Vegan Snickerdoodles

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We adapted these delightful cookies from Superkind bakery in Los Angeles, thanks to a recipe in Country Living. They’re perfect with a cup of tea on a rainy fall afternoon!

Ingredients:

  • 3 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup sugar; beat at high speed for about 2 minutes, until creamy.
  3. Add the Ener-G eggs and vanilla, beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Meanwhile, mix together the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.
  5. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on baking sheets 2 inches apart and bake at 350 degrees F for 11 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

 

Rainbow Meals

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You can bring a smile to your kid’s face this school year when they pop open that lunchbox, even without fancy Bento boxes or food in the shape of faces, boats, and any other shape that comes to mind. Instead, simply coordinate lunches by color!

You can serve the following in rainbow order (serving red the first day, orange the second, and so forth), but we jumped around a little bit to fit weather or certain themes. Here’s the full spectrum that the kids ended up enjoying over a few weeks! And although certainly not necessary, it was fun to dress up in the hue that corresponded to lunch each day. Thanks to Parents magazine for all these suggestions!

Rainbow Lunch

Red:

This meal was served in the first week of school when the weather still felt like summer, so napkins with red lobsters felt right on point. The kids munched on:

  • Red bean chili
  • Red strawberry fruit leather
  • Red strawberries
  • Red bell pepper strips

Red Lunch

Orange:

We saved this one early fall and closer to Halloween! Slip in a Halloween-themed napkin and serve up:

  • Orange grilled cheese sandwiches (with plant-based cheddar slices)
  • Orange dried mango slices
  • Orange non-dairy cheddar crackers
  • Orange cherry tomatoes

Orange Lunch

Yellow:

For a sunshine-y week in mid-September, we had sunflower-themed napkins and dined on:

  • Yellow vegan mac ‘n’ cheese
  • Yellow pineapple cubes
  • Yellow baby carrots
  • Yellow vegan cheddar popcorn

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Green:

Friends just might be green with envy when your kid pops open a lunch of green goodies including:

  • Green leaf lettuce wraps with hummus and chick’n strips
  • Green grapes
  • Green kale chips
  • Green cucumber slices

Green lunch

Blue/Purple:

We did a combo of the rainbow’s final hues, and the kids enjoyed:

  • Purple pumpernickel sunflower butter & jelly sandwiches (with blueberry jelly)
  • Blue corn tortilla chips
  • Purple carrots
  • Purple plums

purple lunch

Beginner Research Projects

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Travis hasn’t had to produce a research project for school yet, but the basics behind researching and presenting are great skills to teach young elementary school kids. They’ll enjoy the exploration, plus be prepared when the times comes for their first such future assignment. Here were two fun projects Travis tackled at home, one even complete with a final report!

Project 1: The State of Things

His first task was to use the internet to research our home state. Whatever state you live in, a great first resource is the Internet Public Library.

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From here, Travis wrote Massachusetts on the middle of a piece of poster board. Whoops, the word is so long that it nearly didn’t fit! We then had fun printing images to highlight some of the fun facts he learned, like sports teams, sites to visit, and our state bird.

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Gluing everything down was half the fun; even little sister Veronika wanted to join in!

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Have your child “present” their poster to you as a final step in the lesson.

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Project 2: International Cuisine

The second project had no final poster, but it did culminate with a culinary report! Travis’s task was to select a country and research its cuisine and he chose India. It was a great chance to check out a few library books and read together about common festivals and holidays.

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We also checked out an Indian cookbook and had so much fun leafing through images and recipes together. Whatever country your child chooses, have him or her select a recipe that sounds appealing. In our case, Travis chose a red lentil coconut dal…

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…and a kheer rice pudding for dessert!

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Make sure to have your child present the meal to friends or family before everyone digs in!

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My Own Map

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Learning to draw things from a bird’s eye view is a crucial step for kids as they start to understand and read maps. This was a fun activity (with a treat at the end!) to help Travis visualize our home as if he were poised up above.

I told him we were each going to draw the other person a map with a hunt through the house, starting at one point and following a path to end at another. Dessert (the always-vegan Oreo cookie!) would be waiting at the end.

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It was fascinating to see how Travis pictured things, including attention to detail like his coiled stuffed snake on top of our living room couch, or the arched doorway between the hall and kitchen.

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He was proud to make the staircase look like “stepping stones”. My surprise cookies were at the top of the stairs.

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Then it was his turn to navigate my map, which proved to be an interesting lesson in how he interpreted my drawing. “Is that the couch or table?” he asked, for example, before finding his way.

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X marked the spot and he found his sweet reward.

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Griddled Banana Bread with Maple Syrup

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Here’s an adaptation from a recipe in Country Living, perfect for these first few cozy mornings that feel like fall. For a more classic taste, use cinnamon instead of the nutmeg and cloves.

Griddled Banana Bread (1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/3 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt
  • 3 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brown sugar and butter; beat for about 2 minutes at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the Ener-g eggs, followed by the vanilla yogurt, bananas, and vanilla extract, beating after each addition.
  3. Slowly add the flour mixture, beating at slow speed until just combined. Spoon the batter into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 65 minutes. Cool completely, then transfer to a cutting board (or refrigerate overnight).
  5. Cut the loaf into 1/2-inch thick slices. Melt additional Earth Balance butter to taste in the bottom of a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add the banana bread slices in batches, cooking for about 3 minutes on each side.
  6. Serve with warm maple syrup!

The kids helped prepare this as a birthday breakfast-in-bed surprise; it’s definitely a recipe with a special occasion feel to it.

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Leafy Green Pumpkins

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When you think of pumpkins and fall décor, the color orange likely comes to mind. But this beautiful, more subtly-shaded pumpkin decoration feels just right as summer gives way to fall, when the world is still mostly green and hasn’t yet turned to autumn’s vivid oranges, yellows, and reds.

Travis has been very into ferns lately, so as soon as I spotted this front-porch pumpkin idea in Country Living, I knew he’d love it, too. First up was a fern hunt! We did a family nature walk and were careful to take only a few fern tips here and there, leaving most of nature undisturbed.

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What a beautiful fern glen we stumbled upon!

Make the next stop your local farm or farmer’s market, because the best background for these ferns will be white, not a standard orange. Fun fact: these pumpkins are called Snowball or Ghost Pumpkins.

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All we needed to do was glue down the ferns with clear tacky glue, applying a few strips to each. A green Hubbard squash added height and fit the color palette perfectly, to complete the ensemble.

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How do you decorate your porch in early fall? Please share in the comments!

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Sandwich Roll-Ups

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One of the biggest changes for Veronika this fall is that she now eats lunch at school. We love these rolled sandwiches for two reasons. A) kids can help put them together, which lets them take ownership of packed lunches and B) they’re just the right size for small hands!

To start, trim the crusts from whole wheat bread, then use a rolling pin to flatten out and stretch each piece slightly. Veronika loves this part!

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Next, spread the bread with a sticky spread of choice. We tried both lemon hummus and vegan cream cheese, both of which were declared yummy.

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Top with your filling of choice. We made a veggie version with shredded carrots and chopped baby spinach on the first day…

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…and filled them with tofurkey, vegan cheese, and olives on the second.

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Thanks to Veronika’s latest issue of High Five magazine for suggestion this perfect lunch treat.