Monday, December 10, 2012

An Unlikely Adventure, A Worthy Cause: I Choose B

Let me start by saying, I love the idea of homeschooling. I think it is a great choice for a lot of kids. I have some amazing friends who homeschool and I admire them greatly! That said, I never thought I would be homeschooling any of my children.

I prepared for it, since B was born. I always wanted to be aware of my options and thought that homeschooling resources could be called on to supplement education as well as serve as the main source of education if the situation necessitated this (poor school system, moving around a lot, variable needs of my children). Now, as I am getting ready to dive head first very soon, I am still a bit surprised to have arrived here.

We have great schools in our area, and a large diversity in options. But after a brief start and a hasty finish this fall, we have come to the conclusion that B's needs right now are calling for a different path, a different setting. Homeschooling seems to be a wonderful step for my girl and it allows us to take reactions and other medical setbacks a bit more in stride with the help of an adaptable schedule. She is up and down quite a bit with symptoms and earlier this fall, had a lot of days when she was complaining of being in pain constantly. Nights of poor sleep and a variety of skin and GI symptoms brought me to the conclusion that we need to work with B a bit more, rather than try to get her to push through her pain to conform to a school setting right now. To some of you, it may sound a bit extreme, but to be honest, I felt like I had to choose between our initial intentions and between B's reality. And I choose B.

To help us on our journey, I have entered this amazing giveaway at a fabulous site, "Living Montessori Now":

I hope we can win some of the great prizes to help with our home classroom! Whether we do or not, please keep posted for an upcoming post here about our schooling adventures and the variety of Montessori inspired workboxes and activities that we have integrated into our daily life. We are keeping it sensory with sensitivities in mind! See you soon!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Version 2.0-- Cornbread

A new version with a touch more nutrients and with a bit more of a moist texture! Enjoy!

Corny Preschooler Cornbread Ver. 2.0
2 cups masa (corn flour)
1 1/4cup dry polenta mix
3/4cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 3/4cup coconut milk (or other safe milk)
1 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp honey/maple syrup/coconut nectar/corn syrup
3 Tbsp coconut vinegar (or other safe vinegar)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare your pans--- eitehr use muffin liners for muffins or lightly oil a glass or metal baking dish. This recipe will make about 20 corn muffins or two 8inch circle pans of corn bread. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Once blended, add oil, milk, and honey. Blend well. Immediately before pouring batter into pans, add vinegar and mix until just blended. Pour batter into pans, filling until about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golen brown and firm on top. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Its not common, but it IS possible. . . welcome to the FPIES Foundation's new website.

A little less than a year ago, I wrote this post below. After a year's worth of continued hard work and determination, I am happy to announce that The FPIES Foundation has taken things to the next level, expanding the Foundation's website and massively enhancing the tools available to families and medical professionals alike. As one of the foundaing members said, "no one needs to go through this alone" and The FPIES Foundation continues to deliver on this message, now offering even more diverse and useful tools to help families and medical professionals, from hospital to home, support the people who truly matter, the smallest of patients, our own little cutie pies. Here is that post from a year ago. Thank you for supporting us and helping us to help those in need. We will continue to deliver on our promise.

"It's not common, but it is possible"--- a statement far too many of us have heard and a statement that far too often leads to no answers and dead ends in our children's medical treatment and diagnosis. But today, this statement has a positive twist, as I am pleased to announce the launch of The FPIES Foundation.

It's not common that parents across the nation and often across the world can share the connections that we as FPIES parents share without ever meeting. But we do have these connections. Our stories are all different, but somehow all the same, and in our struggles, we have found unity, clarity, and comfort. Today, I invite you to visit The FPIES Foundation and to witness what these connections can build together. It is my belief that this Foundation will serve as a refuge for FPIES families and the doctors who support these families; a hub to find resources and support, all in the name of bettering the standards of care for the children diagnosed with FPIES. For your child and for my B-- for all of our children. It is not common, but truly, it is possible-- there is now a place that we all can call home.

Be sure to check out these features:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Roadtrip Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

A quick one! Without the figs, they are B safe. We shall see if the figs are C safe, though we have had good luck with non-citrus fruits!

Roadtrip Muffins!
1 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
7/8 cup (14 Tbsp) sorghum flour
1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) millet flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar/coconut sugar/maple sugar
2 Tbsp honey/maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup coconut milk/safe milk
1 tsp vanilla (opt)
1 Tbsp coconut vinegar

1/2 cup mixed berries/berry of choice
1/4 cup sliced figs and 1/4 cup chopped raspberries/blackberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 10 regular size muffin cups with papers. Mix all dry ingredients well with pastry blender. Add in honey, oil, milk and vanilla. Blend well until everything is mixed in evenly. Last, add the vinegar and stir until just blended-- do not overstir! It will get a little puffy and this is good! Fold in berries.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full--- these do not rise like wheat-based muffins. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm and slightly golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack. Enjoy on the road or when someone brings you breakfast in bed. Here's hoping, right? Happy baking!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Mama Top 10

Just a quick one-- here is my top ten list of recipes and foods that I am loving during my current elim diet. Hope I can help to share some info with those of you looking for new tasty options!

10. My new protein bars/pseudo cookies
9. Bridget's classic cornbread
8. Earth's Balance Coconut Spread
7. Homemade chocolate candy made in silicone molds---pop out a piece and go!
6. Sunflower seed butter and banana slices
5. Honey Kix-- my fortified snack food!
4. Safe Quinoa! I eat it with salmon and it is part of the bread recipe below!
3. New sandwich bread without the almonds of course! This is a great recipe blog-- please check it out!
2. Happy Heart Pancakes--- add chocolate chips (Enjoy Life of course!) or fruit to the mix for a truly delicious pancake!
1. English muffins Ok, so I don't follow her recipe fully--- I use completely different flours and I ditch the xanthan gum, but this is a great recipe to play with using your own or your child's own safe foods. They actually taste like english muffins!!! I used a combo of sorghum, quinoa and arrowroot instead of the suggested flours. This is also a great blog with recipes to check out and I love the title of her blog! And since you can't have english muffins without jam, I love the plain strawberry preserves from For the Love of June. These ladies are so awesome that my littlest girl has her middle name taken from one of these lovely ladies!

Hopefully there will be more at a later date, but until then, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elimination Diet Update and a Powerful New Recipe

Well, I have re-emerged from the puke and poop to post an update! I am happy to report that I *think* (watch me curse myself) that I have managed to control the more severe of C's reactions to my milk. Projectile poop as of two days ago has stopped, multiple puking moments have been curtailed, and her spit up has even decreased a little (added bonus!). She is also having more moments of being engaging, rather than being more despondent (within the realm of normal newborn of course!). We are still dealing with a lot of the silent reflux and can't seem to get that under control with diet changes and lifestyle changes (positioning, etc), so I am hoping we can figure that out a bit better soon.

My diet is the same as B's right now, without potatoes/mango, with salmon, green beans and the occasional red peppers (weird right?!). I have so very much respect for all of those TED mamas out there-- it is tricky being limited for sure! But at least I have some options, albeit tricky and needing to be homemade ones.

So today, in the wake of B's latest formula fail and our constant hunt for protein in her diet, I decided to yet again read labels and create something yummy that we could both eat daily that might help boost our collective protein intake (I have always been at my best on a low protein, high carb diet, so I kind of struggle with protein as well). This is super easy and dangerously tasty. I think it would be even better with melted chocolate on top, but hey-- that is me! I kind of think EVERYTHING is better with melted chocolate on top, but really, don't you all agree?

