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Category: Food allergies

Does one (or all!) of your children have food allergies? Sadly this is no longer a rare thing. More and more kids struggle with food allergies now than ever before.

I’ve been there too. Skin testing, blood work, epi-pens…the works. It can be challenging or down right scary.

But you don’t have to live in fear. And you don’t have to just accept food allergies as a life sentence. There is help!

My son went from over twenty food allergies and an epi-pen to being able to eat just about anything. Even nuts!

There are ways to heal the gut and nourish the body so your child can get back to a normal life. Food allergies have so many underlying causes. Once you figure out the root problem and treat it the body will begin to heal.

Don’t let food allergies define your life. I’m here to help you and your child heal.

Protein-Rich Salted Chocolate Milk

Have a kid that won’t eat meat or isn’t getting enough protein? Chocolate milk to the rescue! This refined sugar-free protein-rich salted chocolate milk is perfect!

Need a delicious drink that is also nourishing and loaded with extra protein? This protein-rich salted chocolate milk is perfect for kids and adults!

When it comes to drinks in our house we basically have two options: milk or water.

It may seem boring. But really, we don’t need much else. Once in a while my kids get a little pure grape juice (if they are fighting a cold or if we are making our “smart water.”). And of course we do love our smoothies for added nourishment (check out my book full of recipes here!).

But if my kids are thirsty it’s generally water or milk.

Kid-Friendly Drink Without Refined Sugar

Then there are those days where we just want something a little extra. Or maybe my Intuitve Eater is in one of her “I don’t want to eat much” slumps. And I have to be sneaky.

That’s when I bust out the chocolate milk! Who doesn’t love chocolate milk? I know I sure do!Healthy Chocolate Milk for Kids with a protein boost!

Protein-Rich Drink for Kids

My version of chocolate milk is taken to a new level with extra protein from grassfed collagen (THIS is the brand we use – use TAKE10 to get 10% off). It blends right in with no added taste. Plus it’s loaded with a whole array of essential amino acids.

The kids and I have been studying human anatomy and physiology for science this year. Our unit on nutrition introduced us to amino acids and how they are the building blocks of protein. And they are so important! So when I showed the collagen container to my oldest she was fascinated to look at the amino acid profile. Science lesson built in to making chocolate milk!

The good stuff doesn’t stop there. We are big fans of adding salt to chocolate. When I say salt I mean real, unrefined sea salt (like this). Not only does it contain a broad spectrum of minerals, it is also hydrating/good for balancing electrolytes and delicious! We even use it to make salted dark chocolate ice cream, healing hot cocoa and salted honey chocolates . Salt and chocolate go so well together.

To really boost nutrition we like to add probiotics and raw egg yolks (from our own free-range chickens). So you are getting extra protein, essential minerals, probiotics, and vitamins! All in a glass of chocolate milk. It’s a mom win!

If you like your chocolate milk a bit thicker, like a shake, you can add a little banana and/or avocado.Need a delicious drink that is also nourishing and loaded with extra protein? This protein-rich salted chocolate milk is perfect for kids and adults!

Healthy Chocolate Milk

When I gave this protein-rich salted chocolate milk to my daughter she had two comments:

  1. Does this have salt?! Yum! When can we make salted chocolate ice cream?
  2. You have to make this every single day!

How to get Kids to Eat Enough Protein

My youngest can be really picky when it comes to meat. Veggies? She’ll out eat anyone. Meat? Turns up her nose. We have to bribe her to take bites of meat…then she can have thirds of veggies! For real. So I’m always glad when I can sneak in extra protein for her in something so delicious like chocolate milk. Collagen is a great way to do this. A scoops gives her the protein boost her little body needs. Added to the raw milk and egg yolks it makes a complete protein.

Her ideal meal is a huge pile of vegetables with a glass of salted chocolate milk. And I love to give it to her.

Quick & Easy Nutrition for Kids

It only takes about three minutes to make salted chocolate milk (mostly just the time required to gather ingredients). Older kids can make it themselves. My six and nine-year-olds know how to separate egg yolks thanks to the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. My three year-old loves to help with the blender. It’s a family event! And we all enjoy the reward at the end.

The next time you’re in a beverage rut or your kids need a little protein boost, make a batch of salted chocolate milk. Use your favorite milk and some grassfed collagen to blend a nourishing drink the whole family will love.Need a delicious drink that is also nourishing and loaded with extra protein? This protein-rich salted chocolate milk is perfect for kids and adults!

Protein-Rich Salted Chocolate Milk

A nourishing drink filled with extra protein and minerals.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw whole milk, full fat coconut milk, almond milk, or rice milk
  • 2 Tbsp. organic cocoa, carob, or cacao powder
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. collagen
  • 1 capsule probiotics optional
  • 1/2 medium banana optional
  • 1/4 avocado optional
  • 1-3 egg yolks from free-range chickens

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender.

  2. Blend on high until well combined.

  3. Serve immediately.

Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

Soy-Free and Coconut-Free Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

When you’re working around allergies, it can be hard to find easy and nutritious snacks, especially with protein. This homemade ground beef jerky is simple and safe for the whole family.

Allergen-Free and Kid-Friendly Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

One of the biggest struggles of having children with allergies is finding easy sources of protein.

Our allergies include nuts, dairy, beans and eggs. So basically it’s meat or nothing. And I don’t know about you, but I just don’t feel like cooking meat for every meal of the day!

But as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I know just how important it is to get adequate protein for blood sugar regulation (think hangry!) and to help kids grow and develop well.

Allergen-Free Protein Options

I do let my kids have sunbutter (we LOVE this brand that is made in a peanut and tree nut free facility!). But it really doesn’t have that much protein. And I only give it every four days to stick with our rotation diet. I also do sardines and anchovies about once a week. Although they are super nutritious, that gets expensive!

When it comes to lunches and snacks I stick to easy. And the usual easy protein sources aren’t options. Most days there is enough leftover from the previous night’s dinner that it’s not a problem.

But sometimes there’s not.

The solution?

Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

I did some research to find a recipe…and couldn’t find one. Most of them use either soy sauce or coconut aminos. When you can’t use soy or coconut that just doesn’t work. Plus I really had no desire to go to the store or buy specialty items.

So I came up with my own recipe using just a few simple and nourishing ingredients. To my great delight this ground beef jerky turned out great!Allergen-Free and Kid-Friendly Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

Soy-Free Beef Jerky

My biggest surprise…my one year old was the child that liked it the best! She ate almost the whole batch (don’t worry, not in one day). My husband and I love it too!

