Easy Healthy Chocolate Fondue

healthy chocolate fondue

Chocolate Fondue is one of those easy fun desserts or treats that everyone can get into. Dipping fresh fruit in chocolate (or other yummy things like rice krispie bits, cake, pretzels, marshmallows) is delightful and delicious.

A lot of people find though that chocolate fondue can be a little messy and a little bit too much of a sugar rush – with the chocolate burning if your fondue pot is not just right, or it getting too thick to dip in. Not to mention all the sugary treats you are dipping into an already sugar filled chocolate.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way – you can create a healthy chocolate fondue with the yummy treats for dipping (also healthy) and no burning or thickening of your chocolate. And it’s super easy! even the kids can do it.

healthy chocolate fondueYears ago I learned how to make raw organic chocolate, made from cacao butter and cacao powder, then naturally sweetened with your sweetener of choice. It is quick easy and very good for you. Cacao is an ingredient that is considered a superfood, as it is very high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron and zinc, vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9. And it is super high in antioxidants, healthy fat, fiber and protein. Plus when you use a natural sweetener you are now adding in the benefits of that natural sweetener as well (like honey, pure maple syrup, stevia).

You might think well I can just use cocao it’s the same – the fact is it’s not. Though both cocao and cacao come from the same bean they are processed very differently which is why one product (cocao) is stripped of most of it’s vitamins and minerals, while the other (cacao) preserves them.

When you’re making raw organic chocolate, you use a double bowl where you place boiling water in the bottom bowl and place another smaller bowl (that sits on the rim without falling into the bottom one) on top. You simply make your chocolate in the top bowl, using the heat from the water underneath to do your melting and create your chocolate. It’s like a double boiler method without using the stove and creating the risk of burning it!

Once you’ve made your chocolate, you simply keep it in the liquid form for your fondue (as opposed to putting it into molds or a pan to set), by leaving the top bowl on top of the hot water. Place it in the middle of your table or serving area and voila! you are ready to dip and indulge. You do have to be conscious of the lower bowl being hot though and advise those who are sharing the fondue to not touch the bottom bowl (especially important with kids). The chocolate will stay liquid as long as the water is hot and will not burn. As the water starts to cool, the chocolate will set, but all you have to do is add fresh boiling water to your bottom bowl and the chocolate will melt and return to liquid quite quickly. One thing to note is you do need to be careful that you do not get any water into your top bowl with the chocolate as this will ruin your chocolate, so just be aware of that when you’re moving things around.

Otherwise, grab your fork and favorite dipping items and enjoy!

Healthy Chocolate Fondue (this will make enough for 4-6 people and ready in 10 minutes!)

3/4 – 1 cup Cacao butterhealthy chocolate

2-6 tbsp. Cacao powder

1 Vanilla Bean

2 tsp. to start Natural Sweetener of choice (honey, pure maple syrup, etc.)

  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.
  2. Put desired amount of cacao butter into top bowl. Cacao butter will start to melt.
  3. While cacao butter is melting slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the inside seeds with a spoon. Put seeds into melted cacao, it is ok if cacao butter is not completely melted yet. Stir.
  4. Sift cacao powder into a separate bowl. Once cacao butter is completely melted add 2-4 tablespoons of cacao powder. Taste for desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you’d like it richer add more cacao powder.
  5. Once satisfied with amount of cacao powder add natural sweetener of choice. Start with 3 teaspoons and mix. Taste, if desired level of sweetness has not been reached, add 1-2 more tablespoons and taste again. Once level of desired sweetness has been reached you have your base chocolate.
  6. Leave in liquid form and bowls on top of each other and serve. Use pot holder or oven mitt to transfer bowls if moving to another spot.

*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. 

Items for dipping:

Basically you can dip whatever you want into your chocolate (some people love chocolate dipped bacon 🙂 Fruit is the most popular and the quickest to prepare as it is most likely on hand – but if you’re feeling adventurous or just want to change it up a bit try out these other options – which can be healthy and sugar free too! below

Fresh fruit of choice – banana, apple, orange, strawberries, pineapple, cantalope, etc.

Pretzelshealthy chocolate fondue

Healthy sugar free marshmallows (yes these can be healthy to! make your own here)

Sugar free cake bits

Sugar free rice krispie square pieces

Nuts

Make sure you have forks or other utensils to facilitate dipping without items being lost in the chocolate. Fondue forks work great but are not required as regular forks work just as well.

