food not fear

Allergy Friendly Food– recipes and restaurants

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Orange Strawberry Smoothie

I woke up today with a sore throat. It’s really not a surprise to me since I’ve been running nonstop for weeks. I really don’t have time to get sick right now, so I headed to the kitchen to whip up an orange strawberry smoothie.

Orange Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

Everyone knows that oranges are high in vitamin C, but by weight, strawberries are actually slightly higher. Instead of opening the medicine cabinet, a cold prompts me to head to the fridge. One smoothie will give me 250% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake. Paired with some extra rest, I’m hoping to kick this cold before it kicks me!

Here’s what you’ll need to make 16 oz:

1 1/2 cups of your favourite Orange juice. I drink one with added calcium since I don’t drink milk.
3/4 cup of frozen strawberries
A blender. I use an immersion blender, but I tried out my in-laws’ Ninja blender and I was highly impressed.

Blend your ingredients and pour into a glass. Enjoy.

Not only does this smoothie give you a huge dose of vitamin C, but it also provides 4 of your 13 daily fruit and veggie servings. Check out this post for more easy ways to fit more produce into your diet.


13 Ways to enjoy your 13 fruit and veggie servings

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables

Did you know that the recommendation for produce consumption is now up to 13 servings a day? I looked it up because a friend posed the question on Facebook. Most people were convinced it was 5, but I was pretty sure I had heard 9 from my doctor. Imagine my surprise (and hers!) when I discovered the USDA guidelines state that 5 servings is the bare minimum, but that most adults really need 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables each and every day. For many people, that sounds like a LOT of food. It is.

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables
The Chose My Plate diagram has replaced the food pyramid that many of us grew up with. It’s a simpler way to know that we’re getting the right ratios of food groups. A quick glance at the plate shows that half of our food intake should be in the form of fruits and vegetables. In most cases, a serving is a half cup of produce: exceptions include dried fruit (¼ cup), leafy greens (1 cup), and 100% fruit or veggie juices (¾ cup).

Of course, that’s easier said than done for many people. How often do you hear a request for a second helping of brussels sprouts? Actually, I hear it from my son every time I make them. I’d like to say that it’s all in the preparation, but he’s just weird that way. I, on the other hand, am a recent convert.

Do I get in my 13 servings every single day? No. Some days I just want to eat CAKE. But, hey, a slice of this cake still has a serving of fruit between the banana in the batter, and the strawberries and banana slices on top– I know, I know– I’m reaching…

Here are 13 ways to get those 13 servings into your day without sacrificing your taste buds!

Berry Banana Smoothie

1. Frozen fruit smoothies—3-4 servings.
When I’m in a hurry, I love to take my breakfast with me, to go. I take medication every morning that requires a full hour before I can eat breakfast. If I hit snooze without popping my pill, my hour won’t be up until I’m running out the door. On these days, I end up with a pint glass of smoothie in my car’s cup holder. I have no colon thanks to colon cancer (link to BRT), so I usually run low on potassium. Because of this, my smoothie base is usually banana. When you use frozen fruit, you don’t need to add ice. Vary your flavour by adding another fruit– strawberries, mixed berries, peaches, or pineapple. Pour in some milk or a safe substitute (I use rice milk), and add a scoop of protein powder to pack in the nutrition. One banana and a cup of berries will start your day off with 3 of your 13 servings.
Forgo the dairy/replacement and combine the frozen fruit with juice for an extra serving of fruit. An orange strawberry smoothie is my go-to when I feel a cold starting. Frozen banana and pineapple or mango with orange juice is a nice tropical combo.

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables

2. Add fruit to oatmeal—1 serving
Oatmeal is already a healthy breakfast, but a half cup of fruit gets in one produce serving and adds sweetness. Try chopped apples and cinnamon, berries and vanilla, peaches with milk and vanilla, or a handful of raisins, dried cranberries, or apricots. Cook it in or sprinkle on top.

