Recipe: Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Aebleskiver

Crunchy Parent Gluten Free Dairy Freen Pumpkin Spice Aebleskiver Recipe

I love autumn and all of warm, rustic colors and flavors. I am grasping to these last few days of fall before the winter solstice rolls around in the weeks ahead; folding a bit of autumn into our lives here and there as I can.

One of our family traditions in to make a big batch of gluten free pancakes from scratch every weekend. Rich generally wields the spatula for these breakfasts. On occasion the kids will ask me to break out the Aebleskiver pan and make various iterations of the Danish filled pancake balls. We love filling them with chocolate chips, homemade jam, or leaving them unfilled and dipping in cinnamon sugar or drizzling with syrup.

The November Raw Spice Bar envelope included a packet of fresh, custom blended pumpkin pie spice and a recipe for round pumpkin ricotta donuts. The recipe was not a good fit for our food sensitivity needs but something about the shape of the donut reminded me of aebleskivers. I happened to have some leftover canned pumpkin around from another recipe and thus, gluten free, dairy free pumpkin aebleskivers were born. They were delicious stuffed with a sprinkle of chocolate chips in the center, but the hands down favorite was a spoonful of pumpkin butter in the middle. If I’d had apple butter around at the time, that would have been my next experimental combo. They were perfect little bites of fall.

The fresh, flavorful spices from Raw Spice Bar were delicious in this recipe, but you can substitute in any Pumpkin Pie spice blend or your own combination of autumnal spices such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, and ginger. You will need an Aebleskiver pan to make this recipe. I highly recommend using a cast iron pan (I have nothing nice to say about Teflon or its toxic, non-stick, chemical friends). I found mine at a thrift store, but Amazon or kitchenware stores should have them as well. To turn the ableskivers, I often opt for using bamboo and wood skewers. I happened not to have any on hand so toothpicks worked out in a pinch.

 

Ingredients:

2 c. milk substitute

1 T. lemon juice

1 1/2 T. coconut oil, melted (plus additional for frying aebleskivers)

2/3 c. canned pumpkin puree

2 eggs

2 c. gluten free flour

1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 T. sugar

goodies for filling aebleskivers such as pumpkin butter or apple butter, chocolate chips, jam or preserves

Directions:

  1.  In a bowl mix together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. In a second bowl, blend together milk substitute, lemon juice, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, and egg until well mixed.
  3. Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. IMG_3840
  4. Warm up your aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Brush the inside cavities of the pan with coconut oil to coat.
  5. Fill cavities approximately 1/2 full with batter.
  6. Quickly top with a dollop of your chosen filling, trying to keep filling in the center.

    Pumpkin butter fills the center.

    Pumpkin butter fills the center. (Overfilled the batter on these a bit-oops).

  7. Add another small dollop of batter to the top, covering your filling.
  8. When bottom browned (approximately 1-2 minutes,) carefully flip the aebleskiver and cook the second side until done. pumpkin spice aebleskiver recipe gluten and dairy free
  9. Serve warm aebleskivers sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or syrup and enjoy!
warm and gooey pumpkin butter center-yum!

warm and gooey pumpkin butter center-yum!

 

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Barganic Alert: Holistic Thanksgiving Deals Begin

Photo credit: John-Morgan / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: John-Morgan / Foter.com / CC BY

I have been enjoying this week of holiday preparation. The house is still a jumble of partially-unpacked moving boxes and I cannot recall where our china, tablecloths, or serving pieces may be. Fortunately our dinner guests are family members and close friends and they are forgiving souls (who also come bearing food so it helps to lighten the cooking load).

I hope that you are enjoying a day of autumn appreciation, gratitude, parades, good food, family, or however the holiday is meaningful for you. Since Thanksgiving, for better or for worse, often kicks of holiday shopping frenzy, I wanted to share some bargains that have come to my attention that may help you to stretch your dollar as you try to embrace healthy and holistic choices during the holiday season and into the new year.

Laurel WPO Winter Radiance Collection and Thankful Sale

I was first introduced to Laurel Whole Plant Organics at the A Night for Green Beauty event this past summer. The handcrafted, herbally-based skincare uses the highest quality whole plant ingredients to enhance and nourish your skin. Thanksgiving is the one time each year that the small company offers a sitewide sale. All items on the site will be 20% using the code THANKFUL20 at checkout. The sale starts Friday at 6:00pm PST and lasts until Monday at midnight PST. All orders over $100 ship for free. Every person who places an order during the sale will be entered in a raffle to win the last remaining Winter Radiance Collection; a seven-item, limited edition collection valued at $360.

