Mom’s Pumpkin Bread (gluten & grain free)

April 28, 2017
Mom's Pumpkin Bread

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things was pumpkin bread – I would look forward to the fall when my mom would make her famous recipe – it was so moist and delicious.  I still love pumpkin bread – but I don’t eat wheat or gluten any more – so I can’t make my mom’s recipe exactly.

But I di use her recipe for inspiration!  This recipe is based on the pumpkin bread that my mom used to make me when I was a kid – except this one is gluten and grain free.  Instead of regular flour, this pumpkin bread is made with cassava flour – which is a root vegetable that is also known as a yuca root. Cassava is both grain and gluten free!!  Learn more about cassava flour.

Although it does have organic sugar, this recipe has quite a bit less sugar than my mom’s original recipe (and most other pumpkin bread recipes) – and you could probably even reduce the sugar content by swapping some 1/2 cup of the sugar for 2 Tablespoons of stevia (I might try it next time).

This recipe even passed the kid test –  my kids loved it and gobbled it up (and they are not always big fans of gluten or grain free recipes)!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted organic butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/3 cup avocado or coconut oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup organic cane sugar  (or you could swap out 1/2 cup of the sugar for 1 Tablespoon of organic stevia – so use 1 cup of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of powdered stevia – I like the brand Pyure)
  • 3 eggsOtto's Cassava Flour
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups cassava flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use Real Salt brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon gound nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease 3 mini bread mold tins.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients, set aside.
  4. Cream together butter, oil and sugars – mix until creamy.
  5. Then add eggs one at a time, mixing well until it is creamy and a light yellow.
  6. Mix in pumpkin puree & vanilla.
  7. Add in dry ingredients to wet (about 1 cup at a time) – mixing gently.
  8. Pour into greased mini bread molds.
  9. Put into the preheated 325 degree oven for about 50 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean. If using regular size bread molds, cook longer – about 60 mins.

Prefer banana bread?  You can substitute 3 ripe bananas for the pumpkin in this recipe to make banana bread! 

Articles:

Cassava Flour: The Best Grain-Free Baking Alternative?

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Mini Meatloaves (Gluten & Grain free) w/ Homemade Ketchup

May 26, 2015
Mini Meatloaves

 AKA “Meat muffins”

I love it when I come up with a recipe that is healthy, and passes the kid taste test – this recipe hit it out of the ballpark on both accounts!  Even my quinoa-hating daughter loved them – I only told her about the quinoa after she had decided that she loved them!  My kids like to call them “meat muffins” because they are made in muffin tins – which makes them even more fun!

I have already made this recipe twice, and my kids regularly ask for it – so I plan to make it again this week.  The leftovers make a great (hearty) after school snack, or a quick meal – but in my house, they don’t last for long!

Yield: 12 individual meat loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 pounds (approx.) ground grass fed beef*
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped (or grated)
  • 1 medium zucchini (organic)*, finely grated (yields about 3/4 cup finely grated)
  • 2 eggs*
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery, very finely diced
  • 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 2 tsp of gluten free Worcestershire sauce (this is optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. of dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (for sautéing the onions), plus more for greasing the muffin tin

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.47 AM

Sauce (Ketchup):

  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 5 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of dijon mustard (or more if you like)
  • 1/2  tsp. Himalayan salt
  • pinch of ground cloves, pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of coconut palm sugar (or a few drops of stevia for a sugar free option – or honey, raw agave, or another natural sweetener.)  I found this to be the perfect sweetness, but add another teaspoon if you prefer.

Put the sugar into the vinegar and stir until it dissolves. Then add all the ingredients together, stir to combine – taste & adjust.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  This step can be done a day or two ahead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a muffin tin with avocado oil
  3. Cook the quinoa & let cool (this can be done a day ahead – just make sure to make enough to yield 3/4 cup cooked – I always make a little extra to save in the refrigerator to throw into a salad).
  4. Grate the zucchini (using fine grater) and squeeze out all the excess moisture with a couple of paper towels (I squeezed it over the sink).
  5. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, and very finely chop the celery and parsley.
  6. Heat a pan on medium, add in 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (or coconut oil). Add the onions and sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until soft & translucent.  Add in the garlic and celery and cook about 2-3 mins more.  Take onion mixture off heat, and let cool.
  7. Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk them to break up yolks, and then add in all the other ingredients except beef (and the avocado oil, which is for sautéing).  Mix to combine.  Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.38 AM
  8. And finally – add in the grass fed beef – gently combining. (I find that it works best when I mix the beef in by hand).
  9. Scoop the meatloaf mixture into oiled muffin tins.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.26 AM
  10. Put into the pre-heated 375 degree oven and cook for 20 minutes. (I like to put a sheet pan underneath in case of any drippings).
  11. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Take muffin tin out of oven, spread a teaspoon of sauce on top of each meatloaf, return to 425 degree oven and cook another 10 minutes.
  12. Take out of oven, let rest 5 minutes, and then serve with additional sauce on the side.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.04.57 AM

