Matcha Mushroom Magic Latte

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Shortly after having my second child, I had to give up coffee.  Looking back now it was probably the best move ever for me, but at the time it seemed like the end of the world.  With the endless nights of breastfeeding a newborn and the sleep deprivation that came, all while trying to care for a toddler too, I wanted coffee more than anything. 

“Why did I give it up?” You might ask.  I will tell you why.  I noticed whenever I drank even the slightest bit of coffee, my daughter wouldn’t sleep well at night and wouldn’t take naps during the day well either.  So not only would I be sleep deprived but I would also have to deal with a very cranky over-tired baby.  Its funny she was so sensitive to caffeine because I have always been very sensitive to it too.  Coffee has always made me wired and jittery so I would just allow it in tiny bits or drink half-calf to deal.

But this situation called for a complete cessation and I was desperate for something else that could help me stay alive during that crazy post-partum year.

I had heard of matcha but I wrongly assumed I could handle it because it was still caffeine after all.  But then I read about its alerting but calming affects and I thought “That’s exactly what I need!” So I gave it a try.  I was surprised at how it gave me a little boost of energy but never made me (or my babe) feel jittery one bit.  I was absolutely in love.  Then, I began to research the benefits and I was floored at how nutritious matcha was and how beneficial it was to my body.  It was exactly what I needed!

Matcha Benefits:

  • Supports the liver and the detoxification process

  • Supports a healthy hormone balance

  • Gives a calm but alert feeling

  • Contains more antioxidants than 10 cups of green tea

  • Its heavily supported in research to be one of the best natural breast cancer preventatives (it helps to remove excess estrogen from the body)

So without further ado, I feel I am way over-due to share my favorite Mushroom + Matcha Magic Latte recipe with you. I have been drinking it for about 2 years and I have tried almost every organic matcha brand under the sun.  This brand I use doesn’t even compare to the other brands on the market.  Its quality and taste is above and beyond anything else I have tried in the past.

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I use my favorite Ippodo Tea matcha and mix in a bit of my favorite immune supporting Red Reishi mushroom powder and it’s a wonderful, magical thing that gives me mom super powers and just makes me so happy, you guys!

Red Reishi is an incredibly powerful mushroom, that has been used for centuries for its healing and longevity properties. It’s been studied extensively for its anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties (breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, just to name a few) It improves liver detoxification pathways, protects against infection, fights asthma + allergies, promotes better sleep and stabilizes blood sugar.

Here’s how easy it is to to make this God send:

Mushroom + Matcha Magic Latte

**Affiliate links below

Blend with a hand blender and enjoy!

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission. The commission is paid by third parties, not by you. I only recommend products that I genuinely love. Thank you for your support!

-Ashley

Cauliflower Crust Sweet Potato & Sausage Pizza (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo, Kid-friendly)

It has been a while since I made a recipe and though “Oh, my gosh. People NEED this in their life!” Not trying to brag, even though I kind of am, but this pizza is so legit you guys. So nourishing and so delicious too. Did I mention its not only gluten free but also made with cauliflower crust and a bunch of other delicious veggies and real foods?!

Wow. I’m such a foodie that I even sound ridiculous to myself. I’m sorry you guys, but it really is that good! Even my husband, who would rather eat real pizza any day was raving about this Sweet Potato Pizza.

Whoever even thought of the brilliant idea of cauliflower pizza crust anyway?! Seriously!! What a genius. I very much would like to high five this person and become their friend. If you have never tried it, don’t hate. It actually tastes pretty darn amazing considering its made out of a cruciferous veggie. And your kids won’t have any clue either. Unless they’re one of those super suspicious guys.

And no, I don’t really hide it from my kids that I’m serving them pizza made out of veggies. They pretty much expect veggies to be part of every meal equation in my house at this point but I don’t really have to highlight it either because after all, it is PIZZA.

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I know what you’re thinking though. You’ve tried making cauliflower crust before and you DO NOT have time for that. And its messy as heck too. You’re so not going there again.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered boo. I don’t bother with homemade cauliflower crust anymore either. Unless I have a lot of time on my hands and a lot of patience, nope, not going there.

Thankfully for you and I both, I finally found a store-bought cauliflower pizza crust that is made out of legit ingredients with no fluff or fillers and tastes delicious. Most other brands I’ve used in the past have odd fillers and use mozzarella cheese (I don’t eat conventional dairy). But this brand below has all wholesome, real food ingredients that make a gluten-free organic mama like me very, very happy!

One more thing, I forgot to mention before I give you the recipe. Its a total week-night dinner time saver. It only takes about 30 minutes total cooking time to throw together. A win-win-win in my book!

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*Affiliate links below.

Serves: 5 people
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cauliflower Pizza Crust (store bought, I love this brand)

  • 1 + 1/2 large sweet potato precooked until soft (in oven or crockpot/instant pot)

  • 1 pack of nitrate free Italian sausage, casings removed and chopped

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

  • 1 jar or can of pizza sauce

  • coconut oil or ghee for cooking

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • salt and pepper

  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped and diced

Instructions:

  1. Before hand, cook your sweet potatoes. I threw 2 sweet potatoes into the Instantpot for 15 minutes on pressure cook until they were fork tender. Scoop out the insides of the sweet potatoes and set them aside.

  2. Remove crusts from the package and set them on a baking sheet. Set the oven for 400 degrees.

  3. Chop the onions, garlic, sausage and sun-dried tomatoes.

  4. Heat your oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage to the pan and let it begin to cook for about 3 minutes.

  5. Add the onions and garlic and saute in the oils until they begin to soften and soak up the flavor of the sausage, about 7 minutes.

  6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the pizzas sauce and combine well. Turn the heat to low and cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

  7. Remove the cover and add in the softened sweet potato mix and stir it into the pizza sauce mixture until its fully combined.

  8. Add your salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil and combine. You can garnish with fresh basil on top if you would like.

  9. Once the sweet potato sausage sauce is ready, spread it evenly onto the two cauliflower crusts and bake for 10-14 minutes or until the crust begins become slightly crisp.

  10. Enjoy!

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission. The commission is paid by third parties, not by you. I only recommend products that I genuinely love. Thank you for your support!

-Ashley

Chocolate Lovers Dream Flour-less Real Foods Brownies (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo)

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’ve had chocolate on the mind. I’m sure I’m not the only one day dreaming about chocolate this week.

Since giving up gluten, I’ve had to find different ways to still enjoy childhood classics (like brownies) and usually it involves baking with almond flour or coconut flour. It’s been a fun learning experience for both me and my kiddos to learn that they can still enjoy cookies and cakes and brownies BUT that some of them have healthier ingredients in them to make our bodies grow strong, while others taste great but make us feel kinda crappy afterwards.