3. Make a very veggie omelet—2 servings
It’s easy to fit a cup of veggies into an omelet. Try tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, onions, shredded carrot, and chopped spinach.

4. Layer them into a sandwich or burger—2 servings
Who says the meat and cheese are the stars of a sandwich? Stack your bread high with sliced veggies for flavour and texture. Fresh lettuce or baby spinach, and sliced tomatoes are standard, but why not try avocado, sliced cucumbers, rings of bell peppers, sweet onions, or shredded carrot? Sauteed onions and mushrooms add rich flavour, and sundried tomatoes are surprisingly sweet.

5. Top off your pizza—2+ servings
Between the sauce and the toppings, it’s easy to get a serving of veggies on an average slice of pizza, but if you’re baking it at home, you can really amp up the amount. When I’m feeling lazy (and cheating on dairy), I’ll start with a frozen pizza and add my own veggies. When I’m making my own pizza, I have the option to add other pureed veggies like carrots into the sauce. I like to layer on pineapple tidbits, bell peppers, sauteed onions, fresh and sundried tomatoes. My husband loves olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, arugula, and even broccoli. Get creative and try out some unusual toppings– you might just love them. And you can always sprinkle some bacon in there.

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables

6. Oven roasted veggies—1+ servings
If you struggle to clear the limp, tasteless veggies from your dinner plate, you probably haven’t tried oven roasting them. A little salt and oil go a long way where taste buds are concerned. I like to chop my veggies into bite sized pieces before cooking to increase the surface area. Microwave or steam your veggies until almost tender, then add a little olive oil– a tablespoon should coat 4 cups of broccoli– and spices to taste. Play around with different combinations: a tsp of Montreal steak seasoning or seasoning salt is quick and easy. I like to add a half tsp of turmeric or Indian curry powder (turmeric has proven anti-cancer properties). You may prefer paprika, chili powder, or garlic. Stir well to spread the spices around, then bake, spread out on a cookie sheet until the edges brown– about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.
My family loves broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and brussels sprouts this way. Add chopped onions for an extra burst of sweetness with potatoes. Dried cranberries pair well with brussels sprouts. I’ve been known to consume whole plates of roasted veggies in a single meal– that’s 4 or 5 servings!

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables

7. Kabobs on the grill—2+ servings
On our back deck, the most popular offerings from the grill aren’t the burgers, but the kabobs. Chop veggies into bite sized pieces and season with olive oil and your favourite spices: salt and pepper, Montreal steak seasoning, Italian seasoning, curry powder, or seasoning salt. If your meat isn’t going on a bun, add marinated cubes of it to the skewers. Chicken, beef, pork, work well in kabobs, but fish is too fragile, and shrimp cooks far quicker than the veggies so keep it on a separate skewer. Our favourite veggies for kabobs are bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, grape or cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash. Thinly sliced sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and brussels sprouts are also fabulous on the grill, though they work better spread on an oiled screen rather than on skewers.

8. Baked apples—2 servings
My kids love baked apples for a snack, but I’m not about to turn the oven on for something so small. Instead, I simply sprinkle a sliced apple with cinnamon and microwave for one minute for the same flavour. Pears, peaches, or plums are also tasty, especially when mixed. It’s easy to eat a full cup of warm, cinnamon covered fruit as a mid-afternoon snack.

9. Add applesauce, banana, or avocado to baked goods—1/2 serving
If you didn’t already know, applesauce can be substituted for oil in many sweet baked goods (except brownies– it ruins the texture). Mashed avocado can replace up to half of the butter in cookie or cake recipes. Try adding mashed banana to muffins and reduce the liquid by half that amount. It’s not a huge bump in your produce intake, but when you replace that many fat calories, you’ve made room for a lot more options.

