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:


Hope you are having a wonderful October!!



How I Keep the Kids Busy While I Cook

Living the MSPI lifestyle is hard.  It requires SO much time in the kitchen.   I’ve had other moms ask me how I can make meals everyday and so much from scratch while taking care of my kids.  Some days are easier than others but really it is a constant challenge and always evolving.  Today I thought I would share some of my strategies for getting meals made and keeping the kids busy.

I try to give my kids things to do that they can’t get into too much trouble with, or make too much of a mess, and also make it something they don’t get to do all the time.  Obviously these ideas will be appropriate at different ages but hopefully you might find a new idea that might help you!

Infants/Little Ones

1.   Move a bassinet or baby swing near the kitchen. I would sing, rock and jiggle with a free hand (or foot) to help soothe cranky babies during the witching hour,  which unfortunately coincided with dinnertime.  If you can, hang toys that you keep just for this time of day on the bassinet or swing mobiles .  Our bassinet mobile had toys that could be removed so I used those baby links on everything to rotate toys in and out.

2.   Place an Exersaucer/Jumperoo near the edge of the kitchen.  Again, rotating in “new” toys often keep them occupied longer.

3.   A  blanket , activity mat, or high chair near kitchen with chewable items on it they didn’t usually get.  I  often pulled out baby safe kitchen items like my rubber bowl scraper, a soft sided whisk that didn’t make a good whisk, and plastic measuring cups.  Both of my kids loved to play with our silicone hot pad.  It was the “kitchen lovey” for a long time.

4.   Use a Sling/baby Bjorn/Ergo Carrier – Obviously you have to be smart about what food prep you can do safely with a child attached to your body.  Heat or knives are no no’s and little hands that want to “help” can make cooking much more difficult.  I would often alternate between carrying baby and giving him time in the swing or activity mat, depending on what part of a recipe I was working on.  I also learned to do food prep with one hand and a baby on the other hip.  I used a pizza cutter for one-handed cutting and used a food processor for chopping things.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Location – a little table or blanket near the kitchen is great. Even with my older kiddo, setting out a blanket at 4pm on the floor is novel. I think it reminds my kids of picnicking so it is fun. It keeps them close to me for a bit and helps and keeps them in my peripheral vision while prepping foods.

1.   Painting with water – I let the kids “paint” on a chalkboard, a spare piece of cardboard or on an Aquadoodle mat near the kitchen.   Sometimes I use  the waterpens that came with the Aquadoodle mat and other paint with water toys and other times I give my kids a bowl or cup that is hard to tip over and just a tiny bit of water and a paintbrush.  We are talking like a tablespoon or two of water so if it spills, it is no big deal.  I give my kids a paper towel in case of a spill.  (I teach cleanup skills pretty early on- before age 2!)

2.   Cleaning with Bubbles – I put a tiny bit of dish detergent in a large bowl and turn the faucet on high to fill it with water and lots of bubbles.  Then I put a big blob of bubbles on the front of my dishwasher.  My kids love to play in the bubbles with hands, paintbrushes or safe kitchen tools like a rubber spatula.  Then I give them a towel and they just wipe off any residue  when they are done.   Bonus- a cleaner appliance!

3.   Dance party –  At 4pm my kids are often getting grumpy.   I’ve found that turning on music they like and having a dance party lifts spirits.  I start the dance party off with them and then cook a little, dance a little.   We do kids music and upbeat appropriate adult music.

4.  Pots and safe kitchen toys –  The old standby.  Get out a few pots, lids, a wooden spoon or two and let your little ones be loud and creative.  Tolerate noise as long as you can.  I often kept a few homemade noise makers in with my pots to complete the band like a toilet paper tube filled with rice and the ends taped shut.  Make a tambourine by folding  paper plate in half, adding a handful of dry macaroni added and stapling around the edge to close.

5.  Magnet toys-  I have several different magnet based toys- a magnetic refrigerator farm, a toy with magnetic letters as well as some Melissa and Doug magnets.   Kids can play with them on the fridge or on the back of cookie sheets.   I store the magnet sets in ziploc bags in the bottom of one of my kitchen cabinets.  I pull them out usually just when I’m cooking.

6.  Chalkboard Time-  I’ve used a chalkboard easel, a small child’s lap chalkboard as well as a chalkboard wall decal/sticky paper like this.  I put some of the wall decal kind on a wall near the kitchen so my kids can color to their heart’s content while I’m cooking.  LIght colored chalk is great and easy to clean off clothes and walls if my little guy gets a bit too crazy.  Although we do paint with water sometimes on the real chalkboards, I haven’t tried it yet on the wall decals.

7.  Coloring with Crayola Color Wonder-  In the beginning I couldn’t take my eyes off my little one for a second during coloring time for fear of walls, faces, floors, etc. covered in beautiful two-year old art.  Then came Crayola Color Wonder products.  They only work on the special color wonder papers.  I wouldn’t let my kids run around the house with them, just in case there is something they can in fact ruin, but for moderate supervision art time, they are great!

8.  Screen Time-  Our kids get a very limited amount of screen time (TV, Kindle, Computer etc.).   I purposely save it on some days for when I really need some dedicated cooking time.   When I’m up to my elbows mixing meatloaf or madly throwing ingredients into a searing hot wok are good times for my kids to have their 20 minutes.   I am fortunate to have a kitchen open into the living room so I can see my kids.  Colin doesn’t last long, but five minutes “alone” is five minutes!

9.  Busy bags –  I’ve started making a box of these games to keep for restaurant outings or any time I need to keep the kids busy without my help, like dinner time or long car rides.   Just Google “busy bags” and you will find a million little games/activities for kids. These ideas aren’t something you can put together right before dinner.  They are something to make for when you need to keep them busy.  I keep my busy bag activities in labeled ziploc bags and stash them in the kitchen cabinet, car and diaper bag.  Colin’s current favorite game is Button Snake.   (Mine is nowhere near as pretty as the one on that link.  Colin just gets felt squares I could cut out of our felt scraps).  Hannah’s favorite right now s a bag of 10 cards with a dry erase marker from this set of Usborne Book activity cards.  – No craft skills needed on that one!   For a long time Colin loved to play with a baby wipes box containing lots of baby food jar lids.  Any time we finished a jar of food I put the lid in the dishwasher and added it to the baby wipes box.  Colin loved dumping them out and then putting the lids back in through the wipes slot.

10.  Small snack –  Sometimes my kids are melting down right as I need to cook and it is because they are suffering from the crabbies of low blood sugar.  Not the medically serious type, just the “I am a toddler who needs to eat soon so I’m losing my mind” type.  I try to find a small healthy snack that they can munch on while I”m doing a bit of food prep.  Is your table not near your kitchen? Try the picnic blanket idea from above!  My kids hang out and “picnic” with me and stay occupied much longer.  A few apple slices are good. Hey, I’ve already got the knife and cutting board out anyway. Some dry fruit or veggies, Happy Baby puffs, or a “trail mix” of things your kids can eat (keeping a bag of this stuff around is helpful).  We don’t eat until 6 pm so a small snack at 4 usually doesn’t affect dinner appetites but if it does, you can try to make your snack one of the food groups you are NOT serving at dinner to keep their food intake nutritionally balanced.

11. Cooking with me – I try really hard to find opportunities for my kids to participate in the cooking process as early as they can.  When I go around gathering ingredients I give them one of the unbreakable items to hold and they help me get everything to the counter.   I’ve sat my kids up on the counter and I’ve also sat on the floor with them to let them dump, stir, mash and so on.   Yes it takes a little longer and we may make more mess but they love it.  We practice counting and measuring, they get both fine and motor practice, they might pick up a cooking skill here or there as time goes on but even more importantly, we have fun and make some memories.

Some other things that have helped me are The Toddler Busy Book, by Trish Kuffner, when I really need some new ideas for things to do with the kiddos.

Other Helpful Thoughts:   To make cooking even easier, I try to plan ahead.  (It’s always about the planning with these allergy diets isn’t it!)  If I know I’m making something like chili, that takes a lot of chopping, I might take an hour out of my Sunday afternoon and let my husband watch the kids while I do a bit of prep work.  I will even freeze bags of chopped onions and peppers to make dinner time during the week a little less hectic.   I’d love to get the “Once-A-Month-Cooking” thing down but I’m not there yet.   At my best I might think to double an easy recipe like meat and veggie spaghetti sauce or meatballs and freeze half for another week when things are busy.

Hope you found something to help your week go a little smoother and happy cooking!

Food Network Magazine April Has Lots Of Dairy/Soy Free Recipes

Food Network Magazine - April 2013

Food Network Magazine – April 2013

Just got my Food Network Magazine in the mail this last week.  I get overly excited when this magazine arrives.  It really is one of the few “splurges” for myself and provides me with a lot of cooking inspiration.

Recently the magazine and I had a falling out.  Last month was the CHEESE issue.  Yes, cheese.  When I already couldn’t partake in all the Valentines day goodies, Food Network had to salt the wound by making it cheese month.  I couldn’t handle seeing all the things I couldnt’ eat so I put that one away to read another time.   Luckily the Food Network magazine production staff has redeemed themselves with the April 2013 issue.

The April issue is a cache of dairy and soy free recipes.  I’m guessing they directed this issue more toward the folks celebrating Passover since its not a huge Easter eggstravaganza issue.   There is a section on flourless cakes, some made with matzo.  Like this Lemon Coconut Matzo jelly roll.   They also have a flourless carrot bundt cake that is dairy and soy free.  Maybe they are making nice with the dairy free crowd alienated by the last issue.  Whatever the motivation, on top of two delicious looking dairy and soy free cakes, I’ve counted at least 15 other recipes I could make.  There are loads more that I could easily substitute some oil in for butter or leave off the “finishing” cheese sprinkled on top.

So basically,if you need some new dairy and soy free ideas I’d highly recommend checking out this issue before it is gone from the newsstands.  As I try things I will be sure to post them here!

Household Tips – One Handed Cutting

Just wanted to share a few timesavers this morning that go along with preparing food with kids.  Since I am often cooking during the sleepier/grumpier times of day (breakfast and dinner) I often have to prepare food while holding Colin on my hip.  Recently I discovered how useful a pizza cutter can be to cut up things that often take two hands.  Pancakes, waffles, sandwich crusts, pita bread, quesadillas and more are easily with one hand wielding a pizza cutter.   I usually lay the food, like a pancake, on a cutting board and dice it up with the pizza cutter into kid sized bites and then put it into a plate to serve.

The pizza cutter works really well for making “dippers,” as Hannah calls them, which are basically long strips of food she can dip into sauce.   For pancakes I make “dippers” and serve them with a plastic shot glass with a little bit of syrup in it (less than half full).  She enjoys the dipping and I can control the syrup consumption.  We do hamburger and chicken “dippers” too with ketchup, minus the shot glass.  It’s amazing how changing the way food is presented can persuade a kid to eat it!

I’ve also started using a pair of kitchen scissors (meaning one I keep for food, not cutting household stuff) to cut up spaghetti noodles for Colin quickly with one hand.   Just put the spaghetti in a bowl so it can’t get away from you and snip, snip snip.  Toddler sized noodles in no time!

Hope you are having a good week and if you are in the USA, surviving the time change!