Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Healthy Wheat-free Pumpkin Cakes

These super-moist, healthy pumpkin cakes will be sure to please your kids! They are wheat-free, refined sugar-free, and yet they still manage to fill the kitchen with the delightful scent of autumn baking, and to satisfy tummies with the pleasant pumpkin taste that goes with the season. My kids enjoy turning their cakes into jack-o-lanterns by adding chocolate chips.

Healthy Wheat-free Pumpkin Cakes

4 eggs
1/3 c. agave nectar
1/4 tsp. stevia powder

1 c. extra virgin coconut oil
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
2 cups barley flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
** grain-sweetened chocolate chips (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the eggs, agave, stevia, oil and pumpkin with a mixer until well-blended. Slowly add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stirring until thoroughly combined.

Spread the batter evenly into a large ungreased baking pan (I use a
15-inch x 10-inch x 2-inch Pyrex baking dish, but two smaller dishes could also be used).

Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, then use pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to cut pumpkin cakes. Add grain-sweetened chocolate chips for jack-o-lantern faces.

Note: These can also be cut into bars and/or topped with a cream cheese frosting (try tinting yours with some natural orange food coloring).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Get a new replacement SIGG bottle for free

In August 2009, SIGG's CEO Steve Wasik wrote a letter announcing that all SIGG bottles produced prior to August 2008 were lined with a water-based epoxy liner that was found to contain trace amounts of BPA. He stressed that the bottles were tested and did not leach BPA, but regardless of this, many SIGG customers are upset. BPA was one of the main reasons many people switched to reusable water bottles.

Mr. Wasik has since apologized for his lack of transparency from the begin about the issue. The company says it never claimed to have BPA-free bottles, rather, they always stressed that their bottles did not leach anything. But in hindsight, Mr. Wasik wishes he'd been straightforward from the beginning about BPA in the liners.

In August 2008, SIGG began to line its bottles with a new "EcoCare" liner that is certified to be 100% free of BPA, phthalates, BADGE, BFDGE, and NOGE.

SIGG has established an exchange program for any customer that is concerned about the old liner and wants a new bottle with the new EcoCare liner.

As soon as I heard about the exchange program I contacted SIGG. They e-mailed me a return label and an RMA code to expedite my request. I had to pay for shipping to send my old bottles to SIGG (it was inexpensive... the bottles are very lightweight). Once they received my package, they sent me another e-mail with a gift code to be used on mysigg.com to choose replacement bottles. They also covered shipping for the new bottles. It was very easy to place my order and we received our new EcoCare bottles today.

I'm sad that SIGG didn't have BPA-free liners from the beginning, but I'm happy they made this exchange so easy.

If you plan to take advantage of this exchange program, act quickly. It ends on October 31, 2009. And if you want to avoid paying shipping to send your old bottles back, many SIGG retailers are participating in the exchange program. See the exchange program page for details.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Turtle Salmon Salads

This was a really fun lunch for my kids. As they ate, we read about turtles in our animal encyclopedia. We learned some cool facts. Did you know that the outer segments on a turtle's shell are called "plates?" Did you know turtles don't have teeth? We also found out that they eat fish, birds, worms, insects, and the soft part of plants.

Here's what I used:

Body - wild caught salmon mixed with Trader Joe's regular mayonnaise, shaped into a roundish mound
Plates - organic baby spinach leaves
Head - baby carrot
Eyes - grain-sweetened chocolate chips, cut small
Mouth - tiny piece of raw beet
Feet - cucumbers, cut to shape
Tail - baby carrot, cut into a little triangle shape

I served them with Sweet Mustard Dressing on the side, and organic tortilla chips (which represented desert sand - my boys used them to scoop up the salmon mixture).

Here is a picture of the body without the plates. As you can see, he's already had a few scoops taken out of him at this point, but at least you get the idea of how the base was formed.

Guest submission: Cat Chicken Salad

Kid Feed reader "CB" shared this cute kitty she made for her kids recently. We love her creative use of healthy ingredients!

Here's what she used:

Head - chicken salad
Ears - corn chips
Eyes - carrot slices
Pupils - chocolate chips (cut smaller)
Snout - cucumber slice
Nose - carrot slice
Tongue - tomato slice
Whiskers - sliced beef

CB noted that it took some convincing to get her 2 1/2 year old to finally eat his cat. He loved looking at it so much that he didn't want to eat it at first!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Emperor Tamarin Shredded Chicken Salads

This was my husband's attempt to make Emperor Tamarin faces (complete with mustaches). He was going from memory as he put these together, and he thinks the final versions ended up more like orangutans. But our boys were quiet pleased with the end result and talked the rest of the day about their Emperor Tamarin lunches.

Here's what he used:

- homemade shredded barbecue chicken (see below for recipe)
Hair - raw, grated beets
Ears - thin slices of organic apple
- sliced apples
Mustache - thin raw beet shreds
Eyes - apple and grain-sweetened chocolate chips
Jungle - organic baby lettuce mix

*Each child got a small container of Sweet Mustard dressing for dipping.

