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Posted on 10/07/2015

 

A few tricks are fun for Halloween but not when it comes to what the kids are eating: Tricks are not treats! Common neighborhood candies are loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors and unpronounceable ingredients. 
 

 

The great news is that keeping artificial colors, flavors and sugars out of our children's treats is a very easy thing to do! One example, is that even though I changed my family’s diet, I knew taking Trick-or-Treat activities away from my kids wasn’t a very practical solution. So, I let my kids turn their collected cache into “money” and I set up a storefront at the dining room table. They used the candy/money for various games, toys and “clean” treats I had purchased and put on display.
 

Another great alternative is to make your own Halloween desserts! Starting with an allergen-friendly cookie, like CaveChick cookies, make a safe and wholesome treat. Here are two great cookie treats you can make at home with the kids - along with decorating tips:
 

If Count Chocula loved cookies - this would be favorite:

(Using CaveChick DoubleDevil cookies)
 


 

Decorating tip: Melt 1 cup of your favorite dairy-free chocolate chips in a bowl, stovetop or microwave. Stir in 1⁄2 tsp oil. Dip one edge of the DoubleDevil cookie into melted chocolate and place on wax paper. Sprinkle with all-natural confection sprinkles. For Halloween, I like to use white and orange. My favorite brand of natural decorative confections is IndiaTree.

 

Spooky-Doodle Cookies:

(Using CaveChick CaveDoodle cookies)
 


 

Decorating tip: Squiggle CaveChick CaveDoodle cookie with egg free white Royal Icing (recipe below) and sprinkle with orange all natural confection sprinkles. Let set.

“Ice Creepy” Coconut Cookies:
 


 

Decorating tip: Take any coconut milk dairy-free vanilla bean ice cream and add a few drops of orange natural colorant. Grab 2 CaveDoodle cookies and sandwich them together with the orange ice cream. Sprinkle the edges with coconut shavings or sprinkles!

*Egg Free White Royal Icing

I wish I could take credit for this awesome icing. I've included the original youtube video link for your information. I did it a little differently and feel it turned out very good for this application. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UU_Q6v3LLM
 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 c powdered sugar, organic preferred
  • 1⁄2 lemon juice
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp whole flax seed

Instructions:

  • Put flax seed into small glass bowl. Squeeze all the juice out of 1⁄2 lemon. Let sit for 2 hours.
  • After time elapses pour lemon juice and flax seeds into a fine mesh strainer set over a glass bowl. With the back of a spoon squish and roll lemon juice and flax gel through the mesh strainer. This will take approx 15 minutes.
  • Sift powdered sugar into the lemon juice and stir. With a whisk mixer attachment, beat sugar paste until very smooth. One you have a smooth paste add more lemon juice or water (depends on how lemony you want the Royal Icing) until the icing is of a drizzle consistency.
  • Scoop icing into a piping bag or stiff ziplock freezer bag.
  • If using the freezer bag cut small section of corner tip to squeeze icing.
Be Healthy,
Lori
Posted on 09/11/2015

Aside from the Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING craze, September is also when school is in full session. The fall season is also a bag of mixed emotions - especially for moms - as we find more personal time with our kids is spent on working on homework and planning lunch box meals. Homework might question your ability to be “Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” (ha!) but you’ll likely get an A+ in lunch box meal planning - if you keep it simple and wholesome.

As a mom, I’ve done the whole meal prep and lunch box planning for years. I’ve learned a few things along the way and for all you moms out there, I wanted to share my easy tips on how to build a better lunch box. I’ve also included  snack items that you can make and pack in under 10 minutes! And before you do any planning don’t forget to check with your schools for any food allergy restrictions.

Lori’s Lunchbox Lessons:

  1. Keep It Simple! Embrace the brown bag and remember that lunch box menus don’t need to be elaborate. Ziplock baggies are your friend, reusable containers are even better or consider the trendy bento box option. A little bottle of water is always your best beverage option.
  2. Lunch time is the opportunity to refuel your loved ones for the second part of the day. This means wholesome choices are a must. As a nutritional foodie I suggest making meals based on a whole food plant-based foundation for optimal health and learning. This means choosing real foods like fresh sliced fruit, diced fresh veggies, a mix of nuts & seeds, bean dips or some diced fresh meat. Consider how the food choice will impact your child’s afternoon. I think it’s best to stay far away from anything with artificial flavors, artificial colors and preservatives - especially as foods that contain these ingredients are known neurotoxins and some are even carcinogenic. Refined sugar, most likely, will spell trouble in the form of an afternoon slump from insulin spikes or adrenal let-downs. Watch out for foods or drinks that list out added refined sugars, refined grains, plus fruit juices, juice blends and even single serving alternative milks. Be sure to look at the ingredient list of all dairy and deli meats. (P.S. Did you know that dairy is a top allergen or food intolerance? While any food can cause any reaction, dairy intolerance symptoms include: Asthma, bronchitis, ear infections and intestinal cramping, fatigue, ADD/ADHD and anxiety.)
  3. Lunch is a social event. Knowing your child's comfort level when it comes to lunchbox peer pressure will help you pack a wholesome lunch that they will enjoy. Of course you'll have more freedom for wholesome choices if your child is secure with wholesome food choices. Remember that you can set the acceptance level by setting the standards through personal example and how you choose to talk about food (and drinks).
  4. Every now and again have a 'Lunch Box Sampling' meal. You could make lunch options for dinner once a month. Get the kids involved to do some lunch option brainstorming, shopping and preparing. Involvement equals understanding and pride. 

Lunchbox suggestions (easy to pack in under 10 minutes):

  1. Apple slices with Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) sprinkled on to deter oxidation and give it a tang! (My kids loved this.)
  2. Hummus Dip w/assorted veggies to dip Babaganoush Dip w/assorted veggies dip
  3. 100% Whole Grain tortilla rolled with avocado, salsa, lettuce and shredded carrots (I like Rudy’s Whole Grain Spelt Tortillas)
  4. 100% whole grain crackers with nut butter Small serving of non-hydrogenated mixed nuts
  5. Think water is too boring...try adding a few thinly sliced lemons or limes even strawberries into the water bottle for a refreshing taste.
  6. Need a cookie? Don't forget CaveChick brand - 100% whole grain, maple sweetened and dairy and egg free cookies! 

There you have it - Keep these tips in mind as you plan out your child’s lunchbox this school year, and you’ll keep your family healthy, happy and fueled for learning!

Be healthy,
Lori

Posted on 09/04/2015

Contrary to its name, Labor Day is a day off of work for most people. Labor Day entertaining should also not be so laborious. Whether you’re hosting an open-backyard bash or an intimate dinner with friends, here’s a super-easy treat to make and serve. This dessert takes five ingredients and seven simple steps (and if you’re really short on time, consider making the crust a day or two in advance and store it in the fridge!)

My Peach Blueberry Crisp is a refreshing dairy-free, cane sugar-free, whole-grain, vegan and delicious! Perfect for the final summer weekend - or anytime this Fall.

Be Healthy,
Lori

Peach Blueberry CaveDoodle Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 1­ - 8 cookie package CaveChick CaveDoodle cookies
  • 1 - ½ cup organic blueberries (fresh)
  • 2 - organic peaches, ripe (sliced & cut into thirds)
  • 2 - Tablespoon brown rice flour
  • 1 - Tablespoon maple sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Press 6 CaveDoodle cookies into bottom of 9 inch baking dish. Break cookies as necessary to get good coverage but doesn't have to cover perfectly. Reserve 2 cookies. (If CaveDoodle is crispy break and fit cookies on bottom of pie pan to cover. Again, perfectly covering the bottom of the pan is not necessary.)
  3. In large bowl lightly mix blueberries, sliced/diced peaches, brown rice flour and maple sugar.
  4. Pour into prepared pie plate and spread evenly. Crumble last 2 CaveDoodle cookies and sprinkle on top of fruit. (If CaveDoodle is crispy use a food processor if you'd like.) Cover prepared fruit crisp with foil.
  5. Bake 25 minutes with foil. Remove foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes or until crisp edges look a nice brown.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool.
  7. Slice and serve with your favorite vanilla non-dairy ice cream or whipped topping.
Posted on 08/24/2015

Lentil pasta is a great item to keep in the pantry - whether you’re sensitive to modern wheat or not. Lentils are nutritious, high in iron, fiber, protein and full of essential vitamins. My “go-to” brand is definitely Uddo’s Kitchen Red Lentil Penne. It’s all natural and it’s made of one - yes ONE - ingredient: Red lentils.

Another characteristic of the pasta, is that the texture mimics traditional whole grain or white pasta - you won’t have to worry about any soggy texture with these guys. Which makes this pasta a wonderful base for so many pasta-type dishes.

I’d like to invite you try my recipe for red lentil pasta which uses fresh oregano and flax oil. The recipe is so easy and quick to make, perfect for busy weeknights!

