How to Choose Cleaner Art Supplies for Your Kids 

Around here, we’re always looking for opportunities to empower you and your family to clean up as many areas of your life as possible. We focus a lot of our efforts on food, skin care, and household products, but the (unsettling) truth is that there are less-than-safe ingredients lurking in places where you might not expect them. I hate to be the bearer of bad news on this, but your kids’ art supplies might be one such place. 

Girl holding non toxic crayonsNon Toxic Art Supplies for Toddlers and Kids

How to keep your creativity safe.


Here’s a fun fact about me: Before I started running Lexi’s Clean Kitchen full-time, I was an elementary art teacher! I quite literally spent my days working with kids and teaching them how to cultivate their creativity through art projects. It’s no wonder that now I have strong opinions about what’s in the supplies we give our children to use when they’re ready to create! Parents and teachers — I want to arm you with allllll the information you need to make smart choices about the supplies you keep on hand. So here’s the deal… 

Unfortunately, we’ve all gotten a little too comfortable with the ever-presence of toxins and chemicals in pretty much everything around us. Sure, we can fight back by cooking clean in our own kitchens and purchasing safe products for our homes and bodies, but beyond that, it can feel overwhelming to consider what needs to be cleaned up. If we’re going to let our kiddos get their hands dirty with art supplies, we just have to accept that those supplies might be made with ingredients that are less than squeaky clean. Right? Wrong — especially when you stop and think about how much littles can be affected by chemicals in their art supplies.

non toxic markers

If you’ve been around a child for more than a few minutes, you already know that they tend to put everything in their mouths. As if it’s not enough for them to be covered head to toe in paint or markers, those color-spattered fingers somehow always manage to make their way into a mini-artist’s mouth, no matter how much you try to redirect them. As a result, whatever is in those supplies is absorbed in multiple ways — through the skin, through the mouth, and even in the air they breathe. And since young immune systems are not as strong as their adult counterparts, kids are that much more at risk from absorbing chemicals. 

Unfortunately, the mainstream art supply industry has done very little to address this problem. Products are not subject to substantial health regulations, so your kids’ favorite art supplies can contain everything from lead and other heavy metals to formaldehyde to ammonia to rubber cement to to varnishes. 

Non Toxic Art Supplies Options

Before you throw out all of your child’s favorite supplies and tell them that craft time is over for good, though, hear me out! There are plenty of alternatives out there that you can feel really good about sharing with your kiddos. Non toxic art supplies are here to save the day! We tried out some of the highest rated non-toxic art supplies and materials out there to give you our take. Food Editor Kelli Avila’s kids were happy to help out and give their honesty 4 and 5 year-old opinion as well!

Girl coloring with non toxic art supplies

Natural Kid’s Paint

The options: Next time you pick up paints for your kids, try to stay away from anything oil-based or containing pigments from highly toxic metals like cadmium, arsenic, and lead. These can contain formaldehyde! Now that you know what not to look for, here’s what’s good: water-based paints! The Earth Paint Kit from Natural Earth Paint arrives as powders that are then mixed with water. It’s made with natural earth pigments, organic corn starch, and tree sap, so you don’t have to worry about any of the dangerous toxins that you might find in an oil-based option.

If your kids really like to get their hands dirty, you might also want to check out finger paints from eco-kids! They’re made from non-toxic, natural ingredients, so your little ones can go as crazy as they want with them… well, until they start painting on your furniture, I guess. At least you know they’re safe, right?

Our verdict: We’ve tried out both of these eco-friendly and safer options and we are over-the-moon with the ingredients. But we can say that they don’t work quite the same as a standard commercial kid’s paint. Our verdict would be that these are such a better option for kids that are potentially ingesting paint, or kids who are covered in paint at the end of their creative play to limit any severe exposure. Older kids who are used to regular paint may not be as thrilled about these safer paints if they are used to the traditional ones.

Non Toxic Crayons

The options: Most crayon brands use petroleum-based paraffin wax and chemical-based colors. Your better options are the ones made with beeswax or soy wax and non-toxic pigments. There are lots of great brands out there! Check out Earth Grown Crayons, eco-kids, Stockmar, Azafran, Honeysticks, Filana, and Crayon Rocks. Your kids will love them all! 

