Raw Organic White Chocolate

white chocolate

When I first learned how to make my own chocolate I never even considered that making white chocolate would also be an option. I was so excited about just making the regular chocolate that I didn’t even think about white.

It wasn’t until years later, when I was looking at making white chocolate macadamia nut cookies that I wondered if I could somehow create white chocolate? Of course it had to be possible, it existed, so someone somewhere would have had to have figured out how to do it.

So I poked around a little bit, did a little googling and had my answer within minutes. Of course when I read what needed to be done it made perfect sense. Why I had not thought of it myself, who knows. But you know how sometimes you need someone to point out the obvious to you….

The basic trick in making raw organic white chocolate was that you need to use another powder than cacao powder, that was white. You need to use the powder to thicken it and bring it all together, because otherwise you would literally just have the cacao butter, though the right color, on it’s own is kind of oily and tasteless, which kind of defeats the purpose.

white chocolateThe magic answer is simply, milk powder. It is the right color and consistency and the good news is, ANY milk powder will do. If you want to keep your chocolate dairy free, there are non-dairy milk powders such as soy or coconut to make that work. It was so easy!

Another thing to keep in mind when creating white chocolate is using a fresh vanilla bean will no longer work, unless you want little black dots in your white chocolate. Even regular vanilla extract is brown in color, so to keep it purely white, use clear vanilla extract instead.

Otherwise go to it! If you have already tried the regular raw organic chocolate recipe you’ll be able to white with ease. And if you are new to chocolate making, it really is easy, so you’ll be a pro in no time!

Raw Organic White Chocolate

3/4 – 1 cup cacao butter

2-6 tbsp Soy milk powder or Coconut milk powder (just a caution if choosing soy milk powder, it is not pure white and has a slight tan tinge to it, so if you want it more of a caramel color perfect! but if you want white then I would choose coconut milk powder instead)

1-2 drops of clear vanilla extract (use a pipette if using vanilla extract as you only need a tiny bit, adding too much can ruin your chocolate)

2 tsp. to start Natural Sweetener of choice (again consider color I find clear stevia drops are best or even white stevia powder – honey and pure maple syrup will make your white chocolate more tan or caramel)

  1. In a medium metal bowl add boiling water about halfway up the bowl. *a metal bowl is best as it retains the heat well but can get hot to the touch Place second smaller metal bowl on top of large bowl so that it sits on top of the rim of the first bowl.
  2. Put desired amount of cacao butter into top bowl. Cacao butter will start to melt.
  3. While cacao butter is melting, add clear vanilla extract. Drop 1-2 drops at the most into cacao butter and stir.
  4. Once cacao butter is completely melted add 2-4 tablespoons of coconut milk powder. Taste for desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you’d like it richer add more milk powder.
  5. Once satisfied with amount of coconut milk powder add natural sweetener of choice. Start with 10 drops of clear stevia drops. (You may choose another sweetener but be aware that if you choose something like pure maple syrup this may darken your white chocolate, if so start with 3 teaspoons to sweeten). Taste, if desired level of sweetness has not been reached, add 2-5 drops of stevia and taste again (1-2 teaspoons if using another natural sweetener). Once level of desired sweetness has been reached you have your base chocolate.
  6. For plain white chocolate, spoon your white chocolate into molds and let set in freezer or fridge.
  7. white chocolateIf desired, before setting add additional ingredients such as nuts, dried fruit, coconut, essential oils such as Wild Orange, Peppermint, Lavender, etc. Ensure that the essential oils you are using are safe to ingest, as not all essential oil brands are created equal and many have synthetics and fillers in them that you definitely don’t want in your body! Also if oils are naturally colored they may change the color of your chocolate slightly (like Wild Orange). Pour white chocolate onto a cookie sheet or into a pan to let set for bulky additions, like fruit and nuts. If using essential oils you can pour into molds to set if desired.
  8. Put pan or molds into the freezer for about 5 minutes. Check to see if firm. If firm you can pop them out of your molds or break it up from the pan. If not leave in the freezer for a few more minutes and check again. Chocolate is best set in freezer (and ready faster!) but may also be set in fridge.

More Tips for Making White Chocolate

*Be very careful not to get any water into your chocolate as it will not work if you do. If your second bowl sits nicely on top, this should not be an issue as you do not need to lift the second bowl off the one with the water in it until you are done making your chocolate.

**you could use a vanilla bean in this recipe if you wanted, but because it is white chocolate you will see small black dots in the chocolate. If you would prefer solid white stick with the clear vanilla extract.

***when adding essential oils to your chocolate, measure 1 drop onto a teaspoon and stir it into your chocolate. This way if 2 or 3 drops come out instead, it’s on your spoon and not in the chocolate with the flavor way too strong!

