'Peanut Allergy Princess' is the story of one mom, one Princess with food allergies (to peanuts and brazil nuts) and our journey through the stress of life with food allergies. Here you will find many recipes, tips on living (and enjoying life) with food allergies, thoughts from a mother of 3 kids (The Brothers and The Princess) and insights into our life. Welcome!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School 2013

I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that summer is really over. Where did it go? Back in June, the summer seemed to stretch far out ahead of us - almost like it would never end. We had so many exciting plans - and yet summer always seems to go by so fast that we never get to half of them. But enough reminiscing about summer. It is time to move my thoughts onto the school year ahead.

Brother #1 and #2 - 4th grade and 1st grade. How did I get so old?!

The Princess is not in school yet, so I just have to focus on The Brothers. Both boys started at a new school this year. While not pleasant, some change is good and I am hoping this change will be beneficial. Brother #2 will be eating lunch at school this year. Since I am not a fan of school lunch, I have been wracking my brain to come up with new and fun lunch ideas that The Brothers will eat.

Brother #1 is uber picky and only wants what everyone else is getting (namely a sandwich, chips and a cookie). We don't really do chips, so I spent most of last year trying new things to fill his lunch container. Brother #2 is a bit more adventurous (and doesn't care about what others think of his lunch) so we will be trying out some different things with him.

Last year, we tried out Ziploc containers with divided compartments. They worked so great for us (and saved on plastic baggies) that we will be using them again this year. I have a thermos for hot foods (which Brother #1 would never use since you don't need a thermos if you are taking sandwiches every day). I am also planning on picking up some Ball Plastic Freezer jars - we may attempt to send smoothies for school lunch.

I have put together a list of different websites with some great school lunch ideas. No matter what type of allergy your child has or if you prefer vegan, gluten free or clean-eating lunches, there will be something in this list for you!

Keeley McGuire: Lunch Made Easy: 20 Non-Sandwhich School Lunch Ideas for Kids!

New Nostalgia: 14 Healthy School Lunch Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Healthy Kitchen Guide: Simply Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Super Healthy Kids: Sticky Stacky Sandwiches

Have a great school year!!


Jana

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls

I'M BACK!! Despite my long absence, we are all still alive and kicking. Which, if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you might have noticed since there was continued activity on those sites. Summer is crazy with vacations, swimming, friends and the flu thrown in there for good measure (really - who gets the flu in July?). I figured I would just take a short break... which turned into a really looooooong break. Ha!

I must confess that I really don't enjoy the "writing" part of blogging. Yeah, I do realize that writing is the biggest part of blogging. What I really like is cooking and baking and sharing my recipes with people. So, I put up with writing (and taking pictures of my recipes - which I don't particularly enjoy either. You might have noticed since they aren't the best photos) to be able to get them out there for you to enjoy. Why am I telling you this? Because it most likely means I will take more breaks (short or long) when I just don't feel like writing. Or when I don't have time to bake - which happened this summer as well. It was just too hot and I was either too tired, too sick or too busy.

I finally have a new recipe idea to share. I saw this on Facebook and thought I should try it out. The Princess and The Brother's loved them! It was super easy and made chocolate chip cookies a little more exciting.

Simply make a batch of Egg-less Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have read that using an all butter cookie recipe will cause your dough to spread too much and create a big mess. I used all coconut oil in my recipe, but it made the dough a bit stiff and hard to work with. I would suggest using half butter and half coconut oil.

Once your dough is made, instead of baking them as you normally would, take a muffin tin and turn it over. Smash the cookie dough all over the muffin "bumps". You can put tinfoil over the bumps if you want, but I just greased them down a bit with some coconut oil and smashed the dough on.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until your bowls are a nice, golden brown. Let cool completely before removing bowls from muffin tin. I made 5 bowls and we ate the rest of the dough raw (yum!!).


Fill with ice cream right before serving.



Enjoy!!


Jana

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Banana Bread with Orange Glaze

The Brother's are really picky about bananas cooked in things... which was a big pain when The Princess was allergic to eggs. There are many recipes that use bananas to replace eggs, which The Princess would eat, but The Brother's would not. It drove me crazy. Now, we don't have that problem anymore, but we always seem to have rotten bananas around. I swear my kids will gobble bananas like crazy and complain that we don't have enough. But, when I buy a whole bunch, suddenly no one wants them anymore and the entire bunch goes rotten.

That is what happened recently. I found myself with about 9 rotten bananas and needed to do something with them. We did make a batch of Chunky Monkey Muffins, but that only used 4. Brother #1 told me he would not eat the muffins, but would eat plain banana bread. Plain meaning it didn't have stuff in it like chocolate chips. This is the same Brother #1 who prefers chocolate chips in all other muffins or he won't eat them. Apparently banana and chocolate do not go together in his book. So, I decided to make some "plain" banana bread just for him.

This is a recipe I received in a recipe box as a wedding present. It was my FAVORITE recipe for banana bread up until The Princess was diagnosed with an egg allergy and we switched up our diet. There was just too many eggs, too much sugar and a whole lot more things wrong with this recipe. I decided it was time to "clean" up this recipe. I was nervous it wouldn't turn out since I made quite a few changes. Lucky for me and Brother #1 (and for you), it not only turned out, but Brother #1 said it was amazing! Although he probably won't like it tomorrow (because that is how fast his tastes change), at least it was a hit for one day. I will take that!

Banana Bread with Orange Glaze

Bread
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup no-sugar added applesauce

3 bananas, mashed

2 eggs

1 chia egg (1 Tbsp chia mixed with 3 Tbsp water, let sit for 15 min before adding)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional, but so delicious!)

3 3/4 cups wonder flour*

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Glaze
1/4 cup agave nectar

1/8 cup orange juice

1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 tsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 loaf pans with coconut oil.

Combine flour (* if using another whole grain flour besides wonder flour, cut the amount to 3 cups), salt, soda, cinnamon, wheat germ, shredded coconut and chopped walnuts (if using) in a bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine buttermilk, sugar, coconut oil, applesauce, bananas, eggs, chia egg, vanilla and almond extract. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just barely combined.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour.

Just before bread is done baking, prepare the glaze. Combine agave, orange juice, almond extract, vanilla and melted butter and whisk to combine.

Remove bread from the oven when done and set pans on wire rack to cool. While bread is still hot, drizzle glaze all over the top of the loaves. Allow to cool slightly before turning out of pans.

Eat one loaf and give the other away to a neighbor in need (otherwise you will eat it too)!



Jana

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How To: Use Whole Grains in Baking

A few weeks ago, I posted about whole grains of all kinds and all their benefits... which does no good if you don't know how to substitute them for white flour in your baking. So today, you will learn how to use them.

To start, let me just say to not be afraid of playing around with different flours. Failures are ok, I have had many of them myself. You will learn what types of grains you prefer in certain recipes by testing and trying things for yourself.  The things you will learn in this post are just guidelines but definitely not rules you have to follow.

When most people think of replacing white flour, they go right to wheat flour. And more often than not, they are left with a very dense product with a funky texture or something that resembles a brick. In case you didn't already know (which I didn't when I first started learning about whole grains), there are 3 different types of wheat flour: hard red wheat, hard white wheat and soft white wheat. Red wheat is what most people think of when they hear the word "whole wheat" - it is the strongest and heartiest tasting of the three varieties and what you find in the stores (labeled wheat flour). That isn't really a bad thing, but sometimes you don't want that dense, strong flavor. So, here you will learn about other options to replace white flour with rather than just "wheat" flour.

So, here we go!

Soft White Wheat and Hard White Wheat
Soft white wheat tastes very similar to white flour and has a light, fluffy texture.  It is definitely not as dense or strong tasting as red wheat. It is lower in protein than red wheat making it perfect for food that doesn't need to rise like cookies, cakes, quick breads, muffins etc. Higher protein flours are good for breads and rolls - basically anything that needs to rise. In that case, you would want to use hard white wheat. Soft white wheat can even be found in grocery stores now - it is labeled whole wheat pastry flour. Or you can mill your own with a grain mill. Just be sure to store it in the refrigerator or freezer after milling to keep all nutrients. 
Substitute 1 cup of white whole wheat (or hard white wheat) for 1 cup of white flour

Kamut
Kamut has a yummy, buttery taste that is delicious! It is amazing in cookies (to add that yummy buttery taste without all the butter). It adds fiber and vitamins to cookies that is missed when white flour is used. Kamut is also yummy when used in pancakes and quick breads. It is not a good choice in foods that need to rise. You will need a high powered blender or grain mill to mill Kamut into flour. It can be purchased at a health food store or a company like Azure Standard (which is how I buy mine). Store in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve the nutrients and prevent the freshly milled flour from going bad. 
Substitute 1 cup Kamut for 1 cup white flour.

Spelt
This is my new favorite grain! It is 60% higher in protein than wheat and contains all eight essential amino-acids. This grain is packed with B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber. It hasn't been hybridized or changed to make it grow faster or in more abundance like wheat - which is why it costs more. It can used in anything from pancakes, cookies, quick breads, and also breads and rolls that need to rise. It is very versatile. It bakes up lighter than wheat flour and has a yummy nutty flavor.You can find spelt flour at some health food stores, but the cheapest way is to buy it as a grain and mill it yourself (I also buy my spelt from Azure Standard).
Substitute 1 cup spelt flour for 1 cup white flour.

Wonder Flour
This flour is a blend of three grains. It was developed by Chef Brad. He is a professional baker who experimented for awhile until he came up with this amazing blend. It is perfect for anything that doesn't need to rise. It is lower in gluten and therefore doesn't work well for bread, rolls, breadsticks, etc. We love it in cookies, cakes, pancakes and waffles. Wonder flour is equal parts brown rice, barley, and spelt. 
How to make wonder flour: get yourself a big bowl and mix 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup barley and 1 cup spelt together. You can use as much as you want, just make sure you use equal parts of each grain (I usually use 4-5 cups of each to fill my big container). Put the mixture into a high powered blender or grain mill and grind into a flour. Store in the freezer or refrigerator to preserve nutrients.
Subtsitute 1 1/4 cup wonder flour for 1 cup white flour

A quick tip for making the best baked goods - do not over stir! This makes a big difference in the texture of the batter in quick breads, cookies, muffins, cakes, etc. It is a good thing for bread however as it develops the gluten and gives it the structure the dough needs to rise and maintain shape. For anything that doesn't need to rise, stir just enough to mix the dry ingredients with the wet.

