Saturday, December 31, 2011

Birthday cake

  I made a gluten/dairy/egg free birthday cake for Ben so that everyone could enjoy it together. It was a learning experience. I bought Bob's Red Mill chocolate cake mix, and Cherrybrook Kitchens ready made frosting in vanilla.
  Cherrybrook Kitchen makes some cool stuff, like gluten free chocolate chip pancake mix and brownie mix, etc. They also sell frosting mix in a box and then this ready made frosting. Well... let me just tell you that the frosting was awful. I don't like to complain about "free" foods because obviously they aren't going to compare to the real thing they are trying to replace, but this was just absolutely terrible. The flavor wasn't bad, though it didn't taste frosting-y. But it was like rubber cement, semi-translucent and runny and sticky and unspreadable. It would have made a great topping for cinnamon rolls, but on top of a cake was just sad. I ended up just pouring a heavy layer on top and letting it melt down the sides, otherwise I would have ripped up the cake. Serving it involved long sugary sticky strings of 'frosting' going from the platter to the plates.
  What really gets me is that I have found 'regular' frosting by Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines or whoever that doesn't have our allergens in it and is yummy and much cheaper, but I thought this would be better as the ingredients are more natural, and ended up totally wasting our money. *Sigh*, you live and learn I guess!

  The cake itself was yummy, and I spread raspberry puree in between the layers and it was really good and of course Ben and Jack both liked it despite the funky frosting.

Happy 1st birthday to Benny!!

  No hard feelings, Cherrybrook Kitchen, not everything you make can be a winner. :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Frozen Food isle never looked so good!

  Well now that the hectic-ness of Christmas is over, it's time to start posting again! I've found some really great products this last week and I'm excited about them.
  Also, IT'S BEN'S 1ST BIRTHDAY!! Happy Birthday, Sweet Ben!!

  So we shop at this great grocery store called Sprouts Farmers Market. They are in California, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. Ours is about 20 miles from us, but it's SO worth the drive. It's a smaller grocery store, but they sell an amazing number of specialty products. There is a HUGE store nearby called Central Market that carries all sorts of specialty and exotic products, but I've seen Sprouts have way more variety and better choices many times over, plus they are way cheaper and the store isn't a stupid maze. Sorry Central Market, but I can't stand ya.
  Anyway, one of the many excellent things about Sprouts is that they label gluten free products with a symbol right on the price tags on the shelf! So instead of standing in front of a whole cookie isle and trying to scan all the different box fronts for the words "Gluten Free!", I can just look at the tags for the symbol! Then if the product is also dairy free, that will be listed on the tags as well. And OMG, they have SO much stuff!

  I don't like to buy a lot of convinience foods, but lunch time is very uninspirational for me, and I never feel like cooking a whole meal just for the boys and myself, especially since 50-60% of the time, Jack will hardly eat any of it. So yesterday at Sprouts I found a product line in the freezer section called Ian's. They have kid friendly foods, the types of stuff 'regular' kids get to eat all the time, but allergy FREE! I am talking about fish sticks, chicken strips, chicken nuggets, mac and (no) cheese sauce, french toast sticks, pizzas, turkey corn dog bites, even a whole meal of chicken nuggets, alphatots (fries shaped like letters), corn, and a mini chocolate cake! All wheat/egg/milk/mammal meat free, all @*&%$*@& awesome. And not only all of that, but their healthier items have a "SuperFit Kid" point value, and kids can redeem the points for prizes! Great incentive to get kids to eat healthy!

Our haul of Ian's stuff to try out!

  Another thing is Potato Flyers. They are by the same people who make Pirate Booty, these are like potato chips, but it's puffed, baked chips rather than slices. So they are all a uniform size and light and fluffy, plus an entire family size bag only has 200 more calories than the lunch box size bags of regular potato chips. And the flavor of the original is deeeeelicious!!!
I'm drooling just looking at this bag now!!!

  Anyway, so all in all it's been a great last week, and we have a few yummy things to try to see if Jackie approves :)
  Tonight I am making an allergy friendly birthday cake for Benny! Yay!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gluten/Wheat, Dairy, and Egg Free Biscuits and gravy! (updated)

  So breakfast still remains the meal with the least amount of options, but we are working on it! So far we have:
  • GFDFEF Pancakes
  • Grits
  • Turkey bacon
  • Certified GF Oatmeal
  • GF toast
  • Turkey breakfast sausage
  • GFDF biscuits
And now...... GRAVY! I was really unsure of how dairy free, gluten free gravy would come out. But it was actually not so different from regular gravy.

