Tag: Peanut Free

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/

Heart Healthy Panko Crusted Chicken Tenderloins

What child does not LOVE chicken fingers?  What adult doesn’t love them for that matter?  I have developed a heart-healthy/allergy-friendly recipe I guarantee everyone will love and they will beg for seconds, I promise!  I usually serve my Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders with steamed organic brown rice and steamed broccoli.   It’s fun to serve with a few different vegan dipping sauces like honey mustard, my ginger dipping sauce or even ketchup. Place them in cute ramekins for serving and enjoy!

Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders

 Prep Time: 20 minutes                                                                                   Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6-8 servings (leftovers are good!)

Ingredients:

2 pounds organic chicken tenderloins

2 cups organic soy milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

3 cups Panko Japanese Style Bread Crumbs

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon olive oil or olive oil spray for greasing the pan

Preparation:

Preheat a conventional oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the soymilk and the vinegar in a glass bowl and set aside to form a buttermilk consistency. Then set up a “dredging” and “bread crumbing” assembly line.

Mix together the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper with a spoon. Set aside. Grease your baking sheet or place a piece of parchment paper on it. Set the baking sheet at the end of your assembly line station. Once your station is set up, take each piece of chicken separately and (1) dredge into the buttermilk mixture (2) then coat the chicken with the panko mixture on both sides (3) place neatly on the baking sheet. Repeat these steps until you have coated all of the chicken.

FullSizeRenderpanko

Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken has clear colored juices and is cooked through. Once the chicken is cooked, turn the broiler on high heat and broil until the chicken is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Be sure to watch it so it does not burn.  Look at the beautiful golden brown crust below.

panko 3

Serve with my garlic ginger dipping sauce and enjoy!

Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes                                                                                               Serves: 4-6

Cook Time: 20 minutes

 Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger minced

1 teaspoon shallot minced (if you have on hand)

¼ cup scallions (roughly 2)

¾ cup Low Sodium San-J Tamari soy sauce

¼ cup water

Preparation:

Add the water and soy sauce to a sauce pan and gently bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling whisk in the garlic, ginger and shallots. Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Once the ingredients are nicely softened add the scallions and turn off the heat. Pour into separate dipping ramekins and serve warm with Panko Crusted Chicken for Dipping.  Note:  If you would like to add a little kick to your dipping sauce add a pinch of chili peppers.

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

“Safe” School Snack List

snacks

This week I seem to be posting a lot of  lists.  In the world of food allergies, lists are extremely important to have around as references.  In addition to the “Safe Halloween Candy” list I posted yesterday, I thought it may be helpful to post my comprehensive “Safe School Snack List.”  Parents and teachers alike constantly ask me for healthy safe snacks in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Labels must be read every time since manufacturing practices and ingredients can change at any time. Please check for dairy, eggs, peanuts & tree nuts (butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, cream and many times labeled as whey/casein, albumen, and lactic acid starter culture). Also, see any allergen warning for “may contain” or “made on/processed on the same equipment as” or “made in the same facility as…”

Suggested Safe Snacks:

  • Fruits & Vegetables are highly encouraged (no cream dips/peanut butter)
    • Also, Sunmaid & Meijer Brand Raisins & Most apple sauce containers
  • Meijer Brand Naturals Baked Sea Salt natural pita crackers;
  • Silk Soy Yogurt (blueberry & strawberry)—ALWAYS read this label as several Silk Soy Yogurt flavors are processed on the same equipment as almonds!
  • Organic Ville Non Dairy Ranch Organic Dressing
  • Whole Soy & Co. Soy Yogurt
  • Follow Your Heart Vegan Cream Cheese
  • Go Veggie Classic Plain Cream Cheese Alternative (This is our favorite brand!)
  • SO Delicious Dairy Free CocoWhip Coconut Whipped Topping
  • Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers or Spartan Brand Honey Graham Crackers
  • Nabisco Whole Grain Premium Saltine Crackers
  • Nabisco Low Sodium Premium Saltine Crackers
  • Nabisco “Original” Wheat Thins (Whole Grain) Crackers
  • Triscuit Original Whole Grain Wheat Crackers
  • Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat, Crispy Wheat, Organic Satines & Organic Stoneground Wheat Crackers
  • Glutino Brand Pretzels
  • Keebler CLUB crackers
  • Ritz Crackers (no sandwiches)
  • Savoritz Original Woven Wheats (Aldi’s Brand)
  • Savoritz Original Clubhouse Crakers (Aldi’s Brand)
  • Live G Free Gluten Free Mini Twists & Straight Pretzels (Aldi’s Brand)
  • Southern Grove Banana Chips (Aldi’s Brand)
  • Live G Free Cocoa Loco, Mixed Berry & Caramel Apple Baked Chewy Bars (Aldi’s Brand)
  • Enjoy Life Choco Loco, Mixed Berry & Caramel Apple Baked Chewy Bars
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips and Multi Grain Pita Chips (not parmesan herb)
  • Sabre Original Hummus, Tribe Organic Roasted Garlic Hummus and Tribe Classic Hummus (Glen’s)
  • Whole Grain Cheerios (not honey nut)
  • Rice Chex
  • I.M. Healthy Original Creamy Soynut Butter (peanut free) & Safe 4School WOW Butter
  • Aunt Millie’s 100% Whole Wheat or Whole Grain “Hearth” Hamburger buns & Thomas 100% Whole Wheat Mini Bagels
  • Koepplinger’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread
  • Lotus Biscoff Spread Smooth and Crunchy
  • Lundberg Brown Rive Organic Rice Cakes
  • Most brands of Tortilla Chips- Always check the labels as many contain “Milk”
  • Most brands of salsa
  • Ocean Spray Berries & Cherries Naturally Flavored Snacks

 Common UNSAFE FOODS (please avoid):

  • All granola bars
  • Almost all English Muffin Brands contain MILK- Aunt Millies seems to be milk free
  • All Goldfish (Pepperidge Farms)
  • All Annie’s Bunnie Crackers
  • Veggie Shreds Soy Cheese Products ALL HAVE MILK CASEIN
  • Cheez-Its Crackers
  • Yogurt tubes, cups or Yo-gos
  • Cheese/String Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Veggie Straws (may contain milk) & my oldest son started to have a reaction from cross-contamination last spring!
  • Hostess Snacks and most processed cookies/sweet snacks

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!