Category Archives: Gluten-Free

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Preschool Playdate: Johnny Appleseed

Playdate: September 29, 2016
Theme: inspired by Johnny Appleseed’s birthday on September 26th

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity: “A” sound box
— Centers | Free play
— Closing

This is actually the second time we have done this theme – what’s not to love about apples?! We brought back some of the activities that the children loved last time and added new ones that better fit the age of the children attending last Thursday. Click HERE to see last year’s event.

STORY TIME
This is actually a narrative biography of Johnny Appleseed’s life that is WAY to long for a preschooler to listen to all in one sitting. We broke it up over five days for our big kids!!  However, the book boasts one-page and two-page illustration spreads, so I searched the internet to come up with the high points of his life, made up two sentences to summarize those points, and showed 7 pictures to go along with the summaries.  It all worked out!

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Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend; Written and Illustrated by Will Moses

 

LITERACY CENTER
Fun with magnet letters!

Level 1: Match the letters to the corresponding letter in the word “apple”
Level 2: Sort the letters into Uppercase/Lowercase or sort by specific letter
Level 3: Turn over the “apple” word card and have the child spell out the word; then check for accuracy.

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MATH CENTERS
Number recognition/spatial recall
The apple cards are programmed with numbers and the Spanish words for the numbers. We had two levels of play:
1) jumble one set of cards and put them in order/
2) use two sets and place them apple-side up to play a memory match game.

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Counting
Modifying the “Cookies on a Plate” game from Lakeshore Learning to fit our theme…

Here is “Apples in the Bowl”. Roll the die, count out that number and place the apples in the bowl. The first player to reach the number ten wins.

This game is great for teaching one-to-one correspondence as well as addition; and for older children you could introduce the idea of “greater than” and “less than”.

There is also a sensory interaction with the apple shape and noticing the differences in color. Another level of play would be to sort by color into the separate bowls.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
Tasting apples and apple products!

We showed the different colors of the outer skin, as well as the different tastes of each apple (sweet, sour, tart)

We also did a texture and flavor comparisons between fruit, sauce, and juice.

We always enjoy a good tasting center!!

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
Fun fact about apples: there is a star hidden in the core!!

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My intention was to use the core to stamp….

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The sweet peas decided to use them as painting implements instead!!

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I love how they adapted to materials at hand to suit themselves and create their own art.

 

We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye poem where children are welcome to give hugs; then we sing our closing song and say a final good-bye.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards. The rest of us stay and visit for a few more minutes and watch our Bradley babies enjoy their extended playtime :)

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Gluten-Free: Legoland California

We have been on break from Preschool Playdates for Spring vacation.  We will start up our Playdate recaps again next week when I share all the fun we are having today as we celebrate Ireland.  This whole month is Irish-American Heritage month…so even if you are a little late to catch the St. Patrick’s Day theme, you can celebrate the Irish all month long.

Last week, I showed you how we did gluten-free at Disney California Adventure Park.  Today I am going to share the second part of our California trip in Carlsbad, CA.

We have a Lego problem at our house…as I imagine happens to many families who have children that are constantly playing with these little building blocks, they hardly ever turn down the opportunity to play with Legos.  A whole park full of Legos and Lego-themed activities?? YES, PLEASE!!  Every year we go, at least one child asks when we are going to move in…

Anyway, I digress.  Here was another park that went above and beyond to assuage my anxieties over the phone before we visited the first time.  After a successful first trip, by which I mean we could feed our children in the park without having anyone get sick, we have made it a regular stop on our visits to Southern California.

The third year we went back, we were also able to stay and enjoy the Legoland Hotel.  They have the same policy as the Disney parks: the head chef will come out and talk to us.  They listen to what our food allergies are, take us on the tour of the buffet to show us what is and isn’t safe for our family, and then they can also prepare gluten-free items that are not out on the buffet.  For breakfast, the extra gluten-free items are muffins and gluten-free bread; for dinner it is macaroni-and-cheese and brownies.

