Giving Up Dairy, Soy & Wheat for my Babies

Both of my boys have been super colicky babies. My older son E had such severe food sensitivities that he broke out in a horrible rash and diarrhea from allergens just passing through the breastmilk from my diet, before he was eating any food of his own. My younger son F had such severe reflux that I spent pretty much his entire first six months just doing laundry because of all of the vomiting. Prescription medication helped, and so did cutting out dairy/wheat/soy from my diet again. Thankfully, I am able to reintroduce wheat into my diet again but I am still limiting dairy until he has completely outgrown his reflux.

It was really depressing the first time when I realized I needed to eliminate those foods from my diet, but it seemed easier this time around. I realized from chatting with other moms in Facebook groups about breastfeeding that this is a surprisingly common issue that lots of new moms face. My grandpa even told me recently about how my dad and my uncle were both initially allergic to dairy and soy, so my grandmother had to feed them a 1950’s formula based on dehydrated, powdered meat, which he called “meat milk”. I didn’t believe it at first until I actually found an old advertisement online! Apparently “meat milk” was a real thing as awful as that sounds!

Here are some of my favorite tips for breastfeeding moms who want to try eliminating dairy/soy from their diets!

1. Embrace coconut/almond milks. They are have so many different varieties now, it’s great! There are even almond milk coffee creamers, pumpkin spice almond milk creamer (thanks Trader Joe’s!!), and more! My particular favorite is a coconut milk ice cream sandwich from So Delicious.
2. Make sure that you eat lots of leafy greens to get enough calcium/magnesium. Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if you feel like you may not be getting enough from your diet once you cut out dairy. I used to eat a ton of dairy and I know my calcium/magnesium intakes were initially way too low when first cutting out dairy.

3. Embrace the art of making nut cheeses! I have learned that it is a lot of fun to make nut cheese! It comes out similar to goat cheese in texture and there are so many ways you can alter it! The key is pre-soaking the nuts for a few hours (I like cashews or macadamia nuts), then mixing in a food processor with a bit of water, lemon juice, and any herbs/seasoning you would like to mix in.

4. Skip the fake cheese/fake pizza substitutes. They are never satisfying in the same way, and you end up feeling cheated. Learn to appreciate fresh ingredients, and your cravings will adjust accordingly with time. 🙂

5. Try coconut aminos instead of using soy sauce! Initially, I was making a homemade soy sauce substitute that I found via Pinterest every time we went out for sushi, but that got really tedious very quickly. I recently discovered using coconut aminos instead and it has been great! I actually prefer the taste to regular soy sauce now. 🙂

6. Get comfortable reading ingredient labels. Scan to the end of the list first, where they list the common allergens in bold or caps lock. Soy is in so many foods that you wouldn’t expect! I’ve had to learn this the hard way with my 3 year old son who is still unfortunately allergic to soy but thankfully outgrew his dairy sensitivity.

7. Try out some paleo cookbooks for creative inspiration! I wish I had discovered those the first time around. I recently even found some great paleo slow cooker cookbooks that have been great!

8. Most important tip…if you look at it with a different mindset of that this is a fun creative challenge, instead of viewing it as a drag and a restriction, it will make it a lot more enjoyable!

Check out some of the tasty nuts cheese crostadas that I made recently for an event I hosted for my photography business! 🙂

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Wellness Wednesday: Vegan Cold & Flu Blast Soup Recipe

Vegan Cold & Flu Blast Soup - aliciainwonderlandblog

I have been making this soup for years and it has always helped me recover from a cold or flu in a hurry. It was inspired by some of the advice my grandpa used to give when we were sick as kids (my grandpa was a D.O. and an M.D. and preferred to find more natural solutions for illness when possible, instead of taking things like cold medicine). Every time I have gotten sick in the past few years, I have asked my husband to go on my blog, find the recipe and make me some soup. I realized that I have never properly blogged the recipe, and the last thing I ever want to do when I am sick is stand in the kitchen and cook. When I got a particularly nasty cough/cold last week, I made a huge batch of this soup again. This time, I saved some in the freezer and made sure to get a picture so I can finally blog the recipe. 🙂

Ingredients (preferably all organic):
1 head of garlic cloves
2 yellow onions
3 lemons
approximate 3 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
4 carrots
2 bell peppers, varying colors
3 long pieces of celery
2 cans of cooked chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
1 package of mushrooms
4 tomatoes
leeks (optional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
water

1. Peel and finely dice all of the cloves of garlic on a head of garlic. I know it sounds like a lot of garlic, but this makes a lot of soup and garlic is great for beating viruses.
2. Peel and chop onions.
3. Place onions and garlic in bottom of large stock pot. Add olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until lightly caramelized.
4. Juice the lemons, and put lemon juice in pot, along with lemon rinds.
5. Drain cans of beans and add to pot.
6. Add whole piece of peeled ginger to pot.
7. Chop all remaining vegetables and add to pot. Fill up remainder of stock pot with water, and cook on medium heat until vegetables are cooked through (check carrots for softness).
8. Once vegetables are all cooked, remove lemon rinds and ginger from soup. Add additional salt & pepper to taste, and serve.

This recipe will make quite a few servings, probably at least 8-10 servings, which is great for a few days of servings, and freezing some for another time. I like to make sure all of the ingredients are organic so there aren’t any extra toxins for your body to cleanse out while getting rid of the virus in your system. This is a great vegan, gluten-free alternative to homemade chicken noodle soup! It should have you feeling better in no time and it tastes great. If you want to be super organized this fall and winter, why not make a batch now, put it in servings in the freezer, and that way you are already prepared for cold & flu season!

