Pink Icing without Food Colouring

But what do you do when your child wants pink cupcakes? Well, I’m happy to report that I have an answer you will love. Beets my friend. Beets.

While food colouring does make icing look spectacular, it’s not so spectacular for us or the earth.  Artificial colours have been linked to behavioural problems and even certain kinds of cancer, according to the Environmental Working Group.

But what do you do when your child wants pink cupcakes? Well, I’m happy to report that I have an answer you will love. Beets my friend. Beets.

All you have to do is make a regular batch of icing, and simply add the juice from one small beet (about 1-2 Tbsp) using a juicer. And when you do, this is what happens!

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How PINK is that! Pretty impressive I think, for a beet (which is not even pink to begin with).

These cupcakes helped us celebrate Eily’s 4th Birthday over the weekend and I’d say, judging by her little grin, that the amount of pinkness was to her liking.

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How to Cook with your Kids

There are so many things we want our kids to learn; Sports, languages, dance, gymnastics, pottery, karate, swimming, piano. The list is pretty much endless. All of those things are great and have their place, but cooking is one thing that gets overlooked a lot.

There are so many things we want our kids to learn; Sports, languages, dance, gymnastics, pottery, karate, swimming, piano. The list is pretty much endless. All of those things are great and have their place, but cooking is one thing that gets overlooked a lot.

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If you already read kids belong in the kitchen, then you know all of the research and reasoning behind the importance of teaching our kids kitchen skills. It is a really important life skill and one that can directly benefit you and your family (that’s right YOU!) Sharing kitchen responsibilities is very helpful and liberating in a family.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are getting started:

  1. Go over the Kitchen Rules: Since it’s your kitchen, you get to make the rules, but make sure everyone feels comfortable and informed NOT terrified of all the potential danger.  In our house we have a gas stove, so one of our rules is that hair is always tied back.
  2. Respect Age and Ability: We have to have reasonable expectations for our children. Choose age appropriate jobs and be encouraging if things are tricky for them at first. If your child is doing really well, don’t be afraid to challenge them even more by having them create a recipe or learn a new skill (like handling a real chef’s knife!)
  3. Timing is EVERYTHING: Make sure that you pick opportunities where you have a nice reserve of time and patience. If you are feeling rushed or irritable, or your kids are cranky or tired, that’s not the best time to work together. If you set yourself up for failure, you might get discouraged (and your kids will too).  Sometimes my kids want to lend a hand but I’m not in the mood for help. I let them know I appreciate their offer, but this time I’d like to work alone. There will ALWAYS be another meal to help with.
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  4. Start Small and Simple: When your children are first learning, they don’t need to be involved in EVERY step. They can begin with something as simple as stirring the pasta as it boils, or pouring in liquid ingredients. It’s better to let them do just one job at first so that they feel successful and build from there.
  5. Divide Jobs: If you’re working with multiple children, give separate jobs so there is no bickering (Yes kids can even argue about who is going to help you!) If I am baking, my son will get the dry ingredients bowl and my daughter will get the wet ingredients bowl. I once made the terrible mistake of asking “Who wants to beat the eggs?” And both children answered, “ME!!” That did not go too well 😦DSC_0019
  6. Encourage them to touch “yucky” stuff like meat and fish and poultry: Cooking isn’t all cupcakes and chocolate chips (but those things are pretty great). If you want your kids to one day cook you a chicken dinner, you better show them how! I know adults  who STILL won’t touch raw meat, but they will eat it once it’s cooked (how fair is that!) Exposure to these kinds of experiences quickly eliminates all fear or squeamishness.  In no time at all, you’ll have your kids happily rubbing butter and salt and pepper over a whole chicken.

Last but not least, have fun! You will be surprised how quickly children become an asset in the kitchen, once they learn safety, patience, and a few basic skills like cutting vegetables!  For me, a recent triumph was when my son learned to turn off the gas stove when the kettle was boiling. Now if I hear the kettle whistling I don’t have to tear down the hallway because Fynn will say “I can get it!”

