Tag Archives: Elimination Diet

Peach Cobbler Cookies (Dairy free, egg free, peanut free)

 Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Cookies are one of my favorite types of desserts to eat and also experiment with. This summer when I was looking for something new to bring to barbecues, I stumbled across some recipes for peach cobblers. Since my son has dairy, egg and peanut allergies, he cannot eat dessert unless it is made by us or purchased from one of our reliable companies. Therefore, I tend to like to bring desserts to events so that he can be included too. Everyone deserves to be included!

The following recipe is a play on peach cobbler. It is dairy, egg and peanut free as well! Add some ice cream to the top or sandwich it in between two cookies! You will want to put those summer diets aside for this one.

However you decide to eat them, they are promised to be delicious and totally worth the mess on the counter.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup Vegan butter

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup applesauce

1.5 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract

2 Tablespoons dairy-free milk (We used almond, cashew, pea called Protein Milk by Silk because of its thickness and richness)

3 cups flour (We used organic, whole wheat but it can be substituted for a gluten free one)

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped peaches (skinned and cut into tiny pieces)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Skin and cut the peaches into tiny pieces.
  3. Mix melted butter and sugars in a bowl.
  4. Add the extract, milk and applesauce.
  5. Add flour and the rest of the ingredients into another bowl.
  6. Mix both bowls together.
  7. Stir and fold in peaches.
  8. Grease trays with non-dairy butter.  Press cookie circles down with a fork. We made them about 2 inches in diameter.
  9. Bake for 16 minutes.
  10. Enjoy by themselves or with some dairy-free ice cream.  Our favorite to eat it with is vanilla cashew ice cream by So Delicious.

Watch it Spin

Could even our biggest challenges like food allergies and anxiety spin into something positive? Could our greatest hurdles turn into the type of strength and perseverance that can be used for future races, experience and life?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Like Colossians 3:2 states, perspective is a major key to one’s happiness. Life was never promised to be easy, but also can see in scripture the promise of “beauty for ashes.” This was the promise for God’s people to be delivered from their plight. Though it was promised way back when, it can still give us hope and encouragement during the most difficult times and situations we experience now. Therefore, we must remember to embrace and accept the challenge as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change, to be ultimately blessed for the troubles and pains. Like John Wooden’s quote, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out,” take the bad and find the good. We must teach ourselves to find the positive spin.

Since May is food allergy awareness month, let’s use our experience with food allergies as an example. So, let’s go back to that first reaction, an experience no one should have to experience

Saturday, December 13 was a typical snowy evening.   As I was setting up my son’s dinner, I was excited because it would be his first taste of yogurt. After two small spoonfuls, the verdict was in: he seemed to love it!

However, within a minute it all changed.

He started to fuss and rub at his face. Turning red, his lips and mouth swelled up as huge blotches formed all over his face, neck and chest. Although just an infant, fear was written all across his face.  After calling 911, an ambulance arrived after what felt like a lifetime.  In the ambulance, his state continued to get worse. I held an oxygen mask over his now slightly-blue lips.   As he started to zone out, I prayed that he did not lose his breath. Every time he cried, I felt a second of relief for he was breathing.

Asking the EMT repeatedly about his state, I now know that she too was worried.  Her silence spoke louder than any words could have. They did not have an EpiPen with them in the ambulance and called to meet up with another team on the way to the hospital. However, due to the snow, that did not happen. As the doors to the ambulance opened, they sprinted in holding my son as I ran behind them, helpless.

The hospital staff administered epinephrine, Benadryl, and a steroid then reassured me that everything would be okay.   It was 40 minutes after ingesting that tiny amount of yogurt and I now know that we were beyond lucky.  Not everyone gets those 40 minutes.

A moment of relief soon turned into the reality of what had happened. It mixed with guilt, throwing me into the most difficult place I had seen. That night, I slept on the floor next to his crib waking up every hour to check for breathing.  Yet, even in his sleep, TJ smiled on…

We soon learned that TJ was allergic to and needed to avoid milk, eggs, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, sesame, soy, peas, and tomatoes. At first, I spent those early months trying to defend myself to others as a good person who did not eat too many or too little peanuts or eggs during my pregnancy.  Or, explaining why I chose to continue breastfeeding despite these allergies.   I was explaining myself to everyone to try to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom.  However, I had no one to prove myself to. It was not my fault. I did not need to sit with the guilt either. It was unhealthy and I needed to shift my focus to best help myself so that I could best help TJ.

