Saturday, September 28, 2013

Product Review: Rice Dream

When you can't serve your child cow's milk, there are several options for milk alternatives.  But when you are limited from additional allergens like we are, the search field is narrowed. 

We love using Rice Dream as a cow's milk alternative.  Bubs loves it in his cereal, and I use it in all my allergy-free baking when milk is called for.  

Rice Dream is a delicious, shelf-stable milk that can last in your pantry for up to a year.  It is also enriched with all the good stuff you may be missing from cow's milk, such as Vitamins A, D, and B12.  It also has the same amount of calcium as cow's milk.  I know there is a big concern about a lack of calcium from milk-allergic children's diets.  Rice Dream, along with a balanced diet, eliminates this concern. 

Rice Dream also comes in three sizes to suit your needs.  We love keeping the 8 oz singles on hand for when we are on-the-go, and we keep the large 64 oz stocked in the fridge for daily use.  It is also available in a 32 oz size if that better suits your needs.

Busy Life Around Here

I apologize for my lack of posting lately, but let me explain why.  We have been busy!  Now, I realize that everyone is busy, all the time.  But here is what we have been up to.

Upon returning from our fabulous vacation to Disney World and Washington DC (read about it here), it was an immediate jump into Back to School.  We had school supply drop off the same day we got back, then we hit the ground running trying to get into our new school routine (including activities for the kiddos).  Less than a week into school, we found out that all of the girls in our family had head lice!!!  It seems as though there is this predisposed notion that only poor or dirty people get lice, and there is a stigma that goes along with having it, but let me assure you that ANYONE can get it.  And dealing with one person having lice is bad enough, but for four of us to have absolute nightmare!  We had to wash and vacuum anything and everything you can think of, multiple times.  We sanitized all things that come into contact with our heads.  We did the necessary shampoos (multiple times to make sure we got rid of the lice for good) and the time-consuming combing.  Talk about going through things with a fine tooth comb.....this is where that saying come from, I'm sure. 

The day we realized we had lice, I ran to the local drug store to buy Lice Ice (as recommended by our school nurse).  This is a gel-type application that sits on the hair overnight and is rinsed out in the morning.  Then the hair is combed with a special fine-tooth comb to remove all the dead lice.  Again, we didn't have to do this for just one girl, but for all the girls!  And it's not just for one day.  The combing needs to be done twice a day for TWO weeks!  Do you have any idea how much time this takes?!?  The first day of combing I spent NINE hours combing hair!  That's in addition to going to work and feeding my family!  UGH!  I'm just glad it's over, and I hope we never have to go through this again!  (We also applied a homemade lice shampoo several times just to be sure the lice were killed.  Mix together 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup shampoo.  It has to be regular shampoo without conditioner.  Massage 2 oz into the scalp for 5 minutes.  Then add another 2 oz and continue to massage for an additional 5 minutes.  Let it sit on the hair for 15 minutes and rinse.)

One evening while we were sitting in my bathroom combing, the hubs and I decided we would like to move!  We currently live about 10 minutes outside of town, and each year we request a district transfer for the kids to go to school in town (rather than the country school that is farther away from our house).  We love our country home and the setting it offers, but the commuting is wearing on us.  There are many reasons to move into town, but one of the big ones that seals the deal is Bubs' food allergies.  It may seem silly, but here's why...

Bubs is very involved in soccer and basketball, and he has practice four evenings a week and games on the weekends (and sometimes Friday nights).  I already pack his lunch for school every day, and now I'm also packing a dinner for him too.  We don't have time to drive home and have a hot meal, and we certainly can't go through a drive thru for some fast food.  So I pack his dinner and he eats at the hubs' office or in the vehicle on the way to practice.  I know family dinners have gone by the wayside for many American families with their busy lifestyles, and I don't expect that we will all sit around the table each and every night (although I will try), but I would like to offer something other than a sandwich for all of Bubs' meals during the week. 

