Best new product finds 2017- Part 1

I decided that I would make a lengthy post today about all of the amazing new allergy friendly brands I found this year. When I started to go through all of them, I realized that there are SO many. This is great news for all of us, you included, but too much for one post. This will be the first of two parts. Stay tuned for part 2 soon. I was able to travel for work this year to Portland, Oregon for Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest (GFFAFEST) where I had a booth to promote my business. A few weeks later I headed to Denver, Colorado to meet up with some other amazing food allergy bloggers for a Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABLOGCON). These two events were inspiring, encouraging, helped me solidify the vision I have for my business, and allowed me to meet some amazing people and brands. I’m so excited to share these all with you over the next two posts. At the bottom of the post, I also added the recipe for my amazing tortillas. I keep getting asked for them, and since it’s Friday when I typically share a recipe, you get it down below. 🙂 Don’t skip all the great new products I found on your way to snag the recipe!

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As always, my goal is to give complete honest reviews on products that we have tried. I don’t get paid for any product reviews, but I did get many of these as samples from GFFAFEST and FABLOGCON. These are listed in no particular order.

Hammond’s Candies Peppermint Stirrers

These Hammond’s Candies Peppermint Stirrers were a product that I found at my local natural grocery store. I have searched high and low for a candy cane type item that my corn intolerant girls can eat. Two years ago I found these and we haven’t looked back. My girls absolutely LOVE these. They taste just like a candy cane, but have the texture of a soft dinner mint, the ones that melt in your mouth. These stirrers are so fun to put in hot chocolate. Since these are softer than a traditional candy cane you can suck liquid through them like a straw. What’s not to love about that?! Hammond’s Candies also uses all natural food coloring with is an awesome added bonus! This company is out of Denver, I so wish I could have gone to meet them when I was there. Next time!

Bloomfield Farms Sandwich Bread
Bloomfield Farms Sandwich Bread 2

Are any of you in the market for amazing Top 8 Free (no wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shell fish) sandwich bread? My youngest daughter is currently on an egg free diet (along with many other frees) to see if it helps her health. While I make my own top 8 free bread, we were heading to Phoenix for Christmas so I needed to find a good packaged alternative. I asked my friend The Allergy Chef and this Bloomfield Farms Gluten Free Sandwich Bread is the one she recommended. It far surpassed all of our expectations. We have loved Udi’s and Rudi’s bread (both have egg white) for years. This bread trumps anything we have tried. It is soft, doesn’t need to be toasted, and tastes great. The price is comparable as well. If you purchase their bread mix it’s far less expensive. You can’t go wrong with this bread!

Free2b Chocolates
Free2b Chocolate Bars

I met the Free2b folks at FABLOGCON in Denver. They were so kind, helpful, and loved to give away loads of their chocolate. 🙂 Their products are top 12 free (peanut free, tree nut free, dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free, fish free, shell fish free, no corn, sesame free, coconut free, mustard free). I mean come on, what’s not to love for a food allergy family?! I stashed the pile of chocolate that I got from them in my closet until Christmas. They made the perfect stocking stuffers. My girls were beyond thrilled to get sunbutter cups, mint cups, dark chocolate with peppermint, and chocolate rice crisp bars. Free2b is chocolate heaven for food allergy folks. Their products are really good and will become a staple here!

Forager Project Chips

I found these new super food Forager Project Chips through Erica at Celiac and the Best. She was raving about them being gluten free and dairy free. I figured I must need to try them. My mother in law bought some while we were visiting them in Phoenix for Christmas. They are packed with organic vegetable, are gluten, dairy, and corn free. I really love these chips! There might just be times when I eat a whole bag in one sitting. 😉 I will say though that the “cheesy” flavor comes from nutritional yeast which I don’t think tastes much like cheese. It might be cheese like to a small degree, but I wouldn’t say these taste cheesy. That’s not to say they aren’t amazing, because they are, just don’t go into eating them thinking they will taste like a dorito. The one downside I found to them is that they come pretty crumbled. There are some whole and intact chips, but most of them came crushed. That’s likely because the chips are made of vegetable and don’t stay together as well as corn. I’m not really sure, that’s just my educated guess. None the less, I high recommend these. 🙂

Enjoy Life Products

Enjoy Life products have always been my girls favorite. I found them many years ago when my middle was first diagnosed with severe food allergies. Their products have been a staple in our house and well loved. My girls take their cookies to school every few months to leave in the cupboards as safe snacks when parties happen at school. Enjoy life has come out with some new products this year so of course my girls were thrilled to try them. I also had the pleasure of meeting the Enjoy Life crew at both GFFAFEST and FABLOGCON. They are a huge supporter of our food allergy community. Alright, onto some of their new products that we have tried. All of Enjoy Life’s foods are top 8 free and so is their facility. Plentils came out earlier this year which are chips made from lentils and potato starch. We first tried the plain which my girls really liked until they tried the dill and ranch. My girls LOVE the Dill and Sour Cream Plentils so much that they, along with a non food allergic neighbor, made up a song about them. Seriously, they are SO good!! We look forward to trying their other new flavors as well. Next we tried their new Coco Loco Baked Chewy Bars. Again, my girls love these. As a mom who doesn’t feed her kids very much sugar I would make these dessert, not a snack or granola bar. They are definitely delicious. Last on our list of new products from Enjoy Life was their Chocolate Chip Handcrafted Crunchy Cookies. We have been long time fans of their Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies. Enjoy Life continues to be one of our staple store bought safe treats.

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog 🙂 always be sure to check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

UmpalaRAIN Tortillas

Tortillas

Ingredients
2/3 C Brown rice flour
2/3 C White rice flour
2/3 C Tapioca starch
1 t Guar gum
½ t Cream of tartar
¼ t Baking soda
1 t Salt
1 C Warm water

Directions
If you have a tortillas press plug it in and set it to medium high. Tear a large piece of parchment paper that is big enough to fold in half and fit in your press. If you don’t have a tortilla press, I HIGHLY recommend getting one. It is worth every penny. I have the Chef Pro 8 inch Tortillas Press and love it.

In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients well with a spoon. Add water to dry mixture and mix until well combined. The dough should be a bit sticky, but not terrible thick. If you use an in expensive brand of flours you may need to adjust the liquid. I use a tortilla press to make these which saves a ton of time. Using a large cookie scoop place dough on tortilla press with parchment paper, press down, let cook for about 30 seconds, then remove and place on a plate. Enjoy!