Kid Feed Mommy's Shredded Barbecue Chicken

1 bag frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2 lbs., 8 oz.)

2 bay leaves
sea salt

organic, refined sugar-free bbq sauce (we like Organicville Original BBQ sauce)

Place chicken thighs in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add bay leaves. Bring to boil, then keep on a high simmer for 40-60 minutes, or until the meat is easily falling apart when you stick a fork in it.

Remove from pot and set aside to cool (you can reserve the broth for use in other recipes, if desired, or discard). Allow chicken to cool until you can comfortably handle it (approx. 15-20 minutes).

With clean hands, shred the chicken and place in a large mixing bowl, removing all fat as you go. Once chicken has been shredded, shake on sea salt and pepper, to taste. Stir with wooden spoon to mix. Then pour on the bbq sauce, to taste and mix with wooden spoon. I do about 1/2 c., but some may like it to be more sauce-heavy. (Because it's expensive, I like to do as little as possible while still acheiving a nice consistency and good flavor.)

Store in covered container in refrigerator. Keeps for several days and is great on salads, sandwiches, or even by itself!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Open-Faced Black Bean and Cream Cheese Sandwich

Sometimes things don't turn out the way I imagined. Originally with this lunch I tried to make panda faces, but as they came together I knew they would never pass for pandas. Since my plan had failed, I tried to work with what I already had to make something recognizable.

I couldn't decide if it was a raccoon or a husky sled dog (one of my boys picked raccoon, and the other boy picked sled dog).

Here's what I used:

Face, ears, nose and whiskers - brown rice bread, cut into desired shapes (there is a small piece cut for the nose and placed on top of the face piece to give the face more dimension; the ear pieces are also cut separately and set on top of the face piece.)
White fur - Spread cream cheese all over the face bread piece.
Brown fur - Spread black beans (or beans of your choice) in the desired pattern on and around the face and on the nose bread piece.
Eyes - grain-sweetened chocolate chips

Friday, June 5, 2009

Toucan Salad for Kids

My creative husband designed these awesome Toucan salads for our kids. I've never seen them so happy to eat greens!

Here's what he used:

Beak - 2 organic pink lady apple slices
Head - piece of buckwheat cake
Eye - grain-sweetened chocolate chip
Body/Feathers - organic mixed baby lettuce
Legs/Feet - baby carrots, cut to desired shape
Toucan's food - homegrown red clover sprouts

*Each kid also had a little bowl of natural salad dressing for dipping.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Variations on a Lion Lunch

My husband came up with this "lion in the jungle" lunch for the kids over the weekend. After they ate their lions, he added a "river" (not pictured) which was made out of homemade sweet mustard dressing so they could dip the jungle leaves into the river.

Here's what he used:

Face - wild caught Alaskan salmon mixed with Trader Joe's mayo
Eyes - grain sweetened chocolate chips
Snout - carrots
Ears - carrots
Whiskers - shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese
Jungle - organic spinach leaves
River - sweet mustard dressing

Today I served my own variation of the lion lunch for the boys. I like my husbands version better because it's a more balanced meal. Mine is way too carb heavy for my liking, but they enjoyed it (of course)! I used my husband's river tactic to help them eat their jungle leaves.

Here's what I used:

Face - brown rice bread
Mane - organic round tortilla chips (Trader Joe's) and shredded Tillamook pepperjack and cheddar
Eyebrows or Ears - Tillamook cheddar cheese
Snout - Tillamook cheddar cheese
Whiskers - shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese
Mouth - carrot
Eyes - whipped cream cheese
Pupils - grain sweetened chocolate chips
Jungle - organic spinach leaves
River - sweet mustard dressing

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Salmon and Spinach "Jellyfish" Lunch

My husband got in on the animal food creations when he made lunch for the kids on Saturday. Trying to think of a way to get them to willingly eat spinach, he came up with these little jellyfish, and yes, they gobbled them all up - tentacles included!

Here's what he used:

Body - boneless, skinless canned Alaskan salmon (wild caught) mixed with Trader Joe's mayonnaise
Eyes - wild blueberries
Tentacles - rolled up spinach leaves

Tiger Cheese "Sandwich"

A cheese sandwich is even more delicious when it looks like a tiger! It wasn't long after our elephant tuna sandwiches that my boys asked if they could have tigers for lunch.

Here's what I used:

Face, ears and snout - brown rice bread, cut into desired shapes
Stripes - Tillamook cheddar cheese
Eyes - cream cheese
Pupils - grain-sweetened chocolate chips
Whiskers - cucumbers
Tongue - spaghetti sauce

Elephant Tuna "Sandwich"

My kids love animals, so they are bound to eat any food that resembles an animal (as I so happily discovered during the Easter season when they ate bunny faces and egg bunnies). My 3-year-old asked me to make him an elephant. Tuna was on the menu for lunch that day, and I decided to use the tuna in my elephant creation. Would they eat it, I wondered? Sure enough, they devoured their Elephant Tuna Sandwiches. I even replaced the "eyes" a couple of times so they'd eat more veggies.

