Friday, September 28, 2012

Allergy Free Ranch Dressing Mix

I used this in a recipe and it added great flavor.  I don't know how we could ever make it into a ranch dip but I plan to keep it for seasoning in other recipes.

Ranch Dressing Mix
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Stir all spices together well and store in sealed container.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Panic Attack

Ok, food allergies have made me more than a little crazy.  How do I know this? 

Last week the kids were watching a Spanish cartoon program on the iPad while they ate lunch at the table.  The episode was about the market and all the different foods.  The characters talked about fruits and vegetables and then cheese-queso.  I don't know many Spanish words, but I do know that one!

On the screen was a huge block of cheese and it even showed the factory where the cheese was made.  My heart stopped and I jumped up ready to switch off the iPad.  There was cheese in my house!!!!  Then it hit me.  The cheese was on a screen.  It was not real.  Over react much? 

I think I have lost my mind.  Now I'm terrified of virtual dairy products. 

Food allergy parents are not normal.  I guess I'm always on high alert, even when it's just on TV....I need therapy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{Allergy Free} Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are a modified version of our blueberry muffin recipe.  Tiger is not a huge fan of blueberries in his muffins so we sometimes make him chocolate chip muffins instead.  They are a huge hit!

Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour blend
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer whisked with 2 Tablespoons vanilla hemp milk
2/3 cup vanilla hemp milk
1/2 cup to 1 cup chocolate chips

Combine flour through baking powder and whisk in large bowl.
Add applesauce, egg replacer mixture, and milk.
Mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour in greased muffin tins and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.
Let cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

{Allergy Free} Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These were a hit with the kids and a new take on chocolate chip cookies for fall.  The cookies are best when served warm so you may need to re-warm them.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer whisked with 2 Tablespoons rice milk
5 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

In one bowl, combine first 5 ingredients.
In mixing bowl, beat sugars through vanilla.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by Tablespoon full onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until cookies slightly crack.  The cookies should still look shiny.  (Don't make the mistake I made and overbake them or you will have one super crunchy cookie.)
Cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes and then remove to wire rack.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Alternative

I really miss peanut butter.  We used to use almond butter until we discovered that Bee was allergic (even after testing negative to tree nuts).  That eliminated cashew butter and macadamia nut butter also.  I miss those too!  So, we settled on sun butter, feeling much safer.  Then we discovered that Bee had an allergy to sunflower seeds!  So, there went all the peanut butter alternatives.  So much for PB and J or "peanut butter" cookies.

But, we recently discovered Golden Pea Butter.

It sounded so strange and gross but I was finally brave enough to try.

And the verdict?  It's not bad at all.

It tastes like a nut butter and is a good substitute in cookies.

I do have a few complaints however:

There is no salt added.  Great if you're watching your sodium.  Bad if you want something that tastes like peanut butter.  I like my peanut butter slightly salted!

It has very little oil.  I want my butter to be creamy and spreadable.  This stuff can be hard to spread.  It can also make for some crumbly cookies in recipes unless you add some extra olive oil before baking.

So, while Golden Pea Butter is a pretty good substitute when you're allergic to everything else, it does require a few adjustments from me.  I've got to add a little salt and some olive oil to enhance the flavor and change the consistency.  But, we're going to keep trying new things with it.  Bee has really liked it so far.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{Allergy Free} Pumpkin Donuts

It's fall and I'm using pumpkin in any way I can.  I love the smells of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg coming from the kitchen.  It was time for a new donut recipe so we decided to try some pumpkin donuts.  These were so soft and yummy.  The kids each ate four apiece!

Pumpkin Donuts

1 cup flour blend
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
6 Tablespoons rice milk
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer whisked with 2 Tablespoons rice milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Soy Free, melted

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 Tablespoon melted Earth Balance Soy Free
1 teaspoon vanilla
Rice milk

Preheat oven to 325 and spray donut pans.
In mixer, add dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients and mix well.
Spoon batter into donut pans and bake for 10 minutes.
Turn out onto wire racks immediately and add glaze.

