Saturday, December 31, 2011

Menu Plan Week of January 2nd

Happy New Year!  It is an exciting time - time to reflect on the year gone by and focus on the renewal of good habits. I am not a huge fan of new year's resolutions per se.  Rather than resolutions, I consider my goals to be refreshers, or a way to recharge the good habits that I have formed over time but don't always stick to during the busy holiday season. I think that this takes the pressure off of the whole concept of a new year's resolution, which makes success feel more doable. Take some pressure off of yourself and try to do a few things every week or one thing every day to refresh your good habits while implementing new habits over time.

Healthy eating is always a huge focus for the new year, and I would love to help refresh your healthy eating habits by posting some recipe makeovers right here on my blog. Have you recently learned that you or someone in your family has a food allergy? Are you looking to make your kids' favorite meals more nutritious? Email me or comment below with a recipe that you would like to see changes to in order to meet your families health goals or dietary needs. I would love to feature it right here. Please put "Recipe Makeover" in the subject line and specify what changes you would like to see based on your needs.

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday: Rose Bowl - GO BADGERS! :) Pulled pork sandwiches (new recipe! Sub in rapadura aka Whole Cane Sugar for brown sugar, if possible) with Roasted Broccoli (I will use plain lemon juice and coconut oil).

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Cauliflower Poppers (I will drizzle with coconut oil before baking) and a side salad
Tip: Cook and carve the chicken on Sunday or Monday (if you are off on Monday) - you can stretch the meat over multiple meals throughout the week!

Wednesday: Mexican quinoa (scoop quinoa onto a bed of greens, dressed lightly with oil and lemon) with Baked Corn Tortilla Chips (use coconut oil!), salsa and guacamole

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Turkey Salad (wrap/pita pocket optional) with kale chips and raw veggies

Saturday: Out

Sunday: Mark Bittman's Autumn Millet Bake with a side of green beans

Round Up: Top 5 Posts in 2011

Happy New Year!

To ring in 2012 I thought I would highlight my top 5 most popular posts in 2011!  I look forward to writing more nourishing recipes for you in the New Year!  Thank you for continuing to follow me here at Elevate Wellness!

The Top Five

Pumpkin Muffins

Cooking With Your Child:  Allergy-free Granola Bars

Cranberry Pumpkin Ketchup

Allergy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Menu Plan Week of January 2nd

Happy New Year!  While some may be suffering from the "holiday blues," I like to think of the positives that a new year brings - reflect on the year gone by and focus on the renewal of good habits.  I am not a huge fan of specific new year's resolutions, although I do always have a few goals in the back of my mind.  Rather than resolutions, I consider my goals to be refreshers, or a way to recharge the good habits that I feel I have formed over time but don't always stick to during the busy holiday season.  I think that this takes the pressure off of the whole concept of a new year's resolution, which makes success feel more doable.  Take some pressure off of yourself and try to do a few things every week or one thing every day to refresh your good habits while implementing new habits over time. 

Healthy eating is always a huge focus for the new year, and I would love to help refresh your healthy eating habits by posting some recipe makeovers right here on my blog.  Have you recently learned that you or someone in your family has a food allergy?  Are you looking to make your kids' favorite meals more nutritious?  Email me or comment below with a recipe that you would like to see changes to in order to meet your families health goals or dietary needs.  I would love to feature it right here.  Please put "Recipe Makeover" in the subject line and specify what changes you would like to see based on your needs.

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday:  Rose Bowl - GO BADGERS! :)  Pulled pork sandwiches (new recipe!  Sub in rapadura aka Whole Cane Sugar for brown sugar, if possible) with Roasted Broccoli (I will use plain lemon juice and coconut oil).

Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Cauliflower Poppers (I will drizzle with coconut oil before baking) and a side salad
Tip:  Cook and carve the chicken on Sunday or Monday (if you are off on Monday) - you can stretch the meat over multiple meals throughout the week!

Wednesday:  Mexican quinoa (scoop quinoa onto a bed of greens, dressed lightly with oil and lemon) with Baked Corn Tortilla Chips (use coconut oil!), salsa and guacamole

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Turkey Salad (wrap/pita pocket optional) with kale chips and raw veggies

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  Mark Bittman's Autumn Millet Bake with a side of green beans

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I will be taking a blogging hiatus until the New Year.  I want to wish you and your family the happiest of holidays.  2011 has been a year of growth and transformation for my family in so many ways.   It is hard to believe it has been just one year since this blog was born. 

I am very thankful to each of you who continue to read this blog - so many of you have encouraged me to continue to write and that is what motivates me to do so. I am also so grateful for the network of parents who I have "met" via blogs and Facebook pages.  We all need one another to continue to "elevate wellness" in our lives. 

I cannot even begin to think about what 2012 has in store!  Until then, enjoy some downtime with your family and friends.  I look forward to lots of "foodie" adventures with each of you next year.

With love and gratitude.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Menu Plan Week of 12/18

Happy Holidays!  Christmas and New Years are upon us...  it is a busy time of year but more important than ever to prepare nourishing (but quick and simple) meals for your family to keep them healthy during this busy time.  My little guy is working his way through a cold right now, so there is lots of extra vitamin D and probiotic-filled foods (sour pickles, Cocokefir, etc.) being consumed.  When he is sick, we also find that eliminating dairy (although he does not usually consumer dairy, anyway) and little to no sugar also helps him bounce back quickly.  Just a few tips for battling cold and flu this holiday season! :)

Here is our menu this week.  For those of you celebrating Christmas next weekend, have a blessed holiday!

Monday:  Turkey Tetrazzini using leftover turkey (coconut milk for sauce, I'll omit mushrooms)
Note:  I don't know if there is a good way to make this in advance - you could probably put the whole casserole together on Sunday and cover and bake when you get home on Monday night.

Tuesday:  Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas with salad
Tip:  This is easy to make ahead and only takes a few minutes to put together the night of!  Prepare in the frying pan, cover and refrigerate, just warm it up right in the pan.  Use pre-cooked frozen beans (see this post for details).

Wednesday:  Crock Pot Autumn Sausage Casserole  with roasted broccoli
Tip:  This is super easy to put together the night before!  Try roasting he broccoli with two tbsp. coconut oil at 375 - toss broccoli after 10 minutes, roast and additional 5-10 mins, SO delicious)

Thursday:  Crock Pot Chili with Cornbread and salad

Friday:  Christmas Celebration

Saturday:  Christmas Celebration

Sunday:  Leftovers from the freezer (Chili, Autumn Sausage Casserole)

Check out Orgjunkie's blog for more menu planning inspiration!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quinoa Burgers with Mexican Flare

I absolutely love quinoa burgers.  Mostly because my two year old likes them (wouldn't most moms say that?) and because my husband and I also think they are delicious.  They are versatile and  great vegetarian, allergy free option for my dinner rotation.  My two year old is not a huge fan of eating quinoa on its own, so this is a great way to serve it (with a little dip, of course - plain yogurt, organic ketchup, you name it!)  If you are not familiar with quinoa, it is an "ancient grain" that is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. (This definition is taken from this site). 

