Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie


Another day, another smoothie. I can’t help myself. I’ve made this pumpkin smoothie several times and it’s delicious. Creamy, healthy, filling, and well, pumpkin-y.

The other day my husband politely inquired if all baked goods from here until spring would be pumpkin flavored. Not entirely fair since I made this AMAZING apple cinnamon oatmeal bread the other day (I subbed Cup 4 Cup flour for the gluten kind), but understandable since pumpkin is my favorite, not his. Luckily the kids are on my side.

You can make this smoothie in a high powered blender or a Cuisinart. I adapted this from a Whole Foods recipe, but mostly this came straight out of my pumpkin flavored brain.

Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie


  • 1/2 cup cold water or milk
  • 1/2 heaping cup yogurt (full fat will make a thicker shake, fyi)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree (more puree = thicker + more pumpkin flavor)
  • 1 ripe banana (frozen or not)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, or a dash of nutmeg
  • a glug of maple syrup or honey, if you like things sweeter (I’ve enjoyed it both ways)
  • a handful of ice IF you have a high powered blender (please don’t put ice in your Cuisinart, at least it never worked for me)
Some of the players.

Some of the players.


Dump everything in, and whirl away! Taste test and adjust seasonings/sweetenings until you’re satisfied, and then enjoy. Whipped topping optional. Can you imagine it, though? YUM.

IMG_4318 (1)* Update on the popularity of Smoothies in my home, the green kind in particular…

Green Smoothie POPS!

green smoothie pop

I froze some extra smoothie I made from a delightful blending of kale (yes, I said kale! for a children’s ice pop!), yogurt, pineapple, banana, and honey. Recipe coming soon.

Below is one satisfied customer. Bunky ate TWO for breakfast the other day and then asked for more after school.

I call this, "smoothie face."

I call this, “smoothie face.”

What are your favorite kinds of smoothies? I’m always on the look out for MORE.


Gluten Free Product Review Round-up

Earlier this month we spent our anniversary family-style at our country house upstate, and unlike the last trip (Easter weekend began with sun AND ended with snow!) this was summery without a spec of precipitation. It was filled with fun outdoor activities like lake swimming, sand castle building, marshmallow roasting, salamander catching (and releasing), and of course eating.

kids at lake

Red salamanders at the house and lots of green ones at the lake.

Red salamanders at the house and lots of green ones at the lake.

The eating part is surprisingly easy since the gluten free section at the local Peck’s grocery store is AWESOME! Seriously, it’s better than our grocery in Brooklyn. This makes our trips a lot easier knowing we can pick up a complete stash of Udi’s products, plus cookies, crackers, cake mixes, and more instead of packing our usual fridge/freezer/pantry arsenal.

I found a couple of new items that my family loved and I want to share here. I rarely do product reviews, but I should do more because there’s nothing worse than spending a zillion dollars on a dry meh GF cookie or a weird rubbery wrap.

scary face

Am I right?! (Gotta love Photo Booth.)

Have I mentioned how sad I am about gluten free bread lately? [sidebar alert] As much as I love Udi’s and am eternally grateful for their brand, I can’t handle how crumbly and hole-y the bread can be. It’s gotten to the point where I feel bad about giving it to my kids, especially Little Guy who is particularly sensitive to stale tasting bread. Maybe poor Bunky is used to it after all these years. Sigh.

Recently we tried Glutino White Bread, and it is SOFT, seriously insanely soft. You don’t even have to toast it! Less healthy than the whole grain Udi’s, sure, but you know, sometimes you need to be able to chew your sandwich without gagging.


So, that was sort of an unofficial review, and now for the rest from our upstate stash…

Udi’s Gluten Free Flour Tortilla Wraps 

After years of eating quesadillas (practically a food group around here) on stiff yellow circles also known as store bought corn tortillas, I discovered these beauties.

The bread might not always be awesome, but these wraps totally are!

They are enormous and soft GF flour tortillas (they also sell smaller ones). Oh, Udi’s, I know I just bad talked your bread, but you nailed these. I used them for our regular shredded cheddar quesadillas, but also for a sweet breakfast tortilla (!) which tasted like a thick crepe, using our new favorite White Chocolate Peanut Butter and sliced banana. OMG! Unfortunately, I haven’t found these in Brooklyn yet (!) but the next time we go upstate, I’m stocking up.

Even a paper plate can't cheapen the experience.

Even a paper plate can’t cheapen the experience.

Next up…

Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix

maple grove farms gf mix

Speaking of breakfast, have you tried this mix? If not, you should give it a try because it’s awesome. Plus, there’s NO added sugar, which is not necessarily true for other mixes (Bisquick, I’m talking to you). It’s super easy to make either pancakes or waffles and both have been successful for us. I used to like making my own homemade pancakes, and still do on occasion, but it’s also nice to have the convenience of a mix, especially when your kids wake you up before dawn.

