Wednesday, April 27, 2011

B's Sunny Bunny Banana Muffins

B is still being the lovely picky toddler that she is, still refusing her bananas most days and in most forms. She has also been showing a bit of a return to texture aversions lately (refusing all bread-like, cake-like and crunchy things--- vomiting a little when eating certain foods. . . . all so lovely, yes?) so I am trying to help her work through it the same way we did over a year ago--- slowly maintaining these types of foods in her diet, just trying to rotate through different ways of presenting or preparing them. Hopefully by keeping things low key, not forcing the issue, and keeping it all fresh, she will come around again and return to her muffin-y roots. It did, of course, all start with a cookie and a muffin, a dash of Masa. . .

B likes to rhyme, hence the name. No bunnies were harmed in the creation of these or any other recipes on this blog. Maybe someone who has carrots as a safe food could try a carrot combo? ;)

B's Sunny Bunny Banana Muffins
3/4 cup sorghum or millet flour (Masa should be fine as well)
1/4 cup quinoa flakes (or sorghum or millet flour)
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

3 bananas mashed with 1 tsp baking powder, set aside (use 3/4 cups of mashed fruit for other fruits/veggies)
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp pineapple juice (or other acidic juice, such as orange or grapefruit***)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp coconut or other sugar
2 Tbsp honey/coconut nectar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line muffin tins with paper liners (or just use silicone!) Blend all dry ingredients together in a small bowl with a pastry blender. Set aside. Mash bananas in another small bowl with 1 tsp of baking powder-- again, set aside. In a third bowl, blend the following ingredients well: sunflower seed butter, canola oil, pineapple juice, brown sugar, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Fold in the banana mixture until blended thoroughly. Finally, fold in the flour mixture, just until nicely blended (I used my pastry blender for all of the mixing. Love this gadget!) The batter should be lumpy and thicker than cake batter.

Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin cups (I made mini muffins--- this recipe produced 32 mini muffins!!!). The cups should be filled at least 3/4 full--- remember that gluten and egg free recipes do not rise well. These muffins will puff up slightly more than the cups are filled. Bananas also make the recipe dense.

Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned on top (be sure that if you poke the muffin, it springs back to shape). Allow to cool in the pans on the counter top before removing and storing. This makes a very moist muffin (like banana bread) but this consistency does not compromise texture or stability (it holds together rather nicely once cooled).

*** I am looking into how you could use vinegar here instead of an acidic juice. My hypothesis (not yet tested so use at your own muffin's risk!) is that 1 Tbsp of vinegar SHOULD do the trick without compromising any of the recipe. I also am wondering if it would still rise just as well without the juice. . . will keep all of you posted if any updates come about!

I personally could eat these every morning. Since B failed peanut butter and cashew butter, I have been missing my nutty friends (she reacted to both through my breast milk as well as reacting to peanuts when ingested herself so we have both been nut free) and as a vegetarian who is eliminating peanuts, tree nuts, and soy, I need all of the protein I can get. This recipe tastes like, dare I say, peanut butter banana sandwiches (somewhat modified!)!!! Quite yummy! And with this combo of ingredients, not all that unhealthy!!! If the recipe is too moist for you or your small gourmand, simply try cutting the banana/fruit puree amount by 1/2 to 1/3. It should produce cakier results.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Check out Baby B's new top 10!!!

I have been extremely remiss in updating this, but here it is! Baby B's most recent top ten for the world of FPIES and allergy friendly products, recipes and supporters! Did you make the top 10? Check it out and see! Learn something new to help out the little FPIES friend in your life! ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Out to Lunch Parte Deux!

Well, part one of "out to lunch" was a little bit of a downer, so I had to follow up with a recipe, right?! Ok, so this week we have sunflower seed butter on the agenda. I found this GREAT product (I don't have to make this blessed thing! Hooray for small victories!) called Once Again Sunflower Seed butter at our Whole Foods. I called the company and there are NO peanut or soy contamination issues. The only area of minor concern is the cashew issue--- it is processed on the same equipment as cashew butter (yikes!) but they chemically clean the machines in between products so I think it should be ok.

