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Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cheese

Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Within one week of my youngest being born I was 100% dairy-free.

I had been through this with my previous two babies. So I knew the signs of a dairy reaction right away. There was no easing into it. I went from eating ice cream pretty much every evening while pregnant to strict no speck of dairy almost overnight.

It’s not fun to have to cut out dairy. But I knew how to do it. I have another son that is still dairy-free, so I just added two more family members to the mix.

Unfortunately our food reactions did not end there.

I cut out so many foods, trying to help my son’s silent reflux. We had his tongue and lip tie clipped.

What finally made a significant difference in his ability to nurse and eat was learning about histamine intolerance. I switched to a low-histamine diet and it was like magic.

What wasn’t magical was the amount of effort it took to keep the two of us nourished, and our lack of food options.

During the summer we basically lived on zucchini and ground beef as I tried to calm our bodies. Our garden was overflowing with zucchini, so I sliced and roasted some pretty much every day.

The ground beef was nourishment that I could actually digest. Plus I could cook up some burgers for us and freeze extras for another meal (an essential part of a low-histamine diet – not letting meat sit in the fridge).

I’m thankful I am an Analytical Eater that truly does not mind eating the same foods over and over. In fact, that is what I love. But I was really lacking in texture with all that soggy zucchini. My mouth needed more!

My solution? Zucchini cheese!

What are the Health Benefits of Zucchini?

Although often overlooked, zucchini really does pack a punch in terms of nutrition. This fruit, used as a vegetable, contains:

  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • calcium
  • fiber
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Zinc

Zucchini also has a really high water content in addition to its minerals so it is great for hydration!Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

What Can I Do With Too Much Zucchini?

I often joke with my husband that there is no such thing as too much zucchini.

Every summer we grow an absurd amount of zucchini. And every summer I use it all up! Sure, we give away a few here and there. But I truly do my best to not let any go to waste (though the chickens get the baseball bat zucchinis that we inevitably miss).

It’s easy to use up quite a bit of zucchini by roasting it for a family dinner. My kids will devour roasted zucchini covered in herbs and garlic.

Some other fun ways to use zucchini include:

Of course we can’t eat all of our zucchini fresh. Somtimes we pick 20 in one day! So I love to freeze all of my extra zucchini.

Simply slice into rounds and place on a baking sheet. Freeze and bag. Peeling is optional. You can also freeze grated zucchini to use in bread and muffins.

Last year I froze at least five gallons of zucchini. I lost count. It’s been such a blessing to be able to enjoy it all year.

What Can Be Made With Frozen Zucchini?

Frozen zucchini works well in soups, stews, and stir fry. Frozen grated zucchini is great for zucchini bread, muffins, or scones.

But mostly I use my frozen zucchini to make zucchini cheese. I have some in the fridge at all times.

I love that I don’t have to do any peeling or slicing when I use frozen zucchini. Just put a big pile in a saucepan to cook for a few minutes and it’s ready to go!

Though you can make zucchini cheese with fresh zucchini too. That is how I do it all summer.Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cheese

Back to our low-histamine diet. I was really getting bored with roasted or sauteed zucchini. I had heard you could make “cheese” with zucchini. So I found some recipes and started experimenting.

The first one I tried used lemon juice. That was a big disaster. I think it all went in the trash. Even the kids couldn’t stomach the flavor.

Over time I figured out my own version of zucchini cheese that has been a staple in my diet ever since.

Zucchini cheese gets it’s texture from a combination of healthy fat (like butter or coonut oil) and grassfed gelatin. Now that my son tolerates butter I tend to use it for zucchini cheese. But coconut oil works just as well!

I use a small loaf pan to create a taller block of cheese that I can slice.

We use zucchini cheese on salads and sandwiches. It’s delicoius on crackers. Or I often just eat it plain.


Dairy-Free Zucchini Cheese

Servings 10
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite


  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups zucchini sliced, peeled or unpeeled, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter
  • 4-5 Tbsp. gelatin
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder optional
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder optional
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric optional
  • 2 Tbsp. non-fortified nutritional yeast optional


  1. Place sliced zucchini and a small amount of water (enough to cover the bottom) in a small saucepan. Turn heat to high until water comes to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer until zucchini is cooked, about 5-10 minutes.

