Earth Day Green Cookies! (Grain/gluten/egg/nut/dye FREE)

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I am always looking for fun science experiments to incorporate into our homeschooling, and this one did not disappoint us.  What a great experiment for Earth Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or just anytime for a tasty science lesson.  Not only is this recipe FUN, the results are extra yummy!

If you are a nut-free family, you may have already tried this or even accidentally stumbled across it in your kitchen.  If so, I’d love to hear what you made.  If not, you must try this!  The kids will love it. 

All you have to do is make a batch of cookies (recipe link at end of post).  On first glance, they will look like any other batch of cookies.  As they cool, you will notice the result of a chemical reaction.  The cookies will turn GREEN inside! 

The trick is that you have to use sunflower seed butter.  It’s like peanut butter, but made with sunflower seeds.  I have a Vitamix, so I made my own using organic, shelled, sunflower seeds.  If you don’t want to make your own, Sunbutter is found in most grocery stores and is commonly used as a substitute for nut butters.

Why sunflower butter?  Because it reacts with the baking soda in the recipe and that is what makes the cookies turn GREEN!

All plants contain chlorogenic acid, mostly in the stems and leaves, but sunflowers also have it in the seeds.  This acid reacts with the baking soda in the recipe, and causes the cookies to turn a bright green color inside as they cool.  The longer they cool, the more green they get. 

 

Our cookies looked pretty normal when we put them in and took them out of the oven, but with a little patience we were rewarded with a fun result.

 

The dough (and my favorite sous chef)

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Going in the oven

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Fresh out of the oven (notice the inside is still brown…..do NOT eat all the cookies yet!)

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After cooling for 2 hours

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After 6 hours – now we’re talking!  Isn’t that cool?

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The Cinnamon ‘Oat’meal Raisin Cookies recipe we used came from the Against All Grain website.  Notice “oat” is in quotes because there are no oats in the cookie.  The “oat” texture comes from shredded coconut so these cookies are completely nut-free, egg-free, gluten-free and grain-free.  Most of the sweetness is from applesauce and dates with only 2 TB of honey for a dozen cookies.  YUM.

Or you can make green waffles instead using one of our absolute favorite waffle recipes.  We make extra and keep them in the freezer.  Or we try to.  We’ve always made them with almond butter, but I might have to try some green ones next time.

 

Enjoy!

Homeschooling makes me happy!

Gluten Free (& Paleo) Apple Pie

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For her 8th birthday this past Friday, my daughter requested APPLE PIE instead of cake.  She LOVES apple pie!

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Since Emily and I have both been gluten free for over a year now, I wanted to make the pie using a gluten free crust.  Originally, I was going to use Pamela’s baking mix for the crust – I have used it in the past and it makes a tasty crust – but this time I wanted to cut down on the sugar content a bit and make it as natural as possible.  I did use some raw honey as a sweetener, but raw honey is so much better for you than processed white sugar! It’s even good for your allergies if you are buying local like we did.

I looked around on the web and ended up combining ideas from several recipes to put together this delicious paleo friendly, gluten free APPLE PIE!

We couldn’t wait to dig in!  Emily wanted her pie topped with whipped cream & strawberries – Yum!  We made the cream from organic heavy cream, but you could also make whipped cream from coconut milk to make this dairy free if you prefer. 

We were so impatient, we ate our dessert before our dinner.  It was her birthday, so why not?

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It was so good we even had it again at breakfast the next morning.

Don’t worry, we included some protein in the form of scrambled eggs.  I’m not completely crazy!

Ready for the recipe?   I thought you’d never ask!

I apologize for not taking pictures while I was making this masterpiece, but I guarantee there will be a next time so I will attempt to take pictures then.   If I’m not too busy drooling in anticipation, that is.

Emily’s Birthday Apple Pie

Filling Ingredients:

* 10 apples – peeled, cored, and sliced

* 1/2 cup raw honey

* 1 tablespoon cinnamon

* 1 teaspoon nutmeg (I will try leaving this out next time because it had a “pumpkin pie” taste to it.  I do love pumpkin pie, but I don’t think it was necessary in the apple pie.)

Over medium heat, cook the filling ingredients until the sauce has thickened and coats the apple slices.  You want the apples to stay a bit firm, or else they will end up too soft after baking.  When thick, remove from heat and set aside to cool while you work on the crust.

 

Crust Ingredients:

I ended up with some extra dough when I was done, so I will cut back a little on this recipe next time.  Since I haven’t tested that change yet, I’m listing exactly what I used.  Maybe you can make a small tart or a quiche with the extra dough.

* 9 eggs (room temperature)

* 3/4 cup of honey

* 1 cup of coconut oil (heated to liquify)

* 2 cups coconut flour (amount varies)

 

Preheat oven to 350.

Put eggs, honey, and coconut oil in the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Add the flour, mixing in a little at a time until the mixture forms a dough.  If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour, but be careful not to dry it out.  Separate into 2 halves for the top and bottom crust.

