The toddler eating trials

Anyone who has ever been near a toddler at feeding time knows that getting them to eat what is put in from them is not an easy task. It’s no exception in our house. We have always had luck getting her to eat fruits and vegetables (although the ones she loved yesterday might be highly offensive today), and since I couldn’t cook when we lived with the in laws, we did a lot of snacking. I’d keep the mini fridge full of fruit and veggie trays (not the most cost effective, by any means, but easy), so that when she was hungry, she had food options. I’d also usually keep some full fat cheese and some Applegate lunch meats. Clearly, not as awesome as sitting down to eat actual meals, (and we did always have something more substantial for dinner), but under the circumstances, it was the best I could do.

Sliced Cucumber

Goose with Raspberries and Banana

When we moved into our own place, I knew that getting her to eat meals (and the meals that I prepared) was going to be an adjustment. I didn’t, however, get the memo that it was going to be such an issue. In the beginning, we tried to force her to eat at least one bite of whatever I made. You would think that just one bite would be do-able, but I have never in my entire life met anyone as stubborn as this child. After a few days of this, we realized that that was not the approach that was going to get us results. If we continued down that patch, meal time was going to turn into a battle every single time, and meal time wasn’t going to be the pleasant family time that I was hoping for.

Goose with Pear

So, we changed our approach. She does need to sit at the table until everyone is done eating. That’s not negotiable, but we stopped pressuring her to eat. My husband and I do make a big deal about how good the food is while we are eating, and usually this will encourage her to eat it. If it doesn’t though, we just let it go. Maybe she’s not hungry, maybe she is just being picky, I don’t know. However, I won’t make her something different. Dinner is what I make, and that is that. We have had way more success with this method.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting toddlers to eat? I’d love to hear what works for your family in the comments below!


Kitchen Skills, Like a Boss

I am a housewife and a stay at home mother. I took a home economics class in middle school, and that is the extend of my “culinary training.” Thanks to YouTube, though, I have been able to pick up some kitchen skills along the way that have proven to be quite valuable. Today, I wanted to share some of those with you. Please note, none of these videos are mine. They are all linked to where I found them on the internet….

How To Chop an Onion

How To Peel Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds

How to Cut a Mango

How to Cut Tomatoes

How to Hard Boil Eggs- I add a tiny bit of baking soda to the water, to make it easier to peel….

How To Slice a Pepper

How To Cut a Pineapple

How to Make an Omlette

Do you have any others that you’ve picked up along the way that you’d like to share??? Let me know in the comments section.

Paleo Bakehouse

I’ve seen rave reviews of Paleo Bakehouse all over the internet. Seriously, all over the place. Every time I see them, I think to myself, man those cookies look delicious. Not only do they look amazing, but I can pronounce and identify every single ingredient in them. That is awesome. Sure, there are lots of recipes out there to make my own cookies, but sometimes, (like right now when I can no longer see my feet and I don’t have a kitchen of my own) it’s just nice to have someone else make the cookies for me.

Right now, they have an active kickstarter campaign going. Their goal is to raise money to fund a commercial kitchen in Miami. This kitchen would allow them to be certified as 100% gluten free. It would allow them to get their products into national retailers, and ship internationally. (More cookies for everyone!!!!!!!) It would also allow them to develop more products. (Again, I say, “MORE COOKIES FOR EVERYONE!!!))

So, I am asking you guys for some help here. If you can contribute, please do so. If you can help spread the word, via social media, please do so. If they don’t meet their goal, they don’t get any of the money raised, which would be a huge bummer. They are also offering tons of fantastic incentives for your donations, which you can read about here. One of which is a  Paleo Bakehouse E-Recipe Book, which is going to be full of recipes from some amazing paleo bloggers! Yummo! So, let’s all work together and help them make some cookies!

It’s time to make the donuts…

wpid-IMG_20131123_190954335.jpgWe were lucky enough to move home in time to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. The family was throwing her a surprise brunch, and people were bringing food to share. I figured that there would be some eggs there and probably some bacon, but I wanted to bring along a paleo friendly treat. I had found a grain free donut recipe from Primal Palate on pinterest awhile ago, but never had a good reason to try it, so I figured that this would be a great excuse.

I don’t own a donut pan though, and to be completely honest with you, I am worried that if I actually own one, it will be much too easy for me to justify making donuts more often. I like donuts, but lets be honest here, paleo or not, a donut is a donut is a donut. It’s not a healthy choice. So, I needed to come up with a way to make a donut shape without a donut pan. I found a tip on pinterest where you make the donuts in a muffin tin. You make little balls of aluminum foil and place one ball in the center of each open spot. The batter then goes around the aluminum foil and you simply pop it out once the donuts have finished cooking. I decided to give it a shot.

wpid-IMG_20131123_161943320.jpgIt didn’t work well, at all. So I needed to figure out another plan. The muffin tin made the right shape and size that I was going for, it was just the donut hole that wasn’t right. So I ended up using an apple corer to punch a hole through the middle. This method worked really well. Then I simply made the chocolate ganache to top the donuts with. The next morning, we brought them to the party. I was, of course, not sure how my extended family would react, but they devoured them. I’m still getting requests to make more months later. wpid-IMG_20131123_191541007.jpg

Bananas do not equal ice cream….

