My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lunch Bunch - Mommy and Me

So tomorrow a fantastic friend, Stella, and her sweet, adorable kiddos are coming for a playdate and lunch.  For some people this can be stressful...DO NOT WORRY, feeding friends can be easy and less time consuming that you think.  We're talking 30 minutes or less.  What's on the menu?  Sweet and Smoky Pork Tenderloin and sweet pea salad for the adults and homemade "lunchables" for the kiddos.  For me, it's always important for me to have something a little more elegant for the adults and a little more kid friendly for the kids when I have people over for playdates and lunches....this does not mean twice the work.  I will prep this meal while I cook breakfast in the morning and it will take no time at all. 

Let's get started:
Sweet and Smoky Pork, Sweet Pea Salad

1 lb pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 16 oz frozen sweet peas
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
half a red onion thinly sliced
1 red pepper chopped
1/2 organic baby carrots chopped
1/4 c feta crumbled
3Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tsbp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. remove pork tenderloin from packaging and rinse, pat dry.  Combine the next 6 ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine then rub all over the outside of the tenderloin.  Put the pork tenderloin in a lightly greased baking dish and cook 20-30 minutes.  Pull out and let rest.  Meanwhile  steam the sweet peas according to package directions in steamer or microwave and let cool, I love to add a dash of garlic and onion powder and salt while they steam for flavor.  Chop lettuce and add the next 5 ingredients and toss plus the green peas.  Combine the Red wine, oil and salt/pepper in a small bowl and toss at the last minute.  Slice the pork on the biase and plate salad putting the pork across the top in bite sized pieces and serve.

Homemade Lunchables:

sliced gfree deli meat of choice or variety (ham/turley/salami), cut in cookie cutter rounds that will fit on crackers
sliced cheese of choice (our fav is munster but cheddar or swiss also works) cut out for crackers as well
2 pkgs gfree glutino crackers (multi grain, chddar or veggie)
cucumber thinkly sliced
cherry tomatoes halved
1Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice
salt/pepper
8 oz strawberries, hulled and halved

Take a 1 inch  cookie cutter and cut the meats and cheeses into rounds that will fit on the crackers.
One a plate take a mi of meats, cheeses and crackers. Combine the cucumber and tomatoes along with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Add a side of strawberries as well. I love to add a frozen tube of organic frozen yogurt as a "dessert"


Perfect mommy/daughter lunch with friends!!!!!!

Product Praise #1

I'd like to start a Product Praise portion of my blog to help you guys love some wonderful companies making amazing allergy friendly but specifically gfree products that help us and are good for us.  So I want to hear from you!  What is your favorite Gfree product that you CANNOT live without? 

Today's products are all about hair care, body wash and make up:

Izzy has always had issues with soaps and laundry deteregents and anything coming in contact with her skin that is perfumy or unnatural.  In the last year she started having major issues with her scalp and eczema.  It was severe and she itched ALL the time.  As I started to do research on this I learned that it was likely her shampoo and conditioner but even more so her detangler.  Almost every detangler on the planet has a gluten ingredient in it. Not sure why but it must have something to do with the way it works.  If you've seen Izzy's pictures you know she has VERY curly hair and a detangler and good conditioner is a must.  There are several grocery store brands like Suave, Dove and Garnier Fruictis who are supposedly Gfree but as we tried some of these they had either perfume that irritated or something in them that just did not work.  I called my amazing hair stylist who started researching, I called one of my BFF and celiac friends who has issues with relaxers that are not Gfree, Henrietta, and I then started searching myself.  Henrietta found my answer.  Jennifer Esposito wrote a blog about a shampoo and conditioner line that was not only gfree, paraben free, cruelty free, sulfate free but also was color safe (not that Izzy needs that now but maybe someday) and has no synthetic fragrance.  BINGO!!!! DING< DING< DING, we have a winner! They have shampoo, conditioner and DETANGLER.  The winnnig award for this amazing product of praise is ACURE. You can buy it at Whole Foods, Amazon and several natural food stores. It is pricier than the Dove, etc. brand but it is worth every cent in my book.  We've been using it for 6 months and it has been the very best thing for her.  It smells good and has Keratin, Moroccon Argan oil and stem cells as well as CoQ10 + Omega 7.  AMAZING.

