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, December 15, 2010

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Chocolate Shortbread Cutout Cookies

I was really excited when I found this recipe in an old cookbook.  The original recipe calls for butter, but I substitute dairy-free margarine. There are only five ingredients.  The dough isn't very sticky.  You can roll it out right away and you don't need much flour.  I was extra excited about it being egg-free, which meant our 3-year-old could roll out the dough and help with the cookie cutters.  Overall, the taste is okay, but with frosting -- yummy!!

Chocolate Shortbread Cutout Cookies
(Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free)

1 cup dairy-free margarine (I use Earth's Balance)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cup flour

1. Mix margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla together.
2. Add cocoa.
3. Then add flour.  Mix until smooth.
4. Roll out dough -- don't need much flour.
5. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Watch them carefully because they are so dark, it's hard to see if they are burnt.

Super easy and fun to make with the food allergic child!!

No More Rack

I don't normally post non-allergy related items here.  But this looks really interesting.  The site is called No More Rack.  When you sign up you get a $10 credit -- shipping is rumored at $2. Most items are listed around or just above the $10 mark.  I think it might have some potential to get something really cheap.  Check it out and let me know if you get anything interesting.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Food Allergies and Preschool

Well, it's been about 2 1/2 months since our little food allergic daughter has been in preschool.  She is allergic to milk, egg, peanuts and tree nuts.  Her little bubble of safe food and never being around a potential hazard has been altered.  And I can honestly say all is going very well.  She eats snack and lunch at school.  Her teachers know to read the labels and have a stash of snack bars (Enjoy Life and Glutino) and some snack size Teddy Grahams and Oreos that I stocked up on after Halloween.

Lunch is a little different story.  It took a couple months to get the ingredient lists for the items from the school district.  And some of those are even a year old.  But if I don't think it will be safe, she eats something else.  She really likes soybutter and jelly sandwiches.  Typically there is fresh fruit and veggies (way to go!) from the school district lunch, so we just make up the rest later in the day if need be.  She's a typical 3-year-old who eats when she wants to eat.  Lucky for us, I work in the same building that she attends preschool.  That's a load off my worried shoulders (and for her teachers, too).  Her teachers have told me that she knows about her food allergies and doesn't mind eating something else.

On a side note; we were eating a chips and salsa at a restaurant last week.  Our daughter asked if she could have a tortilla chip.  I handed it to her and told I wasn't sure if it had food allergies, but it's probably okay (I carry Benadryl everywhere we go just in case).  She pulled back and said "no" and decided not to eat because it could have food allergies.  What a smart little 3-year-old!

While her reactions thus far are fairly mild (as far as we have seen), you never really know what may happen if another child spills milk or touches her after eating peanut butter.  There are days I pick her up and her face is rashy.  But she's a rashy kid.  She could have rubbed her face on a toy that was cleaned with soap that made her rash up.  She sometimes is rashy while eating a completely allergy free meal at home.  There just is no rhyme or reason.  But I wanted to share our slow transition to the real world and dangers for a food allergic child.  And to those of you just starting out on this journey, it does get easier.  It does.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More posts coming soon!

Sorry for the lapse in posts lately.  With work and the holidays, I'm a little extra busy.  I'll be posting more soon.  So much to share.  In the meantime, be sure to check out the food allergy blogs listed in my sidebar -- lots of great ideas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

You never know what might work

We normally make a pancakes from a box (Aunt Jemima).  It's what I knew when I first started feeding my allergic child.  And when you find something that works, you just stick with it.  Our daughter is able to tolerate milk and eggs in most baked goods, such as pancakes.

The other morning I woke up and we had no milk (cow's milk) in the house, but I had already promised pancakes.  I decided to substitute rice milk in the pancake mix and the outcome was great.  I added just a little extra mix to the batch because the rice milk thins it out a little.  But other than that, they turned out the same.  You never know until you try!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A conversation with Silk (an e-mail, too)

Have you noticed?  Silk Soymilk now contains an allergy statement that states:  Contains Soy, May contain almond and coconut.  I freaked out when I read that. Words ran through my head-- almond, tree nut, cross contamination, tummy ache, reactions, how dare they...

I sent an e-mail to WhiteWave Food the company that distributes Silk Soymilk.  I also made a phone call.  Below is the e-mail response.

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk®. We appreciate your interest in our products.
We can assure you that we take allergenic food concerns seriously, and have instituted allergen control programs at each facility manufacturing the Silk Pure Almond and Soymilk products.  Our allergen control programs consist of several components, designed to comprehensively address allergenic food concerns at multiple points of production.  Examples of this program include the following:
·         Supplier control – each ingredient used in production goes through steps to ensure quality and purity.
·         Cleaning procedures – validated procedures to ensure effective clean and rinse is accomplished after each production run.
·         Allergen-free product testing – testing in-process and finished product at frequent intervals to ensure safety.
·         Storage/warehouse – allergen status labeling and isolation of ingredients to ensure no cross-contamination occurs.
·         Production scheduling - scheduling of product runs are done in a manner that ensures allergen-containing products are run only after non-allergen containing products, protecting the immediate subsequent product from contamination risk.