5 Ingredient (plus baking chemicals) Protein Power Granola Bars
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
1-2 Tbsp sorghum/millet/other flour (I used sorghum to get the protein amount)
2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp baking powder (soda would be fine here too)
1/2 Tbsp coconut milk
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla (opt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Then blend in sunflower seed butter, honey, coconut milk and vanilla with a fork. Once well blended, press mixture into a prepared, greased glass dish. It should cover a 4x4 area, roughly, making four 1x4 granola bars. Bake for 12 minutes until edges are brown. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Slice when cool with a very sharp knife and enjoy!!! This entire recipe contains 10-12 grams of protein (with the sorghum version), according to the labels.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Preschool Snack Pack

My baby B that you have all grown to know and love since she was a mere 10 months or so old is going to be a big preschool girl in the fall. My goodness, how the time has flown! We are so thrilled to have found a great preschool to send her to-- a Montessori school, my personal favorite in the realm of early childhood teaching methods! On top of the Montessori structure being a great match for my little explorer, they are also knowledgeable about food allergies and very willing to work with us to help B to have fun, educational, SAFE days!

The preschool provides snack for all of the small ones, but we are permitted to bring B's from home due to her restrictions. If you haven't been keeping track, she is top 8 free, FPIES common trigger free, vegan, free of several fruits and many more veggies, and also reacts to a handful of other things, such as cinnamon and latex (latex does not produce an FPIES response for her, of course). All in all, she has about 32 known trigger foods and about 19 safe foods/baking ingredients (like honey, etc). So if you have a little one in day care, preschool, etc with a lot of restrictions as well, it is my hope that maybe by us sharing our ideas for B's preschool snack packs, then perhaps you will also be able to use some of these ideas for your own little explorers. This will be yet another category on the blog-- so many subheadings!-- but I think it will be a very worthwhile one! I hope you enjoy!

To kick things off, here is a top ten list of snack pack ideas from some favorite websites and blogs!

Preschooler B's Top 10 Snack Pack Ideas for Preschool
1. Butterfly snack bags My MIL sent this link to me and I absolutely love this idea! It isn't a snack itself, but an awesome and fun way to package a snack for lunch boxes, snack packs, or party favors. Thanks, Gram, for the great idea!

2. Crackers  This is a great recipe for crackers-- you can mix and match a nice combination of flours/starches/seeds-- it is extremely versatile. The version I make for B uses quinoa flakes, sorghum flour, millet flour and arrowroot starch (and I also throw in a few tablespoons of honey--- a recipe can always use more honey, haha). She loves the crackers cut into shapes (I use bento box cookie cutters that I bought in Japan at the 100yen stores since they are small) and then made into sandwiches with sunflower seed butter inside.

3. Bento Boxes: Sometimes it is all about the packaging! I will be sewing a little snack pack bag for B when preschool starts, and in that bag, one of the many bentos that we bought in Japan will be filled with her treats.

4. Granola Bars: We have a few recipes on this blog for these-- fruit bars, sweet bars, protein-packed squares. What I love most about these, is they are very easy to grab and go--- you don't even have to defrost them before tossing them in the bag to go out and about. Perfect for preschoolers!

5. Fruit Salad and granola: Any combo of fruit is great, but I find that berries hold up a bit better than some other fruits. Pair a berry salad with a few tablespoons of sweet quinoa granola and you have a healthy and sweet snack to give those tiny feet extra energy to run around!

6. Yogurt Parfait: A variation of number 5, simply layer homemade coconut yogurt (I use a variation of this recipe), quinoa granola (see above), and fruit of choice. I prefer glass jars that I found on amazon, but these look like some great plastic jars. And of course, include a fun spoon/utensils!

7. Fruit Slices and Sunflower Seed Butter: This requires a bit of help from the preschool staff, as you don't want the slices to get brown and yucky before eating (If your LO is safe with lemon, you can always use lemon juice to preserve the color of sliced apples and pears. B reacts pretty severely to lemon, so not an option for her). We will send a pear, utensils needed to peel and slice it, and a little cup of sunflower seed butter (bento box to the rescue once more!).

8. Muffins and scones: There is a large assortment of these on this blog! And a nice addition in a snack pack with one of these baked goods is a tiny cup of sunflower seed butter, coconut manna (softened), maple syrup or honey.

9. Fruity Friends: Using colorful plastic lollipop sticks (you can find these at your local craft or baking store), skewer bite size chunks of fruits together. Depending on the fruit and on how industrious you are feeling, you can use fun cookie cutters to make the fruits into fun themed shapes. I like a combo of pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and mango. Again, dipping sauce is always fun! I like a softened coconut manna or honey for this variety! In choosing fruit, keep in mind fruits that will retain their shape and color well, like berries, melons, some citrus, ans so on.

10. Jello Fruit Salad: If gelatin is safe, I really don't need to explain this one for you! Simply make the jello of your choice and stir a selection of fruit into the liquid before it gels. For those of you like us needing to avoiding gelatin, you can make this treat too, just with a bit of extra effort using agar agar. Simply select a fruit juice that is safe (we like Ceres brand mango juice) and cook in a saucepan with agar agar flakes on the stove top. You will need to make the juice pretty darn hot in order to break down the flakes but once the flakes have dissolved, you can pour the liquid into bowls/tupperware type cups (that can have lids). You will want the fruit to be already in the bowls before pouring in the liquid-- agar agar starts to set up rather quickly. Cover the bowls and refrigerate until ready to go! I like the ziploc brand 1/2cup lidded plastic containers. Perfect size for these kiddos! For instructions on navigating agar agar use, check out PETA's site.

Enjoy and please feel free to share your own favorites! We will be adding new ones throughout the fall!

The Long Road

We are on the verge of starting our first "post-baby" food trial for B--- Elecare Jr. unflavored. We start on Tuesday and this is the last stop for elementals for B. If this is a bust, then we move ahead to the amino packets and creating a formula. In thinking about all that comes along with food trials, I found this old post that I never published from B's third bday. Just a quick note though before you read on--- for all of you starting this journey, please know that most little ones DO outgrow their triggers/reactions and there are lots of reasons to hope. This is just my personal reflection on B's specific situation:

Well, we have seen the third birthday. And the day came and went. It was a great day--- hands on museum, Wendy's plain baked potato (and they put it in a kid's meal bag WITH a kid's meal prize. B's first ever and she was so impressed!), frog shaped cake and only one dose of benadryl (pretty sure the culprit was the hands on museum). But B has FPIES and the third birthday, as the other FPIES parents know, is the biggie, the one you wait for. The time when you are supposed to hit a fork in the road, when the fog is supposed to clear.

The change did not come, not for my B. As of a few days ago, the reaction to another elemental was confirmed. I know we could be much worse off and I am truly so grateful that we aren't. This doesn't stop me from being discouraged and to be honest, from being a little scared. I have always felt like I had a plan in the back of my mind. A way that might help things, a new idea that might work. To be honest, I am out of ideas. I don't know why she keeps reacting to anything new. I don't know why trace amounts of certain foods can just send her spiraling out of control. I love reading all of the success stories and am so happy for the friends we have met along the way being able to move on. I just hate feeling like my B is being left behind. We are still here, still in the thick of things, well over two and a half years post diagnosis. I know it sounds selfish, but when is it going to be B's turn? When does she get to move on? Hasn't she seen/felt enough?

N and I were commenting tonight on how clear a fail is once the food/drink has been pulled and how muddy it seems before hand (in the absence of a full blown FPIES reaction-- we were talking about chronic reactions). It isn't until you take the trigger away until you can see how clearly it has disrupted so much. Since pulling the formula, B has been EATING. (And she was only getting 4oz of formula a day). I have never seen her eat this much in her entire life (outside of nursing). She is asking for food, for good food (not just the typical 3year old asking for smarties). She is engaged, she is happy. Yes, she is still the lovely spirited and strong-willed child that I know and love, so we are seeing "normal" tantrums, challenges, etc. but over the last few days they have been NORMAL. She is sleeping without screaming those awful screams in her sleep. She is not doubled over in pain. I am not changing sheets and her mattress pad daily from diarrhea blowouts that go up her back and down her legs. And she isn't throwing up in her mouth throughout the day.