To make glaze:
Whisk together powdered sugar, melted Earth Balance, and vanilla.  Slowly add rice milk until glaze is thin enough to pour over donuts.  I think I added 1 Tablespoon to mine.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Suspicions Confirmed

After I began researching food allergies, I felt I had found part of the answer to Bee's skin problems and her extreme fussiness.

Unfortunately, every doctor I spoke with seemed to disagree with me.  Every time I brought up food as part of the problem they either dismissed me or outright laughed at my theory.  I was told time and time again that it was not food.  The pediatricians were convinced that food had nothing to do with the problem.  The dermatologists thought the food angle was ridiculous.  Even the pediatric dermatologist dismissed my concerns.

I don't think I have ever felt more discouraged and ridiculed.  I would have given up if not for two people-Bee and my husband.  Bee's misery and her lack of improvements even while trying different creams and lotions helped me to continue to read and ask questions.  And my husband's support of my "crazy" ideas pushed me to advocate for Bee.

No doctor would do an allergy test on Bee.  I knew she was young and that the tests weren't always accurate but I needed some concrete answers.  Either the test would confirm what I believed or it would show that she wasn't reacting to any of the main allergens.  I just had to know.  But each doctor refused to order an allergy test.

With the support of my husband, I decided to do an elimination diet to see if we could notice any improvement in Bee.

I decided to cut out gluten first.  I had read in many places about the problems people had with gluten from skin issues to stomach issues and both seemed to describe Bee.  My mom was gluten free due to celiac disease so I was already familiar with gluten free foods and I knew I had a great resource nearby to help me.

For 3 weeks, I was totally, completely gluten free.  In the first few days I could not see any improvements in Bee.  At times I even thought she might be worse.  But I kept going and by the end of one solid week, Bee started napping for more than 30 minutes at a time.  She actually took a good 2 hour nap and woke up in a good mood.  After I got over the shock of the change in her, I was more motivated than ever to continue with our experiment.  By the end of the 2nd week, Bee was taking consistent naps and then she started sleeping through the night (she was 6 months at this time).

After those 3 weeks, I picked another food to cut out-dairy.  I was dairy free for a week, with even more improvements in Bee when I began to feel exhausted from cooking separate meals for my family and myself.  I craved anything with gluten or dairy and I felt utterly miserable depriving myself of all the foods I enjoyed.  So, I caved and ate 2 bites of one of my husband's cheese quesadilla. 

That was a huge mistake!  The next day Bee was back to her cranky miserable self and she refused to nap.

At that point, my experiment became a long-term lifestyle decision and I avoided both gluten and dairy to help Bee.  That's when I knew she absolutely had to be tested.  I believed that she had other allergies but I didn't even know where to begin.

Several doctors later I did get that allergy test lab slip and a confirmed diagnosis of food allergies. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Allergy Free Chocolate Chip Cake

I was craving chocolate chip cookies but too lazy to make them.  So, I went with a slightly faster option-a chocolate chip cake.  It was delicious and served as my birthday cake!

Chocolate Chip Cake

2 cups flour blend
3/4 teaspoon xanthan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups plan coconut yogurt (2 containers)
2/3 cup Earth Balance Soy Free
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer mixed with 6 Tablespoons hemp milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips
cinnamon sugar, mixed together

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking pan.
Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar in large mixing bowl.  Beat well.
Pour half of batter into pan.
Sprinkle half of the bag of chocolate chips on top and top with a blend of cinnamon and sugar.
Spread the rest of batter on top.
Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top and then sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maybe we're not on the same page....

This event happened a little over a year ago.  I have been meaning to blog about it but have not wanted to relive the memory.  But, I'm finally sitting down to tell about one of our biggest food allergy miscommunication/mishaps that we've had so far.  

