Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the Spotlight

Janeen interviewed me for WEGO Health. It's a Spotlight Interview! With bonus photo! And the Picadillo recipe, again, mainly because Sitting on the Mood Swing's Bug loves it so much. If that isn't a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shh, don't tell

Katherine loves her Laptop Lunch System, as do I. But sometimes she wants to to take soup for lunch. For her birthday, I ordered her a pink Land's End lunchbox complete with thermos that was on clearance (some similar ones are here).

Soon after, Sue wrote about a new American Girl lunch set that comes complete with allergy stickers.

Guess what Katherine and her American Girl are getting for her birthday?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gone Pickin'

Blueberry picking, that is. $1.50 a quart at our favorite U-Pick farm!

Friday, July 24, 2009


Look! I won this beautiful bracelet at Astarte's place! And met a fantastic blogger in the process! Jewelry and a new blog to love--double bonus. I've been wearing it with this necklace my sister and brother-in-law brought me from Italy. I'm so fancy.

My sister and brother-in-law also brought us this beautiful fresh pasta and dairy-free cream of asparagus sauce from Italy. Anyone have a recipe for asparagus sauce? Because I'm in love, and it's all gone.

I seem to have racked up several blogging awards and not written about them. Way to be gracious, Nowheymama.

From Not Your Aunt Bea, like, FOREVER ago:

From Rational Jenn:

From Alisa:

From Christina:

Thank you all very much! And instead of passing the awards on, I'm going to encourage you to please read these four women's blogs if you aren't already. Alisa and Christina write about food (so of course I love their blogs), and so does Bea, when she's not being hysterically funny. Jenn is a food allergy champ, and also writes thought-provoking entries on parenting. Check them out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Steak Salad with Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

I made steak salads for dinner the other night--the Pittsburgh way, with French fries. Hey, the lettuce was from our local CSA farm. And I'm all for fries or croutons or fried noodles if it gets the kids to eat salad. I used leftover flank steak for the meat, but any leftover sliced steak will do.

The ranch dressing is an adaptation of a Todd Wilbur recipe from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. I know Wilbur is not well-liked in the allergy community, and I do not approve of his recipe-discovery methods, but I appreciate his cookbooks. We've successfully made a lot of his recipes dairy free and enjoyed them very much. They've given Katherine a chance to 'try' foods from restaurant chains that she's wondered about.

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing, adapted from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T plain soymilk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/8 t. paprika
1/2 t. chopped fresh dill, or 1/4 t. dried dill
1/2 t. chopped fresh parsley
salt to taste

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Let's talk about pets, Baby

It looks as if George is going to find a home on our very street, which is great for visiting privileges, but still very sad. "Hey, you know how we promised you a pet for an early birthday present? Yeah. He's going to live at your friend's house since you're allergic to him. But you still get to visit him sometimes. Happy Birthday!"

So. Sometime soon, we want to get another pet for the family. (Besides the fish K. already has.) It can't be a cat, a horse, or a guinea pig (obv) because of allergies. It can't be a rat or hamster or gerbil or a rabbit. None of us want a reptile. As far as I can see, this leaves us with either:

A. a bird
B. a dog (K. was tested for both of these animals and isn't allergic.)
C. anything else?

Scott had a pet bird at one time, so we know what that entails. But if we're going to get a pet that lives for 15 years, shouldn't we just bite the bullet and get a dog now? (We had been talking about getting a dog after George went to the Big Cage in the Sky.)

If we get a dog, it would have to be an indoor dog because of our nasty winters. That means it would have to be a small dog so it wouldn't feel claustrophobic in our house.

I looked at our rescue shelter's website and found:
7,854,362 cats
a dog who doesn't like men
a dog who doesn't like women
dogs who don't like children
a dog who doesn't like people
a dog who likes to run away a lot
a rottweiler
a pit bull

And this is as far as I've gotten.