Our Verdict: There is virtually no difference for kids between these safer crayons. Our favorites were the Honeysticks!

non toxic crayon review

Non Toxic Colored Pencils

Colored pencils can have many of the same toxicity issues as crayons, plus they’re often coated with toxic varnish. You can keep your kids away from these chemicals and show a little extra love to the Earth by opting for pencils made from sustainable wood. Trimax pencils, for example, are made from reforested wood and with a natural-lacquer finish. Eco Highlighter pencils from Stubby Pencil Studio have similar benefits, and are a great alternative to highlighter markers, which are not sustainable or recyclable. Faber-Castell EcoPencils come in every color your kids could wish for, and pencils from Lyra and Tombow are also safe, fun choices. 

Our Verdict: Similarly to the crayons, there is virtually no difference for kids between these safer pencils and traditional colored pencils. We also loved the natural look of some of the colored pencils!

Non Toxic Markers

The option: Like paints and crayons, markers can get all over your kiddos’ hands… and then straight into their mouths. Since many traditional marker formulas contain alcohols and harsh chemical solvents, this is definitely not ideal! The artificial scents from some markers can be fun to sniff, but they also generate less-than-safe fumes. Unscented, water-based markers like the European brand Jolly are a much safer choice. 

Our Verdict: The kids loved playing with these and they lasted well!

Gluten Free Playdough

The options: Protect your kids from the PVC material found in many polymer clays by choosing natural clays, instead. eco-kids makes a super fun party pack which you can purchase ready-made! Or you can check out the unscented brand Aroma that is safe from the top 8 allergens.

Our verdict: The kids didn’t notice any difference between the gluten-free play dough without any harsh chemicals but we did notice it was slightly more crumbly than traditional wheat playdough. However, it’s a small price to pay for safer materials for your kids (who didn’t notice the difference anyway!).

Gluten free play dough stacked up

Other Options for Safer Art Supplies

Going beyond just the standard crayons, markers and play dough there are lots of other options out there for safer materials for craft time. Here are a few:

Non Toxic Glue

Glue can be especially dangerous for kids, since many brands emit toxic volatile organic compounds, which become vapors or gases that tiny artists can breathe in. Say goodbye to rubber cement and set your sights on water-based glues, such as TessaBunnys, which makes a vegan, non-toxic, non-GMO, petroleum-free alternative. 

Safer Sidewalk Chalk

Nothing says summer quite as well (or as colorfully) as sidewalk chalk. Steer clear of any chalks that contain artificial dyes and be wary of brands that might even be contaminated with heavy metals. Chalks colored with vegetable dye are the best bet! Give Prang a try. 

Pads/Paper 

All art paper is not created equal! While you’re cleaning up your kids’ art supply collection, you might as well try out some more eco-friendly paper brands so that you can be sure that you’re being kind to the environment while you’re being kinder to your family’s health. eco-kids and Strathmore fit the bill.


Ways to support your child's art education

I can’t wait to see what your kid’s create with their safer supplies! 


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Safer Art Supplies For Kids

Cauliflower Baked Ziti

This Cauliflower Baked Ziti from the No Excuses Detox Cookbook is the perfect LOW-CARB vegetarian meal! I love the idea of using cauliflower as a lower carb and higher nutrient alternative! This dish is so creamy, dreamy, and a great gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free, and vegetarian meal the kiddos will LOVE!

I was super excited when my friend Megan from The Detoxinista’s newest book arrived! It’s filled with so many family friendly recipes that I cannot wait to make. I started with this Cauliflower Baked Ziti since we are in a grove with our Meatless Monday series! If you tolerate cheese, this recipe is for you!

Here are a few others that I have my eye on:

Butternut Mac n’ Cheese

Sweet Potato Queso

Loaded Nacho Dip

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Avocado Caesar Salad

Strawberries & Cream Freezer Pops

Frosty Chocolate Shakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Cauliflower Baked Ziti

Prep Time 00:05 Cook Time 00:45 Total Time 0:50 Yields 4

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets and chopped
  • 2 cups pizza sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven, combine the cauliflower and pizza sauce and stir well to coat. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and, once at bubbling, lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot to let the cauliflower cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, grated Romano cheese, ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning and salt. Set aside.
  3. After the cauliflower is tender, stir in the spinach and simmer to cook off any excess moisture in the pot, to ensure that the final result isn’t watery. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the egg and cheese mixture. Top with the shredded cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, until the eggs have set and the cheese is bubbly on top. Allow the dish to cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • *If you want to add meat, sauté it separately, and then add it to the mixture before baking!
  • *Make this a freezer-friendly meal: Follow steps 1-3, instead of baking it, pour the ingredients into an oven-safe dish. Cover well and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and bake!
  • *Adapted with permission from the No Excuses Detox Cookbook by Megan Gilmore
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There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation, at no cost to you! However, I only recommend products I absolutely love and use in my own home! Thank you for supporting Lexi's Clean Kitchen when you shop! See my privacy policy for more information about this, the information we save, and more!

