Barley with Bananas & Blueberries

Barley with Blueberries (1)

This warm breakfast cereal is a nice alternative if your kids are tired of oatmeal.


  • 2/3 cup cooked barley
  • 2 tablespoons blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons sliced banana
  • 1/3 cup vanilla almond milk
  1. Spoon the barley into a bowl, and top with the remaining ingredients.

Note: If the barley was cooked the night before, rewarm each portion briefly in the microwave. You can also try this recipe with strawberries, peaches, apricots, or any other fruit, instead!

Barley with Blueberries (2)

Earth Science Pudding

Earth Puddings (11)

Is this project a healthy snack for your kids? Absolutely not. But when Travis declared mid-way through the activity that he was in paradise, I knew I’d brought some magic into a summer morning.

The idea was to show all the layers of the earth, using just about the most amount of sugar imaginable.

Earth Puddings (1)

I laid out a tray with all of the supplies, and we talked about each layer of the earth as we worked, filling clear plastic cups with each step. First up, we needed bedrock, which I explained was the solid rock deep underground. We used a mix of mini chocolate chips and crushed ginger cookies. The crushing is half the fun; place the cookies in a zip-top bag and smash with a rolling pin until you have big crumbs.

Earth Puddings (2)

On top of this, we spooned the “subsoil” (a dense layer of clay and and iron). Chocolate pudding was perfect of course.

Earth Puddings (4)

You’ll notice my taste testers had wasted no time and were busily crunching into cookies and spooning into pudding. They couldn’t believe I was letting them have this free-for-all!

Earth Puddings (3)

Next we needed topsoil. I explained that this is the dirt we see as we play: dirt, bugs, and minerals. Now we needed oreo cookies, but not the creme filling. I showed the kids how to scrape out the creme with a craft stick so we could crush the chocolate cookies.

Earth Puddings (7)

“Can I eat the frosting?” Travis asked. I nodded. “Plain??” This is when he declared the activity paradise.

Earth Puddings (5)

We sprinkled on our crushed “topsoil” and then added a few “worms”. It’s easy to find gummy worms at the store but most contain gelatin. Instead, we sliced pieces of licorice in half to be our worms.

Earth Puddings (9)

Finally, top with green sprinkles for grass, twigs, and leaves. I wasn’t able to find green sprinkles at the store, but a few drops of food coloring on white sprinkles was a quick fix.

Earth Puddings (10)

Now it was time to dig into the Earth.

Earth Puddings (12)

Veronika plunged her spoon right in and began snacking. It made her so happy she began to do a sugar-fueled dance around the kitchen.

Earth Puddings (13)

Travis loved working his way carefully down the layers, almost like he was excavating. He wanted to stop and talk about which strata we were in, and carefully selected which bite should come next. He was ecstatic when he’d gone deep enough to reveal the pudding under the topsoil!

Earth Puddings (14)

Welcome to paradise on Earth, and thanks to Raddish Kids for this great lesson.


Campfire S’mores Pie

Campfire Smores Pie (6)

This decadent pie riffs on the classic summer trio of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. For vegan marshmallows, look no further than Dandies. We originally wanted to make our own graham cracker crust, but I couldn’t find vegan grahams in any store in town. That meant we used Mi-Del’s pre-made graham crust, and although I’m thankful to the company for this vegan product, I was sorry that Travis and I missed out on preparing some of this Raddish Kids recipe together. At least we still had the filling to prepare!

Campfire Smores Pie (2)

If you do find vegan graham crackers, start with the following: Heat 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until melted; set aside. Place 12 graham cracker sheets in a zip-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. Add the crumbs and 1/3 cup sugar to the melted butter, stirring until combined. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan.

Here’s where we picked up with the filling! In a saucepan, whisk together 2 cups plain non-dairy milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch), 4 teaspoons cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Campfire Smores Pie (1)

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently.

Campfire Smores Pie (3)

Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Spoon the filling into the crust; cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Campfire Smores Pie (4)

Just before serving, remove from the fridge and top with 2 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows. You’ll notice my very proud and excited sous-chef!

Campfire Smores Pie (5)

Bake at 450 degrees F for 6 minutes. The marshmallows were puffed and just lightly browned, exactly as Raddish’s recipe card feature on the “three stages of roasting marshmallows” said they should be.

Campfire Smores Pie (7)

We loved that this recipe used both cold and heat, two different “elements” to transform the ingredients. And of course we also loved the taste. Don’t expect slices to come out neatly, but do expect them to come out delicious!

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad (2)

Just a few simple ingredients come together in this vibrant summer salad. My kids love it plain, with chips for dipping, or served on top of fresh bread! It’s the perfect side dish with your favorite vegan chick’n or other easy protein.

