Easy Peasy Peppers & Popsicles-TWO Allergen Free Recipes

As soon as I start typing this the kids are going to wake up, but for now they are still asleep so I’m hoping to squeeze out a quick post with some yummy new recipes.

A couple of weeks ago the fridge was getting bare, and I didn’t have time to go to the grocery.  We were having pork chops, and the only veggie I had in the fridge was 4-6 random bell peppers, mostly red, orange, and yellow peppers.  With no veggie dip or hummus in sight, I tossed them in a frying pan with some oil and started cooking them down a bit.  That was going to be pretty boring, and I eyed some quinoa in the fridge that had already been cooked.  Hhmmm, toss it with the peppers?  Definitely!  Still, this was going to be pretty bland, so to kick it up a bit I threw in some garlic salt and some dried parsley for flavor (& color).  Once the peppers were tender, I through in the heaping one cup of quinoa, added the garlic salt and parsley and stirred it all up and I got this….

IMG_4710I wish I was a food photographer, but I’m not.  I made this again just a few nights ago and we paired it with roasted chicken this time….

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So, to make this side dish you’ll need….

IMG_4708Ingredients:

cooking oil of your choice, roughly 4-5 tablespoons

4-6 bell peppers (pick your fave colors_

2-3 tsp garlic salt

3-4 tsp dried parsley

1 heaping cup of cooked quinoa

salt & pepper to taste

Cook the peppers in the oil until soft, add everything else and stir to coat the peppers in the quinoa, garlic salt, and parsley-that’s it!

Now let’s make a dessert-homemade popsicles!  I’ve researched several homemade popsicle recipes recently and some of them are pretty involved, but I like easy.  I wanted an orange creamsicle-type popsicle.  I looked at a recipe, decided it was too involved, so I grabbed what I had, plus a little sugar.  This were incredibly easy to make.  As in, 5 minutes-ish of dumping, mixing, pouring.

IMG_4712Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1 small container of vanilla yogurt (we used coconut milk yogurt, but you could use dairy or soy yogurt depending on your allergy needs)

2-4 T sugar, depending on your sweet tooth.  The more sugar, the more creamsicle-like, less sugar was more like frozen orange juice

Throw these ingredients in the blender

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Then pour into your popsicle mold and stick them in the freezer.

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Do these in the morning so they’re ready in the late afternoon and evening when you just need something to cool the kids (and yourself!) down.  To get the popsicles out once they are frozen, run warm water over them and they’ll come right out.  Here’s a picture of Nathan and little sis enjoying the popsicles.  Nathan is soaking wet because he loves to run through the water with his new swim goggles while I’m watering my flowers.  Little sis likes to stay dry 🙂

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So there you have it-two incredibly easy-peasy summer recipes that are kid friendly (yes, Nathan ate the peppers!) .

What are your favorite summer, allergen-free recipes?  Have you ever made up a recipe that turned out really well?

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An Allergen Free 4th Birthday Celebration!

Today has been pretty relaxing for a change!  This whole past week I have been preparing for N’s 4th birthday party.  Like all parents, I absolutely am in shock that he just had his fourth birthday!  It seems just like yesterday that I was holding him for the first time, unknowing all the parental ups and downs that were to befall me in just four short years ahead.  Here’s a picture from N’s 1st birthday where he’s eating his first dairy and egg free cupcake.  It’s crazy to think that is all he’s ever known.  I am comforted to know that  he loves his cupcakes and I make sure that he always has a safe one at every party we attend.

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Since then I have tried many recipes, gotten comfy (as in not so crazy-nervous) in the allergen-free world, and have become used to throwing great parties with yummy food that is ALL safe for N.  My brother (the one who named my blog!) always asks, “Everything is safe for N, right?”  This time it was everything except the mayo, which I don’t find as a huge threat to him.

Alright, let’s get this party started, and let me tell you what we served for N’s 4th birthday!!

He LOVES Disney’s Cars Movie, and that was our theme!  I wish I could say all of these decorations and accents were my idea but they’re not.  I am lazy and always scrambling, so I hopped on Pinterest and found some Over Achiever Moms who had already designed all of these things and done the hard work for me.  Follow me on Pinterest if you want to see those things.

Our menu for the party was sloppy joes, salsa, guacamole, corn salsa, tortilla chips, watermelon, veggies & dip (hummus and soy based ranch dip), and homemade Ranch seasoned (dairy free) Chex mix.  We also had Rice Krispie Treats and, of course, cake!  The cake was a Cherrybrook Kitchen mix, Nathan’s request.  To wet our whistle we had unsweetened tea, lemonade, and good ‘ole water.

Check out this spread….

