Back to School Snacks

This is the time of year that we are packing lunches and snacks for school lunches. It is easy to get in a rut of what we pack, so I thought I would give you a few of our family favorites. These are very versatile which I love. We used to buy rice crackers at Costco, but they come in a six pack, three of which have cheese. We are a dairy free family so I quit buying these crackers since I had to give away half of them. My girls were so sad when I stopped buying these crackers. I figured they couldn’t be that hard to make since the ingredients were very simple and straight forward. Just like I figured, these are super easy to make! The cheese rice crackers were a request from my oldest daughter. Since I love to experiment in the kitchen, I thought I would give powdered cheese a try for her. It worked beautifully and is fairly simple to do. All three of these recipes come together very quickly. I hope you enjoy these new recipes!

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Rice Crackers

Ingredients
1 C White rice flour
3 C water, divided
1 T Sesame seeds (optional)
¼ t Onion Powder, or any spices you prefer
¼ t Salt + more for sprinkling
¼ C Olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small pot Combine the rice flour and 2 C water and bring them to a boil. Stir constantly until you have a sticky rice goop, then turn the heat off. The rice goop will be very thick and should be relatively smooth. Next, add the rest of the water until the rice goop is now about the consistency of baby rice cereal. Add your spices, salt, and sesame seeds in and mix well to combine. Using a spatula, scrape the rice mixture onto your prepared parchment paper and smooth out until it is about ¼ inch thick. I spray a 2nd piece of parchment paper with non-stick spray, place it on top and smooth the rice mixture out. One the mixture is even, drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After the crackers have cooked for 20 minutes, take them out and cut them into desired shapes with a pizza cutter. Return them to the oven to complete their baking time. You will take the crackers out a few rows at a time as they are done. Place the finished crackers on paper towel to let dry. Bake in 5 minute increments until the rest of the crackers are done. They should be a light golden brown color and firm to the touch. Once the crackers are completely cooled and dry, store in an airtight container. If they get soft, just bake them again until they are golden brown and firm. This should only happen if they didn’t get cooked well the first round. These are great plain, will sun or nut butter, with cheese, hummus, or any other spread you can think of. Enjoy!

For Cheesy Rice Crackers, follow the recipe above. One you have sprinkled the top of the crackers with salt before baking, add the cheese. Then continue with the directions above.

umpalaRAIN cheese rice crackers

Cheesy Rice Crackers

Ingredients
1/2 C Daiya cheddar shreds cheese

Directions
Prepare a dehydrator tray with parchment paper. Place the Daiya shreds on the parchment paper and spread evenly. Dehydrate the cheese for 2-3 hours or until completely dry. If you do not have a dehydrator, I bet you could do this in the oven on 125°. I haven’t tried this so I can’t guarantee it will work, but I imagine it will. Please let me know if you try this and how it works. 🙂 Once the cheese is dried I place it on a plate for an hour with a paper towel on top and bottom of the cheese as this cheese is very greasy. Blend the cheese in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, food processor, etc. to make it into a powder. Once you have the cheese powder, continue with the directions above.

umpalaRAIN Fruit Snacks

Fruit Snacks

Ingredients
1/2 C lemon juice
2 T Water
1 C Fruit of choice *(I use frozen fruit and have done, blueberry, berry medley, tropical mix)
4 T Grass fed gelatin such as Great Lakes brand
3 T Sweetener of choice (I have used honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and stevia successfully)

Directions
Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

In a pot on the stove, mix lemon juice, water, and sweetener of choice. Mix them well to combine and then add the fruit. Turn the stove onto medium-high heat and bring the liquid and fruit mixture to a rolling boil. Once it is a rolling boil, turn the heat off. Prepare your high powered blender and then put the fruit mix in the blender. Blend well until the fruit is liquified. Leave the fruit mix to cool down for 5 minutes. Once your fruit mix has cooled down, add the gelatin and blend quickly together until the gelatin has dissolved. Moving quickly, spread the fruit liquid into your prepared 9×13 dish being sure to spread the mixture evenly. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm. Once the fruit mixture is firm cut into squares with a pizza cutter or use any small cookie cutters. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy!

*Be careful what fruit you choose to use. If you pick fruit that has a lot of seeds (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.) the fruit snacks will be very seedy. My kids don’t like that at all, so either avoid those fruits, mix them with other non seedy fruits, or strain the seeds out of the mix before you add the gelatin.

Here is another cracker recipe I posted a few months ago for cheese crackers similar to cheese it’s. These should set you up well for you and your kids to have great, healthy, and simple snacks.

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog 🙂 always be sure to check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

Dairy Free Cheese Crackers

As a little girl I remember eating so many cheese it crackers! They were so good and such a big part of my childhood. I have so many memories that go along with eating these crackers. Vacations, soccer practice, snacks after school, time with friends, road trips, and camping are definitely places that cheese it crackers were eaten. Who doesn’t love cheese and crackers? Why not put them together. My poor parents probably bought several boxes a week to feed all four of us and all of our friends as well.

Since my girls have food allergies and intolerances, snacks are so hard to come by for them, especially crackers. The snacks either cost a fortune or don’t fit our restrictions. We do love rice crackers, but they often come in packs at Costco with cheese flavored rice crackers as well. That’s a big waste of money for my family since we can’t eat the cheese ones. Other than that, I really haven’t found any crackers that my family can safely eat. That’s a huge bummer since crackers are so easy to grab on the go.

Like most other recipes I have come up with, the lack of crackers for my family drove me to make one for us. I have searched high and low to find a good cracker recipe for my girls and I have found a few good recipes. This allergy friendly cheese cracker recipe is one of my girls all time favorite snacks. It took me a few times making the recipe to get it just right, but we got there. They eat as many of these as I did of the boxed kind growing up. I would say these are even better than the boxed kind and I know everything that goes into them as well. Just this week my girls requested these again.

These crackers pack really well for lunches, snacks, and outings. My girls love to take these to school for an easy snack. We also take several batches of these when we go camping. Kids and adults both enjoy these crackers. I know you will too!

Dairy Free Cheese Crackers

Ingredients
2/3 C Sorghum flour
2/3 C White rice flour
2/3 C Tapioca starch
1 t Guar gum
1 t Salt
½ t Garlic or Onion powder
1 t Cream of tartar
½ t Baking soda
1 C Daiya cheddar cheese
½ C Soy free earth balance buttery spread, cold
7 T Ice cold water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a food processor until well combined. Next add the cheese and process until well combined. Then cut butter into small chinks and add to the food processor and mix well. Lastly, add cold water and process until well combined and the dough comes together easily.. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Take the dough out and split in half. With each half, roll out between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/8 inch thick. Once rolled out evenly peel top layer of parchment paper off and place dough with bottom parchment paper onto a large baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter, cut into desired shapes and sizes. You could also use small cookie cutters and make fun shapes like fish, flowers, hearts, etc.

Bake on 350° for 14-16 minutes, then check to see if the crackers are crisp to the touch. When the crackers are crisp to the touch, take each cracker out one at a time and place on a cooling rack. Be sure they aren’t too crisp as they will crisp up as the cool. Continue to bake at 5 minute increments until all crackers are done. Once all crackers are done and fully cool, store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Why I love oats

About three years ago, I had just completed 90 days on the Whole30, with the exception of only being able to eat 2 fruits. I did this for health reasons, and it worked for me. After the 90 days was up, I had lost quite a bit of weight and needed to be able to add more foods into my diet, but my gut wasn’t very happy with very many foods. The one food that I was able to add to my diet was oats. At first this felt disappointing since I didn’t like oatmeal for breakfast and cookies were off limits for me. I have learned though that when I am in a bind of some sort, I am fiercely determined to not let it get the best of me. So I made up my mind that I was going to learn to love oats.

It took me several months to find recipes that I liked, that fit my specific dietary restrictions, and ones that wouldn’t take forever to make. This began my journey of all things oats, and I do mean all things. I have tried almost everything possible with oats and found that they are an amazing food for lots of reasons. Now I absolutely LOVE oats and eat them multiple times a day. Since it is the only grain I have been able to eat for years now, it has become my best food friend. Here are the reasons that I love oats so much.

1. Oats don’t have a ton of flavor. While this might sound boring, it really is amazing. Because it is pretty bland in flavor, it really can go with most foods really easily.

2. Oats are very forgiving. When cooking/baking with oats if you added too much liquid, no worries just add a bit more oats. If your oats are a bit dry, just add more liquid until it is the right consistency. I actually rarely measure when I am making items with oats because I know that I can easily add more oats or liquid depending on what I need. This is a huge bonus for me.

3. When oats are met with liquid, they stick together. I can’t eat any gums (guar, xanthan, etc.) so this too is a huge win for me.

4. Oats are very simple to work with and recipes come out very quickly when I use oats. One flour, no gums, or any other ingredients. Win all around.

5. Oats have a lot of health benefits as well which is great. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that oats, as part of an overall heart healthy diet, could lower the risk of heart disease.

The possible health benefits of oats include: reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, lowering levels of cholesterol, and reducing one’s risk of colorectal cancer. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270680.php

I bet you are wondering what I have actually made successfully with just oats. Here is a list, though not likely exhaustive, but my main staples with a few pictures.

Breakfast bars. I have eaten these breakfast bars every morning for the last three years, maybe a handful of times I have skipped these. They are definitely a staple for me.

Oat pancakes. Who doesn’t love a good pancake? Oats make great pancakes!

Oat tortillas. I make these in huge batches and freeze them. I use them for sandwiches, “quesadillas”, buns, chips, etc. These are very versatile and I also eat these in one fashion or another every day.

Pizza crust. I’m not one to cry over missed food. While it can feel discouraging sometimes, I’ve learned to be thankful for what I can eat. When I made this pizza crust, I nearly shed a tear, seriously. It was that good and exploded my mind for the possibilities of what oats could do for me.

Oat Crackers. Everyone needs a simple go to snack, including me. Of course I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks, but sometimes I just want a good cracker. I have made these multiple times with multiple different seasonings and they are great to have around.

Oat muffins. I have made all kinds of muffins with just oats, you might be surprised. Again, I love the versatility of oats. Sometimes I add nut or seed butter into my muffin mix which works well too.

Oat cookies. I went for years without having a cookie, or any dessert for that matter. One night I was determined to make myself a chocolate chip cookie without any sugar, without a “gum”, or a rising agent (baking soda, baking powder, etc) because I couldn’t have any of those. My mom and I texted back and forth about how to do this and I was determined to make it happen. What came out was utterly amazing! Who knew?! Next came a pumpkin cookie that was just as fabulous. My world has changed because of oats. If you have food allergies or restrictions, I promise life doesn’t have to be boring in the food department. It just takes more creativity than it once did. It is possible to have food allergies and restrictions and eat amazing food!