Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Bites

 healthy gluten free banana chocolate chip muffin bites recipe

You know when you’re running out the door or packing lunches and wish you had a healthy snack to grab? These little muffin bites are perfect for that aaaaaaand for using up all those ripes bananas you’ve got hanging out in your freezer (it’s embarrassing how many I have in mine!!! I just don’t like the idea of throwing them out so I end up with half my freezer loaded with bananas waiting for me to get in the baking mood). These little bites pack a nutritional punch and are perfect for an on-the-go snack or as a healthy addition to packed lunches. View Post

Be My Valentine Sugar Cookies

  

I’m just going to put this out there: who can resist a good sugar cookie? Especially when it’s made with love and- added bonus- heart shaped? With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought it was a good time to bring out the heart shaped cookie cutters and whip up a batch. Ari’s favourite are these chocolate chip cookies, but sugar cookies are a close second. We did cut- outs with mini hearts for a fun extra touch and I think they turned out great.

I used this recipe , but cut it in half since it makes a lot of cookies. And even though the original recipe I shared is gluten/ dairy free, you can simply swap in unbleached flour and butter if you’d prefer the classic version (the cookies we made were gluten free but I used butter). It’s a classic recipe that’s versatile and easy to adapt, so whether you have to make some substitutions or not, they’re a crowd- pleaser! (I tried to save a few take a some more photos but they were gone in no time!).

For the recipe we used see this post: Gluten & Dairy Free Sugar Cookies

Directions

1. Once you’ve mixed your dough, divide it equally. Add red food colouring to one half and knead until it’s mixed in (or maybe go for a cute marble effect!). Roll dough to 1/8″- 1/4″ thick.

2. Using a large cookie cutter, cut out the cookies in the desired shapes.

3. For the cutouts, use a small heart- shaped cookie cutter in the centre of the large cookies and swap the centres (pink into the plain and vice- versa). You can also leave the centres empty as a cute alternative.

4. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and place the cookies carefully on the sheets (the shapes can warp, so be careful when transferring them).

5. Bake at 400 degrees for 6- 8 minutes and allow to cool.

6. Optional: add icing & sprinkles for a fun touch.

  

Gluten Free Pull Apart Cinnamon Rolls

Who doesn’t love their house smelling of baking in the oven? This recipe is yummy. Just. Plain. Yummy. And it’s perfect to make for Christmas morning as a sweet brekkie while you open presents. I came across a recipe on Pinterest a while ago for cinnamon roll bread and thought I’d adapt it and make a few changes for GF cinnamon rolls. You can make this one of two ways: baked in a bread pan or on a baking sheet. This does make a difference and while I think the roll baked in the bread pan looked better, my taste testers (aka family) preferred the roll baked on the baking sheet (I’ve got photos below to show you how differently they turn out). I also made up two batches: a GF one (which is in the above photo) and a batch using regular flour (in the photos below). The nice thing is you don’t have to make any adjustments to the measurements between a GF and regular version, you’ll just find that they bake up differently (which is pretty much how I find these recipes always go anyways). You can prep everything ahead of time and simply pop the rolls in the oven on Christmas morning or enjoy whipping up a batch for a cozy Boxing Day snack. Either way, it’s hard to resist something that’s this cinnamon-y good!



Ingredients

For the buns
4 cups gluten free flour (I use a blend of coconut and brown rice flour- or swap for your favourite regular flour)
1/4 cup water (you may need to add a little more to achieve the dough consistency you desire)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup eggnog or milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling


6 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the frosting


4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1- 2 tbsp of milk or cream to thin (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients until well combined; add the eggnog/ milk, water, and vanilla extract and stir until dough has formed with no lumps (you may want to use your hands to help with this). Set dough aside.

2. Mix together the ingredients for the filling and set aside (if you find it hard to get rid of the lumps, warm over low heat until the brown sugar and butter have melted).

3. Separate the dough into two equal halves and roll into rectangles approx 1/8″ thick onto pieces of parchment paper.

4. Pour the filling over the dough and spread out evenly. Roll the dough into a log, pinching the end of the dough to the roll to hold it together. Make diagonal cuts into the dough almost all the way to the bottom.

