Get outside with your g-free kids and LÄRABAR (giveaway, too!)

IMG_5470Get outside?  No one needs to tell us that — we get outside every chance we get —especially in Autumn, our favorite time of year, which doesn’t last nearly long enough…

Did you know that Monday, November 17th is National Take a Hike Day?  If it were up to me, I would dub every Saturday just that. Unfortunately, life and bad weather get in the way far too much, and we end up having to carve out time for exploring new nature trails and hiking areas much less often than we would like to. Our family bond is at its strongest when we are out in the woods together, having left behind all thoughts of homework, upcoming irish dance competitions, electronics, housework, to-do lists, and other distractions.

IMG_5408My dog is usually pulling my husband off ahead, while my daughters and I take our time, usually stopping just about every minute to get a closer look at mushrooms, fungi, acorns, tiny saplings, tree bark patterns, leaves of every shape, size and color, and seemingly every other bit of nature we pass by.

IMG_5518If we hike near any sort of creek or pond, my daughters can’t resist lifting up every rock, in search of crayfish, salamanders, frogs, minnows, dragonfly nymph or whatever creature they can find and manage to hold for a few seconds…

4creaturesOur hikes aren’t the long, arduous ones my husband and I used to take back in Colorado or New Hampshire pre-kids, but our current hikes allow our girls the downtime they need to get their hands dirty, feet muddy and wet, and to just be out in nature and enjoying God’s creations without having to rush.

Knowing we’re going to be outside for hours on end, we have learned to come prepared with plenty of water and g-free snacks. When LÄRABAR recently contacted me to see if I would like to try some samples of their bars and new grain-free granola, it seemed like the perfect chance for our family to sample the rainbow of flavors they offer.

IMG_5325As you may or may not know, I have been grain-free for the past 6 weeks and have never felt better. I have left behind all of the nausea I’d been feeling for months, the accompanying stomach distress, and as a bonus: about 10 pounds as well! I’ve never felt healthier — along with less bloated, much less gassy and so much cleaner in my diet.  The “old me” would have packed up a few Diet Dr. Peppers, juice boxes and bags of Cheetos & Doritos for a roadtrip (no lie) but the “new me” only craves healthy, whole foods & clean eating. Since I’m the one packing this stuff, the rest of my family benefits as well.

IMG_5332LÄRABAR is the absolute perfect fit with my new healthier lifestyle, as their products are made from quality stuff and the best ingredients we can put into our bodies. Although these bars seem like they are a modest size, they really pack a punch when you consider how filling they are, and how much protein, vitamins and long-lasting energy they provide. Perfect for that extra fuel my family and I often need on our hikes.

IMG_5339Each LÄRABAR contains 1/4 cup of fruit or more, and they’re made from whole foods which makes them perfect for g-free snacking on the go. Check out all of the many different flavors on their product page. So far our favorites in the following order are: Banana Bread, Key Lime Pie, Cherry Pie and Blueberry Muffin, but we have a bunch left to try still. Previously I had only tried LÄRABAR a few times years ago, back before I was thinking about what I was eating and too cheap to pay for the good stuff. But, thankfully, I have matured and learned to care much more about my diet, and prefer to buy minimally processed foods with the shortest ingredient lists nowadays. Take our favorite LÄRABAR flavor for instance, made from just bananas, almonds and dates:

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And as it turns out, LÄRABAR’s founder, Lara Merriken, came up with “a mountain of an idea back in 2000: to combine wholesome ingredients such as fruits and nuts to create a food product that’s tasty, healthy and convenient.” All of LARABAR’s products are made from 100% real and wholesome ingredients. Everything they offer is g-free, non-GMO and Kosher, with most everything being soy-free, dairy-free, and vegan as well.

IMG_5348Besides being able to sample all of these bars, you can imagine how psyched I was (yes, there is still an 80’s girl inside of me) when I discovered that they also have a new grain-free granola called RENOLA. It comes in 3 flavors – Berry, Cinnamon Nut and Cocoa Coconut — and is a tasty mix of fruits, nuts and seeds.

