Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Play with your food!

I recently got the chance to hear a Speech & Language Pathologist who works with children who have feeding issues.  My kiddos have not had the challenges that come from being picky eaters, with the occasional exception; however, I realize that many parents out there deal with this on a daily basis so I thought about some things that might help.

Many children struggle with sensory issues and food is a big part of that (tactile avoidance can often show up by children wanting to avoid certain textures in their mouth).  Others might be behind a bit in the sensory-motor skills that involve chewing and swallowing food.  There are also 80 other reasons for food to be something that causes some parents to cringe.  Perhaps your child was not fed well at an early age, has a medical issue, sees food as a battle for control when they are afraid.  Many of these things can get better with help and time, but for the parent who struggles every night at the dinner table, this post if for you!

One of the main things I learned about helping children who are extremely picky and will not eat a variety of foods is that playing with food is actually encouraged and supported by the research!  I can totally get behind that concept ;).  Especially since playing with your food is both a sensory activity and can encourage exploration of new sights and smells without the fear of having to eat foods that may seem scary because of texture or past experience.

What if kids had a chance to play with their food without the pressure of eating it?  Then they can get used to the smells and textures at their own pace and the tactile experience in a less threatening way without having to put anything in their mouths!  Also, play is extremely disarming to the fight/ flight response and fear.  So playing with food might be a way to get the accidental blueberry or cauliflower past little lips ;).

Mom's very literal interpretation of flowers and a sun...My kids were much more creative, see below!

She calls it, "Dinosaur Footprints"!  Cannot get over how creative my kids are sometimes (obviously more so than their mama!)
Abstract Masterpieces ;)

The Best Part!  Stuffing those sweet cheeks with works of art:) 
Although my kids gobbled up their masterpieces right after making them, this post is not about trying to get your kids to eat right away.  Your child may just play with it for a while and that's OK.  If you have a troubled eater, incorporating playing with food each day can help them on the road to trying new things, getting used to foods with textures they might not currently like, and overcoming fear with food!

Ideas for playing with food

Have a variety of textures (mushy, crunchy, dry, wet), sizes (can cut in different sizes or use different sized foods), and colors of foods.

Here are some ideas for different foods that might be fun.

  • berries, raspberry, blueberries, strawberries, halved
  • carrots
  • pineapple
  • pears, apples, larger hard fruits
  • leafy greens like spinach or kale
  • avocados cut in long and short slices
  • cauliflower comes in white, orange, green, and purple at some markets, or broccoli
  • larger nuts like almonds, pistachios, macadamias, cashews
  • smaller seeds or nuts like hemp hearts or chia seeds
  • carrots
  • pickles
  • cucumbers 
  • dried fruit
  • grapes
  • sauces like hummus, guacamole, dips
  • TOOTHPICKS!  (this made it much more fun, especially with building structures with the grapes!)
Happy Playing With Food!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Our After School Routine

I posted our Before School Routine a couple weeks ago.  Since all three kiddos are starting school for the first time in a couple years (we homeschooled before), I am trying to get some things in place!  Here is our video of our After School Routine.  Below are some helpful links and information on how to set our kids up for success after school!

Our After School Routine from Eryn Jones on Vimeo.

Homework Helpers

Below is a list of the Sensory Aides seen on the video.  A couple you may not have seen, but we use them often for homework time.
  • Wiggle Seat (seen in video in pink during homework time) is GREAT for the propreoceptive challenged kiddo.  If you have one that tucks their legs on their seat and breaks pencils and crayons often on accident- then this seat will be your friend :)
  • Chewelry or Chew Tubes
  • Chewing is highly proprioceptive and calming.  Sometimes we simply use gum :)
  • For kids who are sensitive and overburdened by noise, a day at school can be a whole lot!  We use Noise Reducing Headphones (especially nice if there needs to be a store run after school and you have a child sensitive to loud/multiple noises), we use the ones in green in the video and also use This Brand.
  • For our older children, 8 and up, they can be especially burnt out at the end of the day.  All things alerting, like alerting essential oils (peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary), chewing crunchy, spicy, or sour foods, and adequate lighting for homework can set them up for success.  Sometimes we take stretch breaks with our oldest. 