I must say that I will be a sad mama once the formula hiatus ends.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chasing Zebras

Well as I am sure many of you know or have guessed, we have now welcomed our newest little addition into our home. Another little girl! My poor husband-- he is so outnumbered. At least he is surrounded by beautiful women, right?!

B is the best big sister you will ever hope to meet (though I am quite biased). She loves kissing Baby C's little toes and even helps with her baths. As a true FPIES kiddo, she is very concerned with C's poops-- haha-- though I promise you, other than our dairy debacle, the poops are fine!

This brings me to my point of this post-- chasing zebras. How do we as parents turn off that setting? When your child has been diagnosed with a rare illness and even more so, a rare degree of severity of that illness, how do you become accustomed to not looking for zebras, not looking for a rare illness to rear its ugly head once more in other children down the line?

I have been struggling with this for most of C's pregnancy and now her early infancy. Trying to walk the line between determining what is "age and stage" vs. "not all that normal." We have discovered that there is certainly something going on with C and her response to foods in my milk. I am eliminating the following at this time: dairy, soy, rice, barley, oats, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocado, all beans and tomatoes (though will reintroduce to see-- these are questionable), eggs, all meat (simply due to being vegetarian), peanuts, tree nuts, all squash. It honestly isn't that bad, it is just complicated. She is still struggling with reflux-- silent and "not so silent"-- but I am trying to stick to eliminating everything that is causing outright vomiting right now, and then if we can get her to be stable for a little bit, then I will work on refining my diet a bit more if I can. I am also hoping that some of these foods clear my system in another week or two and maybe some things will resolve independently of me needing to cut more out of my diet.

But the reward is that C has calmer days, less crying than B ever did, and other than responses to a few of the foods that I have since eliminated, limited lower GI responses aside from extreme gassiness. I do feel like we are more in control of the situation and I do feel that for us, starting the elim diet before giving birth did help a lot in this process.

As we move through this, even though we are identifying things that certainly do not seem normal for "age and stage," I am trying to be conscientious of not jumping to FPIES with every hiccup, every blowout (even blowouts can be normal of course!), and every fussy night. I want so badly for C to breeze through her infancy, to have a relatively normal experience with doctors, food, growth, and so forth. I do however understand that as we trying to not jump to conclusions, having survived B's infancy certainly gave us tools that are priceless in helping us begin to navigate C's early days.

So for us I suppose, the answer is to acknowledge the possibility of zebras, to remember the tools and lessons that we have learned, but to remind ourselves to breathe in between all of this. To leave space for simply "age and stage," to hope for normalcy. And in the meantime, I will sit back and enjoy B learning how to love her little sister, enjoy those moments of infancy that we didn't get with B because of not knowing how to control some of the early symptoms that she had, and thank heavens for the fact that despite losing my beloved baked potatoes, neither one of my kiddos seems to have issues with pure cocoa. That is what I call the fates throwing us a bone. And on that note, I am off to find some ice water and enjoy life chocolate chips.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fancy Grilled "Cheese" DF/SF/EF/Vegan and E-Z!

It isn't a super wild and crazy recipe but it is pretty darn tasty. First, a word about Daiya---- these are faux cheeses. Be sure to read the ingredients in each of the three varieties-- you can get pepperjack, mozzarella, or cheddar. Pea protein, and tapioca starch are the red flags for us over here in regards to B--- when they list the starch it is one of those "arrowroot or tapioca starch" ingredient labels so just be aware!

Fancy Grilled "Cheese"
Shredded Daiya "cheese" in cheddar
Shredded Daiya "cheese" in mozzarella
Long-cut portobella mushroom slices (slices should be length of the bread)
Safe bread (I use a simple french bread recipe that contains whole wheat, yeast and olive oil)
Safe oil or earth's best coconut spread
Caramelized onions (optional)

Prepare your onions (if using them) and mushrooms. Heat a medium skillet over low to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil or coconut spread to the pan and allow to melt.

Place one slice of bread on a microwave safe plate and add desired cheese to the top. I used 1 part mozzarella and two parts cheddar. A little goes a long way! Nuke the bread with the "cheese" for a few seconds in the microwave--- essentially just until it starts to melt. If you are a master at flipping grilled cheese with shredded cheese in between the bread, you may not need to worry about this step. But since I lost about half of my cheese in the pan when I chose not to melt it a bit in advance, I will be melting from now on.

Place bread with melted cheese on top in the center of the skillet. Add mushrooms and/or onions to the top of the melty cheese. Place another slice of bread on top of the first. After a few minutes of cooking (depends on how your burners run), flip your sandwich over and toast the other side of the bread. Your sandwich is ready when both sides are a nice golden brown and a touch crispy!

And zesty is only my middle name. . .

I have been eating a lot of produce lately. A LOT. This will likely continue to some extent throughout the summer. As any of you mamas on elim diets know, fresh produce (that is safe!) tends to fill the majority of the shopping cart on grocery day (and takes up the majority of the grocery bill! Ouch!). Because I have been looking for a bit more zest in my life, I decided to make a veggie dip. Here it is!

Very Veggie Dip
1 cup safe mayo (spectrum makes a DF/SF variety)
1/2-3/4 cup of safe mustard (I used Chardonnay Dijon)
1 1/2 tsp basil
1 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp sage
1-2 pinches of celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix mayo and mustard together in a small bowl. Add in spices and blend. Chill and serve (or eat immediately with whatever crudities you can scavenge out of the fridge or garden).

The perk of chilling it in the fridge is that it allows flavors to meld a bit better. You can also play around with adding in honey and/or lemon juice for a bit of extra flavor. This works well as a potato salad or pasta salad dressing also!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Not So Chilly Chili

Technically, I believe that you can't really call this chili, since it has beans and it is meat free. Apparently, "real" chili contains meat and no beans. That said, this is my version of chili-- safe for my current elim diet but also it is top 8 free, vegan and almost FPIES common trigger free (depends if you include this type of legumes in the legumes listed on the common triggers). This is wonderful served with Corny Preschooler Corn Bread in the previous post. It also freezes well and would be a lovely filler for bread bowls and/or stuffed veggies (like stuffed bell peppers). Makes 3-4 generous servings and freezes well:

Hot Mama Chili
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain) with green chilies (I like these)
1 can chili beans (do not drain)
1 can refried beans (I used refried black beans)
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cups diced baby bella mushrooms
1/4 of a large sweet onion, diced
3 small bell peppers (I used yellow, orange and red), seeded and diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, depending on preference
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder (opt)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp basil
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup uncooked quinoa, prepared in a separate pot according to package directions

Bring one cup of quinoa with two cups of water to a boil in a medium, covered saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat and allow to simmer until all moisture is absorbed. Once water is absorbed, remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare mushrooms, garlic, onion, and peppers. In a large saucepan or medium sized stockpot, add 1/2cup of oil and bring to medium low heat. Add in veggies and spices; saute on med to med low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon/wooden spatula. Once oil has been absorbed, add in water, chili beans, refried beans, and tomatoes. Add in cocoa, honey and brown sugar. Stir all ingredients until well blended and cover pot, continuing to simmer for about 30 minutes (add more water if water cooks off). After 30 minutes, add in cooked quinoa. Stir and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, again, adding liquid as needed and additional spices to taste. Once flavors have been well blended, serve with cornbread, in bread bowls, or in large whole roasted peppers.

For Hot Daddy Chili:
Follow recipe above. Add to entire pot of chili or to separate serving bowls:

In a separate skillet on low-medium heat, brown 1 diced garlic clove in two tablespoons of olive oil. For each person that will be eating the non-vegan version of this chili, add half a pound of ground buffalo, half a pound of bacon, and the insides of one large Italian sausage. Cook meat in the skillet until done and until all oil has been absorbed. Drain fat, dice the cooked bacon, and add all meats to either the entire chili pot or in separate portions to individual bowls of prepared chili.

