Dairy-Free things that don’t totally suck

With a multi-allergy kiddo, I have discovered many awesome allergy friendly foods.  MiniThor definitely has his favorites and to help out any other dairy-free families out there, we’ve started a list of dairy-free foods that have the MiniThor Seal of Approval!

-His Beloved Vegan “Cheese”

 

Daiya Foods cheddar style slices and shreds are on literally every single grocery list we make.  MiniThor loves this vegan alternative to cheese.  We use their various flavors of “cheese” for making sandwiches, pizzas, and even cheese stuffed pretzels!

-MiniThor’s Favorite Mac & “Cheese”

Dairy Free Rice Mac & Cheeze

Amy’s Kitchen Vegan & Gluten Free Mac & Cheeze  get’s MiniThor’s vote for best dairy-free mac&cheese!  This is individual size and believe me, he will eat the whole thing!  These can be cooked in the microwave, in three and a half minutes you’ve got cheesy goodness!  Amy’s has many vegan options from pizzas to burritos, they’ve got it! We also like Daiya’s Cheezy Mac when cooking for the whole family.

-Pizza Pizza Pizza!

ANAF_FrenchBreadCheezy 

Ian’s Natural Foods French Bread Pizzas are one of MiniThor’s most favorite things!  These are great to keep in the freezer for quick meals.  They are free of many allergens without lacking in taste!  You won’t even know these are allergy friendly!  We also love Daiya’s Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza!  MiniThor loves pizza so we tend to keep several options in the freezer at all times, we also make our own personal pizzas using pita bread or tortillas.

– Yo Yo Yo Yogurt

Strawberry Yogurt Alternative

So Delicous Strawberry Yogurt Alternative is MiniThor’s absolute fav dairy-free “yogurt.”  They have several other flavors, vanilla is his second favorite, but he request the strawberry yogurt for breakfast almost every day.  He likes to eat it with fresh berries mixed in.  There are a few other brands of DF yogurt out there, Silk and Daiya have their own versions, but we must say that the So Delicious (cultured coconut milk) yogurt alternative is our favorite.  So Delicious has many diary free products, I for one love their coffee creamers!

-What is cereal without milk?

Silk Original Cashewmilk

Silk’s “Original” Cashewmilk is the only milk alternative MiniThor wants for his cereal.  We have tried MANY different nut milks and different brands and this is the one he has settled on.  And he only wants the “original” flavor, one time I bought him the vanilla and he just would not have it, haha.  Everyone has their preference when it comes to milk alternatives, you just have to find what works for you and your family.

-Everyone NEEDS Chocolate Milk

Dark Chocolate Almondmilk

Silk Dark Chocolate Almondmilk is the favorite for chocolate flavored milk alternatives.  MiniThor looooves this stuff!  It also comes in single serving boxes which are great for packing in lunches!

-I scream, you scream, we all scream for dairy-free ice cream!

Minis Coconut Almond Bars

We always have Minis Coconut Almond Bars in our freezer!  Whether you can have dairy or not, these are amazing!  MiniThor loves these!  When you are grabbing some of these out of the grocer’s freezer, go ahead and grab so of the other So Delicious Dairy Free Desserts, we have yet to try one that we didn’t love.

-Replace those Cheez-its

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You would have thought the kid had won the lottery with how excited he was the first time we found Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares!  Cheez-its are often a snack at school and MiniThor was feeling rather heartbroken about being left out.  Luckily, Earth Balance had our back!  These “cheese” crackers are amazing!  The first time we bought them, the box didn’t even make it two days!

-Butter that bread with some buttery spread

product-spreads-original

We also love Earth Balance for their Buttery Spread.  It is heavenly on toast!  We’ve also used it to replace butter while cooking.  We make some killer dairy free quesadillas using this buttery spread, the daiya cheese we mentioned above, some taco seasoning, and some organic black beans!

