Tag: Healthy

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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.

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~Erika

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game Changer- Amazing New Vegan Cheeses on Market

CHsses 2

Over the last 7 1/2 years that we have been practicing an allergy safe diet, our family has literally tried every vegan and nut-free cheese on the market.  And I mean EVERY cheese!  Some cheeses are too sticky, many do not melt well, several taste like rubber, others taste like chemicals, some are artificial tasting, even oily, and a few are gritty.  Gross!

I was at our local Spartan-Brand Grocery Store, D & W Fresh Market, a few days ago and they have completely redesigned the entire store creating a large allergy-friendly/gluten-free area that includes several smaller aisles with a large refrigerator cooler and frozen food section.  I was jumping for joy!  In the refrigerator, I noticed several Follow Your Heart cheeses with “new” written on the packaging.  Since these have not been available to us in the past, I purchased a few different options to take home to my boys and husband and conduct a family a taste test.

CHeese 1

I purchased these cheeses that we then sampled at home on Wheat Thin crackers: Provolone 1 oz packages, Mozzarella slices, American slices, Cheddar slices, and American 1 oz. packages.  The overall consensus between my two boys, husband, and myself was that all 3 cheese flavors, not only had the texture of real cow’s milk cheese, but ALSO THE TASTE CLOSELY RESEMBLED REAL CHEESE!  I was shocked!  I grew up eating dairy until my children were diagnosed with food allergies over seven years ago and decided to give up all dairy in order to support them, live a healthier lifestyle and maintain the safety in our home.

The Follow Your Heart Provolone is a mild semi-hard cheese that has a subtle sweetness.  It can easily be paired with sliced apples, pairs, grapes, etc.  We loved it!  The Follow Your Heart American Cheese holds its own!  I’m actually convinced that many of my “dairy-eating” extended family members would not be able to tell that it is vegan- it’s that good!  The texture was medium and the taste was creamy and melted in our mouths!

Finally, the Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese was medium flavored, not too sharp and everything you would expect from a cheddar cheese!  It’s smooth and firm texture was absolutely perfect!  A real winner!

My children were so excited after the tasting that I went back to the grocery store the next day and loaded up on more of these amazing cheeses.  I now feel like I could even entertain non-vegan guests with these cheeses and they would simply enjoy them without the standard questioning, “Is this dairy-free? Is this vegan?”

Kudos to Follow Your Heart for developing such amazing new products that have become Game Changers for my family!  Follow Your Heart is a company that has been in the vegan business for a long time since 1970 and they know how to create yummy foods that we all love! I have to admit, I cannot stop snacking on these cheeses!  They are delicious with everything!

Now, I just need to figure out if I can order this cheeses by the case at D & W Fresh Market or our local organic co-op, The Grain Train, where I’m a member/owner.

These cheeses are Life-Changing for our family!

Enjoy and Happy Cheese Eating!

#Cheese#DairyFree#Vegan#Allergy#NutFree#PeanutFree#AllergyFree#Anaphylaxs#Cheddar#Provolone#AmericanCheese

~Erika

Game Changer- Amazing New Vegan Cheeses on Market

CHsses 2

Over the last 7 1/2 years that we have been practicing an allergy safe diet, our family has literally tried every vegan and nut-free cheese on the market.  And I mean EVERY cheese!  Some cheeses are too sticky, many do not melt well, several taste like rubber, others taste like chemicals, some are artificial tasting, even oily, and a few are gritty.  Gross!

I was at our local Spartan-Brand Grocery Store, D & W Fresh Market, a few days ago and they have completely redesigned the entire store creating a large allergy-friendly/gluten-free area that includes several smaller aisles with a large refrigerator cooler and frozen food section.  I was jumping for joy!  In the refrigerator, I noticed several Follow Your Heart cheeses with “new” written on the packaging.  Since these have not been available to us in the past, I purchased a few different options to take home to my boys and husband and conduct a family a taste test.

