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.