Homemade Nut Free, Gluten Free Granola

Finding a granola that's tasty, nut free and also not loaded with weird ingredients used to be hard. Do you have a favorite brand? There are loads of great options out there, but I found my happy place when I started regularly making my own. Lately I've been leaving the big jar out on my kitchen counter and it gets demolished pretty quickly. My son plans granola + yogurt + fruit for his lunch at least once a week, and with a big jar on hand, it's super easy to pack.

parfait lunchbox

I love homemade granola because it's straightforward, versatile, and with a million different ways to keep it interesting, no two batches are ever the same. Some weeks, ours includes lots of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), some weeks it's heavy on dried fruit. Once I got the basic formula straight, it freed me to customize based on my pantry. 

The only hiccup arises when I shut off the oven timer but not the oven, and forget to take it out. Admittedly, this has happened more than once. Sigh. This recipe is easy enough for kids to make on their own, with adult oven supervision. It's perfect for a nut free, gluten free meal or snack, though it's best to always read labels if cross contamination is an issue for you. Be sure to check the recipe notes following the recipe for some variation ideas. 

homemade granola

* 3 cups rolled oats
* 1 1/2 cups mixed seeds, like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
* ½ cup dried coconut
* ½ cup olive oil
* ½ cup maple syrup
* 1 teaspoon (or more) kosher salt
* 1½ cups mixed dried fruits cut into small chunks. 

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss oats, seeds and coconut in a large bowl. Add oil and syrup and stir until well coated. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Spread out onto the pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Use the same bowl for the dried fruit pieces, and add the oats back to the bowl after they cool for 5-10 minutes, and combine.
Don’t clean up the baking tray yet. Pour the mixed granola onto it and let the whole thing cool for a while.
Taste and adjust the salt if needed.
1. If you can have nuts, feel free to add those in! Start with 1/2 cup and go from there. Add at the same time as seeds. 
2. If you don't have coconut oil, any neutral oil (like avocado or grapeseed) will do. 
3. Options for the dried fruit might include chopped dried apricots, or raisins, or dried banana pieces. 
4. I love coconut, but if you hate it, eliminate it. 
5. I've tried this recipe with honey, and I prefer maple's more subtle sweetness. Both are doable in this recipe though. 
7. I've tried reducing the amount of maple added, but it didn't taste as good in my opinion. 

healthy nut free granola lunchbox

Want more lunchbox inspiration? Right this way.... 
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Favorite Smoothies

Once upon a time, I thought that smoothies were too much work for our busy weekday mornings. I’m wiser now. 😎 

Pink Smoothie

These days, I make a smoothie almost every morning for my kids and truth be told, often it’s all they want (and need) for breakfast. 

My general rule of thumb for smoothies is this: they contain whole fruits, usually a combination of fresh and frozen, they use plain, unsweetened kefir or yogurt (whole milk), they typically have an added kick of vanilla extract and cinnamon, which reduces the need for sweeteners, and they're sweetened with either dates or occasionally honey. For all smoothies, I pop everything into the blender and that's it. Easy peasy. Exactly what busy weekday mornings need! 

This Pink Smoothie is an instant smile maker — and really, how can you look at this gorgeous color and not smile? The Pink is courtesy of pink pitaya, or dragon fruit. I buy it in frozen packets so I always have some on hand. 

Pink Smoothie:
1 packet of frozen pink pitaya
2 bananas
3 dates
2 cups plain kefir
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon hemp hearts

green smoothie

My Green Smoothie is also a family favorite. My kids are not loving spinach these days, except if I use it in smoothies or muffins. So this smoothie adds that nutritional powerhouse, which makes me happy. I don't sneak veggies with my kids, so while they may complain about spinach in other dishes, they're fully aware that it's included in our Green Smoothie. My hope is that because they enjoy it there, they'll be more open minded to trying it elsewhere. At some point. Parenting requires patience, right? 

Green Smoothie: 
1 avocado
2 bananas
5 oz chopped frozen spinach
1/2 mango
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups yogurt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey

Cocoa Banana.jpg

The third smoothie in constant rotation here is a Cocoa Banana Smoothie. I discovered this combo on a trip to Chicago last year, and when I recreated it at home, it was an instant hit. It tastes luxurious and sweet, but the sweetness comes from dates and banana, with no added sweeteners. My kids realize that it's not hot cocoa, but to them it feels like a breakfast treat! 

