Tag: Vegan

Creamy Shitake Mushroom, Spinach & Sundried Tomato Orecchiette Pasta

We have had such a long winter here in Northern Michigan!  Recently, over the last 4 days we received roughly 24″-28″ of fresh snow!  In fact, we have had so much snow this April we broke the record for most snowfall in April- over 30″ of snow since April 1st!!! Needless to say, I’ve been really busy inside my kitchen creating new and easy DAIRY, NUT & EGG FREE recipes.  I posted pictures of this delicious pasta I made last night on my Instagram account and promised my followers the recipe.  Here it is and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  Satiating, healthy and best of all ALLERGY FRIENDLY!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes                                                                                                        Serves: 4-6 servings

Cook Time: 15 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons non-dairy butter (I prefer Smart Balance or Earth Balance) 6 garlic cloves, minced
12oz pkg of organic shitake mushrooms (fresh if available)
12oz pkg of organic button mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes (reconstitute them in water) 10oz pkg of organic baby spinach
1 pound Orecchiette Pasta (Delallo is made in Italy & vegan and nut free) 2 Tbsp organic non-bleached flour 1 cup, as needed of your favorite non-dairy milk (I use either Flax milk or unsweetened Ripple) 1/4 cup white cooking wine (If it’s not good enough to drink- don’t cook with it!) 1/4 cup or so of reserved pasta water Black pepper & salt to taste 1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella Shreds 1/8 cup Follow Your Heart Parmesan to top

Instructions:

1. Cook the pasta according to the package.  Drain, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup pasta water for later.  Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set aside once cooked.

2. While the orecchiette pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan heat Tbsps of vegan butter over medium heat.  Add the shitake and button mushrooms, garlic, and sundried tomatoes.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until everything is tender.

3. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of vegan butter to the pan and let melt.

4. Add the flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to thicken.

5. Turn the heat up a little bit and add the wine.  Stir for about 1 minute and then whisk in the non-dairy milk.  Reduce heat to a simmer until thickened.  If too thick, add a little more milk.

6. Add Daiya cheese, spinach and thyme. Cover with a lid for about one minute until the spinach is tender.  Stir vigorously to incorporate melted Daiya.

7. Add salt & pepper to taste.

8. Gently fold cooked orecchiette pasta into saute pan.  Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and freshly chopped parsley.

9. Top with parmesan cheese and serve hot!

 

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!

 

 

 

The Little Things about Food Allergies Most People Don’t Even Realize

I was chatting with a few of my girlfriends yesterday over coffee about how our dog had recently been sick.  As unfortunate as it is, our two year old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Scout is a sock eater.  Yes!  He loves to eat our boy’s stinky socks when left on the floor!  No matter how often I remind the boys to put their dirty socks in the laundry bin, they still end up on their bedroom floor from time to time.  It’s been a challenge since Scout was a puppy.

Recently, Scout ingested something…we’re not sure what it was but he started acting peculiar last week and was not eating like normal.  I took Scout to the vet on Tuesday and thankfully after X-rays, he didn’t have an obstruction.  However, he did have lots of inflammation and irritation in his gut from whatever it was that he ate and then passed.

Long story short, our vet recommended we feed Scout canned dog food for the next couple of days since it’s more easily digestible.  The canned dog food at the vet’s office contained dairy and eggs so I had to take a pass.

I went to our local feed store and explained to the staff that I was looking for a canned dog food that didn’t contain dairy, eggs, or nuts.  We had about 3 people, including myself, reading every canned dog food label in the entire store.  Finally, we found a grain-free lamb dog food that was dairy, nut, and egg free.  To top it off, Scout loved it thank God!  And yes, Scout’s normal dried dog food is dairy, egg, nut and grain free too just in case you are wondering!  He’s on basically the same diet the rest of the family is on and he never complains!

My girlfriends couldn’t believe that I have to read the ingredient listings on the dog food labels.  Reason being, if Scout ate dog food that contained milk, eggs or nuts and then licked either of our boys it could mean TROUBLE!  Allergic reaction!  My friends said to me, “Challenges that you face on a daily basis with kids that have food allergies are not even on our radar, such as reading the ingredients on the dog food bag.”  For once, I felt like my friends actually understood what it was like to walk in my shoes.

This recent conversation with my closest friends struck a chord for me…my brain went into overdrive as I started thinking about all of the labels I have to read on a daily basis on all of the products in our home and when I’m grocery shopping.  For example, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, body lotion, makeup, chapstick, sunscreen, prescription medications, hand soap, kleenex, deodorant, cleaning supplies, dog treats (most of which contain eggs, nuts, and dairy), etc.  The list goes on and on….now I have a HEADACHE!  These are not even food items mind you!

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that parents of children of food allergies obviously have to be diligent with food labels.   That diligence extends beyond to so many more products that we come into contact with daily.  Most people would have a permanent headache if they had to continually check everything the way that we do.  I wouldn’t change it for the world…I’m just trying to help people gain awareness about the challenges parents of children with food allergies face encounter regularly.

I digress…Namaste and have a wonderful weekend

~Erika

 

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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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!

 

Disney with Food Allergies

 

Disney 2

As most of my followers can sympathize, traveling with food allergies is not a simple task, not to mention extremely stressful and takes lots of advance planning.  We travel quite a lot with our food allergic boys and although it has gotten easier over the years, it’s can still be challenging at moments.

Our family recently experienced our first trip to Walt Disney Word in Orlando, FL.  It was a HUGE success and one of the most amazing vacations we have experienced as a young family!

This entire journey began a little over 5 months ago, when I contacted Lizzie, the author of http://allergyfreemouse.com and http://pixielizzie.com.  Lizzie is a renowned travel agent specializing in “Allergy Safe Walt Disney Vacations.”  It was literally music to my ears when I found Lizzie and started researching the concierge travel services she has to offer to her food allergy customers at Disney properties throughout the world.  She has a daughter with life-threatening food allergies and understands the stresses food allergies puts on families during a vacation.

Since we only booked our trip 5 months out, it was crucial to get all of the logistics (ie. hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations, fast passes, etc.) booked ASAP.  Lizzie was instrumental in walking me through this entire process which can be extremely stressful without the proper guidance.  Additionally, she gave me several restaurant recommendations where she actually knew the chef personally and ensured me they would be able to cater to our boy’s life-threatening dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies.  When booking the restaurant reservations through My Disney Experience, I always carefully noted the food allergies for each reservation.  Also, I sent an email 2 weeks before our departure date to: Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com to make sure they had us “flagged” in their system for food allergy reservations.  Because I’m a bit OCD, I called Disney 1 week prior to our departure to make sure they had our food allergies listed for every restaurant reservation.  There were actually a few reservations which didn’t note the allergies and I was glad I called customer service to verify my online reservations.  I quickly found that the key to a successful Disney vacation with food allergic children is careful advance planning, planning, and planning!  Lizzie was a huge help with this as she provided me with check lists, email reminders, pages of allergy safe dining options, etc. We couldn’t have done it without Lizzie and all of her helpful resources!

We stayed at the Disney Polynesian Resort which was right on the Monorail and the most convenient location that met our family’s needs.  The swimming pool was AMAZING!  It was surrounded by about 8 lifeguards at all times which ensured our boy’s safety as they transcended down the water slide time after time!  When Lizzie booked our accommodations, she requested a microwave be added to our room at no additional charge, “extra sanitizing of our room for food allergens prior to arrival,” and no down pillows.  The room worked out great, as we were hardly in it.  As a parent of kids with food allergies, I always travel with groceries that I keep in the hotel refrigerator for snacks, early breakfasts, etc.  It’s always nice to have “safe” food on hand for my boys who are constantly hungry.

I have to note, upon checking in at the host desk at each restaurant, a ticket with our reservation was immediately printed.  Our tickets always had the words written in bold red “ALLERGY” which was then placed on the table when we were seated.  This was awesome and Disney really goes the extra mile to ensure the safe dining of their food-allergic guests.  Additionally, I always immediately gave each of our servers my hot pink “Restaurant Allergy Card” that lists our individual food allergies and specifics about cross contamination.  This card was also given to each head chef that came to our tables daily.

Many of my followers have requested restaurant recommendations that can accommodate food allergies and here are my detailed reviews.

Sit Down Restaurants (most require reservations through MyDisneyExperience):

Citricos Restaurant at the Grand Floridian: This was by far our favorite meal of the trip.  Albeit a bit $$$ but well worth the experience in this Disney Signature restaurant.  Chef Dave came to our table and our boys decided on the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marinara and broccolini. He even checked the gluten-free buns to make sure they were safe, as gluten free bread usually has eggs in it.  They did not have eggs, and my boys were thrilled they could eat the bread at this restaurant and dip it in olive oil!  This was our first WDW on-property dining experience and as a special surprise touch I pre-ordered an amazing chocolate chip mint dessert cake from Babycakes, Orlando https://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/orlando/.  Our server brought it to the table with candles and our boys couldn’t have been happier!  It was the perfect end to an amazing meal!

Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Our first morning at Disney we did the & Lilo and Stitch character breakfast at our hotel.  It was a meal “choc full of carbs” but our children were delighted as they have NEVER, I mean NEVER been able to eat breakfast in a restaurant safely.  Chef David came over to our table and explained that he “personally” cooks all of the allergen friendly meals separately.  He even served the boy’s family-style breakfast to them which included: mickey shaped waffles, bacon, fresh assorted fruit, sausage, and delicious guava juice.  It was an amazing breakfast and the icing on the cake was when our oldest son said, “Mom & Dad, I feel like a normal kid this morning.”  It literally brought us to tears of joy!  Thank you Disney and Chef David for your diligence and serving delicious allergy friendly meals!  Special memories were definitely created!