But this time, quite by accident actually, I omitted the flour all together and the result were these deliciously moist and chocolaty real-food brownies. While they do have some sugar in them, they aren’t going to make you have a crazy sugar crash afterwards because the healthy fats and protein in them help to regulate blood sugar levels.

I used coconut oil and sunflower butter to keep the moisture factor on point and used real organic cacao and dark chocolate chips to give it that over-the-top chocolaty flavor.

I love that these brownies are a) made with only a few real-food ingredients b) only take a few minutes to throw together and c) you might just have most of these ingredients laying around your house somewhere.

Who’s ready for the recipe for these bad boys??

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Instructions:

**I’ve linked my favorite brands as affiliate links contained below

Ingredients:

  • 2 + 1/2 tbsp cacao

  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)

  • 1/2 cup agave

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)

  • 1 heaping cup of sunflower butter (or any nut butter of your choice)

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees and line a glass or ceramic brownie pan (with ledges) with parchment paper.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add the other wet ingredients: coconut oil, agave and the nut butter. Combine well.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the baking soda and cacao.

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine.

  5. Add the chocolate chips.

  6. The mixture will be rather moist. Use a spatula to scrape it out of the bowl and into the ceramic pan and spread evenly.

  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick can be removed with minimal residue. Let cool for about 10 minutes out of the pan before serving.

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-Ashley

Homemade Vegan Chocolate Milk (Vegan, Dairy-free, Paleo)

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Whether you’re dairy free, vegan or paleo, I think we can all agree that chocolate milk is a glorious thing and that this childhood favorite needs to be recreated A.S.A.P.

Allow me to just take a minute to praise the wonderful cashew for bringing its wonderful creamy and satiating flavor that also packs quite the nutritious punch.  You can make almost any dairy-free favorite, including nacho cheese, with these glorious little life giving nuts. 

Honestly, what’s not to love?  They’re full of protein and healthy fats and they keep your blood sugar stable, just for beginners.

Your littles will be asking for this Chocolate milk on the daily.  And it wont really be a problem because you’ll be requiring it daily too at this point.  And it only takes a few tiny steps to make, so can we really consider this a problem after all?  More like a solution to the problem of not being able to drink chocolate milk since giving up dairy. 

Should I talk about the reasons you should give up conventional dairy? Nah, I won’t get all ranty on you guys today, you’re off the hook.

Just be sure to buy the big tub of organic cashews at costco.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cashews (preferably organic)

  • 3 cups filtered water

  • 2 dates

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 2 tsp agave/maple syrup

  • 1 + 1/2 tbsp cacao powder

Instructions:

  1. Soak 1 cup of cashews + 2 dates in a large cup of filtered water overnight.

  2. The next day, drain and rinse the cashews and dates.

  3. Add the soaked cashews, dates, vanilla, agave, cacao and water to a high speed blender until consistency is thin. 

  4. If you’re storing this in the fridge, just be sure to shake it first to combine. 

  5. Enjoy!

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-Ashley

Dispelling Myths About Natural Birthing

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As my first baby turns five this week, I’ve been reflecting more and more on the birth of my babes and I want to take a minute to celebrate the beauty of birth itself and shed some insight into my personal choice to birth my kids naturally at home.

Birth is a beautiful, natural process that women’s bodies were literally created for.  It has been untouched and uninterrupted for billions of years.  Our hospital birthing culture has managed to industrialize birthing to the point where its not only lost its sacred beauty, but somewhere along the way, its been interwoven with a sense of fear, which has prompted women to lose faith in their bodies ability to do what it was designed for.

For so long I literally feared even telling people I birthed my children at home, which looking back now seems silly since it’s all such a big part of who I am.  I think the difficulty I had at the time sharing with others about my choice was people honestly didn’t know much about home birth and because of this, they most likely assumed it was risky or unsafe.  I wrote this post to dispelll this common myth about natural birthing.

How I Really Became Interested in Home Birth in the First Place

Let me just get this out there first: I’ve been a strong willed woman since the time I exited my mothers womb (my father would contest to this fact).  Not in so much in a defiant way, more in the independent thinker sort of way.  I’ve just never felt comfortable with people telling me how I should think or what I should do without doing my own research first.  And when I set my mind to something, it’s darn near impossible to change my mind.

And I always always always wanted to know the root cause of every medical practice and every disease.  I became interested in natural birthing methods far before I was even in a position to have children or even in a commited relationship.  I watched The Business of Being Born, a documentary about the birthing system in America, when I was 20 years old, as a junior in college (If you haven’t seen this documentary, its on Netflix and will blow your mind).  C-sections just didn’t sit well with me way back then.  I was ranting about the wild C-section rates in the US and correlating infant mortality rates to my friends in undergraduate school. I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy back then but that’s totally ok with me.

But when it came time for me to make an ultimate decision in how and where I would birth my own son about 8 years later,  it really came down to two factors: I had previously witnessed all three of my sisters have traumatic hospital births that ended in C-sections that they didn’t want and on top of that, the specific county I lived in at the time had higher c-section rates than even the national average (which is 31%, in case you were wondering).

I had wanted a child for so long but yet I was terrified at the prospect of giving birth from the moment I found out I was pregnant.  Not because I was afraid of the actual birth itself, in all of its unknowns as a new mom, but more so because I was afraid of having a medicalized birth that was unplanned and with interventions that were unnecessary and because I really, really didn’t want to have a C-section.

I was extremely healthy and able and I felt there was no need for me to deliver in a hospital, given that my pregnancy was so low risk.

I had witnessed how my sisters were bullied into interventions they didn’t want and ultimately had birth experiences they were disappointed and traumatized by.  I was fearful because I really didn’t want my birth to spiral from one seemingly innocent medical intervention, like pitosson, to the next, like painful contractions, a difficult labor, an epidural and ultimately a C-section.

After months of research, I realized quickly that my chances were pretty slim for having a natural, uninterviened birth at my home hospital, and that made me very afraid to enter into my pregnancy. I’ve always hated hospitals, needles and didn’t particularly trust doctors.  There were also no natural birthing centers in my area at the time but there was an amazing midwife home birth practice.  While I really wanted a natural birth, I had always envisioned it in more of a birthing center situation, rather than a home birth.  Even as a person who considered myself educated on natural birthing methods, I was still ignorant enough about homebirth to wonder about its safety and feasibility.

Since it was really one of my only options other than the hospital in my small town,  I decided it couldn’t hurt to go meet with the Midwife and see what she has to say.  I prayed my husband would be open to the idea.

We went together to meet her, my husband and I.  We asked all the questions she probably always gets from first time birthers.

My first question was what do we do if the cord is wrapped around the babies neck?  She calmly stated that a large percentage of babies are born with some degree of nuchal cord wrapping, that this was completely normal and non-life threatening.  She explained to me how babies receives o2 through the umbilical cord during birth, something I never realized or thought of.

