Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lots to post: Coming Soon!

There has been so much going on in our lives lately and I am excited to post about all of it. Ella turned 4 yesterday and we celebrated with family and friends at Disneyland. We are also having more parties throughout the week as well as actively participating in "birthday season"; a mad time of year when all of Ella's friends have their birthdays and we bounce around from party to party. There is a lot to talk about in relation to her allergies and how we still manage to have fun while playing it safe.

As soon as I can switch gears, I will get my head out of the sand and write some stuff down!

Best, Heidi

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Old Fashioned Afternoon Snack

If you happen to have some leftover frosting and do not know what to do with it, here is a little idea that my mom used to do for us when we were kids... Cookie Sandwiches! We do not often have this sort of snack in our house so it is a special treat, but one that was well received.

You can use any cookies that you have on hand, homemade or otherwise. I used Cherrybrook Kitchen's Mini Vanilla Grahams. I put a teaspoon of the frosting on the flat side of a cookie and then pressed another cookie on top to form a sandwich. And served the sandwiches with a cold glass of milk.

I am looking forward to trying it with other wheat-free cookies recipes, like maybe a chocolate one! YUM!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Because we have so much at stake, please take a moment to remember the Earth today. It is our life force and we should cherish it now more than ever. Do something to celebrate this amazing planet that we live on. At the very least try to remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. You will be glad that you did!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worst/Least Polluted Cities

This is a list of the worst polluted cities in the US, as of November 2008.

These cities had the most number of days in the past year when the amount of pollutants in the air was considered to be unhealthy or hazardous by the EPA.

Pittsburgh (population 2,462,571)
Los Angeles (17,775,984)
Fresno (CA) (1,038,101)
Bakersfield (CA) (780,117)
Birmingham (AL) (1,180,206)
Logan (UT) (111,156)
Salt Lake City (1,632,184)
Sacramento (2,373,596)
Detroit (5,410,014)
Washington, D.C. (8,211,213)
Eugene (OR) (337,870)
Provo (UT) (474,180)
Chicago (9,725,317)
New York (21,976,224)
Cleveland (2,917,801)
San Jose (7,228,948)
Fairbanks (AK) (86,754)
Hanford (CA) (146,153)
Indianapolis (1,984,644)
Visalia (CA) (419,909)
Harrisburg (PA) (652,263)
Louisville (KY) (1,356,798)
Philadelphia (6,382,714)
Modesto (CA) (512,138)
State College (PA) (140,953)
SOURCES: American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2008, EPA

This is a list of the least polluted cities in the US, as of November 2008.

These cities, listed in alphabetical order, had no days in the past year when the amount of pollutants in the air was considered to be unhealthy or hazardous by the EPA.

Alexandria (LA)
Amarillo (TX)
Bismarck (ND)
Brownsville (TX)
Cheyenne (WY)
Colorado Springs (CO)
Corpus Christi (TX)
Fargo (ND)
Farmington (NM)
Flagstaff (AZ)
Fort Collins (CO)
Great Falls (MT)
Longview (TX)
Midland (TX)
Pueblo (CO)
Redding (CA)
Salinas (CA)
San Luis Obispo (CA) YES!!!! I knew there was a reason why I love my hometown so much!
Santa Barbara (CA)
Santa Fe (NM)
Sioux Falls (SD)
Tucson (AZ)
Valdosta (GA)
SOURCES: American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2008, EPA

Least Wasteful Cities in America

10 Most Polluted Cities in the World

State of the Air

I have been trying without much success to find out which World cities are the least polluted, but as with most things on the Internet, it is very hard to sift through biased information. And much of what I have seen is not current enough to mention. Forbes has just come out with this list..

The World's Cleanest Countries

Green Companies

Right now, one the biggest trends are companies that are "green". They are businesses that actively pursue sustainability, with the planet in mind. If you are looking to support one of these companies or are wondering if one is "green" or not, here are a few online resources for you to explore...

