Monday, December 28, 2009

AND she's gonna be PICKY??

So now that Ella is nearly 15 months, she's recently decided that she's going to become a picky if feeding her just weren't challenging enough! While finding things that she CAN eat has become easier, finding things she WILL eat is a whole other story. Currently, she will eat:
- Cherrybrook Kitchens GF Dreams pancakes
- GF bread with melted goat cheese
- goat milk yogurt
- oatios (no more than a few at a time & ONLY if they're mixed with raisins)
- sweet potatoes (if I happen to catch her in the right mood)
- fruit -- any kind of fruit: berries, melon, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, bananas
- raisins

If you're keeping track, you will notice the large gaping hole in the vegetable division. I'm trying very hard to not get too frustrated over this. Hubby keeps trying to convince me this has everything to do with the fact that she's working on her molars. If that's the case, I'm just not clear on how raisins and oatios are more tolerable on the swollen gums than say, oh I dunno...steamed carrots? I guess I should be glad that she's at least eating fruit and hope that the fact that she's still getting breastmilk and taking a multi-vitamin will make up for any nutritional gaps. In the meantime, I'll just have to keep putting those veggies on her plate and hope one or two sprigs of broccoli make it past those cute pouty lips.

On the plus side, Hubby and I discussed starting a composte pile in the spring so we don't feel so guilty about throwing out all the food. This goes right along with my plans to start a veggie and herb garden in hopes of saving some $$ in the produce aisle. Speaking of... I need to start doing some research and figure out what I'm going to grow in my very first garden!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Two nights ago I made this for dinner with a few modifications. There is just something so therapeutic about making risotto; it tends to instantly calm me. I'd had a very crazy day and after watching a playmate of Ella's and chasing two 14-month olds around for seven hours, I was in need of some brainless stirring action. (Not to mention the fact that it'd been about 16 degrees for the last few days so comfort food was high on my priority list.)

Barley Risotto With Asparagus and Parmesan Goat Cheese

5 cups of broth -- I used turkey stock that I made after Thanksgiving but you could use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups barley
1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc) 3/4 cup apple juice, 1/4 cup water and a large squeeze of lemon juice
1 pound asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan goat milk cheddar

Warm the broth in a small saucepan over low heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine apple juice, water & lemon juice and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting until it is absorbed before adding more.

Add the asparagus with the last 1/2 cup of broth and cook until tender. It should take 30 to 35 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed.

Remove from heat, season with the salt and pepper, and stir in the goat cheese. Spoon into individual bowls.

Day of Culinary Adventure Part 2 - Pork Roast and Harvest Salad

I think Hubby was starting to experience some cabin fever. He suggested we go out to dinner, but eating out still tends to be frustrating and I'd already defrosted a pork roast so I convinced him to stay in, instead.

I wanted to do something a little different than my usual plain boring roast. I poured through dozens of recipes that called for things like pineapple, white wine, cornstarch or barbeque sauce and finally stumbled across this one from It was simple and sounded really yummy and walked this still very novice cook through prepping & roasting a pork roast step-by-step.

Herb Rubbed Pork Roast

1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1 Tbsp of oregano
1 Tbsp of  EVOO
3 pounds of boneless pork

Put the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Measure one Tbsp of EVOO in a small dish.

Add salt, pepper, dried oregano to the oil. Mix this spice rub together and rub it all over the pork roast.

Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up, and put the roast in the 450 degree preheated oven.

Roast for 10 minutes, then RE-SET THE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 250 DEGREES.

Continue cooking for about 50-80 minutes or until the meat registers 150 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Remove the roast from the oven and set on a cutting board. Cover the meat with tin foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing it.

I served this with mashed sweet potatoes and Harvest Salad.

This salad has quickly become one of my favorite things to eat lately. I keep a container of the spiced pumpkin seeds in the cupboard & a little jar of the salad dressing in the fridge for quick lunches or quick sides for dinner.

Harvest Salad With Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

mixed greens
maple vinaigrette (recipe follows)
chevre (goat cheese)
dried cranberries
Bartlett pears, chopped in one inch pieces
spiced pumpkin seeds (recipe follows)

Toss mixed greens with maple vinaigrette. Arrange on plates.

Garnish greens with crumbled chevre, dried cherries, pear pieces, and pumpkin seeds.

Maple Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp apple cider
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp EVOO
pinch of salt and pepper

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

4 Tbsp organic evaporated cane juice (or regular sugar)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups raw, shelled pumpkin seeds (the green ones)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp butter spread
1 tsp EVOO

In a medium bowl, combine evaporated cane juice, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and salt. Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, toast pumpkin seeds over medium heat until they become slightly fragrant and begin to puff up and pop. Remove seeds from heat, and return skillet to the stove.

Over medium heat, mix sugar and buttery spread and cook until sugar carmelizes. Add pumpkin seeds back into pan and stir until seeds begin to stick together and the caramel gets stringy. I've not had very good luck getting the dairy-free, soy-free buttery spread to cooperate in this manner, so I just use a tsp of EVOO. Stir into the pumpkin seeds then mix in the spice blend. It probably doesn't hold the spice on quite as well as the carmel would but I sprinkle some of the spice blend onto my salad & pretend that it's stuck on the seeds. I promise, it's just as good!

A Day of Culinary Adventure Part 1 - Soup and BREAD!

We were predicted to get hit with two feet of snow overnight and awoke to only 5-6 inches. It was enough to keep us home from a Christmas party in Eastern Massachusetts, where they had gotten closer to a foot so I decided to create that snowed-in feeling "since we had no place to go". I cranked up the Christmas music and got busy in the kitchen as soon as Ella went down for her nap. Within a few minutes, our home smelled amazing! First up, was Soothing Red Lentil Soup from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

Soothing Red Lentil Soup

If you would like, you could freeze portions of this soup before adding the greens. When you are ready to use it, heat it up in a small pot and add a handful of greens. This will keep the soup fresh-tasting and bright.

