Friday, December 26, 2014

Cinnamon Bread (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

We love to have a delicious breakfast on special mornings like Christmas or Easter, but I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen on those mornings whipping up all the fixins.  So I try to find something that can be made ahead of time that still tastes delicious when it comes time to eat.

In that past I have made Monkey Bread which has been a big hit.  This year I adapted a recipe I had for cinnamon bread to make it safe for my kiddos with food allergies.


Cinnamon Bread

Batter
1 1/2 c gluten free flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 envelopes of Rapid Rise yeast
2/3 c warm rice milk (I microwave it for 1 min)
2 Tbsp milk-free butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Soy Free)
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg replacer (I used Ener-G)

Cinnamon Mixture

3/4 c light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp milk-free butter, softened

Icing
1 c powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp rice milk
1 Tbsp milk-free butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with oil.  Mix batter ingredients together and pour into baking dish.  Let sit for 10 minutes while you make the cinnamon mixture.  Combine cinnamon mixture ingredients using a fork.  Top batter evenly with cinnamon mixture.  Using your finger or a utensil, poke the topping into the batter.  Place the dish into a COLD oven.  Set oven for 350º and bake 25-30 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over warm bread.

I made the bread the night before and just warmed it up on Christmas morning.  I made the icing fresh in the morning to drizzle over the warm bread.   It was ah-maz-ing!  And so simple!

Christmas morning breakfast includes OJ as a treat!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

SunButter Cookies (Top 8 and Gluten Free)

Rollout sugar cookies have never been my favorite thing to make.  There is a lot of prep time involved, but they are so yummy to eat!  So I usually suck it up and make a batch or two of allergy-filled cookies each year to share with co-workers and neighbors.

I want to make safe cookies that my kids can help make and eat, but finding the right combination of ingredients to make top 8 and gluten free rollout cookies has been a challenge.  When I got this recipe card from SunButter for rollout cookies, I thought I'd give it a try.


I had to make some modifications to meet our family's dietary needs.  The ingredient list is as follows.

1 c shortening (I used Spectrum)
1 c SunButter
1 c sugar
1 c firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs (I used Ener-G egg replacer)
1 tsp vanilla
3 c flour (I used gluten-free flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda

When I made this dough, and it was pretty dry.  My guess was that I was lacking the liquid from the eggs due to using egg replacer.  So I added a small container of applesauce (about 1/3 c).  This did the trick.  

I usually chill my sugar cookie dough before rolling it out, but this recipe didn't call for that.  Even thought the dough was soft, I gave it a try without chilling (which significantly shortens the prep time).  It was a little difficult to handle, and my kids couldn't manage it.  But with careful rolling of dough and transferring of cookies, they turned out pretty good.  The kids got to press the cookie cutter into the dough to make the shapes, and they seemed happy with that this year.  But maybe next year I will chill the dough for a bit first to see if that makes the rolling and transferring easier.  

 

My food almost never turns out like the picture shown in a cookbook, and even less often when I've had to make modifications to the original recipe.  This recipe is no exception.  The edges are not as pretty and the cookie is not as full as the the picture shown on the recipe card, but the cookies still taste delicious.  (Also, the frosting job is not as meticulous as shown, but it is a thousand times more beautiful since it was done by the hands of children)  

 

All in all, these cookies were a success.  Easy to mix, somewhat difficult to rollout/cut, easy to bake and frost.  The frosting is a simple mixture of powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and rice milk.  Since we are avoiding artificial colors, we used natural food coloring and sprinkles from India Tree Nature's Colors.    

I can't keep these little hands away!

Fudge (Free of Dairy, Peanuts, Gluten, and Eggs)


Fudge is one of my all-time favorite Christmas goodies.  I only make it at Christmas time, but I make at least 3 batches each year.  

