Monday, May 25, 2015

Cookie Dough Cups (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

 

Who doesn't like eating raw cookie dough?  I have eaten plenty in my day, even with the worry of consuming raw eggs.  But now that our family is egg-free, we can all eat raw cookie dough without a care. 

I have been playing around with this recipe for a few weeks, and Bubs decided he would like these little desert shooters tonight to celebrate his birthday with extended family. 

These are really easy to make, and you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen.  You can quickly whip these up and enjoy right away, or chill for a bit to savor the classic cookie dough texture.

Ingredients:
1 c dairy-free butter (I used Earth Balance Soy Free), room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 c gluten-free flour
1 pkg chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips)

Instructions:
Beat together butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla.  Add applesauce.  While mixer is on low speed, add flour a bit at a time until well blended.  Fill small cups alternating dough and chocolate chips.  Serve chilled.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

True Solution Protein Shakes (Product Review and Giveaway)

 

With a family with four kids, we are always on the go.  Having two kids with food allergies makes this challenging at times.  I am always prepared with packed meals and snacks from home if we don't have time for a sit down meal, but this can be quite tiring, as most of you know.

I recently stumble across True Solution Protein Shakes which are ready-to-drink shakes packaged in shelf-stable containers.  They come in delicious vanilla and chocolate flavors.  And best of all.....they are free of the Top 8 allergens!  No milk, no peanuts, no soy, no gluten, etc.  A prepackaged protein drink that is safe for my kids with multiple food allergies!  Amazing!

 

I couldn't wait to get my hands on these.  This is perfect for our on-the-go lifestyle.  I can throw these in a cooler, and all the kids can enjoy this delicious treat.  What they don't know is that each shake contains 17 g (plant) protein, 5 g fiber, 23 vitamins and minerals, and only 10 g natural sugar.  There are no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives either!   
      
A quick drink to fuel Bubs for his game

My kids have enjoyed this drink by itself as well as in smoothies.  I also intend to do some baking with it (more to come on this).  I can't wait to get more.  At only $3 a shake, this is definitely an affordable product.  I also just found out that our local health food store carries True Solution Protein Shakes.  I am eager to run out and get some more!  Their website offers a store locator so you can check out where you can get these.

Perfect in smoothies

Giveaway Time!!!

You now have the chance to try a case for free!  True Protein has offered to give away a case of either vanilla or chocolate to one lucky winner.  You must be 18 years old to enter and live in the continental United States.

To enter, simply comment below with your e-mail address or send me an e-mail at sarahpt213@gmail.com.  Be sure to share why you would love to try this product.  I'll be posting updates on my Facebook page throughout the giveaway, so if you haven't already, click on over and like my page.  Contest ends on May 31, 2015 at 10:00 pm CST.  One winner will be randomly selected and notified via Facebook and e-mail. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Lunch Refused

 

One morning a few days ago, Bubs and I got into an argument over his lunch box. See, he normally takes his lunch in his soccer lunch bag, but since I used a flat rectangular container to pack his lunch this day, I packed it in his Food Allergy lunch bag.

The past several months he has requested that I use his soccer lunch bag, and I have willingly complied.  But there are days that it is more efficient to use a rectangular lunch container which fits so nicely in his food allergy lunch bag.  On those days, Bubs will tend moan and groan a bit, but he doesn't usually put up too much of a fuss since the content of the lunch is something he desires.

On this day, however, he got quite snotty with me and argued over and over that if his lunch was in that [food allergy] bag, he wasn't going to take a lunch at all.  I was very proud of myself for remaining calm during this argument and questioned why he wanted the other lunch bag.  He was unable to give me a reason, but he was fired up.  I told him that I was going to walk away from this argument to give him time to calm down and collect his thoughts.  I said that I am willing to hear his reasoning and make accommodations if appropriate.  But the way he was talking to me was unacceptable, and I was not going to listen to that tone of voice anymore.  As I walked away from him, he made some rude comment to me (I don't even remember what he said).  That was it.  Conversation over.  I told him that he was being disrespectful, and his lunch would remain as packed.  He then refused to take it.  I told him over and over that he would be hungry at lunch time.  He said he didn't care.  I said that that was his choice.  At no point did I take away his food.  I have never withheld food as a punishment.  His lunch remained on the counter until he was well on his way to school.  Only then did I put it in the refrigerator to save for later. 

Come lunch time, my phone rang.  It was the school.  All you food allergy moms know how your heart skips a beat when the school calls, especially when it is at lunch time.   But this time I figured the call was about Bubs not having his lunch.  Sure enough.  I explained the situation but was met with resistance.  I was told that kids are not allowed to be at school without a lunch.  They asked if he could eat anything at the school.  I told them no.  They said they had already tried to give him food, and all he would take was an apple.  He later told me that they made him eat the apple.  I don't have a 504, just an understanding that he is to only eat food that I have approved.  (This will need to be discussed further with the school.)  Of course, an apple is apparently harmless to him, but who knows what that apple has been in contact with.  Someone could have made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just before picking up that apple to hand to him.  I told them that he had refused to take his lunch, it was his decision.  They said that kids just can't refuse to take a lunch.  I asked how I was supposed to force him to take it. This went on and on, back and forth.