  3. Drain the zucchini and place it in a blender with the coconut oil and salt.

  4. Blend on high until smooth.

  5. Add the gelatin and blend on high until smooth.

  6. Taste and add seasoning/yeast as desired. Blend.

  7. Pour into a glass or ceramic small bread pan. Chill in the refrigerator until firm.

  8. Slice or cut into sticks to serve. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Recipe Notes

  • The flavor will become milder as the cheese firms, so add a little more salt/seasoning than you think you need.

Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Healthy Veggie Cheese

While zucchini works very well for making a faux cheese because of its neutral flavor, you can defnitely change up the flavor with other vegetables!

This is really important for the Adventurous Eaters that need variety. Plus you get a different array of nutrients.

One of our favorites is squash cheese. It has such a beautiful orange color! Not to mention it has a bit of sweetness to it. So kids really love it. It has a taste reminiscent of American cheese, so it’s often a great transition for kids that are used to a Standard American Diet (SAD).

Cauliflower is another great option if you want a white cheese with a kid-friendly flavor.

You can go a little more bold with peas and create green cheese!

What to Feed a Child Who Doesn’t Like Meat

One of my favorite things about zucchini cheese is the nutrition factor. It has a combination of protein (gelatin), healthy fat, and carbohydrates with fiber (zucchini). Lots of Real Salt adds essential trace minerals.

Sometimes I really boost the nutrient content by adding non-fortified nutritional yeast and turmeric.

So many selective eater kids struggle with eating meat. Whether it’s the texture, the chewing, or the inability to digest it, getting adequate protein is a struggle for many.

Gelatin is a great solution! And zucchini cheese is an easy way to get a big dose of easy-to-digest gelatin down.

Perfect Supplements is the only brand of gelatin I trust. It is grassfed and certified 100% glyphosate free!

Stock up now. Take 10% off with the code TAKE10 HERE!

Zucchini cheese is also great for the kids that only want to eat cheese and starch all day. You can get a great dose of both macro and micronutrients in while they still enjoy their favorite food.Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Easy Toddler Snack

When I first started making zucchini cheese it was really for myeslf. Did I let my kids try it? Of course! But I was the one needing something creamy and salty.

But soon it turned into one of my favorite toddler snacks. My almost-three-year-old has been enjoying zucchini cheese with me since he could eat solid food!

I cut it into thick slices and then into sticks. Easy to hold. Easy to chew. Easy nourishment. That equals an easy toddler snack! And a great way to get little kids interested in veggies.

Is your toddler like mine and only wants to snack all day? Zucchini cheese is the way to go. Snack away!

What is the Best Diet for Picky Eaters?

Each child has unique, bio-individual needs. Which is why I am so passionate about Nutrional Therapy for Kids! That being said, all kids need a balanced diet. This is especially important for those “picky” or “selective” eaters.

A balanced diet includes whole food sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates with fiber. An easy way to think of this is meat, oil, fruits, and veggies.

Zucchini cheese meets all of the criteria! So it is a great addition to a picky eater’s diet. And getting that balance will help alleviate those picky eating symptoms.

It is also great for those “hangry” kids that crash when they haven’t eaten in a while. Zucchini cheese is a ready-to-go snack when they need something quickly!

Need more dairy-free substitutes? Grab your copy of 10 Simple Dairy Substitutes with recipes for everything from milk to yogurt to ice cream!

Allergen-Free Food on a Budget

One of the hardest aspects of having a child with dietary restrictions is the cost of the food. Have you ever compared the price of regular cheese to dairy-free cheese? Or the cost of wheat bread to gluten-free bread?

If you have, you know that allergen-free food can add up very quickly!

Which is why I love making zucchini cheese. Zucchini is a very affordable vegetable that you can buy in bulk in the summer and store enough for the whole winter. Visit any farmer’s market in the summer and you’ll see piles of zucchini. Or just ask a neighbor with a garden. They probably have extra.

Stock up on gelatin with a bulk discount or when it’s on sale HERE.

You can also watch for good deals on coconut oil.

