Sunday, December 20, 2009

Popcorn Balls

Another thing that my Grandma made every year was popcorn balls. My cousin and I would run into her house and head directly to the kitchen, where she always had a bowl of them sitting on the counter. Here are two recipes if you are looking to make them. She made hers with Jello, but I am including a delicious recipe that does not use gelatin.

Cornflake Wreaths

My Grandma used to make these every single Christmas. They were my favorite treat that she made because they were so special. Now that I am looking for wheat/gluten free desserts to make for Ella, these couldn't be more perfect. And they are pretty easy to make.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jelly Doughnuts, a day late

Ella's school took a field trip down to City Hall on Thursday. They went to help light the Menorah, along with a couple of other groups from several Temples. It was a lot of fun, mostly because the kids got to ride the subway downtown (not a common thing for a bunch of Los Angeles children). It was fun for the parents because we got to hear our adorable children singing Hanukkah songs. There were tons of jelly doughnuts on hand to add to the festivities. Knowing that there was a chance that some sort of wheat treat would be available, I had brought along some wheat free cookies for Ella to eat. But she really wanted to try the doughnuts, so we had to settle with her licking some jelly off my finger. Truth be told, it was a bit of a sad moment for me, as these are the times when I so wish she could partake in what everyone else gets to eat. So I promised myself that I would make her some wheat-free jelly doughnuts this weekend. Tonight, she and I whipped up a batch from the Culinary Institute of America's Gluten-Free Baking Cookbook. Instead of piping the dough into rings on parchment, I rolled the dough into balls and had Ella gently flatten them into patties before letting them rise for a second time. After they cooked, I drained them and dusted them with powdered sugar. (Or dropped them into a bowl filled with a cup of granulated sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon mixed together.) And then I filled a piping bag with blackberry preserves (Ella's favorite). Then I poked the doughnuts and gently filled them with about a teaspoon of preserves. Oh, dear Lord were they ever yummy! They are best eaten warm, but we now have so many of them that something tells me that we will be eating them for breakfast tomorrow.

Enchilada Tamale Pie

This is a great, easy dinner to serve the family on a cool night. I adapted the following recipe from one that I found at I garnished each serving with guacamole and sour cream. It was delicious! You could substitute soy cheese for the cheddar or simply omit it if you are avoiding dairy. Serves 6.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can (16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 jar (16 oz.) red enchilada sauce (I prefer Trader Joe's)
1 cup grated Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, for topping (optional)
1 small can (4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, for topping

Brown ground beef with onions; drain well. Add kidney beans, corn and enchilada sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until thickened. Add cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Set filling aside. In a saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt, water and chili powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Stir in butter. Spread half of the mixture into a baking dish, about 12- x 8-inches. Spoon filling over bottom crust; spoon remaining cornmeal mixture over filling. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. If desired, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese and olives over the crust about 5 minutes before casserole is done. If you would like your cheese to be a bit brown, turn on the broiler and broil for a few minutes until desired doneness. Let set outside the oven for about 5 minutes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Restaurants that we LOVE: American Girl Cafe

There is a part of me that does not want to give into the whole American Girl doll thing. Let's be honest, this is a "hobby" that should come with a savings account (sort of like a college fund). There is no end to the amount of money that can be spent on the dolls, the accessories, the books, the clothes and on and on. We happen to live in Los Angeles where there is a giant American Girl store smack dab in the middle of one of the city's most popular gathering destinations, the Grove. For four years, I have walked past this store with my head down or turned in the opposite direction. Not wanting to acknowledge its presence. "Some day, maybe," I thought. I looked at the parade of little girls with their matching dolls and matching outfits and matching hair styles and matching smiles and imagined that I would have years before Ella would even inquire about what was going on. She is so little and THOSE girls seemed so old. Boy, was I wrong. It seemed like overnight, but before I knew it, she was hooked. For the past few months she has been begging us for a doll. (Um, the kid has never shown any interest in ANY doll and then all of a sudden she was asking for the creme de la creme of dolls. Ugggghhhh!)

And then my sister mentioned that she would be taking my niece to their cafe and wanted to know if Ella and I would like to tag along. My response was the same as it always is, "Um, maybe. Not sure what they will have for Ella to eat." So I went online and checked out their menu. It looked like there were a few things so I told my sister that we would give it a try. She called for a reservation and they asked, "Are there any food allergies?" So my sister mentioned the wheat and nuts. And they said, "No problem." That was a peculiar response and both she and I were uncertain about what it meant.

When the day arrived, Ella was buzzing around the house. She did not have a doll but we had been told that she could borrow a loaner doll at the restaurant to dine with her. When we arrived to the cafe, the girls were bouncing all over the place. The dining room was adorable. Everything was pink, white and black. It all felt like out of a fantastical dream. The waitress brought our menus and to my great surprise, Ella had been handed a gluten-free menu. And the options were like nothing I had ever seen at a restaurant. The three course meal started with blueberry muffins. WHEAT AND GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!!!! Next came the main course, of Ella's choosing... hamburger stars with buns made from rice flour and a fruit kabob. The dessert was raspberry sorbet and a GF cookie from Nana's. In the time that we have known about Ella's allergies, I can honestly say that I have not seen her that happy. She was practically levitating. It was every little girls dream world and she was a part of it!

The next day, I returned to the cafe to see if I could get a copy of their menu. The hostess was so wonderful and helpful. She told me, "We want everyone to have the same experience at American Girl, regardless of their circumstances." All of their foods are peanut and tree nut free. They also offer egg and dairy free menus as well as an entire vegetarian menu. And all three courses are only $24, which is remarkable, considering what you get for the price. My heart is so full of love for this company. I am a former skeptic who is happily surprised to have found something so special. From what I was told, they have cafes in New York and Chicago which offer similar menu options. If you happen to be near one or know of someone who might be able to visit, I strongly suggest that you give them a try. They have earned a gold star in my book!

Oh, and about that doll... she received her first one (a Bitty Baby) on Friday for the first night of Hanukkah. That child almost lost her mind. And since we are a multi-cultured family, she will also be receiving one from my Mom at Christmas time. And with it, tons of clothes and accessories to go with them. What can I do? I am a soft target!

