Starting Solids!

Originally, I set a goal for myself that I would only feed our baby breastmilk and nothing else for his entire first year. I had read a number of studies that said that delaying introducing solids and doing breastmilk only for an entire year can help prevent/eliminate food allergies. Since we had such a battle from the start with him reacting to things in my diet, and the fact that food allergies seem to run rampant in my family, this was an idea I was strongly committed to (despite our pediatrician’s opinion that it was not a good idea). My best friend (who is quite an experienced mom now) told me that I would have to be mindful of that one day I may just notice that E is READY for supplemental foods. Unfortunately, that day came way sooner than I was hoping it would.

A little over a week ago, E started getting insanely hungry. Usually nursing on just one side is enough to fill him up, but for a couple of days he still seemed hungry after draining both sides. I knew that it was not a supply issue on my part since he was going through his diapers about twice as fast as normal. At the end of two very grueling days of pretty much non-stop nursing, I gave in and decided he could try some infant rice cereal. I had no idea it would be so hard to find a good one though! As I stood in the baby aisle at Target browsing through all of the different options, I got a little overwhelmed. Most of the rice cereals had either wheat, soy or dairy ingredients, so they were not an option for E. I was already sad about giving up on my goal in the first place, and this was even more frustrating. I finally found one that is organic and had no allergen ingredients. It also has the added benefit of pre and probiotics. I have read that probiotics can help with food allergies, so I am hoping introducing these into his diet may help him outgrow these allergies. The cereal that we have been using is Happy Bellies organic brown rice cereal.

Right away, he was beyond excited about finally getting to have some food of his own. He has been trying to sneak and grab our food for a while now, so he was quite proud of himself. After about a week of him doing okay with the rice cereal (minus a scary rash initially that turned out to be heat rash), I decided to make a bit of homemade spinach puree for him. He had been trying to grab my vegetable juice every morning, so he was quite excited to get his own bit of green fun. He absolutely loves spinach, and likes it even more than the rice cereal! Like mother, like son. 🙂
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Better-Than-Street-Vendor Hot Dogs Recipe

Better-Than-Street-Vendor Hot Dogs

In most parts of Los Angeles, you can often find street vendors selling some amazing bacon wrapped hot dogs. We never see any in the part of the city where we live, so I decided to make my own version of this greasy yummy mess. Plus, by making it myself, I can make sure it is actually free of my long list of food allergens. I was even able to find some hot dog buns from Ener-G that have no wheat gluten, dairy, soy, or egg! They were surprisingly tasty!

Ingredients:
1 diced green bell pepper
1/2 diced red onion
1 diced tomato
2 very finely chopped cloves of garlic
butter or margarine (I used the dairy-free, soy-free Earth Balance margarine)
juice of two limes
dash each of salt & pepper
bacon
hot dog
hot dog bun

I started by adding some margarine to a pan and cooking the bell pepper, onion, tomato & garlic over medium heat. After a couple of minutes cooking, I added in the juice from two limes, and the salt & pepper. I continued cooking until the onions were cooked through.

Next, I removed the vegetable mixture from the pan and set it aside in a dish. Then I wrapped the hot dogs with the bacon, and cooked them in the pan until the bacon was cooked to my liking.

I heated up the Ener-G buns in the microwave, which helps soften them up a little, then assembled everything together. They tasted even better than how I remember the street dog versions! The recipe above made enough topping for 6 hot dogs. Perfect for summer entertaining!

Shepherd’s Pie: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, & Egg-free

shephard's pie - gluten, dairy, soy & egg-free

One of our favorite frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s has been their pre-made shepherd’s pie. Unfortunately, now that I have cut wheat gluten, soy & dairy out of my diet for the baby, those frozen dinners are no longer an option for me. I decided to try making my own version, with none of the offending allergens, and we loved the end result! The best part…it made enough for dinner that night, and the other half frozen for another night. It was a little more time consuming than most of the dinners I usually make, but since we love it so much, it was definitely worth the effort.

I started with making this soy sauce alternative, recipe found here. I modified the ingredients a little and used 1 1/2 cups of organic beef broth instead of the boullion cubes and water.

For the shepherd’s pie, I started with the recipe from Alton Brown, found here. However, many of those ingredients listed are on my avoid list. Below is my list of modified ingredients. I used ground turkey instead of ground lamb since that was what I had on hand. I also made a couple of other changes, to add even more veggies into the recipe. 🙂

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup almond milk
2 ounces Earth Balance soy-free margarine
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Ener-G Egg replacerFor the meat filling:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 carrots, peeled and diced small
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 container ground turkey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All Purpose Flour
1 can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon soy-alternative sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen English peas

I didn’t have to make many changes to the process Alton listed. The only notable change was with the potatoes. Since I added almond milk instead of half and half, they were a little runny. After combining the potatoes, almond milk and margarine, I brought it all to a low boil and cooked for a few minutes until thickened.Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2/index.html?oc=linkback

Turkey, Quinoa & Mixed Veggies Casserole

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One thing that I used to make fairly regularly for dinner before our son was born was a turkey and couscous casserole. Since there are quite a few things that I am now avoiding eating after noticing reactions from the baby via my breastmilk, I am trying to modify some of my old standbys so they are now free of wheat gluten, dairy & soy (as well as no egg or chicken for my own allergies). Since couscous is made from wheat, I decided to try using quinoa instead. Very similar to the couscous I am used to using, but it has the added benefits of being higher in protein and gluten-free!