All the Feelings

  • As I just mentioned with our older children, sometimes they are just plain fatigued at the end of the day.  They kept it together for a long time making it through school and they are just plain exhausted.  The best thing I can do to support my oldest in this is to validate her feelings.  ON occasion, I write a note to the teacher explaining that yesterday was just too much physically and emotionally and good homework was not in the cards.  I have found for the most part that teachers can be understanding of this when needed.  It doesn't help for me to push her beyond her limits to complete work that can be done at another time.  The main thing is that she knows I am on her side and will work with her to help her after school.
  • I try to pull up into the carpool line with low expectations.  I actually expect all three of my kiddos to have a meltdown at some point on the way home or to our next activity.  When I just have one or two (or the rare no one!) then I can be pleasantly surprised.  But I don't expect that to be the norm because of the multiple transitions, overwhelming sensory experiences, mental demands, emotional and social interactions with peers, and so much more that has already happened in the 7 1/2 hours I was not with them.  It's not that I don't have confidence in my children or their school, it's just that I fully understand what their internal experiences are like and I lower my expectations in order to increase my compassion for them and for the feelings they have when they get into our van!
  • The sensory time (below) is also a time where we can one-on-one process some things while the others are playing.  All this is best for my kids before homework time!

Sensory Time 

Our kids benefit from 10-20 minutes of sensory input, especially a propreoceptive activity every 2 hours.  Proprioceptive activities are ones that involve large muscle groups and deep muscle and joint input.  Jumping, climbing, walking, running, and biking all qualify.  I have found that this is best after being inside most of the day to get out and do one of these types of activities.  It really helps our children because the muscle and joint input is calming while the bi-lateral activity (right, left, right, left of walking and running etc.) can help them organize all that they learned for the day.  Win-win!


Here are a couple ideas for simple dinners.  I am hoping to have dinners mostly ready by the time school ends each day so I can really be with them after school.  No one ever said dinner needed to be fancy (I'm preaching to myself here!), but I do try to keep it as healthy as I can.
    Casserole with Chicken pre-made in crock pot
  • The crock pot.  Enough said!  One of my favorite things to do is put about 3-4 lbs. of chicken breast in the crock pot with a bottle of enchilada sauce or salsa.  I portion this off into two or three parts and freeze what we won't eat for that nights dinner.  I have tried the freezer meal planning and that just didn't work for us.  But I find that prepping the meat ahead of time can really help!  I will make tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, a casserole, soup, all sorts of things with the meat.  Our favorite is tacos.  So on nights when I do this, when I get home all I do is get out the taco fixings and dinner is ready :)
    Salad with this GF bread
  • Salad.  Never underestimate a large filling salad.  Our kids actually love them because they get to choose what is in them (from everything from Applegate GF/CF chicken nuggets to fresh fruit to dried cranberries!).  And they love "helping" with dinner when it's a salad night.  A simple vinaigrette dressing is nice or the Vegan Ranch which we keep stocked in our refrigerator.

    Smoothies packed with Hemp protein or nuts with fruit and veggies can be a complete meal with adequate calories and nutrition!
  • If we have to buy food out we try to avoid fast food.  A local Mexican place will suit our needs nicely for gluten and dairy-free.  However, I know you cannot completely avoid contamination with allergens when eating out so we try to limit it.  Fast food usually is more that 80% GMO food as well, so we try to have that be a very, very last resort!  We like Mellow Mushroom (obvs. from the video:), and we also like to find local grass-fed beef places, places that offer vegan options (because of allergies), and gluten-free options.  Click on those sites for more info for your area!
  • Also, smoothies or just fruit and veggie meals are a winner when time is tight.  On these nights, David and I will make something else for us after the kids go to bed and enjoy eating a little later and alone together!  A typical dinner on these nights for the kids looks like:
    • Organic baby carrots
    • Organic Apples, sliced or other fruit
    • Broccoli and Cauliflower (pre-cut and bought that way from the store!)
    • Hummus or Peanut butter or Ranch Dipping sauce
    • Non-GMO popcorn on the side

Friday, July 17, 2015

Calm Down Carrot Cake

One of my favorite things to do with my essential oils is to bake with them.  I love incorporating them into raw recipes so I get all the goodness, but really I love how they flavor baked goods.

Did you know that Citrus oils, like Orange [Citrus Sinesis], are being studied for their calming properties?  I love how I feel when I'm diffusing citrus!

So I decided to come up with a baked good that also has a bit of an uncooked component so I can get all the essential oil's benefits.  This carrot cake has a simply syrup that you can pour on top for that extra orange flavor.  When I worked in a bakery, we poured a Grand Marnier simple syrup over our carrot cakes before icing.  This orange EO simply syrup is a healthy substitute for that yummy taste!

