Tag: Allergy Friendly

Creamy Shitake Mushroom, Spinach & Sundried Tomato Orecchiette Pasta

We have had such a long winter here in Northern Michigan!  Recently, over the last 4 days we received roughly 24″-28″ of fresh snow!  In fact, we have had so much snow this April we broke the record for most snowfall in April- over 30″ of snow since April 1st!!! Needless to say, I’ve been really busy inside my kitchen creating new and easy DAIRY, NUT & EGG FREE recipes.  I posted pictures of this delicious pasta I made last night on my Instagram account and promised my followers the recipe.  Here it is and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  Satiating, healthy and best of all ALLERGY FRIENDLY!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes                                                                                                        Serves: 4-6 servings

Cook Time: 15 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons non-dairy butter (I prefer Smart Balance or Earth Balance) 6 garlic cloves, minced
12oz pkg of organic shitake mushrooms (fresh if available)
12oz pkg of organic button mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes (reconstitute them in water) 10oz pkg of organic baby spinach
1 pound Orecchiette Pasta (Delallo is made in Italy & vegan and nut free) 2 Tbsp organic non-bleached flour 1 cup, as needed of your favorite non-dairy milk (I use either Flax milk or unsweetened Ripple) 1/4 cup white cooking wine (If it’s not good enough to drink- don’t cook with it!) 1/4 cup or so of reserved pasta water Black pepper & salt to taste 1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella Shreds 1/8 cup Follow Your Heart Parmesan to top

Instructions:

1. Cook the pasta according to the package.  Drain, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup pasta water for later.  Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set aside once cooked.

2. While the orecchiette pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan heat Tbsps of vegan butter over medium heat.  Add the shitake and button mushrooms, garlic, and sundried tomatoes.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until everything is tender.

3. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of vegan butter to the pan and let melt.

4. Add the flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to thicken.

5. Turn the heat up a little bit and add the wine.  Stir for about 1 minute and then whisk in the non-dairy milk.  Reduce heat to a simmer until thickened.  If too thick, add a little more milk.

6. Add Daiya cheese, spinach and thyme. Cover with a lid for about one minute until the spinach is tender.  Stir vigorously to incorporate melted Daiya.

7. Add salt & pepper to taste.

8. Gently fold cooked orecchiette pasta into saute pan.  Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and freshly chopped parsley.

9. Top with parmesan cheese and serve hot!

 

Allergen Safe Easter Celebration

Chocolate-Bunny-2

With the Easter holiday around the corner and grocery store aisles filled with Easter candy chock full of allergens, it is important to post about how we have a fun and allergen safe Easter in our home every year.  Not to mention, still celebrating the true meaning of Easter and Jesus.

The picture above depicts chocolate covered mini eggs and I’m yet to find these that are dairy, nut and egg free.  For the last eight years I have pre-ordered Easter (and most of my holiday chocolates) from these two vendors:

Amanda’s Own Confections

Premium Chocolatiers

I have written about the delicious chocolates both of these companies offer several times in the past.  Amanda’s Own Confections products are all (except Sunbutter Cups) FREE of the top 8 allergens.  They are delicious and taste like real chocolate!  You would never know they do not contain dairy.  Furthermore, Premium Chocolatier’s products are FREE from: NUTS, DAIRY, GLUTEN and EGGS.  Both companies use dedicated equipment and can guarantee their products are free from the above listed allergens.  Each company makes molds of Easter bunnies that are chocolate during the springs season that are absolutely adorable in various sizes.

This year I even ordered a new product from Premium Chocolatiers called Cream Eggs!  The description sounds like the ever-famous Cadbury eggs we all grew up eating, just without the Allergens!  I’m so excited for my boys to try these on Easter morning!

In addition to the above products, I like adding a few packages of Surf Sweet gummies and/or jelly beans to my children’s Easter baskets: Surf Sweets Candy.  For my local followers the Grain Train and Oriana (in Traverse City) carry them.  These candies are free from the top 10 allergens and are delicious gummy treats!