Disney

Kona at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Kona is one of the Disney restaurants that is piloting their new “allergy friendly menu” system.  Our server brought out a separate menu for the boys which listed all of the ingredients for many appetizers, entrees, and desserts.  Chef Karen came to our table and I presented her with our restaurant allergy card.  I told her that our oldest son wanted a hamburger.  I figured he would not be able to eat the bun so I actually had 2 pieces of bread in my purse that I brought from our hotel room. She said that was fine and we could assemble his burger at the table.  She would also bake the sweet potato fries to avoid cross contamination.  The boys also split the octopus salad for an appetizer and the veggie sushi rolls.  The food was marginal but it was safe and we were exhausted that night, so it didn’t really matter.

kona kona 1

Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios: Upon seating us, the host presented us with 3 different menus.  An allergy-specific kid’s menu, allergy-specific adult menu and their standard menu.  We typically all order off of the allergy friendly menu to make it easier for the chef when discerning our order.  Raul, our server from Colombia, was very knowledgable about food allergies when I presented him our restaurant card.  Our boys could again eat the bread here with olive oil which was a nice treat!  The boys decided on the Vegetarian Pho entrée as an appetizer which was delicious.  They each had the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marina sauce and steamed brocolini.  What can I say, our boys are creatures of habit?  We were all too full for dessert and wanted to rush outside to see the fireworks.  I will note that Tofutti dairy free ice cream was on the dessert menu which I thought was AWESOME!

brown derby brown derby 2

Toyko Restaurant, Japan in Epcot: I was a bit apprehensive about eating with our boys in Epcot due to pre-vacation research I had done on Epcot restaurants.  From what I had researched, many of the restaurants in Epcot are not actually “Disney-owned” restaurants, and thus do not have the same Allergy standards that Disney has for all of their restaurants.  However, we didn’t find this to be true at Toyko.  From a peanut allergy perspective, Japanese cuisine is typically free of peanuts and most tree nuts.  The manager of the restaurant came right over to our table and brought a huge binder that listed allergens in all of the menu items.  She stressed that the sushi chef making our boy’s rolls would put on clean gloves and use a clean surface.  Our boys each decided on edamame and the sushi veggie rolls.  We had yet another delicious and safe meal at Disney and no one left hungry!

Koisks & Quick Service Stations:

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Main Street U.S.A.:  When we were in line, I handed one of the cast member our restaurant allergy card.  She told us to stand over to the side.  The manager then came out from the back room and told us they had Tofutti Vanilla and Chocolate.  I made sure to explain to her the severity of our boy’s food allergies.  She assured me she would scoop it in the back and all of the utensils would be clean and sanitized.  Our boys each had a HUGE cup of Tofutti to cool them off during the hot afternoon!

Food Kiosk near Tomorrowland Speedway: Our boys could have the Mickey shaped hot pretzels and the cotton candy.  The cast members at this kiosk showed me the binder that listed the ingredients for all of the food products sold at this location.

Now that I have thoroughly reviewed all of our dining experiences I have to mention we took a decent-sized backpack into the park each day that contained the boy’s 4 epi-pens, inhalers and usually lots of snacks.  I had all of the ingredients in our hotel fridge to make sandwhiches for the boys for a few days in the parks.  We got sick of all of the junk food and tend to eat a pretty clean and healthy diet.  Lots of snacks are key when you have growing kids that are constantly hungry.  We always ate a nice sit down meal every night.

Overall, our trip to WDW in Orlando was a MAGICAL experience!   It was so nice to feel “normal” and take most of the worry out of our dining experiences for a few days.  Please fee free to contact me with any specific questions regarding this post or allergy free travel to WDW in general.

~Erika

 

 

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

 

 

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

First Friday for Foodies: Small Town Allergy Mom™ Presenting Friday March 4th

I will be presenting this Friday at 11am at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, MI.  Small Town Allergy Mom™ will discuss how to prepare your kitchen to entertain guests with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.  I will cover important topics like cross contamination and how to avoid it during food preparations.  Additionally, I will give a brief cooking demonstration on how to prepare my Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine and sampling my famous Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes.  Please join me to support food allergy awareness locally.  More information is available at the Crooked Tree Arts Center link here: https://www.crookedtree.org/event/first-fridays-for-foodies-small-town-allergy-mom-erika-keiswetter/?instance_id=3123

Thank you,

~Erika

Chocolate Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes- By Popular Demand Here is my Recipe Finally!

 

 

 

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!