Food safety is our highest priority and as part of our commitment to quality, all employees involved in the manufacturing of Silk have a comprehensive awareness of food allergen concerns.
Please contact us if you have any additional concerns or questions.
Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

In the phone conversation that I had with the company, the representative also said to me that her company is aware that many of their customers have other food allergies besides dairy and take that very seriously.  I was happy to hear her say that.  I made me feel like I was listened to.  So many people don't believe food allergies even exist.  For her to say we know that's why you drink our product is because you trust us, made me feel confident they are doing the best they can.

So my conclusion is that they take food allergies seriously.  They need to put that it may contain almond or coconut because there is a chance that it could be on the equipment even though they practice good cleaning procedures.  I conclude that at least I know they are doing their best to keep cross contaminations from happening and that is lot more than I can say for other companies.  It's as risky as consuming anything when you have food allergies, but at least I know.  I honestly worry more about companies that don't have statements at all on products.  

Let me also remind you this is a lesson to re-read labels even on products you use regularly.  Our daughter has been drinking Silk Soymilk for 2 years and this new allergy statement just appeared on our carton in the last week here in Wisconsin.  

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Blog Title

Yes, you're at the same place.  I recently changed my blog from "Life with a Dairy-Free Toddler" to "Food Allergy Reflections."  My toddler is no longer a toddler and I anticipate that this blog will be around for a while.  Same content, same web address, new name.  Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving recipes

Okay, I know many families worry that holiday meals just won't be the same if it isn't slathered in butter.  But you know what?  It's actually very simple to adapt a big fancy Thanksgiving meal to your allergy needs.

Here are some recipes and suggestions that work for us.

12 lb turkey
Olive oil
2 Tbsp salt (I actually use a little less)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp paprika

1. Mix seasonings together.
2. Rub olive oil and seasonings on turkey.
3. Stuff with stuffing (recipe below) if you want.
4. Bake per directions on packaging. (18 minutes per pound at 325 degrees)

Sausage Stuffing
3 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine (I use Earth's Balance)
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
4 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag of stuffing crumbs (I like Brownberry Herbed Seasoned Stuffing)
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 pound pork sausage, browned and drained
2 cups chicken stock (homemade recipe here)

1. Heat olive oil and margarine in large skillet.
2. Add onions, celery, carrots.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic for 30 seconds before removing from heat.
3. Combine stuffing crumbs, poultry seasoning, sage and pork sausage in large bowl.
4. Stir in chicken stock and cooked vegetables.
5. Stuff in turkey or bake in casserole dish at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  I highly reccommend stuffing the turkey -- so good!

Mashed Potatoes
6 potatoes, diced
5 cups chicken stock (and more water if needed)
Garlic, keep whole

1. Boil potatoes and garlic in chicken stock for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. Drain potatoes, but save a couple cups of the stock in separate bowl.
3. Slowly add chicken stock to potatoes as you mash them.

**You can add soy or rice milk, but you don't need to to have some good flavor.**

Brown bits from turkey
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme (optional)

1. Take brown bits from turkey and heat in skillet.  Add flour and mix together.
2. Slowly add chicken stock and cook on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes until desired consitency.
3. Season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups cranberries

1. Boil water with sugar.
2. Add cranberries and cook on medium heat until thickens.  About 10 minutes.

**Canned cranberries are dairy-free, too.**

I always save corn from the summer and freeze it for a simple dish.  I just heat it up and add a little dairy-free margarine and salt.  

**Personally, I don't see anything wrong with just heating up corn or green beans (either frozen or canned).  Why not have an easy dish?**

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie (sorry, not egg-free)
Last year I made two pumpkin pies.  This one and the recipe from on the back of the pumpkin can.  I had never made pumpkin pie before.  While the taste was a little different, we concluded that the dairy-free version was very, very good.

I cheat and buy Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust -- no dairy or soy

Pumpkin filling
16 oz can pumpkin
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 slightly beaten eggs (not sure if egg substitute works here, sorry)
2/3 cup rice milk

1. Bake pie crust at 375 degrees in pie plate for 10 minutes before adding filling.
2. Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Add eggs.
3. Beat until just combined and stir in rice milk.
4. Pour filling into pie crust.
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes
5. Cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cool Whip Light

About a year ago we realized that our daughter was able to eat Cool Whip, but this summer we discovered that they changed the ingredients.  The change caused a big rashy mess.  I've been searching for a dairy-free whip cream with no luck.  Soyatoo -- made in a facilty with nuts.

So, today while at the store we saw the Cool Whip Light.  I ran through the list of ingredients and it looked just like the old Cool Whip recipe.  We tried it tonight with our daughter and success.  No allergic reaction.  Cool Whip light only has sodium caesinate (from milk), but no other milk products.  Let's just say there was a very happy girl eating her Cool Whip covered blueberries tonight!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dairy-Free, Nut-Free Chex Mix

Do you ever just avoid certain foods all together because you're certain your little one won't be able to eat it?  I do this often.  The other day I came across the original Chex Mix recipe and was pleasantly surprised that I could easily eliminate and substitute for her without compromising too much.  Chex cereal is on sale everywhere right now and if you can get coupons (search on, too.

