Delicious breakfast treat: healthy French toast

imageA few weeks ago, I made this French toast for the whole family, and they loved it. We don’t normally do bread–even gluten-free–so this is a treat!

Target carries Canyon Bakehouse bread (I’ve tried both the Mountain White and the 7 Grain) and–as a treat–the ingredients are pretty good! Also, according to their website, their breads are non-GMO.


6 eggs

1 T vanilla extract

2 t cinnamon

1 13.5-oz can full-fat, organic coconut milk (I usually get canned Native Forest)

16 slices / 1 loaf of healthy bread (Mountain White and  7 Grain both worked well)

image

Directions: beat eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a shallow dish or bowl, then stir in milk. Dip bread in the mixture, coating both sides. Then place the bread on a preheated griddle or large skillet. Cook for a couple of minutes until browned, then flip. Remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven, if needed. Serve on plates with plenty of grass-fed butter and organic grade B maple syrup, and maybe some sliced strawberries or blueberries!

A recipe worth the wait

This is my favorite patience-trying recipe, worth it in so many ways.

Making it this way preserves the raw garlic benefits (mostly from allicin, which is formed from garlic when a compound called alliin in garlic comes into contact with the garlic enzyme alliinase when raw garlic is cut, crushed or chewed. When you heat or cook garlic, alliinase becomes inactivated, preventing the production of allicin).

Pickled garlic

Fresh garlic cloves (several bulbs worth)
Apple cider vinegar
Honey, raw
Jar with lid
Wax paper

Carefully peel the cloves of garlic without nicking them. (If you nick them, they will look funny but are still usable). Peel enough to fill a jar. You can use any size jar.

Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar. If the jar’s lid is metal, cover the mouth of the jar with wax paper and then screw on the lid. (I’ve found it easier to use a glass jar with plastic lid.) Place a label on the jar. Keep at room temp and shake daily for 6 weeks.

After 6 weeks, pour off half the vinegar. (Save this for using in cooking). Add honey to fill to top. Re-cover and shake. Shake daily for another 6 weeks.

The garlic is now ready to eat! You can eat them as a treat or take at the first sign of illness.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

A nutty treat

Do you soak your nuts? 🙂

Soaking nuts is a good way to make them more digestible, since it neutralizes the phytic acid that naturally occurs in them. Of course, after soaking, they’re all bloated and moist–yuck! So then it’s time to dehydrate them! I have a dehydrator (love it and use it mainly for nuts), but you can also use your oven. This may sound like a lot of work, but it makes the nuts so much easier on your body and also makes the nutrients in the nuts more available for absorption.

Here is a quick rundown on soaking and dehydrating, and then I want to share a delicious recipe. To soak your nuts, put them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water to 2 inches above the level of the nuts. Then add sea salt (quantity depends on how many nuts you have; for a Costco-sized bag of raw walnuts or almonds, I add 2 Tablespoons of salt). Let soak overnight or at least 12 hours. Drain and give a quick rinse. Then spread your nuts out evenly on your dehydrator trays or on cookie sheets. Set dehydrator according to directions, OR put in your oven at the lowest possible setting (150 would be great) for 8-12 hours. I find almonds take longer than walnuts. (After 8 hours, take one out and eat it; is it crunchy or still a bit moist? You aren’t trying to cook it, but you want it to be dried through.) After you’ve dehydrated the nuts, now you can use them to make nut flours, nut butters, or other treats!

Here is a fun and very delicious thing I did this week with some of our dehydrated walnuts.

Chocolate walnut butter

2 cups soaked/dehydrated walnuts

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

2 Tablespoons raw honey or grade B maple syrup (or 1 T of each)

Put the walnuts into a food processor or blender:

IMG_5285

Process until the walnuts turn into nut butter! Here is what they look like after a few pulses:

IMG_5286

And here they’ve clumped together enough to be nut buttery (don’t worry if it seems dry; the honey/syrup will help):

IMG_5287

Now add your cacao powder and honey/syrup:

IMG_5288

Process:

IMG_5289

Scrape down the sides, and process one more time:

IMG_5290

Now enjoy your delicious, healthy chocolate walnut butter! You can do this with hazelnuts to make an even-closer-to-Nutella version. This is good as a fruit dip or eaten straight on a spoon!

IMG_5291

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: dinner

This week I’ve been detailing what our typical breakfasts (all about efficiency), lunches (all about nutritious taste), and dinners involve. Today let’s look at dinner!

