My Oldest Daughter, Super

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

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

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

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

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

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

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umpalaRAIN Carozini Muffins

Carozini Muffins

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

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

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

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

Nesco Dehydrator Review

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

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

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

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

Nesco Dehydrator Tray
Nesco Dehydrator Liquid Tray

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Back to School Snacks

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

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Rice Crackers

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

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

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

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

Cheesy Rice Crackers

1/2 C Daiya cheddar shreds cheese

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

umpalaRAIN Fruit Snacks

Fruit Snacks

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

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

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

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

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

*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.

Going to School with Food Allergies

All three of my girls went back to school yesterday. I know for some of you, your kids have been in school for a month or so. The beginning of a new school year brings excitement, but also much anxiety for kids with food allergies and their parents. We send our kids off to be monitored by other adults that don’t always understand our situation fully. Most of them can’t fully understand our situation because they aren’t in it. Schools have protocols set in place for kids with multiple food allergies, you can request a 504 plan that states your childs needs and all of the ways your child will need services and/or support with their food allergies. The school nurse typically contacts the parents to get more information, collects the necessary medication (epinephrine, benadryl, etc.), and stores these items unless your child can carry their meds themselves.

I have found that there are several other steps that I like to take to ensure the safety and health of my three girls and their food allergies and intolerances. These are things that I have learned over time and hope they are helpful for you. If I missed something, feel free to let me know. This list is how I have worked mostly with teachers and not the school in general. I mentioned a few ways to work with the school above, but that is not what I am writing about today. All of the teachers are informed of students in their classes that have severe allergies. What I have found is that most teachers don’t know any information beyond that. Here is a list of things that I talk to the teacher directly about.

1. Tell the teacher exactly what food/s my daughter is allergic or intolerant to. I haven’t had any of my daughters teachers know the specific foods they are allergic or intolerant to. It is very important that the teacher knows exactly what foods my daughters can and can’t eat. With this, it is not their job to monitor my daughter and what she chooses to eat. This is to make sure that the teacher is aware and when they need to be extra vigilant. It is my job to ensure that my daughters have food that is safe for them while they are at school. This puts my mind and the teachers at ease.

2. Tell the teacher exactly what reactions my daughter has to each food. This is extremely important. Food reactions have such a wide range of severity and how they present themselves. Even with anaphylaxis allergies the reactions and how they present themselves can be very different from person to person and with different foods. This is a time to educate the teacher and to really know what symptoms should be of concern to them. I never assume the teacher knows what to look for or be concerned about.

3. On the first day of school I come with a box of cookies that are safe for each of my daughters to keep in the classroom. There are so many parties and other events that include dessert that I make sure my girls aren’t left out. Some birthdays happen right after school starts so I make sure they are prepared from day one. My daughters or their teachers let me know when their cookie supply is running low.

4. I request that the teacher let me know in advanced when they will be having activities that include food other than birthdays. There are several parties throughout the school year that involve pizza, ethnic food, popcorn, 5th grade camp (two days overnight), etc. I let the teacher know that I will always provide food for my daughters that is the same as what the other kids will be having or something similar. This ensures that my girls aren’t left out and they have safe food for them.

5. I request to teach in the class about food allergies. I did this last year because my middle daughter was having issues with kids in her class not being safe or kind to those with food allergies. It was a great way for me to educate the kids and teachers in my daughters classes. The majority of people don’t understand the severity of food allergies or understand the consequences of cross contamination. The teachers really appreciated me coming in, learned a lot, and requested that I come in the following year as well. Education goes a long way with people.

6. Check in. I check in regularly with my daughters and their teachers to see how everything is going. Is my daughter almost out of cookies in the classroom? Do you have any questions or concerns? How are my daughters feeling about their food allergies and intolerances at school? Is there anything I can do to make this easier?

I hope these are some helpful tips when sending your precious kids to school that have food allergies. It can be tough, but it can be done. Let me know if there is anything I missed or another topic you would like me to cover. Happy to school year to you all!

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Back to school- granola bars

I know that some of you have been back to school for several weeks now. My girls head back to school next Wednesday so we are, begrudgingly, getting ready for school to start. We all love being home together so the thought of the girls going back to school is sad, but we know it’s what is best for all of us. It is time to get back to a routine and let me get something done. While I LOVE having my girls home all the time, I get a whole lot of nothing done. My desk has been piling up for two months so it’s high time I get several hours each day to tick through my pile. One thing in my pile is preparing curriculum to teach live video classes for you all. I am so excited to be able to teach you, right from the comfort of your home and mine. Stay tuned for more on that soon. My email subscribers are the ones that get to sign up first so be sure to get on the list!