Kloverbox holiday sale

As seen on the Ultimate Guide of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, the green lifestyle subscription service Kloverbox is offering daily discounts for the next few days. The subscription is regularly priced at $25.00/month and sends 4-7 sample and full sized products across the categories of beauty, health, nutrition and home. Starting Black Friday and extending through Sunday, Kloverbox will be offering a 20% discount off of subscriptions of varying lengths, bringing the individual box price down to as low as $18.00/month (no code required). Deals will change daily, so be sure to look for the subscription length that you wish to try and check in on that day.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Thrift Store Fall Haul: Adventures With My Tween

Crunchy Parent Thrift Store haul for tween or tween girl

Last weekend I finally admitted that the cold weather was here to stay for the season. It was not moment too soon as yesterday the Chicagoland area was blanketed with several inches of snow. Along with the plummeting temperatures came the cold, hard fact that twelve year-old Eva really needed warm clothing that would fit her. I think that she has fully outgrown her wardrobe at least four times in the past year, which is making it a challenge to keep her clothed.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have shopped for the kids’ clothes at children’s consignment sales for many years. I love consignment sales and thrift stores as a way to reduce our carbon footprint and to conserve our family’s financial resources. For us, spending money on healthy food and other wellness choices trumps fashion. I have also found that there are a lot of great clothes to be purchased through resale routes. Kids’ consignment sales are still a great resource for me to find clothes for Alina and Asher, but in the past year Eva has shot up to almost 5’6″ and has really grown beyond the sizes featured at most children’s sales. It is also difficult to buy clothes for her that she cannot try on for fit, and that cannot be returned if they don’t work for her. Clothing resales generally do not allow try-ons or returns.

To solve this lack-of-wardrobe challenge, Eva and I set out last weekend for our old neighborhood to hit the racks at a couple of my favorite thrift stores. The thrift stores that I have found by our new home have been very hit or miss, and I knew that making a day out driving to visit these stores would be a good use of our time. Eva balked a bit at the idea of a long drive to spend hours at thrift stores, but she too was getting tired of trying to get dressed for school each morning without clothing that fit properly.

Our first stop was a privately-owned thrift store that was featuring 50% off of two of their four tag colors on that day. Mind you, three days earlier I had received a text that everything in the store was 50% off, but pulling Eva out of school for a sale seemed irresponsible. I settled for my more modest sale and remaining in good parental standing. I was able to hold Eva’s attention at the jeans racks for a short while before I lost her to the books. I played the role of her personal shopper and loaded up the cart with jeans and tops that I thought that she would like, and then listened to her refrain of “are we almost done?” as I made her try everything on in the dressing room. In the end we left with several pairs of jeans, and a handful of sweaters, as well as a pair of pumps and a few books. I have a shopper card at the store, and although I completely do not understand their rewards program, I apparently had earned a $10 coupon previously which I applied to my purchase. After making this purchase, I earned another $10 coupon for a future visit.

Thrifted tween jeans: Aeropostale, Express, Guess, 7 For All Mankind

Thrifted tween jeans: Aeropostale, Express, Guess, 7 For All Mankind

Our second stop was to a large Goodwill store. Once again, I knew that my timing was not ideal because we were missing their % off tag days, but I was more concerned about getting the errand done than about getting the best deal for this trip. If we lived closer, I might have tried to capitalize on sales. As it turned out, it was student discount day and Eva was offered 10% off at checkout with her student ID (I knew that kid would pay off someday). Goodwill was a layering tee and sweater goldmine. We found another pair of jeans here too, and more books of course, but overall the tops won the day at Goodwill.

By the time we were done we were tired, thirsty, and hungry. The reward for our efforts was a new wardrobe to carry Eva through fall and winter, assuming that she doesn’t grow more by then (which I am not really assuming at all). It was interesting to see her style leanings. She is clearly straddling the worlds of girl and young woman. Her choices ranged from the cute and whimsical, to hipster.

Tween clothes: quirky and bright

Tween clothes: quirky and bright

I must admit that it is fun watching her grow up, and to spend the better part of a day shopping and laughing with her. Eva and I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time together. Even if the time was spent shopping, we still had fun.

Hipster chic: Gap, Halogen, Land's End, and LOFT (aka, "the one with the bacon sleeves.")

Hipster chic: Gap, Halogen, Land’s End, and LOFT (aka, “the one with the bacon sleeves.”)

It total we came home with a lot of great clothes at a fantastic price. There are a few items that I did not include in the photos (books, the pumps, a few new-with-tags camisoles, etc.) but by my count the pictured piles include 5 pairs of jeans, 16 long-sleeve and layering tees, and 16 sweaters, hoodies, and cardigans. Our total for these items, including our discounts and tax was $168 and change, or just over $4.50 per item.

thrift store haul-tops & jeans for tweens and teens

Eva has loved wearing her new-to-her clothes this week. I love that we were able to pull together a whole new wardrobe in a day filled with cute clothes to reflect different aspects of Eva’s personality. I like that we were able to buy it all at prices that don’t put us in debt. I also understand that Eva is at a stage in her life when she could wake up tomorrow having outgrown all of her clothes again, and that spills, stains, and accidents happen. Buying thrifted clothes means that I won’t be upset if these clothes end up being handed down, given away, or if they reach the end of their useful life in our home.

