Sunday, March 22, 2015

Product Review and Giveaway: Wink Frozen Desserts

If you or your child have food allergies, you understand how restricting eating can be.  What I find liberating, however, is that there are so many great companies out there helping to fight the same battle.  In our house, there are certain brands that we can consistently rely on to provide safe and delicious food for our family.  We have just discovered a new brand to add to our list!


Wink Frozen Desserts makes an ice cream that is not only free of the top 8 allergens, but also contains only 100 calories per pint!  Yes, you read that right.  100 calories per pint!  No guilt in enjoying this delicious treat!  I can give it to my kids on a regular basis with a clear conscience, and they think I'm the greatest mom in the whole world for giving them ice cream so often.

Wink was recently created by a young man named Gabe.  As a child, Gabe enjoyed ice cream as most kids do.  At age 17 he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and a milk allergy.  As many of you know, ice cream can be hard to come by when you have a milk allergy.  Gabe decided to use pea protein to create his favorite treat in a safe way.  And the results are amazing!

Gabe not only wanted his ice cream to be free of milk and gluten to meet his own needs, but also to keep out fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients to allow people with a variety of dietary restrictions to be able to enjoy it as well.  Of course, as a Top 8 Free food, this ice cream is free of peanuts and tree nuts too!


I would have to say his creation is a success.  Wink offers 6 delightful flavors including Cake Batter, Choco-Mint, Cinnamon Bun, Cocoa-Dough, Iced Latte, and Vanilla Bean.  Our family had the opportunity to try each flavor.  It's so hard to pick a favorite!  Personally, I love the Cake Batter.  Two of my kids picked Choco-Mint as their favorite with Cocoa-Dough as a close second.  The other two chose Vanilla Bean as their favorite, which is perfect by itself or topped with some fresh fruit.  You could practically eat the Cinnamon Bun for breakfast!  And the hubs enjoyed the Iced Latte (he's our resident coffee drinker).  You just can't go wrong!

I was expecting the see chunks of chocolate chips, cookie dough, etc in these pints, but it's all cream.  That does not compromise the flavor though!  The ice cream tasted like we were at Orange Leaf where we (those of us without food allergies) get flavored frozen yogurt!  Amazing! 


Since Wink Frozen Desserts don't have any fat content, it helps to stick the frozen pint in the microwave for a few (10-15) seconds to give it a creamy consistency.  Boy, did that do the trick!  It was so easy to scoop and was nice and creamy!  I mean, really, look at this picture!


Since Wink is still a relatively new company, it is not yet widely available in stores.  Luckily, you can order online, and your pints will be shipped directly to you in an insulated container with dry ice to keep your treats frozen.

Or you can enter this giveaway for a chance to win one pint of each flavor!  That's 6 pints shipped directly to your door!  One lucky winner will be chosen on Friday, April 3.  Click here for details!

I like to keep certain foods on hand for impromptu outings.  Going to Orange Leaf is one of our family's favorite treats in the summer.  But Bubs and GirlyGirl always have to bring a treat from home since they are peanut and milk free (in addition to other allergies).  We will definitely be keeping pints of Wink in our freezer for the kids to bring with them one this kind of a trip.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Baked Enchilada Casserole (Top 8 and Gluten Free)

I have made enchiladas in the past, and for some reason, I have a negative feeling about making them again.  I'm not sure if it's trying to squeeze the right amount of meat into each tortilla, or the tortillas tearing as I'm wrapping them, or what.  But I have not felt motivated to make enchiladas for some time.

We tend to get stuck in a rut as far as meals go.  Each kid has their favorite meal that they request almost on a daily basis.  And I tend to make various versions of each dish.  But tonight I decided to step outside of my comfortable box and try enchiladas again.  This time, however, I was going to make them easy!  Here ya go!


Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
1/2 c chopped onions
2 pkgs (or cans) enchilada sauce
6 gluten-free tortillas
Dairy-free shredded cheese (I used about 1 1/2 pkgs of Daiya cheddar style shreds)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º.  Brown ground beef until fully cooked.  Add taco seasoning, refried beans, and onions.  Mix well.  Stir in one package of enchilada sauce.  In 9x13 dish, layer 2 tortillas, beef mixture, and cheese.  Repeat this layer. Top with 2 more tortillas.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top of casserole, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to set for about 10 minutes before serving so it doesn't ooze all over your plate.


You can add any number of ingredients to this casserole to suit your taste.  Next time I'll add some rice to the meat.  Black beans would be a nice addition.  Maybe some salsa?  What other varieties can you think of?