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IMG_4621Did you catch the stoplight theme for my tortilla chip dips?

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I just LOVE these labels I found to customize for our food!  Not that food needs to be labeled, but it was just fun!  Are ya hungry yet?  Cause I am!  My husband and I are munching on leftovers right now 🙂  Mmmm, chips & corn salsa!

Here’s a picture, too, of our fun “road” tables.  Loved this idea I found on Pinterest, as well!

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Alright, I know you want to see the cake.  I STRESSED over this.  If you saw one of my FB statuses last Saturday, I mentioned spending nearly 3 hours working on eggless royal icing decorations.  Um, that became a royal mess.  By Wednesday, it was starting to shrivel up and the colors were bleeding.  I was bummed, but actually I’m kinda glad it didn’t work out, because look at this cake….
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Pretty awesome, huh?!!  I had already planned on putting the plastic cars on it and had bought the checkered flags at the local cake supply shop.  My mom found the giant “4” candle and I went to work.  The “sand” on the cake is Golden Oreos that I put in the food processor, the “road” is Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, and the white icing is yummy Pillsbury.  The green, blue, and red icing is a homemade recipe I found and I adapted to be dairy free.  I was surprised to hear comments such as, “Did you buy that cake?” and “Did you make the cake, Rachel?”.  The kids were saying, “I want a part of the road!”.  I have to admit, I wanted his cake to be awesome.  I didn’t want a “That’s a cute cake” kinda cake, but a “Wow!” cake.  I must admit I have taken cake decorating classes in the past, so that helped.  This will probably be the first birthday Nathan will remember and was really aware of the details like the theme.  I think these pictures show his excitement and how overwhelmed he was with all of the attention.

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I think in the above picture, he was getting a little embarrassed, overly excited, and overwhelmed and how happy he was!

I was so happy to get the perfect picture of him blowing out his candle.  Makes a Momma happy!

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I had made these cupcakes with sprinkles for the kids, but I’m pretty sure the adults got stuck with them!

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And, here’s the aftermath…..

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Gone.  ALL gone.  Plates were scraped clean and hardly a crumb left.  Success.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone would know everything was dairy, egg, & peanut free (and 7 other foods) if they weren’t aware of N’s allergies.

About 5 leftover cupcakes were there for me to indulge in after the party guests had left and the kids were in bed.  I only ate one.  I promise 😉

I slept so good last night knowing that the party was a success, the cake turned out better than I had hoped, and above all Nathan was happy, content, and safe.  I’m looking forward to the the coming year and watching him change, learn, and grow.  As I sit here wrapping up this post while on my patio under the party lights I put up for my own enjoyment, I realize I am so blessed.  Food allergies and all, he’s still a happy 4-year old boy.  He’s healthy.  He’s determined.  He loves baseball and trucks.  He loves trains and books.  He’s normal.  He’s mine.  And I’m so proud that I can say that Nathan is mine.  All mine, and I’m so proud of him.

What do you say Food Allergy Moms & Dads….how do you throw an awesome, allergen-free birthday party?  What recipes from the party menu do you want??  Leave me feedback..I love to hear from you!

What’s for Lunch? Allergen Free Lunches For Home Or On The Go

Sometimes I get in a huge food rut.  Let’s face it, we are avoiding 10 foods that my son is allergic to and it’s just plain difficult to be creative sometimes.  N is allergic to dairy, oat, egg, peanut, carrot, pumpkin, celery,  and strawberry.  We also avoid tree nuts because of cross contamination and have to skip raw tomato.  We recently went on a semi-spontaneous road trip and I had to pack all of my little man’s meals in advance.  I was agonizing over what to pack for him, and I was given a bit of inspiration while perusing Facebook one day.  A friend of mine posted Chicken Nugget Kabobs.  Brilliant!  A lot of the time, it’s all in the presentation or an Oldie But Goodie with a twist.  Now, I couldn’t do this exact lunch idea for on the road, but it did give me some inspiration for these mini-kabobs made with ham, Daiya cheese cubes, and fruit all stuck onto toothpicks.  I even got a little help assembling them and they were a hit!  I served them up with sugar snap peas with hummus for dipping, and 2 mini muffins.  For an at home lunch, this would even be a great fine motor activity for the little ones, and we all know kids will eat better if they help create their meal.

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The next meal I packed for him was similar, but involved him “building” little sandwich crackers.  I used a pizza cutter to slice some ham into squares, cut some Daiya cheese into small, thin squares, and added a bag of Wheat Thin crackers.  Basically, it’s a homemade Lunchable…but much more healthy!  I paired it with fresh watermelon (a favorite!) and another mini muffin.  This is another fun lunch for at home.


