Hungry Hungry Hippie

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When one family member falls sick

…they all follow suit.  At least that’s what I’ve heard.  I think I got too cocky with our family’s immunity recently.  Lots of friends and their kids have been getting sick and until this past weekend P really never caught anything.  I wanted to credit his incredible immune system (which is probably always in hyperdrive given his numerous allergies) but I was just lucky.  Or rather, we were just lucky.  You see I now understand what they mean when they saw “kids are petrie dishes” and “when one kid gets it, everyone else will too”.

Without getting graphic (because there’s no need for that…ever) the past several days have been rough.  Mr. toddler man got sick but I thought it was a fluke food poisoning thing because it seemed to pass so quickly.  Extra nap zzzzzs seemed to fix him up.  But no, that wasn’t the full story.  And over the next few days I learned my lesson.  No more being smug about how healthy my child is.  Kyle got sick next and fortunately it was on a Saturday so he didn’t have to miss work.  We were extra lucky because I didn’t get hit until Sunday when he was on the mend (and also not working and able to cover for me while I stayed in bed all. day. long).  So as hideous as our weekend was, at least we were all staggered in our levels of sick.  It’s reminded me to be humble and grateful for everything – our friends have been incredible, my husband and I are a fantastic team, and we all bounced back fine (I’m still not 100% but I’m close).  Just in time to focus on the holiday that allows me to give thanks.  So that’s what I’m thankful for – at this moment and always – the health and happiness of our family and friends and the amazing support they provide.

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One of the biggest disappointments of the timing of the GI bug was the fact that on Sunday we had planned a Friendsgiving.  As I have alluded to many times, our friends are outstanding when it comes to cooking and baking for pacman’s allergies so the fact that we had to miss this fun filling gathering broke my heart.  I had been getting texts and emails about ingredients and recipes the entire week before as our friends prepared their dishes so it was literally the biggest bummer to miss it after all their hard work.  But they were so freakin awesome they brought us four plates full of food!!!!!  I mean how blessed are we to have such stellar people in our lives?  It was the hugest relief to have food to feed P that was safe because Kyle and I weren’t yet in shape to consume anything solid and I was in no condition to stay vertical, let alone cook anything for my son.  Massive load off my shoulders.  As we have been returning to the world of functioning humans, we have been (slowly) eating Thanksgiving food for the past two days and it’s been such great reminder of all the good fortune and friendships we have in our lives.

OK, so that was a tangent I hadn’t intended on, but moving on.

The only food I have form last week is pre-illness so here you go.

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Corn bread with spinach salad.  Simple but awesome.  The cornbread was gluten free, dairy free, every allergen but eggs free, so P could have some.  He hasn’t wanted any yet, but like I said, none of us have been into food much lately.  Kyle and I loved it though.  The salad had avo, dried cranberries, and pistachios, and a home-made red wine vinaigrette.

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This salmon and salad combo was inspired by this food52 meal, but I tweaked the heck out of it to make it allergen friendly for P (and then added the soy based sauce after he had finished his portion). He ate a few noodles and a lot of veggies and salmon.  Typical.  The portion of fish above was mine that I split with patty-cakes, so you can see the half of the filet that’s missing.

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Kyle said this was one of his favorite meals ever and wants it on repeat.  So if you’re looking for a good dinner give this a shot.

That’s all!  I hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving spent with loved ones.  I’m very eager to make up for missed calories over the past few days and I think I know where they will be coming from…I’m looking at you mashed potatoes.

Toddler food ideas and tricks

I could write for forever and ever (bragging) about my son, but I’ve deliberately tried to keep things to a minimum on HHH because (a) it’s not usually helpful for other parents to hear about what milestones various kids have reached at what age because the comparison trap for parents is probably the worst kind in existence (to which I don’t want to contribute) and (b) many readers don’t have kids and probably don’t care about my little mister’s stuff.  And if I’m being perfectly honest there’s a third factor (c) which is the obvious issue of his privacy.  I refuse to be the mom that blasts photos of him on the toilet across the internet to live in infamy forevermore.

