Fun Valentine’s Treats

Let’s face it, it’s really hard to find a babysitter for Valentine’s Day. Everyone wants to spend it with their loved one. So last year we had some fun with the kids on Valentine’s Day and then went to do our thing on another day when we could get a babysitter. So what we did is melt some chocolate, and dip yummy healthier foods in the chocolate sauce. It was a lot of fun and SO good. Also included below are some healthier options for those Valentines the kids bring in to class, how to make dye-free natural red/pink food coloring, and a fun Valentine’s breakfast idea. The holidays can still be fun, even when you are trying to be all-natural and healthier! 🙂

valentines treats

 

The Chocolate Sauce
I used dark chocolate chips or carob chocolate chips, add a little milk, and stir frequently while it’s heating up. Just keep adding milk to get the consistency you want. I have a really neat mini crockpot I use to keep the chocolate sauce warm.

Healthier Options for Chocolate Sauce Dipping
Peanut butter balls, strawberries, raspberries, cherries (be careful of the seeds!), kiwi, mango, oranges, apples, bananas, blueberries (probably any fruit), homemade mini sugar cookies, pretzels, homemade donuts (cut into pieces to dip or do mini donuts), graham crackers, and of course marshmallows would be good (see a healthier option below).

Recipe for the peanut butter balls (pictured above): For about 2 dozen, I did 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and about 1 cup powdered sugar. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl mix the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with your hands to form a dough. Shape into balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you want a healthier option, here’s a recipe (just omit the chocolate chips).

Recipe for the mini sugar cookies: I still haven’t posted this recipe yet but I have been using this one for a while now. It makes about 2 dozen cookies but it depends on the size. Since we are going smaller it should be more. 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs & vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Form into small round balls, place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes.

Recipe for the donuts (or mini donuts): I followed this recipe and just didn’t put in the chocolate chips. If you do mini donuts, I recommend baking at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.

Here’s the mini donut pan I have and I love it! The donuts popped out of the pan very easily, I didn’t have to grease it, and it’s 100% silicone and dishwasher-safe.

The marshmallows I buy (vegan, gluten-free, gelatin-free, GMO-free – ingredients are Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Filtered Water, Carrageenan, Soy Protein, Natural Vanilla Flavor. I’m not happy about the carrageenan but the other ingredients are better than regular marshmallows which usually contain corn syrup, refined sugar, dextrose, modified cornstarch, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavor, and blue #1. Of course making your own would be the best option. And I am not against gelatin. I think it definitely has some health benefits.):

 

Healthier Options for Valentines
There are organic lollipops, fruit snack packs, or valentines gummy bears by YumEarth (shown below), Annie’s valentines fruit snack packs (that I haven’t been able to find yet), and Trader Joe’s has organic lollipops too. Or you can tape something else to the valentines like a pencil, stickers, those little tattoos, rings, erasers, etc. It’s also okay to just hand out valentines, with nothing attached. Maybe even make homemade valentines. Kids might not think this is AS cool but we don’t always have to go all out for every-single-holiday. Maybe we can do something cool for one holiday and then be more relaxed on the next, and take a break!

 

Natural Red Food Coloring
I have not been successful on making a true red natural food coloring yet but I have not experimented that much. Here’s a recipe with a real pretty red coloring, by Real Mom Nutrition: http://www.realmomnutrition.com/2014/12/16/recipe-naturally-colored-frosting/. (You could also put the beet in the juicer to get the liquid.)

 

Natural Pink Food Coloring
I was able to make a pretty pink natural food coloring using raspberries. You don’t need a juicer to make this either. Just cook 6 oz of raspberries in a pan on med until it turns into a sauce. Then strain the seeds and cook the sauce longer until thickened. Cool to room temp and add to your frosting. See the color below on my daughter’s birthday cake. 🙂 

pink raspberry frosting

 

Don’t want to mess around with homemade food coloring? No problem. Here’s some all-natural food coloring you can purchase through Amazon:

 

Fun Valentine’s Breakfast
You could make my apple cinnamon pancakes and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make them into heart-shaped pancakes (make sure it’s not a plastic cookie cutter so it doesn’t melt when using it on the pan to make the shapes). Then you can make heart-shaped fruit to go with using a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter, or to make heart-shaped strawberries, just cut off the green stem, cut a V into the top of the strawberry, and slice.

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Organic School Lunch Ideas – Part II

This is Part II of my organic lunch series. (I’m not sure how many parts there will be.) To see Part I go here, which includes sandwiches without mayo, soup, and leftover rice/noodles. Part II is mostly leftovers and pizza, but a few other things we came up with too. I usually give her ice water with her lunch, with a small slice of lemon sometimes.

school lunches part II

Pizza

Of course you can still have pizza in a homemade lunch. There are a few options. 1) Make-ahead pizzas that you have ready in the freezer, 2) leftover pizza from dinner, or 3) a make-your-own pizza (not pictured) that they put together themselves at lunch time. I think the make-ahead pizzas work great. We followed the recipe from the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook and it’s so nice to just pull out a pizza, put it in her lunch, and it’s thawed by lunchtime. And leftover pizza is definitely an easy option. I make pizza at home sometimes and use my bread machine to knead the dough. We did try the make-your-own pizza before. We just put in mini pita pockets, some pizza sauce in a little bowl with a lid (like her pink one shown below), some shredded cheese, and toppings she likes (pepperoni, pieces of ham, pineapple, olives, bell pepper, etc.). It seems like my daughter likes to have her pizza already made for her. 😉

Cheese Pizza (made ahead and pulled from the freezer) – served with veggies, frozen applesauce, walnuts & pumpkin seeds; 

Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza (made ahead and pulled from the freezer) – with salad, Drew’s ranch dressing, and frozen applesauce; or

Leftover Pizza (from dinner) – with apples, veggies, and some pirate booties (a special treat).

(Details: I usually buy Muir Glen organic pizza sauce, Applegate uncured pepperoni, and I usually make pizza for us to have at home for dinner using my bread machine to knead the dough. We usually have leftovers too. For the little pizzas, I used Trader Joe’s pita pockets for the crust.)

pizzapizza & saladleftover pizza

Apples or Crackers with Peanut Butter

We tried the apple & peanut butter sandwiches and they were kind-of a pain to make so we just did apple slices with pb to dip in after that. She also likes cracker sandwiches with pb & honey, or you could do pb & jelly or just pb.

