Friday, June 24, 2011

Quickie Recipe Modification for Pancakes!

Just a quick one today! We are currently moving through a trial of white beans (eek!) and on day one, B did not like them, and they really didn't care too much for her either. So for today, day two, what did I do? Yep, I made beans into a baked good, well, a pancake. And I promise you, it wasn't gross and you could not taste the beans. And how I did it is embarassingly easy.

Step 1: Take the recipe for Happy Heart Pancakes

Step 2: Mix everything according to the recipe. Before adding in the milk and coconut oil, add in 2/3-3/4cup mashed white beans (cook them for awhile before mashing of course-- should be refried beans consistency). Blend well with your trusty pastry blender, or a sturdy fork. Once blended, add in milk and coconut oil as called for in recipe. Toss in one extra tablespoon of brown sugar/coconut sugar for good measure and mix well.

Step 3: Make pancakes in your skillet

Step 4: Eat the pancakes in amazement, as you cannot taste the beans and the pancakes are incredibly light and fluffy. Affirm that you are, indeed, a fabulous cook and pat yourself on the back. Maybe reward yourself with a few Enjoy Life chocolate chips. . .

That's it! It will add an extra protein punch to this breakfast treat and no one-- adult or small person-- will be the wiser! happy cooking and happy trickery!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mixed Blessings and Patterns

From the time our children are born, and some would argue before then, they are seeking patterns. The human brain is programmed to find patterns, in faces, in concepts, in everything. We use patterns to help us better understand the world around us. For us FPIES parents, we use patterns to navigate the day to day, to keep our kids healthy, and to look for hope.

Its so strange to me-- the very patterns that can seem so devastating are the same patterns that we use as guidelines for keeping our children healthy. I was talking about "red flags" the other night with a lovely friend and fellow FPIES mama-- how our kiddos have certain warning signs, "red flags" if you will, that tell us, the parents, that something is just not right. For B, it has been skin symptoms for the last 6 months or so that have been added to the repertoire of patterns in how her reactions present. In addition to the reflux, the diapers, the behavior and sleep changes, we now see rashes, hives, welts. It is her body's new way of getting us to listen, to slow down, to re-evaluate. When I see these signs and her discomfort, my heart sinks. I feel sad for her and in my head I can't help but think, "No, not again! Not THIS food too!" 

And these same symptoms, these same heart-sinking feelings--- these are what save our children. This is OUR "ace in the hole" as parents, if you will. Learning the patterns, knowing the child, and learning how this beast manifests itself in them. It really is a mixed blessing. Until there are tests or litmus paper thingys we can stick to their foreheads for answers (how nice would THAT be?!), we would be lost without these dreaded patterns. For B, recognizing these "red flags" is what has and will continue (hopefully) to save her from full blown reactions, from further interruption in her happy days and development. Being able to interpret and identify these patterns gives her more toddler time. More time to paint and less time to puke, to be blunt! 

So as we pass by another fail (lemonade! grr) and move on to a new trial in the AM (canellini/ white beans), I will try to focus on the usefulness of these patterns. FPIES is a nasty disorder but if I can better understand and utilize what it throws our way to HELP my girl avoid future distress, so be it, I will do it; I will use the symptoms of this disorder as a tool to thwart itself from taking more than it has to from our sunny summer days.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My daughter surely gets her lack of patience from somewhere. . .

Well, the clock is ticking. B had her scope done this past Monday morning. She had an upper endoscopy and a partial colonoscopy as well. The prep was HORRIBLE (lots of hysteria, reflux, choking, gagging, throwing up in her mouth, etc from my poor girl)--- laxatives and enemas wrecked her nerves and system. She put up a huge fight when they were trying to put her under (via gas) but the procedure itself went very well--- they took a good amount of biopsies and the initial pictures look clear. Just impatiently waiting on those biopsy results. . .

My hat is certainly off to all of you moms and dads out there that go through these procedures routinely with your children. Seeing B so upset pre-op and post-op was certainly no shock, but it was not exactly a pleasure cruise either. During the enemas, she actually was screaming and crying hysterically saying, "That medicine killed my bottom!" and shaking all the while. I can't imagine having to put her through this on a regular basis-- we have been truly lucky that this was our first experience, since she has been dealing with this disease from day 1. But the good news of it all: she is bouncing back well. She is not eating more than a couple of bites a day at this point, but we didn't expect much more. She is having a harder time swallowing foods again, but once more, we expected this. Last night was a rough night but she was playing well today, other than a little extra fussiness. I am just hoping that whatever the results are, that they offer us a little bit more direction, maybe a few more answers.