This recipe is great with steamed broccoli with some grass fed butter and mashed potatoes.   Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days (they won’t last that long)!

*A note about quality – I always make sure to go for grass fed beef – to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and other additives – plus grass fed beef is higher in omega 3s and 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional beef – which studies have found helps to burn fat (read this article to learn more).  I also always choose organic for zucchini – because conventional zucchini is highly likely to be GMO, which I avoid because there is evidence that GMOs could be harming our gut health and even increase our risk of cancer.  And finally – I always look for organic pastured or free range eggs – which also have a higher amount of omega 3s and no antibiotics or hormones.

 

 

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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10 School Lunch Dilemmas – Solved!

August 20, 2013
bigstock-Elementary-Pupils-Sitting-At-T-45726592
Categories: Kids, Lunchboxes

It’s back to school time…and that means it’s time to get back to packing lunches again!!  It is not always easy to come up with a healthy lunch…that your kid will actually eat!  Does it frustrate you to pack up a lunch, and then have most of it come back home again?  These are some solutions to ten of your common lunchbox dilemmas – to help you upgrade your kids’ lunch this year!

10 School Lunch Dilemmas Solved:

Dilemma # 1: Lukewarm & Icky lunch: 

A recent study found that 90%(!!) of kids school lunches can reach unsafe temperatures, even lunches with an ice pack inside could get too warm! I wouldn’t blame a kid for not eating their lunch that gets all warm & icky.  A lunch that has not been kept cold enough is not only unappetizing, it can also be downright dangerous – because it can breed food-borne bacteria that can make you sick.  Plus a lot of California students keep their lunches outside in the hot sun, which raises the temperature even faster.

Solution:Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 4.00.37 PM Keep it Cold & Safe with a Pack It!   Last year, I was so excited to find Pack-Its. They fold down neatly so they can be stored in the freezer, and then in the morning, you pull it out, and they act like little portable refrigerators all day long!  I love knowing that my kids lunch stays fresher and safer in the Pack-It.  I even bought a bigger one that I bring to the grocery store, beach, and the park. I can shop for dinner items while my kids are in sports, and know it will stay cold and fresh until we get home.  We love our Pack-Its!

 

Dilemma #2: Newly gluten-free, and not a fan of gluten-free bread.

Coming up with ideas for healthy lunches that kids will eat can be a challenge. How about if your child is going gluten-free for the first time this year?  That just ups the ante!  According to the Journal Pediatrics, food allergies are on the rise, so more and more kids will likely be needing gluten-free lunches this year.

Solution: Good Gluten free sandwich options!

Gluten is a protein that can wreak havoc on an increasing number of people’s digestive system and overall health. But gluten also gives bread and other products a soft and chewy texture. So when you remove the gluten, some of the softness and chewiness is not there.  I have got to admit, the gluten-free bread options are decent and getting better and better, but day-old gluten-free bread is not going to be very soft and chewy. Do not fret, going gluten-free, does not mean you have to give up sandwiches, you just need a little creativity:

  • AP 3DChebe Bread Sandwiches etc.  Ahhhh bread…if you have recently gone gluten free, you might be dreaming about soft, chewy and fluffy bread.  I used to, then I found Chebe bread mixes – I can make homemade bread in about 30 minutes. Unlike regular bread, it doesn’t require kneading! You just add egg, oil, and optionally cheese – mix it up, and pop them into the oven!  You can whip up breadsticks, buns, even pizza dough in a snap – and they are fresh & delicious, and gluten free!!  My local store stopped carrying it – so I ordered a case from Amazon!  I love to make breadsticks for the kids for their lunch, and we often make the buns for hamburgers too.  These are great for school lunches.
  • Panini sandwich:  We like to toast our gluten free bread, or turn them into panini sandwiches, because toasted gluten free bread just tastes yummier.  I find wrapping them in parchment or foil tends to prevent them from getting soggy by lunchtime.
  • Cracker “sandwiches”  – This is great for the kid that is tired of sandwiches, or prefers more of a “finger-food type” lunch too.  Try Mary’s Gone Crackers – they have superfoods like chia seeds in them, and are also gluten free, so they make a good base for any cracker sandwich!  There are plenty of gluten free crackers out there – Glutino, Nut Thins, and Rice crackers – find which one your child likes the best.  Put whatever topping you want – nitrate free ham, nut butter, hummus, or tuna salad all work great.