Apple Peanut Butter Sandwiches – served with pretzels, carrots, tomatoes, & cheese;

Apples & PB Dip – with Annie’s bunny graham cookies, cucumber, tomatoes, & a Stonyfield frozen yogurt; or

PB & Honey Cracker Sandwiches – with strawberries, pineapple, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, & a Stonyfield frozen yogurt.

(Details: I buy the Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter with just one ingredient – organic peanuts. For the pretzels, I sometimes go with Trader Joe’s brand or the Newman’s Own brand. It just depends on where I’m shopping. I buy the Late July brand crackers. And just a note on the Stonyfield yogurt tube, we freeze them and she only has these once in a while. They do have carrageenan in them. Hoping that changes one day!)

apple and peanut butter sandwichapple pb dippeanut butter and honey crackers

Miscellaneous Ideas (quesadilla, trail mix, hummus, and a hotdog – on occasion)

My daughter likes to have a quesadilla once in a while, or hummus to dip pretzels/carrots and one time she brought in a hotdog because they have access to a microwave on Fridays. This is a rare occasion but nice to have a hotdog once in a while. 🙂  She does bring trail mix quite often. I make it myself by just putting together different kinds of nuts, seeds, raisins, popcorn or Annie’s bunny crackers, and sometimes I throw in a few chocolate chips.

Cheese Quesadilla  – served with salsa, homemade trail mix, carrots, tomatoes, and strawberries;

Trail Mix & Popcorn – with a pumpkin muffin w/butter, cantaloupe, cucumber, and tomatoes; 

Hummus Dip – with pretzels, a few chocolate chips, carrots, tomatoes, cheese, and frozen applesauce; or

A Hotdog – with ketchup and relish, a cheese stick, carrots & celery, and an apple.

(Details: I get my tortillas from our local food co-op, the pumpkin muffin recipe is found here (you could make a big batch and freeze some), I buy organic popcorn sometimes or make my own, I use Lilly’s red pepper hummus, the frozen applesauce is in a smoothie-pop-mold, the hotdog is the Applegate brand, and I buy Trader Joe’s hotdog buns sometimes, we also found a natural Franz brand, or I have also made my own but haven’t done that in a while. I can’t seem to get the shape right but will try again one of these days.)

lunches

 

Leftovers (spaghetti, mac ‘n cheese with ham or steak, and tortellini)

We do leftovers whenever we can. She especially likes leftover spaghetti which she will eat cold but now that we have a soup thermos she can bring it warm and it stays warm. The tortellini is in the soup thermos. And FYI, that tortellini lunch was a special lunch I put together for Halloween. Blood-themed, with carrot & olive fingers and pumpkin seeds, lol. We also have Annie’s mac ‘n cheese on occasion, so she will take leftovers of that mixed with some ham or steak and she would eat that cold too but now she can bring it warm in the soup thermos. 🙂

Leftover Spaghetti with Corn – served with a zucchini cookie, cucumber, tomatoes, grapes, and those are actually homemade canned peaches;

Leftover Mac ‘N Cheese w/ham or steak – with cucumber, green beans, tomatoes, an orange (with a Halloween face), and a granola bar or with cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, and frozen applesauce; or

Leftover Tortellini – with strawberries, carrot & olive fingers, and pumpkin seeds.

(Details: The zucchini cookie recipe can be found here. We actually canned peaches during the summer and this was the first time we ever canned anything. They turned out kind-of mushy but really good. We used a honey/lemon/water mixture. I buy Annie’s mac ‘n cheese on occasion. Most of these veggies were from out of our first organic garden. The harvest berry granola bar is the Cascadian Farm brand. The pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found here. I made the tortellini with olives, smoked pork sausage, tomato sauce and different herbs & seasonings. And I let her take a little cherry juice in her lunch that day because we were going with a Halloween-themed bloody lunch just for fun. 😉 )

lunches2

 

Here are some of the lunch box items from above:

 

And here are some other lunch box items that would be neat to have!

 

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A Healthier Frozen-Themed Birthday Party

We usually have to worry about snow on my daughter’s birthday because there have been several years where it snowed and people couldn’t make it to the party. This year, we had to worry about a power outage! It was only out for about 24 hours or so but it felt like forever. Much better than our week-long-adventure without power though! So a December birthday… perfect for a Frozen-themed birthday party! In case you don’t know what Frozen is, it’s a very cute Disney movie that just about every girl is obsessed with (my daughter included). Fair warning, once they watch the movie the songs will be sung numerous times and stuck in your head for days, months, years! 😉 Anyway, I started researching Frozen-themed party foods. Of course most of it was dye-filled to match the blue colors from the movie. I continued to research and started looking up winter-themed parties too to get as many healthy ideas as I could.

Here’s what I came up with (below). For full disclosure, I ended up ordering a regular cake because our power was out. Wow, I realized I used to have it pretty easy when I just ordered a cake or cupcakes and went to pick it up! Oh well, definitely wouldn’t want to go back to eating the way we used to even though it’s more work now. I decided to make the cupcakes later on that week since I already bought all the stuff anyway. So, why not experiment with making blue frosting since I had the time and wasn’t preparing them for a party?? Too bad it didn’t turn out. 🙁 I wasn’t going to experiment before a birthday party. There’s enough stress and pressure to get everything just right. I get a lot of anxiety before my kids’ parties. I want them to have great parties but with Fibro it is very difficult. I try my best and that’s all I can do! This year I decided to let Kailey pick one friend outside of our usual group of family/friends that go to all the parties. She picked a friend from school. So then I had a little more stress of making it a good party for her friend and parents. I have met her friend many times but not the parents. We are skeptical about letting Kailey stay the night with friends because she has had several seizures during her sleep. She could have a play date but it just hasn’t come up.

Frozen Party

 

Snacks
We made the cards to label the food using old cards that I had (they just had birds on the other side), paper that was cut using special crinkle-cut scissors, a blue marker, and Frozen Stickers. And we made them by candle light during our power outage, haha.