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables

10. Fondue is fun—2+ servings
Whether it’s chocolate or cheese, you need a vehicle to get that melted goodness into your mouth, and you’re likely to go through at least a cup of it. What better way to justify the treat than with bite-sized pieces of fruits and vegetables? Berries and banana slices are classic partners for chocolate fondue, but why not try apples, pears, or pineapple? Get creative. Bread is go-to for cheese fondue, but why not try broccoli, bell pepper slices, carrot and celery sticks, or zucchini slices? You don’t need to ban the bread altogether– just add some other options.

11. Have your cake and eat some produce too—1 serving
It’s easy to reach for a boxed cake mix when you’re in a hurry for a dessert, but there are ways to make it a little less unhealthy. Add berries or mashed banana to a chocolate cake. Mix shredded carrots and raisins into a spice cake for instant carrot cake. Substitute lemon juice for part of the water in a lemon cake for more intense flavour or mix it up and replace all of it with orange juice and pour on an orange glaze instead of frosting. Fresh fruit makes a tasty and attractive topping.
If you prefer savoury to sweet, try adding oven roasted veggies to hearty breads and muffins like my veggie bacon muffins.

12. Homemade vitamin water—1 serving.
Sometimes water alone just doesn’t suit your mood, but most beverages are high on sugar or artificial sweeteners. There are some unsweetened flavoured waters out there that aren’t bad for you, but they’re never as healthy as they claim to be, and they are definitely not cheap! I’ve started making my own vitamin water to carry with me. With lemon juice, frozen strawberries, and a pinch of pure organic stevia powder, it’s low in calories, lightly flavoured, and has the added benefit of vitamin C and zinc. Prepare ahead of time and refrigerate for a stronger strawberry flavour.

13 ways to enjoy your 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables

13. Veggie Chips—1+ servings
What can I say? I have a soft spot for junk food. Replace your potato chips with a bag of root vegetable chips. Terra chips (link) offers many varieties like sweet potato, carrot, or beets, or their Exotic mix with yucca, batata, parsnips, and taro. Kale chips are readily available and also easy to make at home . You can even use a veggie peeler to make sweet and crispy carrot chips in your oven.

Are any of these ways of eating fruits and veggies new to you? Which will you try? There are countless ways to eat produce– share your favourite in the comments.


Have a slice of my birthday cake

Banana Split cake recipe

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me… Here, have a slice of cake! Okay, so it’s actually just the recipe, but it’s worth making! I had a birthday tea today and all of my friends LOVED the cake. It’s always a favourite whenever I make it. Moist, rich, not too sweet, but with loads of toppings, just like your favourite banana split! Swap out the toppings for your favourites.

This treat is dairy free and nut free. Sub the shortening and frosting, and it can be made soy free as well.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this cake:

Banana Split cake ingredients

Banana Split cake ingredients

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
4 TBSP cocoa powder
1 cup mashed banana (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup milk (or rice/soy milk)
1 cup chocolate chips (Ghiridelli semi-sweet are diary free– I used the mini ones 😉

1 can Classic Vanilla frosting (I’m a big fan of Duncan Hines)
1 cup whole or sliced strawberries
1-2 fresh bananas
Chocolate syrup

Banana Split Cake recipe
The batter is light and fluffy, but not runny.

1. Cream shortening. Add sugar gradually and continue to beat until fluffy.
2. Add beaten eggs, vanilla, and chocolate syrup. Beat until light
3. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with milk and bananas.
4. Beat for two minutes with an electric mixer– I use my KitchenAid stand mixer.
5. Add chocolate chips and stir to mix
6. Pour into greased cake pans and smooth the top: 1 bundt, 2 round layer pans, or 1 9″x13″
7. Bake @350 F for 40 mins for layer pans, 50 for 9″x13″, or 60 for bundt. (start checking 10 minutes earlier. May take up to 10 extra minutes.) Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in top comes out clean.