It is so easy to stick in the diaper bag when running errands. No mess. No refrigeration. Just a simple, healthy snack that is free of allergens and easy enough for a one year old to eat. Perfect!

You can adjust the salt and sugar to your liking. I like a lot of salt. You can also add liquid smoke for a smokey flavor. If you really want to bump up the nutrition you can even add desiccated liver! (Use the code TAKE10 for 10% off)

Allergen-Free and Kid-Friendly Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

What is the Best Meat for Beef Jerky?

Ground beef is the easiest meat to work with and makes the easiest to eat beef jerky (trust me, I tried other meat first…and I could barely chew that batch).

Not a fan of beef? Swap it for ground pork, chicken or turkey!

This ground beef jerky is perfect for school lunches or summer picnics. Make a big batch and store it in the freezer. Grab as much as you need any time. It thaws in about sixty seconds.

Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own Beef Jerky?

The other thing I love is how affordable this beef jerky is. I use grassfed ground beef. No fancy steaks. So a whole batch only costs about $6.00 (including the other ingredients)…and makes at least 30 good size pieces of jerky!

We recently bought some locally-made beef jerky. It came in a tiny package and cost about $8.00. Plus my kids thought it was too spicy. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.

Can You Make Beef Jerky Without a Dehydrator?

Most homemade beef jerky recipes use a dehydrator. But it is possible to make beef jerky in the oven. Simply spread the meat in small strips on a baking sheet and bake it at a very low temperature (around 200 degrees F). Check it every hour for doneness.

What are your go-to allergen-free snacks?

If you’re like me and always trying to figure out an easy snack that is healthy, satisfying and free of allergens you’ve found it. Ground beef jerky is perfect for the whole family. Put it at the top of your allergy-friendly snack list! Homemade lunch meat is a great option too.Allergen-Free and Kid-Friendly Homemade Ground Beef Jerky

Easy, Allergen-Free Ground Beef Jerky

Homemade beef jerky made with ground meat and free of allergens, including soy and coconut!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Servings 30 pieces
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork, chicken, or turky
  • 1/2 cup gelled beef, pork, chicken, or turkey broth
  • 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, or molasses
  • 4 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 2 tsp. Perfect Supplements Desiccated Liver Powder optional

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 - 8 hours.

  2. Spread strips of marinated meat onto dehydrator trays using 1-2 Tbsp. of meat each (thinner is better when spreading. Hands work best to spread it).

  3. Dry at 155*F for about 12 hours, checking every hour after 6 hours for doneness.

  4. Allow to cool and store at room temperature for up to a week, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.

Recipe Notes

Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I'll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute. Convert your favorite baked good recipes into egg-free versions with a couple little tweaks.

How to Bake Without Eggs | A Simple Gelatin Egg Substitute

Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute. Convert your favorite baked good recipes into egg-free versions with a couple little tweaks. Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I'll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute.

Gluten-free baking can be tricky. You have to learn what flours go well together. You need to learn the correct ratios of starch to fiber. But once you get the hang of it, you can make some pretty amazing baked goods.

Until you have to eliminate eggs.

Eggs can make or break allergen-free baked goods.

Have you ever seen a recipe that uses coconut flour? It’s usually loaded with eggs.

Many wheat alternatives simply don’t have the ability to bind. And that is where eggs come in. They are the glue that holds gluten and grain-free baked goods together.

What Can Be Used Instead of Eggs in Baking

As a mom of kids with allergies, I’m thankful there are quite a few options for egg replacements in baking. These include:

  • chia seeds
  • flax seeds
  • JUST egg
  • applesauce
  • banana
  • yogurt
  • nut or seed butter
  • psyllium husk
  • gelatin

They all have their place in certain recipes. But commercial egg replacers are usually loaded with unhealthy processed vegetable oils. And sometimes you either don’t have another substitute on hand or your kids are allergic to those as well!

That’s why my go-to egg substitute is gelatin.Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I'll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute. Convert your favorite baked good recipes into egg-free versions with a couple little tweaks.

How to Replace Eggs with Gelatin

Gelatin is protein. So it is very similar to real eggs in that sense. Gelatin is also easy to have on hand at all times as it doesn’t go bad. No refrigeration needed. No fear of it going rancid.

My general rule of thumb is one to two teaspoons of gelatin replaces one egg.

Simply mix the gelatin with a small amount of cold liquid (water, milk, etc.). Then dissolve it completely with hot water and add to your batter.

It’s really that simple!Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I'll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute.

Gelatin Egg Substitute

Gelatin isn’t a straight substitute for eggs since eggs contain more than just protein. So I always compensate by adding a little extra fat (oil, butter, etc.) to my recipe when baking egg-free.

That combination of protein and fat works really well in most baked goods.

Sometimes I also add a little psyllium husk for binding. Gelatin, fat, and psyllium husk mimic the properties of an egg very well.

Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I'll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute. Convert your favorite baked good recipes into egg-free versions with a couple little tweaks.Egg-Free Baked Goods

Most baked goods require you to add the eggs at the beginning of the recipe.

The opposite is true when using a gelatin egg substitute. Adding the gelatin mixture at the end is preferred. This keeps the gelatin from gelling before baking.

Since it can be tricky to get the hang of egg-free baking, it’s best to start with a tested recipe that you can follow. Over time you’ll be able to confidently replace eggs in any of your favorite baked goods.

How to Bake Without Eggs

Here is the breakdown of baking with a gelatin egg substitute.

Gelatin Egg Substitute

Prep Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 egg

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp. grass-fed gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold liquid (water, milk, juice, applesauce)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp. psyllium husk optional
  • 2 tsp. avocado oil, olive oil, butter, or coconut oil optional

Instructions

  1. Add the psyllium husk and oil into the batter of whatever you're making.

  2. After all other ingredients have been combined, mix the gelatin and cold water/milk/juice.

  3. Let sit 1 minute.

  4. Add the hot water to the gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve.

  5. Immediately add the gelatin mixture to the batter and mix well.

  6. Proceed with the baking instructions of your recipe.

Recipe Notes

The cold water/milk/juice should be some of the liquid already called for in the recipe to avoid too much liquid.

This replaces 1 egg.