Now, no trip to the country would be complete without copious amounts of Haagen Dazs ice cream. A moment of props to HD – want to know how many ingredients are in their traditional vanilla? FIVE. Cream, sugar, skim milk, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Nothing fake, no “natural flavor” scams, nothing. Just real food.

Normally we eat it in a bowl because GF cones are not always easy to come by… except upstate where they sell these awesome ones:

Joy Gluten Free Sugar Cones

Isn't my cone model adorable?!

Isn’t my cone model adorable?!

These GF sugar cones are really tasty! They also make gluten free cake cones, by the way. One day we’ll give those a try. In the meantime, the sugar cones are rad. We all really enjoyed eating them all filled up with drippy vanilla and chocolate ice cream. The only caveat is that they leak at the bottom, but you can use your finger as a stopper, ha, or better yet melt some chocolate down there. Oh, yeah.

bunky and cone

Eating outside makes ice cream taste even better, don’t you think?

Everything outside is better in the summer. Salamander catching included.

kids and salamander

Have you had any fantastic gluten free finds lately? If so, bring it on in comments. I can always use some new ideas. And let me know if you try any of my suggestions. We GFers have to stick together, you know?


Gluten Free Overnight Oats

You know you have no life when the first thing you say to people – as in, any person, your friends, babysitter, your dad’s girlfriend, strangers on the street: “Do you like oatmeal?” And when they stare at your sort of blankly and nod or shake their heads, you blurt out the entire recipe for overnight oats with an excitement that is not infectious.

At least I don’t show them a picture.

overnight oats w spoon

But this is my platform, ha, in which to spout my love and devotion to whatever I want, and right now that thing is OVERNIGHT OATS because seriously, they are that good.

Now, don’t judge this fab breakfast by my feeble photography. The best thing about this is that you don’t have to cook it. Seriously! This is especially convenient on school mornings when I’m rushing to make Bunky lunch and Little Guy breakfast, while chugging my coffee so my eyeballs don’t fall out of my head. All I have to do is take it out of the fridge and warm it up in the microwave for 30 seconds (optional step), and then bam, breakfast is served.

Despite the rawness of this recipe, the oats are soft and chewy, not raw-tasting at all (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I used whole milk the first few times because that’s what we had and they were SUPER creamy and delightful. Then I tried them with a lower fat and the difference was obvious. Still good, though.

I was inspired by these fantastic recipes, my absolute favorite being the almond butter one, sans cocoa powder (I know, weird) and I’ve since made my own version. It’s a mouthful (no pun intended) but I couldn’t figure out how to shorten it, so…

Gluten Free Vanilla Maple Almond Butter Oats

*Adapted from My Whole Food Life’s, Almond Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats


  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats (I use regular but you can use steel cut for more texture)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsps maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (I use 2% cow’s milk)*
  • 1 tsp flax meal (optional)
Isn't the lighting just lovely?

Isn’t the lighting just lovely?


1. Throw everything in a jar or thermos. Shake and put in fridge overnight.

2. Take out in morning and warm up if you want, and enjoy!

* add more milk or a splash of water for a slightly thinner oatmeal

A lovely pic taken alongside a dying bonsai tree.

Overnight oats beside an odd looking bonsai tree from Ikea.

This breakfast has really saved me because I haven’t been eating much of anything in the mornings, besides scraps from Bunky’s lunch. It’s sad because I used to love breakfast, and well, I still do, but I have no time or energy to make myself something healthy and filling. I used to be a hearty cereal girl, but I feel like the gluten free cereal options are super lame. Sure, there are organic circles and flakes, and a bunch of great mainstream sugary kinds (hello, Cinnamon Chex, which is like crack to my kids), but where is my hearty crunchy, granola-y, clustery cereal?! No where that I can find. Sigh. I don’t mind making regular oatmeal, but it takes time and messes up a pot.

But this overnight business? Genius! I don’t have to cook, it takes about 2 minutes at night which is key during crazy chaotic pre-bedtime lunacy, and it’s ready to go in the morning. It fills me up, it’s healthy, and YUM.

All I need is for these two to get a bit older and they can make it and serve it to me. Score.

kid waiter and chef

P.S. This is my 101st post! I didn’t do any fancy shenanigans for the 100th because, um, I forgot, but I’m pretty pleased with myself to have hit this milestone even though most bloggers seem to do it in one year (or less) rather than three, but whatev. I have two kids and half a brain. So, I consider this quite a feat.

Thank you to all my readers, new and old, sporadic and regular, for tuning in to my rantings, ravings, and recipes.

Shared on the fabulous Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday link up. Click the badge below for more awesome GF recipes and tidbits.

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Gluten Free Honey Corn Muffins (Strawberry Optional)

gluten free honey corn muffins

The idea for this recipe has been hanging around in my brain for a while now. Which is saying a lot for my (short) attention span. It all starts, though, with a sweet (though not short, ha) story about Wednesdays with Little Guy.

