Food, Snacks

Favorite Toddler Snacks #2 (All Healthy and Well-Loved)

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Toddler snacks are not glamorous. They are messy, sometimes strange and maddeningly frequent. I feel like I give out a million snacks a day. And usually my kids want the same things over and over.

But I’m putting a halt to the easy things. (Like pretzels.) And I’m cutting down on the snacks. Too many snacks=too full for supper. No supper and bedtime schedule is thrown off.

I need to focus on healthy snacking.

I thought I would go over our favorite healthy snacks again and share the ones L loves. Her tastes are different than J’s. She will eat everything from snack list #1 and more. It makes me happy she is such a good eater. Hopefully it will continue!

Here are 14 of her favorites. They are all healthy and approved by my 1-year-old’s tastebuds.

 

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    She loves her frozen peas! And they are awesome for helping with teething.
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    Frozen berries…we’ve been loving Bing cherries lately.
  3. Watermelon slices.
  4. Red grapes, cut in 1/2 or 4ths.
  5. Almonds or cashews, sliced
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    These snack bars from nature’s bakery. (Dairy free!)
  7. Freeze dried strawberries
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    Part of a freshly baked whole wheat bagel (from the grocery store bakery).
  9. Corn chips and guacamole.
  10. Homemade graham crackers.
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    Fruit smoothies. I use 2ish cups almond milk, 1-2 frozen bananas and 1/4-1/2 cup frozen berries. Then cinnamon and sometimes spinach leaves or (quick 1-minute) rolled oats to add more fiber and balance out the sweetness.
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    Dried berries. We made dried cherries using our dehydrator.
  13. “Peanut butter bread” as J likes to say. (It’s just natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread).
  14. These teething buscuits. I admit I haven’t made them in awhile but I remember L loved them. I love that they have zero sugar and use up that powdered baby cereal that I could never manage to use up otherwise.

And that wraps up toddler snack list #2! It was fun to look at all the different things that L likes. The pickiness factor is not as strong. I’m thinking it’s either because she was breastfed or just because I’m more determined to keep offering her things. Probably both.

I was tempted to add “crayons” to the list because apparently they are delicious. She was gnawing on one as I was finishing up this post. *Throws hands in the air* Ah me. The lure of the tasty crayon is not so easily overcome.

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Homemade {Crockpot} Coconut Yogurt

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Last Tuesday and Wednesday I finally did something about my yogurt conundrum. I’ve been wanting some good non-dairy yogurt that isn’t saturated with sugar like the storebought kind.

I’ve been putting it off because I thought it would be hard to make my own. I was wrong. It totally wasn’t hard. Long process, yes. But not hard.

Why coconut yogurt? Some of you may know I can’t have a lot of dairy products. Currently everything is out except butter and cheese and just a few other things…like my beloved frozen custard that I would probably die without.

Anyway. The process began when I saw my local natural food store had this yogurt starter for sale. It was $10 for a pack of 4 probiotic starter packets. Oy. I went back and forth about buying it.

Finally I did because I figured once I made some yogurt I could use part of that as a starter and hopefully never have to buy more starters.

For the recipe, I used this one from Dawn @smallfootprintfamily and got an idea of a time frame for the crockpot from this post by Trisha @funkyfoodallergies.

From start to finish, this took about 16 hours. That seems absurd, but let me break it down. It heated up from 4-7pm. From 7-11pm it cooled down. I added the stuff and then it fermented overnight from 11pm-9amish. Very little hands on time.

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Ingredients I used: 1 yogurt starter culture packet, 33.8 oz 100% coconut milk, 2 envalopes knox unflavored gelatin. Not pictured: 1 TBS honey.
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By 7pm, the coconut milk had reached 180°.

And yes, that is a meat thermometer.

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By 11pm, it had cooled to about 95°. This was taken after I had mixed in the gelatin and honey.
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Bedtime for the yogurt…wrapped up in 3 layers of towels. Let it sit overnight.
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This was the jello-like consistency after it was transferred from the crock pot to the fridge for several hours.
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Emptied it all into a bowl in the sink.

In retrospect, I believe I added a bit too much gelatin. I calculated that I would need 1.75 packages to make a quart of yogurt. But I got distracted while pouring it in because I was talking with my husband. I’m thinking this was the reason it turned out so thick.

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Whipped it up to a smooth consistency.
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I tried some plain before I put it in the fridge again. Was planning on sharing it with L…thus the baby spoon.
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The whipped texture after the second time in the fridge.
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Vanilla and strawberries make it yummy.

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But does it taste good? Is the price worth it?

To me, the answer is yes and yes. The flavor and texture is something to get used to. As directed, I used full fat coconut milk. It was hard to get used to the unsweetened plain flavor, but with the addition of vanilla and frozen strawberries..yes. Very good.

