And we’re back to dairy free

So maybe I jinxed myself by saying that my son had graduated from MSPI.  Maybe we’re just moving onto the next phase of his body saying “Food and I are not friends.”   Whatever the reason, we are back to dairy free in our house.

We had another major downturn in Colin’s ability to eat over the winter. (I actually wrote a long post when I felt really defeated but didn’t publish it.)   Whereas last year Colin had severe esophageal spasms, this time it was mostly chronic, often debilitating nausea.  Colin lost interest in food, woke up in pain every night, became more upset about leaving the house and lost weight.  It was rough.

Five months, several doctors and a variety of hospital tests later, we still don’t have a clear diagnosis.  The most popular theory is that he has Eosinophilic Esophagitis.  It is basically allergy cells in the throat that shouldn’t be there.  There is no cure but there are some medication options to help manage it.    Two doctors said they’d bet this is what Colin has, but they think it won’t be caught/diagnosed until it does more damage to Colin’s throat.   The days he is in pain I get really mad that they can’t figure this out.  Thankfully he has good days and he is one tough kid.

Taking dairy back out of his diet has been helping somewhat with his esophageal pain and his nausea.   I’m glad I have the resources and experience under my belt to get back to living dairy free.   It has been a bit harder though, since Colin’s had a taste of the good stuff and isn’t super happy about removing things like his favorite waffles.   He’s figured out that staying off dairy helps him feel better so that’s more than half the battle.

So I’ll be posting more here as I’m back to reading every label and finding new recipes.

As always, feel free to share any dairy free or MSPI friendly food finds you love and keep fighting the good fight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MSPI Graduate!

So we are still battling Colin’s throat/swallowing issues, with no new information despite a barium swallow test recently, but I decided it was time to recognize/celebrate that Colin no longer appears to have any reactions to milk, soy or any other foods.

MSPI Recap:   Colin was diagnosed FPIES and MSPI between 6 weeks and 3 months old.   I stopped eating any dairy and soy while nursing and then went on to do an elminiation diet myself.   At age 1 Colin could only eat corn, wheat, apples, carrots and chicken safely.   He nursed until 18 months and I ate only his safe foods.  We supplemented with Neocate after he turned a year old while slowly trying to add safe foods. Dairy and chocolate were our last ones to conquer. Colin is almost 5 and although I never would have believed this day would come, he is now free to eat anything he wants.

My guess is that if you are reading is, your next question might be, “How did you go about trialing these big triggers?”

Well for every food Colin has had reactions to, we trialed it by starting with the smallest amount of food and usually baked into something.  So for milk, we tried breads with milk as a minor ingredient.  Then we tried muffins and pancakes since they had more milk in them.   Then we tried 1 spoonful of cow milk yogurt.  Then a week or two later a few spoonfulls of yogurt in a day.  Then we tried cheeses.   We let a week go by in-between these food samples since Colin’s reactions are usually 24-36 hours after ingestion.  After cheese we tried a few licks of a low fat ice milk ice cream before trying full fat dairy.   We were amazed that he kept passing all the trials!

For soy we tried soy lecithin and then soybean oil in baked products.  Then we tried packaged products with soy flour/soy protein ingredients which had really given him issues in the past.   After passing that test we tried to get him to eat something with soy sauce in it.  He took one tiny bite.   Colin doesn’t like any kind of soy sauce based things or Chinese food.   We can’t give him a lot to find out if he’s 100% clear of this intolerance, but since he can tolerate the soybean protein in other foods, I’m taking this one off our list of things to avoid.

The day Colin got to eat his first ice cream cone, I  had tears of happiness.  I wish I could show you how his face lit up when we said he could have a real ice cream cone.    It has been SUCH a long road.   There have been so many firsts for him in the last year.   His first macaroni and cheese with real dairy.  His first real Smore around a campfire.  His first cocoa with whipped cream on it at our favorite breakfast place.   His first pasta with cheese in it.  Our family was able to “Go out to ice cream” anywhere and Colin could choose anything he wanted.    It has been an exciting and liberating time for him and our family.

Although we could really eat/cook anything now, it is hard for my brain to get out of the non-dairy routine.   I still tend to cook without a lot of dairy and I forget I can make things now that I’ve avoided for so long.   But really that’s not a terrible thing either.  Dairy can add a lot of fat to our diet so sticking to real foods and less cheese is probably better for us! Also, since Colin isn’t used to the taste of cow milk, he often prefers his old dairy-free alternatives.   He won’t drink straight cow milk, use real butter or eat many cheeses.  He is drinking almond milk right now and still likes the Earth Balance butter alternatives.

