Menu Plan

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Even though all I am craving right at this moment is a huge bowl of potato soup, eh…maybe Corn Chowder and a hefty side of chocolate malt balls (weird, right?!), I am planning for meals that have actual nutritional value of some sort and not for every single whim and desire that seems to fly my way.

If this boy in my belly could have his way, I would be on a very steady diet of all things potatoes. Mainly in the fried fashion. Oye vey.

Here’s what we’re chowing down on this week:

1. Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash (adapted for Jonah to be dairy-free)

2. Vegan Pesto

3. Turkey Tacos & Salad

4. White Chicken Chili

5. Breakfast for Dinner (Brinner)

 

Allergy-friendly Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

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Since we successfully passed our very first food challenge test with bananas last week, I have been dreaming everything banana. It seems like something so little, but it’s a major victory that really opens up some fun possibilities. For instance, there’s banana bread, banana cupcakes, banana pancakes, banana smoothies, and these chocolate dipped frozen bananas.

Here in Orange County, we have a historic little place on Balboa Island famous for their frozen bananas, dipped in chocolate and then an array of toppings to choose from. Too bad there it is a nightmare for cross contamination for Sadie and Jonah with those pesky peanuts. Jonah can’t have their chocolate either since it has dairy as a main ingredient. So our old favorite spot is now avoided like the plague and delegated to date nights.

That’s why these make my heart leap. If we can’t do it there, we will do it here in our home! Maybe one of these days we’ll take a stroll on the Island with these in hand too.

They’re quick, a blast to do with the kids if you don’t mind messy chocolate fingers or faces, and a fun way to spruce up a fruit into a fabulous dessert or snack.

Ingredients:

  • Bananas
  • 2 c. Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
  • 2-3 TBSP Canola Oil
  • Craft or Popsicle sticks
  • Sprinkles

Method:

  • Peel bananas
  • Insert stick from the bottom of the banana (don’t worry if the banana breaks. It will be covered in chocolate and still look like perfection)
  • Place bananas flatly in the freezer until completely frozen
  • After bananas are frozen, melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl for approximately two minutes, stirring every 20 seconds or until completely melted.
  • Add canola oil to melted chocolate, stirring to incorporate.
  • Cover bananas in chocolate
  • Top with sprinkles
  • Place bananas into the freezer again until they are completely set and ready to devour!

Crockpot Butternut & Fig Chicken

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I love this meal for the fall with our family. It’s healthy, comforting, and smells amazing in the house when you walk in after a long day.

Using fresh herbs bring the dish a lively freshness, but feel free to sub with dried herbs if that’s what you have on hand. Simply reduce the amount called for in the recipe.

Don’t be afraid to throw in some of those fresh-picked apples from a great apple-picking day with the family if you’re feeling crazy too…figs and apples?! Ummm…yes, please.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper
  • 12 dried dark figs, quartered
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped

Method:

1. Brush chicken with olive oil and season chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Add chicken to the crock pot. Top with onion, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, garlic and figs. Add chicken, fresh herbs, and chicken stock.

3. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. Serve warm.

Recipe: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

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There a few things that make me heart leap as much as it does when I can make something that not only my whole family can enjoy together, but that everyone raves over. Especially with Jonah being able to experience flavors he doesn’t get much of, I could cry.

Maybe it’s pregnancy hormones, but watching that little boy double-fist this Oatmeal Fudge Bar on his belly with the cold kitchen floor underneath him made a lasting impression on me as a sweet reminder of why I do what I do, how important my job as Mama is, and why cooking is so much of my passion.

It feeds my family, it binds us together, and it allows us to just be.

Bring yours together with this dairy-free, gluten-free,  & nut-free winner:

OATMEAL LAYER

1/2 c. dairy free shortening

1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. gluten-free all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 c. old fashioned or quick cooking oats (I prefer old fashioned but use whatever you have)

FUDGE LAYER

1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 1/2 dairy free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life or Divvies)

4 T. dairy free margarine (I use Organic Earth Balance)

1 T. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8 inch glass Pyrex baking dish with dairy free baking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a medium bowl with a wooden spoon) combine the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add applesauce and vanilla and thoroughly combine. In a small separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Add to shortening mixture and stir well. Stir in oats. Reserve 1 cup of oatmeal mixture for topping. Spread the rest into the prepared glass dish using the back of a spoon or your fingers. Set aside.

Make Fudge Layer: In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips and dairy free margarine. Heat in the microwave 20 seconds at a time until the chips are just melted. Add 1 T. water and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. In a small bowl combine the 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 c. sugar with a wire whisk. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Spread the fudge layer over the oatmeal layer. Sprinkle top with the reserved oatmeal mixture and spread with the back of a spoon or your fingers. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Source

Annual Allergy Testing

“He is among the worst I’ve seen, and I see a lot.”

“His body is highly reactive like it enjoys going into Anaphylactic shock.”

“His immune system is on fire.”

“I feel for your family because this is life and death.”

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I’m not so sure what I was expecting. I’m not all that surprised by the results, but somewhere deep inside of me was praying, wishing, and hoping for some huge turn-around. Like I’d skip out of the office joyfully and run home to give him a strawberry before they’re out of season and see the joy all over his face over the pure sweetness. TJ was wishing we could just open up his food world a little bit to give him an experience he’s never been able to have with us.

But two minutes into his skin test this morning, I knew we were not going in that direction at all.

He cried, wanting to itch his back so badly and a huge part of me broke for him. Oh, how I wish he didn’t have to carry this.

He’s so brave.

He’s so perfect.

When his Allergist came back into the room, he took his seat and praised us for doing as much as we do every day for his safety.

He acknowledged my flowing tears (hello pregnancy hormones), and assured me I am perfect for my son.