I love Wednesdays with my boy. We have a little ritual that starts with a music class. To say Little Guy loves music class would be putting it mildly. But don’t be fooled. He’s not one of those kids who runs into the room, dances up a storm and practically vibrates with joy. I see kids like that and I’m kind of in awe. Little Guy sits on my lap. He watches. He smiles. He grabs one of the balls rolling around the room and holds it tightly to his little body. His joy is subtle. On the sly. Blink and you might miss it. But I know it’s there, and so does his teacher.

LG loves baths. You wouldn't know it from this picture.

LG loves taking a bath, but you wouldn’t know it from this picture.

He is not shy. Bunky is not shy either. But people often mistake my kids for shy because they are slow to warm. They won’t offer up immediate smiles or high fives. This makes some people uncomfortable. I can’t tell you the number of people who have said to me, “Oh, (s)he doesn’t like me!” and “What, no smile?” I liken it to a dog versus cat analogy. Most dogs, especially puppies, love attention. They will wag their tails and pant delightedly when you approach them with kindness. Try that with a cat and they will probably hide under a couch, or even let out a defensive hiss. But if you have a little patience and wait for that cat to come to you, the purr will soon follow. You have to work harder with cats, I think. And same goes for my kids.

And isn't it worth it? Check out that smile.

And isn’t it worth it? Check out that smile.

Anyhow, back to music class. Poor Bunky couldn’t handle it when she was around LG’s age. It was too loud, too crowded, simply too MUCH for her sensory sensitive disposition. (Then again, it was also very close to her diagnosis.) We’d go to class and end up sitting in the waiting area until I finally accepted defeat and left. Little Guy hops out of his stroller and grabs my hand and in we go. He says his name out loud (to my utter astonishment and delight) when it’s his turn. While he often stays on my lap and in my arms, I know he’s having fun. I feel his joy. He cries when it’s time to leave.

But Little Guy being very un-Bunky-like, is able to be distracted and cheered up by the next thing. Which is the farmer’s market. The first thing we do is buy a bag of crunchy apples and then stroll over to watch the blue grass trio pluck their guitars and breathe magic into their harmonicas. I love this trio of gray-haired musicians. They are sweet with the crowd of children who are their audience, but it is clear that they are mainly doing this for themselves. They can’t not play these instruments and sing these songs.

Little Guys senses this, I think, and he wiggles his legs while he nibbles on his apple. Up above the canopy of the stroller, however, I am not eating an apple. I am eating a honey corn raspberry muffin with a crumble topping. The GLUTEN kind.

You had to wait a long ass time for the recipe tie-in, didn’t you? Sorry, but you know how I tend to ramble. Which is maybe why I’m not on Twitter. One reason, anyhow.

So, I’ve been wanting to duplicate these in a GF way for a a long time, and now, finally, I have succeeded. I opted to skip the raspberries because I just couldn’t rationalize the crazy price so I went with strawberries instead. Since strawberries have an extremely high water content you have to be frugal with how many slivers you put in, otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy (but sweet) mess. I experimented with one batch by doing some with strawberries, some without. Some with a delicious crumble topping, some without.

muffins ariel shot

muffins more

The result? I liked the strawberry with crumble topping the best. My husband preferred the straight up crumble ones. Bunky had none of it because there was no chocolate inside. But my friend and her sons loved them all. Success!

Gluten Free Honey Corn Muffins + Strawberries (optional) + Crumble Topping 

muffins w berries

(based on this recipe from The Fountain Avenue Kitchen blog)

Bringing the cold ingredients to room temperature before mixing will prevent the melted butter or coconut oil from re-hardening once added. Removing the muffins from the oven as soon as they are cooked through is the key to keeping them moist.

Muffin recipe:

  • 1 cup sifted stone ground gluten free cornmeal (145 grams sifted)
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour blend*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend contains it)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (one 6-ounce cup) 2% or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (any kind works)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar (can omit this for less sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or butter**
  • 3-4 strawberries sliced into thin slivers (optional)

For the crumble topping (I halved this recipe):

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chilled diced butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. (You can use liners, but I find the muffins can stick to the papers.)
  3. In a large bowl, sift the cornmeal. (This is not totally mandatory, but I found that that NOT sifting made for a grittier texture and slightly bitter flavor.) Add gluten-free flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, xantham gum and salt. Whisk to blend.
  4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the yogurt, milk, honey, and melted coconut oil or butter and whisk to combine well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well, to activate xantham gum.
  6. I like to use my ice cream scoop to fill the 12 muffin cups easily and without (too much) mess.
  7. If desired, now is the time to add the strawberries. Take three thin slivers and place on top of each to each muffin. Press down gently. They don’t have to be submerged, they will sink while cooking.muffins unbaked
  8. Bake for 5 minutes. While baking, made crumble topping by placing the ingredients in a small bowl

     and mixing together with a fork until crumbly.

  9. After 5 minutes of baking, take the muffins out and add crumble topping.

    Continue baking until cooked through, 5-8 more minutes or until a knife runs through clean.