In early August we had a small road trip for an out-of-town homeschool conference.  I was so excited because I love all things homeschool, especially the books and the curricula!

There were also several things we planned to do around town and even some allergy-friendly or gluten-free restaurants we hoped to try. 

We planned; we packed; we loaded; and we called ahead.  We felt ready for our weekend trip and the kids were excited to spend the weekend away and also see grandparents who were joining us for the event.

Prince Charming had to go out of town for a few weeks so I was going to stay at the hotel for a week with my parents helping.  We had fun outings planned to the zoo and aquarium to keep the kids busy before we headed back home to wait for Daddy to return.

We made the drive to the town safely and unloaded.  That night we went to a local gluten-free restaurant.  I had called ahead and confirmed some menu items and found some options for Bee.  I had spoken with both the manager and the chef and felt confident we would all be able to eat something.

I ordered Bee some gluten free spaghetti with sauce-NO CHEESE-and some veggies on the side-NO BUTTER.  I explained our situation to our server and asked for a manager.  I explained to the manager as well.  I repeatedly told them of the allergies, especially the dairy allergy.  They said it was no problem to make Bee some spaghetti with sauce and not put any cheese on top.  They also remembered my earlier phone calls.

When her order came out, I grabbed it first so I could cut up her noodles.  As I was cutting I noticed that my fork was getting sticky.  I wondered if the noodles were overcooked and sticking to my fork.  But the closer I looked the more I suspected that there was melted cheese stirred into her sauce.  I told everyone at the table that I thought there was cheese in her food.  Everyone seemed to think I was overreacting.

I kept insisting that I didn't feel her order was right.  So I asked our server who insisted that there was no cheese in the order.  I still didn't feel ok letting her eat.  I then asked for the manager and repeated my question.  She went to speak with the chef and came back, confirming my fear.  They had just added cheese topping to all of Bee's food even though I told them multiple times that she could not have cheese. 

I reiterated that Bee could not have cheese and that I had ordered hers without cheese.  The manager seemed unconcerned and said they would make her another order.  Then she just shrugged and asked, "What happens if she eats cheese?  She just gets itchy or something?"

No, actually.  She could die.  Thanks for your concern.

How uncaring and calloused toward our issues.  It was obvious that we were not on the same page and the manager was ignoring the severity even though I had explained our health concerns.  This was a restaurant for those with special dietary needs.  Why would the manager of this restaurant, of all places, be uneducated about dietary needs and the chef careless?  It made me wonder how many other orders had been wrong and if other food sensitive or food allergic individuals had experienced problems after eating there.

I decided that Bee was not going to be eating any food from this restaurant.  Thankfully, there was a grocery store next door where we bought her some pretzels, applesauce, and cookies that were safe for her.  We also grabbed a bottle of Benadryl as she was beginning to get itchy from her exposure to cheese from being at the table in the restaurant.

We went back to our hotel where I had a completely sleepless night.  By the next morning, I had a migraine and was too upset and anxious to enjoy our trip.  We spent the day doing things as a family and missed the entire homeschool convention because I did not want to be away from Bee.  That night we made the decision that after we took Prince Charming to the airport, I would go back home with the kids and my parents could spend time with them at home.  We were sad to cut our trip short, but never have I been so happy to see my own kitchen and pantry.

It just goes to show you that even though a restaurant may be a specialty one or cater to specific diets, they aren't always educated and you just might not get what you ordered (or you might get more than you ordered).  Even after my phone calls and my talks with the manager and chef, we were not all on the same page and they weren't taking any of our issues seriously.  Their careless and cavalier attitude was shocking.  After this experience, I was more motivated than ever to cook our meals at home.

No one understands the allergies better than I do and I truly cannot trust anyone with Bee's safety.  I remind myself of that night at the restaurant any time I'm feeling lax about the allergies or when I'm feeling comfortable.  Sometimes, no amount of planning can keep your child safe.  That's a truly terrifying thought.