American Girl Cafe at the Grove
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(877) 247-5223

Too many things to do, so little time

Forgive me, loyal readers for I have been so busy lately and neglectful. As it happens, decorating a top TV show for one of the world's best known chefs can be quite time consuming. Not that I am complaining because I love, love, LOVE my job. All I do is drive around and spend other people's money. And then bring it back to the stage and exercise my creative muscles. It is really quite wonderful. But I have been going crazy with blog ideas and topics and yearning for a moment to type some things out. When I work, life feels like it is spinning twice as fast. No different than any other working parent feels, just adding to the madness is the additional challenge of feeding Ella. And with the holidays in full swing, there are even more hurdles to jump over. Thankfully, I have my trusted arsenal of cookbooks. Anything that I cannot find there I am able to hunt down on the Internet. Today we had a bit of an emergency, as my husband told me that Ella needed to bring some wheat free cookies to school so that she could decorate them with her classmates. (He had been told about this on Thursday and had forgotten to mention it to me). So I quickly whipped up a batch of sugar cookie dough and hustled some of it into the oven. Phew! Crisis averted.

My oven will be burning constantly come Saturday. That is when I am on holiday hiatus and will dive into my annual baking session. On the roster this year will be rum balls, almond cookies, sugar cookies, truffles, peppermint bark and cornflake wreathes. Some of that will be Ella safe, some of it will not. But it should be fun, nonetheless.

Here's to staying happy, healthy and sane over the next few weeks. Good luck with all that you have to do!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Restaurants that we LOVE: Olive Garden and P.F. Chang's

Life has been getting better and better for those of us with nutritional limitations. More and more chains have been creating gluten free menus for their patrons. And as a mother of a child who cannot eat wheat but loves eating out, I am eternally grateful for options. Two restaurants that we have always enjoyed and are happy to discover that they offer several GF dishes are Olive Garden and P.F. Chang's.

Olive Garden's various menus can be found here. Amongst the offerings are grilled chicken and steamed veggies, meat kabobs, and they are even trying out a new GF pasta with marinara sauce. From what I am told, the pasta dish just made its way out of the test kitchen and the more people order it, the more likely it is that they will add more GF pasta dishes to their menu. So go, go go! And tell them how much you appreciate this expansion of their menu.

For a while now I have been hearing about how P.F. Chang's is offering their own GF menu. We happen to have an amazing local Chinese restaurant that caters to our every need so we do not often give other places a try. But we were recently running around in a different neighborhood and decided to pop in and give them a try. And boy were we impressed. The staff was so friendly and helpful. And knowledgeable about the menu. When you are dealing with food allergies, this is essential. Ella went hog wild. We ordered several things, just to give them a try. Which was not too much of a problem, as it allowed a bunch of leftovers. (Score! Mommy got a cooking break!) If you are around one of their restaurants and are hungry, please check them out. It is so nice to feel normal again and I applaud these restaurants for trying something new. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Food Allergies are on the Rise in Children

In case you have not yet heard or read about it, new studies are confirming that food allergies are on the rise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Way to go, Ralphs!

We just received a coupon mailer from Ralph's Supermarket. They are advertising the fact that they are now carrying more Gluten Free products. Inside the mailer were two coupons, one for the GF Betty Crocker mixes and the other is for the GF Chex cereals. Way to go! It is really refreshing to see a chain like this embrace the Gluten Free diet. Just as I always say, there is plenty of money to be made on folks like us... Thank the Lord for alternate food choices at the grocery store!

(See review below for details on the Betty Crocker GF Mixes. Also, click on the link on the right under "Browse Recipes" and "Cranberry Cinnamon Party Mix" for a yummy way of using GF Rice Chex cereal. I published this back in April and it is sure to please, especially during the Holidays. You and your guests will love it!)

Review: Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix

Gotta say, I had my reservations. I was not sure what the mix would taste like or what kind of texture it would have. But we were happily surprised, on both counts. I used the mix to make a batch of cupcakes and then I used them to make two desserts over the course of two nights.

Dessert #1: Strawberry Shortcake. I cut the cupcake in half and placed it in a bowl. I then topped it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Everyone was quite happy with the results.

Dessert #2: Mini Banana Trifles. In a dessert glass, I layered bits of torn cake + banana pudding + sliced bananas + whipped cream. I did about 3 layers of each and finished with a doll
op of the whipped cream. Gotta tell you, this dessert was TOPS! I served to my in-laws who were visiting and they went, well, bananas. It was sort of like the classic banana cream pie and just as addictive.

There are probably 150 different things that you can do with this basic cake mix. There are other wheat and gluten free cake recipes that I prefer. But this sure is a great product to have on hand around as a last minute dessert fix. Hopefully you can find it at a your local grocery store!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We Survived!

Thanks to lots of happy thinking and a grateful bottle of Tamiflu, the Miller Family has seemingly survived the H1N1. Ella has a bit of a lingering frog in her throat, but is otherwise back to her old self. Thankfully, the rest of us did not catch it. Which really makes me think that the vicious bug that we had in August was indeed the swine flu. I know that this disease has really destroyed a lot of people but I am truly relieved that it was not that bad for us. Ella will be back at school tomorrow. Quite honestly, I am more worried about getting something else to further exhaust her immune system. But I am going to hope for the best, as my little lady really needs to get out of this house!

Her teacher just called to let me know that they will be making gingerbread men in class on Tuesday, so I will be trying a new wheat free recipe that a friend sent to me. Oh, it feels good to be getting back to normal life!

Monday, November 2, 2009

H1N1 is in the Hizzy

It has been looming over us like a dark shadow, chasing us around ever corner. Everywhere we turn, people are discussing it. On the news, at work, at school, in restaurants and stores across the globe. H1N1 at first seemed like just another media sensation when people first caught wind of it last spring. Lots of fear mongering, lots of panicking. At first, I shook it off as just another threat to public health, du jour. Along the line of SARS or the Avian Flu. But as time has gone on and it became obvious that this was something to really fear, I gradually started to brace myself with the "what if" scenarios. The vaccine came out and like all other flu vaccinations, it was made with eggs, making it an impossibility for Ella. Which is sad because she is also asthmatic and considered "high risk" and usually pushed to the front of the line for such vaccines.

Last week, the dark shadow approached, as several of Ella's classmates were diagnosed with having contracted the Swine Flu. My instincts told me that our window was closing and I was right. On Saturday, Ella started acting quite lethargic even napping mid-day. Ever the optimist, I wrote it off as her being tired from the crazy day we had on Friday and maybe she just wanted to rest before a big night of trick or treating. Right? We were able to rally her to costume up and head out for a night of candy collecting (imagine that!) But after about an hour she told me that she was ready to go home. She started complaining of a headache. That night she woke at 2 am, asking for water. Her head was quite warm. And then Sunday, she awoke with a gnarly cough and was clearly sick. Eventually, her fever hit 103 and we called the doctor who (being that it was Sunday) diagnosed her over the phone. Without question, she has the H1N1. Sigh.