Here's what I did for Chex Mix that was dairy-free and peanut-free.

Chex Mix
3 Tbsp dairy-free margarine (I use Earth's Balance)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp seasoned salt (see copycat recipe here)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cup corn chex
1 1/2 cup rice chex
1 1/2 cup wheat chex (omit if gluten free and add more corn and rice)
1 cup bite-size pretzels (We eat Rold Gold)

1. Melt margarine in large roaster or pan in oven at 250 degrees.
2.  Add spices and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix together.
3.  Add in cereal and pretzels.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

** So basically I skipped the peanuts and bagel chips, and substituted dairy-free margarine.**

Monday, November 8, 2010

Food Labeling and Allergies

Here's some interesting information about food labeling from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.  Most of it was review for me, but for those of you new to this allergy-free complexity it may be helpful!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Baked Cod -- Dairy-Free

Okay, so when it comes to fish I normally make the dish with (milk-based) butter for my husband and myself -- there's just something about fish and butter.   And then I make a separate dish for our daughter that is dairy-free.  Normally it's not that much work, and I do this for many meals.  However the other night I came across this recipe and tried it dairy-free for all of us. It was so good!

Dairy-Free Baked Cod
adapted from

1 lb fish (I used wild caught Alaskan cod)
1/4 cup melted dairy-free butter (I used Earth's Balance)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lime juice (see my tip for having lemon and lime juice on hand)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1. Cut fish into single portion sizes or keep whole. Place in baking dish.
2. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over fish.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for half hour. Baste once our twice while baking.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween and Food Allergies

Here are some of my tips to dealing with holidays and food allergies.

1.  No big deal.  Yep, that's right.  I take the approach of it's no big deal.  Yes food allergies are a big, big deal.  But how you approach the situation is what makes everything easier.  For example, we plan on going trick-or-treating with our 3-year-old.  However, I'm not going to stress that all the candy she gets she can't eat. I'm not going to feel bad that she can't eat all this candy because of food allergies.  I'm just going to switch out the candy out of her bucket to candy and fruit snacks that she can eat when we get home.  It's really no big deal.

2. Nobody really cares understands, so I'll take charge.  I know that really sounds kinda harsh.  But I've found that nobody really cares or understands that our daughter can't eat certain foods at holiday functions.  I always come equip with foods she can eat and treats that she normally doesn't get very often.  It's much easier to handle the situation myself than worry if someone else truly made something allergy-free.  I'll normally make enough to share with the rest of the guests.  And I can talk until I'm blue in the face about how our child can't have milk and someone will still offer her a chocolate chip cookie or cream cheese frosted cake.

3. It just is what it is.  I've dealt with food allergies since I was young.  I just eat what I can.  It just is what it is.  Nothing more or nothing less.

4. Just make if fun in your own way.   We've been making treats and candy at home for a couple weeks now. Her Halloween experience has been expanded to more than trick-or-treating alone.  We also read a ton of books about Halloween and fall.  Trick-or-treat is just a small part for us (although a very exciting part).

Be sure to check out my cheap Halloween treat suggestions!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dairy-free, Egg-free Cut-out Cookies (plus frosting!)

I don't know where I found this recipe originally.  But it works out great for cut-out cookies.  I just couldn't wait to make them again until Christmas, so we made Halloween cookies.  I think I'm just craving cut-out cookies because they look so good in the grocery store bakeries.  I just don't trust those cookies for our little one.  The best part of these cookies is being able to let our daughter help.

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Cut-out Cookies
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine (I use Earth's Balance)
1/2 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cup flour

1. Mix all ingredients except flour together.
2.  Slowly add flour.
3. Once mixed well, then wrap in cling wrap.  Refrigerate for a couple hours.
4.  Roll out dough and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

This frosting is amazing!

Dairy-Free Frosting
1 Tbsp melted dairy-free margarine (I use Earth's Balance)
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp shortening (I use Crisco)
2 tsp vanilla soy milk
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Mix wet ingredients (all but powdered sugar) in mixer.  I like to use my Kitchenaid Mixer.
2. Slowly add powdered sugar.
3. Mix for 5 minutes on medium speed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween Treat -- Chocolate Pumpkins

I try to buy Wilton Candy molds (usually $2.50 at Michaels or Joann Fabric) for every season. You can't use the candy melts because they have dairy in them.   But I just use Enjoy Life Chocolate chips.  Then save the mold for next year.

I also buy those ice cube trays for each season and they work great for making chocolate candy.

Chocolate Pumpkins
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1 Tbsp Dairy-Free margarine (I use Earth's Balance)
Pumpkin mold

1. Melt chocolate and margarine in microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Stir and pour in mold.  You can use lollipop sticks, but you don't have to.
3. Place in freezer for one hour.
4. Store in refrigerator in air tight container.