Working around egg allergies can be tricky. In this tutorial I'll show you how to bake without eggs by using a simple gelatin egg substitute.How to Bake Egg-Free Cake

One of the most common needs for egg-free baking is cake. Yes, even kids with egg allergies want cake for their birthdays!

Thankfully gelatin eggs work really well in egg-free cake.

Some of my favorite egg-free cake and muffin recipes include:

And many others are easily adaptable using this gelatin egg substitute!

What Desserts Do Not Contain Eggs?

If you are intimidated by any kind of egg substitute, rest assured there are plenty of delicious desserts that are naturally egg-free.

What is the Best Gelatin?

When it comes to gelatin, there is really only one option in my mind. We always use Perfect Supplements gelatin.

This is the only gelatin in the world that is certified glyphosate free! That is pretty amazing.

Want to know what else is amazing? You can get 10% off Perfect Supplements gelatin or any of their other great products using the code TAKE10.

Stock up on gelatin for egg-free baking HERE.

Ready to start some delicious egg-free baking? Stay tuned! Tomorrow I have an amazing egg-free orange muffin recipe for you. My kids (and I!) devoured them.

Do you struggle with egg-free baking? What is your go-to egg replacement?

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Should You Force Feed a Picky Eater?

The strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

The strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

I am a big fan of gentle parenting. I like to let my kids make decisions, learn from their mistakes, listen to their bodies and follow their passions.

Really it is a great way to parent.

I want my kids to mature and be independent thinkers, not control their every move.

But that went out the window with my youngest daughter when she was struggling to eat anything. She couldn’t listen to her body anymore because all she heard was fear.

Food meant pain. Food meant allergic reaction after allergic reaction. And she was too little to communicate how she felt. So she simply stopped eating.

How to Feed an Under-Eater

What did I do?

I forced her to eat.

Now, before you become alarmed, let me explain what I mean by force feed.

When my daughter was at the point of being afraid to eat I had to convince her brain and her belly that food could be safe. Which meant getting a few bites down.

Sometimes that meant giving her a few tortilla chips. Sometimes that meant offering her a cookie. The actual food didn’t matter. Just getting something in her empty stomach was the key.

But sometimes there was no food that would entice her enough to take a bite. And yes, sometimes I did have to try physically pushing a little bit of food into her mouth to get past the initial fear. But she sure is good at dodging that!

The strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

Nourishing Drinks for Picky Eaters

Enter my secret weapon – nourishing drinks!

Often with picky eaters or children having allergic reactions half of the battle is the chewing process. So I skipped that and started offering delicious drinks. To my great joy my daughter started drinking them!

Want to know what happened next?

She started eating solid food again! Simply getting some safe, nourishing food in her system was enough to replenish nutrients and stimulate her appetite. And that is such a critical point.

To be clear, this did NOT happen over night. This was a long process with many setbacks like new reactions and illness. Then it was back to square one of living on nutrient-dense drinks until she was refueled enough to eat again. This has been a two year journey!

he idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Variety for Picky Eaters

One key to using drinks for nourishment is variety. We all need an assortment of vitamins and minerals every day and every week. This is especially true for kids with allergies that need to rotate food.

Picky eaters are at risk for nutritional deficiencies. In fact, these deficiencies often cause picky eating in the first place! 

So I set out to create an assortment of delicious drinks that covered a broad spectrum of nutrients to alleviate the picky eating. And I want to share it with you!

If you struggle with any of the following in your child, this book is for you!

  • picky eating
  • oral sensory processing disorder
  • allergies
  • refusal to eat certain textures
  • slow weight gain/underweight
  • won’t eat many fruits and vegetables
  • won’t eat meat
  • craves starch/carbs
  • holds food in mouth/struggles with chewing

Want to know who else it’s for? Any parents that want to boost their child’s nutrition! Yes, this book really is for everyone.

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Grab your copy HERE!

Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters

I offer simple, nourishing drinks to help get any picky eater back on track to full health and appetite. Kids and adults alike will love these drinks that include fun flavors like apple pie a la mode and peach cobbler. The recipes in Easy Nourishment For Picky Eaters work for those with allergies. They are even safe for children as young as 6 months. Don’t let picky eating get in the way of good health. Drink your way to a well-nourished body.

Yes, there are some days that I still have to “force” my daughter to eat…just get her to take one bite and remind her that food is not scary. Her favorite way is with a “chocolate shake” loaded with healthy fats and gut-healing collagen. That is my kind of force feeding!

The strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

It can be hard to feed an undernourished child. But take heart! He can be nourished with simple, nutrient-dense drinks. The best part is he won’t even know. And hopefully you won’t have to force feed him!

Do you have a picky eater? Did you know there could be a root cause?

Boost those nutrients and watch that picky eating turn around!

The strategy to force feed a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track! Here is my secret weapon to get any picky eater back to fully nourished status and enjoying lots of real food again.

Looking for more than nourishing drinks? Check out my other book Why Won’t My Child Eat?! that has in-depth information about how to assess and deal with a picky eater.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham

Are you looking for a way to serve ham without worrying about nitrates, nitrites and fillers? Make your own! You can easily turn a pork roast into ham in your crockpot.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

I love ham. I mean love it.

You can imagine my sadness when my daughter had a reaction to ham while she was still breastfeeding. That meant no ham for her…or me.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

Why You Should Avoid Ham

Pork was not the problem.

The problem is whatever is used for smoking/curing. Even something simple like beet sugar caused a reaction.

But aside from allergens, there are the added nitrates and nitrites. This is not a cut and dry issue either. Some say avoid it all. Some say just be careful of quantities, whether naturally-derived or not.

Whatever your reason, sometimes it’s a good idea to avoid cured meats, including ham.

How to Turn Pork into Ham

I avoided my beloved ham for a long time – until I decided to make my own! You can turn a pork roast into ham right in your crockpot (this is my favorite one).

No fancy tools. No strange ingredients.

Really all you need is pork, salt and a sweetener.

I used a rolled pork roast. But any cut will work.

Homemade Ham in the Crockpot

Cut some slits in the pork, put it in the crockpot and add the salt and sugar. Turn the crockpot on and you’re pretty much done.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

Your holiday ham really can be that simple. And you don’t have to worry about nitrates or nitrites or whether or not celery powder is better or worse.

To turn a pork roast into ham the important step is using lots of quality unrefined sea salt. Then adjust the sweetness to your liking.