****when popping out the chocolate from your molds, use a cutting board on parchment paper or plate. Popping them out directly onto the counter not only makes it hard to pick up, but it also may start to melt as often times the counter is warm.

*****You could also make the chocolate with fillings such as caramel, nuts or other desired filling, in the middle. For this you simply put a bit of chocolate in the bottom of your mold, let it set then add your filling and top up the mold with chocolate and let set completely. If you wanted to get really fancy, make a batch of regular chocolate as well and make layers – have them be white and dark. White chocolate is also great to use for Chocolate Dipped Strawberries! In fact, I discovered a cute Halloween treat this year that are strawberry ghosts. What a great idea! Fun and healthy.

sugar free valentines treats

Making white chocolate opens up a whole new world of possibility and is just as fun as making regular chocolate. And now you can get even more creative with it! Who knows maybe next you can make swirls!

Mini Bites that Delight – Macaroni Bites

mini bitesI love mini bites! You know those cute little bite size foods that you pop into your mouth in one bite and are often bursting with flavor? How do they get all those ingredients into that tiny little compact dish anyway?

I had often wondered why people would want to take the time to make these itsy bitsy bites, other than the fact that they are cute and look pretty (and may possibly even impress your guests when you’re hosting a party). Making them looked like a lot of work and that I thought I would need to eat at least 5 or 6 to feel full.

Then I discovered how fun they were and came to the understanding that they are meant to be served as appetizers, which you are not supposed to fill up on anyway, and not full meals. They are also great for kids, especially ones who have smaller appetites as they can have one or two and feel full without having any waste – instead of having a bigger portion and not eating it all. It is also a great way to introduce new foods to kids as you are giving it to them in a fun way and again with the smaller portion size, if they do not like it the waste is minimized.

mini bitesAnd there are so many different mini bite recipes to try you’ll never run out of ideas. You can come up with almost any combination and likely be successful. So I’ve been on the lookout this month for mini bite recipes to try. Looking for combinations that I knew would work and then considering how I might create one on my own.

This week I started with macaroni bites, which are one of the more popular and common mini bite recipes out there, and usually a hit with kids. I loved this recipe as it has a super cheesy sauce and is simple to make. Also easy to make dairy free, these delicious bites will have you easily gobbling two or three!

Macaroni Mini BitesDairy Free (can be made gluten free if you use brown rice or other gluten free pasta)

1 c. elbow macaroni

2 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

2 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 c. almond milk (or non dairy milk of choice)

mini bites2 c. Daiya cheddar shreds

1/4 c. vegan cream cheese

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 egg beaten

Optional additions: bacon, cayenne, paprika

Grease well your mini muffin tin (like really well. This is the one downside of mini bites is those muffin tins, they stick and are hard to clean. Greasing it well does help but sometimes you have to scoop around them very carefully to get them out. If you can find mini cupcake liners you could use those and it would make getting them out and clean up a little easier. This may not work though if you want a certain look without the papers on them).

Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse and set aside. In a medium size pan whisk the vegan spread and flour together until melted and smooth.

Slowly add non dairy milk and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add 1 1/2 c. of the cheese, vegan cream cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.

mini bitesIn a large mixing bowl carefully stir pasta, cheese sauce and well beaten egg until pasta is evenly coated and mixed in.

Using a teaspoon, spoon mac and cheese into prepared mini muffin tin, topping each with a small bit of cheese.

Bake bites at 400F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes, then gently remove bites from tin.

The first time I made these I made the original plain recipe but I felt that they were missing something. So I would highly recommend adding in real bacon bits, or a dash of cayenne or paprika to add a little zest.

These are also a fun and easy recipe to make with kids. They can easily help with mixing it all together and scooping the pasta into the muffin tins. Kids love to help and research shows that if they help make it they are more apt to eat it!

Don’t miss next week’s recipe Quinoa Pizza Mini Bites.

What is your favorite mini bite recipe? Share in the comments below.

How to Create a Hot Chocolate Bar

hot chocolate barDecadent hot chocolate, topped with yummy whip cream, drizzled with chocolate…. something you usually only see at your local cafe or coffee shop.

But imagine creating this in your own home, or creating some other tasty combination. Chocolate orange, Lavender White, Peanut butter… oh so yum! This is the beauty of a hot chocolate bar – a simple but yummy idea that enables you to create these wonderful, delicious combinations to enhance your hot chocolate experience.

