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

On the Cusp: One Last Summer Recipe

First, let me just update you about Bunky and kindergarten. If you’ve been following my insanity here, you know I’ve been kind of a mess leading up to the big day. Well, you’ll be happy to know all my worrying was a waste of time (as worrying pretty much always is). Day 1 went well, and though there have been some minor bumps and adjustments, things are pretty awesome. Fingers crossed it continues to be.

First day of school dress.

First day of school dress.

Fall is nearly upon us, at least here in New York. And so is apple picking season, yay!

apple picking 2013

The air is all crispy and so are the leaves. Little Guy is loving how they crunch under his feet. The look on his face when he saw the playground covered with fallen leaves was priceless. And don’t even get me started on what he thinks about pumpkins. I think I have another fall fan here.

little guy pumpkin

Fall is about pumpkins, apples, and let’s not forget about pie. Fall is savory stews and soups and maybe, just maybe, using my five year old crockpot for the first time. Fall is the time for hunkering down, cuddling up, and wearing thick socks inside (especially when you live above your apartment’s parking garage). Fall is about tucking in for winter.

But first, while we hover on the cusp of the seasons, let’s squeeze in one last summer recipe before the pumpkin recipes start rolling in. Let’s be honest, they already are rolling in, because pumpkin recipes rock, but so do ones with tomatoes. Am I right?


This recipe is an old standby for us, and was in our gluten days. The first time I made this GF it was a disaster. The rice pasta was slimy and disgusting. I remember shoveling it into my mouth with a forced smile. No one was fooled. I don’t think I made it again for a year. But that was way back when I didn’t know how to cook GF pasta. Or which kinds to buy. But I do now. We either use Bionaturae or Farabella penne, but pick your own fave.

I don’t have exact measurements because this is the kind of recipe you taste along the way. Some people may like more or less balsamic vinegar, for example, so start with less and add if necessary. The less liquid-y this meal is, the better.

You can also add a couple of cooked chicken breasts cubed, for some animal protein, which my husband likes, but I prefer it without. Your call.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pasta

fresh mozz pasta dinner

This was made with rigatoni out of necessity, but I think penne is better.


  • 1 bag of GF pasta, we like penne
  • vine ripened tomatoes, 4-6 depending on the size – or whatever tomatoes you find at your local farmer’s market
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, the tastiest you can find
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


1. Cook the pasta NOT according to the directions (ha) but the way you KNOW works. I often cook ours significantly less than the package says. When it doubt, test it after about 6-8 minutes. You don’t want it overcooked. Blecch. Drain water using a colander and run the pasta under cool water to stop it from cooking, and then add a glug or two of olive oil so it doesn’t stick inside the colander. Check out this link and this one for some advice on cooking GF pasta successfully. It is NOT necessarily intuitive.

2. Chop tomatoes into small-ish cubes. You may want to get ride of some if not most of the juicy seeds and innards so your final dish isn’t too soupy. Put into a large bowl.

fresh mozz tomato prep

3. Cube up fresh mozzarella. Try not to eat too much of it while doing so. Add to the bowl.

4. Make sure pasta is cooled (so as not to melt the cheese) and add to bowl as well.

fresh mozz pasta prep 2

5. Now it’s time to make the magic happen. Carefully add a glug or two of balsamic vinegar. Then the olive oil. Mix and taste. Add more of one or both if necessary. The balance of acid and oil is key and particular to your own palate. Trust yourself, here. You can’t go too wrong. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Finally, toss the chopped basil and mix gently.

Dinner is served. Easy and delicious. (As long as you’re not me two years ago gagging down squishy overcooked GF pasta. I shiver just thinking about it.)

Now, before we say farewell to summer, please enjoy my children as sand creatures.

My little mermaid.

My little mermaid.

And her mostly companion. (That’s from Eloise, if you don’t know.)

Mini merman.

My mini merman.

Oh, I will miss summer.

beach family

But here’s hoping fall will be pretty great, too.

Gluten Free (duh) Burrito Bowl

When in doubt, burrito bowl. Seriously. That’s all you need to know in life. Well, about dinner, anyhow. Burrito Bowl is now officially a staple around here. Check out these satisfied customers.