If you are new to baking with whole grains, pick just one new grain to experiment with. Also, you can start by using 50% whole grains and 50% white flour as you slowly make the adjustment. 

Have fun in your baking and experimenting and enjoy your whole grains!


Jana


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Soft Sugar Cookies with Lemon Glaze

In case you are wondering, this is not the same recipe as my Egg-free Sugar Cookies. Why, you might ask, does one blog need 2 sugar cookie recipes? That is simple...  because they are not the same - in fact, they are quite different. And not just because one has eggs and one doesn't.

There are 2 types of sugar cookies out there. First, the super, soft and chewy kind. Second, the crunchy kind. Most people have a preference. I prefer the super soft and chewy kind. That is why this recipe needs to be on the blog. This is my FAVORITE sugar cookie recipe ever!! The yogurt in this recipe keeps the cookies soft and moist (which I guess could make it kind of the secret ingredient). The Egg-free Sugar Cookies are a bit more on the crunchy side. So head over there if those are your preference.

I served these yesterday at our family BBQ for Memorial Day - they were a big hit! The lemon glaze makes for a yummy but light topping... perfect for the start of summer.


Soft Sugar Cookies With Lemon Glaze

COOKIES
1 1/2 cups sugar (for a healthier option choose raw)

1 cup coconut oil (consistency of shortening - if yours has melted, but it in the fridge for a bit before adding)

3 eggs

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp pure vanilla

5 1/2 - 6 cups flour (I used a combo of kamut and white whole wheat - check out Whole Grains 101 for more info)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp real salt

GLAZE
2 Lemons

Confectioners Sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and coconut oil. Beat the eggs and add them to your bowl. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine 5 cups of flour (notice this isn't all the flour listed above - pay attention, there is a good reason), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix together.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add the last 1/2 cup to 1 cup flour as needed. How much flour you use will depend on what type of flour you choose. I used all 6 cups and wish I would have used just a bit less (but I mixed all my flour together with the baking soda and powder, therefore I had to put it all in my cookies. They still tasted good, but were a bit drier than I would prefer).

Chill dough in fridge for at least 15 minutes. It can be left overnight if needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough out to desired thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on greased cookie sheet (or use a silpat) for 8 - 10 minutes, depending on thickness.
Allow cookies to cool completely before glazing (is that a word? Well, it is now). 

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze. Start by zesting 1 lemon in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, juice both of the lemons. By using 2 different bowls for the zest and the juice, I ensure that no seeds get left in the glaze by hiding themselves under zest. There is probably a better way, but this works for me.
Mix zest with juice, whisk in confectioners sugar by the spoonful to the juice/zest until desired consistency is reached. For thinner glaze, add more lemon juice. For thicker glaze, add more sugar.

When the cookies are completely cool to the touch, glaze away. There are 2 options for adding the glaze. You can either drizzle it across the cookies or spread it with a knife. Your choice... equally delicious both ways!


Jana

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Whole Grains 101

In case you haven't noticed, I LOVE whole grain flours. Maybe because they actually have some nutrition (where white flour does not) and because they taste yummy. For those who are new to whole grains, I am going to give you a run down of the grains that I use frequently and why they are so good for us.

BARLEY

Barley is one of the oldest grains that is eaten today. It is great in soups and stews. It is excellent  
combined with other flours because it is high in protein but low in gluten. Used (along with spelt and brown rice) to make wonder flour.
*Contains mucopolysaccharides, which stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help blood clotting.
*It is good for carbo-loading (think marathon runners here or other endurance athletes) because it is
more easily digested and has double the carbohydrates of wheat.
*It is an excellent source of riboflavin (vitamin B2) which helps with energy production.
*It contains niacin (vitamin B3) which helps regulate cholesterol.

BROWN RICE

Most of you are familiar with brown rice. It is a super easy substitute for white rice. It is used (along with spelt and barley) to make wonder flour.
*Relieves muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue and helps aid in recovery after exercise (thanks to gamma oryzanol)
*Stops muscle spasms and lung spasms
*High in magnesium which helps keep your blood sugar stable and aid in the proper absorption of calcium
*Reduces cholesterol
*Can help reduce menopausal symptoms

KAMUT
This is one the the newest grains for me, but so far, I love it! It is the only grain that is trademarked, which means when you buy kamut, it is always organic. It is fairly new in the US. It was an ancient Egyptian staple which a Montana farmer brought to the US in the 1950's.
*Kamut kernals are 3x bigger than wheat kernals
*Has 30% more protein than wheat
*Is high in magnesium, zinc and vitamin E
*Excellent choice to replace white flour in pastries and baked goods (that are best when light and fluffy) that don't need to rise

OAT GROATS

Oats in their whole form are called oat groats. To make old fashioned or rolled oats, the oat groats are steamed and pressed. Oat groats can be boiled and made into cereal or pulsed in a blender to make oat flour. Oat flour makes really yummy cookies, quick breads and cakes when mixed with other flours.
*Good for lowering cholesterol due to beta-glucan
*Oats are rarely processed to remove the outer germ and bran making them an easy way to get whole grains into your diet
*Higher in protein than most types of wheat
*High in soluble fiber

POPCORN

This is a very familiar grain in our diet (although usually it is popped and covered in butter and salt or sugar). It can be a very healthy snack though if air-popped.
*High in vitamin A - more than 10 times the amount found in other grains
*High in fiber
*Corn is high in manganese
*High in vitamin C
*A great source of antioxidants
*Corn can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease

QUINOA

A favorite grain of the Incan people - it was a staple in their diet and was so revered that it was only planted with a golden shovel. Quinoa is a powerhouse grain and is great in either a sweet or a savory dish.
*All essential amino acids, making it a complete protein
*Contains a combo of magnesium and riboflavin that can help reduce migraines
*Helps reduces cholesterol
*Can help with restless leg syndrome
*Low in the glycemic index
*Supplies prebiotics which are the good bacteria in the gut

SPELT

One of my favorite grains because it is easy to substitute for white flour (or even whole wheat flour) in baked goods. It is used (along with barley and brown rice) to make wonder flour.
*It has 60% more protein than wheat
*Contains the 8 essential amino acids, It also contains B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber
*Stabilizes blood sugar levels
*Just as effective at lowering cholesterol as lipid-lowering and statin drugs but without the side effects
*Good source of niacin (vitamin B3) which is used for energy and strength. Niacin also helps process fat
*Has selenium, which protects against degenerative diseases
*Helps the lungs fight off asthma attacks
*Can help prevent gall stones. Detoxifies the liver
*Lower cancer risk, especially colon cancer
*Relieves arthritis and repairs body tissues
*Contains prebiotic fibers which feed good bacteria in the gut

This is by no means a full listing of all the whole grains that are available - these are just some of the ones that I am most familiar with and use in my kitchen. To read about other whole grains or to learn more about these, visit Whole Grains Council.

As you can see, there are so many health benefits to whole grains - and to switching things up and using a variety of whole grains in your cooking. Each of the grains brings something else to the table and can benefit our bodies.

In another post, I will explain how to substitute whole grain flour for white flour in your baking - so stay tuned!


Jana

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spelt Cinnamon Rolls

Sorry for the late post today - but late is better than never!

I have a thing for cinnamon rolls. Especially the super-bad-for-you-but-they-taste-so-yummy-it's-a-good-thing-they-are-only-in-airports Cinnabon. For the first few years of my marriage, my husband felt it was his obligation to get me a giant one every time we flew anywhere. Of course, it tasted so good while I was eating it, but I would inevitably feel so sick afterwards (sugar overload!).

I decided it was about time I create a healthier version with whole grains and less sugar. Keep in mind this isn't considered a health food, but this version could be enjoyed more often than a once a year (or less) trip to the airport.

I made a glaze to go over my cinnamon rolls which I thought was good but my husband said they were missing something - namely the frosting on the top. You can pick whether you want the frosting or the lower-in-sugar glaze.


Spelt Cinnamon Rolls

Dough

1 cup milk

4 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks

2 cups spelt flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg


Filling

1/4 cup liquid sweetener (honey, agave)

1/2 Tbsp maple syrup or molasses

1/3 cup spelt or white whole wheat flour

1 Tbsp cinnamon


Glaze

1/3 cup liquid sweetener (honey, agave)

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Dough: Place milk and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 1 minute 30 seconds. Butter should be at least partially melted. Stir and set aside. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt.  When milk mixture has cooled to warm (not hot) add to the flour mixture along with the egg while the beater (with paddle attachment for those using a stand mixer) is running. Beat until well combined, about 1 minute. (Switch to dough hook now) Add remaining flour only until dough barely leaves the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft and slightly sticky. Continue to let the dough knead for 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let rest for about 10 minutes while you make the filling.

Filling: Add liquid sweetener, maple syrup (or molasses), flour and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well.

Assembly: Roll dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14 inches. Spread filling over dough and spread with the back of a spoon. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed. Score the rolls into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls (I like to use thread, but you can also use dental floss). Place in a 9 x 13 pan that has been spread with coconut oil. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. In the mean time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.


When rolls have finished rising, bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. While rolls are still warm, spread glaze over the top. If you are like my husband and prefer ooey-gooey rolls, you can make frosting to replace the glaze. Makes approximately 12 rolls.

Dough recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

Jana







Friday, May 10, 2013

Chocolate Pudding

Anything with chocolate is worth eating, right? But it is so much better when it is healthy!

One yummy "chocolate" thing we love is chocolate pudding. I never really thought about making it from scratch until we changed our eating habits. With the box stuff out of the question, I decided to try and make it myself. Turns out, it is super easy!

The best part of making things home-made is being able to customize recipes to your liking. With this pudding, you can sub out the cow's milk for a non-dairy milk if needed.

