Picky Eaters and Bits and Bobs

December 9, 2015

Picky Eaters and Bits & Bobs

Lunchtime with children, especially packing lunches for school, can be irritating.

I have one child who eats sandwiches. Easy! With a piece of fruit, maybe a healthy snack bar or two, and his lunch is complete.

My other child has declared that she does not like sandwiches (with the exception of peanut butter and jam).

These are my recommendations to make assembling lunch fun for your children and less stress on you, and I do list gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives:

On Sunday afternoon, pick out the following to assemble:

  • yogurt and honey – I prefer Greek yogurt, as my lactose-intolerant child can still digest this; however, there are almond milk or soy milk yogurts now in the Kroger organic refrigerated section. Also, if local honey is available, that’s the best to use. 1 teaspoon of honey to ~6 oz of yogurt. I would set up small glass containers with plastic lids to store the yogurt and honey in, as plastic and dairy don’t always mix.
  • organic nuts or organic sunflower seeds and organic raisins (or other dried fruit) – you can find these at Whole Foods, as well as other stores – I prefer using pesticide free nuts and dried fruit, and I would measure a mixture of a few tablespoons of nuts/sunflower seeds to a few tablespoons of dried fruit and put each mixture into little plastic baggies or another container which won’t spill.
  • organic baby cut carrots or carrot chips – you can add a side of hummus or favorite dressing on the side in an extra container if you want. I would put 6-8 baby carrots in each plastic baggy or other container of your choice.
  • palm-size organic apples – I know Trader Joe’s usually carries little organic apples, perfect for children’s lunches.
  • bananas – my uncle promises that the organic ones are sweeter, but I usually forget and buy the regular ones.
  • organic rice cakes – gluten free, pesticide free, dairy free, and nut free all in one neat crunchy snack – salted or unsalted. I’ve found these at Trader Joe’s and Publix. I would store them in a plastic or glass containers, not baggies, or your crunchy treat will crumble.
  • snack bars / bread – pick (or make!) your favorite snack bars or muffin breads – be aware of the ingredients – if you made homemade muffins or granola bars, put them in little snack bags or small containers for the week.
  • organic popcorn in individual sizes – Chicka Boom Pop makes lovely snack size bags which Costco carries
  • veggie chips / straws  in individual sizes – Costco carries these.
  • seaweed packs – crunchy salty and a nice amount of Vitamin C – Trader Joe’s and Kroger carry them.
  • cheese sticks – these come in non-dairy alternatives in the Kroger organic section.

Anything you don’t make yourself, you must check the ingredients to make sure there is no food-coloring, no artificial anything, no high fructose corn syrup, and whatever else your child isn’t allowed to have for allergy reasons.

Have your little one create his or her own lunch by picking out several healthy snack choices for lunch, and then put the lunch box in the refrigerator if it includes yogurt or cheese. (Do keep in mind that you don’t want to refrigerate bananas.)

Good luck, and may your lunchtime packing be less stressful and healthier.

Dairy free Magic Cookie Bars

I was making Magic Cookie Bars, otherwise known as 7 Layer Cookies, or Hello Dollies for a friend’s daughter’s party yesterday, when my daughter looked at me and asked if she could have one.

Magic Cookie Bars begin with melting a stick of butter in a 13 x 9 inch pan, adding 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, pouring a can of sweetened condensed milk, and ending with sprinkling a cup of chocolate chips, a half cup of nuts, and some shredded coconut – before baking at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

My daughter – whose tummy has had a whirlwind of issues – was finally diagnosed with lactose intolerance last winter. Butter seems to be okay for my girl, but cow’s milk is definitely out for her.

As this uses coconut milk, it is not low in fat, but it is a delicious alternative. 🙂


Welcome to Dairy Free Magic Cookie Bars:

~6 Tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan shortening

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (if you want Gluten Free, simply use Gluten Free cookie crumbs)

13.5 oz can Coconut Milk* + 1/2-1 teaspoon of powdered Turbinado sugar (or its equivalent)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup shredded organic unsweetened coconut


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 if using glass pan.

2) In 13 x 9 inch pan, melt vegan shortening stick.

3) Pour graham cracker crumbs evenly over melted vegan shortening until bottom of pan covered evenly and completely.

4) Open and pour can of coconut milk into separate bowl first to stir until smooth. Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of powdered Turbinado sugar (or its equivalent) to coconut milk and stir until combined.

5) Pour coconut milk over graham cracker crumbs and spread to make even layer.

6) Sprinkle chips, nuts, and coconut over top.

7) Bake 350, or 325 if you have a glass pan, for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges look bubbly and the shredded coconut looks a little toasted.

8) Let cool down on counter. Then refrigerate for several hours, or overnight for bars to harden deliciously. Cut into bars, and enjoy!


Tolerance (part 1) – I like cats, I really do

May 18, 2015 – Tolerance, part 1

I like cats, I really do. I love the way they purr when you pet them. I like to play with them.

