Back to School “Safe Snack List” for Teachers

Every year, I update this list of snacks that are safe for us and provide a copy to my kiddo’s teachers.  This year, I’m sharing it here too.  ***Remember, always be sure to do your own homework and ***always read every label to make sure these snacks are safe for you.

OK Candy
Smarties
Starburst
Skittles
Gimbal’s brand jelly beans
Dum-dums lollipops
Lifesavers, hard candy, gummies
Laffy Taffy (certain sizes only, read label)
Twizzlers (original strawberry)
Sour Patch Kids
Surf Sweets
Trolli gummy worms
Swedish Fish
Airheads
Saf-T-Pops
Peeps  (certain varieties only, read label)

OK Snacks/Treats
Any fruit or vegetable
Tostitos tortilla chips (plain)
Lays potato chips (plain or barbecue; if barbecue check for milk on label)
Pringles Original (plain)
Orville Redenbachers Naturals, “Simply Salted” microwave popcorn
Skinny Pop popcorn, original
Fritos (plain)
Rold Gold brand pretzels (plain)
Betty Crocker or Keebler Fruit Snacks or fruit rollups, Gushers
Keebler Graham Crackers
Teddy Grahams: chocolate, honey, or cinnamon
Oreo’s- original and double stuffed only
Marshmallows-Kraft or Publix brand
Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips, snack bars, or anything else (whole line is top 8 free)
Ice Pops (read label)
Tofutti vanilla or chocolate ice cream
Tofutti Cuties ice cream sandwiches
So Delicious vanilla, chocolate, chocolate obsession, cookie avalanche *soy* ice cream
So Delicious Minis *soy* (ice cream sandwiches)

Drinks
Juice, Gatorade, Powerade, soda, soymilk

OK Breakfast Foods
Cheerios (plain)
Chex (wheat, corn, or rice)
Cocoa Puffs
Rice Crispies, Cocoa Crispies
Pebbles (cocoa or fruity)
Apple Jacks
Fruit Loops
Cookie Crisp
Lucky Charms
Corn Pops
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Frosted Mini Wheats
Pop Tarts (frosted strawberry or frosted brown sugar & cinnamon)

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Pizza and Ice cream? No Problem.

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On more than one occasion, several in fact, we have been invited to birthday parties serving pizza and ice cream.  It’s pretty common party fare.  The first time this happened, I was a little overwhelmed with how to either A: create a milk, egg, and peanut free (and fabulous) version of these, or B:  convince my child that a safe alternative was just as good as what “everybody else” has.  Well, after many years of practice, here is what we do now.

For pizza, we use Pillsbury Original Crescent rolls for the crust.  Simply unroll the can and separate each triangle.  Viola-  pizza slices!  Then we spread a small amount of pizza sauce on each triangle.  We use Publix brand.  Now you could add your favorite dairy free cheese, such as Daiya, but my kids, having never had cheese, think replacements are just… weird.  Then, we apply 1-2 slices of pepperoni each.  We use Hormel or Oscar Meyer brand.  You could also add other toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, etc, but alas, we don’t like those either.  Bake according to crescent package directions.

For ice cream, see the recipe we use here.  In a pinch, we also love a few store bought dairy free brands, including So Delicious, and Tofutti.  Be careful to avoid flavors that may have your allergens, such as peanut butter varieties.

For cake, see the recipes we use here.  I make batches of cupcakes ahead of time, then freeze them without the icing on.  I also freeze cupcake-sized servings of icing in sandwich baggies.   When it’s time to leave for the party, I take the cupcake out of the freezer, place it in a storage container, snip the corner off a baggy of icing, add that to the container, and go.  If I won’t be at the party with them to pipe the icing on at the last minute, I’ll pipe it on before putting it in the container.  This method sometimes results in the sides of the container wearing most of the icing.  I’ve tried to stabilize it by jabbing toothpicks in before I put the lid on, but I haven’t perfected traveling with pre-iced cupcakes yet!

Ice Cream Dreams

cherry ice cream

Currently available dairy free ice creams are hard to find and a tad pricey. I was thrilled to discover the blog speedbumpkitchen.com.  I was even more thrilled to discover that they have recipes that avoid similar allergens to ours *aaaannd* they have ice cream recipes!!!  Be sure to stop by and check out her amazing creations.