However, I do find the posts that offer creative food ideas for toddlers to be extremely helpful.  It’s easy to get in a routine rather than come up with new meal ideas, and I find the various blogs and magazine articles I read often suggest foods that P can’t eat anyway due to his allergies.

SO.  I thought I’d write a list of his current food likes right now (although keep in mind they wax and wane over time) at 21 months.  Side note: that sounds crazy close to 2.  Eeeeek.

[First thing in the am (pre-breakfast) we go on a run/walk and he eats apple slices the whole time.  It’s the only time of the day I can exercise without sacrificing his play time or activities and it works well for us, plus we get to stalk street sweepers/garbage trucks/etc. and bring apples to our horse friend, Dancer.  P eats at least an entire apple on our jog, sometimes more.]

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Breakfast:  This is his most routine meal and it almost never varies.  He eats everything I’m about to list and deviates <1% of the time.  Just like his mama.  ;)

-Quick bread (I alternate between banana breads, apple spice breads, zucchini breads, and pumpkin breads, but I always have something on hand and something in the freezer).  They are home-made so gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, etc.  He knows allllll about baking and helps me make them (stirring, adding cinnamon…) from time to time.  He will eat ANYTHING in muffin form so I have that trick up my sleeve (should I ever need to abuse it).  It has everything to do with the “do you know the muffin man” song, which he sings all the time.  He usually eats 1-2 muffins or slices of bread (warmed and cut up).

-Eggs (I don’t think P has skipped eggs for breakfast ever.  He never tires of them and eats 2 every day.  He would probably eat more if I offered more but I don’t.  Two a day is plenty.)

-Fruit (Depending on how many apple slices he ate on the walk I vary his fruit offerings at breakfast but I usually give him blueberries or grapes (or whatever is in season) until he is full.

-Water (He doesn’t really drink hemp/coconut milk any more except in smoothies.)

Lunch: This is his least consistent meal because he never seems super hungry.  I wait to feed him until he tells me when he’s hungry and it’s usually long after he wakes up from his nap.  I have no idea how he goes so long without food but whatever.

-Cold vegetables (His standards are diced bell peppers, carrots, cucumber slices and celery, but I need more variety here.  In the summer he used to eat basil, chard, tomatoes, and green beans from the garden so I never cared about getting veggies in him, but the garden is barely alive at this point so I need to think of more things.)

-GF carb with spread (This is a recent meal option that he previously didn’t “get” at all, but now I can make him pseudo sandwiches (open faced with only one ingred on top) or quesadillas.  I use The Essential Baking Co. bread or TJs GF tortillas with avocado, sun butter, or jam and he is pretty into them.  I offer one or the other so he gets to choose and that makes him happy.  I stopped doing yes or no questions with food a while ago and now give two options form which he has to pick one.  It means I’m still in control but he feels like he’s making the decision.  Win win.)

-Fruit (He eats almost every fruit I can think of but his favorites are bananas, melon, grapes, pears, plums, and berries.  I don’t give him apples at meal times because he eats them in the morning and on the go throughout the day and I usually give something different from whatever he had at breakfast).

-Beans (I’ve tried and tried to make him like beans, but it’s a slow going effort.  He likes roasted chickpeas and canned black beans, but that’s about it.  I’m not giving up.  Lentils are treated with equal apathy, and even when I’ve tried to trick him by baking them into things, he eats a few and then realizes what’s up.)

-Extras (These are the things I turn to when he won’t eat anything, and they include sunflower/pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, and popcorn (he calls them that, they are actually rice cakes that I break up).

-Smoothies (These were huge for a while but it’s colder now and he drinks them only 1-2 times per week.  I sneak everything in them so they can be eaten sipped as a full meal – including hemp seeds, beans, greens (fresh or frozen spinach, kale, etc.), fruit, applesauce, and coconut/hemp milk.  He seriously slurps down smoothies with beans and doesn’t even care.)

-Water (Always water with every meal.)

Dinner:  He has a pretty large amount of food for dinner and I like it that way because I don’t want him waking up hungry!