Other factors that played into our decision included wanting to be closer to other young families.  There is currently one young family on our road, but they are about a mile down the gravel.  I am looking forward to having a sidewalk that my kids can ride bikes on, letting them walk to school, and just being closer to other people.  Being able to run home over the lunch hour if I forget Bubs' cleats or GirlyGirl's dance bag (or even to switch the laundry) seems like a luxury.

Now, I realize that many people commute to work each day.  They commute much farther than we do.  And it's not so much the driving that bothers me.  It's the food allergies that's the kicker.  That, and wanting to be in a neighborhood have made our decision to move.  Also, once in town, we won't have to apply each year for each child to transfer into the school district (a big stressor for me). 

We all know selling a house the past several years has been a bit of a challenge.  And trying to sell a house in the country on 20 acres may still be a bit challenging.  But we have spent the past month fixing up the place as best we can to get it in tip top selling condition.  New carpet, new paint, packing, decluttering, staging.  Now we are ready.  The photos have been taken, and we are ready to list.  Hopefully in a few days we will have completed all the necessary paperwork, and we will be on the market.  Anyone who has tried to sell a house knows how stressful it is to always keep is clean.  Imagine how stressful it will be trying to keep it in showing condition with four young children.  We can do it, though.  I'll keep the toys in a small box that I can throw in the closet each morning, keep the beds made, and the countertops clear. 

We have mixed feelings about selling this house.  We have only lived here for 7 years, but we designed this home, and we intended to stay here forever.  The hubs even built portions of this home by hand (which may mean more to me than him), including our fireplace, back deck, and fabulous swingset.  We have a perfect setting with lots of trees and space.  But we just want to be closer to the action.  We will design our next house and have it built in town.  We can take the things we love and hate about this house and tweak it in the new house.  But for now, we wait to see if and when this house sells.

So, as you can see, my time has been consumed by combing hair and prepping our home.  My creativity in the kitchen and blogging have taken a hit.  But now things should be getting somewhat back to normal.  I can start baking and posting again.  I look forward to sharing more with you!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Holy Communion with Food Allergies

We regularly attend church on Sundays, and once a month Holy Communion is offered.  We have never allowed Bubs to take Communion because of his allergies to milk, eggs, and peanuts.  You never know what is going to be in bread.  Then, almost 2 years ago, we learned that he is also sensitive to gluten, along with many other foods.  That makes finding a Communion bread even more difficult. 

The thought had never crossed my mind to find a Communion bread alternative that Bubs could have.  He was OK with not receiving it.  Sometimes he would walk to the front of church with us, and sometimes he would stay in his seat.  I left it up to him since he wouldn't be partaking. 

A few weeks ago, one of the women at church (who follows my blog and realized there was a need) asked if there was a way they could provide some bread for him to eat.  It caught me a little off guard as I hadn't put any thought into that.  I told her I could bake something ahead of time, then bring it to church on Communion Sunday.  Then I thought that maybe I could just bring a piece of his sandwich rice bread (less work for me).  But he eats that stuff all the time and it wouldn't be special.  So I jumped online and searched for gluten-free communion bread.  I found some made by EnerG!  They are Top 8 Free and perfect for the church.  I sent a link to this woman asking if the church would be willing to purchase these so all the attendees with food allergies/sensitivities could join in the ritual. 

The church did order these EnerG Communion Wafers, and today Bubs enjoyed his very first Communion!  What a special moment for him and me!  And how incredibly thoughtful of this woman and the church to make these accommodations for him and others with special diet needs.  The feeling is amazing to feel so included and welcomed.  We are so blessed to be part of such a wonderful church community. 

Product Review: Arrowhead Mills

Arrowhead Mills offers such a nice variety of organic foods that my food allergic/food sensitive kids can eat. 

One of our favorites is Organic Gluten Free Rise & Shine Hot Cereal.  It has only one ingredient:  organic brown rice grits.  Bubs loves this stuff and would eat it every morning (if he wasn't on a rotation diet).  Sometimes we top it with honey, agave, real maple syrup, raisins, fruit, or other flavorful toppings. 