Next came the hard part. The doctor wanted to give her a prescription for Tamiflu. But being that we live in a major metropolitan area, there are extensive shortages on the children's version. (Here's an article from CBS about the shortages.) Gabe and I spent a total of 2+ hours on the phone, calling every pharmacy near and far. Nothing. And then her doctor suggested that we ask if anyone was willing to create a suspension from the adult version of the drug. And after several more calls, Gabe was able to find someone who could do it. PHEW! So we waited another couple of hours for the "cocktail" to be made, thanking each and everyone of our lucky stars.

Today, Ella is doing pretty good under the circumstances. Maybe all of our experience dealing with the insanity of her food allergies has prepared us, in a way, for this year's global pandemic. (Much like my endometriosis prepared me for childbirth.) And I am trying to remain positive and strong as we take this whole thing on. I fully understand the gravity of the situation but I am choosing to not focus on the dark statistics. That only brings stress to an already terrifying situation. We are taking good care of our little lady. I have been getting lots of advice from the parents of her friends who had it over the past few weeks. Thankfully, she has not lost her appetite and is very receptive to drinking liquids. We are planning on keeping her home from school and all other social activities for as long as it takes for her to be back to normal health.

Time will tell if the rest of us will get this thing. Milo was REALLY sick a few months back with a severe flu like bug. I also got it. At the time, I just assumed that it was not the Swine Flu. My sister's kids were also quite sick and her pediatrician told her that if anyone was getting the flu in the middle of summer it was almost certainly the H1N1. Not sure if that is true or not, but wouldn't it be great if we actually are immune already? We shall see. So far, Milo seems fine. Other than the fact that he has been waking up at absurdly early hours. He was up and at 'em at 3 am this morning! My guess is that he is about to go through a developmental change. And then maybe the little guy can get back to being a good sleeper, once more. We sure could use some sleep around here!

Hopefully everyone is happy and healthy, out there. This thing is really far reaching and if you can get your hands on some Tamiflu, especially if you have other health issues, I would strongly suggest that you do so. It seems to really help!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pizza! Pizza!

A month or two ago, I mentioned a pizza place that I discovered in the LA Farmer's Market that offers wheat/gluten free pizza and pasta. We finally got a chance to check them out and we were VERY pleased! We tried the pizza which is made from corn flour. It tastes a lot like a corn tortilla with more of a typical pizza dough texture. Ella really went crazy for it. She was bouncing around, singing about how much she loved it. Her pizza had mushrooms and Canadian bacon on it. It was really, really good. As was the "regular" pizza that we ordered for ourselves and Milo. If you want to check it out, the place is called Deano's and it is just opposite the Gumbo Pot, next to Dupar's in the LA Farmer's Market.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can you tell that I am back to work?

If you have noticed that my blogs have worked their way down to a slow trickle, it is only because I am back to work and have been neglectful. I am prepping the sets for Season 8 of Hell's Kitchen, and my mind has been a bit dizzy lately. We have not stopped living well with our food allergies, in spite of the fact that the world seems to be spinning rapidly off its axis.

Last weekend, we took a little road trip down to San Diego. Sadly, we had to miss the Los Angeles FAAN walk, as our trip had been
planned months
in advance. But we really needed a little sojourn, as our house is on the market and we have been battered with almost constant showings. (No offers, yet!) We had a fantastic time. We were greeted by picture perfect Southern California weather. The resort that we stayed at had everything we needed. There were lots of options at the hotel restaurant. Ella feasted on hot chocolate, rice crispies, fruit and bacon. We visited Sea World, in between the hours that we spent lounging around the pool. Overall, it was a spot perfect weekend.

The biggest news this week is that I cracked my crock pot. Trust me, this IS big news in my world as I so deeply depend on it to provide dinners on the nights that I cannot get home before the kids eat. In a way, this was a good thing. My pot, which came off my wedding registry from Williams-Sonoma, was made by Rival. It gave us 7 solid years of service but recently I have been concerned that the enamel pot might contain lead and thereby leaching the toxin into our food. Rival apparently has a bad reputation for having a high lead content. I have just begun to do research on this issue so it might be a bit of time before I buy a new one. In the meantime, I am concocting all kinds of other options for our nanny to reheat and serve to the kids on the nights that I cannot be there. I am getting creative. And some of my creations have not been met with open arms. Two nights ago, I spent 1 1/2 hours making a wheat/gluten free New York Cheesecake that I was sure Ella would love. It was delicious. But Ella boldly told me, "I don't like cheesecake anymore, Mom." And then refused to try it. A child who refuses dessert? She knows that there is always another sweet around the corner.

Speaking of which, we are gearing up for Halloween and the tensions that might be created when we sift through the trick or treat loot. Last year Ella handled it pretty well when we confiscated anything that is a no-no. As long as there are plenty of things for her to eat, we will be a good shape. And luckily, she is still not at an age where she gorges on sweets. She is happy just getting SOMETHING. Besides, her candy supply never seems to end between visits to Grandma's house and weekend after weekend of birthday parties. Hello, pinatas!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hi, my name is Heidi. I'm Ella's Mom...

Tonight was back to school night and we got a chance to meet the parents of Ella's new class mates. There are three children in Ella's class that have food allergies. One is allergic to milk, another is allergic to all nuts and then there is Ella. Our school has a healthy snack program where each week, a different family is in charge of bringing in a week's worth of snacks for all 19 children. Often, Ella can partake in the snack (fruit, cheese, veggies, yogurt, etc.) but most times, she has to pass. Thanks, wheat allergy! So I keep a bag of snacks at school for her, to cover all of the bases. In there are crackers, cookies, veggie chips, Pirate's Booty, etc., etc.. It is a system that seems to work really well. A win, win situation. Ella gets to eat, choosing between many options and it makes it easier for the teachers (who have enough on their plates without worrying about Ella's allergies.) And on some occasions, Ella has been known to pass on a perfectly safe snack (applesauce) because she hates it and instead, chooses one from her bag.

The area that I have felt is beyond my control is the celebratory birthday snacks that parents tend to bring in on their kid's birthdays. Last year, Ella's teacher ran a very tight ship in her classroom. Every parent had to tell her in advance and she would write it down on the calender. That way, the barrage of sweet treats was evenly distributed. And she would ask WHAT was being brought in. And then, God love her, she would call me up and tell me, "On February 21, Sammy's mom is going to be bringing in donuts to celebrate his birthday." And for those of you who have been reading my blog know, I would make up a batch of wheat free donuts so that Ella could celebrate with the rest of them. I hate the idea that Ella would be missing out on ANYTHING, so I have made it a priority to make sure she is included. Be it cookies, cupcakes, pie, donuts or WHATEVER. I embrace the challenge. Who cares if people think I am a nut! (Let's be honest, I am.)