I took the original quinoa burger recipe that I use and spruced it up with some "Mexican flare."  It was even more delicious than the original!  I love Mexican food, as it is easy to bump up the nutrients with side dishes (avocado, greens, beans, etc.)

Quinoa Burgers (with a Mexican touch)
Adapted from original recipe here


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked = 3 cups cooked - prepare 3 cups and freeze the other half for your next batch of burgers!  I recommend preparing it with vegetable or chicken broth for added flavor).
  • 1/2 cup cooked organic black beans (or canned) + 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp egg replacer or ground chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • Directions

    Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium
    Add all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a ball of dough
    If you have time, chill the mixture (you can leave it overnight or for the day)
    Divide burger mix into 5 equal portions form patties (wet your hands to make this a little easier)
    Fry in a little coconut oil on medium heat, 5 - 10 minutes each side, until browned and firm

    (You can freeze these uncooked, thaw and cook as desired).

    Serve on their own topped with a little salsa or as shown (brown rice tortilla, wraps, greens, and a little melted organic cheese).

    Re-posted at:

    Day2DayJoys: Healthy 2day Wednesdays
    Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery Lunchbox Love
    Fresh Bites Friday

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 12/12

    We are yet another week closer to Christmas and New Years.  I don't know about your family, but ours is in full swing with the spirit of the Christmas season!  Lots of Christmas music and the building of new traditions.  Some of those traditions will continue to include new versions of our favorite foods to accommodate our little guy's food allergies and intolerances. 

    We try to keep sugar to a minimum in our house, but I cannot resist a few cookie creations for the holidays.  One recipe I ran across this week that I am excited to try are these Sunbutter Thumbprint Cookies from Easy, Breezy Food Allergies.  For a full rundown of some great allergy-friendly cookie recipes check out this allergen-friendly cookie exchange!

    Here is our menu for this week:

    Monday: Baked chicken with slow cooker wild rice (no almonds) and broccoli
    Tip:  Cook rice the day/night before - start it right when you get home from work and it will be done by bedtime, as long as you stay up until 10 or 11 :)

    Tuesday:  Leftovers and/or whatever is in the fridge

    Wednesday: Quinoa Burgers with kale chips and green beans
    Tip:  Make burgers the night before, chill.  You can even blend in the food processor and leave it in the processor in the fridge, make patties when you arrive home.

    Thursday:  Slow Cooker Beef Stew (no potatoes) over noodles with green salad
    Tip:  Assemble stew the night before

    Friday:  Baked Salmon with steamed sugar snap peas and rice
    Salmon:  just squeeze some lemon over it and a drizzle with melted coconut oil, bake at 375 degrees until done to your liking, 10-20 minutes depending on thickness

    Saturday:  Out

    Sunday:  Out

    Check out orgjunkie's blog for more menu planning inspiration!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Tater Tot "Hot Dish"... for you Minnesotans out there!

    I want to preface this post by saying that I am not originally from Minnesota, so the "hot dish" concept is new to me in the last 8 years.  I did, however, marry a Minnesotan who grew up eating "hot dish".  When I first heard about tater tot hot dish (my husband's favorite), I was a little perplexed.  When I tasted it, I sort of got it, it wasn't bad.  However, I always told my husband if he wanted Tater Tot hot dish, he could make it.  (That has yet to happen). :)

    When I saw that Alexia Foods had sweet potato tater tots in the frozen foods aisle (they are allergy friendly), I wondered if I could make an allergy-free tater tot hot dish and surprise my husband with his favorite dish, but a version that is a bit healthier and allergy-free.  I knew my husband would be happy with me and I figured that my little guy would like it, too.  (It is very kid friendly, according to all of my Minnesota friends who grew up eating it).  I think this recipe turned out good!  Of course, not exactly like the original but close enough that my husband had a big smile on his face after eating it.

    So, for all of you Minnesotans out there, and for those who are now intrigued, here is my allergy-free, here is my healthier spin on tater tot hot dish....


    1 pound grass fed beef
    1 onion, chopped
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 pinch ground black pepper (note: a Minnesota hot dish cannot be spicy, that is an unwritten rule) :)
    1 (32 ounce) package frozen sweet potato tater tots
    3 cups of homemade condensed soup (recipe below - I made this dairy free!)
    1 cup of shredded cheese (optional, I did not use this).

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.               

    In a large skillet cook ground beef with onion, salt and pepper.   Add beef mixture and tater tots to the condensed soup (ideally heated on the stove in a large soup pot.  Spread into a 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle with cheese, if using.          

    Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

    Condensed Soup Recipe (dairy free)
    3 cups (about 2 cans)
    1 3/4 cups chicken broth* (ideally, homemade bone broth!)
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder**
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon salt (or less; taste to test)
    dash of paprika
    1 1/2 cups coconut milk
    3/4 cup flour (All purpose GF flour blend)
    1. In medium-sized saucepan, boil chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the garlic and seasonings for a 3-4 minutes.
    2. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour. Add to boiling mixture and continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens. 

    (Note:  My GF version thickened very quickly and needed more broth than the original recipe (original called for 1 1/2 cups).  You may need a little bit more than this.  I made this in advance and stuck it in the fridge in the soup pan that I made it in, then took it out and warmed and re-whisked it before mixing in the beef mixture and tater tots).

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Overnight Steel Cut Oats

    Breakfast can be a tricky meal, especially on a weekday when you are trying to get out the door in time for work, remember one million things and convince your kids to get their coats and shoes on before they "escape" to the other side of the house and begin a chasing game with you (or just lay down int he middle of the floor refusing to budge.  Fun times.) :) 

    Breakfast is also the most important meal of the day.  I love soaked oatmeal, and it only takes a few minutes to cook, but at some point my little guy decided he was sick of it so we have taken a break for a period of time.  Steel cut oats cooked overnight in the crock pot is very different than the soaked oatmeal - it turns out much more like baked oatmeal this way.  Plus, steel cut oats have incredible nutritional value compared to other oatmeal variations.  It's the "real deal."  Cook this oatmeal overnight and it is ready when you wake up in the morning.  This is great leftover, as well - just warm it in the microwave for a minute.

    I have taken a couple of recipes and converted them to my liking.  With a little trial and error, here is what I have come up with!

    Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal


  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 1 tbsp. whole cane sugar (a.k.a rapadura) or organic brown sugar
  • 4.5 cups water OR 4 cups water and 1/2 cup organic cream or half and half (note that the oatmeal will brown a little on the edges and bottom due o the cream but it does turn out delicious)!

  • Add-ins (for the morning):  Organic half and half or cream (coconut oil is a wonderful dairy free dd in!), maple syrup, raw honey, nuts, chia seeds, other dried fruits, chocolate chips, Sunbutter or peanut butter.  A fun idea - make a few little bowls of toppers and let your kiddos top the oatmeal themselves!