Olaf Noses (carrots with ranch dip)
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Olaf Cheese Sticks (cheese sticks with Olaf faces drawn using black pen, black marker, and orange marker)
cheese sticks with olaf the snowman drawn onIMG_5546

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Hearts (yogurt covered pretzels)
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Sven & his friends (crackers covered with peanut butter, a pretzel for the antlers, raisins for eyes & a chocolate chip for the nose)
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Snowballs (popcorn)
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Reindeer Snacks (yogurt covered raisins) – I wanted to label this ‘snow-covered reindeer poo’ but my daughter wasn’t going for it, lol.
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Melted Snow to drink (water bottles)
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Other ideas: Snowman Parts (marshmallows for the body, pretzel sticks for the arms, raisins for the eyes, tiny pieces of carrot for the nose, etc. Marshmallows aren’t really healthy but you could get these that are better: Dandies Marshmallows) – they could be put together in baggies labeled ‘snowman parts’ or laid out on the table for everyone to build, Homemade Sugar Cookies Shaped like Snowflakes (with or without homemade frosting), Yogurt Covered Strawberries (frozen hearts), Snowflake or Snowman Shaped Sandwiches, Broccoli with Ranch Dip for Snow-Covered Trees (or use cauliflower), Pretzels (Sven antlers), Banana Snowmen (banana slices on a stick with pretzel sticks for the arms, raisins for the eyes, tiny pieces of carrot for the nose, Crackers with Snowflake Shaped Cheese (just use a Snowflake Cookie Cutter for the cheese), Lemonade (Olaf in Summer), Snowman Shaped Melon (just use a Snowman Cookie Cutter), and there’s many more ideas out there.

 

IMG_5686Cupcakes

Funny story about the cupcakes. So I planned on making yellow cupcakes with pink frosting (because I didn’t want to experiment with blue before the party), and then our power went out. I just went in to a nearby grocery store and ordered a cake. Not what I would normally do these days. Well since I already bought all the stuff to make the cupcakes, I decided to make them a few days after our power came back on. But I wanted to experiment with making blue naturally colored frosting. The blue didn’t turn out. It turned out an ugly purple tint! I think it really could have worked, I just need to do some more experimenting. The cupcakes turned out though and were really good! My family says they are similar to cornbread but I don’t think so. They are more like a cupcake to me. Definitely sweeter than the cornbread I make! And everybody still loved it and gobbled them down. To make the cupcakes, I used this recipe but skipped the step on separating the eggs and just put them in whole, beating in one at a time. I also sifted the flour. I was really hoping to have successfully made this and have a picture to show but unfortunately I was following a different recipe that was missing one of the steps in the blue coloring. So mine didn’t turn out. If I am successful one of these days then I will post a picture here and share the info. So for now, it’s just a picture of the cupcakes. 🙁 And I usually tape stickers to toothpicks for the cupcake toppers but you could also do Rings. Or a cake topper if you are making a cake. You can also do just white frosting! That would totally work for this kind of party.

And here’s the inside of the cupcake: 
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Decorations

There are Frozen-themed party supplies at different stores like Toys ‘R Us, Target, etc. You can make paper snowflakes to hang. My daughter wore her Anna dress from Halloween and brought some of her frozen toys to setup. You can make labels for all the food. Blue and white balloons would work great. Or here’s some items to purchase:

 

 

Games

There are many games you could play but we were at a bowling alley, so bowling was part of the party and I decided not to do games. Ideas: ‘Let it Go’ snowball toss (toss cotton balls into a bucket or bowl on the table), ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ (pin the snowman parts on the snowman, or pin the nose on Olaf, like pin the tail on the donkey), and many more. Here’s some ideas:

 

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Organic School Lunch Ideas – Part I

This year my daughter is taking a lunch from home every-single-day. We are trying some new ideas but for the most part she likes a selection of items – see The Lunch Rotation. I have taken a picture of her lunch just about every day and this is Part I of what we have put together so far this year. She helps pack her lunch and yes, she could make it all herself but we are both pretty foggy in the morning. It’s bad at night too (I swear she has Fibro too). I try to make sure she can focus and get all her homework done after dinner, shower and read. That’s hard enough in itself so we usually put together her lunch in the morning. Sometimes we do some prep the night before. Do whatever works best at your house. 🙂

School Lunch Collage1Why do we make a lunch from home every day? Well because it’s organic and better for us, of course. 😉 School lunches are not only non-organic, but some of the items they have are really bad and I am just shocked they are allowed in a lunch (or breakfast). For just a few examples of the school lunches: Nachos with processed cheese, teriyaki chicken with MSG, breakfast for lunch with a strawberry syrup that has refined sugar and red dye in it, hamburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets – with meat from factory farms using antibiotics, hormones, and GMO grains. Not good. I really like this post by Juggling Real Food & Real Life on how nutrition helps kids in school. She talks about how what the kids eat effects their learning and what problems the bad foods cause. Kailey has shown huge improvements after we switched to organic foods. She had some behavioral problems (that still pop out sometimes) and after eliminating the refined sugar and dyes, she is doing much better, most of the time.

Some of the lunches we make are different and some are pretty close to the same. We just use whatever we have around, or make something that is pretty quick to make, like a sandwich, quesadilla, etc. All that matters is that they are getting healthy foods. They don’t have to be different every single day. She always takes ice water (with lemon sometimes) but there is the occasional juice and I think of that as a special treat. Most juices have added sugar, even the organic ones. I try to give her something from each of the food groups. She always has a fruit, veggie, protein like meat or nuts, a grain, dairy, etc. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for side items as well. And these lunches fit into a regular size lunch pack that you find in places like Walmart or Target.

Sandwiches without Mayo
Sandwiches are the traditional cold lunch choice but my daughter will go a week without having one. Here are some options that she likes, or that her brother likes. And just to be clear, I don’t think Mayo is unhealthy, as long as you buy organic. But organic Mayo is expensive! And my daughter doesn’t really like mayo anyway. My son does though so he will have a ham or turkey sandwich sometimes.

