Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bacon Onion Cheddar Muffins

I had the opportunity to travel for a few days over the summer sans children.  That's right.  The glorious freedom to wake up in the morning, look scornfully at the hotel coffeepot and say "Sorry perky. Not settling for your mediocre offerings. Not this time."

Enjoy a luxurious shower where no one knocks urgently on the door to ask questions of burning importance- like how many leaves a shamrock has, or where Barbie went to school.

Pack up a good read and head off to find breakfast, with the largest consideration being whether to eat inside or outside.

I am a huge fan of supporting local whenever possible.  This trip was no different.  Strolling into a local coffee shop to start the day, I noticed a rather tasty looking morsel in the display case.  An interesting hybridization that was not quite a biscuit, not quite a muffin, and loaded with specks of cheese.  Hmmm. My barista informed me that it was a bacon cheddar muffin.

My mouth informed me that it was going to need to be a dietary staple.  Soon.  With a shape that says muffin, and a texture that says biscuit, shreds of cheddar and bacon in every blissful bite... yum.

Upon returning home, I decided to share this experience with my kiddos.  Re-create that lovely breakfast treat.  A quick internet search and I found the recipe that I began with over at The Pioneer Woman.  I should've know she would be familiar with such wonderful goodness.  She does a fantastic job of describing how heavenly they are, and gives a drool producing picture tutorial if you'd like.

Here is my adaptation, with very few changes.  Feel free to give it a whirl.

Bacon Onion Cheddar Muffins

2 c gluten free all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 c Spectrum shortening
10 Tbsp non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened hemp milk)
4 Tbsp safflower oil
1 Ener-G egg
10 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 c finely diced onion
1 c Daiya cheddar cheese shreds

Fry bacon and set on paper towel to drain.  Drain all but two teaspoons bacon drippings from pan, using that little bit to saute the onion (in the same pan) until soft and golden.

Sift together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter or wire whisk cut in shortening until mixture has a sandy texture.

Prepare Ener-G egg in a medium bowl, whisking until very thick.  Whisk  in milk and oil.  Combine flour mixture, milk mixture, bacon, onions, and Daiya in a large bowl.  Stir gently until all combined.

Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins.  Bake for 20-22 minutes at 375 until golden.  Remove from pan and serve warm.

Repeat as needed.

With care, these muffins are nut free, egg free, dairy free, gluten free, rice free, soy free, and loaded with flavor.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday. We have to eat. Without further ado, the plan to make it happen:

Breakfast: pork sausage and sauteed veggies
Lunch: pepperoni
Dinner: lentil dahl, quinoa pasta, peas, veggie bites (new find here- YUM.)

Breakfast: teff muffins and green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly
Dinner: salmon, green beans, mixed berries

Breakfast: saute sweets and green smoothie
Lunch: salmon salad
Dinner: turkey pot pie

Breakfast: turkey sausage, biscuits, fruit smoothie
Lunch: turkey dogs
Dinner: beef stew, cornbread

Breakfast: pumpkin muffins, yogurt
Lunch: beef dogs
Dinner: pork basil burgers, roasted veggies, raspberry applesauce

Breakfast: bacon cheddar muffins
Lunch: ham roll ups
Dinner: pizza night!

Breakfast: zucchini pancakes
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: sloppy joe, corn chips, melon, broccoli

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Allergy Education and Understanding

I am an allergy mom (a term I am sure will soon rival that of soccer mom).  I was an early adopter, one of the moms who opted in early, before it was trendy.

Allergies really are increasing, and especially so among children, so we allergy moms are multiplying. Faster than rabbits.  And I've found that allergy moms nowadays are generally more informed than the average patient.  We make it our business to keep up with current research, new products, companies that are known for cross contamination, and generally any other tidbit of allergy wisdom we can find.  Because the more we know the safer our little people are.

As an allergy parent, we are also often cast into the role of educator.  We constantly help the people surrounding our children learn more about how to avoid allergic reactions, how to recognize them, and how to treat them.  And just like any other teacher the willingness of our students is varied.

The hardest part of educating people about food allergies is determining their current knowledge level.  Many people think they understand much more than they actually know, and assume that their knowledge is adequate.  They are reluctant to add new knowledge to their current library for fear they will have to purge excess wisdom from their limited hard drive space.

As such, I've devised a reference to be used for rating the allergy savvy of persons with whom you encounter in your child's life:

1) Food allergies? What are those?
2) I read an article about them once.  It would be absolutely horrible to never have another Reece Cup!
3) I have a friend/relative who has allergies. She's always watching what she eats.
4) I took a training class about allergies.
5) I'm an allergist.
6) My child has a food allergy.

