Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Cookies

 Decorating some gingerbread cookies that were surprisingly good and "normal"
 Bee was mostly only interested in the icing
 She got a little bit actually on her cookie.  We won't talk about her double dipping and licking of the knife.  Her cookies were placed in a special spot just for her.
 Tiger was very serious about his cookie decorating experience...He also ate all the chocolate chips when I wasn't looking
 On the cookie Bee!  Put it on the cookie!  Stop eating icing!
Who me??
 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Potato Soup

Prince Charming loves potato soup and he misses it dearly--especially my Green Chile Potato Chowder.  I miss it too.................
But we've come up with the next best thing--allergy-friendly potato soup.

4 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
chicken broth
2 or 3 bell peppers-I use a red, orange, and yellow one
1 large onion, diced
olive oil

Put the cubed potatoes into a large pot and just cover with chicken broth.  Cook until potatoes are tender.  Meanwhile, saute bell peppers and onion in another pot until soft.  Add enough chicken broth to cover and simmer.  Put the bell peppers and onion in food processor and process to desired consistency.  Add peppers and onion to the pot with potatoes.

2 T olive oil
2 T oat or rice flour
1 cup rice milk

Heat olive oil over medium heat in pot and whisk in oat flour.  Whisk for 2 minutes and then slowly add rice milk and stir until the sauce thickens into a roux.  Pour into pot with potatoes, peppers, and onion.

1 T honey
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

Add remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

It's not the creamy potato chowder that we miss, but it is a close second and is thick and creamy and disappears fast.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reaction

So many times Bee has a reaction and I can figure out what she reacted to.  And then other times, I just have no idea and it can be so very frustrating.  The other day, the kids were cooking in the play kitchen and Bee put on her little apron.  Within minutes her entire chin and neck began to break out.  I was able to undress her, bathe her, and lotion her before the rash spread over her entire face.  About an hour later she had a secondary reaction and one side of her face broke out.  I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.


Usually she's safe at our house, but not this time.  We've tried to determine what happened and the only thought we have is that her reaction had something to do with the number of kids and parents we had over at our house for Curly and Tiger's birthday party.  The kids were all touching the toys and many of them played in the play kitchen and with the aprons.  If one of them had something on their hands from breakfast and brought it into the house, then it could have caused Bee's reaction. 

I think I'm going to have to institute a new policy-if you come over to our house you must wash your hands when you first come in.  While I'm not sure that this was the cause of Bee's reaction it's my best guess.  How am I going to ask everyone to wash their hands when they walk in the door?  They are going to think I am such a fanatic.......not only do I not allow anyone to bring in outside food but now you have to wash your hands when you come over.  Maybe next I'll just give everyone sterile gowns to don over their clothes, then I'd know they didn't bring any food particles in the house....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tortillas

One thing I have missed since going gluten free is flour tortillas.  Now that Bee can eat some corn, we can have corn tortillas which has opened the door for some creative Mexican food recipes.  Unfortunately, no one in our house is very fond of corn tortillas....

Enter the rice flour tortilla.........I've been wanting to try to find a recipe for a GF tortilla that I can make myself although I have never made a tortilla before-regular or otherwise.

Hubby had the idea and asked me to try it, so we did.  And we were surprisingly successful!

GF Tortillas
4 cups rice flour
1 1/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca flour

Combine flours in large bag and mix thoroughly.

2 cups flour mix
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water

Combine the dry ingredients and mix.  Add the water and mix with hands until the dough holds together.  Separate the dough into 8 pieces (or 16 if you want smaller more kid-friendly tortillas) and roll into balls.  Place the balls of dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Take out one ball at a time as you are ready to work with it.  Flour your surface well and then roll out each tortilla.  The trick to rolling out your tortillas is to turn the dough a quarter turn after each time you roll it.  This helps keep the tortilla round.  Roll out as thin as possible without causing the dough to tear or have holes.  Place on a hot griddle that was warmed on medium high heat.  Cook a couple minutes on each side until the tortilla puffs up and becomes slightly browned.  Place the cooked tortillas between slightly damp, warmed towels.

 Perfect tortillas
Note that this tortilla is rolled without any cracking or breaking...if you've ever bought some store-bought frozen rice tortillas you understand the importance of being able to fold a tortilla.
These tortillas can be rolled up!

These made for some amazing fajitas!  Hubby thought they tasted nearly normal and I was so excited I think I ate 4 or maybe 5...........