Of course, regular fudge is filled with all kinds of allergens, so my allergy kiddos have never had the opportunity to try it.  I have made an attempt or two over the years at making safe fudge for them, but each trial has been a complete failure.

When I found a container of safe marshmallow creme at Whole Foods this fall, I snatched it up thinking ahead to another attempt at fudge. 

I also recently found a container of powdered rice milk.  Another rare find!  I have often seen the powdered soy milk, but this was the first time I had seen the rice milk variety.  

Getting ready to make some Christmas fudge

With these key items in my pantry, I was well armed for another attempt at safe fudge making.  And the results were ah-maz-ing!  It turned out perfectly!  I used the recipe I have been using for years that I got from my stepmom.  With a few substitutions, it was an easy modification.

This time around I used vanilla for flavoring, but the add-ins are endless.  Mint will be the next flavor I make.  Maybe also a Sunbutter variety, or the brandy/cacao fudge I had growing up.  How about some crushed peppermints on top?  I'd love to hear your favorite flavor! 

Fudge can be tricky to make, and I've tried and failed on many occasions.  But now that I have all the tricks down pat, this safe fudge came together quite nicely.


Chocolate Fudge

1/2 c milk-free butter (I used a stick of Earth Balance Soy-Free)
2 1/2 c sugar
5 oz milk-free evaporated milk*
7 oz container marshmallow creme**
2 tsp vanilla
2 c safe chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips - you'll need more than one bag)

Line an 8" square dish with foil and spray with oil.  In a large saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, and stir in marshmallow creme until smooth.  Mix in vanilla.  Add chocolate chips, and stir well until melted.  Pour into greased dish and allow to cool to room temperature.  Score fudge into bite sized pieces.  Refrigerate until firm.  Remove foil and cut through scored lines with a large knife.  For best results, store in refrigerator. 

*Evaporated milk is milk with 60% of the water removed.  To make milk-free evaporated milk, I simply used powdered rice milk and added only 40% of the water that the instructions called for.  With the brand I had, I used 3 Tbsp powdered rice milk and 5 oz water.  Whisk until smooth.

**I used Ricemellow creme which is free of eggs and artificial colors.




Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

I'm not a big fan of pie, but I do like chocolate pudding pie. Not to mention it's the easiest kind of pie to make. In years past I would buy a pre-made graham cracker crust and make instant pudding mixed with Cool Whip for a little piece of heaven in my mouth. Unfortunately, that won't work for my little ones with food allergies.

Last year I made a chocolate cream pie, but it didn't go over as well as I had hoped. But thanks to a little help from my SIL at Making it Milk Free, Enjoy Life Foods, and So Delicious I was able to successfully recreate my favorite pie recipe.


Pie Crust

1 package Enjoy Life Sugar Cookies, crushed
3 Tbsp milk-free butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)

Combine crushed cookies and melted butter and press into pie dish.  Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to completely cool before adding pudding.

Chocolate Pudding

Click here for the full recipe.  I used rice milk instead of almond milk.  My pudding turned out a bit runny, but perhaps I should have cooked it a bit longer.  Also, using almond or coconut milk may help make it thicker. 

I made a double batch of pudding for this pie.  Once it is thickened, cool at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before refrigerating.  Let completely cool in refrigerator, about 4 hours or overnight. 

Spoon half of the pudding mixture into the pie crust.  Mix other half of pudding with half a container of So Delicious CocoWhip.  Spoon on top of pie.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Just prior to serving, top with remaining CocoWhip and Enjoy Life chocolate chips.  Enjoy!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spaghetti Sauce (Top 8 Free)

My family LOVES spaghetti!  And actually anything that has red sauce in or on it.  But buying healthy sauce that is safe for my kids can really add up (sometimes it's over $5 a jar!).  I decided to try my hand at making my homemade sauce tonight.  It turned out to be quite flavorful, easy to make, and cheaper than the store bought variety.  