I think that buying previously-worn clothing still carries a stigma in our society where abundance is the norm, and “new” and “expensive” hold status. I also think that unless you are in a trendy-Boho area, the notion of a thrift store often conjures up images tantamount to indigent individuals dumpster-diving for any rags that they can find.

With a family of five, including three growing children who need new clothes every season if not sooner, buying the bulk of our wardrobe through thrift and resales is a lifestyle choice that has a big impact on our budget. These clothes will make up the bulk of what Eva will wear over the next six months. Our total expense for the thirty-seven items was close to the full retail price of one of the single higher-end items in the bunch. In addition, I feel much better from an ecological and social perspective getting more wear out of clothing items that are no longer useful to someone else, and easing the burden on other countries (and their children) to produce clothing for us to buy new, wear, and toss. The items purchased at Goodwill give the organization funds to train people for jobs. Moreover, even with a tween focused on how she looks, and wanting cute, trendy clothes, we were able to pull together great clothes from quality brands, and in very good previously worn condition.

What is your experience with thrift store shopping? Any great finds or tips to share?

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Mindfulness Box Zen Lifestyle Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Mindfulness Box

Mindfulness Box is a lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29.00 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY10 for 10% off of your order.

Mindfulness Box graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own. See more of my Mindfulness Box reviews here.

Asher and Alina have become my regular Mindfulness Box unboxing sidekicks. They love to see what interesting, useful, and tasty items will be included in the box. You can watch us unbox and discover, or if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with the sunny, smiling Mindfulness Box symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. Everything arrived to me safely and intact.

Mindfulness Box November unboxign & review

As always, Mindfulness Box included an enclosure card listing the contents along with descriptions and values, as well as suggestions for how to integrate the items into our life in a way that would promote mindfulness. We set the card aside so that we could discover the items on our own, but referenced it at the end to help us learn about what Mindfulness Box had curated for this month. This month’s theme was focused on gratitude, a perfect message for November when we shift our intention more mindfully to giving thanks.

Mindfulness box serpentine palm stone & heart chakra meditation

Alina had asked to be the first to unwrap an item from the box. She discovered a smooth, polished green stone. In reading the enclosure, we discovered that the stone was a serpentine palm crystal; perfect for carrying in a pocket or holding in one’s hand during meditation (value, $7.50). Mindfulness Box described serpentine as being excellent for meditation and associated with the heart chakra. They also included a heart chakra guided meditation activity.

Mindfulness box custom grateful tea towel

Asher wanted to find the next item in the box, and chose to take out a white tea towel that had been embellished with a stamped mandala design and the word “grateful” as well as the Mindfulness Box logo (value, $14.00). I really liked the unique design of this Mindfulness Box custom item. I do a lot of fermenting and culturing and often need to cover jars with a tea towel to protect my ferments from dust or critters while allowing air to circulate freely.

kombucha infusing with gratitude-mindfulness box

This tea towel was perfect for covering my most recent batch of kombucha. It made me think of Marasu Emoto’s work investigating the relationship between focused intention and water crystal formation. Although the science is dubious, I figure that it cannot hurt to infuse my kombucha and other ferments with a little positive energy and gratitude while they culture.

Mindfulness box gratitude pocket journal

Building on the theme of gratitude, Mindfulness Box sent a pocket-sized, softcover, gratitude journal; custom made as an exclusive for this box (value, $6.00). The journal included a number of writing prompts to reflect on gratitude and blessings, as well as inspiring quotes about gratitude.

Mindfulness box gratitude journal sample page November box

I look forward to using this journal for my own reflections as well as using the prompts to serve as conversation starters during dinner or discussion times with the kids this month. Rich and I often talk about gratitude and how to practice gratefulness in our life as a way to bring about greater happiness. This journal will be a welcomed addition to our practice.

Mindfulness Box Zenbunni chocolate & yo soy candle Grateful

Alina showed off the Zenbunni Spirit Weavers Chocolate Bar as her next selection (value, $3.00). We have gotten to sample several Zenbunni bars through subscription boxes and have become familiar with their high-quality, full-bodied chocolates. The Spirit Weavers bar commemorates the Spirit Weavers gathering that brings together women from around the world annually to practice and share skills that support the body and spirit such as fermenting, dyeing, and herbal medicine making. The biodynamic bar blends hibiscus, elder flowers, and blood orange with cacao and cane jaggery to give a delicious boost to the immune system. I enjoyed the hint of fruitiness balanced by the rich and slightly bitter chocolate.