    Combine all of the ingredients into a slow cooker (a 4 quart works fine for this recipe).  Cover and set to low before you head to bed - ready 8 hours later!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 12/5

    It is hard to believe we are into December already.  This is my favorite time of year.  I love it even more now that we have a two year old in the house.  It is so fun to start new holiday traditions!  He "gets it" this year - he loves Christmas music, the ornaments on the tree and we have even started talking about the religious aspect to the holidays as well.  He loves birthdays so the fact that we are counting down to "Jesus' birthday!!!" is especially exciting for him.  I believe we will have to have a birthday cake, or he will be thoroughly confused. :)  That being said, I hope to add a couple of holiday recipes to the blog in the coming weeks.  I still owe all of you an allergy-friendly recipe re-do of Tater Tot Hot Dish (something I did not know existed before I began dating my husband).

    I will be headed to Des Moines this coming weekend to visit my sister, her husband and their newborn baby son!  I plan to bring my crock pot (I'll need mine and theirs!) and will be cooking nourishing foods for them all weekend long.  I know so much more now about how critical these foods are, especially for a new mommy who is breast feeding her baby!  Lots of good essential fats and homemade snacks, veggies, fruits, oatmeal, etc.  And of course there will be lots of snuggle time with my new nephew!

    Here is my menu for this week.
    Monday:  Shredded Chicken Quesadillas with fixings, Kale Chips

    Tuesday:  Slow Cooker turkey breast with green beans and Quinoa Cranberry Pilaf (no nuts)
    Tip:  Prep the turkey in the slow cooker the night before.  You can make the quinoa recipe even easier by tossing some lemon juice and dried fruit/nuts to the quinoa after cooking it, no need to saute the veggies, etc. if you don't have time!)

    Wednesday:  Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash with roasted broccoli (thanks to Taiha Wagner at Just One Bite for the recipe suggestion!

    Thursday:  Leftovers

    Friday:  Off to Des Moines
    My plan includes: 
    Crock Pot Autumn Sausage Casserole 
    Whole chicken (with veggie sides)
    Mini Meat Loaves (multiple recipes, see my recipe link)
    Steel Cut Oatmeal in the Crock Pot
    Other homemade snack(s)

    Lunchbox Inspiration: How to keep lunchtime exciting!

    In this lunchbox:  (top left) sweet potato chips and sun dried tomatoes, (top right) cut up turkey, (bottom left) cucumber sticks and plain yogurt dip), (bottom right) grapes.
    Having a two year old, food allergies or not, means that lunchtime (in and out of the house) can be a big challenge.  As you know, I love to cook and prepare food so I consider this to be a really fun challenge - keeping mealtime fun for our kids so they are excited to try new foods!  When packing lunch for your kids, I am always looking for easy ways to pack lunch while still offering plenty of variety.  So far, I have been pretty successful at this!  I am looking forward to sharing these initial ideas with you and plan to continue with more posts about lunchtime in the near future.

    First, for lunch at home.  This can be equally as daunting as packing lunch in many cases!  I try to implement one leftover from dinner along with foods that I can drizzle dressing or sauce over and I also make sure to include a nutritious dip of some sort (my two year old LOVES to dip!) 

    For lunch on the go, a lunchbox like the one I have in the picture above (a Laptop Lunchbox) is key - we have the box and then the zip-up lunch "bag" to put it in so that we can keep it cold with an ice pack.  It even has a tiny dip container that my little guy loves! 

    See my "lunchbox inspiration" links at the bottom of this post to get your creative juices flowing!

    Here are some ideas:

    Veggies (I always include two)
    • Baby spinach or mixed greens with oil and vinegar (let your child grind pepper, squeeze lemon, or add a pinch of salt!)
    • Cucumber sticks or "chips" (cut into thin rounds)
    • Carrot Sticks
    • Jicama Sticks (on special occasions, I buy this pre-cut at Lunds)
    • Kale Chips
    • Frozen peas (yes, frozen - kids love them this way!)
    • Pickles (we buy Bubbies pickles - lots of probiotic power!  I cut them into sticks)
    (We do not do a ton of fruit at lunch, especially when at home.  We save them for snacks and smoothies!)
    • Whatever is in season and/or on sale - cut into bite size pieces
    • Frozen berries
    • Leftover burger (vegetarian option - Quinoa Burgers)
    • Rolled lunch meat cut into small circles
    • Grass fed beef hot dog cut into small bites (we love Thousand Hills)
    • Grass fed beef sticks (also Thousand Hills for us) cut into bite-size chunks.  I will mix them with frozen peas many times - a great snack on the go, too!
    • Small pieces of cheese cut into fun shapes
    • I have seen some great meat and cheese kabob ideas out there, too. 
    • Homemade or store-bought hummus
    • Plain yogurt (we love So Delicious Plain Coconut Milk Yogurt) or CocoKefir's CocoYo (again, a powerful probiotic - get them in any way you can!)
    • Guacamole (I'll mash an avocado with just a little lime and put it in a bowl on the side if we are at home)
    • Cranberry Pumpkin Ketchup (mix a little in with the yogurt!)
    • Brown Rice Cakes (we like Lundberg Lightly salted) broken into bite-size pieces
    • Sprouted corn tortillas (we like Food For Life) with a thin spread of Sunbutter, cut into triangles
    • Bread (whole wheat, GF, or other) cut into fun shapes that are easy for dipping
    • Take a muffin out of the freezer and stick it in his/her lunchbox - it will be defrosted by lunchtime!  If you cut it into quarters for smaller hands, it will defrost that much faster!
    • Tortilla Chips (blue corn are best!)
    • On a special occasion, Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips (a favorite in our house!)
    • When at home, some warm rice or quinoa pilaf
    • Dried Fruit - I cut up 2-3 dried apricots into strips for dessert.
    • Sun dried tomatoes - you can get small bags of these at Trader Joe's.  My little guy thinks of them as a treat (sweet and chewy!)
    • Small chunks of homemade granola or granola bars

    Some lunch (and snack!) making inspiration:

    My little guy's recent muffin tin lunch!
    I just ran across Muffin Tin Mom and am already thinking of all the fun ways I can use a muffin tin to serve lunch and snacks - brilliant!!!! Warning: you may spend way more time perusing her site than you expect. (Hint:  I just bought a silicone Christmas tree muffin "pan" from Target for $2.50 in the dollar bin area specifically for this purpose!!!)

    This Lunch Rox is also awesome an addicting. :)

    Last but not least (I shared this once before) this is a great idea for older kids or for you and your hubby - freeze single serve leftover soup in mason jars, defrost the night before, warm up in the morning and stick it in a thermos.

    This is re-posted at Allergy Free Cookery - another great place for lunchbox inspiration every Friday!

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    My First "Guest" Blog Post

    I am so excited to share my first "Guest" blog post with all of you.  Michael Larsen, owner and founder of Tula's CocoKefir, invited me to post about our journey with our son from a health care perspective and the lessons we have learned along the way.  My hope is that by telling our story, we inspire other parents to think outside of the status quo when it comes to their child's health care.  Please pass this on to anyone who you think may benefit!  Click here to read the post!

