Neocate Food Allergy Living Blog: A Guest Blogger & Menu Planning Tips

Today I’m a guest blogger on the Neocate Food Allergy Living Blog. I’m sharing “10 Tips to Allergy Friendly Menu Planning.”  I’m so excited to be a part of this. I would love for you to click here and head on over to the Neocate blog and read my post today.

What is Neocate? Rather than me trying to figure out another way to explain it, I’ve copied a bit of info from their site that best explains it. This was copied directly from the Neocate formula page:

“Neocate RightAge™ Nutrition is the only age-specific range of amino acid-based products proven effective in the nutritional management of food allergies and associated GI conditions. Every Neocate product is based on 100% free amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to lower the chance that your child will have an allergic reaction.

Neocate is ideal for your child’s growing and changing needs. It is:

  • Hypoallergenic: So it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction
  • Nutritionally complete: Because it contains all the essential nutrients your child needs to grow
  • Elemental: It’s based on 100% free amino acids, the simple building blocks of protein, which makes it easier to digest
  • Dairy-Free-Manufactured: To put your mind at ease”

There are Neocate baby formulas,  junior formulas, and a Neocate Splash which is in a juice box like single serving.

So, friends, hop on over to the Neocate Food Allergy Living Blog and read my guest post, would ya?  Thanks!

15 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners: Part 1

Homemade Dairy & Egg Free Bread for the Steak Sandwiches

Homemade Dairy & Egg Free Bread for the Steak Sandwiches

I have to admit… I’ve fallen off of the menu planning wagon. I was tired and lazy for a few days. I completely relied on my “Flex Meals” to get us through. I’m back at it, though. I’ve realized I need *truly* easy recipes for me to stay on track. I love easy throw in the crockpot recipes. I also love it when the Huzz grills. I don’t mind a little work, but honestly, the easier, the better.

I also changed the format. I think having it numbered is a little more user friendly. Also, to differentiate the menus, starting now I’m just going to label them Part 1, Part 2, etc. Unless you can think of a better name??? I’m kind of stumped for cutesy names right now. What do you think? The 16 Day Menus will start their own Part 1, Part 2, etc. Got it?

Okay, let’s get to it. There are some repeats. There are also a few new recipes thrown in for the sake of variety. We also absolutely LOVE BBQ chicken pizza, so you will see that in probably almost every menu.

1. BBQ Chicken Pizza (Use 1/2 of this homemade pizza dough recipe and use breadmaker. Use Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds.)

2. Mojo Pork Tenderloin, Rice & Black Beans

3. Mojo Pork Quesadillas (Use leftover mojo pork.)

4. Oven Roasted Teriyaki Chicken Thighs, Rice, and Asparagus

5. Flex Meal

6. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, OreIda Crispers, & Sautéed Yellow Squash

7. Steak Sandwiches (season steak lightly with olive oil, adobo, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt & pepper.) Make homemade bread. Steam in a bag Broccoli Florets.

8. Rotisserie-Style Chicken. Grilled Red Potatoes, Zucchini, & Asparagus.

9. Chicken Stir Fry (Use leftover chicken from day 8. Use any leftover grilled veggies or veggies from week. Add fresh veggies if needed.)

10. Grilled Lemon-Rosemary Pork Chops (Lemon-Rosemary Marinade: olive oil, a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, a small palmful of dried rosemary & a small palmful of dried/fresh lemon peel, 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic, & less than a small palmful of sea salt. There are really no measurements. Eyeball it.) 🙂 Baked Sweet Potatoes & Steamed Cauliflower

11. Arroz con Pollo y Habichuelas (Chicken & Rice & Beans, Puerto Rican Style) I will share a recipe if I can perfect it. My rice isn’t quite right yet but the flavor is spot on!

12. Arroz con Pollo Leftovers

13. BBQ Chicken Pizza (see number 1 for links)

14. Pizza Leftovers

15. Grilled T-Bone Steaks & Grilled Zucchini, Onions, Peppers & Red Potatoes

I’ve been revisiting an older series from Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about Proverbs 31. I’m listening to it now as I type up this menu plan. Nancy said this and I had to share it, as it’s so timely and so true:

“As we look at these verses and continue through this passage, I want you to see that in everyday, practical ways, the excellent wife—the virtuous wife, the excellent mother—is giving her family a picture of Christ and of spiritual realities. You say, “Food preparation is showing my family something about Christ and about spiritual realities?” You bet it is.

You’re living out parables. You’re demonstrating parables of spiritual life to your children as you work with your hands, as you serve in your home. When you prepare food for your family, you’re demonstrating to them that God is a faithful provider. When you’re being quality conscious in the things that you purchase, you’re showing your children the excellence of the character of God.”

I love this reminder!