CHeese 1

I purchased these cheeses that we then sampled at home on Wheat Thin crackers: Provolone 1 oz packages, Mozzarella slices, American slices, Cheddar slices, and American 1 oz. packages.  The overall consensus between my two boys, husband, and myself was that all 3 cheese flavors, not only had the texture of real cow’s milk cheese, but ALSO THE TASTE CLOSELY RESEMBLED REAL CHEESE!  I was shocked!  I grew up eating dairy until my children were diagnosed with food allergies over seven years ago and decided to give up all dairy in order to support them, live a healthier lifestyle and maintain the safety in our home.

The Follow Your Heart Provolone is a mild semi-hard cheese that has a subtle sweetness.  It can easily be paired with sliced apples, pairs, grapes, etc.  We loved it!  The Follow Your Heart American Cheese holds its own!  I’m actually convinced that many of my “dairy-eating” extended family members would not be able to tell that it is vegan- it’s that good!  The texture was medium and the taste was creamy and melted in our mouths!

Finally, the Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese was medium flavored, not too sharp and everything you would expect from a cheddar cheese!  It’s smooth and firm texture was absolutely perfect!  A real winner!

My children were so excited after the tasting that I went back to the grocery store the next day and loaded up on more of these amazing cheeses.  I now feel like I could even entertain non-vegan guests with these cheeses and they would simply enjoy them without the standard questioning, “Is this dairy-free? Is this vegan?”

Kudos to Follow Your Heart for developing such amazing new products that have become Game Changers for my family!  Follow Your Heart is a company that has been in the vegan business for a long time since 1970 and they know how to create yummy foods that we all love! I have to admit, I cannot stop snacking on these cheeses!  They are delicious with everything!

Now, I just need to figure out if I can order this cheeses by the case at D & W Fresh Market or our local organic co-op, The Grain Train, where I’m a member/owner.

These cheeses are Life-Changing for our family!

Enjoy and Happy Cheese Eating!

#Cheese#DairyFree#Vegan#Allergy#NutFree#PeanutFree#AllergyFree#Anaphylaxs#Cheddar#Provolone#AmericanCheese

~Erika

Do You Practice What You Preach?

Scout on trail

It’s Thursday morning and the majority of Americans are more than halfway through a standard work week.  That means we should also be more than halfway through our weekly workouts also, right?  How many people have been telling themselves each and every day this week, “I’ll just get back into exercising tomorrow.”  Procrastinating just one more day to spend more time on the couch watching TV, playing with electronic devices or spending extra time at the office sitting in an office chair perched in front of your computer with terrible posture.  Who has time to exercise in this fast-paced society with work, children, extracurriculars, etc?  Right?  We’re all guilty of making excuses of why not to exercise.  I know I have been known to do this on more than one occasion.  “It’s too cold outside, I don’t have enough time, I’ll do it tomorrow…”   The list goes on and one.

Enough said!  I know I have preached in many of my posts that because of food allergies we tend to eat clean, healthy, low fat, and organic.  I can proudly say that I do practice what I preach when it comes to cooking for my 2 food allergic boys and husband.  Additionally, I haven’t posted very much on the importance of ALSO living a heart-healthy lifestyle by incorporating daily exercise into your program.  Whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours daily exercise is essential for living a well-balanced life.  You have to find the right balance for YOU!

Thankfully, I grew up an athlete from a young age and was very successful with my athletics throughout high school and college.  Although I chose not to ski race in college at the varsity level I did participate in our school’s club ski race team.  We even qualified for Nationals 2 years in a row which was pretty exciting considering we were not a school sponsored sports team!  The point I’m trying to make is that for me exercise has always been easy, enjoyable and a MAJOR part of my life! When I don’t exercise I feel TERRIBLE, crabby and I’m sure I’m just not a nice person.  Just ask my family.