The basis of a hot chocolate bar is that you make a plain hot chocolate and then have a number of different toppings and combinations to choose from to add to your hot chocolate that make it… oh, just a little more. Good hot chocolate can certainly be enjoyed plain and definitely warms you all the way down to your toes, but these additions make it a little more lavish, make it a little more fun.

hot chocolate barIt is also super easy to set up. It does not take a lot of time or effort, the most effort you’ll have to make is to decide what yummy toppings you are going to use! I did this twice over the holidays, once for a ladies only night at my place and second as a fun treat for my kids and nieces while away over Christmas. Everyone loved it! It was super fun. We all had half cups at a time experimenting with different tastes and flavors. I had created a list of suggested combinations but of course you could pick and choose whatever you liked. Plus just looking at the spread set out was not only nice to look at but made you want to try them all!

We had chocolate pieces, peanut butter, orange zest, hazelnut sticks, homemade marshmallows (mint and cinnamon), cinnamon sticks, coconut and some essentials oils like peppermint and lavender. We even had a little ‘adult’ version – a splash of Frangelico, if desired for those over 18.

How to Set Up Your Own Hot Chocolate Bar

Start out with your own base hot chocolate – you can either do this by the cup therefore creating and meeting people’s dietary needs, like dairy free, sugar free or use the just add water powder mix. Or you can make a big batch of your favorite hot chocolate in the slow cooker. I have done it both ways and both have their advantages.

Pick your toppings – there are so many to choose from!

  • chocolate chunks
  • orange zest
  • peppermint stickshot chocolate bar
  • 1-2 drops of peppermint extract or essential oil (if using essential oil you’ll need to use very little but depends on your brand. Also make sure the oil is ok for taking internally
  • coconut cream (for the dairy free) or whip cream
  • peanut butter – word to the wise if using this topping advise your guests that less is more with this one as too much pb makes it sink to the bottom and essentially gets wasted
  • shredded coconut
  • marshmallows
  • cinnamon sticks
  • hazelnut sticks
  • dash of cinnamon
  • cardamom
  • cayenne
  • lucuma
  • mesquite
  • or….

Add desired toppings and enjoy! Use suggested combinations or mix and match to make your own.

A hot chocolate bar literally takes about 5 minutes to set up. When I hosted the ladies it was the easiest and shortest prep I ever had to do for a party. And I loved how visually appealing it looked before everyone dug in.

hot chocolate barThis is also something you can set up in your home on the counter somewhere and leave for a bit for people to enjoy. Of course you’d have to put some of the items into the fridge when not in use but for the most part many of them can stay out.

The thing I love about the hot chocolate bar is it can easily be sugar free dairy free and be very yummy and enjoyable. When my kids participated out of all the choices I set out there were only 1 or 2 that they had to avoid. The rest was far game. So it was easy for them to try different things, experiment and enjoy the full experience.

I also love the versatility of it. You can create one for parties, after tobogganning, weddings, birthdays, after skating – and because of the variety of toppings there’s something for everyone!

If you love hot chocolate then you’ll be super excited for the upcoming YYC Hot Chocolate Fest which I am proud to be a part of this year! Watch for more details to come!

10 Yummy Sugar Free Christmas Recipes

sugar free christmas recipes

Christmas is that time of year when delicious treats and baking abound. Everywhere you go, there is something else to indulge in, something else that tempts you. You try to resist, but …

The good news is there’s no need to deny yourself. You can enjoy delicious sweet treats guilt free this Christmas by creating one (or more) of these yummy sugar free Christmas recipes. Super easy to make and all naturally sweetened they are actually healthy and good for you – so you can feel good about what you are eating and indulge guilt free.

sugar free Christmas recipes

Coconut Balls – Healthy Christmas Truffles

sugar free Christmas recipes

Peanutty Blondie Bars

sugar free Christmas recipes

Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

sugar free Christmas recipes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares

sugar free Christmas recipes

Gingerbread Cookies – A Traditional Cookie

sugar free Christmas recipes

Classic Sweet Butter Tarts

sugar free Christmas recipes

Best Paleo Buckeyes

sugar free Christmas recipes

Easy Homemade Paleo Mint Dark Chocolate

sugar free Christmas recipes

Festive Gingerbread Protein Bites

sugar free Christmas recipes

Hermit Cookies – A Soft Delectable Christmas Cookie

Do you have a favorite sugar free Christmas recipes? Share in the comments below.

10-yummy-sugar-free-christmas-recipes-pinterest

Gingerbread Smoothie – A Christmas Smoothie to Indulge In

 

gingerbread smoothieI love gingerbread and thoroughly enjoy all the different possibilities during the Christmas season. Last year I discovered this yummy gingerbread smoothie!