I also made a black bean and corn salsa using 2 cans of yellow and white corn, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of Italian-style diced tomatoes, a bunch of cilantro, and a squirt of lime juice.  Mix together for a tasty side dish to any Mexican entree.



Saturday, February 28, 2015

SunButter Donuts (Gluten and Top 8 Free)


I am the first to admit that I am not a baker worthy of a writing cookbook.  Making meals is like putting together a puzzle.  I look in my pantry and figure out what I have that will constitute a meal.  Baking is a little more delicate.  You must find just the right combination of ingredients to make a delicious product.  This tender balance is enhanced when using allergy-friendly substitutes making baking a little more intimidating. 

 

I'm not someone who is trying to become cookbook worthy. I'm simply trying find easy and yummy foods that my kids can enjoy.  With the emphasis on easy.  On this snowy, winter day, I decided to see what I could whip up.  I spotted a jar of SunButter in my pantry along with just enough gluten-free flour to make something.  So donuts it was.  I wasn't sure how they would turn out since I was basically just throwing things in a bowl, but they actually turned out really good!  On the first try!  I was happily surprised.


Ingredients:

2 c gluten-free flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c SunButter
1/2 c applesauce
1/4 c apple butter
3/4 c dairy-free milk
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

Simply mix together and pour into a donut pan that has been pre-sprayed.  Bake at 425º for 7-9 minutes. 

I drizzled a powdered sugar and rice milk icing over the tops for a little added sweetness, but these are delicious on their own.  They made really good muffins too.  You may even try baking it in a loaf pan.

Look at this!  Can you believe this es gluten and egg free?
Here is my biggest critic.  And he gave his seal of approval.
GirlyGirl loves them too!
Don't have a donut pan?  Try making muffins!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blue Bear Aware

 

Last fall I attended the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABlogCon) in Las Vegas.  I got to meet many wonderful people there.  It was an experience like no other.

Exploring Las Vegas with Heather, owner of Blue Bear Aware, Brynn, (me) and Tiffany (left to right)

One of the perks of attending this conference is the fabulous swag bags we got at check-in.  They were filled with all kinds of goodies, both edible and otherwise, coupons, and special offers.  One of the special offers was a sandwich contest to win $100 to spend at Blue Bear Aware.  Entry for the contest was to post several pictures of your allergy-friendly sandwiches on social media, and a random winner would be chosen.  And guess what!  I won!  As someone who rarely wins at random drawings, etc, I was ecstatic.  Not only did I win something, but it was ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS to spend on anything from Blue Bear Aware!

While I posted several pictures of sandwiches for this contest, this was my favorite. A s'more counts as a sandwich, right?

Blue Bear Aware is a small online business run by a food allergy mom like myself.  There are products such as autoinjector cases, clothing, labels, bracelets, stickers, books, etc.  Anything a food allergy mom would want!  I thought that spending $100 would be easy, but there was so much to chose from.  I finally narrowed it down to four autoinjector cases and a couple of packages of Zipcicles.

I chose to get four cases since I have two kids with food allergies.  The SPI belt will hold either the EpiPen or Auvi-Q.  It stretches to fit several small items.  In fact, I seem to remember Heather, the owner, say that this is a product that was created for runners to carry their personal items while running, such as a bottle of water, cell phone, keys, etc.  I got this product in black and pink (one for the boy and one for the girl).

 

I also wanted a more compact carrying case just for the Auvi-Q, so I got a black and a pink pouch that can either be worn around the waist with an included belt or just thrown in a jacket pocket with the belt removed.
    

I have seen so many fun tings to make in these tall, skinny ziplock baggies, I just had to get some for myself.  But I haven't seen them in the stores.  When I found them on the Blue Bear Aware website, I knew I would be getting a few packages.  What a simple and healthy way to make popsicles or freeze sticks!  These have been stashed in my drawer, waiting for summer to make some frozen treats for the kids.


There are so many useful and fun products on this website.  And each order is packaged so beautifully, it's like you're getting a gift in the mail.  Also, each order comes with a coloring sheet and crayons.  What a personal and thoughtful touch.  Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you get at www.bluebearaware.com

Heather (owner of Blue Bear Aware) and I at FABlogCon 2014

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fluffer Nutter Sandwich (Peanut and Egg Free)

Ever since my kids were diagnosed with food allergies, I have come to terms with the foods they will never get to enjoy.  Things like Peanut Butter M&M's, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, etc.  A fluffer nutter sandwich was also on that list.