PB & Jelly – served with animal crackers, bell pepper, tomatoes, kiwi; or
PB & Honey – with cheese, cucumbers, carrots, pomegranate, grapes.

(Details: We like the Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter that has just one ingredient – organic peanuts. I buy raw honey, and the jelly is usually from Trader Joe’s, sweetened with juice. Animal crackers are the Simple Truth brand found at Fred Meyer or Kroger. I make a loaf of bread each week in my Bread Machine. And there’s a video by Mama Natural on opening a Pomegranate under water in a large bowl. The seeds sink to the bottom while the white stuff floats to the top and the seeds don’t rupture so easily.)

PB & JellyPB & honey

BLT – served with animal crackers, mango, carrots.

(Details: We put butter on the sandwich instead of mayo. I buy either Applegate uncured bacon or Simple Truth brand. I like to cut our mango using this handy tool: Mango Splitter.)

BLT collage

Hummus & Cheese – served with Annie’s bunny crackers, almonds, cucumber, tomatoes, grapes.

(Details: I buy Lilly’s roasted red pepper hummus found at Fred Meyer. And I freeze grapes sometimes when they aren’t getting eaten fast enough. This works great. You can just pull them out of the freezer and add to their lunch.)

hummus sandwich collage

Chicken & Cream Cheese or PB & Banana (these are my son’s choices, although on the PB & Banana sandwich he likes to have honey & cinnamon too). Even though I make homemade bread once/week, I do also buy Dave’s Killer Bread sometimes. So you will see that one on the left. My daughter doesn’t like that kind. I buy Organic Valley cream cheese, on occasion.

sandwich Collage

 

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Soup
So these are the same kind of soup (Chicken Noodle), but I wanted to show that the one on the right is before we got our Soup Thermos. On Fridays they eat in the classroom and her teacher lets them use her microwave. Then we got the Soup Thermos and now she takes soup or other foods we want to keep warm (i.e. leftovers). I usually give her crackers (Late July brand) and some kind of fruit with it. In the picture below, on the right, we put peanut butter on the crackers.

Soup Collage

 

Leftovers – Rice/Noodles
My daughter loves rice and noodles. We buy the basmati white rice but also mix in some of the brown rice sometimes. And sometimes I put in dried parsley or thyme. She likes butter, salt & pepper. Sometimes we add a little parmesan cheese. For noodles I have started buying gluten-free quinoa noodles. We are in the transition period for that. Otherwise I was buying white organic noodles. Nobody really cares for the whole wheat noodles. I also buy the tricolor noodles sometimes.

Rice – served with ants-on-a-log, frozen applesauce, cheerios & chocolate chips; or
Rice – with a boiled egg, salad, Drew’s ranch dressing, grapes. 

(Details: I buy Mom’s Best Cereals for the cheerios usually, frozen applesauce is in a smoothie-pop-mold, details about the rice in the paragraph above. Ants-on-a-log is celery sticks with PB & raisins. I got the little bowls with lids at Target back when my kids were little. And the Drew’s ranch dressing does not have the best ingredients but I only give her a little. One day I will start making my own.)

riceboiled egg, salad & rice

Spaghetti Noodles & Peas – served with pomegranate, carrots, pistachios, homemade PB chocolate chip cookie; or
Tricolor Noodles mixed with chicken, shredded carrots, broccoli, tomatoes (yellow) – with a string cheese, and peaches.

(Details: Trick on opening pomegranate found above, under Sandwiches. Details on the noodles in the paragraph above. Sometimes I buy canned fruit so that if we run out of fresh fruit we will have something. I buy the Trader Joe’s or Simple Truth brand. We do have frozen fruit too but like to use that for smoothies.)

noodles nutschk pasta salad

Here’s another option for lunch that we did try one time. It’s by Applegate and you can find it in the same section as Lunchables. This is a much better option than a lunchable but I still recommend making your own lunches. It is much cheaper that way. Besides that, I still had to pack some things to make this a complete lunch (fruit/veggies and water).

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Here are some of the lunch box items from above:

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Natural Ways to Boost Immunity & Heal

I will probably get sick tomorrow after posting this but since we have switched over to eating real organic foods we hardly ever get sick. The kids do sometimes but it isn’t for very long and I usually don’t get it, even with kissing them and drinking off the same drink! It’s amazing what our bodies can do. (Of course, I do still get Fibro sick at times but that’s not even very often.) We used to get sick a lot more. We do what we can to prevent getting sick but it’s okay to be sick once in a while. Our bodies need to rest sometimes and this is a way of letting us know to slow down. We just have to listen to our body. Also, I try really hard to not get sick because it will cause my Fibro to flare up and nobody wants that. 😉 I am not a doctor or an expert on this but have done my research and know what works for us and what doesn’t. Use your own personal judgement on what you want to try or eliminate. Talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or adding in supplements. Even all natural supplements could have side effects.

natural healing

We Don’t Get Flu Shots Now and Here’s Why:
Last year we didn’t get a flu shot for the first time and don’t plan to this year as well. That may sound risky and my former self would have thought I was nuts! In previous years we have gotten terribly sick, several times throughout the year. Last year (with no flu shot), we probably got sick a couple times and it wasn’t too bad and didn’t last long at all. I know this has to do with the way we are eating now too. I think the flu shot does more harm than good. Do you know what is in a flu shot that we were injecting into our bodies every single year??? Aluminum, mercury, MSG, latex, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, triton X100 (strong detergent), sucrose, resin, gentamycin, egg products (including avian contaminant viruses), chick embryo cells, gelatin. I like Food Babe’s post on the flu shot. And here are 11 reasons why flu shots are more dangerous than the flu itself. This is a decision that you need to make for your family. This is what we are doing and it works for us. Do what you believe is right.

