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Breakfast Cookies: Gluten Free/Dairy Free

Think of these breakfast cookies as portable oatmeal.  I’ve experimented with the recipe in a number of different ways. My daughter doesn’t care for oatmeal (even yummy steel-cut oats), but enjoys these cookies because they’re cookies. Still, keep in mind that, even with the dried fruit, these cookies are not as sweet as coffee-shop baked goods. I’ve made this recipe gluten and dairy free, but you can use the milk and flour that appeals to you.

Breakfast Cookies


2 mashed bananas (approximately 226 g)
2 cups/200 g gluten-free rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup/23 g almond flour
1/4 cup/55 g almond milk
1/3 cup/77 g apple sauce
1/2 cup/71 g dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc.)
1 tsp/4g vanilla extract
1/2 tsp/2 g cardamom or cinnamon

Optional: 1 tbsp/15 g melted coconut oil

Feel free to experiment and sprinkle in other ingredients like nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, or whatever else appeals to you.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/176 C. Mash bananas with a fork, and then mix all ingredients together. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to allow the oats to soak.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and grease with the neutral oil of your choice. I use a cookie scoop that’s 3.6 centimeters across, but 2 spoons you use for eating at the table will do fine. After ladling out the dough, use a fork to press down gently upon each unbaked cookie. The dough has no leavening, so they will not expand.

Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, and then let them cool on a cooling rack. These cookies freeze well. This recipe makes approximately 3 dozen 1.5 inch/3.8 cm cookies, which are approximately two bites.

Farida Dowler sews for Alkelda Dolls on Etsy, and writes a storytelling and song blog called Saints and Spinners. She likes crystallized ginger in her breakfast cookies.

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Summer Pesto

One of my favorite summer recipes is Pesto Pasta.  We live in cilantro, pecan territory.  So a cilantro, pecan pesto is in order don’t you think?  If you don’t like cilantro try it with some parsley & garlic, this recipe may just change your mind.  If you want to go traditional, use basil instead.  I interchange basil in this recipe whenever we have enough to harvest in the garden.  It’s delicious either way.  In my opinion, the pecans are a must.  They add just the right crunch.


1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley

(or 2-3 loosely packed cups of fresh basil)
1/2 c. pecans
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
salt & pepper to taste

mix in food processor & add to warm pasta

To take it up a flavor notch, add some freshly grated Parmesan or my favorite, crumbled feta cheese on top. This recipe goes well with any grilled meat or vegetable.  Add a nice white wine & Mmmmm, heaven.

This recipe freezes well.  I like to freeze it in plastic bags that are flattened like a little square pancake.  Then I can stack them one on top of the other.  Make sure you save a tablespoon of pesto for your morning scrambled eggs. Add a few cherry tomato halves thrown in and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Enjoy the flavors of the season!


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Make it yourself: Toothpaste

One of the reason I hated to brush my teeth as a kid was the taste. Synthetic mint that leaves your mouth almost burned and aseptic never felt good to me, and the huge toothbrush made me gag (I’m still using kid sized one, I have a little mouth!). I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade toothpaste on pinterest once and tried it that very night after. After making it several times and adjusting it to my taste, I have for you my somewhat “final” recipe. It’s VERY easy to make, you’ll see!

You need:

  • A tea spoon of baking soda
  • 2 tea spoon of coconut oil
  • 2-3 tea spoon of cinnamon, or cinnamon essential oil (add drops to your taste), or mint oil, whatever fits your taste.

You mix with a fork and it’s really do use!

It seems a little but for my 4 person family it last a week. You don’t need lot on your brush. You get used really fast to the texture and salty taste.

And your teeth feel clean afterwards, without the aggressive aftertaste of commercial products. You can add stevia powder for remineralization of the teeth.

Of course there are some people who don’t agree with making your own toothpaste, so please inform yourself to make an informed choice if you want to use it.

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Lavender Cake


Mmmmm, lavender cake is one of our favorite treats!  We make it for birthdays, Easter, summertime, anytime!


The first step is to find some lavender, grow your own or buy some.  We have a co-op here in town that sells herbs in bulk so we stock up on lavender whenever we go.  I  had my son Michael help me grind the lavender with a mortar & pestle.  This is my favorite step as it releases that fresh, floral fragrance.



Use a circular motion when grinding so that it’s grinding along the sides.  You want the lavender minced fine.



This cake has a dense, pound cake type texture to it.  We’ve made it gluten free, which I think is the tastiest, using brown rice flour & garbanzo bean flour.  You can also use all-purpose flour as well.  If you use sugar instead of the honey then add a tray with a little water underneath it to make it really moist. I seem to make this cake differently every time based on the ingredients I have on hand.  It always turns out well.

The frosting is a simple glaze with some lavender sprinkled on top to make it pretty.



Michael is beyond excited to taste it!



Just one more picture Michael!  He could barely contain himself.



Check out the recipe on my blog, Chocolate Eyes  & enjoy!