What to do in the case of an emergency? She explained how close monitoring throughout my pregnancy would be the best indicator if I should stick with the home birth plan or choose a facility with emergency care.  In other words, had I or the baby shown any red flags for a complicated high risk birth, my midwife would suggest that I change providers.  She reminded me we were just a ten minute of a drive to the nearest hospital.   

What if I couldn’t handle the pain? She told me epidurals are not an option.  She explained how she would teach me ways to deal with the pain and be there to comfort me through it.  

She reminded me of how pregnancy isn’t an illness and doesn’t really necessitate hospitalization, it’s just what’s normal in our culture. 

On and on it went.  Every fear was quenched with an honest answer, that calmed my soul.

She was knowledgeable, factual, scientific, competent, experienced, realistic and she presented me with so much helpful information. She taught me more about my own body than I had came to realize in my entire adult life.

For the first time since becoming pregnant, I actually felt calm as I approached pregnancy and birth.  I felt I was in the right place and had finally felt legitimate trust in a provider as I walked through my birth.

I felt for the first time that my dream to have a natural birth was not just a reality, but the best thing for me and my baby.

What I Want You to Know about Homebirth

My births at home were both very different and nothing short of amazing.  My first son was born within 5 hours of my water breaking, which is considered a very quick labor for a first time mother.  My second baby had a few complications that made labor more difficult for me, but in the end, she was born in the water, and my midwife and doubla helped and empowered me through my difficult labor. 
I received the most amazing care and encouragement from my birth team, who took care of me, monitoring the health of both me and my children, far after the birth even occurred.  They cared for me so much during that post-partum period and answered all my questions, about healing, breastfeeding, post partum anxiety, etc.  They ultimately gave me the type of care and support I could never in a million years receive in a hospital setting.

Here are my top 8 things I want you to know about birthing your children at home: 

  1. It’s less scary than a hospital birth. Why? Because it’s more predictable and you’re more in control of the outcome and the interventions that will or will not be performed on you or your baby.

  2. It’s not more risky than a hospital birth.  There is literally no body of evidence, that has any factual information stating that having your baby naturally with a midwife is more risky for the health of the baby or the mother than a hospital birth.  To the contrary, the hospital culture of birth in our nation has created a national disaster in terms of birthing safety for both babies and mothers.  The US is not only the most dangerous place in the entire developed world for birthing mothers (we have higher death rates of birthing mothers than any other developed country) but we also have the highest rate of infant mortality than any other country in the developed world.  See the International Comparisons of Infant Mortality and Related Factors: United States and Europe, for some alarming statistics.

    A study from the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health (JMWH), a landmark study** confirms that among low-risk women, home births result in low rates of interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.  This study, which examines nearly 17,000 courses of midwife-led care, is the largest analysis of planned home birth in the U.S. ever published. 
    Some standouts from this study: (homebirth cesarean rates of 5.2%, a remarkably low rate when compared to the U.S. national average of 31%, lower rates of intervention in home births, 97% of babies were carried to full-term in the homebirths, babies were healthy averaging 8 lbs at birth, 98% of homebirth babies were breastfed at 8 weeks post-partum, only 1% of babies required a hospital transfer after birth for non-urgent issues, and there was no higher risk of death during labor for home birthing mothers).

    If anything, I would guess you and your babies are in better hands with an in-tuned midwife than delivering in a hospital setting.

  3. Homebirth midwives are extremely selective which screens out high risk situations. Why? Because they don’t take high risk pregnancies and advise women with complicated medical histories to birth in a hospital setting.

  4. Your prenatal and post natal care will be luxury VIP in comparison to a hospital birthing scenario. How? I’m sure I’m unable to really do this comparison justice, but let me just name a few of the perks of working with a midwife:

    • Extensive pre-natal monitoring with a hands on approach (midwives use their hands to tell the position of the baby and monitor growth of the uterus and the baby), that teaches and educated you along the way
    • Regular growth, heart rate and position monitoring for baby
    • Birth plan coaching and management
    • Bi-weekly to weekly hour long prenatal visits in which all your wildest questions are answered
    • Pre-natal coaching for labor pain management
    • Extensive education and preparation for birthing and labor
    • Vaccine discussion and information
    • Post partum home visits with incredible post natal care for baby and mom
    • Breastfeeding help
    • Monitoring of babies weight gain
    • Monitoring of health of the mother
    • Emotional support, screening for post-partum anxiety and depression
    • Post-partum care until 8 weeks after birth for both baby and mother while the care is being transferred to a pediatrician.

    I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never in my life heard any type of OB provide this type of care to a birthing mother.

  5. A natural birth isn’t something to be feared. Once we fully embrace the natural ability of the body to perform its innate capabilities, we can let go of this fear based mentality, fueled by the industrialization and hospital culture of birthing in our nation. Our bodies are extremely strong, capable and powerful vessels, created to sustain and deliver life into this world. And women have birthed their babies naturally for hundreds of years without hospitalization and intervention, with the help of midwives.

  6. You can still deliver vaginally with a midwife if your first birth was a C-section. Yes, VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean delivery) are possible with a midwife (depending on the state you live in). If your OB has managed to convince you that you are physically unable to withstand a vaginal delivery because you’ve already had a C-section, that simply isn’t true. Midwifes take clients on a case by case basis, and I’ve heard many successful vaginal delivery stories following a C-section.

  7. You should be in control of your birthing experience. I’ve seen and heard so many stories of how women have been taken advantage of in the process of birth by their providers. Whether it be a quick change in the birth plan, an administration of a drug that occurred against a mothers will, or having an episiotomy down there against your will. What I’m saying is, make sure you feel right about your provider before you commit to working with them and make sure you have a birth plan in place and openly discuss all aspects of how your birth plan could change prior to birth with your provider.

  8. If I can do it, so can you! I’m just a regular gal, with a strong willpower whose always had a low threshold for pain. If I can do it, you certainly can too!

The Real Reasons I Chose a Natural Birth at Home

Contrary to what you might think, I didn’t chose to birth my children at home because I’m crazy.  Or because I didn’t do enough research prior to birth to find out all the complications that could arise.

Or not even because I felt I was better, stronger or braver than any other birthing mother.

And certainly not because I think you’re a bad mom if you had an opted for or emergency C-section or any other type of hospital birth.

I made a choice to birth my kids at home because I believed in the beautiful and perfect design of our Creator who literally sets life as we know into its place.

I birthed my kids at home because I trusted my body to do what it was created to do.

Because I chose faith over fear.

Because I researched more than you know.

Because I found it was actually a safer option for me and my babies.

Because C-section and infant mortality rates are higher in the US than any other country in the developed world, despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the entire world.

Because maternal care is also worse in the US than any other country in the developed world, despite the fact that we spend more money in healthcare than any other country.

Because the area I lived in at the time had even higher rates of C-sections than the national average.

Because a “natural” uninterviened birth in a hospital setting in this situation was highly unlikely and very unpredictable.