Corny Preschooler Corn Bread

As much as I wish I could claim this recipe completely as my own, I cannot. The recipe below is an adaptation of this recipe. I simply made it gluten free, FPIES common trigger free, and changed a few other ingredients. Here is what I used for B's dinner tonight and I warn you, it is super good. I prefer it to the other corn bread I made for N and I. B's recipe as follows:

Corny Preschooler Corn Bread
1 cup dry polenta mix
1 cup masa (or other safe flour. Millet would work very well here)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup coconut milk (or other safe milk)
1/2 cup canola oil (or other safe oil)
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut vinegar (or other vinegar)
1 Tbsp honey/coconut nectar/maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 or 9 inch circular cake pan (or use a muffin tin and papers!). In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Blend well with pastry blender. Add in oil, vinegar and honey--- blend well with pastry blender. Once mixture looks pebbly, pour in milk and mix until well-blended.

Pour mixture into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 F or until top becomes golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Flip onto wire rack to cool outside of the pan. Slice like a pie once cool and enjoy!!! I like to put a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup on top of B's-- my mom used to make cornbread this way and serve it for breakfast. She called it "Johnny Cake" and now so does my girl. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Amaranth Stew-- Top 8 free, FPIES common trigger free

Ok, a new elimination diet recipe! This one is top 8 free, FPIES common trigger free, and can be vegan (my version was, N's was not). I did however serve this with whole wheat flatbread (the stew is free of the top 8, the wheat flatbread was homemade and just wheat ingredients) but I will put other more allergen friendly options at the end of the recipe. This was pretty tasty and I expect it to freeze very well. You might want to add a little bit more spice-- I am pretty sure I will next time around. All in all, it was a good outcome for a bunch of things I randomly started throwing into a pot (my very refined style of cooking) once I realized I didn't have anything I wanted for dinner.

Amaranth Stew
1 cup uncooked amaranth + 3 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil (or other safe oil-- I bet safflower would be a tasty option)
1 bouillon cube (I like this one but you can always make your own)
1 14oz can beans, drained and rinsed, OR 1 1/2 cups beans (purchased dry, soaked overnight in water, drained)*
1/4-1/2 cup Diced Tomatoes OR Salsa (I used this one)
2 small garlic cloves, finely diced
1/4 tsp ground black peppercorns
2-4 small red and orange peppers, diced
5 medium potatoes, diced
Additional spices as desired
Flatbread for serving

For the non-vegans:
1-2lbs skinlesss boneless chicken breast, pan cooked in olive oil and diced**

In a large saucepan or small stockpot, bring the amaranth to a boil in the three cups of water with the bouillon cube and garlic. Cover pot with a lid, reduce heat to simmer. Stir periodically throughout the stew making process in order to keep amaranth from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If water is fully absorbed before stew is ready, add 1-2 additional cups of water.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans. If using dry beans, you will need to soak these for 24 hrs in advance of beginning your stew. Add beans and olive oil to the simmering amaranth. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix well.

Add the diced tomatoes/salsa. Depending on your tastes, you may wish to add more or less. Add the pepper and any additional desired spices.

Clean, seed and dice the peppers and peel and dice the potatoes. Add both to the mixture, again stirring well.

If using chicken or other meat--- rinse and pat the raw meat dry with paper towels. If frozen, defrost before rinsing. Cut meat into 1 inch pieces. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil (or other preferred oil) to skillet heated at medium heat. Add meat and pan cook until done. Add to individual servings or add to the stock pot, depending on how many people will be eating the non-vegan version. I added N's to his bowl once I served the stew.

Allow the stew to simmer for at least the total of one hour from start to finish, at least long enough for potatoes to be soft but not falling apart. Remember to stir periodically during the process, adding liquid as necessary.

Serve with flatbread--- the stew will actually be thick enough to spread over flatbread. If needing a top 8, easy to make option, this millet flatbread is a great choice.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cereal Box Prizes

Does anyone else get cereal box prize envy? True, they aren't as common as when we were small, but I still am saddened that none of B's safe cereals (Corn Chex and Kix) ever come with cereal box prizes. What is the deal with that?

Well, I am posting tonight to remind us all of another type of cereal box prize-- the side-of-the-box recipes! every now and then, the cereal box prints recipes on the side that utilize that cereal as an ingredient. Granted, the recipes usually aren't safe for our kiddos but sometimes you can modify them to make them safe. Here is our modification to the corn chew "muddy buddies" recipe printed on the box. It is easy and my three year old helps me make them every time!

Muddy Buddies for the Corn Chex Cereal Box (with my modifications)
9 cups of Chex (or any cereal/puffs-- millet puffs, wheat chex, etc)
1 cup of Enjoy life chocolate chips (or other safe chocolate chips)
1/2 cup of sunflower seed butter (or other safe nut/seed butter-- hemp, quinoa, peanut, almond, etc)
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup palm oil shortening (coconut oil, coconut manna, or any butter that coagulates would work here)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or pulverize white sugar in the blender until powdery or make your own powdered sugar)

In a medium bowl, have your small child pour chocolate chips, vanilla, shortening, and sunflower seed butter. Have her carefully stir the mix. Remove spoon and microwave the mixture on high for 45-60 seconds. Have an adult stir the mixture until smooth.

Measure the cereal into a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until well coated. Put the coated cereal into a large gallon to 2 gallon size ziploc bag (I prefer hefty one zip) and have your small child pour the sugar into the bag. Seal TIGHTLY and play catch with the bag (this is much more fun than standing there and shaking the bag) until the powdered sugar has coated the cereal pieces. Pour the coated cereal onto wax paper and allow to dry. Once dry, place in a new bag, seal and store in the fridge. Use this snack food for bribery or moments of mama desperation in which you NEED chocolate that is top 8 free.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dairy and Soy Free Potato Salad

Well, the summer weather is somehow upon us in our New England home (but wait. .  .isn't it March?!) and my husband broke out the grill tonight! For B this meant a little foil packet of broccoli mixed with pineapple slices, a touch of canola, salt and honey (sounds odd but is super tasty). For me, this meant a salmon (hooray!) and summer squash foil packet; for N this meant a bison, bacon and cheese burger times two. For N and I, I also made potato salad and it turned out very well so I though I would share it with you!

Summer Mama Potato Salad
1 cup dairy free/soy free mayo
1/4 cup safe mustard (I used dijon)
4 hard boiled eggs (optional), sliced
5 medium red potatoes, cleaned, sliced and boiled with skins
1/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced mixed sweet peppers
1 small sweet onion, finely diced (optional)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Cook potatoes until tender but not falling apart, and hard-boil the eggs. Drain, and set aside to cool. While eggs and potatoes are cooling, dice 2-4 small sweet peppers (I like using different colors), 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, and a small onion. In a small bowl, mix the spices.

In a medium to large bowl, mix together mustard and mayo until well-blended. Add spices and again, blend well. Next, toss in potatoes, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Blend well. Add eggs and stir until all ingredients are well mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hr or more. Serve with summer picnic food and enjoy!

Top 10 companies I have contacted about products

Let me start with a little disclaimer--- I am not speaking on behalf of any of these lovely companies nor can I guarantee that their products will be safe for your LO (I typically call companies after B has reacted to the product so that I can sort out what she may have reacted to). I simply want to pass along these names so that you might feel more comfortable speaking with these people in regards to finding safe foods for your little ones.

So here is the first five of B's top 10 companies that I have contacted about food allergies and that have met the following criteria:
a) polite and punctual in follow up
b) honest and open, did not try to hide needed information
c) informed and resourceful (if they didn't know an answer, they made sure that they transferred me to someone who did. And then they still followed up!)

1. Earth's Balance: This one was by far the quickest and most informative. I called on a Friday AM because B was reacting to one of their products and all of the ingredients were safe for her. I spoke with the first lady for a few minutes, who took down my information, was sincere about B being sick, and who provided me some helpful starter info, such as what some of the ingredients were derived from. Once we determined all of those derivatives were safe for B, she forwarded my info to the food scientists for further investigation. She called me back two other times that day and by 5pm on that Friday, had gotten answers from the food scientists and helped us narrow down the culprit! A+ to this marvelous lady!