Dilemma # 3: Struggles with Focus & Attention Issues.

Everyone talks about breakfast as one of the most important meals of the day, but school lunch is extremely important too!  Teachers tell me all the time that they know which students had a healthy lunch and which ones did not – because the kids that didn’t often are sleepy and have a hard time focusing in the afternoon.

Solution: Pack some “brain food” in the lunchbox!

Packing healthy choices that will boost kids’ brains is really important if we want them to excel in school.  Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that the body can not make – so we need to consume them. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is deficient in these important nutrients.  Found in foods like fatty fish, chia seeds, and nuts – omega 3s are important brain and mood food.   Here are some easy ways to introduce omega 3s in the lunchbox:

  • Tuna Salad: My kids love tuna salad – we always buy Wild Planet tuna because it has higher levels of omega 3s, and less mercury than other brands.  Serve with crackers, a wrap, or between 2 slices of bread.Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 1.07.53 PM
  • Mamma Chia Squeeze packs – an upgrade to the typical fruit puree squeeze packs – these contain 1,200 mg of ALA omega 3s, which supports brain function, mood, hydration and helps to fill you up – giving you longer lasting energy.  These also boost hydration, so not only are they great in lunchboxes, but they also make a great before-sports snack.
  • NuttZo nut butter:  nuts are a pretty good source of omega 3s, but because NuttZo has chia seeds and flax seeds in them – it is an even better option than other nut butters.  Plus, they offer a peanut-free version – so kids who are not allowed to bring peanut butter can use PF NuttZo instead.
  • Barleans Omega Swirls to go – although Omega Swirls are fish oil, they taste like a delicious smoothie.  Barleans Swirls to go come in little portable packets an would be a good way to give your child’s brain a boost of omega 3s for the afternoon.

Note: artificial colors and other chemicals have been linked to hyperactivity and attention problems – so avoid sending foods with those ingredients in the lunchbox if your child has issues with focus & attention.

Dilemma #4: My kid crashes and burns after lunch:

I hear from a lot of clients that they need to eat every couple hours, otherwise they just crash and burn.  Sugar and simple carbs cause a bloodsugar spike followed by a crash, this can lead to an energy and mood crash. Making sure your child gets protein, fiber, or a healthy fat EVERY time they eat will help to keep their bloodsugar levels more even, and give them longer lasting energy.

Solution: Pack them protein!

Many “snack foods” are lacking protein, fiber, or healthy fat – in fact, they are lacking in nutrients in general – that is why I call things like pretzels and Goldfish “filler foods.”  They fill you up, but not for long.  Protein, fiber and healthy fats help to keep blood sugar levels from spiking and crashing – they keep your energy and moods more level. Proteins are also important building blocks for neurotransmitters – so getting protein in the lunch will help keep the bloodsugar stable, and help to boost brain function.  Here are some good ways to get protein into the lunchbox:

    Lunchable-type lunch, and you can even make them the night before if you want to.  Mary’s Gone Crackers make a good base for any cracker sandwich, cut up some nitrate-free cold meat, and organic cheese.  Add in some fresh veggies and fruit – and you have a yummy lunch.  If your child still wants a little something sweet for dessert?  See below for some healthier options.
  • Leftovers!  There is nothing better than sending leftovers in the kids lunchbox the next day. Saves time and money using leftovers.  Pizza and pasta are good cold, and so are asian-style noodles.  Leftover chili or soup is a great thing to send in a thermos!  In the fall, I love to make a big pot of my homemade chicken soup – because it is very immune-boosting to help keep them healthy during colds and flu season.

Dilemma # 7. My kids want a sweet treat in their lunchbox!