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We recently were able to welcome some new foods in our lives!  Finally, we can now make our allergen free version of PB & J sandwiches….with SunButter!  I am sooooo excited for SunButter.  It’s so creamy, and has a wonderful, satisfying flavor.  The flavor is oddly close to peanut butter but without a side of anaphylaxis.  Score!  I made the sandwich the morning he would be eating it for lunch so it wouldn’t get soggy, so that’s why it’s missing in the picture below, not because I ate it 😉  N loves berries and cucumbers, and of course the Golden Oreos I put in his lunch for a treat.

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One of my favorite ideas that I found on the internet a year ago or so (but can’t remember the source), was the following idea of serving lunch in an ice cube tray.  N loves it when I serve his lunch this way, and it’s a great way to get a variety of fruits and veggies in the kids.  Like I said before, sometimes it’s all in the presentation.  This tray has cantaloupe, watermelon, and broccoli.

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I wish I had time for cute little cut outs and such, but I just don’t.  I’ll leave that to those Super Moms that don’t have kids that follow them around all day wanting to be held.  If you are one of those moms, more power to ya!  I’m happy if the kids get a mostly whole foods diet and they actually eat it before I have to mop it up off of the floor!

What’s your favorite allergen friendly lunch at your house?  

It’s Cobbler-tastic! Summer Blueberry & Peach Cobbler (Dairy, Egg, & Nut Free)

“It’s Cobbler-tastic!”. That was what N said after he was finishing his first of two bowls this evening.  I have to admit it was pretty tasty.

A couple of weeks ago my mom mentioned that you could make cobbler by using a cake mix.  I immediately thought of our favorite allergen-free Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake mix that was in the cabinet, and almost expired.  An almost expired cake mix is the only excuse I need to make a cobbler!  So, I searched on Pinterest for a few minutes and found a cake mix cobbler recipe and pulled out my ingredients.  It ended up just being a guide and I didn’t follow that recipe at all, really.  Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

1 dry yellow cake mix (I used Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake)

1/2 cup dairy free margarine, melted (I use Earth Balance Dairy and Soy Free)

a can of peaches in light syrup (next time I’m using two cans)

1 tsp. cinnamon (I actually didn’t put this in once I added blueberries on a whim.  Add cinnamon if you’re just doing peaches)

one cup of fresh blueberries

**Remember to read all labels carefully, making sure this recipe fits your allergy needs.

This really is so simple to make!
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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom of an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.  Pour in 2 cans of peaches, juice and all.  Put the blueberries on top of the peaches and mix them a little to incorporate it all.  Now is the time to add the cinnamon if you’re going to.  I actually forgot it, and it was for the best since I added the blueberries.

Next, add the cake mix by sprinkling it evening over the peaches and blueberries.  Smooth it out a little better than I did here in the picture.

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The next step is to pour the melted margarine over the cake mix.  Below is what mine looked like before I stuck it in the oven.  I would have mixed up the margarine and the cake mix a little more because I had a couple of dry patches once I brought it out of the oven.  No biggie, though, and definitely didn’t affect the yum factor 🙂

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Bake at 350 degree F for 30-40 minutes, or until done.  It’ll look like this, but without the dry patches, hopefully.

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And now you’re ready to scoop some up for a summer treat.  I think it’d look prettier if it had a dollop of Rice Dream on top 🙂

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I’m thinking that next time I’m going to make a mixed berry cobbler with raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries….what do you think, sound good?

Dairy Free Goldfish Crackers

On Monday Nathan had some more blood tests done to test some foods that have occasionally given him random, mysterious rashes.  Cantaloupe, mango, cherry, and celery are all foods we’ve been cautious with and basically avoiding the past few months.  All I can say, is I wanted my cantaloupe back, and so did Nathan.  We have always been advised to avoid strawberry due to the high, natural histamine level of the food, but I was interested in introducing it into his diet.  I have been wanting to introduce sunflower into his diet, but have been to afraid to try new foods with him anymore.  To round it out, we tested his dairy, oat, and peanut levels to see what those trends were doing.  Thankfully, we received some good news today!  Here’s the low down…

Cantaloupe, sunflower, and mango came back negative.  I’ve been holding a cantaloupe in the fridge all week waiting to enjoy it, and that’s what we had with dinner tonight!

Strawberry, celery, cherry, and oat were all low positives, but doc was open to food challenges in his office whenever we’re ready.  The oat numbers had decreased, so we were happy about that one!