Pristine Planet
Eco Friendly Companies Directory

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Restaurants that we LOVE: The Sensitive Baker

I say restaurant, but really this is a bakery. A gluten-free bakery! Can you believe it? And it is LA's only, one of a kind establishment. The Sensitive Baker is located in the heart of Culver City and offers all kinds of goodies, from bagels to brioche to cakes. There are many offerings and they are very honest about the ingredients that they use. Even though Ella is allergic to tree nuts and therefore cannot eat many of the items that contain almond meal, it just feels good to be able to walk into a bakery and pick up some zucchini muffins or some rich, chocolate brownies and feel a bit like a normal person. Ella delights in the treats when I bring them home. And my oven is grateful for the break. If you live in LA, it is worth the trek to the Westside and if you are not local, they also have an online store.

Gearing up for Earth Day (April 22)

I have been looking for some fun stuff to celebrate Earth Day with Ella and there is a lot of good stuff out there. I found this website which is really terrific, put together by a group called Kids for Saving the Earth. Lots of fun facts and activities to do with and teach your children.

The key is to teach our children to reduce, reuse and recycle. The message is simple and catchy.

Another great website is called Planet Pals and it also has lots of info and activities that are worth sharing.

Ella really wants to plant some things in our backyard and I will admit that I do not have a green thumb. But after all that I am reading about people growing vegetables at home, I am thinking that this might be worth trying. I have an irrigation system and a lot of sun exposure so hopefully I can make something grow! More to come on that...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Budget Meal 4: Polenta "Lasagna" and Salad

This recipe has appeared in my blog before but it is good enough to get a second mention. I created this a few years back and still make it from time to time, especially now that Ella is unable to eat wheat. Pair it with your favorite green salad and maybe some fruit for dessert and you got yourself and easy, delicious, budget friendly meal!

Polenta Casserole

1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 bag of sliced crimini or brown mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large can of chopped tomatoes
1 large can of tomato sauce
teaspoon of salt, dash of pepper, pinches of basil & oregano
2 tubes of prepared polenta
1 package of marscapone cheese
2 packages of sliced fresh mozzarella (Trader Joe's)
Grated Parmesan cheese, approx. 1/4 cup

Cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook until mushrooms are done, another 5-7 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauce. Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice polenta into 1/2 inch rounds. Heat a medium sized, fry pan. Pour in approx. 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook polenta slices until edges are slightly crisp, approx. 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Oil a rectangular baking dish. Pour approx. 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom. Layer the bottom of the dish with the cooked polenta rounds. Top each round with a dollop of marscapone and a slice of mozzarella, and top with another polenta round. Cover "sandwiches" with remaining sauce. Layer remaining mozzarella over sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan.Bake covered in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve hot.

Restaurants that we LOVE: The Good Neighbor

When we first bought our home and met with the previous owner to get our keys, he said, "You are lucky to live one of the best restaurants in town... The Good Neighbor Restaurant. It is right down the street. Tell the owners that I said 'Hi!'" Heeding this advice, we gave them a try one morning for breakfast and have been devotees ever since!

Open for breakfast and lunch, closing each day at 3:00 pm, this is a true neighborhood joint. But they have delicious food with the right amount of comfort. We have had business meetings there, friendly luncheons, and we make a point to visit each time our relatives visit from the east coast. We ate there long before we discovered our allergies but have never stopped because they have such an extensive menu. Their daily offering of soups is perfect, our favorite is the vegetable. We always ask for a side of fruit, no matter what time of day it is. And the cottage fries are not to be missed.

Recently Ella and I were enjoying some "Mommy & Ella time". We went to the gym, got a mani-pedi and when I asked where she wanted to have lunch she said, "Good Neighbor!" What more do you need? The staff is amazing and the iced tea hits the spot. Check it out if you are near Universal Studios...

The Good Neighbor Restaurant
3701 Cahuenga Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Restaurants that we LOVE: El Pollo Loco

Since we are a family on the go, we like to get something convenient, every so often. El Pollo Loco is the perfect place for us. There are many store locations in the Los Angeles area, some even have drive-thrus. This is a healthy option that offers many choices for the family. We especially love their chicken and corn tortillas. Side dishes that they offer include beans, rice, soup, salad, fries, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and corn on the cob. And some of the locations offer ice cream, which can be a great thing in the summer time. If you have not explored this restaurant option yet, consider it. You will be happily surprised!