If your child likes a little something sweet in their lunchbox, but you are trying to avoid artificial colors, flavors and high fructose corn syrup.

Solution: Look for sweet treats that are made from natural sugars, and don’t have all that artificial stuff that can take away from focus & attention:

  • Fruit is always a good choice, and dried fruit is too – it’s like nature’s candy!  Sometimes, I will cut up apples, sprinkle a little cinnamon and organic sugar on them, and they are a delicious treat.  Plus the cinnamon sugar keeps the apple from browning too!
  • Barnanas – are great, they are dark-chocolate covered dehydrated banana slices – naturally sweet and delicious (they also make them plain without the chocolate). They are a high potassium delicious & healthy treat. Plus – dark chocolate was shown in a recent study to help participants perform better in math!
  • Stretch Island fruit – are made with fruit and don’t contain the artificial colors, flavors and high fructose corn syrup that many other brands use.  If your kids like those Fruit by the Foot, try Stetch Island’s FruitaBu instead.
  • Katy’s Kettle Corn – from popchips – this is a good option because it just 3 has graIMG_2784ms of sugar. If satisfies the sweet and the need to crunch all at once!
  • Homemade Cookies or try these gluten free Figgy Bars – I always think homemade is best.  You can control what goes in there!

Dilemma #8. Help! My child wants Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Cool Ranch Doritos in her lunchbox – every day!

This is a very common one – because most kids just love those Flamin’ Hot and flavor-enriched snacks.  And the thing is – the more flavor they add to them, the more addicting they are.  So it is no wonder that kids want to eat them every day! But these are full of junk – they have several different artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and MSG – which is an obesogen (a chemical that tells the body to store fat).  So these are definitely not good for our kids’ health, attention, focus or energy.  They are not good for their waistline either – with 160 calories and 11 grams of fat for every 28 pieces consumed.   Some schools went so far as to ban them last year.

Solution:  Just choose a better chip.

You want to avoid chips that contain MSG (which is an obesogen – tells the body to store fat), and preservatives and artificial colors (yes, you’d be amazed how many do!).  There are so many different options of better chips out there – just read the labels.  You could go with a simple ingredient list – potato, oil, salt.  Or if you want to more closely match the Flamin’ Hot chips, you will have to go with a little longer ingredient list – but one that still avoids the worst of the ingredients (MSG, preservatives, artificial colorings, and the like).  These are just better options:

  • snikiddy_packaging_291x414_hotspicy-270x385Hot & Spicy Snikiddy Baked Fries – they are gluten free, contain no MSG, no artificial colors, and have less sodium and calories than Cheetos.  Just a better option!
  • Whales Tails – are a favorite in our house – because not only are they a fun shape (like a Whale’s Tail!), they are made with GMO-free corn, and simple ingredients – none of the icky stuff you find in those other chips.  The blue corn ones also have chia seeds in them – which as we know, boost brain function.
  • Popchips – are a better alternative too – no artificial colors, msg, and also gluten free!  They have corn tortilla chips, and potato, and they have even come out with a new Kettle Corn chip – for those that like a little something sweet!

Dilemma #9: My son has sports right after school and I am worried he will get dehydrated!

Many kids are just not drinking enough water throughout the day, which can lead to chronic dehydration.  All kids should be encouraged to drink water throughout the school day.  But it is especially important for kids that head off to sports practice after school to prevent dehydration.

Solution – Plan ahead and talk to your son or daughter about staying properly hydrated during the day and their sports activities. Make sure they bring a water bottle – and are allowed to bring it into class.  Some teachers don’t encourage water bottles in class because it can lead to more bathroom breaks – but make sure your child’s teacher does not restrict bathroom breaks, because kids will then restrict their fluids throughout the day.  Encourage them to drink their waterbottle and refill it at school or at the field. I also encourage kids to carry an electrolyte replenisher in their sports bag – because if they lose a lot of fluids, they will need to replenish electrolytes with the fluids. Here are some alternatives to the sports drinks with artificial colors, flavors, that are portable – just pop them into your sports bag, and pop them into a waterbottle:

  • Ultima Replenisher is another electrolyte powder that can be added to water – it comes in several yummy flavors and is non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and naturally sweet.
  • Coconut water is called Nature’s Gatorade for a good reason, they are a naturally good electrolyte replenisher.
  • Mamma Chia Squeeze packs – we gave these to our son before tennis, because the chia seeds help to “prehydrate” him before his workouts.  See above for more benefits of Mammachia squeeze packs!