Cocoa Banana Smoothie:
2 bananas
4 dates, soaked in water to soften
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups plain kefir
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Do your kids love smoothies too? Drop me a line, I'd love to hear what you put in yours! 

Green Powerhouse Muffins

green powerhouse muffins

Dark winter mornings have the power to shift our whole weekday morning routine. Those extra minutes that the kids linger in bed  underneath their cozy comforters make it necessary for us to have fast, easy breakfasts on the ready. Freezer stash muffins have become winter essentials.

These Green Powerhouse Muffins are what we are digging lately (recipe below). They’re nut free, gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. You can make them vegan by substituting flax or chia eggs for the eggs, and by using maple syrup instead of honey. 🌱 Beyond being an excellent breakfast choice, these are great for the lunchbox or as an after school snack.  

Sure, I’d love to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with my family of five on a school day. It just doesn't seem to happen these days. If it’s a similar situation in your house, give these a go!

(p.s.: here’s what else I’ve got in the freezer stash these days: banana muffins, breakfast cookies)

Here’s what you’ll need:

green powerhouse muffins setup

1 banana
4 dates
10 oz. frozen chopped kale (or spinach)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter (unsweetened)
2 cups rolled oats (gluten free)
2 eggs
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup honey or maple
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350. In a blender, first add the banana, dates and coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Next add the sunflower seed butter and half the oats. Blend again. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour into a lined muffin tin and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out dry. Freeze extras for up to 3 months. 

* This recipe was inspired by The Natural Nurturer, whose Green Oatmeal Smoothie muffins we have enjoyed immensely. 

green powerhouse muffins

Pancake Egg Muffins

With summer quickly drawing to a close, the back to school season is looming large in my head. This year, my kids are in three different schools, and my eldest has leave the house by 7:00! The logistics are pretty daunting. 

pancake egg muffins.jpg

I contemplated the situation over a leisurely cup of coffee recently and considered two things that my kids love: muffins and eggs. Then it hit me... what if I combined the two? With pancake batter! Perhaps this could help the morning madness? 


After several attempts, I've perfected the recipe and I'm so excited to share it with you. If you make the pancake batter in advance (it will keep for several days in the fridge), these are ready in 20 minutes. That's usually how long it takes for my kids to finally get around to finding their socks! Pancake egg muffins are delicious and fun to eat, and on those mornings when things feel even more crazed than usual, an out-of-the-ordinary breakfast can lighten the anxiety in the house. Bonus: they're perfect for the lunchbox! 

Heres what you need: pancake batter (recipe below), eggs and a muffin tin.


For the pancakes:

  1. 1 cup flour

  2. 1/2 cup oat flour

  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder

  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda

  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt

  6. 2 large eggs plus 12 for the center

  7. 1 cup buttermilk (or plain kefir)

  8. 5 tablespoons melted butter (or avocado oil)

  9. 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all of the ingredients except the eggs that you’ll use inside of the muffins in a large mixing bowl until the batter is smooth. Grease a muffin tin and pour a bit of batter into the bottom of each. Crack one egg into each and cover the top with more batter. Bake for 17-19 minutes, depending on how runny you want the eggs. 

Use any remaining batter for pancakes (and freeze them for later if you'd like). as an alternative, you can bake these with fruit instead of eggs. Banana slices and fresh peach are in our current rotation. 

If you make these, tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see!  





Top Allergy Safe Lunch #11

Top 8 Safe 11

Around here, breakfast for lunch is a huge hit. I like to make a double batch of pancakes and either refrigerate or freeze the extras, depending on when my kids plan to pack them for lunch. The lunchroom is a social place, and because of that, a fun lunch experience (like eating pancakes with mini maple syrup) is something I can get behind. 

This lunch is Top 8 Free, so it has no peanuts, tree nuts, egg, dairy, soy, gluten, fish or shellfish. The pancake recipe is below and though my home is not gluten free or egg free or soy free, these pancakes are the ones we make regularly. Yeah, they're that good. This lunch also features coconut milk yogurt, carrots, dried banana, kiwi, raspberries and a sweet note from me. 

Top 8 Free Pancakes

1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt
1/4 cup water
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon of flax meal + 2.5 tablespoons water)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons avocado oil, plus extra for frying (feel free to substitute coconut oil) 
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Add the oil to a frying pan on medium high heat. Spoon in the batter to make the pancake size you desire. When the top bubbles a little, flip them. Fry for another minute or two until done.