Now for the Easter Egg hunt that traditionally kicks off Easter morning for our boys. I typically purchase about 50-60 plastic eggs (they can be reused year after year) and fill them with a variety of items such as: money, erasers, bouncy balls, gum, safe Easter bunny marshmallows, little safe chocolates, jelly beans, trinkets, Peeps (be sure to check labels as some have dairy; the yellow peeps are safe for sure!), etc.  I don’t go too crazy.  Additionally, I like to add several non-food items to their basket because it adds variety and little toys and educational items are fun for the boys to work on throughout the day of celebration.

Have a wonderful Allergen-Safe Easter Celebration and please feel free to contact me with any questions.

~Erika

 

 

Ski Trips with Food Allergies

gondola vail

We recently took a week long ski trip with our boys and extended family to Vail, Colorado.  Our two boys have been downhill skiing practically since they could walk.  That’s a bit of exaggeration but if you are a ski family like we are, then you can most likely relate.  We love to ski with our boys and often.

Although my husband and I have been taking annual ski trips together out west for over a decade this was the first trip out west with both of our boys.  We felt that age ages 6 and 8 they would be able to hold their own and ski the majority of the terrain without a problem.

The key to any vacation when traveling with kids that have multiple food allergies is to stay in a place that has a kitchen and well-equipped one if you love to cook like I do.  Thankfully we were also vacationing with my father-in-law who owned his own restaurant for over 30 years and is a professional chef…that definitely helps!  We stayed in a beautiful condo in Arrowhead which is just a hop skip and a jump to one of the Arrowhead/Beavercreek chairlifts.

I’ll cut to the chase today as I want to be thorough but brief.  There was absolutely no chance that my husband and I were going to risk an accidental food exposure for either of our sons while skiing during the day at either Beavercreek or Vail.  For (1) it would be very timely to get a child off the mountain if they  experienced anaphylaxis and (2) I was a bit skeptical of the emergency care in Summit County although I researched it and I’m sure it was more than adequate.

Our boys ALWAYS ski with 2 Epi-pens each which they put carry in their pocket located inside of their ski coat with about 8 Benadryl tablets each.  My youngest son also skis with his inhaler.  We have always felt this is a good pocket for the Epi-pens because it’s close to their bodies and doesn’t get too cold, since these little buggers are temperature sensitive…ugh!

We decided it was easiest to pack tortilla roll-up sandwiches for the boys each day because they took up little space and they are also one of the boy’s favorite foods for lunch.  We would typically roll up organic deli ham, melted Daiya mozzarella shreds, and lettuce.  Typically, we would make 2 roll-ups per boy and then we would give each child 1-2 Enjoy Your Life Choco-Loco bars for snacks on the mountain.  We skied a total of 4 days with the boys and alternated the roll-ups from day to day adding various ingredients so they wouldn’t get tired of the same thing.

My husband Jason and I would typically put a few in our ski jacket pockets and the boys would carry a few for themselves.  Easy peasy.  Then, once we were skiing all morning and decided to go in for lunch on top of the mountain (usually anywhere from 10,000 – 11,000 ft above sea level), we would buy entire lunches for Jason and myself and then just purchase drinks and “safe” chips for the boys.  This system proved to work well throughout the week of our ski vacation.  The boys were happy with their lunches and most importantly SAFE!

It was a huge success and any of the pre-trip anxiety I had about eating on the mountain was squashed once we executed our plan.  This system also enabled us to share a memorable vacation with our boys skiing in the mountains of Summit County Colorado for their first time our West!  It was an awesome trip!  I can’t wait to create more ski vacation memories with my 3 boys in future years to come!