This is super super easy to do with kids and is always a hit. I did it with my Mini Chefs class, 3-5 year olds and they loved it! There were many chocolate faces that day and I did not send them home to parents on a sugar high.

I’ve also succesfully done this with adults many a time and I usually have someone licking the bowl at the end 🙂 The nice thing is you can make as much as you want and if you run out you just make more!

Ok I’m off to make my own chocolate fondue now… all this talk about it is making me crave some…

What are your favorite things to dip in chocolate fondue?

Halloween Dinner Ideas – Monster Brains

halloween dinner ideasEach year for Halloween I love to dive into the food and all the creative ideas there are. There are so many fabulous ideas on how to create spooky, fun and healthy meals and snacks that I often have a hard time picking just one.

We usually have an entire day of Halloween meals and snacks, starting with pumpkin pancakes in the morning in fun Halloween shapes, then boo-nanas for snacks and something creative for supper. In the past I have made dinners such as monster face pizzas and hot dog mummies.

Last year I happened to be at my girlfriends house just before Halloween and she had this cooking show on tv that was highlighting some spooky Halloween dinner ideas. Of course they had lots of fun things going on but the one that stood out for me was the idea for Monster Brains. It is a super easy creative idea to make spaghetti and meatballs and give it a Halloween twist. I loved it! and decided right then that I was going to make it for Halloween dinner.

I was super excited as it was not only going to be fun but quick and easy to make. I am all about getting creative but sometimes I need creative to be fast!

Monster Brains

halloween dinner ideasred, yellow, orange peppers (number of peppers depends on how many people you’re serving as it is 1 per person)

cooked spaghetti

cooked meatballs

tomato sauce

Cut off the top of your pepper like you would when carving a pumpkin – around the top in a circle so you can take the lid off. Clean out the seeds.

Cut a face on the front of your pepper. Design it any way you like. You can go with fancy but that takes more time! I went with simple triangle eyes, nose and slit mouth.

Bake meatballs in oven (I make my own and premade these the day before and just reheated them). Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Rinse spaghetti with hot water in a colander. Fill each pepper with spaghetti and meatballs. Top with tomato sauce and place ‘lid’ of pepper on top. Have some of the spaghetti spilling out the sides for effect. Voila! one spooky monster brain supper!

halloween dinner ideas

My kids of course absolutely loved these and are already asking me if they can have that again for Halloween dinner this year. We may… or I may get creative and do something else!halloween dinner ideas

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.

Easy Strawberry Banana Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe

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

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

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

Dairy Free Strawberry Banana Ice Cream

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

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

1 c. frozen strawberries

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

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

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

Kids Healthy Cooking – Healthy Chocolate with Natural Sweeteners

healthy chocolate

Kids and chocolate. They go together well. All the memories of chocolate covered faces, whether from ice cream or pudding or just a good old fashioned chocolate bar. Yes they say too much chocolate is not good for you, but honestly there is such a thing as healthy chocolate.

A lot of the trouble with chocolate is the amount of sugar in it, but chocolate without sugar and natural sweeteners instead, is a different story. Chocolate itself is rich in antioxidants and is actually very good for us. It is the sugar that is the problem.

healthy chocolateWhen I learned to make my own healthy chocolate, I was surprised at how quick and easy it was. It was so easy that I came home and made it with my oldest son, who at the time was only 6. Four simple ingredients gave us our base chocolate, and then we could create whatever we wanted. He loved it! and wanted to make more. Now my twins who are also 6, love making it as well. It is so easy to make with kids.

So when it came to our last class of Mini Chefs, making healthy chocolate was really a no brainer. I wanted a nice sweet, fun, but healthy treat, so this was perfect. In class, we made the plain chocolate and kept it in liquid form for fondue, dipping a variety of fruit into it; such as apples, oranges and bananas. All of the kids loved it! And yes ended up with chocolate faces 🙂

Raw Organic Chocolate

Ingredients:

Cacao butterhealthy chocolate

Cacao powder

1 vanilla bean

pure maple syrup or honey

*amounts depend on how much chocolate you want to make

Boil water in kettle. Pour boiled water into a large metal bowl, place second smaller metal bowl on top of large bowl so that it sits on top. Place cacao butter into top bowl. Cacao butter will start to melt. While cacao butter is melting slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the inside seeds with a spoon. Put seeds into melted cacao, it is ok if cacao butter is not completely melted yet. Stir.

*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. 