So tonight, I gave my little "Hi! My name is Heidi and I am Ella's Mom. If you wouldn't mind shooting me an e-mail or giving me a call before bringing in goodies, I would really appreciate it." And then I told them how it kills me when Ella cannot partake in a sugary celebration. And has to watch all of the other kids eat yummy desserts, and cannot have any. And then I told them about the blog and how I am a bit of a challenge freak. One of my Mommy friends even winked at me and said, "Bring it on!" Everyone was very kind and seemed to be bothered by the notion that a child or two, would feel left out of the fun. I felt a little silly bringing all of this up, but it was necessary. Ella's school is truly a special place and all of the families are so wonderful. We feel blessed to be a part of such a welcoming community. So hopefully people will indeed let me know when they are going to be bringing in stuff. In the meantime, I am going to stock up my freezer and try and be ready for ANYTHING that may come my way!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Milo turned Two!

Ella wanted to do one thing for Milo's birthday... decorate his cake. So who am I to put a lid on creativity? I happily whipped up a wheat/gluten free vanilla sheet cake and let her decorate until the cows came home. I am a proud mother, clearly. But she is only 4 so this cake is pretty darn impressive. It has a Sesame Street theme. I had made twice as much buttercream as I needed, in case we had to do some emergency retouching. But none was needed. In the spirit of disclosure, I admit to doing the balloons and Oscar's trash can. (Without a doubt, the weakest parts of the design.) Because Milo does not appear to have any food allergies
, I whipped up some pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, as the boy LOVES pumpkin. And I also made some chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream. Lots of happy faces, which made my day.
Happy birthday, Milo Baby!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Check those cereal boxes!

Lately, I have discovered several brands of cereal that contain peanut flour. Not something you would expect in Frankenberry, Count Chocula or Strawberry Chex. Originally, I was thrilled to see that the Strawberry Chex was gluten and wheat free. That was, until I read all of the ingredients. Granted, these processed "breakfast" foods are not the cornerstone of any healthy diet... fortified or not. But I thought that it would be fun to crack open a box with my hubby and take a trip down memory lane for dessert. But I am not willing to take the risk of having something that could potentially cause so much trouble for my daughter, so I passed. Peanut flour? Really? Sigh...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A company that we simply love is Kinnikinnick. They are a Canadian company that specializes in ready made, gluten and wheat free foods. Our local Whole Foods Stores carry everything from bagels and muffins to hamburger and hot dog buns. It is a bit of an extravagance ($5.50 for a pack of 6 blueberry muffins) but as a working mother, I could not appreciate the convenience more and I am willing to pay the price. If you have not tried them, they are worthy of a shot. Their website has extensive product and ingredient information, as well.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Figs, Greek Yogurt & Honey

This is one of my favorite breakfasts, this time of year when figs are so plentiful and delicious. I love the texture and flavor of Greek yogurt. I tend to go for the 0% fat. Then I top the yogurt with a bunch of sliced figs and drizzle yogurt over the top. It is good enough to have for dessert as well!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Freedom or Yours?

These days, the concept of "freedom" seems to be in jeopardy. Everyone is fighting for what they perceive to be their right to have this or that. If something gives you freedom, it is almost certain that your freedom will be taking away some one else's. It is all subjective.

As a blogger, I try to collect as much current information about food allergies as I can. One of the ways that I get my news is through Google alerts. I have it set to send me everything about food allergies and gluten and wheat intolerance. Every so often I see someone pose a question that is meant to create a debate and when it involves food allergies, sparks fly. If you want to see a good example of what I am talking about take a look at the following link... Should School Classrooms Ban Peanut Butter? by a blog called Lehigh Valley Parenting.

This is just one of those issues that seems to threaten everyone. The parents of the kid who is severely allergic to nuts want to do everything they can to make sure that their child is safe while at school. The school has an obligation to keep all their students safe. And peanut allergies, especially, are deadly and harder to control. And more and more children seem to be having these serious food allergies. Thus, the no nut policy has been appearing at schools across the nation. A nation who's go to, kid friendly lunch item happens to be a PB&J. Naturally, parents of the non-allergic children are then forced to find alternate foods for their picky eaters to nosh on while away from home. And let's be honest, it pisses them off because it feels like another person's problem is now their problem. Goodbye, freedom!

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you know where I stand on this issue. Nuts should not be allowed in schools. At the very least, not in elementary schools. It is simply too dangerous. Yes, I know little Mikey will only eat a PB&J for lunch and I know that it is a stretch to find something else for him to eat, BUT his sandwich could actually kill another child. If the situation was reversed, I am quite certain that you would ask the kid to kindly leave his peanut butter at home.

There is a wonderful book that we discovered recently at our local library that approaches both sides of this issue in a very level headed manner. It is called "The Peanut Free Cafe" by Gloria Koster. The following is a review that describes the book perfectly...

"The most popular food at Nutley School is peanut butter, and Simon eats it on a bagel every day. Then a new student who has a peanut allergy comes to the school. Principal Filbert makes a peanut-free lunch table, and anyone who has a peanut-free lunch can eat there. Grant sits there alone. Simon suggests that they make the table a fun place, and the school starts a Peanut-Free Cafe that features snacks, arts and crafts, and a movie for the admission of a peanut-free lunch. Simon can't participate because he is unable to give up his favorite food. Finally he convinces himself to eat something else so that he can join his friends, but after school and on weekends he still enjoys peanut butter. The story addresses several important topics, all with a lighthearted touch. Cocca-Lefflers humorous and exuberant illustrations make the book fun. An informative and colorful selection, told in a nonthreatening way that kids will relate to." –Debbie Stewart Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI

I love the caring spirit of this book. I really feel like there is not enough talk about what is good for the school community, as a whole. Whatever happened to caring for our neighbors? Or protecting those around us and not just ourselves? Somehow, our ravenous need for "freedom" has trumped everything else. It is something to think about...

Salem boy to ask Congress to pass food allergies bill

It seems to me that it is not so much to ask and accurately be told what is in the foods that we eat. Whether that be at a restaurant or from a food that is packaged and sold at a store. Legislating the information that we receive can be a bit tricky, as are all things having to do with the FDA. But many people are working hard to increase food safety. This is an article about a 13 year old from New Hampshire who is one of 80 youngsters from across the country chosen by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network to speak to Congress on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 about a bill that would fund food allergy research and help schools manage students who have such allergies.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Results Are In...