Zenbunni Spirit Weavers chocolate bar Mindfulness Box

The final item, uncovered by Asher, was a Yo Soy “I am Grateful” soy candle in a sweet orange and chili pepper fragrance (4 oz., value, $8.00) I did not see this scent on the Yo Soy site, but they had many other tempting fragrances available. As is obvious in the video, my kids are very used to having little glass jars of homemade salves all around the house, which is why Asher kept trying to dig his finger into the candle (fortunately without success). As much as I love salves, I was happy that this was in fact a candle. I find that with the darker days in the fall and winter months, I am lighting candles more for meditation, during a relaxing bath, or to create a quiet tone within the house. I was delighted to have this candle to add into the mix, and I loved the fresh orange scent that was balanced with just a hint of spice from the pepper. According to Mindfulness Box, the candle is meant to align you with your intention of gratitude.

Mindfulness full November Box Unboxing & review; zen meditation, chocolate, crystals, gratitude

The overall value of this month’s box according to the retail values provided was $38.50. This is a good value relative to the box price, and a significant increase over last month’s box value. I know that I will use every item in the box, as well as the meditation and gratitude practices. I find that the longer that I have been receiving subscription boxes, the more I have come to appreciate item utility and goodness of fit with my lifestyle over straight retail price. After all, the ultimate value is in the perceived utility to me, not a theoretical number. I very much liked the gratefulness theme; it is one that is not just popular at this time of year, but is very much in keeping with Mindfulness Box’s year-round mission. I like that Mindfulness Box consistently sends a nice balance of items for home, for self, and for emotional and spiritual wellness.

What are your thoughts about Mindfulness Box? Do you appreciate reminders and practices to promote gratitude in your life?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find them on my ULTIMATE list, recently updated for fall. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Fiber Art Tutorial: Creating Prefelts & Felt Sheets through Wet Felting

Crunchy Parent fiber art tutorial creating prefelts & felt sheets through wet felting (with video)

There is just something about fall weather and wool for me. The change of the seasons and crispness in the air inspires me to to recreate what I see outdoors in a woolen form.

In this tutorial I take you through the process of creating your own custom sheets of wool felt or wool prefelts to serve as the foundation for many crafting projects. The process of wet felting the wool can be carried all the way through to create firmly felted, sturdy sheets of textile that can be cut, sewn, and used in countless craft projects. Another option is to more loosely felt the sheets into prefelts that grant the flexibility of being embellished in future projects, such as through needle felting, or incorporated into other projects. Your prefelted sheet can serve as the base for a playscape or be felted onto a figure or other piece of felt crafting. For a more in depth look at the difference between prefelts and felt sheets, and suggestions for using prefelts, read this article.

Wool batting & roving waiting to become something pretty.

Wool batting & roving waiting to become something pretty.

To create your felt or prefelt sheet, you will need the basic materials of water, soap, wool batting or roving, and some bubble wrap. In addition, you can use embellishments in your work such as bits of wool or silk yarn, dyed silk scraps, curly wool locks, angelina fibers for sparkle, or bits of prefelts. You can also use tools to expedite or simplify your work process. These include towels, a sushi mat, piece of foam pool noodle or rolling pin, or one of these beautiful “hand washboard” felting tools. Rubber bands or pieces of yarn or scrap fabric to tie your roll together may also come in handy as you work, and you may need some tape to attach multiple pieces of bubble wrap for larger projects, as demonstrated in the video.

Reclaimed wool yarn, sari silk yarn, & curly wool locks add character.

Reclaimed wool yarn, sari silk yarn, & curly wool locks add character.

As I’ve mentioned before, the wool fiber supplies can be gathered from many retail sources online and through craft sites such as Etsy or ebay. You may also be lucky enough to have fiber shops or a Waldorf school local to you who may carry supplies. I purchased some of my colored batting through Peace Fleece. I also love shopping at Esther’s Place Fiber Arts Studio, which was my local fiber shop prior to our move, and where I stopped in for a visit recently as I said in the video. The studio is run by a lovely crunchy family. For those who are not local to them, they do sell products online and through Etsy as well. I have even noticed that chain-store craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabric carry a limited selection of needle felting tools, kits, and supplies, wool batting, and roving as well if you wish to go that route.

I am not entirely sure what I will create next with the sheet that I made. It is softly felted enough that I can use it as a prefelt for future crafting, but sturdy enough that I may use it to craft some fall leaves to combine with the wool acorns that I made recently to create a wreath or a garland. Any thoughts?

If you are interested in seeing other crafting tutorials, take a look here. While there, subscribe to the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel for more crafting videos to come.

