Sunday, February 27, 2011

Freezer Food Update and Tips!

Ok, all. The fish sticks have been trialled from their frozen form and they came out beautifully!!! I took out a single serving batch from the freezer and put it in the fridge in the AM. I cooked them at dinner time-- out of the packaging and on a cookie sheet-- for about 10 minutes on 375 degrees F. Came out beautifully! Warm and soft, not chewy AT ALL. Hooray for Fish, to quote B!

The pancakes have also done beautifully being frozen. I simply take one prewrapped pancake out of the freezer in the PM and place it in the fridge. In the AM, I nuke them for a few seconds in the microwave (you could also simply heat them in a toaster oven or the regular oven) and voila! Yummy, soft, not chewy at all!

Here is the list so far. In addition to fruits and veggies (chopped or pureed), Happy Heart Pancakes, Merry Muffins, and Fancy Fish Sticks all do beautifully being frozen in single servings, all precooked before freezing. The arrowroot cookies also do beautifully frozen-- with these I freeze them BEFORE baking, but after they are rolled out and cut into shapes. When you are ready for cookies, all you have to do is take out the amount you want for the week (they start to turn after a week), bake at the original baking instructions for the recipes, and there you have it! A week's supply of cookies!

And for the tips. . . Trying to make your family's crazy FPIES life slightly less crazy? Try these freezer foods in this manner. Every Sunday (or day you have relatively free), make two batches of fish sticks (one batch makes 3 servings), two batches of Happy Heart Pancakes (this will give you a little extra, depending on how many your child eats), and one full sized batch of Merry Muffins. One Sunday a MONTH, make one to two batches of arrowroot cookies and store the cut out uncooked cookies in a freezer container, with the cookies layered between sheets of parchment or wax paper. And of course, you don't have to make fish sticks-- you could use the recipe for chicken, lamb, pork, beef (just adjust the cooking time in accordance to the type of meat you are using) and they should freeze just as nicely. The meatloaf listed under Family Friendly Recipes also freezes well--- I precooked it, sliced it, and prepackaged the slices individually, freezing all of the packages in a large freezer bag.

Even if you can't do all of your child's safe foods as freezer foods, it is advisable to do as many as you can. I know it is hard for me to be baking from scratch all of the time. Having quick and easy go to meals (or parts of meals, in the very least!) can significantly cut down on the time that I am chained to the stove and it gives me more time for my beautiful, wild child B. Plus, freezer foods are very Daddy friendly (or friendly for whichever parent isn't the FPIES chef in your household!!!)--- just leave a copy of the instructions handy and maybe, just maybe, mama will get to sleep in this Saturday. A girl can dream, right?

I will post more freezer food outcomes as I get them! Happy baking and happy week to all!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fool me Once. . . Fool me Twice. . .

Well, it is official. Peanut butter is now an official fail, as of Wednesday. And today, with a pink diaper in the midst of all of the mucous filled green ones (we normally have reaction diapers for a couple of days after a vomiting fail but never pink ones), I think we have our confirmation.

On the plus side, the reaction didn't require the ER-- a first for us in the realm of vomiting reactions. And she never let the vomit leave her mouth-- she kept her mouth shut tightly and every time she would heave and her cheeks would puff out, she would swallow hard before it started all over again. This also only went on for about 30 minutes. My poor girl. :( Yesterday we had reaction diapers all day and more today-- normal. But today, was the pink one. I called the ped, who said it was likely leftover blood from a GI "assault" (her terms) and unless we see more, not to worry. So we aren't worrying, per se, we are just down about losing peanut butter. I feel like the diapers confirm that loss.

Over the last two days, I have been feeling pretty discouraged. In less than two weeks, B will be turning two and we are still really in the thick of food trials, still seeing as many fails as passes. Growing out of this mean illness/disorder/what have you, seems very far away.

But today, I choose to move past it. It seems like there is something like a mourning period when a fail happens-- not to be dramatic, but there is a definite feeling of loss. And seeing how B handled the reaction and how much she loved peanut butter made that feeling of loss that much sharper. But we have to keep moving. There will be more fails I am sure, but there will be more passes too. For now, no new foods until after her birthday. I am NOT wrecking her day. I have some great new recipes to play with and we do have a short but varied list of safe foods to play with in the kitchen. We have appointments with our GI and allergist in Boston in a couple of weeks and then we have an appointment in NJ for the study the next week. These are some great docs between both appointments and hopefully they will give us some ideas, some direction. I am hoping for some answers to the hives that keep popping up, if this is morphing into something else or something more; I am hoping for a sign that she will outgrow at least some of this.

