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!


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  2. I think I'm going to try this! Though without the strawberries, one of the few food allergies my boys have. Yes, they have both allergies and is never dull! :D Seriously though, thanks so much for this, I'll let you know how it turns out! :)

  3. Anytime! It should work beautifully with any dried fruit, I just liked having it diced up small. Any fruit (or veggie!) should do!