On the Hunt: Taste Testing Gluten Free Snacks

It’s one thing to change your diet as an adult and this comes with it’s own set of challenges. The same can be said with children who are old enough to have the situation explained to them and an ability to understand and communicate with you (albeit with resistance and different challenges I’m sure). But having to change how your toddler eats at 18 months after finding out she’s sensitive to certain staples comes with it’s own unique set of grey- hair sprouting inducing challenges. If I wasn’t pregnant at the time and had wine as an option, trust me when I say I would have very much enjoyed a glass to mellow my nerves at the end of those days.  
The first two weeks were tough. Brutal. I went from having a toddler who could and would eat mostly anything to having to limit her choices and introduce new versions of foods with varying success; basically repeating history from a few months before when I introduced solids. But this time Ari had already tasted ‘normal’ food and she has developed a sense of taste beyond the bland rice cereal and purees of those earlier months. Suddenly I had a food critic on my hands who didn’t understand why her culinary choices were being changed and why foods she could previously eat were suddenly off limits at play dates and birthday parties (anyone with a little allergy- sufferer can relate to the challenge of having to avoid snack sharing and the tantrums that can ensue). Meal times and snacks suddenly became  a battle zone as I tried to convince my little lady that these new options were not only yummy, but were frankly the only ones she now had. 
So began the hunt for alternatives to foods such as milk and anything containing dairy, bread, bagels (an Ari fave), and anything containing gluten (now what to do with the economy- sized bag of organic oatmeal I’d just picked up? For those with strong gluten sensitivities/ allergies you have to buy gluten- free oats). There are a few other things I have to look out for, but those are the two biggies. Ultimately, I know that reducing the amount of dairy and gluten products we consume is for the better, but as with most diet/ lifestyle changes the initial transition can be a bit of a hurdle. And even though Will has already made this transition, transitioning Ari was a lot tougher, especially since it impacted how I ate her around (think: suddenly something as simple as a piece of toast was off- limits and I’m not willing to buck up for an extra loaf of gf bread just so I can eat it around her. PS- the budget impact of this experience is a post in itself, but that’s another story…). Upon getting the feedback from our naturopath about what we needed to eliminate, Will & I knew we’d be making more changes to the foods we had in the house- even if he allows himself some flexibility in how he eats, it’s a little tougher with a toddler who can’t communicate if she’s in discomfort from something she ate. 
There are a lot of options available, but finding snacks that are healthy and have more taste than flavoured cardboard can be tricky. As I go through the trial & error of trying out new options I’m hoping to share my experiences with my readers in the hopes of helping you with your own dietary journeys and save you some time and money in the process. So when I got the chance to try out a box of gluten free goodies generously offered up by Lloyd James Naturals I jumped at the chance. In the box were various snacks, salad dressings, non- dairy butter alternatives, and sauces to try (I’ll share about those in a later post). The opportunity to taste- test these products couldn’t have come at a better time & we’ve enjoyed working our way through the products and finding new options that can be enjoyed by Will and Ariana. See below for the snacks we got to try & more info about them.
Coco- Roons
  • Organic, gluten free, vegan, & paleo friendly & made with non- GMO ingredients. These are a nice option for those with food sensitivities and special diets (note: these do contain almonds) when you’re craving something sweet. 
  • 7 flavours available (I got to taste test 5 of them): Vanilla, Brownie, Almond Strawberry, Lemon Pie, & Cacao Nib (my favourite was the Lemon Pie flavour).
  • Similar to the coconut macaroons you find in the bakery of the grocery store but without all the sugar (unfiltered organic maple syrup is used to sweeten these & it’s the 5th ingredient on the list- yay for not being loaded with sugar!). I also really liked that I could identify all of the ingredients and that there are no preservatives in them. (For example, here’s the ingredients in the Lemon Pie Coco- Roons: dried unsweetened coconut*, almond flour*, unfiltered maple syrup*, cold- pressed coconut oil*, lemon zest*, vanilla extract*, himalayan crystal salt) * = organic.

Cheeky Monkey Puffs
 
  • Organic, gluten free, kosher, dairy & casein free, soy free, sugar free, vegan, & made with non- GMO ingredients.
  • 2 flavours: Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Chili Pepper
  • These have the texture of cheesies/ cheese puffs but the flavour of peanut butter (I loved the unique combo of the Peanut Butter Chili flavour & the kick of flavour the chili added). 
  • Produced in a gluten- free facility, making them an option for those with a strong gluten allergy, but containing peanuts (I know the name gives this away, but thought I’d mention just in case, ya know?). These snacks aren’t fried and again, the list of ingredients impressed me in the simplicity and quality of ingredients used. (I’m very picky about certain ingredients such as peanuts and corn being organic/ non- GMO given the amount of pesticides used with certain crops and/ or if they are known to be a common GMO crop unless stated). While these most likely aren’t going to be school- lunch friendly given that they contain peanuts, they still make a great option for day trips, play dates, camping, etc. Ingredients (for the Peanut Butter Chili flavour): organic peanut butter, organic corn, organic palm oil. organic ground chili pepper, salt.