Grease a 9 inch pie pan with coconut oil, then use your fingers and press the dough into the pie pan covering the bottom and sides evenly and making sure it isn’t too thick.

Fill the crust with apple pie filling.

Use remaining crust to cover the pie.  This mixture is too delicate to roll out and cover all at once without breaking, so I just rolled out little pieces at a time and put the cover together like a puzzle.

I sprinkled the top of the pie with some coconut sugar, but you definitely wouldn’t have to do that.  Honestly, I don’t think it added anything.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  If the edges of the pie start to brown too much, cover them with foil.

I let mine cool overnight before cutting.  I highly recommend letting the pie cool completely before covering with foil or plastic wrap, otherwise the pie will sweat a bit and make the top crust a little soggy.  (Trust me on this – it was PERFECT when I removed it from the oven, but slightly damp the next morning because I covered it too soon.  It was already late and we wanted to get to bed!)

ENJOY!

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade (all natural) “Magic Shell”

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It’s no secret that I love chocolate.  Dark chocolate, to be exact (it’s even good for you).  Back when I used to eat milk chocolate and too much sugar, I loved Magic Shell – remember the ice cream topping that gets hard when you pour it on your ice cream?  It was so yummy!

Unfortunately, the original Magic Shell has a couple problems.  First, it lists sugar as the first ingredient.  Ingredients are listed on a package in the order of quantity which means that in this case, there is more sugar than any other ingredient.  Chocolate is much further down the list (#4) after the oils.  Second, the only source of “chocolate” in there is listed as “chocolate processed with alkali”.  Processing chocolate like that is sometimes referred to as the Dutch method and the purpose is to remove the bitter flavor and make the chocolate a more uniform color.

The trade off is that cocoa beans processed with alkali lose the flavonoids and antioxidants that are found in raw cocoa nibs or very dark chocolate. In order words, it removes the part that makes dark chocolate good for your health.

 

But now, my friends, you can have your Magic Shell and eat it too!

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I made my own “Magic Shell” using 2 ingredients – our favorite dark chocolate (antioxidants and all) and coconut oil!

You can use as dark of a chocolate as your prefer, and even get organic if you wish.  Even though the dark chocolate we usually buy does have sugar in it, it has unsweetened chocolate as the first ingredient followed by cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and then sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

Directions:

  • Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in a double boiler and let cool to room temperature.
  • Pour over ice cream, and eat! (Store the leftovers at room temperature)

And eat it, we did – as you can see! On top of homemade ice cream, on top of a brownie – all homemade, gluten-free, and paleo too! I’ll post the brownie recipe and ice cream secret soon!  We splurged and called it dinner a couple of nights ago.  I don’t like to brag, but I was called “the best mom EVER” and that’s pretty cool.

Book Review: Special Diets for Special Kids

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I was so excited when I was offered a chance to review a new edition of the cookbook, “Special Diets for Special Kids” by Lisa Lewis!  This is an updated edition that combines 2 previous volumes into one book full of over 200 Gluten-Free and Casein-Free recipes.  I was extra excited because this came to me at a time that we were re-focusing our efforts to keep a gluten free diet, and I was anxious to have some tried & true recipes to make.  We are a gluten-free family and even though we are not casein free, I do try to control our dairy intake so I love using substitutes whenever possible.  If you are already on a GFCF diet, or if you are considering starting one – this is a must-have resource for your library!

This book is so much more than just recipes! The entire first chapter explains why this diet is so helpful for children on the spectrum, or for those that live with ADHD, Celiac Disease or allergies.  The information includes scientific information about how gluten and casein affect the body and why it is so important to clean up your child’s diet.

Chapter 2 goes on to describe vitamins and minerals, which ones are often lacking in children on the spectrum, and what they do for our bodies.

Chapter 3 is a great “keep it simple” guide to what foods to feed your child, and which ones to avoid.  In addition, she discusses different flours and how to incorporate baking into this diet.  This was super helpful for me as I love to bake! I didn’t want to continue to spend a fortune on pre-made GFCF baked goods, but wasn’t sure where to start baking GF products. This chapter gave me clear information that I needed to move forward with making some of our favorite foods.

Chapters 4-13 are filled with delicious recipes for all the typical kid favorites and many many more!  Armed with this book, you will be able to make muffins, pancakes, chicken nuggets, chicken & dumplings, snacks, sweet treats, and even condiments!  Any of your favorite recipes call for “sweetened condensed milk”?  No problem! She has a casein-free substitute for that.

She also includes an entire chapter (chapter 10) devoted to holiday fare so you can continue your GFCF way of eating easily over Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She offers recipes for 4 different types of dressing, tasty sides, and even gingerbread people & pumpkin pie!  There is no reason to stray from this diet over the holidays!  Arm yourself with safe and healthy food choices so that you can give your child a head start as they deal with being off their routine, having extra people in the house, and all the excitement of the holidays.