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Omega-3

We aren't sure if Bee has a fish allergy or not but we want to make sure she receives enough of the Omega-3s and other supplements, such as DHA.  It is hard to find supplements that are not from fish sources but the Pure One supplement is from plant-based sources and is safe for Bee.  I cut open a capsule and pour it in one of her drinks during the day to boost her Omega-3 intake. 
Other days I add some Salba Seed Oil to her drinks to give her a different source of Omega-3s.  They also have the milled salba seeds which can act as an egg-replacer when mixed with water for some recipes or can be added to smoothies or hot cereals.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flour Blend


Jules Flour Blend is one I have used in the past with great gluten-free results.  Their site even has recipes and some are free of other allergens or would be easy to make substitutions.  She has a new cookbook out called Free For All Cooking and it is the most recent addition to my cookbook collection.  After the holidays, I'm going to get it out and get started.  In the meantime though, I think I need to try to the ginger snaps...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Doctor Appointment

Bee enjoyed watching the fish as we waited for our pager to buzz for our appointment.
After our pager went off, we were whisked behind the purple door-all the door are color coded- and taken to one of the back rooms.  This time we were in an infusion suite which is where other kids are given immunoglobulin infusions among other things.

Our first visitor was one of our doctors.  I brought out my list and we went through all of our questions and experiences for the past six months as I brought her up to date.



Next up, the nurse came to get us to weigh and measure Bee.  She has gained 3.5 pounds since our last visit and is now steadily tracking up the 25th percentile growth curve.  This is a huge blessing since she had completely fallen off any of the growth charts at one point.

Back to the room to wait for the other doctor and in comes the nutritionist.  We go through some of our typical meals and go through several days of a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner at our house.  We talk about supplements and some of our options.  She decides that olive oil is still probably the safest and best cooking oil for us right now and that Bee should alternate between rice milk and hemp milk.  Bee should take a multivitamin, a vitamin D supplement, and calcium.  We discussed types of flour and grains and she felt we had a good variety with buckwheat, brown rice, tapioca flour, potato starch, millet, and sorghum.  She mentioned quinoa but we've tried that in the past and Bee reacted to it.  We'll wait on that one.  A new one to try might be teff flour which is higher in protein. 



Finally, our other doctor made her appearance.  We went back through my list.  She agreed to retest Bee's IgE levels to certain foods and we made a list of which foods to test.
She felt we should up our lotion to twice a day for the winter to keep Bee's skin hydrated and eczema free.
The doctor said we should avoid any food that causes a slight skin rash even if Bee does not develop hives as she is obviously, at the very least, sensitive to this food and could still have an anaphylactic reaction to these foods.  That means that oatmeal will be out for a while again...
We discussed the holidays and other group get togethers which always have food.  She encouraged me that we do have to be very vigilant with Bee as she is so severely allergic and can have a reaction even if certain foods are in the air.  Her response, "Sometimes you have to be the mean parent who keeps other children away from yours or who has to leave the event.  No one will understand and most people will view you as the crazy parent.  But I understand and the severity of Bee's allergies warrants that type of caution."  Well, it's not fun to hear that we'll never to normal but it is nice to know that she understands, knows I'm not crazy, and encourages the obsessive behavior.  Hey!  I have the doctor's orders to be paranoid and obsessive!
We talked about the new baby, how to handle those potential allergies, and how to determine if the baby will even have allergies.  She decided that we would meet again before the baby was ready to try solids to discuss which foods we should start with and which foods we should hold off for a while.
She felt fairly confident that Bee would outgrow her wheat and egg white allergy but was not as confident that she would outgrow her dairy allergy given how sensitive she is to dairy.  The doctor believed the peanut and tree nut allergy might be here to stay.  She also cautioned us to avoid fish until after Bee was 3 even though we were hoping we could try some fish sooner than that.

There are several things I appreciate about our doctors.
1-They always encourage me and are so supportive of our dietary changes, and they try to stay so positive.  I feel like they are actually compassionate and understanding of how difficult and life-changing it is for us to continue a somewhat normal life.
2-They never treat my questions as crazy and are never condescending.  They actually listen to my questions and concerns and believe what I say regarding our previous experiences and reactions.
3-Sometimes their answer is, "I don't know."  They acknowledge that they don't know everything and that predicting and determining food allergies is not an exact science.  So, sometimes there is not an exact answer, a definite, or a rule.  They treat parents and children as individuals and know that each child and reaction is different. 

After our lengthy visit, we were sent to the lab and then finally headed back home for our 1 1/2 hour drive.  That was one long day!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Testing

At out latest appointment we decided to redo some of our blood tests to check Bee's IgE levels.

