also a great source of protein. Honey, a natural sweetener, has a long history of fighting infections and being good for colds, to name a few.

1 tbsp. honeyeasy afterschool snacks

1 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

1/2 c. large flake rolled oats

2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. coconut

In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt Earth Balance and cook with honey for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook until golden. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes until dry. Break apart and enjoy.

Store in an airtight container to enjoy later.

Kale Chips

Kale is a superfood that is high in fiber, iron, vitamins (such as A, C, K), filled with antioxidants and a great anti-inflammatory food. This is a basic kale chip recipe but you can play with the flavor by using different spices.

easy afterschool snacks1 bunch of kale, stem cut out and chopped

olive oil

sea salt

Place chopped kale into medium size bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and massage the oil onto the leaves, making sure they are well covered. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place onto a large bar pan or cookie sheet. Bake at 250 F for 3-5 minutes. When kale is crisp take them out and let cool.

Keep an eye on your kale as it may not take long depending on your oven and they can easily burn. 

Other Delicious Easy Afterschool Snack Ideas

tropical green smoothieSmoothies – power pack with your favorite fruits and throw in chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax for protein and fiber. You can even add in some vegetables like carrots or a handful of spinach. The kids won’t even know it’s there.

Yogurt Parfaits – 3 simple ingredients (fruit, granola, yogurt) this fun snack is something the kids can easily make themselves.

Veggies & Dip – my kids love veggies, but when there is dip, they eat them even faster. What kid doesn’t like to dip stuff?

Raw Chocolate Pudding – made with avocado (a great healthy fat and high in vitamin E), this yummy chocolate pudding will fill the kids up and replenish their energy.

Energy Bites – a favorite at our house, this peanut butter and honey in a ball is a quick easy treat that is packed with all kinds of good stuff. It is also a great recipe to make ahead with the kids that they can just grab and go.

Fruit & Yogurt – simple easy and fun to make, choose your favorite fruit and top with yogurt. And if you’re looking for non dairy there are some great non dairy brands out there like Yoso Coconut Yogurt.

energy bitesCoconut Truffles – another great make ahead and super easy. This yummy healthy sweet treat is made with dates, coconut and chocolate all rolled into one.

Honey Roasted Nuts & Fruits – this yummy sweet treat is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats and protein.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream – no dairy added to this ice cream and super easy to make! Just pop frozen strawberries and bananas into the blender and voila.

Afterschool is a time when you want the kids to be able to help themselves to nutritious healthy snacks that will fuel them without ruining dinner. And it’s a great way to start giving them a little independence. Make it easy, make it fun and get them to help create!

It’s also a perfect time to introduce some new foods by incorporating foods that they like with new ones. Make it fun and encourage them to try it. You can foster a loving and supportive environment to try it in; and with them having making it themselves and gaining a little more independence, you’ll have even more success.

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 Desserts – Campfire Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

campfire pineapple upsidedown cake

When I found this recipe for campfire pineapple upsidedown cake I was in heaven! Growing up pineapple upsidedown cake was always a treat in our house, my Oma being famous for making it.

My Dad absolutely loved it and every time my Oma came to visit she would make one for him (that and crumb cake, also delicious). So when I discovered this recipe we could make over the fire I knew that we had to try it. Plus I was excited to find a new camping dessert recipe, cause though I love banana boats and cinnamon apples I also like variety on the menu.

campfire pineapple upsidedown cakeWe made this recipe on our first camping trip this year on July long weekend. We actually made it in the afternoon on one of our days away, before we had supper. One of the things I find when camping is that because there is no schedule meals often run later than usual. Often we are not finishing supper til 7 or 8 and by that point not only am I full but I don’t feel like creating more food. So we decided – in the words of my father – that we would ‘eat dessert first’. Then worry about supper later.

I had made the pound cake at home and brought it with us which was easy enough to do. You can also buy a pound cake if you prefer but I needed a sugar free version. Plus honestly, regardless of if I was looking for sugar free or not, I usually bake cake from scratch no matter what it is. I am not one to buy cake from the store in general.

I had also experimented with the pound cake recipe using honey for the first time as the sweetener. Oh my it turned out well. Nice and moist. Yum! We had a hard time not eating just the cake before we made the rest of our dessert.

The recipe for campfire pineapple upsidedown cake is simple – pound cake, pineapple, coconut sugar (great natural alternative to brown sugar), Earth Balance and cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Baked in foil over the fire until the sugar melts and you get that nice googey syrupy liquid. You do need to be careful not to over cook it as it can burn, especially if you are doing it over the grate on the fire. Alternatively, you could burn your fire down to coals and bake it, but that would take longer!