The doctor's office called with results from my blood test to determine if I am still allergic to shellfish... and they asked if I was sitting down. Somehow, someway I am no longer allergic to the little sea critters. Six years ago, I was diagnosed as being "highly" allergic to crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams and scallops. This was determined via skin test, following a very scary and nearly fatal brush with gigantic bowl of seafood soup from my favorite NYC noodle joint. I was in shock. Here I was a California girl who had grown up on the beach eating shellfish (my favorite food) having to come to the realization that I could never eat it again. My doctor likened my situation to a cup being full. "Once the cup is full, that is it! No more room. Eat the shellfish and you are gambling with your life." And let me tell you, no amount of bacon wrapped scallops or lobster dipped in butter was worth reliving the hell of hives, slowed breathing, locked hands and freaky taxi ride to Mount Sinai's ER. I was done. And if I was ever tempted, my husband was right there beside me to remind me. "Don't EVER do that to ME again!"

So for the past six years I have dutifully avoided every California roll, every shrimp that accidentally made it's way into my chow mein, and I stopped eating at those fabulous hotels by the beach that offer a bounty of the fruits de mer. I even stayed out of the kitchen as my mom cooked up crab cakes for the family. If I hadn't decided to take a skin test, along with my daughter to ease her stress I might not have ever found out. I am not allergic to shellfish?

But (there is always a but) I do have a high reaction to histamine. This one is honestly a bit hard for me to explain, as I am not a doctor and the way that it was explained to me is still confusing. Apparently there are foods that have histamines in them and foods that cause a histamine response. Foods like citrus, chocolate, wine, pickles and shellfish. Because of this, it is still quite possible that if I eat one of these foods I could react to the histamine or my body can produce histamines that would resemble what I have experienced as a food allergy... hives and the whole enchilada. So now that I am conditioned to see a lobster tank and run, I asked the doctor if she thought that I would be safe eating shellfish again. And she thinks that I will be okay, but advised that I first take an antihistamine about an hour before eating. That should be enough to stop the histamine response, in theory. My husband has asked if he could not be with me when I try my little dining "experiment". He wants me to call him and let him know how it goes. And truth be told, I still pretty gun shy. The story continues...

(I just wish Ella will outgrow her allergies. Or some of them. I would gladly give up my right to eat shellfish if she could have wheat. If only...)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Roast Chicken with Brioche Stuffing a la Martha

Some people watch Oprah but I am a true Martha Stewart devotee. A new season of her show started yesterday and they made this chicken. It looked so good that I had to try it myself, with a wheat-free/gluten-free twist. I have to say that it is the best roasted hen that I have ever made. Far from low-fat, but completely delicious. Instead of the brioche, I used a gluten and wheat-free egg bread that I had made this weekend for the crumbs. I tore the bread into small bits and pulsed them in a food processor until very fine and then toasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes until they started to turn golden. This is really quite easy, just a little time consuming because the bird needs to chill in the fridge after it has been prepared.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just a note...

Lately, my blogs have been sparse, at best. Apologies to those of you who check in from time to time. The kids have both been home all month, we have our house on the market, and there have been raging wildfires just minutes from our doorstep. We have been doing everything, anything to occupy youthful energies, away from home and indoors. Sort of challenging, if ya know what I mean :) I will be happy to be back on my normal routine once school is back in session on the 14th. I have several recipes that I have been working on and as soon as I have more time, I will get to blogging about them! Thanks for sticking with me! XOXO!

Restaurants that we LOVE: Garlic Jim's Pizza

Recently, a friend told me about a pizza chain that offers a gluten & wheat free pizza on their menu. She had tried their pizza at a party and loved it, without knowing that it was not made with traditional wheat flour. Knowing our situation, she got the 411. Garlic Jim's Pizza is a chain that is nation wide. Not all of the locations offer the GF dough, but many do. Our closest restaurant is in Burbank and thankfully, it is on the menu there. The dough only comes in a large sized pizza and can be made like any of their other pizzas with a variety of toppings, sauces and cheeses. I first asked if they could tell me the ingredients for the dough, which they were happy to oblige. It is made with rice flour, tapioca flour, olive oil, yeast, sugar and spices. (YEAH! No almond meal!) After we had the green light, I told my daughter the good news: We were about to eat a wheat-free pizza from an actual restaurant!!! Not one of those funky shaped pizzas that I have been known to make from time to time! She was allowed to pick whatever toppings she wanted. Her choice, mushrooms and pepperoni. We took the pies home (the Burbank store is take-out only). We almost lost our minds on the drive home because the smell was so intoxicating. Ella kept saying, "I can't believe that I get to eat a wheat-free pizza!!! From a restaurant!!!"

We compared her pizza with the one that we were eating (Garlic Jim's Ultimate Combination). Her pizza had a thinner crust and there were some green flecks throughout the dough; parsley. Taste wise, it was truly delicious. It reminded me of the thin crust pizzas that we used to get when we lived in New York City. Our pizza was also very good. Exactly what you would expect from a take-out place. If I were to compare it to another company I would say that it reminded me of Papa John's. Truth be told, I sort of favored her pizza as it seemed to have more flavor. And what did Ella think? She was actually a little luke warm on it. She thought that the sauce was very spicy, as was the pepperoni. And she was right. Maybe not the right fit for a four year old. But she still managed to drop back 2 slices. And my son did not seem to have an issue with the spiciness... as he also ate 2 slices and he NEVER eats anything. Next time, we will request less sauce or maybe try one of their other sauces or leave the sauce off altogether. And we will not get the pepperoni on her pizza. Otherwise, we are already planning our next pizza meal.

Thank you, Garlic Jim's for trying something new. As much as I love to cook, it is great to have an alternative dinner to serve the family when we are on the go. If you happen to have a Garlic Jim's near you, check it out! And if your location doesn't have the GF dough, request that they get it. Don't be shy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Looks like I won't be throwing away the wheat-free flour mixes any time soon..

Ella and I survived our first Mommy & Daughter skin test. Going into the test, I was well prepared. I brought along a bunch of distractions including pens & paper, books, games and lollipops. No doubt that I was more anxious than she was, having done the test before. The doctor explained everything to Ella and showed her what the testing stamp looks like.

I was the first up, getting the full panel of 60 plus a few others including some of the foods that we know Ella is allergic to. I also had her retest shellfish, including lobster, crab, oysters, clams and scallops. The test was not as uncomfortable as I remembered. I think it used to be more of a true "scratch" test. Anyway, I had Ella watch watch the nurse was doing so that she new what to expect. It actually sort of tickled more than it hurt.

And then Ella was up. She was a brave little soldier. I held her in my arms as the test was being done. I had to hold her arms to keep her from moving. Once the test started, she was pretty upset. But once the stamps were on she stopped crying. (We decided to not test her for pistachios because she is so allergic that it might have caused a severe reaction.) Instantly, hives began to appear on her back. And she was pretty uncomfortable with the itching. The lollipops saved the day. And when it got really itchy, we cuddled as close as we could without messing up each of our results.