The Closest We Get To Take Out: “Flex” Meals

I like to call the nights when I skip the menu plan and whip up something easy and quick “Flex Meals.” Really, it’s my way of almost not cooking- it’s as close as we can get to the convenience of take out.

Because y’all know…we don’t eat out anymore as a family! If it weren’t for our date nights or girl’s night out, I’d never eat out. SG doesn’t.

So, here’s how I’m able to throw together a flex meal, without doing much work.

1.  I keep a stocked freezer that includes cooked and cubed chicken portioned in one cup portions and pre-cooked and seasoned ground chuck, portioned in about 1/4 pound bags. I also keep Hormel cubed ham in the freezer.

Bags of pre-cooked and seasoned chicken & ground chuck

Bags of pre-cooked and seasoned chicken & ground chuck

2.  I always keep Mission flour fajita sized tortillas and Mission tortilla chips in the pantry.

Tortillas

3. I keep frozen Daiya cheddar style shreds and Daiya mozzarella shreds in my freezer.

4. I keep frozen broccoli florets in the freezer- the steam in the bag kind.

5.  I keep Dole fruit in the little individual plastic containers stocked in the pantry.

These are the basics for my flex meals. With these, I can create:

  • Chicken & cheese nachos
  • Beef & cheese nachos
  • Ham & cheese nachos
  • Chicken & cheese quesadillas
  • Beef & cheese quesadillas
  • Ham & cheese quesadillas
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Ham & cheese pizza tortillas

I can quickly and easily steam some broccoli in the bag and serve alongside any of the above. If I’m out of fresh fruit, then some drained Dole fruit will work.

These also make great lunches!

I put the ham and cheese in the tortilla frozen.  The skillet defrosts and heats it all.

I put the ham and cheese in the tortilla frozen. The skillet defrosts and heats it all.

I used leftover Mojo Pork Tenderloin & Daiya cheddar shreds in this quesadilla.

I used leftover Mojo Pork Tenderloin & Daiya cheddar shreds in this quesadilla.

Here’s how I pre-cook and stock my freezer with our favorite chicken recipe.  On the days I cook this chicken, the next day I always make a batch of this chicken and rice soup for the freezer.  I freeze it in portions big enough for me and SG to eat for lunch. Homemade frozen soup is another easy flex meal.

Here’s how I pre-cook and stock my freezer with ground chuck.

I know the days I’m knee deep in cooking, cubing, portioning, and freezing chicken or beef, I will appreciate it in the days to come.  And when I’m not feeling so hot or am just plain tired, I am so grateful for the meat I’ve cooked and frozen.

Do you have any easy “Flex Meals” to share?

Food Challenge Update

The Egg designed by my very talented graphic designer- my brother!

The Egg designed by my very talented graphic designer- my brother!

****This was what I wrote back in February but never published. Since writing this, we had to stop the 1/2 cupcake every day. SG starting breaking out in rashes on her body when eating the cupcake. The allergist and I decided to stop the baked in egg cupcakes. We will retest her next year and see if her skin tests and blood tests show an improvement. This is a very delayed update. Thanks to those of you who prayed for us!****

From February 2014:

I was a mess Wednesday night cooking with raw eggs. I was paranoid about cross contamination. I was fighting worry with prayer. Lots of prayer. I had nightmares Wednesday night.

Then the moment came Thursday morning when I watched my miracle child eat a cupcake I had baked that contained a food she is allergic to… That was very hard for me. SG, on the other hand, had no idea what was happening. She is just three and the allergist and I decided we were not going to tell her she was eating baked in egg in her cupcake. We told her we were going to have a little cupcake party at the doctor’s office.

I packed a Tinker Bell paper plate and Tinker Bell napkin. I packed a juice box and bottled water for her. I put it all in our little picnic cooler.

The cupcakes were in a Ziploc bag and then in a Target bag.  There's the Tinker Bell plate & napkin!

The cupcakes were in a Ziploc bag and then in a Target bag. There’s the Tinker Bell plate & napkin!

Then she gobbled up the 1/4 of the chocolate cupcake. And we all waited and stared at her. She was completely fine. She had one light red blotch (not a hive) and that went away in a few minutes. Other than that little incident, she did great. She ate the entire cupcake over about an hour and a half.

We left with instructions to give her one cupcake or muffin daily.

This morning, I gave her an entire chocolate cupcake for breakfast. Right after eating the entire cupcake, she had a little hive on the corner of her mouth. I called the allergist.

After talking to the allergist, SG is not to have an entire cupcake every day. She is to have 1/2 of a cupcake given to her in small portions, every other day. Hopefully, she will tolerate this lower dose better than she did today. I’m glad the Huzz will be with me Sunday as SG eats 1/2 of a cupcake.