I was also excited to see all the sweet treat options in the book for those special occasions.  I always like to have safe recipes on hand for taking to a friend’s house or a potluck so that I know there is something my daughter can have without feeling left out.  Also, my daughter just started Girl Scouts this year and of course that means selling cookies!  Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts do not have a GF option yet, but have no fear! On page 311, there is a recipe for making your very own Thin Mints! You can bet your chocolate wafers that I’ll be making those to have on hand during cookie selling season!

Also included with the book is a CD full of all the printable recipes so you don’t even have to get your book dirty when you are in the kitchen whipping up that new family favorite!

If you want to get your hands on this incredible resource, just click here to order your own copy! Use the coupon code ARMY to get 15% off and free shipping!

Teaching a child to fish

No, I’m not teaching her to fish for fish – that will be Daddy’s job!

I’m sure you’ve heard the following quote.

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

This concept is a huge part of parenting.  One of my jobs as a mom is to raise my daughter to be a responsible adult.  My primary goal of course is to teach her how to be a disciple for Christ.  In addition, I also want her to be able to take care of herself and her family one day.  When I went to college, I can’t tell you how many people I met who didn’t know how to do a load of laundry, or cook anything that wasn’t a TV dinner.  It was just sad.  As a parent, I would not be doing my job if I sent my child off to live on their own for the first time or to enter into marriage without these basic skills (among many others).  I’m all for letting kids be kids. I actually feel very strongly about not making them grow up too fast.  I think kids should still be able to play more in Kindergarten instead of feeling the pressure to read and write.

However, way before the time they graduate high school, they should know how to do their own laundry and cook!  So, we are starting while she’s young.

Hubby and I have spent some time talking about what goals we have for Lovebug.  What do we want to make sure we teach her before she leaves our home?  One of those things is financial responsibility.  She will go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as part of her high school education!  She is already practicing these concepts even at the age of 7.  Anytime she receives money – as a gift, or as her salary for doing her household jobs – she tithes on it.  Then she puts some in her savings bank to save for long term, bigger things that she’s wanting, and she puts some in her spending bank to have money to spend right away if she wants.

As part of our homeschooling, I am also teaching her Home Economics.  We work on cleaning the house, laundry, doing the dishes, and cooking.

Some of the things she does:

She can mop the floor and do a great job.  A spray bottle filled with half vinegar-half water makes the perfect non-toxic cleaner.  A wet washcloth under each bare foot makes the perfect mop.  I’ve take to mopping this way myself because it’s easier to rinse out than a regular mop, and I can scrub harder on those tough spots.

She puts away her own clean laundry.

She can empty the dishwasher and put the dishes away.

She sweeps the front porch and sidewalk.

She puts in a clean trash bag after I take out the trash (she stands in the bag to get it open – so cute!).

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She’s learning to cook.  She’s already been doing things like cutting up fruit and vegetables for some time now.  She can help make a smoothie, loves to make fruit salad, makes several of our cookie recipes herself and can make sandwiches by herself.

Now, she can make scrambled eggs too!  Not on the stove…that will come later.  These are made in the microwave!  I taught her how to do this yesterday and she was so excited to make her own breakfast this morning!

Since I know you just can’t wait to learn how to do this, I’ll tell you!

 

Instructions:

First you get a coffee mug

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Then you get an egg and crack it into the cup

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Don’t forget to put the eggs back in the fridge.  Lovebug wanted me to take a picture of her putting the eggs back WHILE holding the egg in her hand – she wanted Daddy to see!

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Beat the egg with a fork or whisk

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Place in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Our microwave even has a 30-second button!

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Stir the egg, and place back in the microwave for 30 more seconds, and wait.

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It’s done and ready to eat! Eat from the cup, or dump into your own bowl. Add a little salt and pepper if you wish to taste, and enjoy!

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Chocolate Gravy & Biscuits!

My husband grew up enjoying his Granny’s homemade chocolate gravy & biscuits when he would visit her house.  He has talked about this tradition many times over the years, and I always thought I would try to make it sometime.  I kept putting it off because I’m not an experienced gravy maker, and I thought it would be difficult.  It’s not!

Granny is visiting with us right now, so I wanted to make this family favorite for her & Hubby to enjoy…and to introduce it to our daughter to pass on the tradition.

It turned out so YUMMY, and was simple to make.  I admit, I was a little nervous in the middle of the cooking process because I thought it wouldn’t thicken up, but it all turned out perfect and just required a bit of patience.

Want the recipe? Ok, I’ll share! I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I’ll try to do that next time.

CHOCOLATE GRAVY

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup butter

* 4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

* 3/4 cup white sugar

* 2 cups milk
Directions:

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add cocoa and flour, then stir until thick. Stir in sugar and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick.  This will take several minutes, so be patient – it’s worth the wait!

This is best served immediately, but the cold leftovers are also very tasty!

{ Printable Recipe }

I also made homemade biscuits to pour the gravy over, although it’s good enough to just eat with a spoon!  If you want a good recipe for biscuits, here is a great one from the AllRecipes website.

Never Fail Biscuits