Cruisin’ … ♪ ♫

disneycruise

So we did it!!! We survived a Disney cruise with multiple severe food allergies, had a blast, wish we had done it sooner, and plan to do it again! I wanted to be sure and post our experience because if it wasn’t for others sharing their success stories, I wouldn’t have found the courage to attempt it. My two are milk/egg/peanut and milk/egg/tree nut. We took the Disney Dream. The first day was a little bumpy. Our servers thick accent and the fact that he threw in “gluten” when he was reading our allergy sheet had us a little nervous. But he got the head server who read the same sheet and they had it right. The head server explained they take our order and the allergy sheet to the chef to make sure it can be done and then the meals are prepared in a separate area of the galley. It took a little longer the first night to get their meals, but then after dinner we pre-ordered breakfast lunch and dinner for the following day every day thereafter. They had steak and french fries with steamed vegetables, chicken tenders, hotdogs, hamburgers, pasta with olive oil, and for breakfast, they had pancakes, bacon, sausage, prepackaged dry cereals and fruit. We did pack a bag of safe snacks for during the day because it was difficult to find safe snacks on the ship without ordering room service which took a bit longer to go through the allergy process. The days that we were on Castaway Cay, their pre ordered lunch was delivered from the ship to a specified location on the island. The day that we were on Nassau, we chose not to try to find safe food at Atlantis, but just brought safe prepackaged snacks for them to eat because fresh food or unsealed food is not allowed to be brought on or off the island. For those that are severely contact allergic to dairy, I would add a cautionary note that there is unlimited soft serve ice cream on the ship and Castaway Cay and occasionally you would run into a puddle of ice cream or someone breaking the rules with ice cream in the hot tub etc. It was nice to meet a few other allergy families while on the ship and I thought it would be cool if we had a pre-planned get together. Future cruise idea I guess. Also, I did notice they had enjoy life cookies in the kids play area. The epinephrine/medication form you have to fill out to leave it with the staff in the play area mentions it should have the original label which we did not bring, however the staff said we could just write their name on the bag. Castaway Cay has the Epi-pen sign on the health building near the gift shops, FYI, but of course bring your own. I think that’s everything! I hope you too can find the courage to go out and find adventure and not let food allergies hold you back!

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Summer Vacation Grocery List

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The only way I can actually relax on vacation, is if I do the cooking myself.  For that reason, we try to stay somewhere with a kitchen.  We have made do with just a minifridge and microwave, but let’s just say it was no gourmet affair.   Every year, I try to make a grocery list ahead of time that will allow us to be in and out quickly once we arrive at the store near our location.  This year, I’ve decided to blog it so I don’t have to rewrite the darn thing next year- and also to share with you of course!  Some items we prefer Publix brand for, but if you know of another brand substitution that is milk, egg, and peanut free- please share!

This is my list for out of town groceries for 5 days for a family of four, with two children allergic to milk, egg, and peanut.  We try to stick to simple recipes that hopefully our kitchen-away-from-home will have the tools to execute and just focus on hitting the basic food groups:  protein, produce, carb.