Today I made a basic vanilla ice cream base using her recipes as inspiration. I have high hopes of using this vanilla base as a springboard to the wide world of ice cream flavor possibilities!

Note: If you want to make chocolate flavored any other way than adding Hershey’s syrup, you have to add the cocoa powder to a hot mixture, before chilling and before putting it in the machine.  See more details on my chocolate ice cream process below.

Ingredients:
40 large marshmallows (the whole bag was too much!)
6 cups of Silk brand Vanilla Soy Creamer
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup of sugar

Place the marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute, or until soft throughout. Whisk in 1/2 cup of soy creamer. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, and remaining creamer and stir well.

For chocolate: Warm all ingredients except marshmallows over medium heat. Bring to boil then immediately remove from heat. Whisk in 1& 1/3 cup of cocoa powder until cool. I use Hershey’s brand. Now incorporate the melted marshmallows.

Here is another recipe for a creamier, chocolate pudding based variety:

1 Qt container of Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer
2- 3.9 oz boxes of Jello instant pudding mix, chocolate flavor
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

I know how bad you want this ice cream, but it’s important to pause here and place in refrigerator or freezer for a bit to chill the mixture.

Place mixture into ice cream maker. I use the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment and run it for about 30 minutes.  The mixture will come out with a soft serve consistency.  Freeze for an additional 2-3 hours to harden to ice cream consistency.

Next, add mix-ins! Here are some of our ideas:
Crushed Oreo cookies
Safe candies
Graham crackers. We use HoneyMaid brand Honey Grahams.
Safe homemade brownies.  We use Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes.
Chocolate or strawberry syrup. We use Hershey’s brand.
Maple Syrup. We use Cary’s brand.
Honey
Cinnamon
Raisins
Maraschino cherries.
Safe chocolate chips. We use Enjoy Life or Divvies brand.
Sprinkles. Be sure to check for allergens. (Like you always do, right?).
Pretzels. We use Rold Gold brand.
Mini marshmallows (We use Publix or Kraft) or marshmallow topping (we use Smucker’s Toppings Marshmallow flavored)
Biscoff spread, Sunbutter, Wow butter, etc.
Fresh fruit
Storebought or homemade fruit preserves like blueberry or strawberry.
Peppermint extract.
Fun colors with food coloring.

After adding mix-ins, freeze for an additional 2 hours, or until desired consistency. You may need to stir once more after about an hour or so in the freezer if you have mix-ins that may have fallen to the bottom before the mixture fully solidifies.

Birthday Cakes: Bring on the Magic!

I wasn’t born a baker. Nope. I’m sorry kids, when you read this, but birthday cakes are something I dread having to make the most. Just know that I do it, and try hard to do it right, because I love you.  The pressure of coming up with a new idea, topping last year’s cake, or just meeting the expectation of your birthday cake hopes and dreams is stressful! Oh how I’ve longed to be one of those Mom’s who just order from the grocery store bakery.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know plenty of Mom’s who bake birthday cakes because they want to, but I am not one of them.  I’ve had so many cakes fall apart, only to be patched back together with icing, crumbs peaking out here, there, and everywhere. Challenges aside, I can proudly say I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed them. In fact, just today, I was given a high five to “Mom Power” and told that no matter what, they would like it… unless it was disgusting. (LOL)  So with that awesome accolade, I will share with you a compilation of my past cakes, as well as this year’s Minecraft Creeper cake adventure.

For my first child’s first birthday, I tried to make a cake from scratch, using a baking powder version of an egg substitute.  The end result…was only slightly taller than a pancake.   Fail.  But hey, she was 1, she only wanted to squash it anyway!

Then I discovered the amazing miracle of Cherrybrook Kitchen boxed cake mixes.  I love, love, LOVE Cherrybrook Kitchen products!  I am so grateful for the food allergy pioneers that came before me who decided to share their fabulous creations with the world.

If you don’t have any Cherrybrook Kitchen mix on hand, you can also try making Wacky cake or a Divvies recipe based cake.

Learn from my mistakes.  (please!) Here are some tips I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years.

