The Candy Fairy

Here's the deal: the night before Halloween, my kids write sweet notes to the Candy Fairy asking what his/her favorite candy is this year. They leave the notes under their pillows and are incredibly excited to find a response in the morning. On Halloween night, they leave that candy under their pillow for the Candy Fairy and in exchange get a small present. The kids usually get a huge haul of candy (and it seems to grow every year), so parting with a few pieces (usually between 5 and 10) is never an issue. Here's what we do with the rest of it. 

Candy Fairy 2

We've had a bit of a hiccup lately with the Tooth Fairy -- the jig might be up with my 8 year old -- so her questions for the Candy Fairy were a lot more probing than a simple "what is your favorite candy." 

Candy Fairy 1

As usual on Halloween morning, the day began with excitement! The Candy Fairy will be busy today finding a little gift to place under their pillows tonight in exchange for that candy. 

Happy Halloween! 


Kale and Ham Frittata

When in doubt, make frittata! 

Here's what happened: I was hungry. I looked in the fridge. I had a bunch of kale, about 5 ounces of ham, some scallions and a half dozen eggs. I preheated the oven to 350 and chopped the kale, ham and scallions. One cutting board, one knife. I lined a baking dish with parchment paper so that I wouldn't have to scrub anything vigorously on the flip side of this experiment. I cracked the eggs and put everything into one mixing bowl and combined. I poured it into the baking dish and then had to wait! This had all been done so quickly that my oven wasn't even preheated yet! Once the oven was ready, I popped in the baking dish and 30 minutes later, out popped this yummy lunch. My 2 year old and I gobbled up half of the whole dish together for lunch!

kale and ham frittata

kale and ham frittata

Four ingredients. Under 10 minutes of prep. Total deliciousness. 

Our Halloween Candy Strategy

I have a sweet tooth. There used to be a time in my life when I ate a lot more candy than I do now (red swedish fish and peppermint patties were some of my favorites). I read this post by Sally of Real Mom Nutrition and like so many of her posts, I felt she was speaking my language. Once I began connecting the dots between how I felt and what I ate, my habits changed and so did my life. I still have a sweet tooth, and while I'll always have a soft spot for homemade chocolate chip cookies, I mainly stick to seriously dark chocolate these days. 

trick or treating

My kids eat something sweet pretty much every day. I'd love to sit on a high horse and say 'well, it's not junk,' but frankly, I think sugar is sugar. They get heaps of candy for Halloween from trick or treating and eat whatever they want that night. They leave about 10 pieces of candy under their pillow that night for the Candy Fairy, who replaces them with a small toy or book. After that, they can choose one per day until the stash runs out or until the holiday season, when Halloween candy gets dumped out. 

FARE teal pumpkin

This year, I've decided to forego buying Halloween candy and will be giving out glow-in-the-dark bracelets and glow in the dark fangs to trick-or-treaters. They're seasonally relevant and they don't contribute to the candy overload of the holiday. They're also safe for kids with allergies, and while I don't have a teal pumpkin, I will print out a photo of one and attach it to our door. 

What's your Halloween candy strategy? 

Make Your Own Applesauce!

Now that we have a billion apples, we eat applesauce with almost every meal. I've been using a dozen apples for each batch but that lasts just a day or two! The hardest part of this recipe? Waiting. Great applesauce takes a long time because you have to cook them slowly to yield the best flavor and texture. My family likes it chunky and with cinnamon. We don't add sugar or sweetener of any kind because the natural sugar from slow-cooking, caramelized apples is perfect as is. 

Here goes: 

Peel a dozen apples. 

peeled apples

Hmm... probably a good idea to peel an extra apple or two to accommodate hungry apple thieves in your kitchen!

apple thief!

Cut the apples into chunks and place in a pot. Smaller chunks will yield a smoother sauce. 

chopped apple

Add 1-2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir well. 

apples cinnamon and lemon juice

Simmer and cook slowly for approximately 60-90 minutes (or longer!) until the consistency is to your liking. Want to add other fruit? Here's a great recipe for apple-mango sauce



Apple Picking & Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

apple picking 2014

We had our family's annual apple picking day yesterday - one of my favorite things to do in early fall. I hadn't realized until yesterday that in the 9 years that we've been doing this, we always go before Columbus Day weekend. Unfortunately for us, pretty much all of the apples on the trees at the orchard where we've been going for years had already been picked! They had giant bins with loads of different apples, separated by variety for latecomers like us. 

