Tag Archives: Safety

Chocolate Covered Heart Cookies

I have always loved to bake and experiment with recipes out there. However after TJ’s anaphylactic reaction, I became paralyzed in many aspects of my life including my passion for baking. Like I’ve stated in previous posts, I spent the next two years, avoiding… avoiding and avoiding, paralyzed by that fear. For most of my life, I was the person who would enthusiastically volunteer to bake for events,.  However, I avoided this at all costs now. It was easier…

it was safer …

it was what I did to handle the fear the world of allergies brought.

I mean they do say FEAR = false evidence appearing real.

However, soon I started to learn that I didn’t need to do this and that in fact, parties and events that set up an incredible challenge for us…

…were really bringing us an incredible opportunity.

FEAR = forever embodying amazing revival

That’s when we started to experiment with recipes and began to create our allergy-safe recipe book. Yesterday, I took the day off to prepare a couple items for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower today. One of those preparations involved creating this very recipe with TJ (who has already eaten 3 of these cookies).

So here you go: the perfect heart cookie drenched in scrumptious chocolate and everlasting love.

Heart Shaped Cookies (dairy, egg, peanut free)

Oven: 350 degrees

Time: An hour (But the dough should sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using.)

  • It makes 24 cookies.  I doubled it to make enough for the event.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy butter (We used Earth’s Balance)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Nutiva Shortening
  • sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

  1. Melt the dairy free butter. in a saucepan.
  2. Mix the DF butter with sugar.
  3. Stir in apple sauce.
  4. Then, add vanilla.
  5. Slowly mix in 3 cups of flour.
  6. Place dough in plastic wrap or even a plastic baggie after shaping them into a disc. Place in the refrigerator for at least hour, or up to 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or use some of the DF butter and flour to grease the pan.
  8. Roll the dough in a 1/2 thick rectangle and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out as many as you can from the dough.
  9. Repeat until the dough is done.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  11. Have the cookies cool completely.
  12. Use a double boiler or create your own.  I used sauce pot of boiling water and put a mixing bowl on the top of it.  In the mixing bowl on top, add the chocolate chip chunks and shortening. Stir until melted and smooth.
  13. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate, removing excess by tapping it into the bowl.
  14. Place the cookies on a sheet of parchment paper and quickly add the sprinkles onto the west chocolate. Let set completely.
  15. Keep the cookies refrigerated until time to serve or an hour before to ensure no melting chocolate.
  • Final note: If you battle anxiety from anything,…no matter how long…no matter how deep the scars go… I promise you…you can heal.  You can defeat it.  You can overcome it.  I will be doing more posts about this and mental illness because healing happens…prayer and believe…and eat yummy cookies throughout it all!

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Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn

After the darkest hour

comes the new dawn

comes where it all changes

revival to a world

where smiles form in the creases

of the new day’s yawn.

Just before dawn

the darkest hour of day

yet it stands in the knowing

in the praising

in the promise

that light is just hours away.

Even in the pits

there is a peace

there is a love

there is a hope

given to all who accept it in

the power, the light, the promise

that must keep burning within.

Just before dawn

the darkest hour of day

yet it stands in the knowing

in the praising

in the promise

that light is just hours away.

Not as the world gives

not as hearts can be troubled

not as the night fills with fear

for just before dawn

the light is still so very near.

Just before dawn

the darkest hour of day

yet it stands in the knowing

in the praising

in the promise

that light is just hours away.

-JK

For more on this: turn to John 14:27


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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.

 

EpiPens in Maine

Lawmakers in Maine are considering a bill all states should pass: “to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense EpiPens at no cost to the patient.”

See the article here:

MAINE LAWMAKER’S PROPOSAL TO MAKE EPIPEN MORE ACCESSIBLE

Every six months we have to shell out sooooo much money to purchase two sets of the generic version. (4 sets total: 2 for each child – one for school and one for home) While we feel thankful to be reimbursed for more than 3/4th of each set, that’s still a ridiculous amount of money!

Whenever I pick them up at the pharmacy, I always think about how many people… kids… babies don’t have the necessary protection that these devices bring because of the insanely high, immoral cost!

But like always, we must reflect on how blessed we are…

on how much TJ has improved since his first anaphylactic reaction …

and how we truly believe his body as well as Madi’s will be restored from all of these allergies.

But in the meantime, we stay prepared, always with two sets on hand.

Go Maine, let’s get more states on board!

A Picky Eater’s Peas

Picky eating drove me crazy for way too long. From the time TJ was first able to eat, he was never really interested in food.

Some of this was due to his 21 food allergies at that time, texture sensitivities, and the fact he was a slow chewer and eater.

However, in every difficult situation, there is always a blessing. Because of his pickiness …

He wasn’t the child grabbing for someone else’s food at daycare. (Thank God for that with a list as long as his at that point.)

At his one year old appointment, his pediatrician who we love, spoke the medical truth, “TJ would have a reaction in daycare that year. The chance was too great not to. We just had to make sure the staff was prepared.”

(The course of action we took after that is for another post… as well as the panic I fell into..)

BUT…while that’s the medical facts, we believe in the God of real truth, of miracles, of the impossible … TJ was and is living proof of that. He never had a reaction that year at daycare or any of the other years after. God is good! And prayer with belief is powerful.

Looking back, his pickiness was a blessing, a way he was kept safe in otherwise, high-risk situations. However, he was still such a picky eater and it drove us nuts especially after his blood work came back around twelve months, stating he was mildly anemic, adding more to his already limited plate! (Quite the paradox if I can say so myself!)