3 Tbsp EVOO
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed (or more)
1 to 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 cups red lentils
8 cups water
3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups thinly sliced spinach
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp sea salt

Heat the EVOO in a large stockpot. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry powder and saute a minute or so more.

Add the red lentils and water and get them cooking then peel and slice the carrots and add them to the pot, cover, and simmer for about an hour total (start time after adding liquid and lentils).

Turn off heat, add greens, lemon, and salt. Stir it all together and let it rest for about five minutes for the greens to soften.

Then, came the most exciting new recipe that I've encountered so far. A gluten free, yeast free, vegan BREAD that actually could hold up for a sandwich (or get dunked in my soup, which was really what I was looking forward to today). This whole grain fleatbread, again from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen was exactly what I'd been looking for. It was very easy to make, baked in about 22 minutes and most importantly, was absolutely DELICIOUS! I was practically squealing with excitement as I sliced into it and confirmed that it would, in fact, hold a sandwich. It was very similar to Cosi's flatbread which I miss terribly. And actually just now, as I googled Cosi's to grab their web address, I realized that I could probably make a flatbread pizza if I really wanted to! **Note to self: must try this!** Anyways, without further adieu...

Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flatbread

1 cup sorghum flour
½ cup teff flour
⅓ cup tapioca flour
⅓ cup arrowroot powder
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup warm water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Course salt or dried rosemary for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 9 x 13-inch pan with about 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.

In a smaller separate bowl whisk together the warm water, olive oil, honey, and vinegar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together vigorously until thickened and smooth.

Spoon batter into oiled pan. Oil your hands and gently press and move the dough to the edges of the pan (dough will be sticky). Make sure it is evenly spread. Put more oil on your hands if needed. Prick the dough with a fork about a dozen times (this is optional, if you don't do it you will have a few more air bubbles in the bread). Sprinkle on rosemary and/or course salt.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then cut into squares and serve.
I had one very happy belly this afternoon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Turkey Sweet Potato Pie

I made this for dinner last night & was a little nervous about Hubby's reaction because he's starting to get picky again after a few not-so-good dinners. But it wound up being a big hit and after one bite, he exclaimed "Mmmm Mmmm this is GOOD! Please, DON'T tell me what's in it!" And to my surprise, even Ella really liked it -- I wasn't sure how she'd take to the curry. I adapted it from this recipe on

Meat Filling

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp of ground sage
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup goats milk yogurt
1 Tbsp GF All-Purpose flour
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper, to taste

Sweet Mashed Potato Topping
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup goats milk yogurt
1 Tbsp soy free, dairy free buttery spread
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper

Boil sweet potatoes till tender, drain, add honey, yogurt, buttery spread, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. Then mash 'till smooth and set aside.

Saute in oil the onions, garlic, and turkey till just under done. Add curry, salt, pepper, sage, sprinkle GF flour over turkey mix and add in the yogurt. Add the peas and mix it all together.

In a 8x8 casserole pan lay meat mixture then place potatoes over meat covering all to seal. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes just to slightly brown top.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just when I thought I'd be eating normally again soon

I had an appointment with Dr. Natural a couple weeks ago. The timing was perfect since I had come down with a cold that weekend & was anxious for a medical professional to assure me that it wasn't the dreaded swine. I felt awful. My throat was on fire, I sounded like an 80 year old emphysema patient and I had chills and body aches. Dr. Natural assured me that it wasn't anything more than a cold, instructed me to gargle with warm salt water every hour, gave me some herbal throat spray (tasted SO gross!) & some chinese herbs that would also help Ella (by way of my milk) if she caught my cold ... which she DID NOT!

After that was out of the way, we moved onto the real reason for my appointment -- to check in and see how my diet was going. We discussed re-introducing the offending foods and I was really hoping for some good news with Christmas right around the corner -- I really really really wanted to eat like a "normal" person or at least be able to take advantage of more "normal" GF products that contain rice and corn and maybe have a cup of hot chocolate. Unfortunately for me, Dr. Natural told me that while the written information she'd initially given me suggested avoiding the foods for 60-90 days, she was suggesting more like 9-12 MONTHS. Ugh. No food for me!

I'm curious to know how much more weight I'll lose by keeping this up for another 5-8 months. I'm currently the weight I was in the 8th grade. Wowee!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My, how things have changed

When I started this blog, I promised myself I'd be dedicated to it & write every day (or at least every other day) but then I blink and it's been five weeks! Yeah yeah I've been busy... Ella had pink eye... we hosted Thanksgiving... I had a nasty cold...getting ready for Christmas blah blah blah excuses, excuses. I have been keeping a mental list of things I want to write about & my camera is full of photos of different foods we've been trying so I thought I'd take advantage of this quiet time while the little one is napping and try to catch up a little.