Burrito Bowl eaters

I know something is a hit when Bunky actually asks for it. Like yesterday afternoon, I was doing my usual crying and moaning about what to make for dinner, and I lamely offered up my old standby for emergencies (um, which is every few days): scrambled eggs. This was extra lame since I knew we actually had no eggs. Bunky shot this down immediately and when I thought all hope was lost, she got excited and said, “I know, I know! Let’s have burrito bowl!” And we did. Even though we had no beans (thank goodness for the new deli around the corner), we did have most of the other staples: rice, shredded cheese, tomatoes, greek yogurt (for sour cream), and salsa. Woo hoo, dinner is served!

On a better night, I include strips of chicken breast seasoned with sweet paprika, salt and pepper. On a better night, my rice is fragrant with freshly squeezed lime and chopped cilantro (plain for the kiddos). On a better night, there are gorgeous slices of creamy avocado. No matter, though, because either way it works.

I was inspired by this post on Dinner, A Love Story where the author explains how she fancies it up on weekends (cilantro lime rice, for example) or goes fast and easy on busy week nights. I like those kind of options.

Here is my family’s version of the Burrito Bowl. Check out Little Guy, how cute is he? (Yes, I know I’m biased, but still, seriously.)

burrito bowl close up

Breaking it down, right here.

Chicken – 2-3 boneless breasts filleted by the butcher (or at home, but I so love when the nice butcher guys do the dirty work for me) so they cook fast, or a package of thinly sliced chicken. I like to pour some canola or olive oil in a pan and sprinkle with sweet paprika, salt and pepper, but you could use chili powder if your family allows spice. Cook through, about 4 minutes per side, or until you feel confident you won’t poison your family. (For me, this means hacking into the chicken with a knife a whole bunch of times because I’m paranoid.) Then slice into strips for fun.

Rice – Have I mentioned how much I adore my rice cooker? Seriously, it’s True Love. We had a play date yesterday afternoon while my rice cooker did all the work. (I tried to look up which one I bought two years ago, but couldn’t find it on amazon. For the record it’s a pretty simple Sanyo model and cost about $50). I like to use white or brown Lundberg Basmati, but any favorite rice or GF grain would work here. I have used quick boil in a bag rice, but my husband says it’s not as good. Regardless, when I’m feeling “fancy” I add freshly squeezed lime, chopped cilantro, and salt. Yum.

Beans – I use canned black beans and/or red beans that I heat up in a saucepan with a dash of garlic powder and black pepper. Maybe a splash of olive oil if I’m feeling crazy.

Those are the basics, the rest is based on your family’s preferences (or in my case, picky-nesses).

Yummy Add-ins:

Shredded cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, lime, salsa.

Burrito Bowl ariel view

An ariel view, taken in a rush before being stampeded by starving family members.

I love a sure thing and right now this is it. Here’s hoping it lasts.

T minus 1.5 weeks until Kindergarten starts… I totally should be editing my celiac info letters for school, but I just can’t do it yet. I am SO not ready to dive into the real world, celiac style. I am enjoying our gluten free summer where I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Sigh. Going to have to get into gear next week. Wish me luck!


I’m so happy to be part of Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday recipe link-up! Click the badge below for more great GF recipes.

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Allergy Free “Watermelon” Sugar Cookies

watermelon cookies icedTime is not on my side, despite what the Rolling Stones say (yet the fact that they are still touring maybe it is for them). So when I see a recipe that looks this fun and takes minimal time and effort on my part, I get excited. That’s right. I dork out over boxed cookie mixes and food coloring, but whatever. You try not eating three of these in a row. Bunky left the lake up at the country on a gorgeous afternoon (when we had to rush home for Little Guy’s nap) just so we could bake these together. The power of sugar. It’s wrong, I know, but yet so right. Or at least helpful in a pinch.

I was inspired by Pinterest, of course. But for the first (and only?) time my version came out looking almost exactly like the originals.

