Archive for March, 2013

Gluten-Free Friday 3/22/13

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
 

We are now 5 weeks into my son’s gluten-free elimination diet. The time is flying by! We’ve seen enough improvements to know that our 6 week trial has turned into a lifestyle change. At this point my son, Evan, is no longer suffering from constipation. That in and of itself has made this worth while! He is also not waking in the middle of the night screaming with stomach pains. I believe that he may have been in pain and discomfort for quite some time and of course being under the age of 2 he couldn’t express it in words. We have seen no change in some of the behavioral issues (such as stimming) but maybe we will in time. Then again that may just be part of Down syndrome and not related to gluten at all! In any case he seems much more comfortable and we know he must remain gluten-free!

I know I haven’t checked in with our progress in a couple of weeks so I want to share what has been on my mind!

Evan’s birthday! – Evan will be 2 on Monday! I can’t believe it! Birthday’s mean cake, right? Cake? Well that is gluten city! Off limits! Oh and there is the whole issue of sending cupcakes to preschool to share with his class! Do I send just one gluten-free for him and regular cupcakes for everyone else? That hardly seems right. He shouldn’t be excluded on his birthday! So I decided I would send gluten-free cupcakes for the whole class. The grocery store sells frozen gluten-free cupcakes BUT they are expensive and I need about 20! Oh and they aren’t birthday fun! Solution? I hit up trusty Google and looked for gluten-free bakeries is my area. I was delighted to see there are a few good options. I have ordered some custom cupcakes from a local gluten-free baker. I’ll be sure to snap some pictures and let you know how they turned out!

 

Easter! - Somewhere about the middle of the week it occurred to me that Easter candy may not be gluten-free. I suddenly had a big doubt that I could just go to my local department store and find a “gluten-free” labeled Easter basket. Hmmmm… Well I like to make homemade baskets for my children anyway so off I went to jump this hurdle! My son Evan is only 2 years old so that does knock out some options like hard candies because they are choking hazards. So I began by breezing through the Easter section at the department store. I didn’t see too many options readily marked gluten-free so I realized this may be a little more difficult than I thought. OK how about the health food stores? I had some success there but it became clear to me that this is one area I won’t find a lot of GF certified markings. I’m guessing it is pretty common for candy to be made in factories where wheat is processed. Probably even more common that Easter candies with their crispies and crunchies may contain wheat and/or be cross contaminated. I’m not defeated however! Maybe as I become seasoned this will be easier? Maybe someday I’ll just know what candies are safe? I’m also guessing that Play-Doh is not gluten-free?

 

These are options I have come up with for Gluten-free toddler Easter basket sweets thus far:

  • Surf Sweets – gluten-free and dye-free gummy bears & jelly beans (although consider if your child could handle these)
  • Enjoy Life – A variety of gluten-free and nut-free chocolate bars were available at local health food stores.
  • Sun Cups – Gluten-free and nut-free sunflower seed butter cups
  • GoGo Squeez – it doesn’t have to all be candy! These applesauce varieties are all natural and gluten-free! They also come in fun squishy packs!
  • Pirate Booty – Individual portion bags of gluten-free cheddar puffs
  • Gluten-free cookies from a local health food store
  1. Want more candy ideas? Check out this list: MyGlutenFacts Gluten-Free Easter Candy
  2. Or if you want to order gluten-free candy online (there’s still time) check out:  NaturalCandyStore.com
  3. Of course there are always non-food items such as: Bubbles, stickers, musical toys, stuffed animals, books, socks, flash cards, party rings, sunglasses, water bottles, glow sticks, finger puppets

 

Sometimes it’s hard! – Sometimes I get frustrated! Sometimes after a long hard day ending a long hard week I just want to pick up fast food and call it a night. Just sometimes! Don’t judge! Here is a reality check… most of the items you love at your local fast food joint are NOT gluten-free, not even the french fries and Evan loves french fries. As a matter of fact fast food places have very little in the way to offer gluten-free diets! So yes, I have moments when I wish I could just make an exception. I have moments of wanting to give up and just give him the french fries that he loves, just once. Then I realize by doing so I am making a conscious decision to make him unwell or uncomfortable because I am frustrated. Sigh… that is not fair. He’s only 2, he can’t make that decision. What do I do? Well, I discovered that Five Guys Burger and Fries which we happen to have here locally is all GF (except for the buns) including the FRIES! Yeah, I know I could make GF fries myself but that defeats the purpose of taking it easy after a long hard whatever!  I’m going to stop in soon and verify with the staff if their fries are GF (hopefully someone will know)!! For the moment plan B has been to get GF pizza delivery!