*I updated this recipe to use chicken sausage rather than turkey because it has a little more grease, and because I discovered that using rice flour rather than all purpose flour gives it a much smoother texture and no bitter after taste that I have noticed with some GF flours. This recipe does require a good deal of salt as rice flour and almond milk both are ever so slightly sweet on their own, but the flavor is terrific when it's all done.*

GFDF Sausage Gravy (Updated)

1 lb sweet italian chicken sausage
6 Tbs dairy free buttery spread (Earth Balance or BetterLife are good)
1/3 cup white rice flour
about 1 cup plain almond milk (more or less as needed)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground back pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Add the sausage and brown. Turn heat down to low. Remove chicken to a plate while keeping as much grease as possible in the skillet. Add butter and allow to melt. Slowly stir in rice flour and until flour and butter mixture resembles crumbled bits of dough. Cook stirring contantly about 1-2 minutes. Start adding milk a tablespoon or two at a time and stir so that flour crumbles dissolve (this is necessary to avoid lumpy gravy). Add more milk until the gravy is slightly thinner than the desired consistency. Return sausage to skillet and heat, stirring or whisking constantly until gravy thickens. Add salt and pepper. Enjoy!

  Over Bob's Red Mill biscuits (following the recipe on the side of the Biscuit and Baking Flour package), this was very good! You should try it. Seriously.

  This morning we are going to try Chebe GF Cinnamon Bread Mix and I'm going ot make a simple powdered sugar, vanilla extract and almond milk icing. Hopefully it's good and we can add that to our breakfast options as well, I'll letcha know!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chicken, sweet potato and cauliflower vindaloo

  I was quickly leafing through the latest issue of Family Circle, because I feel obligated to at least look at it even though 9 times out of 10 I find absolutely nothing in it which interests me. Well I found a recipe for chicken sweet potato (Jack's listening...) and cauliflower vindaloo, and the recipe already was wheat, dairy, egg, and mammal meat free PLUS we already had everything to make it!
  We made it last night and it was good, but a bit too spicy for Chrissy's condition and Jack wasn't real excited about any parts other than the sweet potato chunks and quinoa, but that's ok. I think we will be making this, with a few tweaks, again.

Chicken, sweet potato and cauliflower vindaloo

2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch peices
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 can (14.5 oz) dairy free gluten free chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes (we omitted this)
1/2 cup mint, coarsley chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa
(I also used about 1/2 Tbs cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water to thicken up the sauce)

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with 1/4 tsp salt and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add remaining Tbs of oil, sweet potatoes and onion to skillet and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add caluiflower and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes, if using, and then stir in curry, cayenne, and remaining salt and cook 5-6 more minutes.
Add chicken and heat through. (This is where I added cornstarch as there was still alot of liquid) Stir in mint and serve over cooked quinoa.

I forgot to take a picture, but it actually was pretty looking.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An early Christmas present :)