And the price?

I calculated I made about 35 oz. (After it was whisked to a fluffy texture.) The price came out to $7.71. That’s 22¢ per oz and 88¢ for 4 oz. The last time I bought coconut yogurt at Wal-Mart, it was $1.58 for a 4 oz container. And that stuff was sugared to the moon and back. And rather on the thin side to boot. Currently none of the stores in my area carry any cartons larger than 4 oz so I can make no comparison there.

So yes, pretty easy to make. Tastes good with flavorings added and cheaper than storebought. There is a bit of investment initially, but I think its worth it. Per batch the price is right. I’m calling this one a triple win 🙂

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Homemade Graham Crackers

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Last night I made Rachael Ray’s Penne with Turkey and Broccolini for supper. It’s one of my go-to recipes that seems to be easy, tasty and well-liked by everyone. We also had cucumber spears and berry fruit salad.

But that’s not what this post is about.

After supper I decided to make homemade graham crackers again. I think this is my 4th time making them. Little House Living has a fantastic recipe going on. I love her blog. And she’s right, this recipe is simple and yummy.

My family loves these so much. Its fun for me to make too and I know exactly what is in them. Plus, you know, I get to sneak a few bites of the dough. We still eat graham crackers from the store, these just make for a different change of pace. Kinda like homemade pizza adds spice to the pizza game. This recipe does that for graham crackers.

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Mixing.

I got to use my Hatian vanilla! It smells so good. I followed the directions and added 1/2 of the recipe amount, since it’s concentrated.

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Prepping the dough for baking.
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The marvelous finished product.

These pictures seem like the Instagram type. However, since I am sans Instagram, you get to see them here 🙂 Plus I get bored of listing pictures sometimes. Collages are much more fun.

A few observations about the recipe.

  • Parchment paper does work well for sandwiching the dough during the rolling process. Plastic wrap will work too but it is very annoying to re-adjust. In a pinch you could use 2 gallon ziplocks with the sides cut out.
  • Experiment with thickness. I like mine thicker, more like a cookie. My son J prefers his crackers to be thin and crispy.
  • I used a fork instead of a toothpick to prick the dough..easier and takes a bit less time 😉
  • I baked mine at about 385-390° for 15 minutes. They could have stood a little less time but still taste really good.

Cost:

I broke down the pricing for storebought vs. homemade and this is what I found…

Homemade: $2.06 for 1 recipe. This makes at least 25 squares. So 8¢ per square.

Aldis is: $1.29 for about 52 squares (as well as I could figure our box is nearly empty and the serving size was vague). That’s per square.

Comparable? For me the homemade is worth it. Although they aren’t as shelf stable. But the taste..there is no comparison with the taste.

You can taste the crisp buttery goodness, the molasses and cinnamon. The crispy just baked texture. Heaven. Can you tell I’m currently eating some?? 😛

Last night I officially copied down the recipe and put it in my 3-ring binder that holds all my grocery, food and meal stuff. Right next to the recipe for homemade goldfish crackers 🙂

~Rachel

P.s.- If you’re looking for more healthy snack ideas for your kids (or yourself as well) check out my post Favorite Toddler Snacks.

P.s.s.- Sub non-dairy butter and this recipe is dairy free! I haven’t tried it yet but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work.

Food, Snacks

Favorite Toddler Snacks #1 (Healthy and Loved By My Little, Too!)

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If you are reading this post, then it is likely that you have a toddler and know very well what I am about to say. Toddlers have sporadic eating habits. In between the cravings for all things crackers, and the constant demands for something to eat coupled with the game of making them actually want to eat something healthy…it can get to be a bit of a challenge. But the need to eat will always be there. So its up to us to find healthy solutions for our kids and family.

It can be a difficult thing to find healthy snacks. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, I have days where I feed him semi-unhealthy snacks that he wants because the alternative is not eating anything. But I try to save the more unhealthy options for when we are out of the house shopping, for example.

When my son was approaching his first birthday, I began a pinterest board of toddler snack ideas. Because pinterest is the place to go when you have an unsolved problem and you want to know what the masses think. The masses aren’t often wrong.

However, not everyone’s child will have a palate that lines up with everybody else’s child. This is totally ok. But the neat thing about looking at what others feed their children is that sometimes you may come across something excitingly delicious, and healthy and dare I say it, also easy to prepare. So here is my toddler snack food list.

Healthy Toddler Snack Ideas

1. 1/4 of a whole wheat tortilla

2. Natural applesauce cups

3. English cucumbers, peeled and sliced

4. Greek yogurt

5. Small Macintosh apple, left unpeeled

6. Canned sliced peaches in 100% fruit juice, cut into pieces.

7. Baby carrots

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8. Homemade cheese crackers
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9. Homemade popcorn
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10. Homemade biscuits

11. Red (Angou) Pears, sliced and peeled.

12. Fruit or Veggie Muffins

13. Cottage cheese

14. Any type of cheese imaginable. Swiss, Munster, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan is his new favorite.

