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Don't let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!

How to Cook Real Food for a Crowd Without Stress

Don’t let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!Don't let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!

Is it just me or is the end of the year crazy busy? The last thing I want to do is spend half of my time in the kitchen. Especially when I’m with family.

I’m the queen of making things as easy as possible (like this Instant Pot mac ‘n’ cheese). We just hosted Thanksgiving…and I was able to take a nap in the afternoon before the big meal (being pregnant had something to do with that)!

No rushing around. It was so laid back.

And yet we had quite a feast that I prepared completely by myself (well, my kids helped with chopping veggies and making the desserts since they are experts in the kitchen after doing the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse).

My Secret to Entertaining Without Stress?

Do as much prep ahead as possible. My goal when cooking for a crowd is to make as much food as I can ahead of time and just put things in the oven/crockpot/Instant Pot the day of. I tackle one or two projects a day leading up to the festivities. So I’m not overwhelmed.

Then I get to take it easy and spend time with my guests on the day of the party. No shortcuts with packaged food necessary.

I even have the added work of hosting for several days since my family is all out of town. So it’s more like meal prepping for three full days of meals instead of one big meal. But it’s still totally doable! The only thing I had to make at the last minute this year was the gravy. Everything else for our meal had been prepped hours or days ahead.

First Step to Cook Real Food for a Crowd

The first step is menu planning. Do this a few weeks in advance so you have time to shop for supplies and gradually work through your list. Then figure out what can be made weeks in advance, days in advance or the morning of. And go from there.

Here is my course-by-course breakdown of how to create a delicious holiday menu that you can prepare in advance. Your guests will be amazed by all of the real food goodness and you’ll get to enjoy spending time with them. Pick and choose from each category for your best holiday feast ever!

Head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’m sharing all of my stress free entertaining tips!Don't let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Give your little cowboy a power-packed treat with these fun, gluten free cowboy cookies. They are loaded with real, nourishing food.

Abram’s Cowboy Cookies {gluten free, nut free, dairy free option}

Give your little cowboy a power-packed treat with these fun, gluten free cowboy cookies. They are loaded with real, nourishing food.

Give your little cowboy a power-packed treat with these fun, gluten free cowboy cookies. They are loaded with real, nourishing food.

Last year my daughter got her own cookbook for Christmas. Of course she immediately wanted to try some recipes. We found a few good ones that the whole family enjoyed. Her favorite was the molasses cookie.

Naturally if big sister gets to choose some recipes little brother wants to as well. My son saw a recipe for cowboy cookies. But when we went to make them, we realized they were loaded with things he is allergic to like wheat, nuts and oats. He was quite disappointed.

Time to Recipe Create

No worries. Allergy-friendly mom to the rescue!

We came up with our own cowboy cookie recipe that does not contain gluten, nuts or oats. They can also be made dairy free.

My son and I had a blast making these together (he is quite skilled in the kitchen thanks to the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!). And he loved being able to share them at a family gathering. Everybody else loved them too!Give your little cowboy a power-packed treat with these fun, gluten free cowboy cookies. They are loaded with real, nourishing food.

A Colorful Cookie

We use sunbutter in this recipe to help bind and add fat. You must note that when you use sunbutter and baking soda together it can turn green! So if the inside of your cookie starts to look green there is no need to throw them out. And no, you didn’t do anything wrong. My kids now think it’s a fun surprise to have a green cookie when you take a bite.

Save Some for Later

This recipe makes a big batch (about 30 cookies). They freeze really well. So you can enjoy some now and save some for later. Or if you need them for a party or event you can make them well in advance. They thaw very quickly (10 – 20 minutes). Though my kids love to eat them frozen!

Cookies with a Punch

My little cowboy (and cowgirls!) is very active. He loves to spend all day outside on the farm taking care of animals and helping with any jobs he can. He really works up an appetite (and is by far my fastest, biggest eater). These cowboy cookies are great as part of a snack or the perfect ending to a hearty meal.

Loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals from eggs, sunbutter, pumpkin seeds and raisins, Abram’s cowboy cookies are nourishing and sweet. As you can see my little one sure loves them!

Give your little cowboy a power-packed treat with these fun, gluten free cowboy cookies. They are loaded with real, nourishing food.

Get your little cowboy or cowgirl into the kitchen to whip up a batch of cowboy cookies. You’ll all enjoy the time together and delicious treat you make.

Looking for more fun cookie recipes? Try these!

Grain Free Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies

Everything Free Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Gluten Free Peppermint Twist Cookies

Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free Squash Cookies

Give your little cowboy a power-packed treat with these fun, gluten free cowboy cookies. They are loaded with real, nourishing food.