-Backpack Snack

SkinnyPop Original

MiniThor has a serious love for Skinny Pop Popcorn It comes in big bags and also single serving packs which make it great for sending in the backpack for snack time!  We also like to take Skinny Pop with us to the drive-in movie!

-Chocolate!

 

When it comes to chocolate bars for treats or chocolate chips for baking, we know we can trust Enjoy Life Foods!

 

-Other things we love that are dairy free that perhaps you didn’t expect..

  • Oreos
  • Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough
  • Many of the Duncan Hines Cake Mixes (some flavors do have dairy, so be sure to check the labels)  Try our (Dairy-Free) Double Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies that you can easily make with cake mix!
  • Sweet Chili Doritos (these are the only Doritos that are dairy free, but we’ll take it!)

-We gave you some pre-made foods and snack options here, but we also like to cook up fresh foods as well.  We love Skinny Taste for great recipes, they even have a dairy free section on their website!

We hope this post opens up some new options for you!  We will add to this list as we find more products that are MiniThor-friendly and that get his seal of approval.  If you have found a great dairy-free product, please comment below to clue us in!

-Kate

(Product photos included in this webpage are from the product websites linked)

New Year’s Resolution: Positive Perspective

  

Oh I cannot even begin to count how many “new year -new you” themed posts, ads, and commercials I’ve encountered during the last week.  Ugh!  Why should we suddenly decide on January 1st that we are not good enough? Why do we suddenly thrust upon ourselves a spirit of discontentment?  We seem to take this time of year to find all of our negatives that need “fixing,” ironically so, right after a season in which we are to be thankful and joyful.  Personally, I don’t want to think of myself as being broken or below par.  My New Years resolution won’t be about getting thin or doing more cardio (although I probably legit need more cardio)… My resolution will focus on seeing the positives that already exist all around me and within me every single day.

Kate and MiniThor’s New Year Resolution: Positive Perspective

I want to see the good in every day, in every person, in every adventure…

This probably seems like a simple task but sometimes we just straight up have bad days and it is on those days that this concept turns out to be not so simple after all.  Some days the bad seems to just compile and compile and we feel like we are stuck down in a hole we can’t get back out of.  So how do we crawl up out of that hole?!  Find some good things down there buried under the bad. Look for three good things that happened that day. 

This has become a nightly practice in my home. It is part of our bedtime routine.  I tuck MiniThor in, I read him a book, and then I ask him, “tell me three good things about today.”  This is two-fold, he is looking for and expressing positives from his day and I am hearing positives that always seem to melt my heart into a puddle.  After we talk about our three good things I ask him what was his very best part of that day.  Today he replied, “that you love me!”  Let me just tell you, I smiled so big I must have been glowing!

I encourage you to give it a try too.  Look for the positives in your day.  Sometimes it’s tough, but the good is there, even if you have to dig for it. You may have overslept and had to rush to work..but you have a job and can provide for your family.  You may have a sink full of dishes waiting to be washed.. But you cooked a healthy meal for your family, you had food to feed them.  You may have been super busy today.. But look at how much you accomplished!

Try asking your kiddos for “three good things” from their day.  Not only will you gain insight into their daily lives, but you will also gain some positive perspective yourself. Chances are one of their good things will be something you did with them that day. It’s moments like that which make us parents feel like superheroes!  So go on, look for the good, and be your awesome superhero self this year!
-Kate

Many Merry Traditions of Kate and MiniThor

When I became a mother, Christmas became much more magical.  Every year the excitement and magic has grown along with MiniThor.  It is an absolute blast to watch him light up when we go see Christmas lights and to see his excitement growing as we count down the days left until Christmas!

The holiday season is a time for making memories.  Every year we make memories with our many merry traditions.  We would like to share these with you!  Maybe our traditions will inspire some new ones for your family.

