marshmallow dreams

 

Funny the questions that have been popping into my head about people who travel and live full-time at campgrounds. Tonight the thought struck me that they probably get really tired of campfires. {gasp} I know it seems like such an awesome part of outdoor life, but in reality, smoke and sticky marshmallows surely lose their charm night after night, right?

Good news is that for us, they are still magical and every bit an essential part of this camping life. (Though I quickly learned not to leave the airstream windows open next to the fire ?).

My boys have an obsession with burning their marshmallows to a crisp and declaring it ‘perfectly done!’

You may wonder how S’mores work for kids with food allergies. We have come up with 2 alternatives that are not just acceptable, but in my opinion far surpass the traditional S’more…

1) Sharf brand gluten free shortbread cookies. These paired with toasted marshmallows are so good, you usually forget the chocolate, but the Enjoy Life Dairy Free Chocolate Chunks make an excellent addition if you remember to put them on.

2) Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Brownies  (this one is still their fav of all the gf brownie mixes). Bake up a batch and top it with your roasted marshmallow for a really indulgent campfire treat!

There’s no way we’ll be able to make this a nightly event, but since we are just starting out you’d better bet the boys are LOVING some evening camp fires and marshmallows!

dairy free gluten free mac-n-cheese

I wish I had a video of the dancing that ensued in the kitchen when my boys found out I was going to attempt a ‘safe’ mac-n-cheese. When you go your whole life allergic to dairy and wheat, you don’t get this as a dinner staple….or at all. My 6 year old had never had it, but when we ordered food and a local place accidentally delivered a side of mac-n-cheese that my 4 year old (not allergic kid) devoured. Their curiosity was peaked for this ‘kid’ food staple.

So I finally decided making a ‘cheesy’ sauce with no cheese couldn’t be that hard, right? While we usually try and change our diet rather than sub food, we have incorporated some shredded Daiya brand ‘cheese’ into a few dishes and the boys feel like they are getting something cheesy (quesadillas are their fav)

So for this Mac-n-cheese I started with a pack of organic gluten free rice/corn blend fusilli (who doesn’t love the spirals!!).

 Here is the recipe for the ‘cheese sauce’ though I apologize – I never really measure anything.

Start by melting the butter over med heat until liquified, then adding in the gf flour to make a rue.

Once this paste is formed, add in the Daiya shreds and let them melt and add in flax milk to cream it up. Whisk the blend until smooth and creamy.

 Add in salt to taste, the grated nutmeg (bc everything cheesy is better with nutmeg) and remove from heat. Stir in 2 drops of dōTERRA black pepper oil for an amazing flavor boost.

Drain pasta and drizzle on some Rosemary & Thyme infused olive oil. Top with cheese sauce and watch your dairy free kids smile with delight and gobble it up!

We kicked it up a notch my adding in some natural sausage – browned and crumbled into the mix. You can sneak in chopped spinach as well!

Breakfast casserole

Our lives have taken a step in an exciting direction with the discovery that our oldest can have eggs as long as they are baked into something and thoroughly cooked! We LOVE eggs, and I feel like some mornings, breakfast just isn’t complete without them. For years we just made due, but I have recently been able to incorporate a breakfast casserole and my little one is ecstatic!

This is so easy and versatile – it takes about 45 min to bake so it’s great to get up and throw in early before they all get crazy and hangry.

Here’s a picture of our casserole today before it has been baked. It was a great way to clean out the fridge from the random meats, sides and veggies from the week!
Ingredients:

You can literally throw anything into this! Here is what we usually do:

  • Pre cook a roll of natural sausage or breakfast meat
  • Add chopped (pre-cooked) potatoes or even throw in a layer of frozen fries or tots
  • Chop in veggies you have in the fridge (mushrooms, spinach, zucchini and onions are our favorites)
  • Add cheese if you can have that. We aren’t quite there but sometimes I mix in some dairy free Daiya cheddar shreds
  • Mix about 8-12 eggs until they are whipped up, adding in some cream or milk of choice, salt and pepper (I love adding in 1-2 drops of dōTERRA Black Pepper essential oil)
  • Because we still need a binder with our eggs to make them safer, I add in about 1/4 cup gluten free bisquick to the egg mix

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish and grease the bottom. Throw in your meat, potatoes, veggies and then pour your egg mix on top to set it all!

Bake at 350 for appx 45 min or until egg part is thoroughly cooked! It’s a huge hit every time!

