Friday, 12 September 2014

Healthier, Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies with Just Four Ingredients

Before you get too far, I should warn you that these cookies are not your typical nut butter cookie. But that’s what I love about them. They’re the kind of cookie you can get away with eating half a dozen and not feel too terrible about it because 1) they’re not loaded with overly processed sugar and b) they’re packed with good-for-you fats. Another bonus? They’re made with oat flour, which makes them naturally gluten free. And even if you’re not into abstaining from gluten, I have a feeling you’re not even going to miss it.
These cookies are rich and crumbly. Four make the perfect serving, but I won’t judge you if you decide to eat few before they even go into the oven (yep, these things are good un-baked!) and a half dozen when they come out.. because I most definitely did.
If you’re allergic to peanut butter or just can’t stand the stuff, you can swap it with almond butter, pecan butter, or your favorite nut/seed butter. The cookies are fairly sweet with 6 tablespoons of maple syrup, but feel free to replace up to two tablespoons of it with equal amounts of non-dairy milk. If you’re in the mood for chocolate, these are super delicious with a few handfuls of chunks tossed in. Or maybe peanut butter and jelly? Add roughly chopped dried strawberries and some white chocolate chips.
If you have a nut allergy or are simply trying to stay away from nut butters, these coconut breakfast cookies are also delicious and equally as easy to throw together.
4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 18 small cookies
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or natural
  • 6 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, maple syrup and milk until combined. Using a spatula, stir in the oat flour until well mixed.
3. Using a 4 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet about 1 and a half inches apart. Press with a fork to slightly indent/flatten the cookies.
4. Transfer baking sheet to the freezer and chill for 15 minutes. Transfer sheet to oven and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

How to Make Awesome Kids' Lunches Easily


Packing a great lunch is easier than you think. With a few secret tricks and tools, the whole thing will take only minutes and that lunchbox will come back empty (almost) every time. Stock your fridge and pantry with my grocery store must-haves, and you'll be able to mix and match tons of delicious lunch combinations for several kids every week.
Easy lunches made in minutes.
Easy lunches made in minutes. (
Things You'll Need
Step 1:Bento boxes are the best way to start. With three or more compartments, it’s easy to build a balanced (and attractive) lunch by filling each section with something different. Think different colors, different textures, different food groups.
Bento boxes don't just make food look better, they store it more safely too.
Step 2:Then arm yourself with a couple of gadgets that can transform plain food into fun shapes, add color and deliver ingredients in style. Hardboiled egg shapers, sandwich molds, vegetable cutters, silicone cups, even toothpicks. Don’t buy all of them, just choose one or two that seem fun for your child’s taste.
Silicone baking cups, skewers, veggie cutters, egg molds and sandwich cutters.
Step 3:
When you're grocery shopping, aim to repeat twice in the week. Do two turkey sandwiches this week, but do them different ways: once as a sandwich punched with a cool design and next time rolled up like sushi. Pack hardboiled eggs twice this week: first served whole, then as an egg salad sandwich. Salami can show up as a sandwich and also with cheese and crackers.
Eggs for lunch, two ways.

Try New Recipes and Techniques

Step 1:Sandwiches may a staple of kids’ lunches but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Try shaped sandwich molds, cutting up sandwiches and putting them on a bamboo skewer (or straw if your school won't allow it) or rolling them up, as seen here. Just flatten out regular bread with a rolling pin then apply your favorite toppings like PB&J or mayonnaise and turkey. Roll up, cut with a bread knife and serve like sushi.
Sandwiches 2.0.
Step 2:One of the easiest ways to entice any kid to eat a good lunch is by using color. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great choice but even pickles and dried fruit work too, especially if you borrow a pop of color from a silicone baking cup like this one.
No need to include every color every day, just a couple will do.
Step 3:Homemade muffins are a foolproof way to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables in a tasty little package. We make banana muffins, zucchini, pumpkin, carrot and every other combination you can think of. Use a couple of different kinds of pans, just for variety, and throw the whole batch in a freezer bag. Just pluck out what you need to round out any lunch any day.
Muffins are the ultimate make-ahead lunch staple.
Step 4:Transform a plain lunch into something more fun with a simple skewer. Instead of a classic sandwich on regular bread, use whole-wheat rolls (slathered in salted butter if you like) and serve a side of salami and cheeses on a stick. Put cucumbers and tomatoes on a stick, or put the whole sandwich on a stick... the options are endless.
Tip: Try to get cocktail toothpicks with one rounded end.
Step 5:Don't forget cheese and crackers. When time is especially tight, cheese and crackers can't be beat. Use veggie cutters to cut out a few fun shapes and throw the salami on a stick.
Two kinds of cheese aren't a must, but they are more fun.
Step 6:Keep dried fruit and nuts on hand. They keep for months and they're easy to grab in a rush. We like edamame, trail mix, banana chips, prunes, raisins, plain peanuts and more. All these staples make grab-and-go lunches easy to make... and best of all your kids will love them!
Prunes, banana chips, trail mix and roasted edamame.

9 Hidden Baby Safety Hazards in Your Home

Think your home is baby-proofed? Each year, emergency rooms across the United States log over 3 million paediatric visits from children under the age of one. Among the most common reasons why parents bring their baby to the ER? Accidental injuries sustained at home. Check out these common safety hazards many parents overlook.

9 Hidden Baby Safety Hazards in Your Home thumbnail

Falling from Furniture

  • Most of these injuries (59 percent) are the result of falls and tip overs with a surprising number of emergency room trips involving high chairs.
    As a recent study found, one baby is brought to the ER with an injury related to a high chair fall every hour. Accidents are often the result of babies climbing on the chair or standing up in the seat. To prevent high chair mishaps, experts urge parents to always use the chair’s safety restraints.