Food allergies aside, this was a parenting issue and a learning moment for him.  He is almost 10 years old and old enough to understand the consequences of his actions in this type of situation.  I fully understand where the school is coming from making sure that kids don't go hungry and are well nourished.  There are many kids who receive their only nutrition at school.  This child is not one of those kids.  And this school knows it.  He is a fourth grader, and this is his first missed lunch.  Ever.  Probably his first missed meal.  Ever.

I refused to bring his lunch to school that day.  I was at a Mother's Day Celebration with my 4 and 5 year old girls.  Taking this phone call in the middle of that activity was disrespectful enough.  I certainly wasn't going to leave them to take Bubs his lunch when the whole purpose of this was to teach him a lesson. 

Later that night, as I was tucking him into bed, I asked him why he doesn't like that lunch bag.  He finally broke down and said that it's "because it advertises that I have food allergies and that everyone already knows I have food allergies and I don't like having food allergies."  I asked if anyone ever makes fun of him at school for his allergies, and he said no.  But this is obviously a deeper issue than just his lunch box.  I told him that I completely understand, and we don't need to use that lunch box anymore.  I also told him that if he had calmly explained that to me that morning, I would have switched things around for him to allow him take his soccer lunch bag.

I like to always be positive and excited about the fun things we do with food because of the kids' food allergies, but it still gets them down.  It breaks my heart that I can't fix this for him.  All I can do is listen to his concerns and do my best to help guide him through this. I try to make life as "normal" as possible, but he will always be different.  Until there is a cure, he will always have to bring food from home just about anywhere he goes.  I think ahead to dating, college, etc.  It is all possible, but there is lots of effort involved.  Lots of patience and planning ahead involved.  I just hope to be a positive influence on him in regards to food.  Not only for safety, but for health and wellness as well.

It's funny that I make such a big deal about raising awareness about food allergies, and all he wants to do is fly under the radar.  He just wants to fit in.  Different perspectives are important to recognize and acknowledge.  I will never stop fighting for him, but I will also do my best to make him feel as normal as possible.          

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chocolate Delight (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

 

If you are a chocolate lover like my family, this is for you.  Here is a quick and easy dessert that calls for only 5 ingredients.  That's right.  F-I-V-E ingredients!  And the fifth ingredient is optional.

Beware, though.  This is very decadent and rich, so enjoy with caution!


Ingredients:

1 package chocolate cookies (I used Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunchy Cookies)
1/4 c dairy-free butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Soy Free)
1 c culinary coconut milk (I used So Delicious)
2 c chocolate chunks (I used Enjoy Life)
Strawberries

Instructions:

Crush cookies in a food processor. Mix in melted butter. Press into pre-sprayed dish. Freeze while you make the ganache (chocolate and cream filling). Warm the coconut milk over medium/low heat for 5 minutes. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until melted. Pour over chocolate crust. Press strawberries into ganache. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Slice and enjoy!





Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Beef Stroganoff? (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

"What's for dinner?"  They never stop asking this question!  And I don't usually have something in mind.  I'd love to be a better meal planner, but lately I've resorted to winging it.

For some reason, beef stroganoff came to mind tonight.  It's not something I've ever made before, or even knew where to start to make it safe for my kids.  I was even more lost after looking up recipes online.  Mushrooms?  We don't keep those on hand.  I needed to make do with what was in my pantry and fridge.

Here's what I came up with.  I'm not sure it actually qualifies as beef stroganoff, but that's what we're calling it tonight.  All four kids ate it up and asked for seconds, so it is definitely blog post worthy.

 

Ingredients:

Gluten-free noodles (cooked and drained)
1 lb ground beef, cooked (I used grass-fed only beef) 
1 c dairy-free yogurt (I used So Delicious vanilla yogurt)
1 c beef or chicken broth
2 Tbsp dairy-free butter (I used Earth Balance Soy Free)
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp parsley
1-2 Tbsp corn starch (or enough to make sauce as thick as you want)

Instructions:
While noodles and beef are cooking, mix together yogurt, broth, butter, and seasonings over medium heat.  Whisk in corn starch as needed until sauce is desired thickness.  Mix sauce into cooked beef. 

I mixed the noodles and beef together, but you could easily just top the noodles with the beef mixture if you so choose.

I also added a few shakes of nutritional yeast for a little cheesy flavor.  You can really use any seasonings you'd like.  This list just happens to be what I grabbed from my spice rack.  Also, measurements are approximate.  I really just dumped things in a pan and hoped for the best. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bird's Nests (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

This Easter I was looking for something quick and easy to make for the kids to eat at our family gathering.  One of the aunts was planning on bringing some Rice Krispie "eggs" filled with jelly beans inside.  Of course, this traditional treat wasn't going to work for my kiddos, so I took that idea and spun it. 

Scrolling through Facebook these past few weeks, I have come across several Easter-y ideas for treats, and I'm sure this idea is a combination of several pictures I have seen.

These bird's nests were really easy to make.  Simply whip up some safe Rice Krispie Treats and place into greased mini muffin tins using buttered hands (I used Earth Balance Soy Free butter).  Make a divot in the middle of the "nest" to create space for the chocolate and jelly beans.  Then pour melted safe chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips with a dab of coconut oil) into the hull of the nest.  Top with safe jelly beans (I used Surf Sweets jelly beans since we are avoiding artificial colors).  Place in refrigerator until set.  Pop out of muffin tin and enjoy! 


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!



Our lucky winner is......TED BRYANT! 

Congrats, Ted.  And thanks to all who entered.  I hope you get some Wink of your own!