Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meal Plan Monday, Late

The first day of spring break was yesterday, and I took full advantage of being lazy until noon, then enjoying some extra activities with the kids.  As much as the middle begged to go sled riding, I resisted.  yes, we had enough snow on the first day of break to go sled riding. *sigh* That's Ohio weather though.

This week's meal plan is focused on easy meals that can be made in a borrowed kitchen, as we will be spending a few days away.  Simple is good.

Breakfast: leftover blueberry muffins
Lunch: Red Robin
Dinner: Crispy Baked Lemon Cod, pan seared scallops, steamed broccoli, berries

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Fish sticks or leftover lemon cod
Dinner: 2 Bean Vegetarian Chili, honey corn muffins, salad

Breakfast: Alexia Saute Sweets
Lunch: Sunbutter and Jelly, terra chips, baby peppers
Dinner: Sloppy Joe, french fries, blueberry applesauce, mixed veg

Breakfast: turkey sausage, sauteed veggies
Lunch: sloppy joe
Dinner: Cajun beans and quinoa with andouille sausage, peas, mango

Breakfast: Bacon, pancakes, raspberry syrup
Lunch: Garlic basil pork burgers, carrot salad
Dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce

Breakfast: Pumpkin Donuts, green smoothie
Lunch: beef hot dogs
Dinner: Skewered pineapple shrimp, roasted root veggies, cinnamon apples
Birthday cake!

Breakfast: Cream of Buckwheat
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Veg Pizza on cauliflower crust, salad

I'll fill in the missing sides when I go to the market and see what is on special this week.  As long as I have most of the plan in place, it's pretty easy to wing the rest.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Expired Epinephrine

I know many fellow allergy families that have an expired epi-pen or two laying around the house.  Many of us use it as a training opportunity for caregivers.

I have heard that using an expired epi-pen is ok in an emergency situation, as some medicine is better than none.  Only recently did I come across an article that explores this in greater depth. (Thanks to @PremierAllergy on twitter for drawing my attention to it!)

The executive summary: as long as the fluid within is not discolored, an epi-pen retains up to 70% of it's effectiveness even 5-7 years AFTER the expiration date.

My take on this?  It's a relief to know that your expired epi-pen could help in an emergency, but don't use that as a reason to carry expired medicine.  In an emergency, you want full effectiveness to save your life.  You wouldn't chose a doctor that almost has a degree, don't chose a medicine that is almost fully potent.

Please help spread the word.  Often we allergy families are better educated about these details than the average EMT or 911 dispatcher because we are immersed in the world of allergy everyday, and thus acquire greater knowledge.  Be not only an advocate, but an educated advocate!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Muffin Magic

How many of you bake vegan?  I have for 10 years.  Now it's vegan AND gluten free.

Muffins.  Cupcakes.  The challenge of baking a muffin that allows you to put more in your tummy than is stuck to the baking cup or tin?  I have heard this very topic discussed among vegan bakers frequently.

Not by me.

About two years ago I discovered a deceptively modest looking box of baking cups at Whole Foods.  Being almost out, I picked up a box.  And instantly realized the package is incredibly understated.

These things are absolutely magical.  When you open the lid a mystical light emanates from within and you can actually hear a choir of angels singing!  Ok, maybe not.  But you should.  They are that good.

Nothing sticks to these babies.  Every muffin comes out with ease, and most leave not even a crumb behind to hint of their previous residence.  I kid you not.

I'd love to post pictures, I took wonderful shots showing the difference between a regular paper liner and this magnificent beauty... but my computer currently refuses to acknowledge the existence of my camera.  They've likely had a tiff due to creative differences.  So instead of viewing what happens to MY muffins with and without these liners, try your own experiment.

What are your non-stick secrets?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

It's been too long since I've posted the weekly menu plan.  I'm still making one every week mind you, I've just not been sharing.  So, here, for all of you frazzled mamas looking for ideas: my allergy friendly meal plan for this week.  All meals are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free, rice free.  They are also free of: chicken, sesame, oats, avocado, kiwi, banana, and coconut.  All meals are for the entire family, as this mama doesn't cook multiple meals!