  1.   Have an attitude of gratitude!    This time of year is great for reminding your children to be grateful for what they have and to teach them to say thank you for their gifts.  Reiterate that if someone gives a gift, that person took the time to buy or make that gift.  Remind your kiddo that it is the act of giving, not the gift itself, that counts most.  Therefore we should be thankful for the gift and say “thank you,” even if it wasn’t a toy from our list.
  2. Sending Cards to Soldiers:    This tradition started long before MiniThor was able to read and write, we’ve sent many cards filled with scribbles.  Every year we send a stack of cards to soldiers.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a simple holiday greeting will make a difference and put a smile on a soldiers face.  I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to spend the holiday season away from home and family.  Here’s a link to one of the ways to send cards http://www.redcross.org/support/get-involved/holiday-mail-for-heroes
  3. Going to See Christmas Lights:    Our town takes lights seriously; the local power company sponsors a huge lights display in the park.  We love going to see this each year.  The best part is the only charge for admission is that you bring a canned food item to donate!  Last year, MiniThor said his favorite part of going to see the lights was that we donated food to someone who didn’t have enough.  That melted my heart into a puddle!  We also drive around to see Christmas lights in our neighborhood! 
  4.  Countdown to Christmas with Books:   Every year we count down the last week until christmas with reading a new Christmas book each night.  I wrap up seven Christmas books and label them with how many more sleeps we have until Christmas.  MiniThor gets to unwrap a book each night and we read it together.  I am really looking forward to it this year, as MiniThor will be able to read some of the books himself!
  5. Make Reindeer Food:  We added this tradition two years ago when MiniThor’s amazing preschool teacher (Shout out to Mrs. Christy!) made Reindeer food with his class at school!  We make “reindeer food” by simply mixing together oats and sprinkles!  Then, on Christmas Eve we sprinkle it out in the yard to help the reindeer spot our house and to give them a snack to enjoy while Santa is putting presents under the tree!
  6. Donate a Bag of Toys:    Every year I have MiniThor fill up a bag of toys for us to donate.  This had two purposes, primarily it is to instill kindness and teach the act of giving without expecting anything in return.  Secondly, this helps clear some space out in the toy bins for the new toys that will be unwrapped. Haha.
  7. Donate Canned-goods:  MiniThor absolutely loves doing this!  I am very excited that this year we will be able to donate through a food drive hosted by his school.  Also, our favorite comic book shop collects canned goods, how cool is that?!
  8. Handmade Gifts:  I want MiniThor to know that giving doesn’t have to be expensive, instead it should be an act of love.  By helping him make gifts for family members, he can give them something special and the act of giving becomes personal and exciting instead of the obligatory tone that sometimes accompanies Christmas gifts.
  9. Random Act of Kindness:  This is another of MiniThor’s favorite things; we don’t just do this during the Christmas season, but it seems like a good time to share this with you.  Do something kind randomly and anonymously.  This can be anything from leaving an encouraging note on someone’s car windshield to leaving a bag of groceries on the doorstep of someone in need.
  10. Open One Present EARLY on Christmas Eve:    This is a tradition from my childhood that I have been doing with my little guy as well!  He gets to pick one present from under the tree to open early!  It’s seriously exciting!  Plus, it’s fun to watch him try to decide which present to open early.
  11. Hot Cocoa Floats: this one is super neat and super simple.  MiniThor cannot have dairy, so no whipped cream on our cocoa.  Instead we top it with a scoop of (dairy-free) ice cream.  It slowly melts into the cocoa and makes a creamy beverage fit for the holiday season.  Plus, it cools down the cocoa which is helpful for little ones.
  12. New PJs:  one of our Christmas Eve traditions is to wear a new pair of Christmas Jammys!  This ups the excited on Christmas Eve, plus we look super cute in Christmas morning photos!
  13. Make Cookies (and leave some out for Santa) … This one is pretty self explanatory
  14. Grinch Night:  All of our cousins and aunts and the like get together one night during the kiddos Christmas break and watch the animated Grinch movie.  We share special green treats, make crafts, and play “pin the heart on the grinch.”
  15. Give a Gift (or two) that Includes Spending Time Together:  Among the toys, I like to include a gift that MiniThor and I will enjoy together, something that will have a bonus gift of quality time.  This could be anything from a puzzle to a craft kit.  This  year it is a fort building set and a wooden truck building/painting kit … But don’t tell MiniThor!