Banana Split Cake

Let cake cool. Ice with Vanilla frosting. For a poured effect, warm the frosting for 15 seconds in microwave (make sure you get ALL of the foil wrapper off first!), stir, and spread gently over a slightly warm cake– it’ll look funny at first, but the warmth will cause it to drip attractively down the edges. Or ice the cake by spreading room temp icing. Top with a few whole strawberries.

The remainder of the toppings are added just before serving. Add to the whole cake only if the entire thing will be eaten within a few hours, otherwise, just put the toppings on the individual slices as they are served. Top with sliced bananas and strawberries, and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Add a maraschino cherry if you like that sort of thing.

Enjoy! You can serve with Vanilla ice cream to get even more of a banana split effect if you want, but the icing tastes nearly like ice cream already!

Now find a few friends to share it with!


Banana Split Cake

I couldn’t resist having a second (or third…) slice.


I’m updating the post with a picture my friend Mindy dubbed my “50s Housewife Pose”. Check out more of her photography and writing at

Photo thanks to Mindy Peltier

Photo thanks to Mindy Peltier

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Recipe — Bacon Veggie Muffins

bacon veggie muffin dairy free option recipe healthy

I haven’t been around in a while. Oops. It’s more than a lack of posts though– I’ve barely been cooking.

Along with the new year, I set some food goals with the hopes of improving my health and my food budget. I have (more or less) stuck to a menu for the last week, and actually gone into the grocery store with a (somewhat vague) list. If this doesn’t seem like it could possibly be an improvement, check out how much I like to bend the rules in Confession Time: I Hate Recipes.

One of my rules is that I will not buy desserts at the store. This rule was easier to follow when my dairy allergy was in full swing. Now that I can have small amounts of milk products without serious effects, I’ve been cheating. A lot. In fact, I’ve probably bought 5 or 6 desserts since the rule went into effect. Bad Nessa!

But this past week, I decided to be good. My kitchen was clean– a major feat– so I decided to make some muffins. First, I made Orange Cranberry ones (From the Company’s Coming Muffins and More book– they are delicious! And dairy free without any substitutions). My son has a thing against banana and chocolate chips in muffins, so I have to work a little harder to please him. Of course, my second batch was Oatmeal, banana, chocolate chip. I do NOT share my son’s dislike of these ingredients. I needed to make some high protein snacks for my kids’ lunches, and was working on some baked bacon omelette muffins when I got a craving for a savory muffin– a real muffin, not just scrambled eggs that look like muffins.

When I was in high school, the grocery store in my town (Yes, there was only one) made the BEST veggie cheese bread. My mom would buy a loaf and the two of us would sit at the table and devour it in under half an hour. This is a LARGE loaf of bread. I’ve tried to replicate this bread multiple times with no success– it was always mushy and flavourless. No longer. Lately, my husband and I have been oven roasting our veggies. They caramelize a little, get crispy, and are full of flavour. And they would be PERFECT in my veggie bread. So would the bacon I was cooking up for the egg muffins.

I found a base recipe for cheese and bacon muffins (again in the Muffins and More book), and started tweaking to get the flavour and texture I wanted. Sub some of the white flour for whole wheat, use rice milk, cut back on the cheese, and pile on the veggies.

*** A side note on cheese. I can eat cheese again. I shouldn’t, but I can. I understand that a lot of you come here for dairy free recipes. These muffins will still be WONDERFUL without the cheese. Or you can use your favourite dairy free cheese substitute. I’ve heard awesome things about Daiya Cheese but it’s made with coconut oil and I’d rather not risk my life. If you can have coconut, go ahead and try it.***


*** A side note on bacon. Yes, I know that nitrates and nitrites are bad you us and that they cause cancer. Having had cancer already I should stay far away from them. Agreed 100%. And yet, I’m posting a recipe that involves bacon. Again. If you’ve never tried my Dairy Free spinach and bacon pinwheels, you don’t know what you’re missing! While it’s harder to find, uncured bacon is available at many grocery stores. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend it. The uncured bacon is applewood smoked, delicious, and only $2.99 a pound if you buy the ends and pieces. Bacon is bacon, even if it’s not pretty. I just check the package to make sure there are no HUGE chunks. I want bacon, not pork belly.***

