Friday, January 28, 2011

Keebler Recall

Those elves have some splainin' to do...

For those of you who may be fans of Keebler cookies, the company has recalled 17,000 eight-count cartons of Keebler Fudge Shoppe jumbo fudge sticks because the mislabeled cartons contain individually wrapped jumbo peanut butter sticks. The company says consumers with peanut allergies the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they eat the fudge sticks. More information: 888-746-3679;

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Music to my Ears

San Luis Obispo is my home town so news of this bakery makes me very happy! We can't wait to try it out, next time we are in the area.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Lately, we have been rediscovering steel cut oats. They are delicious and far more nutritious than old fashioned or quick cooking oatmeal. Here is a recipe that I have been making lately in our trusted slow cooker. The best part: it is ready to eat right when you wake up!

Serves 6

2 cups steel cut oats (look for GF, if need be)
4 cups of water
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I like red varieties)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 8 hours. If desired, serve with steamed milk of choice (soy, rice, cow's milk, coconut milk, etc.).

Unused portions can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container up to 3 days.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Itchy Legs, once again

Ella is allergic to wheat. As much as she hates it, as much as we want her not to be... she is allergic to wheat. This is an odd allergy for her. She doesn't see a reaction right away. If she eats something that has wheat in it, it often will take hours and sometimes days for her body to respond. She starts itching. At first it might be a patch of "dry skin" in her face. Followed by small bumps. Then she starts to get a tiny rash on her legs, which spreads over time. Before we know it, she is scratching everywhere.

Even after a dose or two of her allergy meds, the rashes will remain. There is only one way to make the itching stop and that is to eliminate wheat (and several other allergens) from her diet.

She is five. The only thing that matters to her is that she gets to eat things that her friends and family get to eat. And unfortunately, we are a part of a food culture where most foods are wheat based. Pizza, pasta, crackers, cake, bread, bagels, and on and on.

Over the past couple of years her wheat allergy has diminished. Mostly because we have been so strict with what she is allowed to eat. Oddly enough, this has given us a false sense of security. She's no longer a 4, she's a 1!!! On occasion, we let our guard down and let her have a little. Maybe in the form of a chicken nugget. Maybe a goldfish cracker or two. Maybe even a tiny nibble of pizza. This is a bit of a balancing act for us. We are weighing a lot of factors; her need to fit in, our desire to make her happy, our need to keep her healthy. I will admit, sometimes it is easier for us. Maybe if she eats a little birthday cake, we won't have to make a wheat-free version to take along with us. And then we give her a little extra allergy medication at night.

This might all seem a bit distorted or confusing. What are these people doing? Honestly, it all comes from a loving place. And we are always second guessing ourselves. But how much is enough? Where do we draw the line? Ella cannot possibly understand our seemingly arbitrary and changing rules. Without question she will grow up to have major control issues. And most likely, hate us.

As we have relaxed a bit on how much wheat she is allowed to have, her skin has started to get itchy again. How much are we giving her? Generally, she is allowed to have a 1/2 a piece of challah with her classmates on Fridays. And maybe a Ritz cracker on a saturday. Or we let her try something we are eating, like a bite of pasta. But not every day.

We just found out that she has been asking her her friends if they can share their snacks with her at recess. This is not a good thing, from our perspective. But for Ella it means that she can finally enjoy what they all take for granted, just a little. We have asked her to stop this and hopefully she will. (When the kids share food, wheat is the least of my concerns.)

When she starts itching, I take notice. To me, it just isn't worth making her uncomfortable. Ella definitely would not agree. "So what, Mom! It's a croissant! C'mon! A CROISSANT!"

I just hope that we are able to move past all of this one day. As I have said before, wheat allergies are so very challenging. And as much as I love finding fun ways to cook brown rice pasta, it just wears me out. And worse than all of that is the fact that my beautiful daughter suffers regardless, whether she eats wheat or not. And there is nothing I can do to take away that pain.

Food Allergy Myths

Two articles worth checking out and passing along to those in your life who have misconceptions about food allergies.