Brussel Bytes & Snip Chips
  • Organic, gluten- free, vegetarian, paleo- friendly (note: this refers to the Snip Chips not the Brussel Bytes), & contains non- GMO ingredients.
  • I got to try 2 flavours for each: Chili Pumkin and Tamarind Apple (Brussel Bytes);  Chipotle Lime Cilantro and Cheezy Herb (Snip Chips)
  • I’ll start with the Brussels Bytes: I’ll admit I’m not huge into kale chips, etc and so was a little hesitant with these but they grew on me. After digging into both and giving them a fair chance I’m not actually sure which flavour I liked more. Even if these don’t sound that appetizing, the fact that they’re made with nutrition- packed ingredients such as brussel sprouts, kale, carrots, and pumpkin seeds make them worth a shot (again, if you’re already into things like kale chips these snacks will be right up your alley). 
  • Snip Chips: Despite the name, with dried unsweetened organic coconut as the second ingredient, these snacks are actually on the sweet side. If you can have cheese/ dairy, the Cheezy Herb flavour is yummy; if not I also really liked the Chipotle Lime Cilantro flavour. I would probably pick these over the Brussel Bytes just because I have a sweet tooth and liked the sweetness of them (note: these contain cashews).
  • As with the other products I’ve shared in this post, none of the ingredients gave me cause for concern, here are examples for each: Brussel Bytes (Chili Pumpkin flavour):  brussel sprouts*, raw cashews*, kale*, raw pumpkin seeds*, tamari*, coconut nectar*, carrots*, cilantro*, onion*, garlic*, apple cider vinegar*, vinegar*, cumin*, chipotle*, himalayan crystal salt. * = organic; Snip Chips (Chipotle Lime Cilantro flavour): parsnips*, dried unsweetened coconut*, raw cashews*, tamari*, pumpkin seeds*, coconut nectar, cilantro*, raw cumin*, garlic*, chipotle peppers*, apple cider vinegar*, dried onion*, lime juice*, himalayan crystal salt. * = organic). 

If you’d like to try these snacks out for yourself, you can find them in Choices and Whole Foods Markets, among others.

A special thanks to Lloyd James Natural Food Sales & Marketing for providing our family with all of these goodies to try. Visit their website & find them on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram to learn more.
To learn more about the products mentioned in this post, see below: 
Wonderfully Raw Gourmet Delights (Coco- Roons, Brussel Bytes, & Snip Chips)
Cheeky Monkey
April posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