Click on the link below to view Taylor ripping it up on the Word Cup Downhill run Birds of Paradise at Beavercreek Resort:

Taylor Birds of Prey

First Friday for Foodies at Crooked Tree Arts Center Today

Please come out to Crooked Tree Arts Center today at 11am and support local Food Allergy Awareness.  I will be offering delicious samples from some of my favorite allergen friendly healthy recipes.

http://www.petoskeynews.com/calendar/community/first-fridays-for-foodies-small-town-allergy-mom/event_bf7e097a-dd83-11e5-90d2-10604b9ffeb6.html

Please Follow Me!

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I just transferred my blog domain name to a new host site.During this challenging transition, I did not retain all of my BLOG followers.Please click on the link and FOLLOW ME to receive updates from Small Town Allergy Mom™ on social media.

I sincerely appreciate your support and I promise to keep adding useful content!

~Erika

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa Mix

hot cocoa

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

We finally have excellent snow in northern Michigan and the downhill skiing at Nub’s Nob Ski Resort has been wonderful!  My husband, boys and I have been season pass holders here for years and we’re happy to call this resort our home during the winter months. 

Many children that ski often look forward to hot cocoa breaks in the lodge to warm up their cold bodies from being out in the elements.  Obviously, our boys cannot drink the hot cocoa from the vending machine in the cafeteria since it contains “milk” as one of the main ingredients. 

Over the years I have been making my own dairy free version of powdered hot cocoa mix.  I make several individual servings for my boys to use throughout the ski season. They simply put the zip lock baggie in one of their ski jacket pockets, add hot water from the cafeteria “hot water” machine, stir,  and they are the happiest kids in the lodge.

Here’s my recipe which has taken a few years to really perfect:

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa Mix

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hersey’s)

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. powdered soy milk (I use Better Than Milk Vanilla Soy Powder purchased in bulk from amazon.com- it’s the creamiest!)

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients together with a wire whisk in a bowl.  I will often double or even triple the recipe making a huge batch that I store in an air tight container for the winter.  I will then scoop about 3 Tablespoons of the mix into several small ziplock bags for my boys to take skiing each day.  It stores well and is easy for them to grab out of the pantry in individual servings.

You can also add dehydrated or mini marshmallows to the individual baggies.  I usually add these since my boys love marshmallows with their hot cocoa like most children.

Just add hot water to the mix, stir and enjoy!  This powdered hot cocoa is not only Dairy Free but it’s creamy and delicious as well!  Not to mention easy to take on the go whether it’s skiing, sledding or ice skating!

 

Melt Organic

melt 2

I have been reading about this fairly new product for a few months now and I finally noticed that my local grocery store chain Meijer had it on their shelves the other day.  I thought to myself, what better time to try it than now?  I purchased 2 containers of the Dairy, Gluten, Soy, Egg, and Nut Free Buttery Spread.

So here’s the skinny.  We (my husband, 2 sons and myself) were not overly thrilled about the taste of the organic buttery spread on toast, bagels, steamed vegetables and popcorn.  The reason being was because it tasted too much like coconut.  Its main ingredient is “Virgin Coconut Oil” so the taste made sense but was not a favorite on the tested foods. 

On the plus side, Organic Melt took my homemade buttercream frosting for my son’s recent birthday cake to a new level!  It was AMAZING and the best tasting frosting I have ever made!  My grandmother used to make me a homemade birthday cake when I was a kid with creamy homemade frosting that she topped off with toasted coconut.  This recipe brings back those wonderful memories of enjoying my birthdays, surrounded by my entire family, as a young child. A REAL WINNER!  My boys and husband raved about the delicate taste, not too sweet but creamy with a subtle hit of coconut flavor.  Plus it is heart-healthy too!