Ever since that day, I make sure I have a bag full of medications and our emergency protocol given to us by our doctor.  Never leave home without being prepared.

Monday, September 17, 2012

{Allergy Free} Cinnamon Bundt Cake

Curly wanted to make a coffee cake with me so we found some recipes, modified them, and came up with this recipe.  This is a wonderful cinnamon coffee cake.  Our little bundt cake was gone in 1 day.  

Cinnamon Bundt Cake
2 1/2 cups flour blend
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon xanthan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Earth Balance Soy Free
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (divided)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 teaspoons egg replacer whisked with 4 Tablespoons rice milk
1 1/3 cups rice milk whisked with 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine flour, brown sugar, xanthan, and salt and whisk well.
Cut in Earth Balance until mixture resembles crumbs.
Scoop out 1/2 cup of mixture and reserve for later.
Add baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Mix well.
Add egg replacer mixture and rice milk mixture, stirring until just combined.
Pour half of the batter into greased bundt pan.
Sprinkle remaining cinnamon and then top with the second half of the batter.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top.
Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then invert on wire rack.  Let cool

1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons melted Earth Balance

Add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and Earth Balance.  Whisk until smooth.  Add more milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.

Linked with Adventures with Jude Pinterest Party

Friday, September 14, 2012

{Allergy Free} Mac and "Cheese"

Tiger misses mac and cheese more than anything else, so I've searched recipes and tried out many and this one is the closest we've ever come to a "normal" mac and cheese recipe.  It is creamy and the breadcrumb topping adds texture.  

Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 shallot finely diced
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 1/2 cups rice milk, warmed
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
1 cup daiya cheddar cheese
1 cup daiya mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup breadcrumbs with oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder mixed in
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 package Tinkyada noodles (my kids love the spirals)

Boil water and cook noodles according to package directions for al dente pasta and then drain and rinse under cool water.
Meanwhile, melt the Earth Balance in large saucepan with the diced shallot.
Add in the rice flour and stir to make a roux.
Slowly add in rice milk, whisking constantly until slightly thickened.
Add nutmeg, cayenne, bay leaf, and dijon mustard and whisk.
Add cheeses and continue whisking until cheese melts.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove bay leaf and pour cooked noodles into sauce and stir well.
Pour into greased casserole dish.
In separate bowl mix the breadcrumb mixture with olive oil and crumble on top of mac and cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Allergy Isolation

I know I've blogged before about how isolating food allergies can be.  But I get so many reminders of the isolation and it can be hard to not become discouraged.

I called several homeschool co-ops for the kids-snacks are served.  They weren't very willing to work with me or change the snack or even eliminate the snack as a safety measure.  So, we can't attend.

End of year recitals and parties-they all contain lots of cookies and punch.  We can enjoy the recital but have to skip out afterward on the fellowship time.

Church events are horribly difficult too:
Church meeting-refreshments are served.  Nope, can't attend.
Church sign up night-popcorn and cookies for the kids.  No on that.
Kids night out-pizza time for the kids!  No, no free babysitting for us.
Sunday school class fellowship-everyone brings a dish.  Unsafe.  We'll fellowship on our own at home.
Class swim party-dinner is served.  That won't work either.
Lunch together after church-20 people at a restaurant eating things that are unsafe.  Bad idea too.

Birthday parties-that's a no brainer.  Those are never safe.

Playdates-that entails going to someone's house-a house that contains all our allergens.  No thanks.

Grocery store-well half of the store's items are off limits for us and Bee has had reactions just from being in the store.  Thankfully Prince Charming volunteers to go and bring home all the heavy sacks.

Library story time-believe it or not some of them serve snacks.  I don't think books and food mix very well but I may only be in the minority on that one.

There have been so many events that we've had to turn down and so many opportunities that we've had to pass up.  It's so very frustrating and the isolation can be depressing at times.

On one hand, I do wish all events could be safe and that everyone would respect the allergies and be willing to make sacrifices so that everyone could participate.