Resuming My Cook-Once-A-Week Routine!

Back when we used to shoot a lot of weddings, I got in the habit of cooking lots of meals for dinner in batches on one evening, and freezing the individual dinners. It was great on the nights when I was up for all hours, working on wedding photos. We would just pull something out of the freezer, throw it in the oven, and have a healthy, homemade meal in about half an hour. Since our son was born, I somehow got out of the habit of doing that. I decided that it was time to start again! We have gotten in the habit of having too much takeout food when things get busy and I knew that this is exactly what we need.

I started by asking my husband to keep an eye on E for an hour or two so I could cook. Then I started making a huge batch of sauteed chopped veggies in my wok (4-5 bell peppers, various colors, one whole chopped onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, tomato, and a bit of coconut oil, and a tiny bit of salt & pepper). I also started cooking a bunch of rice on another burner. On a third burner, I started cooking up a bunch of lean ground beef with a bit of salt, pepper, and dried oregano. On the fourth burner, I started boiling water for pasta. I grabbed a couple of boxes of Indian food mixes that I found in the non-perishable section at Trader Joe’s, two cans of organic garbanzo beans, a jar of pasta sauce, and a can of diced tomatoes. I also had a package of marinated carne asada my husband found at Target that was set aside in the fridge, ready to barbecue. Here is what I made with the above ingredients! I made multiple batches of most of the meals, so it actually ended up being enough for almost two weeks!

Meal #1: Trader Joe’s Punjab Eggplant. Added garbanzo beans and veggie mix, served over plain jasmine rice.

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Meal #2: Gluten free rice pasta with lean ground beef meat sauce and veggie mixture. aliciainwonderlandblog.com

Meal #3: Barbequed carne asada with rice mixture. I added the can of diced tomatoes, some salt and pepper to some plain rice, and added in a bit of the veggie mix and some garbanzo beans. This marinade on the meat was amazing, and I was really excited that we found one that did not have soy in it!
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Meal #4: Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley with extra can of added garbanzo beans and plain jasmine rice.aliciainwonderlandblog.com

It was so easy, and really didn’t take that long! For each meal, I took the frozen portions out, put them in an oven safe dish and baked for about half an hour at 375 degrees F. It is such a relief not having to worry about what I am going to come up with each night for dinner. 🙂 Also, I am quite proud to say that even my meat-loving Texan husband was a big fan of the two vegan meals we had last week. Definitely a major win for me!

Homemade Protein & Fiber Snack Bars Recipe with Juicing Leftovers

Homemade Protein & Fiber Snack Bars with Juicing Leftovers - Alicia in Wonderland Blog

Like yesterday’s post (seen here), I wanted to find some uses for the leftover vegetable and fruit pulp when I use my juicer. This is the second recipe that I created to put that fiber goodness to use! They taste about 1000 times better than they sound and look, I promise! Even my mom who hates vegetables loves these bars. 🙂 They have a slightly sweet (but not too sweet), nutty taste. You would never even realize that they are full of fiber!

Ingredients:
3 cups of vegetable/fruit fiber pulp leftover from juicing (I use a mix of carrot, beet, apple, and ginger)
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup unsalted almonds
1/2 cup honey
1/4 unsalted, unsweetened almond butter
1 tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pulse oats lightly in food processor 6 times. Add oats in with juicing leftovers in large mixing bowl.
3. Pulse almonds lightly in food processor, about 5 times, and add to mixing bowl.
4. Add honey, almond butter and sesame seeds to mixing bowl, and mix everything together with stand or hand mixer.
5. Once well combined, take dough out of mixing bowl and spread out on cookie sheet. I line my cookie sheet with a Silpat to prevent sticking and burning.
6. Once evenly spread across a half sheet size cookie sheet, I cut the dough into 12 bars and spread them apart slightly.
7. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.
8. Cool on wire rack, and store in airtight container.

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!

Balsamic Scallops & Gnocchi

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I absolutely love gnocchi, and was so excited to find some frozen gnocchi recently that are both egg-free and gluten-free. I decided to do something a little different with the gnocchi than what I usually do and paired them with scallops. If you have never had gnocchi before, they are delicious little Italian potato dumplings, and a great substitute for pasta. They are very filling so you don’t need as much as you would with pasta.

Ingredients:

frozen scallops (I used 6 scallops per person)
frozen gnocchi
cherry tomatoes
fresh basil
balsamic vinegar
lemon
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper

I started by lightly browning the garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil. While that heated up, I started boiling the water for the gnocchi. Once the garlic is lightly golden, I crushed the garlic and reduced the heat to low. Then I added about 5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, the juice from one lemon, salt & pepper. I put in the scallops, and covered while they cooked. Once the scallops were about halfway cooked, I turned them over in the pan. When the scallops were closed to being finished cooking, I added in a bunch of cherry tomatoes with the scallops to lightly cook. I also added the gnocchi into the boiling water.

Gnocchi cooks very quickly, so once they were all floating at the top, I strained out the water and rinsed the gnocchi. I combined the gnocchi, scallops and tomatoes and topped with the balsamic mixture left in the pan. To finish the dish, I topped it with a few leaves of julienned fresh basil. So easy and so delicious!

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