Even with the items that are prepared in the kitchen, there is plenty to eat out on the buffet.  We get up early enough that I was able to take pictures of breakfast choices…dinner is too crazy, and I am too self-conscious to run around with my phone snapping photos when it’s busy.  Since there are no photos, I’ll tell you that at dinner there are plenty of gluten-free protein, grain, and vegetable items to choose from – you will not leave hungry anytime you eat at the hotel buffet.

It just so happens that one of our favorite areas to hang out also has all the gluten-free food available restaurants we like.  Castle Hill is home to Castle Burgers, where they will do gluten-free hamburger buns, Knight’s Smokehouse BBQ that has salads and GF meats and sides, and Granny’s Apple Fries, hands-down our favorite snack pretty much anywhere on earth.

(See a map of the resort HERE)

Although we have never eaten there, there is a salad and sandwich restaurant where we might be able to eat at Pirate Shores.  We are usually in that area at the end of the day getting wet, so it has never been on our lunch stop.  The other place we have gotten food that is safe and yummy is at Wok N’ Bowl Raman, which used to be part of Duplo Funtown. That part of the park has been redesigned and updated to be the Lego Friends Heartlake City.

Although we couldn’t stay as long as we usually do this year (only one day of apple fries – boo hoo!), we had an awesome time at the park and at the hotel. They do offer different hotel pricing for peak times and off-times, so go if you can swing it!! The themed rooms are amazing (we may or may not have gotten a sneak peek at the new Friends room – squee!), the play area is every Lego aficionados dream – parent and child alike can be found building to their heart’s content.

So here is a visual tour of some of the food we enjoyed while we were on our Legoland California trip.

BREAKFAST

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Gluten-free items on the children’s buffet: sausage, tater tots, fruit This bar is just the right height for a child to serve themselves.

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The oatmeal is gluten-free. Potentially, the grits may be – if you eat grits, you can confirm with the chef.

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Hot cereal fixings on the right; yummy lox and all the fixings on the left: lox, tomatoes, lemon, capers, onions, hard boiled eggs, cream cheese – Oh My Yum!!

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Fresh Mango and Berry smoothies are blended up every morning.

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Breakfast potatoes and vegetable selections are gluten-free.

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Omelet and egg station – made to order!

SNACKS IN THE PARK

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Fresh fruit and gluten-free fruit snack options.

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lucy’s gluten-free cookies!!!

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Fresh apples

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Potato chips

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LUNCH

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Salad, vegetable fries, and corn-on-the-cob. In all fairness, I didn’t ask about the vegetable fries – check first if you have celiac disease!! Mine is just a sensitivity after eating gluten-free for the last 8 years so that the Sweet Peas don’t feel isolated or alone in their allergy.

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Gluten-free hamburger+hamburger bun; fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer

DINNER

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Macaroni-and-cheese – Puma declares that this is the best mac-n-cheese in the world.

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Gluten-Free: Disney California Adventure Park

Our older Sweet Peas got to dance at Disney California Adventure on March 5th with their dance school, Talent Factory based in Tempe, Arizona. It is always such a great day for our family.  We go in early and stay as late as the collective Sweet Peas can handle. Sometimes we close down the park; this year they were toast by 8:00 pm.  Then again, they rode more rides than ever before, so they were definitely tired out!!

The first time we did this “field trip” with their dance school, I was freaking out about feeding our gluten-free children at the park.  What could they eat? Where could they eat? Wouldn’t the opportunity for cross-contamination be theme-park proportioned?!?

Instead of continuing to freak out, I made a phone call to the park. After a few minutes on the phone with one of the park’s dining reservations specialist, my mama bear was able to calm down.

1.) You can bring your own snacks.

2.) There are gluten-free dining options in the parks.

3.) A chef will come out and personally take your order and prepare the food themselves. They will give you a run down of the menu items that suit your allergy. (They have been able to accommodate gluten, dairy, and nut allergies for our family.) They take care to avoid cross-contamination.

4.) Our children have never gotten sick after spending a day in the park and eating at Disney restaurants.