 

Finally I end with lunch! Served in my new Glit & Brillia 2 tiered bento container Evan’s gluten-free toddler lunch contains:

  • Bottom tier – fresh strawberries, steam cooked green beans
  • Top Tier – Van’s Cheddar Crackers, Hard boiled egg, potato carrot fritter (instructions below) cut into 4 pieces
Gluten-Free Potato Carrot Fritters
(makes approx 8 fritters)
3 medium sized potatoes grated
2 medium sized carrots grated
1/4 gluten-free flour (I used a flax whole grain)
Baking Powder
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
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Place grated potatoes and carrots into a colander, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit in a sink to drain. After about 10 minutes use paper towels to push as much liquid as possible out of the mixture through the colander. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Mix the GF flour together with the baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the grated mixture. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Take a handful of the mixture and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball into a pancake shape as shown in the middle picture to the left. Fry the fritters in a small amount of oil on medium high heat until golden brown on each side. Remove from pan and allow to cool and drain on a paper towel covered plate. Lightly salt as needed and serve.
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Looking for more gluten-free recipes? Check out my friends at House 54!
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Looking for more gluten-free lunchbox ideas? Check out my friends at Keeley McGuire Blog
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Or did you see my last gluten-free Friday post filled with gluten free toddler lunches? Check it out HERE!
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Sincerely,

Healthy Snacks Deliver {a Boxtera Review}

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
 

 

Back in early February I stumbled across a breadcrumb trail leading me to enter a blogger contest hosted by Boxtera. The contest asked that in 100 words or less I explain why I should be given a March Boxtera subscription box for review. I tried to distinctly put into those very few words why I felt I was the right choice and I must have been persuasive because I was selected as one of the winners. Yay me! Every lunch blogger I know would love to receive a free box of healthy snacks!

Now I admit I am a lover of subscription snack box services! The concept of a variety of healthy snacks being selected, put into a box and delivered straight to my door is a dream come true when you are a busy working mother of 4! Most days I am lucky to find time to breath (and blog ;) ) never mind go browse stores for new and tasty healthy snack options! If someone is willing to do that for me at a very reasonable cost then I say THANK YOU!

February rambled on in chaos for my family with 2 of my children having serious health issues but we survived and at last a beautifully packaged Boxtera subscription box arrived! In a way it is like receiving a gift. A beautiful package arrives at your door, you get to open it and discover the surprises within! Well OK you do pay for it so not truly a gift, in this case you are looking at prices starting at $30 a month for a 12 month commitment which includes shipping. Smaller commitments available for a higher price.

So what do you get for your money? The March box included (see photo above):

  • Kale Krunch (2.2 oz) by alive & radiant Foods – GLUTEN-FREE
  • Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar Puffs (1 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE
  • Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears (2.75 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE
  • Good Life Granola (4 oz)
  • Organic Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans (2 oz) by Kopali Organics – VEGAN
  • Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips (1.5 oz) by Food Should Taste Good Brand- GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • Funny Monkey Purple Crunch (1 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE
  • Late July Organic Cheddar Cheese Crackers (1 oz)
  • The Simply Bar’s Lemon Coconut Protein Bar (1.4 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • Clif Crunch Chocolate Chip Granola Bar (1.5 oz)
  • Seasoned Sprouted Lentils by The Perfect Snaque (1 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • Organic Chocolate Dream Greens Bar by Just Great Stuff (1.5 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • Stonewall’s Jerquee (1.5 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • 1 container of skinnybits “tabs” (30 tabs) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • Berry Antioxidant Nut Butter by Artisana (.5 oz) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN
  • Kelapo Virgin Coconut Oil (2 – .5 oz packets) – GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN

If you were keeping track that is 16 unique products in all to try out, in just one month’s box. All of the products are organic, the majority are gluten-free and many are also vegan. I can say this box will appeal to many people for many reasons. Do note that the box is not customizable for specific allergies at this time. I will say I am pleased however at the amount of products that are gluten-free, I have a GF child and this is a big plus for me. Products will vary every month but Boxtera strives to have at least 25 “individual servings” in each box. I can vouch that you will certainly receive an interesting array of foods to try and enough to last you throughout the month (until your next box arrives of course)! This particular box was also a very good mix of products to try for both adults and children! LOVE that!

Final iPackLunch breakdown:

PROs

  • Delivered to your door!
  • All are organic, some gluten-free, & some vegan products available in every box!
  • GMO Free
  • Great variety to appeal to both adults and children!
  • New & unique products that you might not see in your local stores!
  • Pretty package is reusable and recyclable!

Things to consider:

  • Price point is somewhat high unless you make a longer commitment (although pricing is typical for whole organic foods).
  • Not customizable for allergies (not advertised as such, although many gluten-free products are included).
  • Lots of packaging waste so do remember to recycle when possible.

