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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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...
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.
This is a blog for people who are limited in what they can eat. The focus of this blog is primarily wheat/gluten and nut free. Many of the recipes include dairy ingredients which can easily be substituted with a soy or non-dairy alternative. No recipes include shellfish or sesame. Another focus is healthy living through the use of organic foods and enriching activities like exercise and hobbies. I try to keep current on articles that are published about food allergies and their possible causes. If you know anyone with food allergies or happen to have them yourself, this blog is for you!
I hold a BS in Home Economics and Interior Design from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I have been a Set Decorator and Interior Designer for over 15 years, having worked on many films and television shows. Most recently, I won a Primetime Emmy for Best Art Direction for a Multi-camera Series for my work on Fox's MasterChef.
We have two young children... Milo, 6, and Ella, 8. My Husband is a comedy writer, whose Tweets are MUCH more entertaining than mine could ever be!
When I was 34 I found out that I am allergic to shellfish, after having eaten it my entire life.
My daughter has severe food allergies, including peanuts, sesame, and all nuts. She is especially allergic to pistachios. She had previously been allergic to wheat, eggs and soy... thankfully, she has seemingly outgrown those allergies.
Cooking for a child is usually a challenge, but finding things for an allergic kid to eat is next to impossible.
I started this blog because I have been learning so much and am eager to share information. Because I love to cook, recipes are a huge part of what I am posting.
It IS possible to live well with food allergies. Thanks for reading...