Because of this trial, I wanted to make something special for B to make a "sandwich" with, and since we are a few ingredients shy of any sandwich bread, we have a lovely biscuit recipe to share:

Big Girl B's Butterless Biscuits
1 1/2 cup sorghum flour (or corn flour/Masa)
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup millet or sorghum flour
2 Tbsp arrowroot starch (or potato, corn or tapioca starch)
4 tsp baking powder (there is a potato starch version for corn free friends)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil/manna (solid, not melted)
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp coconut vinegar

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with a pastry blender (pastry blender is pretty important for this recipe). Blend in the coconut oil/manna with the pastry blender; this causes mixture to form "crumbs". Blend in canola and honey. Cover the bowl with saran wrap or press and seal (I heart press and seal!) and place in refridgerator. Begin preheating oven to 375 degrees F.

While oven is preheating, pour coconut milk into a small bowl. Add in vinegar, blending thoroughly with a fork or small whisk as you add. This mixture will thicken somewhat. Place the vinegar/milk mixture in the refridgerator as well and set your timer for 10 minutes.

Once the oven has fully heated to 375, remove dry and wet mixtures from the fridge. Begin adding milk/vinegar mixture to dry mixture slowly, blending with pastry blender as you go. Add in enough of the milk mixture so that your dough is moist and a tiny bit sticky but still has form when you mold it with your hands. I used almost all of the wet mixture but still had a tiny bit left in the bowl. Cover a cutting board with saran wrap or press and seal and sprinkle alternative flour of choice moderately over the surface (I used sorghum). Take a chunk of dough and drop onto the floured surface. Press down gently once, then flip over and press down once more. Pressing as little and as gently as possible, form the dough into a circle or square that is roughly 1- 1 1/2 inches thick. Repeat until dough is gone, placing each "biscuit" onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees F, or until biscuits puff slightly and are firm on top. They will be lightly browned on the bottom and fluffy all the way through. Allow biscuits to cool in pan and then either serve, or package individually for freezing. Once cool, these easily slice lengthwise and make lovely sandwich rolls for serving fish, meats, or other sandwich items (we used fish tonight). You could also drizzle warm maple syrup or warm honey over top of the biscuits for a breakfast treat!


Out to Lunch!

Hello, blogging world! So I have been out to lunch lately, processing and mulling. . . always fun with this diagnosis, am I right!? We received our test results from the study in NJ and while they weren't awful, they weren't great either. Dairy is apparently a big no-no, at least for a good long while, and for some reason, this has really hit hard. It was our last "biggie," our last true large "unknown" in the land of risky food trials. Yes, we still have MANY foods to trial, but dairy was our last big one that could have really changed the face of B's menu.

I found myself fantasizing over ice cream (REAL ice cream), cheese, yogurt from the STORE. . . as much as I tried not to, it was so hard to not get carried away in hoping for this one food to work.

But dairy has now joined the list with the other no-nos--- 7 of the 8 common allergens (passed white fish, haven't tried red fish which is supposedly more allergenic. . .), all of the FPIES common triggers (minus chicken), and the rest of the fails, all totaling up to 22 or so at this point.

There are a few other areas of concern in the NJ results so I am hoping that we receive more insight as to what these things mean as time goes on. These results, coupled with the strangeness of the peanut and cashew fails (still have NO explanation for the ridiculous hives--- prick tests all came back neg! Plus, the hives showed up 30 minutes or so post ingestion/post nursing with contaminated breast milk and THEN the FPIES symptoms occurred 2 hours or more post ingestion. . .peanuts eventually led to vomiting. . . recurrent minor hives flaring up for a couple of weeks following the vomiting in addition to residual diarrhea and blowouts for days following the reactions. . . ). All of this has made me very very tired. Granted, I am happy that a TEST told us to avoid a dairy trial rather than an oral fail. That is a HUGE blessing! And I am happy that we know enough now to stop a trial before it gets ugly.