Here is a great little article about some common food allergy myths from

Celebrating MLK Day

If you happen to be home today and want to celebrate Dr. King, here are a few recipes (Southern "Soul Food" inspired). On the menu, Oven Fried Chicken Fingers, Collard Greens, GF Mac and Cheese and Black Eyed Peas. If you have little ones and are looking for fun activities to do, I have attached a link to some fun Dr. King themed crafts. This was a great, great man. And I feel like he always held his head high. His words were tough, direct and powerful. But always civil. I am so glad that we have a holiday that honors a man who truly changed our country, for the better. Happy MLK Day!

Oven-Fried Chicken Fingers

2 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
7 cups cornflakes (7 oz), coarsely crushed

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 2 large shallow (1 inch deep) baking pans.

Gently pound chicken between sheets of plastic wrap with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin until 1/3 inch thick. Cut chicken lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Stir together butter, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Put cornflakes in another shallow dish. Working with 1 strip at a time, dip in butter, then dredge in cornflakes, pressing flakes firmly to help adhere. Transfer as coated to baking pans.

Bake, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes total.

Cool chicken in pans on racks to room temperature (crust will firm up as it cools).

Collard Greens and Turnips with Ham Hock

6 cups water
1 large ham hock (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon Rooster Sauce
3 pounds collard greens
1‚ pounds turnips

In a 6-quart kettle bring water with ham hock to a boil (water will not cover hock) and simmer, covered, turning hock over halfway through cooking, 1 hour. Add vinegar and pepper.

While hock is simmering, remove and discard stems and center ribs of collard greens and cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. Stir collards into hock mixture and simmer, partially covered, until almost tender, about 45 minutes. Cut turnips into 1/2-inch cubes. Stir turnips into collards and simmer, partially covered, until turnips are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season collard and turnip mixture with salt and pepper.

Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese

This is my favorite wheat-free Mac & Cheese, by far. I am a BIG fan of this comfort food and I never thought I would find a recipe that is as good as the typical, wheat pasta versions. But this is just as good. You will never know that this is GF, especially if you add even more shredded cheese to the top after you have poured it into the pan.

Black Eyed Peas

Dessert is still up in the air. Maybe some sliced pears. Or chocolate of some sort, if Ella has anything to say about it! Mommy will probably enjoy a little Bourbon after the kids go to bed!


This is a website that we use constantly. There are a lot of great ideas of things to do with the little ones. Ella has been having fun creating her "Thank You, Dr. King" coloring book. If you are home tomorrow and looking for something to do, you may want to consider doing some of these activities...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Food Truck Sensation: BEWARE!!!

There is a new food fad that is sweeping the nation, gourmet food trucks. These are not the roach coaches of yesteryear. They are often run by famous chefs and are a true cult phenomenon. We live in Los Angeles, the mecca of all food trucks. There are blogs about them and reports posted on Twitter about where the trucks can be found. Everything from crepes to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to korean BBQ tacos. The sky is the limit and the offerings can be spectacular. But if you have food allergies, you should eat with caution. A mommy friend of mine alerted me to an experience she had, recently. They were eating off of a burger truck. And they ordered some french fries, which without their knowledge had been cooked in peanut oil. There were no signs posted, warning people with food allergies. This was strictly a burger truck and the family, who has a child that is highly allergic to peanuts, never imagined that the french fries would be cooked in such a way. Thankfully, they caught the mistake before their child got a hold of them and was sick. ALWAYS ask, even when you might think that it is an impossibility. People use all kinds of crazy ingredients and it is better to be safe than sorry. I am sure that peanut oil is a delicious way to fry potatoes, but certainly not worth the risk.

If you are interested in tracking down one of these trucks, here is a great LA area link...

But eat with caution!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

From the LA Times

I meant to post this last week, but time got away from me. Worth a read...

Vaccine Controversy

From CNN...

What does everyone think about this? I have mentioned hesitation about vaccinations on this blog in the past, but tend to be on the side of Western Medicine when it comes to immunization. My daughter did have a horrible reaction to her first MMR shot and I have often wondered if her allergies are related in some way. It is not really a rational, fact based theory. It is more about me wanting to have a direct cause for her situation; someone to blame. But I have several friends, whom I respect deeply, that have decided to not immunize their kids. Many of them, using Dr. Wakefield's study as the foundation of their argument. And there are a host of other reasons why parents choose to not vaccinate, which are all worth considering. Much like all things relating to parenting, there is a lot of gravity in the decisions we make... everything from baby shots to where our children will go to school and beyond.