I'm enjoying a nice bowl of goats milk yogurt with a bit honey & cinnamon, some blueberries, pecans & a Tbsp of ground milk thistle seeds and thinking about how drastically life has changed for us in the past four months. Four months ago:
- I was 19 lbs heavier
- I thought nothing of going to the cupboard & eating a spoonful of peanut butter then kissing my baby
- I had never even seen an EpiPen much less been trained to use one
- I had a closet full of clothes that fit me properly
- I had a whole drawer full of skin care products that I'd spent a fortune on, yet really seemed to do absolutely nothing towards making me feel less like a fifteen year old boy
- I had never experienced gut wrenching fear like that of watching your baby have an anaphylactic reaction to something she'd eaten
- I didn't know how to spell anaphylactic
- I didn't break into a sweat & start shaking at playdates when I saw kids eating cheesy snacks and touching the same toys my child was touching
- I didn't worry about our dog-owning loved ones sending gifts that could potentially carry dog dander and trigger a reaction
- I had never even heard of quinoa or know that there was such a thing as quinoa flour
- I bought a whole lot more processed foods
- The extent of my label reading consisted of checking the caloric content only
- I had no idea there were so many ways to substitute an egg
- I was totally unaware of how prevalent corn is in the foods we eat and the products we use
- We could go to a fair or a party and know that there would be food there that I could eat
- I would have handed out peanut butter cups, butterfingers and snickers on Halloween, not even considering the fact that one (or more) of our little trick-or-treaters could have a peanut allergy & we could be seriously endangering their life
- I had no idea how expensive specialty foods are & had never gotten frustrated by the fact that coupons for those products are few and far between

- I'm a more confident, creative cook. I'm constantly searching for new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients
- I've used ALL of the kitchen gadgets & gizmos that we received for our wedding that I just *had* to register for even though I had never had a need for them in the past and I've even put together a list of new gadgets that would be really helpful to have
- I am more aware of the every day life challenges faced by those with food allergies/ sensitivities. This experience has really opened my eyes to the reality that there are a lot of situations that could be potentially really dangerous for someone with food allergies that "normal" (non-allergic) people don't even stop to think about
- I've had to become more organized -- planning out menus & shopping lists. Now that grocery shopping takes place in three seperate stores, one being 30 minutes away, I've got to plan my week around grocery shopping
- I have successfully hosted an allergen free Thanksgiving & received nothing but compliments from all in attendance. If I hadn't told them, they'd have never even knew that the mashed potatoes were made with goats milk or that the stuffing was gluten free
- For the first time in my life, my face is acne free, I am thinking clearly and my stomach is flat (well... mostly flat. Guess I could stand to do a few sit ups to tighten up the post-baby pooch a bit. But the point is I'M NOT BLOATED!)
- My husband has eaten things that I don't think I could've paid him to eat four months ago.
- Ella is a happy, healthy toddler and has put on quite a bit of weight since we eliminated all the allergens from her diet and mine.

As challenging as the last four months have been, it's really all just been a huge learning process. I'm really proud of how far we've come and how well I've been able to stick to the elimination diet. It's not been easy, by any means. Sure, I'd give anything to just order a pizza for dinner right now but I know that in the long run, I know this will only make us healthier and allow us to live quasi-"normal" lives again some day. And if there's one thing I've learned in my short 14 months as a mother, it's that I'd do anything to make sure my girl is as healthy and happy as humanly possible. The fact that she is thriving gives me the strength and willpower I need to continue.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What's gonna be on our plates this week?

I took another 9pm trip to the grocery store tonight to do the weekly grocery shopping. This week, I went off of what was on sale & planned the week's menu around what I bought.

Monday: We had pasta of varying sorts (buckwheat soba for me, rice pasta for Ella and whole wheat pasta for Hubby) with gluten-free turkey meatballs and "mock marinara" (made from beets and carrots). It was not a crowd pleaser. I didn't think the sauce was so bad but poor Hubby really struggled to get through it. Ella ate most of it then proceeded to throw the rest on the floor so it's hard to say what her true feelings were.

Tuesday: Beef stew w/the usual carrots, potatoes, etc. I'd love to serve this with a nice crusty bread but will have to settle for this, instead.

Wednesday: Herb roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes and green beans. I was super psyched about the turkey breast -- it was on sale for $1.99/lb and it was the last one and had no price sticker so the manager gave it to me for $0.99/lb. Woot!

Thursday: Baked pork chops, maple-glazed roasted butternut squash and spinach sauteed in garlic & EVOO. Hubby is so NOT a squash fan so I'm hoping to entice him with the maple syrup glaze.

Friday: Having friends over for dinner & will serve Harvest Salad (delish! recipe to follow...), de-glutened & de-egged Thanksgiving Loaves, from my friend Meghan's blog and roasted sweet potatoes. Perhaps with a gluten-free, casein-free cranberry pear crisp for dessert... Mmmm!

Saturday: DATE NIGHT!!!! I'm a little too excited about this. We haven't been on a date with just the two of us in oh I don't know... 6 months?! Eating out is incredibly challenging when you have so many food sensitivities but I usually stick to steak or grilled fish with nothing on it and sides of steamed veggies with nothing on them. I find that a wedge of lemon (for fish) and a little S&P at the table is usually plenty of seasoning. Admittedly, not the most exciting way to go but I know it's safe to eat which makes it taste even better. The hard part will be going to the movies and avoiding the popcorn but I've got a plan... More on this later.

Sunday: Leftovers


Due to the fact that I cannot eat wheat, rice, oat, rye, corn or yeast, all of the allergen-free breads I've seen in the store are off limits to me. I found a recipe for vegan yeast-free quinoa bread on Living Without Magazine's website. It's kind of a lot of work because it calls for two different flour blends which you have to make seperately and then use in the recipe but I was thinking ahead on this one and made extra of the flour blends and stored them in ziplock bags in the refrigerator for future use.

High-Fiber Flour Blend
This high-fiber blend works for breads, pancakes, snack bars and cookies that contain chocolate, warm spices, raisins or other fruits. It is not suited to delicately flavored recipes, such as sugar cookies, crepes, cream puffs, birthday cakes or cupcakes.