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Barganic Alert: Kings Road Apothecary 3-day Fall Sale

Crunchy Parent Barganic Alert: Kings Road Apothecary 3-day fall sale

As seen in the Crunchy Parent Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, King’s Road Apothecary is a indie herbal company owned by herbalist Rebecca Altman. KRA offers a subscription service of wildcrafted and handmade products through their monthly surprise boxes. The Kings Road Apothecary site also sells other handcrafted seasonal herbal products to support a healthier, happier body inside and out with items such as teas, elixirs, and salves; candles, oils, and serums.

In celebration of her upcoming birthday, Rebecca is offering 15% off all orders now through Monday night. Just enter the code HAPPYBIRTHDAY at checkout. Subscription boxes qualify for this promotion, and I noticed the September, October, and November boxes were all still available as of this writing, as are a handful of six-month subscription shares. In addition to the subscription boxes, services such as a private consultation with a custom made elixir; best-selling products like the Busted Joint Ointment; and subscription box favorites such as Coconut & Vanilla Sugar Scrub and Kava Kava & Palo Santo Massage Oil are all available to purchase.

To get a sense of what to expect from the Kings Road Apothecary Surprise Boxes, you can see my unboxing and reviews from prior months here. I will be reviewing the October box in the days ahead, but spoiler: it smelled wonderful and was a box filled with relaxation.

Are you going to take advantage of this sale? what are some of your favorite KRA products or healing and nourishing herbs?

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Barganic Alert: Yuzen Fall Favorites Sale

Yuzen Fall Favorites Sale Box

As seen in the Crunchy Parent Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, green lifestyle subscription Yuzen offers quarterly boxes of natural and green beauty, snack, and home products to bring zen and mindfulness to your life. On occasion, Yuzen offers special, limited edition boxes at sale prices.

Right now, Yuzen is offering a limited edition Fall Favorites Box. The cost of the box is $24.00. There are six items in the box, including:

ZENTS Mandarin Ultra Rich Shea Butter Soap (5.7 oz bar)
TORIE AND HOWARD Organic Lemon & Raspberry Hard Candies (2 oz)
SHEA MOISTURE Replenish & Rejuvenate Hand Cream (3.2 fl oz)
NUBIAN HERITAGE Indian Hemp & Haitian Vetiver Body Wash (3 fl oz)
NUBIAN HERITAGE Honey & Black Seed Deodorant (2.25 oz)
COWGIRL Extreme E Serum (.25 fl oz)

This is a single box purchase and will not start a re-billing subscription with Yuzen. So if you want Yuzen to help you embrace fall with some of their favorites, be sure to grab one of these boxes. They are limited edition, so when they are gone, they are gone.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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The Halloween Fairy Talks: 50+ Ideas for Non-Edible Halloween Treats and Gifts

Photo credit: anathea / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: anathea / Foter / CC BY

As I mentioned earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to secure an exclusive interview with the Halloween Fairy. For those unfamiliar with her, the Halloween Fairy works in cooperation with volunteer children to collect candy on Halloween and deliver it to kids who were unable to participate in Trick or Treating. Volunteer children leave some or all of their candy for the Fairy on Halloween night. In the morning the kids can find what the Halloween Fairy has left them; often a mix of small gifts and different candies, better suited for the volunteer child.

With our combination of food allergies and sensitivities, as well as a penchant for preferring more natural candies than those typically offered on Halloween, our kids are perfect candidates for Halloween Fairy volunteers. We have been exchanging with the Halloween Fairy since Eva was in preschool. Recently, I wrote about some of the Halloween Fairy’s favorite resources for finding natural, GMO-free, food-allergy sensitive, and other “healthier” treats for her Halloween exchanges. I also wanted to take time to share some of the Halloween Fairy’s suggestions for non-edible treats that the she has left for our kids and for other children to discover after Halloween.

There are 50+ suggestions below that are often a good fit for a lot of kids. The Halloween Fairy tends to emphasize items that will help the children transition into fall and winter and to appreciate nature and the changes that they see around them at this time of year. She usually brings each child a few small gifts to enjoy. Some links have been provided as examples. They are not meant to be endorsements, and neither the Halloween Fairy nor I are affiliated with any of the vendors linked. In fact, the Halloween Fairy often crafts items herself when she can.