    In addition, I am a huge fan of Tula's CocoKefir and CocoYo (my little guy loves both!) - you can find their products at many Twin Cities' grocery stores and almost all Co-ops in the area.

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 11/28/11

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a great time in Milwaukee with family and friends. I am ready to get back into the swing of things this coming week! I have some yummy recipes on the menu.

    I know many who look at this blog are working with special diets in their families, or maybe you are looking to cut back on gluten, dairy, etc. for your own health benefit.  If you ever have questions about what to substitute if some of the ingredients in these recipes are on your "off limits" list, please let me know. I would love to help you! Comment here or send me an email.

    In addition to my dinner plans below, I may attempt to make these zucchini pizzas this week.  Awesome, kid friendly idea.  We'll see if my little guy has interest, he's not a huge zucchini fan.  But maybe as a pizza he'll take interest..... :)

    This week's menu:

    Monday: Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadillas with a spinach salad
    Tip: Prep the filling the night before. While prepping the filling, make a large batch of quinoa (see Tuesday's plan) for the meatloaf and to freeze for other dishes!

    Tuesday: Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf with salad
    Tip: Prep quinoa in advance (I make a big batch and freeze in 1.5 cup portions) and saute all veggies and cooked quinoa the night before.

    Wednesday: Leftovers

    Thursday: Tater Tot Hot Dish with broccoli
    My husband's most favorite childhood meal - I have promised time and time again that I would make my own version of this. So, I am making some changes tot he recipe link here. I will use Alexia Foods Sweet Potato Puffs and this condensed chicken soup recipe to make this (I have not used canned condensed soup for a very long time, see this link for a little bit of good information as to why it is no longer good for anyone to be consuming it and more information on substitutions.  In addition, my little guy cannot eat it). No fried onions, either. Maybe a little cheese sprinkled on top? Sub in 1 lb. of grass fed beef for the 1.5 lbs. it calls for.  I'll post results.
    Tip: Batch cook the condensed soup and freeze for a variety of dishes! Brown hamburger the night before.

    Friday: Leftovers with a big green salad

    Saturday: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
    Tip: This takes some time to make and assemble, a good Saturday or Sunday meal - SO delicious and great left over!

    Sunday: Out

    For more menu planning inspiration, check out Monday's post on Orgjunkie's blog!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Allergy-free Thanksgiving Recipes

    Holidays always pose challenges to families with food allergies, especially when you are joining a large group of family and friends for your holiday meal.  Our allergist provided us with stickers that kids can wear to remind relatives that your child has food allergies if you know there may be someone there who is not aware and your child is not yet old enough to say "no" when someone tempts them with a treat that could result in an allergic reaction and possibly a trip to the ER.  This is a great idea - check with your pediatrician or allergist if you think this would be helpful (or make your own)!

    To assure that you have some delicious allergy-free options on your Thanksgiving table, I have sifted through many recipes to come up with this meal.  I would love to hear about some of your favorite recipes - email me or, better yet, post your recipe links as comments below this post!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Crock Pot Turkey
    Turkey breasts - so much easier than turkey and keeps your oven free for all of the wonderful sides!

    Allergy-free Sausage Stuffing
    This recipe is excellent, as it gives a variety of options depending on what your allergies are!

    Cranberry Pumpkin "Ketchup"
    My new favorite holiday recipe and an amazing substitute for cranberry sauce!

    Green Bean Casserole
    No canned soup here! It says it is dairy and soy free, but the recipe calls for butter. Try ghee if you are dairy-free. Instead of fried onions, sub in 1/4 cup GF or panko bread crumbs that are mixed with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and sprinkle that on top and bake as directed (5-10 minutes at the end with breadcrumbs on top).

    Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
    As simple as it gets and no marshmallows! :)

    Pear Pumpkin Crisp
    See the November 3rd post!

    Pumpkin Rice Krispie Balls (allergy-free)
    We will be having these on Thanksgiving Day!  So cute and delicious!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Cooking with Your Child: Allergy-free Granola Bars!

    As you may know if you read this blog, I decided last spring to dump almost all processed foods from our cupboards and dedicate time and energy to make those foods we were accustomed to in processed form from scratch. This is, of course, a work in progress. Don't overwhelm yourself, it does not happen overnight! Take baby steps. For us, the first things to go were cereal and granola bars. Granola and granola bars are an awesome, kid-friendly snack, so I had to find a homemade version right away. I researched many recipes that were allergy free and concocted my own granola bar recipe from there. I am continuing to tweak it but I think I have a good thing going! My little guy loves them!

    I try to involve my two year old as much as possible in the kitchen! The more I involve him, the more interested he is in trying new things. Even if this means dumping the chopped vegetables or a cup of beans into the slow cooker and stirring, he is much more likely to eat what I am making! Once it is ready for a taste test, I try to make a big deal out of giving him a taste, he loves that!

    This granola bar recipe is an awesome one to get your toddler or young child involved with! I would love to hear about your experience involving your child in making this recipe if you decide to try it. What other recipes do you find to be great for involving your child? Please share!

    Here are some of my tips for involving your child in the kitchen:

    1. When involving your child, especially toddlers, find a simple recipe that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

    2. Don't bake when they are hungry! I find it best to make this recipe with my little guy right after snack or after lunch.

    3. Let them get messy! I put a bib or smock on my little one when we cook together. But, let's be honest, that only protects his clothes, not the floor, chair, counter, etc.

    3. Especially for toddlers, only bake recipes that are safe for taste testing.

    3. Give him/her a spoon for tasting. (Or multiple spoons). After my little guy stirs the granola, it is his instinct to stick the spatula right in his mouth. I have a spoon on the ready and swap it with him so he can have a taste. Sometimes, I will have a few spoons ready so that he can taste the ingredients as we go. Then there is less inclination to taste right from the bowl!

    (Sorry that there are no pictures of this process - there was no way the camera would have survived without honey and Sunbutter dripping all over it!)
    Granola Bars

    3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
    1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (can use smooth peanut butter if there is no nut allergy)
    1/2 cup honey (ideally, locally produced raw honey!)
    1/3 cup raisins, chopped
    1/4 cup ground flax seed

    Optional add-ins: other dried fruit, nuts or seeds, chocolate chips (Enjoy Life makes allergy-free mini chips!), mashed banana or pumpkin, other spices like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg. Make this recipe your own! :)

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl until completely combined. Dump the granola mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat (or very well greased with coconut oil) and firmly press down until even (it will not cover the whole baking sheet, double the recipe to cover)! Pressing the mixture down will allow you to break it into large chunks.

    Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown around the edges.

    Let cool and break into large pieces. Refrigerate or freeze granola "bars" until ready to eat!