What I did not know at the time was that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder afterwards as well. It was a time of great fear and challenges. Not only did he have these food allergies, he had also developed viral-induced asthma and seemed to be sick all the time, needing breathing treatments daily. Events with family and friends became difficult for so many reasons so I just avoided them. It appeared to be one hurdle after another during that time. Then, mix in a miscarriage, the loss of my close friend’s baby, postpartum anxiety and some medical issues plus a lifetime of anxiety… those mountains seemed way too high to climb.

That’s where the spin comes in… I seemed to be spinning out of control but that did not mean I could not learn to spin it the other way. My perspective had to change before my situation did.

Therefore against the intense anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and pain, I turned to reading scripture, praying and writing. I had always been good at seeing the good in other people but it was a challenge to do this for myself, my own experiences, my own life. I had to teach myself to find the positive or else I would never break the cycle… I had to reverse the spin.

Despite the fact that food allergies, anxiety and health issues are all incredible challenges, there is also a lot of good all around, waiting to be discovered or even seen through these rocky journeys.

Spinning forward and ahead…

1) Allergies have taught us to eat much healthier. It has opened our eyes and thus our mouths to a much more nutritious, organic and wholesome cuisine. It shined light on many misconceptions regarding health, food sources and fat, by allowing us to find great resources like Robin O’Brien. I still remember how I was pumping breast milk during my break at work when I got the message from an amazing nurse Kathy who sent me a video on her. I have not stopped following her since. Through the years, we have also found many companies and brands to trust. We have learned a lot.

2) Companies aren’t the only sources of great information. We have also met and/or spoken to so many other allergy families. We have shared ideas, joys and challenges. A support system is key and food allergies have allowed for that. They are all around. Sign up, join or boldly start your own.

3) We have been given a platform to teach to the ignorance and shine empathy on so many. In being able to educate others even our own family members and friends, relationships have taken on a whole new perspective and level.

4) Thinking outside the box – Having food allergies has really allowed us to get creative and go beyond the typical to ensure TJ, Madison and all of those with allergies are included. Why cry over the spilled milk and sheet cakes you can’t buy for birthday parties, when you have so many great alternative milks out there to purchase and so many cakes and recipes to experiment with and love! As we continue to add to our allergy-safe cookbook, we have fun with it.

5) It continues to teach us to appreciate the little things in life a bit more. We celebrate and praise God at the alter every time another food item is added back into our diets. Heck, we have even celebrated peas … shhh don’t tell my kids I’m not really a fan. Still, we are grateful for each blessing.

6) It develops self advocacy in children at a young age. A few weeks ago at a church class, teachers were switched without us knowing and the message about TJ’s allergies was not relayed. However, TJ spoke up for himself when they tried to give him goldfish which have dairy. Strong advocates with brave hearts will continue to make a difference in this world. I know I want to raise that type of child.

7) And the greatest blessing of all is the testimonies we have of God’s work. We were told TJ would have asthma until at least eight if not his whole life. – TJ no longer has asthma. He stopped daily treatments before he was 2.5. He hasn’t needed a breathing treatment since before he was 4. At 5 now, he is allergic to only dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Three allergies is a huge improvement from 21! While he used to be sick a lot, he has barely been sick this entire year and doesn’t even need an asthma care plan for kindergarten. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And when you ask TJ who took away the stomach bug he had in December, the breathing treatments, the other 18 allergies… His testimony is simply perfect. God!

Since beginning this journey, I have already learned to smile differently because:

1)      Special kinds of people wear these shoes.  Wear the label often thrown at you with pride. For you are special.

2)      Make the most of it, don’t let challenges like food allergies define you. Only YOU can define yourself.

3)      Ignorance is not bliss and needs to be educated. Let’s help share awareness with an open mind and heart.

4)      Let your faith be bigger than your fear.  Two thoughts cannot exist at the same time. A fearful one cannot remain when a faith-filled one butts in and takes charge. Trust your instinct but always be prepared and hopeful.

