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Whole Wheat Oatmeal Apple Muffins

 

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I have, finally, found a cure for what is known around here as the bewitching hour. You know what I mean… that time of day when tears are flowing (mostly yours), dinner is but a wish and a dream, husband is miles away, and house looks like a daycare threw up. Yes, I have found a solution for this trying time. What is it?

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Muffins!!!

I lamented a while ago how hard it was to make dinner with a screaming toddler thrashing around my ankles. A friend remarked, “I give mine a muffin! He’s happy!” {thanks, Megan!}

Not one to believe in magical cures, I delayed in trying this. But when I did…WOWZAS!! It works! I make mine into “mini” muffins, which, along with the purpose of tantrum-squashing, can be used for the following:

  • pleasantly easy breakfast, with a scrambled egg on the side
  • small snack with coffee
  • breakfast for the hubby on the road
  • dessert for kiddos after meals!

I have tweaked my recipe from the cookbook “Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book.” This book has been really helpful for me, although it’s not very “healthy,” so I have adapted it a bit. (Where she uses margarine, I use palm oil shortening or coconut oil; I use whole-wheat flour in place of white, and coconut milk in place of place of soy…)

But I really loved her recipe for “Apple Muffins,” which advertised chunky apple texture in the muffin tops so I tweaked it a bit to get the following. They’re really hearty, and so yummy!

Ingredients:

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  • 4T palm shortening, dairy-free butter, or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c regular oats (sorry…not pictured!)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups diced, peeled apples (about 2 apples…I have used green Granny Smith and sweeter red apples, and I actually prefer the green apples!)
  • Topping: cinnamon and sugar

Instructions:

In mixer, combine melted oil, applesauce and coconut milk. In separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and stir by hand just until combined. Then add the chopped apples, being careful not to overmix.

I made mini-muffins, so I made sure to dice the apples pretty finely:

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Grease your muffin tins (or use liners) and scoop batter into the cups. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture and bake at 375 degrees. For mini-muffins, bake for 10-12 minutes. For regular, test at 20 minutes for doneness.

I cool mine completely and put them directly in the freezer, then take one out to thaw before I want to use it. (Or, if I’m feeling like a really bad girl, I zap em in that cancer-radiating microwave for 10 seconds each. 🙂

Enjoy!

50 Simple Party Appetizers: (Mostly) Kid Friendly and Real Food

image by Alice Carrier

image by Alice Carrier

I’ve been working on this list for a while and I’m super-excited about it! I was actually working on it last night when a squirrel jumped out of our fireplace on our Christmas tree. So I put a hold on publishing this post because, hello, a squirrel jumped out of our fireplace onto our tree!

But back the appetizers.

If I were having my last meal, I’d have appetizers. Which would be sort of like cheating, because you would get to have so many meals at once! Appetizers are pretty much my favorite thing about parties these days. That, and getting to wear real shoes, as opposed to slippers, which I normally wear.

And ’tis the season for these tasty little bites! We’ve already had them for Christmas Eve, we’ll have them again for New Year’s Eve, and then again for the Super Bowl!

*Disclaimer. Appetizer parties are the one basic exception to The Diet Everyone Should Be On. I try greatly to avoid processed foods, but appetizers are my every-once-in-a-while occasion. So don’t judge me by a stray hydrogenated oil today. The one thing I do avoid consuming at all costs is MSG (because it gives me a horrible headache), and food dyes (because they make my kids crazy).

**Another disclaimer. Some of these are pretty basic. So don’t judge me. Actually, go ahead…I know I’m not Giada! (Although…one time someone told me I looked like her. Which I treasured up in my heart forever.)

Anyways, without further ado, The Appetizers! Except for a few exceptions, if I haven’t made it, I’ve tasted it (or something similar). Which is kind of embarrassing, now that I think about it. That’s a lot of appetizers for a 31-year-old.

Allergy-Friendly  (no egg, dairy, wheat, and nuts)

What A Man Wants

Kid-at-Heart

Simple

Restaurant-quality

Quick and Easy Stovetop Baked Apples (and eight ways to use them!)

Before I start on the baked apples, let’s talk about husbands.

I have learned a few things about the husband species in the last five years. I’d venture to say I’m even an expert. Don’t tell Todd, though. He gets uncomfortable when he thinks people have him figured out.

Anyways, here are some things about husbands.

  1. You will use up more bar soap, toothpaste, and hot sauce than you ever, ever thought was possible in a household when you have one.
  2. Husbands are way happier when they have “adventures.” It’s not cool to call them “adventures,” though. They masquerade as trips to “get some light bulbs,” “pick up a milkshake,” and “look at prices of ______ “(fill in the blank with any random object). Basically, husbands are roamers, and hunters. They do not like to be kept as domestic pets. They must get out, and be free, and roam around. It is best to let them.
  3. Husbands love to give compliments, but sometimes they need prompting.

