Sunflower seed butter with flax and chia

Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes

Once again, I’m copying Trader Joe’s. They have a peanut butter with flax and chia and it’s a fantastic way to get some extra nutrition into a picky eater. Here’s my school-safe version!

Jump to the recipe!

I have a confession to make: I go back and forth between caring A WHOLE LOT about M’s nutrition and then feeling like there are a million little struggles every day and I don’t want to add food to that list.

And he’s always been a contrarian with FOMO, which means he doesn’t love limits. The “perfect parent” voice in my head constantly beats me up about not being stricter. Don’t get me wrong, I say “no” to things 100 times a day and we obviously set lots of boundaries. But we’ve figured out that M does better when he has choice within those limits and that we have to say “yes” to some things or there will be a meltdown.

Anyway, part of M’s way of gaining control these days is that he has VERY strong opinions about food. What he loves one day, he hates the next. Peanut butter mixed into applesauce has been a constant and lately he’s been really into PB&J’s after watching this silly video.

BUT we can’t send any nuts to school, so sunflower seed butter it is. Unfortunately, a lot of the store-bought ones don’t taste great. I’ve made my own sunflower seed butter before and I do love this recipe. But if M’s eating this for at least one meal per day, I wanted to beef up the nutrition. And it tastes so good, he doesn’t complain!

Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes
Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes

A couple of notes about this nut butter:

  • When roasting the nuts, you want them to be mostly brown and golden rather than gray. But watch to make sure that they don’t burn! (See the photos above for a before and after.) Well-roasted seeds are much easier to process than ones that are still partly raw.

  • The grinding process takes a bit of patience. If you let the machine run, the seeds will come together into a paste. There are more detailed instructions for the individual grinding steps in the recipe below. Be sure to read the recipe before starting this butter.

  • Storage: I store this seed butter in the fridge because I’ve read that flax and chia (and seeds in general) tend to get rancid quickly when left vulnerable to moisture and heat in the cabinet). The cold tightens the butter considerably, but 20 seconds in the microwave makes the butter easily spreadable again.

Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes
Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes
Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes
Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes

Sunflower seed butter with flax and chia

Yield: 2-2¼ cups 
Time: 30-35 minutes

3 cups raw sunflower seeds
4-6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp flaky sea salt
3 Tbsp each chia seeds
3 Tbsp whole flax seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the raw sunflower seeds out on a large sheet pan. Roast for 5 minutes and shake the tray. Roast for 2-3 minutes more, checking to make sure that the seeds don’t burn. When the seeds are uniformly more golden brown than gray, they’re ready for processing.

  2. Add the roasted seeds to a large food processor and grind for 2 minutes. The seeds will break up and look very dry and like breadcrumbs.

  3. Add 2 Tbsp of coconut oil and the maple syrup and process for 2 more minutes. At this stage, the seeds start coming together in a large slow-moving glacier of seed butter. Scrape down the sides and break up the glacier as necessary. It will still feel dry and crumbly when you break up the glacier.

  4. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and process again, this time letting the machine run. Let it go for at least 3-4 minutes before adding more coconut oil as the heat of the processor and the continued grinding will start to make the butter smoother and wetter. The glacier of seed butter will still be forming, but will be spinning around the food processor much faster.

  5. After that 3-4 minutes, and while the food processor is running, add the other 2-4 Tbsp of coconut oil to achieve a silky consistency. Don’t add more maple syrup or water because it will make the seed butter stick together and clump more instead of smoothing it out.

  6. The whole process of grinding the seeds into a smooth butter usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes (including stopping add ingredients), so patience is key.

  7. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the sea salt, chia seeds and flax seeds and stir well.

Sunflower seed butter | Me & The Moose. This homemade sunflower seed butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is fortified with flax and chia seeds. #meandthemoose #sunflowerseedbutter #lunchboxideas #lunch #lunchbox #sunflowerseedrecipes #sunflowerseedbutterrecipes #lunchboxrecipes #schoolsaferecipes #nutfreerecipes

Spinach and kale tots

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

One reliable way I could get some greens into M was to present things as a “tot.” He really loved the Spinach and Kale Bites from Trader Joe’s, but our store has been out of them for weeks. So here is my copycat version.

Take me to the tots (recipe)!

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Note my use of the past tense up there.

M is still in his picky phase that I’ve mentioned before. He’s off of hummus, but full steam ahead with smoothies. One day he loves yogurt and the next he won’t touch it. Some days, carrots are a safe food and other days broccoli is his only vegetable. One day he’ll ask for a bowl of peas (straight up with nothing on them) and another day he’s picking them out of his mac and cheese. It’s maddening.

However, food refusal is a normal part of eating for kids. It’s hard to learn how to eat! Their taste buds are changing, their caloric needs swing wildly from day to day, and part of a preschooler’s job is to push against boundaries, so if there are rules around food in your house, they’ll try to break them. It’s how kids operate.

