Monday, April 20, 2009

Tips for Baking Without- Egg Replacements

Baking without eggs is an adjustment for any experienced cook, both in practice and in flavor. Don't panic, the options are almost limitless, and yield very good results. I have found several tried and true favorites at my house. All of them alter the flavor of the finished product slightly. (This is the part my husband has had the hardest time adapting to. He does not care for the way most baking tastes without egg. He is the toughest one to convert.) Experiment with a few options until you find what you like. I have favorites that I use depending on the recipe type. One for pancakes, another for muffins, another still for meatloaf. And of course, one for days when I'm just feeling lazy.

First of all, a word of advice. If your recipe calls for more than two eggs, throw it away. The result is substantially different in flavor, and we have found that it just is not enjoyable. Also, be aware of how your egg substitute fits in with the other ingredients in the recipe. For example, do not use a replacement that is based on baking powder if there is already a lot of baking powder in the recipe. Using a tablespoon of baking powder definitely leaves a funny flavor that anyone new to eggless baking will dislike. (If you have been doing it for years, you may not notice the flavor as much.) My goal has always been to produce an end result that I could serve to anyone, allergic or not, and have it be considered tasty.

If you have favorite recipes you want to save, pick a replacement option and try it out. If you are really new to this, and want to see how other cooks have adapted, I highly recommend VegWeb. It is a site loaded with vegan recipes. Some are taste bud tantalizing treats, some are average. You can look at the recipes and learn how other people are doing it. Sometimes the replacement is obvious. Sometimes you have to read the recipe more than once to figure out what is replacing the egg.

Here is a long list of potential egg replacements. All of the below substitutions are equal to one egg. Many I have tried, some I have not. Most are commonly found ingredients in the house, so you won't need a special trip to the health food store to try them out.

1 egg=

  • The one I used most often when I started baking without eggs: 1 tsp baking powder, 1Tbsp water, and 1 Tbsp vinegar. This gives really nice lift to recipes. My nephew- with an unrestricted diet- loves pancakes made this way. He once told me that I have the fluffiest pancakes he has ever seen. Then he ate six.
  • 1 tsp yeast dissolved in 1/4 c warm water- I don't use this one often as yeast can be fickle.
  • 1 Tbsp apricot or banana puree- this is great for binding, but doesn't add lift, so only use if there is another source of leavening. It adds nice moisture, and does leave a noticeable flavor.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp water, 1 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp baking powder- this does a nice job of giving lift and provides the fat that an egg would give, in recipes where the fat is important. I don't care for this one, but most people I know that avoid eggs seem to favor this.
  • 2 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds plus 3 Tbsp water. (Use hot water.) Mix them together in a small bowl, and let sit a couple of minutes until it becomes thick, then add as you would eggs. Flax 'egg' has a nutty flavor that works fine in cookies, bars and brownies, and things like zucchini bread, but may not be what you want in cakes or lighter vanilla-flavored items. It does help with browning, and it provides some omega-3 oils and fiber which we all like. Remember always to freeze your ground flax, because it goes bad very quickly from oxidiation of the healthy oils... or you can buy it in individual packets (like sugar packets) so that it is shelf stable and you can use just what you need. I have tried this and I like the binding in it, but it does need to have leavening in the recipe still.
  • 2 Tbsp. potato starch- Potato starch, not flour, gives the chewy mouth feel that eggs provide
  • 1/4 c mashed potatoes- I haven't tried this one because my kids will not eat mashed potatoes. Thus, I never bother making any.
  • 1/4 c canned pumpkin- This is a rather dense and chewy replacement, so is not well suited to recipes that are intended to be light and fluffy.
  • 1/4 c puréed prunes- Haven't tried this. You could probably use a jar of baby food for this.
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot flour- The one exotic ingredient that I have not yet purchased.
  • 1 heaping Tbsp soy flour + 2 Tbsp water- We avoid soy when possible. Again with untried but reported to be very good.
  • 1 Tbsp soy milk powder + 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water- Again with the soy. You may be able to use DariFree in place of soy milk powder. (DariFree is corn based.)
  • EnerG Egg- found in the baking section at many grocery stores. This is a good one, quick and easy. Follow directions on the box to determine amount needed. Read the whole box for tips on using with success.
So, as promised, a huge line up of things to try. Pick your favorite. Pick more than one. Feel inspired and invent your own. Or recipe surf online and follow the lead of someone who already figured it out. (Just search for egg-free XXXX recipe, you'll get results!)

Good luck, and happy baking!