What I'm looking for here is any and all advice, input, pet adoption advice/resources, charming pet stories, favorite dog/puppy training books, whatever you've got. Ed: I'm fine with information on getting a dog from a breeder, too. I have no preconceived ideas. Help!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Allergies Stink

We went to the allergist yesterday. Katherine is allergic to George, her new guinea pig.

Katherine: "It's just SO GREAT to be allergic to lots of things."

Poor baby.

Anybody want to adopt a guinea pig?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's all about food

I'm a panelist for the Back to School Food Allergy Twitter Party on July 23 at 1 pm eastern. Come join us!

I received an email about a new FA website, Food Content Alerts. Has anyone checked it out?

Alisa was asking for book recommendations the other day. I forgot to recommend Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life. It's a cookbook about eating locally and seasonally. It's arranged by seasons, which is my favorite style of cookbook. He also throws in lots of gardening tips, his thoughts on wild game, and a great resource section for seeds and products. Recently, I made his Quick sausage meatballs with a tomato and basil sauce, spaghetti and sweet raw peas. Minus the Parmesan cheese, of course. Here's a (dark) photo from the cookbook and a photo of my version.

Go Max Go sent a really great response about Katherine's reaction. They are talking with their suppliers, and they are hoping for a dedicated facility sometime in the future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Intention Cookies

Recently we tried the four flavors of Intention Cookies from Bountiful Vegan. These cookies are as big as your face, so we broke them up so that everyone could try all of the different flavors.

Here they are. The measuring spoons are for scale.

The varieties are:
Prosperity--Choco Choco-Chip

Harmony--Lemon Snickerdoodle
Well-Being--Coconut Pineapple
Love--Chocolate Chip Orange

Choco Choco-Chip cookie on regular-sized dinner plate. Huge!

Everyone liked Choco Choco-Chip the best, but we liked all four varieties very much. The Harmony and Well-Being cookies have a crisper consistency, while the Prosperity and Love chocolate chip cookies are a bit softer. I liked the creative mix of lemon and Snickerdoodle flavors in the Harmony cookie and the chocolate-orange combination in the Love cookie.

Taste testing.

Intention Cookies are marketed with the idea that you read the intention on the back of the label and what you are asking for (love, well being, harmony, prosperity) will come to you as you eat. Maybe I'm just too Presbyterian, but this is a little New-Agey for my taste. If I purchase these cookies, it will be for their wonderful flavors and consistency, not for the promise of prosperity, or whathaveyou.

The kids wished that the cookies were smaller, so that they could have one all to themselves, and so that they would be easier to take along to events where we might need to provide dessert. I like the idea of packages of smaller-sized cookies. Scott thinks that they need to get away from the Intention idea entirely and just focus on the fact that they've created fantastic vegan (and therefore dairy-free) cookies.

These cookies are available on Bountiful Vegan's website for 4/$10. Currently the ingredients are not listed on the website, which is a change that needs to be made for us compulsive label readers. I would also like to see photos of the cookies on their site.

Prosperity--Choco Choco-Chip
Ingredients: Unbleached wheat flour, beet sugar, vegan chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (emulsifier), ground vanilla beans), pecans, cocoa powder, potato starch, tapioca starch flour, leavening [calcium lactate (not derived from dairy), calcium carbonate, citric acid], sodium carboxymethycellulose, methylcellulose, lecithin, vanilla, aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Harmony--Lemon Snickerdoodle
Ingredients: Beet sugar, unbleached wheat flour, non-hydrogenated vegan spread [certified non-gmo ingredients: expeller-pressed natural oil blend (derived from corn, no msg, no alcohol, no gluten) soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy, derived from sugar beets), and naturally-extracted annatto for color], potato starch, tapioca starch flour, leavening [calcium lactate (not derived from dairy), calcium carbonate, citric acid], sodium carboxymethycellulose, methylcellulose, lecithin, lemon oil, aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt.