1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour I used sorghum flour
½ cup teff flour (preferably light)
½ cup millet flour or Montina® flour I used millet flour
⅔ cup tapioca starch/flour
⅓ cup cornstarch or potato starch I used potato starch

High-Protein Flour Blend
This nutritious blend works best in baked goods that require elasticity, such as wraps and pie crusts.

1¼ cups bean flour (your choice), chickpea flour or soy flour I used garbonzo bean flour
1 cup arrowroot starch, cornstarch or potato starch I used potato starch but would use arrowroot next time so as not to use so much potato, since it's used in the other flour blend
1 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 cup white or brown rice flour I used buckwheat flour -- not sure if this is an appropriate substitute protein wise but I thought it worked well

Vegan Yeast-Free Quinoa Bread

2 cups gluten-free high-fiber flour blend (see above)
2 cups gluten-free high-protein flour blend (see above)
1/4 cup golden flax meal
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder baking powder contains corn starch so I used 1 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 Tbsp cream of tarter instead
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup cooked whole-grain quinoa or millet, cooked according to package instructions
1 1/2 cups sparkling cider, apple cider or apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oil of choice
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Milk of choice, for topping I used goat's milk
2 Tbsp quinoa flakes, for topping
Oil spray, for topping
Rice flour or cornmeal for dusting I used buckwheat flour

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x4-inch bread pan and sprinkle with cornmeal or flour of choice.
2. Blend together the flour blends, flax meal, salt, baking powder (or substitute), baking soda and xantham gum in a mixing bowl until well combined. Fold in cooked quinoa I forgot this step and wound up folding it in to the mixture after I poured it into the bread pans -- not ideal.
3. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the cider, applesauce, oil, honey and vinegar.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together on medium speed using the beater/paddle attachment until just combined. Do not over mix. The leavening in this recipe activates quickly. As soon as the ingredients are combined, spoon the batter into the pan and bake immediately.
5. Pour dough into prepared bread pan. Brush the top with milk of choice, sprinkle with quinoa flakes and lightly spray with oil.
6. Loosely cover bread pan with parchment paper or oiled foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the paper and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is brown and internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then lift the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool.

I was hoping for more of a sandwich friendly bread instead of the quick-bread texture but hey, bread is bread! And at this point, I'll be happy with what I can get.
And since Thanksgiving is right around the corner and stuffing is one of my favorite sides and one I allow myself the pleasure of only once or twice a year, I decided that this year I'm going to make it gluten-free so I can still enjoy my faves. The above recipe makes two loaves and I cut one whole loaf into 1/2 inch cubes and baked them on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring twice. Then I let them sit out in the air for a few hours to harden up just a tad more. Stuffing experiment to come...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This week's menu

I was not as organized this week as I was last week so when I went grocery shopping I got the basic potatoes and sweet potatoes, veggies & fruits and then a pot roast, pork roast, some steak for stir-frying, pork chops and some ground turkey. I think next week I'd like to try turkey breast.

Monday: spaghetti squash and ground turkey (Mike was planning to be home late so I went simple simple for Ella and me.)

Tuesday: pot roast, potatoes and carrots

Wednesday: leftovers (hopefully)

Thursday: beef stir-fry -- need to look for some creative ways to do this. Maybe with broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, red pepper and onion?? Served over barley with a garden salad on the side.

Friday: pork roast, sweet potatoes and green beans

Saturday: leftovers (hopefully... can you tell I'm feeling lazy this week?)

Sunday: TBD. I'm toying around with the idea of making gluten free turkey meatballs and a "mock spaghetti sauce" and serving them over buckwheat soba. We'll see what the weekend brings...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Banana Bread!

Yesterday was Halloween & we dressed our little ladybug up and went trick-or-treating at the grandparents' houses. My mom treated us to some homemade allergen free banana bread that tasted EXACTLY like the banana bread she'd made for us before all this allergy nonsense. It was so moist and delicious -- even Hubby enjoyed it! It's been WEEKS since I've eaten bread and it was so so good, I could not stop eating it and Ella went crazy over it!

"Banana Bread for Ella"
adapted from a recipe in Ella's Great Grandmother's “Joy of Cooking”

Makes one loaf – bake 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until toothpick is clean

Sift together in bowl and set aside: (for best results, sift flour prior to measuring)
2 cups sifted Bob’s Red Mill All purpose baking flour (G.W.D. free)
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
Food processor – cream till light: (for best results, add mixed egg replacer after combining the banana, sugar, oil mixture)
2 ripe bananas
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup canola or olive oil
1 ½ tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer, mixed with 2 Tbsp warm water
Add the mashed banana mixture to the dry ingredients alternately with:
3 Tbsp orange juice

Oil & flour the bread pan before adding the batter to prevent sticking.
Sift the flour before measuring, really makes a difference in the amount you use!

Thanks again, Mom!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A little *ME* time

Ella & I met some friends at the mall yesterday for lunch and a little shopping. I was beyond frustrated with the fact that NONE of my pants fit me anymore and was completely out of most of my makeup. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to treat myself to a little mini-makeover.

I went into the Gap and not having any idea what size I should be wearing, I grabbed several styles of jeans in the next size down. They were all still too big. So I tried the next size down. O.M.G. I'm a size 4?!? How the heck did that happen? I've been between an 8 and a 10 since HIGHSCHOOL. I'm convinced this has everything to do with vanity sizing. While I know I've lost weight, I can't possibly be that small! Especially since the 4's are loose and I probably could have gotten away with a 2. No effing way am I a 2.