Tips for Baking Without- Milk Substitutes

If you are new to the world of food allergies, it can be very daunting to learn how to cook while avoiding traditional ingredients. Especially if you have one of the top 8, which are the most common ingredients. And if you have multiple allergies to deal with it can feel almost impossible.

I am here to tell you that it CAN be done. Yes, you have to relearn a few things. But after an adjustment period, it becomes old hat. Second nature. You can do it with very little effort.

The biggest pitfall is expecting your substitute ingredients to taste the same as your standard favorites. They won't. Ever. It's like expecting the home made birthday card from your 7 year old niece to closely resemble a Hallmark. Not likely. Is a card from your niece a bad thing? No. It is sweet in sentiment and simplicity, with adorable illustration. It is like a big hug, because it comes from the heart. Baking allergy free is like that. If you can let go of your Hallmark expectations and understand that you are going to get results that are totally different but still delightful in their own right, you will be a happy eater. And your tastebuds will gradually adapt to the new flavors. In a year or two, you will swear that your substitute tastes just like the real thing, and it will. To you. And your family will love what you cook because it was crafted with love for them, by you.

Ok, kids are picky eaters. They may not love it. But they might not like Kraft either. It's a crapshoot. The part about feeling safe and loved? They'll like that. Even if they never say it.

Enough sentiment. Let's cook, I'm hungry already!

Hmmm...where to start? How about milk. A staple in baking and cooking anything creamy. And the easiest to relplace. It's wet. Replace it with something wet. LOL. Really, in baking any beverage will stand in for milk. Water, juice, coffee, and substitute milks. There are a ton of substitute milks. Soy, Rice, Hemp, Almond, Oat, Coconut. And they all come in multiple flavors. You don't have to pick just one. Drink one for the flavor, bake with another for it's health benefits. You can even use multiple milks in a recipe to avoid strong flavor and still reap the health benefit. Pay attention to make sure you get one that is fortified. The substitute milks are very important in making things like home made chicken pot pie. Mmmmm.... here's a quick run down:

Soy Milk: Controversial replacement for many. Research the pros and cons. Good source of soy protein. Works like regular milk in any recipe, will sour like regular milk if left in a sippy cup too long, or if you add vinegar to make buttermilk. Make sure to buy unsweetened plain for cooking, because that hint of sugar and flavor in the rest will give your savory recipes an odd flavor. Available in organic and non.

Rice Milk: Has a thin, watery flavor and consistency when compared to its dairy counterpart. Lacks body and richness due to it's low fat content. Does not sour for use in buttermilk recipes. Mild flavor easier for many to adapt to. More flavor varieties of this beverage on the market than the other milks have.

Hemp Milk: Rich in healthy omegas. Slightly nutty flavor is very unique. Full bodied and rich, making it a heavier milk to give baked goods more oomph. Sours nicely with vinegar.

Almond Milk: You're on your own here. We're allergic to nuts. Enjoy though!

Oat Milk: Slightly gritty texture makes it harder to drink straight, but great flavor makes it yummy when baking. I like to use it in equal parts with water to make oatmeal! Creamy without altering the oat flavor. Be careful if you are gluten free, as oats are often contaminated with wheat.

Coconut Milk: Rich and creamy and high in medium chain fatty acids. ("Good fat", essential for growing little people.) High in lauric and capric acid, which are supposed to be good for supporting the immune system. Adding sugar to this can bring out the coconut flavor, which will vary in intesity by brand. It should not change the flavor of savory recipes. It comes canned (thicker) or in the dairy section (traditional milk consistency). It will make buttermilk if you add vinegar. You can make whipped cream with it if you buy a can of full fat milk. Lots of recipes for this online.

Try them all. Figure out which ones have the health benefits you value most, and which ones your family is most likely to drink. All of them are an investment, ranging in price from $6-$15 a gallon. But so worth it to know that you are giving your kiddos the healthy stuff they need to grow.

We'll stop there for now. Tomorrow? Egg replacers. And by tomorrow, I mean whenever I get the chance to sit down and blog. Until then, go try a new kind of milk. You'll feel good about it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Eczema and Allergy connection

This past weekend found me in Chicago, attending the FAAN conference. I came a way with a few tidbits of information that were especially relevant in our allergy life, and I thought I would share. Of course, the following information is what I understood as it was said. As with any other information, you may want to double check it for accuracy, and you should certainly discuss it with your allergist or physician before making any changes to your lifestyle.