What We Do To Boost Our Immune System:
So to protect ourselves from getting the flu (or other crazy stuff going around), we try to boost our immune system on a daily basis. I do give the kids a multi-vitamin in the Fall/Winter months, since these are the months where people get sick the most and all that cruddy stuff is going around. I make sure the vitamins don’t have any artificial colors in them. And they probably don’t even need the vitamins but I like to give them an extra boost. We incorporate all the healthy good foods we need into our diet like homemade bone broth, raw honey*, leafy greens, grass-fed beef and other organic meats (we should be eating fish but none of us really care for the taste), fresh organic fruits/veggies (we grow some of our own too), and we tried canning for the first time this year! We canned some peaches with a honey/water/lemon juice mixture. We eat cultured yogurt and butter (contains probiotics), organic brown eggs (I try to get pasture-raised when I can), organic cheese and raw cheese sometimes, I put a lot of garlic and onion into our meals, sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, pepper, a variety of herbs, all kinds of nuts/seeds, avocado, smoothies (with hemp milk, chia seed/flax seed, spinach/kale, ginger, turmeric), and many other healthy foods that we eat all the time. I juice sometimes too, and drink ginger tea and green tea on occasion. I try to give my kids raw honey* and cinnamon whenever possible. This will really boost their immune system! I put it on their pancakes, bread/toast, or just eat a spoonful of it. You could give your kids a spoonful before they go to school in the morning or before going to any large events where there are crowds of people. Also, I make “kid’s tea” that has honey/cinnamon (see recipe below). I put a slice of lemon in the kids’ water sometimes and I do with my water every day if I can. *Honey is not recommended for children under one.

Here is some information on the benefits of some of these foods: Lemons are antiseptic and have a powerful cleansing effect on your liver, kidneys and blood, plus they are full of vitamins and minerals. Definitely an immune booster. Cinnamon is a powerful antibacterial and is used in Chinese medicine to treat cold & flu symptoms. It is also used to prevent nausea and vomiting. And it’s one of the top 7 antioxidants in the world. Honey boosts your immune system, reduces the risk of heart disease, soothes indigestion, and bolsters your energy levels. Probiotics aid the immune system from the inside out. Garlic contains powerful antioxidants and fights infection and bacteria. Turmeric is a natural liver detoxifier, a potent anti-inflammatory, natural pain killer, immunity booster, and much more. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a natural pain reliever, it’s great for nausea, motion sickness or upset stomachs. Green Tea is good for depression, contains strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial agents, improves your immunity, and can help fight allergies.

Other Ways to Boost Your Immune System:

  • Vitamin D – easier to get in the summer but you might consider taking a supplement other times of the year;
  • Sleep – try to get to bed at a decent time so you can at least get 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is just as important as diet for boosting immunity and energy levels; 
  • Stress Less – yea, easier said than done right? But we really do have to try to manage our stress as best as we can or it will wreak havoc on our health and effect everything we do;
  • Exercise – releases tension and stress and enhances immune function;
  • Stay Hydrated – drink plenty of water throughout the day and don’t drink anything that dehydrates;
  • Avoid Anything that Depletes your Immune System – smoking; drinking alcohol; exposure to chemicals which are in so many things we might not even think about like personal care products, soaps, cleaners, candles, perfume, make-up products, hair dye, and obviously non-organic foods.

Treating Our Ailments: 
If we do get sick, ginger and peppermint are great for tummy problems (make sure it’s actually real peppermint and not a substitute). I buy Trader Joe’s organic ginger & pear tea and add honey and sometimes a slice of lemon. There are also these Ice Chips available in our area and I keep a couple different ones on hand – ginger and menthol eucalyptus (in the picture above). They are made with natural ingredients and sweetened with birchwood xylitol. There are many different flavors. (Here’s the story on the Ice Chips, and where to order some if you aren’t in our area. They were on Shark Tank too.) We make homemade bone broth now and use it to make chicken noodle soup. Bone broth is very healing for the body. You can learn more about that in my Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot & Homemade Broth post. If it’s a simple cold they will get over it pretty quick. Our “kid’s tea” (see below) is great for soar throats or other common cold symptoms. Sometimes kids just need to be sick, rest, eat healthy foods and recharge themselves to move on with their daily lives. Apple Cider Vinegar is good for clearing sinuses (mix 2 tsp with 6 oz of lukewarm water, stir and drink). Another soar throat remedy (besides the kid’s tea) is to gargle salt water. Just add 1/2 tsp salt to a cup of lukewarm water, stir, then gargle. If my kids get a fever (which is rare nowadays), I don’t rush to give them Tylenol. A fever is our body’s way of fighting infection or whatever is causing them to be sick. I just give them plenty of fluids and rest. If they have a high fever that just won’t break, then maybe I would give them Tylenol (or a similar fever reducing medicine).

kid's teaKid’s Tea: 
Note: I don’t measure so this is an estimate.

  • 1 mug of really warm water (you want it pretty warm or hot to start with so the honey mixes up well)
  • 1 TB Raw Honey*
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 small slice of lemon (optional)

Just heat up the water, add the honey* & cinnamon and stir it up. Add a slice of lemon if you prefer, and serve. Make sure it isn’t too hot to drink or let the kids stir & blow until it’s cool enough to drink. Both of my kids (5 and 8) like to have this when they are sick, and have had it for over a year now. (Another option is to add 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar for an extra boost.) *Honey is not recommended for children under one.

Other Options for Healing (that I still want to try, or am thinking of trying):

  • Essential Oils Thieves Oil is great for boosting immunity. It is made up of essential oils specifically designed to boost immunity and support the body’s natural defenses when combating infection.
  • Elderberry Syrup (here’s a recipe to make it, by Mommypotamus) – Elderberries offer great immune support, reduce cold & flu symptoms, and provide nasal/sinus congestion relief. For more information on the benefits of elderberries, click on the link above for the Mommypotamus recipe. It also includes a video on making the syrup.
  • Neti Pot – This is used to wash out the nasal cavity and get rid of the mucus and debris. Sounds like a good idea and probably works great but this has always scared me so I haven’t tried it. I’m afraid of what it would feel like.
  • Homemade Herbal Teas – There are so many different types of herbal teas out there and I can’t even pronounce most of them. Here are a couple (that I can pronounce): Dandelion Root Tearich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Good for B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium, and even vitamin D. Even contains protein too, more than spinach. It’s a digestive aid, removes toxins from the liver, rich in antioxidants, reduces inflammation and boosts immune function; Rosemary Teaimproves circulation while easing joint pain and headaches – also good for memory.