Colin is a very picky eater.  I think part of it is being a four year old but also MSPI has made him wary of trying new things.  Right now he is only eating a few foods due to his swallowing issues.  So we’ve gained some ground and lost some ground but we are really happy that his food intolerances have subsided.   (The doctor doesn’t think Colin’s swallowing issue is related to food.  We’ve been unable to positively/negatively affect the swallowing issue with diet, so we don’t think food is to blame.)

So if you’ve read this whole thing I want to tell you not to lose hope.   I didn’t think this day would come, even a year ago.

I plan to continue this blog even though we’ve overcome MPSI.  I was desperate to find resources when Colin was first diagnosed and I hope others will find the story of our journey and lists of foods helpful.     As the food challenges are now changing with whatever is going on with Colin’s throat, I am still busy making foods that make his body happy.  I could call it this Busy Hands Happy Throats, but I’ll just leave it as is  🙂

The Unexpected Speedbump

In the past few months, although my presence here has been quiet on my blog, our lives have been anything but.  I realized I had over scheduled myself/ over volunteered this year and became overwhelmed.  In the midst of my craziness though, Colin had a medical development that totally caught us off guard.

Day to day with Colin had been fine for so long that we took it for granted.  We’ve been eating/cooking/Living with MSPI for so long that we don’t notice it that much.  It is just another part of our lives we roll with.   And as we became comfortable with all of his sensitivities and found a diet that worked, we assumed that the toughest days were behind us and Colin would probably grow out of this. Or if not, we were ok with it since he and the rest of our family knows to plan and accommodate for what he needs.

At the end of this winter however, food again became the focus of every day. We had noticed Colin had some troubles with food, specifically chewing and swallowing.   Eating had never been easy due to his open bite so we didn’t think too much about it.  He seemed to be spitting out more food though over the last 6 months to the point where I wondered if it was time to get an outside opinion.  We talked with our pediatrician and then we made an appointment with an occupational therapist in our school district for 2 months out. While waiting for this appointment to come, one weekend suddenly Colin stopped swallowing any food. He would move food to the back of his mouth like initiating a swallow, but it would go no further.  Water, smoothies and oatmeal thinned to a liquid would go down but that was it.  I figured it was a sore throat or a tonsil issue, but he wasn’t sick and the pediatrician was very concerned.  The pediatrician couldn’t see any physical problems and got Colin to see a GI two days later.

In the meantime I was buying baby food, pureeing food and making smoothies for every meal, wondering if we were headed back to our Neocate days.   I was really wishing I hadn’t given away my baby food mill.   Colin was so desperate for food that wasn’t a smoothie that he suggested I put his sandwich through the potato ricer. So I did. Cue lots of laughing, mess and the conclusion that turkey sandwiches aren’t meant to go in a potato ricer. (He and I still giggle about this cooking experiment.) We got into a great GI who heard his history and said it was either Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE) or reflux (GERd) and that we should start Prevacid.  So we gave him prevacid capsules (opened and mixed into yogurt) but there was very little improvement over the next 5 weeks.   Colin could eat some very soft solids like cream of wheat but he would constantly clear his throat and then sometimes he would start to panic when his throat felt clogged.   He would cry and beg to go to the hospital. He was moving air and not choking, but these were scary moments for all of us while we waited for the painful feeling to pass.

During meal times I stayed with him while he ate to make sure he was okay. Meals took 45 minutes or more and he would eat tiny tiny pieces, spit out half of it but still have problems. Sometimes liquids would come back out. I thought that it was like having a baby again. My days were making soft food, feeding time, clean up a huge mess (from all the pieces and things spit out) and then repeat.   Since Prevacid didn’t help Colin, the GI requested an endoscopy with biopsies to check his throat, stomach and the beginning of his small intestines.  The doctor expected to find EOE cells based on Colin’s food history.