**You can add mint extract, 1Tbsp Sunbutter or Soybutter or another type of extract to change the flavor.**

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Treat -- Peeps

Our daughter just loves these and we buy them for every holiday.  They cost around a dollar and they usually last us a month or more.  We'll probably still have these pumpkins around Thanksgiving.  Easy.  Cheap.  Allergy-Free.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Treat -- Halloween Oreos

Am I a bad mother because our daughter didn't eat her first Oreo until last month?  I held off on Oreos and chips for as long as I could.  She now really likes both, really likes them.  That's what I thought would happen. It's great though because Oreos are a really cheap treat (search for coupons) and we can offer one as a special treat.  So today's Halloween treat is Halloween Oreos.  Yes, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free and Nut-Free.  Believe or not.  Sugar-Free, uh no.  Fat-Free, uh no.  But fun!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween treats -- Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free

I've read a lot of "Allergy-Free" blogs and see that many are posting online stores that sell allergy-free Halloween treats.  Well.  I look at the price and think it's just not worth when you tack on shipping (and the fact that a child might not like it or eat it all).  I get it's about providing fun treats for kids with food allergies and I greatly appreciate the effort and hope someday that we will just find these treats next to the bags of candy in the aisles full of dangerous candy. Maybe we'll get out own aisle someday.  But for now, I choose to find what is available and safe to eat and work with.

All this week I will be sharing Halloween treat ideas that don't take a lot of time, are cost effective and lots of fun to eat.  Hold on to your seats but many of the items I will share will be (big sigh) processed foods.  Guess what I think it's okay in moderation, especially during the holidays.

Today's Fun Halloween Treat is:

Halloween Trail Mix
(You can use any variation of cereal, dried fruit, pretzels, etc. -- make it your own)

1/4 cup Cheerios
1/4 cup Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal
1/4 cup Kashi Honey Sunshine
1/4 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch (I sent my husband to the grocery store to get a General Mills deal and he brought this home for snacks)
1/2 cup Craisins
2 Tbsp Enjoy Life chocoalate chips
leftover Teddy Grahams (I think there were five left and a few arms and leg pieces)
2/3 cup Ghost Marshmallows
1. Simply mix all ingredients together.  I always let my daughter pour them in a large bowl and stir with wooden spoon.
2. Store in zip lock bag or air tight container.

**My daughter told me that the Craisins were spiders and the teddy grahams were puppies (dressed in costumes I presume).  It doesn't take much to turn something into something else.  Plus when you're 3 years old everything is a great idea. **

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sneeze much?

This fall has just been terrible for our 3-year-old in terms of seasonal allergies.  While I wish I had a magical way to teach her to blow her nose, I don't.  She's been pretty sneezy and coughy the last couple months.  For a while I was using a saline spray with her, but it was a battle that upset her too much.  Although I truly believe that would be very helpful.

Today I was shopping and found a different type of saline spray that doesn't require laying down or tilting a head back.  It's call Kid's Mist SinuCleanse.  I showed it to our daughter and got her excited about it.  I told her she would be able to do it herself (within it time) and she was very interested in using it.  So far we've used it twice and have had no tears (or screaming).  I highly recommend you try it for allergy season or even for cold season.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nut-Free (not dairy-free) Chocolate

Every since I have realized I have a peanut allergy, I have really struggled to find chocolate that isn't processed with nuts.  Guess what I just learned?  Hershey's kisses may just be my answer to nut-free chocolate.  They claim on their website that all chocolate is clearly labeled with allergens.  And I picked up some kisses last week at the store that didn't list peanuts or tree nuts anywhere.  Could it be?  I am still hopeful our daughter will outgrow this milk allergy, but outgrowing the peanut allergy is pretty unlikely.  I post this here because I try to help all of those out there with food allergies because it's the only way we can help each other.

Anyone have any experience with Hershey Kisses being peanut free and tree nut free?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dairy-Free Taco Salad

I had this awesome taco salad at a function recently.  I searched for a couple different recipes and adapted it to my own tastes (and what I had in my freezer).  Turned out really tasty.  While I haven't made the dairy-free version for our 3-year-old, here's what I plan to make.

Taco Salad
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1  package taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 1 (16 ounce) bottle French dressing (I used Kraft Catalina)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (I used spinach)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) package tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded soy cheese
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons dairy-free sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa (optional)


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain.
  2. Stir in the taco seasoning, beans and French-style dressing. 
  3. Fill the dressing bottle 2/3 full of water and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Crush the bag of chips, open the bag, and toss the broken chips into a large bowl with the lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. When the meat mixture is done, combine it with the lettuce, tomatoes, chips and mix well. Then, add salsa and sour cream.

**Note this needs to be mixed together right before eating otherwise the chips get soggy.  I actually made this as a lunch/snack for a couple days and just kept all ingredients separate until right before eating. Then I just added how much I wanted to eat for that meal.  This would be very helpful if you are just making a small portion dairy-free.  The recipe can easily be halved.**

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In search of...

A dairy-free whipped topping.  For the last two years our daughter has had no problem eating the "regular" Cool Whip.  I gave her a spoon to lick the day before her birthday and she was a big old rashy mess.  I looked at the container and sure enough it said it was "now creamier."  Now that pumpkin pie season is around the corner we need to find a whipped topping that is safe.  To be continued...

If you have any good alternative suggestions, I would love to hear them.