One thing is for sure, this controversy is only heating up and I am sure we are going to be hearing a lot more in the days and weeks to come.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011


As many of us are working through our New Year's resolutions, it is important to find inspiration where ever you can. Today, my husband and I have been tackling some light organization around the house. Things like cleaning out the fridge and cupboards. The kids have been sorting through their toys and getting rid of old markers. As I took a break to listen to the rain outside, I decided to open up this month's issue of Sunset Magazine. In it there is a fascinating article about a family in Mill Valley, California who are virtually garbage free. I am mystified by their simplified lifestyle. After the holidays, the amount of "stuff" in our home is at an embarrassing all time high. I simply cannot imagine living so minimally, but I respect the notion, on the highest of levels. It truly is something to aspire to. If we could all just reduce our waste, even a little, the world would be a much better place. The article is really worth checking out if you are interested...

The Zero Waste Home and here is the blog of the woman who is featured in the article... Really thought provoking stuff.

My daughter's Hopscotch Magazine also had a piece this month called, "Waste Not, Want Not" that has been sticking with me. It is by Vijaya Bodach who reflects on her childhood growing up in India. They created very little garbage and reused everything. They lived a simple life composting what they could and appreciating what little they had. It is an interesting tale of different cultures. The author says, "Looking back, I realize that we were poor, But it didn't matter. We were happy." As a parent of a child who has been given so much in her life, without knowing what it is to suffer, I found this story endearing. Beyond just the fact that they lived simply and produced little waste.

As Americans, we truly do produce a lot of garbage. The average person in the USA tosses out about 1,130 pounds of waste each year. (According to Sunset magazine, not sure what portion of that is recyclable waste.) Other sources put that number a bit higher, but on average, most of us recycle about 40% of our garbage sum. That's somewhat encouraging! "What's Up with Trash" is a source for easy to comprehend statistics about how much waste those of us in the USA produce. (YIKES!) Worth checking out if you are interested.

Don't get me wrong, I am as guilty as anyone. I shop for a living. And many of the things I purchase (sometimes by the car load or truck load full) are breakable and require a lot of wrapping. I do own about 30 reusable shopping bags and refuse plastic whenever I can. But that doesn't mean that I cannot try to do better.

None of this really has much to do with food allergies, at least on the surface. But I do think our overuse of plastics and chemicals are related in some way. I just offer up this post as a way to get people thinking about the impact that each of us has on the world. We are all connected, after all.

Best of luck with your resolutions in this new year. Lord knows I need help with mine... to eat less sugar. Usually, I try to avoid making such New Year's declarations. But when the pants get a little tight around the waist, some changes have to be made!

Getting Gum Out of the Hair: When Peanut Butter is an Impossibility

Yesterday, as we returned home from a trip to the snow my daughter sat in the back seat of our minivan twirling gum in her fingers, dangerously close to her hair. Thankfully, we managed to get her to spit out the dangerously gooey mess before it became tangled. But it got me thinking: What would we use if gum was stuck in her hair? My mom used the classic, peanut butter, in my hair. But having a kid who is allergic to peanuts makes this remedy an impossibility. So I have been researching alternative methods and here is a list of what I have found...

1) Olive Oil or other cooking oil like Canola or vegetable. Rub the gum with the oil, leaving in for 3 minutes. Gently remove the gum by working it with a comb. Wash hair with shampoo, afterward.

2) Ice. Apply ice to the gum, until it is hard... about 10-15 minutes. When it is rigid enough, break it apart and remove it from hair.

3) Vaseline. It works the same way as the olive oil.

4) Baby Oil. Same method as Vaseline or Olive Oil.

4) Rubbing Alcohol. Apply it to the gummy area with fingers. (A cotton ball would only make the mess worse). Gradually, the gum will come loose. Wash and rinse hair, afterward.

5) Toothpaste. Gradually rub pea sized amounts into the hair until the gum comes loose. Wash and rinse, afterward.

For more ideas, check out How to Get Gum Out of Your Hair by Wikihow or How to Get Gum Out of Hair by or check out this comment board on the topic on