Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Say Yes to More Cookies September 30, 2012

Saying YES to a child always feels better than having to say NO, which is just one reason I love having healthy cookies on hand. Kids are always in the mood for cookies, and always want more than one…just like the rest of us. We could eat these for breakfast they’re so healthy, though if I actually allowed my 3 year old to do so I’d never hear the end of cookie requests at sunrise, so I’m just going to treat these as snacks and let the whole family eat as many as they want after breakfast.

Banana Coconut Almond Cookies

(gluten and sugar free, vegan if using coconut oil)

½ cup almond meal

1 ½ cups old fashioned oats

1/3 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)

1 T. golden flaxseed

½ t. ground cinnamon

½ t. sea salt

1 t. baking powder

3 ripe bananas, mashed

½ t. vanilla extract

1 t. almond extract

4 T. unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted

½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk dry ingredients together in small bowl. In medium bowl use a sturdy whisk to mash bananas, then add extracts and butter. Stir in dry ingredients and raisins. Drop cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden brown on bottom. Cool on wire rack. Makes 35 small cookies.



Kasha Breakfast Cake with Carrots and Dates September 29, 2012

Steel cut oatmeal is a staple breakfast item in my house, and I find even the leftovers a tasty snack later in the day. But cooked kasha leftovers (aka buckwheat groats), I had no experience with and wasn’t as thrilled about eating cold from the fridge, even with maple syrup. So I searched online, unsuccessfully, for a muffin or healthy cake recipe to utilize the extra cooked kasha I had sitting around after my family had their fill for breakfast.

Every recipe I came across called for buckwheat flour, which I also love, but with several extra cups of cooked kasha in my stove pot was of no use to me.

I figured adding the soft, cooked whole grain to a batter would yield more nutrition due to less processing, and would provide an interesting texture. Worth a shot, so I went about creating my own recipe. I’m happy to say it was a great success, and one I’ve already duplicated three times since creating it two weeks ago. There is very little maple syrup called for, but my daughter and I find it plenty sweet (my husband thinks it’s good too but even better with honey on top). It is deliciously moist and holds together well for breakfast on the go, which has become a huge priority since Ella began attending a twice a week preschool co-op. She’s used to taking a solid hour enjoying breakfast, and second breakfasts, and morning tea…it’s like feeding a hobbit…and I need to speed up the morning routine without taking the joy out of eating. Baking her a breakfast “cake” makes her feel like she’s waking up to a special treat, which she is…it just happens to be a healthy one.


Buckwheat groats are eaten regularly in western China and eastern Europe (I found a bag packaged in Poland in my local grocery store’s international section). Rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and magnesium, buckwheat is a very healthy alternative to wheat, and an excellent food for young babies due to an extremely low risk of allergic reaction.

–For gluten tolerant individuals you can use white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour in place of the oat and sorghum (1 ¼ cup total), and omit the xanthan gum.


Buckwheat/Kasha Breakfast Cake with Carrots and Dates (gluten-free)

1 cup oat flour

¼ cup sorghum flour

1 t. xanthan gum

2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

1 cup cooked buckwheat groats  *See cooking instructions below

3 T. maple syrup

2 T. unsalted butter, melted + 1 t. to butter pan

1 cup milk, around room temperature

1 egg

¼ cup chopped dates (I used pitted tunizian dates, but medjool dates would work well also), or substitute raisins

2 medium carrot, finely shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 8×8” pan with 1 t. butter.

Combine oat flour, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and whisk. Add cooked kasha, tossing in the flour mixture. Combine maple syrup, melted butter, milk and egg in large measuring glass or small bowl; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chopped dates and shredded carrots.

Pour cake into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes, until cake is set and a toothpick tests clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

Makes 16 pieces


*Buckwheat/Kasha Cooking Instructions

1 T. butter

1 cup buckwheat groats (kasha)

2 cups water

½ t. sea salt

Bring water to a boil in a tea kettle or pan. Heat butter in a medium saucepan with lid. Add kasha and sauté until coated. Add boiling water and salt to kasha, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer 20 minutes until buckwheat is tender.

Makes approximately 3 cups cooked kasha – plenty for a morning meal and creative baking. For morning porridge I like adding cinnamon, raisins or dried figs, flax, milk and a little maple syrup.


The Princess Dilemma September 24, 2012

I love role playing – really truly love it. Part of me has always longed for a life in musical theater (thanks most likely to watching The Sound of Music a bazillion times as a kid), and struggling to some extent with self acceptance and social anxiety throughout my life, role playing allows me a chance to let go of whoever I think I am or want to become and just exist. With lines already written for me, the tone of my voice and mood determined by character, it can be a welcome reprieve from playing mom, responsible for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of two people all day long. Playing werewolf entails no responsibilities beyond growling and pursuing my next victim. So easy. And yes, she loves when I play werewolf.


