Please read, before reading

I am saddened by the comments on this blog that often take a judgmental turn. The information is intended to be just that -- information. You need to make your own decisions for your life and be accountable for your actions. I debated closing the blog, but feel there are many valuable items listed for families struggling with food allergies, especially early on.

If you need further information please contact a doctor. If you need to verify a product's ingredients, please look at current labels and contact the company yourself. Note many posts are several years old. Use your best judgment and do not make up comments to scare people.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recipe - Dairy-Free "Cheesy" Chicken Spaghetti

Last week I posted this recipe for dairy-free cheese sauce.  I made a dairy version of chicken tetrazzini and adapted this recipe for my dairy-free toddler.  I just took some of the ingredients from our main dish to make hers.  This recipe serves about four servings, but can easily be scaled down.

Dairy-Free "Cheesy" Chicken Spaghetti

1 to 2 cups spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced thinly or grated
1 carrot, sliced thinly or grated
1 small onion, sliced thinly or chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup cooked chicken

Dairy-free "cheesy" sauce
(this can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple days)

1 cup water
1/4 cup nutrtional yeast flakes
14 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 to 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup rice milk (or soy milk)

1. I used a vegetable peeler to thinly slice zucchini and carrot.
2. Heat oil.  Add vegetables and cook for 3 minutes.
3. Boil pasta for 8 minutes. Drain.
4. Add pasta  and cooked chicken to vegetables.

To make cheese sauce: 
1. Blend water, nutritional yeast flakes, cornstarch, mustard powder and salt in blender for 30 seconds.
2.  Melt dairy-free margarine in sauce pan
3. Add blended mixture to margarine.  Stir for 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Slowly add rice milk to sauce pan.  Stir until thickens.
5. Add sauce to pasta and vegetables.  You may not have to use all the sauce -- use your discretion. Save extra sauce for a mac and cheese meal later in the week.  

Friday, April 23, 2010

It tastes really good!

That's all my daughter could say today during lunch.  I found this recipe a while ago and have been working to perfect it.  I must have done it today.  She's liked it before, but today there were all sorts of happy sounds as she ate.  I adapted this recipe from the Go Dairy Free cookbook (if you haven't read it yet, you must).

Dairy-Free Macaroni and Cheese
(this makes 1 cup)

1 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (I found them at a health food store -- a little pricey but so worth it)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dairy-free butter (I used Earth's Best)
1/4 cup rice milk (you can substitute soy if you like)
cooked pasta

1. Mix water, nutritional yeast flakes, cornstarch, mustard and salt in blender for 30 seconds.
2. Melt dairy-free butter in sauce pan.
3. Add blended mixture to melted butter.  Keep on low to medium-low and whisk for 3 to 5 minutes.  It will thicken some.
4. Slowly stir in rice milk.  Stir until it thickens to consistency you want.
5. Add to pasta.

**I make just a small serving for my daughter of pasta and save the rest of the sauce for additional meals.**

Discount at Hy-Vee

A couple weeks ago I did a quick shopping trip to Hy-Vee for a couple dairy-free items.  When I got home I noticed 10 percent off the items I purchased from the Health Market (the organic/health food area).  I contacted the store and asked how I got the 10 percent off.  Turns out on Thursdays they offer 10 percent off all Health Market purchases.  I asked how long the promotion was running and they said they don't plan on stopping it anytime soon.   If you have a Hy-Vee near you, you may want to check if they offer anything similar.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eating Allergy-Free on a Budget

As I was typing up my peek into the many staples we keep around the house for our dairy- and nut-free toddler, I started thinking about cost.  Everyone wants to save money.  I realized that once we had to buy certain products for our daughter that I would have to work extra hard to save money because so many products that are allergy-free are so costly.  The strategies and suggestions that I'm going to share with you are based on costs in Wisconsin.  So keep in mind that you may have to find your own price points that may be higher or if you're lucky lower.  My strategies mirror those of other money saving articles, however because our daughter's diet is specific I'm going to share with you links and actual costs.

1.  Find store brands that are safe.  Be sure to read and re-read labels.  Especially look for the phrasing "made in a facility or on equipment with peanuts, tree nuts, milk, etc..." I often see pretzels, crackers, dried fruit (ie raisins) all have that warning.

2. Shop around.  We find that one store will carry one product and the next store will carry another.  While Whole Foods is great, it's not usually the cheapest.  I have certain stores I buy certain items.  It sorta becomes a science.  For example, I buy Enjoy Life chewy bars, soy milk, soy yogurt, toffuti cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and Purely Decadent ice cream at our locally owned grocer, which has the cheapest food products in our area.  I buy some product such as Tofutti Pizzaz pizza, Enjoy Life chips, Enjoy Life chewy bar at Hyvee.  I live about two minutes from Target and will buy Soy milk there unless I go to the locally owned grocery store or it's on sale somewhere else.  My price point for a half gallon of Silk Soy Milk is under $3.  I love when I get coupons or Target has it on sale for $2.50.  The last store I shop at has little-to-no dairy-free food on sale regularly and has a small selection to begin with.  Sometimes I get lucky, but not too often.