Abram's Cowboy Cookies {gluten free, nut free, dairy free option}
Yields 30
A hearty and allergy friendly cookie.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup softened butter, palm shortening, lard or tallow
  2. 1 cup organic cane sugar or coconut sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 tsp. organic vanilla
  5. 1/4 cup sunbutter
  6. 2 cups white rice flour or brown rice flour
  7. 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  8. 1 tsp. baking soda
  9. 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (we use Enjoy Life)
  10. 1/4 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries
  11. 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add the sunbutter, egg and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
  4. Add the flour, salt and soda. Mix well.
  5. Stir in the chocolate, dried fruit and seeds.
  6. Scoop large mounds (2 - 3 Tbsp.) about 2 inches apart on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.
Notes
  1. The cookies freeze well. Allow 10 - 20 minutes for them to thaw.
  2. The cookies may turn green inside due to the sunbutter reacting with the baking soda. It is not harmful.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Christmas is just around the corner. What should you get for the real foodie in your life? Here are my top picks for the perfect real foodie gifts that will help promote natural health and well-being.

My Top Picks for Real Foodie Gifts

Christmas is just around the corner. What should you get for the real foodie in your life? Here are my top picks for the perfect real foodie gifts that will help promote natural health and well-being.Christmas is just around the corner. What should you get for the real foodie in your life? Here are my top picks for the perfect real foodie gifts that will help promote natural health and well-being.

If you’re like my kids you want to listen to Christmas year round. If you’re like me you don’t mind the music, but you kind of dread all the hustle and bustle of buying gifts and all the other to-do’s for the holidays. And you tell yourself every year you are going to start early…and then Thanksgiving rolls around and you haven’t even started.

Don’t panic! (I’m saying that for my own benefit.) Today I’m sharing my top picks for gifts that any real foodie would love. Don’t forget that Black Friday is coming up in a few days. There will be great deals on pretty much all of these!

Desiccated Liver

Yes, liver tops my list!! Maybe I’m crazy. But that’s how much I love it. I use the Perfect Supplements brand desiccated liver. And I am so thrilled that they now carry it in powder form instead of just capsules.

I put liver in literally everything we eat because it is so nutrient dense and has more Vitamin A than just about anything else you can eat. I add it to meatballs, tacos (my son has his own taco seasoning recipe with liver), salads, smoothies and even caramel!

Whether you are a fellow liver lover or you’ve never tried it, now is a great time to stock up. Get 10% off using the code TAKE10. I might just try to stock our pantry with desiccated liver for the year! No, I’m not even joking. With little kids and trying to focus on prenatal nutrition we go through a LOT of liver. I’d gladly take it as a present. It’s like getting the nutritional equivalent of gold.

Grab your liver and other Perfect Supplements products here.

Slow Cooker

The tool I use most often in my kitchen is my slow cooker (a.k.a. Crockpot). I know everyone is crazy about the Instant Pot these days, but I’m still a slow cooker fan. I like to do my meal prep in the morning and be done for the day. Especially on the days where we are gone in the afternoon and don’t get home until dinner time. Or on Sunday mornings when everyone is starving as soon as we get home from church. It’s a life saver.

Some of my favorite slow cooker recipes are sweet and sour meatballs, meatloaf, split pea soup, mashed potatoes, sausage and lentil chili and pork and beans. And you can never go wrong with a roast, whole chicken or ribs in the slow cooker.

I use my slow cooker so often that it never actually gets put away. It has a permanent place on my counter top.

This is the kind I have been using for years. Though a larger one like this would be nice!

Tea Strainer

This may be a small, simple kitchen tool, but it’s another one I use daily. I love herbal teas for helping all sorts of things like supporting your liver, adding minerals and balancing hormones. I buy loose leaf teas in bulk and then make my own mixes depending on what my body needs.

Right now I’m drinking a lot of nettle dandelion tea. I also love to make infusions for myself and for my kids. Add some fresh or frozen fruit to a jar and let the tea steep over night. Such a refreshing and nourishing drink! Nettle is my go-to for just about everything, especially seasonal allergies.

I’m thinking about putting a tea strainer on my list again this year so I have a second one. Then I can make multiple infusions at once!

This is the one I love.

Crunchy Balm

Winter in our house brings about DRY skin. My husband and two oldest kids especially are prone to super dry, itchy skin. Our favorite remedy is Crunchy Balm. It’s made with whipped tallow and essential oils. It is so soft and creamy and really works.

Crunchy Organics has plenty of other amazing products too, like their face cream made with frankincense and a whole line of natural makeup.