 

Rosemary & Thyme ‘cheesy’ popcorn

This is addictive. I am warning you. I am a popcorn fanatic and this is hands down my favorite ‘recipe’ for popcorn to date.
nutritional_yeast_pop
Here’s how to make the popcorn:

1) start out with a good quality popcorn kernel. Make sure you choose organic NON-GMO popcorn since most ‘corn’ out there is not. I like this organic popcorn from Arrowhead Mills (affiliate) from Amazon and can get it on subscribe and save delivered straight to my door whenever I want (my love for that service is documented in another post).

2) pop the popcorn on the stove

**For those who have never done this, here is a how-to on popping over the stove…
Get a nice large stock pot with a lid and cover the bottom of the pot with an oil of your choice and pour in kernels until the cover the bottom and are coated in oil (don’t skimp on the oil – make sure it sufficiently coats them all). Many people love using organic coconut oil. I have still had better results with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, but to each his own.

Have a large bowl ready and sitting next to the stove so when it starts popping you can quickly transfer it out. Cover your pot (a see-through lid is excellent for this process so you know what’s going on inside) and turn it on high heat. Let it sit until the popcorn starts rapidly popping and make sure to lift it slightly off the heat and shake it vigorously so as not to burn the bottom and let the unpopped kernels fall to the bottom. If the pot fills up, carefully (as not to burn yourself) lift part of the lid…just enough to let some of the popcorn fall out into your bowl and then keep going until it’s all popped. This can take some practice, so don’t give up if it isn’t perfect the first time. It is an art worth mastering!!

So dump all the fresh popcorn into your large bowl and now we can move on….

3) butter and salt the popcorn to your liking. Again, the quality of ingredients makes a big difference, so if possible use real, organic butter and a good quality sea salt. If you’re worried about the calories rising before your eyes, you can skip the butter step and go straight to the rosemary & thyme olive oil. If not, the flavor is amazing with both 🙂

4) take your rosemary & thyme infused olive oil (if you don’t already have this on hand, see instructions below) and drizzle it liberally on the popcorn. Toss it and do it again. Take a few pieces just to make sure it’s delicious.

**Since you’ll want to make this popcorn regularly (and I use this infused oil on just about every dish that leaves the kitchen now), do yourself a favor and make sure you have a batch of my rosemary and thyme infused olive oil stocked in your kitchen. Trust me – you’ll want this on hand. You can make it up in single use batches, but you’ll kick yourself for not making a whole vat of it. Just drop about 8 drops of each into an 8 oz GLASS container of EVOO.

**DISCLAIMER** You can NOT ingest many essential oils on the market. I don’t want you to get really sick, so don’t try this with any that are not safe for internal use. For more information on getting your own essential oils, feel free to contact me on the about page.

5) grab your nutritional yeast and start shaking it on. By this time you’ve already buttered and salted the popcorn to your liking so this is just icing on the cake. I like to coat and toss the batch several times so that each piece has it’s fair share of nutritional yeast 🙂 I like this Braggs Nutritional Yeast (affiliate), but there are some other good ones out there too.

Nutritional Yeast has a delicious ‘cheesy’ flavor and is loaded with good B vitamins which are essential to our health. For vegans (or those like us who are allergic to dairy and can’t enjoy and real cheese), this gives an excellent flavoring option. You can learn more about the benefits of Nutritional Yeast here.

6) this is entirely optional, but I love to crush fresh dried herbs on top just to make it that much more beautiful and delicious. I have had an abundance of dried cilantro lately and it gives a nice compliment to the flavors. You can sprinkle on any dried herbs that you’d like.

7) go hide in a corner so that your family doesn’t completely devour the entire bowl and leave you without. haha. j/k but be prepared to make another batch. it goes fast!

What’s for dinner? …on-the-fly Shepherd’s Pie

I love recipes that I can make up as I go. Maybe it’s because I don’t always have the exact same ingredients on hand or maybe it’s because I don’t like having to follow directions, but if you’re in a bind and have some ground meat on hand, you can make what I like to call “on-the-fly Shepherd’s Pie” 🙂

STEP 1: cook up a pound or two of (preferably local grass-fed…..we ordered 1/4 cow from a local farm, but that is for another post) ground beef in a large oven-safe skillet and boiling some potatoes while your meat is browning. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

STEP 2: Once the meat browns, this is where the fun begins – dump in a little of this and a little of that to season it up and make a base for your shepherd’s pie. I like to add in things like:

  • some sherry wine
  • chopped organic tomatos
  • chopped onion
  • chopped garlic
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg (these give ground beef such a yummy unique flavor)
  • sea salt, pepper
  • about a cup of water
  • some organic ketchup to thicken
  • some oregano, basil, thyme

STEP 3: let it all cook a little until it’s nice and saucy, then throw in whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand (you can even use frozen if you so desire). I added a cup or two of chopped carrots & green beans, but seriously you can use a lot of things (green beans, zucchini, etc) Let it all cook more until veggies begin to soften. Taste the sauce and make sure it’s yummy.