Well-Being--Coconut Pineapple
Ingredients: Beet sugar, unbleached wheat flour, pineapple, coconut, non-hydrogenated vegan spread [certified non-gmo ingredients: expeller-pressed natural oil blend (derived from corn, no msg, no alcohol, no gluten) soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy, derived from sugar beets), and naturally-extracted annatto for color], potato starch, tapioca starch flour, leavening [calcium lactate (not derived from dairy), calcium carbonate, citric acid], sodium carboxymethycellulose, methylcellulose, lecithin, coconut extract, aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Love--Chocolate Chip Orange
Ingredients: Unbleached wheat flour, vegan chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (emulsifier), ground vanilla beans), non-hydrogenated vegan spread [certified non-gmo ingredients: expeller-pressed natural oil blend (derived from corn, no msg, no alcohol, no gluten) soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy, derived from sugar beets), and naturally-extracted annatto for color], brown sugar, beet sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch flour, leavening [calcium lactate (not derived from dairy), calcium carbonate, citric acid], sodium carboxymethycellulose, methylcellulose, lecithin, orange oil, vanilla, aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An open letter to Burger King

Dear Burger King,

As a food allergy family, we appreciate your dairy-free chicken fries. While we don't eat fast food very often, when we do we are happy to have a dairy-free chicken option available for our dairy-allergic daughter.

Our daughter also enjoys your kids' meals. She likes the apple fries (minus the caramel sauce, of course) and the apple juice boxes. She likes getting a toy, just like her brother and sister do. However, chicken fries are not available as a kids' meal option. I have gotten into the habit of explaining her allergy and asking that chicken fries be substituted for chicken nuggets in her kids' meal. Sometimes your employees do this cheerfully and without question. Sometimes I have an experience like yesterday's. This occurred at our local Burger King, where we have made this substitution several times.

Me: "I'd like three chicken nugget kids' meals, but I need to substitute chicken fries for the nuggets in one of them because of my daughter's food allergy."
Worker: "We don't do that."
Me: "Yes, you do."
Worker: "No, we don't."
Me: "Yes, you DO."
Worker: "Let me talk to the manager."
Me: "Great."
Worker: "She says we can't do that."
Me: "Cancel my order. I'm coming in to talk to her."

Me: "This is my daughter, Katherine. She has a severe dairy allergy and can't eat your nuggets, but she can eat your chicken fries. We need you to put those in her meal."
Manager: "Yeah, it's a cost thing. The breading on the nuggets costs less to make, that's why there's milk in it."
Me: "Uh-huh. She can't eat it. We've had the chicken fries substituted in her meal before. You can even put in four chicken fries instead of six so that it's the same number of pieces as in a regular chicken nugget meal."
Manager: "We don't have a button for that."
Me [summoning all the patience I can muster]: "Other workers just push the chicken nugget meal button and then tell the cooks to make the substitution."
Manager: "You mean verbally?"
Me: "Yes."
Manager: "Oh, I guess we can do that. I just didn't know."
Me: "Thank you."

To keep your dairy-free customers happy, Burger King, I would like to offer a few suggestions.

1.) Offer a four-piece chicken fries kids' meal on the menu.
2.) Or, offer a four-piece chicken fries kids' meal for those with dairy allergies. Mention this meal prominently on your website and make all chains aware of it.
3.) Offer other kids' meal substitutions happily and willingly (ie., your veggie burger* for vegetarian children and your side salad as a healthy option for any child).
4.) Better yet, make them all standard options, regardless of cost.

These are foods you already supply to every Burger King. Your child customers have a right to "have it their way" just as much as your adult patrons do.



*The veggie burger does have dairy.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Death of a Dream

The candy by the checkout counter is a pain for all parents. I think I'm safe in making that blanket statement. That is one time when I find K's food allergy to be a blessing in disguise because I don't let her touch or buy any of it. Her siblings have learned that we just don't buy those foods and don't even question it.