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Make it Yourself: Homemade Organic Nutella

My mom seldom bought Nutella; it was (and still is) quite expensive and not very healthy (beside what they claim in their ads). We only had it when in was on sale and it was a real treat! When I started living by myself and buying what I wanted I often bought a jar; I loved it on my bagels…But soon I found that eating that often made me grumpy and weird…Too much sugar and fat intake, so I stopped buying it and said goodbye to chocolate spread, until I was at my mom and stumble upon a TV show about dessert. Here’s the recipe the guy proposed:

What you need:

  • 2 cups of Hazelnuts*
  • ½ cup of icing sugar
  • ½ cup of cocoa
  • 2 table spoon of hazelnut oil (sunflower, canola, even olive oil could work)
  • 1 table spoon of vanilla extract

What you do:

  1. On a cookie sheet, evenly spread hazelnuts and put them in the oven to roast at 400F for about 8 min. Check them often it roast fast!
  2. Let them cool and take out the shells by scrubbing them together.
  3. Place them in a robot and crush them for 5 min, until it start to look like butter.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredient and mix them for as long as it takes for you to like the texture. Some like it more crunchy, some like it more smooth.
  5. Slice a piece of bread and spread your newly made butter on it.
  6. Enjoy!

There are variation of this recipe that contains milk or dried powder milk products to make it more like the store-bought thing but I tend to make the recipe more simple. We tend to use organic ingredients.

* I had a friend make it by replacing the hazelnut by almond for her allergic daughter and they found it very good as well.  I guess any kind of nuts would work.

I suggest keeping it in your fridge since they’re no preservative. I usually double the recipe and it last us about a week.

It is SO good on toast, untoasted bread, fruits. It relatively takes no time to make and is so easy to offer in a pretty jar. The kids can help measuring and dumping the ingredients in the robot and will lick the spoon afterwards.


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No Sugar Carob Fudge

What a chalenge to find a great little ” sugary tasting”  treat for you and your family ! Well lately a friend of mine introduced me to  this special caroub fudge and what a suprise for me to find that it is Deliiiiciouuss !! I thought that  sharing this  with you would be a great idea… it is a creative recipe and soOoo easy to make !!



What you will need:

~ 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

~ 2 cups of unsweetened carob chips

~2/3 cup of peanut butter

~1/2 cup of coconut

~1/3 cup of walnuts

~1/2 cup of dry raisins

~1 tsp. of vanilla



Place the carob, peanut butter and oil in a pan at  low temperature, stirring constantly just until smooth. This will give you a great “chocolate” color…it already looks delicious !!
Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Spread out in a greased  8 x 8 square pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. Then cut in squares or as you desire.
Keep them in the refrigerator or you could also freeze the balance for unexpected sweet cravings…
**  I do find that the fudge is hard to cut in perfect square…but it is still as good 🙂 **
Note:  With the basic recipe (carob, peanut butter and oil) you can create so many different variations of this recipe…why not use your favorite nuts, some popped quinoa, cranberry or even some spices..the sky is the limit 🙂
Enjoy !!!!
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Recipe: Veggies Kids Love

My kids’ school had a carnival last Friday. One classroom organized  the game Family Feud. The children from this Fourth Grade classroom had surveyed 100 children from their elementary school about what food they disliked most at dinnertime. Guess what was the top answer? Veggies came in as the top answer once again. 47 kids said they hated veggies. Second came fish. And the third most unpopular food item was bananas.

It really depressed me to see that. How do we change the negative image of vegetables and get children to enjoy and actually  love vegetables and healthy nutrious foods?

I have a recipe for string beans that my kids would eat every single day if I made it for them. They love it so much. Maybe you can give it a try too.



Green Beans with Mustard Dressing

  • 1 1/2 pound of fresh green bean, washed trimmed
  • 3-4  tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup oliveoil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • pepper and salt to taste


Steam the green beans in some water until cooked but still a bit firm with a bite to them. You can give them a quick bath in icewater to retain their pretty green color after they are cooked.

While the beans are cooking, whisk the other ingredients together to make this delightful mustard dressing. It takes all but 5 minutes to put together. You can also use it as a regular salad dressing.

My kids like to eat heaps and heaps of green beans prepared way. They ask for seconds and thirds when I make them as a side dish! I supposed nobody asked them when doing that survey…

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Recipe: Making Spaetzle, German Egg Noodles, with Kids

My childrens’ favorite food in whole wide world is “Spaetzle”. When I mention the word Spaetzle they jump for joy and want to help make them. That is a good thing because though easy to make they are a bit labor intensive.

My kids are 11 and 13 now. I first let them help with this task when they were around 8 years old since the process involves dropping noodles into boiling water…

The greatest thing about Spaetzle is that you don’t need many ingredients

  • eggs
  • water
  • salt

It’s really that simple. I was once told by a Schwaebian guy (Schwabenland is where these type of noodles originate from – the southern parts of Germany) that the true Schwaebian housewife uses no water – just eggs – to make Spaetzle. But who can afford this many eggs or that much cholesterol?