STEP 4: At this point you can drain and mash up your potatoes to throw on top, or keep them separated. I kept the potatoes separate and drizzled them with lemon essential oil infused olive oil and fresh rosemary.

STEP 5: I then whipped up a quick batch of gluten-free bisquick dough (ok so this part is a bit cheating if you’re going for 100% ‘real’ food, but if you want you can just mash & use the potatoes) and spooned/spread it right on top of my meat & veggie sauce on the skillet and threw it all in the oven for about 15 minutes until it forms a light and fluffy crust.

This is a super tasty, very forgiving, warm comfort food dish for the changing season! It’s also dairy-free, gluten-free (if you want), nut-free and easily adaptable! I apologize for the lack of pic, but everyone was super hungry 🙂 Will catch it next time!

Allergen Free Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies

So these look a lot like my 3 ingredient breakfast cookies, but have a flavor all of their own! It has finally dropped below 80 degrees here in Southern California and fall is in the air (at least in my mind) so time to pull out PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! WOOOHOOO!

I decided to try a pumpkin version of the oat cookies and since I am OUT of bananas (big problem in this house) I had to experiment with some other ingredients. Check out these yummy pumpkin spice breakfast cookies. They aren’t overly allergen free pumpkin spice cookiessweet, but my kids didn’t seem to complain (had to snap a quick pic before they were gone) and they were just the pumpkin spice flavor I was craving 🙂

Allergen Free Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies (dairy, wheat, egg, nut free)

  • 2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats (recommend Bob’s Red Mill GF if you need a gluten-free version)
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 2 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • appx 1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves
  • 3/4 cup organic brown sugar

Throw all ingredients into a stand mixer and mix until a nice blended dough forms. Drop ‘dough’ onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Enjoy with a nice hot cup of coffee or a pumpkin spice latte (recipe coming soon)!

gluten free/dairy free pickup truck birthday cake

My project today was all about BIRTHDAYS! With 2 family birthdays these past few weeks today we celebrated with a gluten free & dairy free pickup truck cake!

truck_bdaycakeI just used a gluten free cake mix for the base and then added in some of our favorite Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips to the batter for more flavor and personality! Followed that with some quick and easy marshmallow fondant, and shaped a truck cake that was supposed to look like daddy’s truck (my husband is re-building his great grandfather’s ’68 GMC). So thankful for all the gluten free resources out there now and that even with food allergies my boys can enjoy some fun birthday cakes!

 

4 ingredient dairy free chocolate mousse

After going dairy-free a few years ago because of our son’s food allergies, chocolate pudding was one thing we definitely cut from our diet that we missed (though it’s a good thing now that I look back at the ingredients)!

I came across this amazing recipe shortly afterwards and our idea of dessert was forever changed! I wish I had come up with this on my own, but give many many thanks to Katie at chocolatecoveredkatie.com for this amazing recipe. I find it tastes much more like a rich chocolate mousse than chocolate frosting. Best thing is that it’s DAIRY FREE and uses nothing but simple real ingredients!

Dairy Free Chocolate MousseHere’s all it takes: (WARNING: you will want to double it so go ahead and prep 2 cans)

  • 1 can coconut milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup 100% cacao powder or cocoa powder (I like to use the dark cacao)
  • 1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
  • sweetener of your choice to taste

The challenge here is it takes some advanced planning. Open the can of coconut milk, remove the lid and refrigerate for a day (if you can wait that long). You need the cream and the water to separate and the cream to thicken. Carefully remove it from the fridge, pour the cream out into a bowl and save the coconut water to add to your next chicken marinade (coconut is the BEST for marinating chicken)! Add the rest of the ingredients to the cream and mix thoroughly!