Campfire Pineapple Upsidedown Cake (sugar free & dairy free)

pound cake, cut into chunks *recipe for pound cake belowcampfire pineapple upsidedown cake

fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

dash of cinnamon, nutmeg

coconut sugar

coconut cream for topping

1 healthy spoonful of Earth Balance Vegan Spread, plus a little bit to grease your foil so the dessert doesn’t stick

heavy duty tinfoil

Tear off piece of heavy duty tinfoil (about 12×12″) and place on table (or flat surface). Use a small amount of Earth Balance and spread evenly over the foil. Slice and cut pineapple and place on foil. Slice pound cake and cut into squares about 1 inch thick and place on top of pineapple. Put a healthy spoonful of both Earth Balance and coconut sugar over pineapple and cake, sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

campfire pineapple upsidedown cakeClose up the foil by brining two ends together and folding over then rolling down til tight. Then fold over and roll on each end. This creates a nice tight packet that keeps everything in and is easy to open when done.

Place foil packet on the grill over fire. (Also works well by putting into coals of fire, but no flame or BBQ). Cook for about 5 minutes and then check it (takes a little longer on the BBQ). It is ready when the butter and brown sugar have melted and formed that yummy syrupy liquid over pineapple cake mixture. Put a dollop of coconut cream on top if desired. Enjoy! It will be hot so be careful.

We loved these. Everyone inhaled theirs and then wanted more. And I loved how simple it was. The kids could make and put together their own (so making it as little or as big as they wanted) and it didn’t take long to cook as you are basically just melting the Earth Balance and coconut sugar. Then voila! it is ready at any time of day, whether you choose to have it before supper or not.

This is the recipe for the pound cake I made. It was also quick and easy and I really liked using honey as the sweetener. Make sure you sift the flour as though it takes a few extra minutes to do so, it makes the cake lighter and fluffier.

Honey Pound Cake

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 1/2 c. flour, siftedcampfire pineapple upsidedown cake

1 c. honey

1 tsp. vanilla

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Lightly grease a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl beat Earth Balance and honey together until light and fluffy.

Add vanilla and then gradually add eggs, beating well. With mixer on low, add salt and the flour. Beat well to combine.

Transfer batter into loaf pan and bake at 350F for about 65 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let pan cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing.

Cake may be stored in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks.

 

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?

 

Homemade Sugar Free Peach Pie

sugar free peach pie

Peaches are one of the wonderful fruits that are fresh and abundant in the summer months. Stock full of vitamins and minerals (like Vitamin E, K, A and lots of B’s), there’s nothing like biting into a fresh juicy peach on a summer’s day.

We often get our peaches fresh from the Okanagan fruit stands while out visiting Gran and Grandpa in BC, ok that is the only place we get our peaches. Once I’ve bitten into a fresh ripe Okanagan peach I just can’t bring myself to buy them in the store. They simply aren’t as good, not as juicy and not as flavorful. So once we’ve eaten them all I don’t get any more (unless I can go back to BC and get some).

Besides eating them fresh (my son sometimes eating 4-6 at a time!), I usually make peach jam, (which I love!), and make the odd crumble. It wasn’t until my neighbor went on one time about how much he loved peach pie that I even considered the possibility. I love making pies in the summer with all the fresh fruit, cherry pie being my favorite, but I had never made peach. So I set out to experiment.

sugar free peach pieWhen I originally found and made this peach pie recipe it was before we had eliminated refined sugars from our diet. So when I pulled up the recipe this summer (as my mother was asking that I share it with her) I had to make a few adjustments. I hadn’t realized that it still had white sugar in it.

I thought about using agave nectar, which I knew would work and is what I did originally when I transformed my cherry pie recipe, but I have heard a number of reports lately that agave is no better than refined white sugar. I had recently tried using honey in a pound cake recipe that turned out successfully so I decided to give honey a go for the peach pie.

As luck would have it, it turned out great, and everybody ate it up. With my oldest son even commenting that my pies are way better than Gran’s, as he inhaled his pie. My tip though is to make sure that you mix the honey in very well with the flour mixture so you don’t get any clumps of flour. The other option is to do the flour mixture without the honey, sprinkle it over the peaches, and then pour the honey over the peaches. It does produce a lot of juice regardless so I recommend a deep pie dish for sure.

