Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paleo/Primal School Lunch Ideas

I'm still in shock, but somehow I now have a First grader and a Third grader! How did this happen? Just yesterday we brought home a tiny little toe-headed boy and the day before that we brought home a 4 1/2 lb itty-bitty baby girl. However it happened, they are both in school all day now while I sit home and wonder what I'm going to be when I grow up. Ok, so the first few weeks I'll not be doing a lot of sitting; all of those projects built up over the summer and now need to be tackled. But in a week or so, I'll have some time on my hands.

This school year both of my kids will be eating lunch at school. So one of my first projects to tackle will be perfecting my protein & veggie-filled muffin recipe to put in the kids' lunches. Until then, though, they need something yummy and nutritious in their lunch boxes to get them through the day without crashing in the afternoon. This first week is a short one, so we didn't have to come up with too many different lunch combos, but after a while I assume they'll want something different. So we came up with a list of possible things to put into a lunch box that will be a hit with the kids and satisfy my need to put "real" food in the box.

I love the idea of a "bento box" style lunch. Neither of my kids are huge sandwich fans; so putting a bunch of separate snacky-type foods in their box seemed like the reasonable thing to do. Here are the ideas for my kids' school lunches (the kids do not exclusively eat paleo/primal/gluten-free/dairy-free, but I try to serve them real food as much as possible):
  1. Ham Cubes (all meat is nitrate/nitrite and sweetener free whenever possible)
  2. Hot dog
  3. Cheese Cubes (all dairy products do not contain rBST, hormones, antibiotics, etc.)
  4. Boiled egg (eggs come from our backyard chickens)
  5. Pepperoni slices
  6. Salami slices
  7. Homemade Jerky
  8. Meatballs ( recipe suggested by my friend April)
  9. Banana (fresh or dried) (All fruit is organic whenever possible)
  10. Apple slices with peanut/almond butter
  11. Grapes
  12. Plantain Chips
  13. Pickles (homemade)
  14. Carrots with dip
  15. Apple Sauce (unsweetened)
  16. Veggie/Fruit muffin or cookie
  17. PB & J (will try bread recipe)
  18. Lunch meat roll ups
  19. Frozen fruit (thaws in the box)
  20. Yogurt Pop (frozen tube yogurt)
  21. Sweet Potato Chips
  22. Leftovers

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paleo/primal Cupcakes and Muffins

I was wondering around Borders the other day with the kids after they marked everything down 40%. The kids were looking at Legos and I was looking in the health section. I happened upon Elena Amsterdam's Gluten-Free Cupcakes book. I've loved Elana's pantry website forever and wanted the book, but wasn't really willing to pay full price for it. At 40% off, I put it in my cart!

I've been trying to think of things to put in my kids' lunchboxes that will get more protein and veggies into their diet. My son is not a big fan of meat and won't eat nuts; so this has the potential to become an issue when he starts eating lunch at school. I'm hoping that I can concoct a few different muffin recipes that include almond flour, cheese, fruits and/or veggies. Starting with Elana's recipes I think I may be able to make something that will work for both kids.

Today I went on a cupcake/muffin making frenzy and made 3 different kinds! I made a Banana Chocolate muffin that was by the recipe, then made a cheese muffin that was a little different and a coconut one that I changed significantly. I think the coconut was my favorite and I will definitely make that one again. The cheese muffin needs something and it has the potential to house many different veggies for school lunches; so I'll need to work on that one. Every recipe in the book looks great and includes healthy ingredients and minimal sugars.  She uses mostly Agave for her recipes, but I think fruit could be substituted to make them even healthier. So here are my modified recipes. Enjoy!

Cheese Muffins (Gluten Free, Primal)
1 1/4 C almond meal
1/4 C coconut flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
2 Eggs
3 T Coconut Oil melted
1.5 C shredded Cheese (I used Cheddar, but other kinds would be nice, too)

Mix flours, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Add eggs and oil and mix well. Fold in cheese then put 1 T of batter in a paper lined mini-muffin tin (use 1/4 C of mixture if making a regular sized muffin). Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for larger muffins. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Let muffins rest for 15 minutes before eating. Makes about 3 dozen mini muffins or 12 regular sized ones.