  When my son was first diagnosed with a chromosome disorder, the geneticist told us that there were no other reported cases that were similar, and he had no idea what we could expect. We lived everyday not knowing if a heart condition, liver problem, or other medical land mine was waiting right under the surface. We had no idea if we could expect him to ever be able to live on his own, or even if he would have a normal life expectancy. There were no local support groups with parents who had been through it before, no books to check out from the library, no online forums, no fundraising walks or awareness ribbons. We were in the dark, left to figure it out as we went along.
  My son has 5q11.2-5q13.2 deletion, he is missing 37 genes from his 5th chromosome. He is amazing, with a great sense of humor and a beautiful smile, but he is also small for his age, has many feeding difficulties, estropia, nystagmus, epicanthal folds, brachydactyly, developmental and speech delay. There is no ‘name’ for his condition because in order for something to be described as a syndrome, there must be others with similar symptoms.  1 in 200 babies born have a rare chromosomal disorder, and because there are so many genes (approximately 20,000-25,000) that can be missing, duplicated, or moved around, many of them are completely unique and are in the same position we were in. Organizations such as Chromosome Disorder Outreach  and Unique, with slogans like “You’re not the only one out there” and “Unique but not alone”, seek to bring together the families of these affected individuals to give them a sense of belonging. Families can come together and at least share similar stories about having no one to share similar stories with. While these organizations do a tremendous amount of good, I think it’s high time to start rallying for a common database for all geneticists worldwide to report these rare disorders, a place where they can be cross referenced and syndromes can be recognized so that physicians, patients, and parents alike can learn what to expect and dramatically improve quality of life and even save lives with early intervention. But I digress.
  Today, I found an article published in the American Journal of Genetic Medicine detailing not one, but FOUR other children who have similar deletions and symptoms that my son has. All had eye abnormalities, developmental delay, and MR and each had other symptoms my son has. Three of these children reside in France and one in Brazil. Obviously these children had been seen by doctors before today, and yet when both of the geneticists my son has seen as well as the laboratory that did his initial testing researched his deletion, they came back with nothing. I’ve spent many hours researching on my own as well and have never found more than one reported case of a baby who died at birth and another 10 year old boy who had a similar deletion and shared a few symptoms with Jack but not many. If it were not for Chromosome Disorder Outreach’s Winter Newsletter I received this morning which gave a synopsis of the article (as well as others involving different chromosome disorders), I probably would not know that my son really isn’t THE ONLY ONE OUT THERE.
  I have contacted the lead author, a geneticist is Rennes, France, and hope to help further research into this possible syndrome by providing any information about my son that I can. Who knows, maybe even a trip to France is in our future? Either way, just knowing that there are others and that they are healthy gives me hope.
  Thank you, CDO, for giving us a sense of belonging.

Please support CDO and Unique and help raise awareness of rare chromosomal disorders!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Turkey Chili and Wheat/Gluten and Egg Free Cornbread

  We made turkey chili and cornbread tonight and it was delicious! The cornbread was Bob's Red Mill (of course), we substituted the eggs for Ener-G egg replacer and the milk for almond milk. The result was very dense, but it had a great cornbread-y taste. For the chili, I sorta shot from the hip, but thankfully it came out tasty. Of course, some people like chili without beans, and some like it spicier than others. It's all easily adjustable. I like to add beans to give it some extra nutritional punch and because it makes the chili seem to go farther, but if you want to remove them you could always add an extra 1/2-1 lb of ground turkey. You'll probably have to add a tad more salt/chili powder in that case, just taste and adjust!

Allergy free turkey and black bean chili

1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
3 Tbs olive oil (divided)
1 can (14oz) vegetable broth
1 small can tomato paste
1 can black beans, drained
1 can garbonzo beans, drained
1 1/2 Tbs Penzey's Chili 3000 chili seasoning (or 2 Tbs chili powder)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Cayenne pepper to taste

Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
dairy free sour cream substitute

In a large pot, heat 2 Tbs olive oil. Crumble turkey into the pot and break it up with a spoon, stir until browned. Add vegetable broth and beans, bring to a boil, simmer until liquid has reduced a little, about 5 mins. Then add spices and tomato paste, continue simmering. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbs oilive oil and saute onion, garlic and bell pepper until onion turns transparent and bell pepper has started to brown. Add the onion mixture to the chili and cook down until desired thickness. Serve over cornbread and topped with sour cream and cheese. Tada!

The boys enjoying leftover conrbread muffins for breakfast... yum!

Dairy Free Fajitas, aye yai yai!

  We had fajitas last night. Gluten free tortillas are not my favorite, they were pretty hard. They might make good quesadillas since you want those to be crispy, but they don't work well when you need a soft tortilla. No big deal, this would have been yummy as a bowl. We used Penzey's fajita mix and followed the recipe on the jar to make a marinade, the chicken was really tasty! I also sauteed some bell pepper and onion, we topped em off with some Daiya cheddar cheese and lettuce, but I think what really made it was the chipotle sauce I sort of threw together on a whim because we didn't have salsa. It really added that extra something.

Better Than Sour Cream Chipotle Sauce
2 Tbs "Better than Sour Cream" dairy free sour cream substitute
1 Tbs lime juice
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
pinch or two of sea salt

Mix all ingredients well and drizzle over chicken

I took this picture before I decided it was missing something and came up with the chipotle sauce... just imagine it on there!

Rough day...

  Jackie had an endoscopy today as well as a ph probe put in place for the next 24 hours. He doesn't seem to mind the probe, it's the 'no-nos' that keep his arms straight so he can't pull the probe out that piss him off.
  We had to get up at 5 to leave by 5:30... that was rough on this mommy because I couldn't sleep last night. Anyway, the results were not so great, but we are on the right track to find the fix, just a few days until we get all the results of the biopsies and ph probe study. I really like Cook Children's Hospital though, the nurses were all great, Jack enjoyed the toys they had to play with in pre-op, and he looked cute as a bug's ear in his little hospital johnny:

Privacy curtains? Who needs em.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf - Gluten/Wheat, Dairy, Egg, Soy Free

   Chris told me tonight that he thinks that since we've started cooking Jackie friendly, everything tastes so much better and that maybe god meant for us to have Jackie so that in the end I could discover my talent for allergy friendly cooking. Well, I dunno about all that, but I do know that the meatloaf tonight was yummy!

Allergy free southwest turkey meatloaf

1.25 lb lean ground turkey
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
S&P to taste (I used about a tablespoon of salt here)
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. In skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute bell pepper, onion, and garlic until onion begins to brown. In a medium mixing bowl, mix turkey, oatmeal, cheese, and onion/bell pepper mixture, then add all spices and mix well. Place into an 9x9 casserole dish and press flat with your hand. Bake for 30 mins (if you make this in a traditional loaf pan, you'll need to cook it longer since it will be thicker).

My darling husband told me this picture looked like something from a menu of a cheap Thai restaurant. I guess my new found god-given talents don't extend to food photography.

Bob is my hero!

  Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix is great!! We substituted Ener-G egg replacer and almond milk, and I had to add a decent amount more almond milk than the recipe called for, but the pancakes had a yummy flavor and were sufficiently fluffy. One strange thing is that, no matter how long you leave them on the griddle, they never really browned. But that's ok, they tasted great with Earth Balance butter melted all over them and a little bit of maple syrup. We prepared our turkey bacon in the oven this time, but I think I liked the way they came out on the skillet yesterday better.

  Best of all, Jack ate 2 whole pancakes!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dairy, Egg, and Wheat Free Pizza

  Tonight we had pizza.... again. Yeah, we already had pizza only two nights ago but we were out in Fort Worth just trying to browse Barnes & Noble, and the crowds and traffic were so bad that we got home with not much time to make anything elaborate. But this pizza is so omg good!
  We used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix plus, since we are not using eggs, we substituted 2 Tbl flaxmeal mixed with 6 Tbl water, then made the dough as directed on the package. It's so easy! Also, last time we used italian flavored ground chicken sausage, but this time we used Oscar Mayer turkey smoked sausage, cut into thin coins like tiny pepperoni. The sauce was Kirkland Signature Marinara Sauce and we used Daiya Mozzarella Cheese. The effect was nothing short of magical!

Is it just me or does rectangular pizza take you back to the glory days of junior high?

  As you can see, Chris was so excited he couldn't get away from the finished product while I was trying to take a picture! Lol, it was really good. Chris said he preferred the the chicken sausage last time, but I think the marinara sauce is what I liked most about this version. This is a really easy to make dinner on nights when time just gets away from you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gluten/Wheat, Dairy, Egg Free Honey Mustard Pretzel Coated Chicken

  After finding a recipe for honey mustard pretzel chicken online some time ago, it became the Friday Night meal in our house, mostly because my wonderful husband Chris loved it. The first night we had it I thought it was awesome. The second time, it was good. The third time I sort of didn't care for it. Last Friday I choked down half a piece and then just gave the rest to Chris. That stuff it's gross...

  Well since we decided yesterday to start eating everything Jackie friendly, I had to revamp the recipe as the frist contained regular pretzels and mayonnaise, and thank god I did! The new gluten/egg/dairy free version was SO much better!!

Honey Mustard Pretzel Coated Chicken (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 cups Glutino pretzels
1 Tbl red wine vinegar
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl honey
3 Tbl mustard

glaze: 3 Tbl honey
2 Tbl mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400. Foil line a cookie sheet and spray the foil with Pam or other cooking spray. Place pretzels in a large ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until there are no large pieces. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, olive oil, honey, and mustard. Dip a thigh in the vinegar/mustard mixture, then drop it in the ziploc and shake until the thigh is well coated with pretzel crumbs and place it on the cookie sheet. Repeat with all the chicken. Bake for 25 mins.
While chicken is baking, mix the glaze. Drizzle over chicken and serve!

Jack ate almost a whole piece himself, and that really means something! Ben enjoyed the mashed potatoes ;)

Vegan Chocolate Pudding or The Way Into Jack's Heart

 Jack loves anything chocolate... chocolate soy milk, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate ice cream. We usually buy this pre packaged chocolate soy pudding called ZenSoy. Jack likes it, but I think the soy taste is a little overwhelming and frankly, it's pricey for what it is.
 Anyway, since we struggle to get enough calories into Jack everyday, something with a little more substance is always appreciated. Enter avocado pudding! *Puke* it sounds super gross, right?? Well it isn't! I stumbled on a recipe for chocolate pudding made with avocados and after a little trial and error, I have made my own recipe that seems to really delight the wee ones and tastes pretty good.

1 very ripe avocado
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbs cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (or water, milk/substitute of choice)
Powdered sugar to taste

Place peeled and pitted avocado, peeled bananas, vanilla, and cocoa in either your blender, food processor, or like me, a big bowl (I used a hand mixer for this, less cleanup.) While mixing on low speed, slowly add soy milk until it is the desired pudding-y consistency. Taste test! If it needs sweetening, add powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time.

This is also yummy frozen and served like chocolate ice cream!

I have yet to try this, but in the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated, they had a recipe for coconut-milk whipped cream that might be good on top:
10 oz can of coconut milk (you'll only use the 'cream')
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Chill mixing bowl and beaters in freezer for at least 20 mins. Using a spoon, skim the top layer of cream from the can of coconut milk (about 3/4 cup) and place in chilled bowl with other ingredients. Beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Then increase speed and beat until cream thickens and light peaks form, about 2 mins. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.


  I never imagined while I was pregnant with my first son that life would be anything like it has turned out to be. In so many ways it is better than I ever pictured it could be, but of course it's also quite challenging.

  My son Jack was born with a unique chromosomal disorder, 5q11.2-q13.2 deletion, or Winnlemans Syndrome as we call it. Winnlemans Syndrome (a made up name... because he's our "Winnle Man") results in severe cognitive impairment, small stature, slightly wide set eyes and a flattened nasal bridge, and a super adorable personality. *(UPDATE: We've found out about 4 other children world wide with similar deletions, similar facial features, developmental and motor delay, and ocular anomalies and it has been suggested by the reporting geneticist that it be called 5q12.1 Deletion Syndrome or Jaillard Syndrome, but that is so far unofficial, so Winnlemans it is!). But seperate from the issues his disorder has caused him, he also suffers from a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE), an allergic reaction that occurs in the esophagus and makes eating very painful unless all of the allergic foods are removed from the diet. The trouble with EoE is that the suffer can literally be allergic to anything, and since the reaction occurs only in the esophagus, skin testing and blood testing are not always accurate. The only real way to know for sure is to remove all food from the diet except an elemental formula (which tastes terrible) for 6 weeks, then to introduce foods one at a time, with endoscopies and biopsies in between new foods to test for the presence of eosinophils. Sounds tiring, doesn't it?
  But before going to that drastic of a route, Jack's GI suggested we remove all of the foods he has tested positive to, and so that's what we've done. Those foods are:
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Mammal meats
*(UPDATE: After more testing we are now avoiding these products plus soy, rice, oats, and chicken)
  For a long while we made our regular foods and then made Jack's foods seperately. I think that was more because we just really couldn't think of anything he could eat except baby food at first, but now that he is older, we hate when he does his wiggle-wiggle (a gesture he uses to ask for something) while we are eating something tasty and we have to say no, and hand him a 'cookie' that looks like wet sand and tastes like broken glass. We have recently chosen to transition our whole family to this dairy, egg, wheat, and mammal meat free diet.

  This blog is where I intend to document our progress and some hopefully useful recipes along the way :)