I’m not sure how many jars of Crunchy Balm we have laying around the house. I just like knowing there is always plenty on hand. If you deal with eczema or any kind of skin irritation I highly recommend Crunchy Balm.

We do also love Cheshire Fields products. And the creator, Michelle, is so nice. She even made custom products for us to work around allergies! It’s hard to find natural products without coconut!!

Immersion Blender

I’m not really sure how I survived before I had an immersion blender. It is my go-to tool for a lot of food preservation during the summer and fall. I use it to puree applesauce, pearsauce and squash.

Making homemade mayo or Miracle Whip is a cinch with an immersion blender. It literally takes five minutes, including the time it takes to get the ingredients out. 

Needing foods pureed for a little one? The immersion blender makes it so easy. Cook some veggies, add broth and puree.

We also love to make pureed soups like our favorite squash and sausage soup. I eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner!

There are so many neat brands now. It’s hard to choose which one to get!!

Young Living Essential Oils

Are you new to a natural lifestyle? Essential oils are a great way to help boost your family’s health. I started using essential oils about three years ago. I started with the Young Living Starter Kit. And I’ve been using them ever since.

My favorite oil is Pan Away. I have battled hormone headaches for many years. The only way to ease them was with OTC medicine. But now it’s so rare that I have to take any medicine. I use Pan Away at the first sign of a headache and it usually subsides shortly after.

Essential oils support your health and work well for cleaning your house safely. I love diffusing oils both during the day and at night. Interested in getting started? Grab your starter kit here!

Vitamix

The Vitamix is definitely one of my favorite kitchen tools. Sometimes I use it three or four times a day. It makes perfect smoothies (like the ones you will find in my book Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters), even when most of your ingredients are frozen solid!

Hummus only takes minutes in the Vitamix for a quick snack or lunch.

I even use it to grind flour and make homemade powdered sugar. Some years I use it to puree our applesauce, peels and all! It makes such an amazingly smooth sauce. My kids would say that homemade ice cream is the best thing that comes from the blender. The batter is ready in under five minutes. There really isn’t much the Vitamix can’t do.

Probably one of the things I love most is how easy it is to clean. That only takes seconds too. Talk about fast work in the kitchen.

Grassfed Collagen/Gelatin

Need a powerhouse ingredient to add to those delicious smoothies? Grassfed collagen is a great source of protein. I never make a smoothie without it.

I also use grassfed gelatin to make homemade fruit snacks and all sorts of real food jello salads. You can find all of my recipes using gelatin here.

I love both Perfect Supplements and Vital Proteins brands. Don’t forget to stock up on your Perfect Supplements products 11/24 – 11/27 at 45% off using code TAKE10! You can also get some FREE collagen from Vital Proteins 11/24 – 11/27. Use the code PEACELOVECOLLAGEN at checkout for a 5 oz. canister of collagen when you spend $75.

Cast Iron Skillet

Want a juicy burger, a perfectly cooked steak or the best scrambled eggs you’ve ever tasted? You need a cast iron skillet! A kitchen tools that has been around for centuries is definitely a keeper.

I was nervous when I got my first one. I thought they were hard to use and care for. WRONG. How to use – get it HOT. How to clean – wipe it down when you’re done and wipe a little oil on. That’s it.

You may want to get a few in different sizes. I love my small skillet for making a batch of scrambled eggs for the kids in the morning. My large skillet is great for steaks, burgers and even taco meat.

Still on my list is a cast iron griddle. That would make some awesome pancakes and bacon!

Grab your favorite size cast iron tools here.

Real Food and Natural Health Books

Last on the list, but definitely very important – you need knowledge to know how to use your kitchen tools and natural health products. That’s where books come in. Whether ebooks or hard copies these are some of the best around. Some are part of my personal library. Some I’m still hoping for! You might notice a theme…nourishing yourself and your family.

Family Table (by Shaye Elliott)

Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters (by Mary Voogt)

Nourished Beginnings (by Renee Kohley)

The Nourished Metabolism (by Elizabeth Walling)

Why Won’t My Child Eat?! (by Mary Voogt)

Healthy Snacks To Go (by Katie Kimball)

The Paleo Approach (by Sarah Ballantyne) 

Nourishing Traditions (by Sally Fallon) (this is the book that started my real food journey and completely changed the way I looked at food)

Christmas is just around the corner. What should you get for the real foodie in your life? Here are my top picks for the perfect real foodie gifts that will help promote natural health and well-being.

Keep it Simple

I could probably add about thirty more items to the list. There really are so many good ones. But these top my list.

