Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Neighbor Totoro Toasted Cheese

My Neighbor Totoro toasted cheese sandwich and Soot Sprite cookie!

Totoro Toasted Cheese
GF toasted goat cheese sandwich, GF "MOMeo" cookie, DF "Ranch;" organic purple cauliflower, romanesco, grapes
Friday, 11/22/13 - I used my awesome Totoro cookie cutter from Warpzone Prints to cut and imprint the bread (and cut the goat cheese,) then used some Earth Balance dairy-free organic buttery spread on the outsides before broiling in the oven for a few minutes on each side. The oil helps bring out the details by toasting the outside and not the imprinted bit. I used goat cheese because I'm lazy - it comes pre-sliced! And both kids like it, unlike the vegan cheeses. And it's still lactose and casein-free, so E and I won't get sick eating it!

I included a little dairy-free Ranch dressing in the mushroom sauce box for Z to dip her cauliflower. It was a long shot, but it paid off! She actually gobbled it all down! Woop! Since Totoro is a nature spirit, I added ladybug and flower picks, a mushroom pick, and a sprout pick in her cauliflower and grapes. I love how it turned out!

I made a soot sprite out of a home-made gluten-dairy-egg-free "Oreo" adapted from a recipe I worked on for the MOMables blog! All I had to do was slice a mini marshmallow (I used a mini Dandies marshmallow from Chicago Vegan Foods - one of the two brands I've ever found without fake Blue dye!) and add a little natural black food dye with a toothpick. Chocolate syrup would have worked just fine too. You can pretend the sticky cut marshmallow sides helped stick them on, but they were kind of stale since I'd left the bag open since Thanksgiving. So they may or may not have been licked to make sticky...

[This post contains affiliate links.

Toasted E's Sandwich Bites
GF toasted goat cheese sandwich bites; organic purple cauliflower, romanesco, grapes
The Totoro was enough of a pain in the butt (gluten-free bread is crumbly and hard to work with!) so Little E just got a regular grilled goat cheese sandwich (gluten-free) cut into little bites after I toasted it. I included a smiling boy fork for a fun way to eat it, if she wanted.

Tools of the Trade

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Simple Peanut Butter Sandwich-on-a-Stick!

Cut off the crusts. Add the fillings. Cut sandwich into small squares. Skewer onto long picks. A fast and easy way to keep a same old-same old sandwich fun! Sandwich-on-a-Stick!

With Love, for Kindergarten
GF Dark Chocolate Dreams PB sandwich bites, organic carrots and raspberries
Since my goal this school year was to include a heart in every Kindergarten lunch, I put Z's sandwich bites on a heart and "with (love)" long cupcake skewers. And just for fun, a stuck a green heart fork pick in with her raspberries.

[This post contains affiliate links.

Yum for Toddler
GF Dark Chocolate Dreams PB sandwich bites; organic carrots, tomatoes, grapes, and raspberries
E pretty much got the same lunch as Big Sis, only on a "yum" skewer. Plus I added some tomatoes and halved grapes, because she likes those. I didn't halve the baby tomatoes because she likes to gnaw her way in and slorp out the guts. Then I get the carcasses to toss into my salad. So not really a choking hazard there.

Tools of the Trade

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Allergy-Friendly "Fall Feast" School Party

Every year at Z's private preschool, each class has a "Fall Feast" the last class before Thanksgiving, where the parents are invited to watch a mini musical pageant and enjoy an assigned potluck meal with Thanksgiving-style dishes.

I figured the turkey and veggie trays would be safe (without dip for Mama, natch,) but stuffing, rolls, and pies would be a no-go. And I didn't really want to eat any turkey. So I just packed myself a whole gluten-dairy-meat-free meal, and brought some extras for Z.

