jam roll (vegan, added sugar free, nut free)

 

Growing up, I always knew pie meant one thing…jam roll.

I’m not sure where the tradition started, but I remember my English grandmother and my mom making them  – often using strawberry or raspberry jam as the filling. It’s a completely genius way to use up scraps of pastry left over from pastry making and there’s something so right about warm jam between a crispy layer of pastry.

Here’s how it’s done.

 

 

1. Reform your pastry scraps into a ball and roll out to 1/8″-1/4″ thick.

2. Spread a thin layer of jam over the pastry bringing it almost to the edges. To keep it added sugar free, use only jam made with 100% fruit. I used Crofter’s wild blueberry jam here.

3. Fold one of the long side over to the middle.

4. Repeat with the other long side.

5. Then fold both short ends over and press to seal.

6. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown.

7. Let the jam roll cool slightly before slicing and serving…preferably with a cup of tea.

 

I would love to hear back from you on this…have you made jam rolls from left over pastry scraps before? Or do you have another brilliant method that’s become a tradition in your family? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito (vegan, dairy free, soy free, gluten free)

 

It always amazes me how hard it is to find a recipe that my entire family likes. I often get close with a 5 out of 6 thumbs up, but hitting a perfect score of 6 for 6 is maddeningly elusive. So imagine my surprise when this loaded sweet potato with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito was a clear winner.

Even with my daughter who doesn’t usually like bean dishes. Or my boys who prefer mild to spicy. Let’s pause while I celebrate with a hearty “ole.”

 

 

I love the contrasting flavors, textures and color of this dish…the sweetness with the spicy, the creaminess punctuated with a light crunchiness, the deep orange flesh of the sweet potato with the brilliant green of the avocado.

This recipe is extremely easy to pull together and is simply packed plant-powdered nutrition. Let me break it down:

  • The sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamins like A, B6 and C and carry a low glycemic index. And did you know you can eat their skins? You can! Just scrub them well before baking. I thought it would be weird to eat sweet potato skin at first, but I really like it!
  • The black bean sofrito boosts the protein along with the fiber in this dish. I learned the secret of yummy black bean sofrito when I was on a mission trip to Panama earlier this year…at each lunch and dinner while we were in the mountains, beans would be served (along with rice and some meat). I couldn’t get over how good the beans tasted and had to know what made them so flavorful. When I tried it after I got back home, I was extremely pleased with the results.
  • For the spicy gucamole, I wanted to do more than simply give it some heat – I wanted to sneak in some extra nutrients too which I accomplished by adding spinach. Were my kids any wiser? Nope!

 

 

If you want to make this for a weeknight but anticipate being tight on time, bake your sweet potatoes ahead of time. Although the sofrito cooks up quickly, to make things speedier, you also could make it ahead of time. You’ll want to make the spicy guacamole fresh, though, but it will take less than 10 minutes. While you’re making the guac, you can be re-heating the potatoes and sofrito.

 

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loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guac and black bean sofrito
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

A nutrient-dense meal that's easy to pull together and a beautiful contrast in flavors, texture and color.

Course: Appetizer, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 per person sweet potato, scrubbed
For the black bean sofrito
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dashes pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
For the spicy guacamole
  • 3 avocadoes, peeled and pitted
  • 4.5-6 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp, scant salt
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/3-1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, minced
  • dashes freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dashes dried chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a knife then in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.

For the black bean sofrito:
  1. Add the onion, garlic and tomato to a pot with a little water and cook over high heat until the onion is translucent. Add more water if needed to prevent the vegetables from sticking.

  2. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water is absorbed, using a potato masher to break up the beans slightly. For a creamier sofrito, add a little more water and adjust seasonings to taste.

For the spicy guac:
  1. Cut the avocado into a bowl and mash. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Make sure you save the avocado pit which can be added to any leftovers to prevent browning.

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • My daughter and I have a mild obsession with Jeff’s Natural’s jalapeno peppers which you can find here. Jeff uses purer ingredients than the canned kind and I love them in this spicy guacamole.

 

easier-than-pie apple crisp (no added sugar, vegan, soy free, dairy free)

 

I never was much of a pie person. Unlike pizza where I could eat just the crust, pie crust left me cold. And making it? My results were rarely worth the effort. Which is why crisps are more my speed.