When my children were first diagnosed with food allergies over 7 years ago I may have taken my exercise levels to a place that most people would think was a bit obsessive.  I trained for countless numbers of hours 6-7 days a week preparing for triathlons in which some days I would even complete 2 hard workouts.  In the end, I placed in the top 3 in most of my events and even won a race.  What the heck— I felt that all of the hard work definitely paid off!  I grew to love the sport of triathlon as an adult and during my training sessions I was able to focus on something I loved and not be distracted by the constant worry of my children’s food allergies and the potential of an anaphylactic reaction.  For me, exercise IS and WILL always be a way for me to control my anxiety of worrying about my little boys. Exercise is a way of life for me.   I’m sure this anxiety about the constant worry of my boys will never go away as long as I am a parent.  I have, however, toned down my trainings a bit over the last year and a half and have learned to find more balance with my workouts.

I’m extremely lucky to live in an area where I can road bike, mountain bike, trail run, water ski, playing tennis or paddle ball, skate ski and downhill ski, snow shoe, etc…it’s a playground for outside activities!!!  Exercise has become more enjoyable for me.  I know this is not likely the case for most people but YOU HAVE to make an effort to seek out something that you enjoy and is a good workout.  Whether it’s pumping iron in your local gym or walking the dog at a fast pace in your neighborhood there is something for everyone!  Just give it a try or try a new class of some sort.  MAKE THE TIME!  Get up just 20 minutes earlier in the morning.  Whatever it takes YOU have the POWER!

Now if you haven’t broken a sweat this week and have been eating garbage all week this is the time to take a stand for yourself and make a positive change!  For mind, body, and soul!

Do you like the picture of my running partner this morning on the trail?  I tried talking myself out of running because the wind chill was about 30 degrees with 15 mph winds but thankfully our dog Scout kept looking at me with guilty eyes that basically said, “Take me for a trail run!”

#running#roadbiking#moutainbiking#organicfood#foodallergies#hearthealthy#lifestyle

Delicious Vegan & Nut Free Protein Powder

Protein Powder 3

I have been meaning to post this product review for awhile now and after an exhausting weekend with my family filled with lots of fun outdoor activities what better way to start off a Monday than with a delicious smoothie made with —  Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder in Vanilla Bean.  My husband, boys and I were on a mission last winter to find the most delicious “non-chalky” tasting vegan/nut-free protein powder.  Thankfully, our local organic co-operative grocery store the Grain Train, carries several 1-serving sample packages of protein powder.  I think they were about $3.00-$4.00 per sample package.  A bit pricey, but definitely worth it and a good way to narrow down your choices.

After we tried roughly 6 different brands and flavors by mixing the protein powders with frozen fruit and blending them into a smoothie, this product we determined was definitely the WINNER, hands down!  It is smooth tasting, delicious, non-chalky and does not have a gritty taste that many of the other brands we sampled had.  Each serving size, which is 2 Rounded Soups of the powder, includes 21 grams of Organic Protein derived from Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Hemp Protein and Organic Pea Protein!  I said 21g of protein, can you believe it?  Additionally, each serving of protein powder has only 3g net carbs, 5g organic fiber and NO ADDED SUGAR – music to my ears!!!  It packs quite a punch and I will typically make a delicious smoothie for my boys at least 4 mornings a week to give them the protein they need in the morning to energize them for an entire day of school!

Here is the recipe I usually use for my children’s Protein Smoothie Shakes:

  • 2 Rounded Scoops of Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder – Vanilla Bean
  • 1 cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries
  • 1 medium banana or 1 container (5.3oz) Silk Soy Yogurt
  • 1 handful (about 1 cup) fresh organic spinach
  • 8-10 oz water or organic soymilk
  • Blend well together in a blender or Vitamix
  • Serve Immediately and enjoy!

My husband and I are avoiding carbohydrates right now so in lieu of the banana and soy yogurt above I usually add a little extra spinach and then add a total of either 8-10oz water or 8-10oz organic soy milk and a squeeze a lemon wedge into the blender.  If I really want an extra kick to jump start my day I will add some freshly grated ginger into my smoothie…mmmmm… delicious!

I should also mention Orgain Organic Protein Powder is also free of the following: dairy, lactose, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy, and GMO’s.

Enjoy!