The most important thing is to spend time together, make memories, and enjoy the hope, love, and joy of the season!   

We’d love to hear about your traditions, feel free to leave a comment below!

Keep on making memories,

-Kate

Folders, and pencils, and lunch boxes, Oh My!

 
MiniThor started kindergarten a couple of days ago!  He was excited and did wonderfully, I was more nervous than he was!

  
We woke up early, we danced around to his favorite songs,  we spiked the perfect fauxhawk, we packed the backpack, we brushed teeth, we tied the shoes, we smiled big, and we drove to school.  We were excited, we were brave, he went to class… And this mommy cried as soon as he was out of sight!  I knew he’d be fine, I knew he’d have fun, but it was like the ending of a great story.  His early childhood years were over and here I was watching my big kid smile and wave as he walked in line with his classmates, off to start a new adventure and begin a new story.  

Starting kindergarten is this bittersweet combination of both success in that you have prepared your child for this grand new experience and also a moment of it setting in that so many days have past and suddenly your baby wasn’t a baby anymore, the first five years were gone in the blink of an eye.  All the grandmothers in the supermarkets, all the nurses at the doctors visits, all the family members, all the fellow mothers, a those people who told you “it goes by so fast,” we’re right.  There was this tugging at my heart that first day as he walked away, I wondered if I’d enjoyed all those moments enough, had I made memories he would cherish, have I shown enough love, and an overwhelming feeling of “how did it go by so fast?!”  

So to all the mommas out there sending their babies off to school, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to feel those things… We all do!  You loved them, you watched them grow, you helped them learn, and now look at the great things they will do!  Celebrate in the beginning of this new chapter in their lives, in your lives.  They will continue to grow and YOU get to have a front row seat to all the amazing things ahead!  Hang in their little mommas!  They are going to do a great job in kindergarten because you did great job raising them and loving them!🙂

Here are some pictures from MiniThor’s first day, including the special “first day” sandwich I made for his lunch🙂

Keep making memories,

Kate

Happy National Ice Cream Day!  We can have a dairy-free frozen treat using Yonanas!

  

Today is National Ice Cream Day!  Not that we needed an excuse to have ice cream!!!  We keep several dairy-free frozen treats in the freezer at all times, but there’s something special about making your own!  Plus making ice cream was on Our Summer Bucket List!  In the spirit of such a fun holiday we would like to share with you our recent ice cream making adventure!

MiniThor loves making his very own ice cream!  We use our handy-dandy Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker  (⬅️affiliate link) because we pick the ingredients and it creates delicious (and healthy) dessert without any dairy!  There are tons of recipes on the Yonanas website but we like to keep it simple.  We use..

  • One frozen banana, halved
  • One bag of pre-sliced frozen fruit
  • Yonanas dessert maker
  • Ice cream cones and toppings (optional)

  I love Dole Ready-Cut Fruit to use with our Yonanas!  I always keep a couple of bags in the freezer so that we can make ice cream on a whim.

We made our Strawberry Peach Banana treat based on the instructed included with the appliance.  

We pushed through one half of the frozen banana, then the frozen ready-cut fruit, and then the other half of he banana.  Stir, scoop, serve, smile!

  
We hope you have a sweet day!

Allergy Kid Lunch Packing Plan (to prevent panicking) Including a Printable!