So I usually go with about 500- 600g of flour, 1/8 of a liter of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, and as many eggs as it takes to work the flour into a dough that can be stirred with a wooden spoon. Not too liquid not too hard. You don’t want any lumps.

While the whole family takes turns stirring the dough and working it into a smooth dough one must bring a large pot of water to boil. The pot needs to filled almost to the brim, maybe leave about an inch less. Then put a batch of the dough on a cutting board. My kids like to take turns cutting noodles with a knife and scraping bits of dough into the boiling water. Once that batch is cut and all of the noodles float to the top you scoop them out with a slotted spoon into a colander. We give them a quick rinse over the sink and then safe them in another bowl.

These German egg noodles are great as a side dish with any fancy dinner. But they can also stand by themselves as a dish layered in a casserole pan with some caramelized onions and Jarlsberg cheese. In this version they are called “Kaesespaetzle”. People partial towards meat can add some bits of ham or sausage. They are also super in chicken noodle soup. Just cut the noodles straight into your chicken stock. It will cure any patient in your household quickly!

PS:  In case you wondered what Spaetzle means: Spatz is the German word for sparrow, adding the -le at the end is how southern Germans create the diminutive version of a noun. Spaetzle means little sparrow. 😉

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Gluten Free Popovers

When my daughter went on a trial gluten-free diet for three months, I baked more during that time than I had in all the years prior since she was born. The gluten-free diet was a hassle when we traveled, but at home, she thought she had a good deal. I boiled and baked bagels, whipped up muffins to send to school, and spent a lot of time experimenting with various sweet and savory concoctions.

I perused a number of cookbooks, but ended up cooking and baking almost exclusively from a cookbook I found called Gluten Free On a Shoestring, by Nicole Hunn. (The link goes to the blog.) The first recipe I made was for popovers. Contrary to my expectations, they were light, they were puffy… in other words, the recipe worked. Bolstered by that confidence, I went on to work my way through the cookbook, and started visiting Nicole’s blog on a regular basis.

My daughter is no longer gluten-free, but I have a number of friends and family members who are both gluten and dairy free. I want them to enjoy coming to my house, so I continue to cook for them. Disclaimer: These friends and family don’t have celiac disease, and have assured me that I may use my regular utensils. If you wish to cook for gluten-free friends, check with them first to find out the extent of their gluten sensitivities.

Nicole Hunn’s popovers are always a success when I make them (recipe is included with the link). I’ve made them  successfully with diary ingredients as well as dairy alternatives. I bake at sea-level, so those who cook at high altitudes may have to make adjustments. I include this link about  “high altitude popovers” the event it’s of use.

Farida Dowler lives in Seattle, Washington, and sews wool felt dolls for the Etsy shop Alkelda Dolls. While her dinners are typically one-pot meals to accommodate the crafting/writing life, she makes exceptions for sushi rolls and spankopita.


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Recipe: Brussel Sprouts Two Ways

I can’t wait to plant the garden. For the last few years we have grown brussel sprouts. We usually plant about 3 of them. Not that we get a lot of meals out of those plants. They never get as big as the ones you buy in the store, but they surely taste so much better. The disappointment was huge when we discovered last year that some type of aphid attacked our crop at the end of the growing season and we couldn’t eat them. I hope we can avoid this type of disaster this year.

They are such an interesting plant to watch growing. Our kids – like most kids – didn’t care much for brussel sprouts. Only when we started growing them in our garden did they learn to appreciate them. One year my son got so intrigued by the harvesting process. It was the first time that he actually said at dinner time that they were quite tasty.

I recall that I never liked eating brussel sprouts as a child either. My mother used to cook them in a white sauce. First she would boil the “little cabbages” in water until tender. Then she’d make a rue with butter and flour. She used a few cups of the water the the cabbages had boiled in to make the sauce. Add a touch of salt, pepper, and a some freshly grated nutmeg. Finish it off with a few drops of lemon juice.  Done. Now this is the version that was served to me as a child. I did not appreciate it until I moved away from home. Now I make it for my kids and they like it a lot.

But recently I stumbled upon a healthier version. It’s so simple it blows your mind.

All you have to do is put the cleaned brussel sprouts in a bowl and sprinkle some salt and freshly grated pepper on top. Drizzle some olive oil over it and shake them around in the bowl. Then dump the bowl out on a cookie sheet. Bake your brussel sprouts in preheated oven at 4oo degrees for about 30-40 minutes. You must shake the cookie sheet every 7-9 minutes so the sprouts get browned evenly.

Oh my gosh. They taste so good! While cooking them I picked the lose leaves off the cookie sheet and snacked on them. Sort of like a cabbage chip. Unfortunately the kids prefer my mother’s German version in the white sauce….
Ulla Seckler is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned.