My Oldest Daughter, Super

We have called my oldest daughter “super” since she was a baby. My husbands family has a saying, “super duper coopers” since Cooper is our last name. When my daughter arrived and we started our journey with food, we began to say she was a “super duper, not a very good pooper, Cooper”. Don’t tell her I told you that! The only reason I’m telling you is because it goes along with her food journey. Since Super was my first, there were a lot of things that I know now that I wish I would have known then. If you have read the stories of my youngest two daughters, you know they vomited A LOT. Super was no different, she vomited A LOT from the very beginning. I tried breast feeding her but after a week of her crying, I went to see the lactation specialist. While I was there, I fed her and then weighed her to see how much milk she was getting with each feeding. She got NOTHING. I was heartbroken and felt terrible guilt that I had been unknowingly starving my newborn. The lactation specialist was really kind and helpful and sent me home with formula and a tube that connected the formula to my breast so I could continue to try breastfeeding while also allowing Super to get formula. That worked a bit but was so much work and didn’t work well enough to keep doing it. I tried doing this for as long as I could, but ended up just using bottles and formula. The vomiting continued, so much so that I have video of me feeding her laughing that I was already in my third outfit for the day. At one point when she was about 7 weeks old we were at a checkup. She vomited in the Dr’s office and there was pink in it. The nurse panicked and thought it was blood so she sent us straight to Childrens Hospital ER. We spent several hours in the ER and they couldn’t find anything obvious wrong with her except that she had reflux. They sent us home with reflux meds and that was it. Super began to be very constipated, to the point that we had to regularly help her have bowel movements.

Fast forward to solid foods. From the moment we tried giving Super anything with wheat in it, she broke out in a full body rash. Every six months we would do a food challenge with wheat and always had the same reaction for probably eight years. At eight, Super no longer got rashes but would have a very evident emotional response to gluten. She noticed it very clearly and has chosen herself since then to remain gluten free unless she doesn’t have any other options.

At some point when Super was a few years old, I honestly have no clue how old she was, we realized that she was intolerant to dairy. We took her off dairy and had her drinking almond milk and the symptoms she had from dairy went away. When Super was three, she stopped growing almost all together. She didn’t gain very much weight or grow in height very much. Our pediatrician started to watch her growth closely. By first grade she still wasn’t growing well so she got referred to an Endocrinologist at Childrens Hospital. They agreed that she had pretty drastically dropped off her growth chart so they did many x-rays and a full day of testing with blood draws every few hours. The outcome of all of those test were, she is just very small. My mom would say, of course she is, my growth journey was very similar to Supers. Toward the end of our time with the endocrinology appointments we realized that Super was still having some stomach issues and decided to take her off of almond milk. You know what happened? She gained 4 lbs in a month!! That was miraculous for her. It had been at least a year since she had gained any weight at all. From that point on, Super has been almond free. She has grown and gained weight fairly well and the stomach issues she was having from almonds went away. I had a Dr tell me that no one is intolerant to almonds, then she tested Super for almonds and she in fact was intolerant to almonds. The Dr was floored. All other nuts seem to be fine for Super so we have her eat them to help keep her weight up.

While Super hasn’t had severe food allergies, which we are very thankful for, she has had her fair share of issues due to intolerance. I love that she is old enough now, almost 11, to make her own food decisions. Since her food intolerances aren’t allergies, we allow her to make her own choices with what food she avoids. She has chosen to not eat dairy, gluten, and almonds. I’m really proud of her and she is becoming quite an amazing chef. Last fall she made a chocolate chip marble bundt cake and won a 2nd place prize for it on the Kids With Food Allergy Foundation website.

Looking back, I know that Super was dairy intolerant from the very beginning. It isn’t normal to help newborns have bowel movements or have them vomit profusely, even with reflux. I wish I would have know to ask the Dr earlier about this possibility, but that isn’t what happened. We live and learn don’t we?! Super is still on a journey with her stomach and struggles to gain weight, but we are headed in the right direction. Progress in this area is worth celebrating!