As far as nursing goes, I was hoping to start actively weaning soon. I don't feel like this is a reality for us right now. She has definitely decreased her nursing, and we do have the Splash as a backup, but with some decent sized holes in her diet and with the prebiotic benefits of nursing, I feel like I can help her to get through this in the healthiest way possible by continuing to nurse as long as possible. With the Splash as a supplement, I feel confident that even if I had to, I could nurse her through a pregnancy and on to (gasp!) tandem nursing.

Tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow will be a better day. I am no longer looking for an end to FPIES, but I am looking for better ways of coping and adjusting to our lives with FPIES.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time Management and Toddlers--- Can the Two Co-exist?!

In an effort to streamline our home life (or make it somewhat relative to efficient), I have embarked upon exploring some freezer food options. So far, so good! The fish sticks seem to have set up very well and we will see how the flavor is when B has them tomorrow for dinner! Tomorrow will be pancake making day, so I am making several batches of pancakes and freezing individual servings. Loving my press and seal!!!!

For those of you who are intrigued, I have been making individual packets of pre-cooked servings to freeze for B. If something needs a firm shape before making packets of several pieces of one type of food, I flash freeze the pieces on a small cookie sheet (as soon as they are frozen, take them out immediately and transfer to proper freezer storage). Then, I cut squares of press and seal, place each serving in between two squares, and seal it off on the edges. I place all of the servings in large freezer bags, labeled with the date and food type. They take up much less space in the freezer once they are in the food bags rather than freezer containers. Plus, your containers are free for cooking and don't have to be "held hostage" in the freezer until they are empty again. You can even wrap packets with foil and make your job one step easier---  once defrosted (if I need something for dinner on a Tuesday, I put it in the fridge on Monday night.) they are ready to go into the oven to bake-- in the foil packet! (Put the packet in a baking dish of course, but still-- less messy dishes because the mess remains in the packet once the food is cooked!)

I will post more on this once I have tried the various recipes in the freezer, but so far the pancakes, quinoa muffins, arrowroot cookies and merry muffins all survive freezing quite well. The only one of these mentioned recipes that I freeze BEFORE baking them is the cookies. I layer the unbaked cutout cookies in between wax or parchment paper and freeze in stacks. I bake 8-10 at a time, or however many I think I will need for the week. Keep posted-- more to come!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reflux, can't you find somewhere else to live!?

So today was day three of the retrial and other than reflux flares (bad hiccups that upset her, lots of swallowing and some wet burps), nothing major. No crazy diapers and no vomiting. No nap but hey-- she will be two in a month so really. . . I am hopeful. The reflux has me a little cautious but I think we will just hang out at 1tsp of peanut butter a day and see how it goes. I have been alternating between putting it on her pancakes and mixing it in her quinoa flakes (so excited that we now have two different breakfasts to choose from!!! Yay!!!!) and she loves it both ways. I am hoping it loves her in the end! The rashes and hives have not returned, so that definitely makes for a happy mama. I am wondering if the bad day of hives we saw could be related to a cat food incident (no ingestion, but she was given cat food to feed a cat. I was not present-- was getting my hair done for the first time in over 6 months. Gone for one hour. Main ingredient in food? Rice. Not sure of any of the others but with her list of triggers, it could have been anything. Sigh.) I am hoping the hives were the cat food. Still no explanation for why we had minor ones the day before (no animal food incidents that day) but maybe it was a fluke? I think though-- in my uneducated and unauthorized opinion-- that if we were in fact dealing with an IgE to peanut, we would have noticed by now. It would have popped back up right away I am pretty sure. So either a safe food or an FPIES trigger. . . . the jury is out. Here is hoping for more uneventful days and no worsening of the reflux. We are pushing through all minor symptoms on this trial so cross your fingers for us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deja Vu

Finding ourselves once more on the eve of peanut butter! What?! Not again, you say? Nope, we are back yet again. I re-introed peanut butter into my diet and it went well, then we did the "at home skin test" today and nothing popped up on her skin. . . . here's hoping the weirdness that we saw earlier was merely a fluke. And if it is a fail, I hope we know quickly, conclusively and as painlessly as possible. I am nervous-- I can't lie-- but really trying to be hopeful. This would be a great pass! I think though we are really going to have to push through this one-- which I hate-- to be sure that there are no gray areas, no room for questions.

