Gluten-free apple pancakes

Mummmm….Sunday morning. Knowing I can make a pot of coffee and drink at least one warm cup before running out the door for the day.

This is a dish requested almost every weekend. And if were up to my kids they’d eat it every day!

Apple pancakes:

2 large Fiji apples
1/2 stick (4 TBSP) butter
1/4 tsp salt
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 TBSP local raw honey
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
6 large eggs
1/4 cup rice flour (white or brown)
1/4 cup milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350. And start by peeling the two apples (I usually use a horizontal veggie peeler) and then core and slice them into 1/8 in slices. Meanwhile heat a large cast iron skillet over med heat. Add 1/2 the butter, the apples, salt and cinnamon. Sauté it around for about 5 minutes until the apples start get some color. Then add the lemon juice and the honey and cook for about 1 minute more.

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Add the remaining butter and give it a good stir to make sure there’s a pretty even distribution of apples in the pan.

Now whisk together the eggs, rice flour and milk until it’s lump-free. And carefully pour that over the apple mixture, into the skillet. Be careful not to stir it once you put it all together in the pan, otherwise you’ll end up with apple-scrambled-eggs.

Gently set the entire skillet into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until it’s set and the center is firm – but not brown.

This is what it will look like when it comes out:

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I cut mine into pizza like slices and my son likes his with maple syrup ( only Organic Grade B of course) but I eat mine just by itself. I find it sweet enough on its own with the apples and honey.
But…. a little dusting of powdered sugar sure is a show stopper!

And if you’re looking for a grain-free alternative try substituting almond or coconut flour for the rice flour!

Breakfast tacos

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I grew up in Texas. Breakfast burritos/tacos are a staple. And they’re so yummy! The way my mom would traditionally make them they had eggs, pork sausage, roasted onions and potatoes and lots of gooey cheese – all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. They’re indulgent! But not really great for you. And as I sat at the kitchen sink one Sunday morning trying to scrub the melted cheese off the bottom of my pan o’left-over-goodness, I realized this is probably what my intestines will be trying to do to this burrito later in the day. So I started making a healthier version! One that still packs that amazing flavor punch, but with some of the bad stuff left out and little bit more good stuff thrown in.

Here it is:

serves 4

3 slices thick cut (uncured) apple-wood smoked bacon (or you can sub chicken sausage.)
2 small purple potatoes and 1 small yellow potato, diced.
1/2 onion diced
5 large leaves of kale, julienned with ribs intact
2 shredded carrots (optional)
6 eggs
salsa and corn or whole wheat tortillas for serving

I use a cast iron skillet when making this. It’s kind of traditional down South.

Start by cutting the bacon into small pieces and cooking it over med-low heat until it’s crispy – but not burnt – and most of the fat has been rendered. Then remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and put it on a paper towel for later. Now that you have all that yummy fat from the bacon in your cast iron skillet, turn the heat up to med and throw in your onions and potatoes and cook those until the onions are slightly caramelized and the potatoes are browned. Season with S and P, then add your kale and if you want, some shredded carrots. Stir that all around for about 1 minute and then turn your heat back down to med-low and add the eggs to the pan and scramble it all up. Warm your tortillas one by one, either in another pan that’s empty, but on low heat – or directly on an open flame over a burner on your stove. Then put them in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm and moist. By now your eggs should be nicely scrambled and you can throw those precooked bacon pieces back in the mix. Take the tortillas and scoop up some of that awesome scrambled good-ness into them and pour some salsa on it and serve. Or if you’re going a bit healthier, do it with no tortilla! Just the scramble and the salsa.

…and dream of being on the beach in Cabo as you eat your breakfast.

 

 

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Catalyst kid

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My 2 year old went to grab a snack out the the cabinet yesterday and ended up with a can of white beans. It was an odd request, but one I indulged. And while she was happily eating a handful of beans I was trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers.

What I came up with blew me away! It was so good, I ate the entire thing myself. So of course I had to share it with you!