Right now I’m feeling the weight of all this. It’s a lot for these little thin shoulders to carry. The Huzz is super supportive but I’m SG’s caregiver. When he’s at work, I have to decide on my own what to do. I’m the stay at home mom. I’m the one with her all day every day calling the shots. I pray when I’m alone with SG I always make the right decisions regarding her food allergies.

So there you have it. The food challenge at the allergist’s office surrounded by the doctor, nurses, The Huzz and me, went amazingly smooth. When I was all by myself with my child, then the hives appeared. Sigh.

Please keep praying for my child. I keep reminding myself,

“God is bigger than food allergies. He is bigger than eggs and dairy. Have faith.”

And here’s the verse I’m praying for SG,

“With God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Because that verse is true my friend. And I’m clinging to it, with all of my heart.

P.S. These past two days have drained me. After writing this I felt very emotional. Wouldn’t you know it, one of our pastors read my prayer request about the food challenge and called shortly after I wrote this and was feeling low. He called to say the pastors have been praying and wanted to check on SG. Coincidence? No. It was just what I needed when I needed it. Thanks, Pastor Kip for praying for us and praying with me on the phone!

Meat & “Cheesy Ranch” Rollup

Have y’all visited Once A Month Meals yet? Here’s their website:

onceamonthmeals.com

They have amazing recipes and they are all freezer friendly. Y’all know how much I love my freezer. It’s my best friend!

I saw a recipe on their site yesterday and I just had to try it right away. With modifications, of course!

Click here for the original recipe.

Here is how I made a dairy and egg free version of the Ham & Cheese Rollup.  Let’s call it Meat and “Cheesy Ranch” Rollup, though, because I think it will be just as yummy with shredded or cubed cooked chicken. I also omitted the broccoli, the healthiest part of the recipe. Feel free to add some broccoli or any other veggie you think will pare well with the ingredients.

This recipe calls for ranch dressing. And y’all! I made dairy and egg free ranch for the first time ever!!! And it was good! (This pic is not that great, but still, you get to see it. Doesn’t it look like ranch?)

Dairy & Egg Free Ranch!

Dairy & Egg Free Ranch!

So here is how we enjoyed a meat and “cheesy ranch” rollup kind of calzone looking thingamajig.

Meat & “Cheesy” Ranch Rollup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe of homemade pizza dough (I throw it in the bread maker and use the “dough” setting.)
  • 2 cups of protein (I used cubed ham the first time. Next time I will use cubed chicken. Here’s how I cook and freeze my chicken.)
  • 2 cups of dairy free cheese (We use Daiya cheese. I made one with their “cheddar” shreds and one with the “mozzarella” shreds. The mozzarella one was better and I will only use mozzarella from now on. However, the cheddar was good, too. You decide!)
  • 1/2 cup of homemade dairy and egg free ranch (Use this recipe from OAMM. I used Just Mayo, a vegan mayo, to make it egg free. Click here to read how to find Just Mayo for just a dollar! I also used SO Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer for the milk. You can use any unflavored non-dairy milk.)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Split the homemade pizza dough into two equal parts. Flour your surface. Roll out two rectangles. I rolled until the dough seemed thin enough. I honestly don’t have a specific here.
  2. Spread out one cup of the meat and one cup of the cheese leaving a little space around the edges. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of ranch.  Repeat for second rectangular dough.
  3. Roll the pizza dough up like a jelly roll. OAMM has a nice photo showing how to do this. I didn’t take one. Sorry. 🙂
  4. Pinch the edges and squish them up tight. Flip your gigantic log seam side down. (Trust me on this. The first one I baked the seam was facing the side and a bunch of toppings spilled out!)
  5. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Mine ended up perfect at 28 minutes.
  6. Slice pieces off as needed and enjoy! I didn’t slice it all at once, which was perfect because we reheated it today for lunch in the oven. It was easier to reheat as a partial giant log instead of leftover slices.

This recipe yielded two generous “logs.”

Here’s what my final product looked like:

Ham, Mozzarella & Ranch Rollup

Ham, Mozzarella & Ranch Rollup

This one was NOT baked seam side down.  Oops!

This one was NOT baked seam side down. Oops!

A little slice of cheesy ranch deliciousness!

A little slice of cheesy ranch deliciousness!

Not pretty, but yummy! And HOMEMADE! Can we just all cheer please? NEVER in my life did I think I would make so many things from scratch. I was domestically challenged. Not so much anymore. 🙂

Anyway, this has inspired me to maybe try this on a smaller scale like hot pockets size. I’d love to have these frozen and ready to go for quick lunches. Maybe I’ll try it soon and I’ll let you know how it works.

In the meantime, break out the bread maker and try this recipe. You won’t regret it!

 

 

Shopping Rush, Soymilk Ice Cream & Necklaces= Fantastic Friday!

Today I’m extra happy. I think I got a little rush from a super duper deal! Plus there are a few other random things from today that have made this a fantastic Friday.