  •  Always (always) grease AND flour your pan to prevent your cake from getting stuck in the pan.  I use Crisco brand shortening.
  • Crumb coats are your friend.  I’m not the one to teach you what a crumb coat is, but Google can. 🙂
  • Invest in some good tools.  I am the cheapest person I know, and I try to get by without making extra purchases.  But I will tell you, my KitchenAid standmixer and my various Wilton cake tools are lifesavers.
  • Make your life easy and do cupcakes once in a while.  Let’s face it, they’re easier and you can even buy little plastic pegs to decorate them with your favorite characters.  Jazz it up with a cupcake stand display if you want to be fancy.
  • Plan ahead for unexpected birthdays by always having pre-baked frozen cupcakes available.  I freeze mine without the icing and then freeze separate single-serving sandwich baggies of icing so I can just cut the corner off, pipe it on, and go.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to bake, cool, frost, and decorate.  I always seem to end up rushing out of the house on party day, having just put the finishing touches on the cake… and still wearing some of it.

For icing, I use Pillsbury brand Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla flavors.  I’ve also made it from scratch using a mixture of shortening, dairy-free butter and powdered sugar, although the kids prefer Pillsbury’s product over homemade.  (Can’t win ’em all!)

This year I’m trying marshmallow fondant, because I don’t think icing will create the perfect squared-off Minecraft Creeper features I’m going for.  In the past, I’ve used storebought fondant, although I had a really hard time with it and that particular brand’s labeling no longer reads safe for us.  There are lots of marshmallow fondant recipes out there.  Mine is based on trial and error. I mixed about a bag and a half , or about 16 ounces, of melted mini marshmallows (we use Kraft or Publix brand) with enough (about 3/4) of a 2 pound bag of powdered sugar until I liked the consistency.  I added 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tsp vanilla, and some gel coloring to the melted marshmallows *before* I started adding in the powdered sugar .  I used my KitchenAid dough hook (grease bowl and hook well) to save myself some elbow grease and then I hand-kneaded the finished product with Crisco and powdered sugar on my hands and the counter to keep things from getting too sticky.

I used Americolor brand gel to make my “creeper” cake green.  I used to use Wilton, but was sad to see their labels now say there is a risk of cross-contamination with our allergens.  Bye-bye Wilton.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my run through birthday cake memory lane as much as I have.  Now, go celebrate!

Cake montage_edited-2

Wacky Cake

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This cake is quick, easy, delicious, and requires very few ingredients.  I’ve run across the term “wacky cake” on a few different allergy boards and have been meaning to try it.  I found the recipe I used at: http://southernfood.about.com/od/chocolatecakes/r/bl01018c.htm.

The wacky part is that my daughter, who normally dislikes anything chocolate- LOVES it.  Her non-allergic friends do too.  In fact, I got three requests for this to be someone’s birthday cake the first time I made it!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use Publix brand)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I use Hershey’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Then, make three wells in the dry mixture.  Put the vanilla in one of the wells, the vinegar in one, and the oil in the third.  Pour the water into the bowl, then stir until everything is incorporated.  I used a greased 9 inch round pan to bake in at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until center springs back when touched.

For icing, I made a powdered sugar and water mixture to use as a drizzle/glaze.  Fill a small cup with powdered sugar and slowly add small amounts of water until desired thickness.  Then pour or drizzle over the cooled cake.

Quick Blondie Cookie Cake

I am so happy that another blogger shared this recipe!  The original blondie recipe can be found here: http://ellasurreau.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/our-favorite-blonde-brownie-recipe/

Friends of ours were having an impromptu birthday gathering and wanted to get a cookie cake.  On the inside, I was hoping they wouldn’t because the only thing I had ready was the standard frozen cupcake.  Then I thought of the perfect recipe I’d been meaning to try and accepted the challenge!

I made a few substitutions, to use what I had on hand and to make a half batch.  I also added about 1/2 cup of Enjoy Life brand Mega Chunks of chocolate and piped chocolate frosting (Pillsbury brand) along the edge to make it look just like a store bought cookie cake.  I only have the picture from my cell phone, but it was so yummy.  Full disclosure- my children did not like it.  But the other, non-allergy kids and parents at the party loved it and said it was reminiscent of the blondies that Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant use to serve.

cookie cake

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp baking soda, and a dash of salt.

In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of melted dairy free butter (I use Earth Balance), 1 cup packed of dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup of soy sour cream (I use Toffutti brand), and 1 tsp of vanilla.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together until well combined, then spread into greased 8×8 inch pan or similar small sized baking pan or dish.

Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until center sets up and toothpick comes out clean.