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Popsicles & Ice Cream Treats

Can we still have popsicles and ice cream when eating organic? You bet! I make popsicles using organic juices and different popsicle molds. I also juice sometimes and add that. I have juiced a watermelon and my daughter loved watermelon popsicles or just drinking the watermelon juice. I do this especially if it’s a watermelon that’s too soft and no one wants to eat it but it’s still good (hasn’t gone bad). Also, I recently saw a fellow food-blogger post a great idea about filling popsicle molds with applesauce and freezing them. I have been doing this ever since and my kids LOVE them! And you can fill the popsicle molds with smoothies too.

popsicles & ice cream treats

The regular popsicles you buy at the store are filled with artificial colors & flavors and refined sugar, among other things. Food dyes (artificial colors) have been linked to so many problems with kids. I truly believe it has caused many problems with my daughter. And food dyes are in so many unsuspecting foods. Foods that don’t even have much color or no color at all. So that makes you think that maybe they are putting it in the foods for more than just coloring. We don’t need it. And these are banned in many other countries! Why not here too? And there’s no real fruit in them. Sure, you can buy a big box of Otter Pops for really cheap. But is it worth it? And kids suck those things down so fast, they end up having like 5 at one time. Believe me I know, I used to buy them and eat them. 🙁

So here are a few better options for popsicles/ice cream and other frozen treats:

“Push-up” Ice Cream – I bought some “push-up” containers that we fill with ice cream (see the link below). The kids love them! Just fill with your favorite ice cream and serve. You can wash them in the dishwasher too. See the picture above of the kids enjoying them.

Organic Ice Cream Cones – I came across these at a little organic market (Farm Fresh Market). See in the picture above. The ingredients aren’t perfect but still better than regular cones (ingredients are shown below). They only get to have these once in a while and usually when I give them the option between these and the “Push-up” containers they choose the “Push-up” containers. I think they just like pushing up the ice cream. 🙂

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches – Just take two cookies (chocolate chip would be best but any kind will work), add ice cream in between the cookies, and freeze or eat right away. So yummy!

Frozen Strawberries Covered in Yogurt – Just cut the strawberries in half, dip in yogurt, and freeze! I wouldn’t freeze them all together because they get stuck. But other than that, it works great and my kids love them.

Smoothies or Milkshakes – We use our NutriBullet and make smoothies which usually consist of different kinds of frozen fruit, hemp milk, spinach, chia or flax seed. For a milkshake we usually do milk, ice cream and some kind of frozen fruit. Just add to some popsicle molds and freeze. I use the ones shown below.

We use these stainless steel reusable straws, and here’s where you can find a NutriBullet:

watermelon juice

Popsicle Options – Use organic juices, juice veggies/fruit in a juicer-like the watermelon I juiced (pictured to the right), put applesauce in the silicone popsicle molds (see link below), you could also puree fruit or cut-up fruit in small chunks and add to the molds. I haven’t tried that last one yet but always see recipes and they look so good! If you do blend up some fruit, you could add chia seeds too to make them extra healthy. See tip below about filling the popsicle molds with liquid. Here’s a juicer similar to ours:

See pictures below on the different popsicle molds that I use. There are MANY options out there though.

sundae
Ice Cream Sundaes – You can do this with or without brownies but we made brownies (I will have to post my recipe to the blog soon), then we made whip cream using Organic Valley’s whipping cream, and added organic vanilla ice cream, the best maraschino cherries I could find, and organic chocolate syrup. So good!

You could even make your own ice cream. We really want to buy an ice cream maker. It would be so fun to make together and try different flavors. Here’s a Cuisinart ice cream maker we are thinking about getting:

I have heard many good things about the Cuisinart brand.

Here are the popsicle molds I use:

IMG_3236
Jewel Pop Molds: Tovolo Jewel Pop Molds – Set of 6.

 

 

 

IMG_3233
Silicone Popsicle Molds: Norpro 431 4-Piece Silicone Ice Pop Maker Set. (We lost our 4th one, so now we only have 3.)

 

 

 

IMG_3235
“Push-up” Containers: Jokari Cool Cones Reusable Ice Cream Serving Cones – 2 Pack

 

 

 

IMG_3237
These are just various popsicle molds I found at Walmart/Target. But there are many different options out there. It’s fun making different shapes and sizes! I like the smaller ones so they aren’t having so much juice at one time. Even organic juices usually have sugar. But I put the watermelon that I juiced in the big popsicle molds. My daughter loved them but my son didn’t really care for it.

IMG_3200
Tip: Don’t fill the popsicle molds all the way. You want to leave a little bit of room because when liquid freezes, it expands. See picture to the right for an example.

 

Organic Ice Cream Cones: organic ice cream cones

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Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Chocolate pudding was one of those things we used to eat a lot but after switching to organic foods, I just figured it would be something we wouldn’t have anymore. This is a ‘healthier’ version that I feel good about giving my kids periodically. And there’s no sugar! Just raw honey*, which is a natural sweetener. But you want to make sure it’s raw honey and not processed. The part that took the longest was scooping out the avocados, but if you just cut around the avocado lengthwise, they peel apart easily. Then you can scoop out the seed and scoop everything out. And I found it easier to scoop if they are at room temperature (they should be kept at room temperature anyway unless they are ripe and you don’t want them to ripen more). *Honey is not recommended for children under one.

Avocados are so good for you. They have the good-for-you-fat that we need! (It’s unsaturated but I want to make it clear that there are good saturated fats that we need as well.) They are a good source of fiber, and have about 20 vitamins and minerals! Including Vitamins A, B, C, D, & K, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, and many others. So my son liked the pudding but my daughter made a funny face. She was sick at the time, so I don’t know if it just tasted funny because of that. I didn’t tell my kids what was in it. I just said it’s chocolate pudding. Was that wrong of me? 😉 Anyway, I love it and hope you will too.

chocolate avocado pudding

 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 large avocados, or 3 small
  • 1 cup milk (I use organic whole but you could use coconut milk, almond milk, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao powder, which is better for you)
  • 3 TB raw honey*
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:
Scoop out all the avocado and discard the seed (see my tips on doing this quickly at the top of this post). Blend all the ingredients in a blender or NutriBullet (that’s what I used, see picture below). Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and serve. *Honey is not recommended for children under one.