Since dinner is more about variety, I don’t have a “typical” dinner that we eat. However, my tried-and-true, make-them-at-least-twice-a-month meals are lettuce-wrap tacos, spicy honey chicken and sweet potato rounds, and oven-roasted chicken.

Lettuce-wrap tacos

I used to think making taco meat meant using one of those spice packets, but have you looked at those ingredients? You can easily make your own spice combination, or simply brown ground beef with salt, pepper, and 4-5 minced garlic cloves. Then dice and/or prepare your other desired ingredients: tomatoes, avocado (a must for us!), green onions, cheese (if your fam does cheese), salsa, etc. Peel lettuce leaves, and use them like tortillas. Easy!

Spicy honey chickenspicy honey chicken with honey

This is our family’s favorite dinner recipe, hands down. I make a huge batch of the spice rub and have it on hand all the time.

You wouldn’t think that a spice rub would make that big of a difference, but MAN does it. Also, I think chicken thighs taste much better with this recipe than breasts. Grilling also adds that extra deliciousness factor, but I have made this on the stovetop before and it does still taste good.

Sweet potato rounds

This recipe evolved from when I used to make sweet potato fries. Cutting the fry shape gets pretty laborious, so I tried doing it this way, and we all love it!

Preheat oven to 375. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds (not TOO thin or they’ll burn). Coat both sides in coconut oil, then spread evenly in one layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Put in oven for approximately 45 minutes. They should be crisp (and delicious) like fries.

Oven-roasted chicken

I like this recipe so much! I like making a whole chicken, because we can use the leftovers for multiple things, and then I use the bones to make broth.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: lunch

Like I mentioned Monday, lunch (specifically school lunch) around here means good foods I know my kids will actually eat. I like to include a hardy protein (+ fat), a fruit or vegetable I know they’ll actually eat, and a “treat.” Hardboiled eggs, leftover meat, vegetables and hummus, apples, oranges, and bananas all make it into lunches every week.

Now let’s get to the details about those treats!

This recipe is one of our all-time favorites. I started making these before I knew about soaking grains, but now that I do that, I add an extra couple steps. Soak the oatmeal, then dehydrate it if possible. Then proceed with this fun recipe!

Energy balls adapted from the recipe at Smashed Peas and Carrots

1 cup gluten-free oats

1/2 cup raw almond butter or cashew butter (or–better yet–a nut butter you’ve made)

1/3 cup raw honey (to make vegan, which I’ve done when making these as gifts for teachers, substitute grade B maple syrup)

1 scant cup unsweetened coconut flakes/shredded coconut

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything in a medium bowl until incorporated. Let chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then roll into balls. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

For schools that do not allow nuts, the above recipe can also be made with sunflower seed butter.

Another treat I like to give the kids is healthy cookies. I’ve yet to come across the perfect recipe that all three children love (usually two love something and one doesn’t!) AND that are nut-free. Here is our favorite easy cookie recipe that does include nuts.

Almond-coconut-chocolate cookies

1 cup raw creamy almond butter

6-7 Tbs raw honey

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (can make your own by grinding oats)

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk almond butter, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add oat flour, cacao powder, and baking soda. Stir until combined. Scoop dough into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Place on baking sheet and press down with a fork, forming a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 12 cookies.

Finally, sometimes I like to put a piece of bread or a waffle into the kids’ lunches. HereIMG_2737 is a good coconut flour bread recipe I’ve made a couple of times (nut free!) from The Paleo Mom, and here I posted our favorite waffles.

Paleo Bread

4 eggs

4 Tbs butter or coconut oil

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 baking soda

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 7.5″x3.5″ loaf pan with wax paper.  Grease the wax paper with coconut oil.
2.    Melt the butter (or coconut oil if using) and let cool slightly.
3.    Beat eggs until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again until smooth. Let the batter sit for a minute to thicken.
4.    Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Spread it out so that the surface is even. Bake for 35 minutes.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: breakfast

Yesterday, I gave some basics on what our daily eating generally looks like. Here are the details on breakfast.

Once every two weeks or so, I make a big batch of these sausage patties. Once they’ve cooked in the oven and cooled on the counter, I put them in the freezer. Then, in the mornings, I put a couple into the toaster oven at around 300 degrees for 7-8 minutes. If we were crunched for time and I could only serve one thing for breakfast, it would be these! They’re packed with protein, good fats, and vegetables.