5)      Educating means advocating. Never apologize for it. Your child’s life, your life never requires an apology.

Last, but definitely not least, people with food allergies, old and young, continue to inspire us each and every day. They radiate so much strength, courage, and goodness. Don’t get me wrong, food allergies stink. However, we must keep focusing on the blessings while we keep safe, praying and believing God is continuing to use all of this as a testimony of his amazing love and healing power.

 

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So if it means having a house that’s a little messier and some challenges we know we will rise above, we’ll take it. We’ll use it all to continue to do our part to teach the merry-go-round of life to see the good all around and learn to spin the other way.

Honey Oat Bites

I love granola bars.   Over the years, I have gone through phases of several brands.   However, the more and more I learn about food; the more and more I want to create our own version.   A very close friend of mine shared a similar recipe with us back in March of 2018; however, it used peanut butter.   Therefore, we switched it up and made it safe for us. It is a hit not only with everyone in our house, including our picky son, but also a huge favorite for anyone who visits.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup of almond butter (We use Barney’s almond butter because it is free of peanut contamination, unlike many other brands.)

2/3 Cup unsweetened coconut flakes (toasted at 350 degrees for 6 minutes, flip them half way through)

1/2 cup chia seeds or grounded flax

1/3 cup raw honey

1/4 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients.

  2. Chill for 30 minutes

  3. Roll into balls

  4. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

  5. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Substitute any other nut butter including peanut butter if safe for your family.
  • For a protein boost, add in some protein powder.

These are a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth and get some much needed energy along the way.

 

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And Then There Was Sesame…

Are you kidding me 2019? That was the first thing I thought of when we were leaving the allergist’s office that Monday morning in January. Really… sesame…another allergy to add to the mix.

Like I wrote about in “Some Days Just Stink,”

we had just learned that …

  • TJ’s allergy levels for this year had pretty much remained the same unlike the previous few years.
  • That he would be going into kindergarten with dairy, egg and peanut allergies.
  • Then, Madison had unsuccessfully tried straight milk with her allergist the week before. This was her final step in being able to eat anything!!!

I felt blessed that soon I would have one child who could eat whatever I ate… could eat anything at parties or play dates or restaurants …. but then …

sesame struck …

 

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Now, three times in the summer Madison had tried hummus and loved it. However, all three times her cheeks got a little red and irritated. The third time her mouth got itchy so we knew it was something to avoid and ask the allergist about.

In January, the skin test showed what we expected although we prayed and hoped for the opposite:

She had an allergy to sesame and needed to avoid it until next year when we could retest in skin and blood work.

Are you kidding me 2019? Another allergy added to the mix… and so I allowed myself the next day or two to be bummed and annoyed. But like anything, those 48 hours of sulking was enough. It was time to turn it around.

Sesame is the 9th most common allergy in the United States. However, it is one that is usually not labeled, since only the top 8 need to be. However, sesame can be sneaky.

(Sesame Allergy Post from 2015)

We are no strangers to s sense allergy as TJ once had it too. But since passing his sesame food challenge a couple years ago, he must keep it in his weekly diet 2-3 times a week. (The same protocol is used with all his past allergens.)

While TJ now loves hummus, Madison has her own favorite dip. Sesame free hummus is always an option (look for upcoming post) but also guacamole. We love organic Yucatan guacamole. But here is a simple recipe totally kid-friendly and adaptable to all taste buds.

Ingredients:

2 avocados (mashed)

1/2 of a lime (squeeze out the juice)

1 teaspoon cilentro

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons organic salsa of your choice (amount depends on how large the avocados are)

Directions:

  1. Mix the lime juice with the mashed avocado

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients

  3. For added flavor for adults, add some cayenne and cilantro to the top.

Easy enough to not leave too much of a mess behind and totally not miss sesame one bit.

 

Coffee is Not My Best Friend

I don’t drink coffee.  untitled design (42)

I used to. I used to love it. I use to crave it! But over the years, I learned caffeine and I don’t mix so that bittersweet friendship needed to go…

In middle school, I was tall. In fact, I was almost my exact height now. Five feet six inches at the age of twelve, I was as tall as a few of the boys and towered over most of the other ones including my brother just a year younger than me.

