Uncategorized

Halloween for All!

The teal pumpkin project has grown so much over the past few years and this year I was SO happy to see retailers participating, too! Walmart, Target, Michaels all have teal pumpkin and products to support Halloween for All! 



lLast year we painted a wooden pumpkin teal, and it rained a lot, which gave us a teal porch (Crayola washable paint wasn’t a good choice).

This year’s teal pumpkin is from Michael’s. My only beef with it is that it’s SO light, it blows off my porch daily and I’m always running after my teal pumpkin. We will leave it inside until Halloween.

The banner is from Amazon.com. it shipped a month faster than it stated, and I was OK with that! It ships from China, so I totally understand the longer shipping time. It was only $3.99. 

We are ready for Trick-or-treating….are you? Make sure all your trick or treaters feel included this year. Remember 6% of all school aged kids have a known food allergy. That’s about 1 child in every classroom. It may not seem like much, but being included means the WORLD to them. Trick or treating is sad for those with Allergies because they go along collecting things they will never eat. With the exception of maybe two or three houses that participate in Teal Pumpkin. 

Thanks for your love and support and including teal pumpkin treats to make Halloween for All!

Hugs xoxo

Uncategorized

Halloween Cake Decor

When it comes to holidays and baked treats, there are no clear cut rules for name brands. Research is crucial during this time of year and it’s when my Kitchen Aid mixer gets a real workout. 

First up, Halloween! To avoid the use of Epi-Pen at school, I ALWAYS bring my own baked goods. And enough to share. I try very hard to make these items look like the other cool items available at classroom parties so nobody feels left out. 

This year, I found these adorable ghosts that are made in a facility that DO NOT contain our allergies, pn + tn. 


Wilton brand is notoriously NOT safe for us. They make LOTS of cake toppings and treats. They also make those cute little Gingerbread Houses at Christmas time, also not safe. However, every once and a while, I run across a safe item. These ghosts are safe. I thought I got lucky with the type of decorations I was buying, so I also grabbed the witch decoration next to the ghosts. After a few minutes I was ready to check out and decided to review my labels ONE more time. The witch topping ended up NOT being safe, even though it looked EXACTLY like the cute ghosts. See how you have to check EVERY label?! 

I can’t wait to make cupcakes with my daughter and top them with some buttercream frosting and these adorable ghosts for school!

Have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by. We just finished planting our mum’s and picking Halloween costumes. What is your favorite fall activity?!

Weeknight Dinners

12 Minute Mashed Potatoes

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I’m BAAAAACK and it feels so good to write and be part of the blogging community again.

Last night, we were all craving a meat and potatoes, essentially a comfort food meal. So first I’m going to tell you about the food we made, and then I’ll address the elephant in the room….where we were last week! And why I haven’t blogged.

First, chicken cordon bleu + mashed potatoes + steamed broccoli = winning!

The chicken cordon bleus are frozen from Brenans (yes, I stocked up from Jacobson’s Meats before Brenans closes) and steamed some broccoli, super simple.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 russet potatoes, rinsed peeled and cubed into 1/4″ pieces
  • large kettle
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • potato masher

Directions

  1. In a large kettle, boil your water until you have a rolling boil (salt it, too, 1/2 tsp salt)
  2. Peel and cube your potatoes
  3. Once you have a rolling boil, add the potatoes
  4. Boil for 12 minutes, or until fork tender. You should be able to slice with a butter knife, that tender.
  5. Drain the pototoes and place back into kettle
  6. Add the remaining salt, butter, milk and black pepper
  7. Use all of your built up stress and mash the heck out of your potatotes.
  8. Keep a close eye on your potatoes though, you can actually over-mash and create “gummy” potatoes.
  9. Stop mashing once you have a pretty un-lumpy consistency. A few lumps are OK!
  10. Use a canned gravy, no gravy or homemade gravy.

I recruited my husband to whip up a gravy last night because, well, he LOVES cooking in the kitchen and can basically make ANYTHING I ask him to, on a whim. He’s got that skill, ya know, so I’m jell. He should be on a cooking show. Seriously. I’m grateful because when I was pregnant, I’d be like, “I’m craving Blah, blah, blah gyros, pickles mashed potatoes and side of pot roast with vegetables and gravy” and he’d make “blah, blah, blah” lickety split.