PS Sorry for being absent from posting lately.  I started a new job (a different one than a couple months ago) and I am focusing on family when at home.  I hope to get back to regular blogging soon.  I have so much to share with all of you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheerio Snack Bars

Oh my, it's been a long time.  So sorry to my loyal readers.  I will try to get some more posts up this weekend and date them for next week.  In the meantime I must share this really good snack.

Cheerio Snack Bars
I took the original recipe from here.  However, I changed the quantity, substituted Sunbutter and used the stove.

1/2 bag marshmallows (about 5 oz)
1 1/2 tsp dairy-free margarine (I used Earth's Balance)
1/4 cup Sunbutter (or Soybutter or Peanut Butter)
1/2 tsp cocoa
2 1/2 cups Cheerios (more if needed)

1. Melt margarine and marshmallows on low on stovetop.
2.  Stir in Sunbutter and cocoa to melted marshmallows.
3. Add Cheerios to mixture and stir carefully.
4. Pour into an 8 x 8 pan.  Smooth out and cut.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Download Now -- Free Dairy-Free Cookbook (Linking Working Now)

Alisa over at One Frugal Foodie has just compiled an amazing list of 125 dairy-free recipes for her e-cookbook: Smart School Time Recipes: Breakfast, Snack and Lunchbox Cookbook for Healthy Kids and Adults. It is FREE and you will find lots of great ideas.   

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Omit, Adjust, Substitute, Invest

In my journey with food allergies and our daughter (who is now 3), I have come to several conclustions that I would like to share.  I remember how lost I was in the beginning and felt no one could help me.  Well, actually no really did.  The doctors just said give her soy.  Okay, that doesn't help when you look at the big picture of feeding three meals a day along with two to three snacks.  But I slowly started doing following and became much more comfortable with feeding our daughter.  Now it seems easy, but it hardly is.  Hope these words of advice can help some.

Omit-- Take dairy or other allergens out of a recipe.  If a recipe calls for cream soup, just omit it.  I did this with a creamy rice with broccoli and chicken recipe.  I just made broccoli, ricc and chicken and mixed it together our daughter.

Adjust your thinking - Don't think how am I going to do this.  Instead think this is what we have to do and people all over the country deal with this too.  Finding resources can be very helpful so you as a parent don't feel so alone.  Try to stay positive and optomistic.

Substitute-- Somwtimes it's very simple to substitute a soy or rice milk in place of regular milk.  Sometimes it's not that easy.  Here are some good resources for substituting for food allergies.  Plus any blogs on my sidebar give great ideas, too.

Invest - No doubt about it, trying to figure out how cook allergy-free takes a lot of time and energy.  Be willing to invest your wholeself.  If you do it half-hearted it will be much harder overall.  Educate yourself with blogs, cookbooks and other great resources out there.  Many listed on my blog.

Deconstruct --  Instead of following a recipe exactly, I now look at it as separate pieces.  First I find the allergens we can't eat in the recipe.  Then I look at every other ingredient.  I decide then if I can just omit the allergen (usually dairy, such as cheese or milk-based sauce) or if I can substitute a soy or rice based product.  I can now take just about any recipe and make it work for us and taste pretty good, too.

Experiment -- try new ways of cooking, it's okay if it fails(and many attempts will).  You must try new ingredients and see how they work in different recipes before you really understand how to cook and bake with these substituting ingredients.  Sometimes it feels like waste but some of my experiments have turned out to be absolute favorites.

Embrace -- realize this is just what it is and it's okay.  Your purpose is to keep your child safe and healthy.  We just get a little extra practice at it.  And guess what you're child will embrace you and be very thankful.

Anyone have any other tips?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cookbook Recommendation

I have just found the most amazing recipe in "The Divvies Bakery Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!"  I made chocolate zucchini bread with encouragement of our 3-year-old.  She loves my other zucchini bread recipe (which does have egg), but chocolate was appealing to her. The chocolate zucchini bread was just absolutely the most amazing thing I've made or put in my mouth in months.  Even my husband who isn't really much of a chocolate eater, told me it was "awesome." I feel it not right to post the recipe since the cookbook is new and I couldn't find it posted anywhere else online.  But check the book out from the library or snag you own copy.  It will be worth it.  I can't wait to make some more recipes from this book.

Cookbook Recommendation

I have just found the most amazing recipe in "The Divvies Bakery Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!"  I made chocolate zucchini bread with encouragement of our 3-year-old.  She loves my other zucchini bread recipe (which does have egg), but chocolate was appealing to her. The chocolate zucchini bread was just absolutely the most amazing thing I've made or put in my mouth in months.  Even my husband who isn't really much of a chocolate eater, told me it was "awesome." I feel it not right to post the recipe since the cookbook is new and I couldn't find it posted anywhere else online.  But check the book out from the library or snag you own copy.  It will be worth it.  I can't wait to make some more recipes from this book.