All in all I found the box to be delightful! Still have questions? Connect with Boxtera on Facebook, Twitter or on their Blog!

Sincerely,

 

Lunch made with products received in my Boxtera subscription box are served in a Leaflet Tight container for my preschooler Trevor:

  • Berry Antioxidant Nut Butter by Artisana inside the bunny sandwich
  • Organic Chocolate Dream Greens Bar by Just Great Stuff in the lower right cup
  • Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips by Food Should Taste Good Brand under the bunny sandwich

Healthy Color!

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
 

I think every parent has hopes that their child will be the most perfect eater in the world. Visions of your child scarfing down Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, okra, beets, prunes and every superfood of the moment in “just right portions” are such pretty pictures to paint in our heads! Right? Maybe washed back with some quinoa and cous cous? The reality is most kids are picky eaters. There I said it, but it is not exactly a revelation! We all know this! Yeah, maybe there are a few perfect eaters out there but not my kids! My kids however, do eat a fair variety of food but only because I have worked hard at it! I will keep working hard at it. If I give up, I never win! This one is worth winning!

I care not that my children may never actually eat a Brussels sprout (although it would be nice) but I do care that they eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in an array of natural healthy color! This assures me that they in turn will be healthy! This also promotes a life long habit to eat right! So I will keep on playing the game until I do win! Speaking of games, this post is part of a healthy lunch campaign brought to you by Crunch a Color, makers of award winning nutrition games for children. Teach your kids to eat to win!

 

Lunch #1 (pictured above) is served in an Easylunchboxes container.

Sneak it in! –  Foods like the veggie flax seed tortilla chips (shown lower right compartment) purchasable at Trader Joe’s are great ways to get in hidden veggies for my son Brendan. These chips contain ground corn, brown flaxseed, tomato powder, carrot powder, spinach powder and beet powder (to name a few ingredients) all packaged in a crispy, tasty, colorful chip! All natural fruit leathers (shown cut into stars on top of the sandwiches) are another great kid friendly source of hidden produce. Fresh however is best so a fruit salad of Cara Cara oranges, blackberries and kiwi is an interesting, colorful and appealing choice. Sunshine “Chips” by Naturebox provide a great crunch with a dash of salt but are actually real veggies like sweet potato, squash, taro, carrots and green beens. Finally for a protein this lunch has peanut butter sandwiches served on whole grain white bread shaped like ice cream cones for fun! Sweet!

 

Lunch #2 (pictured above) is served in a Lunchbots Uno container.

Crunch a Color! – Games like Crunch a Color allow kids to score big points for eating healthy meals. Points are gained from the fun cards shown in the photo. Serving food in creative fun ways like these small duck sandwiches or these veggie flowers, made from cucumbers and carrots, also encourages kids to enjoy their healthy food. The sandwiches are filled with an almond butter for protein and the bread is whole grain. Smaller portions and lots of colorful variety make it seem less threatening and increases the odds that at least some new food will be tried (like the nibble tray theory). Mixing tomatoes with a familiar cheese stick will entice my son Trevor to give it a try and the flavors go well together (cheese and tomato like pizza). A couple of broccoli florettes are tucked in under the sandwiches which are laid on a bed of veggie crisps. This lunch would score big Crunch a Color points!

 

Lunch #3 (pictured above) is served in an Easylunchboxes container.

Set an Example! – To encourage healthy eating in my kids I set an example by eating healthy foods routinely myself. As a working mother of 4 I try to be creative to get healthy meals on the table quickly! I primarily use my dinner leftovers to pack lunch for myself and my husband. A precooked grilled chicken is served over stir fried bok choy and brown rice. Raw broccoli, Cara Cara oranges and kiwis add a great punch of flavor and dried granny smith apples and toasted cheddar sticks (both by Naturebox) add a filling touch.

 

Lunch #4 (pictured above) is served in a Nibble Tray by Zak Designs.

Play Gluten-Free too! – My youngest son Evan need not be excluded from the healthy lunch fun because he is gluten-free! No! I just have to be more creative to get him his healthy grains! In this lunch I have given him whole grain brown rice cake broken into pieces for the little man. He also has cheese, cucumbers, kiwi, cooked carrot and grilled chicken. By starting him on a varied healthy diet right out of the gate I am paving a road to a healthy eating future! Evan eats more variety at age 2 then any of my older children. If only I had known better back then!

 

Phew that was a long post but surely worth the effort when I see how healthy lunch packing pays off for my whole family. Go visit Crunch a Color and Easylunchboxes for more inspiring healthy lunch ideas!

Sincerely,

 

Other products used in this post:

 

Lunchbots products used in this post available here:

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