Spaghetti Sauce

3 cans (14 oz) tomato sauce 
1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
1/3 c oil
1/3 c dried minced onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 c water
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


If desired add some top 8 free meatballs and let simmer for an additional 30 minutes before pouring over some gluten free noodles.  Serve it up with your favorite safe bread, and voila, a delicious, safe meal that can be enjoyed by all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meatballs (Egg, Dairy, and Gluten Free)

As I walk through the grocery store each week, I always pass the bags of frozen meatballs.  But guess what!  They all have either milk, eggs, or wheat.  And we are avoiding all three!  But it would be nice to have meatballs once in a while.


Tonight I finally decided to make some meatballs for dinner.  I actually made a double batch so I could freeze some for a later meal.  But, of course, my little monkeys devoured the entire double batch in one sitting.  Luckily they are really simple to make, so making another batch will be a piece of cake.


Meatballs

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
2 Tbsp bread crumbs (I used Ener-G brown rice bread)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 c dairy-free milk
1 "egg" (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix all ingredients together and form into balls (about 1" in diameter).  Place in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

I simmered the cooked meatballs in some store-bought spaghetti sauce for about 10 minutes then served it on a bun to make a meatball sandwich.  Next time I'm planning to make some homemade sauce and let the meatballs simmer for a bit longer to really absorb the tomato flavor.  Stay tuned for that recipe.

One piece of gluten-free bread made more than enough bread crumbs

Ready to bake

Meatball sandwich on a hot dog bun

Meatball sandwich on gluten-free bread (with dairy-free provolone)


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chocolate Covered Sunbutter Cups (Top 8 Free)

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is my all-time favorite candy.  But now that we have two kids with a peanut allergy, and neither one of them can have milk, they don't get to share in my joy of a Reese's.  I have seen lots of pictures of homemade peanut butter cups and safe alternatives as well.  I thought I would try my hand at it tonight.  And I don't mean to brag, but these turned out a-ma-zing!  It's worth your 15 minutes to make some for yourself.

I used Sunbutter for the filling, but you could easily use whichever type of butter you like.  Wowbutter or other nut butters would work just as well.


Sunbutter Cups

1 bag chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips)
1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 c Sunbutter
1/2 c powdered sugar 
2-3 Tbsp butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)

Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin liners (This will make about 12 mini cups).  Over low heat melt chocolate chips and coconut oil.  (The coconut oil helps keep the chocolate from being so messy.  It can create a "shell" if you use enough.)  Mix together sunbutter, powdered sugar, and melted butter.

Fill muffin cups about half full with melted chocolate.  Scoop a dab of the sunbutter mixture into the middle of each cup.  Top with chocolate.  Let set in refrigerator or freezer.  Enjoy!   


Creamy Mac and Cheese (Top 8 Free, Gluten-Free)

Well, it's back to noodles tonight, but I thought I would at least be a little more gourmet with our noodles for this dinner.  Mac and cheese is a favorite in our house.  I usually just cook some gluten-free noodles and mix in a bag of Daiya cheese shreds until it's somewhat melted.  When I'm feeling fancy, I make this recipe of mac and cheese.  But I decided tonight to try a different version of mac and cheese.

This version is much more creamy that the above options, and I added some seasonings for a little extra flavor.  You can use whatever seasonings suit your fancy.  I also used Enjoy Life Plentils because it's what I had on hand.  But any type of chips, crackers, cereal, or breadcrumbs would work nicely.

Since I made this on a whim, I just used what I had in the house.  We were out of cheddar Daiya shreds, so I used mozzarella instead.  Pepperjack would also be tasty.

You may also notice that I rarely use macaroni noodles.  Again, I use what's in the pantry.  I had penne and rotini noodles, so I reached for the penne this time.