    This will be posted at:

    Lunchbox Love Fridays at Vintage Cookery
    Allergy Friendly Friday

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 11/14

    Happy mid-November! Can you believe it?! It is hard to believe that we are so close to Thanksgiving and then the holiday season is in full swing. This is my favorite time of year, especially now that we have a two year old to share our traditions with! I hope to do a feature this week on healthy, allergy friendly recipes for Thanksgiving. We are having a very small Thanksgiving celebration this year at my parents' house with only my family and my Mom and Dad, so the food allergy challenges are all but eliminated - between my Mom and I, we are planning a very basic holiday dinner that will allow our little guy to enjoy almost every dish. For those who may have to contend with larger celebrations that make it more difficult to accommodate, I hope to suggest some recipes to you that everyone will love.

    This week, we received the results for our little guy's two year allergy testing. We tested more potential allergens this time and it definitely painted a broader picture of what we are working with. I have not seen the report but received a very quick briefing from our pediatrician (she will mail us and his allergist the results). Eggs, peanuts, walnuts and sesame seeds were high (meaning highest risk for a major reaction, i.e. Epipen always at the ready) and wheat and soy were at the lower end. Walnuts and sesame seeds are new to the list, although I had eliminated all tree nuts and suspected a sesame allergy. There was small positive for corn but since he eats corn often (tortillas, cornbread, etc.) with no reaction, we don't need to worry about it. He also tested positive for dog, cat and trees and very low for pollens and grass. Our poor guy! It is obviously a reminder of how vigilant we have to be and that this is most likely a challenge that we will be faced with for quite awhile. He might have to contend with egg and nut allergies for a lifetime.... for an "Allergy Mom" like me, I have learned not to think with a big scope and to manage through this on a daily and weekly basis (the motivation for this blog!) to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed. We will see his allergist in early December to review the results further and to ask questions - more to come.

    This being said, the good news is that I have learned to cook without these foods and it is awesome to think of the progress we have made with his health and wellness since we first discovered many of these allergies one year ago!

    Menu plan for this week:

    Monday: Pasta with marinara sauce and GF Turkey and Vegetable Meatballs
    Tip: Prep veggies the night before.

    Tuesday: Out

    Wednesday: From last week... never got to it! Slow Cooker Beef Stew (sub in GF flour if needed, I will omit potatoes... you can use fresh potatoes, they will turn out fine!) and a side of rice and green beans
    Tip: Prep crock pot the night before

    Thursday: Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (my own version - allergy free!)
    Tip: Prep all ingredients the night before, add all but broth to the slow cooker. Dump broth in before work and plug it in!

    Friday: Quinoa Burgers with roasted carrots and parsnips, salad
    Tip: Prep burger mix the night before in the food processor. Chill mixture right in the processor bowl, make patties right before frying them up!

    Saturday: Happy birthday to me! (I don't know what we will be doing, but I don't plan to cook!) :)

    Sunday: Leftover meatloaf burgers (see this post), squash and green beans

    For more menu planning inspiration, visit Orgjunkie's blog on Monday morning!

    Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

    I LOVE creamy chicken and wild rice soup!  I am making a standard chicken soup in the crock but adding a little "creaminess" at the end.  (I used a few basic recipes to create this one, so this will be new for me this week, as well!)  I may sneak some organic butter into this but avoid all other dairy (my little guy is not allergic to dairy but we avoid it for the most part due to his asthma, as dairy can be an irritant to this condition or for anyone that has a cold or flu bug, for that matter!)  If you cannot do any dairy, sub in ghee or a another DF butter substitute.  OR just eat this without the roux/milk mix added at the end for a classic chicken and rice soup.  I will update this post with photos and the taste result, would love to hear if you try this during the week, as well!

    Lunchbox idea:  This is brilliant.  Freeze soup in 8 oz. mason jars and defrost overnight before adding to a thermos for your family's lunches!  Perfect!   (Other awesome lunch packing tips here, too).

    Note:  For a richer soup, double the butter, flour and milk amounts.  I just want a touch of creaminess so I am keeping it lighter.


    6 cups chicken broth (I use homemade bone broth)
    2 chicken breasts (I use shredded chicken from the freezer)
    2 tsp salt, divided (I use Real Salt) plus more to taste (adjust depending on the broth that you are using!)
    1/2 cup wild rice
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/4 cup (approx) GF all purpose flour (we use Bob's Red Mill)
    1/4 cup unsalted organic pastured butter (1/2 stick)
    1 cup (approx) coconut milk
    1 cup diced carrots
    1 cup diced celery
    1/2 cup diced onion


    Combine broth, 1 tsp salt, carrots, celery, carrot, onion, chicken and rice in a large slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks (if not already shredded) and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon until a roux forms (a thick consistency). Whisk in coconut milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes.

    Linked to Sunday Night Soup Night!
    Linked to Traditional Tuesdays

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Baking Frenzy

    With the cooler fall temperatures comes an innate desire to spend more time in my kitchen cooking and baking.  I have been baking much more than ever before since my son was diagnosed with food allergies and intolerances and I have decided to take a more traditional approach to eating for myself and my husband, as well.  This post features two recipes, one allergy friendly cereal and a bread that satisfies a craving I have had lately for a non-GF baked god (with eggs too!)  The good news is that is can easily be translated into an allergy-friendly bread with an egg replacer and GF all purpose baking flour!

    I recently had the opportunity to meet Holly Larsen, the Co-founder of Tula's CocoKefir.  My family had been a fan of this product for quite some time (we love their new CocoYo too!).  Their story is inspirational.  Holly and I have been sharing some kid-friendly snack ideas since then.  She gave me this granola/cereal recipe to try and it was a big hit in our house with my little guy and I!  I would liken it to vanilla-infused grape nuts - crunchy and a little sweet.  Wonderful sprinkled on yogurt, oatmeal or brown rice cereal or with a little bit of milk or coconut milk poured over it!  I love the fact that I had the opportunity to use some ingredients that I had never tried before in this recipe - buckwheat groats, quinoa puffs and vanilla stevia (I used the Sweetleaf brand - it is worth it to buy the good stuff with no additives, as a little goes a long way...  there are hundreds of servings per tiny bottle!  I am excited to continue baking with it and look forward to adding few drops to flavor tea, coffee, etc. as well!)

    Allergy-Free Granola/Cereal
    (Thanks to Holly Larsen for this recipe!)
    • 1.5 cups soaked buckwheat groats (find these in the bulk section at your Co-op or Whole Foods)
    • 3 cups quinoa puffs (From Nuts Online - just received them in the mail and they are awesome, a great add-in for any granola recipe or as a cereal substitute on its own!  Note that they are tiny - just tiny puffed quinoa "grains")
    • 4 tbls coconut oil
    • 1 tbls ground chia seeds mixed with 1/3 cup warm water (you can also find these in bulk!)
    • 30 drops vanilla stevia (find this in the baking aisle at Whole Foods or your Co-op - a few drops go a long way, great to flavor beverages, too!)
    • pinch salt

    Soak buckwheat groats in water overnight.  Drain and rinse.  Bake soaked buckwheat groats at 325 degrees for 20 minutes baking sheet (lined with a Silpat or parchment) to dry out. In the meantime, let chia seeds soak in water and melt the coconut oil.  Mix chia mixture with stevia. Mix chia/stevia mixture and coconut oil with dry ingredients. Spread on parchment/Silpat lined sheet and bake 40 minutes stirring periodically. Cool completely and store in airtight container.  Serve like cereal or sprinkled on yogurt - or as a snack all by itself! :) 
    The ingredients: chia seeds (small clear bag, quinoa puffs (blue bag), groats (big clear bag), coconut oil and Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme Stevia.

    Before baking

    After baking, crunchy and just the right amount of sweetness.  Made our house smell wonderful!

    Sprinkled on yogurt - the little guy LOVED it. :)

    Sweet Potato Bread

    (A revised version of this recipe from the Coop: Stronger Together website.  It turned out so moist and delicious.  My hubby and I enjoyed a piece each when it came out of the oven.  A nice change of pace after lots of GF, dairy free, egg-free baked goods this fall!   I will try this allergen free next time, though - I am sure it will turn out great that way too!) 


    • 1/2 cup whole cane sugar (aka rapadura)
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1⁄2 cup coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes (or squash)
    • 1 3⁄4 cups sprouted wheat flour (I used Arrowhead Mills)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1⁄3 cup water


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
    2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice and cinnamon together.
    3. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the sugarsand coconut oil until the sugar is dissolved and smooth. Add the vanilla and mashed sweet potatoes and blend well. Stir in half of the flour mixture. Add the water and eggs and stir well. Add the remaining flour mixture and blend well. Pour into the loaf pan, sprinkle brown sugar on top of bread.  Bake for about 1 hour. Test for doneness by poking the center of the loaf with a skewer or toothpick. The skewer should come out clean. Let the loaf rest for about 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

    The bread speaks for itself! :)  YUM.

      This will be reposted within the following blogs:
      Day2Day Joys
      Fresh Bites Fridays
      Allergy Friendly Fridays
      Lunchbox Love - Vintage Cookery


    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    All About Beans!

    Beans are a critical part of my families' meals - lunch and dinner - on a weekly basis. Beans are an awesome way to quickly add fiber and protein to your family's diet. If you are looking to bump up the nutrition content of your families meals, beans are by far the most affordable way to go.

    I used to be a fan of canned beans - quick and easy. But I never really loved their flavor and consistency. For some reason, cooking my own beans was a little daunting to me.

    Then I learned about the benefits of soaking and cooking your own beans (learn more about why you should soak your beans here.) When I discovered that I can prepare them in my crock pot, I was sold! As an added bonus, they taste so much better and their texture is what you would expect from a bean (i.e. not mushy!)

    In addition to all of this, organic beans purchased in the bulk section of your favorite Co-op or grocery store are incredibly inexpensive. One pound of cooked bulk beans costs under $3.00 (as low as $1.30/lb when on sale at my co-op!) and is equivalent to 7 cups (or 4 cans) of beans!

    Soaking your beans: Per the directions in the link above, you can boil the beans for 2-3 minutes, cover and leave overnight to soak. I use a big 6 quart crock pot, rinse the beans, pour them in, fill it with water and leave it overnight on the WARM setting.

    Cooking beans: Drain the beans after soaking and rinse them thoroughly. Rinse out the crock put and wipe it dry with a paper towel. Add the beans back into the crock pot and fill with water (fill until beans are completely submerged in the water). Cook on LOW. Our favorite beans to cook are garbanzo (chick peas) and black turtle beans. The garbanzo take about 6-7 hours and the black turtle take 4-5. After they are cooked (take a taste test to make sure they are done to your liking), drain and rinse with cool water. Let them cool completely.

    Here is the best part - you can freeze the beans in can-size portions to use for cooking later. As I mentioned, they have a great texture (and are sodium free) - freezing them does not impact their flavor or texture, in my opinion. I freeze them in 1-2 can potions (1 can = 1.5 cups cooked)

    My little guy loves beans. Here are some great ideas of what to do with all of the beans that you have on hand!

    • Eat them as-is! I serve these as a snack (great for on-the-go)! Sometimes I will mix them with grass-fed sausage sticks or even as a side dish with lunch on their own.
    • Use them in burgers like these and these.
    • Roast them for an awesome, crunchy snack! Check out the recipe here.
    • Add them to cold quinoa and rice salads, crock pot chili, soups, or make this Moroccan Chick Pea recipe.
    • Make them into hummus. Pack the dip in a container for school lunch or serve a big bowl with raw veggies for a super healthy snack. Two great recipes (season to taste - remember these beans have little to know sodium content):
      • Black Bean Hummus
      • Basic Hummus (I sub in extra olive oil for tahini until I get my desired consistency, my son reacts to sesame,a lthough I can't say if it is an intolerance because we have not had him tested for sesame). You can add all sorts of things to bump up the flavor of this recipe, including roasted peppers/zucchini/eggplant, extra lemon, some seasoned breadcrumbs, etc.
    • Use in quesadillas and or as a side dish with tacos, etc. Almost all of my quesadilla recipes include beans! (One easy side dish idea: warm up 1.5 cups of black beans (1 can equivalent) with 3-4 tbsp of salsa and 1.5 tsp cumin and salt to taste - YUM!)

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 11/7/11

    Hello, all!  I hope you had a great week and that you are enjoying your weekend!  I will try to be better about mentioning my recipe highlights from the prior weeks menu plan.  Last week's menu included an incredible Autumn Sausage Casserole that I made in my slow cooker (per the recipe).  Taiha Wagner from Just One Bite (where I contribute recipes, articles, my blog links, etc.) mentioned that she made it right in a pan on the stove and it turned out wonderful.  So, you can't really go wrong!  I highly recommend that you work it into your menu plan in the coming week or two, you will see it here frequently this winter.  It is a wonderful, healthy comfort food and will make your house smell amazing.

    Here's the plan for the coming week!  A few old reliables and a few brand new recipes!  I am interested to try the chicken nuggets and see what Ben thinks, as he has never had them before!

    Monday:  Crock Pot Chicken Chili (allergy free, I will use garbanzo beans and shredded chicken that I froze last week after cooking a whole chicken) with side of roasted broccoli

    Tuesday: Roasted Vegetables with Pasta and Bacon (I may use sweet potato in place of squash, Brown Rice Pasta)
    Tip:  Reserve a couple of slices of bacon from the weekend (an excuse to make bacon on the weekend!), prep vegetables for roasting the night before and mix together in a Ziploc OR roast them the night before if needed!

    Wednesday:  Breakfast for dinner - Oatmeal Bake with breakfast sausage
    Tip: To make this allergy friendly, I sub in Ener-G egg replacer, plain coconut milk for milk and coconut oil for the butter. I do not add any nuts.

    Thursday:  Chicken Nuggets with broccoli and sweet potato fries (if I have time, I may make the BBQ sauce that she refers to in the post!)
    Tip:  Per the blog post for the chicken nugget recipe, you can cut chicken in to chunks, toss with flour mixture and stick them in the freezer.  Take them out and bake when needed!

