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Mashed Potatoes

I have a question. Does anyone here have a good recipe for Mashed Potatoes? I usually make them with soy milk and plenty of butter. However, with my husband needing to have foods with less butter/margarine/fat, I have found that my mashed potatoes are terrible! I don’t think broth would be great for a limited cholesterol diet, right? But when I use soy milk and half a stick of butter they are dry as can be. Almost ashy dry! This has always been a problem when i cook with soy milk. For whatver reason, soy milk is just dry? But I always compensated with butter. Now what can I do?

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The Loaf stops here?

A few days ago, a friend of Damian’s gave us an Amish Friendship Bread starter. I of course asked immediately about dairy content, and she said she didn’t realize but yes it had dairy in it. I really wanted to do this with Damian though, so at midnight I was knee deep in Google links searching for the Amish Friendship Bread starter recipe. I found it, printed it, and noted what substitutes I would need to make this. Then I got to thinking and here is where the trouble began.

I wanted to make something Damian could share with his friends. Then I thought it would be nice if he could share it with his food allergic friends. The trouble with this is all his friends have different allergies. So I would have to make it a dairy, egg, corn, gluten, peanut, tree nut and soy free Amish Friendship bread Starter. HA! I have a hard time cooking dairy free! Not to mention how much it would cost to make a bread like this.

Anyway, the thought that something as simple as a loaf of bread was separating us depressed me. When I shared my thoughts with my husband he just shook his head. He pointed out that it looked like this bread was never going to be made. I was perturbed with this attitude and instantly wanted to know why he would think such a thing.

He replied “You set out to make Amish Friendship Bread and somehow ended up trying to make super bread! Stick with what you know!” I knew immediately that he was right and he was right about the bread not being made too. It has been a week now and I still have not made this phantom bread. In my defense, I did forget to get dry yeast so I can’t make it until I get some.

Anyway, I did learn something from this experience. I was disappointed because I felt like we food allergy sufferers were “seperated by a simple loaf of bread”, but that isn’t entirely true. While we may not be able to safely pass an Amish Friendship Bread recipe to each other, it seems that is exactly what binds us as a community. We share many thing, but food isn’t usually one of them, and we all accept this as a condition to our condition (no pun intended).

So this weekend I am determined to make this bread. It will only be dairy free, and I will post the recipe here as dairy free, but I won’t feel guilty doing it.

I know that my son will someday, hopefully, appreciate the extra effort it took to make a special version of Amish Friendship Bread just so he could enjoy it with his non-allergic friends. I guess I could at least make it gluten free too. I have heard that Fleishmanns makes a gluten free yeast. But then I would need flour too and……Here I go thinking again…..

Food Allergy Buddy

I was looking up food allergy friendly restaurants and I came across this website. FoodAllergyBuddy.com offers free printable cards for people with food allergies. They have 8 different designs to choose from. The signup process is easy and free. This is a wonderful idea, especially for children or adult that eat out alone. The card displays your name, an emergency contact name and number and the items you are allergic to. The idea is to be able to give this to your waiter/waitress, and they can put it with your order so everyone in the kitchen is aware of your needs. Once you create the card it opens the template in a new window with 8 cards on it. All you do is print and bring it along with you! Great Idea! Visit Food Allergy Buddy today and get your free cards!

Tell me what you think…

What if someone here in Hampton Roads were to open a restaurant that catered to the food allergic/vegan community? What would you expect from it? What allergens would it need to be free of in order for you to eat there? I can’t get this thought out of my head. I just keep thinking it would be nice to have a place where families could go to eat and not spend their entire night hoping the food is actually allergen free. If you could tour the kitchen, would it make you feel safer? I know it sounds impossible, but ever since i thought about this a few days ago, I cannot get it out of my head. So I am here, blogging it and ask the Hampton Roads area, and of course everyone else to tell me what you think! Would there be a specific meal you would like to see on the menu? What if the entire restaurant was Top 8 free and corn free? I don’t know. Just a thought! I hope you will all share your thoughts with me. You can leave them in the comments section, or of course feel free to email me!

Safe to eat? Or not?

A close friend of mine has Celiac disease. Every time she needs to know if something contains gluten, she turns to the internet. It always ends fruitlessly, and after searching for way to long she usually gives up.

This problem doesn’t restrict itself to celiac sufferers either, and some people spend hours on the phone with companies instead of the internet, with the same result. A lot of people simply have a hard time weeding through the ingredients on the label. It isn’t easy read labels, take the run around from companies, and choose which blog is accurate. Still, many of us cannot afford to shop primarily at the health food store, so we must learn the alternative. I have found that some basic ground rules for determining what’s safe can help save a lot of time and aggravation.

  • The internet is merely a starting point.

