Best New Product Finds 2017- Part 2

Hi friends, happy Friday! Here is part 2 of my Best New Product Finds of 2017. I thought I could get them all done in two posts, but I think it will require a few more. Hopefully, you like hearing about all the products I found. I want the posts to be short enough to read in one sitting and not have some products get lost at the bottom. So here goes for today. I have two non-food items in this one and two granola bars.

At the bottom I have given you my hummus recipe because in my family, we can’t get enough of hummus. My youngest daughter has been going through some new GI issues for the last 6 months that we are still trying to get to the bottom of. I decided to take eggs out of her diet to see if it helps her. That means that I have been using the water from chickpeas/garbanzo beans (aquafaba) as an egg replacer which leaves me with a TON of garbanzo beans. We have enough hummus to last a very long time. 🙂

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Native Deodorant
Native Deodorant Ingredients

This Native Deodorant I found through a friend. I’m about to get a wee bit personal so if you don’t want to read it, feel free to skip to the next item. 😉 A good friend of mine sent me an email several months back about this deodorant knowing that I love organic and healthy products. The truth is that I have tried some organic and healthy deodorant with terrible results. Honestly, I have never worn deodorant very much as I don’t really need it. I figured that if I didn’t need it then why wear it especially if most deodorants have parabens and aluminum zirconium which are two red flags for me. The, about a year ago I started to need deodorant but couldn’t find one that worked for me without those two ingredients. Them I tried this Native Deodorant. I was sold right away! It has safe ingredients, smells amazing, and actually works. A win all around. I’ll never go back! For my food allergy friends, this does have tree nuts in it (shea butter and coconut). We both can get a free sample of Native Deodorant if you buy it here.

Kiss Freely Body Butter

I met the owner of Kiss Freely at FABLOGCON in Denver this past November. Several years ago I started using organic and safe make up and body care. It’s very important to me that I feed my body healthy food and also put healthy products on my skin. I was excited to meet the owner of Kiss Freely and hear all about their products that are free from so many allergens and chemicals. The owner gave me a small sample of their hand lotion and I just love it. My hands are always dry so I use lotion often. The Kiss Freely lotion goes on feeling a bit greasy at first and then it soaks in quickly leaving my hands feeling nourished and soft. My MIL bought me several containers of their body butter for Christmas, yay for me!!

Made Good Bars

While I was at FABLOGCON I met the Made Good Bars team. I was so excited to find their granola bars! It isn’t often that we find snacks that everyone in my family can safely eat. I knew that my girls would be thrilled to have new snacks to put in their lunches. Even better is that they have fruit and veggies in their bars. My girls loved these bars so much they were gone in just a few days. The only downfall of these is that they contain some cane sugar. If you have followed our journey for any amount of time, you know that we don’t eat a lot of cane sugar if any. Cane sugar is pretty common place in kids granola bars so this is nothing earth shattering for most, I would just love it they didn’t have it. Other than that, these are great!

88 Acre Bars

I met the 88 Acres Team at FABLOGCON as well and went home with lots of 88 Acre Bars to share with my husband. He can’t have any cane sugar at all so I saved this stash just for him. He takes a snack to work with him everyday so these bars went to work with him. They are Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Nut-Free, Peanut-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free and no cane sugar. All of their bars are packed with nutrition from fruits and seeds. My husband really enjoyed these and loved that they weren’t sticky like many similar bars are. He would welcome these bars for a snack at work any day.

*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 Hummus


1 can Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas (they are the same thing)
½-1 C Olive Oil
2 T Lemon juice
1 t Onion Powder
Salt to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a high powered blender. If you like a thicker hummus, use the ½ C of Olive oil. If you like a thinner hummus use 1 C Olive Oil. Blend on high until the hummus is smooth and to the thickness you desire. This hummus has endless possibilities. You could add ¼ C of red pepper sauce to give it a pepper taste, ¼ C of pumpkin puree, add olive tapanade to it, etc. This recipe is a good base to start with. Feel free to add your favorite ingredients. Enjoy!

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


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

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.

New Recipe, New Year!