First, the relationship between allergies and eczema changes as your child ages. In infancy and toddlerhood (through about 3) food and eczema are directly linked. Consuming allergenic foods causes eczema flare ups. If your little one was diagnosed as a baby, you already knew about this link. What I did not know is that as your child ages, food is no longer the primary trigger. In fact, it becomes less and less so. Environmental allergies begin to trigger eczema outbreaks around the age of three, taking the place of food allergy triggers. So for us moms trying to figure out what we fed our kiddo, stop doubting yourself. Yes, check the food. Also check the environment though, as your munchkin may be getting seasonal or environmental allergies.

As we move into puberty those crazy changing hormones play a part in the eczema. And as young adults the allergies and eczema are more loosely associated. The relationship eventually breaks down far enough that one does not lead to the other.

Eczema is closely tied to allergies, but it is it's own disease as well. This means that while allergies exacerbate eczema, no allergic exposure is needed to cause a flare up. It can be caused by being hot and sweaty in the summer or overly dry in the winter. It will go through cycles with no prompting. An eczema flare up is not a guarantee of allergic exposure. But we parents know that it's a pretty good clue for our little ones. For now.

Another source of interest for me was that topical exposure to food allergens does not result in a fatal allergic response. The medical adviser stopped short of saying it never happens or it is impossible, but he stressed repeatedly that life threatening reactions occur when the allergen is ingested. Ingestion to me means that the allergen is introduced into your body orally or through contact with a mucous membrane. (Rubbing your eyes and getting the allergen into your eye, or that dreadful -but rare- instance of childhood nose spelunking.) So, when daddy kisses your forehead and you get a rash, it may be uncomfortable, but it won't kill you.

Speaking of kissing....if you have teens, and thank goodness I don't yet, it's something for them to think about. Your date should refrain from foods you are allergic to. If they do not, think twice about kissing. (Insert graphic mental image of big teenage grins- complete with braces- immediately following any given meal. 'Nuff said.) Again the stressing that life threatening reactions occur upon ingestion. No braces? Super! That does not mean, though, that your date won't leave a telltale rash that you would prefer not to explain to your parents.

Another fun fact: Legumes are not a close knit family. The medical adviser present explained that the legume family is unusual in that you can react to one, such as soy or peanut, and not react to another, like garbanzo beans and peas. They all react individually, not as a family. So, if you are allergic to one legume do not assume that you are allergic to them all. Can you be? Of course. Will you be? Try them with sensible caution to find out.

If you use your epi-pen, go to the ER. Period. Expect to stay four hours for observation if it was a food induced reaction, longer if it was a reaction to medicine. (Food is processed through your system faster than medicines are, so you can leave sooner.) The reason for mandatory ER visits? Biphasic reactions can happen. In other words, your reaction can be controlled with the epi-pen, then come back full force later. We all know this, I think, but when faced with the decision of whether to spend the night in the ER or your own beds, your resolve can waiver. An unexpected word of caution: you may know as much or more than your ER doctor. Really. You live with an allergy every day, and have spent a lot of time educating yourself about how to handle it. This is not their area of specialty, and their training on the subject was not as extensive. Be ready to advocate (politely) for your child if faced with under-education. Wow. Not what I expected to hear from a medical professional.

Finally, allergies are taking longer to "outgrow". In the past the standard expectation was that many allergies would be outgrown by school age. Now they are lasting into early adolescence. Right up through high school. So, we drag out the light of hope into a longer beam. While the medical adviser would not stomp on hope that every allergy can eventually be outgrown, he did hint that the more severe the allergy the less likely it will be outgrown. It CAN still be outgrown, always that teasing flickering light of hope.

That sums up my take aways. Hope at least one of them is interesting to you too. If not, why on earth did you read this far?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Allergy Escalation

I have always said that we are very lucky that my daughter does not have contact allergies to foods. Dogs, definitely. Cats, sure. Environmental and food exposure to allergens generally causes her eczema to flare up, but no obvious immediate skin based reaction.

Until now.

Twice last summer she had a mystery reaction that started with very small hives on her face. Both times while we were out of the house. I remember that the first time was after jumping in an inflatable bounce house at the reading festival. My husband and I assumed that someone had rented it previously and had let their dog in. She does get hives from dogs. We wiped her down and gave her Benadryl. The hives left.

Last week here at the house she reacted after daddy kissed her forehead. Hives on the forehead. Daddy ate out for lunch and dinner. We are not sure what caused the reaction. No nuts at dinner. Could have been from nuts at lunch? Could it be an egg or dairy allergy is getting worse instead of better? Aaack!