You will still have to check with the manufacturer. Trusting everything you read on blogs and message boards can be dangerous. If you use discretion, and check several different places, it can be time consuming and frustrating too. Much of the time you will find that everyone has a different answer. Use the internet as a starting point. Check the manufacturers website to determine allergen contents. If you cannot find it there, call them.

  • It’s all in your approach.

Yes, unfortunately, you have to use a bit of finesse even with so called professionals. It is best to ask about a specific ingredient (ex. modified food starch) in a specific product, rather than an entire line. Even then you may be told that they cannot tell you that due to liability issues, but that they are happy to tell you how to read the label and what their policy on allergies is. If you called them but have not yet visited their website, do so. Sometimes they list allergen information there, that the person you spoke with was unaware of.

  • If you still aren’t sure….Don’t Eat It!

If you have had no luck getting an accurate answer, just don’t eat that food. If you cannot get a straight answer, then how can anyone else provide an answer you can trust? It’s better to not take a chance!

These are all simple tips to managing safe food possibilities. The other is to carry a list of ingredients to avoid based on your allergy. It is a good idea to give this list to those who do shopping for you or care for your child as well. I keep a list on my Ingredients to Avoid page for you to refer to. Right now it has dairy and egg but will soon carry a lot more!

Only if it doesn’t have milk in it.

As parents we go through a lot of sleepless nights trying to teach our children everything they need to learn. And every parent faces it’s own unique challenges, be it overcoming the influence of the kids in the only neighborhood you can afford to live in, or teaching kindness in a world that seems to reject or contradict it. For us, one of the challenges is food allergies.

This became an even bigger challenge when my second son was born five months ago. As of yet, he shows no signs of food allergies and I find myself wondering what this is going to be like as he gets older. Having one child who can barely eat in public and one who can eat everything is going to be a culture shock for me.

I am also experiencing my first year of public school with Damian. You probably already know how scary that can be for a parent with a food allergic child. And while we all tend to deny it when we are called on it, sometimes we over-parent. I know, because I catch myself doing this too often. Though I am in the same room with Damian, I rarely allow him to answer questions or show responsibility in regards to his dairy allergy. What I mean is, when Damian is asked if he wants a cookie, I answer no without stopping to see what his response will be.

Easter afternoon, Damian, after an egg hunt, was asked by his five year old friend, if he wanted a piece of cake. For whatever reason I hesitated and Damian was able to respond on his own. I was so proud of him when he responded with “I don’t know. Does it have milk in it?” The little girl responded saying she didn’t know, followed by “Let’s find out”. Curious now, I followed them both quietly inside and watched as they proceeded to ask an adult to read the label on the cake to them.

Pride was naturally the domineering emotion in this situation, but still guilt tugged at me. How long did I plan on following my son around relentlessly, answering questions like that for him? I don’t know exactly but six short years wasn’t it! In fact, looking at it now, I might have gone down in history as the most embarrassing mom ever, had I not bore witness to Damian’s display of allergy awareness.

Now I know that there will always be a tinge of fear as Damian grows and becomes less dependent on me. But I hope I will always remember the day my six year tried to read a label for the first time, and be able to trust his judgment.

Easter with Food Allergies

Easter poses some challenges for we food allergic families. My six year old is allergic to dairy so that rules out almost every easter candy out there unless I want to spend a small fortune on candy. Most food allergic families have their own, unique Easter traditions. Feel free to share yours in the comments section of this article.

  • We have adopted craft baskets. Easter is a time for us to replenish hobby supplies for our boys. They do get one toy, but much of what they receive is related to crafts. Damian will get paper, pens, glue, glitter, paper plates, paper bags, markers, crayons, and other arts and crafts stuff. It still runs us a little more than your simple average easter basket would but it also helps encourage his hobbies. When Damian was smaller, and didn’t really know what the easter basket was for, we used the easter basket to introduce him to the snack foods he could have that did not have dairy in them. Again, we did stick in a toy or two for him. Last year we themed a basket about dinosaurs! Damian enjoys this. It is something new and different every year! Next year I will use it to introduce some allergen free foods purchased from the health food store.
  • As for Easter egg hunts, Damian can participate because he is not allergic. However, some children are and there are plenty of other great ways to make easter eggs without the eggs! Plastic eggs are great for hunts if you fill them with something and hide them. We have used these filled with everything from candy to tiny toys to money.
  • If your child absolutely cannot decorate eggs, a good alternative is to allow him/her to decorate her basket. Use a small laundry basket or a Tupperware container and purchase some paint, stickers and whatever else he/she may need and let her have fun! Older children may enjoy using metallic markers to decorate their can/basket. I have a friend who lets her children make pom pom easter bunnies and they have a Easter Bunny Hunt instead of an egg hunt! Use your imagination!

When all is said and done, the goal here is to let your child grow up with easter traditions. While his easter may not be traditional, it can be just as fun and memorable! Our children are going to remember the creative, fun ways we celebrate Easter, so use your imagination and most importantly, have fun!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!