Because I had witnessed all three of my sisters have traumatic hospital births that ended in C-sections.

Because I didn’t want to be in a vulnerable position when someone challenged me to make rash decisions about my birth plan.

Because the United States has birthing backwards and the medical system teaches women to distrust their bodies and fear the process of birth.

Because babies aren’t designed to be too big for their mothers birth canals.

Because a cord being wrapped around a babies neck during birth (nuchal wrapping) isn’t even a fatal situation (both my babes were born with wrapped cords)

Because heart rates drop often as they relate to outside intervention and pressure through the birth canal when babies not in the correct position.

Because birthing a child into this world is beautiful and sacred and holy and a hospital scenario over medicalizes it.

Because my body is strong.

Because I don’t fear pain.

Because perfect love casts out all fear.

Because I was perfectly healthy and had zero pregnancy complications.

Because the pre and post-natal maternal care and support of a midwife blows every single hospital maternal care unit out of the water by light years.

My home births were by no means painless but they were without fear.

They weren’t easy but they were empowering.

They were challenging but not impossible.

My births brought me closer to the Lord, helped me figure out who I was and filled me with so much faith over the beautiful design of my body.

Birth is beautiful and wild, a natural process we were literally made for.  It shouldn’t be feared, hindered or intervened if it doesn’t have to be.

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My first time holding my daughter after her water birth

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My son, just a few days old

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The first time I held my first son, after a fairly quick delivery at home

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About 8 months pregnant with my second baby

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My Birthing Team with my second delivery of my daughter, a few minutes after her birth 
Angela Love, of Midwife Love, practices at an incredibly successful Midwifery practice in Vero Beach, Florida and she delivered both of my babies with the most excellent care

Resources:

  1. MacDorman M, Declercq E, Mathews TJ. Recent trends in out‐of‐hospital births in the United States. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2013;58(5):494‐501.

  2. International Comparisons of Infant Mortality and Related Factors: United States and Europe, 2010 <found at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_05.pdf>

Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes (Paleo, Gluten-free, Whole-30, Vegan, Kid Approved)

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These Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes are simple, healthy and sweet and the perfect addition to any weeknight dinner. If you know me at all, you know I’m always trying to come up with healthy recipes to get my kiddos to enjoy their veggies and this is one of my go-to’s in that category.

And to be quite frank, I’m not really sure if I could survive the grain-free lifestyle without my beloved sweet potato. When I’m craving carbohydrates, one of my favorite treats is to eat a baked sweet potato with some good old butter, agave, salt and cinnamon. Sweet and fulfilling without that guilt free filling.

Not only do my kids love these little guys, but every time I make them for guests, they always ask for the recipe and they can never believe how easy they are! Seriously, they really are THAT easy. Like idiot proof easy.

I love to save some extra in the fridge to throw over salads the next day and they also work great as a make-ahead weekday meal-prep situation.

With only a few simple ingredients and a roasting pan, you’re pretty much good to go, so I’m not sure what else could really hold you back from enjoying this crowd-pleasing side.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
1 + 1/2 tablespoon ghee (or coconut oil)
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 5 servings

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Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the oven for 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Peel and chop the potatoes and throw them into a mixing bowl.

  3. Throw in the rosemary, the ghee, garlic powder and salt and pepper and toss them all together with your hands.

  4. After you’re finished giving them a good toss, transfer them to the baking sheet, make sure that they are spaced out well to ensure they get crispy instead of mushy.

  5. Put them in the oven for roughly 50  minutes, turning halfway through with a spatula to cook evenly on both sides.  You want them to be slightly browned and crispy on the outside but not overcooked.

  6. Enjoy!




    -Ashley





Butternut Squash + Bone Marrow Applesauce for Moms and Babes (Paleo, Gluten-free, Whole-30, Kid-friendly)

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In terms of nutritionally dense foods for growing healthy brains and bones in kids and babies, I would put bone marrow right up there at the top of the list along with all the veggies, liver and bone broth. It is not only a fabulous source of heme iron (easily absorbed), but also an incredible source of healthy fat (at a whopping 97% fat ratio), good for satiating hungry tummies, nourishing a growing brain and keeping blood sugar levels stable. It’s also full of essential amino acids that literally help to grow strong teeth, hair, bones, skin, muscles and help with energy production.

Growing brains (and all brains, for that matter) need and thrive off of fat. Fat is what makes up the myelin sheath of nerve cells, which is what allows nerve cells to fire and send messages (to think, talk, process and do).

If you know me at all, you know I’ve had a long love relationship with bone marrow ever since I first tasted it at some trendy restaurant on the streets of Manhattan. What’s not to love? It tastes like the butter of heaven, after all! Spread it on crackers or some warm bread with some honey and you’re pretty much good to go!

After loving it for its incredible taste, I was so intrigued by it and I had to know everything about it. Learning how it was actually an incredibly nutrient dense food, according to the Weston A. Price foundation, made me fall even more in love. The Weston A. Price foundation touts bone marrow as an extremely nourishing food, found in almost every traditional culture around the globe. Contrary to the western world, where we eat mostly muscle meat, traditional cultures have long valued and cooked the entire animal, including the organs and bones and marrow and mostly feed the muscle meat (which has the least amount of vitamins/minerals) to the dogs.

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Ok, enough fat and nutrition talk.  Let’s talk about this glorious food recipe discovery, Butternut Squash + Bone Marrow Apple Sauce! 

You need this in your life, trust me on this one.

It has it all in my book.  Sweet AND savory AND a fruit, a veggie and a healthy source of fat and iron.  You literally couldn’t make a more healthy dessert for you and your little people if you ask me.  A great food for babies and kids of all ages and also a great snack for anyone who is on the Whole30 diet. 

It is It is literally SO easy to make you won’t believe it!  Heres how to make it.
**Affiliate links below.

Ingredients:

  • 5 beef marrow bones (organic/grass-fed bones are important)

  • 5-6 apples (skin removed)

  • 1/2 butternut squash (cubed)

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar

  • a pinch of lemon juice

  • 1 tsp ghee

  • 2 tsp agave (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Add marrow bones to a pan and roast for about 15 minutes or when it begins to bubble around the edges.

  3. When its finished roasting, scoop out the marrow with a butterknife.

  4. In a crockpot or Instapot, add the marrow and all the other ingredients.

  5. For a crockpot cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.  In the Instapot, set on high pressure for 10 minutes.

  6. When it is finished, use an immersion blender to combine all the ingredients and enjoy!  Feel free to add extra agave if you want to sweeten it up a bit more.

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-Ashley

Thai-Style Sweet Potato Sliders (Paleo, Gluten-free, Kid-Friendly, Whole-30)

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If you’re vowing to give up gluten and dairy walking into the New Year, you’re probably worried you’re going to have to sit on the bench eating salad while everyone else gets to enjoy delicious food. Well, I’m here to tell you that just doesn’t have to be the case. No sir. Not even one bit.