If you are making these by hand with a frying pan I would still use a cookie scoop to get even balls. Then use a baking mat dusted with extra tapioca starch. Place a ball of dough on the mat, sprinkle the top of the dough with more tapioca starch, then roll out into a circle. Spray pan with non-stick spray and fry each side for 10-15 seconds. Repeat until done.

This recipe works really well to double.

Holiday Traditions and Amazing Recipes!

Happy holidays to you all! I have teamed up with some amazing food allergy bloggers to bring you all kinds of fun today. The 5 of us are sharing our favorite holiday traditions and our favorite holiday recipes. You are in store for great ideas of new traditions to start with you family and wonderful recipes for you all to enjoy. All of us wish you a warm and festive holiday season! Please check out all of these ladies on social media and their blogs, they are true gems that you want to follow!

I’ll start out the fun. We have made some really fun traditions during the holiday season that are really special to us. One of our favorites is going out on the Polar Express as we call it. I started this tradition several years ago, honestly on a whim. We were heading out to look at Christmas lights and decorations and thought it would be fun to call it going on the Polar Express. The girls were in the car with their pj’s, hot chocolate, a safe candy cane, and we headed out to look at Christmas lights. This tradition has stuck and my girls look forward to it every year, several times in the season. Two years ago I even printed out tickets for them to ride our Polar Express which now come out each year for the trips. Below I have given you links to the printable tickets, the safe candy canes, and our recipe for safe hot chocolate. 🙂

Polar Express Tickets

Hammonds Peppermint Stirrers

umpalaRAIN Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix

Ingredients
2 C Coconut sugar or regular sugar if you can’t have coconut
1 C safe Unsweetened Cocoa powder
2 ½ C Rice Milk Powder or Coconut Milk Powder
1 t Pink himalayan salt

Directions
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend together until well combined. Store in an airtight container. When you want a delicious cup of hot chocolate, add two heaping scoops to mug and add hot water. Enjoy! This also makes a great gift, place in a mason jar, add a bow and you’re set.

Now for one of our favorite recipes: Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Caramel

umpalaRAIN Salted Caramel

Caramel

Ingredients
2 C Coconut sugar
½ C Earth balance soy free buttery spread
¾ t Salt
1 lb Brown rice syrup
½ Quart Coconut cream
1 t Vanilla

Directions
Line a 9×13 dish with parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large sauce pan combine the coconut sugar, butter, salt, brown rice syrup, and half of the coconut cream. Cook on the stove until bubbling and then slowly add the other half of the coconut cream. Then bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reaches 220°-240°. 220° will give you a soft caramel and 240° will give you more of a harder caramel more like taffy. Drizzle a little bit into a bowl with cold water. When it is done the caramel drop will be soft but not mushy at 220° and harder at 240° in the cold water. Once it has reached the right temperature you need to move quickly. Take the caramel mixture off of the stove and stir in the vanilla. Then pour into prepared baking dish being sure the caramel is even in the dish. Let sit for 20 minutes, then using a pizza wheel or knife, make cut marks in the caramel while it is still pliable. You will need to do this a few times (every 20-30 minutes) to ensure it is easy to get out. If you wait to cut it until it is fully hard, it is almost impossible to cut. I’ve learned the hard way, trust me! Once the caramel is well firmed up, separate pieces and wrap them individually in wax paper. If you love salted caramel, add Pink himalayan salt on top. Enjoy!

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog 🙂 always be sure to check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

Meet my lovely blogger friends!

Dr Vivian

Dr Vivian- You can find her on Instagram and Facebook as well as http://allergyfamilies.com

Vivian is a U.K. physician who now lives in California. She has 14 years of experience as a doctor and is passionate about functional medicine and using lifestyle measures to get to the root cause of medical problems. She started to look into the reason behind the chronic disease epidemics when her kids were diagnosed with severe food allergies and she got no answers from her allergists. She has also helped her husband combat hypertension through a plant based diet and navigated herself out of chronic fatigue. She will be starting her own health coaching practice in 2018 to help others take back their health.

Dr Vivian’s favorite holiday recipe is:

Dr Vivian- Vegan sweet potato brownie with a dark chocolate ganache

Vegan sweet potato brownie with a dark chocolate ganache on top

Recipe (this will serve 8)
Ingredients
2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato
1 cup almond butter or another nut butter like cashew
2 tbsp maple syrup (you can add more if you want)

Ganache topping:
1/2 – 1 cup dark chocolate chips (the more chocolate chips the thicker your ganache layer)
2tbsp coconut oil

Directions
Mix the sweet potato and almond butter and maple syrup together, pour into a baking tin/tray and bake at 350F for 20-25min. Let it cool. .
Meanwhile melt the chocolate chips in a bowl over hot pan, stir and add in the coconut oil. Stir until everything is melted. .
Once the brownie has cooled completely, pour the ganache mixture on top and spread evenly. .
Put in the fridge for 3-4 hours and it’s ready! .
NB: the ratio of nut butter to sweet potato should be 2:1. Make sure your sweet potato is not too moist and if it is, add some oat flour to absorb the moisture or the brownie will come out all floppy and too soft… also – the firmer your nut butter the better – a lot of shop bought nut butter has added oil, and it can be too watery which means the brownie will throw the consistency too (and again you can remedy that by adding some oat flour in the mix if your nut butter is runny rather than firm). Enjoy!

kortney- allergy girl eats

You Can find Kortney as Allergy Girl Eats on Instagram, Facebook, and also at http://www.allergygirleats.com

Just because I have food allergies (anaphylactic to sesame & peanuts; allergic to tree nuts, soy, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and then some, plus OAS) doesn’t mean I don’t love to eat! Instead of becoming paralysed by the limitations food allergies may bring, I have embraced them and turned them into a passion, a passion for all things delicious and adventurous! My blog, www.allergygirleats.com, explores how simple and empowering cooking can be, and how to live life to the fullest with multiple food allergies and anaphylaxis.

There are two things I love about the Holidays; the first is menu planning. When we celebrate with my side of the family, there is nothing more fun than thinking up an epic menu with my mom, who just so happens to be a chef! The second thing is we always play charades. I don’t think I laugh that much all year, watching my grandma mime ‘Jaws’ is priceless.