My husband gave a great analogy tonight that really explains how I am feeling about all of this. . . He said it is like the goal post keeps being moved back. . . When B was first diagnosed, we were told to expect a change at a year-- we did some reading and though a change around 18-24 months seemed most likely. At 12 months, they told us that things would improve around 18 months, at 18 months they told us it would improve around 24 months, and now they tell us that improvement is not likely until 5 years old or so and to not expect her to outgrow everything, possibly ever. So when they tell us that there is an end in sight, I am inclined to stop believing. And just start living with what we see today, and the next day. All these "Deadlines" of a sort seem to do is make acceptance even harder because we are waiting for an end in sight and that end doesn't come. Perhaps looking at the improvements that we have made in adapting to living with FPIES would be a better way to gauge progress. . . . just more thoughts and mulling . . .

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baby B's Coconut Crisps

A new single ingredient recipe--- coconut and more coconut!

Baby B's Coconut Crisps (or Puffs!)

½ cup - 1 cup finely chopped coconut flakes
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup coconut oil or manna (softened to texture of spreadable butter)
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp coconut vinegar
4 Tbsp coconut milk
2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, begin to blend dry ingredients (I used a pastry blender). Slowly work in the oil/manna until coarse crumbs begin to form. Add in vanilla (if desired), milk and water. Blend well. Add in vinegar and let rest for five minutes (see how it fizzes!!!). Knead dough briefly to ensure all ingredients are mixed well. Either roll into tiny balls (i.e. the size of Kix) and place on parchment lined baking sheet OR make crackers with directions as follows. With puffs, bake 8 minutes at 375 F or until nicely browned. Cool and enjoy!!!

Spread dough (will seem more like crumbs) on a parchment lined cutting board. Place another sheet of parchment paper over top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll dough flat, about 1/8- ¼ inch thick. Cut into squares with very sharp knife (dough will be very dry and break easily). With a thin metal server (or fork would probably work too) lift cut crackers unto parchment lined cookie sheet. Separate slightly. Bake for 8 minutes in a 375 F oven or until crackers are dry and the edges are brown. Cool and enjoy! These will be soft and not too hard for a young toddler to eat!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Food-- Its a Conditional Kind of Love

I, being a romantic, firmly believe that love should never be conditional. Love of food and food's love of B? Well, THAT is quite a different story!

As many of us struggle through food trials, we are often forced to think outside of the box and work with what options we do have. For us, we have found some success in what I like to call "conditional food." Now what on earth is that, crazy woman?! you may ask. It is making food-- some select foods-- work for B under some very specific circumstances.

So what do we do? We cook fruits, we twice cook a veggie and then bake it into a cake, we boil milk, we restrict serving size to no more than a taste every few days. . . all in the hope that eventually, she will tolerate that food in more than one form and in a normal, age appropriate serving.

This all began over a banana and a pear. After a few rather unpleasant severe fails in the beginning of our journey, I learned (though not quickly enough!) that unless we got creative with how our food was prepared, B was not going to tolerate any foods 100%. There would continue to be tummy trouble, reflux, diarrhea, sleepless nights--- not progressing to severe reactions, but holding out at a level that I was not comfortable with B being subjected to. We ditched the store bought baby food. We picked up a skillet (for the banana) and a saucepan and colander to steam the pears into mush. We monitored serving size extremely closely and alternated days. Slowly, foods that were "Kinda sorta. . ." passes became solid, "We can do THIS!" passes. And slowly, we began moving up this enormous hill of food trials. Corn, our first "big" pass, was as slow as molasses! We literally gave her only two (TWO!!!!!!) Kix each day for the first week and only five per day for the next week. She did not receive more than 10 Kix per day for almost a month, 20 Kix per day for several months following that. I literally counted those ever-loving, stinking tiny spheres. At the time, it seemed ridiculous, it seemed like a waste, it seemed like I was doling out rations rather than toddler snacks. It should be all or nothing right?! For us, the answer was "Not always."