To maintain the glow of my newly found self-confidence, I made my way to Bare Escentuals. I'd been doing some research on line to find makeup that's gluten free and doesn't contain cornstarch or soy or anything else on my forbiddens list and Bare Minerals seemed to fit the bill. I know several people who swear by the stuff and I was ready to give it a try. A super sweet sales girl helped me pick colors that worked on me and gave me a makeover, while Ella munched on her oatios and played peek-a-boo with one of the other sales girls. It was so nice to take a little time for myself and be pampered a bit. And it's safe to say, I'm a convert. I LOVE Bare Minerals!! The swirl-tap-buff routine is going to take a little getting used to and I'm hoping that as I get the hang of it, I'll get a little faster.

Yesterday was exactly what I needed. Despite the fact that Ella skipped both of her naps and was a cranky disaster by the end of the day, I felt like a new woman. Of course, I felt a little guilty for screwing with her schedule but it meant she went to bed early and there was even more *ME* time. After the stress of the past few weeks, it was exactly what I needed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dr. Natural Update

I had an appointment with Dr. Natural today. She seemed pleased with the fact that I've lost 16 lbs and agreed with my thoughts that my face is still breaking out because the products I'm using contain sunflower & coconut (both of which I am sensitive to). She prescribed a few different supplements to help support digestive functions and liver detox, a calcium supplement and a new skin care regimine of straight glycerin soap, witch hazel astringent and olive oil for a moisurizer. Yes, OLIVE OIL. She also suggested steaming my face 1-2 x/week with rosemary. Sounds like the ultimate in multi-tasking -- I'll just cook dinner AND give myself a facial at the same time!

And the news I'd been waiting to hear... we can give Ella goat's milk!! At one year, most pediatrician's recommend either cow's milk or soy but since Ella's allergic to both I'd been a little confused on where to go from here. Rice, oat & hemp milk just don't have the fats and proteins that she needs. Mentally, I'm ready to have my body back but I know breastfeeding her for as long as I can will only benefit her in the long run. Now that I know I have something else to give her which will give the nutrients she needs, I'm ready to start backing off the nursing a bit. It's too bad goat's milk is so damn expensive though! It's $3.79 for a quart! Oy.

Oh and Dr. Natural also suggested giving Ella a teaspoon of elderberry syrup every day to boost her immune system and hopefully ward off the dreaded H1N1. *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My new favorite website & last night's dinner

I found this website a few night's ago and it has been the answer to my prayers! After you register (for FREE), you check off your sensitivities/allergies on a lengthy list of common allergens and from that point on, the site will point out possible hidden allergens and will highlight which recipes are completely safe for you. It is so easy to navigate and there are literally hundreds of recipes to choose from. It is safe to say that Cooking Allergy Free is my new obsession.

Last night's dinner was inspired by my new favorite website. We had gluten & egg free crispy tilapia, quinoa pilaf and wilted spinach with a little garlic, salt & EVOO. This marked my first ever attempt at cooking fish at home. See? This new way of eating has been good for me! I've moved out of my chicken 4-5 nights/week comfort zone and have fully embraced this new adventure in the kitchen.

The recipe calls for 1/2 buckwheat flour, 1/2 quinoa flour but our local health food store did not carry the buckwheat flour so I just used all quinoa flour and it still came out very yummy. Technically, you could probably use any type of flours but the only ones I had on hand were tapioca, quinoa and arrowroot so I just stuck to the quinoa. The store manager is ordering some buckwheat flour for me so next time I'll try the mixture of the two.

Gluten Free & Egg Free Crispy Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
salt, pepper, paprika (you may season with any other spice as well)
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
3 Tbsp luke warm water
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (I didn't use)
1/2 cup quinoa flour (I used a whole cup but totally didn't need that much & wound up throwing a lot of it away)
3 Tbsp EVOO

1. Thoroughly mix water and ground flaxseed and set aside to thicken for a few minutes. (This is your egg substitute.)
2. Combine the flours on a large flat dish.
3. Rinse fish and towel dry.
4. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat.
5. Baste both sides of the fillets in the flaxseed mixture. Don't worry if it doesn't spread well, just get the fillets slimy. Then generously cover both sides of the fillets in the flour mixture.
6. Season the fillets with salt, pepper, paprika and whatever other spices you want to throw on.
7. Place the fillets in heated pan and cook on both sides 3-5 minutes. Be cautious when flipping over as the fillets are very tender and may break. (Times will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets.)

I would post the recipe for the quinoa pilaf, but I didn't love it and Hubby announced that he was "not a fan of whatever that was" so I obviously need to play around with that one a bit. For him, I think it was more of a texture issue over flavor. He's a pretty picky eater so I was expecting some hesitation on his part. I know we're all still adjusting to the changes and I'm confident that one day soon, he'll eat quinoa (knowingly) with a smile on his face. Even if he has to fake it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What's on our menu this week?

I'm trying very hard to get more organized. If I plan out our weekly menu ahead of time, I find that my week goes much more smoothly and I am more productive. There's nothing worse than standing in front of the freezer at 5:30pm, trying to pull together a meal that we can all eat while Ella's hanging off my leg, pointing frantically to her mouth (her baby sign for "hungry"). So here's what I came up with for this week:

gluten-free crispy tilapia
quinoa pilaf
wilted spinach with garlic & EVOO

hamburger & veggie crockpot meal
garden salad

eggless, gluten-free salmon burgers (no bun for me)
sweet potato fries
steamed broccoli

gluten free meatloaf
rosemary roasted potatoes
steamed carrots

shrimp sauteed with potatoes
garden salad

Saturday (Halloween!)
grilled pork chops
barley something... TBD
roasted asparagus

Some of these are new recipes that I've come across and/or modified so if all goes well, I'll post them as the week goes on.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

I love soup. Year round. I love soup. But this time of year, there's just something in the air that makes an ordinary soup that much yummier.