Allergy Girl Eats-sweet potato mash with caramelised onions

My father has a potato allergy, which means instead of mashed potatoes we make mashed sweet potatoes with caramelised onions. These always make an appearance at the Christmas table, and sometimes they even get a chipotle flavoured twist!

Ingredients
3 medium Sweet Potatoes – cut in half lengthwise (roughly 20cm by 7cm)
1/2 large White Onion – thinly sliced (approximately 2 cups)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1.5 tsp Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped and divided into 1 tsp and 0.5 tsp
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Wrap sweet potato pairs in tin foil and bake at 475° for 30-35 minutes, until soft.
In a large pan or wok add onions and olive oil. Cook over medium-high heat. You want to continuously stir the onions, so they do not burn. When the onions are starting to soften, add 1 tsp of rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Turn the heat to medium and continue to stir the onions until they are caramelised, around 20 minutes. The onions will have halved in quantity and be slightly sticky. Take off heat and set aside.
When the potatoes are done, remove flesh from skin and place in a large bowl. Mash the potatoes using a fork.
Mix the caramelised onions and remaining rosemary into the sweet potatoes. If the mash feels dry, add a little more olive oil.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Gena- Symply Nourished

You can find Gena as Symplynourished on Instagram and at http://symplynourished.com

Hi I’m Gena, I’m a Dental Hygienist who has crossed over into becoming certified as an Integrative/Holistic Nutrition Practitioner. My Son has suffered with Eczema, food allergies and sensitivities, which has opened my eyes to the importance of food as medicine. It has pushed us to find new and nourishing ways to fuel our family. As a Mom on a mission, I’ve spent countless hours researching the root cause of these ailments along with other common chronic conditions becoming prevalent in our children today. I’ve created a Health and Wellness Blog sharing our story, resources and recipes. My hope is that these ailments don’t have to be the new normal for our children, that they can lead healthy, thriving lives.

As holidays approach, I’m filled with memories of baking and enjoying treats with family and friends. When you have allergies or food intolerance’s it can feel like some of the fun is taken from you as you need to prepare “special” meals or treats. What I have come to find is that friends or family tend to enjoy the allergy friendly treats more than some of the traditional goodies.

I hope you find my recipe for mini apple pies useful. The dough is very versatile allowing you to tailor it to savoury pies as well. You can find more of my allergy friendly recipes over at symplynourished.com – Wishing you all a very Happy Holidays.

Symply Nourished Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Ingredients:

Crust
1 3/4 cup Cassava flour
½ c Tigernut flour
1/4 tsp sea salt (adjust according to preference)
1/2 cup palm shortening
1/4 cup vegan butter (check oils for dietary preferences)
1/4 cup ice-cold water, added in tablespoons (may need more or less adjust accordingly)
Filling
4-5 medium apples cored and roughly chopped (Approx 4 cups)
1/4 cup coconut sugar or succanat
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cassava flour
Optional: Add raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit to taste.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Crust: In a medium bowl combine cassava flour, tigernut flour and salt.
Cut in vegan butter and shortening with fork or pastry cutter if you have.
Add water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture forms and can be shaped into a ball.
Cover in wrap and set aside while you prepare the filling. You can place dough in the fridge, but I find it easier to work with when the dough is closer to room temperature.
Filling: Toss the apples with the coconut sugar, cinnamon and cassava flour. Add the apples to the bottom crust then roll out the remaining smaller disc and carefully place over the top of the pie. Roll and crimp the edges of the dough together, tightly sealing them. Poke a few vent holes into the top of the pie. Then cut out shapes with remaining dough to top the mini pies and place on the bottom rack of oven.
Assembling the pies: Roll out dough between two pieces of cassava floured parchment paper, to about 1.5-2mm thickness.
Cut out larger circles for the pie bottoms, eyeball a circular shape larger than the width of the muffin tin about 6-inch in diameter
Use the top of a cup for smaller circles for the tops.
Press the bottoms (larger circles) into your muffin tin, allow extra dough to form over the edge as you will need to crimp the smaller circle on top once you get the filling placed inside.
Fill each pie with about 2-3 tbsp of filling (depending on the size of your muffin tin).
Place small circle of dough on top and crimp/seal edges.
If extra dough is available, roll out the dough and use little cut outs to make shapes to place on top of the mini pies.
With a pastry brush lightly coat the tops of the pies with a dairy free milk wash on the top (I have also used vegan melted butter).
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes (check often, ovens temps vary), until lightly browned on top.

Elizabeth- Food Allergy Mama

You can you find Elizabeth on Instagram as Food Allergy Mama and also Food Free Fun

Elizabeth Moreno is a former actress and puppeteer who lives in Oregon with her husband and two teenage boys, both of whom have anaphylactic food allergies. As an allergy advocate, Elizabeth chaired the Portland FARE Walk for Food Allergy and co-founded Food-Free Fun for Everyone, an organization that hosts food-free social events for kids with food allergies and restrictions in and around Portland, OR. She connects with the food allergy community via her Instagram account, foodallergymama where she shares her family’s food allergy journey and the things she does to make life safe, inclusive and fun for her boys. Elizabeth also writes for the online family travel magazine, KidTripster, where she shares tips for traveling with food allergies.

Our favorite holiday tradition is probably giving our boys new pajamas every year on Christmas Eve. It’s the one present they’re allowed to open before the 25th and I can’t believe they still go berserk over pajamas!

Food Allergy Mama- Mexican wedding cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies

I fiddled with a bunch of recipes, coming up with a vegan, nut & soy free cookie I love. I use coconut oil, powdered sugar, Mexican vanilla extract (regular vanilla extract is OK too), imitation almond extract (optional but I highly recommend), unbleached flour & coarse sea or kosher salt (gives a little burst of salty goodness & imitates the crunch of the missing pecans). These cookies taste buttery & have no coconut flavor.