cheekycrows3 / Foter / CC BY-ND

1. Colored chalk
2. Colored pencils or Halloween-themed pencils
3. Crayons (a few new fall colors, perhaps)
4. Crayon roll or Stand
5. Coloring book
6. “Sticks” of modeling beeswax in fall shades (sometimes Waldorf school stores will sell individual sticks)
7. Watercolor paper and paints
8. Small tubs of natural craft “dough” (can be scented with essential oils if homemade)
9. Journal
10. Small vehicles such as die-cast or wood cars, trucks, or trains
11. Bracelet
12. Necklace
13. Barrettes
14. Playsilk or silk handkerchief in an autumn color
15. Wooden figure such as a squirrel or owl
16. Peg dolls, especially fun in “costumes” or other autumn themes
17. Autumn fairies or gnomes
18. Toy pumpkins: knitted, felted, or wood
19. Felting kit
20. Wool ball with an autumn theme (tutorial)
21. Playfood-knitted and wood examples
22. A little pocket friend (e.g., mouse, dragon baby, mole)
23. Silk streamer
24. Ribbon rings/hand kite
25. Jacob’s ladder
26. Wood brain teaser puzzles
27. Finger puppets
28. Bean bags
29. Kazoo
30. Whistle
31. Yo-yo
32. Wool acorns (tutorial)
33. Natural treasures (acorns, stones, pine cones, sea glass, pods, seeds, etc.)
34. Day pass to a children’s museum, zoo, arboretum, botanic garden, etc.
35. Ticket to a local children’s theater performance
36. Ticket to a movie
37. Age-appropriate book with an autumn or Halloween theme
38. Stickers, maybe Halloween or autumn-themed
39. Fancy bandages
40. Fun or fancy toothbrush
41. Non-toxic nail polish
42. All-natural lip balm
43. Travel size natural hand lotion
44. Travel size natural bath products in yummy fall scent
45. Cute knit wool hat
46. Adorable mittens or these
47. Scarf
48. Suncatcher
49. Dreamcatcher
50. Flower press or leaf press
51. Herbal tea (technically edible, but great for fall and certainly not candy)

The Halloween Fairy and I hope that these ideas will inspire a happier Halloween for your child should he or she choose to partner with the Halloween Fairy this year. Has the Halloween Fairy blessed your child with a special gift or treat that was especially appreciated?

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Barganic Alert: Vegan Cuts Fall/Winter Style Box

Vegan Cuts Fashion Style Box

Vegan Cuts is one of the many crunchy-friendly subscription box services featured in the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They source and send quality, 100% cruelty-free cosmetic, skin care, and beauty products to their monthly subscribers. On occasion, Vegan Cuts curates limited edition themed boxes available for purchase individually.

Vegan Cuts is currently offering a Fall/Winter Style Box filled with jewelry, cosmetics, and accessories to keep your look on trend and in style as the seasons change. All items included are cruelty free and vegan. Box price is $49.00 and ships free to the U.S. The box features 6 items worth over $150, including:

Badala Kalenjin Charcoal Druzy Earrings – 12mm diameter
Della Turban Headband – Various Colors – 18″ circumference
Deux Lux Zip Wallet – Various Colors – 7.5″ × 4″ × 1″
Gleam by Melanie Mills Lip Radiance in Pop my Cork – 0.176 oz
Pacifica’s Supernatural Eye Shadow Trio – Various Colors
Pewilben Mini Sleek Black Vegan Leather Bangles – 8″ (Set of 3)
BEETxBEET coupon

See link above for item photos and details, as well as to purchase. This is a one-time box purchase and will not start a re-billing subscription with Vegan Cuts. Boxes will start shipping the week of October 26th.

I love the look of these items and the idea that a few color changes and accessories can really help freshen up a wardrobe for a new season, and those druzy earrings are gorgeous! Are you going to take advantage of one of the Vegan Cuts limited edition Fall/Winter Style boxes?

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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The Halloween Fairy Spills the Beans: Resources for Natural Halloween Candies & Food Allergy Safe Treats

Crunchy Parent-Where to easily find treats for a natural, food allergy safe Halloween

As I recently mentioned, our children work in partnership with the Halloween Fairy every year. The kids go Trick-or-Treating and gather candy throughout the neighborhood. At the end of the evening they each get to keep any non-edible Halloween goodies as well as select 5-10 pieces of their Halloween loot to enjoy over the days ahead. They have to avoid their specific allergens, but we allow them to save candies even if they contain food dyes or artificial flavors, genetically modified sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc., which of course is in basically all conventional candy. I cringe a bit inside, but it’s about finding balance so that is the route that we take right now.

When the selections are complete, the kids gather up the remaining candy and leave it in their collection buckets for the Halloween Fairy. During the night, the fairy comes and takes the candy, to be distributed later to children who did not get to go Trick or Treating on Halloween. In exchange for the candies left, the Halloween Fairy always delights our kids with very special sweets and treats that are free of artificial dyes and flavors, and do not contain the allergens that each child avoids. She also gives them small gifts that are non-edible.