  If you’ve read our previous posts, you know that MiniThor has multiple food allergies and sensitives.  Soooo obviously school provided lunches are not an option for him.  This was one of the major deciding factors in keeping him in his daycare preschool instead of public “Head Start” preschool.  His daycare provided him with meals he could eat, even if they had to cook something different for him than the other kids.  But alas, it is now time for kindergarten (tear~tear) and that means there is no choice but to pack his lunch everyday.  I will admit I find this a but terrifying just to think about, let alone the actual packing.  Thankfully, the wonderful world of Pinterest exist and I have been able to take a peek at what other mommas pack their kiddos (some people are insanely over-the-top detailed and creative making bento boxes that would make Walt Disney jealous, but seriously “ain’t nobody got time for that!”).

As with all things in life, planning ahead gives you an advantage.  I know that I would only increase (my already high) stress level if I waiting until the morning of every morning to pack a lunch.  We are already a very busy Super Duo.  In order to stay organized and plan ahead I created a printable weekly school lunch planner!  

 Print our PDF by clinking >>> School lunch planner, we hope this will be a stress reducer for the busy moms out there!

A practice lunch plan

MiniThor picked out the color scheme for the printable and sat next to me offering his “helpful” input and we chit-chatted about lunch ideas.  

Our printable includes a notes section and a grocery list section.  This allows you to write out any items you need to buy or prepare ahead of time.

I plan to prep as much of the lunches as possible on Sunday evenings so that minimal packing is needed to get the lunchbox ready to go each day.  I’m sure there will be some trial and error as we venture on this new adventure.  I’ll share tips as I can.  Keep an eye out for a future posts with some of our packed lunches throughout the school year.

(Dairy-Free) Double Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I’ve yet to meet a cookie I didn’t like.  I have a soft spot for sweet stuff!  ..and so does MiniThor.. who happens to be allergic to dairy.  Basically every bakery item you encounter is made with butter, thus creating a challenge in satisfying that sweet tooth!  Through many kitchen adventures MiniThor and I have discovered many glorious goodies that can be made sans dairy!  Cookies regularly roll out of our oven using this standard recipe…

  
You can use any box cake mix for this, making this recipe very versatile!  Many cake mixes DO NOT contain dairy!!!  Just check the label to be sure and you’re good to go.

For today’s cookie creation we used Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix. It worked wonderfully to create fluffy, chewy, chocolate cookies!  Finding chocolate chips that are allergy friendly is a bit tricky, luckily we discovered Enjoy Life Semi Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips!  There is only one store that carries them in our area, if these amazing choco chips are are to  find in your area you can find them on Amazon, here is our affiliate link… Enjoy Life Semi Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips – 10 oz – 2 

These cookies are easy, here’s the how-to…

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
  • Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line it with parchment paper.  
  • Mix together everything except the chocolate chips until well combined.  
  • When you have a smooth batter, fold in your desired amount of chocolate chips.  
  • Spoon your batter out onto your prepared cookie sheet(s).  
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Let cool.
  • EAT COOKIES!

 
I made 20 big cookies with this mix.  20 delicious dark chocolate cookies of awesomeness!

 
MiniThor approves!!! 

Try out your own variations and enjoy this simple sweet treat!
Keep making memories,

Kate

Super Summer of AWESOMENESS! (With Printable Summer Bucket List!)

Summer “officially” begins at 12:38pm EDT today when the sun reaches the northernmost point of the equator, or at least so says the Farmers’ Almanac. As usual, MiniThor and I have many plans for living out this summer to the maximum level of AWESOMENESS!  To ensure summer success the little and I came up with a list of activities…Our Summer Bucket List!

 
You can print one for your family with our handy dandy 2015 Summer Bucket List Printable!  Feel free to print and use our list or create your own list for your little superheroes; be sure to include local options and explore the family fun avaliable in your city!  We love the list on Bluegrass Redhead with summer fun ideas within our community.

MiniThor has been having a blast working through our bucket list!  