IMG_5345After trying our samples, we were hooked — especially me, since I’m not eating grains right now, including g-free grains. I love all three flavors and really appreciate how small the pieces are, so I don’t feel like I’m going to break a tooth like I do with other g-free granolas. I also love the individual serving size bags, which contain the perfect amount of RENOLA to give that long-lasting energy needed for dance, sports, or a hike. You can bet that RENOLA will be on my grocery list over and over again, no doubt…

IMG_5358I was really impressed by all of these products, and LÄRABAR has definitely become my go-to brand for g-free snacking on the go. They are so easy to take on family hikes, or to just toss in my bag in case I get hungry when I’m out and about so I can stay on my grain-free diet and keep feeling good 24/7.


As a special offer for you (on top of this awesome giveaway) LÄRABAR is giving gfreekid.com readers $0.50 off the purchase of any LÄRABAR. Get your coupon here. don’t know where to get em? find out here.


Remember: Monday, November 17th is National Take a Hike Day. Join me and LÄRABAR by getting outside with your g-free kids and enjoying the gorgeous fall weather in your neck of the woods. Trust me: you and your kids will be glad you did.  You can join in on the conversation by hashtaggin’ #getoutside and #eatclean.

IMG_5380Want to win a LÄRABAR Prize Pack?

Is all this talk about LÄRABARs, RENOLA and hiking making you hungry?

Here’s your chance to win an awesome prize pack from LÄRABAR, including a variety pack of 16 assorted LÄRABARs and all three flavors of RENOLA.  All you have to do is answer the following 2 questions and comment below with your answers…(anyone failing to do the following will not qualify to win.)

(1) Leave a comment on this post with the LÄRABAR flavor and RENOLA flavor you’re most interested in trying (take a quick look at the product page before you answer) and (2) how we have inspired you to #getoutside and #eatclean with your g-free kid and LÄRABAR!  Couldn’t be easier to enter!  :)

Open to 18+ year old U.S. residents only. Randomly chosen winner will be picked Thursday, Nov. 6th at midnight & will be given 24 hours to respond before being replaced by another winner.

Thanks to LÄRABAR for sponsoring this post and giveaway, and for fueling this hike and many in the future. HONEST opinions are completely from me and my family. 

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Grain-free pumpkin pancake muffins

IMG_5186Here is a recipe that my daughter and I created yesterday on an unexpected rainy, fall morning…

I have been grain-free for almost a month now (never felt better) and have been craving some kind of paleo baked good to have for breakfast. My morning apple just wasn’t cutting it any more, so we came up with these pumpkin pancake muffins which really hit the spot!  They are super-moist, soft and delicious….

Grain-free pumpkin pancake muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tin with Pam. Then mix together:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of ginger & cloves, or whatever spices you like in pumpkin pie
  • dash of salt
  • diced walnuts
  • mini chocolate chips

IMG_5188Batter will be thick. Divide equally into a 12-muffin tin and smooth tops over with a spoon. Bake for 15-20 minutes until done (ours took 18 minutes). Cool a bit, loosen edges and put pancake muffins onto a wire rack to cool.

My girls love them with whipped cream and say they taste just like pumpkin pie. These will be impossible to keep to myself.  :)  And that’s okay — we will just have to make more!

Late Summer Zucchini Bread

IMG_3433I know I haven’t posted much in the past few months but life rolls along way too quickly sometimes. Meals come and go with no time or desire to get that perfect photo of whatever you’re about to eat…until after you’re done eating and it’s too late.

However, there are a few things I managed to record this summer, which I want to share with you in the next few posts. Starting with this wonderful zucchini bread, made from zucchinis my Dad grew for me in his garden…

I used the recipe my Mom always used when I was growing up, but subbed out the flour for Cup4Cup Gluten Free multi-purpose flour, with excellent results, if I do say so myself. Here is the recipe:

IMG_3435Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread

First, preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 pan.
Then, mix together these ingredients in a large bowl:
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups packed grated zucchini, including outside dark green layer
• 1 cup oil
• 1 Tbsp. vanilla

In a separate bowl, mix together:
• 3 cups GF flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 3 tsp. cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, then mix in:
• 1/2 cup of diced walnuts (optional)
and pour into greased pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.

IMG_3437I made a few batches this summer and froze square pieces in freezer bags. They reheat so well and are always a much requested & very welcomed sight on my daughters’ breakfast plates. Sometimes they slice them in half across the middle and eat them with whipped cream on top.