Red Lentil Pasta w/Fresh Oregano and Flax Oil
(Serves 2 - 4, as a meal)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. Uddos Kitchen Red Lentil Penne (prepare according to package directions)
  • 2 Tbl. organic fresh oregano, chopped (I like bold flavor so I opt for more fresh oregano - or 2 tsp. of dried oregano)
  • 1-2 Tbl. organic flax oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste, if desired

Instructions:

  1. Prepare Lentil pasta according to package directions.
  2. Chop fresh oregano.
  3. When pasta is cooked al dente, drain water and return to pot. Add 1-2 Tbl. organic flax oil and chopped Organic Fresh Oregano. Add salt and pepper if desired. Toss.
  4. Plate or transfer to your favorite serving bowl.
  5. Serve with a fresh salad or veggie of your choice and enjoy!
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Posted on 08/20/2015

We’re (still) heating things up in Chicago this week. And I’m not just talking about the weather. At least in our family, we’re cranking up the grill and enjoying a few more backyard dinners as we close out summer.

Many people automatically associate “grilling” with meat, but this method is also fantastic for cooking vegetables and fruits like asparagus, pineapple and so much more. Vegetables or fruits taste incredibly flavorful when they’re cooked on a grill and you can easily prepare a healthy dinner or side dish in little time. One of my favorite weekday dinners to make are these grilled potato and portobello pouches. It takes no time to chop the potatoes and mushrooms, season them and in under 20 minutes you’ll have a delicious meal.

Whether you’re stepping away from cooking up meat on the grill, or if meat just isn’t part of your diet, these pouches are packed with flavor and are filling! If you want to make a tasty meal in under 20 minutes, take a peek below at this simple recipe. If you’re trying it out, I’d love to hear how it went!

Grilled Potato & Portobello Pouch
(1 pouch makes 1 serving)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium potato, cubed (I like Russet or Yukon Gold)
  • ¼ small onion, sliced
  • 1 medium portobello mushroom, sliced
  • 2 - 3 Tbl olive oil
  • Salt/pepper, to taste
  • Aluminum foil (recommend to cut into 12” x 12” squares)
  • Parchment paper (recommend to cut into 12” x 12” squares) 

Instructions:

  1. Heat grill to medium high heat. Make aluminum foil squares to fit ingredients. A 12"x12" piece is usually enough.
  2. Place a layer of parchment paper on top of the aluminum foil.
  3. Layer the cubed potatoes, sliced onions and topped with the sliced portobello on the parchment paper/aluminum foil square. Drizzle with olive oil, and season to taste, with salt and pepper.
  4. Lift foil edged and fold to make a well-sealed “pouch”.
  5. Place on grill for about 15-20 min. Or until bottom layer of potatoes are lightly brown and crispy to your liking.
Posted on 08/14/2015

It’s amazing to me how the summer months fly by. Before you know it, the kids are back in school, the leaves fall from trees and the air turns crisp. I love summer as much as anyone, but I do enjoy the transition into fall as I get to adapt many of my summertime recipes to fit the cooler weather.

I see fennel as a fantastic transition vegetable. It’s texture is crunchy and flavor delicious. It’s also a wonderful source for calcium, folic acid, vitamin C. Not to mention it helps with digestion, keeps your breath fresh and soothes stomach aches. You can combine fennel with so many great flavors - it works well with melon, apples and below I chose red currants with lemon. The tart and sweetness of the currants mixes well with fennel’s aromatics. Throw on some toasted spelt for some crunch and wholesome grain - and you’re set!

If you’re looking for an easy, healthy salad to make as we enter a new season, take a peek below at a simple salad that will be a treat to your tastebuds.

Fennel Fall Salad with Red Currants and Toasted Spelt
Makes approx. 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus another 2 tbsp olive oil for toasting spelt)
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or ½ tsp dried dill)
  • 2 tbsp currants
  • 2 medium sized fennel bulbs
  • 1 cup Arugula
  • 1 cup spelt
  • 1 Lemon (garnish)* 

Instructions:

  • Combine lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill, olive oil and currants in a mixing bowl
  • Trim the tops of the fennel and keep about ½ cup of the fronds. Cut the bulbs in half, trim any marks then slice as finely as possible. Add the fennel to mixing bowl and toss to avoid discoloration
  • Add fennel fronds and arugula to the mixing bowl
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a medium skillet. Add spelt and cook, stirring often, until grains are two shades darker, about 3-5 minutes
  • Toss toasted spelt into the mixing bowl
  • Serve onto plates, finish with a good grinding of fresh black pepper and a lemon spiral

*To make a lemon spiral garnish: Take 1 lemon and slice a ring from it. Make one small slice through one side of the peel and pulp (you’re not cutting the ring in half though.) Remove the pulp so you have one long piece of rind. Twist the peel into a curly shape (it should naturally hold its shape.)