After I was diagnosed with all my food sensitivities, I was pretty depressed about the fact that there was so much that I could not eat and I was beginning to starve. My dear friend and neighbor, did the most amazing thing ever. She dug through her cookbooks and recipes that she's collected and she sat down with my long list of my can-not-eats and put together a binder of things that I can eat, complete with substitution suggestions penciled into the margins. This is one of my favorites from that binder. This weekend, I made some for my vegetarian sister-in-law who was recently in an accident and suffered a broken jaw (and ribs and collar bone). I hope she likes it as much as I do!

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
nonstick vegetable oil spray (I just use water)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger (nutmeg is nice too, if you don't have ginger on hand)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter (I use dairy free, soy free margarine)
3 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth works well too, but I'm sensitive to celery & tomatoes so I stick with the chicken broth)
1-2 cups water, as needed (I've made this several times & have yet to actually need additional water)
Salt & pepper to taste
Sour cream to garnish (obviously, I leave this off)

Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut side down in roasting pan with a little bit of water (or spray it with nonstick vegetable oil spray.) Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until very tender (I cheat & stick it in the microwave for 15ish minutes --keep checking, it may need longer). Set aside to cool. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin. (You can do it while it's still hot too, but you will burn yourself.) While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash pulp to the saucepan. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to the sauce pan and cook over moderate heat until it is hot. Garnish with low-fat sour cream (if you can do dairy, of course).

Potatoes Sauteed With Shrimp

Last night I made potatoes sauteed with shrimp from Recipezaar. It was super easy and very tasty! Even though Ella tested negative for shrimp allergy, I just wasn't convinced her 5 tiny teeth could handle it (not to mention her tiny tastebuds being overpowered by garlic & red pepper) so I gave her some potatoes w/out the seasoning & some steamed veggies leftover from the night before. Mike & I thoroughly enjoyed this meal & will be putting it into the menu planning rotation for sure & maybe next time I'll pull out a shrimp for Ella to try!

8 small red potatoes, large dice (I used russet potatoes 'cuz that's all we had on hand)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb small shrimp, deveined & peeled
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 1/4 tsp because we're not big spicy people. It added just the right amount of flavor without being overwhelming.)

Fry potatoes in 3 T olive oil until browned and tender. Remove and keep warm.
Add remaining oil to skillet, add shrimp.
Cook for 2 minutes; add remaining ingredients and saute for 3 minutes.
Return potatoes and mix well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gluten free, egg free, milk free, rice free pancakes = FAIL

While Ella seems to really love the Cherrybrook Kitchens Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free pancakes, it contains rice and is therefore, off limits to me. Today's a rainy, cold Saturday and our plan to go on a hayride and pumpkin picking with a family from our birthing class was rained out :-( Hubby was playing with Ella and putting her down for her nap so I figured what the heck! I'll try my hand at pancakes for ME! I took out the Joy of Cooking cookbook and tried to adapt the recipe to suit my dietary restrictions.

Two failed batches later, I'm sipping orange juice and trying to figure out what I want for lunch now. I'm not sure what I did wrong. They looked great from the outside but were all gooey and undercooked on the inside.

So disappointing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rice, rice and more rice

After music class this morning, Ella and I stopped at Whole Foods. Thanks to her pacifier and a snack cup of oatios, she was relatively well behaved, despite the fact that I was messing with her nap time. She's not a big fan of sitting in the shopping cart, in general. She tries to lean waaaay out of the cart and try to grab things off the shelf or turn around and grab things out of the cart and stick them in her mouth.

It's not easy to go grocery shopping when I have her with me because I really need to concentrate, read every label a couple times, compare ingredients, compare nutritional information, etc. I used to compare prices but that doesn't even come into play 9 times out of 10. At this point, I'm just trying to find things that meet all our dietary restrictions. I've had a lot more luck finding food that Ella can eat than finding food that I can eat. Just about everything that's gluten, dairy, nut, soy and egg free has rice in it and I am sensitive to rice. Ugh.

Anyways, that brings me to my super exciting find of the day: Bahama Rice Burgers... veggie burgers that are free of the top 8 allergens which are soy, wheat, egg, milk, fish, shell fish, tree nuts and peanuts!!! I've been looking everywhere for just such a thing. It seems that every veggie burger on the planet is made with soy! Naturally, it's made with rice so it's off limits to me but I am thrilled to have another protein source for Ella! And because I am just that excited about this, I have to post a picture.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Now that I've gotten all the backstory out of the way

It's been about 9 weeks since I started my elimination diet. My acne has cleared up dramatically and I've lost 15 lbs. For the three months before our wedding, I was in the gym six days a week working out with a trainer, taking spinning classes, running on the treadmill, doing body pump classes AND I was on the South Beach diet. I only lost 3 lbs. Oh boy do I wish I'd known then what I know now! My belly bloat is completely gone and the weight is just melting off of me.

The first couple weeks were rediculously hard and I did a lot of crying. I was so hungry and felt like I couldn't eat anything we had in our cupboards. Instead of focusing on what I COULD eat, I was more fixated on what I could NOT eat.

Now that I'm a few weeks in, I've really turned my attitude around. Instead of wallowing in my misery, I've decided to look at this as a challenge and have set out to learn to cook with new ingredients. I've discovered the versatility of quinoa, the fact that goat cheese is actually pretty tasty and have learned many different substitutes for eggs. I've expanded my food horizons and have even gotten my super picky hubby to eat lentils!