Sausage patties

Makes approximately 24.

2 pounds ground meat (I use grass-fed beef)

2 eggs

1 T sea salt

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp pepper

¼ tsp ground ginger

handful of greens like kale, spinach, chard

1-2 carrots

1 small onion

1 squash, zucchini, raw or cooked cauliflower, or whatever other vegetable you have on hand that you want to add

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except meat in a food processor and process until smooth. Add mixture to ground meat in a large bowl, and mix together with your hands, a la meat loaf. Once incorporated, form patties and arrange on cookie sheets. Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and store in the freezer.

Most days, we also have oatmeal (though Nate doesn’t like it so I don’t make it for him). Here’s how I prepare ours:

Oatmeal

Put 1 to 1¼ cup warm filtered water into a pot. Add scant cup gluten-free rolled oats. (If using steel cut oats, use 2 cups water to 1 cup oats.) Add one Tablespoon of an acidic liquid like lemon juice or whey. Let sit for 7 hours or overnight.

In the morning, no need to drain. Just turn on your burner and bring to a medium-high heat. When bubbling, turn to low and cover the pot. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove cover and stir. Sometimes I let ours cook a couple minutes more with the top off.

To serve, put into bowls (this serves two) and put a huge pat of grass-fed butter on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with raw honey or grade B maple syrup.

See www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/04/soaking-oatmeal.html for more details!

See www.weedemandreap.com/guide-soaking-sprouting-sour-leavening-grains-part-5/ for a great intro to soaking.

Finally, scrambled eggs are almost always part of our breakfasts. It’s not rocket science, I know, but here’s how we do ours:

Scrambled eggs

Heat 1 Tablespoon coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. Crack 8-9 eggs into a bowl and whisk. (I don’t add any other liquid! But if you want to, you can add a liquid–raw milk if available or even water.) When the skillet is hot, add the eggs. Let cook for a bit, then scramble to the doneness you like.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Intro to fermenting

Yesterday, I mentioned fermenting and whey. Today, I want to delve into the practical side of fermenting: how to do it and my favorite easy ferments to try. Much of my information comes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, which I recommend to anyone who asks me about my favorite books.

The basic how-to of fermenting is pretty simple. Wash and cut up the fruits or vegetables you’re using, then mix with salt (plus possibly herbs or spices), and pound to release juices. Then press everything into air-tight containers, pounding the vegetables down more so that the juices/liquid covers the vegetables. The salt keeps the vegetables from going bad until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the veggies. (Whey is an optional addition, and I like to use it because its lactic acid and good bacteria act as an inoculant, reducing the time needed for preservation and ensuring consistently successful results.) Cover and let sit at room temperature for a few days. Done! Ferments can then be stored in the fridge for months.

The first recipe I’d recommend trying is ginger carrots, because it requires few ingredients, has a milder taste, and is almost fool-proof!

Ginger Carrots (from Nourishing Traditions, p. 95)

4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 Tablespoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons whey (if not available, use additional 1 T salt)

In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices cover the carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temp about 3 days before transferring to refrigerator. Note: if you can’t get the juices to cover the carrots, it’s OK to add a little bit of filtered water.

Another ferment I’ve had success making that tasted absolutely delicious (possibly my favorite) is kimchi. Lucy loved it too.

Kimchi (Nourishing Traditions, p. 94)

1 head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cup carrots, grated

1/2 cup daikon radish, grated (optional)

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes

1 Tablespoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons whey (if not available, use additional 1 T salt)

Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the veggies should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temp for about 3 days before transferring to refrigerator.

Do you or your kids miss having ketchup? Store-bought stuff is full of sugar, but try this ferment recipe instead!

Ketchup (Nourishing Traditions, p. 104)

3 cups canned tomato paste, preferable organic

1/4 cup whey

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup (grade B organic)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup homemade fish sauce or commercial fish sauce

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. The top of the ketchup should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Leave at room temp for about 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.

See you tomorrow!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Nourishing recipes worth taking time for: ferments

Today is the second day I’m talking about recipes that are worth taking time for. Yesterday, I wrote about homemade broth, which is nourishing and easily digestible. Today I’m introducing ferments.

The word “fermented” sure didn’t use to sound appetizing to me. However, fermented foods are actually full of incredible amounts of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and readily available nutrients.

