Friday, September 25, 2009

Garbanzo Bean Soup

Fall weather is coming. Perfect for jeans, sweatshirts, hot coffee on the porch swing, and soup for dinner. Mmmm....

I have no idea where I found this recipe, to be fair. But I love how easy it is to throw together. This and some cornbread and I call it dinner.

With careful attention, this recipe can be dairy, egg, nut, soy, and gluten free, and vegan.

Garbanzo Bean Soup

2 cans garbanzo beans, with liquid
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 med onion, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
3 carrots, peeled and sliced

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 4-5 hours. Add additional water or broth if needed during cooking. When cooking is done remove about 2 cups of soup and puree in blender. Add puree back to soup to thicken. Serve with your favorite dinner roll.

(Sometimes I add in cubed ham or diced bacon during the last few minutes of cooking. Just long enough to heat it through.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Vitamin Decision

Some time ago I decided that it would be a good idea to add a multi-vitamin to our children's diet. With the amount of foods we are avoiding, and the natural tendency of kids to be picky eaters, it made sense to have an insurance policy of sorts. A little something extra to help fill in the nutritional gaps of the day.

Being a demanding mama, I was looking for very specific things from the vitamin that would be in our house. First, it had to be free of our allergens. Of course. Second, it should not contain artificial sweeteners. That eliminated an amazing number of choices. (Is sugar really so evil?) And last, it had to taste good. If it's not good, the kids aren't going to eat it. And the last thing I want is to add a battle to our daily routine.

After searching through quite a few options, I found a vitamin that meets up to my demands. And then some. YummiBears by Hero Nutritionals. Allergen free, tasty, no artificial sweeteners.

Recently, YummiBears sent me a sample of their new organic multivitamin. A good thing in it's original form, now made better? The kids and I took it for a (taste) test drive.

Wow. It's really good! Still allergen free, still yummy, and now organic. It is softer to chew than the original gummi multi-vitamin, and I think the fruit flavor is more intense. The kids love love love them. This is a very good thing.

So, if you're searching for the perfect vitamin for your family, check them out. Could be they meet your standards too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Cookie Review

For those of you who check in on occasion, you know that I recently hosted a tasting party for my food allergy support group. A chance for everyone to stop in and taste products they have not tried- and in some cases have not heard of- in a safe and expense free environment. Because, really, I hate paying a premium price for a safe food only to discover that no one in the family will eat it. Drat!

Let me first say that I was profoundly moved by the unbelievable generosity of the companies that offered samples of their products. I expected a smattering of samples and a cluster of coupons, and plenty of polite denials. I got quite a shockingly different response. Small, family owned companies that sent samples to support a group of mamas managing life threatening food allergies even though their profit margin does not allow much wiggle room for such giving. Touching emails and letters stating that while they are not in a position to offer much, they have empathy for the challenges of raising a child with food allergies and they would send something.

I was a little misty eyed. These small companies wanted to support us? And in such big ways? Guess what. Their sincere open-hearted giving prompts my pay it forward nature. I want to shout about each of them from the top of every Whole Foods store in town. (Mostly because that's where we allergy mamas go trolling for our off the beaten path finds. And I wanna hit their target markets.)

So, over the next few weeks, I am going to offer you a review of each of the products that sent samples. They are biased only by the desire to connect you with companies that offer safe products for your kiddos.

Enough already. Let's get started!

Home Free sent an incredible sampling of cookies, chocolate chips, and even their cookbook! Dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut free, their baked goods are an awesome option for moms with multiple allergies. (While most products do not contain wheat, they are made with oats that contain traces of wheat. I love how honest and upfront their site is in making sure to let consumers know that their products are not gluten free. Much respect for that.)

Sadly, the cookies went SO quickly that I did not get to sample multiple flavors. EVERY mama in the room scooped up cookies to take home for their kiddos. And not all of those moms are serving kids with multiple allergies. Imagine the scene many moons ago when Cabbage Patch Dolls hit the stores at Christmas time. Uh-huh. They are that good. (The part where the shelves were empty, not the part where people were physically wrestling for possession of a doll. Though it is fun to imagine a group of allergy mamas pulling hair and kicking in order to get to safe cookies!) I brought home a smattering of the mini chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Crispy, crunchy, chocolate-y yumminess. Had trouble saving some to share kind of good. The ultimate test? My husband. Finicky to the end about allergy free baked goods, he went back for more. And more. And proclaimed that we would need to order some. Wowzer. My 4 year old is an easy sell, she loves most things that include sugar. She woke up in the morning, smiled that adorable sleepy smile and said, "It's tomorrow, right? Can I have more of those little cookies now?" Ummm. Yes, but maybe breakfast first.

As for the chocolate chips, they are up to the competition with their allergen loaded counterparts. No telltale aftertaste either. Again, yum yum yum.

As if tasty is not reason enough to try, you can also feel good about the organic ingredients used. I love knowing that I can indulge in allergen free organic treats. Maybe you could have one for breakfast afterall.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Healthy School Fundraiser Option

How many times have your kiddos had fundraisers at school, dance class, football, or other miscellaneous activity? And how many of them have involved food? Cookie dough, pizza kits, candy bars.... I hate selling things that my food allergic daughter couldn't enjoy even if she wanted too. We allergy mamas tend to be very aware of the foods that surround us, both in terms of allergens and health.

Hero Nutritionals has come up with an interesting idea. Why not offer a healthy -and tasty- fundraising option that is good for our kids? Virtually allergy free YummiBears vitamins. They even have adult versions, and an organic line.

If your PTA is looking for a fundraiser, why not toss this out as an option to consider? Sure beats cookie dough and wrapping paper sales! And sharing 25% of the profit seems very generous to me.

For more info, visit:

(And no, they are not paying me. I love their products. They sent info, I thought I'd share.)