Bacon and Veggie Muffins

2 cups of chopped broccoli (about 1/2″ pieces)
3 carrots, peeled and grated or shaved with veggie peeler
2 TBSP oil– olive or melted fat of your choice
2 TSP seasoning salt or favorite seasoning blend.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 TSP salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or cheese substitute (Optional)
5 slices of cooked and crumbled uncured bacon

1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup milk or milk substitute
1/4 cup fat of your choice– oil, butter or bacon drippings (I use the bacon drippings– they add more flavour)

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Chop and grate veggies. place in a bowl with oil and seasoning and stir to coat. Hands work better than a spoon. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Veggies should be slightly shrunken and lightly browned. Try to resist snacking on the baked veggies (Or just double this part of the recipe– the baked carrots are sweet and crunchy and the broccoli is better than potato chips!)

3. Increase oven temp to 400.

4. Stir together the next seven ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.

5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, and mix in the milk/substitute and oil/fat.

6. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the dry ingredients and stir just enough to form a lumpy batter.

7. Divide the batter into 12 greased or paper lined muffin tins– about 3/4 full.

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy warm. Refrigerate any muffins you won’t consume in the next 24 hours.

Or ignore that last bit. They won’t last 24 hours.

More options

This recipe is further customizable. There are three distinct flavours in here: bacon, cheese, and veggies. You need at least two of them, but you could omit any one of the three and still have a really tasty muffin. Without the cheese, they’re dairy free. Without the bacon, they’re vegetarian. Without the veggies, you can’t pretend they’re healthy anymore, but they’re still delicious.

Also, feel free to change up the veggies. The bread my mom and I loved also had onion and cauliflower. Diced and sauteed onion would add extra flavour. Cauliflower can be prepared the same way as the broccoli before adding. Sun dried tomatoes would add sweet, bright notes. Pepper flakes would add a touch of heat. Get creative.

Let me know how this recipe turned out for you, and what your favourite flavour combinations are.

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Feasting in Florida

Sweet plantains. Mmm… I’m full of yummy Caribbean food. I’m on vacation in Florida where I lived when I was first diagnosed with my food allergies.

One of the biggest differences between Seattle and Orlando is the amount of business chains. Seattle had very few, and mostly small local chains. Orlando is filled with chains– probably to keep things familiar for tourists. While local restaurants have a lot of advantages, chains can be great for people with food allergies, because once you’ve figured out what you can eat at a chain, you can eat it anywhere. Seattle has a great variety of food choices, and while there are far more allergy friendly options, it’s a lot harder to chose a restaurant with confidence that there will be a safe option. Each new location requires research and questioning.

While I’m here in Florida, there are a handful of favourite restaurants I’m planning on eating at. These menu items are all dairy free and nut free, though not made in a dedicated kitchen, so plan accordingly.

— Carrabbas. I adore their sausage and lentil soup, Italian bread, and spaghetti. The pizza is wonderful if ordered without cheese.

— Pollo Tropical. Lots of safe options here. I don’t trust the breads, but I’ve never had any reactions to any of their meats. The only questionable sides are the mashed potatoes and corn, oh, and the new cheesy yucca bites. My personal favourite are the plantains. They’re nearly impossible to get in Seattle, though I was told about two places to get them outside of town. And if you’re here, don’t forget to swing by the salsa bar. The quava BBQ sauce is amazing. I met friends here tonight and they had never been before. They didn’t know what they were missing.

–Sonny’s BBQ and Smokey Bones BBQ. The meat is a great option, and baked sweet potatoes without butter are safe. I haven’t been back to these places on this trip so I don’t remember the other sides. Most veggies are safe if served without butter. BBQ is regional, but I really like the way Florida does it.