5 Reasons you Want your Kids in the Kitchen

When we take the time to teach our children kitchen skills we are giving them a gift that will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. And, as an added bonus, one day when they have acquired some real skills, they won’t just be “helping” us in the kitchen, they will be preparing us dinner. Now imagine that…

When my children first showed an interest in helping bake or cook, a few things typically happened. Something would get spilled or dropped. Too much baking soda would be added. Muffin batter would ooze out of the muffin cup onto the pan. I would inevitably get annoyed. After all, on my own I could do these things MUCH faster and tidier. But is that all that matters?

That depends.

I think there are times when we don’t want our children cooking beside us.  If we get in the door at 5 and everyone is hungry and cranky and  short on patience, I would definitely take a hard pass on any kind of assistance.

But according to research, there do need to be consistent opportunities for kids to get involved in food preparation. Here are a few compelling reasons you may want to clear some space at the counter for your kids:

  1. It makes them more receptive to new foods:  Kids who participate in meal prep are more likely to try the foods they make! If you have a picky eater (which I do) this is super good news. When kids are able to use all of their senses to explore something new like, heaven forbid, the skin on an apple ( I wish I was kidding) they may feel more of an interest in actually TRYING it.

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Eily making the green juice (Age 3)
  • It helps their emotional development: There is nothing worse than spending time cooking a meal and having your child NOT appreciate it. When children become involved, they learn first hand that cooking takes time, care, and patience. At our house, when a meal is finished, we always thank the person who made it. My children LOVE when they are on the receiving end of that thank you.
  • It teaches them organization and time management: Mis en Place is a thing for a reason.  Chaos in the kitchen is not fun. Learning to be prepared and organized are skills that help make things run smoothly and efficiently.  These skills can be applied to all aspects of life with excellent results!

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    Fynn assembling the pizza (age 5)
  • It encourages healthy eating: We know that meals prepared from scratch are healthier because we have total control over the quality of ingredients used. One study found that children who learn to cook before they are 8 years old are 50% MORE likely to prepare at least 5 meals from scratch when they reach adulthood!
  • It teaches them an essential and beautiful life-skill: Food is a source of energy, of course, but it can be so much more. Knowing how to cook gives us independence, confidence, and a really enjoyable and delicious way of bringing people together. The food we eat is part of our identity and culture. It’s part of our family history. Don’t we all have that favourite meal that our grandmother prepared for us? Food can transform and transport us. It’s not just calories in calories out. If our children don’t learn to cook, we are denying them their place in their culinary and cultural heritage.
  • When we take the time to teach our children kitchen skills we are giving them a gift that will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. And, as an added bonus, one day when they have acquired some real skills, they won’t just be “helping” us in the kitchen, they will be preparing us dinner. Now imagine that…

    The Most Nutritious Way to Prepare Oatmeal

    One of my kids favourite things for breakfast is oatmeal. Oats are a very grounding food full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. But after reading the book, Nourishing Traditions, I learned there is a certain way that oats (and all grains and legumes) need to be prepared in order to maximize nutrient absorption.

    One of my kids favourite things for breakfast is oatmeal. Oats are a very grounding food full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. But after reading the book, Nourishing Traditions, I learned there is a certain way that oats (and all grains and legumes) need to be prepared in order to maximize nutrient absorption.

    All grains contain phytic acid, which can block absorption of certain minerals (calcium, iron,magnesium and more)  and reduce digestibility of starches, proteins, and fats. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat grains! But it does mean we need to take a cue from our ancestors who had specific, time tested methods for food preparation.

    When you soak oats overnight in a dairy or non-dairy solution, the phytic acid is significantly reduced and digestibility and nutrient absorption is greatly improved. I promise it is super easy and it tastes so much better. I once forgot to soak our oats overnight and made oatmeal for breakfast anyway, and I couldn’t believe the difference in taste. None of us could even finish our oatmeal that morning 😦

    Recipe:

    • 1 cup of oats
    • 1 cup of warm, filtered water
    • 2 tbsp yogurt  (Or, if you have a dairy allergy,  2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar)
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Directions:

    • Mix oats, water, and yogurt , cover and leave in a warm place overnight (or up to 24hrs)
    • In a small pot, bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 tsp of salt to a boil
    • Reduce heat, add oat mixture, cover and simmer for a few minutes
    • Remove from heat and serve with cream, a natural sweetener like maple syrup,  and of course a sprinkle of ceylon cinnamon!