This product is a vegan, gluten free, soy free and a nut free alternative to standard cow’s milk butter and margarines.  The virgin coconut oil is a stable saturated fat and a fruit-based source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) according to Melt’s website http://www.meltorganic.com/our-products/rich-creamy-melt/.  I definitely recommend using this product in a baking capacity.

melt 1

Here is my buttercream frosting recipe which is delicious on cupcakes, cakes, brownies, etc.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

Yields: 2 1/2  Cups

Ingredients:

1 Cup Melt Organic Rich & Creamy

1/2 Cup Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening

1 1/2 tsp Good Quality Vanilla Extract

2 Tbsp Organic Soymilk

2 1/2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar

Method:

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the margarine, shortening, soy milk, vanilla until  well incorporated. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat for 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy.  Feel free to add more sugar to taste as some recipes call for up to 3 cups of sugar. I think 2 1/2 cups are sufficient and taste delicious! ~Erika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dairy Free Pizza Pockets

One of my boy’s favorite meals are my pizza pockets.  They are dairy, nut and egg free and pretty simple to make.  In fact, my youngest son who turned six yesterday even requested them for his birthday dinner!  This was the perfect simple and easy item to make for dinner last night because we had to be at my son’s school by 6pm for his annual Christmas choir concert.

The pizza pockets were a huge hit, as always, and in the essence of time, I decided to use Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough in lieu of making my own.  A good pizza dough recipe will also work well if you have one on hand.

pizza 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes                                                        Cook Time: 14-16 minute

Ingredients:

3  (8oz) cans refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough

1/2 cup marinara sauce – I use a good quality store bought marinara sauce (Meijer Organic)

1/2 cup sliced organic deli ham (I use Applegate Naturals Uncured Black Forest Ham)

1/2 cup sliced Salami (I also use Applegate Naturals Salami)

1 1/2 cups Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

1/4 cup washed and sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped organic spinach

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-dairy cooking spray like Pam.  Set aside.
  3. Unroll each can of Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough.  You will be able to separate each can into a total of 4 rectangles (2 triangles for each rectangle).
  4. Press each rectangle firmly to form a 6 x 4 inch larger rectangle.
  5. Spread approximately 1 Tbsp of marinara on half of each rectangle leaving about 1/2 from the edge.
  6. Add 2-3 Tbsp of Daiya cheese and your preferred toppings to each rectangle.
  7. Fold the other half of the rectangle over the filling and seal by pressing a fork along all of the edges.
  8. Repeat until all of the dough has been made into pizza pockets.
  9. Poke a few holes in each pizza pocket with a fork to allow steam to escape the dough.
  10. Bake 14-16 minutes until the pockets are a beautiful golden brown.
  11. Serve hot and enjoy!

 

pizza 3

Pizza Hut “Book It” Reading Program & Food Allergies

book itTaking a jog down memory lane for me back to second grade, I vividly remember participating in the National “Book It” Program.  I would read for countless numbers of hours to accomplish my monthly required reading goals so I could obtain a Coupon, in exchange for a Free Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  For those of you unfamiliar with “Book It” – It is a national campaign which started in 1984 and has been successful for over 3 decades!  Book It “Motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza (bookitprogram.com).” According to bookitprogram.com, the program “Currently reaches over 14 million students in 38,000 elementary schools annually.”

But what if your child has FOOD ALLERGIES?

A Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut would send my child into anaphylactic shock and possibly “Death by Cheese.”  Not to make light of this situation, but eating pizza in a chain such as Pizza Hut is the last thing anyone with a Dairy Allergy would do if their life depended on it!

I have had to get creative since my oldest son’s class started implementing the Book It program last year, when he was a first grader.  Thankfully, I have a good working relationship with Taylor’s teacher and last year, based on Taylor’s recommendation, we came up with Seven Eleven Slurpee Coupons for him in lieu of the Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  This reward worked extremely well.  Taylor was not only motivated to read by the delicious slurpee reward, but he started reading extra hours on his own!