— Pei Wei– this cafe by the owners of P.F. Changs is wonderful. I always get the mandarin kung pao with brown rice. The lettuce rolls and edamame are tasty too. You really can’t go wrong here, though there are dishes with nuts, and the kung poa contains peanuts. I can’t wait to get my mouth on this food!

So it’s a week of fun, sun, and food I can’t find at home. I hope I can still squeeze into my clothes by the time I leave 😉

I’m participating in NaBloWriMo this month and blogging every day in October. Like Vanessa Brannan on facebook to see all of my posts.

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Thrifty Thursday– this week’s bounty

6 hours of work and look what I have to show for it!

6 meals worth of spaghetti sauce with ground turkey

Sweet Potato casserole to enjoy with ribs tomorrow

Chicken Pot Pie– this was supper tonight and lunches tomorrow

A berry pie and a berry crumble made with the leftover pie crust– the crumble disappeared tonight.

Banana chocolate chip loaf and cookies

Blueberry banana muffins. My son will FLIP for these. He LOVES blueberries.

How does it look? Not bad for a single afternoon and evening. It’s more than I would make if I spread it out. And the best part of all– the kitchen is already clean.

What looks good to you? Which recipe should I share next?

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Confession time: I hate recipes

Yes, you read that right. I write a food blog and I hate recipes. I’m also a seamstress and I hate sewing patterns. I generally hate following a set way of doing anything. I like to float through life. But I also like order. I am an oxymoron– I have accepted that I am strange.

Usually I can get away with this laid back way of living, but sometimes it poses a problem, like when I’m trying to share a recipe. It’s hard to say, “Well, you put in some of this, and then add some of that, and if you like this, you could dump in some of it too.” Who could follow that? Yet it’s the way I cook!

Don’t get me wrong, I do use recipes. But I use them as a suggestion rather than a rule. Measuring cups? Who needs them? Now, it probably helps that I have a good spacial sense and a photographic memory. And no, that doesn’t mean that I remember EVERY detail– it means I remember in pictures. In this case, I can remember what a cup of flour looked like when I dumped it in a bowl, and I’m pretty good at recreating that amount of flour without measuring it. I cook a lot of foods where the exact amount of ingredients used won’t make or break the recipe. It will change the flavour a little, but will come out roughly the same.

I also expect my food to turn out a little different each time. A great example of this is my spaghetti sauce. I have a few ingredients that go in every time, and the spices are roughly the same, but I like to add lots of vegetables, and I don’t always have the same ones in my fridge. Here’s where that fly by the seat of my pants way of living comes in. I grocery shop based on what looks good and what’s cheap, not off of a menu. A lot of food gets wasted this way, and I hate that. My Thrifty Thursday bulk cooking is my attempt to “fix” this.

Is it working? Well, I decided what I was making today while I was at the store yesterday. I did pretty good and got most of the ingredients I needed, but I forgot the zucchini and mushrooms for the spaghetti sauce. Instead of running back out to the store, I just worked with what I had. I pulled a bag of grated zucchini meant for muffins out of my freezer and added chopped spinach. I had to do without the mushrooms. Is the sauce the way I usually make it? Nope, but I suspect it will be just as good (we’ll eat that meal later this week).

See, most of the time I get away with bluffing my way through cooking. But then sometimes I mess up.

What is this? Well, I guess it’s a cookie. A banana chocolate chip cookie. I knew it would have a bit of a strange texture because of all the mashed banana. It’s good though.

But how about this? It’s a chocolate chip banana loaf.

But wait a second– they are made of the exact same batter (well, I added a little baking soda and baking powder to the loaf because I had forgotten to put it in initially.)

So, it’s a cookie or a loaf. Both taste good.

How about these? Clearly they are blueberry banana muffins. Good ones too. I’ll make them again.