Easier to pull together and capped with a sweet, flavorful topping…mmmm. Yes. Please.

My favorite way to make this apple crisp also makes it virtually foolproof because you can control your chunky-to-sauce ratio and turn out the perfect-for-you apple crisp every time. Personally, I like things a little more on the saucy side.

For the topping, I swapped out the traditional brown sugar and butter for dates (in the form of date paste) and pecans. Much healthier options and still distinctly sweet too. The oats were allowed to stay (you can make these certified gluten free if need be).

While I’ve shared before that I hesitate to label any of my recipes kid friendly (because they like to buck trends), this is a recipe that all of my children enjoy. And because it’s free of any added sugars, I have no problem if they want to eat it for a snack or even for breakfast.

The apple crisp filling is one “ingredient” where I don’t measure because it’s kind of hard to mess up. The only way you can really ruin the filling is by using too much cinnamon. Feel free to let your hair down and not worry about getting it perfect. Good grief, cooking should be fun, not stressful and there are some recipes (like these) where I love to encourage you to feel confident in straying from a strict recipe! When you try this recipe for yourself the first time, go easy on the cinnamon – tasting it before adding more.

 

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easier-than-pie apple crisp
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This apple crisp is extremely easy to make and, with managing the sweetness without added sugars, is perfect as a dessert, snack or even breakfast!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the filling
  • 2 per person apples (organic is best)
  • dashes cinnamon
For the crust
  • 3/4 cup date paste
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup whole rolled oats, organic is best
Instructions
For the filling:
  1. Peel and core apples* and roughly chop. Add to a large saucepan along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until apples begin to break down. A potato masher can help with this. For a chunkier filling, leave more apples in tact in bite-sized pieces. For more sauce, mash more apples up. Sprinkle with dashes of cinnamon to taste.

For the topping:
  1. While the apples are cooking, add all topping ingredients to a food process or blender and blend until it becomes crumbly.

For the crisp:
  1. Add filling to a casserole or glass baking dish and sprinkle on the topping. You can stop here and eat it as is, or, place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes for a slightly firmer topping.


Recipe Notes

*RECIPE NOTES:  Using a mix of green or tart apples with sweeter ones yields the most flavorful filling       *        If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.       *       Extra topping can be stored in the fridge for about a week. Sprinkle it over raw fruit or add to oatmeal...or eat it by the handful like I sometimes do!

 

 

 

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  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

cheesy kale chips (vegan, oil free, gluten free, soy free, paleo)

 

Aren’t snack foods made from good-for-you ingredients the best? Like kale chips!

The first time I tried kale chips, it was love at first bite. Savory, salty, crunchy…yum! But the thing I wasn’t in love with was the price tag, especially for frequent snacking (keep in mind we have four hungry children to feed, three of which are boys).

So I turned to my own kitchen to try and re-create the ideal snacking experience.

 

 

Here are few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • The key to a good kale chip is the seasoning. Since kale is strongly flavored itself, if you’re too light with the seasonings, you have a chip that tastes just like dried kale. Not to exciting.
  • It’s also essential to get the moisture balance right. Too little and it’s hard to coat the kale, too much and they’re on the soggy side and take forever to dry out.
  • Ideally, kale chips are best made with a food dehydrator. But if you lack one of those, as I do, setting your oven at it’s lowest setting – usually about 200 degrees F – is an excellent runner up.
  • Unless you plan on eating your kale chips on the spot, you’ll want to be sure all the kale is completely dried out before storing them in an airtight container. Just a little bit of moisture and the chips loose their crispiness and become chewy. If this happens to you – and it has to me many times – trying popping them back in a 200 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes to dry them out again.

 

Pack these in ziplock bags if you’re traveling. Not only do they add zero weight to your luggage, but it can help you get your superfood fix if you’re not sure what snacking options you’ll have access to on the road. I brought these on a road trip with me this summer and will probably plan to do the same when I head to the Dominican Republic in February on a mission trip.

 

Last thing…if you’re new to vegan “cheese,” be prepared that it will not taste like the cheese you’ve been used to…if you go in expecting that, you’ll be disappointed every time. Or you’ll need to buy manufactured vegan cheeses. I’ve learned that the idea is try an approximate the flavors and textures of familiar foods and appreciate the plant-based version for what it is…healthier, lighter and fuel your body can use.

