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Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

The REAL Reason I’m Teaching My Kids To Cook

Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook. Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

“It’s a good thing I like to cook.”

I made that comment to my husband earlier this week. And I really meant it.

With all of the varying allergies in our house cooking is a full time job. I’m not joking. I spend half of my day in the kitchen.

It’s a rare treat if I can come up with a meal the whole family can eat. There is no such thing as convenience food (unless you mean a box of raisins.). Eating out? That’s a thing people do?

Even as we look ahead to visiting family this summer I have to do the meal planning. I don’t get a break whether I’m home or traveling.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Nobody Else Can Cook for my Family

There is no substitute for me. Even my husband doesn’t know how to cook.

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired.

If I don’t cook, my kids don’t eat.

I happily accept the challenge of keeping my kids well fed and healthy. It is actually my passion.

The REAL Reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not to get me off the hook!

Everyone Deserves a Break From Cooking

But let’s be honest. Everyone needs a break sometimes. If you don’t get one, that passion fades a little. The joy of cooking isn’t quite the same when your food is reduced to a handful of safe options. And I don’t have ten hours a day to cook.

Have you tried cooking when you can’t let one person’s food touch another’s food? You must use a new knife for everything you cut. Did I stick that spoon in this pot or that one? Better get a clean one just to be safe. What rotation day are we on? Better check so we know what your snack options are. Does this measuring cup have latex? Gotta wash my hands after I add the flour to the bowl (or buy new measuring cups). Everyone must wash up as soon as they are done eating so you don’t get an allergen on anything.

Nothing is Easy with Allergies

Easy meals like sandwiches are a big undertaking. It requires me to make my own lunch meat and bake a minimum of two kinds of bread. Pizza…three separate crusts, two kinds of sauce, different toppings, some with and some without cheese, bake on separate pans, use different pizza cutters. Not so easy.

Cooking and eating at my house is like a very delicate juggling act. Fun in some ways. Not as fun in others. And one little slip up and it comes tumbling down.

Cooking is a Learned Skill

When I got married I really had no idea how to cook. I had a handful of things I could make. But not very well. And most of them involved packaged foods.

Over the years I have taught myself to cook. I have learned to be creative in the kitchen with evolving food restrictions and new diets. I always gladly accept each new challenge. I’m thankful I get to share my journey and my creations with you!

The REAL Reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not to get me off the hook!

I Want to Teach my Kids to Cook

But my kids won’t be little forever. I won’t be in control of what they eat when they grow up. I can’t make choices for them when they are not home.

I want to empower my kids to take control of their own health and understand how to eat well in spite of their allergies. I want to share my passion for real food with my children.

Yes, we are working on and hopeful for healing. It would be wonderful if someday we can all eat the same food and a much larger variety of food. But that is not guaranteed.

What I can for sure give my kids is the knowledge and ability to cook and care for themselves.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Here’s the Plan for Getting Kids in the Kitchen

That’s where the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse comes in. We started it almost three years ago. When we do the lessons my kids LOVE it. And they learn so much. Now they are always begging me to help in the kitchen.

The real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not so I can take it easy.

Sound good? Go check out The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse! There is something for everyone. Do it at your own pace and watch the videos whenever it fits in your schedule. It works for kids of all ages.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Set Goals for your Kids

My first goal was to have my eight year old be able to make an entire meal by herself, start to finish. Then in a pinch I know I could rely on her to make a meal. That may sound like an ambitious goal if your kids don’t normally cook. But she’s been cooking with me since she was nine months old. She loves helping in the kitchen. Now I can let her really take responsibility.
Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.
Even my toddler has been doing the course and helping cook meals for two years. She’s very skilled with a knife!

Who knows, maybe I’ll even convince my husband to tune in to some of the classes and learn a few cooking skills too.

I love cooking in spite of our challenges. But I don’t want my kids to depend on me forever (well, I do, actually…can I keep them this small?). Sadly they do have to grow up.

I could say I’m teaching my kids to cook so I’m off the hook. But really that’s not it. I want them to be safe. I want them to stay healthy even if a situation comes up where I can’t be around to cook a meal. I want my children to be able to visit Grandpa and Grandma and tell them what they can eat.

How about you? Are you ready to give your kids skills for life?

Click here to register for the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse

It’s an investment in your kids’ future.

The real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook is to empower them and keep them safe and healthy. What is your motive for teaching your kids to cook?Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Need more info about picky eating and allergies? Check out my books!

Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

10 Tips For Keeping Real Food on the Table When Life Gets Busy

Don’t let the busyness of fall derail your real food lifestyle. Use these ten tips for keeping real food on the table to maintain your sanity and everyone’s health.Don't let a busy life keep you from eating real food! Here are 10 tips for keeping real food on the table when school starts. #realfood #naturalhealth

 

Believe it or not it is already time for school to start and all of the fall activities to begin again.

Summer was easy. There was time to prepare plenty of good food. Snacks were easy with the abundance of fresh produce.

Now life gets busier and time is limited.

So how do you keep it real?

Here are a few tips to get your fall started the right way and keep your family well fed.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

One of the most important ways to make sure you are making healthy food is to plan ahead. At the start of each week or each month take a few minutes to plan meals.

Check your schedule and plan meals that work around your activities. This will also help you when grocery shopping so you know exactly what you need.

If you have to be gone most of the afternoon or everyone has a different schedule, try making a crockpot meal that will be ready whenever you need it. Maybe you’ll be home in the afternoon but won’t have time to cook. Prepare a casserole first thing in the morning so you can put dinner in the oven and go back to your to-do list.

Try planning a few meals that will have a lot of leftovers. Then transform the leftovers into another meal. Roast a chicken one night. Then use the leftovers to make soup or stir fry another night.

No matter what is on your agenda you can feed everyone healthy food if you plan ahead.

If you need some ideas to get you going I’ve been posting weekly menus for years! Check them out.

Don't let a busy life keep you from eating real food! Here are 10 tips for keeping real food on the table when school starts. #realfood #naturalhealth

2. Stock the Freezer

As much as you try, there isn’t always time to cook a good dinner. Or maybe for you breakfast is chaotic trying to get out the door on time. The solution is a stocked freezer.

Breakfast foods like muffins, coffee cakes, granola bars and even smoothies freeze very well. Make a few big batches of your favorite breakfast items on the weekend and you’ll have a healthy, homemade grab-and-go breakfast all week.

Another great item to have in the freezer is cooked meat. Tacos only take minutes if you have pre-cooked ground beef. Cooked chicken works well for stir fry, fajitas, sandwiches or salads.

Do casseroles work well for your family? The next time you make a casserole, make a double batch and freeze one.

Stock a few casseroles in the freezer and you’ve got a no-prep dinner just waiting for you. A frozen casserole does not need to thaw. Simply give it a few extra minutes to bake.

Cooking and baking when you have the time and stocking your freezer is one of the easiest ways to keep your family well fed.

3. Stock the Pantry

Maybe you haven’t had time to plan or stock your freezer yet. Now what?

Keep your pantry filled with foods like canned salmon, noodles, beans, rice, olives, dried fruit and tomatoes. A simple pasta dish will come together quickly. Cook the noodles. Add salmon, beans, tomatoes and seasoning. Dinner is served.

4. Stock the Refrigerator

When it comes to simple, a refrigerator filled with fresh fruits and vegetables is key. A salad can be assembled easily when there is plenty of fresh produce on hand. It is very portable as well.

Make the dressing in the bottom of a container and layer the salad toppings. Mix it when you are ready to eat.

Kids are more likely to grab fruits or vegetables to snack on if that is what is available. Nutritious food does not have to be complicated.

You can also keep easy protein sources on hand like nuts, cheese, yogurt and hard boiled eggs.

5. Keep Inventory

All of the preparing and stocking doesn’t do much good if you don’t know what you have. Keep track of what is in your freezer and pantry. Every time you put something in or take something out take note.

A great way to take inventory is with a dry erase board. Then you don’t even have to open the freezer to know what you have.

6. Fill Up At Meals

Snacks can be the most time-consuming foods to make. They are also the most likely sources of junk food.

Make sure your meals are nutrient-dense and filling so you won’t need to snack much. A meal should have a balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Figure out what ratio works best for your body. Then stick to it at your meals to feel satisfied.

When you do need a snack something simple like fresh fruits and vegetables will be sufficient.

Don't let a busy life keep you from eating real food! Here are 10 tips for keeping real food on the table when school starts. #realfood #naturalhealth

7. Make Snacks That Last

For the occasions when you do need snacks, make homemade munchies that don’t go bad easily. A batch of homemade graham crackers lasts in the cupboard for a couple months.