Cucumber Tomato Salad alt


  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Finely chop the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion, and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt, stirring to combine.

Cucumber Tomato Salad (1)

Summer Boredom Bucket List: Day 1

Boredom 1 d

Highlights magazine had a great feature in its July issue of 30 ways to turn your kids’ words around when they come harping to you that they’re “bored” this summer. Yes, sometimes it’s good to be bored. But also: it’s summer; they’re kids; coronavirus means camps are cancelled or starting late; and you as a caregiver deserve to stay sane. I’m guessing you are as hungry as I am for ways to keep the littles entertained!

Tonight I’m kicking off a week-long series of posts, a full week’s worth of activities to stymie the statement, “I’m bored”. We’ve tested all of these in the past month, so I can guarantee they work!

Idea 1: Make a Jumbo Jump Rope. The first time I heard, “I’m bored”, I pulled out every scarf from my dresser and tied them into one long rope. A giant jump rope!

Boredom 1 a

Because Travis hasn’t had much practice even on a regular jump rope, first I encouraged him simply to work on his jumping skills, back and forth over the dangling scarves. This was a super fun challenge!

Boredom 1 b

Well then little sister grabbed on, and it became a shaking scarf for musical play. Use a rope like this to shake shake shake, then stop/freeze, teaching your child about pauses in music.

Boredom 1 c

Then Travis pretended he was climbing a rope up, hand over hand, like a ninja! And then mommy got captured. Uh oh, I hadn’t quite planned on that one.

Boredom 1 f

As you can see, one long line of ropes busts boredom.

Idea 2: Bake a Giant Chocolate-Chip Cookie. If kids announce they don’t know what to do and it’s only 8.45 in the morning, then it is definitely time for a giant cookie. “Let’s make a cookie as big as a pizza!” I said, and I instantly had two happy faces, even my toddler marching around the kitchen chanting “cookie cookie!”

Boredom 4 a

Luckily I had a mix in the pantry, making this easy for me too. The mix, a dash of almond milk, a little oil, and a little vanilla, and we were ready to pat our cookie into a circle on a pizza pan. After it baked, we even sliced it with a cookie cutter for a snack time full of chocolate smiles.

Boredom 4 b

Idea 3: Balance a Pen on One Finger. This little challenge turns out to be quite a moment of zen. What worked best? By trial and error, Travis and I worked out the following formula: elbow supported (either on one knee or on the table); pointer finger crooked back; cap removed from the pen; and then finding the fulcrum. Balance!

Boredom 5 a

I was proud of Travis not getting frustrated, too!

Boredom 5 b

Idea 4: Do Stuff with Tiny Stones. What couldn’t we do with tiny rocks? This boredom prompt filled a whole afternoon! First we headed outside to the driveway, where we knew there were just the right tiny pebbles near the garage, and the kids gathered them into a bucket.

Boredom 6 a

They then discovered the storm drain, and spent almost half an hour plinking rocks through the holes and watching the water ripple at the bottom!

Boredom 6 b

Okay, I got them inside, and now we had so many ideas. First we piled them up and built pyramids.

Boredom 6 d

Then we decided to get artsy. I hot-glued rocks to two pieces of paper and asked Travis what he saw to finish the drawing. He thought this one looked like a deep-sea anglerfish!

Boredom 6 g

I made a second into a stone wall in front of a house (meaning this was a boredom buster for mama, too).

Boredom 6 f

Then we decided to paint the remaining stones. For the blue, we put them in a cookie tin with blue paint and shook until coated. “Loud!” Veronika said. The orange ones we painted normally with a paint brush.

Boredom 6 e

We left them to dry, and then by evening we could play games that involved two sides, like jacks…

Boredom 6 i

…or tic-tac-toe (make that tic-tac-rock).

Boredom 6 j

Cool Whip Painting

Cool Whip Painting (5)

What’s better than finger paint in the bath tub? Edible finger paint in the bath tub of course!

When I spotted this brilliant (and delicious) idea, I knew it would be worth the mess. For a vegan cool whip, try Whole Foods’ non-dairy whipped topping from the freezer aisle. Let thaw in the refrigerator about 3 hours prior to this activity and it will be the perfect consistency when you’re ready to play.

I divided the whipped topping evenly among the tins of a large muffin tray. Add drops of food coloring to each cup.

Cool Whip Painting (1)

To get the full rainbow, we mixed a few of our colors (red + yellow, blue + red). Older toddlers might enjoy helping with this step!