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Posted on 07/24/2015

Summertime marks the start of barbecues and beach weather, but for many it's the beginning of another round of… airborne seasonal allergies! More than 30 percent of adults suffer through these months. If you’re one of the people running to the doctor's office, refilling prescriptions or stocking up on OTC products for temporary relief, or worse: Googling your symptoms - go ahead and just stop. Treating the symptoms is a delicate strategy - one that’s short-lived and often produces other side effects.

So, let’s consider treating the underlying cause. While it’s near impossible to remove yourself from the effects of the environment, there are a few things you can do to lessen the impact of your surroundings on your body. A great starting point is to address the one thing you do have control over: Your food. I’d always start with the recommendation to go dairy-free. Not only is it a top allergen, but by its nature, dairy products are inflammatory and mucus-producing. You might be asking: “Wait… pay attention to what I eat? Why bother? Other times of the year, I don’t really have any problems and I’m eating the same food. So how can my food affect my seasonal allergies?” 

Those are excellent questions!

Most people who suffer from seasonal allergies and are breathing in spores from grass, mold, pollen and ragweed, don’t realize (and usually aren’t being told from their doctors,) that they can also be affected by eating foods that fall under that category. For example, if you know you have a grass allergy, think about the foods (or drinks!) you eat that would fall under the grass umbrella: Cane sugar, grains (all of them - gluten-free and gluten containing,) corn, Echinacea or any flowery tea. And, depending on the severity of your food allergy, you could be reacting to the meat and fish you eat that have been fed corn and soy diets!

So, let’s stick with this grass allergy example for a second. If you’re eating these foods (corn, cane sugar,) throughout the year and without any noticeable troubles from June - February (months where airborne grass allergy isn’t at its peak,) you might not think the foods are harming your immune system. However, once March rolls around - you might see an onslaught of problems.

Why? Let’s imagine a camel for a second. A camel’s back is capable of carrying close to 1,000lbs. But once the weight tips slightly over its limit - problems occur. The camel is put under an enormous amount of strain. It buckles under the heavy weight. If you can, think of your immune system as your version of a camel’s back. Going back to the grass allergy above, in the Winter months, your immune system chugs along and is capable of carrying the heavy weight of the food allergies you have, but once the airborne allergy season is in full effect - your immune system is triggered by the allergens that fall under the grass umbrella, is automatically overloaded and immediately buckles under the weight.

So how can you fix this?:
Think about reducing the load you carry throughout the year. Airborne allergies are there to stay, but what if you remove the foods that are bothersome? A simple elimination diet does the trick. It might take a bit of sleuthing around to figure out what foods work for you, but it can be fun and easy. The elimination diet method works if you suffer from any seasonal allergy: Have a mold allergy? Think about the ingredients like baker’s yeast, or brewer’s yeast which can be found in things like breads, donuts, bagels, vinegar, alcohol, beer, wine. You may want to consider eliminating foods like mushrooms, Kombucha, kimchee, yogurt or any dairy product.

Something to also consider is that it’s not unusual for a food to trigger an immune system reaction, when it’s outside of the offending season. Personally, this happened with my youngest son. Our family did a complete overhaul of our diet and removed the main problem for us: Dairy. However, I found that during the “ragweed season”(August - November,) he was suffering from an excess of postnasal drip which then turned into a number of ear infections. We had him on a regime of antihistamines and decongestants, but seeing my two-year old trying to cope with side effects of these OTC medications was disheartening. The next Spring, I signed him up for intradermal allergy testing. During the process, his postnasal drip and congestion went into overdrive and we learned that was due to oats. So, we eliminated oats from his diet during the ragweed season and the next August, he went through the entire ragweed season without any OTC medications and not even a sniffle! While the sinus issues were gone immediately, we continued with this practice of removing oats from his diet during the ragweed season, each and every year after. Another big result as of this - he grew up to never have another ear infection again!

Try this out for yourself:
I suggest starting out with a food journal. Keep track of exactly what you eat, and be as specific as you can (for example, instead of writing “bread” you might want to write: “1 whole plain bagel - enriched wheat flour, sugar, wheat gluten, yeast, oat fiber...”) If it were up to me, I’d write down each and every ingredient listed (even the scary-sounding ones, in which case you may want to re-think putting those ingredients in your body!) While it’s so important to really understand everything you’re putting in your body, start small. As you begin, take simple notes, write out the top five ingredients listed and gradually increase the information. I bet that after a few days of this exercise, you’ll be hooked and will want to know more about every ingredient you’re eating! It’s also a good idea to track how you feel, any symptoms and the severity. If you switch to eating a whole food-type diet and try to eliminate processed foods, this will really reduce the possible elements in your diet that could negatively impact your health.