His dairy levels DROPPED from 62.0 to 37.0 in the past 6 months!  I was so happy I nearly cried when the nurse told me over the phone this afternoon.  The peanut levels dropped from 88 to 77 in the past 6 months.  Wow.  Progress.  Good news, finally.  I tell ya, the last 3 years have been difficult with balancing multiple food allergies and I had begun to get weary the last few weeks.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but until then….let’s make some dairy free goldfish crackers!  I tweaked my version a bit, but see the original recipe here.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup dairy free, shredded cheese (I use Daiya)*

1/2 cup dairy free margarine (I use Earth Balance dairy & soy free)*

5 T cold water

*Keep in mind, you can make these with dairy cheese and butter if you don’t have a dairy allergy in your family.

Here’s what you do:

1.  Put the flour, salt, and garlic powder into a blender (that’s what I used) or food processor and mix by pulsing.

2.  Add the cheese and pulse until well combined.

3.  Add the margarine in small chunks, pulse more until well combined with flour & cheese mixture.  You may have to reach in with a spoon occasionally to get things moving (if kids are helping, you may want to unplug your blender or food processor at this point, unless you want cracker dough on the ceiling).

4.  Add one tablespoon of water at a time and pulse to mix if using a food processor.  If using a blender, you may want to transfer mixture to bowl before adding water, mixing by hand after each tablespoon of water is added.

5.  Transfer mixture to plastic wrap, form into a flattened circle, and wrap well, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

6.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Transfer dough to floured surface, and roll to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick using floured rolling pin.

7.  Using a mini goldfish cookie cutter (or your favorite mini cutter), cut your crackers in the dough.  You can also just use a pizza cutter and make them into squares and add a dot in the center with a fork.  That’ll give you instant Cheez-its.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

8.  Bake for 10-14 minutes or until done.  Allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container.

Please forgive me for the lack of pictures of the process in this post.  I don’t always get to take many pictures when making messes in the kitchen with Nathan.  The picture below is right before we transferred the crackers to the parchment paper for baking.

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These crackers were definitely a hit with Nathan and his younger sister.  I’m betting they’ll be a hit at your house, too, and they’re easier to make than you imagine.  Edit:  A few people have been asking me where I bought my mini fish cookie cutter.  You can find it here on Amazon.  

Now it’s your turn….let me know what you think after you try these with your food allergic little ones.  Also, what recipe do you wish had a dairy free version?  Give me some inspiration to try something new!

Always Time for Comfort Food…Dairy and Egg Free Chicken Pot Pie

I am so thankful that winter is behind us.  Now that it’s warming up a bit and it doesn’t take two parents and 3 hours to suit up to go outside, we are enjoying fresh air, sunshine, and even breaking out some fresh recipes.  This recipe I’m sharing today, goes with us pretty much year round.   I use it less during the warmer months, but Nathan still asks for it even on the hottest of days.  He loves it so much that he had leftovers for breakfast this past Sunday.  Whatever, he was a happy kid with a full belly…and hey, it wasn’t unhealthy Pop Tarts!

Let’s make some chicken pot pie!  Here’s what you’ll need….

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I use frozen veggies, because that’s about all I can manage with an almost-four-year-old and a 14-month old running around the house.  I put in broccoli, peas, and corn, but you could do carrots (Nathan is allergic), lima beans, or green beans.  Come up wit your own unique blend of veggies that you love.  If you want to get really easy, pick up the frozen vegetable soup mix and use 1 1/2 cups of it.  I would advise picking out the okra if there is any, because it gets slimy when cooked too long and it’s just gross!

We use Pillsbury Pie Crusts, but I’d eventually like to start making my own.  Beware that Kroger brand refrigerated pie crusts contain dairy!  Read your labels every time!  For the butter we use Dairy and Soy Free Earth Balance margarine, and it’s great.  Rice milk does the trick for the milk, too.  You’ll also need some 2 cups of chicken broth, which is not pictured here (totally forgot!).  If you don’t have a dairy allergy, just use your regular butter/margarine and milk.

In the measuring cup is flour, and the cubed chicken (leftover from a roasted chicken earlier in the week) is already in the pan with the gravy and veggies.

Here’s what you do…

Melt the butter in the skillet on medium heat.  Once melted, mix in 1/2 cup of flour, salt & pepper.   Once the butter & flour mixture have made a paste, pour the chicken broth (2 cups total) & rice milk (1/4 cup) in a little at a time, stirring constantly to maintain a smooth consistency.  Once smooth and thickened, add a little more.  Repeat this process until all the 2 cups of broth & 1/4 cup of rice milk is gone.