The scope went way easier than I expected. I had made a book of his sister’s trip to the hospital from a year before and we read it to Colin several times so that the places and procedures at the hospital were familiar to him when we were there. It also helped that Colin actually wanted to go because he was distressed about his food situation. Lastly, the hospital was awesome.  It had a children’s wing so everything is kid friendly. The nurse gave him Versed before the IV and anesthesia, so he was feeling relaxed and sleepy before it began.  He doesn’t remember much of it. After the procedure he had no pain or issues other than working the Versed out of his system.  He was like a drunk kid, wanting to run around and race cars but if I let go of him, he’d run into a wall.  I couldn’t leave him alone for a second and I hadn’t anticipated this part. It was kind of funny but I was glad my husband was home since I couldn’t even leave Colin for a second to use the bathroom myself. The immediate results of the endoscopy was everything looked ok but there were white plaques at the top of the esophagus. The doctor said it looked like EOE but usually you see them at the bottom of the esophagus as well. So we had to wait for the biopsy results for a conclusive diagnosis.

Ten days later the biopsy came back negative for EOE cells. A huge part of me was relieved, since EOE is not a diagnosis that has easy answers. But we were disappointed in that we were nowhere closer to figuring out what was wrong with Colin. By this time he was looking so skinny from his limited diet.

The doctor started Colin on Levsin (hyoscyamine sulfate tablets) to calm his throat at mealtimes. Her theory was that it was an esophageal spasm.   So we gave the tablets a try. They were tasteless and dissolved easily and quickly under his tongue.   Within a week we saw major improvement. He could eat a larger variety of textures and we had no more clogged throat-panic episodes.

So here we are today, about 3 months from when this started (It feels so much longer).   Colin is still eating a limited diet of soft foods. He loves hardboiled egg whites, raisin toast with lots of his butter so it is soft, bananas, a few types of cereal and some crackers. He can eat a jelly sandwich now but his favorite food, peanut butter, is too hard to swallow. He has been eating often and has put weight back on.

The GI said 50% of the time these spasms are caused by a virus that irritates the nerve endings in the throat. The Levsin helps calm it and eating is the way to retrain the throat to handle food. So we’ve got to keep eating and trying new textures. (Easier said than done with a stubborn and 4 year old.)   Over the next 2 months we are supposed to taper down the doses of Levsin and hopefully it will be something he just takes as needed in the future.

Thankfully making Colin his own meals and packing food for him when we leave the house is not new to me but it makes my heart heavy that he has more food challenges.   Hopefully this one will be a speedbump, not a mountain, and resolve itself soon.

Chicken and Leek Pie

I haven’t found a new recipe to add to our family dinner menu rotation in a long time.  Recently I made a recipe that I was going to make with the butter it called for, but at the last-minute decided to try our usual dairy substitutions.   Sometimes these cooking adventures turn out just ok, but this endeavor turned out DELICIOUS.

The recipe is a Chicken and Leek pie recipe from Williams Sonoma.   I saw this recipe originally in the Williams Sonoma book, The Weeknight Cook, which I love.   I always saw the pretty picture of this dish and then skipped it because the topping looked like puff pastry to me and I figured that butter would be pretty crucial to the dish.  (Really I should have just read the recipe.)

One night I decided to stop skipping this recipe and make it mainly for my husband and myself (with butter), but my husband challenged me to give it a go with our Earth Balance Soy Free Spread and rice milk (vanilla is all I had on hand!)   I was dubious.  I also didn’t realize the chicken was supposed to be cooked and shredded ahead, so we cut raw chicken into small pieces and cooked it in the pan before actually starting the recipe.  (I didn’t shred it)

The result was a delicious, creamy dinner that reminded me a LOT of chicken pot pie.  It’s flavor was a little different though, without the carrots that usually show up in a pot pie.  The topping was not at all like puff pastry but more like a dumpling or biscuit.  It was fluffy, browned on top and just a bit moist on the bottom, not at all soggy.   leek pie 1

We were amazed, especially because I had used vanilla rice milk, and also really happy to find a creamy dish that was dairy free.  We all fought over the leftovers that week.  It will definitely be one to make again and again this winter.

If you aren’t too familiar with leeks, they are in the same family as onions and garlic but their flavor is very mild.  In the raw state they are very fibrous but if you cut the main bottom section (white and light green tube-shaped part) thinly so they are thin rings, they cook easily and become very soft.  So soft my kids didn’t realize there were leeks in the meal.   Well they probably did know, because my husband feels compelled to make “leek/leak” puns for hours by putting the leeks tops on things like the faucet and yelling “Kids! The faucet is leaking!”  (ahhh Dad jokes!)

So check out the original recipe Here or see my dairy free substitutions below.  And if you are worried about your milk substitute, be adventurous!  Our vanilla rice milk worked fine!