  • Breakfast:
  • Frosted brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts
  • +/- a box of cereal: Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Cookie Crisp
  • Vanilla soy milk.  We prefer Publix Greenwise brand but will use Silk in a pinch.
  • Lunch:
  • 1 loaf of bread.  We use Publix honey wheat.
  • 1-2 pounds of deli meat.  We do not use fresh sliced meat from the store’s deli due to the concern of cross contamination with cheese and meats containing nuts.  We use prepackaged Oscar Meyer delifresh honey ham.
  • Pepperoni.  We use Hormel original.
  • 1-2 bags of chips.  We like Tostitos original, Rold Gold pretzels, and Lays original or BBQ.  We have found milk in some BBQ brands, milk in some Tostitos flavors, and the potential for peanuts with other pretzel brands.  Always read the label.  The whole label, not just the “Contains” statement.
  • Produce:  Carrots, baking potatoes, bananas, watermelon, apples, strawberries, blueberries…mmmm.
  • Snacks:
  • Microwave popcorn.  At least a 6 pack.  We use Orville Redenbacher’s Naturals, Simply Salted variety.
  • If we’re lucky: ice cream!  We like Tofutti Cuties vanilla ice cream sandwiches, So Delicious brand vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and Purely Decadent’s Cookie Avalanche flavor of dairy free ice cream.
  • If not ice cream: popsicles!  We like So Delicious brand creamy fudge bars, Popsicle brand plain flavors (although they have recently had a recall where these contained milk so I may be revising my opinion of this brand), PhillySwirlz, and FunPops- the kind grandma always had in her freezer- the all-American brightly colored sugar-in-a-plastic-sleeve type.
  • Cookies!  We like Oreos.  Oreos have recently updated their labeling so that now ONLY the original and double stuffed are safe for us.  No more minis or vanilla kind. 😦  We also like Chips Ahoy original chocolate chip cookies.  I know the package says contains whey, but for some reason, these have never been a problem for us.
  • Dinner:
  • 1 pound of chicken breast cutlets.  1 pound of lean ground beef. 2 pounds of salmon.
  • 1 small box of Bisquick original baking mix (for “breading” oven-baked chicken).
  • 1 bottle of Morton Season All, salt and pepper.  Or *pack ahead*.
  • Canned veggies.  We like Green Giant brand green beans and corn.
  • Pasta sauce.  We use Prego Traditional variety.
  • Spaghetti.  We use Publix brand.
  • Dairy free margarine.  We use Earth Balance brand.
  • Cooking oil for greasing pans.  We use Publix brand vegetable oil, EVOO or canola spray.
  • Canned bread.  We use Pillsbury brand french loaf or original crescent rolls.
  • Tyson brand dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.
  • Oreida brand crispy crowns, waffle fries, or crispers.
  • Ketchup
  • Maybe a frozen pizza for Mom and Dad on nugget night.  Yes, we sometimes eat what they can’t.  We feel the world will be this way for them, and they will have to learn to adjust and take caution for cross contamination in every circumstance.  But that’s a whole other blog topic!
  • Hmmm.  One night left.  What to fix?  I think I will *pack ahead* (**= reminding myself) a baggy of Ener-G egg replacer and use the rest of my Bisquick box for pancakes.  So you will also need:
  • 1 package of Oscar Meyer bacon.
  • Oreida brand crispy crowns or hash browns.
  • 1 bottle of maple syrup.  We use Hungry Jack Lite.
  • Bottled water, soda
  • Plastic baggies to make snacks portable
  • Sunblock!!!

I know, this is not the absolute healthiest list, but it’s simple and I’ll rest easy knowing it’s safe and they at least got a few more nutrients than a week of fast food would provide.

Also, when we get to our kitchen-away-from home, I always run the dishwasher first to rewash the dishes.  That’s just me.  I want to know for sure that they have been cleaned properly and are free of cross-contaminants.

Happy trails!

Garlic & Herb Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

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I make this delicious dinner in my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. Love that thing! It’s like magic for meats, whether in the microwave or oven, they come out soooo moist. If you don’t have one, you could still roast it in the oven in a regular roasting pan.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, thawed, rinsed, inside stuff removed (of course!)

1/2 cup of dairy free butter. I use Earth Balance brand.
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced

Red potatoes, washed and diced. Enough to serve your party size.

Mix butter and seasons together and spread over, under, inside, and beneath skin of chicken.
Place potatoes in bottom of pan. Place chicken directly on top, breast side up.

Bake at 400F for 1 hour, or until meat thermometer placed in meaty party of thigh reads at least 165 degrees and meat is no longer pink.

The juices from the chicken make the potatoes so moist and flavorful and the leftover chicken can be frozen and saved for use in other dishes like chicken and dumplings.

Beefy Tomato Macaroni Soup

The original recipe that inspired this one can be found at http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/10/tomato-macaroni-soup-recipe.html

Thank you Six Sisters for sharing your yummy recipes with the world!  When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I pinned it to my “allergy friendly” board to remind myself to try it out sometime.  I think I am going to start forcing myself to do 1 Pinterest recipe per week.  My Pinterest boards are starting to overflow with ideas and projects!  I altered the original recipe just a bit to suit our tastes.  As always, remember to check your labels!

