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

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.

Kids Healthy Cooking – Healthy Dips for Kids

healthy dips for kidsDips are another great ‘tactic’ to use when encouraging kids to eat fruits and vegetables that they may not eat otherwise. The challenge is to find a healthy dip for kids, that they like and is not loaded with sugars and other ingredients you want to avoid. Unfortunately a lot of store bought dips have these extras that we don’t want.

The good thing is that healthy dips for kids are super easy to make at home and something that the kids can easily participate in making. A quick easy dip is simply a matter of putting the ingredients into a bowl and mixing – seriously less than five minutes!

healthy dips for kidsIt can be a challenge to find a healthy kids dip that the kids enjoy as their palates are so varied when their young and can change from day to day. There are many ingredients in dips like mayonnaise and sour cream that I did not like myself until I was closer to being an adult, but if your kids eat these already, you’re halfway there! And if they don’t eat them already introducing it mixed with other ingredients may just be the trick!

In our Mini Chefs class we made two healthy dips for kids, one for vegetables and one for fruit. Knowing that many of the children prefered sweet we made and tasted the veggie dip first (this sets things up for the most success with both dips, always introduce the sweetest last). The kids loved measuring, scooping and mixing all the ingredients, each asking for their turn, making sure not to be left out. We were literally finished in 5 minutes and trying it out. As usual, there were some kids that loved it and some that didn’t care for it, but they all tried it. I also provided a variety of vegetables for the kids too as serving a variety of vegetables, not only in texture and taste, but also in color makes it more appealing for them to try.

The fruit dip, which is a caramel dip that I discovered through Nina Manolson at Smokin’ Hot Mom, is a fantastic dairy free, sugar free, sweet dip that is fabulous with apples. Of course you can use it with other fruit (pineapple is excellent) but the combination of apple and caramel is so good. When this dip is around at our house I often eat an apple just to have some dip!

healthy dips for kidsUsing dates (which have many nutritional benefits) as your sweetener, as well as coconut oil and a few spices, this dip has many nutritional benefits that you will be happy with and the kids will have no idea. Plus it’s another easy one, just toss all the ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Yum!

Now don’t be deterred by the color of this dip, it is supposed to be caramel afterall. When it was ready the kids just dove in and even one of my pickiest eaters loved it! I had to laugh though when I took the leftovers after class to the staff in the office and no one would touch the caramel one because they weren’t sure what it was. That is one of the benefits of getting the kids involved in making it, they see what goes into it. Now I understand that this could go the opposite way and because they see what goes in it, they won’t even try it, but my experience has been that the majority of time the kids are more willing to try it because they saw what went into it, and they helped make it.

Caramel Dip – great with apples or fruit of choice

1 c. dates healthy dips for kids

¼-1/2 c. almond milk (or other non dairy milk of your choice) – start with less milk and add to get the blender moving smoothly and the consistency you want

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla

dash of cardamom

dash of sea salt

Put all ingredients into Vitamix or powerful blender and mix until creamy. Dip apple slices into caramel and enjoy.

Dill Dip – great with veggies and/ or tortilla chips

1/3 c. veganaise (or mayonaise)

1/4 c.  vegan sour creamhealthy dips for kids

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1/16 tsp. celery salt

1/16 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dill weed

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve immediately or chill until ready to use.

Recipe can easily be doubled. Makes about 1/2 c. dip

Coming next in Kids Healthy Cooking, Energy Bites! Sticky, easy, messy and lick your fingers good!

3 Easy Steps to Healthy and Nutritious Eating (The kids will LOVE it!)

Eating well is something that is on many of our minds at this time of year. After the overindulgence over the holidays of food and especially treats, many of us look to make changes in what we eat come January. Whether the goal is to lose weight, feel better or just have the entire family eating well balanced and nutritious meals, here are some quick and easy things you can do to make changes right away.

healthy dips for kids

Veggie Cheese Tray

1.Have nutritious snacks on hand. I often find it is not our meals that get us but the snacks we have in between. I have found that my kids will eat what is put in front of them (I have even noticed this for myself as well). If there are veggies and dip out on the counter then that is what they will grab when they are hungry, but if there are cookies near by and accessible then they’ll go for those. So I have started putting together a veggie tray and setting that out afterschool. I like to include variety such as grape tomatoes, mushrooms and snow peas; include your kids faves and watch them disappear. I have some yummy dairy free dip recipes that are easy to make and great with vegetables. You can also do a fruit tray as well with this yummy healthy caramel dip.

2. Provide sugar free sweet treats. There are lots of great recipes out there for sweet treats that do not contain the refined sugars and use natural sugars instead. My kids love banana candy, which is easy to make ahead and have on hand. Or raw chocolate truffles and chocolate pudding (my mouth is watering already!) We all love our sweet treats, it’s in our nature. By providing healthy ones, we satisfy our cravings for something sweet and can feel good about it – not only for ourselves but for our kids to.

Raw chocolate truffles

3. Plan the menu for the week. If you plan out ahead of time your meals (especially dinner) this will not only reduce your trips to the grocery store and save you money but it will reduce stress and the “I don’t know what to make for dinner so I will grab this quick easy (and often unhealthy) option” -whether it be the frozen dinner or the scrambled eggs.

Starting with these 3 easy steps to healthy eating will put you on the road to eating a healthier and more balanced diet.

Tip: I have found that it is easiest to start small and break things down into steps that you can achieve easily, one at a time. If you take on too much at once and try to radically change everything not only are we more likely to give up because we are so overwhelmed, but those changes probably won’t stick. Aim for easy, aim for success!