Now you have all of the ingredients for healthy, dairy-free cheese on a budget!Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Is Dairy-Free Cheese Healthy?

I’ll be the first to admit that we do buy some dairy-free cheese. It’s nice to have something that melts like real cheese when making a pizza or grilled cheese.

But I can’t say I’m thrilled about the ingredients. While not horrible, it is still a processed food with some gums and fillers.

That is why I love making zucchini cheese. I control the ingredients. And they are all whole foods that I serve my family regularly.

Is dairy-free cheese healthy? It is if it’s homemade zucchini cheese!

Is your family dairy-free? Do you miss chees? Give zucchini cheese a try!

Kid-Friendly, Healthy Avocado Fries

Simple, healthy avocado fries


I once heard a chef on tv (I won’t mention names) say you should NEVER cook avocado. Boy was she wrong!!! I cook avocados all the time. They are delicious!

Years ago while doing the GAPS diet I got very creative with avocados. I put them in soups, on salads, blended them in smoothies, added them to eggs, used them for “bird’s nests,” all kinds of stuff.

The Best Way to Serve Avocado

Although smashed avocado with a generous helping of Real Salt scooped with organic corn chips or raw veggies is pretty amazing, there is another version of avocado that tops my list.

My favorite way to serve avocado is to fry it in a pan to create avocado fries!

I use either butter or coconut oil and plenty of unrefined sea salt.

The result? Golden, crispy, salty outsides with rich, creamy insides. This is like heaven for an Analytical Eater (find out if that’s you HERE).

Avocado Fries

Avocado fries are like french fries…but much healthier.

They contain tons of good fat, vitamins, and minerals (did you know avocado is high in potassium?). You can eat the avocado fries plain or dip them in ketchup, pesto, hummus, or honey mustard. Really they are good dipped in pretty much anything.

Eat them like fries or use them to top a salad (like croutons).

How to Increase Healthy Fat in Your Child’s Diet

I like avocado fries as part of an easy to prep lunch. I just toss them in the pan and let them cook while I get the other food prep done.

Avocado fries make great finger food for toddlers. And they are a fun way to get healthy fat into any child’s diet.

There isn’t much to cooking avocado. Simple, delicious, nutritious. My favorite food trifecta!

Give avocado fries a try. You’ll be glad you did. If someone ever tells you not to cook avocados…ask them if they’ve tried avocado fries.

Simple, healthy avocado fries


Quick Avocado Fries

Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings 2 kids
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite


  • 1/2 avocado sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
  • Pinch unrefined sea salt to taste


  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot add the butter/coconut oil.

  2. Add sliced avocado (the thickness just depends on your taste). Sprinkle with salt. Let cook on the first side until golden and crispy, about 5-7 minutes.

  3. Flip and repeat with the other side. Add extra salt if necessary.

Recipe Notes

Don't waste the salty butter in the pan. Use it on bread or to cook some greens.

This post is linked to Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday and Fresh Bites Friday and Fight Back Friday.

An easy solution for preserving pears without spending hours in the kitchen - how to make and can pear sauce. A great no-sugar-added alternative to applesauce. #canning #realfood #healthykids #pearsauce

How to Make & Can Pear Sauce | A No Sugar Added Alternative to Applesauce

Fall is a busy time of canning applesauce and freezing pumpkin. But don’t forget about preserving pears! With a short season and a busy schedule use this guide to stock your pantry with pear sauce before the pears are gone.

An easy solution for preserving pears without spending hours in the kitchen - how to make and can pear sauce. A great no-sugar-added alternative to applesauce. #canning #realfood #healthykids #pearsauce

I’m a big fan of hardy produce. You know, the kind that can sit on the counter or in the fridge for weeks and still be OK? Like carrots, potatoes, apples, rutabaga, parsnips, cauliflower, and cabbage.

I love all kinds of fruits and veggies. But some of them are a bit demanding.

One day an avocado is not quite ripe. The next day it’s mushy.

The same goes for pears. You check and check for ripeness. Then all of a sudden you’ve missed the window and they over ripe.

Personally, I like to be in control instead of my produce. But it just doesn’t work that way for everything.

