Friday, November 30, 2012

Meatloaf Muffins

Not only have I been blessed with two girls with allergies, one of them is as picky of an eater as they come.  She enjoys "chicken on the bone" (aka drumsticks), salmon with rice and broccoli drenched in balsamic vinegar, and pasta with spaghetti sauce.  And that's about it.  I get stuck in a rut of making dinner for three, then throwing a pot of pasta on, or grabbing a rotisserie chicken on the way home from preschool.  Every now and then she surprises me by eating a helping of carrots or chicken breast.  But usually not.  I have had to get tricky about serving vegetables, and have learned a lot from Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious.  I have a shelf in my freezer devoted entirely to pureed vegetables that find their way into pastas, onto sandwiches, and mixed into rice.

Last week I decided to mix up my turkey meatloaf recipe a bit.  After adding a few key ingredients that I thought Grace would find appetizing, I took it a step further and made it into muffins rather than a loaf.  Wouldn't you know it, she was impressed.  She even ate two!

Here is my recipe for a gluten, dairy, egg-free meatloaf:

1 1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs (or gluten free oats, or do 50/50 for fun!)
1 1/2 tsp Egg Replacer mixed with 2 T warm water
1 T brown sugar or maple syrup
3 T ketchup
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of salt and pepper
I also threw in 2 tablespoons of pureed spinach and called it parsley :)

Combine all ingredients and mash together.  This is easiest done with your hands.

Scoop into greased muffin tin, I used my cupcake scoop x2 for each muffin.  I also use grapeseed oil for greasing.  I use this fancy gadget.

Top with a dollop of ketchup and a sprinkle of brown sugar

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes

These were great paired with rice fusili pasta and sauce (which consisted of Prego spaghetti sauce mixed with pureed sweet potatoes). 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baking for Disneyland

In preparation for our upcoming trip to Disneyland, I have been in a baking craze.  I have found that it is much easier and less stressful if we pack some of our favorite foods with us, rather than relying on restaurants to get us through the week.  We will definitely eat out, but in that "I'm starving and about to melt down and embarrass the heck out of you if you don't give me something to eat 5 seconds ago!" moment, searching for an allergy-free meal may not be all that practical.  A few weeks ago we were traveling and ate some delicious food that had been cooked in butter.  While it was a tasty treat, by the time we got home, my tummy was a complete rumbly tumbly mess and Emma's tummy and back were covered in eczema.  

Today, I made a couple batches of bagels and some of our favorite cookies.  I have found these bagels to be our go-to breakfast, lunch, or dinner bread.  These are great by themselves, with goat cream cheese, jelly, "butter spread" or almond butter.  In my experience, using coconut oil is a fabulous substitute for butter.  Sometimes I get hung up on the term "oil" because at room temperature, coconut oil is solid.  For some reason, today I melted my coconut oil rather than using it as a solid.  This did a couple of frustrating things.  1) My dough was much moister and a little more difficult to shape.  2) Made my bagels cook faster and hotter, causing the smoke alarm to go off in the middle of nap time.  

I was able to get to them before they were a complete loss.  I flipped the bagels over and finished baking them at a lower temp for just a few minutes longer.  Lesson learned - just because it calls for oil doesn't mean it calls for liquid oil.  Not sure what I was thinking! 

Miraculously, Emma went right back to sleep and these made for a terrific post-nap snack. 

Cinnamon Raisin or Onion Poppy Seed Bagels:

Add to mixing bowl:
3 tbsp golden flaxmeal 
3 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum
1/4 rice milk or coconut milk
Beat with electric mixer.

Add, preferably in this order:
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup ghee (which is casein-free) or coconut oil, soft or liquified
2 tsp cinnamon & 1/4 cup raisins for Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
OR 1 tsp onion powder for Onion Poppy Seed Bagels
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder 

Beat again until a mass begins to form.

Form the dough into a ball with your hands. (I put some oil on my hands so the dough doesn't stick to them.) Divide the ball in half. Break each half in two, so that there are four balls.

Roll each ball in your hands, then push one finger through the middle and shape the dough into a ring. Note: They do rise a little in the oven, so the size of the hole will shrink slightly during baking. Tip: Use dry or slightly oiled hands to shape the dough, not wet hands. When my hands are wet the dough tends to break.

If making Onion Poppy Seed, wet the bagel a tiny bit (after shaping) and roll it in poppy seeds. Bake on a slightly greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 24 minutes.

Makes 4. (Yes, only 4! When I make this recipe I double or triple it to make it worth my while)

While I had several of my ingredients out, I decided to whip up our favorite cookies.  Are you as addicted to pumpkin as I am?  I could eat it every day, and actually I probably do.  I bake it into cookies, breads, cookies, oatmeal, soup, cookies, and cookies.  