Chocolate Pudding

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

1/4 tsp salt

3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

4 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Roughly chop the baking chocolate (the smaller, the better - but who has the time or patience for that? It will melt faster if it is chopped smaller, but if you are too lazy - like me, you can skip this step).

Put the milk and vanilla in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and warm until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted.

Slowly whisk the sugar mixture into the milk mixture until everything is smooth. Stir the mixture until it begins to thicken. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure the mixture doesn't burn.

Cook the mixture until very thick - about 2 minutes. Ladle the pudding into bowls and let cool at least 30 minutes. Makes approximately 6 servings.


This pudding is super delicious all by itself or for a "fancier" dessert, you can make chocolate pudding pie. For the pie, put all of the pudding into a large bowl to cool. This will take a few hours.  Make one batch of "Healthy" pie crust. Roll out on lightly floured surface, then fit into a pie plate. Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake on baking sheet on middle rack until pastry is set and a pale golden brown all over.

Once shell is baked, let cool completely. Mix pudding well, then fill pie shell. Cover with whipped cream (if desired) and serve!


Jana

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The School Bus


I have to apologize for last Friday... can you believe that I completely forgot? What a crazy week we had! And as school gets closer to ending, it seems like things get busier and busier.

Today's post is a guest post from a friend (who actually came up with the name for my blog - so props to my friend for an awesome name!!). I am grateful to her for being willing to share this recent experience she had on the blog. Food allergies are often misunderstood and the only way to combat that is to get more information out there. My friend's story is an eye-opener to the ignorance that is out there and what we, as parents of food allergic children, have to deal with on a daily basis.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately...for the past 6 years to be exact. That's when my daughter Kendall was diagnosed with severe, life-threatening allergies to peanuts and eggs. I am the mother of a child with food allergies. I KNOW I am perceived by others as a "high-maintenance" mother – a "helicopter" mother by some. But not a day goes by that I do not wonder if my child with food allergies will come in contact with a food allergen that will cause her to stop breathing and go into anaphylactic shock. I know how to handle the situation but will her teacher, the school workers, the lunch room attendants, the bus driver????

I wasn't going to share this story publicly, and I don’t know if many people will actually take the time to read this whole thing.   But I wanted to write this because I am bothered by the ignorance of some who just do NOT understand that one small crumb or cross-contamination of a food allergen can literally cause my child to stop breathing. I know most people will just scroll past this post because who has time to deal with food allergies when it doesn't involve them personally? I just hope that maybe I can encourage just ONE more person to understand what I deal with on a daily basis. So here's my story:

Last week Kendall's bus driver handed out donuts to the students on his bus for good behavior during a bus evacuation drill. When Kendall came home and told me about the donuts (WHICH USUALLY CONTAIN EGGS AND COULD CONTAIN PEANUTS!--and YES, I explained the severity of Kendall's allergies to the bus driver at the beginning of the school year!) I went through the usual conversation of "I'm sorry you couldn't eat one. Next time I'll get you a peanut and egg free treat that you can have instead." What she said next was a big eye opener: "BUT MOM, I don't care about the treat! They ate the donuts on the bus and I was worried about getting hives the WHOLE way to school!" She's 7 years old.

I thought about this situation for a while before I called the bus depot to talk to the supervisor. At the beginning of the school year I was told I could not allow Kendall to carry an Epi-Pen in her backpack in case another child accidentally played with it and got hurt. SO I bought my 5th grader a cell phone and put him in charge of being the "peanut police" and he was to call me if Kendall had any problems on the bus. The drive from the bus stop to the school is short and I have not worried about it too much because there are enough kids on the bus who know Kendall well and know what to watch for with her. I’m also usually very close by so I know that I could get to her within the few short minutes I would need to save her life. There are also 2 other children on the same bus with peanut and egg allergies as well. As my son, the "peanut police" was enjoying not ONE but TWO donuts...my daughter was terrified of getting cross-contaminated. I do not blame my son. He's 11. He loves donuts. I blame an ignorant bus driver who does not understand the severity of a child with food allergies.

Like I said...many of you will scroll right past this LONG post but if you've made it this far keep reading. The story gets better. A few days after this incident the bus depot supervisor advised our bus driver he could not hand out treats anymore. Now I'm the "MEAN" mom. I'm sure I offended the bus driver. He probably spent a fortune on all of the donuts for all of the students.  And I'm sure the students who could actually enjoy them were very excited to get such a wonderful treat to start their school day with (don't even get me started on that!). And for the record, I have heard that you're a mean bus driver if you don't hand out as many treats as the other bus drivers. As if bus drivers should use their hard earned money to buy our kids treats every week?!???!

I had mainly called to talk to the supervisor to find out if I could keep an Epi-Pen in my daughter's backpack, not to ask them to get rid of treats on the bus. The supervisor made the executive decision to just tell the bus driver "No treats!" I even told the supervisor that I was ok if the bus driver hands out treats as the kids exit the bus because I know I cannot control every single thing my daughter comes in contact with. (BUT I CAN TRY MY HARDEST!) I was just asking that he please not hand them out ON THE BUS! I was told that I was the FIRST mother to make this request! In an entire SCHOOL DISTRICT with several cities...I'M THE FIRST MOTHER TO ASK THAT PEANUT CONTAMINATED FOOD NOT BE HANDED OUT TO THE KIDS ON THE BUS????? WHAT?!?!?! Back to the story, the supervisor was very supportive in my request to have her carry an Epi-Pen on the bus. BUT...I have to call the school district, talk to the school nurse (again) contact the principal...etc. It's not going to be easy. And I STILL might be told NO!