    Enjoy!

    Kid Friendly Nut Butter Energy Bites

    This recipe has become a staple in my home over the last few years. They are perfect snack to have around, especially when 3pm (or the hungry hour) hits. We make these once a week and they are so tasty and healthy. Every kid I have ever given one to has loved them, so what more do we need to say?

    I have lately upgraded some of the ingredients to make these even more jam-packed with super nutritious ingredients. You can easily substitute your favourite ingredients with an almost guaranteed success. The only thing I ever added that did NOT taste good was protein powder, so do what you will with that information.

    Recipe:

    • 3/4 cup nut butter
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • 1/4 cup ground flax seed powder
    • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
    • 2 tbsp cacoa nibs
    • 2 tbsp superfood powder of your choice: maca/mesquite /barley grass juice/moringa
    • 4 tbsp mini chocolate chips
    • Coconut for dusting

    Directions:

    1. Mix nut butter, honey, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
    2. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.
    3. Roll into 1 inch balls and then roll onto a plate of shredded coconut (makes 16-20).
    4. Store in the fridge and enjoy 🙂

    What is a Thriving Home?

    I don’t think a family can ever be perfect. But I do think that in the midst of the chaos that is inevitably life, we can establish a set of values that guides our actions, helps us navigate the sometimes rough waters, and steers us back to the equilibrium that we deserve.

    If I had to pick one thing, one idea, that could change the world, it would be family.  If we could figure out on a small scale how to consistently be good to each other and for each other, and then bring that love outward into the world, great things could happen. 

    When I look at my children, and witness who they are and who they might one day become, I am filled with an over-whelming urge to be a better person. Their goodness, purity, and wonder has that effect on me. I think I’ve grown more as a person because of their existence. I’ve been stretched beyond what I ever thought possible, digging deeper than the well would allow sometimes. And so far, I have survived.

    But here’s the thing. I don’t want to just survive family life. I want to thrive.

    What is it that makes a family thrive within their home? I have a few theories. They’re based on the good and bad days that I’ve observed in my home over the past 8 years. They’re also based on the books and articles I have read, and continue to read, to educate myself on this important topic.

    I am by no means an expert on your family, but I do feel like I may qualify for a Phd in my own life. I don’t presume to have it all figured out every day (hilarious). But, when I do, my hope is that someone can take that tiny thread of goodness and weave their own truth with it.When I don’t have it figured out, I reflect on my mistakes, strive to make it right, and then try to forgive myself (that usually takes a while).

    I don’t think a family can ever be perfect. But I do think that in the midst of the chaos that is inevitably life, we can establish a set of values that guides our actions, helps us navigate the sometimes rough waters, and steers us back to the equilibrium that we deserve.

    That’s the magic spot where we actually thrive. But we must be patient with ourselves. We must allow our daily actions and choices to slowly build momentum. Becoming a family doesn’t just happen in an instant. We are our own single beings for so long, until one day we find we are inextricably and forever bound to our partner and children. But with time, consistency, and great heart, we are made whole, and become the solid stone we know as family.

    When I look at all the research available, and the truths I witness in my own home, I have come to believe that there needs to be three focuses in a family:

    1. Nurturing Care: invest time and energy in all members of the family, including yourself. Lavishing love, care, and quality time while honouring the unique natures and/or developmental stages of each person.
    2. Nature: connect daily to the real world. The one that actually keeps us alive and provides everything we could ever need. Giving our attention to natural rhythms, beauty, and stillness is essential to our well being. We must learn to protect this precious world by seeing ourselves as stewards and honoured guests.
    3. Nourishing Food: prepare food that feeds our bodies and souls, made from ingredients that are good for people and the planet. We need to make time in our hurried lives for meals and reintroduce the old ways of food preparation that enhances nutrient absorption.

    With this blog, I hope to explore these focuses in great detail and share whatever truths I can find. Any wisdom found in parenting is hard won, through tears, laughter, and joy. If we can share our stories, ideas, and mistakes, maybe we can move more effortlessly towards that thriving home we all deserve.