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!