Creamy Mac and Cheese

1 box of gluten free noodles (I used Lundberg)
1 package of Daiya cheese shreds
1 cup dairy-free milk (I used So Delicious culinary coconut milk)
2-3 Tbsp dairy-free butter (I used Earth  Balance Soy-Free)
Garlic or garlic powder 
Minced onions or freshly chopped onion
Paprika
Chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 350º.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  I simply boil the noodles until they are tender (or "al dente" if you're fancy), then drain and rinse.

While the noodles are cooking, melt over medium heat the cheese, milk, and butter.  Stir until creamy.  You may want more or less milk to reach your desired consistency.  Sprinkle in some garlic powder or freshly pressed garlic.  I used about 1 tsp.  Mix well.

Creamy cheese sauce

Mix together rinsed noodles and cheese sauce and pour into 9x13 baking dish.  


Add onions on top of noodles.  I used about 2 Tbsp of the dry minced onions.  (I'm not really good at measuring, I just throw some on until it looks good.)  Add a layer of crushed chips, then top with paprika (about 1-2 tsp).  Bake for 30 min.

 

This would taste great with some veggies baked on top, such as broccoli, peppers, or peas.  Make it different each time to keep some variety at your dinner table. 

This is the same recipe without the Plentils and made with different gluten-free noodles

Monday, November 3, 2014

Chex Chicken (Top 8 Free)

Our life has been rather hectic lately, and the chaos usually takes its toll in the kitchen.  We have been living on gluten-free noodles in one form or another for longer than I want to admit.

Tonight I had enough time to think about what to make for dinner and time to prepare it.  I had roasted some broccoli a few nights ago, and I wanted to serve the leftovers tonight.  I usually either heat up frozen broccoli or steam fresh broccoli, but I was inspired by a coworker to try roasting some at home.  I simply cut up raw broccoli into a 9x13 dish, spritzed it with some oil, and topped it with some freshly pressed garlic.  Then I baked it in the oven at 425º for 10-15 minutes.  It has a nice crisp texture and restaurant quality flavor.  This may be the only way we eat it from now on.   

Once I decided to serve the leftover broccoli, I had to figure out what to make with it.  We had a bag of frozen chicken in the freezer, so I thawed it out in the microwave to make the baking process faster.  I also spotted some boxed Lundberg rice (like Rice-a-Roni) in my pantry, and I knew I had a favorite meal in the making.

 

Chex Chicken
Chicken breasts
Melted butter (I used Earth Balance dairy-free, soy-free butter) 
Rice Chex (or any other variety of cereal/chips/crackers you like. Corn flakes would taste great too)

 Preheat oven to 425º.  Simply coat each piece of chicken with melted butter, then coat with crushed cereal.  Place in a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes (or until it is thoroughly cooked). 

Another easy-peasy dinner to add to our recipe box.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Fun

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday.  In fact, I could easily do without it.  I enjoy decorating for fall, and I refused for a long time to buy Halloween specific decorations.  My fall decorations would suffice until Thanksgiving when I would trade them out for Christmas decorations.  But beginning a few years ago, the kids began asking for Halloween decorations.  You know, witches, ghosts, spiders, etc.  So I have gradually added to my collection, adding a few small items each year.

Recently I have seen so many cute posts on Facebook and Instagram with great ideas to make school lunches seasonally exciting.  And when I was at Walmart last weekend, I walked past their $0.97 bin of Halloween items.  I picked up a few packages and decided I would add it to my kids' school lunches until Halloween, just to change things up a bit. 

The kid really enjoyed seeing what I packed for them each day.  The lunches themselves are not that exciting, but adding some vampire teeth or a snake makes all the difference. 


When I was wondering around Micheal's last week, I saw these cute spider muffin holders (on sale, of course) and thought that would add a little something special to a Halloween breakfast.  We also roasted pumpkin seeds following our annual pumpkin carving which has made for nice afternoon snacks.

We moved into a new house this fall, and we have already made great friends with the neighbors.  In fact, we got "Boo'ed" last night.  I'm pretty sure this usually involves candy rather than toys, but our super thoughtful neighbors included lots of fun trinkets for each one of my kids.  What a fun tradition!