White bean salad:

1 can of organic cannelloni beans
1/2 lemon
1 large clove of garlic
1 large tomato
2 cups chopped greens (kale and spinach)
1 tsp salt

Rinse the beans and put them in a bowl. Mince the garlic and add that to the beans and then add the salt and stir. Let that marinate while you chop the greens. I used a mixture of kale and spinach, because that’s what I had in my fridge, but you could use just one of two. Chop them finely, so that it mixes well with the salad. Then squeeze the lemon on the beans, add the greens and give it another big stir. Right before you’re ready to serve or eat it, dice the tomato and add that in. Check it all for seasoning and if it seems to acidic to you, add some evoo. I prefer it without, but that’s me. And at the end I also threw in some garlic chives, because they’re growing like crazy out in the garden right now!

Let me know how you like it!

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Natural cold and flu remedy

20130203-075723.jpgWith flu season here again, I thought I’d share one of my favorite home remedies to help knock out those pesky viruses.

I’m a pretty natural gal, and given the time I’ll always try a more natural approach if I can. That way my body gets even stronger by building up its own defenses.

My favorite, favorite, favorite way to knock out an oncoming cold it to take a lemon bath.

A friend of mine who grew up on an avocado farm near San Diego gave me this great tip about 15 years ago and it’s never failed to represent!

You take a whole lemon, preferably organic, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into a nice hot bath. Then you AND the leftover lemon rind hop in the nice hot lemon water for a long soak. If you have a sore throat, rub the warm, water soaked rind along your lymph glands starting at the base of your ears down to your chest. You only need to do this a few times to get things moving. And enjoy your bath.

Note: if you stay in super long, it might start to sting as all of your pores have opened up. It won’t hurt you, but it can be super duper uncomfortable. Trust me, get out. Don’t test your super hero powers by seeing how long you can stand it.

After you get out of the bath and collect all the rind and seed pieces for the trash, climb in bed for a long nap. You’ll be amazed when you wake up! You’ll either wake up drenched in sweat, or feeling markedly better. And if you wake up soaking wet, put a towel down on your sheets, climb back in bed to go back to sleep and THEN you’ll wake up feeling even better. Almost everyone wakes up drenched in sweat after the lemon bath….it’s so weird!

It’s an amazing thing this lemon bath. It’s been know to turn colds around overnight and reduce the course of the flu by a few days. Personally I think it’s even prevented the full onset of the flu a few times by catching it early enough! And you can try it with the kids too.

Hope it helps.
Let me know if you try it and what your results are.

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Tips for flying with the kids

I’ve come to view my role in traveling with the kids like a general preparing for war. A well planned, well prepared, well executed mission makes all the soldiers happy. And they all return home in one piece.

I like to think my kids are pretty well traveled. By the time my first born was a year old, he’d flown to Europe, Hawaii, Florida, Oregon, Texas and host of other US states. And with traveling so often I’ve learned some valuable lessons. So here are my top ten tips for a successful family flight.

1. When you’re booking your flights try to get a non-stop. It may cost a bit more, but you’ll be happy you paid it. There’s nothing worse than having the first leg of your flight delayed because of weather and then running at a dead sprint, with your kids and all your luggage through the airport, only to discover you’ve missed your connection! It’s so much easier to get on one plane and be done.

2. Consider travel time to and from the airport, and flight departure times when choosing a flight. I have some friends who’s kids do great on red eye flights. Mine don’t! They love the excitement of travel and being on the plane. They almost never sleep on the plane. So I just time the travel so that they’ve had a good night’s sleep and then the travel is the activity for that day. When I’ve tried to time it for nap times on the plane it’s backfired on me. Inevitably I end up with a tired, cranky kid that gets overstimulated by all the excitement and doesn’t fall asleep until the last 30 min of the flight! But ultimately you know your kid the best, and if they’ll sleep anywhere, then plan to have nap-time on the plane.

3. Traveling on Saturdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually less crowded. Which means flights are a bit less full, which could be good if you want to get a little extra room to spread out. Also flights mid-day are generally less crowded than morning or evening flights.

4. Make sure you book your seats when you book your flight. You can always look at the available seats before you book that particular flight. If you have a connection, try to sit toward the front of the plane so that you can get off faster. If you’re going non-stop, consider sitting in the rear of the plane as you might luck out and get some empty seats near you. My trick for booking seats when traveling with 4 people is to book the window and aisle seats on a whole row. (a, c, d, f in a typical B737- or a “3 and 3” configuration.) Then leave the middle seats open. Chances are, if it’s not a full flight those two middle seats will stay open and you get a little extra room. And if it is a full flight, someone will gladly trade their middle seat to have a window seat, and you can still have all of one row and the adjacent aisle seat.