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
48 oz beef broth (I use Swanson’s 100% Natural Beef Broth)
14 oz can diced tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
1 large carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (I use Publix brand)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1  cup elbow macaroni, UNcooked  (I use Publix brand)

Saute the ground beef, along with the onion and garlic, until browned.  Drain.  In a large saucepot, add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes.  Then simmer on low for 10 more minutes.  That’s it!

Dinner’s ready!  We served ours with some leftover Pillsbury French Loaf bread slices slathered in Earth Balance dairy free margarine. Mmmm.

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Sausage Pasta

This creamy, flavorful pasta dish is a good substitute for the creamy pastas you may be daydreaming about if you’ve ever had a good bowl of fettuccine alfredo. This is not an alfredo based dish, but it has the same satisfying quality to it.

Ingredients:
1 package (about a pound) of Publix Greenwise brand chicken sausage, mild or hot variety.
1/2 cup of Toffutti brand Better than Sour Cream.
1/2-1 red bell pepper, diced.
14.5 oz can of corn (drained). I use Green Giant brand. (some canned vegetables “may contain” peanuts!)
1/2 lb (1/2 bag) Publix brand “Extra-Wide No-Egg Pasta Ribbons” or safe pasta of your choice.

I start by removing the chicken sausage from it’s casing and sauteing until done. While that is working, add in the diced red pepper to the same pan to soften while the sausage cooks. At the very end, add the can of corn just so it is warmed through with the rest. When the sausage is done, don’t drain it! Save those yummy juices. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions and then drain all but the last bit of water. Add the sausage, pepper, corn, juices and all to the pot with the drained pasta. Then add the 1/2 cup of “Better than Sour Cream”. Stir gently to incorporate the sour cream substitute, pan juices, and last bit of starchy pasta water into a flavorful, “creamy” sauce.

Enjoy!

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Dairy Free Baked Ziti

I made traditional baked ziti one night to take to a friend who’d had surgery, but I was determined not to have to come home and cook another dinner for my own family.  So I made two pans (very carefully!): one with dairy and one without. It was a hit at both houses!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dairy free cream cheese substitute. I use Tofutti brand Better than Cream Cheese.

1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme

1 pound ground beef, browned and lightly seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. You could use real onions and garlic, but that would not go over well with my youngest.

16 oz box of ziti, cooked as package instructs, then drained.  I use Publix brand which is safe for us.

24 or 32 oz jar of spaghetti sauce. I use the Prego brand Traditional variety.

Approx. 1 cup Keebler brand Townhouse Toppers Garlic and Herb flavored crackers, crushed/chopped/or food processor-ed into chunky bread crumb size pieces.

Preheat oven to 350F

Stir just enough sauce into the ziti to coat it lightly, then pour the remainder of the sauce into the pan holding the browned and seasoned ground beef.

In a 9×13 glass baking dish, place a thin layer of the meat sauce, then half of the ziti, then another layer of meat sauce.

Stir together the basil, oregano, thyme, and the dairy free cream cheese substitute (that’s a mouthful!) until it’s softened and well combined.

Dollop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto the meat sauce layer and then smush/spread it in a bit.

Top with remaining ziti, then remaining meat sauce, then sprinkle with cracker crumbs.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Enjoy!

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Pancake Chicken

This dinner includes no pancakes and tastes nothing like pancakes.  Why the name, then?  When my son was younger he was so, so, so, sooo very picky.  We tried to convince him that he would like this because it had the same stuff in it we used to make pancakes.  Ever since then, the name stuck and it’s been a family favorite.

In a large plastic storage bag, mix together:

1&1/2 cups of Bisquick Original Baking Mix

1 Tbsp oregano

1 Tbsp basil

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tsp garlic powder

1-2 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breast cutlets, cut in half width-wise to make smaller pieces.

Place chicken into bag with dry mix, seal and shake well.

Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil (fewer dishes!), gently place chicken pieces on foil, and drizzle tops with melted dairy-free butter. We use Earth Balance brand.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 450F, or until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink in the center.

 

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