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Nut Free School Snacks

Gluten free and nut free...

When I started learning about gut health I was amazed at the connections throughout all systems. My journey began with a local naturopath as I was having a very hard time conceiving (3+ years). He reviewed all my assessments and asked a ton of additional questions before determining I had gut dysbiosis, which is abnormal gut flora - meaning the balance between the good bugs and the bad bugs in my GI tract was out of whack. This was affecting my menstrual cycle. So we got to work... I already followed a very healthy diet but the one change he made was cutting out all grains. We also did homeopathy to help heal the gut lining. And I am now a Mom!

This way of eating and the studying continued on throughout my pregnancies and raising my little ones. I am fascinated by the continued new information coming out about the gut and brain connection. As well as the ancient food preparation methods that support heatlh throughout all these systems. 

The thing about grain free leaving is there are often a lot of nut based recipes. Although we are no longer completely grain free, I am very aware of what we consume and how it is prepared. The majority of my baking was grain free and nut based when my kids were younger, but as we moved into the school system I had to make a few changes. Here is what I've learnt about substituing ingredients to rework a recipe.

FLOURS

1 - Cassava 

Cassava is a wonderful alternative to nut flours. It is actually often claimed to be most similar to a wheat flour so you can try substituting your favorite recipes with a 1:1 ratio. It is high in carbohydrates as it is a starchy root vegetable, similar to a yam. This makes it not super popular in the keto and some paleo regimes but it is a fantastic energy source for our littles one and their active growing bodies.

2 - Coconut

I love coconut flour and have made it my primary go to for school snacks. It is less expensive than cassava flour and offers a nice dose of high quality brain building fats. There are a couple challenges with this one though. It tastes like coconut. If you have someone who does not like coconut they'll taste it everytime (believe me I've tried). It also absorbs WAY more liquid than most of its counterparts. I tend to start by going 0.25:1 when trying out coconut flour in place of a nut flour or any other flour in a recipe. I have also found it doesn't like to sit in your batter... it's a mix and get in the oven kind of ingredient. 

3 - Oats

Oat flour seems to be the happy medium between the above options if grains aren't an issue. It is not as expensive as cassava and still very hearty and nutrient dense. It is more versatile and forgiving than coconut flour.

 

MILK

This one is pretty easy in my experience. When it comes to baking, almond milk, coconut milk and oat milk all work well in place of regular dairy milk. I use primarily full fat coconut milk myself. I am all about those good fats when it comes to baking for my littles.

 

NUT BUTTERS

1 - Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter (not to be mistaken for Sunbutter, which is full of yucky fats and sugar) is a perfect alternative to peanut butter in almost every recipe. Even eaten raw it is a very similar in taste and texture. The one downfall I've found of this lovely butter is that it reacts with baking soda and will have your baked goods St. Patricks day themed. So I use this one in raw balls and bars, as well as when there is a cacao base to the recipe and the green hue will be disguised by the chocolate.

2 - Tahini

Tahini works well for many recipes and does not have the color changing properties of sunflower seed butter. It does have a somewhat distinct flavor that some may not love but I find it's always worth a try and generally a success. My only warning with this one is it can be potential allergen so I tend to ask before serving something up made with tahini.

3 - Pumpkin Seed Butter

I love pumpkin seeds for their nutrient profile. They are high in Zinc which is immune boosting. Great source of Magnesium which is a calming mineral. Hello perfect school kid combo! This is why I get this in where I can. One setback with pumpkin seed butter is cost. I use it in our pancakes and sometimes in chocolate avocado pudding. In general I make sure our littles get their fill of whole pumpkin seeds in a homemade trail mix. When these seeds are soaked and sprouted even more of their nutrient goodness is unlocked.

 

Here is a favorite muffin recipe I adapted for our lunchboxes

BLUEBERRY OATMEAL MUFFINS

(I have tried this one with cassava but the kids really seem to love the combo of berries and oatmeal - gotta stick with what they want)

Makes 20 Muffins

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Oat Flour

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

3/4 tsp Salt

4 Eggs

1 Cup Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

2 Tbsp Avocado Oil

2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2 tsp Vanilla

2 Cups Fresh Blueberries

 

METHOD

1 - Preheat oven to 350F

2 - Line muffins tins with parchment paper baking cups

3 - In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients

4 - Add in all other ingredients, except blueberries, and mix until just combined

5 - Fold in berries

6 - Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full

7 - Bake for 18 - 20 minutes

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