Tag: Egg Free

Allergy Friendly Gingerbread Houses that Don’t Break the Bank! Finally!

I took a small sabbatical from authoring blog posts (4 months to be exact) and I sincerely apologize to my readers.  I had to distance myself from all of the negativity and direct judgements that were being made on social media.  It’s not to say that I didn’t frequently make Instagram, Small Town Allergy Mom Facebook and Twitter posts….I just took a break from writing actual blog posts.

That being said, I’m back in full force and excited to embark on this holiday season!  In fact, my house has been completely decorated inside and out since the Friday after Thanksgiving!  I jumped on the Christmas train early this year!  I’m happy to embrace it!

To get back on track, I have been searching for a moderately priced (not $30+ a kit) gingerbread house kit for over 9 years.  To my surprise, I found a huge end cap full of Wilton Gingerbread House kits at our local Meijer grocery store yesterday afternoon.  They were $12.99 each!   I just looked online and they are only $8.97 at Walmart if you’re willing to wait for the shipment.  I was prepared to make everything from scratch to give our boys the “true experience” of making gingerbread houses.  But hey, why not cut a few corners in the process to make mom’s life a little bit easier.  Besides I cook a minimum of about 19 meals a week!  I can take the “easier” route from time to time.  So I happily purchased 2 kits!

This Wilton Kit was free from all allergens except soy and wheat.  Oh, and there was one package of little candle canes with red and green stripes that contained “peanuts.”  We just threw those in the garbage.  Even though the kit came with plenty of candy and icing to decorate the pre-assembled house, I did purchase more safe candy at my boy’s request which included: Skittles, Lifesavers hard candy, Dots, white coconut for snow, Enjoy Life Mega Chocolate Chunks, and Twizzlers in various colors.

Last night after the boy’s piano lessons we worked on the houses.  Wilton includes basically everything you need with the exception of the candies I purchased, which is not necessary.  The houses were easy to decorate with the pastry bags and icing included in the kits.  Taylor & Christopher had an amazing time decorating for more than 2 hours last night and I enjoyed helping and experiencing their artistic abilities.

This was a fun activity and most of all ALLERGY FRIENDLY!  Way to go Wilton!  I thank you for giving us this experience!

Delicious Triple Berry Popicles

Summer is in full force here in Northern Michigan.  Last week my youngest son and I went raspberry picking at one of our  local organic farms, a  tradition we have shared the last couple of summers.  Needless to say, we have more raspberries than we know what to do with.  This afternoon our youngest begged me to help him make homemade popsicles.  He is my berry boy and eats berries like they are going out of style!

This is quick and easy recipe I hope you will enjoy!  It took us less than 15 minutes from start to placing the popsicle molds in the freezer.  By the way, I use BPA- free popsicle molds which are easy to find these days.  Also, you can use any kind of fresh berries you have on hand.

Ingredients:                                                Preparation Time: 15 minutes                           Freeze Time:   4-6 hours

2/3 cup raw organic cane sugar

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries

1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

  • Put sugar & 1/3 cup water into a small saucepan.  Over medium heat bring to a boil while continually stirring to make the simple syrup.  Set aside once sugar has dissolved.
  • While simple syrup is cooling, clean and wash berries.
  • Add washed berries to a food processor or blender (your choice.)

 

Squeeze the juice of one lemon, about 1/4 cup lemon juice and pour into food processor and puree mixture until smooth and well combined.

  • Slowly add 1/3 cup simple syrup to berry mixture.  Taste the mixture.  Some people enjoy more tart popsicles and others like theirs’ very sweet.  You can reserve the remaining simple syrup for adult mojitos later!

  • Slowly pour the mixture in your popsicle molds and freeze for approximately 4-6 hours.

  • Now you’ll have delicious and healthy popsicles for the entire family to enjoy!