Cookbook Recommendation

I have just found the most amazing recipe in "The Divvies Bakery Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!"  I made chocolate zucchini bread with encouragement of our 3-year-old.  She loves my other zucchini bread recipe (which does have egg), but chocolate was appealing to her. The chocolate zucchini bread was just absolutely the most amazing thing I've made or put in my mouth in months.  Even my husband who isn't really much of a chocolate eater, told me it was "awesome." I feel it not right to post the recipe since the cookbook is new and I couldn't find it posted anywhere else online.  But check the book out from the library or snag you own copy.  It will be worth it.  I can't wait to make some more recipes from this book.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great Resource

One of my all-time favorite blogs is $5 Dinners.  She just recently redesigned her website design with a very awesome feature.  You can now search her recipes (cheap ones at that) that are dairy-free.  She also has an option for gluten-free recipes and gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free recipes. Wow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quick update

So far lunch has been going really well for our 3-year-old at preschool.  While she's not eating a lot (normally she eats what she wants), I'm happy she hasn't had any food allergic reactions.  So happy.  I'm going to try to take some pictures of lunches soon and share what's working for us.  In the meantime, check out this lunch link (even if you don't have one in school -- it's pretty helpful).  Of course, you need to adapt a little for food allergies.

Also, we are using these Ziploc containers and they are working wonderfully.  They have three sections (2 small and 1 large) and the seal tight.  Even if placed upside down the food doesn't mix.  Very easy for her teacher to put on the table in front of her.  And a lot less worry about food allergy cross contamination.  These are cost effective, just under $3 for two and clean up really easily.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Birthday Doll Cake -- Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Peanut-Free

I've been just waiting and waiting to post this awesome doll cake that I made of our daughter's birthday.  I've been extra busy this week, so sorry for the delay.  Our daughter just turned 3 this week, so the cake had to be extra special.  But it also had to be free of allergens -- dairy, nut, peanut, and egg.  Oh boy what a challenge it was!  I made several cakes and tried several frostings.  On top of that I had no idea how to decorate a cake to begin with.  Talk about a learning curve.

Dairy-free, Egg-free, Peanut-Free Cake Recipe
Adapted from Divvies Chocolate Cupcakes.  I used it as a cake recipe.  I made two cakes in a Pampered Chef bowl.  See links below for tutorials on how to make doll cake.  

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's dark cocoa)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil (Crisco)
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups water
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. Grease cake pan or bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
4.  Mix together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until well combined.  I used my KitchenAid mixer.
5.  Add Flour mixture to wet mixture.  This will be a very wet batter.
6.  Pour into cake pan.  If making cupcakes or cake bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done in center.  If using Pampered Chef bowl bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Frosting Recipe:  I tripled the recipe.  Note when I was decorating the doll,  I had to move very quickly.  The frosting started to melt as it warmed up.  I did some decorating then stuck it in the freezer.   Then after 20 minutes did some more decorating. The cake then stayed in the freezer until serving.  Tasted great cold.  My niece said it tasted like ice cream cake.

Tip:  I made the cake ahead of time and frosted the "dress."  I then kept it in the refrigerator until the day of the party.  That's when I decorated the doll and put in freezer as noted above.

Tutorials to make doll cake

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Silk Soy Milk Coupon -- reset

There's a new $1/2 Silk Soymilk Half Gallon coupon.  Be sure to print it twice!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The results are in...

Minutes after my last post about our appointment, the doctor called with the blood test results.  He gets bonus points for calling himself -- normally I get a nurse whom I never met trying to explain what she sees on the results sheet.  And unable to answer any question.

Peanuts--she is off the charts and we are advised to stay away.
Other tree nuts -- still questionable, so we are going to avoid.
Milk -- questionable, but we know from our last at-home test she's still allergic
Egg -- questionable, so we are going to do a challenge test and give her egg at the allergist

So, no new information.   But it is good to know where we are at.  I really appreciate the doctor calling and encouraging a challenge test for egg.  So far, the allergists (our daughter's seen four) just close the door and say see you next year.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Allergist appointment

Yesterday was our yearly visit to the allergist.  He was new to the clinic and new to us.  He did a pretty good job overall.  He listened and documented what we've tried.  He gave solid advice and we agreed to do just a blood test this year.  Every allergist (6 of them since I was 14) I've seen has had a different philosophy on testing.  I truly believe that blood testing is going to be more accurate than skin testing for our daughter because if she's like me (which I think she is) her skin is going to react just by being pricked alone.  And that alters the real result.  We get those blood test results in about a week.  We tested for milk, egg, peanut and some tree nuts. I asked if we should continue to avoid shellfish and he advised to go ahead and try it.  She may or may not react just like anyone else.  We have a challenge test scheduled once we get the blood test results to determine if there is a true allergy after actually consuming egg (or peanut) in a controlled environment -- the doctor's office. I'm very optimistic that egg may be safer than we realize.  Milk on the other hand, I'm sure she's still allergic to.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pre-packaged food = frustration -- Product Review

Recently, I was asked by CSN stores to do a review of a product of my choosing from one of their online stores.  First off, let me say that my product arrived in less than a week and it was in perfect running condition.  I selected a food dehydrator.  Our daughter loves dried fruit, but it can be pretty expensive.  We often find the cheaper version of dried apricots or raisins to have been made in a facilty that shares equipment with tree nuts or peanuts.  That's not a risk we want to gamble.