As for body wash and lotion, since she is still little, not sure it will matter to those of you older than she is... but we are using an amazing body wash called CACOON BABY.  Also Gfree, paraben free, sulfate free. It is so mild and helps skin conditions like eczema with it's natural oils.  Her skin immediately cleared up and has stayed clear even through the winter months which is pretty awesome now that we live in a climate that it is dry. 

The last and final thing to talk about is make up. Although we have not yet crossed that bridge with Izzy, I would like to promote another company that has some amazing products as well. Red Apple Lipstick out of Houston has a wide range of natural make up that is in a dedicated gfree facility.  They are gfree, paraben free, cruetly free and vegan. They are mineral based with a wide range of colors. I have enjoyed sampling some of the things they offer and I know Izzy will be a fan far sooner than I'm ready for her to be:)...

SO, I want you guys to tell me ALL about your favorite gfree product that you can't live without.  I will try the product and review it and you will be entered into a GFREE giveaway.  More details to follow!

The great thing about dreaming is it's always allergy friendly;)

Let's talk turkey....uh I mean Italian

So those of you that know me and follow me frequently know that somewhere in our heritage there is Italian or at least Mediterraean lineage and I cook it alot, not the typical heavy pastas all the time but light, fresh and lovely.  Well, sometimes you just have to have Spaghetti and meatsauce and sometimes you just need Mozerella sticks. I make my own sauce (or gravy as some northern Italians like to call it) and I love to lighten it up with ground turkey.  Some traditional sauces use lean ground beef or full fat ground beef, lamb or even italian sausage but this is how we eat our sauce lightened up MOST of the time when we eat red sauce.  Also, I'm including our low fat, gluten free and now EGG FREE Mozerella sticks recipe, for the marinara sauce to dip it in just scoop a little out before you add your meat.

Stringfellow Spaghetti:

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 finely diced carrot
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I buy the fire roasted, organic and /or San Marzano whenever I can)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp Italian dried seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
fresh grated parmesan to taste
vegetables of preference (optional)
(some italian families use a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity but I do not, if you prefer you can add)
(for a "drunken sauce" add a 1/4 C Chianti or other favorite red wine to pan after sauteing the onion and garlic and tomato paste - for this sauce we also add kalamata olives or capers)
1 12 oz gfree spaghetti or 1 halved, roasted with olive oil spaghetti squash that you turn over and run a fork down long ways for spaghetti type noodles

Warm the olive oil in a heavy pan or dutch oven, add carrot and saute onion until translucent then add garlic and stir until fragrant.  I like to add my tomato paste at this point and run it around the pan to warm it.  If you are adding wine you would now, otherwise add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add seasoning and reduce to low.  I typically put my sauce on in the morning and let it cook on low, developing flavors all day.  You can scoop some out at this point for marinara or add vegetables like mushrooms, olives, zuchinni, whatever your preference.  Just before dinner I will boil a large pot of salted water and throw in the gfree pasta (if using spaghetti squash I typically roast it while I make the sauce so it has some time to cool before shredding it into the "noodles"). To a nonstick fry pan I brown the turkey or whatever meat I am using, drain and add to sauce. I will then wipe the nonstick pan, add enough of the meat sauce to coat the spaghetti and add the cooked noodles to the pan to soak up the sauce.  I then freeze the rest of the sauce for a later date.  Add sauce about 1 cup at a time until desired coating. Serve hot and top with Parmesan and fresh basil if you like.