A wipe down and her night time allergy meds and the hives went away.

So, mystery contact reactions. How fun. It makes me nervous now to send her to school where they are likely not going to notice as quickly as I do.

That's all. Nothing earth shattering, just sharing my own personal craziness.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gluten Free Flexibility and a Muffin Recipe

So, when I began the process of learning to live without wheat in July I was very hesitant. Because I love to bake. Muffins, cakes, quick breads, you name it. Baking without wheat? I've never used any other flour. In fact, I remember checking out a cookbook from the library shortly after our allergic kiddo was diagnosed six years ago and thinking: "Whoa. This one's not for me. These are all weird ingredients. I don't need this, I refuse to cook strange things. I am going to cook normal food." It had a section in the front explaining all the types of flours to use in place of wheat, along with other allergy friendly replacement options explained. Here I am six years later not only using an increasing number of 'weird' ingredients, but embracing the opportunity to try new and unusual options. Anything to help make our diet tasty, interesting, and have options close to what her friends at school are eating.

In fact, on any given day I have six types of milk in my fridge. We're not talking different flavors. Five to eight types of flour in the freezer. Quite a turnaround. I am slowly learning what properties make which ingredient best in each recipe. Hemp or coconut milk work best in recipes that need rich flavor that thin watery rice milk can not provide. And so on. (It's really amazing how easily you can adapt to living without other allergens. I think wheat is the hardest to get used to and to avoid. Personally speaking.)

Where was I? Oh yes! Baking without wheat. I started with a gluten free flour blend and began to replace the flour in my regular recipes with this blend. The results were edible, but certainly nothing to rave about.

Then I began to find recipe after recipe online that called for each gluten free flour individually. Mix as you go. DOH! I already mixed all my flour into my blend. Shopping again, for more flour. Leave some out, mix some up. Frequently I would put off trying a wonderful sounding recipe because I was missing one of the types of four it called for. Hmmm...that sounds yummy, but I don't have any sorghum flour. Search on. After all, if they were calling for sorghum it had to be because the properties of that flour made it best suited to that recipe, right?

HA! Some days I am so slow to catch on. It finally hit me- even in gluten free baking the flours are interchangeable. Did it really take three months to get the courage to experiment? It's true, some flours lend a better flavor or texture to a given recipe. But it is subject to individual preference. The three way bulb in my brain finally kicked off the nightlight setting and onto the 60 watt setting. I saw the light.

And now I am experimenting with flours like a woman possessed. If you have any interest, I can post a listing of flours I have used and what qualities they lend to my baking. Of course, you can find that on about a million other blogs too, if you want.

Long story incredibly longer, all this ranting to tell you of my latest experiment. Two weeks ago I made applesauce muffins that relied primarily on buckwheat flour. Great texture, not a great aftertaste. This week I decided (being too low on flour to rely on one type alone for flavor) to use EVERY flour in the freezer in the recipe. And see what happens. The result? Delicious. Seriously. Not as light and airy, but no icky aftertaste either. I'll take it.

The lesson for you? Just use what you have. The end result should be the same amount of flour called for in the recipe, but it does not matter the type. Use good baking judgment- a mix of flour and starch, a pinch of xanthan or guar gum. Free yourself, if you haven't already. Here is my crazy version, so you can see what I did. My apologies to the original cook, as I can not find the recipe I used as my jumping off point.

Mixed Grain Applesauce Muffins

1/4 c buckwheat flour
1/4 c brown rice flour
1/4 c white rice flour
1/4 c sorghum
1/4 c amaranth
1/4 c potato starch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c applesauce
1/3 c safflower oil
2/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 EnerG eggs
4 Tbsp apple juice

Sift together dry ingredients. (When using potato starch I like to sift to break up the lumps and evenly distribute. It likes to cling together.) Mix wet ingredients in small bowl and add to dry. Stir until combined. Transfer batter to muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes at 350. Enjoy.

(Note: I also altered the spices and the amount of sugar, as the original was too sweet for my taste. And I'm almost out of cinnamon too. Had I been out of apple juice I would have thrown in some random milk. The need for shopping yields creative cooking.)

Original recipe: Applesauce Muffins

3/4 c buckwheat flour
1/2 c sorghum
1/4 c tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 c applesauce
1/3 c olive oil
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 EnerG eggs
4 Tbsp apple juice

Directions are same as above.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Presentation Counts!

Most mornings I consider it an accomplishment to put breakfast on the table in time to allow the girls to eat before scurrying to the bus stop. My girls are not fast eaters, 15 minutes is not gonna cut it.