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with silicone mats. (Parchment paper works too.) In a large bowl, add:
1 cup coconut oil in solid state, but not cold
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract (regular/imitation vanilla is OK)
1/4 tsp nut free imitation almond extract (opt. but highly recommended)

Directions
Beat above ingredients with electric mixer until incorporated & creamy.
Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour & 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt.
Using your hands, knead or squish the dough making sure all flour is incorporated & no chunks of solid coconut oil remain. Dough will be crumbly.
Squeeze & roll dough into 1″ balls & place on cookie sheets. Bake one sheet at a time on center rack for 10-12 minutes until cookies just begin to brown. Remove cookies to cooling rack.
While still warm, but not hot, roll cookies one at a time in a small bowl of powdered sugar (you’ll use about 1 1/2 cups) & place back on cooling rack. When they are completely cool, roll in powdered sugar again.
I use two forks to roll the cookies & lift them out of the sugar to keep my fingers from getting gooey sugar all over them. I remove the excess sugar by lifting each cookie with a fork & gently tapping the fork against the side of the sugar bowl, using the other fork to keep the cookie from falling off the first fork.
Yields 2 1/2 dozen.

We would love to hear if you adopt any of our traditions and/or make our recipes! Happy holidays and a very happy new year to you all, we appreciate each of you!

My daughter Zippy

I have three girls who I absolutely adore. All three of them are vastly different and also have many similarities. Each of them have food allergies and/or intolerances. Today, I’m going to share about my youngest daughter, Zippy’s journey with food. Currently Zippy is four, about to turn five in about 6 weeks. Zippy arrived a week early and was the sweetest and calmest of my girls in the newborn phase, except for eating. By the time I took her for her one week check up, I knew she had feeding problems. I told our pediatrician, who we knew very well, that Zippy aspirated when she ate. He suggested that I find a premie nipple for the bottles I was using, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I was stuck using a level 1 nipple and Zippy continued to aspirate. She would get a little bit into her feedings fine and then start screaming profusely. This went on, for a LONG time. More on that later.

I don’t produce enough milk to feed my girls properly so I have had to use formula for all three of them. With the first two girls I attempted to breast feed, pump, etc. and nothing worked to create enough milk for me to feed them. With Zippy, I didn’t even try because it was so much work and I knew it wouldn’t give her the nutrition she needed. I had someone very close to me that was willing to give me breast milk since she produced enough to feed triplets. She also happens to be dairy free and pretty much soy free as well. I got almost 5 weeks of a milk supply from her which was nothing short of amazing. Sorry if that grosses you out, but it was an amazing blessing for my girl! After the 5 weeks, it wasn’t possible for me to continue to get milk so I had to switch to formula.

The first formula we tried was dairy formula, remember my middle daughter Peppy’s food allergy journey? I was prepared that Zippy might not do well with dairy, but NOTHING prepared me for what was to come. The first try with dairy, I sat on the couch, covered myself with a towel as a precaution. Let’s just say that Zippy could have won a prize for how far and much she vomited! I thought my middle vomited a lot, but Zippy put Peppy to shame, no joke! My husband came in after I yelled as loud as I could and asked, “WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED??” I was covered, Zippy was covered, the precautionary towel was covered, and part of the couch was covered. Honestly, the mere volume that came out shouldn’t have been possible. We both had to shower, there was no other way to clean us up. I’m sure we tried dairy on more than one occasion, but I can’t remember. Clearly, she was allergic to dairy. We moved onto a soy based formula with the same result. Then onto Nutramigen, a hypoallergenic formula, and she still had the same result. This was not new for us, so our pediatrician referred us to the same GI at Seattle Childrens Hospital that was treating Peppy for food allergies as well. After reading her medical history, listening to me share, and knowing Peppy’s history, he believed Zippy also had severe, though non-life threatening, food allergies to dairy and soy. We put her on prescription formula and she thrived right away. Thankfully this process was SO much faster with Zippy than it was with Peppy since we had been down this road before.

The vomiting and diarrhea stopped immediately with the new formula, but the screaming with feedings didn’t. I persisted with our pediatrician and GI about Zippy aspirating with feeding. Let’s just say the medical process can be slow sometimes even when you love your practitioners and know them well. When Zippy was 9 months old, she finally got referred for a swallow study. By that time, Zippy was drinking an 8oz bottle several times a day. When she got to 3-4oz she would always start screaming and not want to drink anymore. Being the persistent lady that I am, I knew she needed full feedings, so it would take me an HOUR each time I fed her. It was literally a part time job to feed her with her screaming through most of them. Sure enough, when Zippy got her swallow study done, she aspirated between 3-4oz and then would scream because it hurt going down the wrong pipe. We are really lucky that she never ended up with pneumonia from all of the aspirating. She got put on a thickener that got mixed with her formula. That was quite a tough transition. Now that the formula was thicker, which was good for her to not aspirate, she got frustrated really easily because it was so hard to suck out. We struggled for about a week before we got her to drink full feedings and not scream. You guys, can I tell you what a miracle this was for me? Nine months of a baby that screamed with every feeding and took an hour to complete a feeding was draining in every way.

Around the same time we found out that Zippy had swallowing issues, she had also quit rolling over and sitting up. She was referred to Occupational Therapy (OT) with issues of being high tonal. We loved her OT, and through her we figured out that Zippy also had sensory processing differences. I could have a whole separate blog for that. My guess is that all these issues also played a part in her aspirating. Zippy ended up being on thickener for several years and then “graduated”. YAY!

umpalaRAIN- Zippy

As Zippy got older, she too had more and more food allergies and sensitivities. When she was just over two years old, she started having a lot of bowel issues. She had been potty trained since she was 21 months old, but she started having uncontrolled bowels. We took her into the Dr., they did an x-ray on her stomach and her bowels were very backed up. The Dr. decided to also take stool samples. On multiple occasions Zippy tested positive for malabsorption but no one could figure out why. We headed back to her GI for more testing and still no one could figure out what was wrong with her even though her symptoms persisted. About 6 months after we started this piece of her journey, we had a GI appt with someone filling in at the clinic. Our GI was on vacation. This new GI took one look at her hair and asked me if I ever thought her hair wasn’t normal, it was VERY short, didn’t grow well, was wiry, and thin. See picture above. I just figured all kids got hair at different ages so I never thought very much of it. He did several tests on her and they all came up negative, so we were back to not knowing what was wrong with her. I was in close communication with her pediatrician and she told me to rack my brain about ANYTHING new I had added to her diet around the time the symptoms started. Since Zippy had several food allergies at this point, I was careful about adding new foods, but I racked my brain anyways. All of a sudden I realized, it was NUTS! I called the pediatrician and she agreed that could be the culprit, even though it would be a bit strange. Right away I took nuts out of Zippy’s diet and the results were amazing! Zippy’s bowels returned to normal almost immediately. What is even more amazing? She started growing hair! Within a few months she had a head full of hair. A year after we took nuts out of her diet, she had full hair down to her shoulders. The summer after we took nuts out of her diet she picked up a handful of cashews that Peppy was eating. I told her to put them down because she was allergic to them. She proceeded to lick the cashew dust off her hands and within minutes she couldn’t control her bowels. That all the more solidified what we already knew.