If you want your ham really smokey you can also add a little liquid smoke (be sure to find one without coloring added).

Pork Loin Ham Recipe

As I write this I’m thinking about how tasty our homemade ham was. I might have eaten all of the leftovers myself. Though now I wish some had made it to the freezer so I could enjoy it again.

I guess that means I just need to make another!

Are you thinking about making a Christmas ham?

Save time and money by making it yourself this year! Just put it in the crockpot in the morning and spend your time focusing on delicious side dishes and desserts.

No crockpot? Or you’ve already filled it with something else? You can make ham in the oven too.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

Homemade Ham
Turn a pork roast into a delicious ham with a few simple ingredients and a crockpot.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pork roast (cut and size of choice)
  2. 2 - 4 tsp. unrefined sea salt (adjust based on size of roast)
  3. 2 Tbsp. - 1/2 cup any combination of sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, organic cane sugar, organic brown cane sugar, molasses; adjust to taste)
Instructions
  1. Using a sharp knife cut slits in the pork roast all over.
  2. Place the pork in the crockpot.
  3. Add salt and flip the roast to make sure there is salt on all sides.
  4. Add the sweetener (start with a smaller amount and add more later if you want it sweeter).
  5. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, then turn to LOW for 5+ hours.
  6. Flip the roast 2 or 3 times during cooking to make sure all sides get coated with flavoring. You can also baste the roast with the juice in the crockpot, trying to get it into the slits in the meat.
  7. An hour before serving cut the roast into large chunks and coat with the juice in the crockpot.
Notes
  1. You can use a single sweetener like honey or cane sugar. Using a combination of liquid and dry sweeteners gives a good balance of flavor and creates a good "sauce."
  2. To make ham in the oven follow the same directions, baking the pork in a covered dish at 375*F for 2 hours, then turning the heat down to 325*F for 2 hours.
Just Take A Bite https://justtakeabite.com/
This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

The Secret Ingredient Hiding In Your Natural Food: What Is Natural Flavor?

It’s not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods…but of higher quality. But just what is natural flavor in your “natural” foods?

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

It’s been over six years now since we cut out food coloring/food dyes from our kids’ diet. As in absolutely none. No exceptions. Artificial flavor is limited to a few times a year in a treat of vanilla ice cream.

Food dyes are connected to behavior – and not in a good way! Eliminating them has made a big difference in how my children feel and behave. It is literally like a drug for my oldest. Sometimes it makes her insane. Sometimes it makes her super mellow. Either way, it’s impacting her brain and is not good.

Of course cutting out artificial ingredients naturally lends itself to a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Who doesn’t love that?!

Instead of artificially-flavored fruit snacks you buy organic gummies or even make your own homemade fruit snacks! Instead of Trix yogurt with food dyes you get organic yogurt. Instead of traditional candy you buy organic suckers made with fruit. Sounds great!

Why Eliminating Food Dyes is Not Enough

That was us…for a while. Until I noticed my daughter was exhibiting the same behavior as when she ate the foods with artificial colors and flavors.

Being the investigator that I am, I read labels, I observed her, I kept a food journal. She had already been gluten-free for a long time. And no other food seemed to be causing the problems.

The one thing that I came up with was the ingredient common to all of these “natural” foods…natural flavor.

What is Natural Flavor?

Since then I’ve been doing more research. Both experimenting with diet and reading any information I can find. I really want to know…what is natural flavor??

Not surprisingly I came across article after article that said natural flavor is basically the same thing as artificial flavor. The only real difference is the ingredient(s) it starts with. Natural flavor starts with real food. But it still undergoes various chemical processes which result in a product not much different than its artificial counterpart.

How is Natural Flavor Defined?

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors, include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants.”

Per dictionary.com enzymolysis is: “Chemical change or cleavage of a substance by enzymatic action.

So, natural flavor can come from a chemical change of bark and it’s still within the guidelines. Interesting.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

Is Natural Flavor Harmful?

According to dailyburn.com:

“Natural flavors are coming from natural sources — the original ingredient is found in nature and then purified and extracted and added back into the food.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the “natural flavors” in your blueberry granola bar are simply…crushed-up blueberries. Rather, they probably consist of a chemical originally found in blueberries, enhanced and added into your food in a lab.”

“Added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. And all of the extra ingredients in flavors often aren’t as innocent as you’d hope they would be. The mixture will often have some solvent and preservatives — and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume [of the flavoring]. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.”

NaturalNews.com states:

“Regulations for the word “natural” only apply to flavors; anywhere else you find it on food packaging means absolutely nothing regarding quality. Secondly, the FDA definition of “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” allows for the substance to be extracted from plant or animal “matter.” So when you buy something that’s organic, vegetarian, or vegan, and it has “natural flavoring,” you could be eating a pig, cow, turkey, chicken, or lamb which was shot up with growth hormones, fed GMO pesticide-laden corn and grain – probably mixed with other animals of it’s same breed, then shot up with antibiotics due to infections and diseases from living in confined quarters on slats covered in feces.

Monosodium Glutamate is a neurotoxin that can be legally hidden from you and/or be labeled “natural flavors” in the ingredients list. MSG is not a natural flavor – in fact, it can cause brain lesions, neuro-endocrine disorders, and neurodegenerative disease in humans, but you won’t hear any doctors of Western Medicine mentioning that at your next extreme migraine emergency visit. There are more than 25 names for MSG, so sometimes you find it spread out a little, just in case the manufacturer gets “checked out” by anyone other than the FDA.”

Foodbabe.com says:

“With the words “natural flavor” food chemists and companies can put whatever they want in your food that is “generally regarded as safe” including excitotoxins. Natural flavor can legally contain natural occurring “glutamate” bi-products like MSG – which are known excitotoxins. These excitotoxins are some of the chemicals that cause your taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food. Excitotoxins overexcite your cells literally until they die or are damaged causing “injury” and “incapacitating” you with disease. When consumed over time, excitotoxins can cause nerve disorders resulting a myriad of diseases from stroke to Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. And lots of other side effects too – like obesity, migraines, fatigue and depression.”

Remember what I said about “natural flavor” acting like a brain-altering drug for my kids? It’s not so far fetched when you really do some searching. My observations were spot on.

Do Manufacturers Lie About Ingredients?

None of it sounds very appealing and certainly doesn’t put my mind at ease.

But I know you can’t trust everything you read. So I set out to do my own investigation.

