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!

Going Organic

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I have been reading a lot more about Glyphosates, thanks to my friend Andrea over www.redeemingnutrition.com (go visit her site, she’s great!) . My husband and I often talk about food, allergies, effects on the body and more. I began reading a bit about Glyphosates and discussing the horrible effects it has on health with my husband. After our discussion, he was adamant that we go as organic as we can. Truth be told, he has wanted to go organic for a long time, but I’m the one that shops and has to budget what we can buy within our budget. It hasn’t really been an option for us until recently. We decided that I would purchase as many organic products as I could to stay relatively close to our normal monthly budget for food.

I headed out to our local grocery store last week to check out their prices for organic products mostly in the produce section. We don’t buy very many packaged foods and the ones that we do are not healthy to begin with so organic might not really matter. Yes, I do allow my family to eat some junk snack food because it’s easier for me once in a while. I was pleasantly surprised to find several of the typical items that I buy also had an organic counterpart and the prices weren’t drastically different for most products. The items that weren’t too drastic in price difference I bought. We really enjoyed these items and realized that they had far better flavor than the non-organic variety.

This week, I headed to the dreaded Costco. I only dread Costco because I spend an arm, a leg, and sometimes, an organ there too. Other than that, I really do love the products that Costco carries. Interestingly, I found that Costco (no this isn’t an ad) is beginning to sell a lot more organic products than I have every noticed before. Maybe that is because I am now looking for them or, maybe the timing is just coincidence. I buy whole chickens and ground turkey at Costco. When I went this week, they only sold organic of both of them. My choice was then to buy them organic or not have them, so I went with buying them. The chicken was $2.49/lb which is actually a pretty good price in my opinion. At the local store I used to shop at regularly, I could buy non-organic whole chicken for the same price. I also found several organic vegetables that were only $.50 more expensive than the non-organic. By the time I got home, a good portion of my purchases were organic and the prices were pretty good.

Last night, I made the whole chicken for dinner along with organic sweet potatoes and organic green beans. That would make history for my family as the first fully organic meal we have ever eaten. Can you hear my husband clapping in the background?! ☺ My girls are also now very excited about organic food and why we are choosing to eat as much organic food as we can. The dinner was fantastic and the chicken was amazing. In the last year or two I have had a really hard time choking down the chicken we have been buying for years. The organic chicken was tender, juicy, and far more flavorful than the non-organic chicken I have always purchased. Organic dinner for the big win at our house!

One discouraging item that I have found to be FAR more expensive when buying organic is eggs. For the average family, paying $4 for a dozen organic eggs might not change your food budget that much. I buy 5 dozen eggs a week so buying organic eggs would very much impact my tight food budget. I was pretty discouraged about this to be honest, but figured maybe one day. The day or two after I realized how expensive organic eggs were, a friend called who has chickens. She asked if she could give me some organic eggs in exchange for my tortilla recipe. Impeccable timing I’d say, so I told her of course. Now we get organic eggs from this friend whenever she has extra so we are getting there with eggs too.

Of course, we still have a long ways to go on the journey of going organic, but I’m glad that we have started it. If you are interested in learning more about Glyphosates, which I hope you are, just Google glyphosates toxic and glyphosates disease. It was a huge eye opener for us.

Simple Chicken Salad

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Life lately has seemed chaotic, especially when it comes to dinner time. I use a monthly meal calendar so I don’t have to think about what I am going to make every night. If I didn’t use the meal calendar, my family would go hungry or eat cereal every night. That would not be good for any of us, so I rely heavily on my meal calendar. Ah, that reminds me that I need to make a new monthly meal calendar since it’s been several months. For those that sign up for my newsletter, you will get a glimpse of what is currently on my meal calendar soon.

Back to the chaos… Even with my meal calendar, I have struggled to want to make meals in the last two weeks. As my husband puts it, I always come through even when I don’t want to cook. This chicken salad was the result of not wanting to make lunch for myself. I usually have dinner left overs with a twist for lunch, but somehow I didn’t have any left overs.

A friend of mine that is on a very limited diet told me that Trader Joes has a canned chicken with just chicken, salt, and broth. I pulled out this chicken, dumped it in a bowl and started adding ingredients that sounded good. Here is the recipe below, feel free to add or change ingredients, it’s all fair game. Remember to always use ingredients that are safe for you. Enjoy!

Chicken Salad

1 C canned chicken, or fresh is always better if you have it
1/4 C mayonnaise- feel free to add more if you like it with more (for my egg free folks use an egg free mayo)
2 T cashews, sunflower seeds, or none at all
1/2 t ground rosemary
2 T chopped green onion
1/2 carrot peeled and chopped finely

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy any way you like. For us Whole30 folks, I eat this in a red pepper and it’s amazing. You can put this on bread or eat it with crackers. This chicken salad is very versatile and easy to make.

Other add-ins: celery, radishes, zucchini, spices of your choice, sky is the limit really