2. Little Duck Organics: Not only is this a fabulous product for snacking and for baking, not only is the packaging adorable, but their customer service is phenomenal. Contacted via email, I received replies quickly, late at night and on a weekend. They were sincere and very thorough in explaining the entire processing process of their fruit. They followed up to see how B was feeling. :)

3. Mini Pops: These are tiny little popcorn things made from sorghum. B gets the petite plain kind. I called the company and left a message with questions about their processing and packaging. In less than a few hours, I received a response call. This gentleman was so informative and gave me so much detail about the processing and packing procedures, I felt like I had taken a tour of the factory! He never rushed me, answered all of my questions, and was very pleasant and thorough.

4. Allegra:  I called these guys before doing an Allegra trial with B. The same person I spoke with on the first call followed up with me for several weeks, answering my questions after doing significant research with various departments. He was very helpful, very sincere, and very detailed. After B's reaction, he followed up for additional information. I felt like I was his only customer service assignment!

5. Nutrica: When B started seeming to react to the Splash (after weeks of journaling, it was the only thing that matched her vomiting). I called the friendly nutrition specialists over at Nutrica. This gentleman was extremely helpful in going through B's list of allergens, he knew what FPIES was, and he did not have a "black and white" attitude about food allergies. He acknowledged that each child was indeed different and that yes, my B could be in fact reacting to the Splash. He didn't stop there-- he helped me figure out what component of it that she was most likely reacting to. And it seems like he was exactly right! We reduced the Splash and poof! There went the vomiting.

Ok, off to bed but will post the next five soon!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top 8 Free, Rice Free, Oat Free Mac and Cheese

Mama Safe Easy Peasy Mac and Cheese
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 cups coconut (or other safe) milk
1 can diced tomatoes (seasoned or unseasoned)
2 cups boiled, mashed squash OR golden beets
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup Daiya Mozzarella cheese (opt)
1/2 cup Daiya Cheddar cheese (opt)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4tsp black pepper

1 lb of quinoa/corn pasta (or other safe pasta; I used Ancient Harvest)

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add in milk, then vegetables and onion. Combine all ingredients well in the bowl. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and immediately add to bowl with "cheese" ingredients. Pour into dishes for baking (I line mine with foil) and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. If preparing for freezer food, divide into foil-lined casserole dishes, cover with lids or press and seal, and then freeze. Once frozen, remove from dishes (foil with help food maintain the shape of the dishes) and place in label freezer bags for storage in freezer. Now your dishes are free to use again and you have more space in your freezer!

Sunflower Seed Butter Ice Cream Sauce

While making the Quinoa Granola recipe for B today, I made a little bit of a modification and ended up with a super yummy sauce that doubles as an ice cream sauce. Since every Sunday night is "Ice Cream Sunday Night" around here, this will be perfect for this weekend.

Sunflower Seed Butter Ice Cream Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
6 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on medium heat until boiling. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly before adding to ice cream sundae of choice.

Pizza Crust/ Flatbread (Dairy/Soy/Egg/Rice/Oat Free)

Pizza Crust/ Herb Flatbread
4 1/2cups flour (either flour blend or whole wheat)
1 Tbsp rapid rise yeast
1 1/2tsp salt
1 3/4cup warm water (between 110-115 degrees F to activate yeast)
2 Tbsp safe oil

For Flatbread:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2tsp sage
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp safe oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a large bowl with safe oil.

In a second bowl (preferably with a stand mixer or mixer with dough hook), combine flour, salt, and yeast. Add warm water and oil. Knead by hand or knead with a dough hook until a soft, smooth ball is formed. Place ball in the oiled bowl, cover the dough (not the bowl) with saran wrap, then punch the dough down once. Cover the bowl with a linen towel and place in a warm place (I use the top of the oven while it is preheating) to rise for 75 minutes.

Cover a cookie sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper OR lightly oil the surface and spread cornmeal overtop of the oil.

Once risen, place dough on a lightly floured surface. Place parchment paper on top of the dough, roll to desired thickness with rolling pin (aim to fit the shape of the pan you will be baking it in). Place dough in pan, stretch to fit as needed.

For pizza, you can either make one large pizza (will fill a large cookie sheet) or two smaller pizzas. Divide dough before rolling. Once dough is in pan/pans, add sauce and toppings. Brush oil and (if desired) mixed herbs on the edges. Bake until cheese is melted and crust becomes golden brown.

For flatbread, stretch dough to fit pan. Brush oil lightly over top of the dough. Sprinkle garlic and herb mix over top of the oiled dough. Puncture dough with fork in several places. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until dough is golden brown. Serve with either a marinara or a nomato sauce for dipping, or simply with warm oil. This can also be used for sandwiches or, you can make a few variations and create a homemade garlic bread (this will be my next project).

Enjoy! I had to put the flatbread in my chest freezer quickly (I individually wrapped pieces measuring about 2inches by 4inches with press and seal and placed them in freezer bags for easy single servings and quick reheating) because this was FAR too tasty to sit out on the countertop.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Elimination Diet on the Horizon and Multipurpose Fudge in my Fridge

So if you have been following along, I am on the cusp of the beginning to my elimination diet. It will be easy-ish to start--- just all forms of rice, dairy and soy (including oil and lecithin). My hat is off to all of you mamas eliminating far far more! We are also celebrating B's third birthday this weekend. I currently have several pans of  our favorite chocolate cake in the oven-- it will be transformed into a 3D frog in the AM. Yes, I am just that crazy. But yes, my love for my daughter is equally as large as my degree of crazy.

That said, we did have a prelim birthday celebration last weekend when my parents were in town. Easy peasy, I thought, I'll make a circle cake and cut it out like a lily pad, placing homemade chocolate frogs on top (frogs are all the rage around our house). Yum right?! Well, my mom and I love to talk and I wasn't paying attention when making the chocolate frogs and the chocolate didn't solidify like it should have. . .  I didn't add enough chips and accidentally altered the other ingredients. However, something very beautiful came out of the ordeal (as we sometimes are lucky enough to find with allergy friendly cooking)---- ganache and fudge. Two things that I hold very dear to my heart.

In fact, it had been several years since I made a ganache (at that time, it was deliberate--- trying to impress my now husband with a homemade valentine's dinner) and this was quite the surprise. When I made the chocolate, I made a huge batch and ran out of candy molds and silicone cupcake molds to pour the chocolate into, so being the cheapskate that I am (allergy friendly ingredients are WAY to expensive to simply wash down the drain), I spread the remaining chocolate over top of the chocolate cake I had make B. When it was time for the chocolate frogs to come out of the freezer, I was disappointed to find them not hard but rather the consistency of firm fudge-- not very conducive to getting them out of the molds easily! I was quite annoyed with myself but then the cake was served (I frosted over top of the chocolate with green pseudo buttercream frosting). And then I cut into it. And it was ridiculously good! So good, that I in fact plan on replicating my mistake. When I removed the chocolate from the silicone molds, I realized I had produced heart shaped fudge (with coconut centers--- I never do anything plain around here!). So the mistake turned into a purely delicious and very easy recipe, that after my long winded story, I will now pass along to you and your small ones that harbor a sweet tooth or two. This recipe can be used as a ganache or fudge--- if you spread it over top of a cake, it makes the frosting process much easier, as it provides a smooth firm surface to frost on top of.

Fancy Big Girl Ganache/Fudge
2 Bags Enjoy Life Chocolate chips (20oz total)
1/2 cup coconut milk (or other safe milk)
1/4 cup spectrum palm oil shortening (or safe butter or coconut manna)
1 Tbsp vanilla (optional-- you could also experiment with other extracts for fun)

On medium to medium low heat, melt chocolate and shortening while constantly stirring. Once smooth, add in the milk. When consistency has thinned out to be easily poured, add vanilla and turn off heat. Finish mixing in the vanilla.