Who doesn’t LOVE MASHED POTATOES?!

My elephant.

This blog is for my nut-allergic daughter; however, my son was hospitalized last week, and that’s where we were – hanging at Children’s Hospital. He came in contact with e.coli shiga toxin and developed HUS, a very dangerous infection that destroys red blood cells and put my son in renal failure. We watched my sons health steadily decline over several days.

There is no cure for this infection – you basically wait and watch to see how fast the body will rebound. My son’s labs got better quickly, however, his body was still destroying red blood cells faster than his 4 year old body could keep up. He lost 5 pounds, turned into a vegetable, couldn’t walk, toilet, or stand independently. His lips were a faint white color as he had little blood left circulating. The scariest par was the week before, at home where he was severely ill for almost 5 days prior to this. In total, he was sick for almost 14 total days, with 7 of those days in the hospital. By far, the scariest two weeks of my entire life.

The good news is that Carter avoided dialysis and a second blood transfusion. His one and only blood transfusion perked him up and had him on a road to health in no time. We are considered to be one of the lucky ones. Many kids have several transfusions, dialysis, feeding tubes, surgery, and transplants. Some even have life-long issues stemming from this. I can’t help but feel grateful for where we are today.

  • I’m grateful for the physicians, staff and students at the hospital for taking care of our whole family.
  • I’m grateful for the many, many caregivers that took extra special care of my nut-allergic daughter.
  • I’m grateful for the blood donor, who made an AB+ match possible.
  • I’m grateful for my daughters amazing school and support she had on a regular basis.
  • I’m grateful for my online community and outpouring of emails, comments, texts and social media support.
  • I’m grateful for all of the visitors to the hospital who made our stay that much more comfortable.
  • I’m very grateful for my husband. We remained a united front. A true test of our marriage and commitment to our family. We only left the hospital to shower at home.  Our son had our 100% attention and dedication at the hospital. My husband had a fine line to walk. As a doctor, he knew a lot going into this, and as a Dad, he had another responsibility. He spoke up as needed, gave advise and hypothesis when appropriate.  He helped with blood draws at 4am when the night nurses difficulties. He gave wagon rides to pass the time, played DVDs and gave hugs when they were needed the most. I don’t know if my husband knows how much I value his giant brain and big heart, but one thing is for sure, I love him and our kids are lucky to have such a smart, loving and dedicated Dad.

This situation was a wake-up call for me. Don’t take the little things for granted. I’ve said this phrase a million times, but now I am actually living it.  I learned so much:

  • Yoga is a useful tool in any situation and can easily be done in a small hospital room.
  • Mindful breathing through rounds is a good way NOT to cry in front of 8 residents and the attending.
  • Hospital food isn’t so bad.
  • God made flasks for a reason.
  • Hospital visitors are VITAL, and I will make an effort to do this more.
  • Wash hands before meals EVERY SINGLE TIME no matter what.
  • Monitor diarrhea, more than 2 days, a doctor should know about it.
  • Vinegar and hot water is a disinfectant.
  • Bleach is your bathrooms best friend.
  • Stats from labs are fun to analyze.

I’m glad to be home. I’m glad to have kids bickering. I’m glad to make food in my kitchen again and I’m happy to have kids running and playing as I’m trying to clean and cook. I’m happy to have the “normal” every day stress. I’m excited to take my daughter to school and pick her up. Because in an instant, everything can change. Nothing is permanent. Enjoy the right now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed to be the same as today.

Thanks for letting me spew my thoughts – this post has nothing to do with allergies. But I needed to clear my mind in order to move forward with my regular blog posts. I hope you hug your loved ones a little longer and a little tighter tonight. Life is a gift.

 

Holiday Favorites, School Safe List

Halloween Treats

This list may come in handy if your kids go to a nut-free school, or have allergy recommendations in place for snack time / holidays.