5. Transfer the rolls to a baking sheet or into a bread pan and bake: if using a baking sheet it will take 25- 30 minutes; if using a bread pan it will take approx 40- 45 minutes. Bake until the top and edges are turning golden brown.

6. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, mix together the frosting. Add more or less milk until you get the consistency you want.

7. Remove the rolls from the oven and drizzle with the frosting (tip: keep some aside for dipping). Serve hot.

See the difference: The roll on the left was baked on the baking sheet and the roll on the right was baked in a bread pan. Both delicious, but a little different. It’s totally worth trying both methods to see which you prefer.

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Ari Update: Reintroducing Foods to My Daughter {+ Giveaway}

OK parents, hands up how many of you are always looking for snack ideas for your kids? No matter if it’s for at home or you’re packing them up to go to school/ daycare/ grandma’s, sometime you just need something quick to grab (I know I did this morning with Liam- the kid doesn’t stop eating!). If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that dietary restrictions and food sensitivities have had a big influence on what we eat, just like many other families. It can make things interesting for parents trying to navigate what their kids need to thrive and can limit food/ snack options, among other unique challenges that arise when your kids can’t eat certain foods (‘they have it, why can’t I?’). Allergies/ sensitivities have become a major conversation as they seem to become more common, and it can be hard as a parent to know what to do- scary, even, if your child has a severe allergy- and sometimes it really comes down to trusting your gut instinct.
As of the beginning of September we started re- introducing foods back into Ari’s diet after more than a year and a half of her going without things like dairy, peanuts, and almonds. Her stomach and digestion had been doing much better, so it came time to try some of the foods we’d been keeping out of her diet. Knock on wood, so far, so good. Going dairy and gluten free had the biggest impact on our family, so I tended not to talk about certain other foods, like nuts, that we also removed from her diet, but I know this is another common allergy/ sensitivity. I’m not going to pretend to understand all the finer details of allergies/ sensitivities, but when removing food from her diet I also learned how sensitive someone can become if they’re never exposed to that allergen again; the body may develop a stronger reaction when it’s not exposed to something for a long time, and peanuts/ almonds had me a little nervous when it came time to give them to her again. Luckily, we didn’t have a problem, but it reminded me of the nerves that come with introducing foods to a baby for the first time- it’s exciting, but you’re also nervous to see if/ how they react. 
Now that she’s eating almost everything again (she’ll stay gluten free for the foreseeable future), it’s been fun trying foods and snacks that she wasn’t able to have before now. I know that foods like nuts, eggs, wheat, and milk can be biggies when it comes to allergies, but I’ve also learnt that completely avoiding them may not be the answer either, especially when it comes to introducing babies to foods that are common allergens (again, things like nuts, egg, wheat, milk, etc). This is a tough area for a parent to figure out, and I know our family sure has had some interesting experiences when it comes to food. But that doesn’t mean you have to be scared to try foods with your kids/ babies. There are now studies showing that introducing rather than avoiding common allergens can help children grow up without allergies to foods like peanuts (I know this might sound counter- intuitive/ confusing). But by speaking with your paediatrician or family doctor/ naturopath, you might find out that you’re able to give your child certain foods, even if you have concerns and/ or a family history of food allergies (please know I’m not trying to give medical advice, just a friendly suggestion as Mom who’s gone through a lot with her own kid’s health). And if you’re a parent with a baby about to start solids or just looking for some tasty snacks for your kids, it’s good to know what options are available. 
In the past I’ve shared about some of the snacks we’ve tried (convenience always seemed to be my biggest challenge when it came to gluten/ dairy free ideas), and we’ve recently been enjoying trying out Cheeky Monkey’s Peanut Butter Puffs with the kids. These were actually the first peanut- containing food that we gave Ari since adjusting her diet, and they were a hit with both her and Liam. Sure, I was nervous, but I also knew we had to see how she’d do; she was never diagnosed with a severe allergy, just a strong sensitivity so I was cautiously optimistic that she’d be fine with them (and she was, yay!). 
I understand that peanuts pose an interesting challenge when it comes to packing lunches for school/ daycare, but I love having these as an option when we’re at home or on a play date with friends, and even for taking to visit the grandparents. Both kids love them- who doesn’t love puffy snacks?- and I like the attention to the quality of ingredients (they’re 100% organic and non- GMO, and gluten free for starters). As we enter this new foodie phase in our house, I appreciate that fun snacks like this exist and that it’s a convenient option I now have that isn’t loaded with added sugars, weird ingredients, or preservatives. Somedays you just need something quick and easy, and these check all the boxes in my books. 
What I love about them:
– 100% organic & non- GMO ingredients
– gluten free
– no added sugars
– high protein
– baked, not fried
– no flavour extracts or trans fats
– no chemicals/ preservatives
If you want to find out more about introducing the ‘Big Eight’ foods known to cause allergies to your kids, check out this website for more helpful info. I know this can be a hot topic, so I’d love to hear how you handle(d) food allergies/ sensitivities with your kids. If you’re curious about Cheeky Monkey & trying their snacks with your kids, visit their website to learn more.
…And speaking of trying out these tasty snacks with your kids- Scroll to the end of this post to enter to win a case of Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs (12 bags) for your kids! Nom nom, happy snacking!