3. Use coupons. These retailers regularly have coupons for product we like to use. Occasionally, you can find them on or on the manufacturer's website.  Also, I have written to many manufacturers requesting coupons for their products.  These come in especially handy when I use them at our locally owned grocery store that doesn't take Internet coupons.

4. Watch for sales and have a price point.  I know that I can get raisins for a less than $3 for a 24 oz container. Sometimes the sale price is higher than that -- that's not a sale to me.

5. Stockpile on snacks when you find them cheap.  I like to have a variety of snacks around stashed in the pantry.  Why? Because it's easy to pair up with fresh or frozen fruit or yogurt.  Our snacks are typically dried fruit, cereal, crackers, graham crackers, fruit snacks, or homemade baked goods.

6. Find food for traveling. This is the one time I will strategize without cost.  If it means it's easier and she'll eat than it's worth the little extra cost.

7. Re-read labels.  I put this in here because even though a product was safe a couple months ago, it is possible that it no longer is.  And if you have to toss it out after purchasing it, you are out some money.

8. Save in other areas.  My mindset is that if I save $10 on a double coupon day at the grocery store on regular items, that $10 will buy me some non-dairy items for my little one.  If I fill out a survey and earn $3, I equate that to a weeks worth of soy milk for my daughter.

9. Don't feel guilty.  I sometimes feel guilty when I spend $4 on a new product to try to find out my daughter won't eat it or I didn't re-read the label and it has an allergen in it.  It happens.  It's okay to make mistakes or for kids not to eat something new.  It actually can take a child 10 times trying something new over the course of six months before they might even like it.

10. Do what works for you.  Sometimes when reading blogs and other's suggestion, you can feel like you're not doing enough or doing it right.  Well, to that I say use this as a guideline, but if you don't have time to shop around or coupon clip every week then don't.  Do what works for your family.  I am just happy to share what works for us.  Also, it's taken me two years to figure this out.  And it has been a challenge.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dairy-Free S'mores

Oooey gooey s'mores are so much fun to eat.  You don't need a campfire to make them.  You can easily make them in the microwave in under a minute.  You can even sneak in a quick math lesson while having your child help.

Dairy-Free S'mores
Graham crackers
Dairy-free chocolate chips

1. Break graham cracker in half to have two squares.

2. Put about 20 chocolate chips on one side.
3. Put 5 marshmallows on the other side.
4. Microwave chocolate chip side for 40 seconds.  Microwave marshmallow side for the last 20 seconds.  (Note microwaving may vary -- test to see what works best for you).

5. Spread melted chocolate and melted marshmallow on graham cracker.
6. Place crackers together. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Here's an odd one - Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Pickle Dip

My sister-in-law made the dairy version of this recently.  I thought made my pickle-loving daughter might like the dairy-free version.  There's really not much nutritional value to this one, but it would be a good extra dip to bring to a party or gathering.  I have to admit both version were surprisingly good.

Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Pickle Dip
(Easy to double or half depending on how much you need.)

1/2 cup Dairy-Free cream cheese (we use Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese)
2 to 4 medium sized pickles, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp onion (optional)
1 tsp pickle juice (optional)

1. Mix all together and serve with crackers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interesting opinion

Thought I would share this blog posting on  The author expresses her tastes for the best vegan cheese! I haven't heard of Dalya, yet!

Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Dairy-Free (and Nut-Free) Pantry

It's been a while since I've talked about some of the meal and snack strategies for our toddler who is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts and some tree nuts.  (although we do use eggs in baked goods.)  Here's a peek into some products we keep around for either on-the go or for everyday cooking.  I could have gone link crazy with this list.  If you have further questions about a product or use that I have for it feel free to contact me in the comments or e-mail  I am very happy to help!!

  • Enjoy Life Chewy Bars (quick snacks)
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (trail mix, making candy, baking)
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate bar (snack or we have a dessert she can't eat)
  • Tofutti Pizzaz pizza (lunch)
  • Earth's Best Chicken nuggets (lunch)
  • Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (dips, bagels, frostings, misc. meals)
  • Toffuti Better than Sour Cream (dips, misc. meals)
  • Tofutti American style cheese (meals, snacks)
  • Teddy Grahams (snack)
  • Marshmallows (snacks)
  • Jello (dessert, gummy snacks)
  • Animal Crackers (snacks)
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal (breakfast)
  • Earth's Best Cookies or Crackers (snacks)
  • Graham Crackers (snacks)
  • Ritz crackers (spread soybutter on top for snack)
  • Soybutter (snacks, meals, baking)
  • Sunbutter (snacks, meals, baking)
  • Saltine crackers (snacks)
  • Frozen fruit (snacks, meals)
  • Frozen veggies (meals)
  • Kashi Cereal (I mix with dried fruit  for snack, breakfast)
  • Rice Krispies (breakfast, treats)
  • Rice Chex (breakfast, puppy chow)
  • Life Cereal (breakfast, snack)
  • Cheerios (breakfast, snacks)
  • Kellogs or Welchs's Fruit Snacks (snacks - we use these sparingly)
  • Dried fruit - SunMaid Raisins, Ocean Spray Craisins, Sun Sweet Apricots are favorites right now **Make sure to check labels for these they are often processed in faciities with peanuts and tree nuts**
  • Eden Organic Alphabet pasta (meals)
  • 8 oz jar Hunts tomato sauce (meals)
  • Small containers of Rice Dream Rice Milk and Soy Dream Soy Milk (baking, meals)
  • Cricso shortenting (bakings, cooking)
  • Store brand blended oil (baking cooking)
  • Quick and Old Fashioned Oats (bakings)
  • Canned fruit -- I usually buy Dole or Del-Monte no sugar added.  Although I noticed recently they are sneaking Splenda into the Del-Monte brand.  No sugar but still a sweetener, gotta love those marketing people.
This list is really just a peek into some of the things we use.  We always have fresh fruits and vegetables around for snacks and meals, too.  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Very interesting -- my allergies

