Pineapple, banana and spinach smoothieWe love smoothies with a capital L in our house. Almost every morning I whip one up while Juliet waits impatiently yelling “moonie! moonie!”.

I hope she always calls them “moonies”. 

I recently purchased some fresh pineapple from Whole Foods and it was a delicious addition to our smoothies. Pineapple added such a nice brightness and freshness. It was also a nice change from our regular strawberry, banana spinach smoothies.

This bright green smoothie was also perfect for St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week.
Pineapple, banana and spinach smoothiePretty straw from Target

I am always experimenting with smoothie combinations. When I’m on Weight Watchers I like smoothies made with water instead of milk because it keeps them at 0 points, which is awesome. For Juliet’s smoothies I always include milk and sometimes yogurt. If the smoothie doesn’t taste sweet enough I’ll add a little honey or pure maple syrup. The other day I made a simple banana, frozen strawberry, whole milk, yogurt smoothie and Juliet exclaimed “ice cream!”. It was thicker than the usual smoothie so I put it in a bowl with a spoon and she was one happy girl.

Pineapple, banana and spinach smoothie

Ingredients

3/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular milk)
1 banana
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
A couple handfuls of spinach
Few ice cubes

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a blender (if using a high powered blender like a Blendtec add the milk first, followed by the spinach, banana, pineapple and ice) and blend until smooth.

I have a Blendtec Designer Series blender and I love it. In a big way. Full review coming soon.

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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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Chocolate graham crackers{Photo taken with my iPhone and edited via Afterlight}

I posted these chocolate graham crackers on Instagram over the holiday break. Juliet helped me make them and we both had so much fun together in the kitchen. We have been using her Learning Tower on an almost daily basis and absolutely love it. Baking with a toddler takes a little patience and the will to not sweat the mess. I am a generally messy baker anyway so I didn’t mind at all.

These snacks were a big hit with Juliet (as well as my sister Katie). Juliet really liked them, almost as much as the homemade animal crackers we’ve made. This makes a huge batch and I brought a large ziplock baggie full to her daycare to help get rid of them before Juliet demolished them all.

I lost my DSLR photos of these crackers before my vacation (totally by accident as I was making room for vacation photos, boo!). But they are too good to not post and I figured you guys wouldn’t mind if I threw in an iPhone photo. The toddler recipes on the blog are steadily growing. Be sure to check them out on my recipe index (scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page).

Chocolate graham crackers (recipe via Weelicious)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled & cubed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor or mixer combine the first 7 ingredients.

Add butter to the mix and pulse/mix until it resembles coarse meal.

Add honey and water and continue to mix until it all combines.

Remove and shape the dough into a flat disk and place between two pieces of parchment paper.

Roll dough out until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut into crackers or shapes with cookie cutters.

Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Cool and serve.

Note, I used heart-shaped fondant cutters that I found at Michaels. Any mini cookie cutter will work. But the size of the cutter will influence baking time so be sure to watch the crackers closely as they bake. 
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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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The weekend was really nice. Really laid back. Snuggly and warm. One of my favorite things about each weekend is that Juliet and I usually nap together. She is such a little cuddler, she’ll cuddle up super close and we’ll nap together with her head nuzzled under my chin. Weekends go fast and I need to soak up every second I have with her, the naps help me do that and it’s the best thing ever.

After our nap on Saturday afternoon I was feeling a little cooped up in the house. But it was raining and cold outside so getting out and about wasn’t really an option. So we baked cookies instead. I was super wary of trying another baking session with Juliet because the last time I attempted to bake with her she opted for sitting on the floor banging on pots and pans.

But this time? Totally different. 

It’s only been a couple of months but wow what a difference. Juliet stood up on a chair next to the counter (I know, not the safest but she was fine, I hope to purchase this kitchen stand for kids at some point but it’s pretty spendy we’ll see) and stirred, poured ingredients, stole chocolate chips. She loved every second of baking with me. We both had a lot of fun.

These cookies are healthy. They have no oil or sugar. Ok so the chocolate chips aren’t the healthiest but they add sweetness to the cookies so they taste like a treat. I love these cookies with my morning coffee (they have oatmeal in them so it counts as breakfast right?).

Juliet liked these cookies but didn’t love them. I suspect she is getting too used to regular cookies (with lots of sugar and sprinkles) that she gets at daycare as treats. These pumpkin oatmeal cookies used to be her favorite so I thought these chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies would be an even bigger hit. So far they are not her favorite so I’ve been eating most of them myself.

Chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies (recipe via The Skinny Fork blog)

Ingredients
2 Ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used natural and/or organic peanut butter)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix together the bananas, peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, and spices.  Add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips; stir until well combined.
Spoon a rounded 2 tbsp. of the cookie mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each and flatten slightly. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool slightly.
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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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