I called some popular organic food companies and some conventional food companies to ask them about the ingredients in their food (I’ll be kind and won’t name names). Sadly most of them had no answer for me.

I told them I was a mom of kids with tons of allergies. I need to know a full ingredient list or I can’t give it to my kids. Simply avoiding the top eight allergens does not cut it.

These are the responses I got:

“Natural flavor is listed so we can keep the full ingredient list from our competitors. The natural flavor in X product contains apple, corn, black raspberry, cherry, cranberry, lemon, lime and strawberry. I don’t know how it’s processed, but it does contain those ingredients.”

“The natural flavor is outsourced. The ingredients for each flavor can change by the season so we can’t tell you what’s in it. It is made from fruits, vegetables and/or spices. And they can’t be modified. There are no major allergens.”

“The natural flavor comes from a natural source. I don’t have a specific list of ingredients.”

“It is a proprietary formula that I can’t tell you. It is an all natural food or something.”

“The Natural Flavors in our products will follow our same Brand Promise to be Gluten-Free and Free-From the top defined food allergens. We have only aligned ourselves with business partners and ingredient suppliers that can adhere to our strict allergen requirements.”

One website directly stated:

“All our Natural Flavors in our certified organic product are Organic Compliant Natural Flavors and conform to the regulations of both the FDA and the very strict National Organic Plan (NOP) by the USDA.These natural flavors do not contain anything we would not be proud to put in our family’s mouths.

Please note that we consider our Natural Flavors to be secret recipes so we do not reveal the contents of our Natural Flavors. We are aware that some people may not be able to eat some of our flavors because we are unable to reveal the secret recipe and we are truly sorry for this inconvenience.”

Does Anyone Know Where Natural Flavor Comes From?

Since I was getting nowhere with the food manufacturers I tried contacting some natural flavor manufacturers directly.

No surprise…I couldn’t get any response from them!

Why Natural Flavor is Dangerous for Food Allergies

As a mom of kids with allergies it concerns me greatly that I am not allowed to know what is in just about every packaged food. Even simple foods like canned tomatoes and salsa. It also concerns me that these “natural flavors” are so common that nobody questions them.

The word natural has no real standard. It can mean just about anything. Don’t let it fool you too. If you are conscious of avoiding artificial flavors and colors, you might want to add natural flavor your list.

If it is so “natural,” why don’t you just tell us what it is??

How to Avoid Natural Flavor

I’m not just a bearer of bad news. I want you to have hope! Don’t feel discouraged! You can still live a natural lifestyle. And it does NOT have to be complicated or involve convenience foods with suspicious ingredients.

You can learn to replace store-bought products with DIY options that actually work (like homemade fruit snacks and granola bars) and are easy to make. You feel better (and even look better, too). Healthy living becomes less stressful and more enjoyable.

Our family has felt so much better by making changes to the way we eat, the products we use, and how we take care of ourselves. It’s made all the difference in the world and I want the same for you.

The use of natural flavor has been my biggest “natural food” complaint for many years. It really has no place in our food. And food companies that make quality, whole foods should be more than happy to tell consumers exactly what ingredients they use.

Do you avoid natural flavor?

If you are looking for a simple way to keep your family healthy and thinking clearly, avoid natural flavor. This mystery ingredient has no place in real food.

Homemade Fruit Snacks

How to Make Homemade Fruit Snacks | Dye-Free & Allergy-Friendly!

Impress your kids and avoid strange ingredients by making homemade fruit snacks! Just a few simple and nourishing ingredients create a fun and healthy snack.

Homemade Fruit Snacks - Dye-free healthy snacks

One of the best decisions I made as a parent was to stop buying packaged fruit snacks. Let’s face it – they are sort of weird, food-like morsels that really are more like candy than anything.

Even the “natural” or organic versions still have some questionable ingredients. And basically zero nutrition.

Why You Should Make Your Own Fruit Snacks

My solution to this problem is always homemade.

I’ve been making homemade fruit snacks (also known as gummies) from scratch for my kids for quite some time. I get lots of requests for the recipe.

Most people are amazed at how simple it is. But beyond that, it’s amazing how healthy they are!

We used to buy organic fruit snacks once in a while as a special treat. But not anymore.Homemade Fruit Snacks - Dye-free healthy snacks

Homemade Fruit Snacks with Grass-fed Gelatin

These fruit snacks are filled with nourishing gelatin (use code TAKE10 for 10% off) which is great for gut healing. They are also very safe for almost any allergy. I love that I can even make a variety of flavors for my little guy that is allergic to multiple fruits (have you ever tried finding something fruit flavored at the store that does not contain banana, grape or pear? Impossible).

My kids will easily eat a whole batch in a week if I let them. So I often have to make a new batch almost weekly! I try to make different flavors like blueberry lemon, lemon lime, lemonade and cherry. I love having very healthy snacks on hand that my kids truly love. And they don’t have to feel like they are missing out.

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

One of the things that surprised me is how much my toddler loves homemade fruit snacks. I just make them in a pan and cut them into small squares. It’s a great finger food! Bonus that I can pack them up for when we are out and about. No little puffs or melts with strange ingredients. Just fruit and gelatin.

Do your kids like fruit snacks?

Try replacing the store-bought version with a homemade version. You can make them in any shape and flavor. Let your kids choose which ones. They’ll think it’s great! And you can know they are eating something that is healthy and healing.

This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesday.

Homemade Fruit Snacks - Dye-free healthy snacks

Homemade Fruit Snacks
A fun, fruity snack that is full of nourishing gelatin and free of allergens and artificial ingredients.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup pure juice (i.e. blueberry, cherry, lemon, lime)
  2. 3/4 cups sweetener (cane sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup)
  3. 3 -6 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
  4. 1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the juice, salt and sweetener in a small saucepan. Heat slightly and mix until the sugar/honey dissolves.
  2. Taste the juice and add more sweetener if necessary.
  3. Allow the juice to cool for 10 - 30 minutes.
  4. Add the gelatin to the juice while gently whisking.
  5. Let sit for one minute.
  6. Heat the juice/gelatin mixture over low heat, whisking gently until the gelatin completely dissolves.
  7. Pour the mixture into molds or a glass pan.
  8. Refrigerate until solid (about 20 minutes).
  9. Remove fruit snacks from molds or cut into squares/desired shape from a pan.
  10. Store in a container in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Do not use juice from concentrate/juice that you would drink plain. Use pure juice.
  2. You may need extra sweetener for some flavors like lemon and lime.
  3. You can use one type of juice or a combination - blueberry lemon, cherry lime, lemon lime, etc.
  4. Using less gelatin will make a softer gummy and they will need more time to set. More gelatin will make it firmer.
Just Take A Bite https://justtakeabite.com/
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread {dairy free, nut free, corn free}

Gluten-free pumpkin bread is easy to make and will be a hit with the whole family. Both kids and adults will love this tasty way to add pumpkin into your diet.Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Fall is time for all things pumpkin. Do you agree?