Feeding Ella seems to be pretty easy in comparison to feeding myself. Most gluten free (wheat free) foods are made with rice. Or oat. Neither of which I can have. Luckily, she's pretty easy going and loves fruits and vegetables so we stick to those, for the most part. Cheerios have been replaced by Oatios and I scour food labels to make sure her juice doesn't have corn syrup, etc. It is difficult and grocery shopping takes twice as long now that I have to read and re-read every package but I feel better knowing that what I'm giving her is safe.

I keep reminding myself that all things considered, we're pretty lucky. We've caught these allergies early on and can learn to live with them. She will never know what she's missing out on because she's never had peanutbutter cups or icecream and hopefully, she'll outgrow some of the allergies and be able to live a "normal" life.

The results are in!

On September 11th, we returned to Dr. Natural's office, anxious to learn the fate of my diet. I'd lost 4 lbs in the last three weeks and the redness around my nose appeared to be fading.

First, she revealed Ella's IgE test results (<0.35>Cockroach: 0.50

  • Dog Dander: 1.36
  • Egg White: 17.30
  • Milk: 0.76
  • Peanut: 36.10
  • Soybean: 7.30
  • Wheat: 0.66
    • And my IgG test results:

      • Almond (+1)
      • Celery (+1)
      • Cherry (+1)
      • Coco-Chocolate (+1)
      • Coconut (+1)
      • Corn (+1)
      • Eggplant (+1)
      • Grape (+1)
      • Milk, Cow's (+1)
      • Mushroom (+1)
      • Oat (+1)
      • Peanut (+4)
      • Pineapple (+1)
      • Radish (+1)
      • Rice (+1)
      • Rye (+1)
      • Sesame (+1)
      • Soybean (+1)
      • Sunflower (+2)
      • Tomato (+1)
      • Wheat (+1)
      • Yeast, Baker's (+2)
      • Yeast, Brewer's (+3)

      It looked like I was going to have to get used to being hungry. It was also a relief to know that Ella was allergic to dogs because it certainly explained why she would randomly break out in hives at the homes of friends & family who had pets!


      To the Naturopath we go

      On August 21st, we had our appointment with the Naturopath. After my awful experience with Dr. Itsallyourfault, hubby agreed to come to this appointment with Ella and me. Dr. Natural did a full exam, checking her fingernails and her tongue, looking in her ears, listening to her gut... such a difference from the allergist who didn't even acknowledge that she was in the room!

      We did a lot of talking, discussed both her diet and mine (since I'm still breastfeeding) and then Dr. Natural started asking questions about my health. She pointed out some redness around my nose and the skin blemishes on my chin and asked if I was aware that I had food sensitivities. Ummm... say what? I thought I just had crappy skin. Yes, I'm nearly 30 and my skin still acts like I'm 15 but it's because of what I'm eating?!? Seriously?!? Turns out that my food sensitivities could have been inherited by Ella and/or aggravated by the fact that I'm breastfeeding and not avoiding the foods I didn't know I was sensitive to. Dr. Natural asks me to have an IgG Standard Food Family Sensitivity Assay and suggests that Ella have an IgE test done. Finally, we're getting somewhere!

      Before we left, Dr. Natural put me on a pretty strict elimination diet in which I was to avoid all "mucus causing" foods. This included wheat, dairy, oranges, potatoes, corn, grapes, bananas, soy, peanuts, shellfish and chocolate. In addition, I was also supposed to avoid eggs since Ella's skin test showed she was reactive. I was hungry already.

      Wednesday, October 21, 2009

      Be still my beating heart

      After our horrid experience with Dr. Itsallyourfault, I was desperate to speak with a medical professional who could look me in the eyes and talk to me about my daughter's allergies with compassion. I found a Naturopath who specializes in women and children and called for an appointment.

      In the meantime, Ella and I went to a picnic at my bff's while Hubby was away for the weekend. I cut up some strawberries for the salad that I brought, quickly rinsed off the knife and set to work cutting up some green beans and a veggie burger for Ella. I set her up in her travel high chair, made sure bff was keeping an eye on her and went to fill up a plate for myself. Two minutes later I hear my bff yelling for me, "Becky! Becky! Her face is all red!" I drop my plate and run over, thinking she's choking and prepared to do the heimlich on her. When I get to her side, my little angel baby looks up at me. Only she doesn't look anything like my angel baby. Her cheeks, her eyes, her nose, her lips... everything is swelling up! Luckily, when I packed the diaper bag that morning, I had packed the EpiPen and a couple Benadryl pre-filled single use spoons. My hands were shaking so badly, I couldn't rip the damn thing open! Note to self: wright a letter to the company asking them to make these easier to open. Luckily, bff saved the day and ripped the package open, twisted off the top and squeezed 1/2 the dose into Ella's mouth. Within seconds, we see the swelling go down and redness fade. Holy hell my heart can't take much more of this!

      Later that week, I went for a walk with a friend, her two boys and their sweet doe-eyed black lab. Before we left the driveway, the dog gave Ella a nice ol' kiss on the cheek which left her squealing and shrieking in excitement. I've never seen a baby love dogs as much as this one does! Half way through our walk, I notice a rash on Ella's cheek. I chalked it up to the sunscreen mixed with the intense amount of drool pouring from her mouth. When we got back to her house, we went inside where Ella proceeded to shove every toy within reach into her mouth. As I tried to play interference and bat the toys out of her mouth, she started chomping on the edge of the leather couch. Oy vey, child! Oy vey! When I noticed that the rash had spread to both cheeks and all around her mouth, I decided it was time to go. A phone call with my friend later revealed that her boys had eaten eggs for breakfast and the dog had licked their plates clean. Gahhh!

      I can't have cheese or peanutbutter anymore?!?