Fermentation is when naturally present bacteria, usually of the lactobaccillus or bifidus strains, (or sometimes yeasts) begin “pre-digesting” or breaking down the sugars and starches in the food. As these bacteria divide, the process forms lactic acid, which halts the growth of the “bad” or putrefying bacteria. This acid is also responsible for the sour taste that comes along with fermented foods.

As long as the foods are kept under a brine or a liquid, and in cool storage, the product will last for months, sometimes years.

Sally Fallon writes,

Lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. (Nourishing Traditions, p. 89)

Some examples of fermented foods are sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi, but nearly any vegetable or fruit can be fermented!

Whey

As a preface to all the fermented recipes I’m going to introduce, let’s look for a minute at how to make whey. Then tomorrow, we’ll get into some practical fermenting info.

Whey is essentially the liquid by-product of making cheese.

Homemade cultured whey is indispensable for making fermented vegetables, chutneys, beverages and grain dishes. It can be made from various types of cultured milk, good quality yogurt or even fresh raw milk, which will sour and separate naturally when left at room temperature for several days.

While some people may be averse to letting milk/milk products sit at room temperature for several days, that’s exactly how you begin making whey! But we will be using unpasteurized, natural milk products. Without pasteurization or refrigeration, milk naturally sours and separates because of lacto-fermentation, when lactic-acid-producing bacteria begin digesting or breaking down both milk sugar (lactose) and milk protein (casein). When these good bacteria have produced enough lactic acid to inactivate all putrefying bacteria, the milk is effectively preserved from spoilage for several days or weeks and in the case of cheese, several years.*

Whey recipe

2 quarts piima milk, whole-milk buttermilk, yogurt, or raw milk

If using piima milk or buttermilk, let stand at room temp 1-2 days until the milk visibly separates into white curds and yellowish whey. If you are using yogurt, no advance preparation is required. You can use homemade yogurt or good quality commercial plain yogurt. If using raw milk, place milk in a clean glass container (covered) and allow it to stand at room temp 1-4 days until it separates. (Note: my raw milk took over a week! It needs to separate visibly into white curds and nearly clear yellowish whey.)

Line a large strainer set over a bowl with a clean dish towel or cheese cloth. Pour in the yogurt or separated milk, cover and let stand at room temp for several hours (longer for yogurt). The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer. Tie up the towel with the solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container so that more whey can drop out. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready. Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for about 6 months.

What are we going to use this whey for??? Tomorrow, we’ll be using it in all of our ferment recipes, and whey is also good for soaking grains.

* Sources:

http://ohlardy.com/the-science-and-history-of-culturing-foods/

Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

More sanity-saving recipes

As I’ve mentioned, doing the GAPS diet requires lots of energy and lots of hours. They were worth it, but it was also nice to have some standby meal ideas and recipes to make things a bit easier. Here is my other post on sanity-saving recipes.

One-pot dinners

I love meals that require few dishes/bowls because they cut down on cleanup time and they just taste delicious when all the flavors meld together! Here is my favorite one-pot dinner from the last few months:

Paprika chicken thighs slightly adapted from reluctantentertainer.compot1

This dish is so tasty and easy! To make it GAPS friendly, remove the potatoes. When I made it, I did use a few small potatoes for my husband to have, and I also added in sweet potatoes for me. (I stay away from most nightshade vegetables like potatoes, eggplant, and peppers, as they irritate my joints!) This dish is also a great way to get some nourishing homemade chicken broth into your diet without doing a soup.

  • 3 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbs. coconut oil
  • Pressed garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 lb. red and white small potatoes, in 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 Tbs. tapioca flour/tapioca starch
  • 1 1/3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  1. Combine about 2 T. smokey paprika, 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Rub on chicken and coat all pieces.
  2. In a large heavy frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat the process until all the chicken has been lightly cooked.
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the frying pan, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir another 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  4. Gently whisk the flour into the wine. Gradually pour into the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock; stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low, simmering until the chicken and vegetables are cooked. Cook for about 30 minutes. Right before serving, mix the chicken and vegetables; add in the thyme. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper. Serve on farro, rice, or quinoa.

Soups

I adore soup, and–thankfully–I have a husband who likes it, too! My boys don’t love it, but it’s so healthy and nourishing that I make it anyway (they just have to eat a few spoonfuls… but that’s all there is for dinner). Another great thing about making soups is you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand and just follow a general base recipe:

Base recipe for basic vegetable/chicken stock soup

Heat 1 T coconut oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Chop an onion and mince 2-3 cloves garlic, and add them to the pot. Stir for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. I like to add some salt and pepper now, too. Then add 6-8 cups of homemade chicken broth. While that is coming to a boil, chop additional vegetables like 2-3 carrots, stalks of celery, sweet potatoes (not GAPS), kale–whatever you have on hand. Once the broth is boiling, add the vegetables, bring back to a boil, and turn heat to low to simmer. Allow the soup to simmer until vegetables are tender–30 minutes to an hour and a half (however tender you like your veggies). You can also add in shredded cooked meat and additional herbs/spices. With soup, it’s hard to go wrong!

If you’ve never made homemade broth before, never fear! Tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about that.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Food at school

Once you have your child on a restricted diet, school adds a new element of difficulty. Every week–sometimes nearly every day–is someone’s birthday or some special day when parents want to bring in “treats” for the kids. Here’s how I navigate these waters.

First, I love when teachers encourage non-food celebrations. For example, some teachers invite parents to bring the child’s favorite book and read it to the class and then tell the class a few special things about the child as a celebration of his/her birthday. Love that. Or what about children getting to bring in a few favorite items from home to show their classmates and teacher on their special day?

Second, I also love when teachers limit what types of foods can be brought to class. And they should!–Teachers directly benefit from reducing the sugar, processed food, and junk intake of the kids in their class. Teachers can say, for instance, that only fruit and popcorn are allowed. This pleases parents like me, who care about what their kids eat, and also prevents most issues for children with allergies. Parents who really want to give their kids treats covered in colorful frosting can surprise the children at pickup at 3:00 with a single cupcake.

When these ideals aren’t reality, though, here’s my best tip: stock your child’s classroom with acceptable “treats.” I don’t just mean bring in a treat on the days you know another parent is bringing something in. I mean stock at least 10 treats, because I can’t even count the times I’ve found out after the fact that so-and-so’s parent brought in cupcakes and “healthy store-bought muffins” (really? healthy?). So I get my child’s teacher on board, explaining briefly why Nate can’t have sugar, wheat, most dairy, processed foods, etc., and then I provide a bunch of items to keep on hand in the classroom for when they’re needed.

Treat ideashoneymints

Here are three of my favorite nut-free treats to stock at school. Many of our favorite treats have nuts in them (almond flour, almond butter, etc.), and since most schools are nut free, I have excluded those treats from this list.

  • Trader Joe’s honey mints – these are definitely a treat, but I love them because they can last a long time at school, and Nate loves them. He usually gets to have two if everyone else gets muffins or the like. Ingredients: honey, chocolate liquor, oil of peppermint.
  • Easy banana-oat cookies – two of my kids like these, and it’s easy and economical to make a huge batch and keep in the freezer in the kids’ classroom. The add-ins I do are cinnamon and a couple tablespoons of raw honey. NOTE: to be healthiest, definitely soak your oats first, then dehydrate before making your oat cookies. (You can also try without dehydrating but might have to adjust the recipe to account for extra moisture.)
  • Buttermintsbuttermints – pretty much my favorite treat of all time. These will work in classrooms with a refrigerator or freezer. Even though my kids consider these “treats,” they are filled with such goodness that I offer them often.

But what if your child is a sneak? I have one of these (not Nate), who occasionally likes to sneak bites of things not usually allowed. At my kids’ particular school, this isn’t too much of a problem, because kids are not allowed to share or trade food with each other, and generally, teachers encourage healthy foods to be brought in to class (if at all). But if this is a problem for you, I would recruit your child’s teacher to assist. Explain how important staying away from certain foods is for your child, emphasizing behavioral implications that could even affect your child at school. Ask for the teacher’s assistance and buy-in, and then be proactive about stocking acceptable treats that your child loves and doesn’t often get. (Back at a previous school, when Nate was in special ed and had an IEP, I included his diet requirements as part of his official IEP! Teachers or other parents were not allowed to give Nate any food without my permission; I had to be that strict because those teachers were not on the same page as I was and often thought something was “fine” when it wasn’t. Example: one teacher didn’t know goldfish crackers had wheat/gluten.)

Do you have any treats you like to stock in your child’s class?

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.