So, if I like cats, why, when I’m at someone else’s house, do I stay far, far away from them? Why don’t I pet them, love on them, snuggle with them?

You, who love your precious cat, must think me unloving for not petting it.

I am not allergic to cats. Why don’t I pet them or play with them?


What part of this story are you missing? What is the reason why I won’t pet your cat?

We forget that our reality is often different from someone else’s. In your world of purring, cats are perfect.

In my world, in my home, there are two people whom I love dearly who are very, very allergic to your pet. If my husband gets cat hair on him, he gets a rash, has an allergy attack, and can’t stop sneezing for a day or two. If my daughter is near someone with cat hair on them, she feels itchy all over.

If I pet your cat, and I go to hug my daughter, she won’t stop being itchy until she showers, and I wash all the cat hair off of me and my clothes. The same is true of my husband.

We are so quick to make judgements of ourselves, of others, that we forget to look at the other side. Newton’s law of physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

There is a reason for every single thing that we do, just as there is a reason for every single thing someone else does, or does not.

Before you spring to your judgement that someone else’s way must be wrong, keep in mind, that person is probably looking at you, thinking the same exact thing.


Lightly Lemon Cookies

My daughter’s best friend doesn’t like lemonade, or citrus at all. Oddly enough, she likes these cookies. And, she doesn’t usually like much whole wheat, either.

I found this recipe after a pool party last week where my son tried lemon cookies and loved them. He begged me to find a recipe. I did, then I altered it for my daughter’s allergies.

Lemon Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3+ cups turbinado sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

1 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda*

¼ tsp cream of tartar*

½ tsp vanilla

¼ cup lemon juice

2 ¾ cup whole wheat flour

zest from 1 lemon


to roll cookies in:

zest from 1-2 lemons

½ cup powdered turbinado sugar**


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, add egg, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour – mix well.
  3. Roll cookie dough into balls.
  4. On a plate, mix turbinado powdered sugar & lemon zest.
  5. Roll each ball in powdered sugar/lemon zest mixture, put on lined cookie sheet, with enough space to flatten into nice-sized cookies.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Cool and serve.

* I used cream of tartar and baking soda in place of baking powder, as baking powder usually includes aluminum and cornstarch, neither of which my daughter can have. You can find aluminum free baking powder, but I haven’t been able to find cornstarch free baking powder. At a cooking store – you can find mini-measuring spoons for 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32 of a teaspoon. I find them useful. (Or, a pinch or a dash will most likely do in their place – although, to be perfectly honest, I tend to measure, as baking is chemistry.)

** Powdered turbinado sugar can be created by putting 2-3 cups of turbinado sugar into a Vitamix. Sadly, a regular food processor doesn’t work as well, but you are welcome to try.

Pumpkin Pancakes and Frittata Muffins

My son told me one day he suddenly didn’t like the texture of sweet potato pancakes anymore. So, I found this recipe for pumpkin pancakes. I’m including a recipe for frittata muffins as they’re great together. Oddly enough, we have found that lemon curd, or orange curd, is excellent with pumpkin pancakes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes

1½ cups milk*

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons oil**

½ teaspoon allspice

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon ginger

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups flour ***

* I use unsweetened almond milk

** I use light flavored olive oil

*** I use 1 cup whole wheat flour & 1 cup unbleached enriched white or ultragrain flour

1) Mix the milk, pumpkin puree, egg, oil, lemon juice, and brown sugar together.

2) Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

3) Cook on hot griddle and serve with turkey bacon, frittata muffins, or sausage.


Frittata Muffins

10 large eggs

shredded cheese (optional)

leftover shredded bacon, sausage, chicken (optional)

garlic powder, onion powder, or dill (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Grease muffin tin. Add shredded cheese, spices, meat, or whatever else you want into individual muffin holders.

3) Beat eggs well.

4) Pour eggs on top of cheese/meat/spices, dividing eggs equally into 12 muffin holders.

5) Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool slightly. Can keep for 2-3 days and reheat if any frittata muffins remain.



Sweet Potato Pancakes

I love these. I usually serve them with turkey bacon or sausage, or even frittata muffins.


Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 medium to large sweet potato, baked until soft, without skin

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 eggs

dash cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or, cow’s milk if you prefer)

¼ cup oil

1 cup flour, whole wheat, or wheat/white mix


  1. Preheat griddle.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mash sweet potato with sugar, add milk slowly and beat until smooth.
  3. When griddle hot enough, add a little light olive oil or canola oil.
  4. Add remaining ingredients to mixing bowl.
  5. Pour into pancakes and cook until lightly browned on each side.
  6. Serve with powdered turbinado sugar or your favorite syrup, or eat plain.

Sweet Potato Waffles

I love these. I usually serve them with turkey bacon or sausage, or even frittata muffins.


