Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hot Chocolate and an update

Hi everyone. Hope you all are doing well. As you probably noticed, I took an unscheduled break from the blog. I was super busy with church, our local support group, starting homeschooling, and trying to run the house that something had to give, and honestly sometimes I think I'm probably the only person who actually uses this blog. I have reached a point where I feel like we've got settled into our new routine and I can pick this back up.

Holiday season is quickly approaching. The next couple months are my favorite time of year. In our family, we spend almost every weekend together, starting the week before thanksgiving and ending a week after new years. We have tons of birthdays jammed in between all the holiday festivities.  I cherish all the time I get to spend with my parents, siblings, and nephews, but there are always a few moments where either the boys have to go without, so my daughter doesn't get contaminated, or my daughter feels left out because they get something she can't have.

My goal this holiday season (really all year round) is to try to keep this from happening. I have gotten comfortable enough in my kitchen that I really believe that any recipe can be adapted. If you have any recipe's you would like to see me try, just let me know. I'd love to hear what you're interested in learning to bake. Feel free to give me a challenge, or show me what you have done. I would love to share your success stories as well.

My daughter recently learned about hot chocolate. She saw someone drinking it and has been asking for some ever since. I don't know of any cocoa mixes that are safe for her. I found some vegan ones, and even one labeled allergy friendly, but they all are processed on lines with nuts. At the same time as I was looking for a safe mix, my friends daughter had just been taken off dairy and she was missing cocoa. I decided to mess around in the kitchen and make my own. I mean, come on, how hard can it be? Just cocoa powder and sugar. Well, silly me, I used granulated sugar the first time! YUK  In the end we settled with this mix.

Hot Chocolate (Cocoa) Mix

2 cups Cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

I just mixed them together and put it in a sealed container. Any time she wants hot chocolate we heat up her soy milk and add a couple teaspoons of the mix.

Every one who has had this hot chocolate has given it their seal of approval. It makes me wonder why I ever bought the prepackaged stuff. Lately I've been paying even more attention to the foods we buy. I'm not only keeping it allergy free, but I'm trying to make sure the prepackaged foods I buy aren't full of gross chemicals and unnecessary ingredients. Not only is this hot chocolate recipe allergy safe, it is also "clean" and cheaper than the packaged stuff.

I'll be back later this week to tell you all about our Halloween. Stay safe out there everyone.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Behind the Reaction

by Natalie

"It starts with a feeling, an itch, a sneeze. Within minutes, if not seconds, of eating something I can feel a reaction is starting. I take Benadryl hoping it is just a minor reaction and it will not progress. Soon, I know whether it is minor or if more symptoms will develop. If the reaction continues I begin to feel itchy all over. My face and neck start to get red and blotchy with hives. I feel like my stomach is being ripped apart. Then, the swelling begins. My eyes begin to swell to the point where I am unable to see because they are shutting. I do not even look like the same person. All of these symptoms are annoying and frustrating, but can be manageable. The scary part is when breathing troubles begin. It feels like you are far underwater. When I was little I used to always try to dive down and touch the bottom of the deep end of the pool. You start to feel the pressure of the water on your lungs and you know that you need to get to the top and take a deep breath. A reaction is the same way. I feel the pressure on my lungs. I am struggling to take a deep breath and know that I need to breathe. The only problem is unlike the pool where you can get to the surface, there is not a surface to break through during a reaction. In order to get that deep breath an Epi-Pen must be used. Any reaction is scary. A symptom listed of anaphylaxis is “impending doom.” How horrible is that?! No one should fear that taking one bite of something can leave them struggling to breathe, but it is what many people and families live with every single day. I am one of them. This is my truth. This is my journey. This is what happens behind the reaction."

I wanted to take a moment tonight to introduce you to my friend Natalie. The excerpt above is from her blog

ImageNatalie is smart, fun, social, and energetic. She also has food allergies. I met her at our local food allergy support group, and we hit it off immediately.  Natalie is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and has recently been diagnosed with idiopathic anaphylaxis. For those of you who don't know, it is anaphylaxis with no known cause.  Meaning it could happen anywhere at any time.  She has gone into anaphylactic  shock three times in the last seven months. She is a college student, food allergy advocate, and co-leader of our local support group.  I have a feeling this girl might be a household name in the FA world some day. 

One of the things that I admire about Natalie, is that she isn't living her life, fearing when the next reaction will come. She takes every day as it comes and lives life to the fullest, with a purse full of epinephrine I might add.   Another benefit to speaking with Natalie, is that she brings a different perspective to food allergies, that we don't get as parents. 

Natalie is very open about her allergies, and will even post pictures of her reactions. I love her blog mostly because  as parents, we see the symptoms and we treat the reaction, but we can only guess what it's actually  like for our kids. Through Natalie, we get to see behind the reaction.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Hey everyone, just wanted to give you all a bit of an update.  I've been crazy busy here lately and something had to give, so it was this blog. I'm involved in two committees at church, the preschool board, and our local support group. Church has been keeping me super busy, working on coming up with safe alternatives for the allergy kids in Sunday school, fundraising for malaria, and working on getting our FARE team put together. This Sunday, we are having a tea party for mothers day, and I'm in charge of the allergy free table. I'll make sure to take lots of pictures, and share the recipes that work out for me.

Thank you, to everyone who has been checking in while I've been away. I plan to get the cooking and posting back into full swing next week. I am wondering if there is anything you would like to see more of? Like meal ideas, or maybe weekly meal planners with grocery lists? Let me know what you think.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Snicker Doodle Blondies and Two Cinnamon Rolls

Hey all! Sorry for the unexpected break. When I moved 7+ hours from home last year, I did NOT expect to see so much of my family. I guess that's one of the perks of living in a vacation hot spot. While this blog has been sitting unattended for the last month, I have been visited by four different sets of family members, gone tubing, and even spent a little over a week back in Kansas. I have been baking though. Here are four of our favorite breakfasts and treats from the last few weeks.

If it were up to my daughter we would eat cinnamon rolls every single morning. There are two problems with that.  1) I have to wait FOREVER for the dough to rise and 2) I can not eat the exact same thing every single day. Normally we have regular rolls, or sometimes cinnamon apple rolls. She really wanted some this morning, and there just wasn't enough time, so I searched out a yeast free roll and it was surprisingly good. It also only took about 20 minutes start to finish. The thing I loved about these cinnamon rolls is that they are not the typical chewy bread. It's hard to explain, kind of like if pie crust and biscuits had a baby. It just melts in your mouth. 

Since I already had the fixins for bread out, I just kept going. We also made pumpkin spice cinnamon buns. I was going to put these in the freezer, but then we taste tested them too. It's so nice to have another option. The only substitution I had to do was sub soy milk for almond and I omitted the walnuts from the filling. 

I also found this snickerdoodle blondie recipe on pinterest and decided to try it safe. It was so good that we ate the entire pan then my family asked me to make another batch the next week. If you are going to try anything, try this. Seriously! All I had to do was sub. margarine for butter and flax for the eggs. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dear Nickelodeon

Dear Nickelodeon,
         I watched your latest video on Nick Mom, and I have to say, I wasn't terribly insulted..... at first.  These were my thoughts as I watched the video

1) We would NEVER let our allergy kids eat food from a bake sale, even if it was clearly labeled.

2) Thank you for separating the allergens! but my kid's still not eating it, so you just wasted your time.

3) Flavor free!?  Who are you kidding? We may be an allergy free house, but ALL of us allergy moms know how to bake.  Guess what?  We're good at it too. Like, really good. I can make anything you can, without the allergies, and make it better.  Not only will it taste better, but it will be healthier. Mostly because it's not from a box, like other parents use. You see, being an amazing cook is a necessity for us, and we have learned to be chefs out of necessity. 

4) that whole sarcastic comment about "lets show our kids healthy eating is cool"  How many children in the country are obese? How many FA kids are obese? I think there is an important message in the answer to those two questions. We live in a time where people eat out more than they eat in. Not us! It may not be "cool" to be healthy, but it will be in 50 years when all the unhealthy kids are dead from clogged arteries and food induced diabetes. (please don't come get me diabetes moms. I'm talking about the ones who bring it upon themselves)

5) "I hate gluten" That was the first comment that really made me think, You're an ass!

So, this video isn't so bad. I mean I've seen worse, and the world is full of uneducated people. I am really slow to jump on the allergy boycott bandwagon. I mean, we still eat GM cereals even though they made pb cheerios.  Maybe Nick just didn't think about the message they were putting out there.  Then I found this article  on their site as well. It is titled, " Top 9 Most Desirable Kids Allergies".  I'm sure it's all meant in fun, but obviously you have no idea what it is like to have to avoid red dye #40. (number 6 on this list was red drinks allergy)

Finally, I saw a link to this third video, and it was this one that finally got to me. While the woman starts the video by saying her child has an allergy, I don't think that excuses Nick from putting out the message that food allergies aren't a big deal. Also if this is a true story (which I doubt it is) this woman has obviously never seen her child quit breathing. I have, and it's definitely not something that anyone would would ever joke about. For the most part, I won't even talk about it, and I would definitely not call it, "no big deal" afterwards. 

After realizing that Nick is showing a pattern of making light about food allergies, I feel that you must not be educated. I don't know if you are a man or woman, but I assume you are a parent, if you are running a nick site.  If you knew what we had to deal with on a daily/weekly/yearly basis, you would have never written the things you did. You see, nick, every day we pack our kids lunches and medications and wish them a good day at school, while we sit at home or work hoping that they make it home safely at the end of the day. You don't know what it's like to have that moment of panic when the schools number pops up on caller ID . While other parents may have separation anxiety, or worry that their kid may fall on the playground and break something, we have to worry about the kid that ate a pb sandwich at lunch and didn't wash his hands, or the kid that bites, because either of those things can send our babies to the hospital.

Yes, our child's needs make it harder for you to plan your bake sale or christmas party. What you don't know, is that we spend 6 moths filling out paperwork and going to meetings, just to ensure our children are allowed to go to school in a safer, less restrictive environment. Then our kids do get into school, and they overhear the other parents bullying their parents, or complaining about restricted parties. Did you ever stop to think that you are also making life harder on us?  How are your comments affecting my child? Here is an example of what your thoughtless comments do to our children.

Yeah, I get it, you're pissed because you like junk food, and in america food comes first. Is there any celebration in this country that doesn't involve food? So for one hour (or 8 in a nut free school) you don't get the food that you want. BIG DEAL! What you are doing to my child, is telling them that they are the party pooper. They're not to be included, and by ostracizing us parents, you are taking your children down that ignorant path with you. Pretty soon our kids are sitting at a table by themselves, being excluded from activites, and are getting bullied by your kids. All because of something they have no control over. You don't ask a child with cerebral palsy to climb the rope in gym, you don't make fun of the kid in the wheelchair for using the ramp, so why do you make my food allergic kid sit in a room full of food that will exclude them and possibly injure them?  And if you don't get your way, and the classroom is food free, then why do you choose to believe it is OK to blame me and my child instead of the disease?

I could go on and on about all the trips to the doctor. The needles, the tests, and all the specialists  but I'm sure you've gotten bored by now. This is just a tiny glimpse into my daily life. So, while I'm sure you didn't mean to stir the hornets nest...  you did. Us food allergy parents have a lot on our plate already, and if you're not willing to be an ally, then could you at least not work against us?

P.S. Maybe you could take a cue from Disney. They have introduced characters on some of their shows that have food allergies. Their parks are also allergy friendly, and one of their actors, Kenton Duty of  Shake it Up, made a video about how to be safe with FA. I can tell you, that we will definitely be spending more time watching Disney, and avoiding Nick, unless you decide to take action on this matter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Cook Book

Hey all, a couple of my favorite allergy friendly authors have released new cookbooks lately.  I just wanted to give you all a heads up.

Food Allergy Mama released a milk, egg, and nut free book. You may remember/have her baking book. I LOVE that book, and still use from time to time, so I was super excited to see that she wrote another one. You can order a signed copy on her website, or get it from amazon and B&N. It is also available in nook and kindle format.