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St Patrick’s Day Green Pancakes {Hidden Veggie}

St Patrick’s Day is around the corner and whether you have Irish roots or not, it’s all about all things GREEN. Green smoothies, green pancakes, green cupcakes. Am I right? Yes, definitely right. At least about the green pancakes! These are the best fluffy paleo pancakes, made green with a hidden veggie!

hidden veggie pancakes

St Patrick’s Day Green Pancakes

I’m really into hidden veggies lately. My neighbor has the most adorable toddler who doesn’t love eating veggies. After talking with her about sneaking veggies into food for her kids, I knew getting creative to do so would be fun; and can be holiday-festive, too! These are not only perfect for your stubborn junk-food loving kiddo, but spouse and adults alike. Now let’s nourish your family with a festive breakfast packed with good-for-you ingredients!

Side note: You don’t taste the veggies one bit in these. Kid-approved!

Best paleo pancakes

If you like this festive St. Patrick’s Day recipe, try these:

GREEN Pancakes

St. Patty's Day Green Pancakes {Hidden Veggie}
Yields 8
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  2. 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  5. 1 cup fresh spinach
  6. 1 tsp baking powder
  7. 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or add-ins of choice
Instructions
  1. In a bowl combine almond flour, tapioca, baking powder, and dash of sea salt
  2. Add in eggs and mix
  3. In your blender, blend spinach and apple sauce until smooth then add to your batter
  4. Mix well to combine
  5. Add in chocolate chips or add-ins of choice
  6. Heat grass-fed butter in a skillet over medium heat and pour in batter
  7. Let cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown
  8. Continue with remaining batter
  9. Transfer to a plate and serve
Lexi's Clean Kitchen https://lexiscleankitchen.com/

I was selected by American Express to contribute to their Tumblr community. As such I was paid for my services, but all opinions in general and about American express are my own.

How do you sneak veggies in for your family?

Paleo {& Nut-Free} Crispy Chicken Tenders & A Healthy Back To School Menu

Happy MONDAY, you guys! Remember the epic Valentine’s Day, Spring Salads, and Mother’s Day Brunch round-ups this past year? Well, my lovely and talented blogger friends and I are back at it! Bringing you recipes that’ll fuel your family for the start of a new school year.

BONUS! We’re also giving away TWO $100 Amazon gift cards below, to help you get started on that back-to-school shopping!

meet-the-team

Personally, I am headed back into my classroom today, and my students arrive on Wednesday. So that meals Sunday meal prep will be in full-force. It means I need my energy!

Healthy Back to School Menu

You’ll find a Vanilla Breakfast Quinoa Bowl from Fit Foodie Finds, my new Crispy (and nut-free) Chicken StripsTwo-Bite Hidden Veggie Brownies from The Healthy Maven, and an after school Almond Joy Smoothie from Nosh and Nourish!

Let’s start with breakfast, shall we?

Vanilla Bean Breakfast Quinoa from Lee @ Fit Foodie Finds! A great, delicious, and nutritious breakfast.  breakfast-quinoaNow, you’re going to want to throw these Hidden Veggie Two-Bite Brownies in your kids lunch box, along with yours! From Davida, The Healthy Maven.

Hidden Veggies Two-Bite Brownies

Along with those bites, pack my new Crispy (paleo and nut-free) Chicken Strips with a side of your kiddos favorite dipping sauce (and a veggie).

Scroll all the way down for the recipe!Crispy Nut-free Chicken StripsLastly, make this Almond Joy Smoothie from Kelly at Nosh and Nourish for that after school deliciousness! 

babycakes sippingHow cute is Kelly’s daughter?

Now, let’s talk about those tenders. Crispy, breaded, tender, delicious, nut-free, and baked! Great for those nut-free classrooms you may or may not have!

Crispy Nut-free Chicken Strips

Paleo and Nut-Free Crispy Chicken Strips
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. organic chicken breasts
  2. 2 organic, pasture-raised eggs
  3. 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  4. 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  5. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  6. Dash Himalayan sea salt
  7. Dash freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a bowl combine flours, salt, and pepper
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs
  4. Dip sliced chicken breasts into egg, then dredge in flour mixture- repeat until all chicken is coated
  5. Place chicken on lined baking sheet
  6. Bake until crispy and golden, flipping halfway through, but juicy in the center* (for me this was about 10 minutes each side)
Notes
  1. *Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken. Make sure to keep an on eye on them to avoid overcooking.
Lexi's Clean Kitchen https://lexiscleankitchen.com/

Crispy Nut-free ChickenstripsCrispy Nut-free Chicken Strips

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Healthy Back-To-School Menu Collage

 We all know the school year can be EXPENSIVE. So we teamed up to give two readers a head start with an Amazon gift card, to make things a little bit easier for you!