So I always get anxious when it’s pear season. I want to preserve them. But I just don’t have time any old day. Will I time it just right? Will I be stuck peeling hard pears? Or will I let them go too far because we were busy with soccer and band?

It’s a gamble.

I try to do a fair amount of canning each fall. How much I do depends on my kids’ ages and how I’m feeling.

Regardless, I don’t like to spend hours on end in the kitchen each day to keep up with produce preservation.An easy solution for preserving pears without spending hours in the kitchen - how to make and can pear sauce. A great no-sugar-added alternative to applesauce. #canning #realfood #healthykids #pearsauce

How to Can Pears

I already take the easy route when it comes to canning peaches. That is a life saver!

Then I get to pears. There is really no way around it.

Canning pears takes a lot of time.

Lots of peeling and slicing (especially if the pears are small). It can take up to sixty pears just to do one round of canning! That is a lot of peeling.

So I stopped doing it years ago. Much to my husband’s disappointment. I just don’t have time.

But I still want to preserve this amazing fruit to enjoy it all winter.

How to make and can pear sauce - an easy alternative to applesauce

How to Can Pears Without Sugar

Enter pear sauce.

It is just like applesauce but with pears. Honestly, I would take pear sauce any day over applesauce. It is that good.

There is no need to add any sweetener as pears are plenty sweet on their own.

The other thing you don’t have to do – peel them!

Preserving pears is quite easy when you can just wash, quarter, cook and puree. Then either can or freeze the pear sauce.An easy solution for preserving pears without spending hours in the kitchen - how to make and can pear sauce. A great no-sugar-added alternative to applesauce. #canning #realfood #healthykids #pearsauce

Pear Sauce for Baby

One of the reasons I love having pearsauce on hand is that it makes a super easy first food for little ones six months and up. You can serve it plain or turn it into a nutrient dense baby porridge. Warm the pear sauce slightly and mix in coconut oil and an egg yolk. Stir and serve!

My big kids love pear sauce too! Sometimes I even make it extra special by adding strawberries, raspberries or blueberries from our freezer stash. As they melt and let off juice it colors the pearsauce and adds an extra burst of flavor.

Serve it cold. Serve it warm with a pinch of cinnamon. Add it to oatmeal. Mix it in yogurt.

You really can’t go wrong. You also don’t need to spend days on end making pear sauce.

Pear Sauce Canning

Here is my busy mom’s solution to preserving pears. I am able to work through a half bushel in one day (with four young kids, including a nursing little one) and still manage to do our school work, go to activities, and get healthy meals on the table.

It only takes about twenty minutes to wash and slice one batch of pears. Then you can let it cook for a bit while you tend to something else. Being able to make pear sauce in steps is so handy!

A full batch (seven quarts) takes about 30 – 35 medium to large pears. So figure out how many jars you’d like to can and then figure out how many pears you need. I usually get one bushel of pears. It makes three rounds of pear sauce with some pears left over for eating fresh.

Pear sauce makes a great alternative to applesauce. Variety is key to any diet, especially if you are implementing a rotation diet for food allergies. So this is a nice change of pace! My kids actually prefer it over applesauce.

Have you ever tried preserving pears? I encourage you to try pearsauce!

Are you new to canning? Check out my step-by-step tutorial to get you going.An easy solution for preserving pears without spending hours in the kitchen - how to make and can pear sauce. A great no-sugar-added alternative to applesauce. #canning #realfood #healthykids #pearsauce

What to do With Extra Pears

Depending on the size of the pears and the quantity you buy, sometimes you end up with a pile of extra pears. And like I said before, they can go from almost ripe to mush pretty quickly. So what do you do with those extra pears?

Of course you can eat them fresh! Pears are a sweet treat on their own. But you can only eat so many. Here are a few other options for using up extra ripe pears.