The story continues... a few days after this incident my 11 year old was telling us how funny it was that the bus driver told them he was going to bring a bunch of cats on the bus. He said into his loudspeaker "Oh wait! How many kids are allergic to cats???" Several students raised their hand. He continued, "Well, I guess I can't bring cats on the bus then because you guys are allergic to them." My kids did not know his intention here but I KNEW what his intention was! HE WAS MOCKING ME! Really, Mr. Bus Driver???? Just goes to show people really do NOT understand the severity of food allergies! Our bus driver still DOES NOT GET IT!!!!!  And yes, I know I could just drive my daughter to school, which I do quite often, but that is not the point. The point is that I have to live every minute of every day just HOPING that all of the "responsible" adults who take care of my daughter take her LIFE-THREATENING FOOD ALLERGIES seriously! Kids with food allergies are becoming more and more common, yet so many adults refuse to acknowledge this! They think we CHOOSE to eliminate eggs, dairy, peanuts, and other dangerous food allergens from our children's diet. Do you think I ENJOY squinting at tiny food labels in the grocery store on every item I buy to make sure I do not accidentally contaminate my daughter?

So...I will contain to be a high maintenance mother. I will continue to complain to the school district if my daughter is placed in a life-threatening situation. If a child had a gun on the bus do you think the bus driver would laugh and make cat jokes about it? I didn't think so. Thank you if you took time to read this EXTREMELY long post. I'm just trying to make other people aware. I will worry and protect my daughter with food allergies her entire life. That's what mother's do. That's what I do - every day. 

Thanks to my friend Jenny for sharing her story. My hope is that we can help increase awareness one story at a time and make the world a safer place for kids (and adults) with food allergies.


Jana

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Granola


Store-bought granola is often labeled as a health food. But, it generally isn't.  The problem... store-bought granola is often full of preservatives and other such unwanted items.  If that isn't bad enough, they are also often contaminated with peanuts (if the don't actually contain them). And if you can solve both of those problems, the cost usually is not worth the actual granola.

We did not eat much granola before we made our diet switch (because of the above reasons). Homemade healthy granola was one of the first things I started making myself about a year ago when I found out how healthy it could be and how easy it was. I went to a class taught by the Green Smoothie Girl and thought she had some good points on eating whole foods (or real foods). So, I went to her website and began looking at her recipes and tips. When I found this granola recipe and made it for the first time, I was hooked. I made a few changes to suit my tastes better, but it is still as healthy and delicious!

This recipe if full of fiber and will clean you out (in case you need that). If is also full of omega-3 fatty acids. Most Americans get far too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids (you can thank processed foods for that). We should be getting a 1:1 ratio of omega-6's to omega-3's (or if that seems too hard, at least a 4:1) where most people get a ratio closer to 20:1 (or even higher!). So, in conclusion, eat lots of healthy granola (yes that would be a plug for my recipe) and less processed foods For more information on this subject (fatty acids), read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan.

Granola

Mix well:
4 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1/2 cup raw wheat germ (found in the bulk section of a health food store)

1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened - also found at health food stores in bulk)

1/4 cup ground flax seed (fresh ground is better)

3/4 cup nuts and/or seeds (walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds)

1/8 cup sesame seeds (found in the bulk section of a health food store)

1 Tbsp. cinnamon


Heat on stove until barely melted, stirring together:
1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup pure maple syrup or molasses

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Once all liquids are melted and stirred together, pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until distributed evenly (this takes a few minutes). Spread granola out on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 250 degrees F for 60-90 minutes or until dry (and enjoy the delicious smell in your house). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, scrape the granola off the pan with a spatula - the chunkier the better. Keep in the pantry in cooler weather for up to 2 weeks or in the fridge for up to six weeks in a sealed container (I use a ziploc bag).

Here are some ways we like to eat granola:
* directly out of the bag as a snack
* added to homemade trail mix
* in a bowl with milk like cereal
* on top of plain greek yogurt mixed with homemade berry sauce (and a dab of honey)

Recipe adapted from Green Smoothie Girl


Jana

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chunky Monkey Muffins

As you know, I have a thing for muffins. My kids love them, I love them, and my husband loves them (because they are fast and easy to grab on his way to work). They work for breakfast, lunch, snacks and even dinner (because breakfast for dinner is always a hit to switch things up a bit). I was introduced to this "type" of muffin in a gluten-free version and it looked so yummy, I wanted to find a "regular" version. This is what I have come up with. We LOVE it!! I hope you do too.

Of course, we have Mickey muffin tins!!