*My (current) GF Flour Mix is 60% whole grains (millet and sorghum) and 40% starches (sweet rice and potato starch), all certified gluten free from Bob’s Red Mill that I mix myself using my kitchen scale and giant plastic canister. See here for details, or use what you have.

**Using coconut oil (particularly the healthier unrefined version) will give a slight yet distinct coconut flavor to the muffins. I love coconut, so this was a bonus, but my daughter doesn’t and she noticed it right away. If you don’t like coconut, then just use melted butter instead.

Below, a muffin pictorial and a bonus picture of my Bunky, who has a new hairstyle!

Strawberry with no crumble.

Strawberry with no crumble topping.

muffin inside

Strawberries add a nice moistness to the muffin.

The crumble topping rocks. Unclear what's inside.

The crumble topping rocks. Unclear what’s inside.

I'm about to dork myself out, but look at that lovely crumb.

I’m about to dork myself out, but look at that interior crumb. Gorgeous, right? Ha. No, but seriously.

And finally, may I present, the Bunky’s new look…

bunky bangs


I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

chocolate pic

In my home, it’s hard to bake anything without chocolate. I see recipes on Pinterest for lovely looking lemon vanilla sugar cookies and gorgeously frosted banana maple donuts, but I don’t make them. My family demands chocolate. Even Little Guy, who is not yet two, bites the chocolate chip off the top of his mini pumpkin muffin first and then goes rooting around for more. 

So when it comes to pumpkin season, which everyone knows is now (unless you live under a rock) I automatically add chocolate to my recipes, with the exception of pumpkin pie, which incidentally no one in my family enjoys but me. I thought this pumpkin + chocolate thing was universal, but after doing some reading on foodie blogs, it seems not everyone agrees.

They go so naturally together, don't you think?

They go so naturally together, don’t you think?

This recipe could go either way, but since my family demands chocolate that’s the route I take. You could skip it and frost with some decadent cream cheese frosting, or squirt some inside like the recipe I adapted mine from does, but that goes against one of my daughter’s very strict food rules, which I learned about the hard way a few years back after an unfortunate vomiting episode: cream cheese should never be sweet. Hence, the chocolate. 

No matter how you swing it, this recipe is a keeper. I made these a few weeks ago while trying to stock up on healthy school breakfasts before Bunky started kindergarten. They were so popular I made them twice that first week, and now again. It’s a great way to use a 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree, since each batch uses about a half a can. (Reason enough to double the recipe, which I haven’t actually done yet so if you do let me know how it goes.)

pumpkin big close up

Final thing before I get down to business: don’t be concerned about the seemingly long ingredient list. The spices make it appear busy, but in fact this recipe comes together very fast and easily. You know I have no time for any fussiness in recipes. Not with a kid crawling up my leg.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yield: 9 regular size + 12 minis (or 12 regulars and a handful of minis)

pumpkin mini

[Measurements are in weight and volume because I am kind of a dork about my kitchen scale.]

1 + 1/2 cups GF Flour Mix* (200 grams)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 + 1/2 tsps cinnamon
sprinkle of ginger (or up to 1/4 tsp)
sprinkle of nutmeg (or up to 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup coconut palm sugar** or sugar of your choice (about 140 grams)
1/2 cup canola oil (90 grams)
1/4 cup milk, any kind is fine (60 grams)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (approx half of a 15 oz can is about 220 grams)
1 cup chocolate chips

* I sifted my coconut palm sugar because it’s kind of grainy and that seemed to do the trick. It made me use a bit more to get the measurement right, but I tossed the harder crunchy pieces back in the bag cause it’s great in my coffee (not to mention rather pricey).

Notice the price tag is scraped off because I can't stand to look at how much I paid for it.

Notice the price tag is scraped off because I can’t stand to look at how much I paid for it.

Speaking of the bag, look at the back! It’s the gluten free world’s very own Carol Kicinski, of the great recipe blog Simply Gluten Free and it even features a GF recipe. Score!

palm sugar carol k

Ok, finally (!) The Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin tins with cupcake liners, or spray.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together GF flour mix, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla extract, and pumpkin until smooth. Slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing well.

4. Now would be the time to fold in the chocolate chips. But I often leave some minis plain so Little Guy can eat some before his nap without me stressing about him having a chocolate high. I was feeling rather generous, however, so I plopped one chip in the center of his minis.

A very un-photogenic pic of my unbaked goods.

A very un-photogenic pic of my unbaked goods.

5. Fill each prepared liner about 3/4 full with pumpkin batter. Bake the regular sized muffins for about 15-18 minutes and the minis for 8-10, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool about 2 minutes in pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in air proof container or freeze.

pumpkin big

**My (current) GF Flour Mix is 60% whole grains (millet and sorghum) and 40% starches (sweet rice and potato starch), all certified gluten free from Bob’s Red Mill that I mix myself using my kitchen scale and giant plastic canister. See here for details. But you can probably use most kinds of ready made all purpose GF mixes, including your own. If your mix already includes xanthan gum, then please – for the love of your stomach – don’t add any more.