I love that this recipe calls for oat flour.  When I first started cooking without wheat flour, I spent a lot of money on alternate flours, and occasionally still do.  One trick I have learned, however, is that ground up oats make a nice flour, and I buy them in bulk at Costco already!  We add chocolate chips to ours (I buy Enjoy Life)

Santa is very interested

I love my KitchenAid Mixer, but this is one of those times I really wish I had the bigger one (and and orange one, I really wish I had gone with orange!)!

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1 cup softened virgin coconut oil (or unsalted butter)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar, maple sugar, or brown sugar
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups oat flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 to 4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl beat together, using an electric mixer, the coconut oil, pumpkin, sugar, flax seeds, and vanilla extract. Add the remaining ingredients and beat together again. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your oven is preheating let your cookie dough rest on the counter for 20 minutes. The oat flour will absorb some of the liquid during this time which helps the cookies hold their shape. 

Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges Cool on a wire rack.  


Welcome to the Joy of Allergies!  You may think I’m off my rocker with a name like that.  But, I’m here to tell you, living with allergies doesn’t have to be an unhappy battle with illness.  In fact, discovering allergies, specifically food allergies in my case, has been a blessing in disguise in our family. 

As a kid, I don’t remember hearing too much about allergies.  I am pretty sure I was affected by the typical seasonal crud, but nothing food-wise really bothered me.  Or did it?  When most people think of allergies, they think of hives, feeling itchy, congestion and nasal symptoms, and in extreme cases anaphylaxis.  Well, food never caused any of those for me.  However, I did have headaches a lot as a kid, and constant tummy troubles, as well as patches of itchy skin.  As an adult I have discovered I am allergic to wheat and dairy.  Since removing those from my diet, I am symptom-free!  Every now and then, often by mistake, I consume one or both of these and can immediately feel the effects.

When my oldest daughter, Grace, was one, I fed her peanut butter in an attempt to get some much-needed protein in her diet.  Instantly she broke out in welts, was itching like crazy, and was swelling up every place the peanut butter had touched.  She even rubbed her eyes, which caused her eyeballs to swell.  I did not know this was possible, but my poor girl’s eyes were literally bulging out of her head.  It was crazy!  She has since had some reactions when she has been in the same room as peanuts, or even if someone has just had it on their breath.  We carry an epipen and avoid peanuts like the plague.  In the past year I suspected there must be something else in her diet that was causing her trouble.  She complained of tummy aches, frequently got bumps on her shoulders, was often itchy, and had some strange behavioral issues.  We had some further testing done and discovered in addition to the peanuts, she is also allergic to wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs.  Upon removing them from her diet we have seen a dramatic difference.

On to my youngest, who was the driving force to getting us all tested in the first place (and I should mention, whose middle name is Joy).  Emma was six months old (and within a week or so of starting solid foods) when she developed a persistent dry cough that wouldn't go away.  She was eventually diagnosed with asthma, and when put on a couple of steroid inhalers, finally stopped coughing.  Then she started getting ear infections….one after the other.  She eventually had tubes put in, and we were hopeful that would be the end of the misery.  Only it wasn’t.  Much to our surprise, Emma continued to wake up all night pulling at her ears, itching at her hands (which along with her cheeks and legs were covered in eczema), and grabbing at her nose.  I took her in for an allergy test, which confirmed she too was allergic to many things including wheat, dairy, eggs, and banana (of all things!).  The very day we eliminated these foods from her diet, her personality seemed to shift from a grumpy, tired baby to one that had a little more life and great big smile.  But the biggest blessing (at least to Mommy and Daddy) was that she slept through the night, and even woke up singing the next morning.  Now that she has been on an allergy-free diet for almost six months, Emma no longer uses an inhaler on a daily basis, has not needed antibiotics, does not use any sort of cream nor does she have any sign of eczema, and doesn’t require the use of antihistamines.  She is also a great sleeper so long as she doesn’t have any teeth cutting through!

Yes, I would say that discovering allergies in our family has been a huge blessing.  I was overwhelmed at first, I’ll be honest!  One of my favorite hobbies is baking.  How on earth does a person bake without wheat, dairy, and eggs?  Well, it is possible, and can actually be quite tasty.  And I’m here to say that baking is still one of my favorite hobbies, so it is true that it can still be fun!  My hope is that this blog will help others discover some yummy allergy-friendly recipes, get some guidance on allergy topics, and also help me keep myself organized and log my own experience as I walk this journey with my family.