Below is one of Super’s favorite muffin recipes. Currently, this is her go to breakfast everyday. The recipe is a great way to use up all that zucchini. 🙂

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umpalaRAIN Carozini Muffins

Carozini Muffins

1 C Brown rice flour
1 C White rice flour
1 C tapioca starch
1 ½ t guar gum
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
1/8 t cream of tartar
1 T cinnamon
½ t pumpkin pie spice
½ C apple sauce
½ canola oil
2 eggs or 6T Aquafaba (chickpea/garbanzo bean water)
1 T vanilla (choose a corn free brand if needed)
2 C shredded zucchini
1 C shredded carrot
1 C coconut sugar, you can use regular sugar if you can’t have coconut
2 T flax meal
1 C water

Preheat oven to 350° Prepare a muffin pan with cupcake papers and non-stick spray. This recipe makes about 15 muffins.

Place the carrots and zucchini in a blender or food processor and blend until they are a smooth liquid. In a stand mixer put all of the liquid ingredients, including the zucchini and carrots mix, and beat until well combined. Next, add all of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Using a large cookie scoop, place batter into each cupcake paper. Bake the muffins for 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Once the muffins are done baking, place them on a a cooling rack until fully cooled. Enjoy!

Recipe inspiration which no longer exists. I have changed the recipe quite a bit from what was on this website.

Nesco Dehydrator Review

Several people have asked me what dehydrator I use. I often post through the summer and fall all of the fruits and vegetables I like to dehydrate. We have apple and pear trees in our yard so this time of year I am busy picking, chopping and freezing, and also dehydrating. I have tried to dehydrate all kinds of fruit because I hate to waste food. Dried watermelon is my girls favorite. I have dried peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, canteloupe (yuck), carrots, peas, and I’m sure a few I can’t remember. This fall and winter I will be testing dehydrated meals and beef jerky. There are so many great ways to use a dehydrator.

I bought this Nesco Dehydrator several years ago. Mine came with four trays, this new version comes with five trays and a jerky gun. The price is a great deal. I have saved our family far more money than I paid for this dehydrator. The one down side is that it does take up quite a bit of space. Mine lives in our kitchen green house window. Not the prettiest thing to put in there, but it fits there and is quick to grab when I need it.

The directions are very simple and easy to use. The lid of the dehydrator lists the temperatures that each type of food should be dehydrated at. I love this feature because I don’t have to rummage around for the instructions each time I use it. From there, you just have to check each item every hour or so until you know how long certain foods take. Yesterday I made thin sliced strawberries and most of them were done in 3-4 hours. Blueberries take me about 12 hours or so.The thinner you cut your fruit or vegetables and how much liquid is in them will lower the time it takes to dehydrate. Thin carrots obviously take a shorter time than thin strawberry slices because carrots don’t have as much natural liquid in them. I have only ruined one fruit in all of my experiments. When I realized I had way over dehydrated the blueberries I made them into beautiful frosting. This link gives you a video tutorial too. 🙂

Here are a few pictures of my dehydrator so you can see what it comes with. The lid shows you all of the dials and temperatures to dehydrate at. All of the trays are “webbed” so air can flow through them. Mine came with one solid plastic tray that fits on top of the other trays. This is used for very small items that would fall through the webbed trays or liquid. I have used the solid tray to make fruit leather, peas, and thin carrot slices. It’s a simple but great machine. I highly recommend it! If you have questions about the dehydrator that I didn’t answer let me know, I’m happy to help. 🙂

Nesco Dehydrator Tray
Nesco Dehydrator Liquid Tray

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Back to School Snacks

This is the time of year that we are packing lunches and snacks for school lunches. It is easy to get in a rut of what we pack, so I thought I would give you a few of our family favorites. These are very versatile which I love. We used to buy rice crackers at Costco, but they come in a six pack, three of which have cheese. We are a dairy free family so I quit buying these crackers since I had to give away half of them. My girls were so sad when I stopped buying these crackers. I figured they couldn’t be that hard to make since the ingredients were very simple and straight forward. Just like I figured, these are super easy to make! The cheese rice crackers were a request from my oldest daughter. Since I love to experiment in the kitchen, I thought I would give powdered cheese a try for her. It worked beautifully and is fairly simple to do. All three of these recipes come together very quickly. I hope you enjoy these new recipes!