In the past, we have enjoyed Ariel’s Grotto and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (overviews HERE). An annual family favorite is Wine Country Trattoria. We first ate there as part of the World of Color ticket; and have returned for lunch even when we don’t have to eat there for the Color show.

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Image Source: Disney.disney.go.com

This is the first year when our server took our order and we never saw the chef. Nonetheless, she was versed in the gluten-free menu, took our order, and adjusted it accordingly so that our gluten-free kids only ate gluten-free foods.  They also have amazing gluten-free rolls!! Puma and Night Owl ate them heartily!

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My Cuattro Pomodoro with micro-greens and gluten-free spaghetti

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Puma’s penne pasta with butter and shaved parmesan, and one of the amazing gluten-free rolls

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NIght Owl had the bolognese with gluten-free spaghetti and shaved parmesan

Another “safe’ place for gluten-free families to get some snacks is Mortimer’s Market.  They feature several different options for fresh fruits and vegetables, and they also offer hummus. There are no gluten-free crackers in the hummus pack, but you could dip the carrots and celery in the hummus, or BYOGFC 😉

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Say hello to Khanh for us – he was very nice and knew lots of Disney trivia!!

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Night Owl with his favorite – red delicious apples!! We asked – a lot of the produce is locally sourced – yeah, Disney!!

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Fruit is naturally gluten-free: this case had watermelon, mango, and pineapple on ice. So refreshing on a hot day!

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More good options: carrots+celery, hummus, pickles, grapes, apples+caramel

We continue to be impressed with the amount of options and the level of consideration offered to families that travel in spite of their food allergies. I generally have anxiety about traveling with our family, and we pack A TON of snacks for the car/hotel because God-forbid we get stranded somewhere, without a place to feed the sweet peas! (I’m kind of kidding, but I’m not – my allergy-mama tribe feels me, right?)

It is nice to just enjoy the park and not be completely obsessed or over-anxious about all the ways they might get sick from accidental ingestion or cross-contamination.  It’s safe to say that we will continue to participate in this trip and enjoy our fun-day at the park!

We will see what next year will bring – we found out that Otter loves roller-coasters…maybe she will be tall enough to try out some Disney screamers next year!! And then God only knows how late we will be staying in 2017 😉

For more gluten-free Disney 411 check out these posts:

TOP 10 Gluten-Free Options from Chip and Co. blog

Eating Gluten-Free in Disneyland from the Disney Food Blog

 

LODGING: On a side-note, we stayed at the Embassy Suites Anaheim South. They offer complimentary breakfast every morning…our kiddos enjoyed krispy rice cereal, eggs, oatmeal, omelettes, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit and lots of bacon!! They even offered almond milk, although none of our kiddos drink it, if I had read the menu under “beverages” I could have had some (decaf!) coffee.

Here is a sample of their children’s grill menu available for lunch or dinner. We tried both the gluten-free pizza and the gluten-free pasta – both were good. They don’t have gluten-free hamburger or hot dog buns, so Night Owl had his hot dogs without buns both evenings. I watched him for a reaction (sometimes hot dogs have fillers even when the menu says “all beef”) but he didn’t have a reaction. Phew!

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Tuesday Tip: Favorite Mac+Cheese Recipe

I love it when our Sweet Peas get involved in the kitchen and meal planning.  Night Owl’s reading skills have exploded over the last few months. I found myself sitting with him at the kitchen table on Saturday night, reading through Catherine McCord’s Weelicious cookbook, definitely one of our favorites.

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Next to a chicken finger recipe he wants to try, we found THIS gem of a recipe. At it’s most basic, it’s a four-ingredient dish, and it doesn’t require any extra prep* outside of measuring the ingredients.

What’s to love:

  • It’s easy to make gluten-free and vegetarian by substituting ingredients
  • It takes 35 minutes from start to finish
  • Easy clean-up: the rice cooker container + 3 measuring cups
  • It’s a crowd pleaser!
  • A child can prep it by themselves and proudly tell the family, “I made dinner!”