My back also was itching like crazy but it helped to have her to focus on.

The doctor came in to check the results. There were many surprises for me, not so many with Ella. She is still very allergic to all nuts, sesame, wheat and eggs. She is still slightly allergic to soy, but it seems to be diminishing. The odd thing was that last year her blood test claimed that she in not allergic to pecans. But her skin test showed that she is highly allergic to them. So thankfully, I have never given her any. (Not that we would have anyway, as cross contamination with nut manufacturers is a risk that I would be unwilling to take.) So although we were hoping for better news we are relieved that no new allergies have emerged. Thankfully, she still shows no reaction to milk. As far as environmental allergens go, she also tested positive to some pollens and grasses, as well as dust mites. She also tested highly allergic to histamines. I guess each of us respond differently to histamines that are in the foods that we eat. Some foods naturally have histamines in them. Others release histamines once they are consumed. The doctor gave us a list of foods that we might want to try and avoid... cheese, citrus, berries, tomatoes & chocolate. Since Ella's diet is already so restricted, I am not going to pull any of this unless I see a pattern develop where she eats something and has a specific reaction.

As far as my test results are concerned, I was a bit shocked. My body reacted very little to the shellfish samples. Of all the shellfish that they tested, I am only mildly allergic to oysters (1 on a scale of 1 to 4) and I had a questionable response to shrimp and clams. But I did have a mild reaction to the shellfish mix (part of the standard food panel that includes the top six things that people are allergic to most including wheat, milk, peanuts, soy and eggs). So rather than sending me directly to a seafood restaurant to enjoy a celebratory lobster dinner, my doctor is ordering blood tests to get more info. So the jury is still out, but maybe I will be able to enjoy my beloved scallops once more? The other thing that she told me is that I am not allergic to iodine, which another doctor had previously told me. So that will make life a lot easier for me on many levels.

I have a host of other seasonal/environmental allergies, all playing a large part in my chronic sinusitis. But the good news on that front is that I no longer seem to be allergic to pet hair and dander, as I once was. So the kids might just be able to get a cat someday, after all.

After they read our backs, they washed us off and that is when the fun really started with Ella. In cleaning her up, the allergens that she is most allergic to got spread around. Her back quickly was covered in hundreds of tiny hives. She looked like a creature with a shell made of ripples and spots. She was screaming that her back was itchy. They gave her Zyrtec and rubbed a topical cortisone cream all over her. After a half an hour the hives were only getting worse. So they gave her Benadryl. We sat waiting for her hives to go down. After about 1 1/2 hours, she seemed to be improving so the doctor released us. I was pretty upset and Ella was totally out of it. Thank God we did not rub the pistachios on her. My guess is the culprits were the sesame and peanuts, as her response hives for those allergens were the size of two quarters placed next to one another.

Overall, the test was worth doing. But I was really hoping that Ella's wheat allergy would have decreased over the past year. Thankfully we have lots of options and it really is good to know what we are up against. I am just hoping and praying that Milo will not have to deal with any of this. Fingers are crossed...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomorrow, we shall have answers. Hopefully...

Ella and I are going in to have our allergy skin testing done, tomorrow. This is Ella's first time as we have only blood tested up until this point. Her doctor thinks that it will help us get a better picture of what she is really allergic to. The last time we did a blood test for allergies was over a year ago. I have decided to take the test with her to ease her stress. I have had this done, myself, several times and do not enjoy it what so ever. But I want to make it seem less scary, if possible. It would be great to see an improvement in her allergen responses. Fingers are crossed. I will blog as soon as I have more info...

60% of Adults Cannot Drink Milk

This is an article from USA Today. It is pretty strange that we rely so heavily on the milk of another animal to nourish us. No wonder so many HUMANS cannot process cow's milk...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gluten-Free Pizza at LA's Farmer's Market

Here is a little more info about the restaurant that is now offering gluten/wheat free pizzas and pastas at the LA Farmer's Market. We have not yet eaten there, but are excited for the opportunity!

If you want to find them, they are on the Western side, near Dupar's and across from the Gumbo Pot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review: Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Cookie Mix

Just picked up a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix at the store. I found it just in time for Ella's afternoon play date. Even though the child that was visiting us does not have food allergies, I thought it would be worth trying the mix. After all, what kid doesn't like a warm chocolate chip cookie and a tall glass of milk? (Yes, I am sure there are some out there who are not interested.)

The mix was simple to make. In about 15 minutes (including prep time) we had 24 delicious cookies. Their texture was similar to that of regular chocolate chip cookies. The flavor was pretty close, too. The vanilla helped mask the flavor of the rice flour. They tasted good warm (and gooey) and were also delicious at room temperature (slightly crunchy). They look identical to the ones we grew up with. And the verdict from the children was that they were, "Yummy!" No one noticed that they were different. Our guest even asked for seconds.

Here is the list of ingredients. For some reason I had a hard time locating this information when I did a search on the Internet. Ingredients: Rice Flour, Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), Brown Sugar, Sugar, Potato Starch, Potato Flour, Leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), salt. To this you are to add 1 stick butter, 1 teaspoon of GF vanilla and 1 egg.

If you eat 2 cookies you will consume 150 calories, 7 grams of fat (4 g of saturated fat), 25 mg of cholesterol, 160 mg of sodium, 23 g of carbohydrate, and 1 gram of protein.

We will surly be making them again. I loved that I did not have to spend an extra 10 minutes mixing together a flour mix. The work was already done! So happy these products are coming out on the market. We REALLY appreciate it!

MMR Booster Update: GREAT News!!!

We just got back the results from the Titer's test that Ella took recently. She is immune to the Measles, Mumps & Rubella! So she will not need to get the MMR booster shot after all! The doctor said that her immunity to Rubella is the weakest and suggested taking another Titer's test when she is 10 (in about 6 years). Maybe by that time the drug companies will come around and offer individual vaccines again. Hopefully she will not need it. This is the best news that I have gotten all week and am over the moon! Linda, you are a life saver! Thank you, a million times for your Titer's test suggestion in the first place!!!!

Now I can begin stressing over Milo's MMR shot. He needs to get it before October. Argggghh!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Real Cost of Cheap Food

There is a lot of dialog going on about health care right now. But the one thing that seems to get left out of the debate is how the foods we eat affect our health. And I am not just talking about fast foods, here. Foods in the USA barely resemble the ones that our grandparents ate. They are genetically modified, processed, vitamin fortified and on and on. I have a hunch that the rise in food allergies might have something to do with this.