Frankly, October 12 doesn't seem particularly late in the season and this was a big disappointment for my adventurers who like to wield the heavy apple picker each year and carefully inspect their findings before adding them to our bag. Rather than go straight to the bins, my crew checked out what still remained on the trees and apple-picked the old fashioned way. When we exhausted our on-the-tree options, we headed for the bins.  

apple picking 2014
apple cinnamon pancake batter

For the next week or so, it'll be round-the-clock apples. This morning, we began the day with Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and there's enough batter left over for tomorrow morning. 

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (makes enough for about 6-8 servings, depending on size)

1 cup plain kefir
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for frying pancakes (or use butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 large apple, shredded (I used a cheese grater) 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, making sure to eliminate flour lumps. Fry with coconut oil or butter and serve with fresh apple chunks for extra apple goodness! 

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with apples

iOS 8 Bugs and Fixes

Agh! iOS 8 has caused some unexpected bugs in our apps, namely weird glitches with the Manage Food screens and with the grocery lists. Huge apologies from the LaLa Lunchbox team. We've fixed the problem on LaLa Breakfast, and that update is available. We are waiting for the release of the update for LaLa Lunchbox. It should be soon. 

Please bear with us and thanks in advance for yourOS 8

i understanding! 

If you'd like a set of LaLa Monster temporary tattoos as a token of our appreciation for your patience, please shoot us an email: 

Thanks for being part of the LaLa family!


Dairy Free Dessert for a 2nd Birthday!

This little gal is 2 today! 

Two years ago!

Two years ago!

It's hard to know where the time goes. As parents, we marvel at this all the time. "Time flies," we say, as if it's just chatter. But milestone moments truly bring that issue to the table. Just yesterday, when she was born, my son was 2. My daughter was 6. And somehow two whole years have passed and this person, who was once just a thought, is running around the house with opinions about her clothing and deep affection for everything yellow and a penchant for gnawing on ribs. She's a stellar combination of determined and graceful and our little family is deeply grateful for her big belly laughs and her winning personality. Time flies because our lives are full. This is a good thing. 

The mid-week birthday is often thought of as challenging but in fact, I think it's a blessing. We celebrated my big 2 year old this past weekend with part of our family and we'll celebrate again tonight with others and we'll celebrate yet again this coming weekend! Three well-deserved celebrations for this jolly gal. 

She can't have cow dairy so we got creative with this classic vanilla cupcake recipe from cooking veteran Ronnie Fein and used goat milk in place of cow's milk and Earth Balance in place of butter. My little lady loved it. 

Today I'm making this 5 Minute Fudge Brownie recipe and have substituted coconut oil for butter. I'm certain it will be a winner. Not sure what to make for this coming weekend's celebration... suggestions gladly accepted! 

The Good Bean: Great Snacks Made with Chickpeas

The Good Bean roasted chickpea snacks

The Good Bean roasted chickpea snacks

I am always on the lookout for simple snacks that are tasty and nut free. As luck would have it, I recently received a delightful box containing several flavors of roasted chickpea snacks from The Good Bean for my family to taste.

In a word: Yum!

Good Bean Chocolate Flavor

My kids were thrilled to open the package and find seven different flavors to try: Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, Smoky Chili & Lime, Mesquite BBQ, Thai Coconut, Chocolate and Sweet Cinnamon. These definitely satisfy the crunchy snack craving and they were filling too, thanks to fiber and protein. It was fun to see which flavors my kids were drawn to: my 8 year old loved the Smoky Chili & Lime best, my 4 year old loved the Chocolate flavor and my littlest one is pretty much equal opportunity but seems most fond of the Sea Salt flavor. These snacks are particularly wonderful for us because they are produced in a dedicated nut-free facility. My son's school is very strict on the issue, so it has become something that we pay close attention to.

We make our own roasted chickpeas at home from time to time but I would absolutely use these for an added layer of texture. My son specifically requested the Sweet Cinnamon flavor with his yogurt the other day. 

Fruit & No Nut Bar

The Good Bean also sent us some Fruit & No Nut Bars to try. These are not made in a dedicated nut-free facility but they follow Good Manufacturing Processes to address issues of cross-contamination. All 3 flavors are chewy and flavorful without that pasty-bean aftertaste. My favorite was the Apricot Coconut bar - earthy and sweet with a surprising hint of nuttiness, without nuts! Delicious.  

In short, thumbs up for The Good Bean! You can find out where to get them with their Store Locator.

*Full disclosure: these products were sent to me for free but I have not been paid to provide my opinion. We genuinely enjoyed these!