 

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cheesy kale chips
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

Savory, salty, crunchy, snack-y, yummy! That about sums up these cheesy kale chips that can be made in your oven or with a food dehydrator.

Course: Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 large bunch kale
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper
  • water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F

  2. Prepare kale by rinsing, patting completely dry then removing the stems. Chop into large pieces that are approximately 2" square. Add to a large mixing bowl.

  3. In a food processor or blender, add remaining ingredients except the water and blend until the cashews are very finely chopped - almost powdery. Add just enough water to create a thick paste (too much water = soggy chips). Massage the mixture into the kale until all the leaves are completely covered.

  4. Spread the kale in a single layer on a large baking sheet. For best results, make sure each kale leaf is spread out. Sprinkle on additional seasonings to taste.

  5. Put into the oven for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for another 15 minutes and remove any completely dried chips. Place remaining chips back in the over for another 10 minutes or until all the chips are completely dried.

Recipe Notes

While the chips are best enjoyed immediately for ultimate crispiness, they can be stored in an airtight jar after cooling completely. If they're too soft and you have to have them crispy, pop them in a 200 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I found Trader Joe’s has the best price for cashews.
  • Nutritional yeast can be found in most health food stores or here. I get mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods.

 

 

 

vegan italian sausage soup (dairy free, soy free)

 

Last week, I shared my basic veggie stock recipe with you. Today, I’m giving you the perfect recipe to try it out with: vegan Italian sausage soup.

When I first decided to go all in with a plant-based diet, I immediately thought of ways to replace meat-based dishes with vegan versions that closely approximated those flavors and textures I was used to. But when I started experimenting with new-to-me-foods like TVP, seitan and pre-packaged vegan “meats,” I wasn’t too thrilled with the results. You see, my goal in adopting this new diet was to get healthier and eating a lot of wheat-based and processed foods didn’t feel like it would help me reach this goal.

So I tabled those foods and beefed up on the veggies and whole foods. It’s a food philosophy I continue to maintain with the occasional exception. Like this vegan Italian sausage soup.

The credit goes to my mom for finding a non-vegan version of this soup, but adapting it using vegan italian sausages created by Field Roast. (BTW, this isn’t a sponsored post.)

 

 

The thing I love about these sausages is the flavor dimension they bring to this soup…I’m not sure it would taste the same without them! I also love that the ingredients are straight-forward and consists mostly of foods I can find in my own kitchen, like eggplant, red bell pepper, garlic and onion.

As with many soups, this recipe comes together easily. Since it’s ready in about 30 minutes, it makes it perfect for hectic weeknights when you’re in a time crunch to get dinner on the table.

 

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vegan italian sausage soup
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

When you want a soup with a little "meatiness" to it, this vegan italian sausage soup is the answer. It's also perfect for hectic weeknights since it comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 2-4 links Field Roast Italian sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 29 ounces sodium free veggie stock
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup pasta of choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add onion and garlic to a large saucepan with a little water and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. If desired, finely chop tomatoes before adding them along with the remaining ingredients with the exception of the pasta (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add pasta if using, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

apple pumpkin granola fall parfait (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free option)

Last week, I shared one apple-based recipe and one with pumpkin – both bonus recipes in my Perk Up Your Pantry – Fall edition recipe ebook.

Today, I’m ending the debate and bringing both flavors together with one snack-tastic recipe…the apple pumpkin granola fall parfait.

When I created Perk Up Your Pantry, my thought was to include recipes that could be enjoyed by themselves, but also easily combined in new ways so your meal plans feel fresh and fun. Which is exactly what I love about this pumpkin harvest granola!

 

 

 

You could make this for breakfast or as a snack – even one on the go. To re-create your parfait as I did, you’ll need your favorite variety of fresh apple, my date caramel recipe and the pumpkin harvest granola which can only be found in the Perk Up Your Pantry recipe ebook.

The other thing I love is that it shows how easily you can create an indulgent-looking snack (or breakfast!) without any added sugars or dairy products. It’s food that loves you back!