We decided to have another RAST blood test done.  This is a simple blood draw.  The blood is tested for elevated IgE levels in reactions to certain foods.  This is safer than a skin prick test or a food challenge for people who are highly allergic like Bee.  Unfortunately, the test is not always 100% accurate, especially in children.  There can be false negatives, and a positive result or an elevated IgE level does not necessarily indicate a true allergy.  The skin prick test can also have false positives.  The most accurate test is a food challenge....scary!

Because there are fewer studies done with children in regards to food allergies, some of the blood tests for certain foods is less accurate.  However, according to our doctor, the tests for wheat, egg white, dairy, and peanut are the most accurate of the foods tested through blood work.  We decided to have those foods tested along with several other foods to compare her levels to our previous tests.

In our first RAST test, Bee's level of IgE for those 4 foods was extremely elevated, with wheat having the highest results.  We're now wondering if her results for wheat will have dropped and if her dairy results will still be high as she seems to have the most problems with dairy.  However, with IgE blood tests, the level of IgE to a certain food does not necessarily indicate how severe a reaction will be.  Even with a positive result, a person may not even show a reaction to a certain food.  For example, in our last RAST test, Bee had a positive result to several types of legumes.  She now eats all types of legumes without any problem, yet her test was still positive.  People can have a positive result against any food, with or without a reaction, and can even have a positive result after outgrowing an allergy.

We had a false negative result in our original RAST test as well.  Bee did not have elevated IgE levels to tree nuts.  I began avoiding peanuts and allowed our other children to have other nut butters as a safer alternative.  I did not allow Bee to have any type of nuts just in case.  One day she accidentally touched some of Tiger's almond butter and got some on her face.  She had a severe allergic reaction and we ended up at our local fire station with Bee on some oxygen.  Bee is definitely allergic to tree nuts even though her results were completely negative.  In June we had a skin prick test to test for an almond allergy and her results were very positive, confirming the allergy.  However, in our skin prick test, Bee had slightly positive results for oranges, which she has eaten without any problems.  The skin prick tests can be less accurate in people who have eczema, like Bee, because the skin problems make the test results more difficult to read. 

Allergy testing is confusing, sometimes inaccurate, and can be very frustrating.  We've learned to keep a record of what Bee has eaten and to watch for reactions after coming into contact with new foods-whether on purpose or on accident.  Our experience has to be our best guide.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guinea Pig

Here's to my sweet taste testers and to my two big kids who happily enjoyed allergen-free cupcakes and treats for their birthdays.......just so Bee could enjoy the treats too.


It was a double birthday bash at our house as Curly turned 5 and Tiger turned 3.  Bee greatly enjoyed the birthday cupcakes....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Families

Can you predict food allergies?  I've been learning about food families and which foods are inter-related.  Therefore, if Bee is allergic to a certain food, I can cross-reference that food family and find out what other foods we should avoid as well.  Saves me from some scary trial and error. 

Here are some things I've discovered through our recent doctor's appointment and through searching food families:

Bee has a problem with banana and avocado.  We noticed her breaking out in a slight rash after eating watermelon this summer.  The doctor confirmed that some children who have trouble with banana also have a problem with avocado and with watermelon.  The fourth food that she linked to this category was kiwi, which we have never tried, and now I don't plan to try it anytime soon based on the doctor's recommendations.

Bee has a sesame allergy according to her blood tests, but we've never accidentally had a sesame contamination so I've never seen her react.  Recently, Bee had a reaction to sunflower butter.  Sesame and sunflower are both in the same food family.  We'll be avoiding the composite family (aster) for a while, which includes artichoke and tarragon and even ragweed. 

Because of Bee's sesame allergy and sunflower allergy, we were worried about a poppy seed allergy.  But poppy seed is not related to sesame or sunflower as it is in a separate food family.  This would help explain how she was able to eat allergy-free lemon poppyseed muffins last week.  She had no reaction to the poppy seeds so we're going to say that poppy seeds are safe for now.

Another new link I learned about from our doctor visit was that some children who have a tree nut allergy also can be sensitive to coconut and that these allergies sometimes go together.  Other kids do fine with one food or the other.  Bee has shown some sensitivity to coconut lately which would go along with her extreme tree nut allergy.

Pineapple is in its own food family and is not part of the citrus family.  Bee reacts to pineapple but not to any other citrus fruits.  So, after looking through food families there are no other foods related to pineapple that we need to avoid.  Some people think of pineapple as citrus and avoid the citrus fruits if they have a problem with pineapple.  They would probably not need to avoid citrus on the basis of a pineapple allergy.