Also, this might be helpful if you have a co-worker who is allergic to nuts.

Or maybe you’ve decided to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year for having allergy friendly / non-candy treats to pass out at your door! Please note that the Teal Pumpkin Project is 100% allergy free snacks. For these snacks, please use the Snack Safe Guide to ensure your treats are free of the Top 8 allergens. OR, 1-click shop Amazon Prime for easy Halloween treats; I purchased this: Bulk Halloween


Nut-Free Snacks

  1. Walgreens
    • Rice Krispie Treats
    • Kathy Kaye Foods popcorn balls and mini caramel corn bags (shown above, approved by my daughter)
    • Hostess Cupcakes
    • Hostess Donettes
    • Twizzlers
    • Sweedish Fish
    • Nerds
    • Starbursts
    • Sweet Tarts
    • Red Vines
    • Tootsie Roll
    • Dots
    • Brother’s All Natural Freeze Dried Disney Fruit Crisps
  2. HyVee
    • CocoLoco Bars in the Health Market
    • Enjoy Life Brand Cookies, assorted flavors
    • Ritz Crackers
    • Goldfish Crackers
    • Sun Chips
    • Cheese-Its
    • Wheat Thins
    • Oreos
    • Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • Honey Maid Graham Crackers
    • Fruit By the Food
    • Pretzel Crisps (not the chocolate flavor)
    • Sabra Brand Hummus
    • Skinny Pop
    • Boom Chicka Pop
    • Pirates Booty
    • Curious George Fruit Snacks
    • Annie’s Fruit Snacks
    • Annies cheddar bunnies
    • Nutri Grain Bars
    • Kraft Marshmallows
    • Pop Rocks
    • Now and Laters
    • Dum dum lollipops
    • Sour Patch Kids
    • Gummy Life Savers
    • Bottle Caps
    • York Peppermint Patties
    • Enjoy life Brand mini chocolates – health market
  3. Costco
  4. Pick n Save / Metro Market
  5. Target

Please check back, there’s lots more to come!

Weeknight Dinners

Greek Salad & Grilled Pita

What. A. Week.

It’s Sunday and a new week is about to begin. The show must go on!

You may see some repeats on here from last week, we had some last minute changes due to a tummy bug that invaded our home. Fingers crossed we are done with that exciting experience for a long, long time.

One thing is for sure, we learned a lot.  One moment that stands out in my mind happened on Friday, when my son was not doing well. He was having a hard time when he told me that he was going to “just breathe through it Mamma.” He learned the skill of finding his breath by practicing yoga often at his Preschool.  He made me so proud of his ability to cope with a very uncomfortable and stressful situation. He continues to amaze me and we are so grateful for his school and the support we received last week. From friends, family and co-workers, the phone calls, meals, and kind words were all appreciated.

My daughter and husband were also a huge help in so many ways I can’t even count, they were an amazing team, but one of the ways they love to help is in the kitchen. And for this week, we are excited to try this twist on one of our favorite Panera Salads! The Greek salad, of course!!!

P.S. if you have nut-allergies, NOTHING AT PANERA IS SAFE FOR YOU TO EAT. And that is why we are making this Panera re-make.

Before you read this and think “that sounds like too much for a week night” – hear me out, it’s not bad, you just need a giant fry pan or grill pan and few ingredients. You’re going to grill the pepper + pita then make a dressing and combine it all. It’s not bad. And the more you make a recipe, the easier it gets.

 

Greek Chopped Salad & Grilled Pita

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/8 tsp  salt
  • 3 whole wheat pita rounds
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped English cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 oz feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat (you can also use your grill, or a large frying pan with high sides, you just wont have the fancy grill marks if you use a regular pan).
  2. Coat the grill pan with cooking spray.
  3. Remove the seeds and membranes from bell pepper and cut into quarters.
  4. add the bell pepper to the grill pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until its charred and tender.
  5. Remove bell pepper from pan and cut into bite size pieces for your salad.
  6. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp oregano, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Brush oil mixture evenly over both sides of the pita bread.
  7. Add the pita bread to your grill pan and cook 2 min on each side. Cut into 6 wedges.
  8. Combine the remaining 3 tbsp oil, vinegar, juice and mustard in a large bowl and stir with a whisk.Stir in 1 tsp oregano, salt, pepper, charred bell pepper, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, beans, and toss well.
  9. Divide among 4 plates and top with cheese. Serve with pita