I am not a vegetarian. But I do admire those who choose not to eat animal protein. I am just a foodie, through and through. And I prefer to get my proteins from meat, as opposed to beans. But I am very much a supporter of free-range, organic meats. It really is quite disturbing to hear about the realities of the animal farming industry; what the animals are fed, their housing, how they are slaughtered. Animals that are eaten were once living, breathing beings. Their lives are important. Personally, I would rather eat an animal that lived happily and healthily, eating the foods that animals are supposed to eat. To me, that is worth the extra cost. And if I am not willing to pay that price I pick something that is not meat to eat.

As a person who shops for the family, I am well aware of the high costs of putting dinner on the table these days. And for those of us with food allergies, the grocery bill is even higher. But all the more important to make sure that your body is nourished the right way. What is good for the body is good for the soul. Correct?

Time Magazine has a great cover story in this week's issue that raises the issue of how much eating cheap foods is actually costing us. Please check it out if you get a chance, it is quite thought provoking...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Van's Pancake Recall

There is a new recall, this time from Van's. It seems that there wheat and gluten free pancakes might actually contain those ingredients, after all. Here is the info...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pinenuts & Pistachio Shells

Well it has been quite a week for getting my blood pressure soaring through the roof. It seems that we have been having one scare after the other, unfortunately.

We were playing at one of Ella's favorite play date spots which features a ball pit. Usually, I steer clear of these places as they are a mecca for all germy things that are horrible. But throwing caution to the wind, I encouraged my darling daughter to jump into the pit. She had been playing for 20 minutes or so, when she reached down and pulled up something and said, "Mommy, what is this?" It was an empty pistachio shell. I almost croaked right there. There is nothing in this world that Ella is more allergic to than pistachios. And we have been warned to avoid them at all costs. So I quickly snatched the offending object and checked her up and down for a response. The sun was shining on us that day, because Ella had no reaction. PHEW! Crisis averted.

We are now staying with my Mom for a little summer break. I always take all kind of snacks and foods to prepare while we are away from home. My Mom is a fabulous cook and also likes to cook for us. She is normally very attentive to all of Ella's allergies, so I feel quite relaxed when I am here. Until last night. She made us turkey medallions wrapped in bacon. As she prepared the grill, I saw her rubbing what I thought was a garlic and spice sauce on top of them. By the time the meat was ready, Ella was starving. I quickly grabbed the meat and sliced it up and placed it onto her plate. I then prepared Milo's meal as Ella began to eat. And then I sat down with my own plate. As I dug in, I realized that the sauce the was on the turkey was actually made out of pine nuts. (Cue: Screams). I freaked. I said, "Um, Mom. This has pine nuts in it!" She seemed confused and said that she didn't realize that as she had not been the one to prepare the dish (it was from Dream Dinners). And then she said, "Well, there aren't any nuts on Ella's plate so she should be fine." Not so much. Thankfully she had only had a few bites (delicious as they were.) Small itchy hives began to appear on her arms almost immediately. Not a serious reaction but enough for me to reach for her meds. She and I happen to be sharing a bed. Around midnight she awoke, itching like a mad woman. Her ankles, knees and abdomen were all welting up. Thankfully, she was able to go back to sleep and the reaction subsided. A very scary few hours for this mommy. But by morning she seemed to be back to normal.

So I am happy to say that I am counting my lucky stars. But all of this is a powerful reminder that caution must not be thrown to the wind when we are talking about severe food allergies. Things COULD have been a lot worse and I am happy to report that they were not. I am now shadowing Ella more than ever. And hopefully it will pay off...

Julie & Julia

Saw "Julie & Julia" last night and it was everything that I had hoped it would be. Truly wonderful. There were many things that I connected to in the film, the food was at the top of the list, naturally. But I also really felt close to the Julie character, as she was writing her blog in NYC at the very same time that I was living there in 2002. Many themes overlapped my life, loneliness, isolation, a lack of direction and a need to advance my life in a certain direction. But she had/has a husband who was a rock and a driving force, much like my Gabe. My husband got a job writing for David Letterman (which moved us out to NYC in the first place) and worked long hours. I had recently moved out from LA, after having wrapped a show and was not sure if I was going to try an build contacts and reform my career in NYC. There were several months were I bounced around, with thoughts of trying to interview for a job at Martha Stewart Living and feeling torn between my "new life" and the career that I had worked hard to achieve in LA. All of my East coast friends were insanely busy and I never got to see them. I walked all over the city, day after day. I went to every museum, ate at tons of restaurants, shopped at the great food markets and made a point of walking through Central Park, almost every single day. It was marvelous, magical but also really sad in a weird way. It was also a year after 9/11 and the city was still recovering which was like a cloud that was hard to escape, particularly in the fall. I tried my hand at volunteer work and was quite unsuccessful. There were waiting lists for people to WORK the soup kitchens. Talk about not feeling wanted!

And then I got a call from a friend back in LA offering me a job that I could not refuse. It was something that I could research in NYC before beginning it a few months later in LA. I left my husband and returned to our home on the West Coast. We somehow managed a long distance relationship for the first 2 years of our marriage. It was madness, zig zagging back and forth across the country twice a month. As hard as it was, it was an experience that I would never trade for the world and I am eternally grateful for the love and support of those closest to me.

So when I saw this movie, it brought so much back to life for me and it meant so much. As a side note, there is a clock that is used as set dressing in the film (next to Julie's bed). It is from Pottery Barn and we had the exact same one next to our bed. We also visited the Smithsonian in Washington D. C. that same year and saw Julia Child's kitchen.

And now that I have embraced blogging, it had added meaning. And Nora Ephron? Come on! She is so talented and fabulous! Totally worth a watch! Check it out if you get a chance...

Friday, August 14, 2009

MMR Booster Update: The Saga Continues

As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I have very anxious about Ella's 4 year old MMR booster. Since she had a horrific reaction to the first shot, around 18 months, I have been on the fence about the booster. Her doctor has tried to put my mind at ease by telling me that kids who react to it the first time almost never react to the booster. Not good enough. And after Linda from New Jersey suggested that we try a Titer's test to see if she even needs it, I requested that we explore that route. The doctor warned me that it is a very real possibility that she will need the booster, regardless, based on the test results. (It is a blood test that registers the amount of immunity in a person's body to a particular disease). If she is immune, she is immune for life, at least for Measles, Mumps & Rubella. I told her that I would discuss with my husband and then we decided that maybe she should get the booster after all. Since then I have been coming up with every excuse I can think of to postpone the doctor's visit. Something has been stopping me. And then we had to go to the doctor this week because Ella was having a separate issue. Her regular doctor was out of the office, so I thought I would get a second opinion about the booster. And I am glad that I did.