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After the gravy is made, add veggies and 1 cup cubed chicken, plus 1/3 cup rice milk.  Mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into bottom pie crust, then top with remaining pie crust.  Flute the edges and pierce the top, like this:

IMG_4172Place pot pie on a cookie sheet to prevent any drippings from making it to the bottom of your oven.  Trust me on this one!  Bake at 450 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  Let cool about 5 minutes before serving.

IMG_4173Crust should be golden brown on top when done.  This will be VERY hot, so be careful when serving it up.  We usually pair this meal with a salad, or sometimes fruit.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

I really hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does….which is quite a bit!  If you try it, let me know what you think.  Now, what’s your favorite allergen free comfort food to make?

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dairy free margarine

1/2 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup rice milk, separated

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup corn

1/2 cup broccoli florets

pie crust (We currently use Pillsbury, homemade is preferable)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

Melt the butter in the skillet on medium heat.  Once melted, mix in 1/2 cup of flour, salt & pepper.   Once the butter & flour mixture have made a paste, pour the chicken broth (2 cups total) & rice milk (1/4 cup) in a little at a time, stirring constantly to maintain a smooth consistency.  Once smooth and thickened, add a little more.  Repeat this process until all the 2 cups of broth & 1/4 cup of rice milk is gone.

After the gravy is made, add veggies and 1 cup cubed chicken, plus 1/3 cup rice milk.  Mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into bottom pie crust, then top with remaining pie crust.  Place pot pie on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Lasagna, Cake, and Ice Cream, Oh My!

This weekend we attended a birthday party for one of our family members.  Nathan was so excited to go to a party and see his cousins.  Thankfully, all of his cousins (and their parents) are really good about remembering his allergies.  They are very accommodating and wash their hands after they eat and before they play with Nathan.  If they forget, we just remind the kids to wash up before playing.

Parties are a whole new ball game for those with food allergies…..and especially their parents.  Once Nathan turned 3, he was definitely wanting to go off and play with friends or cousins at birthday parties.  This can be absolutely nerve wracking for us as parents.  Think about it.  There’s usually tons of kids slathered in ice cream, icing, cheese, and often times nuts.  Depending on where we are and if we know everyone or not, we just can’t ask that every kid suds up after eating.  Skipping every party, and staying home isn’t an option either.  Even food allergic kids have to have fun and, most importantly, have to learn to manage themselves in an often unsafe world.  My husband and I often take turns watching the kids play  or checking in on Nathan to make sure he’s fine.

So, what’s a stressed out mom of a food allergic kid to do?  Spend a handful of hours before the party making safe lasagna and cake, and packing up all the trimmings!  I think it’s really important that Nathan help in the kitchen to learn basic skills, but also to realize what needs to be done to keep him safe.

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We were short on time today, so we are using a Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake mix.  I usually make cakes from scratch, but this time we took the easy way out.

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I even opted for the hand mixer so Nathan could have a turn.  He likes this, but what he really loves is licking the beaters after we’re done!  Don’t be afraid to include your kids in the kitchen, no matter what their age or allergies.  Nathan has been helping me in the kitchen since he turned 2.  There are a lot fewer messes now!

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His favorite part!  Even food allergic kids should get to lick the beaters and spatulas!  I remembered doing this as a kid, and it brings back lots of memories helping my mom in the kitchen.

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If you haven’t checked out Cherrybrook Kitchen’s products, you need to!  They are dairy, egg, and nut (peanut, too!) free and you can read their allergen statement here.  They also make ready made frostings that are safe.  I haven’t tried the ready made frosting yet, but a couple of months ago we tested the chocolate frosting mix and it was really tasty!

To take to the party, I also made a safe lasagna made with dairy free cheese.  This is pretty easy, thankfully!  It’s just a basic lasagna, made with what Nathan calls his “safe cheese” instead of regular mozzarella.

Here are some things we do for parties to make them as safe as possible and high on the fun factor for Nathan:

1.  Take a safe meal.  I always ask the host what they are having and make Nathan’s version.

2.  Take plenty of baby or antibacterial wipes.  Treat this as a restaurant situation and wipe things down if you need to, especially hands before and after meals.

3.  Talk to your child BEFORE the party.  Remind them not to take food off of tables or plates, and only accept food from you or other designated individuals.  You may want them to wear an allergy alert bracelet or t-shirt at especially large gatherings or a new place.

4.  Show your child unsafe food.  I sometimes take Nathan to foods that he may not recognize and remind him they are unsafe for him.

5.  Make it known.  Talk with other guests, especially if they ask questions.   This is often a great time to say, “Would you mind having your child(ren) wash their hands after they eat ice cream and cake?”  Most people are really accommodating and will comply.

6.  Take two Epi-pens and Benadryl….EVERY TIME!

Enjoy those summer parties!