We've questioned if Bee has a sensitivity to mango.  She has reacted to mango in the past but has eaten it a few times lately with no reaction.  Oddly enough, mango is in the same food family as cashews and pistachios.  And if Bee is truly allergic to all tree nuts, this would include cashews and pistachios and would explain her sensitivity to mango.  Because we were unsure of her mango allergy, we have been avoiding papaya.  But papaya is in a separate food family from mango and would probably be safe for us to try.  That may be our next new food to try.

I'm going to keep our food family chart handy as a guide when we try new things or if we notice a new reaction.  We're still learning.....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats

You can make Rice Krispies that are allergen free!  Use your Rice Krispies or your Crispy Rice Cereal and use olive oil instead of butter and some marshmallows.  You can't taste the difference.....



Monday, December 6, 2010

Vitamins

I never realized how hard it would be to find an allergen-free vitamin..........wow...........

Here are the ones we've tried so far with success.

Liquid Health Children's Multi which is free of sugar, starch, salt, wheat, gluten, yeast, milk, or soy derivatives. 

Nature's Plus Calcium with Vitamin D which is free of dairy, soy, gluten, and yeast.  It is hypo-allergenic and vegetarian as well.

Vitamin D drops from Carlson Labs

Cupcakes


Baby Bee's first cupcake......and I'd say it was a huge success!  These are chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate chip icing from the Allergen Free Baker's Handbook.  I'm making another batch tomorrow.  They don't last long..........

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Doritos

I know people probably think I'm crazy as I scope out what their child is eating.  They think I'm nuts as I obsessively pick up dropped Cheerios and other deadly snack foods off the floor.  They think I'm totally paranoid as I try to keep my kids separate from the other kids during eating times.  They think I am crazy and hyper-supermom as I bring all of our own snacks and food to every event.

You know, I think I'm crazy too.  I never thought I would ever have to do these things or worry like this.  I don't want to be paranoid and obsessive.  But I am justified.........

Take a look at Bee in this picture.  This is after medicine, a bath, lotion, and more medicine.  This is a good hour after the initial reaction.

This is a picture of an allergic reaction after...........wait for it...........she picked up a Nacho Cheese Dorito and started to put it in her mouth.  I leapt out of my chair and across several small children to snatch that one tiny broken Dorito chip from her hand.  I grabbed her up, cleaned her hands with wet wipes, wiped her face, and took her far away from the Dorito-dropping children.

Yet, we still ended up leaving the event within a few minutes of our Dorito scare all because Bee started to get very itchy and fussy-which is never a good sign.

I can only imagine what would have happened if she actually ATE that dumb Dorito.

So, for all of you who think I'm crazy, I'm obsessive, I'm paranoid, or I have some type of crazy supermom-syndrome:  Get over it!

Try having a little compassion.  Know that I don't want to live like this, no one does.  Where you see food, I see ER visits.  Where you see cute little Goldfish crackers and candy bars, I see rashes and anaphylactic shock.

We view the world with different perspectives.  And some days I would give anything to be able to see the world the way you do.  But that's not possible.  So for now, try to understand my viewpoint.

I don't need you to turn up your nose and whisper that I'm crazy.  I already know that.  But my craziness is justified.  I even have pics and ER visits to prove it.

So anytime you meet an allergy mom, have some compassion and know that life with allergies is a huge challenge.  And please keep your food to yourself............

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

My mom emailed me a cookie recipe and boy is it good!  We had these for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie-the kids aren't pumpkin pie fans and I'm not either.  We'd rather eat cookies!

Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups GF flour blend (I use 4 cups rice flour, 1 1/3 cups potato starch, 2/3 cup tapioca flour)
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon (I think mine is more of a heaping tsp)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups cugar
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1 T egg replacer mixed with 2 T rice milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Beat all ingredients in large bowl until completely mixed. 
Place by spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Wet fingers and gently flatten and shape cookies into little round disks.  (If you don't shape them you will have ugly pumpkin mounds as the cookies don't flatten as they bake).
Bake 18-20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Chewy, yummy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Doctor

Well, we have another big appointment coming up for Bee.  We visit the immunologist next week and I've got to get busy preparing for our appointment.  Here are my thoughts and questions for the doctor so far:

I plan to ask about food challenges and discuss some of our food challenges that we did at home.  Hopefully our immunologist won't be too mad at me.......
We tried beans and corn and everything seems fine so far..........
So what can we try next?

Can we try egg yolk if we separate the eggs?  Will we ever be able to eat eggs again?????

Can we try banana?

Avocado?

Kiwi?

Wheat?  We had a Cheerio accident and nothing happened even though she had Cheerios in her mouth......so is her wheat allergy better?

Can we restest some of the original RAST results?  And her IgE level?

She has had fish oil supplements with no problem so can we try fish?