Our papaya trial has been put on pause because B won't swallow it anymore. The first couple of days of the trial, she drank the juice beautifully. Then she had a couple days of eating the fruit itself, quite happily, and begging for more when her "alloted" amount was gone. Then she had a day with very VERY minor hives around her mouth and lips, appearing 30 minutes or so after she ate the papaya. They cleared several hours later without any need for benadryl or anything. But now, she won't swallow the fruit when we give it to her. She is cheeking it and then refusing to eat anything else after having the papaya in her mouth. She ends up spitting it out in the end. I have tried all of our old tricks (she used to cheek almost all of her foods-- but she has not demonstrated this behavior outside of failed foods since she was just over a year old. The last time we saw this was with the beef fail.) I am sure that there is a behavioral component to this, regardless or not of any allergy issue, but am not all that sure how to overcome it. I even ground it up into tiny tiny bits (like a fine salsa) and still the same response.

So papaya is taking peanut butter's figurative spot on the bench and peanut butter is going to be back in the game tomorrow AM. Pray for a home run!!!

Valentine's Day Cupcakes= New Birthday cake recipe for next month!!!

Cake recipe! This is a very sweet, very dense cake. It had nice form however and frosted beautifully. The baking powder is optional--- I used it without (ooops!! I forgot!) and the pics are how it turned out. Maybe it would be lighter if you used it? I was happy with the results, as was B and DH. Enjoy! Frosting recipe follows. . .

2nd Year Happy Birthday Girl Cake

6 Tbsp arrowroot starch
1 cup millet, 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp Quinoa flakes (add in 2 Tbsp baking powder for leavening-- optional)
¾ cup coconut manna/oil (melt slightly until texture of spreadable butter)
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar 
¼ cup honey/nectar
1 cup + 1 Tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol free)

Heat over to 350 degrees F. Sieve the flour and mix in starch with fork. Combine sugar and coconut oil in a separate bowl. Once combined, add in flour/starch mixture by sieving over the coconut manna mixture. Blend completely. Add milk or water to mixture. This should produce a thickish cake batter. 

Divide between pans or muffin cups (if using metal pans, be sure to grease and flour lightly!). Bake for 25 minutes (cupcakes). Be sure to cool completely before removing from pans. 

Once cool, frost with. . . .

2nd Year Happy Birthday Girl Frosting
5 Tbsp coconut oil/manna (melted slightly, consistency of spreadable butter)
2 Tbsp alternative milk (coconut for us!)
2-3 cups of confectioners sugar (for a corn free variety, you can blend coconut or beet sugar with arrowroot or potato starch in a high powdered blend/processor. I will post a recipe soon)

Blend manna and sugar in a med bowl. Add in milk and blend completely (I used a fork because I didn't want to mess up my mixer). Add more sugar or milk until you have reached desired consistency. YOU CAN PIPE THIS FROSTING!!!!!!!!!!! Add in food coloring if desired-- remember that beet juice (red and yellow) and blueberry juice (blue) make excellent dyes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Inspired by yet another mama!

Go, FPIES mamas, go!!! You guys have been so crafty and creative in the kitchen lately-- my hat is off to you! After reading of the success that a certain birthday boy had with his birthday pancakes, I decided to give pancakes a go once more (ours were a huge bust before)! Here is what I came up with, after looking around at several eggless recipes:

Happy Heart Pancakes
3/4 cup sorghum or millet flour
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1 tbsp brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder or 1 tsp cream of tartar mixed with 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of coconut or hemp milk
2 Tbsp coconut oil or safe "butter"
1 Tbsp canola
1 Tbsp water

Mix all dry ingredients together with a fork. Then, blend in other ingredients (except for coconut oil!!!!) until all are blended well (a fork works nicely for this). Don't blend too much though-- lumpy is good in the recipe! While you are blending ingredients, heat a skillet on med low heat. Melt the coconut oil in skillet as it is heating. Once melted, mix into the batter mixture. **** Pour batter into preheated skillet and cook pancakes until light and fluffy and slightly brown. Set aside on a plate to cool. Once cool, using metal cookie cutters, cut pancakes into hearts. For added fun, you can mix in a few drops of red food coloring to the mixture. If it isn't completely mixed in, you can create a swirl pattern, creating very nifty little pancakes. If desired, you could also cook pancake batter in shaped pans or in metal egg shapers if you don't want the waste of edges from the cookie cutters. You can top with the caramel sauce from the coconut macaroons, some coconut nectar (like syrup), maple syrup, or fruit preserves. Enjoy!

