Double Checking with Wait Staff

I really liked this post so I wanted to save it to share with my own pre-teen who is slowly learning how to manage her own food allergies. Never be afraid (or too shy) to “make a fuss”. -Good advice!

WhyRiskIt? Teen Allergy Blog

Originally when I was planning to write this blog, I thought that I would write some tips on how to keep safe with allergies when going out. However, since then I have gone out and had my own close call. Luckily, it didn’t end in a reaction, but it could have very well happened.

I was coming home from a skiing trip and we were staying in a hotel in Ottawa for the night. We were all very hungry and had no food to eat, so we decided to go out. We asked the front desk about restaurants in the area, and like always, being the only one with food allergies in my family, I got to choose the restaurant. I decided to go to a restaurant chain that I had eaten at before, although I had never been to this current location.

When we got to the restaurant the…

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Chicken and Dumplings

According to my daughter, this chicken and dumplings recipe is “deliciously amazing”.    When we are having this for dinner, her friends ask if they can stay for dinner too!  Yeah, how ’bout that?!   No weird allergy food here!

Occasionally, I will purchase a rotisserie chicken from the Publix deli.  Either lemon pepper or barbecue flavor.  I haven’t ventured out to other flavors.  I am aware that the Publix deli posts signs that there may be cross-contamination from other allergens, but I have considered what must go into processing and “rotating” a chicken and we have never had a problem.  Acceptable risk?  That’s up to you.  Anyhow, I use the main parts of the chicken for a regular chicken dinner with sides.  Then, I cut off what scraps are left and freeze them to use for chicken and dumplings.  You could also use fresh cooked chicken breasts or roast your own whole chicken.

For the soup base, you will need:

  • approximately 1 & 1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
  • 3 celery stalks, diced to about 1/8 inch thickness
  • 3 carrots, diced the same size as celery
  • 32 oz carton of chicken stock.  We use Swanson Natural Goodness.
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of parsley, basil, and/or oregano if desired

Put all of the above ingredients into a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  While waiting for it to boil, prepare dumplings.

For the dumplings, you will need:

  • 2 cups Bisquick Original pancake & baking mix
  • 2/3 cup of vanilla soy milk (you can’t taste the vanilla, honest)

Mix the Bisquick and milk until soft dough forms.  Drop by teaspoon-sized spoonfuls onto boiling soup.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Then cover and cook for 10 minutes longer.   Serve and allow at least 5 more minutes to cool as it will be boiling hot at first.

chicken n dumplings

Glazed & Grilled Salmon

This dinner is one that BOTH kids love. Imagine that? Using simple marinades is a good way to add flavor and avoid allergens.  This delicious salmon recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on allrecipes at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/heathers-grilled-salmon/

For this dish, which serves 4, you will need:

2 lbs salmon, skin off (cuz it’s icky)
1/4 cup each of olive oil, soy sauce (I use Publix brand with less sodium), and brown sugar
2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning. I use McCormick’s brand.
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a storage bag and allow salmon to marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours at least.

Heat grill to medium, line with foil, and cook salmon for 10-15 minutes. It should flake easily with a fork and be a light pink color throughout.

I usually serve this with steamed broccoli and white rice.  Simple and healthy.

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Vanilla Cupcakes

I bake cupcakes at least three times a year and freeze them so I can send them with the kids to school or birthday parties and I’m never caught by surprise or up ’til midnight baking cupcakes.  (Ain’t nobody got time for that!)  I freeze them without the icing because I have one chocolate fan and one vanilla fan.  I use Pillsbury brand chocolate or vanilla frosting.  You can freeze the icing too.  Spoon cupcake-sized portions of icing into sandwich baggies, freeze, then thaw when needed and cut the corner off to use it like a quick piping bag.

I’m so grateful for the folks who make milk, egg, and peanut-free product lines, like Divvies and Cherrybrook Kitchen, that make my life so much easier.   My go-to favorite is the milk, egg, and peanut-free boxed cake mix made by Cherrybrook Kitchen.  But if I don’t have any boxes left, I will bake from scratch using this recipe.

This recipe was adapted from the original Divvies recipe, which can be found here: http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2010/09/14/divvies-vanilla-cupcakes/

Ingredients:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups of cake flour
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine.  We use Earth Balance brand.
  • 1 & 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla soy milk.  We use Publix Greenwise brand.
  • sprinkles or safe chocolate chips/chunks (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners then spritz the inside of each liner with dairy-free cooking spray.  I use Publix brand Canola Cooking Spray.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  With a hand mixer, in a separate bowl, blend together margarine, sugar, vanilla, and egg replacer mixture.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients about a cup at a time, stirring by hand to avoid over mixing.   Here you can fold in sprinkles or safe chocolate chips if desired.  I use Betty Crocker brand Rainbow Mix sprinkles and Divvies brand or Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.  Fill each cupcake cup about 2/3 to 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting or freezing.   Makes 18 cupcakes.

