Tag: Nut 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!

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~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!

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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/

 

Vegan Egg Quiche

quiche

Vegan Egg by Follow Your Heart is a revolutionary new egg product that is vegan, dairy free, gluten-free, non-GMO and soy-free!  I have to say, this product has been an amazing addition to my recipes enabling my boys to have eggs for the first time in their lives!   The day Vegan Egg became available for purchase, I immediately placed an online order for 3 cartons of Vegan Egg on amazon.com.

I have made scrambled eggs, omelets, sugar cookies and now quiche with the Vegan Egg.  My two boys as well as husband have deemed all of the Vegan Egg recipes as WINNERS!   Vegan Egg has the consistency of real eggs and can be substituted for eggs specifically in most recipes.  The product is made from whole algal flour and algal protein which is the protein source.  It is low in cholesterol and healthy all around. 

The directions on the egg carton state to use “ice cold water” and whisk vigorously with the Vegan Egg mixture.  I recommend following these directions precisely and you will achieve the delicious Vegan Egg result that I have on multiple occasions.   Once again, Follow Your Heart has created a delicious product and I am now a new loyal customer for this product!

My Vegan Egg Quiche is a dish that can be enjoyed for any occasion.  I’m excited to make it for our annual Christmas morning brunch this year and hope you will enjoy it as much as my family does!

Vegan Egg Quiche Florentine:

Preparation Time:  20 minutes

Cook Time:  50 minutes

Ingredients:

3 eggs (6 Tbsp of Vegan Egg whisked vigorously with 1 1/2 cups ice cold water)

3/4 cup organic soy milk (or other non-dairy alternative)

1/2 cup organic chopped spinach

1/4/ cup organic deli ham diced

1/4 cup Follow Your Heart American Style Slices diced

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped

fresh Italian parsley for garnish

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Pillsbury pre-made pie crust

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees;
  2. While oven is heating vigorously whisk the ice cold water and Vegan Egg together in a large bowl and set aside;
  3. Form the pie shell into an ungreased pie dish and place in the oven for 10 minutes;
  4. While pie shell is in oven add parsley, peppers, and salt to Vegan Egg mixture;
  5. Remove pie shell from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees;
  6. Add the diced ham, spinach and American cheese to the bottom of the pie shell and spread out evenly;
  7. Using a spatula gently pour the egg mixture into the pie shell on top of the ingredients;
  8. Once oven temperature has decreased add quiche to the oven and cook for approximately 50 minutes or until a took pick inserted into quiche comes out clean.
  9. Serve hot and garnish with fresh Italian parsley.
  10. Enjoy!

 

 

Melt Organic

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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.

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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!

 

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