This bread is absolutely delicious and gives long-lasting energy as well. So snag those end of summer zucchinis from your local farmer’s market and get baking! Your g-free kid will be glad you did…

~Katie

Easiest S’mores Treat Ever

IMG_3637I‘ve had s’mores on the brain lately for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that summer is finally rolling around after an extremely long winter, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve posted a few similar ideas on Facebook recently… Whatever the reason, I’ve been in the mood for s’mores, and found a super simple (yet dangerous for my waistline) way to get a fix…and you don’t even need a campfire…

Here’s what you do:

Get these 3 ingredients:  GF sugar cones, marshmallows & Hershey’s chocolate bars. (Personally, we don’t care too much for dry, crumbly graham crackers and much prefer using crisp, tasty sugar cones instead)…

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Note: Each treat uses 1 cone, 1 marshmallow & 3 Hershey’s chocolate rectangles.
You just take a cone, drop in one piece of chocolate, and a marshmallow on top of that. Break the other 2 pieces of chocolate in half and tuck them around the marshmallow.

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Sit each cone upright in some kind of cup and pop it in the microwave for about 10-12 seconds. Stay there and watch it, as the marshmallow really expands when heated. Tuck everything back into the cone if it starts popping out, let cool for a few seconds, grab a napkin and enjoy.

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And, yeah, your kids will love them, too!  ;)

IMG_3656Happy summer!

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Gluten-free Mini Easter Baskets

Easter is coming soon so I wanted to give you this idea for something fun and easy to make with your g-free kids. I have shared this before, but it’s a favorite of my girls, so I’m putting it out there again for new followers since it’s such a keeper!  :)

To make them, you will need:
– gluten-free ice cream cones with flat bottoms
– sugared gummy worms
– gluten-free frosting (we used Pillsbury)
– regular size marshmallows
– gluten-free jelly beans
– sweetened coconut
– food coloring

And here is how you make them…

The first thing you do (to make the shorter baskets shown above) is to take a sharp knife and cut off the top portion of the cone, so that it looks like the photo below. It doesn’t need to be perfect since the frosting and coconut will cover the edges… Then you pop a regular sized marshmallow inside the cone and tuck a sugared gummy worm in around the edges, as shown below. This gives you a surface to frost on and keeps the “handle” of the basket snugly in place…

After that, you just frost the top with vanilla frosting (plus a drop or two of food coloring) and then add coconut and three jelly beans. We made four different frosting colors and four matching coconut colors (sweetened coconut with a drop or two of food coloring mixed in) so they were coordinated.

We also discovered something fun afterwards, when we mixed the remaining coconut colors together: rainbow-colored coconut!  Here it is on a full-sized basket, without the top cut off, in case you choose to do it that way. (I just think the shorter ones look more proportional, and this one needs 2 marshmallows inside the cone). As you also may notice, the gummy worm’s pattern makes it look even more like a basket handle when the lined side is facing out like this:

Either way (short or tall) these Easter baskets are sure to be a hit — whether you make just a few for your family, or make a lot for a school party or church brunch. We kept them in an air-tight container and they tasted great even days later.

For more sweet ideas, check out our Chocolate Peeps Eggshells and Muddy Bunnies at this link.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!  ~Katie

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and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

Book Review and Giveaway: “Cilie Yack is Under Attack”

IMG_1757What a fun book.  Cilie Yack is Under Attack, written and illustrated by Caryn Talty is a hilarious chapter book for gluten-free kids. I read the entire thing, myself, for a few days in a row over lunch and actually looked forward to it each day!  My daughters read it together in the car on a road trip, as well… they laughed and read favorite parts of it out loud to us often.  Here are our collective thoughts on the book:

In a nutshell, we all loved it. We won this book through a contest a few years ago and waited a bit for my girls to grow into being able to read it. It’s the only chapter book about Celiac that I know of for older kids, so it definitely fills a need — in a great way.

IMG_1766It’s written from the perspective of a spunky 9 year old boy living in Ireland named Cilie (pronounced “silly”). The book begins with, “This is the story of how one boy turned his problems into a triumph, and how you can, too!” From there the story is told from the point of view of Cilie, and the next 15 chapters are filled with good humor, Irish sayings (explained), cute cartoony illustrations, sidebars (like explanations of Irish football) age-appropriate explanations of Celiac, and off-topic ramblings that are perfect for kids around this age group. You really get an excellent sense of this boy’s character and he is a fun-loving, sometimes misunderstood but totally likeable kid. He never “talks down to you” and kids will love his honesty and openness about feelings of embarrassment, disappointment, excitement and pride.