How we made it work for our family:

  • We used gluten-free pasta – the Trader Joe’s penne pasta held up really well and also reheated well
  • We used a vegetable broth instead of the beef broth called for in the recipe
  • We cut the salt
  • We subbed whole milk for rice milk
  • We did actually use a real shredded cheese mix from Costco :)

Night Owl and I made it on Saturday evening, and served it with a side of 4-bean chili (another fave Weelicious recipe HERE) that I defrosted from the freezer. YUM!!!

I decided to try it again on Sunday to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.  Yes, it’s a legitimate win!! We are adding this to our roster of regulars.

As a bonus, I was able to steam broccoli to serve on the side in the steamer portion of the rice cooker while the mac+cheese recipe was cooking. It didn’t get overly cooked since there is not a lot of water to convert to steam in the cooking process – most of it was absorbed by the pasta in the cooker.

I hope you and your Sweet Peas will enjoy this recipe as much as we did! Leave me a comment and let me know if you try it, and if you made any adjustments that worked for your family!

*P.S. We usually make our own vegetable broth…if you make your own broth, then that would be a prep step! Since I was too impatient to defrost a freezer bag of veggie broth, we used store-bought this time.  Next time we make this, I will pull a bag of broth out of the freezer in the morning :)

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Preschool Playdate: Pumpkins

We enjoyed all these activities on October 15, 2015

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)

— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)

— Discussion of theme: Showed the word “pumpkin” written on the word card, and also passed around the basket of pumpkins for the children to explore

— Storytime

— Poem/Song before we break for Centers: “5 Little Pumpkins” fingerplay

STORY TIME
Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

Sweet little story of growing a pumpkin from seed to sprout to flower, and then watching it grow into a large pumpkin.

LITERACY CENTER
Letter Guessing Game inspired by a The Mailbox Superbook activity – I spelled out the word “pumpkin” in uppercase and lowercase letters, and then also selected uppercase and lowercase magnets to match.  

Level 1/2: Parents pull out the letters, name them for the children and tell the phonic sound (child repeats), and then either place them in order under the tag, or have the children place them in the right spot.

Level 2: Child reaches into the bag, feels the letter, and then guesses what they think it is.  Then they pull it out to check their guess, and place it in the correct order to spell out, “pumpkin”.

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Literacy Center

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Literacy Center

MATH CENTER
This idea is from Preschool Plan It – see the original instructions HERE

You can download the printable I made for your own personal use – it’s not pretty or professional, just an easy file you can print on your own to make your own manipulatives: PPD Pumpkins Math Center.  I left the front blank with only the letter on the leaf; the back had the letter leaf and pumpkin seed stencils on the back.

The instructions were to put the pumpkins and some pumpkin seeds on the table and see what the children would do.  Here are some ideas for ways to lead the children:

Level 1: Have the children identify the numbers and put them in order

Level 2: Practice one-to-one correspondence by having the children place pumpkin seeds on the stenciled shapes

Level 3: Start introducing the concept of even and odd numbers. I purposely stenciled the pumpkin seeds in columns so that the children could get a visual understanding of what makes a number “even”, and what makes it “odd”.

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Math Center

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Math Center

 

DISCOVERY TABLE
I picked up some gourds and mini-pumpkins from Trader Joe’s.  We picked them to represent some of the different colors aside from orange, and also with texture in mind.  The children could look at them and/or feel them to decide if they were “smooth” or “bumpy”. You might make this extra-sensory by blindfolding the children and then having them sort.

The other part of today’s discovery was for the children to taste pumpkin-flavored foods.  I found a gluten-free pancake mix at Trader Joe’s, picked up a box of their pumpkin snack bars, and I also added some sprouted pumpkin seeds that we buy at Costco.  I also offered some of the shelled seeds that were from the bag that we used for math – they were toasted with oil and salt; also from Trader Joe’s.