Mama's Feast
Meatless Meatloaf Muffin, GF ciabatta roll, GF MOMeos, wild rice w/sweet potato
I sliced and toasted two gluten-free Schaar ciabatta rolls (one in my lunch and a separately-packed one for Z) and added a little dairy-free butter (Earth Balance organic buttery spread) and garlic salt to help them taste less blah.

I packed a left-over lentil "meatloaf" muffin to eat instead of turkey. I sliced it in half horizontally, so that I could make little open-faced sandwiches, and added a little ketchup in between the slices.

For a side, I packed some leftover wild rice with sweet potato. Yummy and seasonal!

For dessert, I'd signed up to bring a pie, and I packed some whole-grain gluten-dairy-egg-nut-free "Oreos" (recipe on the MOMables blog) in case the store-bought frozen gluten-free marionberry pie wasn't to our liking.

[This post contains affiliate links.

Half the kids made paper Indian costumes, and half made paper pilgrim costumes. Adorable!

Lunch for the Toddler, Back at Home
GF DF toasted "cheese" sandwich; organic sugar snap peas, carrots, tomatoes, apples
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, my mom came down to babysit the little one, since siblings aren't invited to Fall Feast. Waaah! I packed a lunch for Gramma to have ready to appease the savage beast.

While toasting the buns for Z and myself, I made a mini gluten-free grilled (dairy-free) cheese sandwich for E, and then after it cooled a bit, cut it into little nibbles with a FunBites cutter.

Z was a huge fan of the gluten-free rolls, and used some turkey to turn hers into a sandwich. She loved them so much I ended up giving her half of mine as well. And she had some pie AND my cookies! Snake! But she loved them both, and raved about them all through the holiday season.

Tools of the Trade
 Japanese Bento Accessories Colorful Silicone Food Cup 3 pcs 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vegan Cuts Snack Box - January 2014

I love getting monthly curated foodie boxes. It's like Christmas in my mailbox! Vegan Cuts is one of my favorites, since it's always dairy-free by nature, and everything is almost always gluten-free as well, by design. Plus, of course, no artificial ingredients. So we can eat pretty much everything without anyone getting sick. And the occasional gluten item either goes to Hubby or else I save stuff up to make a healthy snack gift basket for the ladies in the office at the Elementary school!

[Disclaimer - I received a Vegan Cuts Snack Box to review in December, but totally blew it since I already subscribe anyway - when I got two December boxes, assumed I'd found a coupon code and ordered a second subscription. Because I totally would have! So I ate half the stuff before I realized I was supposed to do a review. Doh! Also, I am a Vegan Cuts Affiliate, so if you happen to subscribe via my link, I get referral credit. Yay!]

This month's box contained a treasure trove of yummy treats. And this time I managed to take photos before inhaling most of it...

Yummy Time!
Mary's Gone Crackers Super Seed crackers - I'm afraid to try these. I had some "pretzels" of theirs once, and they were the only gluten-free item I've ever had that actually tasted like cardboard. I'll get to them eventually though...

The Good Bean roasted chickpeas - nom! I keep several flavors of these on-hand... and I hear there are some new flavors, including chooooocolate! For the plain salted ones, I like to mix them with other stuff to add different flavors and textures. Roasted chickpeas are yummy, but tend to start tasting chalky after a while.

Bumble Bar sesame chewy bar - I have several flavors of these after trying one in a previous foodie box. E went through a phase where she'd plow through 2-3 a day!

Drink Chia! Lemon Blueberry nutrient drink - I put this in the fridge right away, and drank it after dinner. Once the girls saw me with it, they had to try it too. Z was thrown by the seeds in there, even though I'd warned her. My toddler though, she loved it. I never got it back! I happen to like the weird sensation of the gel-ly seeds sliding down my throat, so I'm a fan too.

Manitoba Harvest shelled hemp seeds packet - I keep hemp hearts stocked all the time. In fact, this is the brand I normally buy, as it's available in a big bag at Costco!

The 3 Nuts Salted Caramel Peanut Butter sample - Nom. That is all.