Baking is in full swing around here in preparation for my girls to go back to school. I like to be sure to have several quick grab snacks that are packed with healthy ingredients. It’s important that I am not feeding my girls junk so I typically make all of their snacks myself. These granola bars are packed full of healthy fats, protein, and omega 3’s. The original recipe for these came from my friend Alayne. I have since made them allergy friendly and tweaked some of the ratios. When I cut these, I make them pretty small as they are very filling. These are great for lunch boxes, after school snacks, and other on the go activities.

Sunbutter Granola Bars

½ C Raw sunflower seeds
1/2 C Unsweetened coconut flakes (for those who aren’t allergic)
3 C GF Oats
½ C Allergy friendly chocolate chips like Enjoy Life Brand
½ C Craisins
2 T Whole Millet
2 T Flax meal
2 T Chia seeds
3 T Pepitas
1 t Salt
1 t Cinnamon
¼ C Honey or maple syrup for my vegan friends
¾ C Brown Rice syrup
1 C Sunbutter
1 t Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° Prepare an 8×10 baking dish with parchment paper and non-stick spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients through cinnamon. Once well combined, add the remaining ingredients. Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly until everything is well coated. It’s easiest to do this with a stand mixer, but you can do it by hand if necessary. Place granola bar mixture in your prepared dish. With a large piece of wax paper, press down mixture firmly until the whole pan is even. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Once mostly cooled, press down one more time with wax paper. Let completely cool on the counter or in the fridge. Cut into desired sizes. Wrap individually and keep in an airtight container. 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.

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

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

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!

Sunny Chocolate Chip Rice Cream

Who wants a little extra sunshine in their lives that is Top 8 Free and Vegan?? I certainly do! A few weeks ago I made this recipe up with the hopes of making a coconut free ice cream. I know that some of my followers can’t have coconut so I gave it a whirl. There are times that I get wild hairs for flavors and this is one of them. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but let me tell you, it is nothing short of AMAZING!! This definitely brought some extra sunshine into my life when I tried it. I hope you love it just as much as I do. Let me know what you think! Thanks to one of my followers on Instagram for giving this a great name!

Sunny Chocolate Chip Rice Cream

32 oz Rice milk
4 t Vanilla extract
1 C Coconut sugar or regular sugar for my no coconut friends
6 T Cocoa powder
2 t Guar gum
1/4 C Tapioca starch
¾ C Enjoy life chocolate chips
1 C Frozen sunbutter cut into small chunks

In a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix all ingredients through tapioca starch together well. Place all liquid into an ice cream maker. My Cuisinart electric ice cream maker takes 20 minutes to turn into ice cream, but mix until yours is done. Once you have soft serve ice cream pour in the chocolate chips and sunbutter chunks. Continue to churn until the chocolate chips and sunbutter are well incorporated. Place all of the soft serve ice cream into a freezer safe tupperware. This recipe requires an ice cream maker or you will end up with a gummy ice block. :/ If you freeze it completely, it will need to thaw for 10-15 minutes on the counter before you can scoop it. I typically use a spoon that has been run under hot water to scoop. Make sure that you freeze this completely before you eat it or it will be gooey. Enjoy!

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

Quinoa Salad

For many years I couldn’t eat potatoes and one of my favorite summer sides growing up was potato salad. I could eat quinoa so I thought I would try to replace the potatoes with quinoa. It turned out amazing. I actually might prefer quinoa salad over potato salad, gasp! There are many days that I crave this salad. I have made this before many camping trips and eaten it for at least one meal every day while we are gone. It tastes great cold which makes taking it out really easy. Enjoy this great protein packed side dish, or if you’re like me, you’ll eat it as a main dish. 🙂

Quinoa Salad

1 C Quinoa cooked
4 strips of cooked bacon
2 hard boiled eggs
¼ C red bell peppers chopped
1/8 C chopped celery
1/8 C green onions

Cook Quinoa as described on the package. Once the quinoa is cooled, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Put in the amount of mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Start with ¼ C mayonnaise and 2T mustard. I often triple this recipe. Enjoy!

Our journey of Severe Food Allergies- Can you relate?

I have been asked to write more about our personal journey with food allergies. It feels like this has been a very long journey, but that is probably just because it has been all consuming. Today I am going to tell you about the journey we have been on with my middle daughter. I am starting with her because her allergies have been the most severe and greatly helped us to recognize food allergies in our youngest when she had them as well. In due time, I will write our journey with my other two as well. I think all of their stories are worth sharing as all of us have different journeys with food allergies but similarities too. This food allergy community is one that I am so thankful for and happy to be a part of.