Cool Whip Painting (2)

Then I simply stripped Veronika down to a diaper, handed her a paint brush and set her loose in the tub. She immediately started painting.

Cool Whip Painting (3)

“A rainbow!” she said, even though she only had one line of color. What a perfect idea, so I started to paint stripes in rainbow order on the side of the tub. Some of the paint dripped onto her leg as a result. “Oh no!” she said, but I assured her it was okay because this paint was edible.

Cool Whip Painting (4)

She looked at me with surprise; usually I chide her not to eat paint, ha! So I dipped a finger in and held it up to her tongue. “Yummy!” she said with absolute delight.

Cool Whip Painting (6)

“Try blue?” So I dipped a finger in blue for her. “Try green?” You get the idea. Well clearly we were going to need plastic spoons!

Cool Whip Painting (8)

After this it became more feast than art project. At this point, big brother Travis needed to join in. He loved both taste-testing and smearing the paint on the tub with a brush.

Cool Whip Painting (9)

He even tried turning it into body paint!

Cool Whip Painting (11)

Meanwhile, I kept using the paintbrushes around my happy diners. This little fish was swimming right on the bottom of the ocean.

Cool Whip Painting (10)

Clean up was surprisingly easy. Strip everyone down and run the water and rinse (humans and tub alike). Travis even loved using a washcloth to scrub the walls until they were sparkly clean.

Cool Whip Painting (12)

Earth Burgers

Earth Burgers (4)

These black bean burgers (part of the Edible Elements kit from Raddish Kids), come from the earth, and make a hearty vegan entree!


  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 slices Daiya cheddar cheese
  • 4 burger buns
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 slice tomato
  1. Drain and rinse the black beans. Arrange on a double layer of paper towels on a baking sheet and let dry for 10 minutes.Earth Burgers (1)
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Add the black beans; mash with a potato masher until chunky (not completely smooth).
  3. Stir in the Ener-G egg and panko, stirring until the mixture is combined. Divide into 4 portions and shape each into a 3-inch patty.Earth Burgers (2)
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula (this was the cooking skill highlighted on the recipe card!). Top each burger with a slice of the cheddar and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  5. To assemble the burgers, place each patty on a bun, then top with a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice.

Travis loved these so much he devoured two! We talked about the meaning of the recipe’s name as we dined, and how beans and other plant-based foods come from the earth. We loved that Raddish had such a plant-focused recipe card!

Earth Burgers (5)

Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies (1)

With a leftover jar of sunflower seed butter in the pantry, I threw together these protein-packed cookies.


  • 1 and 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Add the sunflower seed butter, canola oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined.
  4. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto baking sheets, 12 cookies per sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies (2)

Vegan Peach Pancakes

Vegan Peach Pancakes (4)

We kicked off Travis’s Edible Elements kit from Raddish Kids with this recipe relying on… air. Ingredients that harness air include, yeast, baking soda, and baking powder, among others. Although we couldn’t make the original recipe (relying on eggs), Raddish always thoughtfully provides a delicious vegan alternative.


  • 2 medium peaches
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Earth Balance butter
  • Maple syrup
  1. Peel and slice the peaches, and set aside. The recipe card featured a helpful how-to on cutting stone fruit, and Travis enjoyed the challenge of peeling the peach!Vegan Peach Pancakes (2)
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, vinegar, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth.Vegan Peach Pancakes (1)
  4. Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup batter per pancake, and cook for 3 minutes, or until bubbles cover the tops. Add a few peach slices to each pancake, then flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.Vegan Peach Pancakes (3)
  5. Serve with the butter and maple syrup to taste!

Vegan Peach Pancakes (5)


American Flag Fruit Kabobs

American Flag Kebabs (4)

Here’s the perfect fruit salad for the 4th of July… In the shape of the American flag!

Ahead of time, cut 17 strawberries in half so you have 34 pieces total. You’ll also need 28 slices of banana and 30 blueberries. Then set out 11 skewers.

American Flag Kebabs (1)

Travis loved helping me puzzle through each skewer in order as we worked left to right across the flag. The first 5 skewers needed: strawberry, banana, strawberry, banana, and then six blueberries.

American Flag Kebabs (2)

The remaining 6 skewers needed: strawberry, banana, strawberry, banana, strawberry. I was so proud of Travis threading these on without poking himself!

American Flag Kebabs (3)

And now you have an American flag! Cue up the patriotic tunes as you work (You’re a Grand Old Flag comes to mind), and you have all the makings of a perfect start to Independence Day.

American Flag Kebabs (6)

You can share this fruit platter with a crowd… but Travis was determined to eat his away across Old Glory solo!

American Flag Kebabs (5)