For fudge, pour into prepared pan/silicone molds. If using metal or glass pans, you will want to grease them first with shortening or oil. If using silicone molds, there is no need to grease. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or for best results, overnight. You can have a little bit of fun by layering fillings in between the chocolate, like coconut or any safe nuts/seeds/dried fruits that your child/yourself enjoy. All you need to do is fill the pan/mold halfway with chocolate, add the filling, and then pour additional chocolate on top to cover.

For ganache, pour the chocolate overtop of the prepared cake prior to frosting. Spread evenly with a knife while still hot. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Frost when solid or serve as is, perhaps with a little bit of whipped cream.

I never said my elimination diet recipes would all be healthy. I hope you and yours enjoy these delights and please stay tuned for pictures of B's frog cake--- coming soon!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rare But Strong Together!

Tomorrow we celebrate a very important day, Rare Diseases Day! This is a world-wide day to raise awareness of rare diseases and support for those affected by them. FPIES is a rare disease and tomorrow as we join others in celebrating this day, FPIES children and families will be on our minds and in our hearts!

Since we are a crafty bunch around our house, I created a craft for B to do in honor of the day. It is a representation of the Rare Diseases Day logo. You can do it with your LO or with all of your LOs too! You can do what we did-- trace and cut out the handprints on colored paper-- or you can use paint for the handprints, or any other art media that is appropriate for age, stage and allergy. Here are the steps!

1. Trace and cut out three handprints of your child/children--- one print pink, one green, one blue. Trace a gingerbread boy/girl cookie cutter on white paper and cut out the shape.

2. Paste the green handprint laying on its side, fingers pointing to the left side of the paper. Paste the blue handprint slightly overlapping, with the fingers pointing in the opposite direction. For glue, we used those colored glue sticks-- looks purple until the glue dries. Love them!

3. Apply glue to the pink handprint and place it on the paper in the middle of the green and blue prints, but this print will be upright. Apply glue to the gingerbread cut out and place him/her in the middle-bottom of the pink handprint, upright.

5 Show off your craft!

So for all of you with small ones, this can be a fun way to celebrate the day with your kiddos. For siblings, you might want each child to contribute a hand print for extra fun, or have everyone make their own picture and then display them together, like a quilt. I made a big version with my handprints too, and B liked that we were doing them together. Solidarity, mamas and daddies!

For more information on how you can take part in rare diseases day, please visit

For more information about FPIES specific activities for Rare Diseases Day, please visit The FPIES Foundation's facebook page. TFF is an official partner of Rare Disease Day and is so pleased to be supporting such a worthwhile and meaningful cause!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

There is No Secret Ingredient

B loves Kung Fu Panda. So very much so, that the reason she got dumplings for Thanksgiving (pear dumplings) was due to her obsession with this movie. I love my girl. . .

After watching that movie for likely the fiftieth time tonight (Friday is movie night), the phrase "There is no secret ingredient," kind of stuck with me. And I thought about our kids, and us as families, dealing with FPIES everyday. My thoughts settled on "hope."

I have been rather disturbed to read some posts on a few of the support forums lately. I have seen other FPIES parents, a handful in particular that are very active in the community, publicly discrediting (and I do not use that term loosely) other FPIES parents. This disturbs me on a few levels--- first, I think "Who has time to do this?" Second, the pragmatic part of me wonders how on EARTH this is remotely helpful or useful to anyone. We have kids with a chronic illness. This is a shared reality for all of us. I know personally, when I frequent the boards, it is specifically to reach out to others, maybe help someone through a situation we experienced when B was younger, etc. I don't like or have time for drama. If what one wants to say is counteractive to the supportive nature of "support" forums, and one indeed has the time to conjure up such nastiness, I may suggest that time would be better spent perhaps by reading one's child a book. Madeline is a current favorite around here, if suggestions are needed.

The issue that bothers me most is that as parents of children with a rare, often misunderstood diagnosis, we are sometimes slammed by others, including some family and even medical professionals, in how we go about the care of our children. Obviously, there are amazing supportive and educated docs (we are very lucky to have B see some of the best!) and amazing supportive family and friends. But the nature of dealing with a rare and misunderstood diagnosis can lend itself to outside criticism and doubt, particularly when going through the initial diagnostic process. Our FPIES community is meant to be a safe place, a place free of those criticisms. And we of all people, should know that the intricacies of each child's case may be confounding and may not be "by the book." Statistics break down at the individual level, and if all of our kids were textbook in all of their symptoms, I would think that outcomes for all may fare a bit better than they currently do.

So what can the rest of us offer in these situations? What can be used to counteract this poor behavior? We can hope. Hope is the most powerful device we have-- it is what gets us through the medical testing, the endless doctor appointments, the food trials, the day to day questioning, and those awful nights that we all know too well. It is hope that we can offer our children as they deal with the most challenging aspects of this condition. The truth is this: we don't have a special medicine, we don't have a magic bullet (outside the realm of small kitchen appliances), we don't have a secret ingredient. We DO have the strength and the compassion that we can offer to one another, elements that come from navigating our own sometimes dark circumstances, elements found within the very essence of hope itself. With hope, we find each other and we find ourselves. With hope, we somehow find a purpose in all of this. With hope, we discover that although the road is often rocky and the path can be dark, normalcy, comfort and solace can and will be uncovered and nurtured through our strength and solidarity as a community. For the negativity that does exist, sadly even in our own backyards it seems, we cannot allow it to strip us of hope, but instead, we must stand up against this negativity with our continued dedication to one another's families and our continued fight for our children's cause. It is with hope and only with hope that these ideals we hold most dear are truly possible. I commend and applaud all of you parents and professionals that do this everyday.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Corn Tortillas

Here is a simple explanation of how to make tortillas, simply using masa, water and a touch of oil to grease your skillet.

Corn Tortillas
1/4 cup masa (a form of corn flour made with chemical lime to ease digestion)
2-4Tbsp water
1 Tbsp oil

Heat oil in a non stick skillet over medium low heat. In a small bowl, add masa. Slowly add water one tablespoon at a time until you have achieved a dough that is playdoh consistency. Knead the dough until smooth and pliable. Roll out between parchment paper until tortilla thinness. Cut into shapes if desired or form into a large circle. Cook shapes in the pan-- turn occasionally. When the dough begins to bubble and brown slightly, your tortillas are done. I make small fun shapes for B and occasionally add food coloring for extra fun!


Sunflower Seed Honey Bread

This can be a breakfast bread but it is not too sweet that it could be used for "regular" bread purposes. It has a nutty, subtle sweet flavor and will be a nice addition to the elim diet roster! Enjoy!

Sunflower Seed Honey Bread
1 ½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup quinoa flakes
¼ cup millet flour
¼ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup sprouted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp coconut vinegar
2 almost ripe small bananas + 1 tsp baking powder
½ cup honey/coconut nectar
½ cup canola
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (additional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients well. Set aside. In a small bowl, add coconut vinegar to coconut milk. Allow to rest for five minutes.

Meanwhile, mash bananas and baking powder in a medium bowl. Allow to rest for two minutes. Add in milk mixture and blend well. Add in honey, canola oil, and water in turn, blending well after each addition.

Make a well in the center of your flour mixture. Add the banana mixture to the flour mix and blend until completely mixed in. Pour the mixture into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds over the loaf and press down gently. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, turn off oven and allow to rest in oven for five minutes longer. Remove from oven and turn loaf onto cutting board. Allow to cool completely before slicing. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Smoothie Starters

I know, smoothies are so simple! Why on earth would you need a "starter"? Well, B "needed" some new popsicles and I am planning ahead for the elim diet (less than 6 weeks until I start) and needed some sweet, but healthy treats. Plus, she loves making smoothies (even though she won't drink them--- chokes and gags, which kind of sucks the fun out of smoothies). We freeze hers into popsicles and I store the rest in ice cube trays for--- SMOOTHIE STARTERS!