My little really doesn’t like very many veggies. But *cucumbers and baby carrots he loves a lot. We do a special crunchy face where we chew with our mouths open and squint our eyes when eating carrots. Anything to get him to eat his veggies. He loves fruits and will eat pretty much any kind except berries and melon. Apples and bananas are his favorites. Black olives are kinda his quirky thing that he likes. I really don’t know too many kids or adults that like them. But Baby J sure does! I didn’t think they were all that healthy so I asked his doctor about it. He said, “Well they really aren’t all that unhealthy”. So I guess they have fiber if nothing else. And also, his doctor made the point that you really can’t force kids to eat what they don’t want anyway.

I hope that was able to give some encouragement with this post. All kids have stages where they only want to eat x, y, z. And it passes, eventually. If your kid(s) just want to eat 1 food and its healthy, I say let them have as much as they want 🙂

*Bonus these two veggies are great to eat in the summer heat, but they also really help with teething. Particularly molars. Mom win.

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Strawberries & Cream

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Howdy. Its been a long time! I bet you all thought I abandoned this blog. And yes I did have to clear away some spiderwebs (figuratively and literally) as I sat down to write this post. Truth be told, I was looking for a perfect recipe to share. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, really. I tried this and that but nothing seemed good enough.

Then we took a vacation to Florida. We’ve been back for almost a week now but the memories and the sun still linger with me. It is so beautiful down there. Most of you know that I live in the cold northern state of Ohio. Which, yes, some states in the continental US may be colder. But I doubt any of them have such wildly unpredictable weather as we do. That’s mostly reserved for the spring and fall seasons where we famously run the ac and heat both in one day. Anyways. Its been a bad winter for everyone. On our trip down south, we saw snow as far south as Georgia. And later we heard that Hawaii and Florida are the only two of the 50 states that haven’t gotten snow this winter. It has seriously been so harsh and awful for everyone. But I know that spring is on its way. I’ve heard the birds sing more lately and that’s brought a smile to my heart.

It was no surprise that it was very crowded down in Florida. Apparently everyone wanted a piece of the Florida sand and sun. We saw license plates from all over. East coast. Texas. Even Ontario. The locals said this is the busiest tourist season they’ve seen in..possibly forever. Which is nice for the economy.

But besides all that lovely sun the other thing that the state is known for is..the food. And I don’t just mean seafood. Though I do love that..we don’t get “fresh” seafood in the big OH. What I’m talking about is the produce. Amazing and fresh and wonderful. All of it. We visited a produce stand before we left and I picked up some lovely oranges, bananas, apples and strawberries of course.

Growing seasons and peak produce seasons vary from state to state. Just because something is available in the grocery store year-round does not mean that it is necessarily good, as I’ve tried to communicate in my past produce posts. Strawberry season in FL has just begun. I think it may take a bit longer for it to reach the northern states. According to ourohio.org, strawberry season for Ohio is in May and June. (source) When we reach full summer though the season is usually spent across the country. So even though they aren’t as good in other states yet, if you live down south, you may be able to find some nice berries.

I’ll admit it, I get jealous of those Florida folks! They have good food and lovely beaches..so much vitamin D. But then I remember the things I love about my home state. We may not have palm trees but we have many more varieties of  trees that change color in the fall. Not many sandy beaches but we do have good solid dirt to grow crops and gardens. We may have cold noses in the wintertime but it gives us a chance to stay indoors and slow down and plan for the year ahead. And to write food blogs while our darling sons and husbands are asleep. Ha.

Alright onto the actual food.

If you’ve never made your own whipped cream then you really ought to give it a try. It is so divine. And aside from a hot fudge sundae, nothing goes better with whipped cream than fresh strawberries. Ok maybe pumpkin pie. But not until Thanksgiving.

To make it, all you need is heavy whipping cream, a whisk and a little sugar.

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A bigger whisk would make it easier. But if your whisk is on the petite side like mine, take heart! I did it and so can you. All there is to do is pour that heavy whipping cream into a bowl and whisk away till its light and fluffy. Or if your kitchen is a part of the modern world you can delegate the task to a mixer. (Lucky.) As it is, hand whisking builds character 🙂

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In about 15 minutes, you will have this. Yes it did take me 15 minutes and it got a little discouraging along the way. But I’m glad I didn’t give up. And fun fact, if you continue whisking you can make your own butter! I wasn’t feeling that adventurous but it does sound like an interesting activity for the future. I’ve also heard that you can recruit your kids to make butter by putting whipping cream in a small glass jar and letting them shake away.