Sweet Potato Waffles

1 whole mashed sweet potato, without skin

¼ cup brown sugar

3 egg whites

3 egg yolks

1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1½ cups flour – mixture of whole wheat & white, or pure whole wheat

1 ½ tsp cream of tartar

¾ tsp baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash vanilla extract

Melted butter or olive oil for waffle iron

  • Beat egg whites with electric beater until almost stiff, and place in separate bowl.

  • Mash sweet potato with brown sugar.

  • Beat sweet potato and sugar mixture with egg yolks and milk until smooth.

  • Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed.

  • Fold in egg whites by hand until mixture is lightened.

  • Either brush butter on waffle maker, or spray with oil, before pouring batter.

  • Cook according to waffle maker instructions.

Zucchini Carrot Bread

I ran into another mom at the grocery store who was trying to figure out how to get her kids to eat veggies. She said they wouldn’t touch a veggie, no matter what. I told her to try veggie breads first. Here’s a zucchini carrot bread recipe, originated from my sister-in-law’s aunt, but modified by adding whole wheat flour and no baking powder – I substituted cream of tartar and baking soda, as my daughter can’t have the aluminum and cornstarch found in most baking powder.

Zucchini Carrot Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups turbinado sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups grated carrots
3 cups flour (whole wheat & white or pure whole wheat)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp + 1/16 tsp bkg soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
dash nutmeg

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Beat eggs, oil, and sugar. Add remaining ingredients until well blended.
3) Pour into greased (2) loaf pans, or (1) bundt pan.
4) Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean and bread is springy to touch. Cool before serving.

* these are also fun as mini-muffins, or muffins. for mini-muffins, cook ~10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean; for muffins – cook ~15-20+ minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cheese Biscuits

My daughter asked me this morning if we could have cheese biscuits for dinner tonight.

2 cups flour *

1 tsp cream of tartar**

1/2 tsp baking soda**

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup shortening

6 oz liquid (water, broth, milk, unsweetened almond milk, etc.)

4 oz shredded cheese ***

* I use a combination of half whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour

** You can use 2 tsp of baking powder instead of the baking soda and cream of tartar together. Be aware that baking soda usually has cornstarch added to it, and most brands also have aluminum.

*** If you are allergic to dairy, you can substitute finely diced meat, veggies, fruit, etc.

**** I use unsweetened almond milk in this recipe. Water is good if you are adding fruit, broth is good if you are adding veggies or meat.

1) In large bowl, add flour, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda.

2) Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter.

3) When shortening is fairly well blended, add liquid and cheese. Stir until barely moistened.

4) With clean hands, scoop out biscuit dough gently about the size of the inside of your palm and place on lined cookie sheet.

5) Bake at 350 F for about 15-20+ minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs.

Best served when warm. Needs no butter. Just warm cheesy goodness. Good side dish for fish or chicken.

Allergies vs. Sensitivities

What is an allergy? I’m not going to give you the technical definition. You can look that up. After spending the last year trying to figure out to what my daughter is allergic, I’m beginning to understand that she has more food sensitivities than standard allergies.

Which means what, in real words?

For my kid, foods that have been highly processed upset her stomach. A taste of nonfat dry milk burns her mouth, as it has been extremely processed. Food that has been introduced to chemicals in an unkind way.

Technically speaking, this is considered a sensitivity, not an allergy, as she doesn’t break out in hives or stop breathing, or something awful along those lines. But, she does get an upset tummy. I don’t know what it causes on the inside of her body. (I haven’t wanted to have her scoped to find out. She’s only 7. And, we seem to be able to modify her diet enough in order for the upset tummy to be minimal.)

I do remember when my daughter had an allergic reaction to a medicine. She broke out in hives all over her body with one dose of a medicine. Another time, some sulfur based medicine messed with system.

Everyone’s body chemistry is different. Keep in mind, when you go to a doctor, your physician sees a snapshot of what is wrong, and has to make a judgement call. Your doctor knows that 5 out of 10 people react this way to this medicine, 6 out of 9 react that way, 1 out of 3 react the other way – and, with your symptoms, you could have – this, the other thing, or maybe that.

But, I digress. A sensitivity will appear when your body has had too much exposure to something. Soy, cheese, strawberries, etc. If you eat this food all the time, best to take a break for awhile. If you rarely eat this food, or come into contact with this plant, etc., best to take a really long break from it.

My son hadn’t had cow’s milk in a year, when he tested being “sensitive” to it. If I wanted to pay an allergist to poke him with a needle to determine if he is “allergic” to it, I feel that there is a good chance it would come out positive. Did I mention my son is afraid of needles? Which is a moot point. I’m not paying an allergist to tell me something I already know. The more cow’s milk my son has, the worse his health is. (Statistically, 60% of school children are allergic to cow’s milk.)

Allergy vs. sensitivity – best to take a break from it.