Low Fat - Allergy friendly Mozzerella Sticks

12 sticks weight watchers mozerella sticks or other reduced fat mozerella sticks, cut in half and frozen
1 c gfree all purpose flour of choice
1 c unsweetend almond milk (or coconut milk)
1 c very fine gfree breadcrumbs of choice (there are some available in stores or you can take your leftover gfree bread and make breadcrumbs OR Glutino has some yummy crostini now available that you can grind finely in your food processor for instant breadcrumbs)
1 tsp Italian seasoning

It is very important for you to know that the mozerella sticks MUST be frozen prior to making this recipe or you will have one big mess on your hands.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Have 3 shallow bowl or pans ready with flour, milk and breadcrumbs with italian seasoning mixed in. Take the frozen sticks out of the freezer and working quickly dredge them in the gfree flour, then allow them to soak up the milk a little and roll them in the bread crumbs and place on the cookie sheet.  once you get all 24 sticks rolled and on the sheet place in the oven for 5-8 minutes watching carefully for a sign they will bust.  You should be able to turn them at this point and let them go another 3-5 minutes, just watch them closely.  They should end up golden brown and beautiful.  Take them out and allow to cool and enjoy with marinara sauce as a great appetizer before the spaghetti OR as an after school snack. 

Isabelle has had issue with dairy in the passed and is not a fan of cheese usually BUT she loves these sticks and asks for them regularly.  You could also use this method to make fish sticks with strips of tilapia or your favorite white fish.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Skinny Bang Bang Cauliflower and oriental night

We're trying to get back on schedule after the holidays and each week something seems to come up that throws us all off again...Lana's testing in Little Rock, this week is Shelby's gym meet in Dallas.  For the next 9 weeks we will be traveling to gym meets almost every weekend!  As I was meal planning for the week I thought I'd try something different and ask each of the kids what they wanted for dinner this week "theme wise mainly".  This week we're making Irish, Oriental, Mexican and Italian meals plus a few other things.  Tonight was Lana's choice to pick and we are having an oritenal night.  For after school snack/appetizer I made Skinny Bang Bang Cauliflower.  You can google or search Pinterest and end up with about 200 recipes for buffalo cauliflower or some varition.  All of the recipes are pretty much the same but this one I followed several recipes closely but decided on this one in the end. 

Skinny Bang Bang Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 Gfree flour blend
1/2 water
1 TBSP + 1/4 C Frank's buffalo sauce, divided
1/4C olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.  Mix the flour, water and 1 TBSP of Buffalo sauce until combined.  Dip each floret into the batter and place on the cookie sheet.  Cook 10-15 minutes or until the batter has become firm.  Meanwhile mix together the remaining buffalo sauce and olive oil and brush onto the cauliflower after the batter firms up.  Place the cookie sheet back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until crisped. Cool and enjoy! I used Skinnytaste's low-fat blur cheese for dipping with the cauliflower and celery - here's the link to that: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/04/low-fat-creamy-blue-cheese-dressing.html

The rest of our menu entails Chicken Stir Fry and Asian Lettuce Wraps:

Chicken Stir Fry

1 lb chicken tenderloins, sliced on the biase
1 16 oz package Deluxe Stir Fry Frozen vegetables, thawed
1 Tsp sesame oil or olive oil if your allergic to sesame
1/4 C San-J Gfree Orange Sauce

Warm oil of choice in Wok or large fry pan.  Salt and Pepper the tenderloins and brown in oil until chicken is cooked.  Add Veggies and stir til warmed through completely then add Orange sauce.  Reduce heat and simmer until most of the Sauce has absorbed and thickened.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

1 head butter lettuce (also known as Boston lettuce)
1 lb ground turkey
1 16 oz package Stiry Fry Vegetables of choice, thawed
1 tsp sesame or olive oil
1/4 C San-J Stir Fry Sauce
1 TBSP San-J Tamari gfree soy sauce

Brown the turkey in a fry pan with a little olive oil, add veggies and warm through.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Place mixture, in batches in the food processor and pulse until desired consistancy, returning to the same pan when finished.  Heat over medium heat and add stiry fry sauce and soy sauce until the sauce has warmed and thickened.  Meanwhile peel each butter lettuce leaf off the head and serve like a cup with about 1/4 of turkey mixture in each leaf.

