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Family Meal Time

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For as long as I can remember these shortbread cookies have been a staple at Christmas.  Every year my Mum would bake at least 2 batches (usually more).  We’d always eat them as fast as she could make them.  They were always the cookie of choice to bring along to Christmas functions such as the church potluck luncheon or our school Christmas parties.

Maya and I made a batch yesterday (pictured above).  Maya’s favorite part was adding the sprinkles :)

Here is the recipe for my Mum’s world famous Shortbread Cookies.

1/2 cup Corn Starch

1/2 cup Icing Sugar

1 cup Flour

3/4 cup Butter

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Sift together the corn starch, icing sugar and floor.

3. Add the butter and mix well until a smooth, soft dough forms (my mum uses a spoon but I often use my hands because I find it goes faster).

4. Shape the dough into small balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Flatten each ball with a fork and put on the sprinkles (sprinkles optional).

6. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 mins or until edges are lightly browned.

Recipes about 3 dozen cookies.

This is a great recipe to make with kids because it is so easy and there aren’t a ton of ingredients or steps.

If you decide make a batch for your family let me know what you think.  I can tell you I have yet to find a person who doesn’t like these cookies :)

SunButter is a peanut butter alternative made from sunflower seeds.  I picked up a jar of SunButter to give it a try since my daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  Both my husband and I love peanut butter so my goal was to find a product that would be a good substitute.  One that would mimic peanut butter well both in everyday use like on toast or on a peanut butter sandwich as well as in recipes like cookies or monkey munch.

Admittedly, I was a little skeptical.  I just couldn’t see how a product made without peanuts could really taste like peanut butter.  My first try of SunButter was on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  SunButter tasted almost exactly like peanut butter.  The consistency was pretty similar to natural peanut butter and spread really well on the bread.  Now, I will admit that Maya wasn’t a huge fan but she can sometimes not be a fan of something the first time she tries it.  I’ll let her try a few more times before I say for sure if she likes it or not.

I think SunButter will be very useable as a peanut butter substitute in recipes.  Based on the taste and consistency I would imagine that SunButter can easily be substituted into baking recipes in the same quantities as the recipe calls for.  As with any substitutions it may take a little trial and error before you get the perfect amount.  I’m going to give it a try in monkey munch later this week so I’ll let you know how that goes.

My one big disappointment was the price.  I had to pay over $6 for a 1lb jar.  Now, I bet the pricing was high because the store I purchased it from saw an opportunity to gauge the consumer a little given that people looking for peanut alternative “peanut butter” don’t have a whole lot of options.  You can find it cheaper (about half the price) online at places like, Peanut Free Planet.

So, the bottom line is that price aside I am very impressed.  SunButter is definitely a peanut butter alternative that this admitted peanut lover could get used to.  If you have children with peanut allergies it is definitely worth giving this product a try.  I would recommend purchasing it online though as you will be able to get a much better deal!

I’ve learned that having a child with a nut allergy means you have to read the labels of everything you buy a little more carefully. As you load your grocery cart you are looking for actual nuts in the ingredients list of everything you pick up as well as special label warnings such as “may contain nuts”, “produced on shared equipment with nuts”, or “produced in a facility that also processes nuts”. Since even the smallest amount of nut protein can result in an allergic reaction it is always best to steer clear of any product you either suspect may contain nuts, or you suspect may have come into contact with nuts.

Remember, there is a lot of stuff out there that is perfectly safe for your child to eat and the more you learn about nuts and nut allergies the better you will get at identifying safe and unsafe foods.

There are a few foods that are considered “high risk” for those with nut allergies. They include;

  • Baked goods: Unless you make it yourself or it has a clear label that it is safe it is probably a good idea to avoid it. Cross-contamination is very common with baked goods as there is a lot of sharing of prep surfaces, cooking surfaces and cooking utensils.
  • Candy (especially chocolate): There are a few candy manufacturers that make some of their chocolate and candies in nut free facilities, however, most are prepared on shared surfaces with nut products. Read the labels carefully. If it isn’t labeled as safe, skip it.
  • Ice Cream: Cross-contamination is very common in ice cream parlors. The same scoop is used over and over again. Even soft serve can become cross-contaminated if the same machine dispenses multiple kinds of ice cream. Do your research before allowing your child to eat ice cream while you’re out. The safest thing to do is to buy a carton of ice cream from the store so you know what the ingredients are and you know the product is safe.
  • Ethnic Foods: African and Asian cuisine often contain peanuts and tree nuts. With Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine cross-contamination is possible as some of their dishes may contain nuts. It is best to avoid these foods unless you absolutely know it is safe (ie you made it yourself or have talked to the restaurant owner and chef).
  • Sauces: Many chefs use peanuts, peanut butter, or other nuts to thicken their sauces. Read labels, talk to the restaurant manager, and know it is safe before you allow your child to consume it.

To name a few. It really comes down to doing your homework. Thankfully food labels are a lot easier to read now adays and often contain special warnings that make it so much easier to identify safe and unsafe foods. Nuts can be easy to avoid if you know what to look for.

Here are a few helpful websites:

Kids, especially toddlers, are notoriously picky eaters. It can be difficult at times to get them to eat much of anything. They may find one food, like mash potatoes, that they just love and good luck getting them to put anything other than that one food in their mouth. Good nutrition is important for a growing child. It helps with development, weight, activity level, and much more. So what can you do to help your child get more variety and more nutrition in their daily diet?

Here are a few tips and tricks that may help.

  • Kids have an innate ability to know how much food their body needs. Let them tell you when they are full; don’t force them to finish everything on their plate if they tell you they are full.
  • Enjoy meal time in a relaxed environment. Don’t stress or make a big deal out of your child’s pickiness, or the introduction of a new food to his plate.  They are more likely to try something new if no one is making a big deal about it.
  • Serve a variety of healthy choices at each meal, that way your child is more likely to fulfill his nutritional needs even if he just picks a little at everything.
  • When introducing new foods do so one at a time. Give your child time to get used to and hopefully enjoy the new item before you introduce another one. Make sure the meal still includes at least one thing your child likes, that way if the new item doesn’t go over well there is still something for her to eat.
  • Make sure you are using age appropriate portion sizes. Don’t pile on the serving sizes and expect them to finish everything, or even touch everything. Get an idea of about how much makes your child full and put that size portion on their plate, if they want more they will ask for it.
  • Children can be very sensitive to texture, smell, and even color. So if your child claims to dislike something he hasn’t even tried before, it is likely because he doesn’t like the way it looks or smells. Encourage him to try it, but don’t force him.
  • Resist the urge to give your child low nutrition, sugary snacks just to get them to eat something. They are more likely to try new things and eat their dinner if they are hungry. Find snacks that have high nutritional value, like their favorite fruit for snack time.

If you are concerned about your child not getting enough to eat or enough nutrition talk to your pediatrician. They may have some great suggestions for you. When it comes to dealing with a picky eater patience and persistence are key.

Something that I think is important to all of us is a healthy family. Everything becomes much easier when everyone is fit and healthy. The challenge is figuring out what you can do to help your family become and stay fit and healthy.

This week I was chosen to participate in The Healthy & Fit Family Carnival. The carnival features ten great articles about things to help build and maintain a healthy family. I encourage you to stop by and read through various articles. You can learn about everything from brain foods for your kids to how to use play time to help shed unwanted pounds.

Also, when you have a few minutes, be sure to check out this week’s Carnival of Family Life, full of fun, interesting, and heartwarming stories.