We tried sunflower butter.......that was a total no go as Bee's mouth broke out in a huge rash.  What other things should we avoid that are related to sunflower seeds?  Can we test for sunflower allergy?

What about foods that are fine when she eats them and she loves to eat them, like oatmeal and watermelon, but if they sit on her face, she breaks out slightly?  Why do some foods make her break out only if they touch her face?  Should we avoid those foods as well?  Is there a difference between an internal allergy and a contact allergy?

Why does her milk allergy seem worse?  Now we cannot even touch her after touching dairy or she will break out in severe hives.  What can we do?

On the upside, her eczema has improved dramatically and she doesn't itch constantly.  So we are making improvements!

We'll see what the doctor says this time...........

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gravy

I really didn't think a dairy-free gravy was possible and that it would even be edible........thankfully I was wrong.  Here is our Thanksgiving gravy:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 yellow onions sliced
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp thyme
3 T oat flour - or you could probably use rice flour
dash of red wine vinegar
2 T honey
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 T corn starch mixed with a small amount of rice milk

Cook the onions in the olive oil over very low heat for an hour to an hour and a half-yes, that long.  You want the onions to carmelize and they will only do this over low heat, so don't turn the heat up.  Add the rosemary, thyme, and 1 T of oat flour.  Stir while cooking for about 1 minute.  Add vinegar and honey and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes.  After this step you could set the gravy base aside and keep in fridge until you are ready to make the gravy.  I usually do these first steps the day before I plan to use the gravy since the onions take so long to cook.
Then over medium heat stir in the last 2 T of oat flour.  Add chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened.  If not thick enough, add in the corn starch/rice milk mixture and stir.  Wait another 5 or more minutes until thickened.
This gravy is not a thick, rich cream gravy but it has great flavor with the onions. 

If you want sausage gravy, cook some ground sausage and add the sausage and drippings to the gravy after you add the chicken broth.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holidays

I love the holiday season-the cooler weather, the great food, the yummy dessert, the family time.  This year, I'm only getting the family part of all that.........Where we live there is no such thing as "cold" weather.  Now everyone down here would disagree with me as they have pulled out their jackets and stocking caps-for weather in the 50's..........sheesh........And as for the food, well, our holidays will have to be allergy free and just how fun and yummy can that be, right?

But more than that, how can you be safe over the holidays?  How do you not go crazy with worry?  What do you do about everyone else who wants to eat their "normal" food or even family members who can't figure out how to cook for you or won't even try............

Thankfully, our families are very understanding of our allergy issues. And this year, Thanksgiving was at my house and I was in charge of the whole meal.  Scary!  I have never cooked Thanksgiving, much less an allergy-free one!

I have to say that everything turned out surprisingly well.  This was probably thanks to a week-long practice session of cooking all the items at least once to be fully prepared.

But what do you do when Thanksgiving isn't at your house?  Do you bring all your own food?  Do you eat in a separate room?  Do you make everyone wash their hands after they are done cooking and eating?

I'm glad we didn't have to think about these issues for Thanksgiving but now I'm thinking about Christmas........we'll be traveling and won't have the luxury of cooking in our allergen-free kitchen for each meal.  How do I explain the allergies to everyone and how do I keep from panicking when everyone wants to hug Baby Bee?  Why do all holidays have to center around some type of food?

I'll try and post some of our successful Thanksgiving recipes later.  You really can have a normal meal.....and Bee was thrilled and loved everything.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dairy Free

Some dairy-free thoughts............

Websites
Dairy-free living
Go dairy free
Eating with food allergies
Kids with food allergies

Cookbook Ideas
Go Dairy Free
More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally
The Milk Allergy Companion and Cookbook
Cooking for Isaiah
Bake Deliciously Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook
I can't personally endorse any of these because of all the other ingredients they contain so many other things that we can't have but I've heard good things about them.

My two favorite cookbooks are:
Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook
The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook
These are free of almost everything that we can't have and are a great resource when you are beginning allergy free cooking.

Milk alternatives:
Rice milk
Hemp milk
Almond milk
Coconut milk

Butter alternatives:
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Spectrum vegetable shortening
Soy free margarine

Yogurt alternatives:
Coconut yogurt
Rice Yogurt

Ice cream:
Sorbet is often dairy free
Coconut ice cream
Rice milk ice cream

Creamer:
Coconut milk creamer

Buttermilk:
One tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of rice milk.  Stir together and let sit for 10 or more minutes.

Chocolate:
Chocolate chips
Chocolate bars
Baking chocolate
100% cocoa powder should also be free of milk products

Roux:
A roux can be made using olive oil and your flour of choice and adding unsweetened rice milk. 

