Tag: Tree Nut Free

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!

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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

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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

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