Hope you enjoy these recipes!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Update on Lana

Lana had her 2 year biopsy this passed Friday.  Although we were nervous about some new testing they were doing, it ended up being more than fine.  She achieved her lowest rejection level ever! Her beautiful gift and miracle continues to shine bright and work hard.  We were at Arkansas Children's for about 12 hours but she did amazing and we were released and spent another night with amazing friends.  As I walked out of the outpatient surgery room and into the waiting room I noticed right away a family with three fantastic looking boys about Noah's age.  I had to plug my phone in and as I sat down near them to use the wall plug one of the twins came to sit with me and started talking.  They were adopted and this sweet boy in particular was absolutely involved and interested in architecture and was thumbing through a log cabin magazine.  For several hours that family took my mind off of my nerves and put a big smile on my face.   I have spent a large majority of my adult life in hospital waiting rooms: worrying, listening to other's stories, reading magazines, texting, checking my phone, worrying some more. I've never had a distraction quite like this and it was a welcomed one.  I learned all about this family and their journey that was somewhat similar to ours.  They left Chicago for Arkansas for a job with two teenage children.  Their journey though was not about a job, it was about finding three more members of their family.  The twin boys joined them when they were 3 and then a couple of years later they adopted  their two year older, autistic brother. These boys had a light in their eyes you can't explain.  I was happy to sit with them and hear their story and listen to Trent, who was in love with Marvel comics and Trey, who told me all there was to know about architecture and ceiling fans and asked me more times than I can count how many bedrooms and bathrooms our house had and how many ceiling fans we have and which rooms were they in:).  They were just amazing.

Kale! Oh yeh...and some updates:)

Well, wow, I can't believe I haven't written since August.  Life has been flying by and busier than ever and of course the writing takes a back seat.  After all, I have the rest of my life to share with you all I've learned but only so many years to cater to my kids every whim:). Lana is a junior, Shelby a sophmore...so in two more years I will be no less of a mother but will have two kids away in college and two in elementary. That seems surreal!  But I did want to catch up on a few things and hopefully share a little more than I have been lately.  Since I last wrote we traveled to St. Louis again to apple pick for the second year in a row.  This year my sister and her kids came along and we met her amazing friends that have been retationed there.  We had such a fabulous time and great food.  I learned that a restaurant we have locally, Red Robin, has a gluten free burger ON and gfree bun and gfree french fries!  It's always fantastic to find new places to eat that will accomodate everyones tastes but especially Isabelle's allergies.  There is a ton more I could catch you up on from birthday parties to Halloween and the holidays but it would take FOREVER to write all that.  I'll try to add little bits in each new posting to catch everyone up but I will tell you that out of the blue, Isabelle has become anaphylactic to eggs.  It seems it's mainly in the raw form and things like cupcakes or pancakes are ok (possibly due to the temp they reach in the cooking process???) but I am pretty much on edge about allowing her to have anything with them whatsoever.  It's like starting from scratch all over again but I will tell you this...I have already learned a few tricks and I will be sharing them with some upcoming recipes! If any of you are also Egg free and have tricks of replacements I would love to hear from you!

SO with the New Year here and upon us we are going to start out with one healthy recipe that my kids love so much they've been asking for it every single day in the New Year....KALE CHIPS!  I've had several friends ask for my recipe as they've tried to make them several times to no avail.  So before you cringe your nose or tell me yours don't come out or it's too much work....try my recipe first.

I try to use all organic products but up here in Walmartland it is extremely hard to find organic Kale once the farmer's market closes for winter.  I could drive to Fayetteville but sometimes it's just not convenient to drive the 30 minutes south to get one batch of organic Kale.  When all else fails there is the big huge bags of already washed and cut up Kale in the produce section near the collard greens and spinach and that saves you half the work and time!  Another very important part of making the Kale Chips successful is NOT adding salt before you cook it! 

