Saturday, October 31, 2009

Individual Scalloped Potatoes

This dish easy and fast to make, and I can't even begin to tell you how delicious it is. You can make it in muffin tins, or even better, in individual ramekins (there is no dairy or cheese to bind the potatoes together, so keeping the potatoes in the ramekin makes you feel like you actually are eating the old-fashioned scalloped potatoes.

For those of you who make scalloped potatoes from scratch, this is MUCH easier, and tastes just as delicious.

3-4 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
½ yellow onion, diced
canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
spices (like oregano, Italian seasoning, parsley, etc)

Mix potatoes, onion, salt and pepper in bowl and transfer to greased muffin tin/ramekins. Sprinkle spices on top, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 375° oven for 20-30 minutes. Bake uncovered 10 more minutes, or until tops are golden and potatoes are soft.

Orange Pumpkin Spice Cake - a Perfect Fall-Weather Treat

This is such a sweet, moist cake that I didn't add frosting, (well, I also don't really like frosting that much, but this cake really didn't need it!). This cake is delicious and I really can't tell that it is gluten free (or egg free, for that matter). Such a perfect treat for the fall – and little Z loves it.

1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup orange juice or water
1 cup canned pumpkin (I ran out of pumpkin, so I used ½ cup mashed butternut squash & ½ cup pumpkin and it worked great).
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
2 cups white/brown rice flour
1 Tbl sp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup finely shredded carrots

Icing (optional)
½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tbl sp orange juice or water
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together brown sugar, orange juice, pumpkin/squash, oil, vanilla and salt. Add flour, baking soda and powder and stir until thoroughly mixed. Stir in carrots. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish and bake 25-30 minutes in a preheated 350° oven until firm in center. Let cool and top with icing (if desired).
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Good Morning Coffee Cake

I made this recipe recently and it was very tasty. I adapted it from Sunny Cinnamon Bars from the cookbook, "Cookies for everyone" (if you follow this blog, I use this cookbook all the time). The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seed kernels. Little Z reacts badly to sunflower oils and seeds, so I left them out. If you or your child doesn't react to sunflower seeds, I think it would definitely be a great addition to this recipe by adding another element of texture.

1 cup applesauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 Tbl sp ground cinnamon
¼ cup water
1½ cups white/brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch
dash of salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup crushed Chex cereal(or safe granola)

Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl and wet ingredients in another. Stir in raisins. Pour into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top, and top with crushed Chex. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes in a 350° preheated oven.
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Oh Honey Grahams - a Great Alternative to Graham Crackers

These crackers, when rolled thin enough, are a very delicious alternative to graham crackers (they really do taste a lot like graham crackers!). When rolled thick, they taste like a muffin in bar form. I have made them with and without oatmeal. Either way, they taste wonderful and are very satisfying. A good friend of mine and her little boy (who are not gluten free) love these, and even though I can eat gluten and eggs, I will gladly eat this over a lot of snacks because it is not only healthy, but filling (unlike a lot of processed snacks).

Unfortunately, each time I have made these (and anything with flax meal), Little Z gets very fussy, diarrhea and diaper rashes. I think the high fiber of the flax meal bothers him. This is disappointing because these are fairly easy to make and he adores them.

½ cup canola oil

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cup white or brown rice flour (I usually use brown)

1 cup rice bran (or 1/2 cup rice bran & 1/2 cup Quinoa/GF Oatmeal)

1 cup flax meal

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup rice milk

Sugar-in-the-raw (as much or as little as needed)

Mix together the dry ingredient, except sugar-in-the-raw. When thoroughly mixed, slowly add the rice milk while stirring. The dough becomes sticky, so you may need to mix/kneed by hand. Divide the dough into 4 balls and place each ball on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roll out each ball – Roll out the dough very thin for crackers or thicker for bars. Cut into individual bars with a knife (I use a pizza cutter). Sprinkle sugar-in-in-the-raw on top. Curl aluminum foil around the edges (so they don't burn and bake in a 350° oven for 10 minutes; uncover edges and bake 5 more minutes until lightly browned. Let cool completely before handling the crackers/bars.

Adapted from Cookies for Everyone, Laakso and Hammond
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Friday, October 30, 2009

BD's Mongolian Grill

We recently ate at BD's Mongolian Grill, and it was a good experience. The location we visited (Independence, MO) had a special grill in the back that is thoroughly cleaned between uses, especially for allergy sufferers. I requested that they cook his food only in water, and they were able to give him food from the back that had not been on the line (so it wouldn't run the risk of being contaminated).

If you decide to go to this restaurant, be sure to still call ahead to make sure they have a grill in the back. Also double check how they clean the cooking surfaces/utensils, and so on. I recently went to Hu Hot (I thought it was pretty much the same restaurant) and it was not a good experience.
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Fiorella's Jackstack - Plaza Location, Kansas City, MO

Whenever my in-laws, who are from Minnesota, are in town, we love to eat at Fiorella's Jack Stack. Jack Stack is an award-winning Kansas City BBQ restaurant. When my in-laws said they wanted to eat a Fiorella's, I thought that I would end up just staying home with Little Z, so I didn't have to deal with bringing him cold food to the restaurant, while we enjoyed our delicious barbecue. However, I called ahead, fully thinking I would have to stay home, but I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful and knowledgeable the kitchen manager was. I also was surprised to find out that their sauces and rubs are gluten free.