But wait, there’s the problem again. I have no idea how to do this again. I threw ingredients into the mixer for both of these without really paying attention. This usually works out okay. Sometimes the results are a little disappointing, but what comes out of the oven is almost always edible. It’s times like today, when the finished product tastes GREAT that I get frustrated. Will I ever be able to duplicate this? That photographic memory is handy, and I could probably remember what I did with about 70% accuracy. And my future attempts might be even better. Still, I need to keep better track of what I’m doing.

So how is it that I can share recipes on the blog? Well, I have to make everything as I write down the recipe. And I have to pay careful attention to what I’m doing. Sometimes the recipe isn’t right the way I measure it out. That happened with my chicken pot pie today. It was too dry– I didn’t use enough broth. It’s an easy fix, but I will still have to make it again before I post the recipe, just to be sure I got it right.

So yes, I hate recipes, but for you, I will write them down and follow them. At least once 😉


Cutting your Costs– time and money!

Allergy friendly eating can be expensive or time consuming– often both! If we want prepared foods, we often have to turn to expensive specialty brands. But cooking from scratch can eat up a huge chunk of your day, and by the time you buy all of the ingredients you need, you may end up paying nearly as much!

I have a bad habit of buying foods that look appealing in the grocery store, but not being in the mood to make the meals when supper rolls around. My fresh foods go to waste and we end up eating processed convenience foods. I have vowed to myself over and over to stop eating this junk, but I always go back to it because it’s so much easier.

My son started Kindergarten last month, and his school schedule has forced me to get more organized. Also, with only one kid at home during the day, I have time to get a little more done. On Wednesdays, I go to Bible study across the street from Trader Joes (If you’ve never heard of it– it’s an affordable grocery store with lots of great produce, organic, and allergy friendly foods). After the study, my daughter and I grab our shopping bags from the car (Seattle has gone bagless!) and do our shopping for the week. I go in with three specific meals in mind to shop for, then on Thursday, I spend the day baking and cooking. I make a double batch of each meal, put one in the fridge and the other in the freezer.

Last week, I made:

– “My Favourite Veggies” Soup (My very first food creation– a tomato based turkey vegetable soup)
– Chili
– Creamy chicken broccoli casserole.

Today I bought the ingredients for a sweet potato casserole, chicken pot pie, and spaghetti sauce. We will eat those meals this week, and pull others from the freezer as needed.

I’m not sure if this is actually saving me time in cooking, but having to wash pots and pans once a week instead of seven times? Well, that makes it worth it right there! I love to cook, but I dread the clean up so much that I often forgo the whole process. Instead of ending up with dishes everywhere, I am forced to do my dishes as I go, because I don’t have enough pots to do that much cooking all at once.

I know I am saving money, because I buy what I need, and I use it the next day. My food waste bin is much emptier this week than it has been in the past. Nothing feels worse than throwing out healthy food while you eat junk!

This is only my second week of bulk cooking this time around. I am sure that with practice, my technique will improve. Last week I cut up all of the onions I needed for all three recipes and cooked them together. My eyes were pretty watery by the end of four onions, but I saved some cooking time and only had to wash the pan once. I know I could save more time by making similar foods all on the same day, but I want some variety since I’ll be eating all three meals in a row.

Have you tried bulk cooking? How did it work for you? What’s your favourite meal to make and freeze?


Dairy Free Spinach and Bacon Pinwheels

Fluffy puff pastry, savoury bacon, and sweet hints of apricot. And not a drop of milk in sight!

Mmm… is your mouth watering yet? I came up with these savoury little pastries when I needed a fancy hors d’oeuvres to bring to a wedding. There among all of the catered dishes, my little pinwheels stood their ground. Everyone was surprised to discover they were dairy free too! I need to bring a snack to our Women’s Midweek Bible Study tomorrow, so it seemed like the perfect time to post my first recipe.