I will add, however, that it’s still wise to eat a well balanced diet – one filled with leafy greens especially. If you go crazy on the carbs – especially added sugars, plant-based fats, processed vegan foods and fruits and veggies with a high naturally-occurring sugar profile, you might not experience the health benefits you’re looking for.

That’s also what you’ll find in the Perk Up Your Pantry recipe ebook – a good balance of recipes with sensible, but fun, vegan eating in mind. The recipe ebook also includes:

  • 5 essential sauce recipes
  • 5 essential snack recipes
  • 5 easy main dish recipes
  • 3 fall-inspired bonus recipes
  • A shopping list of all ingredients

PLUS you’ll receive two bonus items: a meal prep tip sheet and a meal plan tip sheet which includes a suggested meal plan featuring the recipe in the Fall Perk Up Your Pantry recipe book. All for only $8! Click here to buy it now.

 

the best basic burrito recipe (vegan, dairy free, oil free option, gluten free option)

I could easily eat Mexican food most days of the week. That and my favorite Indian curry. I love how effortless it feels, how easily it adapts to a plant-based diet and that leftovers go a long way.

This basic burrito recipe is one of my go-to’s and is inspired by a recipe I found on Whole Foods years ago. One of the things I hope you will love about it is that once you have the basic flavor profile down, you can easily tweak it to your preferences…a little more garlic here, less tomato there, more spice, more lime).

 

Once the basic burrito mix is assembled, here’s how I put it together…

1) Grab your favorite tortillas (gluten free if needed) and spread on a generous layer of hummus – red pepper is best. The hummus is what makes vegan burritos “survive” without the cheese. If you need to keep things oil-free, use oil-free tortillas and oil-free hummus.

 

2) Add a few slices of avocado and mash well. This also helps round out the creaminess and moisture usually provided by dairy cheese. If you can’t stand avocado, you can use just a little and mix it in well with the hummus and your taste buds won’t be any wiser. Trust me. I’ve tested this on my avocado-averse family members.

 

3) Scoop on the rice.

 

4) Then add the bean mixture.

 

5) Accessorize with jalapeno peppers and chili flakes if you like a lot of heat. #bringiton, I say!

 

6) Now you’re ready to roll it up and put it in the oven. Usually, I just secure it with a toothpick, but you can wrap it in parchment paper if you are planning this for a take-it-with-you meal.

 

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best basic burritos

Easy to prepare, customizable and leftovers that go a long way are why this is my basic burrito recipe. Fresh flavors, oven toasted tortillas and creamy plant-based sub-ins for dairy cheese come together to make this weeknight favorite.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Basic Burrito Filling
  • 3 cups black beans, canned or cooked according to package directions
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 limes, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • dashes pepper
  • 1/4 cup veggie stock
Other ingredients
  • 1.5 cups brown rice
  • tortillas
  • red pepper hummus
  • avocado
  • jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • red chili flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. If you don't have a rice cooker and need the rice ready in a hurry because you forgot to make it earlier (like I often do!), bring a pot of water to a boil, add the rice and cook it as you would pasta - over high heat and with the lid off. Set the timer for 23 minutes. In the meantime, you can prep your burrito filling...

  2. Add all the basic burrito filling ingredients to a mixing bowl, stir until thoroughly combined and adjust seasonings to your taste.

  3. To assemble the burritos, spread a generous helping of hummus on the tortilla and add a few pieces of avocado - give the avocado a mash. Spoon on the rice, then the bean mixture and "accessorize" with the jalapeno peppers and chili flakes if desired.

  4. Secure burritos with a toothpick or wrap in parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes or until the tortillas are lightly browned on the edges.

Recipe Notes

These burritos keep well as leftovers and can be reheated by wrapping in tin foil and placing in a 350 degree F for about 20 minutes or until heated through. Oven re-heating may not top the microwave in speed, but it keeps your tortilla crisp like it was meant to be.

 

 

If you have family members who promise you they can’t survive without meat and will launch a revolt if you serve them only veggies, I give you permission to cook up some meat and add it to the burritos for the sake of keeping the peace.