We have done oral challenges on Zippy, with the ok of her GI, for dairy and soy. The challenges did not go well at all for many years, until this current year. Zippy is now just intolerant to both which is HUGE. We still avoid them, but don’t worry about her accidentally getting sick from cross contamination when we are out. She is still allergic to grapes, corn, nuts, and is intolerant to dairy, soy, and gluten. Our journey with her has been long and exhausting. She currently has reflux (again) so bad that she wakes up most nights feeling sick. UGH! The poor girl is quite a trooper though. She has suffered well and proven she is very resilient. In her honor, I’m giving you the recipe of one of her favorite foods, Sloppy Joes. As always, I would love to hear from you if you have questions or if there is any way I an support and help you through your food allergy/intolerance journey. I’ve been there over and over and I believe we are thriving and would love to help you thrive as well.

umpalaRAIN Sloppy Joes

Tomato Free Sloppy Joes

Ingredients
1 T Olive oil
2 t Onion powder
1 t Salt
2 pounds Ground beef
3 C Red pepper sauce
2 large Carrots
½ C Cauliflower
1/2 C Chicken or beef stock
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T Red wine vinegar
3 T Coconut sugar
1 t Italian spices

Directions
Brown the ground beef until it’s almost all the way cooked through. While the ground beef is cooking, steam the carrots and cauliflower until they are fork tender. Once they are done, blend them until they are a paste, then add the pepper sauce in with them and blend them all together. Put the sauce and the rest of the ingredients together in the pan and mix until well combined. Simmer together, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Take the meat mixture and place it on a bun or French bread, then top with cheese. Enjoy!

Hamburger and Hotdog Buns

I have worked tirelessly for a few years to perfect this hamburger and hotdog bun recipe. I wanted something that was just a touch crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Enter this amazing recipe! Half of what makes a good hamburger or a hotdog is the bun, right?! I think most definitely. The baking times below are imperative for the success of the buns. If you don’t have the same pans as I do, be sure to bake them until they are golden brown on top. These make some heavenly hamburgers and hotdogs. Yes, these buns will make you as happy the hotdog above looks! 🙂 My husband watched his dad eat a hot dog on one of these buns this week. He later told me that it was a mans dream come true! LOL Now he is waiting for his chance to have one as well, he chose a burger that night. These hotdogs are from the refrigerator section at Costco and fit these buns perfectly. These are the hotdog bun pan and hamburger bun pan I use. Both of these work amazingly well. I searched high and low for a hotdog bun pan with no luck. I’m so glad that I ended up getting this one. It is perfect for hoagie rolls and small french bread loaves as well. I use this pan all the time.

umpalaRAIN Hamburger bun

Hamburger and Hotdog Buns

Ingredients
1 ½ C sorghum flour
1 3/4 C Brown rice flour
3 C Tapioca Starch
*1/3 C Expandex Tapioca starch
2T + 1t Guar gum
2t Salt
5 ½ t Dry active yeast
3 C Warm water
½ C Olive oil
6 Eggs or egg replacer
¼ C Honey or sugar
Sesame seeds, optional
*You don’t have to use the Expandex, but I HIGHLY recommend it. It is what gives these buns the slight crisp on the outside and the soft inside. If you don’t use it just replace it with regular tapioca starch

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

In a separate bowl mix water, honey, and yeast together and set aside. Let yeast mixture proof for about 5 minutes (it will become foamy).

In a mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. Add yeast mixture, once it has proofed, and mix on medium speed. Next add the oil and eggs, mix until well combined.

Using a large ice cream scoop (#16) scoop two scoopfuls of batter into greased bun pan. For the small hamburger buns I use one scoop. The hotdog buns that I make in the hoagie roll pan take three scoops. After I place the dough in for the large hamburger buns and hotdog buns I use a wet spatula to blend the scoops together. Top with any seeds or seasoning you prefer. Gently pat down the seeds or they will fall off after baking. Gently brush with egg white, milk, or drizzle with olive oil to brown the tops. Place the buns on top of your oven while it is warming to rise for 25 minutes.

Bake large hamburger buns for 25 minutes. The hotdog buns and small hamburger buns need to bake for 32-35 minutes. I use a hoagie roll pan for my hot dog buns and then cut them in half, length wise. For the small buns I use the lid of a mason jar upside down on a baking sheet with non-stick spray. They work beautifully! You will know when the buns are done as they will be golden brown on top. If they don’t become golden they will sink when out of the oven so be sure to bake them long enough.

I make 12 large hamburger buns and 4 small buns for my kids. Or, I make 6 large hamburger buns, 4 hotdog buns, and three small hamburger buns. Skies the limit! Enjoy!

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog 🙂 always be sure to check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

Go To Allergy Friendly Meals

I am continuing to answer several questions that I was asked on social media to celebrate Food Allergy Awareness week which is next week, May 14-18. The question I will answer today is: What are my go to allergy friendly meals? Many of us with multiple food allergies don’t go out to eat very often. It’s typically easier to eat at home so we know that we are eating safe for us food and we don’t have to deal with asking a thousand questions to the restaurant staff. When we do go to restaurants we do ask a thousand questions to be sure we can eat safely, not to annoy the restaurant staff.

Since we do eat at home more often that not, we cook a lot. We personally have some amazingly hospitable friends that love to feed us, long list of food allergies and all. Can I just tell you how amazing these people are? They are true gems in our lives for many reasons. Even though we know these friends well, it still feels hard to give them our long list of “can’t haves”. I often find it easier to tell people what we can have vs. what we can’t have. Keeping it simple has been the best thing for all of us involved. We usually do dinner with friends so I say we can eat meat, veggies, rice, and potatoes. That’s pretty easy to do, right? There are so many amazing and simple meals that we can all eat. Sauces and spices are typically out for us so I am more than happy to bring a sauce/dressing or spices. I usually offer to bring dessert since that’s a tough one to find in a store for us. Our desserts are safe for us and delicious for anyone so that seems to work out well. I will also bring anything my family needs that would be challenging for the family we are eating with to find. Things like buns, dairy free cheese, ice cream, etc. are a few examples of items that I always bring if we need them.