Yummy Mummy Monday: 2 Meals 1 Bird

I’m LOVING having my friend Jena as a regular contributor to TPB, especially when she sends me yummy recipes like this one! With the bump due to arrive at any time I’m really appreciating her help keeping things running smoothly. I’ll keep my blurb short & sweet and hand it over to Jena to introduce this week’s YM post:
When
my husband’s food allergies hit an all-time high and we started researching
what he could eat and what foods would help to heal his intestinal lining,
broth came up again and again. Broth is getting big folks! Food kiosks devoted
entirely to broth are popping up in North America’s hippest cities, and the
broth pioneers are claiming it enhances gut health, fights inflammation, and
provides a healthy dose of proteins, minerals, collagen, and electrolytes.
Luckily for us, an amazing ‘brodo’ (Italian for broth) recipe is a staple in my husband’s
family and I’m going to share my take on that recipe. But first, to make
broth you need ‘ze bones’. In my quest to make broth, I made a roast chicken and
discovered, that while it might seem daunting to roast a chicken, it is in fact
an easy go to for busy parents. You can prep the bird for roasting in under ten
minutes, toss in the oven over some yams for just over an hour and your meal is
complete. No need to put aside 45 minutes in the kitchen, while your two year
old destroys your life- I mean play room. These recipes are gluten free, paleo- friendly, egg free, and dairy free if you omit the parmegiano that I like to
rain down on my soup.
Yummy Mummy Recipe:2 Meals 1 Bird
Simple Roast Chicken with Yams
Chicken Brodo Soup (for all y’all on the broth craze) 
Simple
Roast Chicken with Yams
Prep
time: 10 min
Cook
time: 1-1.5 hours
Ingredients:
Whole
Chicken
Sea
Salt
Pepper
Olive
Oil
2
large yams
Dutch
Oven
Directions: 
1. Preheat
Oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
 2. I
start by rinsing the bird and I pat it dry so it doesn’t steam in the oven. I
then truss it, which you can Google, but it just means using cooking string to
tie the legs and wings to the bird so they are nice and tight to the body.
3. I
then lather the little lady in olive oil, and cover with sea salt and pepper. I
like to combine the salt and pepper in a bowl before hand, that way I don’t
have to wash my hands in between and can just rub it all in.
4. Slice
yams into ¾ inch pieces and lay at the bottom of the dutch oven. Place the
chicken on top and put into oven. Cook chicken based on weight (approx. 20
minutes per pound). You can use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is
cooked to 175 degrees at the thickest point.
5. Carve
and Serve with a quick salad and Voila! I like to pour the juices over the yams
and chicken meat, its delicious.
6. IMPORTANT: Put
aside carcass for soup!
Chicken Brodo Soup*
Part
One:
Ingredients:
Chicken
Carcass
3
stalks of celery chopped in large pieces
2
carrots chopped in large pieces
1
white onion quartered
1
tomato quartered
Salt
and pepper
Directions: 
1. Take
a large pot and add everything except the salt and pepper. 
2. Cover with water and
bring to a boil. Then allow to simmer for 2.5 hours. (I do this after dinner,
while the kids are going down. I then leave it to cool and put it in fridge
overnight).
Part
Two:
Ingredients:
2
stalks of celery chopped into small pieces
1
chicken breast (optional, I add this if there is not much chicken left over
from the night before)
Handful
of spinach chopped
Brown
rice (optional, not paleo)
Parmegiano
(optional)
Directions:
1. The
next day bring brodo to a boil again and strain into a second pot or bowl. 
2. I then put
the carrots back in the broth and mash. I pick the chicken out of the strainer
and return to broth, I also add any left overs from the carved chicken.
3. If
there isn’t much meat left over from my meal the night before, I dice and
sautee a chicken breast and add to the soup. 
4. Sautee the spinach and celery and
add to soup. Bring to a boil and serve! 
I like to make a batch of brown rice
and add to my soup, but my husband whose diet is more restricted, omits it.
Sprinkle with parmegiano (if you can eat dairy) and eat!
*
You can also simply make the broth and have a serving of it a day. It’s all the
rage!  
Chicken Brodo Soup & Salad = YUM!
 March posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

Yummy Mummy Monday: Healthy Chocolate Peanutbutter Powerballs

I’m excited to announce that my friend Jena is joining TPB as a collaborator! She will be contributing on a variety of topics, including healthy lifestyle options & recipes. Since she’s recently made the transition to a paleo diet with her family, I thought a recipe post would be a perfect way to introduce her to TPB readers, and she didn’t disappoint! I can’t wait to see what she’ll share next. Now over to Jena…
These nutrient dense treats are a favorite snack for my son and husband! Since our household decided to cut out processed sugar, gluten, eggs, dairy, and everything else delicious (kidding…not kidding), we are always looking for that little after meal treat. The “Powerball” is my go to and there’s a variety of ways to mix and match these balls. So I’ll first elaborate on the ingredients I like to have on hand so that I can whip up a batch on Mondays, aka MEAL PREP MONDAYS (yes I am a total and utter geek, but no I do not hashtag any food related Instagram photos as MPM on Mondays…maybe I should?).
Don’t’ be scared off by the list, you can buy most of these ingredients at Superstore! And Costco has them in bulk, GMO free, organic options. You buy them once and you’re good to go for a couple months!

The Need to Have Ingredients:
• Butters (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed…)
• Raw Honey or Maple Syrup

The Mix and Matchy Ingredients
(you can literally pick what you want to put in them when you go the freestyle route)
• Hemp hearts
• Chia seeds
• Coconut chips or unsweetened shredded coconut
• Pure dark chocolate chips
• Walnuts
• Pecans
• Cashews
• Almonds
• Coconut oil
• Sunflower seeds
• Gluten free oats
• Flax seeds

 Our favourite version of these is the Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball

Ingredients: 
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup pecans
½ cup of coconut chips or shredded coconut
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup of hemp hearts
1 tbsp of chia seeds
2 tbsp of flax seeds
½ cup of honey or maple syrup
½ cup of peanut butter
½ cup of dark chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Combine all the ingredients in the a high powered, high speed blender (eg. Blendtech or Vitamix). Blend until smooth consistency (see photo).
Tip: If you are using a food processor, you may want to use a coffee grinder to break down the smaller ingredients (flax seeds) or buy already ground flax. 

2. Once you have a smooth consistency, roll into 1 inch balls.
3. Put on a baking sheet and into freezer for 15 mins. Once hardened, put into tupperwear and into the freezer for quick to grab snacks.

This particular recipe is best straight out of freezer or keep in the fridge as much as you can, as they tend to soften and can get a bit messy. Other versions, particularly those when you omit coconut oil and don’t blend the ingredients to a smooth consistency tend to keep better at room temperature (see below). 

