sugar-free watermelon lemonade

My daughter loves lemonade and she wants to have lemonade stands all the time but she can’t have sugar. The problem with sugar alternatives is that most of them are brown and that makes for a very ugly lemonade. The ones that are white are so highly processed you ight be better off with an organic white sugar. See this article about stevia from 100 days of real food. I was stumped until mid summer when I had found I had leftover watermelon from the weekend and needed to do something with it. Normally I go right for the watermelon margaritas but it was a Tuesday at 2 in the afternoon and my 5 year old wanted to have a lemonade stand so I put down the tequila. What I discovered is that watermelon is so sweet you don’t need any sugar. You can do this in a blender but of course the vitamix is the best! You can also use a juicer and avoid the step of straining the watermelon.

First cube up your left over watermelon and put it in the blender. Blend on the highest setting until liquified.

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Now strain the watermelon.

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Now add some water and lemon or lime juice to taste. Start with ratio of 25% water to watermelon juice. Then add lemon or lime juice one at a time till you like the balance of sweet to tart. Now add some mint leaves and slices of lemons and/or limes. Poor it over a ton of ice and open the lemonade stand!

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30 minute no-sugar raspberry refrigerator jam

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Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Tools needed: sauce pan, cheese grater, wooden spoon.

Ingredients:
1 small container of rasberries
1 small size apple cored but with peel intact grated with a cheese grater
Apple juice or white grape juice . use enough to not quite cover the berries and add more if your berries are slightly tart, but then you’ll need to boil longer.
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and reduce at a hard boil that you can not stir down until it reaches a consistency you like. Put in a jar or bowl and refrigerate. It will last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator, then toss it. If you want to make a bunch for later because you’ve got lots of berries you can can this in a water bath or freeze it for up to a year. I make mine fresh every once in a while because I just don’t have the time for canning.

Like most families we use jam and jelly at our house on toast, sandwiches, pancakes and with cheese. I bet you’ve got a jar right now in your fridge. Now go and look at the label. Look really close. There is so much processed sugar in that jam you might as well be smearing your toast with candy! But there is more bad news for your health. All jams and jelly contains commercial pectin (probably even the ones at your local farmer’s market because I only found one recipe for a jam without pectin.

What’s wrong with pectin? Isn’t it just from apples? I was always under the impression that pectin came from apples so when I saw pectin on a label or in a recipe it was a natural ingredient. Then I decided to make my own no sugar raspberry jam with some left over fruit. All the recipes called for pectin even if they were avoiding sugar. So I bought some. I got the no sugar version and the regular version from ball. Much to my shock the first ingredient in both jars of pectin was dextrose. Dextrose is a synthetic sugar derived from corn.

a) corn sugar (C6H12O6, CAS Reg. No. 50-99-7), commonly called D-glucose or dextrose, is the chemical [alpha]-D-glucopyranose. It occurs as the anhydrous or the monohydrate form and is produced by the complete hydrolysis of corn starch with safe and suitable acids or enzymes, followed by refinement and crystallization from the resulting hydrolysate.

Read more: Types of Sugar – Dextrose Glucose and High Fructose Corn Syrup Types of Sugar – The Daily Green
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Products containing this chemical are totally legal to be labeled “all natural” because once upon a time before the lab it started as corn. Probably GMO corn mind you, but it did start as corn long long ago. Of most concern is what these processed sugars do in our bodies. The most serious issue is diabetes, but as a processed sugar it will cause a spike in your child’s insoin level and that leads to a crash. Then the child often craves more sugar or carbs because the brain is sending signals that it needs more. This can at best lead to obesity, at worst diabetes but most probably you’ll see hyperactivity, loss of focus, aggression, depression and a host of other behavioral issues depending on the sensitivity of your child.

Easy paleo-ish banana pancakes

A bunch of Bananas.