 

 

 

Vegan Hot Cocoa – Perfect for this Time of Year

hot cocoa

It’s snowy and cold here in Northern Michigan.  Today is the first day of our downhill ski season  and I thought it would be timely to post my delicious hot cocoa recipe.  Many children that ski often look forward to hot cocoa breaks in the lodge to warm up 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.  It’s creamy, warm and delicious!

Promoting Ways to Live a Healthly Lifestyle in Rural America
Small Town Allergy Mom™

 

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!

 

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

Please Follow Me!

email icon

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

Nut Free Granola- FINALLY!

 

granola

I’ve been on the quest for over 7 years now to find a healthy granola for my boys that is not only dairy and egg free, but NUT FREE as well.  This has been a very challenging feat as most granolas are either made with nuts such as almonds and peanuts or either manufactured on the same equipment as, or in the same facility as NUTS!

Yesterday, while I was shopping at our local Meijer grocery store and in the cereal aisle, I saw a new type of granola called Nature Valley Granola Crunch Oats ‘N Honey by General Mills.  I immediately grabbed the bag off the shelf, read the ingredients and then found my fingers dialing their customer service number to double check the allergen statement.  The allergen statement read “CONTAINS SOY INGREDIENTS” but didn’t mention anything about nuts.  I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes.

I patiently awaited on my cell phone in the cereal aisle for the customer service representative at General Mills.  I read the item number and UPC code to the representative who was very polite and asked her if there were any additional allergens in the granola besides the “soy” listed on the declared statement?  She responded by saying that General Mills has a policy to declare ALL of the top 8 allergens in all of their products.  She could tell me 100% for certain that this product does not contain any of the top 8 allergens besides SOY.  I was relieved and happy that my boys could finally have a safe and healthy granola snack.

Upon taste testing the granola with my boys, we were completely impressed.  The Nature Valley Granola Crunch Oats ‘N Honey is basically granola bars broken up into delicious small granola pieces.  It has no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors and no artificial flavors.  Additionally, it has 13 g of whole grains.  The bag states that there are 21 granola bars broken up in one bag!  The granola was crunchy, had just enough honey and did not get mushy when my youngest added it to his coco yogurt.  This product is a sure winner and I hope you’ll try it!

Thank you General Mills for finally making a safe nut-free granola product my boys can enjoy!

 

Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine

Its cold and snowy here in northern Michigan and I’m craving comfort food!  In fact, our oldest son turned 8 on Sunday and he requested that I make his favorite meal- Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine of course.  Many of my friends and followers have been asking me lately for my recipe which I have tweaked many times over the last 7 years.  I would like to say it’s near perfection as everyone in my family loves it!  You will have to try it for yourself.

I think you’ll find this dish to not only be delicious but healthy as well!

Enjoy!

lasagna 4

Erika’s Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine

Please note you can use whatever kind of protein you prefer or even leave it out completely.  I prefer to use either organic ground turkey or ground venison, of which I have an entire freezer full of, from the doe I harvested during our recent whitetail deer hunting season.

Also, you can certainly make homemade sauce from scratch.  I do sometimes.  However, I’m usually in a crunch for time and I have found several brands of dairy free good-quality store bought tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce:

If using store bought tomato sauce I doctor it up with the following:

2-3 large jars of marinara sauce or 8 cups homemade sauce

1 tsp good quality extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs ground meat of your choice (I made venison lasagna yesterday)

1 tsp dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh

1 tsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

4 cloves of fresh garlic

2 cups fresh organic spinach- you can either add it directly into the pasta sauce or add as another layer on top of the ricotta mixture when building your lasagna.

Salt & Pepper to taste

Dairy Free Ricotta Layer:

2 packages Organic Firm Tofu, drained well and dried with paper towel

2 Tbsp dried or fresh parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

Salt & pepper to taste

For Lasagna Assembling/Layering:

2 packages Daiya Mozzarella Shreds – 1 pkg for ricotta, 1 for top layer

1/2 pkg lasagna noodles (Spartan brand & Hodgson Mill Organic are egg free)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray the bottom and edges of and 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish with “safe” cooking spray. I use Pam.

