Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Gift from Rudi's

I was so excited when the UPS delivery man made a surprise appearance in our driveway.  He came bearing gifts!  He came bearing allergy-friendly food gifts!  Imagine my delight at the opening of a Rudi's gluten-free bakery box with presents inside.  Our family stumbled across Rudi's orginial sandwich bread once upon a time and it became a fast favorite.  Though not easy to come by in our area, we visit the natural foods stores enough to regularly keep our freezer in stock.  Within our Rudi's present came the gift of their Multi-grain bread.  We had not tried this before.  Needless to say, my daughter has a new favorite.  She likes the texture of the multi-grain bread much better than any other bread she has tried.  It's music to my ears!  Not only did we receive a free loaf in the box, but we also received a coupon for an additional loaf at no charge.  They provided literature of their spread the bread campaign as well, have you heard?  For every $1 coupon downloaded from their site; Rudi's will make a donation to the Celiac Disease Foundation.  How awesome is that?  I host a support group for our local residents whom are already big fans of Rudi's and are also excited to be supporting such a great cause while getting a reward themselves.  You can't get much better than that!  I look forward to also being able to try the cinnamon raisin bread along with the bread pudding recipe they sent.  Bread pudding has always been a past family favorite and I look forward to retrying for my allergy aware family.  It's nice to know some family traditions can still stay the same with just a little bit of tweaking.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last Night's Fights

Well, everyone, I get the worst mom in the world award!  Thank you.  Thank you.  When I picked my daughter up from school yesterday, her head was itchy.  Of course my first fear is the dreaded "L" word.  Upon checking, I just noticed some redness; no big deal just dry skin.  She takes after me and this harsh winter has not been friendly to our skin; or so I thought.  "Get your homework finished and eat this early dinner, you've got soccer practice tonight."  And off we go an hour later to a facility 30 minutes away for some good ol' indoor soccer.  When we leave I notice her face is really red.  "Wow, you really got a workout."  Uh-Oh, silly mommy, look closer!  By the time we made the trip back home she was broke out in welts and urticaria from head to toe.  Hello, I'm a nurse and I'm still an idiot.  My husband immediately jerked off her clothes and started a warm bath because she felt she was on fire.  I, on the other hand, was running frantically to my bathroom to grab the benadryl.  Needless to say that within an hour, she was fine.  I, however, suck!  Yes, I made a good recovery with the Benadryl-and-game-of-hokey-pokey-while-I-combed-her-hair-to-prevent-her-from-scratching-her-skin-off-until-the-meds-kicked-in.  After all was said and done I wanted to drink a bottle, yes bottle, of my husbands wine and cry myself to sleep.  Pity party, I know.  So silly, but at the time, so scary.  This morning we are back on track.  I politely, yes I promise I was polite, alerted the teacher to last nights armageddon and asked that she watch out for further instances.  Maybe we'll have a good rest of week and mommy can not become a lush.  As I leave you, I ponder this.."What would Lorelai Gilmore do?"
Benadryl Children's Allergy, Cherry Flavored, 8-Ounce Bottle (Pack of 2)