Homemade Pear Sauce Recipe

Homemade Canned Pear Sauce

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 7 quarts
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite


  • 30 - 40 medium ripe pears
  • 1 cup water


Making Pear Sauce

  1. Wash pears (this can be done in a clean sink full of water).

  2. Add 1 cup water to a large stockpot and turn on high heat.

  3. Quarter and core pears, placing them in the stockpot as you go.

  4. Adjust heat to simmer and cook the pears until soft, stirring periodically, about 15 minutes.

  5. In batches puree the cooked pears and their juice in a high-powered blender until smooth.

Freezing Pear Sauce

  1. Chill the pear sauce.

  2. Put the pear sauce in freezer-safe containers.

  3. Label and freeze for up to a year.

Canning Pear Sauce

  1. Return the pureed pear sauce to the stockpot and keep warm.

  2. Prepare the water bath canner (filled with water and jars and get the jars hot).

  3. Ladle the hot pear sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.

  4. Wipe the rims of jars and place the lids and bands on.

  5. Can in hot water bath for 30 minutes (quarts) or 25 minutes (pints).

  6. Remove the canner lid and let the jars sit for 5 minutes.

  7. Remove jars from the canner and place on a towel to cool, untouched for 8 hours.

Recipe Notes

  • One batch of pear sauce makes 6-7 quarts or 12-14 pints.
  • A half-bushel of pears will make 2 rounds of pear sauce, with a few pears left for eating fresh.

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

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


  • 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


  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


  • 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


  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

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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  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)
  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.
  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.

Easy Allergen-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs | GAPS, Grain-free

Easy, Allergen-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs | GAPS-Legal

Looking for a quick, nutrient-dense meal that your kids will actually eat? These sweet and sour meatballs are free of all major allergens and GAPS-legal. Not to mention they are loaded with broth! They are sure to be a family favorite to add to your weekly meal plans.
Easy Allergen-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs | GAPS, Grain-free

When I embarked on the GAPS diet years ago there weren’t that many resources available. Which meant I had to come up with most of my own recipes.

Although I came off the GAPS diet a long time ago, it taught me how to be really creative in the kitchen.

That is how I came up with this easy sweet and sour meatball recipe that has been both a family favorite and reader favorite for years!

Allergen-Free Meatballs

Most meatball recipes include egg. Sometimes they also have bread or breadcrumbs and some type of milk.

Those ingredients do make a delicious meatball. But when you are dealing with allergies, it’s hard to substitute.

So I created meatballs that are not only allergen-free, but can also be nightshade free!Easy Allergen-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs | GAPS, Grain-free

Easy Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Sauce 

The real secret about these meatballs is not actually the meatball at all. Instead it’s the sauce!

A combination of broth and honey cook down to a rich and gooey sauce that kids love.

Depending on dietary needs I add ketchup, dijon mustard, and/or a bit of pumpkin to bring it all together.

Healthy Dinner in Less Than 30 Minutes

Taste aside, I love that I can make these meatballs in under 30 minutes. Simply brown, add the sauce ingredients, and simmer until thick.

My kids love sweet and sour meatballs served with buttered gluten-free noodles. Any time I ask my five-year-old what she wants for dinner I get the same answer – meatballs and noodles! Sweet and sour meatballs are also great with rice, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, or squash.

If you are in need of an easy, nourishing weeknight dinner that the kids will gobble up, this is it! They’ll get lots of broth without even knowing it. Plus grassfed beef for loads of protein and vitamins. A win all around!

Do you have a go-to easy button dinner? Give these allergen-free sweet and sour meatballs a try.

This post is linked to Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager.

Easy Allergen-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs | GAPS, Grain-free

Easy Allergen-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs

A quick and easy meatball recipe kids will love.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 lb. grassfed ground beef, pastured ground chicken, or ground pork
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil, tallow, lard, or coconut oil
  • 1-2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1/4 cup ketchup optional
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  1. Combine the meat, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric. Mix well.

  2. Form into meatballs.

  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add 1 Tbsp. fat.

  4. Brown the meatballs on all sides.

  5. Add the broth, ketchup, honey, and salt. Simmer until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring periodically to coat the meatballs.

  6. Add extra broth and continue to simmer for more sauce.

Recipe Notes

For a nightshade-free version, replace the ketchup with 1/4 cup dijon mustard or 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin.


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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  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)
  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.
  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/
This healing hot cocoa will warm you up, keep you hydrated and nourish your body. Plus it tastes great! The perfect cold weather drink.