Not when you start to get creative and throwing in some curve balls like these flavor-full Thai-Style Sweet Potato Sliders. They are tangy and sweet and bursting with flavor. Add your favorite green veggie on the side and my Five-Minute Guac as a topper and you’re basically in gluten-free heaven.

We love them so much I’ve been keeping them on the weekly rotation around here. Mostly because they cook up in under 30 minutes time but the other factor that always weighs in are that my kids love them too.

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Making them is super simple and pretty darn quick if you ask me.  You’re going to bake up some sweet potatoe chips in the oven and in the meantime you’re going to pan fry your meaty, veggie mixture and then add in some guac for good measure. 

Here’s how to make them:


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grassfed beef

  • tablespoon ghee or coconut oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 3 carrots, shredded

  • 2 garlic cloves, diced

  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced lengthwise into chip shaped discs

  • 3 tsp coconut aminos

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • splash of Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tsp agave

  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Guacamole:

  • 2 ripe hass avocados

  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

  • 1/8 of a medium onion diced finely

  • a squeeze of lime juice

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out sliced sweet potato discs side by side until you covered the pan (using an extra pan if needed). Dab/brush a bit of coconut oil on each side and sprinkle them with some salt and pepper.

  2. While oven is heating, dice up your onion, garlic and shred your carrots.

  3. Over medium heat on the stovetop, heat up ghee or coconut oil until hot.

  4. Begin to saute all the veggies for 3-4 minutes or until onions soften. 

  5. Once they soften, add the beef and begin to use your spatula to break it up evenly.  Add in the salt and pepper, onion powder, ginger powder, agave, coconut aminos and Worcester and cook and combine together while the beef cooks (about 8-10 minutes).

  6. Meanwhile, put the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 12-14 minutes or until they begin to crisp (turning them half-way through).

  7. Once the beef mixture is cooked and sweet potato chips are done crisping, serve it by adding a spoonful of the beef mixture atop a sweet potato chip and add one more to the top to make it sandwich style.

  8. Whip up some Five Minute Guacamole and your favorite veggie on the side.  Top the sliders with some guac and some spicy chipolte mayo or sriracha sauce if you want an extra kick.

Enjoy!

-Ashley

Soft + Chewy Ginger Cinnamon Christmas Cookies (Gluten-free, Paleo-friendly)

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If you’re looking for a SUPER simple healthiesh gluten-free cookie recipe that you can make with your kiddos, look no further! These were seriously the easiest cookie recipe ever, despite the “cooking with kids” part, that’s always a bit challenging.

These little guys are loaded with natural sugar from coconut, some healthy omega’s from grass-fed butter and some healthy fats and protein from the almond flour.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re still cookies! But just a not-have-to-worry-about-food-dyes-and-preservatives type of Christmas cookies.

Being the health-freak that I am, I cringe when my kids are offered cookies and cupcakes loaded with colored frosting on top. Why? You may ask. Because of the food-dyes. Food-dyes like red 40, blue 1 and yellow 5 + 6 have been linked to behavior problems, ADHD, cancer and food-allergies. So yeah, I avoid them like the plague around here. My son has enough boy energy as it is to fill his tummy with that junk.

Personally, I think its healthy to teach kids at a young age what is healthy and what’s not for your body. We openly talk about food dyes in our house and why we don’t eat things that are brightly colored, unless we know its organic or without chemicals.

Ok, back to the cookies. They were so fluffy and chewy and the PERFECT texture for the kiddos to help cut out with the cookie cutters.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1/2 stick room temperature grass-fed butter or ghee

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 1 cup coconut sugar

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ginger

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar


Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Beat the eggs until fluffy and add the vanilla and the butter and combine well with a mixer.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: the almond flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger and baking powder and cream of tartar.  Stir and combine well. 

  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and combine well.

  5. The cream of tartar should help the dough bind into a pizza like dough.  If you’re is still sticky, you can sprinkle a tad more until it forms one cohesive unit.

  6. Pour the dough onto the parchment paper and coat your hands in a little bit of almond flour to keep your hands from sticking to the dough. 

  7. Knead and roll the dough until its one flat rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.

  8. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or just until the top begins to fluff and the bottom barely begins to brown (you don’t want the bottom to get too crispy)

  9. Set on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes until it’s ready to cut the dough with cookie cutters.

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Enjoy!



-Ashley

Magnesium + ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) have become so commonplace on therapy caseloads and in classroom settings around the globe.

As an occupational therapist with years of experience working with children affected by ADD and ADHD, I have seen how this diagnosis can challenge every aspect of ones life. I believe it would be a tragedy and great disservice to children and families affected by this condition, if we didn’t first evaluate the current research on effective alternative treatment methods for these children before we continued to recommended the continued disbursement of pharmaceuticals.

After an afternoon spent delving into the research of common nutrient deficiencies among the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) population, it became clear as day to me that an overhaul and re-evaluation of current medical practices are in order for this overdiagnosed and over-medicated childhood behavioral disorder. 

Research shows and undeniable link between magnesium deficiency and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  A brief review of research not only showed a strong indication that children with ADHD show remarkably lower blood-serum levels of magnesium and other key vitamins and trace minerals (like zinc, B6 and copper) than typical peers, but also revealed that supplementation of magnesium can have a significantly positive impact on behavioral performance and cognition status.

Since magnesium is vital for healthy brain function, involved in over 300 biomechanical reactions in the body, it is easy to see why a deficiency in this key nutrient could negatively impact brain function in children. 

The bioavailability of magnesium affects the function and binding of neurotransmitters to their receptors, such as serotonin and dopamine. (8)  We know that dopamine plays a crucial role in executive functioning skills, such as the ability to self-regulate and control impulses.  Magnesium also supports the calming actions of GABA (8)

By some estimates, 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium.  Poor dietary habits and magnesium depletion in soil are known culprits.  If the general adult population is this deficient in magnesium, one could imply that among children (who often eat a less varied diet), the deficit would be slightly more.

One study (1) that assessed the magnesium levels in children diagnosed with ADHD, concluded that out of 116 children, 95% of them were deficient in magnesium.

A prospective population-based cohort study of 684 adolescents at the 14- and 17-year follow-ups found that higher dietary intake of magnesium reduced behavioral problems by 95% (reduced attention problems, aggressiveness and delinquency). (2)

One study (3), published by the Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, was conducted in order to assess the magnesium level in ADHD children and compare it to the normal levels in children.  It also assessed the effect of magnesium supplementation as an add on therapy, in magnesium deficient patients.  Out of 25 patients with ADHD, 18 of them (or 72%) were determined to have magnesium deficiency.  After supplementation with magnesium, the group improved as regards cognitive functions as measured by the Wisconsin card sorting test and Conners’ rating scale.   Little to no side effects were noted with supplementation.  The study concluded that magnesium supplementation in ADHD, proves its value and safety.