 

 

 

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  • Though I prefer homemade tortillas, life is just too busy. So I save my sanity and buy my tortillas from Trader Joes – the chile ones are my favorite. If you need gluten-free tortillas, you can try these. For oil-free tortillas, try the Food for Life brand which can be found in most health food stores.
  • My favorite brand of store-bought hummus is Sabra. Roasted red pepper is my preferred flavor, especially for Mexican recipes (and even looks a little like cheese).
  • I prefer the unsalted veggie stock by Kitchen Basics if I don’t have my own on hand. If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, you can get it here.
  • My daughter and I have a mild obsession with Jeff’s Natural’s jalapeno peppers which you can find here. Jeff uses purer ingredients than the canned kind.

 

game, set, matcha coconut lime energy bites (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free, paleo)

As we’re learning, life in high school is busy…especially when you throw in sports. It usually makes for a long day and a late arrival home.

To brighten up my daughter’s long day and making snacking on the run easier, I whipped up these matcha coconut lime energy bites – a nod to her chosen sport this season and because matcha naturally boosts energy. It also helps with mental alertness, has antioxidant powers (hello bright green powder!), boosts the immune system and cardiovascular health and can fight infections – which gives it an A+ in my books.

 

 

This was my first time trying matcha after hearing of it several years ago on Kathy Patalsky’s blog, Healthy Happy Life. Yep, even thought I’m a tea drinker, it took me this long to try it since it’s more expensive than the tea I normally buy, but happily, I found that a little goes a looong way. And I’m excited to experiment and see what this does for my own energy.

If you’ve never tried matcha, it tastes like green tea because it is, um, green tea, but carries greater health benefits. If you want to learn more about its history, how it’s grown and it’s properties, click here.

Making these game, set, matcha energy bites is as easy as 1-2-3. Just thoroughly mix the ingredients in a food processor, form into bite-sized balls and coat in unsweetened shredded coconut since the batter is very sticky. You could coat them in matcha powder as I did here, but that amount of undiluted matcha powder carries a bitter overtone. So unless you don’t mind a little bitter with you no-added-sugar sweet, I’d stick with the unsweetened coconut.

Speaking of sweet…as with most of my recipes, these energy bites do not have any energy-sapping, immune suppressing added sugar! They also work for gluten-free and paleo diets since they are free from grains.

 

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Game, Set, Matcha Coconut Lime Energy Bites
Prep Time
15 mins
 

These coconut lime energy bites carry the subtle flavor of green tea and are perfect for hectic days when you're on the go and need a natural boost of energy.

Course: Snack
Servings: 9 energy bites
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for coating)
  • 2 pinches salt
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates, then put all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the cashews have mostly been chopped into very fine pieces. Since the mixture is very sticky, keep your hands slightly wet with water to form the bite-size balls. Place additional coconut in a plastic bag, drop in each energy bite one at a time and shake to coat. For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.

    Can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for several days.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they tend to stay juicer than when the pits are removed. Make sure you are using 100% PURE stevia - read the ingredients closely! - as most stevia powders have added sweeteners and/or artificial ingredients.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Since this was my first time trying matcha, I purchased a small amount from Whole Foods. But you can find it cheaper here and in a larger quantity
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping

snack to school week :: more spinach trees! (nut free, sugar free, vegan)

As I was dreaming up this week of recipes for you, I had several goals in mind: the recipes had to be quick and easy to prepare, offered healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives to typical kid-geared snacks and had an element of fun to entice tiny palettes.

When it comes to fruits and sweeter veggies like carrots, this isn’t so hard. But greens like spinach are another matter.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! I’m mildly obsessed with it and cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s ridiculously easy, free of nuts, can also be make seed-free and takes an already healthy condiment to a new level.

Meet the “More Spinach Trees” snack.

You have two options for mixing up the spinach hummus dip. Either you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus for a leafy look.

Or place the hummus and spinach in a food processor and give it a whirl until the spinach is thoroughly incorporated and turns the hummus a light green color. While I love homemade hummus (you can find my favorite recipe here), I usually buy mine because it’s a time saver for me.

To assemble as the More Spinach Trees, slice some cucumber, spread on the spinach hummus dip and add a pretzel rod trunk. If you’re sending this to school, you can package each element separately and let your child assemble on their own. While it’s healthiest to leave the pretzel rods out all together, keep them in if it encourages your child to try the spinach hummus dip.