A bunch of Bananas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nothing is more hectic than mornings and it can be a challenge to give kids a healthy balanced breakfast every day. Here is breakfast staple in our house that is as nutritious as it is fast and yummy. Pair this with some fresh fruit and a glass of milk and you have a complete meal that will start their day off right.

In addition to having few ingredients and taking no time at all to make they have no sugar but are so sweet they don’t need syrup. You can even eat these with your hands in the car on the way to school. Really crunched for time? Make them ahead and just re-heat them a bit in the skillet.

1 eggs lightly beaten
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

In a bowl quickly beat the egg with a fork. Mash the banana into the egg with your fork. Mash in the almond butter, vanilla and salt. Fry in a skillet using butter or coconut oil.

Sweet Potato Swords

A super fast, simple and nutritious side dish kids love (and adults too).

Yams and Sweet Potatoes provide more nutrition than regular potatoes and are a great fun alternative any night of the week. I serve this with chicken brests, hot dogs, you name it.

1 – 2 Yams or Sweet Potatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons ground cumin

Salt

Cut a yam or sweet potato into wedges.

Mix olive oil and several tablespoons of cumin in a large mixing bowl. Make sort of a runny paste out of it with a fork. Toss the sweet potato wedges in the mix, coating well.

Put them on a baking sheet lined wit a silpat or foil (just for ease of clean up). Put in the oven at 425 for 15-25 minutes depending on the size of the wedges. Keep an eye on them. You want them to bubble and blister a bit on the sides and get dark brown spots on the sides and very dark on the edges. The bubbling and blistering is the sign they are done. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt.

Now if you want to go all fancy you can make a healthy dipping sauce for them on the side. They go really well with a BBQ Sauce, but I don’t like any that are commercially available so that’s a post for another day with much more time. A fast fun sauce you can make for these is a cilantro lime yogurt sauce it’s green so you can have fun with naming it depending on the age of your kids. Check out my post about food names and other tricks to get kids eating food from your kitchen.

Green Monster Dip – Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dip (this makes enough for family of 4)

1/4 cup whole fat organic yogurt (my favorite is goat or sheeps milk yogurt for flavor and nutrition)

1/2 ripe avacado

juice from one small lime, or half a large lime

zest the outside of the lime

1/4 teaspoon ancho chili (optional)

1 teaspoon honey (optional)

1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro

combine all ingredients in the blender or food processor except cilantro, blend till smooth. Stir in chopped cilantro and serve.

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Easy healthy pumpkin muffins

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Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Tools needed: mixer, muffin tins or silicone molds
Yields 24 mini muffins or 12 regular size muffins

In the fall my five year old and I like to make mini pumpkin muffins together. This recipe is really fast, easy and healthy while being the best pumpkin muffins I’ve ever eaten…seriously. I’ve always loved pumpkin muffins and for some reason I thought of them as healthy so I was astonished to see most recipes call for tons of sugar. Box mixes go even further by adding hydrogenated oils and chemicals to the processed sweeteners. I tried several no sugar versions and ended up adapting a recipe from one of my favorite websites Kitchen Stewardship. I played around with the spice mix to get just the right balance I like and added optional chia seeds and/or flax seeds for some omega 3.  I use a combination of butter and coconut oil for the best flavor and health benefit. They always turn out very moist and very sweet with just the right spice. Kids love making these and they are very easy so make it a project! They will love the muffins even more and take such pride in sharing them with friends.

1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds or chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup raw agave
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup melted butter cooled to room temp
1/4 cup melted coconut oil cooled to room temp.
(Substitute with melted butter if you don’t have coconut oil)
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup organic pumpkin purée (about half a can)

In a stand mixer or large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and spices. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on medium speed till fully combined. Do not over beat or the texture will be gummy. Put them in greased muffin tins or silicone muffin molds. Bake at 325 for 15-30 minutes depending on the size of the muffins. They are very very moist so you can take a longer baking time but be careful because honey has a lower burning point than sugar so keep an eye on them. My mini silicone molds stay in for about 20 minutes.