Tomorrow we will go Trick-or-Treating, and we will gets lots and lots of candy.  But we hope to also see several teal pumpkins, and we will be sure to stop at those houses for non-food treats.  Once we have collected a mountain of candy, we will take it to our kids' dentist office for their annual candy trade-in.  For each scoop of candy, they earn a raffle ticket.  They can then choose which raffle items they use their ticket for.  And there are some pretty good prizes to be won.  The dentist office will send all the candy overseas to our troops.  It's a win-win!  The kids know they are collecting candy for the soldiers, and they get a chance to win some pretty great prizes.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and won't be too cold.  It's no fun to cover up the costumes with warm coats.  But I'm sure we will have fun no matter what.   

GirlyGirl Turns 8!

What?!?  How can she be 8 already?  These kids just keep growing up.  And there's nothing I can do to stop it!

For each birthday, we usually end up having three parties.  One with family, one with friends, and one with our immediate family on their actual birthday.  That's a lot of food and cake to prepare.

For our family gathering, we grilled burgers, had pasta salad, fries (including Ian's Alphatots), and strawberries.  We ended the meal with Namaste brownies made with egg replacer to keep them Top 8 Free and So Delicious ice cream.  As many of you know, my nephew and niece also have food allergies, and my sister-in-law avoids gluten, so we make sure there is food that is safe for everyone when we get together.
 
Food safe for all at our family gathering

Top 8 Free brownies and ice cream for our family celebration

Each year on the kids' actual birthday, the birthday child gets to choose what is served for dinner.  GirlyGirl had decided weeks in advance that we would have Taco Casserole, corn on the cob, and watermelon.  Easy enough!  She also told me that she didn't want just cupcakes for her birthday but an awesome cake.  I fear that I may have set the bar too high as the past two years have been a Barbie cake and a castle cake.  I did a little searching for inspiration on the Wilton website and decided to make a double layer round cake with cupcakes on top.  Of course, this was free of peanuts, dairy, and artificial colors.  (I find it difficult to make fun cakes/sweets without using artificial colors, but really the only thing affected is the appearance.  It still tastes amazing.)

Free of peanuts, dairy, and artificial colors

This year GirlyGirl decided to have a slumber party to celebrate her birthday with her friends.  This sounded good to me.  I always like having parties in the controlled food environment of my home.  She had 5 friends come over after school on a Friday evening, eat dinner, play, sing, and dance, and of course, eat cake.

For her party, I thought pizza would be an easy way to go, and I figured all the kids would enjoy it.  I heated up a Daiya frozen pizza for Bubs and GirlyGirl, and the rest of the crew just had Totinos frozen pizzas.  We explained to the girls the importance of why we wash hands after eating anything, and they all complied without complaint.  Along with the pizza we served green peppers and fruit ropes.  I also had strawberry and lemon infused water for them to drink.  It was quite yummy.

Ready to party!

Out of the 6 girls at the party (including GirlyGirl), three of them have a peanut allergy.  That's 50% of the party-goers!  The other 2 girls didn't have EpiPens, and one of the moms casually mentioned that she has a nut allergy when she dropped her off.  Luckily, I am well-versed in nut allergies.  (I am surprised at the lax approach of these other families dealing with food allergies, but everyone handles it differently.)  One of the girls said she didn't know any other kids at school who were allergic to peanuts, and we talked about how nice it is to know you are not alone.  She was grateful to know that there are others who deal with food allergies like she does.

For GirlyGirl's party cake, I intended to make it look like wrapped gifts.  It's not quite the vision I started with, but it turned out cute nonetheless.

Free of peanuts, dairy, and artificial colors

Make a wish!

She had a great evening with good friends.  They stayed up too late and were too loud, but that's what it's all about!  Good food, good friends, and good memories!