We avoid soy as well as dairy, so these are my best soy- and dairy-free alternatives.  I've learned that it is hard to find something non-dairy that is also non-soy.  So you have to be careful when searching for dairy-free or vegan recipes.  I sometimes look for allergy-free resources and cookbooks rather than simply a milk- or dairy-free resource. 
And I have yet to find a cheese alternative but I'm still looking.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dips

Now that we've added a few beans back into our diet, we can eat chip and veggie dip.  Here are our current favorites:

Hummus
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
1/4-1/2 t cumin
1 t minced onion
2 or 3 T water
salt and pepper to taste

Mince garlic in food processor.  Add garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, and onion.  Slowly add water while mincing ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variations:
Sometimes we add a little cayenne red pepper for some spicy hummus.
For hummus with more texture, fold in some finely diced red onion at the end rather than adding the minced onion.
Or add some finely diced poblano pepper (place pepper under broiler, turning until skin is scorched, place in ziploc for 10 minutes, then remove skin, deseed and finely dice).


White Bean Dip
1 can (15 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic minced fine
2 T olive oil
1 t dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4-1/2 t basil
2 t lemon juice
1/2 t salt (or more to taste)
black pepper
1/8 t cayenne (or more)

Mash beans with fork and stir in all other ingredients.

My kids love to dip carrots in this dip

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food Challenge

Bee's latest lab results showed her IgE levels had dropped significantly.  A few of her foods were barely on the "allergic scale."  I've been questioning her allergies to a few foods for a while now and decided that we might want to try a food challenge.
I called one of my friends who has a severely allergic child and asked for details of the food challenges that she has done with her son.  They sounded LONG and miserable with 4+ hours at the doctor's office a day for each food you test.  She also explained how she had done some at home with her doctor's knowledge.  The at-home test sounded much better for us.
So we made a decision to try a couple of the foods that were her smallest allergens.
We began by rubbing some of the food around her mouth.  Thirty minutes later she got a bit.  Every thirty minutes or so I would give her a few bites and watch her.  At the first sign of hives we would stop and take some Zyrtec.
First up on the list was oatmeal.  Bee passed with flying colors and has been enjoying oatmeal and homemade granola bars ever since.
Next we decided to try some beans.  The first bean we tested was white beans and again Bee passed.  She has enjoyed some spicy bean dip on several occasions now.
We're also going to work toward corn and other types of beans.  After that I might be brave and test avocado again and see if that allergy has disappeared yet.  But for now, we're enjoying a few more foods that used to be contraband in our house.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Smiles

Baby Bee was always a serious little girl.  Prince Charming and I worked so hard to make her smile and those smiles were few and far between.  At the time, we didn't realize why, but we soon started to realize that there was something very wrong with Bee.  When we were out with her, strangers played peek-a-boo and talked to her.  NEVER was anyone able to coax a smile from her.  And of course, those strangers all had to comment on how serious she was and how she "sure didn't smile."  Yes, I know.  Thank you.  I finally got to the point where I would just cut them off before they got started with the ridiculous silly faces and voices.  I was plain tired of watching them fail.  Her own parents could rarely get her to crack a smile.

Tonight I watched Bee running through the kitchen screeching with laughter as Tiger chased her.  "Run!  I'm going to tickle you!!!!!"  The first year was so hard at times, but I can see how far we've come.  Nowadays, Bee is rarely without a smile (and a snack or two).  And she rewards everyone with her smile, especially us!  Well.........when she'll take her thumb out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Coconut

We love marinades and grilled chicken and I miss soy sauce.  Not only can we not have soy, but many soy sauces contain gluten.  So we have pretend soy sauce-coconut aminos.  It makes for some good marinades!  And if you want a sweet marinade-coconut nectar.  Check out the other coconut products and the sugar alternative.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bliss

A certain someone came sneaking out of their room during quiet time to find mommy eating an allergy free chocolate cupcake.  Of course, he had to have a bite. 
This is good mommy.......
Why are you taking pictures?
Stop!
Ok, fine...........
One minute later I look over next to me and I see this...........a chocolate mouth and chocolate blankie makes for a good nap.

{Gluten Free} Play Dough Recipe

When we moved several months ago, I took the opportunity to purge our pantry of allergy foods.  During packing I realized that I had missed one crucial item in the purge--the playdough drawer.  We had every color of playdough you can imagine!  I trashed it all and then I called Playdoh to complain that they didn't make GF playdough because it just made me feel better - therapy I guess.  