Remember, some nice tea, a cute apron, a night off from cooking, a back rub or a few hours of quiet also make perfect real foodie gifts. And won’t break the bank.

You can also keep it simple with homemade hot cocoa or a big bag of kettle corn granola.

What’s on your real foodie wish list this year?

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

I Never Thought It Would End Like This

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Wow!

Sometimes that’s all I can say. Wow!

When I look back on this past year I’m completely amazed and astounded.

I started the year feeling very uncertain. About the only thing that was certain was that God had some big changes in store. I didn’t know what or when or how. I just knew something was coming. And that God’s only requirement of me was that I be fearless and follow his leading (I wrote about it in my New Year’s goals last year!).

So I did.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Personal Development.

Here we are at the end of 2016. And what a year God had planned for us! I never thought it would end like this. Here’s a look back.

In February I started working as a virtual assistant for Kitchen Stewardship. It has been a great experience, and I have learned so much!

In March I self-published my very first book! Even in the midst of daily feeding struggles with my youngest God gave me the energy and insight to put our story and experience to paper. I love using it to help others.

You can check out my book “Why Won’t My Child Eat?!” here.

The House Hunt Begins.

We also put an offer on a house in March. But after inspections we backed out. Back to the drawing board.

In April we put an offer on another house. We were outbid. A few days later we put an offer on yet another house. This time things went smoothly. We just had to wait for closing.

After a couple months of waiting we finally got a closing date…only to be informed that the sellers had backed out. With our basement filling with boxes we were back to square one again.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Homeschooling!!

The summer brought some pretty big changes as well. We decided to take a leap of faith and start homeschooling our oldest. God laid it on our hearts that it is what she needs. We kicked off the school year mid-August and have loved it!  She also started working with a functional neurologist during the summer.

We put a bid on a fourth house in August. But our offer was declined.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

The Farm.

In early September we finally found the dream house God had planned for us (did you know  you can try as you may to be in control but God’s plans and timing always win?). Our offer was accepted right away, and the whole process went smoothly.

Bye Bye Allergies?

In September we also received a huge surprise when after 6 months of carrying around an epi-pen and months and months of stomach aches all of my son’s allergy tests turned up negative. Not a single reaction! Since then the stomach aches have vanished, and we have slowly been introducing more and more foods. And so far he is tolerating all of them! Even foods he has had to avoid for years.

Not to be outdone, my toddler has been adding foods to her diet as well!! It’s a slower process for her. But we are so thankful for an expanded diet, including dairy in small amounts! She is now sleeping well, eating well and growing well. God is so good.

For me the new foods mean I can cook one meal for the entire family again a lot of the time. What a blessing.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Crazy Christmas.

The year may have started with uncertainty and a large amount of faith. But it is ending with gratitude and joy beyond measure.

December 10 we moved into our dream farm in a snow storm. It certainly is not the ideal time of year to move. And the weather was not in our favor. We are so thankful friends and family live near by to help us!

The following Monday I started homeschooling my son.

A week later we had all of my husband’s family here for Christmas. Then we celebrated as a family and with my extended family.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Gratitude.

When I think about it all that comes to mind is I never thought it would end like this. This year has been filled with ups and downs. But we are ending the year so grateful and full of joy.

I’m rounding out the year with Christmas baking with my kids. We were just a *tiny bit* busy before Christmas unpacking. It has been so nice to finally have a week to relax and reflect on the year coming to a close.

We’ve loved using some new gadgets like the set of knives my daughter got for Christmas. And the cool Silpat and Levoon measuring spoons I received in conjunction with Stonyfield. All three of my kids had to take turns trying the measuring spoons with a little leveler built right in!

Giving.

I’m also ending the year with thoughts of giving. I have been so richly blessed this year. I was given the opportunity from Stonyfield Yogurt to Pay It Forward to someone in need.

My husband and I decided to add to the Stonyfield gift card so we could buy a farm for someone else!

As a family we decided to purchase a farm team through WorldRenew. It includes a goat, a duck, a sheep, a chicken, a pig and a calf. We pray this will give hope and a brighter future to a family in need.

Something For You.

There are two more great things I don’t want you to miss as you end the year.

  1. Starting today the Kids Cook Real Food course is available again! Try it first with the knife skills lessons. If your kids are anything like mine they’ll be hooked!

Grab your knife skills videos here!

2. Today and tomorrow only the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is back!! If you are interested in getting your health back on track in the new year this is the way to do it. So many resources all in one place. Plus tons of physical bonuses too.

Grab your UHLB here!

As an extra bonus you’ll be able to snag another bundle about essential oils! Check it out.

Finally, I leave you with some pictures from the farm and our first Christmas here.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

What’s Next?