We have made several trips to our local spray park, played in the rain any chance we’ve had to do so, had some messy fun with chalk paint (see Our Chalk Paint Recipe for a simple three ingredient recipe for fun!), and we spent a day hiking at Hematite Lake…and many more adventures not pictured!

A summer bucket list gives your family a visual of all the excitement that is in store during those precious summer months.  As this is the summer before my MiniThor starts kindergarten, it is an extra special summer break in which I want to squeeze in as many memory making adventures and days filled with laughter as possible!
Keep making memories,

Kate

To blog or not to blog, that is the question…

MiniThor and I are always up to some sort of adventure.  Even though you haven’t seen a blog post from us in about a year, we’ve still been making lots of memories.  I’ve finished my Associated Degree and MiniThor finished preschool and the last year has been quite a whirlwind of excitement!   

   Surviving singlemotherhood while being a full time college student, working, and volunteering, has made for busy days and tired nights.  Writing was pushed to the back burner, but I’ve received request to begin again and I must admit I’ve missed it!  So perhaps you’ll see some post from the world of Kate & MiniThor again soon.

  

Dear Moms, Negative Self-talk Has to Stop

Dear Moms,
The negative self-talk has to stop! You have to be confident and happy with yourself for your children to be happy and confident in their own skin. We expect confidence in our children, why do we not expect this of ourselves. It’s time we lead by example, with our actions and with our words. Today I’m calling you to a revolution, this is why.

A few weeks ago, my Mini Thor dropped his bowl of dry Apple Jacks, the bowl bounces a few times on the floor and the cereal scattered across the floor. His normal reaction would be to ask for new cereal and to get his little “scooper” (mini broom and dust pan set) and clean up his mess, but what happened instead was a moment that caused me utter heartbreak. He looked at me and said “I just keep messing things up.”
I lump rose in my throat and my brain quickly flooded with questions, why would he say that?! why would he feel that way?! Why has my spunky kid, who always hears me tell him how great he is feeling like he is messing up?! My mind raced as I told him, “it’s okay, just an accident, no big deal, you didn’t mess anything thing up buddy.”
….then it hit me… Those were my words coming out of his mouth… My heart sunk. I had said that very same sentence about myself when I’d dropped and broken a jar of pasta sauce a few days before. It had been one of those days we all have where nothing seems to go right and I was worn. My actions, my own negative self-talk, that was wearing off on my child. Maybe I hadn’t realized it before, be he had listened to my negative self-talk and now he was applying it to himself, it crushed me. MY lack of confident, MY feeling bad about myself on a tough day, MY actions….now his words. I began to wonder, how many times have I spoken down about myself in front of others, in front of him. That day I decided it was time I made a change. That was it, enough was enough. No more “I’m getting fat,” “I don’t look good today,” no more “I can’t do that,” or “I’m not good enough,” NO MORE It’s time to be an example!

Dear Moms,
The negative self-talk has to stop!
It is time to love yourself. Could you love yourself like you love your children? Just as you are? For your strengths? Seeing your beauty?

I am Kate
I am strong
I am beautiful
I am confident and comfortable in who I am.

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I am a mother filled with love and joy

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I am silly
I love laughter

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I make goofy faces

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I have curves and that’s okay, I am beautiful

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I have freckles and some times rather wild hair and that’s okay, I am beautiful, even in the morning before I get ready

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I am Kate
I am Confident

The negative self-talk is over, the confidence is here, for my own sake, for my child’s sake. I am loving myself.

Dear moms,
You are beautiful.

I challenge you, fellow mothers, fellow women, to find your confidence and end the negative self-talk. Let’s start a revolution for the sake of our children. This is your call to action, be confident so that your children can be confident! Believe in yourself and they will follow your lead!

You are beautiful.
You are strong.
You are capable of greatness.
It’s time as mothers we start believing on these things!!!

Keep making memories,
Kate

(If you make a commitment to stop your negative self-talk and restart your confidence we’d love to hear about it, share it in the comments here or on our Facebook or Twitter!)