Mario Foods snackable on-the-go olive pouch - I've never been a fan of olives, but both my girls are!

Skratch Labs daily drink mix packet - Haven't tried this yet. It's an exercise hydration drink. And Mama doesn't get in much exercise! Haha! Plus it's lemon-lime. I'm allergic to citrus, and can only handle a little at a time without reacting. I used up my quota with the chia drink! Plus Z loooooooves citrus flavors. I'll save it to add to a bottled water at the movie theater or Disney on Ice or something.

Mighty Leaf Tea assortment - "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." They sent some other fun flavors too - a tropical green tea (green tea plus "tropical flavors" and pineapple) plus African Nectar (a rooibos with some hibiscus and marigold flowers.)

Organic spinach and strawberry salad with raisins, chia and
sunflower seeds, and Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts.
Masa Crisps, Cocoa Almonds, and vegan brown rice crispy treat
The Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts went straight into a salad. They're full of nutrients, including omegas and protein!

The Good Bean roasted chickpeas with almonds,
macaroon, roasted green cauliflower, organic salad
The Good Bean roasted chickpeas make a nice crunchy addition to lunch, in a home-made snack mix, or even on their own!

Hey, Beautiful!
Vegan Cuts also curates a monthly Beauty Box, filled with skin and hair care and cosmetics. I'm not exactly a fashion plate, but I subscribe to this box too, because it's fun to try new products. And unlike many other boxes with a $20 price tag, I feel like I'm getting my money's worth!

While my family isn't vegan (or even vegetarian, although I am, most of the time,) ethically, I can't justify animal testing for beauty products. For drugs to help people stay healthy, yes. But beauty is optional, and so I don't choose to buy products that exploit animals. (But don't worry. I'm not going to judge or preach to anyone else about it!)
Aubrey Organics Detangler - If you've ever seen the backs of my girls' hair, you know how much we need this! I love that I can recognize all the ingredients too. I've worked hard to get rid of mystery chemicals in our beauty products.

Vermont Soap moisturizing shower gel - I take showers! And I love the smell of lavender. But I use this for the girls at bathtime. Lavender is calming, and perfect for winding down in the evening. Mama needs something zestier to wake up in the morning! Although it would be nice for a midnight shower... 

Primal Pit Paste - Very excited about this stuff! I switched to aluminum-free deodorant last Summer, which was pretty much the worst time ever to stop using anti-perspirant! Especially when you come from a stinky family! But I love love love this deodorant paste! It doesn't feel all cakey like the white powder stuff, and no white stains on my clothes! Plus I don't have to worry about any chemicals or petroleum-derived fragrances when my kids want to try it too, when they happen to be in the bathroom with me after my shower (which is always - no warm steamy room for Mama!)  

Ofra Cosmetics liquid lipstick - (full size! These babies alone retail for $20! That's like getting everything else in the box for free!) Sadly for us, these contain artificial petroleum-derived dyes, so we won't be using it. The dyes give Z neurological reactions. Plus I refuse to have anything (other than my vitamins and medicines) that I won't let my kids use too. I'll find it a good home!

Dew Puff cleansing sponge - ($7 retail!) I don't use soap much, so rely mostly on exfoliation and food-based products to clean my skin. This is nice and gentle, and made from plant fiber!

Better Botanicals cleanser and scrub samples - I don't use a lot of products in the shower, but facial cleansers and scrubs are the two I do!

[Disclaimer: I paid for my own Vegan Cuts Beauty Box subscription, same as anyone else. This review is purely because I already had the camera out to take pics of the food stuff. Plus I felt bad for forgetting to review December's Snack Box!]

Vegan Cuts Snack and Beauty Boxes ship on the 17th of each month, so you'll want to be sure to order in plenty of time to get in on next month's! (Tip: People who subscribe to both often get bonuses tossed in since they ship together in a larger box! Woop!)