If you dump this all in a high speed blender like a Vitamix it literally takes about 3 seconds to be rich and thick. If you want to not waste a single drop getting stuck to the side of a blender, go ahead and whip it up by hand with a fork. 🙂

BONUS TIP (from lots of experience): If you do want to throw this in the vitamix, after scraping out all that you can salvage for your mousse, make a fresh cup of coffee, pour it in, quickly blend with the stuff that’s stuck to the sides of the blender and pour the sweet mocha goodness all back into your cup! enjoy 🙂

On that note, if you make a double batch and happen to have any left, a few spoon fulls in a fresh cup of coffee does make a MEAN rich chocolate mocha…and all DAIRY FREE with the health benefits of coconut!

3 ingredient breakfast cookies!

We love making these for so many reasons….here are just a few
1) they are delicious
2) my 3 year old can make them
3) my boys LOVE to eat them
4) they satisfy my preggo cravings for something sweet
5) they have 3 basic ingredients!

breakfast cookiesSo here you go….enjoy

Breakfast Cookies

 

put ingredients in stand mixer and blend until soft sticky ‘dough’ consistency. At this point you can also throw in some mini chocolate chips, coconut flakes, craisins, whatever you feel like. We like to sprinkle in Enjoy Life Allergen Free Mini-Chocolate Chips.

Drop by spoon-full on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes!

Allergy Friendly Chicken Satays with Peanut-Free Sauce

This is one of my all time favorite recipes, something we created after spending our honeymoon in Thailand.  We could NOT get enough of their food!  This is an extremely mild American-ized version of a classic Thai satay.  Enjoy!

peanut free peanut sauceThai Chicken Satays with Sunbutter (or Peanut) Sauce

  • 20  chicken tenderloins
  • 20  bamboo skewers (optional)

Marinade

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • gluten free teriyaki sauce  (appx 1/4 – 1/2 cup?) (see my amazon store for where to buy)
  • honey  (appx 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • steak seasonings or your fav seasoning mix  (sprinkle it over marinade)
  • lime juice  (appx 2 Tbsp)

mix all marinade ingredients.  Pour over chicken tenderloins in a sealed container or ziplock bag and marinate at least 4-6 hours (preferably overnight).

at least 1 hour prior to cooking, soak bamboo skewers in water to prevent scorching on grill

The most amazing peanut sauce in the world. Due to my son’s severe peanut allergy we now make this with Sunbutter vs. Peanut butter to make it allergy friendly

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup Sunbutter (if no allergy, use fresh ground honey roasted peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (I like to add this at the end so I can thin it only as much as it needs)
  • 2 Tbsp dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. gluten free teriyaki sauce
  • 2-4 Tbsp. honey (to desired sweetness)
  • a few drops of hot sauce or chili pepper sauce (as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice

before cooking chicken, make sauce
mix natural peanut or sunflower nut butter, chicken stock, teriyaki sauce, dijon mustard, honey, chili sauce, garlic, ginger and lime juice together in mini food processer until creamy.  Adjust thickness with chicken stock and heat with chili sauce as desired.
Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Skewer each tenderloin and grill to desired doneness, brushing with reserved marinade to keep moist while cooking. TIP: arrange chicken skewers so that the ‘handle’ rests on top of the tenderloin next to it on the grill to further prevent them from scorching. Can also grill chicken directly without skewering.  Serve with peanut sauce and jasmine rice! For entertaining, it’s also great with an appetizer of home made mango salsa. Delicious both hot or cold!

Dairy Free Chocolate ‘Milkshakes’ for Breakfast!

My little one is 2 today, and the birthday boy is so excited about chocolate ‘milkshakes’ for breakfast! When you’re special treat is sweetened with bananas and sunbutter while hiding kale and vitamin D, you can feel good about saying ‘YES’ to chocolate milkshakes!

photo(6)INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large bananas
  • appx 1/2 cup Sunbutter
  • 1 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
  • a handful of ice cubes
  • 2-3 Tbsp 100% cacao powder
  • leaves from 1-2 stalks of kale (stems removed) and/or 1-2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1/2 an avocado if you want to add in more good fat and make it creamier
  • 2 cups organic rice milk (or more depending on desired thickness)

Mix the following in a Vitamix or other high speed blender, pour into cups and enjoy! (per our pediatrician’s recommendation, I also add 1-2 drops of Carlson Vitamin D drops (2,000 IU) to each of our cups before drinking, and often add in 1 Tbsp of DHA/EPA Omega 3 fish oil for kids (message me if you want to know where to get this). The boys LOVE this dairy free, nut free treat and hopefully you will too!