So, now that we are moved in I decided to make Bee her very own playdough.  We started with green and blue and have now added orange at the request of Tiger.  More colors are coming soon.  And the green playdough is even scented.....mint....Curly calls it Mommy Mint because my favorite color is green.  Bee enjoyed playing with playdough for the very first time this week, and predictably she took a taste test.  No hives here!



GF dough
1 cup rice flour
2 T cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 T olive oil
1 cup water
food coloring

Mix flour, cream of tartar, and salt in sauce pan.  Mix the food coloring with the water and add to pan along with oil.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick.  Will form into a ball when it's done and your arm will be ready to fall off, but it's so worth it!  Allow the dough to cool completely before storing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vacation


Soon after Baby Bee was diagnosed with food allergies, all kinds of thoughts and worries ran through my mind. 
What about birthday parties?  She can't eat the birthday cake?  Will she have to take her own cake to every party?
What about trips and vacations?  Where will we eat and what will we do?  What about places that don't allow outside food?
Thanksgiving???  Christmas??  Valentine candy!!  Halloween treats!!  We won't be able to accept anything!
What about everything other holiday function or party or gathering that all revolve around food?
At the time I was too overwhelmed to even begin to think about how we would cope.  I still don't have answers to all the questions but I'm learning a few things.

This past weekend we took our first family trip with Baby Bee in tow.  We stayed at a fun resort and my mom had called ahead to speak with the restaurants there.  The chefs spoke with her on the phone and were knowledgeable about food allergies.  They even had suggestions for what Bee could eat at the restaurant and they planned to make some special items just for her. 

Well, I was still a little nervous, so we arrived with our ice chest full of things for Bee to snack on...just in case.  We swam, we played, and then we headed to dinner.  Our server did not act shocked and confused when we brought up food allergies (most servers look dazed and panicked when we bring it up).  That was a pleasant surprise.  The chef came out to talk with us.  When we mentioned our name he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket, on it he had the list of all of Bee's allergies from when my mom called.  He read through the list and asked if that was our list, and then made suggestions for what she could eat.  Our table was served food a little bit later and Bee enjoyed her meal with us. 

Can I just say how rare this is?  That the chefs and staff would be familiar with food allergies and actually be helpful and willing to make adjustments to meals?  Why can't more restaurants train their staff and chefs to understand food allergies and know how to make substitutions? 

Eating out felt so normal for a change.  And for our next trip, I've already called ahead, and while this place can't do special cooking for Bee, I already have permission to arrive with an ice chest full of meals for Bee.  Vacations...we can do this.

Blog Break

In case you missed it, I took a blog break for a few months....due to morning sickness.  That's right!  Our hive will have a new baby bee in February!  I hope I'm back for a while and can post more regular updates. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Protein Shake

Baby Bee is tiny, tiny and we worry about her nutrition, her calcium intake, her protein intake, her caloric intake, her weight, and her absorption.  Basically, we worry about everything that does go into her tummy and all the things we wish could go into her tummy.  Our doctor recommended this protein shake for her that is made from a rice-based protein source.  It is free of all of her allergens and seems to taste pretty good to her.  She drinks one shake every morning!

Bulk

Wow!  Is this bag heavy!  Our local health food store allowed me to purchase some brown rice flour in bulk when they received their latest shipment.  No shipping fees!  Now I just have to figure out how to store this stuff! 
Time to bake!!!

Beer bread!
Coffee cake!
It smells so good in here!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chicken Tenders

Ok, in case you haven't noticed I am not the Pioneer Woman and this is not tasty kitchen.  This is the allergy free kitchen, and sometimes it is just not that tasty!  It does not have gorgeous edited photos of every ingredient laid out in brightly-colored porcelain bowls.  It does not have detailed photo instructions for the recipe.  Heck, sometimes I don't even have pictures of the food at all.  We are hungry over here!  I do not have beautiful cookware, it would be broken or disappear into the play kitchen with all my strainers.  I cook with between one and three children (with an average of two) screaming and/or clinging to my legs.  Often, I have two helpers peering over the very, very dirty counter tops, with a third trying to climb onto said counter tops.  I spend my cooking time trying to keep one child from picking his nose while stirring (guess who that might be) and keeping up with a very profound conversation from another, while a third is randomly pulling the hair of the person closest to her.  Thank you Bee!  If there is hair in my cooking, it is solely her fault.

Sometimes PC cooks, which is one of the many reasons why we call him Prince Charming.  And, he's actually very good at it.  Give him a skillet and he is dangerous!  We hide in the bedroom until we're called.

Tonight we came out to garlic chicken, but we smelled it long before (and long after) it was done.

You start with our favorite and basic chicken tender.