But oh! How I long for Santa to put a Snickers in her stocking. How I wish her Easter basket could be filled with pastel-wrapped chocolates that look like everyone else's and her trick-or-treat bag could be weighed down with Milky Ways, Three Muskateers, and Almond Joys.

When I first heard of Go Max Go's vegan candy bars, I thought my wish had been granted. They make four varieties of candy bars:
Jokerz (Snickers)
Mahalo (Almond Joy)
Twilight (Milky Way)
Buccaneer (Three Muskateers)
They are delicious. Better than the originals in many ways.

I presented them to Katherine as you might present caviar and water crackers. She tried them. And said that her mouth felt itchy. Because she had eaten other foods first, we weren't sure if she was reacting to the candy or not. Awesome mom that I am, a few days later I asked her to try a bite of candy bar again. I so wanted her to be able to eat them. She took one bite, waited a couple of minutes, and asked for Benadryl.

So. Sadly, I cannot recommend these lovely candy bars because they are "manufactured in a facility that produces products containing dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and other tree nuts." Nine times out of ten, products with this warning are fine for Katherine. This just happens to be the tenth time. I hope that as Go Max Go grows, they are able to afford their own dairy-free facility. Until then, I am back to dreaming.

This review written for Go Dairy Free.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Five plus one

We're back from our travels, along with an addition to the family. No, I don't mean the Cuisinart I received as an anniversary present. (Thanks, Honey!)

Meet George, the guinea pig:

Please leave nice, supportive comments about how a pet will enrich my daughter's life, as I (unlike my husband) have never been a pet owner before. It's like a first pregnancy: I don't want to hear the bad stuff. Pet horror stories need not apply.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Long Weekend

I'm out of this space for a bit. Happy Fourth of July weekend to you, and Happy (eleventh) anniversary to my husband!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy Food Allergy Bullet Points

  • Sue found Smooze pops in her store: "I found Smooze at Whole Foods and the girls LOVE it. So does J. And at 10 for $5.39 as opposed to 3 ice cream bars for almost $5, it's a steal. I just hope they don't do what they did with coconut milk yogurt and jack up the price after you're hooked. :)" Thanks, Sue!
  • Someone sent me a request for reviewing glasses the other day. I refused, but we started chatting, and it turned out to be Hillary, sister of Bug and BooBoo's Mom of No Moo for You. I love how small the Internets can be. So say hi! You never know who you might be talking with.
  • A friend of mine from grad school, who we haven't seen since K. was about 18 months old, came for a visit last week. This would have been great enough, but she showed up on our doorstep with Divvies cookies and Dandies vegan marshmallows. How thoughtful is that? This was the first time we'd tried Divvies, and now I see what all the fuss is about. Mmm. Also, I am now one step closer to understanding why people rave about homemade marshmallows. The Dandies were SO good--such a wonderful soft consistency.
  • A local cooking show filmed at library storytime last week. While many of the foods had dairy, one of the cooks just happened to make a dairy-free slaw and dairy-free no-bake cookies with Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Katherine was over the moon that she could eat two of the five or so dishes. The slaw was vegan and gluten- and nut-free, and the cookies were dairy- and egg-free. Something for everyone doesn't have to be difficult--I promise.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Food Allergy Drawing Contest

Andrea Garza of, is hosting a drawing contest! She writes, "...I am an 18 year old allergic individual who created to help others find the answers to their FA questions, and find the support they need. I would like to inform you about the upcoming Food Allergy Drawing Contest.... This contest is a way for food allergic individuals to creatively express their lives with food allergies. The drawing contest begins July 1st and ends July 18th. The theme this year is is to 'draw a picture that captures either a past memory or a future instance where food allergies have had a positive impact on your life.' There will be four winners in age groups (5-8), (9-12), (13-15), and (16+). Contestants can find more information here:"

Sounds like a great summer project for allergic kids, doesn't it?