Having open communication with the people we eat with has also been key. I always let our friends and family know that I am more than happy to bring everything we need. The burden of our family’s food allergies don’t need to be someone else’s burden. There are times when it is much easier for us to bring all of our own food. This way we can enjoy a meal together, which is the point, without needing to worry about the long list of “can’t haves”. We have some friends that are honestly afraid to feed us. I totally get that and actually appreciate it. They don’t want to accidentally feed us food that will make us sick which is so thoughtful. I find that these friends take our food allergies seriously which I am thankful for. For these friends, we always bring our own food and we still have a great time together. The friends that do feed us have been kind enough to call and ask us lots of questions about ingredients to be sure we can have them. We have shared many wonderful meals together with friends and family that feed us safe foods.

All that to say, here is a recipe for a simple allergy friendly meal that anyone can make. Hit up your friends soon to have you over for dinner. 😉 Or enjoy this simple, but delicious go to allergy friendly meal yourself. Remember to help your friends and family know that simple is good and ok! We appreciate anything they are willing and able to safely feed us. Since summer is coming up here quickly in the US, I thought I’d share my favorite summer allergy friendly meal.

Grass Fed Hamburgers

Ingredients
1 lb grass fed organic ground beef
Onion Powder
Salt
Olive oil

Directions
Preheat the BBQ to 375°

On a large plate, divide the ground beef into four equal parts. Pat each portion of beef together to make flat patties. Drizzle each of them with olive oil and then sprinkle with onion powder and salt. Once the BBQ has reaches 375° place the burgers on the BBQ for 6 minutes and then flip and cook for another 4 minutes. Check the middle of your burgers to see if they are cooked to your liking. Adjust cook time as needed. Some great allergy friendly toppings would be lettuce, grilled onions, mushrooms, tomato, etc. Naked burgers are great, buns aren’t necessary. If you can bring your own safe buns and cheese, feel free to do so, but I’m pretty sure most of us with food allergies have had our fair share of delicious naked burgers.

For those with concerns about CC with the BBQ, you could cook your burger on tin foil. If that still makes you nervous, it might be best to bring your own food.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients
1 Large Sweet potato
Salt
Olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°

Wash and rinse sweet potato. Using a food processor with a french fry attachment, place about 4 inch long sweet potatoes and process to make french fry shapes. If you do not have the above kitchen tool cut the sweet potato in slices the size of french fries. Place all of the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt lightly. Bake for 10 minutes then flip, and bake for another 5 minutes, then flip and repeat baking for 5 minute intervals until all are done. In total it takes about 40 minutes for all of the fries to be done.

UmpalaRAIN BBQ Broccoli

Barbecue Broccoli

Ingredients

1 Large head of broccoli

Olive Oil

Salt

Lemon pepper

Directions

Take a large piece of aluminum foil and place all of the broccoli in broken up pieces. Generously drizzle olive oil on top of the broccoli. Then sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper. Grab both end of the foil and pull towards the center rolling them together. Then fold up the ends. Place on a BBQ at approximately 375° for 30 minutes until the broccoli is a bit black on the bottom. Be careful when you open the foil as the steam will escape and can burn you. I put the broccoli on the BBQ 20 minutes before the burgers, that way they are done at the same time. Enjoy!

Vegan Nut Free Pesto

Vegan, nut free pesto for the win! With a family that can’t eat tomato, dairy, or garlic, this makes sauces very difficult. It really makes pizza challenging and who doesn’t love pizza?! I was bound and determined to find a sauce that my whole family could eat and enjoy for pizza. My husband and I went out to an allergy friendly restaurant many years ago, unfortunately it was terrible. I had a pesto pasta and it tasted really bad, but it gave me a great idea, to make our own pesto.

Every summer we grow a simple garden and put many of our favorites in it that are easy to maintain. Basil plants are very inexpensive to buy and easy to care for. I buy mine at Trader Joes at the beginning of every summer. They plant easily in our raised beds and don’t mind having quite a bit of shade. I plant four of them every summer and harvest them repeatedly throughout the summer. These four plants produce enough leaves for me to make pesto to last me through the whole year. It’s amazing! If you have space in your yard and care to grow simple plants, this is a great one to grow. I have a black thumb and I can keep them alive so you certainly can. 🙂

Back to my pesto. I have been making this recipe for many many years and it’s always a crowd pleaser, even with non food allergy people. No one ever knows the difference. I posted this picture below on Instagram in the fall after I harvested my basil and made a batch of pesto. A friend of mine left a comment that it looked like I was starting a marijuana dispensary. LOL!!!! This was hilarious to me because she knows me very well. For 11 years I was a drug and alcohol counselor for kids, so she knows very well I was not dispensing weed. It did give me a good laugh though, so if you thought the same thing, now you know it’s not. I didn’t go from being a drug and alcohol counselor to dealing drugs, I promise! 🙂

I use this pesto recipe on pizza, pasta, grilled sandwiches, with chicken, and any other way you could imagine using pesto. Give it a try!

Pesto

Ingredients
2 C Fresh basil leaves, packed
¼ C Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
½ C Olive oil
3 T Sunflower seeds, raw
2 Garlic cloves finely chopped (omit if you can’t have them)
1 t Salt

Directions
Put all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until desired consistency is reached. Use fresh on pizza, patsa, bread, or any other fun idea you may have. If you want to make it ahead for later, freeze in silicone baking cups or in small snack size zip lock bags. If you freeze them in silicone cups, place them in a large zip lock bag once fully frozen. Enjoy!

Daiya Cheese Review

Over the many years that my family has had dairy allergies and intolerances, we have looked at many dairy free cheeses. It is always shocking to me that the vast majority of dairy free cheese (nut, rice, and soy based) has casein which is milk protein. That makes no sense to me at all. What is even the point of making the cheese to begin with? The only people that would eat that kind of cheese, in my mind anyways, are those that are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerant people can take a lactaid type pill (I did for many years before I couldn’t eat dairy at all) and eat traditional cheese without issue. If I could eat traditional cheese, I would eat it everyday in many styles. I certainly wouldn’t eat dairy free cheese just for the fun of it. Would any of you? Seriously, if you would, I would love to hear your reasons. 🙂 No judging here, I am just curious.