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Breakfast for Dinner with Super Pancakes

Why have just regular pancakes when they can be “SUPER” pancakes?!  This recipe comes courtesy of the Bisquick Box.  Adapted, of course.

Ingredients:
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp sugar
1 & 1/3 cup vanilla soymilk. We use Publix Greenwise vanilla soymilk
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer mixed into 4 tbsp warm water (=2 eggs)
Optional mix-ins: fresh blueberries, Enjoy Life or Divvies brand chocolate chips…

Stir all ingredients together until blended. Pour 1/4 cupfuls onto hot greased skillet. Cook until edges are dry. Turn and cook until golden.

For syrup, we use Hungry Jack Lite or Cary’s Premium Maple Syrup.  For butter, we use Earth Balance.

Prepare bacon in a separate skillet, according to package directions. We use Oscar Meyer brand center cut and thick sliced.

Sometimes we’ll also have Ore-Ida toaster hash browns or Jimmy Dean pre-cooked turkey sausage. If you’re looking for scrambled eggs with this breakfast, well, you’re in the wrong house!

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Safe Valentine’s Day Treats

Today I’m making Valentine’s Day treats to send with the kids to school tomorrow.  Their classes are having parties involving foods they can’t have and I want them to be able to have something special also.  While Oreos or a quick-thawed homemade cupcake will do in a pinch, if I have the time, I like to surprise them with extra special goodies.

My go-to sugar cookie recipe is really Grandma’s recipe.  (Thank you Grandma!)  We use this recipe for Christmas cookies, but I will sometimes do a half batch for small holiday treats.

  • 1 cup dairy free margarine.  We use Earth Balance.
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 6 tbsp warm water (=3 eggs)
  • 3 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour.  I use Publix brand.  I have found cake flour that may contain peanuts!
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1& 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter well.  Gradually add the sugar and continue creaming.  Add egg replacer and incorporate.  Blend in dry ingredients and vanilla.  Chill dough until firm, then roll onto floured work surface until about 1/4 inch thick.   Cut out patterns with cookie cutters then bake at 400F for 7-8  minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.   Note: They do not brown on top, but they will be light brown on the bottom when done.

For icing:

Mix 2-3 tbsp of water with 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar.  Use food coloring if you want to color it.  We also add sprinkles after icing, because everything is better with sprinkles, right?!  Some brands of sprinkles I have found may contain allergens.  We used Betty Crocker Decor sprinkles for today’s cookies.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

  • 1/2 cup milk, egg, and peanut free chocolate chips.  We use Enjoy Life Mega Chunks.
  • 1/2 cup milk, egg, and peanut free white chocolate.  We used Premium Chocolatiers’ Milkless Polar Dream White bar broken up into pieces.
  • Safe pretzels.  We use Rold Gold Tiny Twists.

Melt both the white and dark chocolate in separate microwave-safe dishes.   Cook for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until melted.  Dip pretzels in chocolate then lay on parchment or wax paper.  Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles or decorative sprinkles if desired and allow to dry about 1-2 hours at room temperature.

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Random Reminders (for my kids)

Always, always, carry your Epi-pen, inhaler, and Benadryl with you. As in, keep it *ON* you.

When in doubt, go without.

Wash your hands before you eat, every time. Besides germs, you never know if you have touched something with milk, egg, or peanut residue on it.

Make sure your dishes are clean.  If your plate or silverware still has unidentifiable goobers stuck to it from the last meal it held, in addition to being totally gross, it could also have  something you can’t have on it.   Get a new one for sure.  (ick)  Oh, and steer clear of anything made in cast iron.  Those things are never (by definition) washed with soap and water and can hold all sorts of trouble in their “seasoning”.

If the person preparing your food speaks English as a second language, eat somewhere else.  You have to feel comfortable that they truly understand what is dangerous for you.

If friends aren’t willing to make compromises for your safety, they’re not good friends.  If a friend is willing to learn about and help you manage your food allergies, be grateful and cherish them!  That is a good friend.

Never use a shared toaster. If you have to, use a toaster oven and line the rack or pan with foil to protect your food from cross-contamination.

Remember, labels can be deceiving.  Test your label reading knowledge at http://www.allergyfreetable.com/food-allergies-label-quiz.php 

Always carry spare safe snacks with you.  You don’t want to get stuck away from home and starving without something safe to eat, or worse, make a bad choice because of it.