Visit the Cheeky Monkey website for more info & follow along on social media:

Facebook: Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs
Instagram: @cheekymonkeypbpuffs
Twitter: @cheekymonkeypb

#EatTheEight
Learn more at www.eattheeight.com

Easy Chocolate Layer Cake {Gluten Free}

Does anyone else crave comfort food this time of year? For me that’s carbs (well, I pretty much crave cabs all year, but let’s not go there right now…) and sweet things like baking. If you saw my post last week with The Sweet Life Apparel, you saw the chocolate cake Ari and I whipped up together. It was one of our messier endeavours (and crankier- at least in the beginning- for Ari), but we ended up having a blast and the cake turned out amazing (sprinkles EVERYWHERE!). While we still make everything gluten free, I’ve been able to add dairy back into what we eat since the end of Summer, re- introducing it in meals and baking. I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed cooking/ baking with butter. And milk. But that’s not to say this recipe wouldn’t turn out if you used a dairy- free milk, I just enjoyed the chance to try it out (this is the first cake I’ve made with milk in a long time, yahoo!). It’s about as easy as it gets, with simple ingredients, and if you’re like us, the decorating is at least half the fun (and most of the mess 😉 ). If you want a sweet treat for holiday parties, why not whip up this baby? Enjoy. 

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten free flour (I used 1 cup brown rice flour & 1 cup coconut flour)
use an unbleached or all- purpose flour if not gluten free
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Decoration ideas:
– frosting (I cheated and used the store- bought stuff)
– sprinkles
– toasted coconut
– fresh flowers
whatever you like! 😉

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cake pans with parchment paper- use two 9- inch pans for 2 layers, or four 6- inch pans for 4 layers

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Tip: to help make it lighter- especially if making a gluten free cake- sift the dry ingredients to aerate them.

3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients and slowly add to the dry mix, stirring to avoid lumps as you go.

4. When combined, pour the batter into your pans, distributing equally among the 2 or 4 that you’re using. Bake for 30 -35 minutes until you can insert a toothpick into the centre and it comes out clean. If baking four 6- inch cakes, bake them two at a time.

5. Allow to cool before removing from pans. Use frosting between the layers and frost the outside however you like. We went more for a naked cake look (at least that’s what I”m calling it!), but pick an icing/ decoration that you like. This is a nice, moist cake that’s not too rich/ heavy so there’s lots of options.

6. Decorate to your heart’s content!

What we’re wearing:
Check out the full line by The Sweet Life Apparel on their website and get the latest news on social media:
Instagram: @thesweetlifeapparel 
Photo credit: Akane Kondo Photography
Instagram: @akanekondophoto