And finally, having nothing to do with baking whatsoever, please enjoy this hilarious and adorable pic (in my humble and totally biased opinion) of my kids playing dress up, big sister style.

crazy dress up

Gluten Free Breakfast Goodies and a Dose of Nostalgia

Bunky starts kindergarten on Monday. I’m coming out of denial, finally. Celiac letters have been written, teachers have been contacted (and they got back to me pronto, which is promising). Her outfit – three quarter sleeve purple dress with black stars – has been selected (by her, pretty much the second she saw it at Target). She is ready.

Me, not so much. But that’s okay. I’m kind of realizing that’s how it goes. Times passes, kids grow up, leaving us parents gasping for air. How did time go by so fast? Wasn’t my girl just a baby in my arms (screaming her brains out)? Oh, I hate when cliches are true. It’s annoying.

baby bunky

When Bunky was a baby we took her to the local elementary school for an evening screening of the movie, “Yellow Submarine.” At the time the song was a huge part of our lives since we played it about seventeen (or more) times a day, often on high volume, as it was one of the only things that could stop our colicky infant from shrieking. It didn’t always work, and when it did, it was a temporary fix, but it kept us from going completely insane. I remember sitting in an audience and watching all the children skittering across the wooden floor, dancing, laughing, and talking with their friends. They looked so big. My husband and I glanced at each other over our baby’s downy head and smiled. Our girl would be going to school here, someday. But in the moment that had felt very far away.

Now, here we are.

Summer girl

Since B has celiac, I’m on lunch and snack and holiday and birthday duty all year long. That’s a lot of food planning for a person who is not such an awesome planner. On top of all that, there’s breakfast to consider. I’ve talked about B’s addiction to Cocoa Pebbles (thanks to her dad, also an addict). Not only is it like eating a bowl full of sugar, she’s starving an hour later. Not ideal for any day, but worse for school. She does love chocolate yogurt pops, which are healthy, but not very filling. So what to do? I found two winners that are now in my freezer waiting for launch.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin muffins, modified from this awesome recipe on Cakes n’ Bakes.

gluten free pumpkin chip muffins

Here are my adjustments:

  • I skipped the cream cheese filling and added chocolate chips instead.
  • My flour blend is about 60/40 whole grains (millet and sorghum) to starch (potato and sweet rice) and I added a teaspoon of xanthan gum.
  • I went light on the ginger and nutmeg and added extra cinnamon.
  • Instead of 1 cup of white sugar, I went with 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar.

I plan on posting my modified version soon, once I completely eliminate the white sugar. I may sub all coconut sugar or try some maple syrup. Ideally, I’d like these breakfast muffins to be as healthy as possible, but with enough sweetness so my kid will eat them. It is a waste of time for me to make them uber healthy if she chokes on them. You realize I’m competing with Cocoa Pebbles here. Not easy. But possible, because she LOVES these muffins! I had to hide them in the freezer so they wouldn’t disappear by Monday.

My other breakfast success, a Nicole Hunn recipe for Gluten Free Oatmeal Bars. She calls them an after school boost, but I’m going with before school.

They taste way better than they look.

My changes:

  • Almond butter instead of peanut butter, cause that’s the way I roll
  • Just chocolate chips, no raisins or other healthy dried fruit
  • 6 tablespoons of honey seemed like a lot to me, so I used 4 – plenty sweet

Bunky said she liked them, but we’ll see what happens when I slide one in front of her at breakfast. I also plan on packing small squares of them in her lunch. They are delicious and full of protein and oats, yum.

See these ladies?

felt dolls

Very popular summer craft project around here. Felt pieces glued on cardboard dolls. I draw the hair and dress patterns and Bunky cuts and glues. I will miss making these with B during Little Guy’s nap. But time marches on and school is fast approaching.

Yesterday was the first day it really felt like September. The sky was a crisp blue and the breeze was a perfect blend of cool-warm. We walked to the playground marveling at the perfect temperature while newly fallen leaves crunched beneath our feet. My girl was thrilled to wear one of her new school sweaters and pants.

The kid loves summer, but she is ready for autumn, for apple picking and gluten free donuts, for Halloween and Little Guy’s birthday. She reminds me of my mom, whose favorite season was fall, who lived for the cooler temperatures, fall foliage, and country drives, who loved pumpkin picking and Thanksgiving.

It makes sense that my mind is heavy thinking about my mom right now. It often is, but more so with this kindergarten milestone approaching. If she were alive I would be able to talk to her about releasing my girl into big kid school, we would be able to commiserate as mothers together. I could tell her that I get it now. I could thank her.

But since I can’t, I will hold her close in my heart, thinking of her, imagining her doing the same thing over three decades ago, as I wave goodbye to my daughter on Monday.