How to Make Homemade Hot Cocoa That Heals

This healing hot cocoa will warm you up, keep you hydrated and nourish your body. Plus it tastes great! The perfect cold weather drink.This healing hot cocoa will warm you up, keep you hydrated and nourish your body. Plus it tastes great! The perfect cold weather drink. #realfood #glutenfree #homemade

Ever since I got pregnant with baby number two (in 2010) I have been hooked on hot chocolate. While I had morning sickness, it was about the only way I could get fluids down. For some reason even when I’m sick chocolate still sounds good.

Even after giving birth I still enjoyed hot chocolate, but didn’t need it daily any more. I should say I’d try not to drink it daily…I was trying to be “good.”

Being good didn’t work.

Why Water Doesn’t Hydrate

I’d go for stretches where I only drank lots of plain water or water with a little lemon juice (that’s supposed to be healthy, right?). But I started to notice that I always felt so full after drinking plain water. It felt like I never absorbed it unless I just took tiny sips at a time. And I would always have to go to the bathroom frequently. Plus I would get very cold.
But give me a big mug of hot chocolate – completely different! I can go through the whole thing in a few minutes and not feel like I have a belly full of liquid. I feel like my body absorbs it and uses it. It helps me get warm and stay warm.

So whenever I’m feeling dehydrated, like I’m not absorbing fluids, or like I need something to help warm up I reach for a big mug of homemade hot cocoa.

This healing hot cocoa will warm you up, keep you hydrated and nourish your body. Plus it tastes great! The perfect cold weather drink. #realfood #glutenfree #homemade

Why Hot Cocoa Heals

I’ve tried other drinks, but they never do the same thing. Why would this be?

Turns out my body really does know what it needs.

First, cocoa is actually quite high in magnesium. And that’s something I am lacking.

You can also increase your magnesium levels with this two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion OR buy a high quality magnesium lotion HERE. We love both!

Cocoa is also high in iron. And I just found out this week that I’m anemic. So I better keep drinking my hot chocolate!

Finally, as a tired mom with adrenal fatigue, plain water just makes me sluggish. This healthy hot cocoa gives my adrenals the boost they need to get through the day.

Healthy Hot Cocoa

After reading Eat For Heat I know that some fluids like plain water, tea, coffee and soda just flush the minerals out of your body. But cocoa is is a very warming food. And so is salt…which I add to my hot chocolate to make it even more warming!

Finally I saw this article recently about the health benefits of honey and cinnamon.

I combine all of these benefits into a cup of delicious, healing, hydrating, warming hot cocoa. It only takes a few seconds to make (once you have hot water). And it is very allergy-friendly (dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, soy, etc.). If you can handle cocoa powder it is even GAPS legal.

You can also use cacao or carob in place of the cocoa. Whichever you choose make sure it’s organic.

With the salt/sweet/mineral content this could even replace your sports drink.

Make Your Homemade Hot Cocoa Even Better

If you really want a nutrient boost you can add collagen, butter and/or coconut oil!

Want to take a step towards good health? Instead of drowning in ounce after ounce of plain water try a delicious mug of healing hot cocoa. Your body and your taste buds will thank you.

A little disclaimer – I’m not a doctor. I don’t have scientific data to back this up. I just know how my body responds. I always feel warm and hydrated when I drink my homemade hot cocoa. But I feel full and cold when I drink most other fluids.

How about you? Does your body respond well to hot cocoa?

Want to learn more about hydration, thyroid, and adrenals? Read why I cut way down on drinking plain water.

This healing hot cocoa will warm you up, keep you hydrated and nourish your body. Plus it tastes great! The perfect cold weather drink. #realfood #glutenfree #homemade

5 from 2 votes

Homemade Hot Cocoa That Heals

Prep Time 2 minutes
Servings 1


  • 1 - 2 tsp. organic cocoa powder it is important to use organic to avoid GMOs (you can also use carob powder if you can't tolerate cocoa)
  • 2 tsp. raw honey, organic cane sugar or maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon optional
  • 1/8 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 cup milk or milk substitute optional
  • 2 tsp. collagen  optional
  • 2 tsp. butter optional
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil optional
  • hot water


  1. Place cocoa powder, honey, cinnamon, collagen and salt in a mug.

  2.  Fill the mug with hot water and stir to dissolve.

  3. Add a splash of milk if desired for creaminess/to cool the hot chocolate.

Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it's sure to be a hit!