Chicken tenderloins
1 cup brown rice breadcrumbs
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t pepper
More for sprinkling

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
Combine breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper, and dredge chicken.
Place chicken in skillet of hot olive oil.  This oil needs to be really hot.  You might need to test one first to make sure the oil is popping or you will have some soggy chicken.
Cook for a few minutes, rotating regularly, until tenderloins are brown on all sides and juices run clear when cut.  Place on cooling rack and continue cooking tenderloins in batches until all are done.

(And by the way, PC does not measure anything so these are really ballpark figures, so you'll just have to taste test as you go.)

These are some yummy chicken fingers!



But PC does a variation on these that is a huge hit at our garlic-loving house.

Garlic Chick
2 T olive oil
18-20 garlic cloves crushed (yes, we really use that many)
1 can chicken broth
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
3 T millet flour
1/4 cup water

Heat oil in skillet.  Add crushed cloves and saute until golden brown.  Remove cloves and mash and place in a bowl.
Add chicken broth to hot oil.  Let cook for about 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice, basil, and oregano to skillet, stir, and let cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add mashed garlic.
Add flour slowly, stirring with each addition.
Add water and stir until sauce thickens.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour this over your chicken fingers and you'll keep the vampires away!

An Argument


Ohhh, I have sat in this chair many times.  I wasn't looking for an argument, but I found several, and paid for all of them.

Let me take you back.....



This is Baby Bee, only a few hours old, resting in Daddy's arms.  If I only knew....this was the calm before the storm.

Bee was a fussy baby, very very fussy.  Bee didn't eat well or sleep.  The pediatrician tried to sympathize with "the tired mommy," but I knew he wrote me off.

When we presented with all over eczema, he stated that it was just that, simply eczema.  He wrote me a prescription for steroid cream and ushered me to the door.  Ok, Bee did not have "just" eczema, she was covered, and her crying was for a very good reason.  I suggested food allergies.  "No, definitely not."  But I really think...What about yeast?  Does she have a yeast infection?  "No, and I will NOT prescribe something for a yeast infection when it is NOT a yeast infection."  I argued that point for a few more minutes.  Then we argued about steroid cream and my not wanting to use it.  (He said I had no choice.)  Then we argued about whether I needed to see a dermatologist.  Finally, I insisted on a referral.  I left.  How many arguments was that?  Four?  And I paid for that....

The dermatologist was no better.  Yes, it was eczema.  Yes, I knew.  This was the one point that I was NOT attempting to argue.  But what about food?  Was food causing this?  We argued.  He laughed.  Then he suggested we present at grand rounds.  We did that and got the same answer.  We met with the pediatric specialist.  Then we had the same food allergy argument.  Wow, I paid two times for that argument.

The follow up appointment was no better.  I brought up the food issue again, asking for a blood test.  I was vehemently denied that test after an argument.  Then I brought up a yeast infection.  We argued over that too. I paid, but I guess I got two for one on that day.  What a sale!!!

So, I tried another pediatrician.  We argued about food allergies, and he finally relented and ordered a test.  This was 4 or 5 months after the initial visit to the pediatrician.  I was going on 7 months with little or no sleep and a baby who was more than miserable.  I think I looked something like this at that appointment:
Yup, I think I would have just ordered the blood test too.  I wouldn't argue with that anymore.  Win number one!

Of course, the test showed multiple and severe food allergies.  I cancelled my next follow up with the dermatologist and started calling immunologist/allergists.  None would take us as patients due to Bee's age of 8 months.  The angry look was coming back.

We met with an ENT who wanted Bee on steroid meds when she turned 1.  Not going to happen.  Argument.  Then we argued about dietary restrictions.  I was told that I could not manage my diet to restrict Bee's multiple allergens.  Yeah, well, we had an unpleasant argument there.  At least I felt like I got my money's worth on that one.

We traveled to another state to see an immunologist.  He was just not that helpful.  We argued about steroid cream and we argued about yeast infections.  We argued about Bee's allergens and if we could actually avoid all of them.  I can, but more importantly, I will!  No point in arguing that one with me.  What a long drive home!

Finally, got in to see an immunologist in our state.  Called and begged and ARGUED on the phone.  Win!  Guess what her first words were..........your baby has eczema and a secondary yeast infection.  Bingo!  No argument there!  That began our road to recovery.  Multiple yeast and other fungal infections, as well as staph infections later, Bee is clear of all infections and has stayed that way for months.  It just took a little argumentation and persistence to get there.

How sad that I had to argue with every provider in order to help Bee.  But even more sad, that they would argue back with me.  Or was it just contradiction?
 
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