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Rice Crackers

1 C White rice flour
3 C water, divided
1 T Sesame seeds (optional)
¼ t Onion Powder, or any spices you prefer
¼ t Salt + more for sprinkling
¼ C Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small pot Combine the rice flour and 2 C water and bring them to a boil. Stir constantly until you have a sticky rice goop, then turn the heat off. The rice goop will be very thick and should be relatively smooth. Next, add the rest of the water until the rice goop is now about the consistency of baby rice cereal. Add your spices, salt, and sesame seeds in and mix well to combine. Using a spatula, scrape the rice mixture onto your prepared parchment paper and smooth out until it is about ¼ inch thick. I spray a 2nd piece of parchment paper with non-stick spray, place it on top and smooth the rice mixture out. One the mixture is even, drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After the crackers have cooked for 20 minutes, take them out and cut them into desired shapes with a pizza cutter. Return them to the oven to complete their baking time. You will take the crackers out a few rows at a time as they are done. Place the finished crackers on paper towel to let dry. Bake in 5 minute increments until the rest of the crackers are done. They should be a light golden brown color and firm to the touch. Once the crackers are completely cooled and dry, store in an airtight container. If they get soft, just bake them again until they are golden brown and firm. This should only happen if they didn’t get cooked well the first round. These are great plain, will sun or nut butter, with cheese, hummus, or any other spread you can think of. Enjoy!

For Cheesy Rice Crackers, follow the recipe above. One you have sprinkled the top of the crackers with salt before baking, add the cheese. Then continue with the directions above.

Cheesy Rice Crackers

1/2 C Daiya cheddar shreds cheese

Prepare a dehydrator tray with parchment paper. Place the Daiya shreds on the parchment paper and spread evenly. Dehydrate the cheese for 2-3 hours or until completely dry. If you do not have a dehydrator, I bet you could do this in the oven on 125°. I haven’t tried this so I can’t guarantee it will work, but I imagine it will. Please let me know if you try this and how it works. 🙂 Once the cheese is dried I place it on a plate for an hour with a paper towel on top and bottom of the cheese as this cheese is very greasy. Blend the cheese in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, food processor, etc. to make it into a powder. Once you have the cheese powder, continue with the directions above.

umpalaRAIN Fruit Snacks

Fruit Snacks

1/2 C lemon juice
2 T Water
1 C Fruit of choice *(I use frozen fruit and have done, blueberry, berry medley, tropical mix)
4 T Grass fed gelatin such as Great Lakes brand
3 T Sweetener of choice (I have used honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and stevia successfully)

Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

In a pot on the stove, mix lemon juice, water, and sweetener of choice. Mix them well to combine and then add the fruit. Turn the stove onto medium-high heat and bring the liquid and fruit mixture to a rolling boil. Once it is a rolling boil, turn the heat off. Prepare your high powered blender and then put the fruit mix in the blender. Blend well until the fruit is liquified. Leave the fruit mix to cool down for 5 minutes. Once your fruit mix has cooled down, add the gelatin and blend quickly together until the gelatin has dissolved. Moving quickly, spread the fruit liquid into your prepared 9×13 dish being sure to spread the mixture evenly. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm. Once the fruit mixture is firm cut into squares with a pizza cutter or use any small cookie cutters. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy!

*Be careful what fruit you choose to use. If you pick fruit that has a lot of seeds (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.) the fruit snacks will be very seedy. My kids don’t like that at all, so either avoid those fruits, mix them with other non seedy fruits, or strain the seeds out of the mix before you add the gelatin.

Here is another cracker recipe I posted a few months ago for cheese crackers similar to cheese it’s. These should set you up well for you and your kids to have great, healthy, and simple snacks.

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