 

Here’s everything added and ready to blend up in the NutriBullet:
(I had to add more milk after this picture because I was still in the testing phase)

IMG_3011

 

Here’s a NutriBullet through Amazon:

 

And here’s my son eating the chocolate avocado pudding frozen in a Smoothie-Pop-Mold:

IMG_4188

 

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Ideas for an Organic Easter

With Easter coming up, it’s time to make a plan. And that plan should include healthier natural options. Last year was our first Easter after switching to organic foods. I didn’t have a blog then so I didn’t write down everything we did but I do have some pictures from the occasion. I remember doing something wrong with the natural egg dyes. I don’t remember if it was that I didn’t include the vinegar or if I followed something else incorrectly. We also tried to do all the dyes the day of, so that was a bad idea to begin with. My poor husband was such a trooper through all my crazy ideas. He tried to help me with all of that but we just didn’t have enough time and really should have done some experimenting prior. Our bunny cookies turned out great though! But some of the frosting did get a little runny, as you can see in the picture towards the bottom of this post.

My kids loved everything we did, even if it didn’t work out. It was a fun experience and they didn’t miss all the junk they had in previous years, or the big stuffed bunny that only gets played with for a couple days. It’s all about family, fun, and making memories. As long as we are together doing something, they are happy. Holidays have really got out of control. They can be whatever we make them. So let’s make them great! Our kids will only be young for a short amount of time and then they won’t be into any of this anymore anyway.

 

Easter baskets

 

The Easter Baskets:
We reuse the baskets and the ‘filling’ (grass, shredded paper, whatever you want to call it). And I put things like color books & crayons, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, any small toys, stickers, Annie’s bunny fruit snacks, one of our chocolate bunny cookies (recipe below), and there are natural candy options out there. I have even got them a cool new shirt, rolled it up and stuck it in their basket.

bunny egg holder

 

Dying Eggs Naturally:
We tried dying the eggs naturally and I think it could work, but they have to sit in the dye for a longer period of time and we didn’t wait. This would be good especially if you will be eating the eggs after the kids hunt for them. And I hate to see them go to waste. Here’s a great recipe for the natural egg dye, by MommyPotamus: http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally-with-everyday-ingredients/. I bought these bunny egg holders to dip the eggs in the dye (see the picture to the right with Tyler holding one – isn’t he just so cute???) 🙂 I really don’t remember where I got them. It could have been Walmart or Target. But I just recently saw a tip on using a whisk to hold the eggs while dipping them. That sounds like a great idea!

 

Filling Plastic Eggs for an Egg Hunt:
We reuse the plastic eggs every year and fill them with little toys, stickers, tattoos, erasers, money, etc. You could have a golden egg that has either a $2 bill in it or a larger amount of money. And if you still want to do candy there are organic candy options out there. I have found candies that look like M&Ms but they don’t have any artificial colors and jelly beans at Trader Joe’s that are made with fruit/vegetable extracts for the colors. Another idea is to do a scavenger hunt with the plastic eggs! I think I will do that this year since the egg dying didn’t work out last year and I may not be up to trying it again this time. But I might try it again the following year. 😉

 

bunny cookies

 

bunny cookie cutterRecipe for the Bunny Cookies

Cookies: I used this sugar cookie recipe and then used the bunny cookie cutter to the left: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-sugar-cookies/detail.aspx (using organic ingredients, real butter, and cane sugar of course). Here’s a similar bunny cookie cutter on Amazon:

Frosting: I used these ideas for coloring the frosting and then just mixed powdered sugar with milk to make the frosting (keep mixing and adding until you have the right consistency): http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-ways-to-make-organic-diy-food-coloring.html. Spinach is definitely great for green and you don’t taste it. Carrots works for orange, turmeric is that golden color you can see on one of the bunny cookies in the picture. Red cabbage for blue and purple, and beets make a great red/pink! You don’t taste the beets either. Then I melted carob chips or dark chocolate chips for the chocolate frosting.

Update: I made these cookies the following year. It’s the same cookie recipe using the cookie cutter to make the bunny shapes, and I made some circles that are like the eggs. Then I just melted some chocolate chips (add a little milk while melting on the stove if you want), and drizzled or spread it over the top. So easy!

chocolate bunny cookies

 

Easter Breakfast:
For a fun Easter breakfast, you could use the cookie cutter shown above and make bunny-shaped pancakes. My Apple Cinnamon Pancake recipe would be perfect. You can dress them up however you like. Make a face using fruit, add a little whip cream, or just plain with real butter and real maple syrup. Or another breakfast idea is the quiche recipe shown below.

bunny shaped pancakes

 

Easter Brunch:
Quiche would make a great Easter brunch! Here’s the recipe: http://organicfibromommies.com/2013/12/quiche-two-ways/. You could also make quiche cups. I haven’t tried making the quiche cups using my quiche recipe but there is a recipe in the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook  

quiche two ways

 

Appetizers:
Here are my party appetizers for some ideas. We like to do deviled eggs, a fruit and veggie platter, and cheese & crackers usually. Party Appetizers: http://organicfibromommies.com/2013/12/party-appetizers/.

 

Easter Dinner:
For Easter Dinner we usually bake a ham, with some baked macaroni ‘n cheese on the side.