5. Pack a change of clothes for the kids AND for yourself in your carry-on. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a 5 hour plane flight with wet pants. Or worse, showing up at your destination covered in spit-up, vomit or pee.

6. Bring extra everything. A few extra diapers, a few extra wipes, extra snacks, extra gum, an extra bottle etc. Planes get delayed. And sometimes you can have an unexpected minor delay that turns into a major delay.

7. Sign up to get an email from the airline to notify you if your flight is delayed. And if you find out that it is, get on the phone to the airline immediately. Most times they can rebook you on another flight and you’ll have more certainty about your departure time. If you have the option, get on an earlier flight, not a later one. Everyone from your originally delayed flight is going to get to the airport, discover the flight is delayed and try to get on the next available flight. You have a much better chance of getting on a flight that leaves earlier than your scheduled flight than a later one. If the first person you speak to on the phone at the airline can’t help you, then ask to speak to a supervisor. Plead you case about traveling with kids, they understand. And if you can only get on the standby list, then take it. You will automatically get rolled over (on stand-by) to the next soonest flight if you don’t get that one.

8. Bring gum for take off and landing. The pressure change is hard on little ears (especially if they’ve recently had a cold or runny nose). But the prospect of a piece of bubble gum is exciting! And it encourages them to swallow, which will “un-pop” their ears. If your kids are too young for gum, bring a sippy cup
or bottle (buy a bottle of water after you’ve gone through security to fill it up) and give it to them right before take off. The swallowing action will keep the pressure equalized.

CONDITIONAL: if you’re breastfeeding, try to abstain from it until you’re on the runway and you hear the captain say you’ve been cleared for take off. That way the wee one doesn’t get too full or become disinterested before you want them to have it. But if the wee one falls asleep in your arms before take off, no worries – don’t wake them. For some reason the pressure change on the accent is much easier on the ears than the decent. For landing, I would always try to get my babes to nurse, even if that meant waking them to nurse. Otherwise they’d wake up screaming!

9. Bring entertainment for the plane. Don’t rely on the in-flight entertainment for the kids. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes the movie sucks, sometimes you’re kids are too young to care about it. My rule of thumb when mine were under 3 was to bring one toy for every 5 min of the flight. Because that’s about the attention span of the wee ones. Bring paperback picture books, crayons and paper, small things of play dough, cars, trains, stickers, little dolls, anything they’re interested in really, and some things they’ve never seen before. I always hit up Target before a flight and find a few new things to surprise them with on the plane. The dollar spot is a great place to find small, inexpensive things. And one of my favorites is those painting books that use only water. Just remember, the main source of entertainment is YOU. Gone are the lazy days of catching up on your celebrity gossip on the plane…prepare yourself for a full flight of Peek-a-boo, “look at that”, and singing songs. Be prepared for that and it wont suck. And if you get a break, whoo hoo!

10. Charge your electronics. If you’re bringing a DVD player or an iPad, charge it the day before and make sure it’s at 100% before you get on the plane. Nothing worse than resorting to electronics only to discover they’re not available. If you have more than one kid, stop by an electronics store and get a headphone splitter. That way if they want to watch the same thing, they can. And DO bring your own headphones for the kids. They generally like the bigger ones that cover their whole ear as opposed to little ear buds. If they’re too big on the top of their head, take a sock or clean, unused diaper from your carry-on and roll it up, put it on top of their head so the ear pieces fit right on their ears and not their cheeks.

BONUS TIP- If you’re going somewhere just for a weekend, and you’re renting a car, consider renting the car-seat as well. It’s usually only $10 a day and sometimes it’s worth it to not drag that heavy thing through the airport!

My crafty friends know great gifts!

