Posts Tagged ‘food allergies’

A Food-Allergy Friendly Thanksgiving

Friday, November 18th, 2016

A food allergy friendly thanksgivingLast Thanksgiving, I made a gluten, soy, and dairy-free meal to accommodate my husband’s celiac disease and my younger daughter’s milk and soy intolerances. We still had the traditional dinner–I just made minor adjustments to each dish to meet our dietary requirements. The following are the alterations I made to accommodate my family’s food allergies.

Surprisingly, the turkey is where I found hidden dairy in the ingredients! I looked at four different brands of turkeys before finding one that did not contain any dairy. I then brined and prepared my turkey as I normally would, except I used olive oil instead of butter.

To make the stuffing allergen friendly, I used Udi’s white bread  for the bread and used homemade chicken stock in my recipe.  All the brands of chicken stock or broth my grocery store carries contained soy, so I subbed in my homemade broth.

Sweet Potato Casserole
I found a paleo version of sweet potato casserole that uses canned coconut milk and coconut oil to make this dish allergen friendly.

Cranberry Sauce
This dish is naturally allergen friendly, so I did not have to make any modifications to my recipe.

Green beans with Cranberries and Almonds
With a 3 month old and a 2 year old, there was no way I was going to make a green bean casserole from scratch (including frying gluten-free onions and making a dairy-free cream of mushroom base) so I simply roasted green beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the beans looked like they were getting close to being done, I tossed in some dried cranberries and sliced almonds.

Pumpkin Custard
My mother-in-law has perfected making gluten-free pie crusts. Me, not so much, so I made the filling for the pie and baked it in ramekins instead. I subbed in full-fat canned coconut milk for the milk in my pie filling recipe. I used SoDelicious’s Cocowhip as a topping.

Unfortunately, I am a mashed potato purest and have not found a dairy-free recipe for mashed potatoes that meets my standards, so we went without.  With a few minor modifications I was able to make a Thanksgiving dinner that included almost all our favorite dishes and met all our dietary restrictions.

Becky Nagel is a stay-at-home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Why All the Candy?

Monday, February 1st, 2016

why all the candyOh, Valentine’s day. What are we really celebrating? It’s supposed to be all about love and friendship right? Nurturing our love for each other, celebrating our friends who feel like family, being thankful for the love that we have in our lives. We want the best for the ones we love the most right? So what exactly does candy have to do with any of that? Why do we want to give the people we love so much little boxes of candy hearts filled with food dye, sugar and who knows what else?

I’m a mom who tries really hard to keep junk food out of the house. I want food dye, corn syrup, sugar and whatever else is in candy far away from my daughter which makes valentines day a day that I don’t even want to send her to preschool. Surely she’ll come home with lots of little bags of candy that I’m not going to let her eat and that will end up in the trash. I feel bad throwing it away- after all someone paid for it- but to be honest I’d much rather put it in the trash than put it in our bodies.

So then the bartering with a 4 year old begins. You give me that candy and we’ll buy you some other candy that doesn’t have the ingredients that I don’t want you to have. You really want the candy you got? Ok, choose one piece that you really, really want and you can have that and then we’ll change the rest for something else.

But then I become the monster mom that won’t even let her kids have a piece of candy on valentines day. Lucky for me I don’t really care what other parents think of what I feed my kid. No, I’m not depriving her of a life without candy- I just make sure the candy she does eat is the highest quality I can find. There are plenty of organic varieties out there and just because something is organic does not make it healthy – candy is candy.

I want her to learn at a very young age that there is a huge difference when it comes to the quality of ingredients. Plain and simple. I tell her all about the junk that’s in food and then sometimes we decide we still decide to have some junk but I know that even at the age of 4 she knows there’s a difference.

My hope is that one day she’ll come home from school with cute valentines day cards from her friends instead of little bags of candy.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.


Great Party Food for Special Diets

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The holidays are over, but with New Year’s, Superbowl parties, Valentine’s day and Easter right around the corner, the food just keeps on coming. If you’re anything like me you love celebrating with yummy, seasonal food! Whether that means bringing friends and family together for gatherings or baking your very favorite cookies, cakes or breads to give out to everyone from neighbors to teachers to grandparents.