Another study (4) , also published in the Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, found that magnesium, zinc and copper deficiencies were found in (65%), (60%) and (70%) of ADHD children respectively. Magnesium and zinc deficiencies were found to be correlated with hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity, while copper was not.

Another study (5), that looked at 50 hyperactive children that met criteria for the DSM IV diagnosis of ADHD, concluded that 6 months of supplementation with magnesium significantly decreased hyperactive behaviors.

As a pediatric occupational therapist, who has worked with hundreds of children and families impacted by a diagnosis of ADHD, this research is quite alarming and has serious implications in the therapy profession.

Firstly, a diagnosis of ADHD, which is more often than not treated with serious brain-altering pharmaceuticals (Ritalin, namely), is typically based on simple behavioral observations from a teacher within a structured classroom setting.

Pharmaceuticals are too quickly administered to children as young as 4 years old, without first looking at other possible factors and methods of treatment.

Since Ritalin is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II narcotic, the same classification as cocain, morphine and amphetamines, it would be foolish for pediatricians and parents of children with ADHD to not first assess and address nutritional deficits and environmental issues first before medication is administered.

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Food As Medicine for ADD + ADHD

Fortunately, there are many foods you can start incorporating into your child’s diet to help improve their magnesium levels which can significantly impact their attention and impulse control. 

However, it is important to first recognize that only 30-40% of magnesium is actually absorbed through our food. The implication here is that supplementation, in combination with dietary changes, would be the most effective method for treatment.

The current RDA for magnesium for adults and children ages 4 and older is 400 mg.

This list below, from the Cleveland Clinic (10) shows the top Magnesium Rich Foods:



How much magnesium is in your food?

  • Pumpkin seed - kernels: Serving Size 1 oz, 168 mg

  • Almonds, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 80 mg

  • Spinach, boiled: Serving Size ½ cup, 78 mg

  • Cashews, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg

  • Pumpkin seeds in shell: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg

  • Peanuts, oil roasted: Serving Size ¼ cup, 63 mg

  • Cereal, shredded wheat: Serving Size 2 large biscuits, 61 mg

  • Soymilk, plain or vanilla: Serving Size 1 cup, 61 mg

  • Black beans, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 60 mg

  • Edamame, shelled, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 50 mg

  • Dark chocolate -60-69% cacoa: Serving Size 1 oz, 50 mg

  • Peanut butter, smooth: Serving Size 2 tablespoons, 49 mg

  • Bread, whole wheat: Serving Size 2 slices, 46 mg

  • Avocado, cubed: Serving Size 1 cup, 44 mg

  • Potato, baked with skin: Serving Size 3.5 oz, oz, 43 mg

  • Rice, brown, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 42 mg

  • Yogurt, plain, low fat: Serving Size 8 oz, 42 mg

  • Breakfast cereals fortified: Serving Size 10% fortification, 40 mg

  • Oatmeal, instant: Serving Size 1 packet, 36 mg

  • Kidney beans, canned: Serving Size ½ cup, 35 mg

  • Banana: Serving Size 1 medium, 32 mg

  • Cocoa powder– unsweetened: Serving Size 1 tablespoon, 27 mg

  • Salmon, Atlantic, farmed: Serving Size 3 oz, 26 mg

  • Milk: Serving Size 1 cup, 24–27 mg

  • Halibut, cooked: Serving Size 3 oz, 24 mg

  • Raisins: Serving Size ½ cup, 23 mg

  • Chicken breast, roasted: Serving Size 3 oz, 22 mg

  • Beef, ground, 90% lean: Serving Size 3 oz, 20 mg

  • Broccoli, chopped & cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 12 mg

  • Rice, white, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 10 mg

  • Apple: Serving Size 1 medium, 9 mg

  • Carrot, raw: Serving Size 1 medium, 7 mg



Some easy ways to incorporate these magnesium rich foods in your child’s diet:

  • A slice of sprouted toast with a tablespoon of almond butter or sunflower seed butter (I top mine with raw honey for extra taste and nutrition)

  • A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for on the go snacks

  • A side of 1/2 of an avocado with lunch or with eggs breakfast

  • Adding nut butters like sunflower seed butter to morning oats

  • A large scoop of organic cacao in a breakfast smoothie

  • Spinach cooked in ghee with a sprinkle of sea salt as a dinner side

  • Banana + almond butter + date + collagen protein shake (I use almond milk as the base)

  • Banana + Avocado mash (for babies learning to self-feed)

  • Banana + Avocado smoothie

  • Serving Salmon and other oily fatty fish 1-2 times a week

  • Roasted potato fries as a dinner side

*Affiliate links below

Supplements we use to ensure healthy magnesium levels:

As always, I am not a physician, nor can I prescribe specific medical advice. Always consult with your pediatrician first before beginning any new supplements. These supplements are only for ages 4 and up.

Another way to improve magnesium levels in young children is through the skin or transdermally. Epsom salt baths and dips in the oceans are effective ways to absorb magnesium this way.

-Ashley




Sources:

1) Kozielec & Starobrat-Hermelin. (1997). Assessment of magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Magnesium Research: Official Organ Of The International Society For The Development Of Research On Magnesium, 10(2), 143-148. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9368235)

2) Black et al. (2015). Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents. Public Health Nutrition, 18(10), 1824-30. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25373528)

3) Farida El Baza, Heba Ahmed AlShahawi, Sally Zahra, Rana Ahmed AbdelHakim,
Magnesium supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, Volume 17, Issue 1, 2016,
Pages 63-70, ISSN 1110-8630, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmhg.2015.05.008.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110863015000555)

4) Farida Elbaz, Sally Zahra, Hussien Hanafy, Magnesium, zinc and copper estimation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, Volume 18, Issue 2, 2017, Pages 153-163, ISSN 1110-8630, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmhg.2016.04.009 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110863016300283)

5) Starobrat-Hermelin B1, Kozielec TMagnes Res. 1997 Jun;10(2):149-56.  The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9368236)

6) National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals Accessed 12/8/2018

7) United States Department of Agriculture. Food Data Base Accessed 12/5/2018

8) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients). 2013.

9) Greenblatt, James. Finally Balanced: Mineral Imblalances & ADHD. The ZRT Labratory Blog. May 25, 2017. (https://www.zrtlab.com/blog/archive/mineral-imbalance-adhd-magnesium/#_ednref5)

10) Magnesium Rich Foods. Cleavland Clinic. (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food)

Therapist Picks Christmas Gift Guide

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If you’re worried about getting it right this Christmas with gift buying for your littles, dont worry, I’ve got you covered! I created this Therapist Approved Christmas Guide to help you weed through the junk and find the best, most durable, loved on and of course developmentally appropriate toys!