The Food Allergy Mama's Easy, Fast Family Meals: Dairy, Egg, and Nut Free Recipes for Every Day

For those of you who deal with more allergies, Cybele Pascal released her latest book a couple months ago. My friend is madly in love with this book, and recommends it to everyone. It is gluten, sesame, and top 8 free. You can grab this book at B&N or amazon, and it is also available in nook and kindle format.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Safe" Food Valentines for School

Here's the other half of the school valentines I found.  These are all food focused valentines that are safe for my family. If you want food free options click here.  As with the last post, I'm just going to add the link to each page under the picture. 

I would use boxes of juice for this.

These are swedish fish

Smarties Valentine Valentines

gummy worms
No link here. You can just add a sticky label that says "Valentine I'm hooked on you"

you rock
Want a recipe for rock candy? Here it is!

Valentine, you make my heart flutter

cole's valentine (1)
I would use dum dums

This one was on pinterest and didn't have a link, but I love it. OK, totally off topic, but I'm working on candy bars again! My current experiments are milky way and twix. Once they are perfected, I'll definitely share. 

Food Free Valentines for School

So I found several "safe" or food free valentines that I thought were cute. Because this is going to be a LONG post, I'm just going to do the pictures with the link below them.

She has a valentine printable on her page that says "sip sip Hooray! It's Valentines Day!

wild animal valentine DIY


Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentines Day

Is anyone else thinking about valentines day? I know it's still over two weeks away, but I just can't get it off my mind. I LOVE that there is a holiday about LOVE! Tonight I'm going to share our plans for the big day.

The evening before, I am going to hide balloons around the house. Inside each balloon will be a slip of paper stating one thing I love about my daughter. When she wakes up, she will find a note in her room that says "I love you because..." . She will then be directed to run around the house, popping balloons, and collecting her love notes. If you have multiple kids, consider assigning each child a color. That way they don't pop each other's balloons.

Next up will be a breakfast of heart shaped pancakes. If you have a metal cookie cutter,spray it, then lay it on the griddle and pour in a little batter. Let the batter set up a bit and pull the cutter off. TaDa! you have perfectly shaped pancakes. During breakfast I'm going to tell her a very lovey story.

Have you ever heard the story of warm fuzzies and cold pricklies?  The moral of the story is that no matter how much love (warm fuzzies) you give away, there will always be more. You can't run out! There is a villain in the story (as there must be to weave any great tale) but, of course, it ends happily. There are lots of different versions floating around, but this one is my favorite.  The website also has options to tie it to bible verses as well, if you choose to do that. Once I'm done telling this tale, I plan to give my daughter her very own bag of warm fuzzies.  They are quite simple to make, and cute too.

Monsieur Pom

Skamama has a simple and quick tutorial for making pom poms. Make them any color you want. Add eyes, or even feet if you wish. Just have fun, and put all your love into them, after all, you won't run out.

Need a gift for dad, from the kids? I've got you covered. Check out this quiz from life songs of a busy mom. You can download the paper on her site. I had a 6 kids (cousins too) do quizzes about their papa last year for chistmas, and you just wouldn't believe how much he loved it. Honestly, I don't know if I've ever seen my dad so affected by something before. 

I also have a TON of valentine cards/treats that are totally safe, so be looking for that in a few days. Hope you all are having a wonderful week.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Skinny Week

In the last few weeks, I've been talking with some of my allergy mom friends about how much we spend at the grocery store. I was shocked when my husband told me I spend $700 a month at the grocery store for a family of three. I used to be a careful shopper, making sure not to over pay for anything.  Initially, my daughter was allergic to 5 of the top 8, and then the doctor told me to also avoid fish and shellfish until she was five. I remember spending over an hour at the store, crying in the aisle, because everything I picked up, we couldn't have.  I didn't know anyone else who was dealing with food allergies. I was all alone in this food battle. Well, over time I figured out what we could eat, but specialty food is not cheap. There is no way around spending $6 on a loaf of tapioca bread, so I just do it.

My husband was kind enough to write out my budget for me, so I can see where I'm spending all this money. I found that while I can't help some of the high priced item we do buy, I can certainly make up for it in others. My first thought on how to reduce our budget was to have a skinny week, meaning spend as little as possible. This means no store bought convenience foods. No oreo's, chips, or teddy grahams for us, and no easy cheat foods like Ian's chicken nuggets either.  Some meals I made big, and we had leftovers several times, but hey, it's the skinny week, we'll all just have to suck it up. The idea of having no simple "ready to go" items made me nervous, but I did find a solution. Here is what our first skinny week looked like.

First, on saturday, I decided on our menu for the week and wrote out the grocery list. Then it was off to the store. Well, two actually. We have a store called sprouts, and their produce is always priced cheap. Anyway, when I got home and totaled my receipts, I had spend $150 and the real whammy here, is that I bought two weeks worth of groceries! If you want to give the skinny week (or two) a try, here are some super simple, and cheap, recipe's to try.

I knew that I would either have to replace the oreos and teddy grahams, or deal with everyone's whining, so I made my nieman marcus cookies. Instead of baking them, I rolled the dough into little balls, and froze them on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, I piled them all into a gallon baggie. Whenever anyone was in need of a treat, I just pulled a couple balls out of the freezer and baked them just like normal. Not only was it nice to have fresh cookies, but because the other two were dependent on me to bake them, they weren't eaten as quickly as if they had been on the counter.
My Spanish Rice
Hamburger and rice is one of my daughters favorite meals, and it's super cheap, with only three ingredients.
First you brown a pound of hamburger, drain the grease, then add in a bottle of tomato juice and a couple cups of rice. I generally use minute brand brown rice. By the time the juice has simmered down to a sauce, the rice is cooked and dinner is served. The two of us ate this for lunch Monday through Friday while the hubs. was at work. For under $10 munchkin and I had 5 meals each. That's one dollar per meal!

Monday, we had ham and beans for dinner. All you need is 1 pound dried northern beans, 1 pound ham shanks, and a few shakes of onion powder. Since I already had the onion, I spend $1.15 on the beans and $2.99 on the ham shanks. All you have to do is rinse and sort your beans, in case any pebbles made their way in there, then add everything to your crock pot. Let it cook on low for 8 hours and then pull the meat off the bone and you're done.  

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Tuesday and Wednesday, we had these delicious pulled pork sandwiches from The Gracious Pantry. My daughter refuses to eat any bread other than ener-g tapioca, so she had hers plain. I served them with a side of corn and apple slices. We all really liked this recipe, but in the future I will either be using less tomato sauce or more meat. There was a TON of sauce left in the bottom when we were done.

Thursday and Saturday nights, we ate this cilantro lime chicken from octobers morning. I made two bags of it ( so double your ingredients) when I got home from the store, the saturday before(I also prepped the runza meat below), and it was my solution to not having any quick meals. I did not purchase any of the toppings she had suggested, we just ate it as is. Since the three of us ate this twice, it ended up costing $3 a plate.

Friday night, saturday and sunday lunch we had runza casserole. It's super simple. I fried 3 pounds of hamburger with 2 onions, salt and pepper, then drained the grease. Add in 6 cups shredded cabbage and continue to stir it around until all the cabbage is cooked through. If you have a food processor, grind the mixture (it helps it stick together) for a few seconds. If not, that's OK. I bagged the meat and froze it, thinking I would use some for runza's and some for ravioli, but I couldn't find a ravioli cutter, so that will be an adventure for another day.  Anyways, for the casserole, I made the bisquick biscuits as directed, but with soy milk. Then take half the mix and smash it into the bottom of a 9x9 square pan. Top it with the hamburger mix, then roll out the other half of the dough and put it on top. Bake according to the biscuit directions. I used bisquick because it was already in the house. Crescent sheets would have worked as well, or if I wasn't being lazy I could have made my own bread, but oh well.  I spent about $18 on this recipe, which that came out to $2 a plate since three of us ate it three times.

Oh, and for breakfast all week we had homemade banana and zuchini bread.  Did you notice I didn't talk much about side dishes? Well, I bought a bunch of fresh fruits and raw veggies, and we munched on them whenever we needed a snack or a side dish.