I don’t know what God has planned for us next year. But I do know I will start it fearlessly!! Following God’s plans brings blessings beyond measure.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

I hope you take the time to reflect on your year and all you have to be thankful for. I never thought it would end like this. But I’m so glad it did.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It's so easy to make your kids can do it!

The Christmas Breakfast You Need – Candy Cane Smoothie Bowl

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It’s so easy to make your kids can do it!

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It's so easy to make your kids can do it!

I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas from my childhood. We’d go to church for a candle light service on Christmas Eve. When it was time for presents my three siblings and I would sit in a line, and my dad would hand them out one at a time. There was so much joy and excitement.

Then we would visit out-of-town extended family. It was great to see grandparents and cousins that we didn’t get to see very often.

Of course after all of the celebrations were done it was time to play! We played with our new toys and spent hours outside building snow forts. That’s what Christmas break is all about, right?

Then I Grew Up…

Now I’m a parent…and I still love Christmas. But it doesn’t quite bring the same joy and excitement as it did when I was a child. I dwell on all of the stuff on my to-do list. The packing, traveling, buying, wrapping, cooking, baking, cleaning and hosting. It’s more crazy than calming. More stressful than joyful.

So by the time all of the chaos is over I’m just plain worn out. I don’t have the energy to prepare a fancy breakfast for my family.

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It's so easy to make your kids can do it!

My Solution?

This super simple candy cane smoothie bowl!

IT’S LOADED WITH NUTRIENTS BUT REQUIRES VERY LITTLE EFFORT…ISN’T THAT WHAT WE ARE ALL LOOKING FOR?

A candy cane smoothie bowl is festive and fun. It is so easy to make I actually let my kids do most of the prep work! The older kids practice their detailed cutting skills they learned in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. The younger ones pick out pomegranate seeds.

All of the preparation can be done the day before (great afternoon project for bored kids!!). Even the smoothie ingredients can go right in the blender and be ready for morning.

Head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’m sharing the recipe. Christmas breakfast planning done!

Get the recipe here!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

This week's real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

Real Food Meal Plan Week Of 12/18/16

This week’s real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

This week's real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

It’s crazy that we’ve been living on the farm for a week now! I really thought I’d be more emotional/sentimental about the old house. But this already feels like home (aside from not knowing where half of my stuff is). I guess it helps that I LOVE our new house.

Motivation To Move.

We’ve been on the fast track to get things unpacked because we have lots of family coming to stay with us this week! We still have a lot to go, but we’re settled enough to have a functional house.

So far life on the farm is…COLD! We’re realizing that none of us has proper clothing for living out in the country when wind chills are below zero and the wind doesn’t stop howling. I think there may be some after Christmas sales clothes shopping coming.

I also think our new house is magical. My toddler has slept through the night AND not gotten up early five days in a row now. It’s a true miracle. I know my body sure is loving the great sleep!

In The Kitchen.

I’ll be in the kitchen a lot preparing meals for everyone for a few days. But no extra projects planned right now. Though my kids might convince me otherwise since we will be celebrating Christmas as a family later in the week.  I like to do something special for breakfast when we open presents.

These scotcheroos come together in about ten minutes, using real, allergen friendly ingredients. A simple, delicious dessert with no baking required!

I did make a special treat last week – my updated and allergy friendly scotcheroos!! You must try them. The kids had fun helping me. I had so much fun experimenting with photography at the new house. So much good lighting!! Now I want to make all sorts of stuff to photograph. Any suggestions?

Head’s Up!

There are a couple really cool things coming up I don’t want you to miss:

The Kids Cook Real Food ecourse will be open at the end of the month!! Sign up here to be notified so you don’t miss out.

Did you miss the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle the first time around? It will be back for just two days – December 28 and 29! This is about as good as it gets when it comes to a wealth of knowledge on natural living all in one place…and for a super cheap price. Totally worth every penny. Check it out here!

Here is our real food meal plan for the week. We’ll be eating well with two Christmas celebrations! What’s on your menu?

This week's real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

ROTATION: Each day starts with dinner and goes through lunch the next day. Foods in () are things yet to be tried.