Nightshade-Free Cucumber Salsa

Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it’s sure to be a hit!Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it's sure to be a hit!

Sometimes when I’m trying to meal plan and just can’t think of anything to put on the menu, I crowd source. In other words, I ask my kids.

It’s inevitable that at least one of them suggests tacos (though I try not to bore my husband and actually serve them every week).

It’s usually my son making the suggestion. He has been my taco meat chef since he was six, and jumps at the chance to cook his “famous” taco meat (you can get his taco seasoning recipe here).

Taco night has always been one of my favorites too, from childhood until now. I mean, who doesn’t love a good taco?

Vitamin A Detox Diet Tacos

Our tacos have certainly evolved over the years, through all sorts of food allergies and dietary restrictions. These days taco night is a bit more challenging on the Vitamin A Detox Diet. No tomatoes, peppers, avocado, or cheese.

I know that may not sound like much is left.

But we still have delicious tacos regularly!Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it's sure to be a hit!

One key component is this nightshade-free cucumber salsa.

Not only is it easy to make, it’s totally delicious! Even my pickiest eater loves it.

Nightshade-Free Cucumber Salsa

There is no cooking involved to make cucumber salsa. The most work you’ll have to do is peel and chop a cucumber. Or better yet, delegate it to your kids. My oldest loves to make cucumber salsa for the family when we’re having tacos.

Teach your kids to cook with the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!

Check it out HERE!

Once the veggies are prepped you just mix all of the ingredients in a jar and let it chill for a few minutes. So, you can still have delicious salsa even if you don’t remember to make it until fifteen minutes before dinner!Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it's sure to be a hit!

This nightshade-free cucumber salsa tastes amazing as a dip with organic tortilla chips.

Most of the time we use it on tacos, taco bowls, or nachos (topped with this gooey dairy-free cheese sauce!).

What is on VAD Diet Tacos?

For VAD Diet-safe tacos we use either organic blue corn hard shells (I like this brand) or homemade white corn soft shells, and fill them with seasoned ground beef or chicken.

Toppings include:

  • Cucumber salsa
  • Grated zucchini cheese (grab the recipe here)
  • Sour cream (my kids can have a small amount of cream)
  • Black beans or refried pinto beans (I cook them in the Instant Pot)

Our tacos are simple, but so, so delicious!Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it's sure to be a hit!

What Are Nightshades?

Most healing diets eliminate nightshades. These include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes, plus a few other less-common foods like goji berries, ashwagandha, Cape gooseberries, ground cherries, and garden huckleberries.

For many people nightshades are a pain – literally. Nightshades cause calcinosis, a calcification of soft tissues, due to calcitriol. Calcitriol is a very potent hormone, possibly the most powerful hormone in your body!

Calcitriol tells your intestines to absorb calcium. Too much can quickly lead to hypercalcemia. This is the cause of calcium deposits in your soft tissue, also known as joint pain, muscle stiffness, arthritis, coronary artery disease, and more.

If you struggle with any type of chronic pain or weakness, consider cutting nightshades out of your diet. Or if you have issues with osteoporosis you might want to consider eliminating nightshades as well.

Here is a a great article on nightshades if you want to read more!

We do still eat some potatoes (though not if they are green or sprouting!). But we avoid all of the other nightshades.Missing tacos due to dietary restrictions? Bring back taco night with this simple night-shade free cucumber salsa. Free of allergens and nightshades, and low in Vitamin A, it's sure to be a hit!

Salsa Without Tomatoes

Now even if you are nightshade-free you can enjoy chips and salsa or everyone’s favorite taco night with this super simple cucumber salsa. Having salsa without tomatoes is totally doable and delicious.

What is taco night like at your house? What are your favorite toppings?

5 from 1 vote

Nightshade-Free Cucumber Salsa (VAD Diet)

A quick and easy salsa free of nightshades.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 4
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite


  • 2 cups cucumber peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder of 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced optional


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a jar.

  2. Mix and chill for at least 10 minutes.

  3. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.