I started by cooking four servings of quinoa in water in a medium saucepan. In a separate pan, I added some olive oil, two cloves minced garlic and half a package of ground turkey. I cooked the turkey until opaque, then added in about a cup and a half of beef broth. After that, I added in a variety of veggies: red and yellow baby tomatoes, chopped yellow squash (blanched and frozen from the garden), peeled and chopped sweet potatoes, and baby spinach. Once the quinoa was finished cooking, I added that into the mix as well, added salt & pepper to taste, and cooked for a few more minutes. Super easy, and I had extras to save for later!

Tomato/Prosciutto Pizza Recipe: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free

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For the most part, our baby boy has been feeling better now that the dairy and soy seemed to have worked their way out of my system and his. However, after snacking on a bunch of tortillas one evening, I noticed that his stomach started getting really upset again. He didn’t have all of the extreme symptoms he was getting from the dairy & soy, but it was still enough to raise a few red flags for me. I decided to try to add wheat gluten to my list of potential allergens to avoid while breastfeeding. I was really craving some pizza, so I decided to try making one from scratch that would not have any gluten, dairy, soy, or egg in it. Seems like a tall order and that the result would not be worthwhile, right? It came out amazing! I cannot wait to make this again. Just as good, if not better than any “regular” pizza that I have had in a while!

Ingredients:
3 fresh artichokes
1 package Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Dough Flour
1/2 large tomato
handful of basil leaves
Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine
Daiya dairy-free soy-free cheese
Two slices of prosciutto

I started by steaming a few artichokes from our garden. Next I started preparing Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Dough Mix, and made the dough according to the instructions. Since I have an egg allergy, I used Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of real eggs.

After the initial short baking of the crust, I brushed on some melted Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine with a pastry brush, all over the crust. Then I sprinkled on some Daiya dairy-free and soy-free mozzarella cheese. I added some thinly sliced tomato and julienned basil. I removed the leaves from the artichoke hearts (and saved the leaves to eat while the pizza finished cooking), and broke up the artichoke hearts into chunks and added on top of the pizza. I cooked for the remainder of the time recommended on the dough flour package.

Once I removed the pizza from the oven, I finished by adding the julienned prosciutto slices. I added the prosciutto at the end so it didn’t end up overcooked. The end result was amazing…I can’t wait to make it again! On a side note, you could always leave the prosciutto off for a great vegan option. 🙂

Snickerdoodle Recipe: Dairy-free, Egg-free, Soy-free

Dairy-free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free Snickerdoodles Recipe

I had never made snickerdoodles until I found a Martha Stewart recipe for them on the packaging for my Martha Stewart Silpats. I modified the recipe to accommodate my egg allergy, and it quickly became a regular favorite in our house. Now I have modified the recipe again to cut out dairy and soy as well (since our baby has been reacting to those ingredients via breastmilk).

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup Soy-Free Earth Balance Margarine, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Ener-G egg replacers (3 tsp powder plus 4 tbsp warm water)
For topping:
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar

1. Put margarine and sugar in mixer bowl (use paddle attachment if you have a stand mixer). Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.
2. Mix in Ener-G egg replacers.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt in separate bowl.
4. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in flour mixture.
5. Mix topping sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
6. Scoop dough with cookie dough scoop and roll in cinnamon/sugar mix. Roll into round balls and place onto cookie sheet with Silpat (or lightly greased cookie sheet).7. Bake cookies for approximately 12 minutes and cool on wire racks.

Orange/Cranberry/Almond Biscotti Recipe: Dairy-free, Egg-free, Soy-free

Dairy-free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free Biscotti Recipe

When I was in college, my Italian grandma taught me the basics of making biscotti. This recipe is a new variation of my own original recipe for orange/cranberry/almond biscotti. This new version of the recipe is now allergen friendly, and is free of any dairy, egg or soy. It has been a while, but I like this new version just as much as I liked the original recipe.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 oz applesauce (I use two snack sized applesauce containers)
1 Ener-G egg replacer (1 1/2 tsp power plus 2 tbsp warm water)
6 tbsp melted Soy-Free Earth Balance Margarine
2 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Lightly grease 2-3 cookie sheets (or use SilPats, which is what I use) and set aside.
3. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
4. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add in the applesauce & Ener-G egg replacer. Mix together.
5. Add in margarine, orange zest, orange juice an almond extract. Mix together.
6. Put cashews and almonds in food processor and pulse lightly 2-3 times. Add nuts into dough and mix together.
7. Knead together dough until it is less crumbly.
8. Put dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a log. Separate dough into three equally sized pieces.
9. Roll each piece into a log approximately 14 inches long.
10. Place dough logs on cookie sheets and bake for 25 minutes (until light golden brown).
11. Remove logs and cool on wire racks.
12. Once cool, use a serrated knife to cut each log into slices, cutting at a diagonal.
13. Place cut cookies onto cookie sheets, cut side down.
14. Bake for 10 minutes.
15. Remove cookie sheet from oven and flip cookies over and bake for another 10 minutes.
16. Remove and let cookies cool on wire racks.