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Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Discovery Center

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Discovery Center

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Discovery Center

ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This idea is inspired by Preschool Plan It – see the original instructions HERE 

The idea from Preschool Plan It was to do the handprint pumpkin, and the stem with a finger. I didn’t want two different colors of paint to wash off, so I pulled out our green and brown ink pads.  I started by printing a heart shaped leaf using the thumb pad and green ink. Next, I dipped the whole thumb in the brown ink. Lastly, I brushed orange paint on the child’s knuckles of a clenched hand, and then printed those onto the paper.

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Arts & Crafts

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate: Arts & Crafts

Plus, one more activity with play dough…making pumpkins with faces (suggested by Preschool Plan It and executed with THIS play dough recipe)

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate

Sweet Pea Families Pumpkin Playdate

We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a goodbye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.  Otherwise, the kiddos and parents that don’t have to leave stay and play for a little while so we can catch up and talk attachment parenting.

 

To get two hearts out of the same round, start by placing the wedge of the shape cutter over the stem of the apple.

Monday Musings: No-Candy Valentine’s Day

As I promoted my “No Sweets” post on Instagram, an interesting comment thread ensued.  In it, a discussion about how a grandchild requested a candy-free Valentine’s Day because he wants to pursue a healthier lifestyle, and a grandmother who was greatly offended and who intends to ignore/refuse his request.

It got me thinking…how would I honor this request if one of our children asked for this? In fact, how could we do a low-sweet, non-commercial candy (chemical sh**storm) Valentine’s Day?

So here is our plan:

1.  We are going to purchase fruits that can be cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters.  So far, we are up to kiwis, mango, pineapple, melons, bananas, and apples.  HERE is a way we have prepared apples before.  We may bake those, and do the rest raw…although I have heard that grilling pineapple is delicious, too.

2. For the ones that are prone to discoloration (bananas for sure, maybe the raw apples), we are going to roll them in organic cocoa powder.  THIS is the one we used for Christmas that we plan on using again (no affiliate links in this post – feel free to click).

3.  We are going to make our own chocolate dipped strawberries and kiwi pops – jury is still out on which organic chocolate I have the heart to melt – definitely NOT my Wei of Chocolate stash.  I’ll probably go with the Enjoy Life brand if I don’t find anything else.  HERE is a great how-to video on coating fruit with chocolate.  We use Spectrum Palm Shortening instead of coconut oil because coconut is another food we avoid due to allergies for the Sweet Pea Kids.

BLOG ww140514 spf.44. Last on our list, we are going to make a gluten-free, more natural version of THIS brownie recipe from the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.  The recipe calls for adding in carrot and spinach purees along with the chocolate and sugar…YUM.  Besides replacing the flour with my favorite GF blend from Bob’s Red Mill, we do not use cooking sprays or margarine in our home.  We’ll adjust as needed and bake from there!

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

So while it isn’t going to be a no-sweet or chocolate-free for us, I appreciate the comment thread because it got me thinking about how we can have a gluten-free, non-commercial candy celebration.  It isn’t convenient, that is for sure, however, some of these things can be made ahead and frozen (kiwi pops, brownies) so that the work is spread out over a few days instead of one big day and night of preparation the day before St. Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Find us over on Instagram (SPF handle) throughout the week – Puma or I will post pictures of our progress through these ideas :)

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Friday Favorite: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour

We have been on the gluten-free journey for seven years now.  There was learning curve fraught with tears and desperation.  Then came the trial and error of buying almost every box and bag of all the different brands.  Followed by the economic reality of not being able to buy prepared baked goods all the time.  So we started trying out all the different mixes available.

Up until last month, my favorite brand has been the 1-2-3 Gluten-Free line.  We never went wrong with any of their boxes.  And then on a whim because it was there, I bought a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.  It is a little pricier than other gluten-free flour…but I thought what the heck – if it works, then it’s worth it.

BRM 1to1 Flour

Seriously – Life Changing. It Is Worth It!!

We started by making some scones with it when our kiddos had to stop eating anything with yeast in it.  YUM!