This being the case, I don't typically put a lot of effort into presentation. I serve it, and count on them to eat it. Done.

This morning I planned on yogurt and granola for breakfast. As the kids are sitting at the table, they are calling out orders as if they have somehow moved into a restaurant where the chef cooks made to order meals every day. 'I don't want granola, I just want yogurt.' 'I want to eat out of the container today.' 'I don't want berries, I just want it plain.' And the requests keep coming! Wow. We woke up on the demanding side of the bed today. It happens.

Short order cooking does not. So, how to make everyone happy? Mom needs to stick to a meal plan to stretch those grocery dollars. The kids need a healthy breakfast that they WANT to eat.

The answer? Presentation. Yep. Really.

I got out the "fancy" glasses. In this case a wine glass, as I did not want to use enough 'stuff' to fill a whole parfait dish. Layer in your ingredients and garnish appropriately. Listen to the kiddos go nuts because they get to eat a fancy breakfast. Contents? Forgotten. I think I could almost get away with layering spinach and brussel sprouts in these glasses and they would eat them. Well, I might need to add pink sprinkles for garnish.

Be creative. You know your kids. Serve it on cool paper plates with toothpicks that are typically reserved for adult beverages. You know the ones. Umbrellas, swords, you name it. Put it in a parfait dish. Write a joke on the plate and they have to eat enough to uncover the joke. Serve it on their play dishes from their kitchen. Just change it up. It's magical for them, it takes the focus off the food and puts it on the fun! Now, go serve up a surprise.

Breakfast Parfait

1 carton SO Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt
6 strawberries
1 banana
1 cup granola of your choice

Slice two strawberries and divide them into the bottom of three wine glasses or custard bowls. Add two spoonfuls of yogurt to each glass. Add a layer of granola. Now slice a layer of banana into each glass, followed by the rest of the yogurt. Top with remaining sliced berries and an additional sprinkle of granola. Enjoy.

You can change this up with whatever fruit you have on hand. You can also drizzle a bit of honey or maple syrup on the top, or add sprinkles. Use rice krispies or cheerios instead of granola. It's flexible, just make it fit your diet, and make it fun.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Strawberry Birthday Cake

I found this recipe by accident, and decided to try it out. I'm so glad we gave it a whirl, as it was very tasty. The above title will link you to the instructional video showing how to prepare the original cupcake recipe. I have made only a few small changes- I took out the flour and substituted my own gf blend, and used coconut milk instead of soy. In it's original form it is dairy, egg, and nut free. Now it is dairy, egg, nut, soy, and wheat free. But fully loaded on flavor. (She has an icing recipe to go with, but we did not try it out.)

The recipe calls for this to be cupcakes, and I did make a dozen cupcakes. I had quite a bit of batter left over, and only have one cupcake pan.... so I made a small 9" cake with the remaining batter. The cupcakes rose nicely, and I think the cake would have too, had it enough batter to do so. As it was, it made a delightful birthday celebration for all of the non-allergic cousins. (Picture coming soon.) This is one of the few egg free cakes with a texture that is not overly soft and crumbly, so I think it would have made a great layer cake. It was surprisingly firm and chewy, but not tough. I think if you wanted a more delicate crumb you could use a little less starch in the flour blend and make it more tender and delicate. For serving to littles, I prefer a cake that will stand up to finger feeding without leaving a crumb trail.

Here it is:

Strawberry Cupcakes/Birthday Cake

2 c strawberries
1 Tbsp berry jelly/jam
1/2 c plain coconut milk + 2 tsp lemon juice/vinegar* see notes
1/4 c spectrum shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
4 tsp EnerG egg replacer + 2 Tbsp warm water
2 tsp raspberry extract
3/4 c white rice flour
1/4 c brown rice flour
1/4 c amaranth flour *see notes
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cardamom

Puree the strawberries and jam in food processor. Combine coconut milk and vinegar in small bowl and set aside. Combine egg replacer and warm water in small bowl and set aside. (This is not the ratio called for on the box. This will make a very thick mixture.) Attempt to cream the shortening and sugar. (I say attempt as there is not quite enough shortening to get creamy. Mix until it starts to hold together- this takes a few minutes. It will start to look like pastry dough with large coarse crumbs. Keep going, wait until the crumbs are very fine and starting to cling together.) Add egg replacer mixture and combine. Slowly add in the milk mixture. Add strawberry puree and raspberry extract. Combine well. Mixture will be thin. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to wet. Mix until combined, and then beat on high for one minute. Batter was thin, but not soupy. Transfer to cupcake pan or two 9" rounds. Bake 22 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool and frost as desired.