Sunday 4
B – toast with sunbutter, pear slices | avocado, pork chops
L – crockpot beef roast, roasted potatoes, carrots
D – grilled cheese, tomato soup
prep: bake banana bread
notes: 

Monday 1
B – yogurt, granola bar, fruit
D – crockpot beef vegetable soup, banana bread, crackers with cheese
prep: soak oats for baked oatmeal, boil eggs, make veggie dip, chop fruit
notes: prep ahead dinner

Tuesday 2
B – cereal, fruit | leftover soup, bread
L – egg casserole, baked oatmeal, breakfast cake, roasted cabbage, green beans, fresh fruit
D – pork roast (homemade ham), roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, peas, scalloped potatoes or potato casserole, fruit salad, rolls
prep: bake oatmeal, bake breakfast cake, make jello, make fruit salad
notes: guests

Wednesday 3
B – make-your-own parfait buffet, fruit, muffins, hard boiled eggs
L – ham on buns, split pea soup, raw veggies with dip, finger jello
D – baked chicken, broccoli, squash, applesauce, seasoned rice
prep: roast squash
notes: guests

Thursday 4
B – toast with sunbutter, cereal, hard boiled eggs, fruit, muffins
D – sloppy cornbread, peas, jello
prep: 
notes: guests

Friday 1
B – french toast with homemade powdered sugar, fruit, fried eggs
D – salmon cakes, roasted carrots, french fries
prep: make mayo
notes: Family Christmas

Saturday 2
B – french toast, fruit
D – leftovers
prep: 
notes:

Day 1: squash, cabbage, banana, strawberry (pineapple)
Day 1: squash, cabbage, banana, carrot, tapioca, strawberry (cassava)
Day 2: corn, grapes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado, raspberry (amaranth, tomato, orange)
Day 2: grapes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado, amaranth, raspberry, orange
Day 3: teff, eggplant, zucchini, blueberries, asparagus, spinach, sunbutter, peach (kiwi, quinoa)
Day 3: teff, eggplant, zucchini, blueberries, asparagus, spinach, sunbutter, peach, sorghum, quinoa, beans
Day 4: pumpkin, lettuce, cherries, split peas, rice, egg, olives, dairy (millet)
Day 4: pumpkin, lettuce, cucumber, cherries, olives, peppers, onion, coconut, millet, egg, peas, dairy

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Keep the Halloween treats simple, nutritious and delicious with these pumpkin filled chocolates. Free of major allergens but full of flavor.

Easy Pumpkin Filled Chocolates

Keep the Halloween treats simple, nutritious and delicious with these pumpkin filled chocolates. Free of major allergens but full of flavor.

Keep the Halloween treats simple, nutritious and delicious with these pumpkin filled chocolates. Free of major allergens but full of flavor.

Halloween is just around the corner. Which means candy everywhere you turn.

Where We Stand.

I’m not one to tell my kids they can never have anything sweet. But I am one to shy away from most traditional processed candy.

We don’t do any food coloring.

NONE. Which eliminates pretty much all fruity candy.

I let my kids choose a couple chocolates as a special treat. But even if the ingredients aren’t too horrible I still think ethically the big name companies are not so great. And I’d prefer not to support them.

So I turn to my tried and true solution – I make my own!

Keep the Halloween treats simple, nutritious and delicious with these pumpkin filled chocolates. Free of major allergens but full of flavor.

Pumpkin Season!

This year I went with something festive – pumpkin filled chocolates!!

Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate (I use this brand because it is allergen free) filled with gooey, sweetened pumpkin…made with Perfect Supplements gelatin! Candy with good stuff in it? Yes, please.

These are a huge hit with my kids (especially my son that has been cocoa free for the last year and can now have it again…and my toddler that could care less about sweets but loves chocolate). We love to make them in fun shapes.

As an added bonus they are super easy to make. And if there happens to be either leftover pumpkin or chocolate they are great plain!

Keep the Halloween treats simple, nutritious and delicious with these pumpkin filled chocolates. Free of major allergens but full of flavor.

Gelatin For You!

Don’t forget that you can win a container of Perfect Supplements gelatin (or any other product of your choice)! The giveaway ends October 24, 2016.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!!

Easy Pumpkin Filled Chocolates
Yields 20
A simple allergy friendly chocolate filled with gooey pumpkin.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
  2. 1/2 cup pure pumpkin
  3. 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  4. 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  5. pinch unrefined sea salt
  6. 1 1/2 tsp. Perfect Supplements gelatin
Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
  2. Fill the bottom of candy molds with half of the chocolate. Freeze to set while making the filling.
  3. Combine the pumpkin, cinnamon, syrup, salt and gelatin in a small saucepan.
  4. Let sit 1 minute.
  5. Heat over low - medium heat until the gelatin is dissolved (about 3 minutes).
  6. Add a small scoop of the pumpkin mixture to each chocolate mold. Freeze to set (about 3 minutes).
  7. Warm the remaining chocolate. Fill the candy molds to the top. Chill.
  8. When chocolate is solid remove the candy from the molds.
  9. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
Keep the Halloween treats simple, nutritious and delicious with these pumpkin filled chocolates. Free of major allergens but full of flavor.