And then he gave me a full picture of what Jonah deals with daily.

It’s not just the worsening of his already existing food allergies. It’s also the addition of many environmental allergies. It’s also the Allergic Rhinitis diagnosis. It’s also very serious asthma that poses a real threat to his respiratory system during any allergic reaction. It’s also his out of control Eczema that is a systemic infection, screaming at us that his immune system is working in overtime.

He is just so brave.

So perfect.

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Current Allergy List:

  • Dairy* (worsened, if that was even possible)
  • Egg white* (worsened)
  • Peanut*
  • Cashew*
  • Almond*
  • Walnut*
  • Avocado (worsened)*
  • Sesame Seed*
  • Strawberry
  • Banana*
  • Latex*
  • Shrimp
  • Soy
  • Carmine (red food dye)
  • 3 types of grass
  • dust mites
  • cats

*denotes likely Anaphylactic allergens

We love him just as he is. Perfection. Brave. Happy. Protected by a Great God who holds him.

Menu Plan

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Add a dollop of toddler pickiness to multiple severe food allergies plus texture aversions and it’s a recipe for a burnt out, frustrated Mama. There is a lot of work that goes into meal time. I have to meal plan, shop at multiple stores while staying within a reasonable budget (with both kids and my ever growing belly), prep, cook, store and serve the food. Sometimes this tedious process is done and it’s worth the time and effort to make sure Jonah is safe and we are all eating something healthy that we can enjoy as a family.

Lately though, meal time has been finished before I can even get it on the table. All of a sudden the little man has major preferences. What he loves one day, he detests the next and honestly, there isn’t a whole lot of room for variance.

While I would love to just call in a pizza and call it a night, that’s not an option. So I girded myself with more ammunition…after all, you give me a challenge, I will rise up and defeat it.

Buah haha.

I bought a couple of new cookbooks from individuals in the world of allergies I have grown to admire in my own journey and reveled in the pages that reminded me to just get back to basics and keep things safe, short and simple.

The biggest reminder to me was that anything we loved pre-allergy, I can tweak and with enough creativity make a safe version of that same meal.

So I guess the boy will somehow learn to not merely survive on green smoothies everyday if I have anything to do with it.

Here’s our plan:

1. Chili

2. Balsamic Seared Salmon Salad & Roasted Broccoli (Jonah will have Turkey since we haven’t tested fish yet. Mama is pregnant and Sadie wants hair as long as Rapunzel so we need those Omega-3’s. We compromise on this one)

3. Leftover Chili Stuffed Baked Potatoes

4. Soup & Grilled Cheese (GF bread and Daiya cheese)

5. Baked Calzones & Peas

Extras:

Trail Mix

Morning Glory Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Recipe: Mexican Chicken Stew

This recipe has been a long time staple since the beginning of our marriage. You know it’s a good one when your husband says he burns his tongue on the first bowl from being impatient and eating too fast. Then he goes back for seconds and feels like there’s a brick in his stomach because he inhaled the first bowl so quickly he didn’t realize until it was too late that he was already full.

Like they all say, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

I am so thankful that this is still a recipe I can use despite all of the food allergies for the entire family and that it’s a frugal, healthy and quick meal to pull together.

Tips:

  • Don’t rush the foundation of the stew to really seal in those great flavors. It’s worth being patient.
  • Make a double batch and freeze it for a busy night.
  • Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and/or chips.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions:

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and sweat until soft and translucent. Add spices and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant and aromatic. Add tomatoes, chicken, Worcestershire, and stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.

Cut the lime in half, squeeze juice into the pot, and then add the juiced halves as well.

Add white rice and cook 5 minutes longer to warm rice through.

Adapted from Dave Lieberman

 

Menu Plan

I’m beginning to think that Risotto is this family’s new best friend. I can make a large quantity of it for cheap and pack it full of vegetables to give a great variance of nutrients to the little people without them even knowing what hit them. The biggest plus is the fact that this is always a meal I can make that we can all eat together as a family if I substitute whatever cheese is called for in the recipe for Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

Wait, you mean I don’t have to make four different meals for four people who all have four different dietary needs and restrictions?!

Why, yes.

Risotto is my manna from heaven.

Oh, and let’s not forget that I was going to buy it for $2.99 a pound at my local health food store when I stumbled upon the clearance cart that had 2 pounds for $1.99. Score. Or so I thought. As I stood in line, I looked at the clearance cart again and saw packed on the bottom a beautiful looking package with 6 ounces more of Organic Arborio rice for the same $1.99.  You can betcha I was digging to the bottom of that cart, while holding my squirmy Jonah who thinks sitting in a shopping cart really is a challenge to dive head first to the ground and see if he can bounce back.

Anything for a good deal.

Here is what the plan looks like for this week:

1. Tomato, Chicken Sausage & Spinach Risotto

2. GF Pizza Bites with Vegan Pesto, Arugula & Goat Cheese

3. GF Baked Black Bean & Turkey Taquitos with Refried Beans & Salad

4. Vegan Pesto & Garlic Wilted Spinach

5. Roasted Acorn Squash & Sweet Potatoes with Salad

 

Snacks:

Homemade Granola Bars

Breakfast Cookies

Fresh Juice

Recipe: Breakfast Cookies

 

These are a quick, no mess, easy way to have something fun for breakfast with things I always have on hand in the kitchen. They are versatile so you can change up the ingredients to suit your own tastes or dietary needs. Simply keep ratios the same and add what fits for you.

Tip: Make a double or triple batch just as easily as a single batch and freeze the rest.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 c. apple sauce
  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. rice milk
  • 3/4 c. craisins
  • 1/3 c. flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients together. Lay a spoonful at a time onto a greased baking sheet or sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool and serve or freeze in airtight container.

 Pic Credit