~Erika

Ingredients 1

Delicious Vegan & Nut Free Protein Powder

Protein Powder 3

I have been meaning to post this product review for awhile now and after an exhausting weekend with my family filled with lots of fun outdoor activities what better way to start off a Monday than with a delicious smoothie made with —  Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder in Vanilla Bean.  My husband, boys and I were on a mission last winter to find the most delicious “non-chalky” tasting vegan/nut-free protein powder.  Thankfully, our local organic co-operative grocery store the Grain Train, carries several 1-serving sample packages of protein powder.  I think they were about $3.00-$4.00 per sample package.  A bit pricey, but definitely worth it and a good way to narrow down your choices.

After we tried roughly 6 different brands and flavors by mixing the protein powders with frozen fruit and blending them into a smoothie, this product we determined was definitely the WINNER, hands down!  It is smooth tasting, delicious, non-chalky and does not have a gritty taste that many of the other brands we sampled had.  Each serving size, which is 2 Rounded Soups of the powder, includes 21 grams of Organic Protein derived from Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Hemp Protein and Organic Pea Protein!  I said 21g of protein, can you believe it?  Additionally, each serving of protein powder has only 3g net carbs, 5g organic fiber and NO ADDED SUGAR – music to my ears!!!  It packs quite a punch and I will typically make a delicious smoothie for my boys at least 4 mornings a week to give them the protein they need in the morning to energize them for an entire day of school!

Here is the recipe I usually use for my children’s Protein Smoothie Shakes:

  • 2 Rounded Scoops of Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder – Vanilla Bean
  • 1 cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries
  • 1 medium banana or 1 container (5.3oz) Silk Soy Yogurt
  • 1 handful (about 1 cup) fresh organic spinach
  • 8-10 oz water or organic soymilk
  • Blend well together in a blender or Vitamix
  • Serve Immediately and enjoy!

My husband and I are avoiding carbohydrates right now so in lieu of the banana and soy yogurt above I usually add a little extra spinach and then add a total of either 8-10oz water or 8-10oz organic soy milk and a squeeze a lemon wedge into the blender.  If I really want an extra kick to jump start my day I will add some freshly grated ginger into my smoothie…mmmmm… delicious!

I should also mention Orgain Organic Protein Powder is also free of the following: dairy, lactose, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy, and GMO’s.

Enjoy!

~Erika

Ingredients 1

Low Carb Zucchini Boats

This summer we had an amazing organic vegetable garden which was so much fun for the entire family.  The kids definitely enjoyed watching the veggies grow this summer and they were excellent helpers when it came to weeding and harvesting the vegetables.  We have had such an abundance of fresh zucchini that I have had to get very creative with my recipes.  Also, my husband has cut carbohydrates out of his diet which has made meal prep for me a bit more challenging but exciting for me to share my new creations with the family.   We eat pretty clean and mean with LOTS of flavor!  Enjoy!

~Erika

zucchini 2

Prep Time: 30 minutes                  Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized organic zucchini
  • 1 lb organic lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves, chopped (1 tsp dried if you do no have fresh on hand)
  • 1/2 C to 3/4 C Daiya dairy-free mozzarella shreds
  • 1 jar good quality organic marina or pasta sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees & lightly grease a glass baking dish.
  2. Cut off the stem end of the zucchini and slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the soft center flesh with a melon spoon if you have one.  Be careful not to remove too much flesh. Place the zucchini halves on the baking dish.
  3. Finely chop the scooped zucchini flesh and reserve.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the zucchini flesh, onion, and garlic until soft, tender and translucent. Add the marinara sauce and simmer.  Stir in the fresh basil.
  5. While the tomato sauce is cooking brown the ground beef in a separate pan.  Once browned you can add the ground beef to the tomato sauce.
  6. Spoon the mixture evenly into each zucchini boat.
  7. Top with Daiya mozzarella shreds.
  8. Bake for 15-20 min until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender.

Chef’s note: In the essence of saving time with my busy schedule I choose to use store bought marina sauce.  If you prefer to make your own simply add 2-3 chopped tomatoes and diced red bell peppers to step #4 in lieu of the marinara.

zucchini