    Friday:  Slow Cooker Beef Stew (sub in GF flour if needed, I will omit potatoes... you can use fresh potatoes, they will turn out fine!) and a side of rice and green beans
    Tip:  Prep crock pot the night before

    Saturday:  Out

    Sunday:  Crock Pot Chili (scroll down for recipe) with Kale Chips and Cornbread (thanks to a recommendation from a fellow "allergy Mom" I will be using Bob's Red Mill cornbread mix to make this.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Cranberry Pumpkin Ketchup

    Since eating at Wise Acre Eatery last Thursday with a group of Just One Bite readers, I have been thinking about the wonderful cranberry pumpkin "ketchup" that they serve there as a side with fries and burgers.  It was so flavorful and unique - almost like a mix between ketchup and chutney.... I just had to try to recreate it!  As the mother of an extremely busy toddler to chase around, I don't have time to hang out and create gourmet sauces to compliment my meals.  This was definitely a special circumstance.  It is sometimes a miracle that I am able to put a healthy, well rounded meal on the table each day, much less condiments to compliment them!  With that being said, I am not an expert in creating sauces, chutneys, etc. so this was relatively new to me.  What I created was absolutely delicious (I must say, I was rather impressed with myself and with how easy it really was) but a bit different than what we ate at Wise Acre.  The recipe that follows (along with some pictures) is much more like a ketchup than a chutney, but has the same flavor profiles as what I experienced last week.  If anything, I think this recipe is a bit more "kid-friendly" - my little guy loved it!  This makes a generous 2.5 cups of sauce.  Because it is made with vinegar, it will keep in your fridge for one month!  (I stored my leftovers in a mason jar).

    This would make a wonderful (and affordable!) gift for your Thanksgiving Day host/hostess.  It definitely has a spot on the table with your Thanksgiving dinner, as well - I would love a scoop of this savory "ketchup" next to my turkey in place of any cranberry sauce!  It is also a wonderful everyday replacement for your standard ketchup, use it as a sandwich spread, scoop it over baked brie for a holiday gathering or use it as a dip for baked sweet potato fries.  Lots of possibilities!  As an added bonus, it has loads more nutritional value and a unique flavor that is perfect for fall.

    If you do not have one already, I highly recommend that you pick up a hand blender for recipes such as this one (also wonderful for making blended soups... saves tons of time in both prep and dish cleaning!)
    Cranberry Pumpkin Ketchup

    Ingredients (preferably organic ingredients!)
    3 cups (12 oz bag) fresh cranberries
    1 small to medium sweet yellow onion, diced
    3/4 cup water
    3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    3/4 cup pumpkin puree
    2 tsp. grated orange zest PLUS 1 large piece of orange zest PLUS juice of this orange
    2 tsp. grated ginger PLUS 2 one inch pieces of ginger
    3/4 cup whole cane sugar (aka rapadura)
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/4 tsp. allspice
    1/4 tsp of salt (may need more to taste)

    1. Rinse cranberries thoroughly. Set aside to drain.
    2. In a medium to large saucepan, add water, apple cider vinegar, 2 one inch pieces of ginger and the onions. Bring to a simmer and simmer until onions are tender (10 minutes uncovered).
    3. Add juice from the orange, pumpkin puree, all orange zest and grated ginger, stir to combine with onion mixture.
    4. Add cranberries, simmer uncovered until the berries begin to pop and soften (approx. 10 minutes).
    5. Remove large ginger pieces and large piece of orange zest.
    6. Puree with hand blender (or in a food processor) until it reaches desired consistency.
    7. Add whole cane sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Mix well and warm through on low heat.
    8. Serve warm or cold.
    (Warning: difficult to resist scraping the pan for extra tastes!) :) Enjoy!

    Served here on a turkey burger (burger recipe from this week's menu plan)!

    This will be linked up with:
    Food Allergy Fridays
    Healthy 2day Wednesdays
    Fresh Bites Friday
    Allergy Free Vintage Cookery Lunchbox Love

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 10/31

    Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone is enjoyed another beautiful weekend here in the Twin Cities (Saturday, at least!)  Our two year old has really embraced Halloween this year - he loves to wear his tiger costume and to get into the role (his "roar" has come a long way in the past week! haha)  I posted last week about some of the challenges that Halloween can bring for families of kids with allergies - check that out for last-minute trick or treating purchases!

    I feel like I am in a groove when it comes to cooking lately.  Whenever I have a few weeks in a row without being out of town, I find that I have time to stock my freezer with lots of beans, baked goods, leftovers, etc. to make it easier to cook throughout the week.

    Here is our menu for this coming week!

    Monday: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Sweet Potato Chili with cornbread muffins (I am going to try to find this mix at the store - tough to bake completely from scratch on a Monday, this is definitely the next best thing!)
    Tip:  Pre-mix all ingredients in the crock pot except the sweet potatoes (peel and cube in the morning!)

    Tuesday:  Turkey Spinach Burgers (scroll down to find the recipe - these look delicious!  I'll sub in Egg Replacer and coconut oil) with Cranberry Pumpkin Ketchup (I am working on the recipe for this now!  Stay tuned!) with Kale Chips and Green Beans
    Tip:  Prepare burgers the night before and stick them in the fridge (raw) and cook when ready.  Double this recipe and freeze four burgers (raw) for future use!
    Wednesday:  Crock Pot Autumn Sausage Casserole with side of veggies (this is a new recipe for me, looks easy and delicious!)
    Tip:  Prepare rice ahead of time (you can even freeze rice after cooking for a really quick side dish of any kind) and brown sausage the night before.
    Thursday:  Pizza with salad

    Friday:  Mexican Quinoa Quesadillas with the fixings (guacamole, salsa, black beans)
    Tip:  Prepare a big batch of quinoa and freeze in two cup portions for use in recipes like this one.

    Saturday:  Grass fed beef steaks on the grill with Twice Baked Cauliflower (also a new recipe!) and salad  (I'll use Earth Balance Coconut Spread in place of the shortening!)

    Sunday:  Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Squash (a new favorite!)

    For more menu planning information, visit

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Trick or Treat!

    I blog specifically about food allergies too often (although it really is layered into most of my posts) but I feel inclined to do so for a few minutes with Halloween right around the corner!

    For most, Halloween is a really fun holiday that all kids look forward to.  For kids with food allergies and their parents, there is a nerve wrecking side to it - the candy that the kids receive door to door can lead to severe or even fatal allergic reactions in kids who are allergic to peanuts or some of the other major food allergens.  In my case, we do not know the full extent of my son's peanut allergy, as he has yet to eat anything with peanuts or tree nuts in it.  We know we can have it in the house (we still eat peanut butter on occasion) and for many children, even being around peanut products can cause a reaction.

    Regardless of the extent of my son's allergy, I have a heightened understanding of what this can mean for parents around the holidays, especially Halloween.  As my little guy gets older, we will have a lot of explaining to do to help him understand what he can and cannot eat.