Peppy newborn

From the moment my middle daughter, “Peppy”, was born she screamed most of the time. At her one week appointment I told our pediatrician, who we love, that my daughter cried all the time. He said that it couldn’t be colic at that point because colic doesn’t start until 6 weeks or so. From then on, we kept in pretty close contact with our pediatrician. Peppy continued to scream, vomit, and have diarrhea often. I think I cried almost as often as she did. My oldest, then three, was having a hard time adjusting to having a new sister and all of the crying as well. Truth be told, we all had a hard time adjusting to the crying. I knew that something was wrong with Peppy, but no one knew what was wrong with her. Those days were long and exhausting. I remember for months that all I knew to do when Peppy screamed was to hold her and sing “Amazing Grace”. It was all that got us through that dark time. Every time I hear that song now I cry for many reasons.

I was formula feeding because I didn’t produce enough milk to feed Peppy so my pediatrician suggested trying different brands. We went through as many dairy formulas as we could think of still with no change. Then our pediatrician suggested trying soy formula so we did that and the screaming, vomiting, and diarrhea persisted. Realize all of this probably took two months since we needed to try new formulas for long enough to determine if they were helping or not. Our last ditch effort was to put her on Nutramigen which is a hypoallergenic formula and also begin stool testing on her. Peppy continued to have the same symptoms on Nutramigen and also tested positive for blood in her stool two out of three times. By this point she was also failing to thrive as she couldn’t keep very much formula down. My pediatrician finally referred us to see a pediatric gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s hospital. The GI clinic is so far booked out it was probably a month before I could get in.

By the time we got to our GI appt we were a mess, just hanging by an emotional and string. Peppy was 11 weeks old when we finally made it to the GI. Our new GI came in, he was the sweetest, most helpful, and understanding Dr. He carefully listened to Peppy’s story, looked over her , her chart and test results, and simply said that Peppy had severe food allergies to dairy and soy. At that appointment he gave me a few cans of EleCare prescription formula to try and said she would be fine. I was hesitant to believe that this formula was going to work, but I was willing to give anything a try at that point. We went home and I started the EleCare and I had a new child instantly. It was nothing short of amazing for us and also laid on some serious mom guilt. I felt like I had been poisoning my child, unknowingly. It was horrible, but I am just thankful that the EleCare worked for Peppy. Peppy remained on EleCare until she was four years old to keep up her weight and keep her food allergies at bay.

We continued to see the GI regularly as Peppy got older for weight monitoring and also as we added new foods into her diet. I am so thankful for this team of Dr’s, nurses, and nutritionists that cared for Peppy for many years, they always gave me hope and support. The more foods we added to Peppy’s diet, the more we found that she was allergic to.

When Peppy was about 18 months old we went on vacation to Arizona to see my husbands family. A few friends from home were also going on vacation there so we met up at the house they were renting. In the basement of the rental home there was a movie theater so all of the kids were watching a movie. Our friends kids were eating shelled peanuts and throwing them on the ground when they were done. My husband was with Peppy and she picked up a peanut and put it in her mouth. As soon as she got the peanut in, my husband noticed and took it out of her mouth. Immediately after, Peppy began to cry. It was a long day without a nap so we figured it was time to get her to bed. She cried and cried as we gathered all of our things and buckled the girls in the car. On the way home she continued to cry really hard and began scratching her tongue saying “owie, owie” We couldn’t figure out what was going on so we took her home and got her ready for bed. At this point we put her down but she just kept screaming and scratching her tongue. This was really abnormal for Peppy, she loved to go to bed. All of a sudden, it clicked, THE PEANUT! We immediately called our consulting nurse and she told us to take her straight to Childrens ER in Phoenix. That felt like the longest drive ever! We arrived at the ER and a nurse checked Peppy right away to be sure her throat wasn’t closing. Her throat was still open so we waited to get a room. Upon entering the ER we retold the story, along with the fact that my mom has an anaphylaxis allergy to peanuts. The nurse and Dr left and quickly came back with benadryl and a shot of epinephrine. Peppy quit crying for the first time in 7 hours. From the moment the peanut went in, to getting benadryl and an epinephrine shot was 7 hours!! :/ We spent the rest of the night in ER to monitor her for a secondary reaction. At 7 am we were released, it was Mother’s Day 2011. We went straight to a pharmacy to pick up an epi pen and benadryl, our lives forever changed that day.

We saw Peppy’s GI not long after her anaphylaxis reaction to peanuts. He suggested staying away from all nuts since her reaction was so severe from such a small amount and my family history of allergies. Peppy’s list of allergies continued to grow as she got older. It’s honestly hard for me to remember all of them because they have changed over the years and my youngest daughter also has severe food allergies. I think Peppy’s list at one point that she was allergic to was dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, wheat, corn, peaches,tomato, and some other fruit I am forgetting. By the age of three Peppy’s GI didn’t think she would grow out of any of her food allergies. We had tested and re-tested all of the foods in office when needed but she had no change.