The Product

I used the Nesco American Harvest Snackmaster.  I read the reviews of different food dehydrators and this one seemed to be the best for our needs.  It has four trays and one fruit roll tray.  Many of the reviews said it was noisy, but I didn't find it any noisier than the fan over my stove.  It ran all day in my house and it wasn't much of a bother in terms of noise.  I just kept thinking I had to turn the fan over the stove off.

I also had read that the clean screens that come separately are almost a neccesity for using this food dehydrator.  I searched for them locally and couldn't find them.  I gambled without them.

The prep work (took about 30 minutes)

I decided to focus on a just a couple fruits for my first experimental dehydrating experience.

  • 2 Golden Delicious Apples:  I cored and soaked in Fruit Fresh.
  • 2 Bananas: Cut and sprinkled with Fruit Fresh
  • 1 Braburn Apple and 2 Bananas: Purred in blender, mixed in a little water and Fruit Fresh and poured in roll up tray
  • 3/4 pint Bluberries: Soaked in Fruit Fresh (later read I was supposed to blanch, oops)
  • 1 lb Green Grapes:  Soaked in Fruit Fresh (oops, didn't blanch)

I sprayed each tray of the food dehydrator with cooking spray because I didn't have the clean screens.

The results

  • Apples took about 4 hours.
  • Bananas took about 8 hours
  • Fruit Roll took aobut 8 hours
  • Blueberries took about 13 hours
  • Grapes didn't turn out (guess I should have read the directions beforehand)

What did my food allergic child think?  She loved everything she tried -- apples, bananas, fruit roll and blueberries.  Each time she tried one of them she asked for more and more.

The clean up was easy and I don't think I need to buy those screens if I use these fruits on it.  I was very impressed how little mess it made.  I was expecting a sticky, gooey mess.  Not the case.  It took just a couple minutes to wipe each tray


I was initially a little overwhelmed by the directions and the length of time it takes to dehydrate food.  But it turned out to be much simplier.  It did take a long time, but to know that it we have safe food for our daughter to eat makes it worth it.  We often have extra fruit that goes bad before we eat it.  This is a great option for that predicament.  I feel the dried fruit will be a great addition to snacks at home and for preschool.

I highly recommend buying a food dehydrator if you child has food allergies.  You can check out CSN stores for a good selection.  Or you can go over to my other blog and enter to win a $50 gift card with CSN stores to help with the cost!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Food Allergies and Doctors

If you've been reading for a while, I've been sharing my journey with my food allergies.  To recap, I have oral allergy syndrome, which means I'm allergic to fruits and vegetables.  I just recently found out I am allergic to coconut, peanuts and some tree nuts.  I am slowly trying to figure out what else.  The allergist I saw gave me such poor advice, I don't plan on seeing him again.  He told me that if I could eat peanut butter and test positive for a peanut allergy that I'm one of the lucky few.  Well, after eliminating peanuts and reintroducing I found out that I do have a reaction to peanuts.  Lucky in what way -- I have allergic reactions.  I'm very allergic to many things, so I really don't know what causes reactions.  Is it the grass, the weeds, perfume, an apple etc?  What I do know is that I sneeze and have a running nose every day.

I was hopeful that a nutritionist would give me some strategies to get more nutrients that I may be lacking from the fresh fruit and vegetables that I can't eat.   I told her my story.  She listened.  She looked at my food diary, which listed only two days of meals.  She then lectured me on not eating "enough" fruits, vegetables, and milk.  She lectured how much I "need" to eat a day.  I argued that I do eat vegetables, but it's not represented very clearly in food diary (she didn't ask what was in a meal loaded with veggies).  I do drink a little milk, and I get calcium and Vitamin D elsewhere.  Anyone else wonder why the big push for Vitamin D all of a sudden?  (I smell a conspiracy).  The only advice she gave me was to take a vitamin with minerals, eat canned fruit and cooked vegetables.  Duh.  Not much help for me.  Eating canned fruit kinda makes me feel sick.  I don't mind it a little.  And it's hard to find fruit without sugar added.   I was hoping for a weekly menu of recipes and food suggestions to get the best nutrition into my body that is limited by eating some of the best food for you.  She told me to keep a food diary to monitor what I eat to see if I am eating "enough" milk and vegetables.  There was no mention of a follow-up.  That's okay.  I wasn't impressed.

You may notice that I put quotes around "need" and "enough."  Well, here's where she contradicted herself.  I know I need to somehow get a little better balance in my diet.  I'm trying.  I think that speaks volumes.    I asked how many calories I am supposed to eat.  She said it should be 2000 calories.  I told her I know I don't eat that much.  She said that's okay because everyone has different metabolism and that number is just a guideline.  Well, then I just wonder if the 1 1/2 cups of veggies a day might not just be enough for me instead of stuffing myself with another 1/2 cup.

My conclusion.  I was a waste of her time.  I'm not overweight -- I've lost 15 pounds recently.  I'm not diabetic, so she couldn't pull out her diabetic curriculum.  I don't have bad habits, such as smoking, drinking, and caffeine.  I really think she just didn't want to help me.  In a way I feel overeducated.  I know too much.  Guess I take that over-education and educate myself.