Maybe you’re not into orange veggies. Maybe you’re experimenting with a low carotenoid diet.

But if you’re like me and have grown to love pumpkin and enjoy eating it in season, then this recipe is for you!

How to Get Kids to Eat Pumpkin

My kids LOVE this bread.  It’s slightly sweet with just a hint of spice. Spread some butter on and you have the perfect snack or breakfast treat.

I always try to get some feedback from my family when I make a new recipe. According to my six year old this bread is “a bajillion times good.”  She gave it two thumbs and two toes up.

Then she told me “it tastes like it came from the store…it tastes like it’s processed!”  That may sound odd, but her definition of processed is anything that doesn’t come from our kitchen. In other words, she thought it was so good you’d never know it was gluten-free and that we didn’t buy it.

I must say that I agree with her assessment. Sadly two loaves disappeared pretty quickly. Now I have to make more.Gluten-free pumpkin bread is easy to make and will be a hit with the whole family. Both kids and adults will love this tasty way to add pumpkin into your diet.

How to Use Up Leftover Pumpkin

Do you have leftover pumpkin from making pies or leftover squash from Thanksgiving dinner? Gluten-free pumpkin bread is the perfect way to use them!Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread: Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Corn-Free

This would make a great day after Thanksgiving breakfast or accompaniment to some turkey noodle soup.

Add chocolate chips or chopped nuts to make gluten-free pumpkin bread extra special.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Be sure to make a big batch of gluten-free pumpkin bread so you can stock your freezer. Simply cool, slice and wrap a loaf of bread. Freeze it. Then take slices out as  you need them.

This recipe makes one large loaf (9×5-in.) and one medium loaf (8×4-in.). If you don’t want to make loaves you can turn this into muffins. Simply put the batter in muffin pans and cut the baking time in half.

When to Stock Up on Pumpkin

October and November is the time of year to stock up on pumpkin. Pumpkins at the orchard are cheap and easy to roast, puree and freeze. Or this is when pumpkin at the store is the cheapest it will be all year. Fill your pantry or freezer now so you can enjoy pumpkin bread whenever you want without spending a lot.

This pumpkin bread is gluten, dairy, nut, corn and coconut free. But you’ll never know! All you get is sweet pumpkin and a hint of cinnamon. Bake a batch or two for a delicious fall treat. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Author Mary | Just Take A Bite

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic white rice flour
  • 1 cup organic sorghum flour or brown rice flour
  • 1/2 - 1 cup organic cane sugar or coconut sugar (adjust sweetness to liking)
  • 1 tsp. psyllium husk powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or avocado oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts optional

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans (one large, one medium).

  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, soda, cream of tartar, salt and cinnamon.

  3. Add the vanilla, pumpkin and oil. Mix.

  4. Add the eggs. Mix until well combined.

  5. Stir in chips or nuts if desired.

  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

  7. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, until baked through.

  8. Allow to cool before slicing.

  9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer for long term storage.

Recipe Notes

  • You can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the batter before baking the bread for a crunchy topping.
  • You can replace the pumpkin with squash.
  • To make the batter into muffins, fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter and bake for 30 minutes.
Are you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back to full health? I've got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

How to Overcome Vitamin A Toxicity: The Vitamin A Detox Diet

VAD Diet updateAre you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back in balance? I’ve got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

Are you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back to full health? I've got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

I hope you’ve been enjoying this series on Vitamin A Toxicity/Hypervitaminosis A. I also hope you haven’t been too overwhelmed with information. It’s a lot to take in. And I’m only scratching the surface!

Today we’re discussing what you’ve all been waiting for – how to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity.

It’s really quite simple.

I also wanted to note that I will be focusing on the Vitamin A Detox Diet in relation to children since that is my area of specialty. That being said, everything will be applicable to adults as well.

Finally, know that this is VERY NEW information. So new things are coming to light left and right. I will do my best to keep up with anything that changes and give you the most up-to-date information.

How Does Your Child Get Vitamin A Toxicity?

A person becomes toxic when the liver is saturated with a particular toxin and can’t handle any more. Too much toxin = toxic. Once your bathtub is full of water it will start spilling over the edges. You can’t truly drain the tub until the faucet is completely turned off.

In other words, you have to stop taking in Vitamin A (intox) in order for your body to get the built up Vitamin A out (detox). You need the Vitamin A Detox Diet.

To clarify I do NOT mean detox in the sense of a juice cleanse or starving yourself. I’m using the word detox purely to mean the act removing the toxin. Not the widely held beliefs about the methods of detox.

The idea of no more in, drain the stored amount out is pretty simple and straight forward. I’ll go into more details on how specifically in a moment.

First I want to address how we got here in the first place.

Are you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back to full health? I've got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

Why Are Children so Loaded with Vitamin A?

If you’re like me you’ve been trying hard to nourish your kids and make sure they are eating lots of fruits, veggies and whole foods. Maybe you add extra egg yolks to smoothies or some desiccated liver to your meatballs. Your kids take cod liver oil weekly, drink raw milk or organic whole milk, eat sweet potatoes, carrots, avocados, peppers, beets, spinach and kale. An assortment of healthy food.

How about a multi-vitamin added in for good measure? Just to “fill in the gaps.” Some whole food Vitamin C too?

Well, maybe not. Each of those things contains Vitamin A in the form of retinol, beta carotene or other carotenoids. And they add up. Quickly.

Humans did not eat this way thousands or even hundreds of years ago. Nobody ate the rainbow 1,000 years ago (I think we’ve forgotten how healthy white fruits and veggies are!). It just was not an option. There were no supermarkets with produce from around the world shipped in daily. People ate what was available.

Or maybe you’ve raised your kids on a typical diet these days of processed foods and pasteurized milk. They are all fortified with Vitamin A. Did your child ever drink formula? Fortified. In this case the government is dictating that your child needs large doses of Vitamin A on a daily basis.