Sift cacao powder into a separate bowl. Once cacao butter is completely melted add 2-4 tablespoons of cacao powder. Taste for desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you’d like it richer add more cacao powder. Once satisfied with amount of cacao powder add natural sweetener of choice. Start with 3 teaspoons and mix. Taste, if desired level of sweetness has not been reached, add 1-2 more tablespoons and taste again. Once level of desired sweetness has been reached you have your base chocolate. This can now be kept liquid and used as a fondue, or can be poured into chocolate molds to form chocolates.

Another option at this point is to add additional ingredients such as nuts, dried fruit, coconut, essential oils (ensure that the essential oils you are using are safe to ingest), etc and pour onto a cookie sheet to let set. Chocolate is best set in freezer but may also be set in fridge.healthy chocolate

I had also been promising the kids we would make ice cream for a number of classes and many of them kept asking when we were going to make it. Since it was the last class we did make peanut butter ice cream as well. Sugar free, dairy free and super easy to make with kids. Look for the peanut butter ice cream recipe in the next kids healthy cooking post.


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!

Kids Healthy Cooking – Healthy Sweet Treats

IMG_6963As human beings one of our biggest vices is all things sweet. The same goes for our kids as well, they prefer bananas over carrots, the cookie over the banana and so on. But what if we could create healthy sweet treats for kids that they would not only love and meet their need for sweet, but would provide them with a nutritional impact full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients?

When we decided to go sugar free at our house I got a lot of looks from other people and questions about how can I deny them all the yummy things that are part of a regular kids life, like cupcakes, chocolates and cookies. The truth is they have never been denied, they still enjoy all those things at our house and more. The difference is not in the taste which is just as yummy if not more so than the ‘original’ – but in what they are made of. We have simply switched to natural sweeteners and added in foods that are super high in nutrients. And honestly they not only gobble them up but request them.

It is easy to make the switch at your house too. Just start slowly adding in one or two recipes and go from there. Make it easy. Plus if you get the kids involved in making these healthy sweet treats your chances of them eating them goes up simply because they have helped.

Also starting with ingredients and foods that they like is key to success when getting kids to eat and try new things. If you pick something they like, they are already interested and will be more open. This is why just before Valentine’s Day in our Mini Chefs class I chose two healthy sweet treat recipes for kids that were chocolate. You should have seen the kids eyes get big and how excited they got when I told them what we were making that day was chocolate (same thing happened when we made the chocolate banana smoothie a few weeks ago).

They were all so excited to try it when it was ready to eat, even though they had watched some ‘weird’ ingredients go in like avocado and chia seeds. Chocolate overruled it all.

Raw Chocolate Pudding

The thing I love about this recipe is the fact that you simply put all the ingredients in the blender and mix. In just minutes you have a smooth, fluffy and delicious chocolate pudding.

2 ripe bananas, peeled and slicedhealthy sweet treats for kids

1 avocado, pitted and peeled

2 tbsp. raw cacao powder (this is different than cocao powder)

1 tsp. agave nectar

Put all ingredients in blender in the order listed. Start on low, slowly turn speed up to high. Blend for 30 seconds on high or until desired consistency is reached. *it’s sweet as is, but if you’d like to increase sweetness add more agave nectar to taste – agave is twice as sweet as sugar so use small amounts and taste before adding more 

Avocados are fantastic additions to recipes. Not only are they mild in taste, they are high in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, B5, B6, C and E as well as Omega 3’s. They offer a lot of health benefits like improved mood, reduced stress, good eye health and more. They are also a great food that actually curbs sugar cravings! Because they are high in healthy fats they slow digestion and prevent the body’s blood sugar from spiking after eating. It is also true that when we crave sugar it is often because we are missing certain nutrients and adding a healthy fat will curb this craving as the body becomes satisfied.

No Bake Chocolate Macaroons

1 bananahealthy sweet treats for kids

¼ c. coconut oil, melted

¼ c. pure maple syrup

½ tsp. vanilla

6 tbsp. cacao powder

1.5 c. unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp. chia seeds

small pinch sea salt

In a medium size bowl mash banana well until there are no clumps. Stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Sift cacao powder and stir into banana mixture. Stir in chia seeds, coconut and salt.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a teaspoon at a time onto parchment paper. Put in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. Store in freezer until ready to enjoy.

Makes approx 15 macaroons

Chia seeds are not only high in dietary fibre and protein as well as many other vitamins, they make you feel full as well as being an ingredient that stabilizes blood sugar. Cacao powder is rich in vitamins and nutrients such as iron, antioxidants and high in B Vitamins. Cacao does differ from cocoa as though they come from the same plant the difference is in how they are processed and the amount of nutrients that are left in it. Cacao is also considered a superfood while cocoa is not.healthy sweet treats for kids

So have fun, enjoy! not only will the kids love these healthy sweet treats you may find that you love them to (I have a hard time eating only one chocolate macaroon at a time…) They are quick easy and so yummy you and your kids will forget that they are actually good for you.