Looking for a few other fun Halloween treats? Try these!

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Gummies

Five Minute Salted Honey Chocolates

Chocolate Covered Toffee

Maple Candy

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites

This Valentine’s Day get your kids in the kitchen to whip up a special treat. These two ingredient allergen friendly Nestle Crunch® bites are easy to make and fun to eat!

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

I’m a sucker for just about anything chocolate. Especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

Allergies and chocolate do mesh.

Having kids with allergies and food sensitivities has actually increased my love of chocolate.

That may sound strange. But we pretty much avoid all fruity candy. My kids don’t eat anything with food coloring (can you say crazy pills?!). Plus my son is allergic to corn (corn syrup, cornstarch, etc.).

So when it comes to treats we stick to chocolate. Even with dairy allergies we all love the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are great plain or in a cookie. But they are even more fun when melted and turned into a delicious candy.

We’ve made chocolate covered toffee and salted honey chocolates (my personal favorite!).

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

A family favorite.

But hands down my kids love these Nestle Crunch® Bites the best. And they really couldn’t be any simpler to make.

  1. Melt chocolate.
  2. Add coconut.
  3. Pour in molds.

Yes, they are that easy. Yes, they are grain, dairy, nut, soy, rice, egg and corn free.

The little bits of unsweetened coconut give the slightest crunch that tastes just like the crisp rice of Nestle Crunch® bars.

So much fun.

Let your kids choose some fun molds and create a special treat you can feel good about.

Package them up as gifts for friends or family. And don’t forget your spouse! Everyone will want some.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

This Valentine’s Day skip the expensive boxed chocolates filled with artificial colors and flavors. Show your friends and family how much you love them with homemade Nestle Crunch® Bites.

Just two simple ingredients. No common allergens. Five minutes of hands on time. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever made homemade chocolates? Did you know they could be this easy?

Give two ingredient allergen friendly Nestle Crunch® bites a try. You might get some extra love in return.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites
Yields 30
A simple allergen friendly chocolate that is grain, nut, dairy, rice, corn, soy and egg free.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks (semi-sweet) or Dark Chocolate Morsels
  2. 2 - 3 Tbsp. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or glass bowl over a saucepan with about an inch of water).
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add the coconut and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the chocolate into molds.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Unmold.
  7. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

The Best Christmas Gift

I was challenged by Stonyfield to write about the best Christmas gift I ever received. After thirty five celebrations it’s hard to settle on just one! Mine comes in a small package.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to gifts the most significant ones for me always seem to revolve around babies.

Lately I hear a song on the radio a lot called “A Baby Changes Everything.” Every time I hear it I pause and reflect.

The most important birth was that of Christ Jesus. Long ago in a stable in Bethlehem. That baby sure changed everything! What an amazing gift that God sent to us. He is the reason I am even writing this post. There is no Christmas without the birth of our savior.

I received another “baby” when I was five years old. It was a birthday present. My first Cabbage Patch Kid. It was all I wanted.

Every store was selling out as soon as the dolls arrived. Finally one day just before my birthday a store nearby got a few. My mom called to ask…there were ten in stock.

By the time we got there only five were left!

It took me all of ten seconds to choose the one I wanted. She had a little tuft of blonde hair and a pacifier. She was mine. I named her Caroline Rebecca. I never wanted to let her go.

From that moment on I knew (even at five years old) that all I really wanted to do when I got older was be a mom.

I took her with me wherever I went. I played with dolls any chance I got. I pretended to nurse her, feed her, change her. She was my world.

Fast forward about twenty years. Happily married. Ready to start a family and have the children I have been wanting for so many years.

But it would not be that easy. In 2006 we started our long, lonely walk through the world of infertility.  The one thing I had dreamed about since I was five years old seemed like just that, a dream. I didn’t know if it would become a reality.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

But in 2007 God gave us our first miraculous gift after various fertility treatments.

I found out I was pregnant in August and my daughter was born in April of 2008.

We started the journey again in 2009. After five emotionally and physically draining rounds of IVF we found out in September of 2010 that I was pregnant. My son was born in May of 2011.

Two precious gifts.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Yet I knew my family was not complete. I had dreamed since I was five years old of having a big family. I always wanted four children.

In 2013 we did our last round of IVF. Unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage. My dreams were crushed.

But after 6 months of hard work, a lot of physical challenges and healing and days and nights of prayer we got our best Christmas gift.