Strawberry Banana Split Balls

strawberry banana ball

Yes, more balls, I know. It’s getting out of hand. Will I ever get tired of making balls or making puns about balls? I don’t think so, but I may run out of ingredient combos. This one is stretching the bounds of imagination a bit. But it’s good. Really good.

Let me start by saying this is in no way meant to be a replacement for an actual banana split. Not at all. If you’re looking for a decadent ice cream extravaganza, you will probably be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a super tasty raw ball that happens to be delicious and healthy, you’re in luck.

Now that it’s strawberry season (or so I will assume since strawberries are no longer a bazillion dollars and tasteless) I am buying a pint a day. Between me and the kids they go fast. Then the other day I got suckered into buying not only fresh strawberries, but the crazy expensive freeze dried ones, too. I was waiting in line at what Bunky calls The Pickle Market, because of the pickle samples she gorges on, and my hand – with a will completely of its own – reached over and snatched one of these suckers off the rack.

freeze dried strawberries

It ripped on one corner so I very understandably realized I’d have to buy it no matter the price. It turns out Little Guy loves freeze dried fruit, but I didn’t let him finish the bag because I had some new balls in mind…

strawberry banana ball no bits

Strawberry Banana Split Balls


  • 1 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (mine were finely ground already, but any would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries (you could use more but they are crazy $$)
  • handful of freeze dried bananas (leftover from my banana “bread” bars)*
  • 1/4 cup (or more!) mini chocolate chips, optional

* If you don’t have freeze dried banana, no worries. Use half of a ripe banana instead, and if the batter is too mushy, just add some more moisture sucking coconut flakes.


1. While the dates are soaking, grind the nuts first. [I do this because I want them to be finely ground for the Little Guy, who doesn’t have all his teeth yet, but you can skip this step if you don’t mind a little more texture.] Then remove ground nuts to a bowl, set aside.

2. Put dates and just a bit of the soaking water into the food processor. Whirl away until a paste is formed. You can either add all the whole nuts now, or the ground ones. Pulse to combine. Then add the coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pulse again.

This is what Little Guy was up to while I made these.

What Little Guy was up to while I made these. So cute.

3. Then add the freeze dried strawberries and banana. Add chocolate chips (please) if you’re not feeding these to a baby. Pulse to combine. Turn out the batter onto parchment and roll into balls or press into a bar. Freeze until firm.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

I did a totally unnecessary thing, mainly out of boredom but also because balls are not very photogenic, and rolled a few in some extra strawberry bits. It looks kind of cool in the pics, and adds an extra strawberry burst, but you don’t need to do this. They taste pretty rad all on their own.

Random but important tip: When rolling the dough into balls, DO NOT wet your hands thinking that will help with the stickiness. If you do the balls become hideous looking and slimy. It’s okay that your hands will be covered in bits of dough. Lick it off or wash it later, but keep them dry for the rolling. I speak from experience and on the behalf of one sad soggy little ball that I had to throw out.

strawberry balls in parchment

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!


I’m also excited to share it on Raw Foods Thursdays on Gluten Free Cat. * Please note, that the recipes on this link-up will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

raw foods thursdays badge

Blueberry Granola Balls and a Cautionary Tale

blueberry granola balls

I try to support local businesses. I do, really. Before Barnes and Noble took over the world, I tried to buy most of my books from small independent bookstores. (Full disclosure: I did work at Barnes and Noble after college, which was an awesome job for a book lover, but that’s when they were a SMALL chain. Yeah, I’m old.) Now that Amazon has taken over the world, I try to shop at Barnes and Noble. You get the idea.

So when I saw a very narrow little health food shop open up near my home, I got very excited. Especially when I realized they had some gluten free stuff. Although there are plenty of small grocers in a nearby neighborhood that sell (insanely overpriced) GF stuff, there is nothing this close. Now whenever I’m walking by, I stop in to see how I can support them and not go broke (golden chia seed is VERY expensive, sigh).

Mostly I’ve been stocking up on my family’s beloved Cheddar Nut Thins. Have you tried these? SO GOOD! The cheese powder is addictive like Doritos but on a rice cracker, which means you can eat the whole bag in one sitting and not feel guilty. Unless your kid asks for some in an accusatory way. Then you feel a little guilty.

Anyway, the other day I decided to bite the bullet and buy Kind brand’s Blueberry Vanilla Granola. I had been debating on making my own granola for a while now, but haven’t had the time or energy. I figured I’d use my baking time for muffins and cookies while supporting a local business. Besides, the price was reasonable and I like Kind bars. Seemed like a win win situation. As a bonus, when I checked the ingredients there was NO natural vanilla flavor, just REAL vanilla extract. No potential beaver butt for me!

However, everything went to crap when I tasted it and nearly gagged. It was like eating plastic crunchy stuff. I sniffed inside the bag. It smelled like it tasted. Horrible. I made my husband, who has the nose of a hunting dog, smell and taste it. He confirmed my fears. It was rancid. We checked the expiration which was only a month away. (For the record, I’ve had Kind granola before and it was fine, I’m thinking this bag was just old.)