I recently posted about the several food allergies the I recently tested positive for.  For the most part, there weren't too many surprises.  Except for the fact that I tested positive to peanuts.  I've eaten peanuts my whole life and when I got the results back I was eating a granola bar every morning that contained peanut butter.  I eliminated peanuts and peanut butter out of my diet completely for about a month.  This morning I was brave and tried one of those granola bars.  As whenever I eat something I that I think I might potentially react to, I tell myself "I'm going to eat this and probably not notice anything."  I so want to eat everything that causes allergic reactions to my system.

I was really curious to see if in fact I was one of the "lucky few" (as the nurse told me when I told her I eat peanuts all the time) who didn't have a reaction.  I knew after all my research for my daughter that the only way to know was to take it away and reintroduce.  I ate up that granola bar and something did happen.  My throat got very congested.  It was a familiar congestion that I used to get all the time.  I thought it just came about every morning for no reason.  Now I realize it was the peanut butter in the granola.   It wasn't a severe reaction by any means.  But I couldn't believe how immediate it was after eating the granola bar.  It was enough of a reaction for me to conclude that it's best I stay away from it if I can.  My goodness, to think the doctor told me not to worry about it

In my quest to figure all my allergies out.  I have eliminated some other toxins from my system.  I was once (for 15 plus years) a huge Pepsi fan.  I drank a couple cans a day.  I've been exercising consistently for about 5 months now -- even lost 8 pounds.  I noticed my exercised body really didn't like that corn syrup that much.  In the past couple months I ended up pouring out 1/4 to 1/2 a can after drinking it.  Well, that just seemed like money down the drain.  So I cut it out.  Once in a while will be my plan.  Just those three things have made me feel much better.  You never really know how you feel until you change.

For all of those of you with children with food allergies, my best advice to you is to listen and be patient.  Listen to you child and look for patterns.  A test result will not give you all the answers.  In my test results, it didn't even show me positive for a few things I know I'm allergic to and have been almost all my life.  I'm thinking there must be false negatives, just as there are false positives when it comes to allergy testing.  Work with the allergies and it will be okay.  I promise.  Stay strong!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Do you tend to feel sorry for you child with food allergies?  It's easy to do.  I have seen children with special dietary needs be coddled or given extra (unhealthy) snacks because parents "feel sorry."  Don't feel sorry.  Treat them like any other child.  If you "feel sorry" you are most likely going to see the child using food as a way to get attention (either food they can or can't eat or should I say won't eat).  On my other blog today, I posted about Promoting Independence in a Toddler.  There are some useful tips that we use to help with behavior and teaching a child to be independent.  As a parent to an allergic child, it's easy to put majority of our focus on the finding "safe" foods and then the other parts of parenting suffer.  Also, I think with a food allergic child we work extra hard to "protect" them.  You can easily do many of the things I suggest in the comfort of your own home with the limitations you choose.  These children especially need to learn independence so as they grow they can explain their food allergies to adults.  Enjoy the post and feel free to add some of your techniques, too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dairy-Free Easter Meal

I'm always interested what other people make for holiday meals.  I'm even more interested on how people make them allergy-free.  We are pretty simple people.  We don't make too many fancy meals.  Here is what we served for Easter dinner.  All is dairy- and nut-free, however two items are not egg-free.  I made the rolls and carrot cake the day before making it very easy the next day to just pop the ham in oven and make the rice.  And heating up green beans took a couple minutes.

  • Ham - pour can of slice pineapple over ham, roasted for 25 minutes per pound at 325 degrees (I keep a couple slices to the side for our toddler to eat with the meal)
  • Rice- white rice and wild rice mixed together
  • French-Style Green Beans - canned
  • Pull apart Rolls (not egg-free)
  • Carrot Cake (not egg-free)

**Alternatives: Hot Cross Buns, potatoes (with dairy-free butter), any vegetable, dairy-free desserts

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