IMG_1759In the beginning Cilie tells how as a baby his Mum said he was very cranky and “topped both my brothers combined in poop production by the time I was three.” As a young boy he used to act out as class clown and troublemaker, acted wild and out of control whenever he ate gluten, and was mean to his little brothers. His stomach was often upset and he didn’t like to eat, except for his one favorite food “goody” which was bread, milk and sugar. In the chapter called, “Poop Talk” he confesses to all kinds of pooping problems, even a few embarrassing accidents. At age 5, his doctor runs some tests on him and they finally realize it’s Celiac which means a life-long gluten-free diet for him. Once he gets over his initial shock about not being able to eat “goody” anymore, he realizes he’s beginning to feel better and act better as well.

IMG_1760After a while, he writes a great report on Celiac (which is included on 3 pages of the book along with an illustration) by explaining it in his own words, earning himself his first accolades at school. Eventually he starts to feel jealous of not being able to eat certain foods and sneaks some chocolate cake at a party, not long before he “pukes it back up.”

IMG_1758After that his Mum takes him to a special store where they buy lots of gluten-free ingredients to experiment with, and after many flops, finally starts to make some amazing creations in the kitchen. His confidence soars as he figures out new things to eat, and he creates and masters the perfect recipe for carrot cake, which sells out at his football team’s bake sale.

I’ll leave the ending as a surprise, since I’ve already divulged so much, but rest assured your g-free kid will love this book. If he or she is not ready or able to read this alone, I urge you to read it aloud with them so you can share in the laughs.

A word from the author, Caryn Talty:  “This book is written at a 4th grade level as far as vocabulary and readability goes. But the content is geared toward younger kids. I encourage parents to read the book out loud with their kids and talk about what happens to Cilie in the story. I read it out loud with my youngest son at age 5 when he began having digestive problems and was being tested for celiac. He understood the story and celiac disease very well when we finished. We gave donation copies to our kids’ school library and I’ve had kids of all ages come to me to tell me they’ve read the book and enjoyed it. The story is based on some very real experiences my oldest son had before he was diagnosed, but of course Cilie’s story is much more humorous and exaggerated. At the time when my son was sick and symptomatic we did not find much to laugh about. That’s why I decided a few years later that a book like this was important to create. I wanted kids with celiac to relax, understand that they are not alone and it will get better. I also wanted to create a hero out of a kid who seemingly has a lot of weaknesses, or so he thinks. Sometimes being different is magical, especially when you have the right attitude and a little bit of willpower.”

One more note from me:  I took these pictures late at night in a warmly lit room which is why the pages look yellow. However, they are actually white.  :)

Now for the giveaway: The author has generously agreed to give away 2 copies of this book to 2 lucky winners!  All you have to do is comment below with how your g-free kid might be able to relate to Cilie’s story in this book. Giveaway ends at midnight on Friday, March 7th. Randomly chosen winners will be notified and given 24 hours to respond, or other winners will be chosen to replace them.  U.S. residents only please. Good luck!

If you don’t win, I hope you’ll still buy this book for your g-free kid. It’s currently only $8.09 on Amazon.com and shipping is free if you have Amazon Prime.

Caryn Talty runs the Healthy Family blog which supports “organic living for a healthy family”. Also inspired by this book is the Cilie Yack’s Sous Chef Club.  Check it out!

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[ Disclaimer: We won this book in a contest a few years ago. The opinions I expressed are my own, honest feelings about the book, as well as my daughters'.  ]

Keep coming back for more things for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the photo album and kids’ stuff page!

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Favorite Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

pieWe made our favorite peanut butter pie again for family game night at Aunt Kate’s last night. We thought we’d send the Olympics off in (our own casual) style by making the 5 Olympic rings out of M&M’s on our pie. I just found a jar lid that would work in size and lightly marked where the rings should be, then stuck in M&M’s sideways instead of laying them flat. It was surprisingly easy! I was just going to post it on Facebook and link to the recipe, when I realized that I have yet to post it other than on our recipe PDF. So, here you go!  Recipe is below, followed by photos of a few different ways we have topped our pies. These are a local hit with lots of friends and family making this same recipe, most of them not even gluten-free themselves. Enjoy!

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