And on the other hand, I know how many sacrifices they would have to make and how it would be so far outside their normal that it would be impossible to accommodate us.  Asking someone to not have food at an event?  That never, ever goes over well.

We've had events that we weren't invited to simply because of the allergies.  It was so very hurtful at the time.  We found out about the events (parties, get togethers, fellowships) at a later date and realized that we were the only ones in our circle of friends not even invited.  We had an instance when the host approached us after the event and told us about the event and explained that they didn't feel like they should invite us because they knew that they couldn't accommodate us and that we would not attend.  So, they decided it would be best to just not invite us so we wouldn't have to decline.  I don't know which feels worse-having people pass you by and refuse to invite your or having to politely decline an invitation.  Ouch.  My heart hurt not just for me but for what Bee will have to experience for the rest of her life.

Yes, it's isolating.

But we have found many things we can do, even if it's just our family.  There are events we can attend and there are even people who bend over backwards to allow us to attend an event that they work hard to insure is safe for us.  And, we've learned that it's easiest to just invite people over to our house for events.  If we want to participate it usually means planning the event, hosting the event, cooking for the event, and being the one in charge of all the details.  But the work is worth it to have some normalcy sometimes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

{Allergy Free} Chicken and Wild Rice

My kids love this casserole dish.  It's easy to put together and I often make the chicken and rice a day ahead to save on dinner prep time.

Chicken and Wild Rice

1 package of chicken cooked and diced (I put mine in the crockpot)
wild rice, cooked  (I use my wild rice recipe, doubled but I cut the salt in half)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free spread
1/2 cup rice flour
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups rice milk
2 Tablespoons parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook onion in Earth Balance and saute until onion is translucent and tender.
Stir in flour and whisk well.
Gradually add in chicken broth, while stirring.
Then add in rice milk, while whisking.
Continue whisking until slightly thickened.
Add chicken, rice, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Pour in greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

{Allergy Free} Sausage Cheddar Biscuits

Here's a Pinterest recipe that I found and modified for Bee.  The cheddar biscuits are perfect with the sausage and the recipe is so very simple!

Sausage Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups Gluten Free Bisquick (measure it out carefully and don't use more than the 2 cups)
1 container plain coconut yogurt
1 1/4 cups 7-Up
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free, melted
1/2 pound sausage, cooked
1/2 cup Daiya cheddar flavor

Mix the Bisquick, yogurt, and 7-Up until just blended.
Add the sausage and Daiya cheddar and stir gently.
Grease a 9x9 pan and pour half the melted Earth Balance on the bottom.
Spread the biscuit dough over the top of the melted Earth Balance.
Then pour the remaining Earth Balance over the top and spread until smooth.
Bake at 450 for 14-16 minutes until lightly browned.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Food allergies were never on our radar before Baby Bee.  Even after she was born I could not even imagine food allergies and I had no idea that our little one had such severe allergies.

Bee seemed so normal at first, but that normalcy did not last long.

Bee had the worst cradle cap.  At a few weeks old her entire head was covered in green, scaly gunk that took over her hair.  Her baby fine hair fell out rapidly as the gooey, gunky cradle cap replaced it.  No matter how I scrubbed, brushed, shampooed, or moisturized, I could not win against that stuff.  It multiplied daily and soon her head was raw and bleeding.  This could not be normal.  Of course, our pediatrician dismissed it as "cradle cap" and didn't seem the least bit concerned.  I however was horrified.  My little one looked like she was wearing a bright green swimming cap on her head.

At that same time was the crying.  Bee was not a happy baby.  She spent much of her time crying and when she was finally quiet, she was still scowling at the rest of the world.  She was miserable and she made all of us equally miserable.