Watermlon-Sugar-Cookies from A Lot On Your Plate

Pic from the original recipe: A Lot On Your Plate

I opted to use less food coloring so my watermelon icing is more pink than red, but Bunky didn’t care. In fact, we then made light purple and yellow icing, too, just for fun. Even though, as far as I know, there are no melons with a lavender interior. Too bad.

Bunky icing cookies

Here’s the “recipe” which really isn’t much of one. Just buy a box of allergy free sugar cookie mix – I used a Cherry Brook Kitchen one, but just make sure that it says Gluten Free Dreams on the box, because one time I bought their allergy free (peanut, dairy, egg and nut) yellow cake mix and assumed (stupidly) it was also GF, but it was NOT. All hell broke loose (inside my brain and heart) when I realized this crucial error AFTER letting Bunky lick the batter (which tasted SO good I should have known something was wrong). Anyway… we survived that bump in our GF road, but it still kills me to think about it. There is not much worse than glutening your OWN kid (big sigh).

Moving along, here it is, in all its simple and summer time glory:

cookie close up

Allergy Free “Watermelon” Sugar Cookies


  • 1 package of allergy free sugar cookie mix
  • 1 container of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines vanilla icing* (I can only confirm these are GLUTEN FREE, not ALLERGY FREE as there is definitely soy in both, not to mention a butt load of chemicals, but then again this is not a health recipe)
  • green and red food coloring (always check ingredients for allergy information)
  • chocolate sprinkles (always check ingredients for allergy information)

* When in doubt, make your own icing depending on your allergy needs. Yes, it’s more work, but there’s no need to take any chances. Confectioner’s sugar and butter with do the trick, but so will a butter substitute.


  1. Preheat oven and cover a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Prepare sugar cookies according to directions on the box.
  3. Add as many drops of green food coloring as you can stomach. We used about 5, I think. Mix well.
  4. Scoop out the batter and roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly.
  5. Cook for required time and then allow to cool COMPLETELY before icing.
  6. Prepare your icing by adding drops of red food coloring to a portion of the frosting. Mix well and decide how red you want your “watermelon” to be.
  7. When cookies are completely cool, generously frost them using a spoon or butter knife and then add sprinkles.
  8. Serve immediately (obviously) and store remaining in an airtight container. They will not last long.

watermelon cookies on blue table

No Bake Chocolate Dream Bars

No bake chocolate dream bars

This pic was taken yesterday and now the pan is nearly empty. They are THAT good. I’m also the ONLY one eating them. Which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I like having a tray full of chocolate dream bars to myself, but on the other, sharing helps out with portion control.

But first, a trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I can’t help myself. The roses are in bloom and they are gorgeous.

Check out that sky, and all those blooms. Can you believe this garden oasis is in Brooklyn?

Both Bunky and Little Guy love to stop and smell the roses. It is pretty adorable (except for the bees swarming everywhere, which is really just an accident waiting to happen). I especially love Little Guy’s funny scrunched up nose face when he “sniffs.” It’s very dramatic and not properly captured here, but you get the idea:

Look close for the scrunch nose.

Look closely for the tell-tale scrunch nose.

And check out my girl, in total rose rapture.

bunky smells rose

I thought the pose looked familiar and then I did a search online and realized it looks just like THIS piece of art which I studied in college during my obsession with Pre-Raphaelites.

The Soul of the Rose by John Williams Waterhouse

The Soul of the Rose by John Williams Waterhouse

Pretty crazy, right? We all enjoyed smelling the roses and enjoying the rest of the garden, especially the Japanese garden which has a lake filled with koi fish. We had to restrain Little Guy from diving in.

garden family

japanese garden gazing

We’ve been venturing out more lately, as our family of four is way more portable now that Little Guy nearly 20 months. This past Saturday we went to Coney Island, braving both heat and crowds – and a complete dearth of gluten free food. More on that in an upcoming post, but now it’s time for these no bake beauties…

no bake gray plate

Run, do not walk to this recipe, lightly adapted from a gem I spied on Pinterest. I love how recipes are like nesting dolls, my version was adapted from this one, this version was adapted from that one, and so forth. The big change in mine was using almond butter instead of PB. Can I tell you a secret? Please don’t hold it against me, but I’m finally realizing that I just don’t like peanut butter. I can’t even stand the smell. It’s strange, I used to love peanut butter, but once I got a taste of almond butter (specifically Justin’s brand) I officially dumped PB for AB and haven’t looked back since.

no bake choco bars

These No Bake Chocolate Dream Bars are filled with GF oats, coconut oil, coconut flakes, honey and of course, chocolate. Plus you don’t have to turn on your oven. How can you possibly go wrong?