As we’ve struggled with gluten intolerance and over the years I’ve become much more aware of the quality of ingredients I put in my body. Then there are my friends who also have dietary restrictions. I’ve encountered everything from Paleo to gluten-free, vegan, dairy free and nut free. Trying to keep everything straight can make your head spin so I’ve stepped away from this tradition a little bit.

special diets

Raspberry Cheesecake Bites from paleOMG

Since high school I have always made baked treats to give away, but I stopped a few years ago after my daughter was born and we discovered her gluten intolerance. To me there’s nothing worse than getting or receiving a gift that’s going to go right into the trash because nobody wants to eat it. I haven’t done it in a while but this year I’m determined to make homemade body products to give out instead–from body butters to scrubs and bath bombs these will always be a great gift.

As for hosting a party, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. If you’re sending out an invitation, include a simple line such as “please RSVP with any dietary restrictions.” Having been on both sides of the fence, I promise it’s much more awkward for everyone involved if the person with the allergy or restriction has to call the host and ask what they’re serving so they can accommodate by brining their own food. If you’re inviting in person, take a minute to ask about food restrictions. Most likely someone will offer to bring a dish if they follow a very strict diet.

The wonderful thing about special diets is that they’re so common nowadays that you can find so many great websites and you’ll probably fall in love with a dish or two that you might have otherwise never tried. If you don’t know where to start here are some great websites that cater to different dietary needs and have fantastic recipes!

Paleo – PaleOMG and Elenas Pantry

Vegan/Dairy Free: Chocolate Covered Katie and Happy Herbivore

Gluten Free: Gluten Free Goddess and  Gluten Free Girl

Allergy Friendly: Lexis Kitchen and Cybele Pascal

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

When Relatives Want to Feed Your Baby

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

When relatives want to feed your babyWhen little ones approach 6 months of age, many moms begin to consider starting solids. Up until this point, breastmilk or formula is all your little one needs. For me, I wasn’t in a hurry to start solids. By 6 months, I had just gotten into a good rhythm of nursing with my daughter. I didn’t see why she had to have vegetables and fruits just yet, when she was happily satisfied with breastmilk. Then, we went home for the holidays.

She was not quite 5 months old at this time. I remember the moment: A close relative asked to see her, so they walked off holding her. And then, it happened. They let her eat chocolate icing. I cringed. I didn’t speak up. I let them feed my little baby chocolate icing.  She was returned to me with laughter and a gummy smile coated in chocolate.

This same scenario played out months later when another relative wanted to feed her something fun that mommy didn’t allow her to eat just yet. Cheetos puffs chips. Oh the horror.

What do you do when your relatives want to feed your baby? I mean, these are the people you love, trust, and adore with your child. So, why is this such a tricky subject?

While I don’t have the answers, here are some ways to handle this awkward situation:

  1. Be honest. When I look back at my scenarios, I wish I would have spoken up. But, I didn’t. If a relative wants your little one to sample mashed potatoes over the holidays but you haven’t started solids, speak up. Just be honest. They should respect you as the child’s mother and understand.
  2. Be realistic. In the grand scheme of things, my child’s taste of chocolate icing and Cheetos has not stunted her growth or made her become a sugar addict. But if food allergies run in your family or you are worried about food allergies, keep baby close or within sight. It’s unrealistic to brief everyone at every party about how to handle your baby, so stay close enough to monitor the situation.
  3. Bring your own food. If you are concerned about what your child may be offered at the holiday gathering, bring your own food. Bring their drink in one of these fun Re-play sippy cups. Bring some snacks that you are comfortable with. For me, I always had a couple Gerber Graduates pouches in my purse for my kids. This way, if I knew they wouldn’t eat the meal, there was some kind of a healthy option out there.
  4. Be the Mom. If this means you have to leave the room, take your child out of someone’s arms, or have a heart-to-heart with a relative, it’s okay.  Don’t be like me and hold it inside and still obsess over it years later. Now when my family feeds my daughter, I am grateful. This usually means she is well cared for, and I get to enjoy a meal without worrying about what she’s eating.