Restrictions on corn (other than avoiding corn meal) and pears are now a thing of the past. B eats RAW pears! And she can have a couple of servings of pears each and every day, with no issue! Corn is a staple in her diet and she can also have a couple forms of that each day as well. Bananas still must be cooked, but there is no limit on how many she can tolerate cooked. Recently, she proved that she is now able to eat a full serving of pineapple in a day, cooked or freeze dried! We now have a new set of  "conditional foods"-- beets, spinach, millet, hemp, and hopefully, if the trial ends well, broccoli. It is my hope that with these rotation and modification methods, these foods will be able to be added to B's diet in "typical" age-appropriate serving sizes as well.

Without these modifications and putting certain foods into rotation type diets, B would not have nearly the amount of safe foods that she does (now we have 14 safe foods). It has really been a cornerstone to her success with some foods. But the trickiest thing in all of this was not figuring out the modifications but figuring out what could be salvaged as a safe food, what really was a potential pass (even a partial one) and what really was an unsafe food that could not be modified to ensure tolerance.

For every child,  it is truly different. I wish our formula could work for everyone! And it might work for some others, but sadly, despite the like diagnosis, this crazy FPIES can present in some wild ways, in ways very individualized to each child it seems. Let me tell you how we sorted out this safe vs. unsafe, partial pass vs. fail, work in progress vs. abandon ship (!!!!).

Work in progress---- We notice signs that seem like a minor fail or the beginning of a build up fail. The reflux flares, the diarrhea or excessive mucous in diapers, the sleep and behavior disturbance. Our first step is to change how the food is prepared. Can we cook it? Can we cook it twice? Will boiling the food make it better tolerated than roasting? Can I put it in a baked good (my favorite option!)? If symptoms persist but DO NOT WORSEN, we continue on. We try reducing the serving size, even down to only a teaspoon of a food in a day. We try rotating days; beets and spinach for instance can only be tolerated well if given 2-3x per week. We try changing the circumstances surrounding the food to foster tolerance. When we find a way to make the symptoms disappear, it is a tentative success. The method we decide on is the protocol that we follow with said food for the next month or two, minimum. When we think she is ready to try a little bit more of the food, the process begins again,

Abandon ship!!!!--- We notice signs of a minor fail or the beginning of a build up fail. After attempting modifications, we not only see no change, but symptoms continue to progress and/or new symptoms appear in addition to the original ones. After a few days of this, it is evident (in B's case!!!!) that the food is a fail and needs to be pulled.

Sadly, it is not always possible to "save" a food and "Abandoning ship!!!!" is truly the best course of action. And as always, the only person best qualified to make those decisions is the parent of the child-- you know your child best! Doctors can be excellent resources (of course!) for giving an objective opinion, for giving a different perspective, for helping us as parents to see the situation and potential options we may not have considered previously. That said, sometimes a food can be salvaged and as I like to say, something-- even a ridiculously tiny something!-- is better than nothing. I can cook a "something" in my pan; I can't cook a "nothing" (though believe me, I have tried to think up ways to do just that!)

Happy cooking and good luck thinking outside of the box! Sometimes the best answer is the answer you may have never considered, even if it only seems like a drop in the bucket in this huge task of food trialling.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Help us raise funds to support FPIES research!

How can you help? Well, its easy, easy as pear pie! There is a current AVON online event fundraiser that I am managing All you have to do is SHOP using this link! And when you check out, be sure that "4MYBABYBEE" has been entered into the coupon code box on the checkout page. Attaching this code to your order will allow me to donate a minimum of 10% of the online sales for this even to the FPIES United Family Fund. And in addition to helping to raise funds for research, you can even get free shipping when you spend $30 or more!

So what is the FPIES United Family Fund? It is the first fund created to raise funds for FPIES research. It was created through the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia AND it has non-profit status due to this connection. This is the fund that, if enough money is raised, can help B and other children like her, maybe even your child or children. The current goal of the Fund is to raise $300,000 to support a 3 year FPIES research study through the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This research will hopefully lead to better understanding of this diagnosis, better awareness of FPIES in the medical community, and hopefully better options for treatments in the future.

Please visit for more information on the Fund and for additional ways to support our children. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's slogan is "Hope lives here"-- indulge in some beauty, raise funds for our babies, and instill hope in our families. Let me know if you have any questions! Happy shopping! (And also, since this is a cooking blog, the AVON sale DOES include the kitchen and bakeware!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Masa, Molasses and Muddy Waters

No, I am not referring to the Father of Modern Chicago Blues. . .