  • 1 cup almond butter (I used Justin’s Honey AB)
  • 1/2 cup honey (maple syrup for vegan)
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 2 cups GF oats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, nut of choice, or no nuts (use rice cereal or pretzel pieces)
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips


  1. Grease a 9×13 pan with coconut oil.
  2. Place the oats, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips in a large bowl, and stir to combine.
  3. Heat the almond butter, honey and coconut oil together until the coconut oil is mostly melted. Don’t let the honey boil. (TIP: To prevent honey from sticking to your measuring cup, grease it with coconut oil and then it will slide right out.)
  4. Pour the heated almond butter mixture onto the oat mixture, and stir until the chocolate chips are melted.*
  5. Evenly spread the mixture in a greased 9×13 pan.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until hardened. Or put it in the freezer if you can’t wait like me.
  7. Cut into bars, enjoy, and refrigerate the leftovers for up to one week (if they last that long!)

* There may be a moment during the mixing process when you wonder, will the chocolate actually melt? And if you’re like me you might get worried and dump in more chocolate chips, but the answer is YES, the chocolate will melt, but more chips are never a bad thing, either.

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 Fried Rice, Free Style

fried rice in bowl revised

If you know me from my rants on this blog, you know my family is picky (as hell), but there happens to be ONE (okay, fine, two) meals that we ALL enjoy. Besides pizza, I mean. And this fried rice dish is one of them. Even Little Guy ate some, though to be honest he seemed to enjoy the carrots most of all. Note to self, cook the kid some carrots. Second note to self, consider covering entire kitchen floor with a plastic sheet before any meal with rice and two kids. Enough said.

This meal makes my people happy, but more importantly it makes ME happy to only cook one dinner. The other night I slaved over this delicious lemony pasta dish only to have Bunky turn her nose at it. I made her wait until I finished eating my bowl before making her dinner #2 which turned out to be a grilled cheese that I burned on one side because I was so annoyed and in a rush. Lucky for her she ate it cause I was not making another. That’s right, I run a tight ship around here. (Yeah, right.)

The great thing about this meal is that IF you can think ahead – and sometimes I actually can – cooking the rice earlier in the day makes it come together pretty quickly. Bonus, if you can cook the chicken or tofu ahead of time, or use leftover chicken, even faster. In my home, I consider it a raging success if I can make dinner within one 20 minute show on Netflix. (Recently, it’s been Horseland, which sounds more tolerable than it actually is. A bunch of Bratz-ish looking hot girls who ride horses and often act catty. Oh, I am nostalgic for the sweet days of Little Bear, sigh.)

Don’t have zucchini or don’t like it? Skip it. Do you find peas and carrots to be a rather banal veggie combo? No problem. Free style it, people. Use what you like and/or what you have. Frozen veggies are awesome because you don’t have to chop or thaw or anything. Just toss right into your hot skillet.

The less work for me, the better. Time is money, right? Or in my case, time is just time and the less of it I spend slaving over a hot stove while kids are screaming and crying in the background the better. Ah, domestic bliss! Well, sometimes, it is.

Thank goodness there are two kits.

Fortunately there are two kits.

Gluten Free Fried Rice, Free Style


  • 4 tsps canola or vegetable oil divided in half (plus more just in case)
  • 1/4 medium onion diced (not for us, alas, but you can!)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb chicken breasts or tofu, cubed (this is optional and totally your call)
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, or any mixed veggie you like! free style it
  • 1/2 cup corn (or not – I opted out because of my picky husband)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger
  • approximately 3 cups of cooked brown rice cooled*
  • 3 tablespoons of gluten free tamari or soy sauce (we use San-J)
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • iceberg lettuce if you want to serve in lettuce cups/wraps


* Cook rice ahead of time and store in fridge to get it cold. I cooked 1.5 cups of long grain brown rice in my rice cooker with 3 cups of water + 1.5 tablespoons of water an hour or so before starting this meal. Fried rice is best prepared with rice that is nicely chilled, similar to white wine, which you should also totally have.