*I am not affiliated with Williams Sonoma or Earth Balance in any way, nor receiving any compensation from them. Not that I would mind …… 🙂

Chicken and Leek Pie

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil like Olive oil or Canola Oil
  • 5 tablespoons Butter Substitute -I use Earth Balance Soy Free Spread
  • 2 large leeks (or 3 medium) white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken, homemade or purchased
  • 1 cup baby peas
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk substitute – I used rice milk

Directions
Preheat an oven to 375ºF.

In a large ovenproof fry pan over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons of oil.  Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and peas, and season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour, the baking powder and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in 5 tablespoons of butter replacer until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Add the rice milk (or your substitute) and, using a rubber spatula, stir until evenly moistened. Place heaping spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the chicken filling.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

 

 

Delicious Dairy Free Appetizer

So it has been a long while since I posted but I am back to writing now that both kids have settled into a school routine.   My youngest is now in preschool a few days so I have a little time to sit down at a computer before trying to get a bunch of stuff done around the house.  Better type fast!

As far as food goes, Colin still doesn’t eat dairy, soy proteins or chocolate.  I don’t know if he will grow out of it but we’ve accepted it, built accommodations into our life and don’t worry about it too much.  We had another milk trial this summer but it didn’t go well, especially after a few days of eating small bites of it.  His reactions are 24-48 hours later and really show themselves at nighttime.  He stops sleeping and cries all night.  He also usually has an eczema flair up and GI symptoms.   As a family we are used to this lifestyle and don’t feel as limited or concerned as we once did.  Colin can have soybean oil so that makes our life a lot easier since everything outside the house seems to contain it.   Although he has moments he feels he misses out, like ice cream at parties, for the most part we have yummy substitutions ready for him and we try to always make meals that he can eat.   Colin is growing and gaining weight well.  He has come a long way and we have become less stressed about food over time.

Although we have a good collection of dairy and soy free recipes to choose from, I am a recipe hunter.  I am always on the lookout for something new to make.   With tomatoes in season here, I am sharing one of my favorite summer appetizers.   It’s great when the tomatoes are ripe and have real flavor, but if you can’t get great tomatoes that is okay too.  The recipe is DOUBLE tomato- meaning it has sundried tomatoes in it that really pack a punch of intense tomato flavor which can help overcome lackluster fresh tomatoes.

The original recipe for this bruschetta had cheese on top of it but the one time I tried it, the cheese was really unnecessary.  It think the appetizer is better without it! I use roma tomatoes if they look good at the grocery store but if you use another type that is very watery/seedy, scoop some of the seeds out before you add them to your bowl of ingredients.   Also any balsamic vinegar will work but if you get some sweet aged balsamic, like a 25 year aged bottle where it is thick and sweet,  it is even better.   Lastly you can serve this bruschetta on top of bread or serve it in a nice bowl with bread around for guests to top it themselves so it doesn’t get soggy.

 

DOUBLE TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

6 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped  (or other tasty tomatoes in season)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive or canola oil  – chopped or julienned

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon salt  (I use kosher salt)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 loaf French bread

Directions

Preheat oven to broil setting.

Combine the chopped roma tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper.  Allow it to sit 10 minutes for flavors to mingle.

Cut your French bread into 3/4 inch slices.   Place them on a baking sheet in a single flat layer.   Broil for 1-2 minutes until toasted. Remove from the oven.

Spoon the tomato mixture on the top of the toasted side of the bread.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Dairy Free Fruit Dip

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I am so excited about this post! I was so excited about this recipe I was even sending texts about it to other dairy intolerant family members.  Move over cream cheese dips -this is Dairy Free Fruit Dip!

Earlier this year I was getting our family ready for a mini-Super Bowl Party at our house for just the four of us.   My beloved Green Bay Packers weren’t in the game so I was way more interested in the food than the football.   In years past I’d made a cream-cheese based fruit dip and strawberries for game days, but decided to experiment a little so Colin could eat our party treats.   I mixed up some marshmallow crème, coconut milk vanilla yogurt, a bit of powdered sugar, and vanilla.  I whipped it together with hand held mixer and decided it could be even better with a little lemon zest and lemon juice.  The result was a delicious fruit dip that everyone in our family loved.  My husband he said he preferred it to the old cream cheese based one.   The texture of the dip was great and didn’t get runny like my coconut whip cream does after standing a while.  I can even see myself using it as a frosting substitute for Colin’s birthday treats.