    Our chiropractor and I had a discussion about this today.  Her daughter has a severe peanut allergy and she does not allow her children to eat much sugar in general.  She allows her two kids to go out trick or treating for a few blocks and when they arrive home, they swap out 6 or 7 treats for "surprise" treats from mom and dad (healthier, allergy friendly alternatives) and the rest of the candy gets handed out to kids in the neighborhood.  This is the tradition so they do not mind it at all (these two kiddos are under 10 - as they get older, I am sure the approach will have to change!) 

    If you have a child with food allergies or are looking to be extra aware of those that do, here are some great treat options to hand out this Halloween!

    • Angie's Kettle Corn has big packs of snack-size bags of kettle corn (allergy-free) that you can find at Target or Super Target
    • I found Halloween snack packs of Annie's Homegrown Fruit Snacks at Whole Foods (along with some other great candy options).
    • A lot of the major chocolate brands have peanut free facilities where they are producing candy.  The labels for this are front and center on the packaging.  Dove is an example!
    • Check out Lollipops, Starbursts etc.  Here is a great list of Allergy-Free Halloween Candies.
    • Hand out glow sticks (Michaels), pencils, play dough (you can get mini-containers of Play dough that is Halloween themed at Costco) instead of candy!
    I know I can speak for "Allergy kids" and their parents when I say how much we all appreciate anything you can do to help make Halloween a little easier for our kiddos! :)

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 10/24

    Hello!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  We have had a pretty good one, despite my little guy having a stuffy nose and cough (which caused some sleepless hours on Friday night, never fun!)

    After a heartbreaking Badgers loss, I am hoping for a Packer win today (I am writing this before the game on Sunday.... sorry, Vikings fans! haha)  We are cozying up for the cooler fall weather ahead this week.  I have mentioned this before but this is my favorite time of year to cook, partly because it is "officially" crock pot season (mine is out all year though!) and I love being back int he kitchen making comfort foods (once the late winter comes around, I am ready for grill season again!)  So, I am taking advantage and cooking up a storm lately!

    I have received a lot of feedback lately about putting up a recipe archive on this page so that you can easily access recipes when you are creating your own menu plans.  Admittedly, I am not the most technologically savvy person!  Although Blogger is really easy to use, I have yet to find a way to add a tab for a recipe archive.  I have an idea for a workaround so bear with me, I will get an archive started soon!

    Our menu this week:

    Monday:  Super Sloppy Joe's with a side of broccolini
    note:  I sub in whole cane sugar (aka Rapadura) and only about half the sugar that is called for
    Tip:  You can prepare this the night before in a skillet, let it cool and cover the skillet, store right in the fridge OR put the prepared sloppy joe's into the crock pot, store in fridge and heat on HIGH for 30 minutes before eating!

    Tuesday:   Pasta with Red Sauce and roasted red pepper turkey sausage (Ferndale Market - love their products!); side salad
    Tip:  Make enough pasta sauce to have leftovers - I freeze it and defrost as needed!  Use your favorite sauce recipe and once you have blended all of the ingredients, you can drop it into a crock pot to simmer for the day!  Make it the night before and stick the crock in the fridge if you will be working all day.

    Wednesday:  Quinoa Burgers with salad and roasted sweet potatoes
    note:  I may spice this one up a little bit, turned out good the last time but it could be better!  I'll update you on the results.
    Tip:  Make these the night before (blend all ingredients in the food processor, quick and easy), make into patties and chill.  Fry them up right before eating.

    Thursday:  I am out; boys will eat leftover meatloaf burgers (I froze these a few weeks ago per my Tuesday menu plan in this post) and a veggie

    Friday:  Chicken in the crock pot with roasted butternut squash and kale chips
    Tip:  If you have the oven on earlier in the week, roast your squash, scoop it out of the shell and stick it in the fridge.  Warm it up before serving with some butter (or coconut oil) and maple syrup.  YUM!

    Saturday:  Out

    Sunday:  White Chicken Chili (leftover chicken from Friday!) with salad 
    Note:  This was on my plan but never made it to my table a few weeks ago... hoping I am able to make it happen this week!  I am going to give this a shot with coconut milk and coconut oil substitutes for milk/butter... we'll see how it goes.  We have had it without the substitutions and it is a really delicious soup!

    This will be posted as part of Menu Plan Monday on Orgjunkie's site.  Lots of menu planning inspiration there!

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Pumpkin Granola

    I have been drooling over this Pumpkin Pecan Granola recipe for awhile now and finally had a chance to make it yesterday!  Due to food allergies, I changed the recipe up a bit, but for the most part I stayed true to the recipe linked above.  It turned out delicious.  My recipe below is for double the amount of granola that the original recipe produces.  Since making some dramatic changes to our diet this past spring, I have almost eliminated breakfast cereal from my family's diet, and granola like this is a wonderful substitute.  We will quickly go through the doubled recipe!!  It is also a fun treat for my little guy to eat this for breakfast with (coconut) milk poured over it.  Just like Daddy!  (My husband loves boxed cereal, so I have yet to completely eliminate it from my pantry - I am still working on it!)

    I wrote to the recipe's author, Erin Chase, and asked the reason why she uses quick cooking oats.  She said it makes the granola more "clumpy" so it is easier to eat for snacks, etc.  I did follow her directions (50% old fashioned, 50% quick cook) and it did make a difference (usually I only use old fashioned) in how clumpy it turned out!  It is also a softer/chewier granola, making it very kid friendly!  I did use some brown sugar in this recipe, but subbed in maple syrup for half the sweetener.  Next time, I would use all maple syrup, I don't think it would make much of a difference!  The banana that I added also provides extra sweetness.  (I may try subbing in more banana for the apple sauce and cutting the sugar in half next time.)

    The liquid ingredients

    The dry ingredients
    (Note: I added this to a large mixing bowl after taking this photo!)

    The final product - delicious!!!
    Pumpkin Granola (Allergy-friendly)
    Adapted from $5 Dinners' Pumpkin Pecan Granola
    Makes 16 (1/2 cup) breakfast servings (or lots of snacks/lunchbox treats!) :)


    • 1/3 cup applesauce
    • 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or you could use maple extract if you have some)
    • 4 cups quick cooking oats
    • 4 cups traditional oats
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (optional)
    • 2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – each
    • 1 cup raisins (I ran a knife through them to distribute them throughout the granola more evenly, and I used a but less raisins than called for.)


    • Preheat to 300.
    • In a small mixing bowl, combine the applesauce, banana, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and extract.
    • In larger mixing bowl, toss together the 2 kinds of oats, brown sugar, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
    • Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the oats mixture and combine until all the oats are covered in the pumpkin mixture.
    • Spread onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then gently toss and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
    • Stir in the raisins or other dried fruit after it has cooled some on a cooling rack.
    • Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Beyond a week, I recommend storing in a plastic container or freezer baggie in the freezer for up to 3 months
    • Dairy-free breakfast ideas using this recipe: sprinkle this granola over plain coconut milk yogurt or blend it in with oatmeal or brown rice cereal for breakfast in the morning (and on occassion as a bowl of cereal).
    This post is linked up to:
    Healthy 2day Wednesdays
    Fresh Bites Friday
    Allergy-Free Lunchbox Love
    Allergy-Friendly Friday