On a side note.  I saw a doctor yesterday for a terrible sore throat I had.  So bad that I couldn't eat or swallow. I told her I have oral allergy syndrome and had eaten guacamole on Friday. I said that seemed to trigger it, but it had been five days.  I said I'm trying to work with someone with my allergies to figure things out.  She didn't reply.  A couple minutes later, I elaborated and said I just seem to be having reactions with all types of food lately.  She ignored it.  Well, gee thanks for reaching out.  I didn't have strep.  So I have no idea what I had.  I had no other symptoms but a sore throat.

I remain optimistic as our daughter has her annual appointment next week with an allergist.  He's new.  Hope he's ready for us.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dum Dum Lollipop -- Allergy Free!

I took our daughter to get her hair cut last week.  The stylist asked if she could have a Dum Dum sucker (lollipop) before we left.  I reluctantly said "yes."  I don't want to sound like that mom who doesn't let our child have things.  I told our daughter as we left we would have to check and see if it had food allergies.  She's starting to really understand that (I had another treat at home in mind to replace if need be).

Turns out that Dum Dum Lollipops are made made WITHOUT peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soy or gluten.  It was a relief.  I loved those as a kid and you wouldn't believe the happy sounds our daughter made licking her "goodie" (as she called it).  Guess we know what we are handing out for Halloween this year!

Here's that Allergen Statement straight from the Spangler Candy website.

Allergen Statement:  This product does not contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, or gluten.  It has been manufactured on dedicated equipment.  There is a trace amount of soy oil in the lubricant that we use in our cooking kettles.  This soy oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized and all of the proteins have been removed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dairy-Free Frosting (for cake decorating) **UPDATED**

**I have updated this post a little with a photo and link to the cake recipe I used that is dairy-free, egg-free and peanut-free.  I noticed this post got a lot of hits, so I wanted to make it more resourceful.  Recipe is the same.**

Okay, so I found the frosting.  I've made two batches since finding it. It's very easy to make and tastes good -- even to us egg/dairy eaters.  This is a awesome frosting recipe!

Dairy-Free Frosting (from The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book)
1 cup dairy-free margarine (I used Earth's Best at room temp.)
2 Tbsp soy milk ( I used Silk Vanilla Soy Milk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar

1. In a stand mixer or hand held mixer cream margarine, soy milk, vanilla, and salt until really mixed well. 
2. Slowly add confectioners' sugar and mix for 1 minute on low.
3. Mix on medium speed for 4 to 6 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
4. Chill for 30 minutes before using.

**Note:  When I frosted the cake I had to work quickly because the margarine softened.  I just frosted some and then froze it for a little while.  Then I worked on it some more. **

Check out the dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free cake recipe here!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Product Review--Cherrybrook Cake Mix and Frosting

It's that time of year again when I search high and low for cake and frosting.  Our daughter turns 3 next month.  Yes, I know I've had all year to figure this out (2 years actually), but for some reason I just haven't found a cake we like that is dairy-free.  I recently tried a chocolate Cherrybrook Kitchen cake mix and vanilla frosting.  My hope was to have a back-up cake mix and frosting in the pantry that was allergy-free for those just in case we need them.  And maybe I can use it for a birthday cake.

Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Cake Review

First the good stuff.  This cake was very easy to make.  Just add water and oil to the mix.  Stir and pour in cake pan or muffin cups.  I made cupcakes and they rose beautifully.  I was impressed with the texture of the cupcakes and how well they baked.  I also appreciate their dedication to make in allergy-free facility. It is free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and eggs.  However it does contain soy and wheat.  Cherrybrook Kitchen also has a gluten-free cake mix.

Now, the not-so-good stuff:  The taste was medicore.  It was bland and the chocolate chips didn't taste like chocolate.  It was a little dry and I didn't get that can't wait to eat another bite feeling.  Our daughter didn't seem to mind them, but for serving at a birthday party it won't cut it.  Also, I paid more than $5 for the box and could only find it at one store in my area (I live near a big city, too).

While this cake mix would be good in a pinch, the taste and cost will probably limit me from buying it any time soon.

My Ratings (out of 5 stars)
Allergy Free - 5 stars
Ease of making - 5 stars
Quality of cupcake - 4 stars
Taste - 2 1/2 stars
Cost- 2 stars

Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting (in a jar)

This was the most disturbing allergy-free product I've ever bought.  I was so excited to find a dairy-free frosting.  But when I opened this product, it had a hard coating on the top of the frosting.  The directions said to stir (a common direction for allergy-free products).  Optimistically I stirred and all the hard coating clumped up in the frosting that now resembled a thick clumpy icing rather than a spreadable frosting.  I tasted it and it was okay for flavor, but I don't even know how I could spread this on a cupcake or cake.  It was a disappointment to say the least.  I spent more than $3 for this item and will never use it.

Overall, I give this 1 star only because of the attempt to make it allergy-free.

 (I did however find a homemade frosting that I will share with you in the next week that is fabulous.  And I have two cake recipes to try that I've found on blogs.  I'm not giving up hope yet!)
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