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium. [Skip to step 2 if you are not using chicken or tofu.] Add diced chicken or tofu and cook until it is cooked through, for chicken, or browned the way you like it, tofu. Remove meat or tofu and set aside in a large serving bowl.

Often, I dice up the chicken into small pieces after cooking. Easier that way.

fried rice prep

Food prep with our over the counter drug stash in the background.

2. Lower temperature to medium low and add onion (if using) and squash to the skillet. If necessary, add another teaspoon of oil. Saute until onions become translucent, then add garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.

If you’re NOT using onions, then saute the squash in oil for about 3 minutes BEFORE adding the garlic. Then add garlic for another minute or so until fragrant. You really don’t want to burn garlic, as it is a total buzz kill and smells awful.

3. Add frozen veggies – peas, carrots, corn, or your choice – to the squash and possible onion/garlic mixture. Continue sauteing until frozen veggies are completely thawed and hot.

fried rice in skillet upgraded

Once cooked, remove veggies and add them to the bowl with chicken or tofu.

4. Add remaining oil, or another 2 teaspoons if you used it all, and then turn heat to medium high. Add the brown rice to the skillet and stir frequently until all the rice is heated through.

5. Return meat/tofu and veggies back to the skillet as well as the 3 tablespoons of tamari. Stir everything until it is well combined. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro. Or not if you forgot to buy cilantro and your kid has an aversion to pieces of added green stuff.

An aerial shot of fried rice on a finger painted paper plate. Fancy, right?

Aerial shot of fried rice on a finger painted paper plate. Fancy, I know.

Serve in bowls or use iceberg lettuce cups/wraps.

Taken by phone while both children screaming.

Taken by phone while both children screaming.

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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Thai Coconut Shrimp, Curry Optional

As I may have mentioned (um, ranted), we have more food restrictions here than just gluten. My husband’s stomach has a phobia of most veggies and my daughter is a fruit and cheese-etarian who can be sometimes be coaxed into eating meat as long as it’s doused in cheese sauce. Little Guy used to be easy, but now is becoming a picky toddler. Hmm, wonder why??!!

So dinner is pretty much ALWAYS a challenge. I prefer not to make 4 different meals, but I’ll compromise with 2. This meal went down that way, Bunky refusing the shrimp even though she loved them once, sigh, but Little Guy – who is a big fan of coconut milk – enjoyed chopped shrimp mixed with rice and sauce.


I can’t wait for the day when we ALL eat the same dinner. Am I fooling myself, or is that really possible?

Since my husband might divorce me if I use curry paste, I didn’t, but feel free to add it for yourself as I’m sure it would be awesome. However, if you live with spice (um, taste) averse folks, please know this dish is also great without.

This recipe is adapted from a new and fantastic recipe blog I’ve discovered called Skinny Taste. I also made a version of this easy and tasty meal, which went over well with 3 out of 4, once we bribed Bunky to eat a few tiny pieces of chicken. Each recipe also contains nutritional info including weight watcher’s points, which could be helpful to WW followers.


Thai Coconut Shrimp, Curry Optional


  • 1-2 tsps canola or vegetable oil
  • [1 tbsp Thai red curry paste, optional]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 oz  coconut milk + more to make it extra saucy
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (Thai Kitchen brand is gluten free)*
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas (sub any veggies you like here, snow peas, carrots, etc)
  • 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt to taste

*Don’t be afraid of fish sauce! It won’t make your dinner taste fishy, just awesome.


In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Add garlic (and curry paste, if using) and shrimp. Season with salt and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then add coconut milk, fish sauce and mix well. Throw in veggies. Add extra coconut milk if you want more of a sauce. I honestly don’t think you can use too much coconut milk, and neither does my husband.