Because I am not a medical professional I have a lot to learn when it comes to the ins and outs of immunization. When doctors mention a "booster" what they are really talking about is a 2nd FULL dosage, exactly the same as the initial shot. This SHOCKED me! I for some reason thought that the "booster" was a SMALLER dose that would support the one that she had already gotten. WRONG! So I decided, on the spot, that whatever we could do to avoid the shot, we should. The doctor suggested the Titer's test (without me asking for it or even mentioning it) and I whole heartily agreed that it was the best way to go. Ella had her blood drawn. She was not happy about it and it was very traumatic for Milo as he is protective of his sister and thought that the nurses were really hurting her. But nothing a couple of lollipops could not cure. (Thank God I keep a stash with me at all times!)

So now we are awaiting the results, anxiously. If the test shows that she does not have immunity for either of the 3 diseases, the doctor suggests that we give her the shot. Rubella, in particular, can cause a lot of fertility problems for girls and women. And all three diseases frequently have outbreaks in the Los Angeles area. Ugh. And as icing on the cake, the drug company that makes the MMR no longer makes separate vaccines for the diseases. It is all or nothing. (Completely ridiculous, if you ask me!)

I will post more info when I have it. Thanks again, Linda, for your valuable info and support!

Could it be? New offerings at the LA Farmer's Market

Gluten-free/Wheat-free pizza and pasta at the LA Farmer's Market? I just discovered today that an Italian restaurant there is now offering this on their menu! This is really exciting stuff, as Ella LOVES pizza and jumps at any opportunity to eat out. I tried to speak to the manager to make sure that the pizza dough does not contain almond meal (some do) and unfortunately was not able to grill him before Milo melted down and we had to leave. But be sure that I will look into it. And if the dough is free of nuts, we will eat there as fast as you can say PIZZA!!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top Chef Masters: Dietary Challenge

Cannot wait to watch last night's Top Chef Masters, via Tivo this evening. I have heard that the chefs have to cook a meal that is gluten and soy free, as well as Vegan. It should be really interesting to see what these master chefs are able to do. Here is a blurb from the LA Times about it, I chose not to read the whole thing as I think it gives away the winner.

It is my favorite show on TV and if you want to check it out, I am sure that it will be re-airing all week!

UPDATE: I saw the episode and it was GREAT! Nice to know that cooking within specific parameters is even challenging for the world's best cooks. And the foods that they made gave me some ideas for things to make at home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Seattle, here we come!

Looks like we might have to pay my friend, Shannon a visit, like we have been promising her for what seems like forever. This is an article about a bakery in Seattle that serves goodies that are wheat and gluten free, as well as Vegan! Love it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to School Food Allergy Planning

Kids with Food Allergies just posted this note to help parents plan for the new school year. It is a great time to make sure you have your allergy bracelets and labels up to date. Sometimes it can take a week or two to get this stuff in the mail after an order has been placed. There are so many companies providing these services. Get shopping and protect those little ones...

If your school does not have an emergency contact sheet for you to fill out, (can't imagine why, but you never know) here is one that you can complete.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I got the recipe for this cake from "Gluten-Free Baking" with the Culinary Institute of America. Earlier in the week I had used half of a can of sliced pineapple to make a slow cooker chicken dish. Since I had the other half of a can to use up, I figured what would be better than a pineapple upside-down cake? So I made this when Ella was at school. Let me tell you, it was a hit! Milo was begging me for a piece as soon as it came out of the oven. And Gabe and I really enjoyed it, as well. The caramelization comes from using lots of butter and brown sugar, so it is heavenly. No one will know that it does not have wheat flour in it. Sorry that I am not posting the recipe, as I do not want to get in trouble with the cookbook's authors but I will say that it took a lot longer to set than the book suggests. They said that it should cook for 30 minutes but this cake was in the oven for about 45 minutes. Such a great dessert, not a crumb will remain on the plate if you decide to make it!

The world is opening up for those who suffer with gluten intollerance

It seems that there has never been a better time to have gluten/wheat allergies. The amount of products available to help you adjust your diet without suffering seems to increase with each day. From cookbooks to pastas to ready made pizzas and everything in between. There are so many options! Now big companies like Betty Crocker are getting into the "mix" with easy to make gluten-free alternatives to some of their favorites. (I have been on the lookout and have not yet seen them at our local super market, but I am told that they should be on shelves soon. I am eager to read the ingredient list, as there is still a chance that Ella will not be able to have them due to all of her other allergies). But it makes me feel good that people can feel more "normal" in their every day lives.

And now Coors Field in Denver has announced that it is opening up a gluten-free concession stand! How great is this? They will be serving hot dogs, burgers and other snacks that meet gluten free standards. They will even be serving brownies and cookies and BEER! People are starting to realize that this is not a fad diet and there is some real market potential out there. Whether they are in it to make money or not, I applaud them for their efforts. Hopefully we will see more and more of this as time goes on!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tea Party!

Mini Rice Krispie Treats
Shortbread Jelly Sandwiches
Sugar cookies with sprinkles
Fruit Dip with sliced fruits
Veggie Tray
GF Pretzels
GF Crackers
Assorted Teas and beverages

The recipes for the cookies came from the Annalise Roberts' baking cookbook. I used the classic Rice Krispie Treat recipe. The fruit dip has become a bit of a requirement for a
ll of the play dates that we host. We first had it at a f
riend's birthday party (Thank you, Susan and Ava Mae!) It is really easy to make. Just combine equal parts yogurt (I prefer raspberry lowfat) and cool whip. Fold the two together and chill for about an hour. You can serve it topped with sprinkles, if you'd like it to be festive.

Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free Play Dough

Here is a great recipe for homemade Play Dough that is wheat and gluten-free. Good to have on hand when summer days get long...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Best Practices for Allergy Sufferers

This article is about Lisa Lundy, who has written a cookbook called The Super Allergy Girl™ Allergy & Celiac Cookbook - From A Mother Who Knows™. It has an informative video discussing the best practices for allergy sufferers. She also has a website that is full of valuable information. Please check it out! Recently Lisa commented on one of my posts and I am so happy to have her as a reader.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why am I always sick?

I found this article very interesting. There seems to be a lot of talk lately about chronicle illnesses that are caused by diet. After doing the blood type diet, I can say that, allergies aside, some foods agree with me more than others. The hard part is resisting such foods. It is almost easier when you have a food allergies and you can say, well, that gives me hives or might make me stop breathing so I am not going to touch it. It takes more will power with things that may not cause an immediate reaction. How many times have I said, "Life is for living! And I want to eat that steak dinner with a martini, bread and potatoes with butter and sour cream, rich side dishes and a sticky, gooey dessert!"? And then I fill ill for a day or two after as my body tries to process it all. My Achilles heel is that I love food too much! But this article is food for thought, nonetheless...