Breakfast: Very Berry Cream of Buckwheat
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly on gluten free bread
Dinner: Sloppy Joe, roasted cauliflower, carrot salad

Breakfast: Turkey sausage and sauteed veggies
Lunch: sloppy joe leftovers
Dinner: Chili Bake Casserole, salad

Breakfast: Cranberry orange muffins, green smoothie
Lunch: Beef hot dogs
Dinner: Mellow lentil sniffle soup, berries

Breakfast: Sautee sweets, mango smoothie
Lunch: sniffle soup
Dinner: Salmon and scallops, quinoa, peas, sliced pears

Breakfast: on your own
Lunch: salmon salad
Dinner: Turkey meatballs, sweet potato skillet, broccoli

Breakfast: Quinoa granola, berries
Lunch: meatballs
Dinner: Pizza

Breakfast: Pork sausage, blueberry muffins
Lunch: Cider pork roast
Dinner: Steak, roasted brussels sprouts, quinoa potato puffs

Please note: Many of the linked recipes are the original and do not reflect the modifications I make in order to fit the dietary restrictions and taste preferences of our home.  Please use them as a suggested starting point only.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why Organic?

Since my daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies 10 years ago, I have become amazingly aware of the foods that go into our bodies and their ingredients.  It is a requirement to keep her reaction free.  The unforeseen benefit is that I have learned much more about our food supply and the components that go into it than I ever would have had I not had a child with food allergies.

As my knowledge grows, so do my hippie tendencies.  Or so my husband likes to tease me.  It's true.  I am much more granola than I ever was, buying organic at every opportunity and local when possible.  Yes, organic trumps local.

Let's consider organic foods for just a minute.  I started where most Americans start: eat inexpensively.  I have a budget, so cheap is better.  When I began to realize the importance of organic foods, I also was VERY aware of their impact on my budget.  Organic is not cheap.

I followed conventional wisdom and began my organic buying with the "dirty dozen".  These are the dozen fruits and vegetables shown to harbor the greatest amount of chemical residue from the fertilizer and pesticides that were applied to aid in their growth.  As I could, I s l o w l y transitioned the rest of my grocery buying to organic as well.

This may not be a bad way to ease into organic life, but it is certainly not as straighforward as proponents would have you believe.  Think about it: if you eat chemicals every day, can you remove them simply by showering?  Yet we are encouraged to believe that we can remove chemicals from our conventional produce by washing it before consumption?  These foods were grown on a diet of chemicals!  Those chemicals are absorbed into the very fiber of the plant, and no amount of washing will remove that.  Certainly we can remove the outside residue.  That is a respectable start, it does reduce your chemical consumption, but it hardly captures the truth of the situation.

The most compelling argument for switching to organic was a study showing that 94% of children have pesticide residue in their urine. Ouch.  That's a huge segment of our population, and I can only imagine how much extra burden their developing systems are facing under a daily barrage of chemical infiltration.  The study further showed that switching to organic reduced the amounts of pesticide to almost zero.  I'm sold.

I am passionately supportive of organic, for many reasons.  Rather than list them all let me leave you with one last thought:

When planning your budget, leave extra room for organic.  Eating is the number one life sustaining activity we take part in, and directly impacts our daily health.  Yet it tends to be the item lowest on our budget allotment.  Invest in yourself by allowing extra room to buy high quality fuel, because it pays off in the long haul.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Do food allergies impact growth?

There has been quite a bit of talk about a recently released study stating that food allergies appears to lead to lower BMI (Body Mass Index) in children.  I was going to quietly let the chatter pass.  Until it came up again at my allergy support group meeting last night.  A mom asked the guest speaker (an allergist) if we should be concerned about the growth of our children based on this new information.

The conclusion of the study is that children with food allergies have a lower BMI than children without allergies, and children with multiple food allergies have a BMI that is lower still.  The inference being made is that food allergies negatively impact normal growth and development, and given this children with food allergies are smaller than their peers.

I would like to gently remind everyone that BMI is just one measurement of growth and development. Your child's pediatrician has been plotting their growth on a chart since birth.  As long as your child is progressing normally along that curve, their growth and development is not a concern.  Each person is unique and must FIRST be measured against their self.  If your child is not progressing normally along their own curve, has dropped sharply off, or has plateaued then you will certainly discuss that with your doctor.

Also? DUH.  Let's think about causation for just a moment...

Children with multiple food allergies eat less processed junk food.  It is simply not available to them in the abundance it is available to non-allergic peers.  In addition, there is growing concern about the increasing obesity rates among their peers.

Let's not be alarmist about low BMIs in  children with food allergies.  Look at the whole picture.  Having a lower BMI than their peers may actually be a sign that our food allergic children are have healthier body sizes than their peers.

Feed your children well.  Give them the largest variety of healthy foods you can, and the occasional treat.  Nurture their relationship with food in a healthy way, nurture their body image.  Give them the tools to maintain that low BMI, because as adults we all are painfully aware of where we fall on the BMI charts.  It's normally above where we'd like to be.  Don't lament that you, with the help of their food allergies, have started them along the path toward healthy living.