My husband was the first to go dairy free in our family before we had kids. Back then, I didn’t realize that I needed to read the label of a cheese that said “dairy free”. I figured it would be dairy free! For many years he ate soy cheese, it was the best we could find at the time. The soy cheese was a bit rubbery, didn’t really melt, and browned when cooked. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?! He continued to have symptoms of eating dairy, so I started reading labels more carefully. At this point, we realized he couldn’t eat the soy cheese so he was out of cheese options for quite some time.

I can’t remember how long my husband had gone without cheese, but it had probably been more than a year. We went to a local pizza restaurant that carried a vegan/dairy free cheese. Both of us tried the cheese on a melted sub sandwich and were amazed at how good the cheese was. We liked it so much that I asked the waitress what kind of cheese it was. It was Daiya mozzarella style cheese. I went home and googled where I could pick some of this cheese up and found it at a store I frequent near my house. We began to eat quite a bit of the mozzarella shreds though used it sparingly. The taste of the mozzarella shreds is VERY pungent, nothing like true mozzarella cheese. If you aren’t careful, the pungent flavor will completely take over whatever you are using it with. When we used it on pizza, I used maybe 1/2 cup for a whole pizza. Daiya’s cream cheese has this same pungent flavor so we avoid it altogether. In all honesty, for us it ruins a good bagel or anything else you would mix it with. The mozzarella shreds I have found is best in grilled sandwiches with other bold flavors like a meatball sandwich, a pesto veggie sandwich, a french dip, etc. Other than that, I don’t use the mozzarella shreds at all.

A few years back, the cheddar style shreds (affiliate link) appeared on the shelves so I figured I would give it try. This is by FAR the best dairy free/vegan cheese for all intensive purposes. The flavor is very mild so it works nicely on pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, etc. It actually melts which is amazing if you’ve tried other dairy free cheese. I just started buying this by the case from my local grocery store so I can get a discount. It freezes for up to 3 months. Now, if you have had traditional cheese, you need to go into this knowing it’s not real cheese. I don’t think there is anything dairy free out there that would look, smell, taste, melt, and have the same texture as traditional cheese. If you can go in with that in mind, I think you will agree with me. My family loves this cheese on anything. 🙂

My husband really loves cheese, crackers, and salami with a glass of wine. The cheddar style cheese isn’t a great fit for this purpose. Over Christmas I decided to give the Daiya Pepperjack style block cheese a chance for my husbands gift. My husband is very particular about food, he’s my best food critic. He absolutely loved this cheese! It paired very well with the other bold flavors of salami and wine. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t give you any other insight than that. From the smell of it, it is also more of a pungent cheese so I would use it paired with other bold flavors as well.

Altogether, Daiya cheese has changed our food allergy life for the better. It is so nice to have an amazing alternative that truly is dairy free.

Chicken Tikka Masala

I was asked by one of my readers to post a recipe that would be easy enough for friends and family of a food allergy sufferer to make. While there are many recipes that I could have posted, this is the one I chose. My husband and I love to eat all kinds of ethnic food, including Indian food. When we used to go out for Indian food, I would always get the chicken tikka masala and just deal with the gut issues the dairy would give me. Eventually, I couldn’t tolerate the reaction to the dairy so I just stopped being able to eat Indian food. Then one day I cam across a recipe at favfamilyrecipes.com for chicken tikka masala that looked really good. I figured I could make a number of changes to fit our dietary needs and see how it came out. The result was so good, it tastes pretty darn close to the real thing. It’s definitely close enough for me to enjoy the chicken tikka masala I had been missing.

This recipe is definitely simple enough for someone to make that doesn’t have food allergies. The ingredients are pretty simple and staples in many homes. One of my greatest passions, outside of working with my food allergy clients, is to help their family and friends learn to safely feed them. Most of us eat 3-5 times a day and eating is one of the most social things we can do. Having food allergies can make socializing so difficult which can leave food allergy sufferers feeling lonely and isolated. If you have food allergies, share this recipe with a friend or family member the next time they invite you for dinner. Or, if you have a friend or family member with food allergies, make this the next time they come for dinner. At some point soon, I will write a whole post dedicated to safely feeding people with food allergies when you don’t have any yourself.

Keep in mind that it is of utmost importance to be sure you use spices that are certified gluten free. Stay away from any mixed spices, or pre packaged spices. Enjoy this delicious meal!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients

Marinade
1C Canned coconut milk like Savoy or Arroy D, they both have no added ingredients
1T Lemon juice
2t Ground cumin
1t Ground cinnamon
1/4t Cayenne pepper
1T Minced fresh ginger
1t Salt
3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs if you prefer

Sauce
1T Soy Free Earth balance buttery spread or olive oil
1 clove Garlic
2t Ground cumin
2t Paprika
1t Salt
1C Tomato sauce (red pepper sauce if you can’t do tomato, I use Trader Joes brand)
1C Canned coconut milk like Soy Vay or Arroy D, they both have no added ingredients
1T Lemon juice
1/4C Chopped cilantro

Directions
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients in marinade through salt and stir to combine. Add chicken and marinade in the fridge for at least an hour. After the chicken has marinated, grill chicken on medium to high heat for 5 minutes per side.

For the sauce, melt butter in a pan on the stove, then add all ingredients through coconut milk. Stir together and simmer on low heat until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. After the chicken has been grilled, cut it into small chunks. Next, add all of the chicken to the sauce and simmer all together for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a dish and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve over rice or quinoa.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Who doesn’t LOVE an amazing bowl of creamy Mac and Cheese?? I guess I should say, who doesn’t love a good bowl of homemade, yummy, allergy friendly mac and cheese? On a rare occasion as a little girl, I would eat boxed macaroni and cheese and I honestly thought it was really gross. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why any kid (or adult) would like that stuff. It was horrible tasting and looking back it made me feel sick. Go figure I didn’t like it. When I look back over my life growing up, thinking of all the foods we ate that made me feel horrible, were all the foods I found out as an adult that I am intolerant to. The biggest food items growing up that I remember making me feel sick were gluten, dairy, and sugar. Taking those three things out of my diet as an adult has completely changed my health. Anyone else in my same shoes?