**** This recipe isn't the best to sub out the coconut oil or butter ingredient. You need the coagulating properties that you are going to find in a safe "butter" or coconut oil for the pancakes to set up nicely. If you can't do a "safe" butter or coconut oil, omit the ingredient entirely (rather than substituting) and decrease the milk amount slightly.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Love Sharing!! Check out this coconut recipe another amazing FPIES mama shared with me!!

Experimenting in the kitchen today once more!!!! I got a link to a GREAT RECIPE for eggless coconut macaroons from another amazing FPIES mama (you know who you are!) These turned out beautifully and will definitely be on our sweets menu for Valentine's Day. The only alterations I made--- I added 1 Tbsp of coconut manna (technically the same thing as coconut oil, but slightly more spreadable) and I drizzled a homemade caramel sauce over top of the cookies instead of dipping them in chocolate (since we haven't trialled it yet!). The recipe is at the end of this post! I also used the arrowroot version of this recipe, rather than the potato starch. I was very happy with how well everything held together!

And now for some notes! First of all, all you need are TWO safe foods-- either coconut and potato or coconut and arrowroot. Once everything is really well blended, the batter will look flakey. Just press the dough into a small scoop (like a melon baller or the pampered chef cookie scoop), release onto cookie sheet (be sure to cover this will parchment paper!), and then you will have to mold it slightly into shape. As it bakes, it retains its shape. These are not flat cookies! :) I did a half batch and it made about 16 cookies, using the pampered chef cookie scoop to shape the cookies. They will be lightly golden brown on the edges when they are done. And now for some pics!

 Caramel Sauce!
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp coconut manna

Heat in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 15 seconds. Blend with a fork. While sauce is still warm, drizzle over top of cooling cookies. It will solidify upon standing for too long.

The final product! B added the banana. She felt that it added a nice touch!

This is what they look like coming out of the oven!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Peanut Butter: Benched

Its been a few days since the last post and sadly, things have taken a bit of a turn. Peanut butter has been benched for the time being and here is why.

It seemed like every time she would have it for a few days in a row, odd "symptoms" would start to build--- blowouts with coffee grounds, reflux flares, etc. Well, last week it seemed like those were dying down and I thought maybe, just maybe, she was adjusting. This past Friday I found a handful of bug bite looking bumps on B (about the size of a small baked bean, white with red rim) on her wrists and one on her tummy. Odd, I thought. Bugs? In winter? She was itching quite a bit and had a rash on her legs (her typical mild "reaction" rash--- sandpaper like and red, with tiny bumps). But her skin has been pretty up and down this winter (climate change from Japan maybe?) so I just put some hydrocortisone and aquaphor on her and didn't think much more about it.

Everything was gone in the AM on Saturday. She was pretty itchy all day Saturday but when I was getting her ready for her bath after dinner, I saw that she had more bumps (the large bug bite looking kind)-- about 10-20 on her torso. She also had a few on each wrist and a very bad diaper rash anywhere her poo had touched. She had deep scratch marks on her bottom, legs and torso, and on the back of her neck it looked like she had scratched a couple of bumps open, as they were red with dried blood. Hives was my first thought. Again, I applied the hydrocortisone and aquaphor on any of the irritated area. And this time we gave her benadryl-- something that we have surprisingly never had to do! So we happily found out that liquid benadryl is a safe med for her and that she is one of those kids that is knocked out by it. She cried out in her sleep much of the night, but stayed asleep.

The next morning, the large bumps were gone and most of the sandpapery rash was too. I put her in a close fitting outfit for the road (we were travelling) to see if the clothes/detergent were causing the rashes. No peanut butter that day because of the traveling. We saw no rash, no hive-looking things, no itching, all day, even in the warm car.

Monday (yesterday), we gave her PB again and she was itchy all day, had a few blow outs, and her diaper rash was so bad by the end of the day that she was completely beside herself when we cleaned her at night. Again with the creams. . . and this AM, everything had cleared. No PB today and you guessed it: no itching, no blow outs, no rash.

So here is the plan. We are still waiting to hear from the allergist about what he thinks we should do. Until we hear back, we are shelving that delicious food. :( She has an appointment in just over a month and I figure we can see if they will run an allergy test on peanuts at that time and hopefully, everything will be fine and we can reintroduce slowly. If the doc feels like it is something that we could continue with, we will try again. I am hoping it is a fluke but right now. . . I just don't know.

Anyways, unless the doc advises otherwise, as soon as we are no longer snowed in (another reason not to push a questionable food!!!) B and I will take a jaunt to Whole Foods for some yummy papaya-- our next trial. If that goes well, chocolate may be on the horizon!! Hopefully we will rebound and get a few more sure passes before B's 2nd bday!!!!