If you want to freestyle, you can combine any of the “Mix and Match Ingredients” with the “Must Haves” by hand or in a blender.

Combine:
1 cup of a butter (or combination of two butters)
(Tip: Some butters taste WAY better than others, so do a ¼ to ¾ ratio with the less tasty butters….eg. ¼ sunflower butter, ¾ peanut butter)
½ cup of Maple Syrup or Raw honey
GO CRAZY…sort of… add whatever ingredients your heart desires to the above until you have a product that sticks together but is not soft (about two cups total of all your ingredients combined). Add more as needed. Mix it by hand or with a food processor or blender.

If you have a Vitamix or Blendtech, the product will have a smooth consistency, with a food processor and by hand it will be more textured.
2. Roll the mixture into balls, place on a baking sheet and into freezer for 15 minutes.
3. When formed and holding the ball shape, remove and place in tupperwear into freezer for easy grabs!

What’s your favourite combo? We want to hear how you mix it up with your Power Balls!


For more great recipe ideas check out the Yummy Mummy Recipes page!

January posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

Yummy Mummy Monday: Wasabi Salmon

It’s the first Yummy Mummy recipe of 2015! Now that we’re through the holidays it’s time to get back to meals that don’t involve turkey. Or stuffing. Or… you fill in the blank. Since new year resolutions are probably in effect (for now) I thought it would be good to make the first recipe of the year a healthy one. I’ve been on the hunt for new meal ideas and recently tried this recipe from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. I loved it but liked the idea of giving the fish a bit of a kick, so I switched it up a little. So to kick off 2015 here’s a delicious salmon meal that’s packed with flavour and nutrition.

Yummy Yummy Recipe: Wasabi Salmon

Ingredients:
1 lb wild salmon (salmon steaks are great for this recipe)
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp wasabi paste or horseradish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine the spices and sugar to create a dry rub.
2. Coat the salmon with the dry rub.
3. Put salmon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for approx. 20- 30 minutes (this will depend on how thick the cut of salmon is and how quick your oven cooks, so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t overcook & dry out).
4. Either rub the wasabi/ horseradish over the cooked salmon or serve on the side.
Serve with steamed veggies and fresh avocado slices for a fresh & delicious meal (the avocado balances the richness of the salmon and adds a light flavour to the meal). 


For more great meal ideas pop over to our Yummy Mummy Recipes page! (lots of healthy ideas, many with gltuen free & dairy free options)

January posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting


Yummy Mummy Monday: Zucchini ‘Noodle’ Lasagne

Have you been seeing all the great recipes for pasta made with zucchini ‘noodles’? We’ve been making spaghetti & lasagne out of these squash for a while and love it as a lighter, gluten free (and paleo) option. For a GF option, it’s great and there’s an additional nutritional punch (bonus!). 
One of my friends recently made this with her kids and they loved it. (It’s nice when kids help make dinner in addition to eating it!). She served hers in the classic way topped with cheese and with garlic bread, but you can easily adjust to suit your family’s needs. 🙂

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Zucchini ‘Noodle’ Lasagne
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 zucchinis with the ends chopped off
Favourite pasta sauce*
1 large handful of spinach, washed & dried
2 cups grated cheese
Optional: Garlic bread 

Renee’s lil man helping out with dinner! 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat; while waiting to bring up to temperature, slice zucchini thinly lengthways; you want the slices no thicker than 1/8″ (some cheese graters have a slicing side that works well; a mandolin is also a great tool for this)
The thinner the zucchini slices, the better
3. When cooking surface is warm, cook zucchini until softened, approx. 3 minutes on each side
4. In a 9″*13″ baking dish scoop enough sauce to coat the bottom, followed by a layer of zucchini slices; follow this with some spinach. Continue alternating layers until you’ve used up all your zucchini slices (if you’ve sliced them really thin, only add spinach to every other layer).
Renee added mushrooms, red peppers & extra cheese to her lasagne layers- yum!
5. Top with cheese and pop in the oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
The finished product!
Serve with your favourite sides & enjoy!
Renee made yummy garlic bread using Epicure’s Herb & Garlic Dip Mix

We skipped the cheese at our house and this is so tasty you really don’t miss it 🙂

* We love making our own sauce, for a recipe this size here’s what you’ll need:
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes

3 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
To make: Brown ground beef & set aside. Saute onion & green pepper until soft, stir in all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Taste as you go and add more seasoning as desired. Reduce to a simmer for 1- 2hours (this is great if you have the time to make ahead, if not using it right away is delicious too).
Thanks Renee for the photos and for helping with this post! For some delicious seasonings, spices, etc, check out her Epicure page on Facebook.
November posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

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