Garlic Kale Chips

1 16 oz bag already triple washed, cut up Kale
4-5 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
seasonings of choice (I prefer minced fresh garlic or garlic powder...for a little more kick try adding a little ceyenne)

Lemon Yogurt dip

2 Tbsp non-egg Mayo (I prefer Earth Balance egg and dairy free spread but you can use Veganaise or another brand you like)
3/4 non fat plain greek yogurt
zest of one lemon
juice from one lemon
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Add the kale to a bowl making sure all the big stalks/stems are removed before adding to bowl.  Drizzle just enough olive oil to coat lightly.  Too much will make a soggy chip and again, DO NOT salt at this point.  Spread a single layer of Kale onto a cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes...at about the 8-10 minute mark you will start to smell it so check it a few times to ensure you don't burn it.  It should be a dark green, if it's still lighter or bright green, it's not cooked enough.  When it reaches that dark green, fragrant status, take out to let cool, but while it's still hot you want to season with your salt and pepper and any other seasonings you like on regular chips.  The kids love just some salt and garlic powder.  But if you like spicy you can do ceyenne or a taco seasoning or chili powder blend, you can also use infused olive oil, something like a olive oil with seasonings that you would use for Italian dipping bread and then add a little salt and parmesan.  The craziest thing we've ever tried was truffle infused olive oil sprinkled with a little truffle salt and a dash of garlic powder...Might be Izzy's favorite way (she is definately my child;)). While the chips are baking away you can make the yogurt dip, all you do is combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well, refrigerate and the longer it sits the more the flavor develops.  The mayo substitute adds a richness to the creamy yogurt and can be left out completely or you can use regular mayo as well. You can also sub the yogurt for fat free sour cream if you like that better. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to school

Going back to school is often exactly what mothers are looking forward to at the end of a busy summer and kids are dreading.  For some parents though, it is a scary and hectic time of year.  New teacher, new issues, new explaining  and hoping that your child's teacher can take care of them the way you would if they have a physical disability, health concern or food allergy. Yesterday I sent my two high schoolers off to the beginning of their junior and sophmore first days and was able to attend and meet most of their teachers. I flashed back to their first days of preschool and all of the subsequent years after when I had to go in and speak to Lana's teacher about her heart defect and go into detail about every little thing she could, or could not do.  I actually had a letter on my computer that I updated and printed off each year for them and the PE coach to keep in the classroom.  Well, this was the first year I did not have to explain anything about her or her heart condition.  Last year I was still going around and explaining that she had just had a heart transplant and would be absent quite a bit and so forth. This year, she has a parking spot and a car and a full class load preparing her for college.  WOW!

This year it also starts all over for me, Isabelle starts big girl preschool.  No more, Mother's Day Out where her teacher was a celiac and understood everything.  This year we go three days a week in a new school, with new teachers.  Preparing mentally is half the battle.  What I have learned through dealing with teachers the last 15 years is that, they err on the side of caution.  It is rare to not get a teacher that will stop and call you before they give your child something.  Gluten is a tricky one because although it is gaining in awareness, it's still misunderstood.  People do not understand all the things that contain gluten nor do they understand the impact of celiac's disease.  Most people are not anaphylactic but it doesn't mean it isn't serious.  SO, #1 prepare yourself mentally (meet the teacher, talk with the school and know you've done all you can and feel confident that you've taught them and YOUR CHILD well) , #2 talk to the teacher about the allergy in detail/educate her on the disease or allergy, what it means, write a letter if necessary with a list of things that have hidden gluten in it and #3 be prepared.  I've ordered Gfree animal cookies and graham crackers, cereals, crackers, anything that they might be serving for snacktime and I will bring that into the classroom the first day for the teacher to keep on hand.  I also will ask for a list of the birthdays in the classroom and stock the freezer with cupcakes so when there is a birthday celebration in the classroom, I will defrost the cupcake and decorate and bring it to class so that Isabelle can celebrate along with her classmates.  At this stage I still pack her lunch so that is all in my control.  I've also bought moon dough and gfree glue so that she can participate safely with crafts without becoming sick.  I've researched and bought gfree hand sanitzer for the classroom.  Yes there is an expense that goes along with being prepared but to keep her safe and help with the learning process it is well worth it for our family.

These are just some ideas to help you through the start of the school year.  I hope this helps with the little ones.