In December of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. We got to share the good news with our children and extended family as a special Christmas surprise. My oldest was the first to find out. Her reaction at only five years old was priceless (as you can see in the photo at the top).

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

In August of 2014 my daughter was born. She has changed my life in so many ways. She has brought me down a path of healing. A baby was the only motivation strong enough to get healthy. She has taught me what it means to truly sacrifice as I have had to give up a lot to keep her nourished and thriving over the last sixteen months – food, time with friends, outings with my family, travel. None of it was as important as taking care of my little miracle.

She has taught me about contentment and true joy.

Johanna means “God is Gracious.” He is indeed. And she reminds me every time I get her out of her crib and she gives me a big hug, every time she runs over, hops in my lap and snuggles, every time she comes up behind me and gives me kisses on my back, every time she laughs so hard she almost falls over.

A baby really does change everything. A baby (all of them) has been the best Christmas gift I ever received.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Whether or not there are any more precious gifts in my future I don’t know. Whether or not my childhood dream of a large family is part of God’s plan I don’t know. That is in God’s hands. His plans and his timing are perfect. I just know that the miracles He has entrusted to me so far have truly changed my life.

It is said that good things come in small packages. I wholeheartedly agree. From a tiny little baby in Bethlehem to the precious little ones sleeping upstairs as I write this. God has been gracious and changed my life through the miracle of a baby. It is the by far the best Christmas gift ever.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits

Looking for a way to get your winter dessert fix without reaching for ice cream? Turn breakfast into a special treat with these Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits!

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

I have fond memories of eating lots of Neapolitan ice cream and spumoni ice cream growing up.

Of course I was like most kids and really just wanted the chocolate! Who doesn’t want chocolate?

A modern version.

I have recreated these classic flavor combinations in a healthy breakfast treat. Did I mention they are super easy to make too?

Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits use plain, whole milk yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, organic cocoa powder and pistachio nuts. You get the flavors you love without any high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors of food dyes.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Kid friendly breakfast.

My kids went crazy over these parfaits! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them eat  yogurt that quickly. I can’t blame them. What’s not to love about vanilla and chocolate yogurt combined with sweet strawberries?

Kids can help prepare Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits. It only requires pouring and mixing. They love the assembly part too.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Great for special occasions.

I love how festive these parfaits look. Hosting guests for the holidays? Prepare the parfaits the night before. Then wow your guests with a special treat in the morning. Wine glasses make fancy serving dishes.

You could even use these as a special Valentine’s Day dessert.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

This winter spruce up Saturday morning breakfast with a classic dessert flavor. Try both parfaits and see which one you like best. Or combine them to make a four layer parfait that includes chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and pistachio.

Are you ready to try something new for breakfast (or dessert!)?

Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits are simple and nutritious. Plus they are packed with flavor.

Looking for an actual dessert that captures the Neapolitan flavor? Try my grain and dairy free Neapolitan ice cream cake.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Neapolitan Parfait
Serves 1
A yogurt parfait with the classic Neapolitan flavor of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
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Vanilla layer
  1. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  2. 1 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
  3. optional: 1/2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
Chocolate layer
  1. 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  2. 2 tsp. organic cocoa powder
  3. 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  4. optional: 2 tsp. mini chocolate chips
Strawberry layer
  1. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine the vanilla layer ingredients. Let sit 1 minute.
  2. In a small bowl combine the chocolate layer ingredients. Let sit 1 minute.
  3. Layer the vanilla yogurt, chocolate yogurt, chocolate chips and strawberries in a serving dish.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Notes
  1. The cocoa powder and maple syrup can be replaced with 1 Tbsp. homemade chocolate sauce.
  2. If using frozen strawberries allow them to thaw for a few minutes before serving.
  3. The cocoa powder can be replaced with carob powder.
  4. Coconut yogurt can be used in place of the whole milk yogurt.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Spumoni Parfait
Serves 1
A breakfast parfait with the classic spumoni flavor of chocolate, strawberry and pistachio.
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Chocolate layer
  1. 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  2. 4 tsp. organic cocoa powder
  3. 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  4. optional: 3 tsp. mini chocolate chips
Strawberry layer
  1. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
Pistachio layer
  1. 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine the chocolate layer ingredients. Let sit 1 minute.
  2. Layer the chocolate yogurt, chocolate chips, strawberries and pistachios in a serving dish.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Notes
  1. The cocoa powder and maple syrup can be replaced with 1 Tbsp. homemade chocolate sauce.
  2. If using frozen strawberries allow them to thaw for a few minutes before serving.
  3. The cocoa powder can be replaced with carob powder.
  4. Coconut yogurt can be used in place of the whole milk yogurt.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.