Since Bubs is allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts, I figured a fluffer nutter sandwich was out of the question.  While there are several peanut butter alternatives out there, finding an egg-free marshmallow creme was another story.  Last fall I stumbled across this Ricemellow creme at Whole Foods.  I used it to make some delicious fudge at Christmas, and now to make a yummy school lunch for my kids.

It's simple, really.  Mix together SunButter and Ricemellow creme to desired consistency, then spread on your bread of choice.  (We use Enrg-G Brown Rice Bread.)  The results are amazing!  You could even add bananas or apples to your sandwich for a healthy variation.  I'll be making this again soon!

Cutie got a taste, and I'd say she likes it!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Healthy Mornings

Mornings can be a chaotic time for any family.  Especially if you have young children.  We have four kids, ages (almost) 4, (almost) 5, 8, and 9.  So how do we get through our mornings?

I must say that routine and structure play an important role in our day, and it helps make our mornings run smoothly too.  Most of the time.      

Here's a look inside a typical morning at our house.


My husband and I wake up early, hopefully before the kids.  We put in our exercise DVD and workout for 30-60 minutes.  Personally, I find it easier to workout without the kids around.  If they do happen to get up while we are exercising, they usually end up needing us to be parents to them rather than allowing us to be adults taking care of ourselves.  Meaning that we have to tend to their needs rather than our own.  However, the flip side of them watching us exercise is that they see us working on healthy habits for ourselves.  They see our dedication to exercise each and every morning.  They see that it is part of our routine.  I love catching them imitate exercising through play during the day.  What a compliment to our lifestyle.


After our exercise routine, we shower and get ready for work.  The kids are in the routine of getting themselves dressed.  The older kids help themselves to a selection of healthy breakfast items (GirlyGirl almost always has oatmeal, and Bubs usually has cold cereal).  The little girls still need some help with brushing teeth and hair, and maybe a little encouragement to get dressed rather than play.  :)  The littles eat their breakfast at daycare, so that is one less thing for us to worry about each morning.

We don't do big, fancy breakfasts, but if you are interested in some delicious healthy ideas, check out Aloha for tons of great ideas.  You could easily modify them to meet your special diet needs.  

In order to decrease the feeling of being rushed in the morning, I try to make the older kids' school lunches (and my salad for lunch at work) the night before.  That way I can just throw everything into lunch boxes in the morning on our way out the door.  Preparation is key to reducing stress.  Especially in the morning.   

To sum it up, we begin with exercise, get dressed and ready for the day, and pack lunches and school folders before heading out the door for the day.  The kids know exactly what is expected from them each morning, and things usually run smoothly.  Now, we do have the occasional meltdown from who-knows-what or tears from tangly hair, but overall, our mornings run pretty smooth and easy.

My hope is that this type of routine will carry into the middle school and high school years.  Right now my kids are young enough that they wake up on the own (usually) before 7:00 am.  But once those teenage years hit, I'm dreading having to drag them out of bed.  I'm hopeful that with the firm foundation of a morning routine, things will transition much more easily.

Tell me about your healthy morning habits.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

SunButter Marshmallow Brownies (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

 

Last week I was at a party where there were these amazing brownies.  The only problem was that they were not allergy-friendly.  Brownies topped with marshmallows and a chocolate/peanut butter mixture.  They were divine (I still love peanut butter even though my kids are allergic), but I had to find a way to modify it to make it safe for my kids.  I asked the gal who brought them to the party for her recipe, and I tweaked it as needed to make them suitable for my family.  And what can I say other than "YUM!"  You will not regret making these!
 

Ingredients:
1 package of Namaste Brownie Mix
2 egg equivalent (I used EnerG Egg Replacer)
1/2 c applesauce
1/2 c water
1/4 c oil

5 c mini marshmallows

2 c safe chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips)
1/2 c SunButter
1/2 c milk-free butter (I used Earth Balance Soy Free)
2 c gluten-free Rice Krispies

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º.  Prepare brownies by mixing together first 5 ingredients.  Pour into 9x13 pre-sprayed baking dish.  Bake for 38-42 minutes.  While brownies are baking, melt over low heat the chocolate chips, SunButter, and butter until smooth.  Add Rice Krispies.  Once brownies are done baking, immediately sprinkle marshmallows evenly over hot brownies.  Then top with chocolate mixture.  Allow to cool, then chill in refrigerator.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

The Namaste brownies are my favorite allergy-friendly brownies.  I don't prepare them exactly as instructed on the package.  I use the ingredients listed above.  Sometimes I will add in 1 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips to make them extra chocolatey.