 

 
 

What is your favorite back-t0-school tip; whether it’s for your kids or for YOU!?

Paleo and Nut-Free Crispy Chicken Strips

Total Time 0:00

Ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • In a bowl combine flours, salt, and pepper
  • In a separate bowl whisk together eggs
  • Dip sliced chicken breasts into egg, then dredge in flour mixture- repeat until all chicken is coated
  • Place chicken on lined baking sheet
  • Bake until crispy and golden, flipping halfway through, but juicy in the center* (for me this was about 10 minutes each side)
  • Recipe Notes

  • *Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken. Make sure to keep an on eye on them to avoid overcooking.
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    There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation, at no cost to you! However, I only recommend products I absolutely love and use in my own home! Thank you for supporting Lexi's Clean Kitchen when you shop! See my privacy policy for more information about this, the information we save, and more!

    Healthy Apple Nachos

    These healthy Apple Nachos are an amazing kid-friendly snack that is both nutritious and fun! It can be made in under 10 minutes and is perfect to serve at a playdate or send to school to celebrate a birthday. They can be customized based off of what you have on hand and we guarantee will be a hit!

    Apple nachos recipe with toppings on a plateHealthy Apple Nachos

    Let’s talk about an easy breezy snack that any member of your family will love. APPLE DESSERT NACHOS. For starters, you can completely customize these. You need apples of course, and then toppings of choice. This is the perfect late night healthy treat, or the perfect after school snack fuel to keep your family going for the rest of the evening.

    Each bite loaded with delicious flavor, plus some great healthy additions of nut butter, coconut, seeds, nuts, and well.. chocolate, because we all love chocolate.

    Apple nachos with chocolate and peanut butter for kids

    Ingredients in Apple Nachos

    The best part about this snack is that you can truly substitute in whatever you have on hand! At a minimum the apples are needed. The dark chocolate and the nut or seed butter help “hold” all the toppings, so those are also essential. After that you could substitute in whatever you have or what the kids want! 

    • Apples
    • Dark Chocolate
    • Nut butter or Seed butter
    • Coconut Flakes
    • Nuts or Seeds
    • Raisins

    How to Prevent the Apples from Browning

    This is a great snack to send to school to celebrate a birthday or to serve at a playdate. If you aren’t serving it immediately you’ll need to “treat” the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. It’s simple: after you cut the apples squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on them and toss to coat. This will help the apples last longer without browning.

    Apple slice with coconut flakes, peanut butter, raisins and chocolate

    If you like this healthy snack recipe, check out these others:

    If you like this apple recipe, check out these others:

    Apple Nachos

    Total Time 0:00

    Ingredients

    • 2-3 organic apples (I like Honeycrisp)
    • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted
    • 1/4 cup nut butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup homemade caramel
    • 2 tbsp coconut flakes
    • 2 tbsp nuts
    • 2 tbsp golden raisins

    Directions

  • Slice apples into thin wedges and arrange on plate
  • Drizzle melted chocolate, nut butter, and caramel
  • Top with desired toppings and serve
  • Recipe Notes

  • Topping options are endless!
  • Loading nutrition data...
    There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation, at no cost to you! However, I only recommend products I absolutely love and use in my own home! Thank you for supporting Lexi's Clean Kitchen when you shop! See my privacy policy for more information about this, the information we save, and more!

    The Best Gluten Free Pizza Crust

    This is the best Gluten Free Pizza Crust recipe! It’s easy to make, using a handful of ingredients and comes together in under 10 minutes, no kneading or proofing required. It’s paleo and grain-free but you wouldn’t know it. It’s light and chewy with just the right texture. Bake it with your favorite toppings for pizza ANY night of the week.

    easy gluten free pizza with pepperoni and melty cheeseGluten Free Pizza Crust

    If you haven’t tried my Gluten Free Pizza Crust before, you have been missing out. This pizza crust was first published back in 2014 and was included in my cookbook. It has been made and loved by so many of you! I have to admit, it’s a favorite of mine too. We rephotographed it, as well as updated one ingredient to make it even easier to make. This gluten-free, paleo and nut-free crust comes together quickly, in 1-bowl in under 10 minutes. No kneading, proofing or fussing is required! This pizza crust uses a blend of coconut flour, tapioca flour and ground flaxseed. It’s light and chewy and is a crowd pleaser. It’s easy to make ANY night of the week and perfect for any topping you’d like!