The children are always so excited to wake up in the morning on November 1st and see what treasures await them. The Halloween Fairy seems to know some really esoteric and amazing Halloween treats. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to interview the Halloween Fairy and she gave me the exclusive scoop as to where to find some of her favorite natural and food allergy-friendly Halloween treats. I went and toured some of the local spots myself, and am excited to share my finds with you. The Halloween Fairy even told me about some online resources for those who prefer to shop online.

We also talked about a lot of great non-edible gifts that she brings to delight children too. I will post a second interview recap in a couple of days with those ideas. For today, we’ll consider this a celebration of the edible abundance that is Halloween to many children, with gratitude that the Halloween Fairy makes that aspect healthier and safer for many children.

Just before we get to that, she asked me to mention that she takes care to consider our children’s food needs which include sensitivities and allergies of varying degrees to gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame depending on the child. What she brings my children may not meet the needs of your children in terms of ingredients or manufacturing purity. Always read labels and consider the needs of your child before adding it to your approved list for the Halloween Fairy. Now, on with the show….

Probably the most widely accessible natural candy resource that the Halloween Fairy mentioned is the local drugstore. On a recent trip to Walgreens, I spotted one of our longtime-favorites, natural candy brand YumEarth (formerly Yummy Earth). We fell in love with their products back when all they made were delicious lollipops. They have since expanded the line to include gummy candies, jelly beans, sour gummies, hard candies, and licorice. All of their candies are free from most common allergens, organic, and GMO-free. They do not use any artificial colors or flavors. Moreover, their flavors are a blend of the more unique (e.g., tangerine/mango, blueberry, pomegranate) and the classics (e.g., grape, cherry, strawberry). All are delicious. My local Walgreens carried a selection of their line that I know would be a happy find on Halloween morning.

YumEarth sighting at Walgreens.

YumEarth sighting at Walgreens.

If the drugstore selection leaves you wanting for more, the local Target store also carries YumEarth products. They are even 10% off in my Target Cartwheel app right now, and Target had some really cute Halloween-themed YE products. In addition, Target carries other natural candy options including Surf Sweets (see below).

Depending on the dietary needs of the children in your home, Target offers many choices. Our local Super Target carries Unreal chocolate products. The brand started as a response to the artificial ingredients found in common candies like M&Ms. They tweaked the concept, making their candies fair trade and free of GMOs and gluten. They also only use natural color in their candies, and leave out any artificial flavors. Their signature “chocolate drops” contain dairy, but a number of their candies, such as their dark chocolate peanut butter cups are both gluten and dairy free. Check their website for store locations. Not all Target stores carry their line.

Justin's organic peanut butter cups and nut butters at Target.

Justin’s organic peanut butter cups and nut butters at Target.

If nuts are okay for your child, Target also carries a selection of organic, GMO-free, products from Justin’s, including their dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and single-serve sized squeeze packs of sweet nut butters like maple or vanilla almond butter or chocolate hazelnut butter. Justin’s even makes snack packs of their nut butters with gluten free pretzels for dipping.

BarkThins at Target. Yum!

BarkThins at Target. Yum!

Another win for the chocolate lovers, Target has a selection of snacking chocolates from BarkThins. We absolutely adore their blueberry quinoa variety which does not contain any gluten, dairy, or nut ingredients. BarkThin’s products are also Fair Trade and free from GMOs.

Gluten free granola bars at Target. Some contain nuts, some do not.

Gluten free granola bars at Target. Some contain nuts, some do not.

Of course, not all sweet treats need to be candy to be enjoyed for Halloween. Target has a host of dye free and food allergy friendly granola bars and cookies, as well as dried organic fruits, and delicious toasted coconut chips free from GMOs.

Organic banana chips and coconut chips at Target. Puts some natural sweetness into Halloween.

Organic banana chips and coconut chips at Target. Puts some natural sweetness into Halloween.

Another favorite shopping destination for us, that the Halloween Fairy seems to favor as well is Trader Joe’s. There you can find a host of more natural sweet treat options. They do a very nice job of highlighting items that are vegan, as well as those that are gluten-free or free from gluten-containing ingredients.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are great for a more natural or food allergy safe  Halloween with only three ingredients.

Made with only three ingredients, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are great for a more natural or food allergy safe Halloween.

I am a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s three-ingredient, dark chocolate honey mints. They are a much purer, healthier, and creamier version of York Peppermint Patties. Other family favorites include TJ’s vanilla meringues, gluten free ginger snaps, and naturally colored and flavored fruit jellies, among so many other great options.

Trader Joe's natural Fruit Jellies.

Trader Joe’s natural Fruit Jellies.

It came as no surprise to me that the Halloween Fairy mentioned Whole Foods as a great place to find Halloween treats that could be enjoyed by children with differing food needs. On a recent trip to Whole Foods, Alina and I quickly stumbled upon an entire food-allergy friendly, dye-free Halloween display with brands like YumEarth, Justin’s, Annie’s Homegrown, Surf Sweets, and TruJoy.