Dried fruit travels well and holds up to heat. Homemade fruit snacks or gummies will stay fresh in the refrigerator for weeks.

Put your effort into making food that will last more than a couple days.

8. Don’t Bring Junk Into the House

When life gets busy it is easy to grab convenience foods. But if the food is not in your house, you won’t eat it.

So skip buying the junk food at the store and keep the fridge and cupboard filled with quality, nutritious food.

9. Keep it Simple

Real food doesn’t have to be complicated. Whole milk yogurt mixed with fresh fruit or a fried egg and toast make very easy breakfasts.

Lettuce topped with nuts, cheese, dried fruit and fresh vegetables is a great lunch. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and sea salt on top for a quick dressing.

Chicken legs, potatoes and carrots placed in a crockpot in the morning will provide a nutritious and delicious dinner in the evening.

Eating real food is possible even when you only have a few minutes at a time to prepare meals. Just keep it simple.

Don't let a busy life keep you from eating real food! Here are 10 tips for keeping real food on the table when school starts. #realfood #naturalhealth

10. Let Everyone Help

Preparing good food doesn’t have to be left to one member of the family. Get kids involved with simple food preparation at a young age.

Even small children can chop fruits and vegetables, make salad dressing or assemble fruit salads. Older children can help cook at the stove and even prepare whole meals if mom and dad are busy. You can teach your kids to cook using the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Check it out HERE!

Take turns planning and preparing meals throughout the week. By dividing the work the food will be prepared faster and nobody will feel the stress of having to do it all.

When life gets busy don’t panic. There are many ways to keep eating quality food and making sure your family is well nourished.

Are you in a busy season? Use these simple tips for keeping real food on the table to make sure you’re eating well even if you are busy.

Looking for easy meal ideas to get your fall started? Here are some of our favorites!

Sloppy Joes

Tacos

Salmon Salad

Split Pea Soup

Broth Burgers

Sweet and Sour Stir Fry

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Squash Soup

Sweet Potato Salmon Burgers

Chicken Nuggets

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

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

How to Prevent Picky Eaters from the Start

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It’s no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I’m going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Picky Eaters.

It’s something all parents struggle with at some point. But did you know that shouldn’t be the norm? Really. Picky eating is a symptom. Not a condition. It’s the whole purpose of my blog – to help deal with picky eaters and get kids to just take a bite!

How to Handle Picky Eaters

Trust me. I’ve dealt with every kind of eating struggle you can imagine…and come out on the other side. I dealt with the root cause. Which got rid of the picky eating symptom. But it wasn’t easy!

I have ways of dealing with picky eaters in my book “Why Won’t My Child Eat?!” But today I’m sharing a little secret with you. The best way to prevent picky eaters is right from the start. From the first taste of solid food. Actually even from the time baby is in your womb and breastfeeding!

If you are pregnant, make sure you eat a wide variety of nutrient dense whole foods. Baby does taste what you’re eating! Then when baby is breastfeeding continue a nutritious diet. Your milk will change flavor based on what you eat and give your little one a taste for real food.In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Prevent Picky Eaters from the First Bite

Then comes the really important step – introducing solids. You can’t wait for it with your first child. You kind of get annoyed with it by your second child. But eventually you get to or you have to (however you look at it). And what you feed your baby can create or prevent picky eaters.

I’m a huge fan of letting baby lead when it comes to solids. But that doesn’t mean a food free-for-all. It just means I offer a variety of nutrient dense food and let baby decide what and how much to eat. In general I offer baby what the rest of the family is eating. Here are my basic guidelines.

  • No added sweeteners
  • No food coloring or artificial ingredients
  • Lots of healthy fats
  • Let baby chew
  • Offer variety – a mix of fruits, veggies, proteins and fats
  • Stick to a gluten free or grain free diet for at least the first year

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Some of my favorite first foods include:

  • avocado chunks or lightly mashed
  • banana chunks or lightly mashed
  • ripe pear chunks
  • egg  yolk lightly fried in butter, coconut oil, tallow or lard or hard boiled egg yolk
  • whole milk yogurt
  • ripe mango chunks
  • beef or chicken liver
  • peas
  • sardines
  • roasted chicken
  • ground beef

Keep in mind baby is not born with an affinity towards sugar and brightly colored foods. If you skip those baby will not feel dissatisfied. On the contrary, you will be giving baby one of the best gifts ever! The gift of a taste for real, whole foods.

If you do need a few tricks to get the healthy habits going check out Think Baby.