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

One of my big things is making the same food for the whole family, so the good news here is that I really like these tots and they’re packed with veggies, so they make a good snack for the grownups as well.

Make these tots! One day my kid will eat them, I’m sure. And until then, I’ll eat them.

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Spinach and kale tots

1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 bag frozen kale, thawed and squeezed dry
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup shredded mozzarella
Heaping ½ tsp sea salt
Heaping ½ tsp onion powder
Heaping ½ tsp garlic powder
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350.

Thaw and squeeze dry a bag of spinach and a bag of kale. To achieve a smoother texture in your tots, pulse the dried greens in a food processor 10-15 times. You may need to squeeze with another towel if more liquid is released.

Place the squeezed dry greens in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine.

Take about 1½-2 Tbsp of the mixture and press into a nugget shape with your palms.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the nuggets feel solid when you push on them lightly.  

Yield: about 24-26 tots 

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

White bean chicken chili

White bean chicken chili | Me & The Moose. This easy, fast, cheap, and healthy meal also happens to be gluten and dairy free and a crowd pleaser for game day or a weekday. #meandthemoose #quickdinner #dinner #dinnerrecipes #glutenfreerecipes #dairyfreerecipes #chili #chilirecipes #gamedayrecipes

Who needs a quick, easy, healthy, and cheap dinner that everyone will eat, is totally customizable, and is gluten and dairy free? EVERYONE, that’s who. And we ESPECIALLY need it this week.

White bean chicken chili | Me & The Moose. This easy, fast, cheap, and healthy meal also happens to be gluten and dairy free and a crowd pleaser for game day or a weekday. #meandthemoose #quickdinner #dinner #dinnerrecipes #glutenfreerecipes #dairyfreerecipes #chili #chilirecipes #gamedayrecipes

Our family just flew back from 6 days in Key West, FL and boy are my arms, legs, eyes, lungs, feet, teeth, hair, elbows, knees, and brains tired. See what I did there?

Can we talk about traveling with kids? I love it and hate it. On the one hand, it’s really nice to get out of the regular grind and say “yes” to things like daily ice cream and night swimming. That’s how memories are made, people!

But some of parenting’s stressors are portable. And some of those stressors are actually worse when saying “yes” comes with a side of fatigue and crashing blood sugar.

This particular vacation was amazing fun sandwiched between two slices of crazy-travel bread thanks to oversleeping for our 6:30 am flight on the way there, and then changing our flights twice and driving four hours at 10 pm to beat an ice and snow storm on our way home.

We also paid an arm and a leg for a 3-hour nap in an airport hotel that was the grossest place I’ve ever stayed. It was less like a hotel room and more like a bunch of pink-eye germs and bed bugs holding hands. Shudder. M commented, “It smells like a lot of people were sweating in here.”

But I fully acknowledge that we’re so lucky to be able to travel and are so grateful to the TSA and FAA employees who are currently working really hard without pay. We tried to make meaningful eye contact while saying “Thank you” over and over in securlty.

That said, I’m exhausted.

White bean chicken chili | Me & The Moose. This easy, fast, cheap, and healthy meal also happens to be gluten and dairy free and a crowd pleaser for game day or a weekday. #meandthemoose #quickdinner #dinner #dinnerrecipes #glutenfreerecipes #dairyfreerecipes #chili #chilirecipes #gamedayrecipes

So, let’s get to this easy, all-purpose chili.

It is deceptively complex considering how quickly it comes together. You can certainly let it simmer for an hour to deepen the flavor if you like, but sauteing the spices and using a rich homemade stock if possible, will achieve the same depth of flavor in less time.

And if you put out every possible topping, I’ve found that this dish makes just about everyone happy.

White bean chicken chili | Me & The Moose. This easy, fast, cheap, and healthy meal also happens to be gluten and dairy free and a crowd pleaser for game day or a weekday. #meandthemoose #quickdinner #dinner #dinnerrecipes #glutenfreerecipes #dairyfreerecipes #chili #chilirecipes #gamedayrecipes

White bean chicken chili  

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 large cloves garlic
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
2 lbs ground chicken breast
1½ cups chicken stock (more, if you like a saucier chili)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
8 oz chopped roasted green chilis (2 small cans)
15 oz can white beans
Toppings: Cheese, scallions, avocado, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos

Heat oil over a medium flame in a large pot. Add the onion and sauté until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté again until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the spices and salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 more minute.

Add the chicken and sauté until no pink remains.

Add the stock and tomatoes and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.   

If the sauce isn’t thickening to your liking after 20 minutes, combine 1 Tbsp flour and 1-2 Tbsp of water and stir vigorously to combine. (I usually use a lidded jar and shake the water and flour together.) Add to the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the chilis and the white beans and bring back to a boil to head through.  