Life as a toddler has got to be just downright wretched at times, and I’m sure role playing serves as a vital tool for relaxation, just as it does for me, in addition to helping kids learn about the world and how we all fit together.


Enter the princess dilemma. I am staunchly anti princess for a variety of reasons. Other characters encourage children to be adventurous, chivalrous, and compassionate, to explore super powers, to conquer the world or save it from an evil tyrant, to think twice about stealing porridge from unsuspecting bears…all good lessons. But what does a princess teach them? She teaches them to obsess about their bodies, their clothes, material wealth, and of course, to wait for prince charming so their lives will be magically transformed into a constant state of bliss. Happily ever after is a lie, a completely unfair expectation that sets our little girls up to be disappointed and unprepared for the alternative, which of course is, simply, life. And life is awesome. Life is magical and wondrous, it’s depressing and painful, it’s ecstasy and misery all jumbled together and it’s worth living. Even without the castle and crown. Even homely and overweight. Even if prince charming never comes or existed in the first place or if he turns out to be a she. The typical princess story doesn’t offer anything of value for me, and so for nearly three years I was successful at avoiding all princess books, movies and discussion with my little girl. Random people on the street would walk by saying “What a little princess” and though I might smile politely and resist rolling my eyes until they’d passed us, I would not acknowledge the label or agree with their comment and I certainly never explained to my daughter what they were suggesting. I knew I’d have to deal with princesses eventually, but I felt avoiding the princess mentality so prevalent in our culture today was imperative to raising a strong, emotionally healthy girl.


One month before my daughter’s third birthday, the inevitable happened. Ella learned what a princess is and became mildly interested in playing one, which sent me panicking, scrambling to find princess books that downplayed beauty and marriage. I wanted to make it clear that the typical storybook princess, being a slave to fashion who’s banned from running through mud puddles, leaving the house with unbrushed hair, or dashing into the woods to examine rotting logs, spider webs, and animal tracks whenever her adventurous heart feels drawn to do so, should be pitied rather than envied and imitated! These are sentiments I felt sure my daughter would back me up on. But despite my reminding her of the harsh realities of royalty, this was a role that called to her and needed to be explored, just as the role of dragon, basilisk, gelfling, and fairy had, and I forced myself to play along with a smile while hoping the fascination would soon be exhausted. What I needed was a princess book with a feminism message post haste. (Why oh why didn’t I already have one waiting in my closet??!!)


The Paper Bag Princess comes to my aid the next day – a classic at this point, being in print over 25 years, though I’d never heard of it before starting my search. Author Robert Munsch writes a very straightforward story of a princess with fancy clothes and enormous castle, betrothed to the dashing prince Ronald…you know, the usual baggage every storybook princess is laden with…only to have it all destroyed by a big green dragon by page 2. So far, so good I think. Finally, here’s a book written to allow the princess the opportunity of heroinism, for by page 3 she’s chasing after the destructive dragon wearing nothing but a filthy paper bag and misshapen crown. It doesn’t take long for princess Elizabeth to outsmart the dragon so she may rescue poor useless prince Ronald, held captive in the dragon’s lair, but when she opens the cave door to save her betrothed he reveals the trouble with royalty, thanklessly dismissing his heroine because she smells bad and looks like hell. “Come back when you are dressed like a real princess” he snarls. I see his skinny finger poised accusingly at princess Elizabeth, piercing her with shame and feelings of inadequacy, and I hope she beats him unconscious with his stupid tennis racket which never leaves his hand, and seals him in the cave for the dragon to make roast Ronald for dinner. Whether she does or not isn’t explicitly written, but our heroine does tell prince Ronald that despite his pretty appearance he is nothing but a bum and she won’t be marrying him after all. Into the sunset Elizabeth dances, arms outstretched, in her paper bag, sans crown…just a girl who now values herself instead of her possessions or status, and knows freedom because of it. Well done Munsch, and thank you. Playing Paper Bag Princess really is fun, and allows me to indulge in the fascination without feeling my morals compromised.