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Help With Feeding Baby Made Simple

I’m thankful there are good companies like Stonyfield Yogurt and Once Upon a Farm that have the same philosophy on feeding little ones. Companies that combine the need for simple, yet nourishing foods.

Stonyfield’s YoBaby banana mango yogurt is made with whole milk and has NO added sweeteners! As a mom of soon-to-be four kids (in less than two weeks!!) I’ve been waiting a while for this. An infant does not need sugar added to their yogurt. Honestly. They will eat it plain. Or you can mix in some fruit if you like.In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

We recently tried the banana mango YoBaby yogurt. Even my 10 year old loved it! I’ve even been eating it. Here is some other cool info straight from Stonyfield.

  1. Yobaby is the #1 pediatrician recommended yogurt for babies and kids 6 months to 2 years.
  2. Stonyfield YoBaby was the first yogurt made especially for babies.
  3. Yobaby now contains the probiotic culture BB12. In addition to live active cultures, Stretococcus Thermophilus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidus, Lactobacillus Casei, and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, YoBaby® yogurt now contains the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis lactis BB-12® that has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen.
  4. Our texture is thick and creamy. It is thicker and isn’t as runny as other organic baby yogurts. This helps with less mess for moms while feeding AND especially for babies/toddlers that are starting to self-feed.
  5. We use PLA cups (meaning, made from plants!) because we heard from moms that they were concerned with polystyrene packaging – PLUS plant-based packaging has a lower carbon footprint.

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Don’t Forget the Fat!

We have been eating Stonyfield yogurt for many years. But Once Upon a Farm is new to us. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavor of the ingredients!

Just real, whole foods. A variety of fruits, veggies, seeds and healthy fats. Exactly what little brains and bodies need. And as a mom of kids with a variety of allergies I was happy to see there are flavors each of my kids can enjoy.

According to Once Upon a Farm, “We use High Pressure Processing (HPP) to keep our food as close to the farm as it gets. HPP is a revolutionary technology in food, the kind that those unrefrigerated brands don’t use. It allows us to keep the flavors, aromas, colors, textures and nutrients of the food intact, leading to optimal taste and palate development in infants.”In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

One of my favorite qualities of Once Upon a Farm pouches is how the ingredients are combined.

“We synergistically combine ingredients to create optimal absorption and bioavailability of nutrients. Most baby foods are devoid of fats, especially high quality ones. At Once Upon a Farm, each recipe contains a healthy fat for stable energy levels, nutrient absorption and optimal brain development.”

That is so important to me! Kids need plenty of healthy fats for absorption and brain development!!

I know these are for little ones, but I’d happily serve them to kids of any age…or eat them myself! My kids wanted to eat them all in one day.

Skip the Sugar!

If you skip the sugar from the start your kids will not crave it and be dependent on it as they get older. They will enjoy foods in their natural state. My kids describe their vegetables as sweet! Yes, with a palate free of sugar they can enjoy sugar snap peas and carrots fresh from the garden and consider them a treat.

We do have the occasional sweet here, like homemade graham crackers or homemade ice cream. But those are not part of our daily diet. And they are not given to the little ones. Plus when I make them at home I can keep the sugar content down even in my baked goods!In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

You can start this process at any age. You are never too old to learn to enjoy real food.

But the best strategy is to teach your kids about whole foods from birth. Skip the sugar in first foods to teach kids how to enjoy foods in their natural state and prevent picky eaters.

I am working with Stonyfield Yogurt and Once Upon a Farm for this post. All opinions are my own.I have not been paid to post a positive review.

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

How to Cook Real Food for a Crowd Without Stress

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

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

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

No rushing around. It was so laid back.

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

My Secret to Entertaining Without Stress?

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

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

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

First Step to Cook Real Food for a Crowd

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

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

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

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?

How to Handle Food Allergies When You’re Not at Home

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?

It is very common in the world of real food to be on some type of restricted diet. Whether it be paleo, AIP, keto, GAPS, low FODMAP or another healing diet. Then there are those who have to avoid certain foods due to allergies. Either way it makes eating somewhere other than your own home challenging.

What Can You Do?

The easiest solution is to always eat at home. But let’s be realistic. There will be times that you have to eat out or get an invitation from a friend to have dinner together or even eat with family. In order to avoid going hungry or appearing rude you need to take measures to ensure there is safe food for you and your family.