Now that my son is in second grade this year he asked me for some additional recommendations other than the Seven Eleven slurpee rewards.  Taylor still loves his Slurpee’s but I think he just wanted a new goal to strive for.  We brainstormed for awhile and decided that Subway sandwich gift cards were an excellent reward for his reading accomplishments during each Book It calendar month.  I ventured to our local Subway franchise the other day and purchased 8 individual gift cards and placed $7.50 on each gift card.  My son likes to eat the ham and turkey 6 inch Sub on Italian bread.  I priced it out with a “meal” which includes a drink and bag of chips and the total I believe was just under $7.50 and came to $7.31!  Not a bad compromise in lieu of Death Pizza!  Plus it’s a healthier option as well!

subway 2

The reward of the Subway gift card will not only continue to keep our son motivated to read every day after school but it will provide a healthy alternative to pizza, a food that he cannot eat outside of our home.

Please note, I did take the time to call the Pizza Hut Book It hotline in Plano, TX.  The customer service representative assured me that Pizza Hut CAN accommodate customers that have gluten allergies.  However, I would have to check with the local franchise to determine if they can accommodate “dairy” allergies.   My boys and I would NEVER set foot into a pizza hut with the possibility of cross-contamination!  It’s unfortunate but SAFETY is our utmost concern! The choice is yours however.

Please refer to my post from a few months back on “Eating at Subway with Food Allergies:”

http://smalltownallergymom.com/2015/09/03/eating-at-subway-with-food-allergies/

Pizza Hut “Book It” Reading Program & Food Allergies

book itTaking a jog down memory lane for me back to second grade, I vividly remember participating in the National “Book It” Program.  I would read for countless numbers of hours to accomplish my monthly required reading goals so I could obtain a Coupon, in exchange for a Free Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  For those of you unfamiliar with “Book It” – It is a national campaign which started in 1984 and has been successful for over 3 decades!  Book It “Motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza (bookitprogram.com).” According to bookitprogram.com, the program “Currently reaches over 14 million students in 38,000 elementary schools annually.”

But what if your child has FOOD ALLERGIES?

A Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut would send my child into anaphylactic shock and possibly “Death by Cheese.”  Not to make light of this situation, but eating pizza in a chain such as Pizza Hut is the last thing anyone with a Dairy Allergy would do if their life depended on it!

I have had to get creative since my oldest son’s class started implementing the Book It program last year, when he was a first grader.  Thankfully, I have a good working relationship with Taylor’s teacher and last year, based on Taylor’s recommendation, we came up with Seven Eleven Slurpee Coupons for him in lieu of the Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  This reward worked extremely well.  Taylor was not only motivated to read by the delicious slurpee reward, but he started reading extra hours on his own!

Now that my son is in second grade this year he asked me for some additional recommendations other than the Seven Eleven slurpee rewards.  Taylor still loves his Slurpee’s but I think he just wanted a new goal to strive for.  We brainstormed for awhile and decided that Subway sandwich gift cards were an excellent reward for his reading accomplishments during each Book It calendar month.  I ventured to our local Subway franchise the other day and purchased 8 individual gift cards and placed $7.50 on each gift card.  My son likes to eat the ham and turkey 6 inch Sub on Italian bread.  I priced it out with a “meal” which includes a drink and bag of chips and the total I believe was just under $7.50 and came to $7.31!  Not a bad compromise in lieu of Death Pizza!  Plus it’s a healthier option as well!

subway 2

The reward of the Subway gift card will not only continue to keep our son motivated to read every day after school but it will provide a healthy alternative to pizza, a food that he cannot eat outside of our home.

Please note, I did take the time to call the Pizza Hut Book It hotline in Plano, TX.  The customer service representative assured me that Pizza Hut CAN accommodate customers that have gluten allergies.  However, I would have to check with the local franchise to determine if they can accommodate “dairy” allergies.   My boys and I would NEVER set foot into a pizza hut with the possibility of cross-contamination!  It’s unfortunate but SAFETY is our utmost concern! The choice is yours however.

Please refer to my post from a few months back on “Eating at Subway with Food Allergies:”

http://smalltownallergymom.com/2015/09/03/eating-at-subway-with-food-allergies/