Sugar Free Peach Pie

2 – 9″ pie crusts (store bought or homemade*)

1 egg beatensugar free peach pie

5c. sliced peaches, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp. lemon juice

½ c. flour

1 c. honey

½ tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. butter

Brush some of the beaten egg on crust to keep from getting soggy. Place peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with some lemon juice, mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix flour, honey, spices and pour over peaches, mix gently. Pour into pie crust, dot with butter. Put on top crust fold edges under. Flute or seal by pressing with a fork dipped in egg. Brush egg over the top crust.

Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is brown.

Enjoy! (And don’t forget the ice cream! We enjoy a delectable creamy non dairy vanilla ice cream by Rice Dream. It’s fantastic.)

* I make my own pie crust which turns out flaky and delicious every time simply by using Tenderflake and following their recipe on the box.

What’s your favorite kind of pie in the summer? Share in the comments below.

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.

Rich Creamy Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

 

dairy free chocolate ice cream

One of the most popular frozen sweet treats in the summer is most definitely ice cream. It’s great to be able to stop and enjoy an ice cream cone on a warm summer’s day. In fact I was drooling over them yesterday at the zoo, as everyone was walking around with a yummy soft serve ice cream.

When we went dairy free I was sad to miss out on all the wonderful ice cream flavors and the sweet yummy treat it provided. (I really missed ice cream and also cheese when I went dairy free, cause at the time there were not any really good dairy free alternatives). Not only was ice cream a great summer treat it used to be a staple at my house! When we were little we’d often anticipate ice cream after dinner, with my Dad being the worst contender.

I knew there were ways though that I could still indulge in my ice cream fetish that were still yummy and delicious without all the dairy. My first step was to buy a ice cream maker. Though not a necessity to make ice cream, there is just something fun about watching your liquid concoction turn into yummy ice cream. I also tried out some of the non dairy ice creams on the market, which there are some good ones, such as Rice Dream and Coconut Bliss, but they are very expensive and making my own was a much cheaper alternative. Besides I could control what I put into my ice cream and could avoid all the preservatives present in store bought brands.

dairy free chocolate ice creamAnd honestly, making your own ice cream does not take long at all. It is basically the time to mix your ingredients in your blender and churn it in the ice cream maker (usually about 30 minutes tops). So if you time it right there really is no waiting at all (and even if there is, doesn’t that create anticipation and excitement therefore enjoying even more the result?)

Making ice cream is also fun and easy to do with the kids. My kids help mix everything up and also love watching it churn. So far we have tried a few dairy free ice cream recipes, such as Simple Vanilla and Strawberry Banana, but our favorite so far is Peanut Butter Ice Cream, oh so yummy!

But what I like about this dairy free chocolate ice cream is the fact that there is no milk in it whatsoever, not even non-dairy, and uses cashews instead to create the creamy texture, which really amps up the nutrition. Cashews are a great source of fibre and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like copper, Vitamin E and magnesium. I love it when I get to enjoy a yummy sweet treat and it is super good for me and for the kids (nothing like sneaking in the good stuff right?).

The other element that is important when I am trying out recipes is that they are sugar free, using natural sweeteners to sweeten if needed. So not only is this dairy free chocolate ice cream without dairy, it also has no refined sugars or sweeteners. And believe me taste is not compromised. This is a rich creamy chocolate ice cream that you will not believe is sugar or dairy free. You can serve it to you friends and they will be none the wiser.

My kids of course, gobbled it up and asked for seconds. Chloe got chocolate all over her face and they both got a little creative adding raspberries that they’d freshly picked from our raspberry bush, which made it even more delicious.

You could also add in other ingredients to this chocolate ice cream, like coconut or chocolate pieces.

Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

1 3/4 c. cashewsdairy free chocolate ice cream

1 3/4 c. water

1 c. pure maple syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. cacao powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix well. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions.

I found that our ice cream maker brought it to a nice soft serve consistency, which is what I believe most ice cream makers do. You can serve as is or if you’d like to have a firmer consistency transfer contents from ice cream maker into freezable container and put in your freezer til firm.

*If you do not have an ice cream maker don’t despair! Once ingredients are combined pour into a freezeable container with lid and place in your freezer for 6-8 hours or overnight. The advantage of an ice cream maker is simply that your ice cream is ready a little bit faster.dairy free chocolate ice cream

Do you have a favorite non-dairy ice cream recipe? Share in the comments below.

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.