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This was by far one of my favorite presents received for my daughter last year. My dear friend Abigail made it for her and it’s a beautiful way to hold all the endless hair bows she has. Prior to this creative little gift I was constantly loosing, and finding, bows all over the place. How many times have you reached into your purse to get a rubber band to get YOUR hair out of your eyes but all you can find is one of your daughter’s little clips. So you put it in your own hair out of desperation and forget about it. Then wonder why you’re getting the “brow furrow” from the stock boy at Trader Joes, you know the one that normally checks you out. Hours later when you glance in the mirror, you know why. Just one of the many reasons I love that I have a beautiful and designated spot for hair clips.
Directions:
Buy a simple wood plaque that you can find at any craft store, about the size of a large paper back book . Then paint it any color you like and write the child’s name on it. If you can freehand it then go for it. I’m more of a “measure twice, cut once” gal when it comes to lettering. I suggest using a pencil to write it out first and make sure you like the spacing and all. I would also draw a line with a ruler to make sure it’s super straight. At this point you can bedazzle the bejesus out of it if you like (even hot gluing little jewels on the lettering), paint some flowers etc or just leave it plain. Take a coordinating grosgrain ribbon and staple it to the back of the wood so that they hang down in three long strands. I suggest grosgrain and not anything more delicate as it’ll get lots of wear and tear. I also don’t suggest using any ribbon that has wire in it as it tends not to weather the storm of fickle young girls and their morning bow making decisions well.
Attach another ribbon at the top to hang it by and there you have it.

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Kale, oh how I love thee.

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Since I have kale in the name of my blog, I thought it only fitting that one of my first posts be about this incredibly nutrient dense and versatile food. I was actually a little hesitant to have kale in the name of my blog because what if it’s just be a passing trend… I mean, it’s incredibly fashionable to be buying kale right now! But the truth of the matter is that I’ve loved greens since I was a kid. Growing up in Texas, you kind of can’t help but have a natural affinity for these leafy beauties. They’re a great source of Iron and B vitamins, and they’re availble year-round. The cool thing about Kale in particular is that you can hide it in other foods and still get the nutritional punch, without the sour face. (Consider throwing a leaf or two into a smoothie.) As you’ll see from my other posts, I’m all about sneaking lots of nutrition in my kids food when I have a chance.
Now with so many varieties to choose from how do you pick just one? Well the truth is, you don’t. But for the purposes of today’s recipes I used Dino Kale, also called Lactino Kale. It has relatively flat slender leaves and is shaped more like romaine lettuce than the curly kale you might be use to as a garnish on your old school plate. It has a bit of a waxy texture and that means it can stand up against acid well. That make it perfect for my first recipe.

Kale Salad

1 bunch dino kale
1 large fuji apple
1 lemon
1/2 dried cranberries

Wash and dry the kale then stack it on top of each other and cut it into very thin strips – crosswise. Then cube the apple into 1/2 in chunks. I like to leave the peal on since it has a lot of pectin and the peel is where the majority of the vitamins in an apple are located (it’s yet another reason to buy organic, as it’s also the place most of the pesticides are stored if you use a conventional apple).
Combine the kale and apple in a bowl and squeeze the juice from 1/2 – 1 whole lemon, depending on taste. Toss it together. Then sprinkle the dried cranberries on top and enjoy! In my opinion this salad tastes seen better after its sat in the fridge for a few hours. And the apples won’t brown because of the lemon juice.

This next recipe is something I make at least once a week. But it almost never lasts because everyone gobbles them up before they’ve even cooled!

Kale Chips:

1 bunch Dino Kale
1 TBS Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Wash and dry the kale then chop it into pieces about 2 inches long. Take the olive oil and put some on your hands then rub each leaf between your hands so that they get a nice good rubdown. Then lay them all out in a single layer on a baking pan. I have a yummy dark pan that I use for roasting vegetable. You can see it in the picture – it’s become well seasoned with so much use. Try to keep them in a single layer so they cook evenly. Otherwise you’ll send up with some soggy and some burned. Then sprinkle them with salt and put it in the oven at 350 for about 17 min. Check it after 10 and you may have to turn the leaves once depending on their water content. Notice that I left the rib (center vein) in the kale when I baked it. I like the added texture as that part doesn’t crisp up. But if you want them crispy all over then remove that before baking and reduce your bake time to about 7 min.
This is one of my favorite late night snacks! And the kids love them too.

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And here is my finished product! Yummy, yummy….

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