      On August 11th, after a lengthy conversation with the nurse at our pediatrician's office and several conversations and e-mails with my La Leche League leader, I decided to cut dairy and peanuts out of my diet. The peanut thing was a no-brainer really after I saw the size of the welt that peanut protein left on Ella's arm during the skin test. It seemed serious. And scary. Although it was a no-brainer, it still left me a little depressed -- no more peanutbutter cups (MY FAVORITE), no more PB&J (always good for a quick lunch on-the-go), no more peanut butter and crackers (a favorite late night snack), no more peanut butter and chocolate smoothies at the mall (OK, so my thunder thighs really don't NEED these).

      Dairy took a little more convincing. Ella had never had a reaction to by breastmilk despite the fact that I'm a real milk and cheese all over everything kinda girl. I ate dairy like it was my job. My LLL leader finally pointed out that if I removed the milk proteins from her diet completely, the chances of her eventually outgrowing this would be much greater. And who knows, maybe I'd notice a change in her behavior that I never realized was an allergic reaction.


      Let the elimination diet begin.

      The Allergist aka "Dr. Itsallyourfault"

      On August 4th, Ella had her appointment with an allergist. I'm all for a doctor exhibiting extreme professionalism and if that means no warm-fuzzies then so be it. However, when said doctor does not even look me in the eyes or acknowledge that my child (aka his PATIENT) is even in the room, I don't exactly feel that I should take his "professional" opinion very seriously.

      Reasons why this allergist sucked:

      a) He rolled his eyes when he asked what kind of formula she was on and I replied "None. We're breastfeeding."

      b) When he came in to give me the results from her skin test, Ella had FOUR welts on her arm but he only said she was allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts... yes, that's only THREE.

      From the top (L to R):

      Natural Milk, Commercial Milk

      Natural Egg, Commercial Egg

      Peanut, Corn

      Histamine, Saline

      c) When I questioned how she could be allergic to all of those things when I eat all of them & she's never had a reaction to my breastmilk, his reply was "Well, if you'd cut all of those things out of your diet we wouldn't be having this conversation right now." Thanks, dude. You're so very helpful and I appreciate you making me feel like the absolute WORST mother on the planet right now.

      d) After delivering the news that my 10 month old is allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts, he gives me a prescription for an EpiPen, says "don't feed her any of those things" and "come back in a year." WTF?! That's it??

      I cried the whole way home and on and off for the next four hours.

      Save the drama for yo mamma

      When Ella was about 8 months old, I decided to try giving her a little yogurt. I was getting bored of the same ol' fruit & veggie purees and wanted to try something new. During my next trip to the grocery store, I bought a giant container of Stonyfield Farms Organic Whole Milk Plain yogurt, waited 'till the weekend when I knew hubby would be home and counted down the minutes 'till lunchtime.

      I put a teaspoon of the yogurt into a little dish, mixed in a big glop of homemade pureed pears and excitedly spooned a tiny bit into her mouth. She made a face as if to say "what the heck are you feeding me NOW?!" and opened her mouth for another bite. No sooner had I put the spoon in her mouth than she immediately started to cry. In general, our kid's not a crier; if she's crying, there's a damn good reason. I put the spoon down and started to pick her up. She was in a full on scream by this point.

      As I sat down with her on my lap, she started coughing and gagging. I was trying my best to soothe her while my heart pounded. I had no idea what to do. Hubby was outside mowing the lawn and I knew he'd never hear me if I called for him. As I stood up to run outside with her, she coughed once more and threw up. Her cries were instantly less intense and she'd stopped gagging. I carried her to the sink to strip off her clothes and wipe her off and with another minute of cuddling and soothing words, a sip of water and a kiss, she was fine. The yogurt incident was over as fast as it had started.

      A month later, I thought I might try giving her some cottage cheese. She was working very hard on her palmer & pincer grasps and I had read somewhere that cottage cheese was a good finger food. I put a teaspoon of the white stuff on her tray and sat down to watch. She enthusiastically dove in with both hands, shoveling it into her mouth. After a couple minutes, I noticed her face was getting a little red and blotchy. She started to fuss and scratch and pull on her ear, wipe her hands through her hair and rub her eyes. I grabbed a washcloth and as I started to clean her off, I noticed tiny red bumps behind her ears, down her neck, all over her arms and around her mouth. I wanted to cry. I was home alone.

      I grabbed my cell phone and dialed the pediatrician's phone number. Of course they were on lunch break! I'm sure the answering service operator could sense the panic in my voice as she told me she'd have someone call me right back. Was it my imagination or were her lips starting to swell? Oh sweet Jesus. Why isn't the doctor calling me back?! After what seemed like an eternity but was probably, in reality, only a matter of minutes, the nurse finally called me back, asked a ton of questions and said to give her 1/2 a tsp. of Children's Benadryl. Of course I didn't have any in the house! Why would I? It says right on the box "Not for children under age 2." She was 9 months old!

      I grabbed my wallet & car keys, loaded Ella into her carseat, jumped in the car and called my neighbor who (thankfully) works from home. My neighbor sat in the backseat, assuring me the whole twelve minute drive to CVS that Ella was, in fact, still breathing and no, the hives did not seem to be getting worse. When we got to the pharmacy, I ran to the Benadryl and ripped open the box. Gaahh!! It comes with a cup?! How was I going to get my 9 month old to drink from a cup? The kind pharmacist offered me a syringe and I quickly gave Ella a dose of the bubble gum flavored antihistamine. (If I wasn't completely panicked, I might have hesitated over giving my infant something that tasted like bubble gum but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.) Almost immediately, her lips seemed less puffy. On our way home, my neighbor reassured me that she was looking better already. By the time we arrived back at our house, the hives were almost completely gone and I had a voicemail from the pediatrician asking me to set up an appointment with an allergist.

      Le sigh.