I deal with it all the time. My family has dealt with a myriad of allergies over the last few years. This is in addition to trying restricted healing diets. We even did have a stretch where we didn’t eat at a restaurant for over a year because there were just too many severe allergies. But I’ve learned how to live with food restrictions and still eat somewhere other than my own home. Here are some simple coping strategies to make this task easier.

Eating at a Restaurant Tips:

  1. Choose a restaurant with an actual chef. They can accommodate almost any request.
  2. Ask for your food plain. Most restaurants have chicken breast and broccoli. They can even cook it in water to avoid unhealthy or unsafe fats.
  3. Choose meals with individual components (meat, vegetable, starch) instead of mixed foods like pasta and burritos.
  4. Order a few sides instead of a main dish. A baked potato, salad and a vegetable makes a good meal.
  5. Don’t be afraid to bring your own food. A salad is a great grain free option. Simply bring a small bottle of your own dressing to make it healthy. I often bring extra raw vegetables for my kids to add to their meals since restaurants have a limited selection and they are sometimes prepackaged with unsafe fats.
  6. Speak up! It’s not always easy, but in my experience most restaurants do their best to accommodate special dietary needs. My little secret? Regardless of why you have to avoid the food I always say it’s an allergy. They’re more likely to respond well to an allergy request than an “I don’t eat that” request.

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?Eating with Friends or Family Tips:

  1. Ask for the menu ahead of time. Let your host know you have allergies and you want to be sure there are safe foods. It’s much easier to work through the details in advance than showing up and having to decline everything offered.
  2. Offer to bring a component of the meal. If grains are the problem you can offer to bring homemade bread or rolls that are safe. Maybe you want to be sure there will be plenty of vegetables. Offer to bring a salad or roasted vegetables. Bring something safe so there will be at least one thing you can eat.
  3. Eat a light snack before you go. Then even if there are limited options you won’t go hungry. Enjoy what you can eat and focus on enjoying time with friends. Don’t draw attention to the food.
  4. Be the host. This is usually my default. I’m glad I like to cook! Since my kids are the ones with allergies I try to take the responsibility of hosting and preparing special food.
  5. Speak up! This applies to friends and families just as it does to restaurants. Most people are more than happy to accommodate special diets. If it’s someone I don’t know well I still always call any food restrictions allergies.

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?It’s Just Food.

Food restrictions tend to cause me anxiety. Sometimes the most important thing is to remember it’s just food. It’s just one meal. Focus on the conversation and the company. Know that most people want to help and are more than happy to make special accommodations for you. It may take a little courage, but you can work around food allergies without being stuck at home. Then you can turn around and be a blessing to someone else when it’s your turn to host. It’s always my first question when I invite someone over for a meal – do you have any special dietary needs? When the host starts the conversation, it makes the whole process easier for everyone.

There is no need to shy away from family gatherings or a special meal out when dealing with special dietary needs. Simply follow these tips to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone!

How do you cope with special diets when you’re not at home? Do you have any tips to add to the list?

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Red Plum Raspberry Jelly {No Added Pectin!}

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m not very good at making jams and jellies. Even when I use the packs of pectin!

I have switched over to using gelatin to create my strawberry freezer jam, cherry jam, grape jelly and five minute peach jam. They turned out beautifully!

But I recently teamed up with Ball Brand to try one of their recipes. I had the great pleasure of perusing The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving. It’s like a canner’s dream.

The pictures are gorgeous. And the recipes all sound so delicious. I wish I had time to try them all!

But I had to just pick one to try and share with you.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Trying My Hand At Jelly Again

With our allergies I don’t use pectin. Since I can’t be certain of the source it’s too risky. I know a lot of pectin is made from apples. And my two youngest are allergic to apples.

So instead of modifying a recipe I went for one that didn’t even need pectin. Red plum raspberry jelly sounded like the perfect combination of fruit flavors. And it is!

Neither fruit over powers the other.

There is no doubt that red plum raspberry jelly tastes good. You can use it for your  morning eggs and toast or mixed into some plain yogurt. We like it on pancakes.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

The Outcome

The real question, though, is did I manage to make good jelly without using gelatin?

Ummmm, no.

I read the instructions on how to look for the gelling point. I used a thermometer to monitor the temperature (got it to 220 just like it said).

But the timing worked out that it was right around the gelling point when I was trying to get my toddler down for a nap. And of course this was the one day where she was fighting sleep. In fact, instead of taking 3-10 minutes to get her to sleep it took over an hour and a half (including a dirty diaper change)! Maybe it was all those raspberries she ate!