Dilemma # 10: My child didn’t eat because he had a tummy ache…again!

Kids who frequently complain of a tummy ache could have digestive troubles like chronic constipation, or an undiagnosed food sensitivity or allergy. But another common reason for recurring stomach aches in school-aged kids is – anxiety.  Whether it is first day jitters, or worries about taking a test, or more generalized anxiety…stomach pain that is caused by anxiety is not all in their head, it is very real. And there are some things that you can do to help.

Solution: Soothe their tummies and their minds.

The gut is often referred to as “the second brain” – not only can anxiety cause an upset tummy, imbalanced gut bacteria can also cause anxiety.  So improving the health of the digestive system is critical for helping to resolve anxiety and chronic tummy troubles.

  • Probiotics: Start their morning with, or send a probiotic supplement in their lunch – probiotics boost the good bacteria in their gut, which studies show can improve digestion, and even can help to reduce anxiety.  And as a bonus – they will also boost immunity – to help prevent colds and flus. My kids love their Yum Yum probiotics in the morning.
  • Send some “Soul Foodkids57-1_0” – In addition to feeding your child’s belly, why not send a little something to feed their soul?  It might take an extra minute to write a note, but a few words of encouragement from mom or dad could mean a lot to help them get through their day. Don’t have time to write? Never fear – Say, Please has done it for you – they have created the coolest 2 sided lunch box notes – one side contains words of encouragement and the other side contains jokes, trivia, and other cool topics for the lunch table.  They make them for kids of all ages.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Healing Chicken Noodle Soup – 2 Ways!

December 6, 2012
download-12

If you ever catch yourself about to say, “it has been a while since the kids have been to the doctor.”  Or ” We haven’t been sick in a while.”  Stop yourself, just resist the urge.  Because the minute you do, someone will get sick.  Murphy’s Law.

‘This week it happened to us – both my kids got that nasty upper respiratory thing.  One is still home sick – on day three now.  So in addition to the Olive leaf, Elderberry, Vitamin C, and zinc (read more tips for Cold and Flu prevention here)- it was time to pull out the serious medicine – and make s big pot of Homemade Healing (gluten free) Chicken Noodle soup!  My son is a big fan of soup – so there was nothing he would like better on any given day, especially when he is sick.

Sara’s Mexican Style Chicken Soup

If you have never made chicken soup at home before – do not worry, it is really easy – I promise! I will walk you through it, and even give you two different flavor options: traditional chicken noodle, and Mexican style.  Until we moved to San Diego, I had never even heard of Mexican style chicken soup.  But now it is one of my favorites!  So you can make one broth – and turn it into two soups!

First: Make your chicken broth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone in organic chicken breasts (or 3-4 bone in thighs).  You can also throw in some more bones – like the neck too – the more the better/tastier.
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 cup of diced celery
  • Parsley – handful
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Thyme sprigs (about 3-4)
  • 14 cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sea salt, celtic salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of oil (avocado, olive, or coconut oil)
  • optional – Kombu strip (adds a rich “umami” taste, natural minerals, and iodine – to boost thyroid function, it also boosts digestion)
  • Noodles – we like Tinkinyada brand

Directions:

  • Chop the onion
  • Dice the carrots and celery (into approx. 1/4 in pieces)
  • Heat up about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy bottom pot on stove
  • On low heat – sweat the onions for a couple of minutes to soften.
  • Add in the following:
    • The rest of the diced veggies
    • 14 cups of fresh filtered water
    • thyme sprigs & parsley tied up into a cheesecloth
    • The chicken (and bones if using)
    • The kombu strip (if using)
    • Salt
  • Turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes (depending on how large your chicken pieces are), covering partially with lid.
  • After approx. 40 mins, take out the chicken – and cut into it to see if it is cooked through.  If it is not, return it to the pot to cook for another 5-10 mins.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add in the noodles (we use Tinkinyada gluten free brown rice spirals), cook according to directions.  Drain and rinse set aside.  There should be plenty extra to store in refrigerator for more soup – we keep them separate, adding in just before serving.
  • When done, pull out the chicken and allow to cool on a plate for a few minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Taste the broth – add salt if needed (if too salty, just add a little water).
  • When cool enough to touch, shred or chop the chicken and return it to the pot.
  • Put desired amount of noodles in a bowl, and pour soup broth over it. Serve with gluten free crackers (we like Scheff brand).