On IG, I promised some back-up meal ideas. Well, here you go:

  1. Snack dinner.  <——-click on that to see what we usually do.  I love the left-overs from this meal, we snack on it all week and it’s easy to refill and pop back into the fridge. Tupperware makes a good dish for this with a resealable lid.
  2. Campbells Soup Starters   We are huge fans of these easy meal starter kits. They aren’t homemade by they do the job and the kids like ALL of the flavors. Currently, there are 4 in my pantry. Oh, and my Dad works for Campbell’s Soup, so I know the allergy information is 100% accurate!
  3. Dino Nuggets. Need I say more? Find these little friends at Target.
  4. Benvenutos DELIVERS!!! And they are SO on top of allergies, I love them.
  5. Happy Meals. If it’s been a week….McDonalds is happening. McDonald’s Allergy information is beyond amazing.

 

Mom Things, Weeknight Dinners

BRAT Meals for Kids

No, my kids aren’t being brats. We’ve got a tummy bug in our house so we’re sticking to the BRAT diet; banana, rice, applesauce and toast. I had an awesome spaghetti squash meal ready to go for tonight, but at 4:30 this morning, my little guy woke up not feeling well. It’s been a tough morning for him so far, and we’re currently snuggled on the couch watching Looney Tunes and I’ve rescheduled my entire day to be with him.

Luckily, squash has a long shelf life, so I don’t feel bad about not making it tonight.  Being flexible during the week is super important, which is why I typically choose things that can be re-arranged and thrown back onto the shelf for later if need be.

My meatballs from Conscious Carnivore went back into the freezer for next week.  The meatballs are also nut-free (this is the first time I’m trying their meatballs…why not, everything else from Conscious Carnivore is AMAZING.) as is everything else at Conscious Carnivore. For tonight, I’m going to make a batch of this Weeknight Chicken Noodle Soup from a few posts ago, and whatever my little guy would like from his BRAT diet choices 🙂

If you have nut-allergies, BRAT meals can be tricky. Bananas and applesauce are easy, but be sure to check the labels on your rice and bread; especially lentils if you use those, too. We use Country Hearth bread or Angelic which is made in a dedicated nut-free facility.

I’ll post an update when the Spaghetti Squash is live from my IG. Have a great rest of your week and enjoy this beautiful weather this weekend 🙂 Fall is a tad early, so make sure you get some solid leaf peeping in at Devil’s Lake State Park soon!

 

Weeknight Dinners

Quinoa Acorn Squash + Chicken Sausage

Squash is pletiful in the garden now, and you can find it at almost every farmers market and grocery store.  There are many ways to make squash, but the yummiest way, in my opinion, is roasting it. I hated squash until my late 20s when my Mom made a great recipe at Thanks Giving that included roasting it, like this recipe does. 

Acorn Squash

  • One acorn squash feeds two people, so I’m using 2 for the 4 of us.
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (1 cup white sugar + 1 tbsp molasses if you ran out of Brown sugar at the last minute like I did. Stir stir stir on high heat. Wallah, you have brown sugar)
  • Two packets of your favorite quinoa + rice spice mix. 
  • One pack of your favorite chicken sausage or Italian sausage

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees
  2. Fill slices acorn squash  with butter and sugar. 
  3. Turn squash upside down onto a lined baking sheet. 
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven until it begins to soften, about 45 min.
  5. Roast until you like, I like mine roasted to death, so more like an hour.

Prepare your rice and sausage. I’m slicing the sausage and pan frying it before adding it to the rice mix.

Lastly, top with Parmesan. If you want to be fancy and make parmesan curls, get out that potato peeler and grate your Parmesan that way. Or leave it off, whatever floats your boat.

Have a great night! It’s so hot here today, I don’t even feel like eating this meal now!!!!!!!!!!!!