The problem to my “middle school” Jen was that I liked the short boys, but was way too insecure with myself to see that…that was totally okay.. that my height was part of what made me beautiful. I just wasn’t ready to stand tall around anyone…So of course the next best solution at that age was…

“to stunt my growth” so I turned to coffee or so I thought… Untitled design (43).png

(I obviously do not encourage this behavior at all, but can’t help to laugh at myself looking back now. I also wanted bigger breasts and tried some outlandish theories for that too like eating while hanging off my bed ….

I was… untitled design (44)

am upside-down, hot mess and lucky I never choked on anything… but I digress…)

This was where my love of ice coffee and Coffee Coolattas started. I drank them every day throughout high school and college. Then, I shifted to black coffee in my 20s until I discovered a non-fat creamer that I indulged in for way too long. When first pregnant with my son, I tried to give it up but the afternoon migraines were too intense so I would save my cup of Joe for after lunch.

Because of the breastfeeding elimination diet I did for TJ due to his allergies, I could not use my “fat-dairy’ creamer. (apparently no matter how artificial it was, it still contained dairy). 

Then, came my miscarriage a year later which led me to do a three day whole food cleanse where coffee was not allowed…

It was then that I just stopped for what I thought would be a week or two. Soon though, I found myself pregnant with Madison and felt more comfortable sticking to being coffee-free.

Nine months later right on my due date (I have very punctual kids…can’t say that about myself these days… but I digress again ), my daughter arrived. 

During those first hours following her birth, a migraine started and the nurse and doctor both recommended that I drink coffee.   So, I did and sure enough the headache went away but what I didn’t know yet… I was already hooked again.

During those first two months, I found myself waiting for that one cup of coffee as if my day and life depended on it. When I drank it, I could take on anything…. for that hour at least and then

crash!

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Literally, I would crash. It was such a drastic shift in mood and energy level that I decided to challenge myself.   Did I really need this coffee? 

I am always up for a challenge so I took it on. This led to a terrible week of night sweats, exhausted days, and irritability.   It was truly a detox from one cup of coffee…(okay more than 1.5 cups or 2 at this point since my mug kept growing in size. One cup is one cup no matter the size, right?)

Anyways, that is when I finally faced the facts:

If my body had to detox from something like that, it was not meant to be.   

Therefore, I have been coffee free for 2.5 years now and don’t miss it.  I do still love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning though and I still have not given up the wine …. not so sure I will… I mean it’s much more pleasant to embrace the Friday mess of this house…

without feeling the need to clean or do laundry as I sip on a glass of Shiraz…

But once again I digress.

Stay tuned: Read up on some other sources of energy we use coming SOON to a blog near you. 😁)

 

 

A Healthy, Happy Home

Creating a healthy home has always been one of my greatest goals.  Even before kids, I considered myself healthy. However, it wasn’t until after TJ’s diagnosis that I began to see past some of my old ways of health to an even more natural way. It really opened my eyes to a world that I was not seeing clearly beforehand.   I thought I was healthy before that: I worked out every day and ate a low fat, lean diet, splurging on the weekends of course.   (Yes, I had fallen terribly for the fat free fad….oh how I had been wrong!) So to say the least, it was a huge wake up call when I took on the elimination diet for TJ and started to read more about food system.  I learned about true health by following and listening to people like Robyn O’Brien.
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While I still have a ways to go, we have come far.

Once again, I am NOT a doctor. Just a mama, wife, teacher, friend, Jesus lover, writer trying to figure out how to embrace the mess… (See disclaimer below)