Last Christmas I had the unique opportunity and pleasure to spend it with my parents all by myself. No kids, no siblings, just me and Mom and Dad. It was a real treat to just spend time with them and not have to compete with everyone else. Because no offense I love and enjoy the company of all those other people but the visit becomes different.

gingerbread muffinsDuring this relaxing and enjoyable time with them I decided to get creative and experiment with a few festive smoothies. Many of the favorite holiday flavors like orange cranberry, peppermint, gingerbread. Why not? I had the time and it was the holidays after all.

This is when I discovered this yummy gingerbread smoothie! I had already explored gingerbread waffles and gingerbread muffins and knew that a smoothie would be a wonderful addition to my compilation.

So as I do, I hopped on the net and researched some gingerbread smoothie recipes. I found a few that I liked and in the end ended up combining ideas and creating my own.

Gingerbread Smoothie

1 cup non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, etc.)

1-2 tbsp. barley malt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. fresh gingergingerbread smoothie

1 tsp. vanilla

1 banana

1 tbsp. chia seeds

sprinkle of nutmeg

Place all ingredients except the barley malt into the blender. Blend until smooth. Now add the barley malt a little bit at a time. If you like the flavor add closer to 2 tbsp.; if you want it more sublte then just add 1. Blend well, pour into glass and enjoy.

Note: Make the smoothie and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to infuse and gives you a much stronger flavor than if consumed right away.

Serves 1

The smoothie was a hit! My parents and I enjoyed it quite a bit and I love the fact that you have chia seeds in there. They have many health benefits such as high in nutrients such as fiber, protein, antioxidants and low in calories!

I did not drink mine quickly as I was multi tasking at the time doing a bunch of different things and this is how I discovered that if you let it sit the flavors become stronger. Because honestly at first sip I thought it was a bit weak in the gingerbread flavor area.

orange cranberry smoothie

Of course after the time at my parents I came home and made it for the kids. Also a hit with them as well – though their favorite was the Orange Cranberry Smoothie I had created.

Glorified Turkey – Quick Easy Turkey Leftovers

turkey leftoversOne of the many things I love about Thanksgiving is all the turkey leftovers! There are so many yummy recipes out there to use up my turkey. In fact, I usually buy a turkey that’s a little bit larger than we need just to make sure we have some leftover.

First of all I love just having leftover turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes for meals during the week. I also love turkey sandwiches, especially hot turkey sandwiches (smothered in gravy – yum!) Then there’s all the fabulous turkey recipes I have to use up the rest.

Our absolute favorite turkey leftover recipe is definitely Turkey Crepes, which we usually make a on Christmas Day in lieu of the big dinner. We decided to do this years ago when we experienced a super simple Christmas and re-examined what we really wanted at Christmas – what was the most important. Making a simple yet yummy meal frees me up in the kitchen and allows me to play and enjoy on Christmas Day. But I digress, we also love Glorified Turkey which is a quick easy turkey leftover recipe that’s ready in 30 minutes. Just add rice or mashed potatoes and your favorite veg and you have a fast healthy meal.

Glorified Turkey

Glorified Turkey is a creamy hearty meal that uses mushroom soup, onion and cheese and creates a delectable meal. I have created a dairy free version, which is super yummy, but you can easily substitute dairy in if you wish.

turkey leftovers2 c. cubed turkey

1/4 c. flour

1/4 c. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

2/3 c. almond milk (or non dairy milk of choice)

1 – 10 oz. can *mushroom soup

1 c. Daiya shredded cheddar

3/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/2 grated onion

1 can or sliced fresh mushrooms

sprinkle of paprika

Coat turkey pieces with flour. Put coated turkey into medium sized casserole dish with melted Earth Balance and heat in 325 F oven while preparing the rest.turkey leftoves

In a medium bowl mix together almond milk, soup, cheese, salt and pepper.

Grate onion and slice mushrooms. Add onion and mushrooms to heated turkey and stir well. Pour liquid mixture over turkey and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetable for a perfect meal.

Serves 4

*I usually make my own mushroom soup, which is dairy free and fabulous btw – 3 kinds of mushrooms, creamy and thick. I also love that the recipe has lima beans in it. But you certainly don’t have to. Canned soup works just as well depending on your own dietary needs.

The kids love this dish! In fact we had it the other night and Luke expressed how he “Loved this dish!” and asked for some more. He even hoped there was leftovers and was asking if he could have that for supper the next day.

You can also get a little creative with this dish by using a variety of cheeses – mix of dairy free mozza, cheddar and even gouda. If you enjoy mushrooms you can increase the amount to suit your desire. The thing I love about this recipe is that it is a totally different taste from the regular turkey dinner and leftovers and how quick it is to make!

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.