Left Over Matzah?

Passover is ending, but what to do with all of that left over matzah? Better yet, what new thing can you create with GF crackers? Here is my recipe for Matzah Rocha. It is truly a treat and should be made throughout the year. Last night I made a batch that was half regular matzo, half GF crackers. Now all of our glycemic indexes are off the charts!

Matzah Rocha

1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 boards matzah or enough GF crackers/matzo to cover cookie sheet
plain kosher or sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cover a cookie sheet with foil, grease the foil with cooking spray. Lay out matzah in a single layer, breaking boards as needed to cover the foil completely.

Boil butter and brown sugar together over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (It’s important to bring to a boil and keep boiling for 3 minutes to allow the butterscotch to fuse together, but do not boil for much longer than 3 minutes, as butterscotch burns easily.) Working quickly (before butterscotch hardens), pour butterscotch over matzah and spread over the whole surface. Allow some time for it to harden.

Melt chocolate chips over a double broiler, or over low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan, taking care not to scorch. Spread the chocolate over the butterscotch. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Bake at 350° for 5 minutes to allow everything to set. Freeze for one hour or more, keeping the cookie sheet as level as possible. Break into pieces and serve. Can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

Yields: Serves 8-10

Time to make: 1½ hr

Source: with modifications by Heidi

Best Foods to Buy Organic: UPDATE

This information seems to change frequently and often varies, depending on the source. If you want to buy organic (and you should) these are the ones you should start with...

Grapes, imported (Chili)

Bell peppers
Collard Greens

Also, look at what these websites have to say...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Glug, glug. Plug, plug.

The new adult treat at Casa de Miller is this extraordinary wine produced by Sextant Winery, on the Central Coast of California. I am from San Luis Obispo and have had the privilege to try many of the area's wines, some of the best to be found today. My Dad introduced us to Sextant's wines and the 2007 Zinfandel called "Wheelhouse" is a big hit. If you want to try a deliciously smooth zin, that is a show stopper... totally worth checking out!

Planes, buses and automobiles!

We just got back from a week in Florida. And for the first time I can say that we did everything right, in making our trip go as smoothly as possible. It is not easy flying across country with two toddlers, one with severe food allergies, a destination that offers no direct flights and a mountain of flight restrictions. It is almost enough to make a person stay home. But thankfully we didn't! We have taken lots of plane trips with Ella, who is a fantastic traveler. But we were a little apprehensive about Milo, as he is a climbing, active maniac. Lucky for us he is a maniac that is addicted to TV and the portable DVD player was a Godsend. We flew with American and had layovers in Dallas. I thought that this was going to be horrible, but it ended up being wonderful. When we arrived in Texas, we departed the plane and made our way from terminal to terminal. There was a fantastic indoor playground next to our gate (whoever thought of this is my hero) and we let the children wear themselves out before grabbing a bite and getting on another plane. I brought as many snacks as I could carry and all kinds of games and distraction devices for the kids.
We also used the CARES restraints for the first time and they were WONDERFUL! So easy to use and a million times better than carting around gigantic car seats.

We only packed what we really thought we would need (Gabe and I both traveled around Europe by backpack, after college and this gave us both excellent training). And we got seats for all 4 of us. Gone are the days of flights that are less than full. and let me tell you, it was worth every penny.

Here is what we packed in the way of food...

Milk (in bottles for Milo)
Cheese Sticks
Yogurt Tubes
Carrot Sticks, Sliced Celery, Olives
GF Pretzels
GF Crackers
Pirate's Booty
Snap Pea Crisps
GF Snack Bars
Protein Bars
Sandwiches made on GF Bread that I made the night before flying
Peach Cups
Loads of sweets for desperate times

Five Years and STILL Allergic

It has been 5 long years since I found out that I was allergic to shellfish, after eating it my entire life. I can still remember the thrill of a freshly cooked crab with a squeeze of lemon and a dip in butter. And I often fondly remember my trips to Mexico and eating freshly caught lobster with homemade tortillas and guacamole. Every time I see a photo of caramelized scallops, my mouth waters. And lately I have been missing all of these foods so much I have thought of doing a food challenge to confirm that I am still allergic. But now those dreams have dimmed.

Last night we ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I felt like eating light so I ordered the chicken salad and hot and sour soup. As I ate the salad, covered in crispy won ton papers, I began to get that funny feeling in my mouth. If you have food allergies, you know what I am talking about. Then little bumps appeared at the back of my throat. Since I had not consumed something that I know that I am allergic to, I wrote it off as an injury from eating a scratchy food. Until hives started appearing everywhere. I took a large dose of Benadryl and went to bed hoping that the drugs would sedate me enough that I would stop itching. I woke up in a daze this morning. The hives have gone down, but many still linger. UGH! My guess is that the restaurant cooked the won tons in a pan or oil that had also cooked shellfish, because this is not a major reaction. Just annoying.

But because I love Asian foods so much, it is still worth the cross contamination risk. So I will not stop going to such places. But why, oh why, do those damn scallops still call to me? Thankfully, it is Easter and I will now turn chocolate for satisfaction!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thinking ahead to Earth Day on Good Friday

In my family, Good Friday has always been a day of deep introspection.  Not only to remember the passing of Jesus, but an opportunity to look deep into one's self and think about what is important in life.  Today, my heart is with the earth.  Because without it we would not have life.  I am not a "granola girl" by any stretch of the imagination, but I try very hard to do what is right.  And at this moment, the correct thing to do is protect the future for my children.  As humans our excesses have gotten the better of us.  I embrace technology but feel like we are killing ourselves with excessive packaging and chemicals.  Right now I am in Florida, which is not as progressive as my home state of California in terms of recycling.  Since I have been here I have seen very little in the way of an active recycling program (but should give kudos to the Lowry Park Zoo, YAY!  Recycling bins!)  I am so programed to recycle that throwing a plastic bottle in the trash, is almost like having to learn another language.  With all of the information that we have about what plastics do to the environment, I have a very hard time understanding why a major metropolitan area would not have a strong recycling program in place.  This is as basic as it gets.  We are staying at a hotel that does not recycle and if I were in California, I would collect all of our refuse and take it to a recycling facility.  But since we are at the mercy of their system, I cower.  And it is as bad for my soul as it is for the earth.

There is so much unnecessary packaging out there and why?  After buying a hermetically sealed package of dental floss, wrapped in cardboard, then in plastic and then in more plastic, I literally had a stomach ache.  Take a trip to your local big buy store and you will see what I am talking about.   Do we really need all of these plastic bags?  I remember my Grandma, washing her used foil and plastic bags and saving them to be reused again and again.  She may have been from the Depression Era but she was progressive!  

As Earth Day approaches, on April 22,  I want to focus a little on things that we can all do to improve the environment around us.  Whether that be locally or globally.  Because in all honesty, I feel that maybe all of this sickness is the root of food allergies.  I am not a scientist, but something is wrong.  And since we are living in a connected, global community there is no excuse for the excesses to continue.

What can you do?  If you aren't doing anything start with recycling.  And then get yourself some reusable bags and take them with you to the store.  Every store.  The other thing that we can all do is conserve energy whenever we can.  Think of it as a way to save money.  Turn off lights when you do not need them.  If the weather is nice outside, open up the windows.  Why use the AC when you do not need it?  These are basics that EVERY single person should be doing.  I love stores like IKEA who charge customers to use a bag.  Every single store should do this.   Maybe we can improve the economy as we help the earth?  If you want to read something freaky, do a little research about all of the floating garbage that forms "garbage continents" in our oceans.  If that doesn't affect you I am not sure what will.

I do not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but my head is heavy and I think that we all need to our part.  Just consider what you use in the way of plastics and think about what you can do, even if it is just a little, to change your ways.   We truly can affect change and now is the time to start!  Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Read Those Labels!

Most of you who have food allergies know what I am referring to.  You can never be too careful when eating something new.  It is important to always read food labels and know that all of the ingredients are safe to eat.  Just because something says "Wheat Free!" or "Gluten Free!" doesn't mean that it can be consumed if it also contains sesame seeds and you are also extremely allergic to sesame seeds.  Sometimes this information is in very small print and has to be read.  Yesterday we were at a Passover Seder and a relative with the best of intentions had bought a gluten-free sponge cake and some GF crackers for Ella.  Since I am a total pain in everyone's ass, I doubled checked the labels.  THANKFULLY, I did!  The sponge cake contained nuts and the crackers were made of sesame and flax seed.  There happened to be a pediatrician at the dinner, but I am really glad that we did not have to use her services!  My mother-in-law did manage to find some really great oat flour, kosher matzoh which Ella consumed as if it were her last meal.   To those who are used to really wonderful wheat matzoh, the oat version might not seem appealing.  But the texture and taste were close enough that Ella bought it.  

Since we are in Florida for several days, I ordered a bunch of products online and had them shipped here in advance.  That way, there are lots of options and we can almost match whatever meal everyone else is eating.  I ordered from and got everything from pastas to bagels, as well many snacks that we can take with us as we run around.  You can also read ingredient listings at this online store which makes shopping a cinch.  

No matter where you go, always, always read those labels!  If you do not have allergies but are shopping for someone with them, please, please make sure that you consider ALL of the person's allergens.  And don't get insulted if someone turns something away.  They are only being protective.  After all, no one wants to visit the ER, especially if it can be avoided!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus is in season right now and there are some killer deals at the market. Our local grocery had a special last week and it was only .99 cents a pound. And I picked up a 2 pound bag at Costco for $3.99. Cream of Asparagus Soup is one of my all-time favorites. A vegetarian friend of mine came over for dinner last night and I made this for us. I served it with fresh olive bread. I adapted a recipe that I found on Epicurious, that used chicken broth. If you have that on hand you could just as easily use it. But the vegetable broth was wonderful... I loved this soup just the way I made it!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

2 pounds green asparagus
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
crème fraîche, for garnish

Cut tips from 12 asparagus 1 1/2" from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.

Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.

Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in heavy cream, then add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter.

Garnish with asparagus tips and a dollop of crème fraîche.

Restaurants that we LOVE: Art's Deli

I am going to start a new feature called "Restaurants that we LOVE!" In part, I want to give those of you out there who like to eat out a new option. I also want to sing the praises of establishments that really rock our world! Even if you do not live near these restaurants, they might inspire you to consider a similar type of establishment in your area.

One of our very favorite places in LA is Art's Delicatessen. 12224 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604 (818) 762-1221. We eat there once a week, at least. It is low-key and casual, with a menu large enough to suit anyone who goes with us. In general, Jewish delis are perfect for our particular cocktail of allergies. They have lots of soups (the veggie beef soup is our current favorite) and we supplement our meal with lots of other sides, like fries and fruit. Ella is also really into the lox and lately, she has been ordering the smoked white fish. Yes, it is a bit strange that a 4 year old is so jazzed about a plate of fish, but who am I to argue? They also have great salads. Pickles are a MUST, especially with a teething baby. And if you can eat with fewer restrictions, the Pastrami Reuben is not to be missed. We have also had them cater events for us and we have never been anything less than pleased.

As an added bonus, it is also a great place for celebrity sightings. The day I took these pictures, we were a table away from James Cromwell, whom I have seen several times in the area. Sorry James. Hopefully a bunch of people with bags full of epi pens and Benadryl will not start stalking you.
** Ironically, our favorite Deli in New York City was Artie's on Broadway. It was 2 blocks from our apartment and we were there constantly! I am sure that we would still be going there if we were still in the neighborhood!

Chocolate Chip Muffins & Playdates

Yesterday was Friday and I am a bad mother. Ella eats Challah with her friends at school on Fridays and usually, I make a special loaf of wheat-free/gluten-free bread just for her. But Thursday night, I was tired. And I had an episode of "Lost" on Tivo. So instead of mixing the dough, waiting for it to rise and baking her beloved bread, I sat on the couch and spent some much needed time with my hubby. Friday morning I hopped out of bed, with the crazy notion of sending Ella off to school with some "special wheat free challah muffins". As they baked, I ran the idea past Ella who immediately burst into a sobbing tantrum. "Mommy, we don't eat muffins on Shabbat!" She was beside herself. Who cared if they had chocolate chips in them? Thank goodness, I have some reserved rasin challah in the freezer, which I dutifully defrosted. Poor Ella will always have to put up with her Gentile, "think-outside-the-box" Mother. I do try. Truly.

So rather than tossing the offending muffins, I decided to serve them at the play date that we hosted later that afternoon. Crisis averted! Actually. they were pretty darn good and Milo and I consumed 4 of them between the two of us. Ella gave them a try, and decided that they were indeed wonderful. Just not for Shabbat!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Update: Nightline Report

So I just watched the report from last night's Nightline about food challenges and severe allergies.  As with so many of these types of reports, there were far too many questions left unanswered.  The biggest problem I had was that they showed a little girl who had had a horrible reaction after eating an ice cream cone with peanuts.  So they decided to test her with a food challenge to see if she could actually eat peanuts.  (They did not mention if she had been blood tested or not or if there were other things that she was allergic to, like maybe milk.)  In any case, they began giving her small amounts of peanut butter, gradually building it, as they monitored her reaction.  They mentioned that it was "her dream" to eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  So at the end, when it looked like is was safe, they let her eat the peanut butter cup.  My problem with the report was there was no mention as to what could have caused her to have the reaction in the first place.  As a parent, I would be freaked out to have this question mark looming over us.  Okay, so it wasn't the peanuts and maybe not the milk but what was it?

As far as Ella is concerned, I know very well what she is allergic to because I have seen very quick responses when she has eaten an offending food.  The blood tests that we have taken have only confirmed that.  There is no doubt that she is allergic to pistachios, sesame, wheat, soy and eggs.  There are a few things that the blood tests were positive on that I am not so sure about, like peanut butter.  She had it before her crazy pistachio reaction and she was fine.  So at some point we might food challenge it.  But people often ask me if I truly "know" that she is "really" allergic to wheat and soy.  And my answer is a definite, "YES, I know!"  How do I know?  Because it causes her to have insane eczema that she itches until welts form and then she keeps going until she starts to bleed.   And she sneezes and has a runny nose.  It usually takes about 3 hours to see the affects, but it happens.  And if she has a lot of wheat, it takes about a week for her skin to clear up.  And that is with regular doses of Zyrtec and Aquaphor.  Thankfully, we know what causes this discomfort in her life.   And as I have mentioned before, I would give my right arm for her to be able to eat anything and everything.

I just wish that we had more answers.  There are too many unknowns.  As a parent, that is very unsettling!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Nightline is going to be worth Tivo-ing tonight.  There is supposed to be something about the accuracy of food testing via blood tests.  Since this is how we test Ella, I am really curious.   She is soooo allergic to pistachios that we cannot scratch test her.  But maybe we can do this with the other allergens?  Maybe when she is older and will tolerate this excruciating process.   I am in my 30's and I detest it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup (for Slow Cooker)

This is about as easy as it gets. And it is always a hit at our house. It is not spicy. The little ones seem to enjoy it as much as the grown-ups!

1.5 pounds cooked & shredded chicken
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (10oz.) enchilada sauce
1 small onion chopped
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilles
1 cloved garlic, minced
1 can chicken broth (14.5 oz.)
frozen white corn (8 oz.)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cover. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low.

Serve garnished with broken tortilla chips, slices of avocado, shredded cheese and a spoon full of sour cream.

Living with Food Allergies

This is part of the CNN article.  It sort of breaks down what it means to have food allergies, through getting a diagnosis at the doctor's to reading food labels and taking medications.  

CNN Article about 4 Year Old Boy

There is an article from CNN today about a little boy who struggles with horrible food allergies.  His poor family has a lot to worry about.  Since this child is Ella's age I can really relate to a lot of what they are going through.  Milk allergies seem to really be on the rise, and often the body reacts to them more severely.  Ella has a friend named Alyssa who has milk allergies and it is a tough one to avoid.   Thankfully, Ella's particular allergies are so that if she simply touches wheat, she will be okay.  Her pistachio allergies are as severe as it gets, but luckily, pistachios are not a common ingredient in foods.  We are also really grateful for her amazing teachers.  They are so diligent and caring.  It is a lot to worry about, especially when it is not your own child.