Grilled Banana Delight

Recently my husband and I saw a Food Network special where lots of hosts were grilling and making summery dishes.  A dessert by Bobby Flay featuring grilled bananas caught our eye. We grill at least once a week and I thought it would be great to put the leftover heat of the charcoal to use making dessert.  I was also excited to try this dessert because I saw a good opportunity to use my new coconut whipped cream.

To prepare the bananas for grilling, Bobby Flay did not peel them which is important because the peel gives the banana some support on the grill. He cut them lengthwise so he had two long banana halves.  He brushed both sides with a little oil and grilled them for a few minutes on each side.   Grilling the bananas caramelizes the sugars on the surface of the bananas and makes them hot, which I think brings a new dimension to the fruit.

Bobby finished the bananas with some creme fraiche and maple syrup but I used my homemade coconut whipped cream and sprinkled on an assortment of berries.  Woohoo buddy!   Although the whipped cream lost its volume as it hit the heat, the warm bananas and cool coconut cream were a lovely tropical combination.  It was a perfect summer evening dessert.  What’s more is that in the scheme of desserts, this one isn’t too bad for you.

Grilled Banana Delight

Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

2 bananas -unpeeled

Canola or other neutral oil

Coconut whipped cream

1 cup fresh berries – raspberries, blueberries, blackberries -whatever you like

Directions

Preheat grill or use leftover heat after grilling your dinner.  Make sure the grill grates are clean.  Slice each banana lengthwise.  Brush both sides of the banana halves lightly with oil.  Grill bananas cut side down for 2 minutes.  Turn the over and grill another 2 minutes or so.  Remove bananas from their peels and cut each half in the middle – giving you four banana pieces. Place the bananas on a serving plate and top generously with coconut whipped cream.  Sprinkle with fresh berries and serve immediately.

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Food Successes!

I feel like I haven’t written about Colin’s food trials in a while.  Since Colin started cruising around I have so little free time.  I am happy to have a quiet moment to sit and write lots of happy news!

Recently we decided to change our trialing methods to see if we could find more foods Colin could eat.  I was becoming very anxious about Colin’s lack of safe foods and his growing appetite.  We’ve also had so many failures in row and Colin’s interest in food has been waning.  I think he reached his fill of carrots a while ago.  I decided that if he didn’t have major reactions like vomiting or diarrhea, maybe we would try shortening food trials if the first days seemed to go well or also try not giving the new food every day.   I hoped Colin would eat more if he had some variety.  I also wondered if I didn’t feed him the new food every single day if it would reduce the sleep disruptions.   Maybe it would give his body time to acclimate to the new food.  Since our pediatrician couldn’t give us any real help and we don’t see the food allergist for another month, I’ve been making this up as I go, trying to find something that might work.  My trialing methods may be faulty and require backtracking later, but the good news is that I think we have some new foods to add to his safe solids and foods I can eat again!

1. Rice.   I can eat rice again! This is HUGE!!  I trialed this through my diet and later tried feeding rice cereal to Colin.  It is clear that rice in my diet is no longer bothering him, but he really doesn’t want to eat rice cereal.  He turns his head after one taste, no matter what I mix it in.  The one time I got him to eat some he became constipated so we aren’t pushing this as a solid for him.  But I can eat rice! It has opened a whole lot of foods to me.  I can buy Udi’s bread at the store instead of making sandwich bread.  This is SOOO great!  I can order a dish at Pei Wei (Chinese food) that they can make soy and dairy free!  Takeout food? Yes, please!  And not to forget, RICE MILK!  Oh, I’m so thankful there is a convenient milk alternative I can use now.  It just makes my life so much easier.

2.  Wheat– We gave Colin a wheat teething biscuit.  He loved it and has seemed to do fine with it.  Wheat in my diet never bothered him and the celiac test was negative so I thought this was a good food to try.  The teething biscuit definitely makes eating time more fun for him.  He had a few bites of cream of wheat and seemed to do well.   There is a lot of iron and calcium in that so I hope it will be our answer for an iron rich food for now.

3.   Corn –  Corn was another vegetable that never seems to bother Colin when I eat it.  Colin was really excited about this new taste and will eat more of this than anything else we’ve tried to date.  It does seem to give him a bit of the “winds” but he doesn’t seem fussy or have sleep issues so we’ll take it as a success.