In every recipe I post, I will be careful to note which major allergens are avoided in the food. Each and every one will be dairy and tree-nut free because these are my allergies. When applicable, I will let you know if it can be made wheat, egg, peanut, or soy free as well. This recipe contains wheat and soy, and though it lists egg, you can easily leave the egg out and seal the dough with water.

So, let’s get started. First, gather your ingredients.

1 package of 2 puff pastry sheets. I like Pepperidge Farm.
2 cups cooked and finely diced chicken. (about 6 tenderloins or two breasts)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
5-6 slices of crisp cooked bacon, crumbled (I used thick cut, but regular is preferable)
8 dried apricots, finely diced.
1 cup chopped spinach (if using frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess moisture)
4 TBSP Tofutti Better than Sour Cream (packaging may be blue or white with green text– available in most grocery stores in dairy aisle)
1 egg, beaten and divided in two equal amounts.

1. Remove your puff pastry sheets from the freezer. They need to defrost 45 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

2. Dice your chicken and cook, adding pepper, seasoned salt, garlic, and onion powder toward the end of cooking time.

3. Cook your bacon until crisp, let cool, then crumble into small pieces.
4. Chop your spinach and apricots.

(Note: the smaller you chop your ingredients, the better. It’s time consuming, but the roll will be easier and neater to cut if everything inside is tiny)

5. Combine chicken, bacon, spinach, apricot, Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, and one half of the beaten egg. Stir to combine well. Set aside.

6. Flour the surface of a clean countertop or table. Unfold your first pastry sheet. Mix 1/2 tsp of water with your remaining beaten egg and brush over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush (your fingers will work in a pinch).

7. Spread half of the chicken mixture over the surface of the dough, leaving 1″ clear at the bottom edge.

8. Carefully roll the dough, starting at the top edge. Pat the ends of the roll as you go to keep any filling from falling out.

9. Gently pat the seam with your fingers to seal the edge of the roll.

10. Wrap the finished roll in plastic wrap.
11. Repeat steps 6-10 with the second piece of dough.
12. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Dough can be made up to 24 hours in advance of baking.

13. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

14. Remove plastic wrap and, using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the dough into 1/2 inch disks.

15. Place the pinwheels on a lightly greased baking pan. Lightly brush the tops with the egg and water mixture. I forgot– oops! But it makes the tops glossy and the filling less likely to fall out after they’re baked.

16. Bake for 15 minutes @ 400 degrees until lightly golden. Peek in around 12 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes.

Serve them up! They’re best at room temperature. You can refrigerate them for a day or so, but the texture is best when they’re fresh. I actually only baked one of my rolls tonight so I could take pictures (and snack on them– sooo good!!). The second roll is in the fridge waiting to be baked fresh tomorrow morning. So I get to look like I got up at 5am to make these fancy little pinwheels, when they will only add 10 minutes to my morning routine– how awesome is that?

Give them a try and let me know what you think!


My life changed forever when…

I can’t name just one event that changed the way I eat, so I’ll start with the first.  In college, I worked at Dairy Queen.  After a few months, I started feeling awful every time I worked.  I felt sick in general, but always the worst when I was at work, specifically after my break.  When my boss found me curled up under the cash register, holding my stomach and crying for the third time in a week, she let me off of my shift early, but demanded I go across the street to a walk-in clinic.

This was the fastest doctor’s appointment I have ever had.  I described my symptoms, and after a few seconds, the doctor asked what I had eaten.  A hamburger and an ice cream sundae.  Had I eaten this each day I experienced the symptoms?  Yes, of course– what else will I eat when I work at Dairy Queen?  So I had my answer, easy as that.  I was lactose intolerant.  Buy some Lactaid pills and switch to Lactaid milk.  And ease up on the ice cream.

At the time, it felt like a big change, but I look back now and think how easy my food issues were to manage.  If only I had known what more was in store, I would have appreciated my food so much more!


Do you have more than one allergy or intolerance?  What was the first food you cut from your diet?  What changed your food life forever?