Other nontraditional princess books that surfaced in my quest, but I have yet to read:

The Princess and the Dragon by Audrey Wood

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

Sleeping Ugly by Diane Stanley

Not all Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen


End of Summer Blue Pineapple Smoothie September 13, 2012

Did you know that your pineapple cores don’t have to go to waste? The core is too tough and fibrous to be enjoyable eaten raw, but after freezing, it makes a great addition to smoothies, tastes a little more muted than the rest of the pineapple, and is scrumptious paired with coconut milk. Ella loves her smoothies thick and served in the cap of our cocktail shaker because it’s in the shape of an ice cream cone. She, naturally, calls it smoothie ice cream and will ask for 5 or 6 refills in the metal “cone”. A little creativity really helps make healthy food fun for toddlers!

Blueberry Pineapple Smoothie

1 banana, peeled and frozen

1 cup pineapple core, cut into chunks and frozen

1 cup coconut milk

3/4 – 1 cup cow’s milk or nondairy alternative (depending on desired consistency)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 t. ground ginger

1 t. honey

Place all items in blender and process until smooth. I had a very thick smoothie using 3/4 cup milk and 1 cup coconut milk, but that’s how my daughter likes it so she can pretend it’s ice cream. Add a little more milk if you prefer it thinner.

Makes about 32 oz.  Serves 4


Two Recipes Spreading Gluten-Free Biscuit Bliss September 2, 2012

Surprisingly, there aren’t too many things I’ve missed since giving up gluten six months ago, with biscuits and scones being the two main exceptions. With some modifications I could probably turn these into scones fairly easily, but the following two recipes definitely fall into the biscuit category, and they’re so tasty I’ve been making a new batch every time we run out. It has become one of my bread substitutes because I don’t care for most GF breads available in grocery stores due to the high starch content. In case you’re not familiar with gluten-free breads, most call for large amounts of tapioca/rice/corn starch, which are nearly void of nutrition (potato starch seems to be the exception as it still contains many vitamins and minerals). True, some starch is typically required in gluten-free baking if you’re hoping to see a resemblance to wheat goods, but by changing our expectations, and the expectations of our taste-buds through more adventurous eating, we can easily incorporate a great number of gluten-free flours that are packed with nutrition and flavor. Teff flour is a prime example, with large amounts of manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, in addition to many B vitamins (nutritional bar graphs are available at traditional-foods.com), it’s a grain worth incorporating in your diet.

Rosemary Teff Biscuits (gluten-free)

1/2 cup teff flour

1  1/2 cups oat flour

1 T. baking powder

½ t. xanthan gum

1 t. fine sea salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

¼ t. crushed rosemary

1 T. natural cane sugar

1 T. chia or salba seeds (optional)

1 T. golden flax seeds (optional)

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter (5 1/3 T.), cubed

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400°.

Whisk all dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in cold butter with hands or pastry cutter until butter pieces are no larger than pea size. Add cold milk and stir with spatula.

Portion with cookie scoop, or large spoon, and place on ungreased baking stone or baking sheet; bake until lightly golden brown, 10-13 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Makes 18 medium biscuits.

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I’ve made a biscuit fan out of my daughter this week for sure. Yesterday she ate five Teff Amaranth Biscuits after dinner, lifted her shirt to make her belly talk to me and said “Mmmm I’m full and happy”. Amaranth flour is very high in protein, iron and fiber, and contributes a unique earthy malt flavor that I really like paired with other less dominating flours, such as oat. A drizzle of honey makes these pretty darn addictive.

Teff Amaranth Biscuits (gluten-free)

½ cup Teff flour

½ cup Amaranth flour

1 cup oat flour

1 T. baking powder

¾ t. xanthan gum

4 t. natural cane sugar

1 t. sea salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 1/3 T.), cubed

1 cup + 3 T. milk

1-2 t. turbinado sugar, optional, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°.

Whisk all dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in cold butter with hands or pastry cutter until butter pieces are no larger than pea size. Add cold milk and stir with spatula.

Portion with cookie scoop, or large spoon, and place on ungreased baking stone or baking sheet; bake until lightly golden brown, 10-13 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Makes 18 medium biscuits.


Pumpkin Mascarpone Dip September 1, 2012

Pumpkin Mascarpone Dip

½ cup mascarpone Italian cream cheese

¼ cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)

½ t. – 1 t. pure maple syrup

½ t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. ground ginger

2 apples, cored and sliced (Pink Lady apples are my favorite for snacking)

Mix pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger together in medium bowl (1/2 t. maple syrup is enough for me because pumpkin and mascarpone are both naturally sweet, but if you prefer it a little sweeter adjust to taste). Add mascarpone and blend briefly until fully incorporated. Serve with sliced apples.

Looking for another way to use extra pumpkin puree? Check out my Peachy Pumpkin Smoothie recipe!