What is a smoothie starter? Essentially you make an extra thick (thicker than you would likely want) smoothie mix with safe fruits and just enough coconut (or other safe milk) to allow the blender to actually move and mix things up. Freeze it into 1oz cubes (standard ice cube tray cubes are perfect size) and once frozen, store in a freezer bag for future use. When you want to make your AM smoothie, simply throw in 2-4oz of cubes along with about a cup of your safe milk (if you want extra creaminess, you can throw in 2-4Tbsp coconut manna to the mix as well) and blend. Instant smoothie without needing to do all of the fruit prep work. Yes, you can buy something similar to this in the store, but let's face it--- there are extras in the store versions and if I am going to do an elim diet, I am going to do it carefully. And you save money this way, which is always a bonus! The recipe below made 8 2oz popsicles and 14 1.5oz cubes (I overfill my cubes and use a slightly larger than normal tray). You could probably get between 30 and 32oz of smoothie starter from this recipe, which should get you a weeks worth (or a bit more) of smoothies. B "created" this recipe (I put fruit in front of her, she dumps as much as she wants of each into the blender. I measure as we go.)

Smoothie Starter
2-3 cups cubed pineapple
2 cups cubed strawberries
2 cups frozen raspberries (I buy them in the summer for cheap and then flash freeze)
1 cup blackberries
1 large banana (if this isn't safe, I would add 1/4cup of coconut manna for the creaminess factor)
1/2 cup coconut milk

Have a small child happily dump all ingredients into the blender for you, creating a pretty pattern as she goes. This small child may sample the fruit here and there and she will reassure you that she is just "checking the temperature to keep you safe, mama," with a knowing look. Be sure to keep the power button out of reach until all ingredients are added and the lid is tightly on the blender. Blend at the highest speed, stopping to stir if/when necessary. Once fully blended, scoop out 1-2 Tbsp for your small chef to sample--- it will be very thick, almost like soft serve ice cream (a tiny bit runnier). Wait for her assessment of the creation and be ready to dump in additional fruit if needed. I also like to sneak in cooked pureed frozen spinach cubes. For a recipe such as this, I can usually get away with adding around 4oz without affecting the taste at all. Frozen pureed beets would also add a nice compliment and surely a lovely color. If you do add veggies and the taste is a little strong, banana and strawberries are excellent fruits to increase in amount to conceal the veggie goodness. All veggie additions at our house have been previously very well cooked and prefrozen.

For an adult (and for some kiddos too!) you can play around with other additions, such as adding in ground up hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. I have even done this with roasted ground up sesame seeds. The flavors do work well with most fruits so experiment away, especially if you are trying to get this as nutrient rich as possible.

Just remember, if on an elim diet and still learning your LO's trigger foods, be sure to label in detail the ingredients in each batch of "starter" so that you don't accidentally expose your LO if something that used to be safe becomes a fail (hopefully this won't happen, but just in case). Also, if you have a smoothie-seeking spouse or non-FA child digging through the freezer, labeling YOUR or YOUR LO'S safe smoothie starters in detail, perhaps including threats of bodily harm if consumed by an unintended individual (spouse, not child! No threats for small ones!). You love to share but it is also important that you reserve enough for yourself!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The First of the Elimination Recipes-- Burritos!

I love burritos and other such foods. As a vegetarian, they tend to pack a lot of punch when they are loaded with a variety of beans, quinoa and delicious veggies. This recipe does have a lot of variations (of course-- you know me!) so please check out the notes at the bottom for ways you can jazz up or change up this recipe.

This recipe makes six nice sized burritos--- I divided it in half and put one half in N's skillet with diced chicken breast (about a pound) and the other half went into my skillet. If you don't know how to wrap a burrito, I consider it very similar to swaddling a baby. If you don't know how to swaddle a baby, then I suggest you marry a man like N who used to make burritos for his job in high school. He is the champion baby swaddler and burrito wrapper!

Baby-to-Be Burritos
6 large dairy free soy free tortillas (or free of whatever you need)
1/2 can of black beans (or other safe bean)
1 cup sliced peppers
1/2 cup mixed veggies (I chose carrots, red peppers and broccoli)
1 cup dry quinoa (cooked before added to skillet)
3 small tomatoes, diced OR 1/2 can of diced seasoned tomatoes
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 tsp of cumin
1 lb of meat of choice (I didn't use this but N liked it with chicken)
1 Tbsp safe oil (per skillet)
1/2 tsp salt (per skillet)
1/4 tsp ground black peppercorn (per skillet)
1 bag of shredded safe cheese (Daiya is top 8 free and rice free)
1 cube of Rapunzel Vegan Bouillon with Sea Salt and Herbs  (or make your own!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If doing two separate meals, divide ingredients in half and prepare two skillets. If not, use a large skillet or wok for preparing this meal.

Measure out one cup of dry quinoa and two cups of water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat until all liquid is absorbed (usually takes around 10 minutes or so). Set aside.

Heat skillet(s) on medium heat. Add oil to each. Add in beans and quinoa (and meat if desired). Stir often with large wooden spoon. or other large utensil. Cook for about five minutes and then add in veggies except for tomatoes. Cook for another five minutes and then add in seasonings (you can always omit seasonings or add in different ones for variety) including bouillon cube (no extra water needed, just add as is and keep stirring). Continue to stir with wooden spoon regularly. Cook until meat is prepared to your liking and to appropriate safety standards. For those going meat-free, cook for 5-10 minutes after adding seasonings, once all seasonings are worked in to the mixture. If there is extra liquid in the mixture, you can continue cooking until the excess is absorbed.

Remove skillet from heat (don't forget your burners! haha) and set aside. Begin preparing your burritos! Have a large glass/metal baking dish ready. (You can line it with parchment paper if you wish!) On each tortilla, place desired amount of filling and then top the filling with cheese (if using cheese/cheese alternative). Roll burrito-style (For burrito rolling help). As you roll each burrito, place it in the pan seam down until they are all neatly lined up. Once the pan is full, warm in the 350 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes, essentially until the tortilla "seals" itself and the cheese melts. If you need to leave them in the oven for a bit longer (due to dealing with toddler woes), cover with foil and turn off the heat after 5 minutes.

And as promised, some suggestions for alterations!

1. For the filling .  . .  you can use rice, amaranth, millet or any other grain/pseudo grain that cooks up similarly to quinoa. For those of you on elim diets, quinoa and amaranth pack a bit more punch that the others. Be sure to check out Ancient Harvest Brand quinoa and Bob's Red Mill Amaranth.

2. You can use fish as your meat of choice-- just be sure to monitor the heat and cooking for safety!

3. If it is safe, sliced avocado would add a great protein boost, or you could make your own guacamole to add to the filling.

4. Other seasonings to consider.  . . cilantro. Need I say more?!

5. Other ways to use the filling other than burritos: filling for stuffed peppers, layer in a casserole dish with safe tortilla chips (may I suggest Green Mountain Gringo? You can also make your own if you are super industrious-- more on that later), serving by itself or baked in a casserole with added cheese or alterna-cheese.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

T minus 8 Weeks

In eight weeks, we start again. I will be 30 weeks pregnant and I will be starting the elimination diet roller coaster once more. And here is my plan:

At 30 weeks preggers, I will eliminate any and all forms of dairy, soy and rice from my diet in an effort to "clear" my breast milk. I have begun my recipe database and actually, the first recipe I created, is just above. Keep in mind that I am also vegetarian so all of the elim recipes will be meat free.

Once the baby is born, I will be keeping a food journal of what I eat and anything that may seem to be a reaction (reflux, GI symptoms, skin issues, etc). I will try to eliminate by way of what lines up with the food journal (if there is need of course), but if my 6-8 weeks old, our new little one seems to be reacting to my breast milk with the planned elim diet, I will go on a Top 8 plus rice, oats and squash elim diet. If by 12-16 weeks old, I still haven't noticed enough reduction of symptoms, I will go to a bare bones TED type diet and build from the ground up.

