peanut butter oatmeal cookies
After Erik, Juliet and I spent a bunch of time outdoors last Sunday (in the awesome 60 degree weather) we needed something to do the rest of the afternoon. So we made cookies.

I am a big fan of the Weelicious site (and cookbooks) because the recipes are generally pretty easy and healthy. And every single one I’ve ever made has turned out well.

I am a big peanut butter fan, like eat a huge spoonful right out of the jar big. And Juliet is too. She always asks for peanut butter with a spoon and a bowl and she eats it right up.

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Chocolate graham crackersLast week Juliet and her cousin Chloe were having a play date. Chloe’s mom, Nikki left a coconut flour muffin for Chloe as a snack and I broke a small piece off for Juliet (she had organic animal crackers and they were sharing snacks. Have you ever noticed that toddlers will eat anything if their friends are eating it?). Juliet gobbled down that muffin and immediately said “more muffin more muffin!”.

I had never heard of coconut flour before. As a pretty avid baker, I probably shouldn’t be admitting that. I asked Nikki for the recipe and made a batch on Sunday.

Since I am obviously not an expert in gluten-free baking or coconut flour I did a little googling and this article was informative and helped me understand the benefits and nuances.
Chocolate graham crackersI found organic Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour at Super Target for around $6.Chocolate graham crackersThese muffins are really tasty and Juliet likes them a lot. Surprisingly, so does Erik (he isn’t typically into baked goods). I’m always up for trying new ingredients so thanks to my sister-in-law, Nikki for introducing me to coconut flour. I’ll definitely be making these muffins again and I’ll probably try adding fruit, dried fruit, peanut butter, etc.

Coconut flour chocolate chip muffins (recipe slightly adapted from The Coconut Mama)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 6 eggs (I use organic Simply Balanced brand from Target)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted (I get organic coconut oil from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup of honey (I use organic honey from Aldi)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
Preparation
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a another bowl, beat eggs and mix in melted coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Add dry ingredients until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes so the coconut flour can absorbed the liquid.
Scoop batter into prepared (greased) mini muffin pan. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 full of batter. 
4. Bake for 14-17 minutes. Remove muffins onto a cooling rack. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. 
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Banana chocolate chip donutsI know it’s the New Year and I think that means I’m supposed to be talking about green smoothies but instead I’m talking about donuts. Don’t worry, they’re baked.

Like most, I’m ready to take a break from the indulgences that the holidays bring. But instead of launching into a super strict New Year’s diet I’m trying out basic moderation for a change. Which means I can eat donuts. In moderation. And besides, these donuts are actually pretty healthy. They are made with bananas and yogurt. Well and sugar, but only moderate sugar.

Juliet adored these donuts. She took one bite, gave me a huge smile and yelled “YUMMY!”. To me, that equals baking success.
Banana chocolate chip donutsI baked mini donuts because they are damn cute and it helps with portion control.  Banana chocolate chip donuts Banana chocolate chip donutsBanana chocolate chip donuts (recipe adapted via Janie’s Kitchen)

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use organic whole plain yogurt)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet mini chocolate chips)

Topping (optional)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, combine the mashed banana, sugar and yogurt. Mix until combined.

Add in the melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix just until combined (be sure not to over-mix).

Fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula.

Fill a large ziplock bag (or a piping bag if you have one) with the batter and close. Snip a small piece off the corner.

Grease a donut pan (I used this mini donut pan from Wilton) and pipe 3/4 full with batter in each mold.

Bake 11-13 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

For the sugar topping, brush the top of each donut (one at a time) with butter and dip in a bowl with the sugar. I love the extra sugar topping because it makes each donut sparkly and pretty and extra sweet. But, they certainly taste great without and for little ones that don’t need to get hyped up on sugar, it would probably be best to omit this step.

Makes about 35-40 mini donuts.

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Top 2013 toddler recipesI am ending the year with a post on toddler snacks. Because really, 2013 was all about my toddler Juliet, and making food from scratch for her made both of us happy.

At the beginning of the year, I had a baby. Juliet turned 1 in February and toddler hood took over from there. She went from eating limited, soft-only solids to a full-fledged adventurous toddler that munches through raw carrots with a huge smile. I really love these toddler recipes because they are healthy (and some of them don’t have sugar, flour or eggs) and taste great (for adults and kiddos both!). And they all have the approval of my almost 2 year old.