While I find it hard to notice a difference in taste or even texture when I’ve added the spinach, suspicious children may still balk at trying this (one of mine did). If that’s the case, start out with smaller amount and gradually increase it over time as they adjust to the new color.

If you try this, I would love to hear your feedback! Did your children like it? Or not?

 

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More Spinach Trees!

A fun and easy way to boost the nutrients in an already healthy snack and sneak some extra greens into your child's diet...and your own too!

Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup regular hummus of your choice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed spinach
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • pretzel rods
Instructions
  1. For the "leafy" spinach hummus dip, finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus. For the blended green hummus, add the hummus and spinach to a food processor and blend the spinach breaks down and turns the hummus to a light green color.

  2. To assemble the "trees," spread the hummus on each slice of cucumber and place on a tray. Add a pretzel rod "trunk."

Recipe Notes

For pickier eaters, you may need to start off with smaller quantity of spinach and gradually work your way up. The spinach doesn't noticeably affect the taste or texture of the hummus, but the different appearance can cause little ones to be suspicious. 😉

One of the best tips for helping children accept vegetables and new flavors is one I encountered in a vegetarian cookbook several years ago: chop the veggies into smaller child bite-sited pieces. I’ve found I like doing this for myself too! For this dip, finely chop the spinach if you’re going to stir it in vs. blending it.

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I bought my pretzel rods at Trader Joe’s, but here’s a brand I like even better!
  • My go-to brand of hummus is made by Sabra which many grocery stores carry.

 

snack to school week: trail mix

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Today my children started back to school; it’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. Not just because we’re (okay, I’m) ready to get back on a more structured schedule, but because I’ve been dreaming up recipes and planning posts to share for “Snack to School Week” here on Wildberry Press! Yipee!

Before we jump into today’s recipe, a little disclaimer…while I hope these recipes will please those little palettes – and your too! – I won’t use the label “kid friendly.” I’ve been down that road enough times to know there is always at least one child who refuses to eat “kid friendly” foods. I don’t know about you, but that has always left me feeling a) I was scammed by the recipe creators or b) my child isn’t normal. Neither of which is true; it’s just life. 😉 Instead, I’m sharing recipes that are generally crowd pleasers and have been given the thumbs up by most of my brood.

Like this trail mix.

Though it’s tempting to buy pre-made trail mixes in the stores, I have yet to find one that doesn’t contain an unnecessary amount of added sugar, preservatives and/or food dyes. So for the longest time, I’ve made up my own mixes.

Back when my children were little and I hadn’t curbed my sugar intake LOL I used to make this version all the time and I had to share it because of the secret I discovered in getting them to eat all the trail mix and not just picking out the chocolate chips.

Want to know what it is?

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and pop it in a warm oven like 200 degrees F) for at least 15-20 minutes.

 

Then simply stir until all the pieces are coated in chocolate, pour onto a jelly roll pan and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. And voila! Trail mix with chocolate that can’t be picked out.

The other thing I love about this recipe is the ability to customize it to different tastes and control the sugar content (or eliminate all together if you’ve cut back on sugar like me).

To keep it vegan, look for dairy-free chocolate chips. If you’re sending this to nut-free school, check if seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower, are allowed instead or eliminate them all together.

 

 

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Buying nuts in bulk is cheapest. I get mine at BJs, but you also can find them here
  • I buy Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels (also at BJ’s), which you can find here.
  • I get my chocolate chips at Trader Joe’s, but here is another kind of dairy-free chocolate chip if you aren’t near a Trader Joe’s
  • I prefer using apple juice sweetened cranberries which I find in the bulk section at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here
  • I also get my raw pumpkin seeds in the Whole Foods bulk section, but they also can be purchased here.

 

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Print
Trail Mix
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Easily cutomizable and free of the excessive added sugars, preservatives and/or food dyes commonly found in store-bought trail mixes. 

Course: Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • almonds
  • mini pretzels
  • raw pumpkin seeds
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • dairy free chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Place in a warm oven (around 200 degrees F) for 15-20 minutes or until the chocolate chips are soft and melty. Pour the mixture onto a jelly roll pan and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the chocolate has firmed up. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes
  • Using apple juice sweetened cranberries lowers the added sugar content
  • Try different combinations of nuts and seeds and dried fruits.