4.  Chicken – Our pediatrician said to skip fruit and try proteins so we started with chicken.  To our surprise and delight Colin has done really well with it.  We’ve actually found mixing chicken into his other foods has helped him eat more.

Having all these successes is such a relief for me and Colin seems to be enjoying it too.  While he doesn’t eat much, it is a great start and hopefully with some time and practice he will become a great little eater!

Summer Corn Salad

Our family eats a lot of corn.  It is Hannah’s favorite vegetable and being in the midwest, it is easy to get and cheap in the summer.  Growing up in Iowa I ate a lot of corn.  I remember some nights my mom would set a huge platter of fresh sweet corn on the table for the main dish and we’d eat a “mess of corn.”  My husband still laughs at the thought it that, but he’s not as crazy about corn as I am.  He prefers it off the cob and so I often make Summer Corn Salad to appease everyone in my house.

Summer Corn Salad is all about summer vegetables so it is best with good fresh produce.  If you can, go to a farmer’s market.  Good tomatoes should taste like a tomato.  So often the grocery store tomatoes don’t taste like anything.  I also usually find the vegetables at my local farmers market are much much cheaper than the grocery store.  If you can’t find a farmers market near you, try to get ears of corn at the grocery store and forgo the frozen stuff.  Although it is a bit more work, it is worth it.

This recipe makes a lot, about 8-10 servings as a side dish.  I often bring it to summer parties or make the full batch and serve it as a side dish over several nights. The basil gets softer but the rest holds up really well in the fridge.  For just one family dinner of 4 people, you’d probably want to cut it in half.

Summer Corn Salad

From Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

6 ears of corn, husked and cleaned

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (plain white vinegar is fine too)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Bring a large of pot of water to a boil.  Cook the corn in the boiling water for 5-7 minutes.  Remove the corn from the water and let cool.  Place a large plate on the counter.  On the plate place a small dish upside down in the middle.  Stand an ear of corn on its end in the middle of the small dish and use a sharp knife to cut down the sides of the cob to remove the kernels.  The corn kernels will fall onto the plate for easy collection and cleanup.  In a large serving bowl, place the corn kernels, tomato, onion, basil, oil, vinegar and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir gently to combine.  Taste the salad and season with more salt and pepper if desired.  Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for two days.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food and really really miss eating it.  Recently I found this recipe at MSPI Mama, one of my favorite sites, and LOVED the results.   It is easy, soy free and doesn’t require any expensive substitutes.  For the veggies in the recipe, I bought a frozen peppers and onion mix.  I served the rest of my family rice but and I made myself quinoa to eat with it.  If you can’t find quinoa, try plain couscous.  It is a smaller size and different texture, but it is very bland and works in a pinch.

What foods do you miss most?

Celiac and Food Allergy Testing

We got the results back from Colin’s blood work.  Both the celiac test and the food allergy panel (all the major common food allergies) came back negative.  His IgA was high.

What does all of this mean?  Well, we weren’t too surprised by the celiac and food allergy panel results.  I survive on wheat and Colin seems to be ok with it.  Also the doctor told us 6 months ago that food allergy testing wouldn’t be very informative since Colin’s food protein issues are a different response in the body than typical food allergies.  He’s also told us several times that food allergy testing at this age tends to be very unreliable.  Lots of false negatives.  It is my guess that the reason for finally ordering these tests were to try to rule out the usual suspects and to  justify sending us on for more help.

The other blood test was an IgA test.  As I understand it, the IgA test measures the levels of a specific antibody in the blood.  This test was used to make sure Colin was able to mount a proper immune response, therefore validating the test results to some respect. A low IgA would be of concern and mean the test results weren’t reliable.  Colin’s IgA was high but the nurse practitioner said she didn’t think it meant anything.  I did a quick search on the web and found various sources saying that a high IgA can caused by a huge number of things since IgA rises in response to allergens.  For now I will file that one away in my head and just mention it to any other doctors we see in case it could be a piece to the puzzle.

We go back this week for Colin’s 9 month check up and to talk about where we go from here.  We plan to ask if a pediatric GI or food allergist would be more helpful or if we need both.

Our squash re-trial was a fail.  Another building reaction.  By the end of the week Colin was crying every hour at night.  I stopped feeding him squash and the next two nights he slept better and better.  It was a relief for all of us to stop squash.  We took this last week off of trialing solids and everyone slept so well.