(Not to *crush* or anything…but…Bob’s Red Mill complimented us on these scones in the comments!!)

And then we made some basic rolls for Christmas that were A.Ma.Zing.  We were making them every day for a while, and we just enjoyed them for dinner again last night.  YUM.

The “icing on the cake”?  I followed a recipe in a cookbook (we-ell…kind of…more on that below) and they turned out B-E-A-Utifully!! After seven years of decent cupcakes…I now have FLUFFY CUPCAKES!!!  Life-changing, really, when you love to bake from scratch and not a box.

So here is what we made using THIS recipe from Weelicious as a starting point.

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Our modifications:

We substituted bananas in the batter because we didn’t have any beets in the house (or so I thought – just found one in the tortilla drawer of all places!)

Since one of our kiddos is allergic to cane sugar, we use THE ULTIMATE SWEETENER®  made from birch.

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Instead of using beets to color the frosting, we used frozen cherries.

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Note on using fruit juice as a coloring agent …It always comes out lighter than I imagine when I’m juicing the fruit.  We had the same challenge when we used raspberries in THIS cupcake recipe this summer.  Try using more than you think you need – probably twice as much.

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Next time I make frosting, I will use the fruit juice before adding the milk as I blend the ingredients; and then add milk as needed for a smoother consistency.

I hope you have as much baking with this flour as I do…literally a whole new world of recipes has opened up to us because now I am not limited by any boxes!!  I will definitely be trying the allergen-free I recipe I used this summer again with this flour so we can bring some rockin’ gluten-free treats for a tea-party we are attending on Sunday.

Huge thank you to Bob’s Red Mill.  I imagine they have some idea of how grateful a family like ours is to be able to bake from scratch again, or they wouldn’t have invested in the time and the energy to bring this product to market.

Toddler Tooth Health

Over the past six months I have filtered through, purchased, read and absorbed every last bit of information that I could find regarding tooth health and then specifically tooth health in children. It is a long, windy road of events and information but I thought I would try to briefly summarize in a post that may be helpful for other families feeling the urge to shy away from modern dentistry.

toddler tooth health

While making the move toward a more healthy and holistic lifestyle during our time living in Arizona, a friend and herbalist recommended an unbelievably great dentist, Dr. David Lewis. His practice is no frills and so inexpensive that we found my dental insurance at the time to not even be beneficial for my husband and I anymore and therefore did not have to renew it. He does not use harmful X-Rays and sticks to the very basics of tooth health. We loved and appreciated receiving cleanings from him (if you are in AZ and looking for a new dentist definitely check him out!) but unfortunately we moved away from the area when my son was ten months old and I never got the chance to ask him if he sees children.

Fast forward a little more than a year and I discovered my son has some brown spots in between his front four teeth. I had already discovered he had an undiagnosed lip tie (which I am sure was the culprit for our zillion breastfeeding troubles) and this seemed to be another by-product of that.

From Mommypotamus.com: “When a lip tie – also known as a maxillary frenum attachment – is present the mouth has trouble clearing milk away from the top four teeth. In Katie it caused the breast fed version of what is commonly called “bottle rot.””

After tons of reading, including the holy grail of holistic dentistry, Cure Tooth Decay, I decided we would make some changes and give his teeth some time to heal and restore and then take him to visit a holistic dentist in a few months to a year when he is older (the recommendation for first dental visit was 3 years old for quite some time and has more recently been pushed up to 2 years and 1 years) and has a better understanding of what will take place during the visit, etc. Below is everything we have implemented as of today.
Please remember: These are simply my own opinions based on my own thoughts, gathered knowledge, and experiences. I am not a Doctor or any kind of health professional so please consult a professional before making any changes to your diet and health. Please do what is right individual to you and your family. 