If you want to make some Mexican style – while the broth is cooking, chop the following:

  • A roma tomato (or slice some grape tomatoes)
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Some cilantro
  • Optional – some jalapeno
  • Ancho chili powder (a couple shakes)
  • Slice open an avocado – remove the pit and score it with crosshatches.
  • Slice a wedge of a lime.

Directions:

  • Pour broth with chopped chicken into a separate saucepan, adding in some chili powder, and the above number 1-5 garnishes.
  • Allow to come to a simmer.
  • Pour the soup into a bowl, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and scoop out the avocado chunks.
  • Optional – you can add some leftover rice or rice noodles if you like too.
  • Serve & enjoy!  This is a delicious and refreshing soup!  Great for lunch or dinner.

Store leftover broth in airtight container in the refrigerator (store the rice noodles in a separate container).

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Thanks to TheLunchbox.org!

August 9, 2011
Categories: Lunchboxes

Wow!  Thanks to TheLunchbox.org for naming me a “Lunchbox Hero!

A hero, me?  The word “Hero” conjures up images of firefighters saving people from burning buildings. Heros are the soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for our freedom, and the doctors or EMTs that provide life-saving medical care.  My dad was an organ transplant surgeon, he gave people new pancreases and kidneys to cure their diabetes.  My dad was definitely worthy of the title Hero, he had peoples lives literally in his hands every week.

So when I heard I was going to be named a “Lunchbox Hero,”  I was taken aback.  I am not a Hero, I certainly don’t put myself in harms way.  And I am not saving lives.  But then I remembered an email that Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary received after the assembly and launch of the new salad bar from Lets Move Salad Bars to Schools:

“You are my heros. I really appreciate your hard work and efforts! My kids loved it. Thank you!!”   – Gwenna S.

I started to think that if there was one child that connected with my lessons and improved her health for the better, then maybe I could reluctantly and humbly accept the title.

I decided that I am still a little uncomfortable with the title Hero, and that is a good thing. Because I will work harder to prove that I am worthy, and it will help me to stay focused on my goals of helping to increase awareness about nutrition, and provide kids, families and schools with the tools they need to take action.

This week I am teaching some Healthy Lunchbox classes at Whole Foods to get kids excited about making healthy food fun!  Next week, I will be appearing on San Diego Living to share some healthy lunchbox tips.  School is going back into session, I hope to be scheduling more Food is Your Fuel assemblies.  It is my hope that every week this year I can be doing something to help improve the health of kids in this country.

For more information about Food is Your Fuel assemblies and more: www.rebalancelife.com

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Build a Healthy Lunchbox!

July 19, 2011

Article written by Clinical Nutritionist Sara Vance with ReBalance Life, find her on Facebook.

  • Do you struggle with packing healthy items that your kids will eat?
  • Do your kids get bored with the usual lunchbox fare?
  • Want to get ideas for incorporating more fruit & veggies into the lunch?
  • Worry that your kids are not staying hydrated enough at school?

Worry no more!  Its almost Back to School time – so here are some tips and product ideas to make packing a healthy lunch easy and fun!

A working mom myself, I know how hard it is to juggle it all.  These products and tips can help us think outside “the box” and make packing a healthy lunch easy and delicious – and fun!  If you can bring your kid into the kitchen to pack it – they will be more likely to eat it.

Veggies & Fruit

Fill Up Half the Lunchbox!

The USDA recently replaced the Food Pyramid with MyPlate, which shows that half of all of our meals should be fruits and veggies.  Most people could benefit from eating more plant based foods – MyPlate gets us thinking about increasing our fruits & veggies!   The good news is there are so many great products out there now – that make fruit & veggies easy, yummy & fun for lunchboxes:

  • Pouches make fruit packable and lunchbox friendly.  Try Go Go Squeez – freeze them the night before, and they can serve as a cold pack for the lunch, and are thawed by lunchtime.  I also like Fruit & Veggie Mash-Ups from Revolution Foods because they have veggies and fruit.  Make sure to check the ingredients list – not all brands are 100% fruit, some might contain sugar, or even artificial coloring.  Reading labels is a good habit to get into.
  • Funky Monkey Freeze dried fruit – great for when you haven’t been to the store and are out of fresh fruit! Love the fun name!
  • Kaia Foods Kale chips – they even have a BBQ flavor – kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables out there, and these chips are delicious and nutritious.  Although convenient and delicious, these may not be for the bargain shopper.  But kale chips are pretty easy to make at home, try this simple recipe.  You can always add your own twist – with seasonings and spices.
  • Apple “Bites” – from Disney’s Family Fun are designed for Halloween, but I think they are fun anytime.  You cut apples into a mouth shape – and then poke almond slivers in for teeth.  My son loves to make & eat these – they are a delicious combination.  And don’t forget to include them in your Halloween parties this year!  Squeeze a little lemon on sliced apples and that will help to keep them from browning.
  • Fun Shaped Fruits & veggies – using a fondant cutter, I like to cut fruit & veggies into fun shapes – or make melon balls.  It doesn’t take long to do, and kids like to eat foods that look fun & interesting – all their friends will love them.

Kids Love to Dip!

Another great way to incorporate more fruit & veggies is to send in dips!  Laptop Lunch containers (or bento buddies) are perfect for sending dips, because they have a really cute dip container!  Also great for sending salads too – put the dressing in the mini bento buddy so the salad does not get all soggy.

  • Hummus is a great choice because it is high in protein, low in fat, good source of fiber and loaded with nutrients.  You can make your own hummus, or I like Sabra hummus – it is very smooth. Send the hummus with some crackers and a rainbow of veggies: red pepper strips, snap peas, and carrots. My kids like Kashi’s new pita crisps, because they taste great, and I like them because they are an excellent source of fiber  (5 grams).  Another brand I love are Mary’s Gone Crackers, they have 450 mg of Omega 3s per serving, and are totally gluten free. My daughter’s favorite are Nut Thins – made with almonds, so they have a little more protein, and they are also gluten-free.
  • Homemade Ranch dip – another alternative to hummus. Take plain greek yogurt – add in a dash of garlic and onion powder, fresh or dried herbs, a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper – tastes like ranch – but lower fat, calories and there is no MSG.  Or try this homemade vegan ranch dressing recipe.

Remember – if you are sending anything perishable, make sure to include a cold pack, or you can freeze some items the night before, learn more from this Today Show segment.

Buh Bye Boring Sandwich.

So many kids just get bored of the same old sandwich, so why not surprise them with:

  • “Sushi roll” sandwiches!  Grab a Sonoma wrap (delicious whole grain, low carb wrap, and even have a gluten free option), put in some Applegate Farms meats (hormone and nitrate free), some Dole broccoli slaw, avocado, thinly sliced red pepper, roll up and cut into “sushi”!  Your kids will love it!  You could do different fillings – try tuna salad one day, and a nut butter with apple slices the next.
  • “A go Nuttzo sandwich!” is a fun & nutritious alternative to the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  So many schools now are peanut free, Nuttzo offers a peanut-free multi-nut butter that has almonds, chia, brazil nuts, and more!  Smear some Nuttzo on your Ezekiel sprouted whole grain or gluten free bread, put plenty of slices of banana, drizzle just a little Nature’s Agave, you have a yummy peanut-free sandwich.  Go Nuttzo sandwiches are super high in omega 3s to keep kids focused in school, and agave nectar is low glycemic so it won’t get kids bouncing off the walls. Put Nuttzo in the dip container and send apples and celery for a healthy snack another day.

The Chip Rule of “Thumb”

Kids like a little “crunch in their lunch” so it is no wonder that chips are a favorite.  My chip rule of “thumb” is if they turn your thumbs orange, or are flavor “blasted” – we can make a better choice! We don’t even think about chips having artificial coloring, and forget about those ‘flavor blasted’ ones – that just is extra artificial flavoring!  I like these options better:

  • Popchips – are yummy, fun and healthier. They are popped (not fried) – so they have less fat, no artificial colors or artificial flavors.
  • Food Should Taste Good: short ingredients list, no artificial coloring or flavoring and unique – sweet potato and hemp to name a couple!
  • Simply 7 chips – no potatoes are used in these unique chips – they are made out of lentils or garbanzo beans (hummus).  No artificial coloring, flavors, or trans fat.  All gluten free.
  • Annie Chun’s seaweed snacks are another way to get some crunch – without any chips at all.  My daughter (a picky eater) loves these seaweed snacks – even the wasabi flavor!  Seaweed has lots of minerals, vitamins to give kids the boost they need at school.