Next week pancakes with super cool faces!

Kids Healthy Cooking – How to Make Tacos

how to make tacos with kidsTacos are one of those great foods that are an quick easy dinner solution that you can easily incorporate many food groups (including vegetables) and taste delicious. They are also a fabulous way to get the kids involved in helping make dinner as there is lots of scooping and use of their hands. You may think it will create a big mess, but here are some easy ways how to make tacos with the kids and be successful!

How to Make Tacos with Kids

1. Prep in advance – Chop, grate, cut the ingredients you are using in advance and put them into separate bowls that the kids can easily scoop or grab things out of. Place a spoon with each item so they don’t mix them.

2. Provide a variety of ingredients – in Mini Chefs we used just lettuce and tomato and cheese, but you could include avocado, cucumber, spinach…basically any vegetable. Providing variety will not only makes the kids curious but it will also encourage them to try a little, especially when they are making their own.

3. Use some kind of dip or spread – sour cream, Veganaise or mayonaise, guacamole, salsa all add a little flavor and variety to their taco. It also makes it less dry and provides nice texture and easier on the palate.

4. Demo what it looks like – make one and show them what you would typically put in it, everything from sour cream to tomatoes and cheese. Let them know that if they choose not to put an ingredient in that’s ok. The example will not only show them what can go in it but might encourage them to put some of those ingredients in themselves.

5. Let them make their own – give them the tortilla or taco shell and show them all the options, then let them decide which ingredients they want to put in and how much. (Remind them that they need to close up the tortilla so not to put too much in). When they make their own they are more likely to eat it.

how to make tacos with kidsWhen I did this with my Mini Chefs class I had everything ready in advance and this made it very smooth when making them. The only thing we prepped together was to cook the ground chicken, which I did and they watched. They all really like watching what is happening as their curiosity makes them interested and that is the best way to get them engaged.

Many of them tried different ingredients, creating their own with various amounts of the things they liked. We used soft tortillas, which I find easier with kids because you can roll them up and have less stuff falling out! but you can use hard taco shells if you prefer. I did have to remind them that though they could put in what they liked, not to put too much in as we needed to roll it up and have it all fit.

Rolling them up was the fun part. I showed them how to do it and then helped each child coaching them through rolling it up themselves, which each of them did quite successfully. Once we had it rolled up then we chowed down and enjoyed our tasty creations.

I even had the next week a Mom share with me that her son had made tacos for supper one night after this particular class, which I was so pleased to hear. She said he insisted on clearing up which he never does and he is now also eating lettuce, which he never ate lettuce. Wrapping it up and presenting it in a different way is one of the many reasons why this has occurred. Plus he (and the other children) were allowed choice in what they could put in and weren’t told that they had to use this ingredient or that one.

I feel that this class has been our most successful class so far and that learning how to make tacos has taken the children’s learning in the kitchen to the next level. It really is a simple nutrition packed meal which can easily be modified if you want it dairy free, vegetarian or packed with protein (add kidney beans or chick peas). There are a large variety of different taco recipes and combinations to try, but I would recommend starting with a basic recipe to get the kids into it, and then expand upon it from there.

Tacos

Ingredients:

1 pkg. ground chicken (or any choice of ground meat)how to make tacos

1 tbsp. taco seasoning (recipe below)

tomatoes, chopped

lettuce, chopped

Daiya cheddar cheese, shredded (or regular cheddar if desired)

Vegan sour cream – I love Earth Island (or regular sour cream)

tortillas

Brown ground chicken in frying pan. Add 1 tbsp. of taco spice and mix.  Lay out one tortilla flat on counter or plate, spread a spoonful of sour cream on tortilla, add spoonful of chicken, tomato, lettuce and cheese. Fold tortilla over once, tuck in ends by folding over on each side, then roll the rest of the tortilla to end.

Taco Seasoning

(this is an easy seasoning that can be made at home with spices you likely already have in your cupboard. Pre-make it and skip the processed package stuff from the store)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili powderhow to make tacos

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.

Do you have a favorite taco recipe that your kids love? Share it below

Coming up next…some chocolate delights, macaroons and chocolate pudding!

Don’t miss our other kids healthy cooking recipes such as yogurt parfaits, tuna melts and kids smoothies