Traditional Foods Diet
For us this is: no grains except soaked oats, no added sugars except honey, organic free-range chicken, organic grass-fed beef, organic grass-fed butter, bone broth, farmer’s market fruit & vegetables, organic nuts & seeds, local raw cow’s milk and raw milk cheeses. We eat occasional organic beans and legumes too. We roasted a whole chicken on Sunday to have on hand for the week for lunches and made bone broth with left over vegetable ends, the chicken carcass and some chicken feet for extra gelatin. Eliminating juice and crackers from my son’s diet was actually a lot easier than I thought, if we don’t have it in the house it is really not an issue. We still indulge in the occasional treat out and I don’t stress if he grabs some of his friend’s crackers during play dates, etc.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil
More info found here. I ordered the Green Pastures Arctic Mint Liquid. No it is not easy to get my 2.5 year old to take it but it is worth the battle, in my opinion.

Tooth Soap
I used this DIY recipe for tooth soap to use most days a long with our homemade tooth paste every once in a while.

Tooth Tissues
We brush my son’s teeth once in the morning after breakfast and once at night before bed. Before nap time I wipe his teeth down with one of these tissues, if he does have a sugary treat during the day I also wipe down right after.

No Food After Brushing
We encourage my son to snack before bed so he sleeps with a full tummy but he now finishes all of his snacks and then brushes teeth right before getting in bed to read books. He knows that once teeth are brushed that means no more food. If he does happen to stay up later and grab a banana or something then we just wipe down really well with the tooth tissues above.

Probiotic
I purchased probiotic capsules, break them open and add the powder or gel to T’s water. Dr. Ohhira’s is an awesome brand and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, albeit pricey.

This is everything we have implemented so far, I have on my to-do list to check out some homeopathic supplementation and to look more into added calcium and phosphorus though. I hope these are helpful, even for preventative ideas to implement with your babies, toddlers or children! There is so much more information out there regarding holistic tooth health and the detriments of modern dentistry on overall health but I really wanted to keep this brief and straightforward as I have continued to feel extremely overwhelmed every time I sit down to go over the available information on the subject!

What are you experiences regarding your family’s teeth? Any other helpful tips I can be using with my toddler??

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Tuesday Tips: Allergen-Free Cupcake Recipe

I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart cookbook – it was so yummy I wanted to share it with you. The recipe is dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and soy-free.  We adjusted it to be gluten-free for us. Kiddos loved them – they disappeared.

We made them without cocoa powder because I didn’t have it with me, and we substituted the white flour for a GF Sweet Baking mix from Gluten Free Creations Bakery & Cafe. We also used apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar…a little tip from the DC cupcakes show to make them a little sweeter  To top them off, we made a buttercream frosting colored with raspberry and strawberry juice.

Find the recipe here:
http://www.marthastewart.com/315948/divvies-chocolate-cupcakes

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Recipe from the “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes,” book, featuring 175 ideas for every occasion

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Our vanilla version of the Allergen-Free Chocolate Cupcake recipe shared on the Martha Stewart Show by Divvies Bakery in 2008

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We squeezed the juice from a handful of raspberries and two strawberries using a cheesecloth to make a natural food coloring.

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Food Network “Quick Vanilla Buttercream” recipe colored pink with raspberry and strawberry juice.

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Finished product…ultimate compliment was having someone ask which bakery I bought them at, even with a less-than-perfect “signature swirl” *wink*

Puma is all smiles after the last number in her Christmas show.

Monday Musings: Healing

What does that mean, really? HEALING.

Is it from one ailment? Good enough to function? Or am I praying for truly a complete, transformational healing that changes a life?

Let me back up.  Puma has been struggling with her bowels for years.  It started when she was about five years old.  We suspected food poisoning, and later blood tests showed Hepatitis A, which is generally an indicator of food poisoning.  As our pediatrician told us, “you could get it from lettuce in a salad bar”.

Ever since then, she has not been well.  After going the Western allopathic route with no positive results, and the weekly visits to the chiropractor that started when she was six years old didn’t resolve the issue, we started working with an acupuncturist when she was around seven.  He has an Asyra machine that evaluates the whole body….after three sessions, we were able to get that her body was not tolerating gluten.  An answer!