Here’s my Baked Mac ‘N Cheese recipe: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/03/baked-mac-n-cheese/.

baked mac 'n cheese

 

Easter baskets 2 And last but not least, something funny. When the kids woke-up last year and saw their Easter baskets, they were just shocked that the Easter bunny knew they eat organic. You can see how shocked Tyler is. 😉

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The Lunch Rotation

There are about five different lunches my daughter really likes so we rotate between them. There are still some lunch ideas I want to try with her that I found on 100 Days of Real Food but we know for sure that this is what she likes, and she’s so familiar with them she will tell me which one she wants. She helps make them sometimes too and I think involving them really helps so they will eat all their lunch! 🙂 The following are the main items in the lunch. I also add fruit/veggies, a drink (a little organic juice and she takes water every day too), and sometimes a piece of string cheese, a snack, a smoothie, frozen yogurt, etc.

boiled egg & salad   homemade lunchable PB & Honey

Boiled Egg and Salad
I boil the egg and prepare the salad the night before. The best way I have found to boil an egg is to boil the water, lower the temp right away to medium, and add the egg to the boiling water carefully, using a soup ladle. Cook for 12 min, uncovered. (I found a tip about adding 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the water while the egg is cooking and it will make the shell easier to peel. I tried this and it didn’t really make it easier for me but I don’t really have a lot of trouble peeling them.) Then take off the heat and let cool. I add ice to help it cool faster, then peel off the shell. Our eggs come out perfect every time and these are brown, cage-free organic eggs, of course.

Homemade Lunchable
I used to buy the lunchables at the store but they are full of preservatives, fake cheese, nitrates in the meat and the drinks that come with it are usually full of sugar and dyes. Plus the candy/cookie that comes with it is full of refined sugar, dyes, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Just make your own! We use Late July organic classic crackers, Simple Truth or Applegate lunch meat (nitrate free and uncured), and organic or local natural cheeses.

Peanut Butter & Jelly or Honey
Good old peanut butter & jelly (or honey). I started using my old bread machine again and make our own yummy fresh bread each week. I buy Cascadian Farm brand or Trader Joe’s juice-sweetened organic fruit spreads, local raw honey, and Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter. It is one ingredient, organic peanuts! You do have to stir the peanut butter before use but it’s really not a big deal and you only have to stir it up once. Then you refridgerate it and it’s fine. If you need a peanut-free alternative, there’s almond butter, sunflower seed butter, hazelnut butter, and other options out there. Served with Annie’s organic bunny crackers.

Variety of Stuff
This could consist of many different things. It just depends on what we have at the time but some ideas are: homemade trail mix, cheese & crackers, snack items, nuts, humus & carrots, frozen yogurt, a smoothie, etc.

Leftovers
My daughter likes cold pizza, or cold noodles/rice with butter, a little parmessan cheese and salt & pepper. That’s right, she will actually eat cold rice. I will usually add something like ‘ants on a log’, which is celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins.

The sandwich container and smoothie-pop-molds can be found here. And here’s an environmentally friendly option for a lunch container, and what we use to keep the lunches cold:

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5 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

Mornings can get crazy, especially if you are trying to get ready for work and get the kids ready for school. It can be tempting to just let the kids have breakfast at school because it’s convenient. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Just to give you an example of some of the breakfast items served at school: my daughter was getting fruit loops (full of refined sugar and dyes, among other things), a cinnamon roll (do I need to explain that one?), french toast sticks w/fake syrup (see below on what is usually in fake syrup), and other sugary items. Kids need a healthy breakfast to start the day off right, especially when they need to go to school and learn all day. They have to be able to focus and give it their all. Here are some easy healthier breakfast choices, some which can be prepared ahead of time. My kids love these! These are good for kids or grown-ups. 😉

5 Quick & Healthy Breakfasts

Note: I serve fruit with every breakfast.

  1. Hard Boiled Eggs – You can make these the night before or just always have some handy in the fridge and the kids can just grab one. Fill a small pot with water, ¾ full. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium. Gently place the egg in the pan (I use a soup ladle) and cook for 12 min. Remove from heat and drain the water out. Let cool. You can add cold water and ice to cool the egg down quicker before peeling.
  2. Oatmeal – This can be made the night before so you can just warm it up in the morning or it is pretty quick and easy to make the morning of. I buy the 100% whole grain quick oats and follow the directions on the container. Then I add pure maple syrup and cinnamon. You can add other things like fruit, honey*, vanilla. This is just how my son likes his. And we also tried adding apple sauce and cinnamon to his oatmeal. He loved it! Tip: You can use whole milk instead of water when making the oatmeal, my son likes it with milk. (*Honey is not recommended for children under one.)
  3. Yogurt Parfait – Just add fruit and granola (or cheerios – we use Mom’s Best brand) to their favorite yogurt. Organic preferred or as natural as possible. I know there aren’t a lot of good options out there. We like Stonyfield organic vanilla whole milk yogurt. Trader Joe’s has a good plain yogurt but we didn’t like the taste of it, even after we sweetened it with maple syrup or honey*. But the ingredients are good. (*Honey is not recommended for children under one.)
  4. Leftover Pancakes – I make pancakes on the weekend sometimes and there are usually leftovers, or you can double the recipe. Then you will have some to eat during the week. Just warm up 1 or 2, with real butter and 100% pure maple syrup or organic jam. We have also put honey* on them instead of syrup, or even just butter and cinnamon. This is our usual pancake recipe: Apple Cinnamon Pancakeshttp://organicfibromommies.com/2014/04/apple-cinnamon-pancakes/. I experimented with different types of pancakes recently. My recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes can be found herehttp://organicfibromommies.com/2014/10/pumpkin-recipes/. For Zucchini Pancakes, go here: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/07/zucchini-recipes/. You can also make Banana Pancakes using just 1 banana and 2 eggs, mix them up really good using a whisk and fry them up. (*Honey is not recommended for children under one.)
  5. Cereal – There are organic cereals out there but you really have to read labels, or you can just use granola. For homemade granola, 100 Days of Real Food has a good recipe: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/04/04/recipe-granola-bars-cereal/. I found some good granola at our local food co-op. Just add milk and maybe some fruit and serve. For the kids I use whole milk and for me I use hemp milk. The kids aren’t crazy about the hemp milk but they don’t mind it in smoothies. My son loves organic O’s (like cheerios) with whole milk and some fruit on top. 

For maple syrup, I use Trader Joe’s organic maple syrup. It has one ingredient: 100% organic pure maple syrup. It usually costs around $7.99 but it’s worth it to get real maple syrup instead of the fake stuff that usually has high fructose corn syrup, lots of sugar, artificial flavors and preservatives, and usually no maple syrup even in it! A bottle will usually last us a month or longer, depending on if I am using the syrup in recipes too.

syrup