Garnish with cheese, scallions, avocado, sour cream, yogurt, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, etc. Whatever your chili loving heart desires.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 7-8 cups (about 5 grown-up servings)

White bean chicken chili | Me & The Moose. This easy, fast, cheap, and healthy meal also happens to be gluten and dairy free and a crowd pleaser for game day or a weekday. #meandthemoose #quickdinner #dinner #dinnerrecipes #glutenfreerecipes #dairyfreerecipes #chili #chilirecipes #gamedayrecipes

Romesco hummus

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes
Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

It’s happening, people. The “new year, new anxiety” phase of January has begun.

Can we talk about having a second child? I have mixed thoughts about it. Sometimes it feels like a member of our family is missing. And both my husband and I have siblings and love it (both the idea of having a sibling and the actual people that our siblings are). AND being an aunt is one of my very favorite things. I don’t want M to miss out on any of that.

But it took so long for us to get pregnant with M, that I’ve been mentally preparing to have one child since he was born.

And the fact is, it took me a long time to feel like myself again both mentally and physically after having M and I’m scared to give that up. I wouldn’t necessarily claim that we’ve “hit our stride” as a family, but we’ve achieved a sort of equilibrium, so the idea of purposely throwing a HUGE wrench into the works with another baby is very scary.

I’m also scared about the change to M’s life. He’s actually cried a few times because he doesn’t have a sibling, but I know that his sadness is purely theoretical. When another little person actually takes up our time, he’ll be PISSED. I don’t want to ruin his life, you know?

But what about the joy a kid brings? And the funny family stories we’ll have in the future? And M will need someone to complain to about all of the mistakes we’ll inevitably make.

And here’s where the anxiety comes in: We are entering my 39th year of life, so my time to perseverate about having another child is swiftly coming to an end. UUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH.

What is your advice? Have any of you felt this way? How did you make the final decision? I NEED TO KNOW.

Anyhoo, I can’t think of a good segue, so HUMMUS.

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

Hummus was one of M’s favorite snacks until…it wasn’t. He actually told me one day that he was “done” with hummus and carrots. Rude.

So I combined plain hummus with the veggies and spices from Romesco sauce, had him measure the ingredients and press the food processor buttons, and HUZZAH he likes hummus again.

To anyone wondering why they should make hummus rather than buying it in the store, I say, it’s truly so easy that a small child can do it (and did). Unlike regular Romesco sauce, this hummus is nut-free, so you don’t have to toast or roast anything. You don’t even need to chop because, food processor.

A couple of notes:

  • There is a lot of smoked paprika in this recipe, so start with 1/2 tsp and add more to taste if you prefer milder flavors.

  • I use a brand of roasted red pepper that comes in a tall, thin jar, so the peppers are really big. If your peppers are smaller, use two.

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

Romesco hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 large roasted red pepper (or 2 smaller peppers)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 large garlic cloves
1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar

 Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Yield: 16 oz or 1.5 cups

Romesco hummus | Me & The Moose. This easy, healthy snack makes plain, boring hummus more interesting by adding vegetables. Who doesn’t want that? #meandthemoose #hiddenveggies #hummusrecipes #hummus #romescohummus #glutenfree #nutfree #dairyfree #snacks #snackrecipes

Sweet potato muffins

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday and the season that follows, but there are definite downsides. I’ve talked about keeping expectations in check with kids and holidays. And while it’s exciting and fun that there’s always something going on: Making cookies, making gifts, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating, holiday events, holiday parties, holiday-themed school things, concerts, visiting relatives, etc, it can be…a lot. And for a little one like mine who’s always searching for his equilibrium, it can be.. A WHOLE LOT.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

So, let’s not add even more by completely abandoning our commitment to balanced eating, mkay?

These sweet potato muffins are a fantastic “sweet” to have around. They feel festive and would certainly make a fitting Thanksgiving breakfast to watch in front of the parade or DOG SHOW (!!!!!!!), but are just sweet enough thanks to the applesauce, a few Tbsp of brown sugar divided between the batter and the muffin tops, a handful of golden raisins, and sweet potatoes.

And did I mention that they only require one bowl? You’ll have enough dishes this week.

IMG_8787-3.jpg

A couple of notes:
- Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/3-1/2 inch chunks. Any bigger and they may not soften enough during baking, but if you shred them, they disappear and make the batter a bit too wet.
- This is a thick batter, almost dough-like in consistency. Don’t worry. It always puffs up well in the oven and results in an airy, light muffin.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sweet potato muffins

4 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, partially melted
½ cup applesauce
1 egg 
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided  
3/4 cup yogurt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour 
1 cup white flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt 
1 medium sweet potato, cut into tiny squares (about 1.5 cups)
¼ cup golden raisins

Move your oven rack to the bottom or lower middle portion of the oven. Preheat to 375.

In a large bowl, partially melt the butter or coconut oil. Microwave it for a few seconds until it just begins to liquify, but is still partially solid.

Mix in the applesauce, egg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes and raisins and stir again to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cups of a muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with a large pinch or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until firm to the touch and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Check after 12-15 minutes and cover if the sugar browns too fast.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking