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!









Thanksgiving Food Plan

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I wanted to share how I approach this food centered holiday.  I usually end up doing a lot of cooking, making myself a mini-Thanksgiving, but since my family has two turkey celebrations to attend and I love leftovers, having a lot of food is a good thing.  Going to big gatherings full of delicious butter laden food can be hard when you are on an allergy diet so have a plan, bring yourself something delicious to eat so you don’t feel deprived and enjoy the holiday!

My Dairy-Soy Free Thanksgiving Plan:

1.    Inquire about safe items in advance:  I check with my family to see how some things are prepared.

–  I can usually eat turkey and cranberry sauce.  I make sure the turkey wasn’t injected with things or covered in butter for cooking.

–  I don’t ask people to change recipes for me but since it is family, I don’t mind asking for a few little favors.  I have my mom put some of the boiled potatoes to the side that I will mash with some chicken stock when I get there.   She often will leave a cooked vegetable like green beans in a dish for me to season myself.

(I do want to note that my family has been awesome at trying new recipes to accommodate this crazy diet so there is more I can eat at family gatherings.  Very very grateful for their patience and kindness!)

2.   Bring safe side dishes:    People seem to be uncomfortable if I have little on my plate plus it is nice to have a balanced meal.   Some dishes I bring to share and some are just small butter free versions of the usual fare that I bring to add to my plate.  Here are a few ideas:

– Potatoes mashed with some butter replacer and chicken stock or just chicken stock

– This amazing butternut squash recipe from Ina Garten.  Super easy and delicious. Definitely one I’m bringing to share.

– Sweet Potatoes mashed with cinnamon, honey and either butter replacer or vegetable stock.

-Bread/Rolls –  Last year I made a rosemary loaf a day or two ahead to bring and share.

-Salad – My favorite salad is this apple cranberry salad  (go easy on the onion) but recently I experimented with a fall salad of romaine, apples, cranberries, pecans and an apple cider vinaigrette which was tasty.

-Last year when I could still eat one brand of store-bought bread, I made stuffing by sautéing onion and celery in olive oil, seasoning pieces of bread with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and using a blend of chicken stock and eggs as the binder/moisture.  I baked it in the oven until it was 160 degrees (so the eggs were cooked).  Pretty tasty.

3.  Bring a lively libation  – If you can’t have all the fun foods, sometimes it is nice to have something fun to drink.  Wine, cocktails, mocktails or just something you don’t normally let yourself have.   Sparkling juices are a favorite of mine this time of the year.

–   Try our family favorite:  Cranberry Spritzer :  Place ice in a glass, pour cranberry juice in about 2/3 way up, add a few good splashes of tonic or 7-up, squeeze in several wedges of lime, place limes in the glass and stir gently.  I like tonic because it adds more limey flavor and is bubblier but 7-up makes it sweeter.

4.    Don’t Forget Dessert:

– Last year I brought a homemade Lemon Chiffon Cake (I made some notes here)

–  I’ve also made Dairy-Soy Free Pumpkin Pie – I use a canola oil crust recipe (will try to get this up this week)  and make the pumpkin pie according to these directions except I replace the evaporated milk with evaporated rice milk that I made:   Pour double the amount of milk you need in a saucepan and boil it down. So start with 24 ounces of rice milk and boil until you have 12 ounces. Cool and use in your recipe

–   This year I am bringing Apple Crumble Pie.  I am trying to get this one written up to share this week.

– Pie sidekicks – I am going to try making my coconut whipped cream  and add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to jazz it up or I might try to get ahold of something called Healthy Top. If you’ve tried this whipped cream substitute I’d love to hear from you.   Recently I also  made some coconut milk ice cream and added lots of cinnamon to the batter before churning/freezing.  I think that will go really well with pie.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!!