Rise & Shine Hot Cereal topped with fresh blueberries
Bubs loves this breakfast!

Bubs' other favorite breakfast foods also come from Arrowhead Mills.  He loves the dry cereal just as much as the hot cereal.  One of his favorites is Puffed Rice.  He will eat it with just some rice milk poured over the top.  His bowl is usually overflowing with cereal he loves it so much.  I would give him a bigger bowl, but that one would be overflowing as well.  This kid can eat!

Arrowhead Mills offers a large variety of organic food that are affordable and tasty in the following categories:  baking, breakfast, gluten free, beans, grains, & seeds, stuffing mixes & sides, and nut butters.  There are also some wonderful recipes on their website that you need to try. 

Who doesn't want to eat healthier?  Who doesn't want to pay less and get more?  Arrowhead Mills is a great company that offers such a wide variety of organic foods at an affordable price.  I can find these products at my local grocery store in the healthy foods section or at my local natural grocery store.  I can also order online allowing me to choose from all the products.      

Product Review: Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Crisps

We are always looking for a quick, easy, healthy snack for on-the-go that are safe for our food allergy kiddos.  One of our favorites is Fruit Crisps by Brothers-All-Natural.

Fruit Crisps are Top 8 Free, non GMO, and OU Kosher certified.  The fruit is freeze-dried and packaged....nothing added!  How wonderful to have such a delicious and healthy snack!  My kids love fruit, but having it packaged and ready to go makes my life easier (and less messy).  And I'll take all the help I can get!

Fruit Crisps come in a variety of flavors, many that meet our family's special diet needs.  Our favorites include Fuji Apple, Apple CinnamonAsian Pear, PeachPineapple, and Strawberry.  Also available are Banana, Mandarin Orange, Mixed Fruit, Mixed Berry, and Strawberry Banana.

We like to take these snacks with us just about everywhere.  Pictured below are my girls enjoying Fruit Crisps at Bubs' baseball game this summer (he got his package after the game since he can't have the post-game treat offered by other parents).  They also take them to school for an after school snack, in the van on the way to activities, to the park for an afternoon snack, etc.  I don't think twice about grabbing a package of Fruit Crisps for my kiddos to eat since they are safe for my food allergic ones and healthy for them all.  

At Bubs' baseball game

Some flavors are also available in Disney packaging (Mickey Mouse Club, Cars, and Princess).  We got these just in time for our Disney vacation this summer {you can read all about our vacation on this blog under the title "Our 2013 Vacation (with food allergies)}, and we packed a bunch to take with us.  They were perfect to throw in my bag (not too heavy to carry around all day) and pull out when we needed a little pick-me-up.  The kids had plenty of flavors to choose from, and the character packaging made it extra special for them!

Top left: At Magic Kingdom
Top right: Waiting to meet Merida at Magic Kingdom
Bottom left: Waiting for the trolley in Washington DC
Bottom right: Snacking in DC (if you look really close, you can see the US Capitol in the top center)

Disney World is considered the "gold standard" when is comes to food allergy dining and allergy accommodations.  After visiting recently, I can see why.  I was shopping for souvenirs, and guess what I saw out of the corner of my eye!  Fruit Crisps!  How wonderful!  Of course they had the Disney packaging, and what a great thing to offer!  Most stores that I go into sell candy, baked goods, etc (not things my kiddos can have), but here was something so familiar and safe!  

In a gift shop at Disney World

I highly recommend you give Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Crisps a try!  You will be pleasantly amazed! 

Brothers-All-Natural also offers Harvester Farm products which are emergency food storage that is perfect for long-term storage (in case of an emergency, camping, etc).  These products have a shelf-life of 25 years, but are all natural, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables without additives.  I haven't tried these yet, but it is on my to-do list.  They also offer Fruit & Oats breakfast food which is half fruit and half oats (I'm unsure if the oats are gluten-free).  This would a great healthy breakfast for those rushed mornings we all have.

You can order Brothers-All-Natural products online or find them in stores.  Go get some!