The kitchen manager was amazing, and had had some firsthand experiences with allergies, so he knew how to prepare and cook for my son. When we arrived, he greeted our table, suggested we order the meat plate from the child's menu (either the beef brisket or turkey because it didn't come in a brine) and he specially made a baked potato (their baked potatoes are usually coated in a soy butter before baking). The kitchen manager went out of his way to help us, and in fact, personally prepared my son's food!

Amazing. Fiorella's has been the best restaurant where allergies are concerned that I have come across.
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Eating Out

Eating out is quite a hassle if you have multiple intolerance or allergies. It's a lot easier if you simply want a gluten free meal, but pair that with other allergies/intolerances, and you will have quite a task on your hands!

It also comes with several risks: if food is not handled/prepared with the utmost care, Little Z will not nap well, will cry, scream, whimper through the night, get a yeast infection/lesions on his bottom, and be sick for several days (and my son's reactions are relatively mild compared to children who have anaphylactic reactions).

Because of this, and the cost involved, we don't eat out all that often; however, when we do, these are the steps we take:
  • Call ahead and ask to speak to a manager (if possible, speak to the kitchen manager).
  • Explain your situation, allergies, and explain what types of foods you would like to try if possible (Little Z has so many off-limits foods, it's easier for me to tell them what I want and for them to let me know if they can accommodate me). For example, I always ask if they have 100% chicken, turkey or beef that is unseasoned and doesn't come in a brine/solution/marinade. To prepare it, I explain they can cook it the following ways: boil it in water, cook it in 100% canola or olive oil, or grilled (as in a wood-fire grill) with a piece of tin foil under it.
  • Request that they double check the labels (for example, chicken breasts often are injected in a solution, which may have gluten).
  • When you arrive, let them know you called earlier and ask for the manager. Re-explain your wants and needs again to the server and manager and have them involved so the kitchen staff doesn't contaminate the food.
  • Remember that most people don't have a good understanding of food allergies, or the proper precautions in handling them. So don't feel like you are explaining too much or dumbing things down. One time we ordered our son a burger with nothing on it: "no bun, no seasonings, no ketchup nor mustard. Nothing. Just the hamburger patty." They still brought it to us with the bun on it, and the server said I could just take it off. I had to explain to her that because the bun touched the meat, he can't eat it because it will make him sick.
Usually, restaurant staffs are very helpful, friendly and accommodating. Just remember to stay friendly and leave a good tip. I used to be embarrassed, and I felt bad for inconveniencing my server and the restaurant staff, but they don't have to suffer with a reaction if the food is not prepared properly!

On the few occasions we have eaten out, we have had more success than I would have thought. Here are some of a few:

Fiorella's Jack Stack (Plaza location, Kansas City, MO)
BD's Mongolian Grill (Independence, MO location)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Protein Intollerance Confirmed & Celiac Update

Whew. It has been over a month since I have had time to do any updating on this site, and I apologize! I am taking design classes again, and I have hardly any time to sleep – much less write!

Here are some updates on Little Z. We recently visited the pediatric gastroenterologist at Children's Mercy, in the KC area, and he was very informative and was... just wonderful (I have heard from several mom's that their pediatric gastroenterologist are not helpful at all!).

Regarding Celiac Disease: The Pediatric Gastroenterologist was more concerned with Z's possible Celiac Disease than his multiple food intolerances, and that is what we discussed for most of the appointment. As many of you may know, Z tested negative for Celiac Disease, but he reacts to gluten, and Celiac disease runs heavily in my husband's family. The PG said that Celiac tests done on babies under 2 are not reliable (regardless of what kind of test that was done). He said we should keep him on a gluten-free diet until he is at least 4, and at that time, we can test him again, but it will require that he go back on gluten. He also said that now research is showing that some people who have Celiac Disease test negative for it (even when they eat lots of gluten) because they don't have a normal IgA response (this is really technical, and I don't fully understand it myself. See this article in Living Without to read more). I was concerned that he would have to have a biopsy done to confirm that Little Z had Celiac, but the Pediatric Gastro assured me that those are not needed anymore like they were in the past. Ultimately, I got the feeling that he thinks Z has Celiac, but right now we just don't know for certain.

Regarding intolerances: Little Z is clearly intolerant to several foods, but the Ped. Gastro. was not too concerned with them. He said that most children outgrow dairy and soy (and other) allergies/intolerances by age 3, but some later. He said we should not introduce any new foods to him until he is at least 2 years old, and he suggested that we could try putting a teaspoonful of milk in his tippy cup of rice milk for several days and see if he handles it OK. Increase it every few days to see if he has a reaction. And of course, introduce foods very slowly (one every four days or longer).

It was a wonderful visit, and the main point I took away was this: we should follow the symptoms and not test results. In fact, the doctor said he has one little boy whom he sees that tests allergic to eggs, but he eats eggs everyday with no reaction!