Don’t Drink Your Sugar!

I am not a fan of juice boxes – I think kids already get too much sugar each day in the foods they eat, they don’t need to drink it.  But it is important for kids to stay hydrated at school, especially if they head right to sports afterschool.  Here are some cool alternatives that are super-hydrating:

  • Coconut water is a wonderful beverage – it has electrolytes and a small amount of naturally occuring sugar.  One Coconut water even has these new ones for kids that come in lunchbox sizes in 4 flavors that kids love. If your child has sports after school – coconut water will help to “prehydrate” them with essential electrolytes!
  • Another cool new hydration tool is Nuun, which are electrolyte-enhanced drink tablets.  Send a Nuun tablet with the water bottle – and voila!  Their boring old water turns into a hydration tool!  They come in a variety of natural flavors, with none of the sugar, artificial colors or flavors that typical sports drinks have.
  • Milk or a dairy alternative is another good drink to send in lunchboxes.  I always recommend choosing organic for your dairy, Horizon Organic makes milk boxes that are shelf stable, so they won’t go bad if they don’t stay ice cold. Horizon has recently re-formulated their flavored varieties to have 26% less sugar, and 50% less fat.  Unlike most strawberry flavored milks, Horizon does not use artificial colors or flavors. I still recommend the plain unsweetened variety for everyday, but an occasional chocolate milk is nice for a special treat.  For kids that are dairy-free, So Delicious® Dairy Free now offers lunchbox sized coconut milk for kids in chocolate, vanilla, and my favorite – plain unsweetened.  Coconut milk is my favorite dairy alternative.  Sending a milk box or a dairy alternative is a great step towards building healthy bones, as many kids (especially teenagers) are not getting enough calcium each day.  Read Build Strong Bones in Kids to learn more about calcium and other nutrients kids need to build healthy bones.
  • Another calcium source to pack in lunchboxes are Tuberz yogurt sticks from Horizon Organic – these are great to stick in the freezer, they will thaw by lunchtime, but will still be nice and cold.  Made from organic milk, these don’t have the artificial colors or flavors that other brands have. Putting frozen items into a lunchbox helps to keep everything else cold and fresh too.

To Dessert or Not Dessert, That is The Question.

So what about a little something sweet for dessert, you ask?  Is that allowed?   Yes – I like to follow the 90/10 rule that the Obama’s follow, if 90% of the diet is healthy, then 10% can be treats.  Here are some fun yet healthier alternatives that are treats – but without going overboard with tons of sugar or fat; and no artificial coloring:

  • Stretch Island fruit – they also have a new one called FruitaBu!  My kids and I both love these – they want to have the “fun” treats that they see their friends with, but mom wants them to be healthy – this is the perfect solution – they are the fun long ones that kids love – without the artificial colors and flavors.
  • Bear Naked‘s double chocolate cookie is made out of whole grains – the first ingredient is whole oats (not sugar like most cookies).
  • Kashi’s Oatmeal chocolate is another good option.  They have 4 grams of fiber, and only 8 grams of sugar.
  • Or make these Brainy Brownies from the Sneaky Chef.  They are high in omega 3s, and have blueberries and have spinach in them – yes – spinach!!  They will love them and will not know you sneaked in some healthy stuff like spinach.  Omega 3s boosts brain power and helps with focus.

Go Green!

Most people like to buy a fresh new lunchbox every year – why not “Go Green” this year?  The Go Green Lunchbox is not only ECO-friendly, but it really can make lunch fun again for your kids.  No more plastic wrap needed – it has lots of fun compartments, and a little white board to write notes!  Your kids will be so excited to open their lunchbox everyday to see the message.  Top rack dishwasher safe, so clean-up is a snap!  I suggest getting 2 liners – so one can be in the dishwasher, while the other ones is heading off to school.

If you already have a lunchbox for your child and want to make that more eco-friendly, get some bento buddies to fit inside.  I especially like the mini-container the bento kits offer – perfect for dips.  You can also buy the whole Laptop Lunches system.  Check out this video to see what Laptop Lunches has to offer:

I know there are a lot of other great lunchbox ideas out there.  Would love to hear from you…what are your favorite products and recipes for the lunchbox?

For vegan lunchbox ideas, check out these vegan kid-friendly  lunchbox ideas.

Leave your comments below, or let us know at http://www.facebook.com/ReBalanceLife

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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