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Over the past years, we have learned some go-to tips to assist our family’s health, and propel it forward…
  1. Prayer – This may sound repetitive throughout my posts, but good! It should be! The power of prayer cannot be defined.   We have truly seen it transform our health and you can too! There is no special way, time, or place. Just pray
  2. Rest – There was a time I would have told you that the r in propelling your health was to run daily.  However, as much as I still love to run each morning, getting enough sleep and rest has proven to be much more beneficial.
  3. Oils – Aside from healthy cooking oils and those in our diet like olive and coconut, essential oils have empowered our house.  It took me many years and a thousand questions (Thanks Mary for your patience!) before I actually bought my first premium starter kit from Young Living.   It’s been three years now since then and oils are now part of our daily routines.  They helped us toss out our unhealthy candles, became a friend to our immune systems, and eliminated so many unnecessary chemicals that our house once carried.We diffuse them, roller ball them up, bathe with them, make lotion using them, and even clean with them! With oils, it is important to always find a high quality brand! (Want more information on oils? Send me an email to theartofamessyhouse@gmail.com or comment below. And stay tuned for future posts.)untitled design (34)
  4. Probiotics – We saw a lot of doctors after TJ had his first reaction.  Unless necessary, I would NOT recommend doing that. Seeing a lot of doctors leads to lots of conflicting advice and one crazed Mama…or Dada.   Anyways, one recommendation that every single doctor during that time suggested was to use a good probiotic.   We went with UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics after two of them suggested that one. TJ and Madison have both used it since before they were one years old just in a reduced form. It was also what I used throughout my pregnancy with Madison. Sometimes, I switch it up too for myself with good high quality, trusted brands.
  5. Elderberry – This is very new to me this year.   During flu season last year, I read a lot about elderberry and purchased an organic brand of it.   However, it was stored away until this past Christmas when TJ got the stomach bug the night before Christmas Eve! (One of my worst nightmares!) So, we tore open that bottle and have been using it since whenever someone in the family has a compromised immune system. Next up…to try to make our own.
  6. Love – All you need is a little TLC… tender loving care, they say.  But the reality is sometimes, people are hard to love.  Sometimes, it just feels good to vent about something or someone..to burn off that steam exploded inside.   It’s healthy too… but the healthiest I have ever felt was when I began to more easily let go up “the drama,” “the negativity,” and even the people who are just plan “mean” … and focus on love. Hug more, kiss those dirty cheeks more and say “I love you” out of routine. Stop fixating on what’s wrong; challenge yourself to see the good in the picture instead. Walk away from the hate; embrace the love.

 

In addition to these ways we PROPEL our health, I also chew a clove of garlic at the first sign of a sore throat.   (I had to add this today as I am feeling under the weather and needed a morning clove.) It is not for everyone and I am sure that I do not need to tell you, it does not have the greatest taste.. or smell.  I didn’t add it to our list because I am the only one who uses this as my kids are too young to force allium sativum on them, and Timmy is not a fan of the technique.  No kissing tonight hun!

So there’s my mnemonic device for health, PROPEL!  The ELA teacher in me at work…the believer at heart. It’s not cliche.  It’s real.

 

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Even though we still get hit by viruses, we breath easier knowing that we have resources that help propel our health past the always lingering season of germs and mess.

Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, motherhood, and life, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. I am not a doctor; therefore, the information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

Favorite Finds Friday: Similac’s Go & Grow Toddler Soy Formula

I truly believe that breastfeeding my son for 13.5 months was the best option for him.  When he was 7.5 months, we learned of his multiple food allergies after an anaphylactic reaction to a taste of yogurt.  Because TJ had always been gaining nicely and doing wonderfully before this reaction, I felt that I needed to at least try and continue to nurse him until his diet was opened up to more options. Therefore, I continued on a strict elimination diet of everything was allergic to (wheat, oat, barley, rye, coconut, sesame, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, soy) for the next six months.  After he passed an oral food challenge to soy in the spring, I decided that it was best for both of us to wean him.   We had two options at that point for a milk source: soy milk or soy toddler formula.

After his blood work came back, we learned his iron levels were slightly low.   Because his diet was so limited and he was not eating many solids, we decided to go the toddler formula route.  Based on an allergist’s and nutritionist’s recommendation we started to use Similac’s Go &Grow Toddler Soy Formula.  

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From the start, TJ has always loved this!  Two months after starting, his iron levels were tested again and were in the normal range again.  I believe that this product helped with this.   Therefore, although I am a supporter of breastfeeding when possible, I am an even bigger supporter on doing what is best for you and your family.   No two situations are ever the same; therefore, breast milk and this formula have both been beneficial to my son’s health.

On this Friday, we are thankful for making TJ’s sippy cups something he truly looks forward to so we smile on…

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