I’m a part of several food allergy online support groups. Yesterday, the topic of Just Mayo, a vegan mayo, came up. We use Just Mayo and recently ran out. Our grocery store was out and we were stuck without any safe mayo.

Enter yesterday’s online discussion… A mom in one of the groups mentioned that Dollar Tree is starting to sell Just Mayo (are you ready?) for ONE DOLLAR! What?!?!

I called around and one of our two local Dollar Trees already has it in stock. I went today and purchased two 8 oz jars of Just Mayo for just $2 total. Ah-mazing!

Amazing Deal of the Week!

Amazing Deal of the Week!

I literally felt a rush when I bought these. Such a score!

Something else is making me happy… safe ice cream. I just devoured this:

Yummy & Safe for Me Treat

Yummy & Safe for Me Treat

Doesn’t it look too good to be true? I crushed up some mini Oreos, used SO Delicious vanilla soymilk ice cream, and Hershey’s chocolate syrup. (I’ve not tested the Hershey’s syrup but many of the moms in my online group have safely given it to their kids. I’ve just not worked up my courage to try it on her yet. That’s a whole ‘nother post- introducing new foods and the anxiety that comes with it!!!)

Our Choice for Soymilk Ice Cream

Our Choice for Soymilk Ice Cream

Anyway, this was my treat. And it made me happy.

The last thing I’m sharing today is my favorite online boutique, Sew Simply Chic. I’m sporting this beautiful handmade necklace today. I NEVER wear costume jewelry because of my nickel allergy. But this, friends, is only fabric and wooden beads. I’m in LOVE with these necklaces. Check out her online store. She also sells amazing scarves.

My Latest Obsession from Sew Simply Chic

My Latest Obsession from Sew Simply Chic

Isn’t this a pretty necklace? It’s such a fun print. It’s making me happy today.

Also, I’m having a dinner with one of my favorite friends tonight… Just the two of us WITHOUT kids. Yeah, I’m excited.

There you have it… my excitement and little happy thoughts for the day.

What has made you happy today?

16 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners (July 16- July 31, 2014)

Hey y’all. Thanks for stopping back by. I’m still hard at work creating two week menus for my little family. I hope these meal ideas are a blessing for you, too.

There are a few repeats because I got a little off track last week. Hy-Vee had a great sale (88 cents a pound for drumsticks!) so we enjoyed some of those and froze the extra cooked meat. (Click here to read how I do that.)

Anyway, we are back on track.

Do you see how delicious this Sweet & Sour Chicken looks? Man, it was scrumptious! I used flax eggs and it worked perfectly!

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Here’s my latest menu:

Click on this photo to see my printed menu.

Click on this photo to see my printed menu.

Wednesday (16th): BBQ Chicken Pizza (I use this recipe for pizza dough and throw it in my bread machine and use the dough setting. Sub Daiya mozzarella shreds.)

Thursday (17th): Veggie Nuggets, Fruit Salad, & Homemade Biscuits (Make Homemade Parm Substitute)

Friday (18th): Grilled Adobo Chicken Kabobs (season with adobo, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder & salt. Kabobs- chicken, onion, & pineapple.) Seasoned Yellow Rice

Saturday (19th): Date Night/Ham & “Cheese” Quesadillas with Fruit

Sunday (20th): Rosemary Oven Roasted Entire Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes

Monday (21st): Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps (use leftover chicken from Sunday & make dairy & egg free ranch), Baked Potatoes, & “Cheesy” Baked Cauliflower Poppers

Tuesday (22nd): Grilled Hamburgers with OAMM Burger Seasoning, Baked Potatoes, & Sautéed Squash

Wednesday (23rd): Grilled Brown Sugar Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes & Sautéed Fresh Spinach with Fresh Lemon Juice

Thursday (24th): Date Night/Spaghetti

Friday (25th): Chicken “Parmesan.” (Use homemade Vegan Parm & flax egg.) Safe Pasta & Steamed Broccoli.

Saturday (26th): Papas Rellenas (use my picadillo recipe & flax eggs), White Rice & Puerto Rican Style Black Beans

Sunday (27th): Easy BBQ Pulled Pork, French Fries & Sautéed Zucchini

Monday (28th): Seasoned & Grilled Chicken Breasts (cut into strips after grilling.) Serve Atop Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce (Use homemade Vegan Parm.)

Tuesday (29th): Homemade Shake & Bake Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, & Grilled Asparagus

Wednesday (30th): Sweet & Sour Chicken (use 3 flax eggs), White Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Thursday (31st): Date Night/Chicken & “Cheese” Nachos

Tonight we are enjoying this pizza.  The Huzz declared this last pizza was the BEST pizza I’ve ever made.  I think it’s due to this new pizza pan with the little holes.  It must be the holes that allowed for such a great crispy crust.  Hooray!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Have you tried any recipes from my menus?