Then Bee developed a red, bumpy rash.  The rash seemed to start on her head and then it moved down her body.  Soon her entire body was covered in angry red bumps.  Eczema, the doctor said, and while I believed him, I did not feel that this was enough of an explanation.  I had never seen anything so severe and I was not content to just lotion her and wait for her to outgrow it.  Some days the rash was slightly better or less inflamed, but it was always present somewhere on her body.  Just as I would get her face looking clear, her legs would become rashy, and once her legs were clear, her arms would be overtaken with a rash.  It was a losing battle for us.

Bee also would not nurse.  She would scream at the top of her lungs when I tried to feed her.  There were many meals that she simply refused to eat.  She cried before, after, and during all the feedings.  I knew that this was not normal and kept trying to change my diet or drink more water or anything that would help.  Nothing seemed to help Bee.

Bee also began losing weight rapidly which would make sense if she was refusing to eat many of her meals.  But I couldn't understand why my once chubby baby was changing so rapidly.  The doctors whispered "failure to thrive" when they thought I couldn't hear them.  But no one ever explained to me why she simply could not keep weight on and why she was doing nothing but lose weight.

Later Bee was diagnosed with skin infections-both fungal and bacterial-in addition to her eczema.  Those were unexplained by the doctors as well.  I was not satisfied with their dismissive responses about her skin problems and I was determined to find the source.

With all those symptoms, many sleepless nights, and Bee's misery spurring me on, I began my own research.  I spent hours on the computer every night reading every website I could find about eczema, skin infections, fussy babies, colic, cradle cap, breastfeeding issues, and failure to thrive.  The one thing that seemed to connect all the symptoms and that was mentioned on multiple sites was food.  So, I switched my research to food allergies.  That's when I felt I had found my answer.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Can I please get a warning?

Food allergies are such an inconvenience.  That's such an understatement, right?

Our church has been so accommodating and everyone is so willing to learn about our allergies and they want to work with us.  It's such a blessing for them to reach out and make us feel a part of the activities.

But sometimes there are things that I'm just not prepared for.  I didn't get advance notice-either I forgot to ask (I should always, always, always ask), or I should have assumed differently (or not really assumed at all), or maybe the food allergy thing slipped their minds (it's easy for that to happen to others I've learned).

I really wish I could get a warning about every activity-just a simple heads up about what is involved and what food will be served.

For instance, we recently had a church function to sign up for a new year of an activity.  We walked in to a room full of parents filling our forms and children running around with popcorn and cookies.  Not good!  Little children with popcorn-smeared and cookie-crumble hands are very dangerous.  I promptly sent Prince Charming right back outside with the kids while I did our paperwork.  Oops!  I needed a food warning on that one-thankfully it was an easy fix.

I also had a surprise one morning in Sunday school when another allergy mom sailed into our classroom looking for an allergy free snack for her daughter.  I thought that they didn't do snacks in the older Sunday school classes so I was lost.  She explained to me that snacks weren't usually served unless they were having movie week, during which the kids were given popcorn in the theater while they watched a short video.  No one told me about that either!  So, poor Curly was sitting in a theater afraid to eat the popcorn that everyone around her was eating.  I joined the other mom in the hall and we dashed downstairs to find Rice Chex to bring to our girls.  I never knew there were movie weeks!

So, always ask-even when you're tired of asking and everyone is tired of being asked.  Just ask if there's food.  You'll feel like a broken record but it's just worth it to ask.  It saves so much stress and headache later.

And just don't assume.  Don't assume there will be food or there won't be food.  Just bring something safe and have a backup plan in case you do need to leave early.  And don't ever assume that someone else is remembering the food allergies.  Remind them, mention the allergies, ask questions, remind them again, and then talk about the allergies some more.  Never assume anyone will ever be as vigilant as you are.

Be assured that others will forget.  They don't deal with it on a daily basis.  They don't live it.  They can't fully comprehend the allergies and the important safety measures.  Plan ahead because at some point there will be a mix-up, you will not be notified, or something will have changed and you will need to be ready to advocate for your child or even remove him/her from a situation.  So, at times you may need to start over from the beginning and go through all the allergy information again and again and again.  Expect that and be gracious as you continue to remind.