What a week! Never is boring in a household with a kid who is, well, somewhat food challenged! Let's start with the positive. Homemade tortillas and homemade graham crackers (well, pseudo grahams, but really, who cares!) were the product of yesterday's day of cooking. I was delighted with the results of both but B was less than impressed. She enjoyed the idea of both, just wouldn't eat much of either. I highly recommend this recipe-- and of course, I did make modifications. As always! I have another trial run with some different modifications to try, and when that has finished I will post the better of the two.

The tortillas were super easy-- just masa harina and very warm water. The recipe was on the bag!!! Ahhhhh, how nice was that! I will be coming up with a more detailed tortilla recipe (trying to pack in more nutrients and taste) but for now, this one was fine. I also learned in a completely "DUH!" moment, that Masa is not made by curing the corn with lime as in the fruit, but with lime as in calcium hydroxide. And you know why they use the calcium hydroxide? To make the corn easier to digest! Interesting isn't it, especially since B still doesn't tolerate regular corn meal or corn flour very well, but is perfectly fine with polenta (twice cooked cornmeal) and Masa. So another fun fact about our long time love, Masa! Thank you, WICO dietitian, who recommended that we try masa well over a year ago!

And now for the muddy waters. I had to cut peanut butter out of my diet due to stinking hives on my poor baby girl. I have been gradually adding peanut butter back into my diet since about two weeks after B's peanut butter fail. She doesn't react to most of her failed foods in my diet, so I always give it a try before I eliminate a new fail. She seemed fine on little bits of peanut in my diet here and there until this week, when I decided to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch each day.

The first day, I nursed her a few hours after eating the sandwich and she got very itchy and had the pin prick hives in patches on her arms. We has also given her a new tortilla chip (all safe ingredients and made in an allergen friendly facility) that day so we wondered if that was the culprit.

No chips the next day. PB sandwich at lunch. Nursed her a few hours after lunch and then about 30 minutes after nursing her, she got hives. Hives on her arms, legs, torso, back of her neck, a few on her face and on the tops of her hands. Most of them were the small pin prick ones ( that look very red and itchy) but she also had larger bug bite looking ones, a couple by her lip, several on her arms and a couple on her hands, inside her wrists, and in between her fingers. First round of hydro-cortisone did nothing and they slightly worsened. After bath, we put on another round of the hydrocortisone and by morning, the hives were mostly gone, just a few patches of the pin prick ones remained on her arms and she was not nearly as itchy.

I talked to the tortilla chip company and everything checked out-- nothing questionable there.

I was fairly sure it was the PB but tried it one more day. Reflux flares and blowouts as well as no sleep for baby girl, but only minimal hives, still following the same time frame however. I thought the reflux flares and blowouts were related to the broccoli trial of this week but once I stopped the PB, it improved significantly. After asking around and reading up, I also learned that because breast milk isn't always identical with each nursing, even when you eat the same foods, her reactions could vary to the same trigger. Also, since her reaction to PB when she ate it orally also included hives in addition to "classic" FPIES minor and moderate symptoms, it makes sense to ME that her reaction through breast milk would present with some FPIES and some non-FPIES symptoms.

So no peanut butter for any of us girls in this house. As a vegetarian, I am fairly bummed. I eliminate soy as well and I am hoping that dairy ends up being a pass following a trial in another month. Cutting out diary in addition to soy and peanut butter and being a vegetarian is definitely possible, but making things much trickier. I might attempt something with cashew butter (I can't eat almond products in any great amount) for myself to see if that helps with protein.

As for B, the broccoli trial marches on. I am hoping it will be a pass but the jury is still out. We'll see what this next week brings! And hopefully the time will pass quickly while we await our test results from NJ, and hopefully those test results will give us the go-ahead to trial dairy. Hopefully, she will start being a tad less picky and hopefully I will be a tad more creative as we work, as always, towards happier days in food and fun.