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I’ve been wanting to make Juliet homemade animal crackers ever since we went to a BBQ last month and she tried them for the first time. Juliet ate about 99 of them. Seriously. 99. Maybe 100? I wasn’t too thrilled about her filling up on animal crackers but she loved them and she was happy. Needless to say she didn’t eat much for dinner. Not that there is really anything wrong with store-bought animal crackers, but if I can make snacks homemade I prefer to. I enjoy baking and usually when I give recipes like this a try I’m pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. Homemade animal crackers (recipe via Weelicous)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or mace
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
  • 1 large egg

  • Preparation
  1. 1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. 2. Add the butter and pulse to combine.
  3. 3. Add the vanilla extract and egg and pulse until the dough forms into a ball.
  4. 4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. 5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. 6. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut out animal shapes.
  7. 7. Place cut outs on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. 8. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. 9. Cool and serve.

Here are the mini animal cookie cutters I bought on Amazon. They worked great. 

A couple notes about the recipe. When I made the dough in the food processor, it never formed into a ball like the directions say. Instead I checked the consistency it seemed a tad dry so I added a couple tablespoons of milk. Then I formed the dough into a ball by hand. After I removed the dough from the fridge it seemed a bit sticky so I added flour and rolled it out. 

Juliet LOVES these animal crackers. Even more than the store-bought. She keeps asking for more and would eat them all day long if I let her. This recipe makes a huge batch, probably at least 4-6 dozen.

For other homemade toddler snacks check out these recipes:

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I made homemade fruit snacks for Juliet last weekend and they were surprisingly easy. I found this recipe via Pinterest and immediately ordered the gelatin on Amazon (I am obsessed with Amazon Prime by the way). I’m guessing you can also find unflavored gelatin in the baking aisle of your grocery store. I had no idea previously but apparently gelatin has a lot of health benefits including joint health and improving digestion. Who knew?

I am really interested in finding recipes to make popular toddler snacks homemade. Obviously, I am not the first person to make homemade crackers or fruit snacks, anyone can search on Pinterest to see how many awesome recipes are out there. And every time I try a new recipe like this, I can’t believe how easy it is. These fruit snacks only take about 10 minutes to prep plus the time to allow them to set (I didn’t keep track of how long it took to set, but I’m guessing around 30 minutes to an hour).

I don’t personally eat fruit snacks. Juliet has never had them either. So I don’t remember exactly how they taste and if these homemade ones are a close match. All I know is that they are made with healthy ingredients, they are mostly all fruit and no sugar (I used agave nectar for sweetness). The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon but I kept tasting as I stirred and thought it needed more sweetness. So I added about 3 tablespoons and that seemed to be the perfect amount of sweetness. I would suggest you add the sweetener to your taste preference.

These taste great and the texture is chewy, just like fruit snacks should be.

Homemade fruit snacks (recipe via Living Healthy with Chocolate blog)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon raspberry sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin 
  • 1-3 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 cup raspberries, frozen or fresh (or any other berry)
Preparation
  1. If you are using frozen raspberries, let them thaw out completely first, add to the food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour into a strainer set over a bowl, and gently press the raspberries to extract their juices. 
  3. In a saucepan, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce with the lemon juice, gelatin and honey or agave nectar (add more if you like it sweeter)
  4. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring constantly until the gelatin is melted and all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Pour mixture into silicon molds and refrigerate until set. You can also line a basic pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture, then cut into squares after it is set.


I used this daisy silicone pan and the above recipe made 12 daisy shapes. They were a bit big so I started cutting them in half and then realized I could easily cut hearts just by cutting the half into 1/4ths. Cute!  There are also heart shaped molds you can purchase, too. 

Juliet wasn’t in love with these by any means. They were possibly a little too chewy for her. She doesn’t have all her teeth yet and most foods she eats are pretty soft. She did like licking them and taking little bites. I think these fruit snacks are better for older toddlers (probably 2+).

I had fun experimenting with these and I’ll definitely be making them again (but probably not until Juliet is a little older). You can choose different fruits based on your little ones favorites and make a bunch of different colors.

I was also chatting with a friend via Facebook earlier today about these and her son is a vegetarian. They use a vegetarian gelatin substitute that she finds at Whole Foods. Just a tip in case your child is a vegetarian.

I hope your little ones enjoy these!

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