Here's what I used:

Face and trunk - brown rice bread
Ears - tongol tuna mixed with natural mayo
Eyes - cucumbers
Pupils - grain-sweetened chocolate chips
Mouth - apple slice

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Egg bunnies

We used another idea from Little Nummies today for our lunch. These simple hard-boiled egg bunnies made for a happy meal!

Here are the ingredients we used:

Body and ears - Hard-boiled egg (slice the bottom off so that the egg sits more evenly, then cut the bottom in half and use for the ears - attach ears with small pieces of spaghetti)
Eyes - pieces of oats from homemade granola
Nose - small piece of carrot
Mouth - apple peel
Whiskers - brown rice spaghetti noodles
Feet - baby carrots (attach to body with spaghetti noodles)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Bunny Lunch Idea

I've been enjoying the adorable food ideas from Little Nummies, a blog that presents simple but creative recipes using stuff you'd normally have on hand (without having to run to the store for special ingredients!).

When I saw the post about Easter Bunny faces for lunch, I had to try it for my boys. Here's how ours turned out! So cute!

These are the ingredients I used:

Face - slice of brown rice bread
Ears - hard-boiled egg cut in half, yolks removed (I also dyed them with beet juice so they had a pinkish hue to them)
Eyes - cream cheese for the whites, and grain-sweetened chocolate chips for the pupils
Nose - hard-boiled egg yolk
Mouth - raw beet slice
Teeth -Tillamook pepperjack cheese
Whiskers - Tillamook cheddar cheese

Friday, February 13, 2009

Healthy Valentine's Snacks

One of my favorite things about eating more naturally is making special treats on holidays. I had so many exciting plans for Valentine's Day this year, only to have my entire family get hit with the flu this past week. (Yes, even though we eat healthy, we still get sick sometimes!) Yesterday I managed to put a couple of my plans into action, and the rest will have to wait until next year.

Tomorrow, my kids will be eating Heart-Shaped Chocolate Covered Marshmallows and Frozen Strawberry Cream Hearts.

To make the marshmallows, I used the Agave Marshmallow recipe from Volcanic Nectar, but also added a bit of natural pink food coloring, then spread the marshmallow creme onto a large, rimmed cookie sheet rather than a 9x11 pan. After they were set, I used heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out the hearts. (Make sure to wet the cookie cutter in warm water before cutting for a nice, clean cut.)

Then, I made the chocolate coating. Inspired by Lauren of Healthy Indulgences and her ice cream bar chocolate coating, I melted 8 Tbsp. grain-sweetened chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil and a shake of stevia powder. (This coating is amazing!) Once it was all melted and cooled, I dipped the marshmallows in and then laid them on foil and refrigerated them until the chocolate hardened. I used a knife to gently pry them off the foil and placed them in a sealed container until tomorrow.

To make the frozen strawberry hearts, I used the recipe for "Frozen Strawberry Cream" from Jeffrey Goettemoeller's Stevia Sweet Recipes cookbook. This is one of my favorite uses for stevia. This is a quick and simple ice cream recipe (you don't need an ice cream maker to make it), but this time I poured the mixture into this cute heart-shaped gelatin mold that my mother-in-law recently gave me.

It took about 4-6 hours for the mixture to freeze, then I unmolded them and put them in a container. They'll stay in the freezer until tomorrow night's dessert! (They need to be removed from the freezer one hour before serving so that they're soft enough to eat.)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stevia approved by FDA!

It had to happen eventually. The sugar industry and artificial sweetener industry were no doubt dreading this day, but it has finally come. As of December 2008, the FDA has "no objection" to stevia. They didn't take it further and give it the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) rating, but "no objection" means companies can now use it without labeling it as a "natural supplement" and stores can carry it in the sweetener section instead of the supplement section (some stores were already doing this anyway, at least in my city). I'm very excited about this! Hopefully this means we will start seeing more and more stevia products on shelves. I'm hoping we'll start seeing stevia packets at coffee shops and restaurants right along side the sugar packets and Splenda packets (better yet, the Splenda packed will get tossed).

Mike Adams has an article about the FDA's decision over at NaturalNews.com. He discusses some of the reasons behind the FDA's ruling (hint: it had nothing to do with health and all to do with money).

Coca-Cola is already rolling out its natural soda that contains stevia. Sprite Green will be on a store shelf near you soon. I don't know what all the ingredients are, but I'll be sure to take a look at it.

I'm reminded of the letters I sent to Coca Cola and Wrigley's years ago, asking them why they didn't use stevia in their diet drinks and gum instead of artificial sweeteners. Maybe those letters really did make a difference. It was because of big companies like Coca Cola that the FDA finaly approved of stevia, after all!