How our Food and Diet Have Changed

I’m going to get technical just for a second here to explain some things on a deeper level.

Our bodies have a variety of receptors (molecule that responds to/”receives” specific substances like neurotransmitters, antigens and hormones). These substances are called ligands. Scientists have labeled one of the receptors RXR (Retinoid X Receptor). It is a poor name since this receptor can, and should, accept more than just retinoic acid.

RXR can also accept DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and phytanic acid, two types of fatty acids (there are others it accepts as well). These are actually the intended ligands for the RXR. Think of them as keys that unlock the RXR. And when they are present, they block the RXR from accepting Vitamin A.

DHA and phytanic acid should come from our food, specifically from ruminant animals. Ruminants eat grass, break down chlorophyll into DHA and phytanic acid. Then we consume them in beef fat and dairy fat. Both DHA and phytanic acid speed up the enzyme that breaks down Vitamin A in addition to blocking it from the RXR.

But this process has been interrupted. What are animals fed these days? Grains. No chlorophyll. On top of that the grains are usually covered in glyphosate. So there is much less DHA and phytanic acid to breakdown Vitamin A. And there is glyphosate that prevents the breakdown of Vitamin A (read all about the glyphosate Vitamin A connection here). A double whammy.

The popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets has also been a factor. We need red meat and animal fats from grassfed animals to get sufficient protein (to make retinol binding protein), DHA and phytanic acid. But those are missing on these restricted diets. Then add Vitamin A supplements on top of that “to prevent deficiencies.” It’s a recipe for disaster. If you know anyone that has gone on a vegan or vegetarian diet and felt great for a bit and then all of a sudden started to feel awful…this is why. They may actually be inducing an autoimmune disease!

As you can see our food supply and recommended diet has contributed greatly to this imbalance of Vitamin A. Plus the abundance of glyphosate is preventing us from detoxing Vitamin A.

How My Children Became Toxic

I’m right there with you when it comes to having children with Vitamin A Toxicity. 

When my son was two he started itching his legs like crazy until they would bleed. Eczema. I did not know it then, but eczema is actually classified as an autoimmune condition. We had him tested for allergies. Oh boy. A laundry list of foods, including dairy and nuts. Time for big diet changes.

So over the years I got creative and made everything dairy free (or tomato free when avoiding nightshades) using pumpkin or squash as a replacement. He also couldn’t have potatoes. So he always got carrots instead.

When he was five (after multiple rounds of testing and we’d had to carry an epi-pen for a year due to a severe nut allergy) he had more allergy testing. The new allergist took one look at him and noted that he had orange feet!! Carotenemia…an overload of beta carotene…Vitamin A Toxicity. I’m sure he was overloaded before that (why he had the eczema in the first place). But this took it to a whole new level.

We’ve struggled for years with him having stomach aches, up and down eating, skin issues, minor fevers, mood/behavior issues. Now we know why!

Vitamin A Toxicity in Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my third I was being so “good” eating every nutrient dense food possible…with liver added. And a multi on top. I’m sure I was getting extremely high amounts of Vitamin A. And it’s passed to baby both in utero and in breastmilk. God designed babies to detox the Vitamin A from mom since baby’s liver is healthier. Great design. But not so nice for baby in this world we now live in.

So my daughter had a tongue tie, feeding issues and extreme vaccine reactions as an infant. She basically stopped eating. And of course I tried to get her back to health feeding her squash and liver smoothies!! She is now 4 1/2 and still struggles. She has complained of bone pain since she was old enough to verbalize how she felt. She has frequent stomach aches and a low appetite. Again, now we know why!

Thank goodness after a short time on the VAD diet and using our simple magnesium lotion her leg pain is gone, and she eats so well!

Of course I did not know anything about Vitamin A Toxicity back then. So when I became pregnant with baby #4 I ate the same way. So much nourishing food…or so I thought. Salads piled high with a rainbow of vegetables, avocado, fried eggs and desiccated liver. Washed down with a big glass of raw milk.

Now I’m dealing with the consequences again. Or should I say my son is. Feeding troubles from birth. Food reactions. Flat spot on his head. Weak bones. Horrible teething pain. Body tension and tongue restriction. All because I tried to follow current health advice.

Are We All Overloaded with Vitamin A?

But it didn’t even start there. Like most people I’ve been overloaded with Vitamin A my whole life. My parents probably were too. Maybe my grandparents were too! I was born in 1980. Processed food was what everyone ate. And all processed food, infant formula, and pasteurized milk are fortified with Vitamin A.

Then glyphosate was added to everything, making it much harder for our bodies to detox Vitamin A.

So it didn’t matter which extreme I was in – I was filling up on a toxin. And then passed that on to my children. Even my oldest. She was born before I had ever heard the term Real Food. But she still got the Vitamin A overload from me, then compounded with vaccines. And it impacted her neurologically.

All this to say, many people are overdosing on Vitamin A whether they realize it or not. Plus nobody is able to detox in our toxic world. That is a big problem. And it needs to stop.

How Do You Stop Vitamin A From Coming In?

  1. The easiest way to start the process is by eliminating all supplements containing Vitamin A or D and foods fortified with Vitamin A or D from your child’s diet. Immediately. They can be sneaky. Alternative milks and yogurts, flours, cereals, crackers. Not sure why our government thinks we are all Vitamin A deficient and we need it added to every food.
  2. The next step is removing Vitamin A foods from your child’s diet. Well, mostly. Unless you go to extremes like eating only beef and rice for the next six months you will be getting some Vitamin A. But the goal is to make that as minimal as possible. The less comes in, the faster it gets out. I will talk more about particular foods later.
  3. Then you have to look at what you put on your child’s body. Soap, shampoo, lotion. Even essential oils. If it comes from brightly colored plants (even green herbs) it has carotenoids and your skin will absorb it.
  4. Another critical aspect of your child’s food is to make sure it is organic. Glyphosate amplifies the effects of Vitamin A in the body. Try to avoid it as much as you can. This is particularly important when it comes to grains. Washing your produce well is also helpful.
  5. Finally I highly recommend doing HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) with a skilled practicioner to find out what supplements your child truly does need short term to get in balance and to help the detox process.

Vitamin A Detox Diet

So what exactly does the Vitamin A Detox Diet look like? And how do you get started?