Events don't come pre-labeled with warning stickers.  That would be so nice!  Instead, that's my job-to always be informed and prepared.  Who needs sleep?  I have safe snacks to make, people to call, emails to write, questions to ask, and events to plan for.....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

{Allergy Free} Ginger Cookies

These are soft and chewy ginger cookies that are very simple!  Curly enjoys making them with me and I usually eat about half the recipe all by myself after she's in bed....

Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Earth Balance soy free
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon egg replacer whisked with 2 Tablespoons rice milk
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tablespoons sugar

Whisk together flour through salt.
In a large bowl, cream together Earth Balance and sugar.  Add in the egg replacer, orange juice, and molasses.  Mix well.
Add in dry ingredients.
Place dough in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Roll dough into small balls and roll in sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten only slightly.
Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

{Allergy Free} Dijon Maple Chicken

Want a quick and easy dish that only calls for 5 ingredients?  This is a great weeknight meal that is fast and easy.  All the kids loved it!

Dijon Maple Chicken

1 package of chicken breast tenders
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup country dijon mustard

Combine syrup and dijon mustard in bowl and whisk well.
Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.
Place chicken in the dish and pour sauce over the top.
Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 450 for 20 minutes.
Flip the chicken tenders over and sprinkle with paprika and bake another 20 minutes or until juices run clear.

Fast, easy, and virtually no clean up!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Allergies or Autism?

When Bee was a few months old she began to regress and lose the milestones she had achieved.  She didn't want to smile or laugh.  She had difficulty sitting up.  She began to have trouble rolling over.

At that point I was convinced that she had autism.  She just was "not right" in my mommy eyes.  She was nothing like my other 2 children.  Each time I asked the pediatrician about autism he would tell me with certainty that Bee was not autistic.  But I still knew something was wrong.

Once we had our food allergy diagnosis, we began eliminating all the foods that bothered Bee.  She slowly began to improve and started gaining her milestones back gradually after being so behind.  But we noticed that at first she seemed worse and there were times that we felt she would never catch up or get better.

It took months to see improvements and months to gain back her milestones and then more months for Bee to start moving forward-gaining weight, growing, eczema clearing, and her health returning.

During those months Bee's body had to slowly recover from all the damage done by foods that she was severely allergic to.  Bee had become sickly, undernourished, lethargic, and unable to fight infections.  Her body was so busy attacking all the foods that she was allergic to, it could not absorb any nutrients from anything.  She was eating but getting no nutrition.  That explained her autistic tendencies.

The healing process took time as it took more than a month for her system to be clear of any traces of her food allergens.  Once her system was detoxed, she was able to start the recovery process and start healing.  We've been able to see her body heal itself as she is fed foods that she can safely eat.  She began to gain weight and slowly start growing.  After several months she was back on the growth chart-even though she was still at the bottom.  She also recovered from her constant skin infections and was able to fight off other infections.  She was sick less often.

I never realized how much damage the wrong foods could do to a person, both physically and mentally.  We've seen Bee come full circle and become a completely different child after changing her diet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

{Allergy Free} Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I made these as a little experiment late one night and they were "awesome" in the words of my hubby.  He insists that they taste almost like a brownie.  And I would like to believe they are at least a little bit healthy..........they do have a veggie in them.

Zucchini Muffins
2 cups flour blend
3/4 teaspoon xanthan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup Earth Balance soy free
1/2 cup apple sauce, unsweetened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons egg replacer whisked with 4 Tablespoons rice milk
1/2 cup vanilla rice milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix flour through cocoa powder together in large bowl and set aside.
Cream together the Earth Balance, apple sauce, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the egg replacer and milk mixture.
Beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
Bake in greased muffin tins at 350 for 30 minutes or until tops spring back.
Let cool in tins for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack.  Cool completely on wire racks.
Makes 18 muffins.

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