This is the knowledge hierarchy.  More or less.  Unless you live with it, in your face, everyday, it's hard to fully comprehend the impact this has on every facet of the family's life. Yes. It impacts the entire family.

Remain open to education.  We allergy moms, we are always scouring our world for greater allergy knowledge.  We know more about allergies than most, but we're still trying to learn.  And we are happily willing to help educate anyone who wants to know more.  The more people who understand, the safer the world is for children with food allergies.

Everyone wants their child to be safe.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

School is starting, so it is time for more lunchbox friendly menu plans to start showing up.  Right, dinners that can have leftovers taken to school the next day!  Perfect.

I have coasted through the summer on minimal effort at meal times, and the end result is that I am beyond tired of all of my tried and true recipes.  I have done them to death.  Hopefully I will be adding a bit more variety to the plan over the next few weeks, but if you have a favorite recipe or meal please share it in the comments below!

Breakfast: banana muffins and green smoothie
Lunch: fish tacos
Dinner: chipotle shepherd's pie with sweet potato crust, blueberries

Breakfast: peach ginger cream of buckwheat
Lunch: beef burgers OR leftovers, cantaloupe
Dinner: turkey sloppy joe, fries, peas

Breakfast: turkey sausage and biscuit sandwiches, green smoothie
Lunch: turkey dogs OR leftover sloppy joe
Dinner: 2 bean chili, honey corn muffins

Breakfast: pumpkin muffins, green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly sandwiches
Dinner: City Barbecue

Breakfast: pork sausage, Alexia harvest saute
Lunch: pork brats
Dinner: Costa Rican Tilapia, salad, strawberries

Breakfast: teff muffins, fresh oj
Lunch: fish sticks
Dinner: grilled steak, grilled veggies, and grilled pineapple (sense a theme?)

Breakfast: steak and veggie saute
Lunch: beef dogs
Dinner: turkey meatballs, pasta with marinara sauce, green beans

As a reminder: All links are to the original recipe, I modify those to meet the dietary restrictions of our house.  Proteins are rotated, and will be published in the menu plan.  Side dishes will be listed in some cases, but often I will add whatever was available at the market that week, so they may not always be listed.  (I still serve them!  Even though I don't map them out!)

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An unrecognized necessity: Allergy Support Systems

Ten years ago my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies.  She is the first (and currently the only) person in my family or my husband's to have food allergies.  I had no experience or knowledge to draw from as I learned how to manage this new way of thinking about and preparing food.

At the time I was still nursing.  Yes, my daughter was reacting to the foods I ate and then passed to her through my milk.  That meant I had to eat only foods that were safe for her.  I dropped 30 pounds like a hot rock.  My friends all commented on how great I looked! My response? "Thanks! I quit eating."
It wasn't far from true.  I removed dairy, eggs, and nuts from my diet in one fell swoop.  If I were not nursing I think I would have added liberal amounts of alcohol to compensate.

Know how we giggle at our parents when they tell us how they used to walk to school, in the snow, three miles, uphill both ways?  The story for allergy moms is that I used to read labels, top to bottom, with no allergen labeling laws, and allergens written in code.  I did!  Grocery shopping took hours for those first few months while I learned how to be a label detective. On. Every. Single. Food.  Frozen chicken breast.  Just plain frozen chicken breast. Had added dairy.  I kid you not.  I may have expressed my opinion of adding dairy to a darn chicken breast just to freeze it in vocabulary that was, um, creative.

I am thankful today for the labeling laws that make it easier to figure out what is in the food we eat. I am beyond grateful that the internet now has exactly 8,793 other food allergy moms that are blogging about their experiences raising and feeding allergic kids.  Bless them for sharing their recipes, their tips, their feelings, and their own colorful euphemisms.  Technology also brought us Twitter, a support network full of #foodallergymoms that you can run to and vent 24/7, and someone will hear you.  And often someone will share a solution.

Today I wish every physician who diagnosed food allergy also knew how dramatically the diagnosis would impact every member of the family.  How terrifying, dividing, and isolating the diagnosis can become.

I wish that each newly diagnosed patient were connected with a resource network that included knowledgeable allergic peers, fact driven forums, a local coach to walk them through the changes that come with transitioning to an allergy free lifestyle, and a mental health professional that understands the true impact this disease has on families.

Because right now, even with all the advances in allergy knowledge and support available, patients get an epi-pen and a pat on the back.

We should be able to do more.  Ease the transition.  Support the mental health.  We've come a long way, but there is still progress to be made.