My kids call this "fiber cake" since I make it with all the fiber pulled out from juicing our carrot juice :)  Since that name wasn't very appetizing, I decided to change it!  If you juice, you can use the carrot pulp from juicing (just make sure to juice your carrots first and pull the pulp out into jars before finishing your juice.  Store in jars in refrigerator until you have enough).  Our juicer produces very dry pulp, so note that the measurements are different if using fresh grated carrots from a food processor or by hand.

Calm Down Carrot Cake

(gluten/dairy/egg/free, vegan)


  • 2 1/2 cup all purpose GF baking flour (I use Bob's Red Mill 1 To 1, found in most stores)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 2 cups carrot pulp from juicing or 1 1/2 cups freshly grated carrots
  • 2 Tbsp water (1 ounce)
  • 6 drops Orange Essential Oil
  • Can also add 1 tsp cinnamon or 3 drops Cinnamon Bark EO, but I like the flavor of just orange
  • For the Orange Simple Syrup: 4 Tbsp Coconut Sugar, 3 Tbsp boiling water, 4-6 drops Orange EO


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease an 8" or 9" loaf pan with coconut oil.  TIP:  If you want easy removal from pan, add a parchment sheet to the bottom and press up on longer sides.  This way just the ends are exposed and can easily be run with a knife and you just lift out the parchment paper when baked.  The whole loaf cake will come out then :)  You can also use 2 8" cake pans for a layered cake.
  • Mix all dry goods (GF baking flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar) in a bowl and whisk together.
  • Melt the coconut oil and stir in with the carrots, apple sauce, water, and add the 8 drops of orange EO
  • Stir in wet ingredients into dry, the batter will be thick.  This is ok since it's not a traditional wheat batter.  The magic happens in the oven :)
  • Pour into greased pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs.
  • While cake is baking, mix the simply syrup by adding the sugar to the hot water and string until dissolved.  Don't add the Orange EO until the syrup is cool.
  • Allow cake to cool for 20 minutes.
  • Top the whole thing with syrup as desired, or add to each slice individually like a sauce.
  • Feed to kids or self when calming down is needed ;)

Another batch I made where I poured the Orange Syrup on top

*All recipes using essential oils on this blog are specific to Young Living essential oils only.  I cannot give recommendations and suggestions on any oils but Young Living's essential oils.  The statements made on this blog about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA.  These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Anyone pregnant, nursing, or suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician.  If you are currently on medication, please do not stop.  It's always good to do your own research.  I have done mine for my family and we chose to incorporate YL essential oils into our lives.  If you are wanting to follow and do the same, please visit here for more information. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Favorite food Products (that I don't have to make) and Black-bottom Peanut Butter Pie

Stores are better than when I first started eating gluten and dairy free.  Now we are a gluten/dairy/and egg and mostly-almond and soy free home since my children's allergies are added into the mix.  The last few years have brought about a huge upswing in the "healthy" section of even main-stream grocery stores which has brought more options for us to more convenient locations.  I still read labels and check ingredient lists.  I know that just a "[insert whatever]-Free!" label does not mean it's necessarily healthy.  There are some things, though, that I get excited about because of their ingredient lists and their lists of Free's!  I thought I would share some of my favorite things that can be found in most grocery stores that me and my family are currently loving to eat.

First Up:  Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss Ice Creams
I am not the biggest fan of other Coconut milk ice creams.  They are fine, but after you taste Coconut Bliss you will understand!  Hands-down favorite is Vanilla Island.  Also a big fan of Dark Chocolate.  Click here to find where they sell near you!  Luna & Larry's cares about sustainability and their products are non-GMO.  This is a quality brand ice cream that stands up to it's dairy-version counterpart in creaminess and goodness (and with minimal ingredients)- you won't be disappointed (no they aren't paying me :)!
Strawberries + Vanilla Island make a dreamy milkshake.  Add YL Jade Lemon and you have a yummy Strawberry lime-aide milkshake.  Another fav way to use this ice cream is alone side a warm piece of fruit pie (gf ready-made pice crust recommendation below). 
Second:  Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels
Enjoy life, a free of top eight allergen company, has finally come out with Dark Chocolate Morsels!  I used them in the pie recipe below and they work really well for recipes that call for melting chocolate.