Today, for instance, I called out: “Todd, come in here and see how frugal and wonderful I am. See, I didn’t want to buy berries this week for oatmeal, so I’m baking up these delicious apples to give the boys for breakfast. Aren’t I amazing? Aren’t you so glad you married me?”

Todd fervently agreed that he did, in fact, have excellent taste in selecting a spouse. Although he thought I needed to work on humility.

Whatever.

Anyway, if you’ve got a few apples lying around, you, too, can be woman of the year by whipping them into amazing-ness. Now is the perfect time, when they are so cheap!

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Here are the things you need:

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Ingredients:
  • 3-4 apples
  • cinnamon to taste
  •  T brown sugar (might not even be necessary!)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 c water
Instructions:
  • Peel, core, and slice apples very thinly. It’s okay if they have a little bit of peel remaining. I like tasting a bit of peel every now and then, and it adds fiber. 🙂
  • Add the apples and the water to a sauce pan, cover, and turn on high. When it begins to bubble, turn it down to to medium.
  • Stir every 3-4 minutes and watch for apples to reach your desired level of tenderness. I like them slightly firmer than apple pie texture.
  • When they’re done, add your cinnamon and brown sugar.

And as promised, here are eight different ways to use these apples:

  1. Mixed into oatmeal with coconut oil stirred in. This tastes like dessert.
  2. As a topping for a frozen waffle. This, with an egg on the side, is a breakfast of champions for a mom. (When I make an apple for myself, I don’t even add the sugar and I don’t miss it!)
  3. Spooned onto the top of a sizzling pancake, then flip. Yum!
  4. With a spoonful of yogurt for a snack.
  5. Topped with (coconut?) ice cream for a company-worthy dessert. For company, I’d do cherries or cranberries instead of the raisins!
  6. Inside a Pillsbury crescent roll and then baked. (Yes, I know these Pillsbury rolls are the devil. I learned recently that they are {suspiciously} dairy-free, so I reserve them for a special treat for my little Sam, once in a blue moon. We all need a special treat every once in a while, right?)
  7. As a topping for pork chops. I made a Rachel Ray recipe along these lines.
  8. As a side for any toasty fall meal! Like applesauce, but gourmet!

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Banana Bread – yummy, easy, allergy-friendly

One of the most special birthday presents I got this year was a steaming loaf of banana bread. It was extra special because it was dairy and egg free (so I could share it with my little Sam), and because it was made by my sister, who at the time had a two-month-old, and a sick toddler. Wow, she must really love me! 🙂

Julie has the “Midas touch” of cooking. Anything she makes tastes like it was made by Paula Deen. I was doubtful I could re-create her bread, but dare I say, I almost did! I adapted it slightly and made it into muffins.

This recipe is much simpler than any other banana loaf I’ve made, but tastes equally delicious. I’d recommend it to anyone. What a great gift this would be to a new mom eating dairy-free! (Or a new mom! Or a mom!)

My sister based her recipe on this one.

Ingredients:

Like how I put the flour in the sifter so you wouldn’t forget that step? And ps, those bananas are the perfect amount of ripe for banana bread!

  • 1/3 cup shortening, butter, or, my choice, coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, minus 2 T
  • 1 3/4 cup sifted flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1/4 applesauce (can be omitted – I used because my bananas were small, for additional moisture)

Topping:

  • 2 T white sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon

Directions

Lightly grease and flour 8x4x3 loaf pan or one muffin tin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash the bananas well with a fork.

Cream together coconut oil and sugar. In separate bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir into coconut oil mixture, alternating with mashed bananas and applesauce. Mix until smooth. Pour into pan.

Sprinkle batter with cinnamon and sugar mixture. My mom says to let it sit and let the sugar melt into the batter for 10 minutes or so and then bake. Trust me on this one – she’s right. My husband says the sugar topping is the best part. Go figure.

I cleaned out an old spice container and put in my cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle easily. Glad I took a picture of the craftiest DIY thing I’ve done all year.

For bread, bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. For muffins, bake 18-20 minutes.

Adaptions: Add 1/2 c chocolate chips to mixed batter, or 1/2 c fresh blueberries. Yum!

D.F.D.F. {Dairy-Free Delicious Food} : Chicken Pot Pie

Welcome to the first installment of DFDF!! Dairy Free Delicious Food! Although all my food is dairy-free, I came up with this cool new acronym. I can’t really decide if it’s actually cool, or 5th grade cool. Maybe I secretly know the answer to that…:)

Anyway, today’s tasty recipe is down-home chicken pot pie! Here’s how I make it. Of course if you’re not omitting dairy, tweak the recipe accordingly (as us dairy-free cooks have to do with all those other recipes!)

Ingredients:

  •  5-6 small potatoes (cut into dice-sized pieces)
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • one onion, chopped
  • couple stalks of celery, chopped
  • some broccoli (I was in a healthy mood), chopped
  • butter/butter substitute
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (not shown)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pre-made pie crust (Pillsbury is dairy-free.)
  • bay leaf
  • 2 cups cooked chopped chicken (not shown)
  • TB of flour (not shown)

I know, I know… my ingredient lists are starting to look like a fraternity’s yearbook photo with all these “not showns.” I’ll work on it.

Instructions:

So what I do first is wash, chop, and saute all the vegetables in olive oil. Make sure the potatoes are diced in small pieces, so they are thoroughly cooked. I like to get really nice color on them, but not let them be too mushy, as they will cook in the oven as well. (Maybe saute for 10-15 minutes?) Again, test the potatoes and make sure they are slightly soft.

Now you need to get that creamy, pot-pie feeling for the inside. What I do is clear a hole in the pot, melt the butter (TB or so), and then add the flour. I mix up the melted butter and flour so it’s not clumpy.

Just imagine all that blurriness is steam. I’m pretty sure it is, but it might be butter on the lens. Who knows. Now we need to add the liquid – chicken broth and milk. Then you just let it simmer for a bit.

You may need to add a little more liquid. Keep in mind that it will thicken in the oven, so make sure it’s not too dry before you bake it. Then pour it in a pan. Since you apparently have way too much time on your hands and need a 3rd child around, make a cool criss-cross crust. I think it’s actually called “lattice pie crust.”

Hey, stop laughing at my lattices.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges.

Let cool for a really long time before you serve to little ones. They don’t forgive you if they burn their tongues. Enjoy! D.F.D.F., right!

what we eat around here: allergy-friendly foods

good thing vanilla is allergy-friendly! 🙂

I have a really sweet neighbor friend, Christie, who asked me recently, “What snacks do ya’ll (she’s from the south:) ) eat? I’d love to know what some safe foods are for Sam!”

I thought I’d put together this list, for anyone as kind as Christie who wants to host a playgroup, bring a safe snack to preschool, have a friend over who has food allergies, offer safe candy at birthday parties, etc. etc.

If you are a parent of an allergic kid, I’m sure you’ll double-check the ingredients or call the company to verify, especially if your child’s allergy is severe. Unfortunately, companies do change ingredients or warnings from time to time.

The following products do not contain milk, egg or peanut. Also, the products are not manufactured on lines with these items, OR provide an extremely thorough sanitation and allergen testing process. In other words, they’re careful enough for me. (Which is pretty careful.)

So here are some safe foods for dairy, egg, and peanut allergies! This list is not extensive, but gives you a good idea. I’ve noted the ones that I know are free of the top 8 allergens (wheat, peanut, nut, egg, milk, soy, shellfish, fish)

Main Dish Items:

  • Tyson Chicken Nuggets
  • Nature’s Own Wheat Bread (double-check ingredients, some varieties not safe)
  • Mueller’s pasta varieties
  • Jones Dairy Farm sausage (free of top 8)
  • Hormel Natural Choice lunchmeat (free of top 8)
  • Hebrew National hot dogs, plain
  • Ian’s chicken nuggets and french fries (free of top 8)
  • Daiya cheese substitute

Snacks:

  • All Fruit and Veggies! Just make sure your knife and cutting surface are clean! (free of top 8)
  • Trader Joe’s Snickerdoodles (free of top 8)
  • Oreos, plain (I know…scary – what’s the white stuff?)
  • Honeymaid Graham Crackers
  • Kraft Marshmellows
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips (available at Target and Earthfare) (free of top 8)
  • Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (free of top 8)
  • Nabisco Wheat Thins, plain
  • Triscuits, plain
  • Saltines
  • Club and Ritz Crackers, plain
  • Sunbutter and Soynutbutter
  • Rold Gold Pretzel products
  • Teddy Grahams
  • Barnum Brand animal crackers, plain without icing
  • Lay’s plain and BBQ potato chips (free of top 8)
  • Cheerios, plain
  • Rice Chex, original
  • Kix
  • Tostitos corn chips (free of top 8)
  • Fritos corn chips (free of top 8)
  • Del Monte diced peaches/pears (free of top 8)
  • raisins/craisins (free of top 8)
  • individual apple sauce, plain (free of top 8)
  • So Delicious ice cream products (free of top 8)
  • Popsicle Brand popsicles (free of top 8)
  • CherryBrook kitchen baking mixes (brownies, cakes, cookies) (free of top 8)

Candy:

  • PEZ
  • smarties (free of top 8)
  • Yummy Earth Lollipops and Candies – I can buy these at earthfare
  • Nerds
  • DumDums
  • Jelly Bellies
  • Skittles
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Swedish Fish
  • Dum Dum lollipops (free of top 8)

How To Get Your Kids To Eat (Almost) Anything

I have to start with this story. One time my Grammy served my mom and her siblings cow tongue for dinner. I don’t think that story needs any more elaboration. The end.