Chunky Monkey Muffins

1/2 cup sugar (or raw sugar)
2 eggs *
1 Tbsp vanilla
4 bananas, mashed
3/4 cups buttermilk (I have used regular milk and almond milk with great success)
1 cup butter, melted (or 6 oz. coconut oil, melted)
1 3/4 cups wonder flour **
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat too)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 cup chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup cinnamon chips)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together sugar and wet ingredients (eggs through butter). * If you would like to replace the eggs in this recipe, I would use 1/3 cup applesauce for 1 egg and 1 Tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 Tbsp water (let sit until it gels) for the second egg. 

Mix in dry ingredients. ** If you are using a different whole grain flour than wonder flour, cut the amount back to    1 1/2 cups. Fold in the shredded coconut and chocolate chips.

Line or spray muffin tins. Scoop batter into muffin tins and fill 3/4 full. If using chopped nuts, sprinkle on top of the batter.

Bake for about 20 minutes. This recipe makes 2 dozen muffins (which I like - a little work with a big result). These can be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator overnight. I love to eat these with a little coconut oil spread on them (instead of butter) or some all-fruit jam. Yum!!

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Disregard the dirty muffin tin - focus on the delicious looking muffins!


Jana

Friday, April 19, 2013

How To: Replace Eggs

Eggs have many functions in baking, which makes it difficult to use only one method to replace eggs in all recipes. Before you decide which method to use, you need to figure out what the purpose of the egg is in your recipe. Here are some of the functions of eggs in baking.

1. For moisture: If there is not a lot of other liquid in the recipe, then the egg is used for additional moisture.

2. For leavening: If there are no other leavening agents in the recipe (like baking powder or baking soda) but you notice that there are acidic ingredients (like buttermilk, vinegar or citrus juice) then the egg is used as a leavening agent.

3. As a binder: If there is enough leavening and liquid in the recipe but nothing to "glue" it all together, then it is used as a binder. Eggs help prevent crumbling and provide structure to foods. Sometimes, eggs are used to give the recipe moisture and binding.

So, now that you have figured out what the egg is used for, here are some common substitutes.

For moisture: 
* 1/2 mashed banana (about 1/4 cup)
* 1/3 cup no-sugar added applesauce
* 1/3 cup pumpkin puree

For leavening: 
* 1 Tbsp each of vinegar and water mixed in a glass. Add 1 tsp baking powder and mix well.
* Ground flaxseed (1 Tbsp mixed with 3 Tbsp hot water - set aside until it turns to gel)
* Buttermilk (1/2 cup in place of egg, add a little less water - works well in baked goods)

For binding: 
* Equal amounts oatmeal, mashed potatoes or cooked rice (for use in meatloaf, burgers or patties, etc...)
* Ground flaxseed (1Tbsp mixed with 3 Tbsp hot water -set aside until it turns to gel)
* Banana, applesauce, pumpkin puree (see above amounts)

When working to replace eggs in your recipes, keep in mind it is much easier to replace only 1 egg (or 2) rather than 3 or more eggs. Recipes with 3 or 4 eggs are much harder to get just right. Also, it is a trial and error process. Each recipe is different and what works with one recipe won't work as well with another recipe.

I found that there were some types of recipes that were especially hard to get to my liking (for me, it was brownies and waffles). Muffins and quick breads were fairly easy to replace the egg(s) in (even with 2 or 3 eggs).

My secret trick (I can't believe I am sharing!) is to search for vegan recipes. It is easy to substitute healthier flours and oils in a recipe that doesn't already have eggs.


Happy baking!


Jana

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thin Mints

I'm sure most of you noticed the Girl Scouts out selling their cookies last month. Every year, I would go out in search of some cookies (since they never came to me)... until this year. We have decided we don't want to buy their cookies anymore - for 2 reasons, really.

One, they are expensive. Yes, you can argue that it is for a good cause, but they are still expensive.  We are trying very hard to stay within budget (which is a bit more work when buying "clean" foods) and I hate spending money on junk, especially expensive junk.

Which brings us to my second reason... they are just not healthy (as if you couldn't already guess). Now, I am a firm believer in having some sweets (moderation in all things) and don't advocate and all-out-ban on treats, but I also believe that we can still be smart when picking our "treats".  We can still have treats without preservatives and artificial ingredients. There are no redeeming qualities to girl scout cookies (health wise). Here is the nutrition label for Thin Mints.

Notice that they contain enriched flour, partially hydrogenated oils, soy lecithin and other ingredients I would never use at home. Now, don't freak out on me. I realized that some of you will think I am being ridiculous here and that they only come around once a year, so is it really a big deal? If that is how you feel, just skip this post and wait for the next one... I won't feel bad. For those of you who may be thinking that you don't want to eat that stuff... keep reading.

Brother #1 was a bit bummed when his friends were eating their cookies at school for lunch and we didn't have any.  I decided to surprise him one day and make my own. Needless to say, he was very excited and happy to take my cookies in his lunch the next day. Just thought you might like to know... I count 8 ingredients in my cookies compared to 21 in the Girl scout version. 

Since I used coconut oil, my were a bit crumbly and some broke in two when I was coating them. 
They may not look as pretty, but they sure tasted equally as yummy!