Third:  Wholly Wholesome Gluten-free Pie Crusts [ready made y'all!]
These come in a two pack, are dairy/egg/nut free, and are made in a certified gluten/dairy/tree-nut free facility.  I use these for everything from the yummy pie below to chicken pot pies.  Tip: Since they come in a two pack you can thaw for 20 min and prepare your chicken pot pie, fill and flip the other pie crust on top!  I have even seen these at two Kroger stores so they are in a lot of places!

Black-Bottomed Peanut Butter Pie 

(gluten/dairy/egg free and vegan, no-bake)


  • Refrigerate your coconut milk can overnight.  I usually store about 6-8 in the refrigerator when I get home from the store.  You can buy a case of it for less than $2 a can from Whole Foods, the store's brand.
  • Prepare pie crust according to the package directions.  I let thaw for 10 minutes and poke a few fork holes in before baking for 10 minutes.  Directions for baking the shell are on the package.
  • Meanwhile, over a double boiler or stainless or glass bowl over a small pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate, coconut milk and butter alternative together.
  • Remove from heat when combined and melted.
  • Blend the peanut butter or almond butter, coconut milk fat (removed from the top of the can after refrigerating), and coconut oil in a high powered blender for 30 seconds until everything emulsifies together.
  • When crust has cooled some, pour in the chocolate layer and freeze for 10 minutes. (reserve some chocolate for swirling on top if desired)
  • Then pour in the nut-butter layer and refrigerate for 20 or more minutes.
  • Enjoy!  Can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Morning Routine & Breakfast Smoothie

Back to School is coming!!!

That just made a teacher cringe somewhere :)

Well as much as I am enjoying our summer, I thought I would post a little video about what our back to school routine is each morning.  Our kids thrive on routine and consistency so I'm going to try and keep things pretty close to our formula every day.

This is the first year all THREE of mine will be in school.  I am cautiously hopeful I will enjoy it, but to be honest at this point, I am just hoping I don't cry every single night until my youngest goes to Kindergarten.  Is there a 20-hour-a-week public school?  Because I think I would like to do that!  Breaks are good, but it's just such a drastic jump since I have had all three of them home every day for the last two years!

Ok...I need to stop or I will start crying.  I always thought I would be one of those moms that finally drops their littlest one off at school with a, "See ya!" and go have a party!  I was wrong :)

Enjoy this video of our Back to School Routine.

Back to School Morning Routine from Eryn Jones on Vimeo.

Back to Breakfasts

We usually do a super simple breakfast.  A smoothie is a great go-to.  If I don't do a smoothie, I usually go for a Van's GF/DF/EggF waffle with fruit or a home-made high fiber baked good left over from something else I made.  I also add in some protein like Applegate's Chicken Sausage links (a fav of theirs and seen in the video:).

The main thing I try to avoid on school mornings is something high glycemic and sweet, like most cereals, where I know they will have a big let down before lunch.

I don't really do coffee.  Although if you do, try this recipe for a twist on your normal cup of joe.  I usually take a Ningxia Nitro and drink my citrus water while the kids eat, and then I have breakfast an hour later.

Our favorite smoothie right now is:

  • 1 cup greens (spinach, kale, sometimes I'll add a small amount of wheat grass or sprouts)
  • 1-2 frozen mangos (or 1 cup)
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • water to thin if needed
  • Just blend and enjoy!
Also try my other smoothie recipes like the Big Pink Smoothie

We love incorporating Essnetial Oils into our ever-day routine for a sensory rich day.  For more information, click on the Essential Oil tab.

** Disclaimer:  The above information is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or symptom.  If you have questions about these things, please ask your health professional.  I do  not work for Young Living directly; however, I am an independent distributor.  I help people get started using oils every day and am always available to answer questions at pumpkinspantry (at) gmail (dot) com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fourth of July Recipe Roundup

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY FRIENDS!  I've gathered some of my favorite allergen-freindly summer recipes for you all to try.  Happy grilling out and spending time with those you love!

This Strawberry Ice Box Tart is a yummy treat to please Raw and Paleo foodies alike!
Red, White, and Blueberry Mint Salad, and my essential oil friends, try the oily version of this recipe for extra goodness

Broccoli Mango Salad is a go-to side item bring for me.  Have made this so many times for pot-lucks!

And finally, one of my favorites- Watermelon Lime Granita, made with just those two ingredients.  Ad 4 drops lime EO instead of the lime juice for an lovely detoxing treat
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