Falling while Holding Something in Their Mouth

  • Other falls take place much closer to the ground. Are your baby and her sippy cup inseparable? Over the past two decades, more than 45,000 children been treated in emergency rooms for mouth injuries, including lacerations, caused by holding a bottle, sippy cup or pacifier in their mouths as they toddled along, and then fell. A good rule of thumb? Keep everything—including her thumb—out of your baby’s mouth when she’s on the go.

Ingesting Batteries

  • Some hazardous objects need to be kept of your baby’s reach at all times. These include button batteries, which result in 3,000 ER visits for young children every year, due to accidental ingestion. To keep your baby safe, check battery safety enclosures (in infant and children’s products, battery covers should be screwed in), and clean out old toy boxes, drawers and cupboards, where loose button batteries can fall unnoticed.

Getting Entangled in Electrical Cords

  • Electrical cords can also pose a safety hazard. In recent years, at least seven children have died after becoming entangled in the cords of safety monitors placed within grabbing distance of their cribs. As a result, the Consumer Product Safety Commission now urges parents to keep baby monitors at least 3 feet away from cribs.

Using a Drop-Sided Crib

  • While you’re in your baby’s room checking the monitor, take a second look at your baby’s crib. Are you the recipient of a hand-me-down crib from a friend or family member? You might want to hand it back -- if the crib is a drop-sided model. Due to suffocation and entrapment dangers, the United States banned the manufacture and sale of drop-sided cribs beginning in 2011.

Putting Babies to Sleep on Their Stomach

  • Is it bedtime already? The good news: SIDS rates in the U.S. have dropped dramatically over the past few decades, thanks in large part to the “Back to Sleep” campaign. The not-so-good news: many parents still aren’t getting the message. According to recent safety surveys, at least 28 percent of moms said they put their baby to sleep on their stomach.

Keeping Blankets and Other Soft Items in the Crib

  • Another sleep safety rule that’s also going unheeded? In the same survey, approximately 73 percent of moms said they keep blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals in their baby’s crib -- despite the suffocation dangers.

Leaving a Baby Alone in the Tub

  • Danger can also lurk in the bathroom. Do you put your baby in a tub seat or inflatable bath ring at bath time? They might make bathing a baby a little easier, but when it comes to bath time safety, nothing takes the place of a watchful caregiver. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 105 babies have drowned in recent years because they were left unattended in bath rings or seats that tipped over.

Leaving Buckets Filled with Liquids Unattended

  • Other drowning risks that can be overlooked at home? Even a small amount of liquid inside a bucket can pose a drowning danger. Of particular concern are 5-gallon buckets—they’re the perfect size for cruising babies to pull up on. If you need a safer alternative to your mop bucket, try dry mopping floors or simply spot spray any stuck on gunk and call it a day.
    Less housework and safer babies? Sounds like a great trade-off.

DIY Rain Clouds

This simple activity is the ultimate rainy day project.  It’s part art, part science, and guaranteed to get the kids excited about the dreary weather that’s keeping them from playing outside.  To get started you’ll need some clear containers, water, food coloring, a dropper, and shaving cream.  Make sure you get the old fashioned kind of shaving cream.  The fancy gel type is no good for our purposes.
Tackle the science portion first.  Fill your chosen vessel (we used glass measuring cups and mason jars) about two-thirds full of water.  Add a puffy layer of shaving cream on top.  Explain that the water represents air and the shaving cream represents a cloud, which is made up of lots of tiny droplets of water or ice.  Mix some of the blue food coloring with water and add it, a few drops at a time, to the top of the shaving cream.  The result will be blue rain.  For faster rain, try non-diluted food coloring.
Now it’s time for some hypothesizing.  Ask your children to think about why clouds are able to float. (The short answer is that the water and ice droplets are very light.)  Why does your child think clouds sometimes make rain?  You can keep the answer to this one simple, too.  The bigger the cloud gets, the more the water droplets bang together and grow.  Eventually they get so heavy, they fall to the ground.
Challenge older kids to flex their critical thinking skills a bit more.  The truth is, nobody knows exactly how clouds make rain.  Scientists think it has to do with the water droplets freezing onto tiny particles of dust or bacteria inside the cloud, called cloud seeds, causing them to become heavy and fall to the ground.  If you really want to blow your kiddos’ minds, mention that people sometimes try to make it rain by sending planes to shoot dust into clouds, a process known as cloud seeding.
At this point, your children will be pretty antsy to take a crack at making rain.  Hand over the dropper and let them try it.  We used a leftover medicine dispenser instead of a traditional dropper.  Since my three-year-old son pushed quite a bit harder than I did, he was able to observe the effects of varying amounts of pressure on the shaving cream and water.
When the thrill starts to wear off making rain, you can add a whole new level of fun by introducing some color mixing.  Set up a few more jars of food coloring and water and let your child experiment.
What I like about this technique is that, for the most part, the colors stay separate on top of the shaving cream.
But below the shaving cream, they swirl and mix together to create beautiful new hues.  Seeing blue and red on top and purple underneath really reinforces the color mixing concept.
One last tip: Try this activity with containers of varying shapes and sizes.  Before you know it, your table will look like this and you and the kids will have happily passed an entire rainy afternoon.

More from Stephanie Morgan
rainbowrice0DIY Rainbow Sensory Box
Make It: Simple DIY Bubble Blowers
Go Outside! Create the Ultimate Boredom-Busting Backyard with These 10 Items