[The moral of this story is not to avoid small stores, but to always check expiration dates. Close ones like this should be avoided, especially when shelling out the big bucks for GF.]

I’m usually not the bring-it-back-to-the-store kind of girl, even when I should, but this time I had to. The lady at the register was very courteous about the whole thing, which was a relief since I was all anxious and sweaty. Not only because I was holding Little Guy. I always get that way in any kind of confrontation situation, even when I’m in the right. Totally pathetic, I know. She smelled and tasted the granola. I tried to read her expression to see if she thought I was another crazy hyper sensitive customer or if she agreed. From the look on her face I think the latter. But regardless, she let me exchange it for a bag of Bob Red Mill’s GF oats. I always need more oats. Especially with recipes like this delish looking honey muffin one and this flourless oatmeal cookie hanging out my Pinterest Treats board.

All those extra oats and a desire for something that actually tasted like blueberries and vanilla inspired the latest in my ball series. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, they might be my new fave.


Blueberry Granola Balls (or Bars, your call)


  • 1 + 1/2 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • approximately 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries*

* If you don’t have dried blueberries, which can be crazy expensive, feel free to sub in cranberries or skip the fruit all together and toss in a teaspoon or so of cinnamon. They’re your balls now.


In a food processor, blend the softened dates a bit before adding the nuts. Process the nuts and dates together and then add the other ingredients up until the last two.

Lastly, add the blueberries and oats. Pulse until just combined. You don’t want to pulverize the oats. They add a nice texture.

Roll into balls and then put in the freezer for about an hour to chill. Store in freezer for best results. You can also press into a square (using parchment paper, the dough is VERY sticky) then freeze and cut into whatever shape you fancy.


Two little hints:

If you feel like the dough is too dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon more of coconut oil or maple syrup. If the dough is too wet, add a bit more oats, a tablespoon at a time.

If you want the nuts very finely ground, like I do sometimes for Little Guy, process those FIRST and then set aside. Then process the dates into a paste. Add the finely ground nuts and then continue with the recipe.


Yes, that is a ball tower. I went a little nuts taking photos. Ha!

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!


It’s also posted on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on this link-up will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.


Gluten Free Easter, Country Style

Best dressed Peeps.

Best dressed Peeps.

This year we celebrated Easter in the country with my husband’s sister, her husband, and their adorable son, who is three months younger than Little Guy. We were so happy to spend time with them and watch the cousins hang out. My nephew ran around after Bunky while Little Guy trailed behind giggling. Everything was fine, except for the Easter part.

Here’s the thing – I’m not good at Easter. I kind of suck at it, to be perfectly honest. I’m Jewish, it’s not my fault. I grew up eating matzoh for a week while my good friend and next-door neighbor (understandably) boasted about the giant bunny who delivered towering baskets of chocolate and candy. Eggs, bunnies, and chocolate. I’m still not sure how that has anything to do with religion, but this is not a blog about such things. It’s a blog about my family. And food.

So I gave Easter my best shot, despite my religious affiliation and inexperience. My husband helped out by getting an adorable gluten free chocolate bunny ahead of time, and I picked up some GF Jelly Bellies (which I’m eating now while Bunky is at school, SO WRONG!) and a package of pink Peeps. Done. We bought a sleeve of cheap pastel colored plastic eggs and a generic dye kit at the grocery store in the country. Double done. We’re good, right? Wrong.

At least the egg coloring went well.

At least the egg coloring went well.

I kind of love this picture.

I kind of love this picture.

What did I forget? It’s pretty obvious unless you’re a Jew like me. Picture this: Bunky walking around our freezing yard in the country collecting eggs… in a giant stainless steel bowl.

Yeah, I forgot the basket. Oops. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law had a Cars (the movie) themed blue one for my nephew. Luckily, Bunky didn’t seem to notice or care that she was holding a kitchen bowl. It held a lot of eggs. She also didn’t care that her candy treats were given to her in a pink gift bag that we dug out of the basement.

Showing off some of her stash.

Showing off some of her stash.

So why was I nearly crying into the lumpy – but ultimately delicious – King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake batter? Because I was HUNGRY people, hungry.

Rewind: Easter morning we realized we were out of milk even though we had just bought some the day before. That’s what happens when there are two babies in the house, I guess. My husband went out in search of an open store and returned nearly an hour later. That is life in the country. Big wide open spaces. Also, it was Easter and the closest grocery store was closed.

When I was finally ready to make the pancakes it was nearly 10 am. Everyone (but me) had eaten something already, and then there was Easter to negotiate (my sister in law was nice enough to wait on giving her son the huge basket of beautifully wrapped toys that would have had Bunky in tears since all she had was a stainless steel bowl with empty eggs). While my husband rushed outside to hide the plastic eggs, I stuffed both kids into winter coats and hats since it was freezing. As I waved them out the door my hands were shaking and I felt dizzy. I realized I was starving.