Simmer about 2-3 minutes more, until shrimp is cooked through. Veggies will be on the crunchy side, which I like, but if you want them cooked more, remove the shrimp so they don’t overcook, and continue to simmer veggies in the sauce until done to your liking.

Remove from heat and add cilantro (which I totally forgot until we were half way done, sigh. It really adds a lovely fresh flavor to the meal). Serve over rice, or any gluten free grain, and enjoy!

Try to imagine cilantro sprinkled on top.

Try to imagine cilantro sprinkled on top.

This next picture has absolutely NOTHING to do with our dinner, but I who can resist a kid swallowed up by stuffed animals and dolls in an Ikea egg chair? Not me.

egg chair


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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Maple Walnut Balls (with Fairies + one Caterpillar)

ball shot

Is the ball thing getting old? You can tell me, really. I won’t get upset. Okay, I might get a teeny bit upset, but I promise not to take it personally. You wouldn’t be the only one. My husband is definitely over my balls. (If you have no idea what I mean head over to the recipe page.)

Actual conversation with him the night I posted my second official ball recipe:

Me: [hovering over him while he is attempting to watch Netflix on his iPad] I’m about to post a new recipe!

Him: [not bothering to look up from screen] Uh-huh. 

Me: [very excited, but still speaking in a whisper since kids are sleeping] Blueberry Granola balls! [emphasis on the balls, obvs]

Him: [finally tearing away eyes from screen, looking thoughtful] You know, you don’t have to call them balls. You could call them “bites.” 

Me: [shaking my head vigorously, smiling a little at his naivete] Everyone in the world [i.e. Pinterest] is doing that, which is WHY I’m calling them balls! Brilliant, right? 

Then, three ball recipes later…

Him: Are you ever going to be done with the whole ‘ball’ thing?

Me: NEVER! [insert maniacal laughter, in whisper form, here]

So you see, I’m rather attached to the ball thing, but not out of love as much as comfort. I’m not an intuitive baker, like some of my blogging friends, and I’m a Cancer, which means I’m a creature of habit (not to mention a total homebody) so when I get the hang of something, well, I have a little problem letting it go. But you’ll tell me, won’t you? I’m relying on your instincts here.

Until then, here’s my latest batch of balls posing with a fairy. Just for fun. Because how many pictures of balls can you look at before dying of boredom?

fairy balls

Maple Walnut Balls


  • 1 cup dates cut in half and soaked in water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used raw unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8-1/4 cup coconut flakes or finely ground coconut (which is what I used)
  • dash of cinnamon


*If you want the nuts more finely ground (for a smoother ball), process them first, remove and set aside, and then add them back in after dates have been pulverized. Otherwise, ignore this and start with the dates, as instructed below.

Put softened dates in the food processor and whirl around. Add the rest of the ingredients until just combined.

Random but important note: the dough should not be too dry or too wet (thus the varying amount of coconut flakes) – if too wet, add a bit more coconut. If too dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon (at a time) more maple syrup.

You really can’t mess these up… unless you’re me (!) and you get a little cocky with your ball making and add TOO much wet and not enough dry and your balls never really firm up – even in the freezer. (Who knew that was even possible?! Must have been the extra 1/2 teaspoon of melted coconut oil I originally added, then later removed from the recipe.)

Take heart though, soft balls are STILL tasty.

In other (random) news, check out this awesome terrarium!


Bunky made it at a birthday party over the weekend. It’s a pretty brilliant idea. The kids got to dig into vats of small slippery stones, soft damp dirt, pick three plants and then “decorate” their creation with pretty rocks, marbles, and creatures. B chose fairies and butterflies over centipedes and dinosaurs, big surprise. All the kids had a blast doing it.

My (failed) attempt at an "artsy"  shot with my phone.

My (failed) attempt at an “artsy” shot with my phone.

The crafty mom (of four!) also made a beautiful Hungry Little Caterpillar themed cake – she told me about it ahead of time and I was just going to attempt to “draw” a caterpillar on a cupcake, but my husband waved me aside and took over. He rocked it. Everyone was amazed and Bunky was thrilled.


GF happiness on a plate.

What the hell has he been doing on the dessert sidelines all this time?! He is totally in charge of the next birthday.

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.