Do yourself a favor and try this dip!

Here is the yogurt I used but feel free to experiment if you have a dairy free yogurt you like.  I’d go with vanilla or plain yogurt.  Try adding a little vanilla extract into the recipe if you use plain yogurt.

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Dairy Free Fruit Dip

Ingredients

7 0z Marshmallow crème (also known as marshmallow fluff. It comes in a jar)

6 oz. Vanilla flavored coconut yogurt  (if you can only get plain -add more sugar and vanilla to the recipe)

2 tablespoons Powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Zest of half of a small lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Mix all ingredients together with a hand blender or whisk.  Serve with fruit for dipping.

 

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Freezer Meal #1: Honey Sesame Chicken

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my recent cooking ventures was to attempt to make freezer meals to pull out for dinner on busy nights.   I read a lot of Once-A-Month-Cooking websites, a lot of freezer-meal websites and came up with a collection of meals.  It wasn’t a giant collection, as many of the recipes were impossible to make dairy/soy free, but a good number of recipes nonetheless.  I made a grocery list and headed to the store.  In addition to the meats and veggies and spices, I purchased two boxes of freezer friendly gallon size ziptop bags. (I like to double bag my freezer stuff in case a leak should happen).   Then when I got a 2 hour window of time I set it all up:

1.   A meat chopping station

2.  A veggie chopping station

3.   Lots of measuring cups and spoons (every set I had)

4.   My recipes all printed and laid out in order of assembly-  I tried to do all chicken ones in a row so I could chop all the chicken at one time.

I assembled five recipes in about an hour and tucked them into the freezer.  We’ve eaten most of the meals now and some of our recipes were total flops.  A few were good with some additional spices. The best by far was Honey Sesame Chicken.

I found the recipe Honey Sesame Chicken on Damn Delicious where the recipe had been adapted from The Comfort of Cooking.   It originally contained soy sauce, but I swapped it out for coconut aminos  and added some salt to the recipe.  My coconut aminos is much sweeter than soy sauce and lacks the salt that soy brings to the party.  Add a little salt to the recipe and my family never misses soy sauce.  I wasn’t sure about the ketchup in the recipe when I read it, but when we ate it we couldn’t pick out that flavor at all.  Seems crazy but don’t skip it!  Lastly, my kiddos can’t handle any heat/spiciness in food so we left out the red pepper flakes.  Red pepper usually just adds a great background flavor and I love it, but it always seems like my most heat sensitive child ends up with the flakes in her food and then refuses to eat any more.  So we left that out of our batch.

The recipe was super easy to prepare.  To make it for the freezer,  I set a freezer friendly gallon zip top bag in a large bowl to keep it from falling over.   I dumped in the diced onion, garlic, honey, coconut aminos, ketchup, oil, chicken, salt and pepper.   I pushed the air out of the bag, sealed it, double bagged it in another ziptop bag, labeled it and froze it flat in our freezer.

I defrosted the meal still in the bag. and in the fridge, the night before I cooked it in the slow cooker.  I do want to note that I’ve started cheating in this part of the freezer meal recipes.  Most freezer meal recipes say to defrost in the fridge starting the night before.  Well, I often don’t have my act together that far in advance.  After cleaning up a dinner, getting two tired kids through the bath and bedtime routine and finding an hour to regain my sanity, I rarely think ahead about dinner the next day.  (Gotta work on this, I really do.)   So since I usually wake up and think, “Oh no!  Forgot about the freezer meal again!” I’ve started defrosting a double-bagged freezer meal in a sink half full of water with the tap dripping slightly.  (The dripping breaks up the cold water around the frozen item.)   In an hour most of my meals are completely defrosted and ready to dump into the slow cooker.   This procrastinator-friendly strategy is a time saver, but if you try it for any recipes make sure your meat is fully defrosted so it cooks evenly and fully.

My family ate this meal over rice.  This recipe calls for cooking the chicken for 3 and a half hours and then removing the chicken to cool and shred it.  When I took the chicken out I immediately started a pot of rice on the stove.  The recipe for the chicken says to cook an additional 30 minutes with the shredded chicken added back into the slow cooker, so my rice and chicken were ready right about the same time. My family loves jasmine rice.  Check it out if you’ve never tried it.

Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients

1 small onion diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup honey

½ cup coconut aminos

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Garnish for serving day (optional)

1 green onion, thinly sliced

sesame seeds, for garnish

 

For Freezer Meal Preparation:

In a heavy-duty gallon sized ziptop bag, combine the onion, garlic, honey, coconut aminos, salt, ketchup, oil, and red pepper flake (optional).   Place chicken thighs inside the bag. Seal bag tightly.  Gently squish/massage bag to combine the ingredients.  Place inside another ziptop bag, label and freeze flat.

When ready to make the meal:  Defrost.  Add to slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3 ½ hours.  Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred with forks.  Return chicken to the juices in the slow cooker.  Cover and keep warm fro 30 minutes.   Great served over jasmine rice.

 

A Challenging Fall

I’ve been absent from my blog for two months but it hasn’t been absent from my mind.  At Halloween I wanted to share the idea I saw online of having food-free options in your treat bowl. Before Thanksgiving I wanted to share the dairy free menu I made for Colin.  But I was a bit overwhelmed and I didn’t make it to the computer.  Since my last post, I’ve had the most challenging weeks in my life since Colin was little and we were in the throes of colic, elimination diets and finding him diagnosis.

In the last two months we had two deaths in our family and some concerning medical issues arise in an immediate family member.   Stressors like this have their way of spiraling outward, throwing our family off of center and affecting other parts of our life.  I often felt like I was failing as a mother and captain of the ship, but some good people in my life helped me to see that it was the rough waters and not my lack of steering that were causing these other problems and to give it some time.  They were right and things are improving all around.   Our hearts are healing and doctors say the scary medical stuff has been ruled out, that the medical issues will be manageable.  I pray that we are on the other side of this rough patch and that we can fall into the easy peace of normal day-to-day routines again after the holidays.

So onto the holidays.  I wanted to share two of my favorite cookie recipes I am making again this year that are dairy and soy free.  Hopefully they will bring you or someone in your life joy this season!

1.  Puffy Sugared Cookies – I make them in holiday colors and let the kids do the colored sugar.  A great family activity!

2.  Pecan Cookies – my husband’s favorite dairy free cookie I make.  I often make a half batch of these since it makes quite a few! I find I like to use a variety of butter substitutes so I don’t taste just one in my cookie but if you can’t find these ones, try Spectrum shortening or a variation of things you can find/can eat!

 

Pecan Cookies

adapted from original on AllRecipes

Ingredients

1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Spread

1/2 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup white sugar for decorating

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cream together the Soy Free Spread, Coconut Spread, oil, 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.  Mix in the pecans.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll ball into remaining 1/2 cup white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Flatten dough balls slightly with your finger.   Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden.

 

From our family to yours- Have a Happy New Year!

Food Allergy Treatment News

The kids are getting settled into their school routines and my wits are slowly returning as I get used to our new schedules.  It’s been a big life change with Hannah in kindergarten, Colin starting a Mother’s Day Out program as well as some changes in my work duties. Colin has been giving up his nap a lot of days which means getting to the computer has been really tough.

So what have I been doing when I wasn’t blogging?  Well when I have had a few minutes of free time, I have been working on freezer meal recipes.  These are recipes you make ahead, bag in zip top bags and freeze to cook and eat later.   I’ve been trying to make my cooking duties a little easier and have some backup plans for busy nights.  It took a while to find some that didn’t have milk in them but I just assembled a big batch of dairy and soy free freezer meal recipes.   As they come out of the freezer an onto our dinner table I will be sharing them with you!

I also found some food allergy treatment news online that I wanted to share:

Dr. Stephen Tilles, of the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center in Seattle says they are trying oral immunotherapy and skin patch immunotherapy to help treat food allergies.   These treatments are still experimental and I don’t know how they might fit with non Ig-E allergies, like food intolerances/MSPI, but it is exciting to see research happening in this area.

Here are the articles if you are interested in leaning more:

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/food-allergy-treatments-children-show-promise-n145971

http://guardianlv.com/2014/07/new-treatments-for-severe-food-allergies-may-save-childrens-lives/

 

Hope you are having a wonderful October!!

 

Summer Update, Busy Bags and Recipes!

So I know it has been a while since I posted so I figured I’d make it a full one!

It has been a busy summer!!  The kids have had summer programs, swimming lessons and the usual summer fun while my husband and I decided to try our hand at installing a paver walkway ourselves (and we survived, marriage intact). Vacation preparations took up most of my time in June and then we drove to Florida for a week.  Our trip was a wonderful success and the kids wore themselves out playing in the sand and swimming everyday.