Our options were put him on a supplements or try to build up the iron naturally with food. The latter was what we chose after meeting with two nutritionists. So we spent the next four months, getting him to eat three meals a day filled with iron … each meal would take an hour or more for him to complete… talk about patience…

When he was rechecked, sure enough it had worked! However, it did not stop the picky eating nonsense which continued for years…

Therefore, I was always on the search for new safe foods, recipes, inspiration …

When my daughter was first born, in a conversation with another mom, she mentioned roasted chickpeas being something her own picky eater loved.

TJ liked chickpeas here and there so we tried it… (I would have tried almost anything at this point) …and sure enough it was an instant hit!

And the added bonus… it’s so easy!

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  1. Organic chickpeas (When we use a can, we make sure it is BPA free.)
  2. Salt
  3. Pepper
  4. Olive oil
  5. Any other spices your child likes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse and dry chick peas. Get out as much liquid as possible
  3. Coat the oven pan with a little bit of olive oil. Not too much
  4. Put the chickpeas in the pan.
  5. Sprinkle salt, pepper or whatever spices you want. (Amount is always to your child’s liking. I only use a little pepper for that reason.)
  6. Drizzle the top with some more olive oil.
  7. Put in oven for 40-45 minutes
  8. Halfway through, shake or flip the chickpeas around to roast all sides.
  9. Finish cooking until lightly browned and crunchy.
  10. Enjoy!

It’s been over two years of making this recipe which now both of my kids continue to enjoy. And even though it may still take TJ a little longer to eat them, he does so with a smile.

You’re a “Dump Truck”

Maybe I’m bias, but TJ has the cutest little voice. No matter what he says I just want to eat him up even if the words are not properly pronounced or if his story about school does not add up.

Likewise, watching and listening to a toddler first gain their voice is amazing and a learning experience in itself, even more than I thought it was…as I recently found out.

My daughter started to speak in sentences way before we remember my son doing so. Or at least, her delivery was much clearer. However, as parents for the first time, we had no idea what was “typical” and what wasn’t. (I say that loosely as no two children are alike.)

Sure, there were times, TJ got frustrated with us when we did not understand fully what he was trying to tell us. But then, we saw how clever he was to figure out how to give us clues to get us to understand.

“Mommy, you know what I mean.   It rhymes with pain and rain, and it is on your head.”

“Oh brain! How clever! Great problem-solving skills!

Plus, as a special education teacher I never wanted to over-analyze my own children when it wasn’t necessary. So we corrected him when needed and even had a good laugh the times that called for it… like the time he called to my brother-in-law,

“Hey! Uncle Frankie, you’re a dumb #$@%!” …

…aka dump truck.
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What a cute, hilarious scene at Christmas that year when TJ was 3.5.

But …

Fast forward to just after Christmas a year later…

when I received his preschool report card. He received all 4s out of 5s except for speaking in full sentences which he did for us. He got a 2!?!?! Then I turned to the back to read the note,

“TJ has a kind heart and is nice to everyone. He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him. I love his art!”

What!?!? “He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him.”

Okay, maybe there was more to this than we knew. After I started to panic, how could we have missed this? Or overlooked it? Did we not read enough books? Would he get picked on or bullied in kindergarten? Did we teach him all wrong? Did we fail him? What other trauma did we cause him? What did I do wrong? And a million other questions….

But then I reminded myself …. breath … pray… breath …

So, I spoke to a close friend at work who works part time at another facility for speech and she calmed me down, suggesting I take him there for an evaluation.   She also mentioned that sometimes problems with eating and speaking are related which got me thinking some more.

A week later, I took TJ to get evaluated and sure enough, he needed speech. Interestingly enough, we learned that some of the problem letters like g and k that were causing him to not be understood were due to lack of muscle strength in his mouth. All related to feeding too!!!

Now, anyone who knows us and knows TJ, knows how we have spent his whole life asking him to chew or eat…. reminding him to chew and eat.

“TJ, what are you eating? TJ, chew your food. TJ, eat. TJ, EEAAATTT!!!!!”

He has always been such a sloooooooooooooooow eater and now we knew part of a reason why….

He mainly uses his front teeth.

So, we had a couple added challenges. But wherever there are problems, there can be solutions as well. Thank God for that!

Therefore, we started using bite blocks and a chewy tube to strengthen his back mouth muscles while also practicing letters and words that he knows how to say but has started to form bad habits with.  This is in addition to speech/feeding class thirty minutes a week.

So while our dining room table now has even more clutter on it with our speech tools and worksheets on it, at least we won’t let any dump trucks trip us up anymore.

Store Bought Favorites

Oh how busy life gets! There is always something to prep, cook or bake for, but not always the time to do so. Since TJ’s diagnosis, more and more great companies have been creating delicious treats... aka tasty time savers.

*Of course, always make sure to check ingredients and labels every time to ensure it is also safe for you and your family. Check labels with each purchase as companies do change the recipe here and there. Better safe than sorry … so cliche but true.*

Here are some of our favorite go-tos.

1) Mo’Pweeze Cupcakes: Mo/Pweeze Bakery

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2) Abe’s Crumb cake: https://www.abesmuffins.com/the-muffins

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3) Abe’s Muffins: https://www.abesmuffins.com/the-muffins

4) Azure’s Bagels: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

 

While TJ’s teachers always have a box of Oreos as his special treat in case we don’t know about a party or event at school, we ask for a monthly schedule at the start of each month to try to prevent that.  Therefore, during the crazy weeks where dinner time is late and bedtime is even later, we are blessed to have found such amazing products and trustworthy businesses.