Me and my favorite 8 year old!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Instant Bonds at FABlogCon 2014

I had the honor of attending the second annual Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABlogCon) in Las Vegas this fall.

Before leaving for Vegas, one of my coworkers asked why I was so excited to go to this bloggers conference.  How do you describe the feeling of being surrounded by people who just "get you?"  Without much introduction, you know that these people share the same struggles, fears, hope, and excitement. These people want to hear your story, details about how you manage small tasks on a day to day basis. These people don't feel sorry for you but understand you.  These people share your feelings of anxiety and your relief/heartbreak/anguish for each allergist visit, each birthday party, each day at school.  These people want to talk about what you make for your kids' school lunches.  How you pack for vacation.  Where you shop.  The brands you love.  

Being at FABlogCon was like being with old friends.  These are people who follow each other online and read each others posts daily.  We watch each others kids grow.  We smile with small victories and are saddened by food allergy-related tragedies, all through a computer screen.  This is a chance to actually touch, hug, and laugh with these dear friends of ours.  To hear their voices and see their faces.  There is an instant connection when you meet another food allergy family, and an unspoken bond is instantly formed.  I feel this when I meet one person/family locally, but to be in a room full of these people was extraordinary!  Beyond words.

Beginning top left moving clockwise: Heather McGrath (Blue Bear Aware) and Selena Bluntzer (Amazing and Atopic); KeelyMcGuire; Emily Cunningham (Allergen Menu Mom); Selena Bluntzer

In addition to the personal joy of sitting at a table with these great friends, we got to learn so much through informational booths as well as educational seminars.  We got to hear the amazing Dr. Ruchi Gupta speak (and we got to see a fun little video) as well as learn about hope for the future from the one and only Dr. Xiu-Min Li.  She is making amazing strides at finding a cure for food allergies, and the living proof was right in that room.  We also had the opportunity to visit with owners/reps from our favorites companies giving us a chance to learn more about them and also allowing us to give feedback to them.  It's pretty amazing to get to know the people behind the brands.

Henry Ehrlich introducing Dr. Gupta and Dr. Li

We also got to meet and hear from prominent advocates in the food allergy community which was quite inspiring.  These are mostly just moms like you and me who had to fight to keep their child(ren) safe.  As time went on, their voice got louder drawing in a larger audience, making their advocacy stronger.  These are the people we need to thank for all the change that is happening in our community.  Also present were big names like singer Kyle Dine (we love his food allergy songs) and spokesperson Jerome Bettis.

Me and Kyle Dine; Me and Jerome Bettis

Our local FARE walk was the same weekend I was in Vegas, but luckily the rest of my family was able to participate.  As many of you know, not only do two of my kids have food allergies, but so do my nephew and niece, both from different parents.  My husband and both of his sisters have children with food allergies.  This food allergy bit is a family affair!  The silver lining of that is that there is always safe food at family get togethers, and we all "get it."  I really feel for those families who struggle with having family members who don't "get it," and they battle with keeping their child safe around family (the one place they should feel safe).  Not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and that can be really difficult to deal with.
    
SuperSafe AllerKids 2014 FARE Food Allergy Walk (4 of the 5 children pictured here have life-threatening food allergies)

We didn't have much down time at FABlogCon, as this was an event-packed conference.  But arriving a little early allowed me to take a scenic tour hosted by Homa Woodrum's husband, Adam, along with Heather McGrath (Blue Bear Aware), Brynn Hadler (Allergy Bytes), and Tiffany Glass Ferreria (Food Allergy Fun).  We had the pleasure of seeing Las Vegas' Red Rock Canyon.  What a beautiful view!

Enjoying Las Vegas with wonderful friends

We also got to spend a little time on the strip.  I was joined by Justin (YoDish) and Emily (Allergen Menu Mom) Cunningham, Tiffany Glass Ferreira, and Selena Bluntzer (Amazing and Atopic) as we ventured to The Venetian.  And the evening ended perfectly watching the fountains dance at the Bellagio with Selena Bluntzer and Homa Woodrum (Oh Mah Deehness).  What a wonderful way to end a wonderful weekend!