Whole Foods Halloween display of natural and food-allergy safe candy treats.

Whole Foods Halloween display of natural and food-allergy safe candy treats.

Alina was especially captivated by a bag of Surf Sweets gummy spiders and Truejoy’s organic fruit chews, which are comparable to Starbursts. The aisles of Whole Foods were packed with myriad candy, non-candy sweets, and less sweet options that would be very well-received by my kids come November 1st morning.

Food Allergy safe chocolate candies at Fresh Thyme market.

Food Allergy safe chocolate candies at Fresh Thyme market.

My talk with the Halloween Fairy even inspired me to check out my local specialty grocer, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. They are a small healthy, fresh, grocery chain in the Midwest. Fresh Thyme had wonderful food allergy-friendly chocolate candy options; a host of raw, organic, vegan, and gluten free macaroons and granolas, and even raw, sprouted cookies. I also saw micro-brewed, natural, sodas that would be a huge treat for my girls; some of which were even stevia sweetened to temper the sugar rush that is Halloween.

All natural and stevia-sweetened sodas.

All natural and stevia-sweetened sodas.

If you follow me on Twitter you know that I even walked out with my own bag of Hail Merry macaroons that were somewhat alarming in their deliciousness. I am sure that other smaller grocery chains that cater to a “healthier” demographic would have similar offerings. You may want to direct the Halloween Fairy to them if she is less familiar with the smaller markets in your neighborhood.

Delicious Hail Merry macaroons offer another natural, gluten-free, vegan treat option from the Halloween Fairy.

Delicious Hail Merry macaroons offer another natural, gluten-free, vegan treat option from the Halloween Fairy.

The Halloween Fairy is as busy as the rest of us this time of year, if not busier. Sometimes online ordering can simplify or ease the process of getting all of the goodies that will be “just right” for the children that she will be visiting. She shared with me that one of her very favorite online resources is Natural Candy Store. Everything that they sell is free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and dyes; as well as being free of preservatives and hydrogenated oils. They also have an amazing special diets search option that allows the buyer to select the exact allergens that they need to avoid, as well as the level of stringency for each ingredient (e.g., “no milk ingredients” vs. “strict milk free”).

I recognized many of our favorites from the Halloween Fairy at this site, including some absolutely delicious stand-ins for Snickers, Butterfinger, Milky Way, or Three Muskateers bars. I cannot express how special it is for my children to receive those “real” candy bars once a year. They look forward to it so much, and always hope that the Halloween Fairy remembers these favorites.

Other candies that the kids often see but don’t get to enjoy due to allergies included versions that they could eat of candies such as taffy, Tootsie Rolls, and candy corn. I also loved these fun Halloween lollipops. They reminded me of a year that the Halloween Fairy got especially ambitious. She ordered lollipop molds in Halloween shapes and made her own lollipops for my kids-oh Halloween Fairy, bless your heart.

Actually, the Halloween Fairy has surprised the children with many successful homemade goodies over the years. This can be a great option to ensure that she knows exactly what ingredients were used and to save money versus purchasing all of her specialty treats. She has left small bags of popcorn or vegan caramel corn, vegan pumpkin seed brittle, maple candy, crisped rice marshmallow treats, and homemade marshmallows. We really think that the Halloween Fairy rocks.

Of course, some years the Halloween Fairy likes to let her Amazon Prime account do the heavy lifting for her. She can order and have everything delivered right to her door in a snap. Sunkist Fruit Gems are a great Amazon option because they seem almost impossible to find in stores. Perhaps it’s because they are gluten free, colored and flavored naturally, and are made in a peanut free factory. They also have a satisfying gummy texture that doesn’t make the crowns on my teeth twitch, so that’s a win. YumEarth and Surf Sweets can also be found on Amazon. For the gum chewers, Amazon carries Spry, Glee, and Pur, all of which are free of artificial flavors and dyes, and are sweetened with xylitol.

With so many options, the Halloween Fairy could easily shower your child or children with Halloween abundance to rival that of any conventional candy-eating kid. Of course, not every family is looking to place so much emphasis on the candy that surrounds the holiday. As mentioned earlier, the Halloween Fairy also talked with me about some of her favorite non-edible gift ideas. She mentioned many of the things that she has left for my kids and many others over the years that have been well-received, and have helped to carry on the memory of Halloween longer than an overindulged-Halloween-induced stomachache might ever last. In fact, they are so delightful that you may just decide to go candy-free for Halloween altogether.

I will be recapping the non-edible suggestions from the second part of our interview in the days ahead. Please be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com so that you don’t miss out on this, and other exclusive magical interviews. Happy (almost) Halloween!

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