This Christmas Gift Guide is everything! My hope was to be able to bring to you a condensed, researched and pre-approved list of all of my favorite toys that are developmentally appropriate for each age group (0-2 years and 3-5 years). After working as a pediatric occupational therapist for almost 10 years, I have become quite a toy fanatic. Not really in the storage of bucketloads of toys all over my house sort of way but more in the extremely selective, sturdy, age-appropriate, long-lasting sort of way. In my house that typically means getting rid of a lot of things we don’t use frequently and keeping toys that still serve an educational, developmental, sensory or skill-enhancing purpose (like music/art toys).

I am not a big fan of over-stimulating, musical toys with lots of gadgets and sounds. I look for simple, basic and straightforward. The younger the age, the simpler the functions of the toy should be.

I am, however, a huge fan of open ended, high quality (usually wooden) toys that encourage creativity and child development! Open-ended toys are great for so many reasons..

  • They inspire creativity, pretend-play, spatial and size awareness, problem solving skills, etc

  • They never get old meaning they stay “age appropriate” for longer

  • The simplicity of open ended toys aren’t over-stimulating to the child

  • The simplicity of the design doesn’t make a lot of sounds that drive me crazy

    These toys below are all toys that I have personally used before in a clinical or personal way that I know kids love and benefit from developmentally. I did my best to choose toys that offer the entire rainbow of developmental skills, including: visual-motor skills, fine motor skills and hand skills, sensory integration, strengthening/gross motor skills, oral motor skills/feeding, socialization, pretend play, problem solving, etc.

    Most of these items are on amazon so they can be at your doorstep in just a few days but I’ve included a few specialty items from small business shops on ETSY which may take more time in transit. Keep in mind that many of the open ended and sensory toys can be used for either the 0-2 or 3-5 age group.

    Disclaimer: I never want to encourage materialism and buying more than you need, so if you can’t afford some of these goodies or don’t actually NEED them, then don’t buy them! *Affiliate links below



Ages 0-2


Ages 3-5

Christmas Tree Kits -Sensory Play Travel Boxes for Kids

Help your child get into the spirit of Christmas with these fun, Christmas tree making playdough kits! They are the perfect mix of sensory and fine motor fun to keep littles hands busy on any given occasion but especially good for car rides, airplanes, restaurants or plain old toddler quiet time.

Your child will love using these items to create and decorate their own mini Christmas trees using handmade playdough and lots of fun decorations!

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Double-Chocolate Superfood Cookies (Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo)

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When I crave chocolate, I REALLY crave chocolate.  The real deal too, none of this watered down added milk and sugar stuff.  Straight up dark chocolate.  Luckily for me, I get it every day so I leave no room for much craving.  I put the real deal cacao in my smoothie every morning (did you know it is an out of this world antioxidant superfood?)

Back to the point, I was craving lots of chocolate in the worst way so after browsing through pintrests never ending chocolately ideas, I decided to whip up a batch of Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, superfood-style of course!

This weeks superfood winners were: Cacao, Spirulina & Flax Seed!

I wasn’t sure I could make this recipe work with all three superfood additions and I was a bit nervous but I was obviously THRILLED when they turned spectacular and I obviously wanted to share them with you all. 

I think these would make a great addition to any Thanksgiving Dessert Spread and a good way to feel not so guilty in indulging in holiday sweets!

The reasons I’m obsessed with superfoods is I absolutely LOVE making something that I used to feel I couldn’t enjoy because it was just too darn unhealthy and turn it into something that tastes JUST AS GOOD but is also ridiculously good for me too.  I want to teach my kids that eating healthy doesn’t mean having to miss out on the good food life has to offer.

I have been adding flax seed to everything lately, after learning of its powerful capabilities to help escort excess estrogen out of the body, preventing against breast cancer.  Not to mention how powerful it is also at helping to clean out the gut lining and improve digestion.

Spirulina
is another powerful superfood I’ve been working with a lot in the kitchen.  Given that it is naturally high in the vitamin B category (including B12), contains a healthy ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, essential amino acids, iron, iodine AND its a powerful antioxidant, it has very much earned its name as a superfood.

My kids (and husband) were trying to eat the ENTIRE bunch so I had to hoard them in the top cuppard (you know the one I’m talking about) so that they couldn’t reach and I could have one of these every day!

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces mega chunk chocolate chips (4 ounces melted, 4 ounces chopped)

  • 1 ripe banana (smashed)

  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1/2 cup all natural cocao

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

  • 2 tbsp Spirulina

  • 2 tbsp flax seed

  • 1 cup coconut sugar

  • 3 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Melt half the chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, smashed banana, Spirulina, flax seed and sugar; combine together thoroughly.

  4. Add the coconut oil, vanilla and eggs and combine with a whisk thoroughly.

  5. Use a heaping tablespoon to form cookie balls onto the parchment paper a few inches apart.

  6. Bake until just set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to not let the bottoms of the cookies become to crispy.

  7. Transfer onto a wire baking rack to cool and enjoy!

 

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-Ashley

Nature Boxes to Inspire Outdoor Play + Sensory Exploration

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Sometimes our kids need a little inspiration when it comes to outdoor play, am I right? I used to tell my kids all the time, “Just GO OUTSIDE and PLAY!”

But the more I pushed them to play outside, the more they pushed back and resisted it and it drove me crazy.

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I know the importance of outdoor play for brain development, mental health, development of health sensory regulation skills, etc. I also want them to use their creativity and imagination and to get their healthy daily dose of vitamin D.

A child playing outdoors in nature isn’t all just fun and games. Play is the most crucial occupation of a child. And through play, a child establishes developmental motor skills (such as fine and gross motor), cognitive abilities (such as executive functioning skills and problem solving), social skills, sensory processing skills and emotional regulation.

Play is the most crucial occupation of a child. And through play, a child learns and establishes developmental motor skills (such as fine and gross motor), cognitive abilities (such as executive functioning skills and problem solving), social skills, sensory processing skills and healthy emotional regulation skills.

Physical activity even boosts a child’s self-confidence and research has shown its benefits on improving mental health as well.

A 2011 meta-analysis looking at exercise—an important component of active play—hinted that it could have benefits for anxiety, depression, and self-esteem in adolescents.

Back to me and trying to get my kids to play more outside.

There was just something about me telling them they needed to ‘go play outside’ that made them resist the idea.

It wasn’t until I started to give them little ideas that I saw their eyes light up and they finally began to enjoy and even request outdoor time themselves (hallelujah!)

”Let’s build a fairy nest!”
”Let’s collect all the colorful leaves you can find in baggies!”
”Can you find all the sticks and build a fire pit?”

These are all little ideas we’ve used to inspire outdoor play in nature/aka usually our backyard.

It seems like such a little thing but I cannot tell you how much it has helped mine and my kids sanity. They need the sensory input and the physical activity and sometimes us mamas just need a break. You know, to clean up from the 7,000 meals we served that day or maybe just drink that cup of tea and take 3 deep breaths.