No matter what you eat this holiday season, remember your baby’s needs should be met. You can decide what they eat and when they eat it. It’s okay to sample holiday foods with your baby IF that’s what you want. You are the mom. You got this.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. She can’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving.

Avoiding Food Allergens at a Holiday Party

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Avoiding Allergens at a Holiday PartySo you have a kid with food allergies, and you’ve got things under control at home. You are very diligent, very careful. You do his grocery shopping, you prepare his meals, you are in complete control of what goes in his body. So what happens when you have an upcoming holiday party? You don’t know what the menu will be, and even if you bring food from home, surely your strong-willed toddler will want what he sees others eating. Tackling the holidays with a food intolerant or allergic kid certainly puts a spin on your daily plan, but it can be managed by planning ahead.

First step, call your host. Find out what the menu will be. When you explain you have a child with a food allergy (they will most likely already know), the host will undoubtedly be as helpful as possible with filling you in. They are your family/friends, so don’t be shy to ask. From there, you have a few options.

1. When at all possible, make a dish to be shared, so your child sees the food is for everyone and not just him. In a young child, it will increase the likelihood that he eats it, and in older children it will make them feel less singled out. For example, holiday meals generally involve casseroles—potato casseroles, vegetable casseroles. If your child cannot have dairy, bring a casserole of your own without the cheese and cream soups. You know your substitutes, so pull them out and make a great dish to be shared. If cross-contamination is a concern, bring your own serving spoon and don’t be afraid to gently remind people of your situation.

2) For bulk dishes (think mashed potatoes) which wouldn’t be a practical make ahead option to be shared, ask your host to keep some plain before mixing in other ingredients and then prepare your child’s with your substitutes. I revert to my family/friend statement. It would be wasteful for you to prepare an entire pot of this. When preparing your child’s plate, grab a serving of the “safe” potatoes that you’ve left aside. Mashed potatoes look like mashed potatoes. They’re on everyone’s plate, including your child’s, thanks to the quick extra step.

3) Offer to bring a dessert. Desserts always seems to be the trickiest part, as it’s a holiday staple, yet poses the most opportunity for allergens to be present—eggs, nuts, dairy. My soon to be 2-year-old lacks the enzymes to break down lactose (sugar found in milk products), and she also has fructose malabsorption, which means her body cannot digest fructose. She cannot eat healthy things like fruit. But it also means she can’t have high-fructose corn syrup which is in most packaged foods, especially desserts. And what’s a holiday party without yummy dessert? The dessert menu is typically less predictable, because it tends to be one of those things that guests offer to bring. Because of this, I offer to bring a few desserts that are in my “secret stash” of recipes that are safe but also a huge hit with my daughter. I exclusively reserve these for situations when desserts she cannot have are plentiful. She loves my no-bake cookies consisting of quick oats, coconut oil, natural dairy-free cocoa powder, and peanut butter (she does not have nut allergies). Did you hear the “no bake” part? I make them in a jif and I freeze a few dozen so I can pull them out for these occasions. Even better, she doesn’t have them often, so when she sees them she wants them! Again, kids gravitate to the main attraction, so instead of making a few to keep in a container tucked away in the diaper bag just for her, I bring enough to have on a platter as part of the dessert presentation. If she sees others grabbing for them, all the better in her little mind!

Do these suggestions require a few extra steps? Of course. Will you be contributing more to the various parts of the meal than the other guests? Most likely. However, you can do most of the prep work ahead of time, and it will save you from watching your toddler have a melt down when he can’t have anything from the table. Will there be a few bumps along the way? Possibly. But you are there, and you’re there as a family, and there will be enough safe foods for your child that are not much different from everyone else’s, and you might even get a compliment on your cookies from an unsuspecting Uncle Fred who doesn’t like healthy desserts. Happy Holidays.

Michele Ogniewski is a mom of a little girl with digestive problems, who works hard at balancing a safe diet with everyday life.