Banana Ice CreamThe other day, I was craving some ice cream. I know that there are a ton of paleo ice cream recipes out there, but I don’t have an ice cream maker, and a lot of those recipes call for egg yolks, and that idea (although store bought ice cream has them too) for whatever reason freaks me out. I remembered reading somewhere that if you take bananas, freeze them, and then pulse them in a food processor, they turn into an ice cream like experience. So, that’s what I did. It looked like ice cream, surprisingly enough. It even had a melty quality to it, like ice cream. Sadly though, it just didn’t satisfy the craving for ice cream, for me. I’ve heard some people will add things to it (a bit of natural sweetener, nut butters, chocolate chips….) but I’m not sure that it would have done the trick for me. Healthy, yes, but ice cream? Nope.

Sunday Funday!

Obviously, today isn’t Sunday, but I’ve been meaning to get this post written for a bit now. On Sundays, after church, my husband and I try to get ourselves set up for the week. My husband works a lot, and goes to school, and our little one keeps me busy, so spending some time together, as a family, in the kitchen, can really do so much to make things run more smoothly for us all week long.

First, we take fresh fruit (usually whatever is in season because it’s cheaper), chop it up, and dehydrate it. Dried fruit is great to snack on, and to use in granola bars. We happen to have an inexpensive food dehydrator, but if you don’t, you can dry it in the oven, on baking sheets, at 175 degrees for a few hours. We do this ourselves for a few reasons. First, it’s cheaper. (For example, you can get 20 oz. dried mangoes for $9.49, but we paid $8.00 for 5 lbs, which yielded way more). Second, the already dried ones have sugar, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and preservatives. Mine don’t.

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The next thing we did, was to make some breakfast sausage for the week. Sometimes, we’ll cook up a bunch of bacon instead. It makes for easy breakfasts, and since I’m useless in the morning, easy breakfasts are good. To save money, and to ensure that we’re not getting any yucky ingredients, I grind my own pork. I don’t expect everyone to do this, but it works for us. I just chop up a pork roast into one inch cubes, put them in the food grinder, and it spits out the ground pork. Then I follow this recipe to make the sausages. These also freeze really well.

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We also tend to buy our meat in bulk, and then separate it into individual portion sizes. Beef roasts tend to be less expensive than steaks, so we buy a roast to cut into steaks. Bulk packages of ground beef tend to be less expensive per pound than smaller packages. This also allows us to make portion sizes based on the amount of food we actually eat. For example, ground beef usually comes in packages that are close to 1lb, but that’s more than my husband and I will usually eat, so doing it this way also allows us to be less wasteful. Again, it’s more work, but it saves us money. Sometimes during this time, if I’ve got something requiring a dry rub on the menu, I’ll put the rub on before I get it packaged to freeze. That way, when I pull it out to defrost, it’s ready to go.

Sometimes during this time, we’ll also make some beef jerky to snack on for the week, granola bars, or hard boil a bunch of eggs to have ready. It is a lot of work, and very time consuming, but it helps us all week long, and it also allows to us to spend some time together, just talking and cooking. 🙂

Almond Meal/Almond Flour and How to DIY

A lot of Paleo recipes will call for almond flour or almond meal. Almond meal is almonds that are ground up into a flour like consistency, with the skins still on them. Almond flour (or blanched almond flour) simply has the skins removed. You can use the two interchangeably, but it will affect the texture of your final product. Almond meal is going to have a grainier texture, whereas almond flour will have a more flour like texture. So, if you want chocolate chip cookies that look like the non-paleo version, you’ll want to stick with almond flour. If you don’t mind your cookies having a more oatmeal cookie like texture, almond meal would be fine. Generally, almond meal will be less expensive, so if you’re looking to cut costs and don’t mind the texture, you can use that. Both can be purchased online, or sometimes in the bulk food sections at health food stores. I have seen almond flour at Target before, but per pound, it’s way overpriced there. This place has a great price per pound.

Almonds, almond meal, almond flour, DIY, make your own, save money, thrifty

You can also make your own. For almond meal, just put a small amount of almonds into your food processor (you can use a coffee grinder if you don’t have one) and pulse a few times until the almonds become flour like. Be careful that you don’t pulse them too much, or you’ll end up with almond butter (also delicious). For almond flour, if you buy blanched (skinless) almonds, you just pulse them in the food processor, and it’s easy. Blanched almonds cost more though, so if you’re trying to save some money, you can blanch your own. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Once it’s boiling, add your almonds and boil for one minute. (They will start to get soft if you boil them longer). Then drain your almonds and rinse them with cold water. Then, you need to peel them. Usually if you peel the end off, you can squeeze the almonds out. This can be time consuming and a bit of a pain, but if you do it while you’re watching tv or listening to music, it’s a bit more bearable. Then, you need to dry the almonds out. You can do this in one of several different ways. On baking sheets in the oven at 175 degrees for a few hours, on a food dehydrator, or just let them air dry overnight. Then, pulse them in your food processor until they become flour. We’re on a tight budget these days, so we generally buy almonds in bulk at Costco/Sam’s Club/Bulk section of a health food store and make our own to save some money. It’s easy to do once you get the hang of it. It can be stored in the freezer, long term, or the refrigerator, to keep it from going rancid. Some people also store theirs in air tight containers on their counter if they use it quickly enough.  You also want to let it come to room temperature before using it, so that it’s not clumpy and difficult to work with.

almond meal, almond flour, diy, paleo, primal, thrifty

almond meal, alond flour, diy, paleo, primal, gluten free, grain free

Now that you know how what they are used for, and how to make your own, I just want to point out that almond meal/flour shouldn’t be used all the time, especially if you are trying to lose weight.