Food trials will likely resume in another week or so and we are going for a biggie---- white beans!!! Either northern beans or cannellini!! So nothing canned, I will be preparing them the "classic" way. I will have a new slow cooker recipe to go along with them I am sure. And on an unrelated note, be on the lookout for an ice cream cone recipe. I want ice cream cones, for goodness sake, and my big girl deserves to have them! ;)

So for now we wait, watch the clock, and distract ourselves with the kitchen redo and with adventures to kid friendly jaunts. Hoping for some answers soon!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Fresh Coat of Paint and Snack Bars

It all started with a kitchen. A place for B to have something safe, something creative, something that was developmentally appropriate for an older infant and budding toddler. And today our story continues to grow in that same room of the house-- the kitchen. In a different country from where we first began of course. . . ;)

We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel/overhaul/insanity/what-have-you at the moment. When we moved in last September, the kitchen was the first room that I wanted to demo. It screamed 1972 and it had not been well cared for. The walls were heavily textured, dust and grime had settled in the cracks and the room, despite its two lovely windows and glass exterior door, was DARK. I will spare all of you the gory details of the first few days of this undertaking as we are still deeply immersed in this project, but there are two things I wanted to say about this. One, my walls are now smooth and a lovely pale pale green (thank you, mouse sander and Behr Paint Plus Primer for saving me from the dungeon!). And two: as I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, as I sanded walls and as I painted, I couldn't help but see the parallels to the every day "upkeep" of maintaining a healthy child with FPIES. 

Cleaning out the cabinets.  . . There were fun cake pans, cookie cutters, and the noticeably "doubled" sets of kitchen gadgets and pans (B's and ours). Our tools that not only keep B safe but that also keep her interested,  that make her food seem just as special as any other toddler's might be. We WILL have celebration food and we WILL have  some degree of feigned normalcy; I swore this from the start. 

It was a nice trip down memory lane. I recalled her first cookies, her first muffins, her first mama-made treats. I remembered her smiles, her excitement and sometimes, her perplexed looks when she first experienced whatever the latest concoction was. I mulled over our past victories and I, in a sense, mourned our losses. But cleaning out the cabinets is a necessity in a kitchen redo just as much as "cleaning out the cabinets" is necessary in managing B's diet. We can celebrate the safe foods-- the old standbys, the new favorites, the ones we are hoping for-- and we can clean out and throw away the fails, the ones that disrupt our kitchen and lead to chaos when unchecked. 

Sanding the walls. . . now THAT was a task! Lots of time for reflection here! All I kept thinking of was the fine tuning that her diet takes, the necessary changes to making a food work. Changes needed to make a recipe work. I have made somethings that quite frankly, were C-R-A-P! But I keep sanding, I keep whittling away at the recipe until it works, until it is useful and until it is palatable, at least to my tiny gourmand!

A fresh coat of paint. . . we have had some recent set backs that I must say, have dampened our moods around here. The FPIES fails coupled with distinct IgE symptoms, the cheeking and swallowing difficulties, the reactions from the medical tests and the tests looming in our near future. . . it is time for a fresh coat of paint. It is time to sand away whatever it is that is bothering my beautiful girl and it is time to change direction. The FPIES base is still there, but we will build something beautiful over top of it. Something that starts working again, something that moves B to a safer place.

I will keep updating on the kitchen and on B's scope and development, but since I have been so remiss for so long, here is a recipe that is long overdue. A great one for snacking, quick meals, and energy. A Baby B energy bar (though to be clear, she does NOT need any more energy than she already has! Haha!). Like most of the recipes on here, it IS "customizeable", but I will write down what we did first and then disclose other options within the recipe. Have fun and enjoy this great on-the-go snack for summertime!

Baby B's Powerhouse Squares
2-3 cups quinoa flakes (millet flakes or rolled oats will work as well)
3 small bananas mashed (or 3/4 cup of dense veggie or fruit, also try applesauce or pear sauce)
1 Tbsp brown sugar/coconut sugar/honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-3/4 cup coconut flakes (finely shredded)
1/4 cup dried fruit, diced (we used strawberry and mango)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or your favorite roasted seed or nut, finely chopped)
1/4 cup pear sauce (I am sure apple sauce would do the trick as well)
Sunflower seed butter (or fav seed/nut butter, OR jelly/jam)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add 2 cups quinoa flakes and blend with pastry blender until well mixed. Add in all remaining ingredients except for the sunflower seed butter and blend thoroughly. Dough should resemble crust mixture for a fruit cobbler. If dough is too wet (should NOT be runny at all) add in more quinoa flakes and a touch more of the coconut flakes until desired consistency is met. 

Line an 8X8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Divide mixture in half. Press one half of the mixture into the pan and even it out with a fork. Then, spread sunflower seed butter thinly over top of first half. Once sunflower seed butter has been spread, press remaining half of mixture overtop of the sunflower seed butter. Again, use a fork to even the mixture out and to make it flat. Place pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, periodically checking after the 20 minute mark.

Once firm and golden brown on the edges, remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Once cool, remove from pan and slice into rectangles or squares. Serve immediately plain or with jam/sunflower see butter spread thinly on top of each bar. These can be frozen as well-- just don't add toppings until ready to eat! I wrapped each bar individually in press and seal wrap (LOVE that stuff!) and then filled freezer safe ziploc bags with the individually wrapped bars. 

I personally LOVED these and these are certainly a elim diet nursing mama's good friend! Enjoy and let me know what ingredient combos you use! The possibilities are endless!