Pumpkin Seeds

We have a family tradition of going to the pumpkin patch each year and picking out pumpkins for carving. This year the weather was too wet so the selection of pumpkins was not very good. Most of them were rotten.  We picked out a few good ones for decoration on our front porch, then later I picked up a few pumpkins for carving at Walmart. 

Once the pumpkins were gutted and carved, we took the seeds, rinsed them off, and roasted them for snacking on throughout the week. It is super easy to do. The hardest part is getting the guts off the seeds. 

Once the seeds are rinsed, spread them out on a cookie sheet or pan, spritz with a little oil, and season with your choice of seasonings. Sometimes all I use is a little salt, but this year I used seasoned salt for a little extra zing. They were delicious!  Once they are seasoned, roast them in the oven at 300º for about 45 minutes. Our batch never lasts more than a couple of days, but we keep them stored in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Product Reveiw: 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook

About two years ago I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed, and I kept coming across a page that posted things that my friends frequently liked.  I decided to take a closer look.  This Facebook page is 100 Days of Real Food.  (Check out the blog too!  So much great info!)  It only took me about 3 seconds to decide that this was a page I wanted to see more of.  So I liked the page, and my brain was flooded with so much wonderful information regarding food. 

We deal with food allergies in our family, and because of that, we tend to eat more healthy (see my post regarding The Upside of Food Allergies here).  After seeing just a few recipes/school lunch ideas posted, I knew Lisa Leake and I would become great friends.  Well, at least I feel like we are great friends since we have so much in common regarding what we should eat.  Following her posts has opened my eyes to what is actually in our processed food and how one voice can have a big impact on our food industry.

 

When I received my very own copy of Lisa's new cookbook in the mail, I was so excited!  I immediately flipped through the pages to find them filled not only with delicious, nutritious recipes with vibrant pictures, but also lots of great tips on how to shop for real food and how to make changes in your family diet that will last a lifetime.  It begins with a wonderful summary of Lisa's food journey to which I can greatly relate.  A life of fast food and processed junk seemed to make life on-the-go so much easier, but Lisa beautifully illustrates that eating healthy (eating real food) and being busy are not mutually exclusive.  I can personally attest to that.  Sometimes we just need a little guidance on how to make that happen.

As a parent of two (of four) children with life-threatening food allergies, I often need to make modifications to recipes to make them safe for my family. One thing I really like about Lisa's recipes is that she is very aware of other people's special diet needs. Many of the recipes included in this book are allergy friendly, or can easy be modified to be.

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love is the name of this newly released cookbook.  Other than the name being a mouthful, I don't have anything negative to say.  This is not some fancy cookbook that offers recipes for high-end dining.  This is an everyday, quick meal cookbook that you can enjoy.  It is filled with simple, healthy recipes that will impress even your grandmother! 

Many people are hesitant to make the change to real food because they don't know what to buy, think it's too expensive, deal with picky eaters and/or don't know where to start.  This book will help you with all of that.  I agree that it can be quite overwhelming at first, but you don't have to change overnight!

Tonight I decided to give one of these recipes a try.  I made Shortcut Eggplant Parmesan for my family, and the only ingredient I had to purchase was eggplant.  I already had everything else in my kitchen.

 

 

Of course, I made a few minor modifications to the recipe to make it safe for my family, such as using gluten-free flour, dairy-free cheese, and gluten-free noodles, but it was quick and easy to make.  I can't wait to try more of these recipes!

 

If you don't already follow Lisa's blog or Facebook page, I highly recommend that you do. You will never look at food the same again, and you will be happier and healthier because of it. If you haven't already ordered your copy of this cookbook, do it now! You won't regret it!