So we cut out gluten – things got better.  Then she got hit with Rotavirus last April (2013).  Her little body could not recover from that on her own and we ended up with a five-day hospitalization.  Little by little she got stronger and added more weight.  Things started to improve again – life goes on.

Last September, I start having this nagging suspicion that something is still not right. After the “summer growth spurt” children go through, I see that she is among the “small” ones in her peer group as other girls her age have added inches to their stature.  Then Night Owl, who is 2 years and 9 months younger is gaining on her height (he is actually now taller than she is.)  I begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, this gut “thing” is still preventing her from using all the nutrients in her food, and if I will have any regrets if I don’t follow up.

So after talking with Bruss, praying about it, we decide it is time to go the allopathic route again. She does another round of blood work; our pediatrician recommends a naturally-minded GI specialist.  We make the appointment and are counting down the days until we take another stab at getting some answers and some kind of solution.

In the meantime, Puma comes down with another virus.  It is suspected to be Norovirus.  Thank goodness there is no vomiting this time (we know if that happens, we try the Zofran and if Zofran doesn’t work we need to go to the hospital…) – anyway, it’s just a gradual decline into helplessness as I watch our child fall into despair and listlessness and she refuses to eat because she knows it’s just coming right out the other side.  I hear her crying every time she is in the bathroom, and one morning she asks me, “Why me – why am I always in the bathroom?”

I remember the lesson she taught me – ask for prayer – plain and simple.  I send out an email to our family requesting prayer.  The next morning, I have a revelation that I am praying for her to get better.  What I really should be praying for is not just for her to get better, but a full, complete HEALING.  Entire body well.  Entire body functional.  Entire.

Why does that scare me?  If she is off gluten (and Night Owl is also GF among other allergies), we have the perfect reason to keep wheat out of the house.  That crop scares me – it’s primarily GMO, highly processed, and found in all the foods we so conveniently and thankfully keep out of the house.  I often say that our children’s allergies are the best thing that ever happened to us – it forced us into whole food eating without a fuss.

If Puma, and Night Owl for that matter, are HEALED, then the food restrictions go away.  AWAY.  It means that they can eat anything.  I had to ask myself if there is pain/pleasure disconnect in my children’s suffering and my desire to have the simple answer, “You know you cannot have that,” and it’s the end of a discussion.

I had to face the reality that if I trust that God is the Supreme Healer, and that He wants the best for us, then I must pray for a complete healing.  I have to trust that He can heal, and I have to believe that is the best for our children.  He did not design us to be sick and intolerant of his wonderful provision.  We are to be healthy, full expressions of His Glory.

I must pray for complete healing, and then change the paradigm for our food choices.  We are not going to avoid foods because we have allergies anymore.  We will make wise choices that nourish and feed our healthy bodies and souls.  All the same rules still apply – the motivation behind our food choices must change to accept that my children can be healed if that is God’s will for our lives.

So I wrote down the prayer that was in my heart – it came to me almost as soon as I had the revelation that I was praying the wrong prayer.  Here it is for you to share in communion with me, and join me if you are so inclined, or maybe they will be a blessing to someone you love.

This is my parent’s prayer:

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Prayer for a child – I say her name when I pray for her.

And I also wrote down a version for Puma to keep at her bedside and pray if she wanted to pray for her own healing:

Prayer that Puma can read and pray if she is led to do so

Prayer that Puma can read and pray if she is led to do so

I had an initial gut-check – I have seen the blogs of parents who pray for healing and the answer is a child that is called back to God.  Who am I to pray for a complete healing?  Can I be so bold?  And the answer I get is YES. A resounding YES because I felt called to pray this prayer.  I cannot know what the answer is.  I just know that I am called to faith and prayer.

So every morning, I start with the Our Father and then this.  I trust in all the goodness and the glory of Our Maker.

(P.S. Thanks to some direction from our chiropractor on what she needed to take, and the combined voices of our family joining mine in prayer, Puma woke up the next morning so much better than the day before.  By the third day, she was back to what I would call herself.  God has already showed me that I just need to have faith.)