Happy New Year everybody!! I took a much needed two week break over the holidays to re group and enjoy time with my family. Hopefully you all had a wonderful holiday season as well. With a new year comes goals, resolutions, recipes, and lots of other new things. My family spends time each new year writing down goals for many areas of our lives. It’s really neat to see what my three girls make as goals for the year. When we do this, we also look back at the past years goals to see all that we have accomplished. In 2017 we didn’t make it to the Kentucky Derby, Norway, or California, but we did accomplish most of our goals. We’ll have to put these three places on our lifetime bucket list. 😉

Before the holidays began, I sat down with my three girls to make a list of all of the activities we wanted to do and a list of all the foods we wanted to make. My middle daughter, Peppy wanted to make a recipe with strawberries, cherries, oat crumble, and chocolate drizzle like I had years ago. I have absolutely no recollection of this recipe she was describing, but she was adamant I made it and she loved it. Instead of arguing about whether I ever made it or not, I sat down with her to create the recipe she remembered. Peppy was very particular about the ingredients, it had to be strawberries and cherries, had to have vanilla and cinnamon, and an oat crisp topping. She tried to add chocolate drizzle but I didn’t go that far. Feel free to add chocolate drizzle if that would make you happy, I know it would make Peppy happy. 🙂 The recipe we came up with was a hit! I froze the left overs in silicone baking cups and now the girls are happily enjoying it warmed up for breakfast.

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Cherberry Crisp

2/3 C Earth balance soy free buttery spread
2 ½ C Strawberries sliced
2 ½ C Cherries sliced
1 C Coconut sugar divided or regular sugar
6 T White rice flour
6 T Brown rice flour
½ C Tapioca starch, divided
1 ½ C Gluten free oats
1 t Salt
1 t Vanilla
1 ½ t Cinnamon
2 T Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13 dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together ½ C coconut sugar, strawberries, and cherries. Add the lemon juice and 2 T tapioca starch and mix until well combined. Put the fruit mixture into the prepared 9×13 baking dish and spread evenly. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients and vanilla, then mix well together. Next, cut the butter into the dry mixture until the butter is about the size of small peas. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the fruit mixture and spread it evenly. Bake on 350° for 45 minutes or until the fruit mixture is bubbling and the oat mixture is golden brown. Enjoy with ice cream, all on it’s own, or for breakfast 🙂

*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.

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

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

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


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

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

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)
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

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

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,, 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!

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

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

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 – Wishing you all a very Happy Holidays.

Symply Nourished Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies


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)
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.


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.

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)

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!

Chocolate Cashew Oat Balls

Hi friends, it has been quite a while since I have posted. I travelled quite a bit last month for work and also celebrated all three of my girls birthdays. During that time, I created this amazing sugar free treat. I was desperately wanting a reeses peanutbutter cup, but I can’t have most of the ingredients. That doesn’t usually stop me from figuring out something similar. So, that’s just what I did. I can’t eat peanuts, so I made these with cashews instead. These are so good that I ate WAY too many!! 🙂 Below, I have given you a nut free option as I know not all of my followers can have nuts. I do my best to take care of you all! Enjoy these amazing and simple to make chocolate cashew oat balls.

The holidays are almost upon us. I absolutely LOVE this time of year and so do my girls. We have many fun traditions that we look forward to every year. More to come on all of that soon. Happy Friday everyone!

Chocolate Cashew Oat Balls

1 C Gluten Free oats
1 C Cashew butter or Sunflower seed butter
1 t Vanilla
3 T Flax meal
4 Packets stevia or 4 T of your favorite dry sweetener
1 T Water
1 C Enjoy life chocolate chips or Pascha Sugar Free Chocolate
1 T Coconut oil or spectrum shortening

In a food processor or high powered blender, blend the oats until they are a coarse powder. Then add the cashew or sunflower seed butter, vanilla, flax meal, stevia, and water. Blend until well combined. The “dough” should come together easily when you pack it together. Using a small cookie scoop, make balls out of the dough and then place them on a sheet of parchment paper, then set aside.
In a small microwave safe bowl, cook the chocolate chips and coconut oil or spectrum shortening on high for 1 minute. Carefully take the bowl out and mix with a spoon. At this point if I mix the chocolate together it all melts. If yours isn’t quite ready to all be melted then keep microwaving at 30 second increments, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted. Be sure to not over cook or the chocolate will burn. You can also do this is in a double boiler but it takes longer. Using two spoons, pick up the balls one at a time dropping them in the chocolate mix. Use the two spoons to roll the bolls around until they are fully covered in chocolate. Then, use one spoon to scoop the now chocolate ball back onto the parchment paper. Repeat with each ball until they are all covered in chocolate. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy!

umpalaRAIN Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower Seed Butter

4 C Raw sunflower seeds
1 t Salt
3 T Maple syrup
Olive oil

Put all sunflower seeds into a large pan and roast them until golden brown. Once the sunflower seeds have been roasted, place them in a food processor and blend until coarse. Then leave them for 5 minutes to let the oils come out of the seeds which make the butter later. Process again for 1-2 minutes and then let sit for 5 minutes again. Repeat until the seeds begin to clump together and are oily. Then add the salt and maple syrup and process again. Slowly begin to add olive oil as the processor is running until the sunbutter reaches your desired consistency. 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 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.