    Paleo Pizza Crust Ingredients

    • Olive Oil
    • Warm Water
    • Egg
    • Tapioca Flour
    • Coconut Flour
    • Ground Flaxseed
    • Baking Powder
    • Garlic Powder (optional)
    • Italian seasoning (optional)
    • Fine Sea Salt

    How to Make Gluten Free Pizza Crust

    What I love about this crust is how truly easy it is to make! All you need is a bowl, a whisk and a spatula. First you whisk together the wet ingredients. Previously this pizza crust used palm shortening as the fat. You can still use that if you prefer, but we swapped that ingredient with olive oil because this is more common to keep at home. Next you add in the dry ingredients, whisk together until you can’t whisk anymore, and then continue to stir it together with a spatula.

    Because we’re using coconut flour, the dough will look more like a batter and thicken as it sits. After it’s been mixed together, let it sit for about 5 minutes.

    Next, you dump the dough on a piece of parchment that is dusted with tapioca starch. The dough will be sticky. Dust your hands with tapioca starch, as well as the top of the dough. Using your fingers pat the dough down into a circle 8-9″ circle, dusting with additional tapioca as needed. The thinner you pat out the dough, the crispier the crust will be.

    Once you have formed your pizza dough you can lightly brush off any excess tapioca flour.

    Tips for Working with Homemade Paleo Pizza Crust

    1. Use a scale to measure out the flour! Coconut flour is very absorbent. If it is not measured correctly it could impact the recipe. Check out this post for more information.
    2. Form the crust directly on the parchment and baking sheet you plan to bake the pizza on.
    3. Let the dough rest for a few minutes before you form the pizza crust. This dough uses coconut flour and the longer it sits the more liquid it absorbs. If you try to form the crust right away it may be too wet.
    4. This pizza crust is sticky! Use extra tapioca flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to you, or the parchment. If you have an excess after you have finished forming the pizza, brush or gently blow it off.
    5. You must parbake the crust. Typically pizza is baked at a very high temperature. Because of the use of paleo flours, it is better for the flavor for this crust to be baked at 350ºF, so you’ll need to fully bake the crust before adding in your toppings.

    patting out gluten free pizza doughHow to Bake Gluten Free Pizza

    This pizza crust must be baked first before you add any toppings. Bake in a preheated 350ºF on the the middle to lower rack for 20 minutes. Then add your pizza toppings and continue to bake until the cheese is melty.

    This recipe makes a pizza for 1-2 people. If serving more, feel free to double the recipe. If you want to make a bigger batch than than that, it is better to make it in a separate bowl. For example, if you want to serve more than 4 people, could could make 2 double batches in two bowls, instead of making them all on the same bowl.

    gluten free pepperoni pizza

    If you like this gluten-free recipe, check out these others:

    If you like this pizza recipe, check out these others:


    Paleo Pizza Crust: BBQ Chicken Pizza
    Yields 8
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    Prep Time
    7 min
    Cook Time
    23 min
    Total Time
    30 min
    Prep Time
    7 min
    Cook Time
    23 min
    Total Time
    30 min
    Ingredients
    1. 1 cup tapioca flour
    2. 3 tbsp coconut flour
    3. 3 tbsp ground flax meal
    4. 1 egg
    5. 1/3 cup palm shortening
    6. 1/3 warm water
    7. 1 tsp baking powder
    8. Dash Himalayan sea salt
    9. 1/2 tsp garlic granules
    10. 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350
    2. In a bowl combine tapioca, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, garlic, Italian seasoning, and flax
    3. Add in warm water and mix well
    4. Add in palm shortening and egg; mix well
    5. Line a baking sheet with slipat baking mat or parchment paper; sprinkle with tapioca flour
    6. Roll the dough into a ball (it'll be somewhat sticky- it's okay)
    7. Plop the ball onto your baking sheet and cover with an additional peach of parchment paper
    8. Using a roller, gently roll out dough until thin*
    9. Bake until crispy- about 20 minutes
    10. Add desired toppings and place bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes**
    Notes
    1. *If you make it too thin, it'll be hard like flatbread, you want it about 1/3 inch so it rises and is dough-like.
    2. **Precook chicken and other meats before placing on your pizza
    Substitutions
    1. Please note that I can't vouch for substitutions that I have not personally made. I have tested this recipe numerous times and have found following this exactly will yield in a great crispy, yet bread-y crust. If you choose to make changes, the recipe may not come out the same.
    Lexi's Clean Kitchen https://lexiscleankitchen.com/