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

So I kept bouncing back and forth between checking the jelly and checking the toddler. And at one point I just said I have to get it done and said a prayer. Well, it wasn’t gelled.

My Big Mistake

And now that I am re-reading the directions I see that it says to stir constantly…oops. Not easy when trying to get a toddler to nap. I think all of the pectin came to the top when I wasn’t stirring…there was a sticky, pink foam. Oops.

Note – keep stirring while it boils!!

All is not lost, though. We now have sweet red plum raspberry syrup! I can’t wait to use it on our pancakes this week (every Friday we have breakfast for dinner…pancakes is on the menu).

I might also try cooking it down a bit or adding a little gelatin when I open a jar. Just to see what happens.

It’s Your Turn

In spite of my inability to make jams and jellies I am sharing this delicious recipe with you today. I bet you’ll have better luck. Maybe you can teach me a thing or two about gel! My motto moving forward is going to be “Follow the directions and keep stirring.”

I hope to try this recipe again and actually cook it the right way. I REALLY want to try red plum raspberry jelly on bread (freshly baked sourdough would heavenly).

How about you? Are you a pro at making jams and jellies? Or are you jelly challenged like me?

I’d love to hear how it goes if you try red plum raspberry jelly.

But there’s more! Keep reading.
Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Red Plum Raspberry Jelly
Yields 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs. firm, ripe red plums, halved
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 4 cups raspberries
  4. 3 cups cane sugar
  5. cheesecloth
Instructions
  1. Pit plums, reserving pits. Chop plums and place in a 6 qt. stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Lightly crush the plum with a potato masher.
  2. Stir in the water and reserved pits. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add raspberries, crushing with a potato masher. Return to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Line a large, fine wire mesh strainer with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a large bowl.
  5. Pour the plum mixture into the strainer (do not press down). Cover and let stand 3 hours or until collected juice measures 3 1/2 cups and mixture no longer drips.
  6. Wash and dry Dutch oven.
  7. Pour the juice into the Dutch oven. Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring constantly, to gelling point.
  8. Ladle hot jelly into a hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  9. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band and adjust to fingertip tight.
  10. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  11. Process jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars stand 5 minutes.
  12. Remove jars from canner and cool.
Notes
  1. Tip - plum pits are super high in pectin, so simmering them with the fruit really helps give this jelly its velvety smooth set.
Just Take A Bite https://justtakeabite.com/

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.Can It Forward

Don’t forget to “Can It Forward” with Ball Brand. On July 22, 2016 they are hosting a Can-It-Forward day live on Facebook. You’ll see demos (I think I need to tune in for one on jelly). Plus Ball Brand will be donating to a local charity. The more engagement they receive the more they donate!

Here’s how you can participate.

  • Pledge to can-it-forward by signing up via the pledge page and share with friends.
  • Tune in on July 22nd to watch canning demonstrations via Facebook Live from 10:00AM – 3:30PM ET. Each hour, viewers will have the chance to win a giveaway prize!
  • If you engage with any of the Facebook Live recipe videos, a donation will be made to charity.
  • You can ask Jarden Home Brands canning experts any preserving or home canning questions via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM – 5PM ET on July 22nd. Consumers can also share their own #canitforward creations with the brand on Pinterest and Instagram.

More For You

Ball Brand would also like to give one of my lucky readers coupons for canning supplies and a copy of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving! Enter below for your chance to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Does red plum raspberry jelly sound like a delicious combination? What is your favorite jelly flavor?

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

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites

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

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

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

Allergies and chocolate do mesh.

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

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

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

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

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

A family favorite.

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

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

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

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

So much fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix

Gluten free baking can be intimidating and challenging. There are so many flours to choose from! I’m helping you out with my favorite gluten free flour mix.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

If you’ve ever tried gluten free baking you know it can be tricky. I can make the same recipe ten times and it turns out just a little differently every time. Though that may have more to do with my lack of precise measuring when I bake.

At any rate, gluten free baking is not nearly as forgiving as baking with wheat.

The ratio of sugar to fat is very important. But the real key to successful gluten free baking is using the right blend of flours.

Use all starchy flour and you’ll get a dry, crumbly mess. Use all seeds and you might have a gooey, dense blob.