Why am I presuming so much already? Why don't I just assume that this little one will be allergy free? Well, they aren't official, but the general stats in the FPIES community groups are not super promising. It seems like siblings born after the child with FPIES tend to often develop FPIES themselves. Not always, but there are a decent amount of families that I know of or actually know that deal with this. And what is a mama to do, but to be prepared?!

If, on a happy note, our new little one shows no signs of reacting to my milk, I will slowly start adding in dairy after 6 weeks of age. If nothing develops, I will add in soy oil and soy lecithin after 12 weeks of age. I will stop watching my diet for hidden forms of soy flour or soy protein after 20 weeks of age (I will not however return to my vegetarian ways of eating occasional tofu or drinking soy milk--- B is still so strongly reactive to soy and has recently had a few contact reactions to kisses on the cheeks to heaven knows what. .  we are reducing our risk where ever possible!). I might add in rice after this little one is about 6 months old but to be honest, we just don't keep rice in the house anymore so it really isn't a huge deal going without it.

So for some elimination diet recipes, please stay posted. I have begun my research and have been compiling links from other sites and I will be creating several recipes of my own. Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Snack Recipe for Those Fruity Toddlers!

Strawberry Cereal Bars
1 3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup millet flour
2 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup spectrum palm oil shortening (or safe butter/shortening/coconut oil)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 12-16oz jar of For The Love of June Strawberry Preserves
1-2 Tbsp water
Brown sugar for sprinkling on top

Grease a small brownie/lasagna pan and set aside (I lined mine with foil and then greased the foil. Much easier for removing the bars!) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all flours and quinoa flakes in a large bowl. Blend in sugar and baking powder. Set aside.

Melt the shortening/butter. Blend melted shortening with flour mixture until it becomes crumbly, almost like graham cracker crumb pie crust. Add in honey and vanilla--- mix thoroughly with a pastry blender.

Divide the mixture in half and press the first half into the bottom of the prepared pan. In a small bowl, mix the preserves and water until well blended and a spreadable texture. Pour over top of the pressed-in-pan layer and spread evenly. Once even, add remainder of shortening/flour mixture, spread evenly and press firmly. Once set, add a sprinkling of brown sugar over the entire pan.

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until edges are firm and bars are becoming golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool completely. Remove foil and set on cutting board. Cut bars into desired size with a very sharp knife. Use a spatula to separate.

These can be frozen and to do so, I individually wrapped each one in press and seal after cutting. When ready to serve, simply remove as many bars as desired and reheat in the microwave, or heat on low temp in the oven on a cookie sheet. These would be great topped with a safe vanilla ice cream (larry and luna's coconut bliss anyone?)


375 degrees F for 20 minutes

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chocolate--- It's What's For Dinner

I made B some delicious Christmas chocolate lollipops and candies for her stocking this year. And I am finally getting around to sharing the recipe with all of you! Really, it is a very simple recipe. If you want it to be a little sweeter, I would suggest adding a few Tablespoons of powdered sugar, but otherwise, it was sweet enough for my little choco-holic. I used the lollipop and candy molds from AC Moore--- just really simple plastic ones. I did lightly oil them before pouring in the chocolate and I used palm oil shortening for this. Here we go:

B's Chocolate Christmas Candies
2 cups Enjoy Life chocolate chips
4 Tbsp (1/4cup) coconut milk
2 Tbsp shortening/butter (I used spectrum palm oil shortening)
1 tsp vanilla

On medium to medium low heat, melt shortening in a small saucepan. Stirring continuously, slowly add in Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (or chunks). Add in the vanilla. Once fully melted, reduce heat and add in coconut milk. Continue stirring and turn off the burner. Once slightly thick, pour into prepared candy molds/small muffin cups. (If making lollipops, be sure to have sticks already in the molds before pouring in chocolate). Chill in freezer until firm. Once firm, wrap as desired and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator. A note--- I did have about 1/3 of the chocolate pieces out in a candy dish, wrapped, for several days and at room temp, they maintained their shapes well.

If you wish to make layered treats, fill muffin cup halfway with chocolate and allow to firm in the freezer. Take muffin cups out and add a firm filling to the center (more on this later, but you can use sunflower seed butter, cherries, puffed amaranth etc) Cover with more melted chocolate, smooth the top flat, and then firm in freezer once more.

These were a big hit and I will definitely be making more with greater variation for the coming year. They were super duper easy to make. Really, the only thing you need to be on the watch for is the temp you melt the chocolate at--- it can be easy to burn chocolate if not done properly. If you have a good handle on your microwave temps, you could easily melt your ingredients in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl.

Happy chocolate-ing! I am saving this one for my elim diet list of treat recipes (if chocolate is safe for the next little one!)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gingerbread House and Gumdrop Picture Show!

Our holiday creations! Gingerbread house with homemade gum drops and store bought smarties!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Not so Gingery Gingerbread Houses

Since B has no safe spices so far (cinnamon was a big bust so we have steered clear of others for now), I came up with a recipe for chocolate gingerbread houses. It works beautifully for house making and it makes a great cracker/crisp cookie. Just be sure to let the gingerbread cool on the pans before moving! It will break if you move it while it is too hot but if you wait, it holds together beautifully. Also, my non FA niece who is almost two LOVED this recipe just as much as B did! Kid approved!

Chocolate Gingerbread Houses
2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups quinoa flakes
1 1/2 cups millet flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening (I used spectrum palm oil shortening)
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup fruit puree or 1/2 diced pear
1 Tbsp water/ safe milk (I used coconut)
2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Blend the first 6 ingredients well in a large mixing bowl. This makes a lot of dough, so be prepared! Set aside.

Cream the brown sugar and shortening in a separate bowl. Add in molasses and puree (or diced fruit-- I used the diced pear), blending well with an electric mixer or a pastry blender. Continue blending and add milk and vanilla.

Fold the brown sugar mixture into the flour mixture slowly, blending until all ingredients are well mixed. (Again, I used a pastry blender. I got two new ones for Christmas too! Hooray!). Now it gets a little messy. I found that since the dough gets pretty darn thick, kneading it with your clean hands is the best way to get it into a nice smooth ball. Once you form the ball, wrap it up in saran wrap and place it in a clean dry bowl in the refrigerator. Let it refrigerate at least 3 hrs but no more than 24 hrs.

Once refrigerated, unwrap the dough and cut in half. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Take half of the dough and roll out slightly thicker than 1/4 inch thick, between two pieces of parchment paper. Once the dough is even, cut into shapes best suited to your project. You can actually find templates for gingerbread house designs, such as this one . Of course, you can use this recipe for cutout cookies as well and it works rather nicely.

Bake at 325 F for 8-11 minutes for small shapes, 15 minutes or longer for gingerbread pieces, depending on size. I simply checked on  the cut outs after 10 minutes and then again every five minutes thereafter. They should puff up a little bit and have a cakey cookie look. Once they are done, place cookie sheets aside to cool. Cookies need to remain on baking sheets until relatively cool! If you move them too early, they will break. If you want them to cool more quickly, you could bake the cookies on parchment lined sheets and then lift the parchment paper with cookies on it off of the sheets and onto wire racks for cooling.

For frosting, I used a simple pseudo "buttercream" recipe---- 2 cups powdered sugar, 5 Tbsp palm shortening, 2-3 Tbsp coconut milk, 1 tsp vanilla. (For a firmer frosting, you could use coconut manna instead of the shortening). I spread the frosting onto the joints of the house, adhered the pieces together, cleaned my edges, and then piped additional frosting over top of the joints to make it pretty. We decorated with smarties and the homemade gumdrops. I made a little person cookie with the leftovers and frosted it, decorating with enjoy life mini chips.

I will post pictures soon! More recipes tomorrow!