Friday, January 21, 2011

A New Food Allergy Outlook

Food Allergies For DummiesI have reached the point in this food allergy awareness lifestyle that no one else really cares.  And that’s okay.  I’m not going to worry about everyone else and making them aware of what is around them.  I was always the coach/mom who asked if any of the kiddos had food allergies before my own child actually had them.  Looking back, I realize the only reason I asked then was because of my own trials growing up.  I grew up in a town even more rural than where I currently live and I had a ton of food allergies.  I remember having the allergy shots everyday after school; I was always allergy aware.  Now that I have a child of my own with food allergies I am even more aware and a lot more educated and up-to-date on our options.  I am still currently looking to advocate within our school system for at least one allergy-friendly meal per week; perhaps vegetarian.  But I am not going to be the person to rise upon my soap box preaching to the mere, unrelenting, uneducated mortals.  Okay, maybe I won’t go quite that far.  There are a ton of options out there for our family.  We made the transition as a family, you see.  I only cook for the whole family, no separate meals here.  My son still has pizza rolls in the freezer and regular whole wheat bread, but my daughter has her Rudi’s sandwich bread in the freezer along with her Udi’s frozen pizza crust.  I naturally pack her lunch daily for school along with her snacks for after-school activities.  Her teacher notifies me of any parties or upcoming events in the classroom so that I bring her food comparable to her classmates.  This way, no one feels left out.  I don’t worry about how other people feel about it anymore.  My daughter is now comfortable enough with her allergies that she doesn’t eat anything I did not bring her and no longer feels as if she misses out on anything.  Unfortunately, she has not been invited to a birthday party all year because of the other parents’ fear.  How ridiculous for them.  I don’t think my daughter notices because she is luckily very busy with year-round soccer and her horses.  There is actually only one parent within the class who bothers to even recognize her dietary restrictions and we are thankful to her for it.  Luckily, we went to high school together and our girls are within a month apart.  For the Halloween and Christmas parties this year; she brought goodie bags for the class and had stickers, necklaces, toys, etc. in my daughters’.  She felt special for having a bag a little different.  Thank goodness for those parents.  Thank goodness for the ones who make a point to recognize their child’s friends and lifestyles.  I have also tried to always be that parent who remembers “Tommy” doesn’t eat meat or “Abby” doesn’t like cake, etc.  The problem at our school is that it is always the same group of us parents who do everything at the school from the book fair to field day.  One parent once made the comment that a lot of parents don’t get involved because they are too busy being a kid themselves; I’ve found it sadly true.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Weeknights Easier

Well, the cold has slowly but surely made it’s way around our house this past week.  Hopefully, the worst is now over.  I find myself having a hard time sleeping at night after catering to the kids all day, maybe I’m just too tired to sleep.  I have discovered some new takes on some traditional casseroles and soups this past week.  I made up a fabulous cheeseburger casserole that was a big hit with my family as well as a take on the traditional Italian wedding soup.  I also made a great discovery with a sunbutter chocolate chip cookie for my family; my kids call them mookies (half muffin, half cookie).  The recipe has kept great in the freezer.  I was excited to find none of them turned green.  I never knew, before attempting these recipes anyway, that chlorophyll could react with baking soda to turn the cookies or muffins green.  I discovered it on my first attempt at the muffin aspect of the cookies.  After researching the final green product, I cut the baking soda and baking powder by half and made “mookies”.  My next big step is to make my first pie crust and I still want to make homemade pasta again.  Homemade pasta is the only thing I miss from our days filled with gluten, I’ve tried a couple of times with the pasta dough just breaking apart.  I will conquer the homemade pasta before it’s over!  Right now, our family is looking forward to some warmer weather and the activities that follow.  My oldest Nubian, Heidi, is due to have her babies at the end of February; something we are excited about.  I miss my goat milk.  I love the routine of milking in the mornings, making homemade cheese and yogurt, and my family is looking forward to the ice cream.  For those of you who have never tried raw milk or goat’s milk at all; it has a great flavor.  The milk is not as fatty as cow’s milk, and a lot of people whom are lactose intolerant can tolerate goat milk.  The butter is actually white and very creamy.  Luckily, we are not a dairy free household.  I do plan to also clean up my greenhouse before January is over.  I have an even larger garden planned for this year.  Now more than ever, I appreciate growing our own fruits and vegetables.  Not only is it much more economic but also healthier.  This year will be my first attempt at growing grains; I plan on trying Quinoa.  I’m not sure how it will turn out and look forward to hearing your welcome advice.  For now, I thought I would pass along the cheeseburger casserole recipe.  We were lucky enough to have some fresh thick cut bacon and homemade garlic pickles as additions.  Let me know what your yummy additions will be.  I made this recipe up on a weeknight last week.  I made a HUGE batch hoping to have enough to freeze for another night, not so lucky due to everyone demanding the leftovers the very next night.  Oh well, at least I have a new family favorite to add and hopefully you will, too.

Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole

Elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
5 strips bacon cut-up
2 green onions chopped
6 dill pickle slices chopped
½ stick butter
4-5 tbs. potato starch
1 lb. bag shredded cheddar cheese with ½ cup reserved
2 cups milk
2 heaping tbs sour cream
2 tsp ground mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook beef and bacon; drain and set aside.  Cook macaroni; set aside.  Add potato starch to melted butter one tablespoon at a time whisking well.  Add milk to melted butter, continue whisking.  Add cheese; whisk until melted and starts to thicken.  Add ground mustard, sour cream, salt and pepper; combining well.  Combine macaroni, beef mixture, onions, and pickles.  Stir to combine.  Add to large baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, which is just long enough to toss a salad!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Allergy-Friendly Jalapeno Poppers

What a busy week!  With the snow finally melting away, we have planned and started more changes within our home.  It’s hard work to pick out the proper paint color.  With these plans and purchases we have ate pretty simply.  Lots of soups and tapas for the family; and they have LOVED it!  I love experimenting and creating new recipes with allergy friendly ingredients.  I say allergy friendly due to the fact that we do enjoy dairy.  I have dairy goats that help provide for my family.  I love making my own butter, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.  It’s even easier to create these with the help of my favorite kitchen aid mixer, and I can always count on my husband to “gift” me with new attachments.  One of our favorite new, quick recipes is for jalapeno poppers.  They are historically infamous in our home but took a backseat when the allergies came along.  Now, I can make them allergy friendly with a just a couple of tweaks.  First of all, don’t use cream cheese; it will melt right out even if you try freezing first.  Trust me, I tried it.  We use hard, sharp cheddar.  It gives great flavor and can stand up to the oven.  I included a picture of before the oven, but the family attacked with such fierceness that none survived for a post picture.  Their reasoning was that I could always make more...

Jalapeno Poppers

Chosen amount of Jalapenos.  10-20 for a gathering of less than 10 people
1 block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Sliced Bacon

Snap stems off of jalapenos.  Cut jalapenos in half and scrape seeds out and rinse jalapeno boats off to remove excess seeds.  Cut pieces of cheese to fit into jalapenos and wrap with bacon in single layer.  Place on a rack sitting within a baking dish to capture grease away from poppers.  Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Last, place oven on low broil setting to just finish top of bacon.  It is sooo delicious! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Knowing When to Choose Your Battle

I am having a hard time knowing when to choose my battles, I think.  Yes, I have become more vocal regarding local restaurants.  No, I have not said hardly anything to my daughter’s school.  I’ll admit it, I’m too scared.  I’m a big ‘ol chicken.  I’m not sure of when or if there is any point to “rocking the boat”.  At the beginning of the school year I spoke with the new principal and the board office.  I filled out the proper paperwork for the school and the nurse, and I spoke to her teachers and the cafeteria workers.  My husband delivered a microwave to her classroom because the cafeteria could not guarantee proper food and no contamination.  We figured we would just send the microwave and I would send her lunch daily.  There have been two times this school year that the school said they could feed her that day; my daughter came home disappointed and hungry due to the small portion and that it was served cold instead of warm.  “That’s okay”, I tell her.  “We know what we take to school is yummy and your teacher does a great job of heating it up.”  I figure that we are lucky in the regard that the public school system even allows us a microwave.  But is this the truth?  Am I not requesting enough to be done?  One of the mother’s in my support group attends a different public school and was able to single-handedly dissolve peanut butter from being served.  Wow, that’s impressive.  The kids can bring PB & J in their own lunch box, but it will no longer be served due to all of the peanut allergies.  My daughter is allergic to peanuts, but they still serve peanut butter as an option EVERYDAY!  I need Jamie Oliver to come to my school system with his food revolution.  That would make everything better, yeah right.  If I stand up for what I think they should be serving in the cafeteria will they take it out on my children?  I’ve seen it before.  So when do you stand up for what you believe?  How do you know what battle to choose?