Coconut Cupcakes (Paleo, primal, gluten free and dairy free)
1/2 C Coconut flour
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
4 Eggs
1/2 C coconut oil
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
2 T liquid sweetener of choice (maple syrup or honey are good choices)
1 T vanilla
1/2 C unsweetened shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients except shredded coconut until well blended then fold in shredded coconut. put 1 T of batter in a paper lined mini-muffin tin (use 1/4 C of mixture if making a regular sized muffin). Bake at 350 for about 20minutes for mini muffins and 30 minutes for larger muffins. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Let muffins rest for 45 minutes before eating.  Makes about 3 dozen mini muffins or 12 regular sized ones.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Abundance from the Garden

Since getting back home from our road trip to LegoLand in Southern CA, the garden has been providing the veggies for dinner every night. Just this weekend we got our first 80 degree days in months, but even so, last week the temps were in the high 70's, which the garden absolutely loved. As a result the flowers and veggies decided that summer had in fact come to the PNW.

Almost daily, I can pick enough green beans for everyone to have a scoop or 2 on their dinner plates. My pea plants are still producing some snap peas since it hasn't gotten too hot here, and  the yellow squash and zucchini give me a good sized fruit to pick almost every day as well.
The cukes are starting to make something big enough to pick, and I have enough chard and kale to last me for years. The root veggies are also ready to pick. I dug up a couple of handfuls of potatoes the other day, pulled up most of the beets and most of the carrots and all of the rutabaga.

We will eat the beet greens along with the kale and chard; I like to roast them with a little olive oil, salt and lemon juice. This year I planted 3 kinds of cabbage: red, green and savoy. I've picked a couple heads of the green cabbage, but the others aren't forming heads yet.

I also planted cauliflower for the first time this year. Every plant produced a head; they were all fairly small but very tasty. I'll definitely plant cauliflower again next year. And my broccoli did fairly well this year, too; I'm still picking side shoots almost every day. And believe it or not my tomato plants have tiny green tomatoes on them! Maybe they'll turn red before it gets too cold outside.

I think the only plants that I grew this year that were failures were the melons. I planted both crenshaw and honeydew melon, but so far the plants are tiny and have no real chance of setting fruit. I think the lack of heat in my garden just isn't conducive to growing melons of any type. Maybe if I tried them up near the house by the tomatoes they would do better...something to consider for next year.

I also planted a couple types of marigolds, sunflower and calendula to try to add some color to the garden and attract bees. It definitely add something pretty to the garden, but I'm not sure if it brought in the bees. We've talked about getting a couple of beehives, but haven't made any movements in that direction. So I guess that's a discussion for another year.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

They did it again

As you may recall we've had several broody hens in our flock. They fly out of the fence, lay their eggs somewhere in the bushes then parade back a flock of chicks to show the other hens how it's done. So far this has not ended well since we have raccoons that frequent our yard and make a buffet from our coop. Well, they did it again. Another mama brought out 11 chicks for the other hens to envy, 6 black ones and 5 light yellow ones. I have no idea what breed these chicks will be. The mother is a Rhode Island Red and the dads could be Barred Rock, Aracauna, Buff Orpington or Rhode Island Red. I really have no idea what color eggs they will lay...if they are hens rather than roosters. 

Two days later she promptly got eaten by something (probably a raccoon) leaving the chicks peeping in the bushes at 12:30 in the morning. After I heard the peeping through the closed window, Hubby and I ran outside with our pajamas and head lamps to gather up the chicks that were left and put them in the greenhouse with a heat lamp and provisions.

So now we have 8 chicks to raise, 4 black and 4 yellow. The greenhouse is much too hot to be a brooder at this time of year. I went in the day after we rescued the chicks to find the greenhouse at 110 degrees inside. It is a greenhouse, so it's doing its job, but that was not the right place to put 3 day old chicks unless I wanted to broil them.

So Hubby took the small run from our original little red coop and put chicken wire on the 4th side that usually attached to the coop. I took some empty feed bags, stapled them to half of the box for shade and rain cover, attached the brooder light to the ceiling in the corner, added water and food and set them loose.  So far they seem happy in there. They are scratching at the dirt, eating the grass and snuggling in a heap when they sleep. I had thought of finding another broody hen to raise them, but it's too stressful for me to depend on a chicken to take care of the chicks out in the bushes with all of these predators prowling around at  night. At least while they are in our care we can be fairly certain they'll survive  for a while.


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