Fill a large stock pot with water, add a fair amount of salt  (your pasta water should taste like the “sea”) and place on range under high heat.  Once water is boiling, add lasagna noodles and cook for about 8 minutes until al dente.  Do not over cook! 

Drain, add a little olive oil to noodles to prevent sticking and set aside.

lasagna

Tomato Sauce Method:

To make sauce, heat large skillet on medium high and add 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Add a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper plus 2 cloves garlic

When hot, add ground protein of your choice (venison for me) and continually chop up using the back of a wooden spoon.  Once meat is cooked through and browned then add your tomato sauce of choice.  Next add additional 2 cloves of garlic and all remaining ingredients from “tomato sauce” above.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Dairy Free Ricotta Method:

Mix all ricotta ingredients including 1 package of Daiya shreds in a medium bowl.  It’s important you crumble up the tofu by hand and do not use a mixer.  This will ensure for the best consistency to maintain the layers in your final product.  Set aside for now.

Layering Method:

Ladle 1/3 cup tomato sauce onto bottom of lasagna pan.  Add cooked lasagna noodles.  Layer Dairy Free Ricotta Mixture on top of sheets.  Then a layer of fresh spinach and top with tomato sauce/meat mixture.  Repeat this step again ending with a top layer of tomato sauce.

lasagna 2

Cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place lasagna pan on top of a cookie sheet to prevent any overspill/mess in the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes of baking and lasagna is bubbling, remove from oven.  Remove foil and sprinkle 1/2 cup Daiya shreds on top.  Switch oven to “Broil” and broil for 2 minutes to melt Daiya shreds.  Daiya should be bubbling as well when done.

Remove lasagna from oven, let dish settle for 10-15 minutes and serve hot.

Leftovers of this lasagna freeze extremely well.  This dish can also be made up to 2 days in advance if kept in the refrigerator and then baked.

My 2 boys and husband absolutely love my Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine and I hope you will too!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg-Not Nog!

egg not nog 2

With the holiday season in full swing and Christmas only 3 days away what is more appropriate than posting a review of one of my all-time favorite holiday cocktails?  Who doesn’t love egg nog?  Since our children are deathly allergic to eggs, and we have not kept them in the house for over 7 1/2 years we drink “Egg-Not Nog.”

I tried to make my own “Egg-Not Nog” several times last year during the holidays and failed miserably.  I could not re-create the consistency and texture of the egg nog I grew up drinking as a kid.  With all of the entertaining, baking, running around, etc. that we do during the holidays I decided to cut myself a break and buy store bought egg-not nog this year. 

My husband and I conducted a taste test last night of So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog and Silk Nog.  I poured 1 oz. of good quality spiced rum into each cocktail glass filled with ice, then added 4 oz of nog to each glass, stirred and topped off with a pinch of ground nutmeg.  The rum could certainly be substituted for brandy or bourbon if you prefer a different flavor.

Egg not nog

If you are a nog lover I have to say that both the Coconut Nog and Silk Nog were delicious!  The coconut nog has a thick smooth consistency more similar to the egg nog made with real eggs.  It has a subtle hint of coconut that is not over powering and amazing nutmeg flavor which blended well with the rum.  The Silk Nog was a bit creamier in texture and flavor.  Although it lacked the nutmeg in the ingredients,  I just made sure to stir the pinch of nutmeg into the Silk cocktail completely.  Both products are great paired with liquor or by themselves.  My personal vote is for the So Delicious Limited Edition Coconut Milk Nog!  I think it’s a real winner and delicious stirred, shaken or alone (my son loves it!)

Enjoy your Egg-Not Nog and holiday cheers to you!

 

DOVE CHOCOLATE RECALL

Please click on the link below to see the detailed information about the voluntary Dove Chocolate Snowflake recall for eggs, wheat and peanut ingredients that are not listed on the packaging:

http://breaking911.com/recall-alert-chocolate-recalled-nationwide-mars/