Ok, back to mac and cheese. Several years ago, my kids were young and I realized they had never eaten mac and cheese due to food allergies. I figured there had to be a way to feed them allergy friendly, homemade mac and cheese. The recipe below is what I came up with and it was an instant hit. This recipe is really simple, but I’m telling you it is SO good. It is rich and creamy, everything you hope it will be. When I began making this for dinner, my husband loved it, but he’s a meat eater at every meal when possible. He wasn’t having the meatless meal deal. I racked my brain to figure out how to keep this meal simple, cause you know us food allergy folks have complicated meals already. Here is what I came up with: hot dogs (don’t judge) or cubed pieces of ham. When we have hot dogs with the mac and cheese, my oldest has coined it “mac a weenie and cheese” 🙂 This has definitely satisfied the meat eater in my husband and not complicated this meal. That’s a win win in my book. Obviously, with meat it isn’t vegan, so no need to add meat if you don’t eat any. Feel free to eat it however you choose, but be sure that you enjoy it. 🙂


Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients
8 ounces Gluten free macaroni noodles
2 C Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
3 C So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk (or rice milk if needed)
6 T Soy free Earth Balance Buttery Spread, divided
2 ½ T Super fine brown rice flour
½ C Gluten free bread crumbs (optional but highly suggested)
1 pinch paprika

Directions
Boil Gluten free macaroni noodles according to the package directions. Once the noodles are “al dente”, drain them and set aside.

In a large pot, melt ¼ C buttery spread over medium heat, then stir in the brown rice flour to make a roux. Slowly add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly. Once the milk is all incorporated, add the cheese and cook over low to medium heat until the cheese is melted and has thickened.

Place cooked and drained macaroni noodles in a baking dish, then pour cheese sauce over the macaroni. Mix the noodles and cheese sauce until well combined. Now melt the remaining 2 T buttery spread in a small pan. Next, mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter until well combined. Then, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the noodles and sauce. Lastly, sprinkle paprika over the breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350* uncovered for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

I would love to connect with all of you personally, that’s what brings me the most joy. Subscribe to my newsletter (I promise I don’t spam or send out a ton of emails). This is a place where I want to get to know what you all would like to hear about. My website is for you, so I want it to meet your needs. Also, my email subscribers will be the ones who get to choose what recipes I post every Friday. Don’t miss the opportunity to let me know which recipe you want next. To see the options, check out my Instagram account, it has the most content currently. You can also make suggestions of allergy friendly foods that you would like a recipe for and I’ll see what I can do. I look forward to connecting with you all more often!

Why I love oats

About three years ago, I had just completed 90 days on the Whole30, with the exception of only being able to eat 2 fruits. I did this for health reasons, and it worked for me. After the 90 days was up, I had lost quite a bit of weight and needed to be able to add more foods into my diet, but my gut wasn’t very happy with very many foods. The one food that I was able to add to my diet was oats. At first this felt disappointing since I didn’t like oatmeal for breakfast and cookies were off limits for me. I have learned though that when I am in a bind of some sort, I am fiercely determined to not let it get the best of me. So I made up my mind that I was going to learn to love oats.

It took me several months to find recipes that I liked, that fit my specific dietary restrictions, and ones that wouldn’t take forever to make. This began my journey of all things oats, and I do mean all things. I have tried almost everything possible with oats and found that they are an amazing food for lots of reasons. Now I absolutely LOVE oats and eat them multiple times a day. Since it is the only grain I have been able to eat for years now, it has become my best food friend. Here are the reasons that I love oats so much.

1. Oats don’t have a ton of flavor. While this might sound boring, it really is amazing. Because it is pretty bland in flavor, it really can go with most foods really easily.

2. Oats are very forgiving. When cooking/baking with oats if you added too much liquid, no worries just add a bit more oats. If your oats are a bit dry, just add more liquid until it is the right consistency. I actually rarely measure when I am making items with oats because I know that I can easily add more oats or liquid depending on what I need. This is a huge bonus for me.

3. When oats are met with liquid, they stick together. I can’t eat any gums (guar, xanthan, etc.) so this too is a huge win for me.

4. Oats are very simple to work with and recipes come out very quickly when I use oats. One flour, no gums, or any other ingredients. Win all around.

5. Oats have a lot of health benefits as well which is great. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that oats, as part of an overall heart healthy diet, could lower the risk of heart disease.

The possible health benefits of oats include: reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, lowering levels of cholesterol, and reducing one’s risk of colorectal cancer. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270680.php

I bet you are wondering what I have actually made successfully with just oats. Here is a list, though not likely exhaustive, but my main staples with a few pictures.

Breakfast bars. I have eaten these breakfast bars every morning for the last three years, maybe a handful of times I have skipped these. They are definitely a staple for me.

Oat pancakes. Who doesn’t love a good pancake? Oats make great pancakes!

Oat tortillas. I make these in huge batches and freeze them. I use them for sandwiches, “quesadillas”, buns, chips, etc. These are very versatile and I also eat these in one fashion or another every day.

Pizza crust. I’m not one to cry over missed food. While it can feel discouraging sometimes, I’ve learned to be thankful for what I can eat. When I made this pizza crust, I nearly shed a tear, seriously. It was that good and exploded my mind for the possibilities of what oats could do for me.

Oat Crackers. Everyone needs a simple go to snack, including me. Of course I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks, but sometimes I just want a good cracker. I have made these multiple times with multiple different seasonings and they are great to have around.

Oat muffins. I have made all kinds of muffins with just oats, you might be surprised. Again, I love the versatility of oats. Sometimes I add nut or seed butter into my muffin mix which works well too.

Oat cookies. I went for years without having a cookie, or any dessert for that matter. One night I was determined to make myself a chocolate chip cookie without any sugar, without a “gum”, or a rising agent (baking soda, baking powder, etc) because I couldn’t have any of those. My mom and I texted back and forth about how to do this and I was determined to make it happen. What came out was utterly amazing! Who knew?! Next came a pumpkin cookie that was just as fabulous. My world has changed because of oats. If you have food allergies or restrictions, I promise life doesn’t have to be boring in the food department. It just takes more creativity than it once did. It is possible to have food allergies and restrictions and eat amazing food!