*I am currently obsessed with coconut milk. I used SO Delicious plain coconut milk from the dairy section, which is the consistency of regular milk. If you chose to use coconut milk from a can it will be thicker and you may need to add a bit of extra liquid to the recipe. Adding vinegar does cause it to curdle slightly, making buttermilk for this recipe. I have not had good luck with rice milk when trying to imitate buttermilk so I would not recommend it.

*I am starting to experiment with amaranth. It is not necessary here, but it does "lend a natural boost to the structure of gf baked goods and help them brown more quickly" (per Living Without magazine's review of gf flours) I thought that egg free cake could use some of that boost. I also tried to keep the flours used as white as possible to imitate not only a white flour cake, but to allow the pink hue of the strawberry to shine through. Kids are not going to eat something with a funky color. I chose potato starch as it gives a chewy mouth feel like an egg in the recipe would. Because of it's presence you can use less xanthan gum in the recipe. A touch of brown rice four is added because I find using all white rice flour tends to leave a slightly gritty texture, and I am not certain of how much amaranth could be tolerated in this recipe without leaving an aftertaste. I am happy with this blend in the recipe, but feel free to change it up.

Let me know how this recipe works for you and what changes you make so it fits your diet!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Raspberry Smoothie and Rotation Contemplation

I am loving the half gallon size coconut milk in the dairy section of Whole Foods. I know that it is loaded with fat, but it's healthy fat. And tasty too. (Bonus: it adds texture to baked goods that is richer, like the 'real thing'.) And it's a great way to rotate through a variety of milk products.

I am finding this more and more important as I learn more about allergies and the theories behind them. One of the theories behind kids with multiple food allergies is that they are genetically predisposed to allergies, which they get. As you remove foods from their diets and become more dependent on the replacement products their little bodies become sensitized to these items as well. Over exposure to any one food could result in the development of additional allergies, intolerance, or sensitivities.

I know I feel like it has worked that way at our house. Every year we go to get allergy tests, and every year Daddy hopes like mad it will be THE year that we have outgrown at least one. So far, we have added new allergies at every testing. Hmmm...that seems to be trending the WRONG WAY!

As such, I have seriously begun to contemplate the introduction of a rotation diet at our house. No, not the 'you can lose weight if you rotate your caloric intake' kind. The 'don't repeat any given food or any foods in the same food family within any given four day period' variety. I have been gearing up for it. I have been researching the food families, and making charts and spreadsheets of how to divide up foods over a four day period. Make sure that key ingredients to favorite dishes fall on the same day. Make sure to include accepted fruits and veggies every day, not just the abnormal ones. Check the nutritional balance of the variety of foods available on a given day.

It is making my head spin. Talk about a lot to take in and to plan. And every ingredient needs to be considered. Including spices. I know that I could take our diet down to very simple foods, like grilled chicken with broccoli and apples. Sure. But. I'm stubborn. I don't want to give up the joys of complex flavors and more diet variety.

I think I'm getting it. And I'll start with baby steps. Rotate allowed meats first, veggies next, then fruits. Work into it. When I have a plan, I'll post it. Just in case your curious about how to make it work in your house.

In the meantime, I am still combining food families like a fiend. Last night instead of milk at dinner, we had Raspberry Smoothies. Mostly because the kids won't drink plain coconut milk yet, so I am trying to help their palettes adjust gradually. Partly because I am trying to loosen up on the "We drink milk with dinner" rule. (No, not cow milk! Any calcium fortified milk that is non-dairy.) Really, if we are going to rotate I'm going to need to adjust. As long as it is a source of calcium, why not broaden our horizons? is our smoothie, which they slurped right down and asked for more. And my two year old cried when Mommy told her it was all gone. You can sub in any frozen fruit your family likes.

Raspberry Smoothie

8 oz frozen raspberries (way cheaper than fresh!)
1/2 c apple juice
2 c coconut milk
2 T sugar (raspberries can be tart)

Combine all in blender and process until smooth. If it is too thick to process smoothly, add more liquid. No ice needed, as the fruit was frozen. You can substitute honey or agave if you prefer. Sweeter fruits, like peaches, won't need as much sweetener. Play with it. Your favorite frozen fruit, favorite juice or milk- or both. Sometimes we add non-dairy yogurt. Smoothies are a fun way to drink good for you foods. And the kids will want more.