Then you add sugar. This time I tried it with powdered sugar. In the past, I’ve tried it with granulated sugar and I like it better that way. The grainy texture makes the whipped cream taste better in my opinion. Just add in however much tastes good to you, a little at a time.

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My son took a few bites of whipped cream. I really can’t convince him of the yummy-ness of strawberries just yet though. Ah well. I thought they were quite delicious.

Even if you don’t live in a southern state, you can take confidence in the fact that Spring is only weeks away. The new season will bring new foods and a kinder weather forecast for the winter weary. Until then, happy cooking and stay warm!

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Muffins For Your Munchies

**Note: this post is originally from August 2014. One of my first posts. Hanging out in my drafts folder for some reason. We still love these muffins!

Hello Readers,

So, in my last blog, I made a promise to include more pictures in blog #2. This blog will indeed have lots of pictures. 🙂

However, due to the fact that me & mine are currently in the process of moving…this blog will draw on pictures taken several months ago. Still good, right? Hoping to save myself a wee bit of sanity.

This week’s recipe will be from Erin Chase’s The $5 Dinner Mom recipe book, that I shared with you last week.

Have I mentioned how much I love this book?? 🙂 I do. Her recipes are so healthy and blessedly easy. One of my go-to snack recipes from her book is for Fruit or Veggie Muffins. It can be found on the $5 Dinners site.

Here is my mise en place (somewhat) of all the ingredients you will need for your recipe, minus 2.

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I took this today, and was out of sweet potatoes and canola oil.

I’m not going to include a photo of the dry ingredients mixed together, but I will pause and say a word about one of them…cinnamon.

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I grate my cinnamon by hand. Sounds tedious, I know. But I’ve been doing this for 2 years! The grater I bought from Amazon. I originally bought it just for nutmeg, to use in my peanut butter cookie recipe (more on that later). Then I happened to have some cinnamon sticks on hand and decided to use it to grate cinnamon, too.

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I bought this jar of cinnamon sticks about a year and a half ago, and I have used roughly 2/3 of it, in that time.

It takes about 2-3 minutes for me to grate the 1 tsp. of cinnamon called for in this recipe. I really like my cinnamon better this way. That, and well, its just cheaper. And honestly, the taste is just a lot better, in my opinion.

In this particular post, I will be using mashed sweet potatoes as my fruit/veggie of choice. You can use different single (or combinations of) fruits or veggies, but this is my favorite option, so far.

I begin by cooking the sweet potato. I typically cook 2, to be on the safe side. One large one would work well, too. I preheat the oven to 395°, wash and scrub the s. potatoes, prick them all over with a paring knife, put them in a baking pan with about a 1/2″ of water, cover with foil, and pop them in the oven for 1 hour.

If the sweet potato(s) are really big, they may need more time. You can test them for doneness with a knife.

I don’t let them cool much since I’m usually in a hurry. (Just being honest.) Also, if you keep the oven on, you don’t have to wait while it preheats again for the muffins! I peel them, put them on a plate and slice and mash them with a fork. Measure off 1 cup, and you’re good!

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I put the sugar, oil, eggs and mashed s.p. in a bowl. Mix that and then add the dry ingredients.

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I believe that in this particular recipe, I used PAM cooking spray to grease the muffin tins. But I’ve since been using this coconut oil to grease my pans:

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I’m no coconut oil expert, but I’ve heard it has a lot of wonderful health benefits. Yes, I know, using it at high heat ruins the health benefits. But I still like it a lot better than PAM or Crisco for greasing pans. Also, when I made homemade popcorn last night, I used coconut oil in place of canola oil and noticed a distinct difference.

I find I can only get 10 muffins max out of this recipe, even though it says 12. Especially because the sweet potato makes the batter so dense that it really doesn’t rise very much.

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They go in the 395° oven (my oven is on the cool side) for 15 minutes.

We (myself and my son) entertained ourselves by taking pictures for most of the waiting time. Here are a few of the better ones:

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And when the muffins are done, they will look like this:

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As you can see, we ate 2 already because they were that delicious.

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Sweet potato is, by far, my favorite out of the fruit or veggie options. May try more in the future, but this tops apple, zucchini, banana, and apple-banana. The sweet potato adds so much moisture and sweetness. Makes it taste so good with all that natural sugar 🙂

In May, when I made this my ds wasn’t too into muffins. But he is now! I love making this recipe because it is just such a wonderful snack food. Low in sugar, high in fiber, easy to eat on the go. Freezes very nicely too.

For 10 muffins this recipe cost me: $2.00, about 20¢ per muffin. There you go! Hope you enjoyed my Muffin Munchies blog post, complete with lots of pictures!

~Rachel