Anyway, we created these little rainbow colors nature play inspiration boxes to go on a Rainbow Scavenger Hunt and I wanted to share them with you all since they have been such a big hit.

If you cant find a compartmentalized container (I found these at the dollar store) you can use an egg crate or a divided lunch box container.

Simply place something from each color of the rainbow (Think: ROYGBV) into each compartment and ask your kiddos to go outside and see how many things they can find outside to put in each color department. You would be amazed at how much their imagination and excitement will rev up about the idea of being outside with this activity.

Anyways, I hope your littles enjoy this activity as much as we do!

Leave me a comment or a picture if you end up doing this sweet nature activity!

-Ashley


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Hulk Powers Pancakes (Kid-friendly, Gluten-free)

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Am I right that there’s nothing like pancakes on Saturday morning?

And when all your kiddos want is pancakes, you better believe I’ll be finding a way to add some greens into the situation.

The biggest qualm I have with pancakes is that they’re typically made from processed white flour, which translates into pure sugar in how its absorbed and assimilated into the bloodstream and digestive track.  In other words, it spells out major kid blood sugar spike followed by an inevitable crash of emotions.  Also, they’re pretty lacking in the nutritional department.

These Hulk Powers Pancakes, on the other hand, won’t leave you with a sugar crash 10 minutes later and they also won’t leave you hungry either.  They’ve got some true superpower ingredients including flax seed, spinach and even barley grass powder if you dare to be brave!

Barley grass is high in many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and it can help aid the liver in detoxifying.  It’s also been used to help reduce excess acidity in the body.  You can find it in powder form and add it to smoothies or whatever else you can think of!

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To be quite honest, pancakes have been quite a challenge to me lately.  Partially because I’m always trying to add some obscure ingredient (see above) and partially because I’m a tad challenged in the flipping department.

BUT I’m so happy and a smidge proud to say I finally found the right ingredients and the right method to make healthy breakfast pancakes.  Cue my inner mini-celebration.

I hope you all like them as much as we do! 

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Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten free oats (processed in a food processor)

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • large handful or two of spinach

  • 1 scoop of barley grass powder (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

  • 1 tsp agave

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 + 1/4 cup almond milk

    Coconut oil for cooking

     

Instructions:

  1. Process the oats in a blender or food processor until finely ground.  Add the almond flour and the other dry ingredients (cinnamon, baking soda, barley grass powder).

  2. Beat the eggs separately.

  3. Add all the ingredients (wet and dry) into a high-speed blender until pureed.

  4. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat with coconut oil.

  5. Add the pancake batter in batches of 4-5 at a time until the batter is finished.

    Note: They tend to be a smidge on the thin side so if you like them thicker; add your first batter to the pan and wait a second for it to cook a bit around the edges and form before adding a bit more batter for thickness.  Also if you don’t have barely grass powder, you can totally skip it (it’s optional) and the recipe works fine without it.




    -Ashley




Thankful Tree - A Thanksgiving Activity Booklet for Kids

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I know it sounds cliche, but with the hustle and bustle of the holidays quickly approaching, it is SO easy to get wrapped up in the business of it all that we forget to even enjoy this time with our families and forget the reasons for the seasons.

And the true meaning of Thanksgiving is gratitude and spending quality time with family.

I am of the mindset that a little bit of gratitude can truly change everything. Whiney kids, grumpy sleep deprived moms, a negative attitude, stress, you name it. It only takes a few minutes to thank God for the top 10 things you’re grateful for to help shift your mindset from worrying about the things that don’t matter, to just being grateful for what you have.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate either. I think God is pleased when we thank him for the little blessings in life too.

I wish my kids would sleep at night
Changed Mindset: God, Thank you that my kids have a safe place to sleep at night
I want that new Toy for Christmas, Mom
Changed Mindset: God, I’m thankful for how many toys I already do have
Why are my kids always getting sick?
Changed Mindset: God, Thank you that I have access to healthy food and medical care

Get yourself and your kids into the spirit of Thanksgiving with this fun Thankful Tree Activity Booklet and Poem.

You can tape this big tree up on the back of the door or in an open wall space and have your kiddos practice their cutting skills while choosing what they want to give thanks for each day. You can have them cut them all out at once or just choose one a day to put on the Thankful Tree. This package comes with an extra page of gratitude leafs for your child to think of any extra things they’re thankful for.

The Activity Booklet also comes with this cute poem to read out loud with your kids thanking God for all of their blessings.

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-Ashley

No-Bake Pumpkin Sunflower Butter Treats (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free, Vegan, Paleo)

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As you guys likely already know by now, I’m pretty obsessed with trying to incorporate pumpkin in EVERYTHING when it turns into fall. I’m also always trying to make healthier versions of everything for me and my kiddos to have around the house for healthy yummy snacks.

The other main criteria for me, with two young kids around is that it must be EASY.

These No-Bake Pumpkin Sunflower Treats definitely fit the mold for that criteria! They are literally SO ridiculously easy, you and your toddler can totally make them together in under 10 minutes.

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Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients

1 cup Sunflower butter (or nut butter of choice)
2 tbsp agave
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1 tsp vanilla
1 + 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Melt all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) on low heat and stir until well combined.

2. Spread mixture onto parchment paper evenly, sprinkle chocolate chips and freeze for three hours before breaking it into pieces and enjoying for a midday healthy sweet!

Five Minute Guacamole

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As we walk into this month of gratitude and thanksgiving, I am trying to incorporate some new and fun ways to cultivate gratitude in our home and even though they’re young, my kids totally understand thanksgiving! Its so sweet to hear the things they’re thankful for that it makes me even more thankful!

Mostly, it’s the little things I thank God for, like happy kids and year round guacamole! But we have SO much to be thankful here in the United States, for safety and freedom and more than enough food and water (even if we may have to filter it thoroughly to remove all the nasty chemicals)

Did you know that verbally expressing gratitude and thanksgiving can cultivate physiological mental and physical health changes and essentially RE-WIRE your brain for wellness?! That blows me away! If you don’t believe me, watch some lectures on YouTube by neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf!

Dr Caroline Leaf: Bringing Toxic Thoughts Into Captivity

It just reminds me of how awesome God is and how he designed us for thanksgiving and wellness and our bodies are truly such a masterpiece of artwork

What little things are you thankful for walking into this month of Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below!

Anyway, here is mine and my kids FAVORITE Five Minute Guacamole that we use on the daily around here. It’s so tasty with a bag of tortilla chips, a great party dish or just for enticing kids to try new veggies with (as a dip!)

Ingredients:

2 ripe hass avocados
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/8 of a medium onion diced finely
a squeeze of lime juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tbsp dairy free sour cream

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Directions:

  1. Smash 2 ripe avocados with a fork

  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and combine with the fork until you reach your desired consistency. I like to leave some big chunks here and there!

    Enjoy!





-Ashley