I encourage you to try this out, even if it’s for a couple of weeks! It will be a challenge though once you get the hang of things, you’ll find it fun. Plus, you’ll be rewarded by feeling better than you ever have.

Be healthy,
Lori

Posted on 07/20/2015

On May 15, 2015 (about a month ago), the world celebrated National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Seeing as CaveChick has mastered the allergy-friendly version of this delicious classic, I decided to stop by a couple of radio stations so that they could try the cookies out for themselves. AM560 Radio was so kind as to mention us in their morning segment after I stopped by and talked to the host, Dan, for a little while. I had a great time at the station and am excited to have you listen to what they had to say! Click on the link below for the clip of the segment: 

https://soundcloud.com/cavechick/cave-chick-mention-on-am560-051515

 

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Posted on 07/10/2015

With the biggest Summer holiday just behind us (happy belated 4th of July, everyone!) and Labor Day weekend ahead, you might feel Summer is almost over. Don't dismay. There are still plenty more picnics, block parties, birthday celebrations and barbecues in store! Which is why we’re here to help. Planning a Summertime party can be an adventure.

It’s can even be challenging when you have kids with dairy, egg or modern wheat intolerances. Breaking down what they can and can’t eat at parties can be very confusing. Especially at the dessert table, keeping yourself away from conventional ingredients (refined sugars and refined grains) can be difficult and hard to manage. This doesn't mean the 'fun' stuff is all off-limits!

CaveChick cookies are dairy free and egg free; made with Whole Grain Organic Spelt, Ground Flax Seed and Maple sweetened for a more wholesome, allergen friendly cookie. Enjoy this delicious recipe I made for my family as a fun alternative and maybe even more wholesome dessert when compared to the traditional. These nondairy ice cream sandwiches are fun and easy to make. You and your kids can enjoy during the Summer heat at any celebration, or simply in your own backyard. The only problem you’ll have with these CaveChick ice cream sandwiches is keeping your hands off of them!

CaveChick’s Dairy-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients:

2 - CaveChick cookies of your choice. Try Chocolate Chip, DoubleDevil, Oats & Raisin or CaveDoodle flavors
1 scoop - Your choice of dairy-free ice cream (we like So Delicious Coconut Milk Dairy-Free Vanilla and Chocolate)
Optional: Shredded coconut, shaved dairy free dark chocolate or Let's Do Organic Natural* sprinkles *no artificial flavor or colors Instructions: Sandwich the ice cream between the two cookies of your choice. For a little extra flavor and decoration, add the sprinkles or shredded coconut around the edges of the sandwich. Place in sealed glass container or wrap in plastic wrap and let harden in freezer. Keep frozen until ready to eat and enjoy!

Quick Tip: To easily and neatly make perfect ice cream sandwiches it's best to have a perfect ice cream layer. The following method works best when ice cream is packaged in the pint containers. Simply put container on it's side on a non slip surface. With a sharp knife, cut through the bottom of the container and discard. Remove container lid. With clean scissors, cut container away from ice cream. Now take sharp knife and cut ice cream in desired thickness. One forth to one half inch thick ice cream slices work best. Now sandwich between your cookies. Perfect!

Who knew there was such a simple (and sweet) solution to the allergy-friendly and wholesome dessert problem? Happy Summer!

- Lori

Be Healthy Be Natural Be Tempted (TM)

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Posted on 06/25/2015

While we’re still waiting for the weather to really heat up, CaveChick knows that when it gets hot in Chicago, it gets hot fast. Once the temperature starts to rise, the importance of hydration does too. For some, it might be a struggle to drink the recommended eight to 10 glasses of water per day, especially when you’re craving something sweet! When we came across this recipe for watermelon ice cubes on tasteandtell.com, the urge to take a slight twist on these refreshing cubes was too hard to resist.

These ice cubes make a great addition to your daily dose of water and are perfect for summer barbeques and patio dinners. The best part? You get the sweet taste without taking in loads of sugar!

This quick and easy recipe only requires:

-¼ of a watermelon (six cups), cut into 1-inch cubes
-Fresh mint leaves
-Water, seltzer, or any other drink you’d like to put these in Instructions: Place watermelon in a blender and puree

Pour puree into ice cube trays
Wash mint leaves and place one mint leaf within each cube
Freeze for at least four hours up to two days
Place in drink of choice and enjoy!

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