So I make no promises for cow tongue dinners. For other foods, here are some tips.

I’ve thought about this for a long time, but I’ve hesitated to go public for two reasons:

  • As soon as I do, Sam and Ty will throw a revolution and refuse everything that is not a Trader Joe’s snickerdoodle
  • My kids are undoubtedly anomalies, as they are genetically predisposed to LOVE food. We come from a long line of eaters around here. (And boy am I thankful of that, because with Sam’s allergies, he can’t afford to eat fewer foods!)

However, all kids revolt at one point or another, and all kids do this on the night when:

a)      you actually worked hard on dinner

b)      you just noticed they were looking a little scrawny, and

c)      you recently read in Parenting Magazine how essential green vegetables are in preventing cancer

And it is at this precise moment, you set down the bowl (and you know the look from a mile away) that Precious Pumpkin decides that, NO.

I. Do. Not. Want. That.

So what do you do?

Before I submit my tips of the trade, I want to offer a few general principles, which come from my mother. They have guided me through many a bleak and miserable dinner.

  • If you make eating a battle, you will never win. You can’t force them to eat.
  • You make the plate; they decide what to eat. But if they’re hungry later, too bad. They will just have to make up for it at breakfast.

I admit I was terrified the day I put these in action. Sam was about two, and had suddenly begun refusing dinner.

What if he doesn’t get one bite to eat? What if he wakes up every two hours in hunger? What if he dwindles away to nothing? And so on.

In my case, it only took about twelve hours, and the pickiness disappeared. (It will reappear periodically of course, but he’s a good eater.) For my sister (and an extremely stubborn son), it was less than a week. So I guess the bottom line is, they have to know that you’re not going to lose your temper about it, but that this is dinner, period.

That said, let’s say you’ve made something you want them to eat. Say, chicken tortilla soup with beans and peppers and onions. Here’s what I do to make it more appetizing:

1)     Watch the temperature. My kids get immediately annoyed by something that’s too hot. I take theirs out 10 minutes ahead to cool down.

2)      Add something with crunch. Ritz crackers, tortilla chips, club crackers, toast with butter diced in pieces, flour tortillas in pieces – basically something they’ll like the taste of.

3)      Add something creamy. Easy cheesy if you’re not allergic to milk…sour cream, cheese, cream cheese, half-n-half. With Sam’s dairy allergy, I’ll add coconut milk, olive oil, or a dairy-free cream cheese.

4)      Be cheerful. {Nerd Alert} Sometimes I’ll tell Sam one fun fact with every bite he takes. For example, every time he takes a bite, something we could do at Disneyland. Or something that firemen do. Or whatever. Often we’ll talk something fun coming up. Try to distract him from the yuckiness with my pleasant company!

5)      Keep reminding them of their dessert when they finish. Not in a naggy way. Sometimes I’ll do reverse psychology, and say, “Now, Ty, you can’t have all the cookies. Remember, Sam gets to have some when he finishes dinner.” I don’t think that’s reverse psychology actually. Passive aggressive? Hmmm. You get the point. Even if it’s two cookies, or some yogurt, there should be a little treat for finishing something not-so-yummy.

6)      If worst comes to worst, do the bite-for-bite. Today, for example, this evening Sam didn’t want his butternut squash pasta. So he ate one bite of that, and got one bite of apple pie. And so on.

7)     Finally, if you’re having troubles in the eating department, eliminate all snacks, juice, and milk between meals. This can work wonders. Now, I understand it’s hard to break someone of the habit from wanting calories when they’re cranky, bored, and used to having it. Believe me, I know, all too well. But just try it for three days.

But whatever you d0, don’t bother trying the following. They are in every parenting magazine ever, but they sure don’t work around here.

  • “Let them help with dinner, and they’ll want to eat it more.” What?? Sorry, but my kids are not that naive.
  • “Make it look like a fun shape, and they’ll want to eat it.” Um, no, not working here. If it looks like a car, they’ll drive it. A ball, they’ll throw it, A cute animal, they will make it roar, etc. etc.
  • Add food coloring. Please, please promise me you won’t do this. Unless you are making playdough, or icing for a birthday cake, please hold off on these yucky dyes and colorings! They are so bad for you. Plus, blue mashed potatoes? That’s just gross.