The two cups of coffee had long since turned to fumes inside my body. The gluten free pancake batter looked lumpy, which I blamed on myself for not fully melting the butter, and that’s when I started to feel a wave of heat rise from my empty stomach up to my twitchy face. Basically I was about to freak out. I burned my finger on the electric grill and then nearly burst into tears. Outside one window I watched my in-laws laugh and take photos of their baby toddling around and dropping eggs into his pretty blue basket and out the other window my daughter walked very seriously clutching her enormous silver bowl. My husband followed behind while holding a squirmy Little Guy.

Clearly, there is no documentation of this. But check this out:

Um, really? He comes from two of the least sporty people ever.

Um, really? He comes from two of the least sporty people ever.

I did what any person about to lose their mind would do. I cooked a batch of sloppily poured pancakes and wolfed down two. In moments I felt my senses return and could laugh instead of cry at my daughter’s “basket.” There are bigger horrors in the world, believe me I know, but on an empty stomach I seriously almost lost it at my Easter shortcomings.

This is where the GF thing can really screw a person up. Unlike my in-laws, who chomped on bagels they brought from home, I couldn’t just eat something on the fly. We were out of Udi’s by Sunday (having been in the country since Wednesday) and there was not even a banana to grab. There is only so much food prep a mama can do, and most of my efforts went toward making sure my kids had something to eat before sending them out into the cold to pick up a bunch of plastic eggs. My own needs, shockingly, went unattended.

Once I felt my brain go back to normal, I grabbed an extra big pancake and coated it with some delicious local maple butter (the best invention. ever.) and brought it outside to my starving and depressed looking husband. It was the least I could do.

Pancake breakfast, finally ready.

Pancake breakfast when it was finally ready.

Luckily my kid didn’t notice any Easter discrepancies, and Little Guy could care less about the whole thing. He was happy enough back inside opening up all the empty eggs inside his cousin’s basket.

Easter fatigue setting in.

Easter fatigue setting in.

All in all it was a success, though utterly exhausting. But aren’t all holidays? Here’s hoping your Easter, if you partake in the festival of eggs and chocolate, was more slick than mine. If not, there’s always next year. That’s what I’m telling myself, at any rate.


Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls

vanilla coconut raw balls

Happy Passover to all you Jews out there. Or Pesach, as we say around here. Okay, not true, but if I was more religious maybe we would.

I have fond memories of the Passover Sedar from when I was a kid, my favorite parts being the food, namely charoset, the sweet apple, honey, walnut, and wine mash for spreading atop matzoh (or eating with a spoon like I always did), and macaroons. Not surprising given my sweet spot for sweets.

Though I’m quite non-practicing these days, I often feel nostalgic for my Jewish roots around holidays, so I thought about making some macaroons (these both look awesome) and was bummed to realize that we’re out of eggs. Since the idea of walking to the store with two kids on a blustery cold snowy (spring) day wasn’t very appealing, I had a very non religious revelation – raw macaroons!

vanilla macaroon ball close up

Since I’m on a raw bar/Lara bar kick lately, this seemed perfect. To make them more macaroon-y, I shaped them into balls and rolled some in extra shredded coconut, but you could also make the square from the Banana “Bread” bars and slice away.

My favorite part of this process today was the photographs, shockingly enough. Instead of Little Guy closing his finger in a drawer and Bunky pitching a fit, both kids happily chomped on the macaroons while I snapped pics. Pretty cool.

pink tower of balls

Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls (or Bars)


  • 1 full cup dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)*
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used this finely shredded one, but any flake will work)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • extra shredded coconut for rolling, if desired


Grind the almonds and pecans in a food processor until the pieces are uniform in size and then set them aside in a bowl. Then process the dates, coconut, and vanilla. Put nut mixture back in and pulse everything together until the dough comes together.

Oh dear, I just wrote this sentence: You could totally play around with the nuts since I just used what I had in the house – until I realized how terrible that sounded. But I didn’t have the heart to delete it, ha. You know what I mean, though.

*If the mixture seems too dry – which can happen when you work with coconut, since it sucks up moisture like a sponge – add a few more dates, or even a teaspoon of coconut oil to soften things up.

Then pour out on a piece of parchment paper and either press into a square, or roll into balls. Use some extra shredded coconut flakes if you’d like to roll the balls around and make them look all pretty like these. Bunky and Little Guy prefer theirs plain, but I enjoy the extra coconut.

pink tower close up

Maybe all this holiday baking will reignite my non practicing Jewishness into something more substantial than just throwing around Yiddish words like Pesach and schmuck. Or not. I’ll keep you posted.

Either way, keep an eye out for another Passover inspired raw bar/ball recipe coming soon, this time I’ve got charoset as an inspiration… And don’t think I’ve forgotten about Easter. I mean, hello, chocolate?!

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!


It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on these two link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.