Thin Mints

For the cookies:
8 ounces butter (or 6 oz coconut oil - which will make them a bit crumblier, but a great option for a dairy allergy)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar*
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

For the coating:
10 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter (or coconut oil, which is what I used) until light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. *If you want to be even healthier, place 1 cup raw sugar in a high-powered blender and blend until a fine powder forms. Stir in the salt, vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter resembles a thick frosting. If you opt for coconut oil, you may want to soften (not melt) it a bit before using. It makes this step work a bit better - otherwise you might find yourself with chunks of coconut oil that won't mix in and your batter won't resemble frosting at all. I know this from personal experience. Add the flour and mix until just combined, making sure not to over mix.

Form the dough into a ball. Knead a few times to bring together, then flatten into a disk (between 1/2 inch and an inch thick) and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in freezer for 5 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer and roll out really thin (about 1/8 inch thick) on a floured surface. Cut cookies using a 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch cookie cutter.

Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

While cookies are baking, make the mint coating. Chop the baking chocolate into small pieces (or if you are lazy, just throw the bricks into your bowl) into a glass bowl. Place in microwave in short 15-20 seconds, stirring in between until melted. Stir in peppermint extract.

When cookies are cool, gently drop cookies, one at a time, into the coating. Turn to coat entirely, then lift the cookie out with a fork. Tap the fork gently on the side of the bowl to allow extra coating to drip off. Place on parchment paper or wax paper lined baking pan. Repeat the process with the rest of the cookies.

Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer to set. I stored my cookies in the freezer to keep them from melting (or getting soft).

Recipe adapted from The View From Great Island



Jana











Friday, April 12, 2013

Overwhelmed

I guess it is pretty obvious that I haven't posted in a long time - a really long time. To be quite honest, I became so overwhelmed with life and everything that comes with life. Ok, a lot of it boils down to taking away The Princess's binky and her deciding to stop napping. She went from a very happy, fun-loving toddler to a very mean, ornery, stubborn (ok, she was that way before) and demanding toddler. I just couldn't keep up with everything (and still find the time to blog) and something had to give. So, I backed away from blogging for a bit until the dust settled.

We are now about 6 weeks post-binky and still haven't quite figured things out completely. We kind of have a system down now where The Princess gets to spend an hour (at least we try for that, but inevitably, she ends up banging on her door around 30 to 45 minutes in) in her room for "quiet time". Whether she takes a nap or not is her decision (and so far her decision is to not take a nap - ever! Until we get in the car and than she is out).  That "quiet time" gives me a few minutes to get things done. Anyway... there really is something called the terrible 2's! To make matters more fun, we are also in the middle of potty-training.

The Princess weathering the storms of life... with a spiderman umbrella, of course!

Switching gears a bit from the joys of having a toddler to the second reason I was feeling overwhelmed. If you have followed my blog since the beginning, you know that The Princess was diagnosed with an egg (and milk) allergy along with her allergies to peanuts and brazil nuts right before she turned 1.  We had her tested for additional allergies (and retested for her known allergies) when she turned 2. We learned that she had already outgrown the egg and milk allergies (and thankfully had not developed any new allergies). That knowledge obviously changed the way we had been cooking - since we were cooking without eggs. As the time went on, we were able to slowly work eggs into The Princess's diet, until now she can tolerate scrambled eggs - and actually really likes them.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to share recipes that I had either created or adapted to suit The Princess's allergies - one of the main ones being her egg allergy.  Once she outgrew her egg allergy, I still felt a sense of responsibility to continue to post "egg-less" recipes, yet we weren't eating that way at home. Most of the recipes I was making for my family, I felt I couldn't put on the blog because they contained eggs. As more time went on, I found that there were fewer and fewer recipes I felt were "blog-worthy". I found myself spending more and more time trying to create or adjust recipes just for the blog and less and less time with my kids.

In my month off of blogging, I have been wondering if I would/could keep the blog going and what type of recipes I would post if I did keep blogging.  I found myself thinking at times, "This would be a good recipe to post" and at other times enjoying not having to take pictures of everything I cooked. As of today,  I guess you could say I have decided to keep posting recipes. There is no guarantee they will be regular - that depends on The Princess and The Brother's sports schedules - and whether I have found time to cook some new and wonderful things.

As for what types of recipes?  I will post what we eat. So, to those who need egg-less recipes, I will post a tutorial in the near future on how to replace eggs in recipes so that you can easily change recipes yourself. Of course, all the recipes I post will be peanut (and brazil nut) free (and will have options if you need to avoid tree nuts - where possible). Since we have also been focusing on "clean-eating" in our house in the last year, that is the direction my blog will also take. I know that many may not share my views on the need to get rid of processed foods, additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and food colorings, but I hope I can share with you my passion on why I feel it is so important for our family... and for every family.

I will continue to share tips, tricks and information on navigating life with food allergies. And for those who are parenting children with food allergies or intolerances, I will share insights into the life of The Princess and the life of a mother of a child with food allergies. Since, lets face it, motherhood is hard enough and adding in the stress, anxiety and extra things a food allergy mother deals with makes it even harder.

I hope that you will still find recipes that work for you and your family and that you enjoy as much as we do. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and put up with my crazy life!


Jana