The Art of War

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our Story

We are starting the year with a healthy child.  It was only mid-July of 2010 that we received the news that our daughter had food allergies.  It was a long-awaited and much appreciated diagnosis because we now had a name to go along with the struggle.  As a parent, your only wish is for healthy and happy children and that you are capable of giving them the world.  That was not our reality for many years.  When our daughter received her three month immunization, we saw a change.  She would no longer breast feed and would cry uncontrollably at times.  The doctors, of course, told my husband and me that we were just the parents to an emotional child.  At 10 months old or so, we were told that she had an allergic reaction to the oatmeal cereal.  She was not to have any foods containing oats, oat flour, etc, and we were to retry the food in 6 months.  We followed doctors’ orders and in six months she was able to eat oatmeal again.  By the age of three she would lay down frequently and when we would ask what was wrong she would just say that her stomach and her back hurt.  That is all she would say; nothing else hurt except her stomach and her back.  Numerous visits were made to our pediatrician.  When I say numerous, I mean that they hated to see me come into the office.  Finally, a few months into our struggle, they told us that she tested positive for mono.  My three year old had mono and I was floored.  I figured she obtained it from story hour or gymnastics; she was positive for mono in the spring and finally felt like herself in September.  By October I left my job at our local newspaper and went back to school to receive my nursing degree.  I knew there was more going on.  During my last year of nursing school, after numerous visits back to the doctor with the same complaints; our pediatrician sent us to a specialist five hours away at a large children’s hospital.  There we were given a diagnosis of hypersensitivity with an emphasis on sensory perception autism.  The doctor told us that her back hurts because she can literally feel all of her joints, muscles, etc.  She compared it to us stepping on a rock; she would feel like she was stepping on a plate of broken glass.  During her growth spurts she couldn’t even feel her bladder; it hurt her to walk at times.  She would only eat vanilla yogurt and nothing else.  The specialist told us that her biggest obstacle would be us, and that we should push her to try more foods and get her body stronger.  So began my work.  I was the mother and I would fix this problem.  I graduated nursing school and we decided I would only work part-time.  I started mashing bananas to mix with her yogurt to get her eating more texture and eventually it worked and she slowly started eating more foods.  We started yoga to get her muscles stronger and when she was old enough she started playing soccer; her now favorite sport.  The only problem is that her stomach and back was still hurting and now she developed urticaria at random times.  The doctor gave us zyrtec to give during the urticaria and an MRI showed an abscess on her appendix; the surgeon opted not to do surgery in hopes it would go away on its own.  We now also discovered a heart murmur.  By this time, our pediatrician had moved away and in a last stitch effort I went back to the office to see a different doctor.  It was the best decision I ever made.  She took one look at her and said that she looked as if she had allergies and requested that we get some blood work done that day.  Two days later they called with the news that she was allergic to wheat, soy, and walnuts.  They wanted us to get blood work done to check for Celiac’s disease and also made us an appointment with a pediatric allergist.  She tested negative for the Celiac’s and during the scratch test she tested positive for wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  This was discovered two weeks before school was scheduled to start.  The public school she attends cannot guarantee food allergy safety, therefore we bought a microwave to place in her classroom and she takes her lunch on a daily basis.  By September I left my job to stay home until a routine could really be obtained.  I now look forward to a happy, healthy future for our daughter who is currently oozing with health.  She still has problems with her back, certain textures, and over-stimulation.  As parents, we have a little different outlook on life.  We have better patience, a stronger knowledge, and the confidence that we will do whatever it takes to give our children the health and strength they need for a prosperous future.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Simpli: A Review

Happy New Year!!  I plan to get a lot accomplished this year.  I have had many things “in the work” this past year and now is the perfect time to push forward.  This blog will begin the year with a review.  I was recently contacted by Simpli to sample and review their apricot oatmeal.  Here is what Simpli had to say about what makes their oatmeal so special.
·        Instantly adds much-needed fiber to gluten free diets.
·        Only four ingredients – oats, apricots, sugar, and salt.
·        Intensely flavored oats from Scandinavia.
·        Delicately dried and diced fresh apricots.
·        Zero cholesterol, additives, or preservatives.
·        Every ingredient is GMO free.
·        Certified gluten free: ELISA R 5 tested
·        Delicious treat for celiac disease sufferers and those on vegetarian and vegan diets.

Our first try with the oatmeal was not a huge success; add hot water and stir.  The second try was better with hot milk.  I also combined it with pancake mix and made the best pancakes for a cold morning.  I have to say our third try is a favorite with my family.  The company offers many great recipes for their oatmeal and also has GF whole oat flour coming soon.  I look forward to trying all that Simpli has to offer our family and I encourage you to do the same.  I like the idea that Simpli really is simple, you see what you get.  Outside of making it ourselves that is hard to come by.