That’s where my new book comes in! I have created a guide for parents to walk them through the process of detoxing their children.

The diet does not eliminate any major food groups. You can still eat meat, veggies (all these white ones are awesome!), fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, beans and fats. So in that sense it is quite easy. You definitely won’t go hungry!

But it does eliminate a lot of foods you are probably used to eating. Like most red, orange, yellow and green veggies, pork, fish (due to contamination), dairy, egg yolks, olive oil, lard and unrefined coconut oil. In that sense it’s a big change from the traditional food diet we are used to. It’s hard to make that mental shift. And it can be hard in social settings.

My book has a long list of recipes and sample menus to help get you going. And it has the approved food list.

One critical aspect of the VAD Diet is protein. Your child must get adequate protein. Remember that Retinol Binding Protein we discussed in an earlier post? It is the only way to safely transport Vitamin A out of the liver. And it is a protein…so you need protein to make it. There are many sources of protein, but meat from ruminant animals is an essential one of the VAD Diet (read why here).

Getting Started on the Vitamin A Detox Diet

If you want to jump in now, a general rule is that if it’s colored it’s out and if it’s white it’s OK. This does not apply to all fruits as many get their color from substances other than beta carotene. But some do, like peaches and nectarines. Most grains are OK and most meat is OK (except pork). There are also some foods that don’t contain Vitamin A but do impact the body’s use of Vitamin A, like certain nuts and fats. So it is important to get the full diet.

The Vitamin A Detox Diet is generally a very short process for kids. I’d say a few weeks to a month or two is all that is needed.

Kid-Friendly Vitamin A Detox Diet Foods

I’ll keep sharing some new Vitamin A Detox Diet recipes.

My four-year old has been the easiest to feed on the VAD Diet. She asks for my food all the time.

Some of our favorites right now are:

  • roasted parsnips
  • rutabaga fries
  • crinkle cut homemade french fries (yes, you can eat white potatoes!)
  • peeled cucumbers or rice crackers dipped in homemade hummus
  • rice and beans
  • baked or roasted chicken dipped in honey
  • roasted cauliflower
  • roasted green cabbage
  • gluten-free banana bread topped with sunbutter or butter
  • fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas, pears, apples, cherries, white peaches)
  • grassfed beef meatballs

Those are just a few ideas. I’ve got a lot more in my book.

Are you ready to help your child get back to full health? Are you ready for the Vitamin A Detox Diet? Got any questions for me?

Curious if the diet works? Check out my 6 month update here:

6 month Vitamin A Detox Diet update

Or my 9 month update here:

9 month Vitamin A Detox Diet update

And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook where I’m continually sharing the latest info and our progress.

Summer preservation just got a little easier. This pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is the perfect way to use fresh strawberries. Just FOUR real food ingredients!

Pectin-Free Easy Strawberry Freezer Jam

Summer preservation just got a little easier. This pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is the perfect way to use fresh strawberries. Just FOUR real food ingredients!Summer preservation just got a little easier. This pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is the perfect way to use fresh strawberries. Just FOUR real food ingredients!

You know summer has arrived in Michigan when strawberries are in season. It’s an exciting time of year! But at the same time it means preservation season has also begun.

For me this lasts from June to November. Literally half of the year I am preserving food for the other half of the year! It’s a lot of work, but so worth all of the effort.

How to Preserve Strawberries

I’m always so thankful that we kick off preservation with fruit like strawberries. I can ease into it instead of jumping right into the labor intensive canning. Fresh strawberries are so easy to work with. Simply wash, hull and freeze. We usually freeze at least four gallons of strawberries to use all winter in yogurt, smoothies, and muffins.

While the strawberries are still fresh I like to make a lot of strawberry jam. It has recently become my preschooler’s favorite food. Our homemade gluten free bread toasted with butter and strawberry jam. No other flavor. Only strawberry.

Summer preservation just got a little easier. This pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is the perfect way to use fresh strawberries. Just FOUR real food ingredients!

How to Make Pectin-Free Strawberry Freezer Jam

There are so many ways to use strawberries when they are fresh. There are even plenty of ways to use them once they are frozen. But one of the best ways to use them, fresh or frozen, is by making strawberry jam!

I’ll confess. I’ve never been that great at making jam.

I followed recipes exactly. I bought various types of pectin. It just never seemed to turn out well. I think my husband was starting to wonder if I would ever make jam that wasn’t like liquid or totally solid.

So I created my own recipe for pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam. And it is amazing!

I love this recipe because you don’t need pectin (the debate is still out on whether or not pectin is really that great for you). Instead it uses grass-fed gelatin (Use the code TAKE10 to get 10% off gelatin HERE).Summer preservation just got a little easier. This pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is the perfect way to use fresh strawberries. Just FOUR real food ingredients!

How to Stock Your Freezer with Jam

This pectin-free strawberry freezer jam recipe makes about five half-pints of jam.  Since it only takes about fifteen minutes to make you can easily cook several batches in one day while you have fresh strawberries.

Pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is great on toast. But  you can also spread it on pancakes, mix it into yogurt, or even use it as an ice cream topping! My kids like to eat it by the spoonful.  It’s that good.

Since creating this strawberry jam recipe I have upped my game in jam and jelly making! We now enjoy homemade pectin-free concord grape jelly, 5 minute peach jam, and red plum raspberry jelly! They are all pectin free!

Whether you still have fresh strawberries available or you already have your stash in the freezer, try making pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam.

You’ll have a little taste of summer ready in your freezer all year long.Summer preservation just got a little easier. This pectin-free easy strawberry freezer jam is the perfect way to use fresh strawberries. Just FOUR real food ingredients!

Pectin-Free Easy Strawberry Freezer Jam

Simple strawberry freezer jam with only four ingredients and no pectin.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup organic lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 tsp. grass-fed gelatin
  • 3/4 cups organic cane sugar or coconut sugar or honey
  • 5 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and roughly chopped fresh or frozen

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauce pan combine the lemon juice and gelatin. Let sit 2 minutes

  2. Add the sweetener and strawberries.

  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring and mashing berries with a potato masher, for about 10 minutes.

  4. Pour the jam into half-pint jars.

  5. Chill jam in the refrigerator until set.

  6. Use the jam fresh or freeze until ready to use.

Recipe Notes

  • This makes about five half-pints.
  • If using frozen berries, thaw them at least partially before making the jam