For our road trip I made oodles of busy bags, which are activity bags for the kids to do in the car or to pass the time in restaurants.  Some are just fun and some are educational.   I keep the individual activities in gallon-size ziploc bags and for car trips I bring along a tote bag full of them.  One of my favorite resources for busy bag construction this year was the site  All Our Days, which had a huge roundup of busy bag ideas.    I especially loved things from this site I could print, laminate and throw in a bag, like Duplo Block Counting.  If you don’t have a laminator, self laminating pouches are available at office stores or on Amazon.   Some of the big busy bag hits with my kids this trip were Button Snakes,  Toy Car Racetracks, and Dry Erase Activities,   I also found a great resource of playdough mats that I laminated and put on a book binder ring.   I took along several  mini playdough containers we had lying around the house which were the perfect amount of playdough for these mats.

busy bag pic

I love our family trips but vacation planning and packing always stress me out.   This year was no different but sometime during our 14 hours in the car my husband and I reflected on our vacation preparation and realized that we are getting faster at  packing and feeling much less anxious about feeding Colin away from home.  The packing is getting easier not only since we have less “baby stuff” to bring along, but we’ve made a master packing list that is expediting the packing process.  I made a list on the computer of everything to pack for everyone in the family and all the food items we usually need. Now I just print out before a trip and update it when we find things we need to add or delete.   Taking Colin on trips is getting easier since his diet is expanding and we have a few trips under our belt to know what works.  We pack A LOT of our safe foods and decide what recipes we will make during our week away.  Easy pasta dishes, Colin’s favorite homemade pizza, a huge stash of safe kids snacks and lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches got us through this last trip to Florida.   For a road trip like this one we bring one giant bag of food supplies for the week and one bag of “Car food” that has safe snacks and sandwich making materials so we can avoid fast food.

As far as Colin’s health, he is doing really well. He is happy and growing well even though his is a super picky eater.  We’ve been doing milk challenges recently by giving him small bits of  baked goods that contain milk, since we heard that is often an early success.  So far he has been doing pretty well, well enough that I am feeling a little more optimistic about his future relationship with dairy!   He will go to a Kids Day Out program at least one day this fall and I had hopes he might be able to eat more of the snacks that the kids take turns bringing.  Cheese and yogurt won’t be on his safe list but items with traces of dairy might be okay.  Other than dairy we are just trying to get him to branch out from eating peanut butter all the time.  He refuses to touch vegetables unless they are  chopped up beyond recognition and on his pizza. So I make a big “Colin Pizza” once a week to make sure he is getting some variety.  We haven’t been doing Neocate smoothies as much lately, mostly since I ran out of it, but I heard Neocate came out with a strawberry flavor which I would like to try. I really wish that stuff was cheaper.  We are giving Colin both gummy vitamins and gummy calcium supplements daily and he is drinking more rice milk, so I am less worried about his calcium intake.   We haven’t been to a doctor in a long time so I don’t know how he is doing for weight/growth but I don’t have any concerns.

In the cooking world, since the warm weather arrived we have been grilling everything we can.   We grill meats and our veggies side dishes so we can sit outside and let the kids play and also keep the heat out of the house.   My husband is the designated griller at our house, so I catch a little cooking break in the summer.  I handle the side dishes.  Mostly I get some fresh veggies, toss them in olive oil and then heavily season them with various spices from our spice cabinet.   I season until they taste almost over seasoned and then throw them in a grill basket.   My husband puts the veggies on before our main dish, since they usually take at least 20 minutes to cook, and lets them coast along while dinner is cooking.  My favorites are zucchini, onions and mushrooms.  I often use seasoning blends from Penzeys like “Northwoods,”  “Sandwich Sprinkle” and/or their “Ruth Ann Muskego Chicken and Fish Seasoning.”

Here are a few other side dishes we have made recently that were well received at the dinner table:

1.  Ina Garten Roasted Carrots with Dill

2.  The Pioneer Woman’s Pretty Fruit Salad

3.  Strawberry Spinach Salad  (If you can’t find soy free worcestershire sauce, just skip that ingredient)

So that about sums up things at our house.  Once the school year starts for both of the kiddos, I hope to be posting more regularly, since I will have a couple hours by myself for the first time. But for now we are enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

If you have a warm weather recipe you love, do share!