There are so many flours to choose from when it comes to gluten free baking. My recipes usually call for a gluten free flour mix of your choice. Everyone has different things on hand. And a variety of flours will work.

But after years of experimenting I have come up with my favorite gluten free flour mix.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you some exact flours to use. This is a general rule. Then use what you have on hand.

My gluten free flour mix is:

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

Not sure which is which? Here is a quick rundown of some common flours.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

For your next recipe that calls for two cups of gluten free flour use one cup of grain, a half cup of seed, nut or bean and a half cup of starch. Choose from the above lists. Play around with combinations to see what flavors you like best.

Give my gluten free flour mix a try and see how your gluten free baked goods turn out!

Note that white rice can be used as a grain or a starch. It is technically a grain. But white rice behaves similar to a starch.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

What is your favorite blend of flours?

I often use a combination of sorghum, amaranth and tapioca. My baked goods always come out well using those three.

Find your favorite combinations. Then mix up a whole batch so baking is simple. No measuring three or four flours at a time. Just use your mix!

Create a variety to rotate through different types of flour. Gluten free baking just got a little bit simpler.

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make

Start the year off with less stress by delegating some kitchen work. Today I’m at Kitchen Stewardship sharing ten mason jar lunches your kids can make by themselves.

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

No hiding from it now. The new year is here.

That means it’s time to get back on track with healthy eating! One very important part of that is teaching your children what real, nourishing food is and why it is important.

In my experience the best way to teach your kids about good food is by letting them help prepare it!

Start teaching them at a young age and by the time they are in school they can practically pack their own lunches. What parent doesn’t want a little help with lunches?!


Ready to start delegating that task? Here are ten lunch components kids can make by themselves. As an added bonus you won’t hear any complaining about boring or gross lunches. Kids can’t complain if they choose and pack their own lunch!

Take one more item off your to-do list with these fun, healthy and simple mason jar lunches that kids can make (using glass or plastic containers).

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

VEGGIES WITH DIP

Add sour cream and your choice of seasoning to a jar (we like sea salt, garlic powder and dill weed). Put the chopped vegetables on top. No need for separate containers. The veggies are already in the dip and ready to go.

Fun and easy finger food. Perfect for a school lunch.

Want more ideas?

Click here to head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’ll show you just how much fun your kids can having making mason jar lunches.

Don’t think they’re ready to tackle this project yet? Check out the Kids Cook Real Food course to get them started!

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

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters

Sometimes picky eating is a much deeper problem than it seems. But sometimes it’s not. Here is a simple cure for picky eaters…that aren’t really that picky.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

I wouldn’t call any of my kids picky eaters.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this whole site devoted to feeding children that struggle with eating? Yep! And I learned it all from my kids.

But none of them is picky.

To me a picky eater is a child that is truly just wanting to have some control and make his own decisions about his food.

A picky eater is not a child whose diet is limited to noodles and crackers. That is a much deeper problem related to the child’s health (be on the lookout for my book on how to deal with that soon!!)

My kids all have other root causes for their eating issues. When they are feeling good they are all wonderful eaters.

Today I’m talking about the kind of picky eating that is more a battle of wills than taste buds.

If your child is a picky eater there is a simple cure. Teach your child to cook!

I can’t tell you how many times my kids have practically inhaled a meal because they helped prepare it. They feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Great idea! But how exactly do I teach my kids to cook?

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has put together an amazing course for both parents and children to teach kids of all ages to cook.

My kids and I have been previewing the course over the last couple months. Not only are my kids absolutely loving it and learning a lot, I’m learning too!

I’m learning basic skills I was never taught as a child. I’m learning how to teach my children and how to work with them in the kitchen.

So far my kids’ favorite part has been using knives (of course). You can preview the knife skills for free right now.

But there is SO much more to learn. My four year old is already starting to crack eggs. My seven year old is very anxious to try making a detailed recipe on her own. She actually made today’s breakfast (she even planned it) of strawberry parfaits.

Kids Cook Real Food is a way to get the whole family on board with healthier eating and put that picky eating to rest. Who knows, you may have a budding chef on your hands!

The course is open for enrollment this week.

Check out the free videos and get ready to end the picky eating by teaching your child to cook. It is a skill that will benefit both you and your kids for life.

Does your child have strong opinions about what she will or won’t eat?

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

There really is a simple cure for picky eaters. Get them in the kitchen! If that doesn’t work. Come back and see me when my book is ready and we’ll talk more!

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