This is where my very in-depth baking for multiple food allergies began. I had been baking for food intolerances for many years at that point, but not for severe and multiple food allergies. While I loved our team at Children’s I never had someone to explain in depth what food allergies are, what kind Peppy had, when to use an epi pen, how to use an epi pen, how to make the food she needed to eat to keep her safe and gaining weight. What I have found is that none of these were the job of the specialists we saw. Peppy had severe, though not life threatening food allergies (except peanuts) and had all GI reactions. Allergy testing was never helpful because food allergies that effect the GI tract don’t show up on a prick test. We didn’t have an allergist that followed us for that reason. Our nutritionists were amazing at giving us the kinds of food to feed Peppy, but their job wasn’t to find recipes for us, teach us how to bake safely, eat our safely, etc. This is exactly why I started my business. There is a huge gap in service. The practical piece of how to live this food allergy life once you leave the Dr’s office can be so hard and overwhelming. I am passionate about helping people through the practical steps of living with food allergies. You can contact me and also sign up for my newsletter for more helpful information.

I am happy to say that Peppy passed an in office prick and oral peanut test when she was 6. The rest of her food allergies have gotten so much better the older she has gotten. All of them are now either intolerances or she can eat them just fine. Currently she is intolerant to gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and tomato. There is hope whether that means allergies go away or this life becomes easier as we live with them longer.

Hello Toothpaste

My husband works for a dental lab and attends many trade shows. He finds new products at these shows and brings them home for us to try. This one in particular, Hello toothpaste, he was very excited about and thought I would be too since it is a natural toothpaste. I’ve honestly never thought about using a natural toothpaste, but it only makes sense since I am very careful to use natural products in most areas of our lives. Hello toothpaste sent us a free sample to try along with a guide telling us about their company and products. I have given you several photos below out of their guide.

I posted the picture above on social media about a month ago and had several people ask questions about natural toothpaste, fluoride, and it’s safety. On Instagram I follow Gena (pronounced Jenna) at Symplynourished. Can I just tell you for a minute how much I love following Gena? She has been the sweetest, supportive, and encouraging lady. If you’re on Instagram go on over and follow her and check out her new blog with the link above. There you will find information about holistic health, great recipes, and life with a food allergic child. Gena is a dental hygienist by trade and has worked in a traditional dental office and a holistic dental office that didn’t use fluoride treatments. When I posted on Instagram that I was going to test this toothpaste out and others had questions about it, Gena was our sounding board. She has kindly written a very thorough post answering all of our questions about oral health in regards to traditional toothpaste vs. natural toothpaste. It is a must read, I learned a lot from reading her post and know you will too. 🙂 Thanks Gena for a great and informative post!

I have now been using the Hello Toothpaste for about a month. It is important to me when I am writing a review to be sure I have given a product enough time to give an accurate review. Here is my honest review of the Hello Toothpaste. When I thought about using this toothpaste, I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive. I have sensitive teeth and have grown accustomed to using traditional whitening toothpaste. The sample I received in the mail from Hello was about a month’s worth so I figured I could use it until it was gone. I tried the extra whitening, but there are several other flavors including a sensitive one on the way.

Hello Adult Toothpaste

Here is a picture of the ingredients.

Hello Toothpaste Ingredients

I was very pleasantly surprised with this toothpaste. When I brush my teeth, the most important thing to me is that my teeth FEEL clean and smooth, the sweaters get removed well. 😉 The Hello Toothpaste definitely left my teeth feeling clean and smooth. The next important thing to me in a toothpaste is that it gives me fresh breath. I will give this toothpaste and ok in this department. The flavor of the toothpaste that I tried has a mild minty flavor with a hint of coconut. Now, I think the flavor of this toothpaste is very good and refreshing, but it doesn’t leave me with super fresh breath like traditional toothpaste does. Whitening is at the bottom of my list of what I want in a toothpaste, but I like to keep my teeth at their “normal” color. I haven’t used this toothpaste for long enough I don’t think to make a great judgment call on whether this toothpaste is good for whitening. In the month that I did use it I will say that my teeth stayed the same color which is a good sign to me. The Hello Toothpaste I noticed doesn’t foam at all. This isn’t a bad thing it is jsut different from traditional toothpaste and takes getting used to. All in all I was very impressed with this toothpaste and will continue to use it. It does have fluoride, though I’m not sure which ingredient is the fluoride.

They also have kids toothpaste that I have heard great things about, but my kids haven’t tried it yet.

Hello Kids Toothpaste

The price is more than traditional toothpaste, but not as much as I anticipated. I would love to hear your thoughts if you try it!

*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.