This week we are going to try chicken.  Hopefully the protein family will be easier on his system!

Walking his own little path

Colin is 9 months old! I can’t believe how fast time has gone!  Colin celebrated by getting his first tooth.  We’ve seen signs it was coming for a while but it finally poked through.  I was really sure when I nursed him.  The pediatrician and dentist both told us “Oh, it will be a bottom tooth first. ”  Something like 95% of kids get their bottom teeth first.  Well Colin, as original as ever, got his top right tooth.  My little nut, always doing things his own way.

Despite the usual teething discomfort,  he has been a happy talkative guy.  He’s busy exploring, pulling up, and standing while holding onto things with one hand.  I just marvel at how fast he is developing.  He crawled backwards for about a month and then in a span of two weeks figured out how to crawl forward, pull up and take little steps to cruise down the furniture a ways.  He’s very confident, letting go with one hand and looking at us like, “Yeah, I’m going to just go for a walk now.”  I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he is like his sister and walks at 10 months.

In food we are still having success with carrots.  We trialed avocado and although it seemed like it might be a pass, he had a building reaction.   He fussed more and more over the week and was doing an odd breathing/whimpering.  He started screaming more and more at night.  We thought it could be teething but the baby motrin usually knocks out the teething pain pretty well.   Colin was screaming despite any pain meds.  We decided to stop avocado and see if it got better and over two nights the screaming stopped.  He is still definitely teething but is sleeping so much better and happier in the day.  Soo…no more avocado for a while.

We decided to retry squash.  Looking back through our notes Colin had been sick right around the two times we tried it before.  We hadn’t given it an extended trial so we are giving squash another chance.  We are a few days in and things seem ok.  We will give it a full 7 days to make sure we don’t have another building reaction like avocado.

Realizing that Colin was approaching 9 months and had 1 safe food, we felt it was really time to move on getting some professional help.  I’m really at a loss of what foods to try and worried about his growth from here out since he seems so hungry lately.  He’s moving all day long and some days I think he needs more calories.  So early this week we met with our pediatrician.  He said Colin looks good, is gaining weight pretty well but agreed we should look for some answers and maybe some outside help like a food allergist or a pediatric GI.  He wanted to start with some blood work to rule out celiac disease and a I think he did a basic food allergy panel.  We don’t have the results yet but I feel some reassurance that he is on our team, ready to look for some answers.  I’m not sure what he will find and where it will lead us, but it has started the ball rolling to figure out all of these food issues.

Angel Food Cake

One of Hannah’s favorite desserts is “strawberry shortcake”.  Really what I make is angel food cake torn into pieces, strawberries sliced over the top, a splash of milk to moisten and sometimes a tiny dollop of whipped cream.  This is how I ate is as a child and I’ve got Hannah hooked on it.  I’ve been buying some store-bought angel food cakes and although they say they are free of any offending ingredients, Colin has repeatedly gotten fussy after I eat them.  My guess is that it is due to contamination on the baking line and so I decided to try my hand at making my own.

I’m not a huge fan of angel food cake.  It usually is too airy and lacking in flavor.  Some I’ve eaten have almost had a bite or metallic taste so it is usually a dessert I would pass on.  However, after making my own I am happy to say that homemade angel food cake is very different from the box or store kind and much much better. Mine was more dense, but in a good way,  and actually tasted like something.  My husband and I were so surprised eating it.  He feels the same way about the typical angel food cake as I do and he really loved the one I made.

To make the cake I followed this recipe.  The only change I made was using a bundt pan (ungreased) instead of a tube pan, since I don’t own one.  For the egg whites I used egg whites from a carton since I had them on hand and it made the prep time really fast.  I let the egg whites beat in the stand mixer while I put the rest of the ingredients together.  My only tip would be to make sure to beat your egg whites long enough.  They need to form stiff peaks to create the volume in the cake.  As soon as the cake came out of the oven I turned it over on top of a beer bottle and let it cool completely.  I ran a knife down the sides and along the inside edge and it came out easily.

This would be great with some blueberries, strawberries and coconut whipped cream this week for the Fourth of July!

For my USA readers- have a happy and safe Fourth of July.  Try to stay cool!