-Components of whatever I’m making for us/made for us the previous night (He still doesn’t like assembled meals so he basically eats deconstructed versions of our dinners most of the time with a protein, a veggie, and a carb.  It’s not exactly super interesting all the time, but he doesn’t seem to mind.  If he doesn’t eat parts of our meal, for whatever reason, I always have bits and pieces of other stuff tupperwared up to give him.)

-Warm vegetable (He suddenly loves broccoli after trying to get him to eat it forever without success.  It’s now one of his favorite foods.  Aside from that, he really only eats peas, carrots, corn, and green beans.  I buy the massive Costco frozen medleys and he eats ~1/4-1/2 cup for dinner.  He also eats, mushrooms (raw or cooked), sautéed onions, sautéed kale, raw lettuce, and other veggies I cook for us that I can’t think of now).

-Protein (We basically do Bittman’s VB6 approach to food -maintaining a veg til dinner eating style.  I don’t think P needs x amount of protein in every single meal but I will say he chows down on meat like it’s his last meal every time he gets it.  His favorite things to eat are shrimp, diced or shredded baked chicken, bacon, and ground beef, but he also eats TJs chicken sausage, fish, and various applegate products).  He is coming around on beans and happily eats black beans and chickpeas by the handful, but otherwise doesn’t give the other kinds the time of day.  I’ve never seen him refuse bacon or shrimp though.  He would eat an entire package of bacon or pounds of shrimp if I let him.)

-Carbs (He likes plain quinoa and rice, GF noodles with olive oil, and GF oatmeal with toppings.  Those are the standards.  He doesn’t like potatoes (white or sweet) or squash much and will eat them every once in a while if they are part of our meal and he sees me eating them too, but as leftovers or in isolation – forget about it.  Butternut is the most successful squash, and salty roasted red potatoes.  He eats about a cup or more of whatever carb for dinner, which is fairly even with the amount of protein he eats.)

-Water

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Notes:

P is a crazy good eater and I don’t actually know any other kids who eat as much as he does, so if you’re a mom and reading this and freaking out that your kid doesn’t eat this much, STOP COMPARING!  Your kid knows what he/she is doing and can intuitively regulate his/her diet just fine.  [That’s not medical advice though, just mom to mom stuff]

There’s probably more I am not thinking of (it’s hard to come up with stuff on the fly) but I’ll try to edit and update as I remember more. [Edited to add: I forgot about coconut milk yogurt!  It’s a go-to when he’s not eating much because he never turns it down.  I add chia seeds and hemp seeds to it so it’s loaded with stuff and not just yogurt but it’s so sweet he doesn’t care.  Plus he likes seeds anyway.  I buy the TJs blueberry or vanilla coconut milk yogurt.]

As you can tell, all his food is peanut, tree nut, sesame, soy, dairy, and gluten free.  We have cleared a few seeds (flax, sunflower, chia, hemp, pumpkin), but aren’t really trying out much more at this point.  I feel like we have a wide enough variety despite the restrictions but I’m obviously hoping he will outgrow some of his allergies at some point!

The more involved P gets in cooking/preparing food, the more he loves it.  He helps me grocery shop, and unload, and it’s one of his favorite activities.  He has toy food and pots and pans and we read about food frequently.  Now that it’s fall/winter, he helps me pick lemons and oranges in the backyard, and in summer/spring he helps water the garden and pick it’s produce.  I won’t credit this as the sole reason he is super into eating, but I definitely think it’s played a role in his interest in food.  He wants to be involved and the more I let him do, the more I see him delight in it.

 

The weekly menu

I don’t have a menu chalkboard from this past week because I only had two family meals to prepare so the rest of my eats were solo randomness.  Mostly leftovers because cooking for one isn’t worth the effort when I could just throw a salad bowl of grains and veggies and stuff together.  That’s my hippie jam.  I have pics though.  In case you wanted that.  And some of my big boy too.  Because people always want those.

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I don’t have many breakfast shots, but I mostly ate zucchini bread with eggs.  I did have greek yogurt with (home-made) granola one day.  I just discovered Noosa this October and have since tried to keep my habit in check (it’s $$$ stuff) but I do think it’s pretty amazing yumminess.  My granola was pretty seedy so that made it have enough staying power.  I find I need more protein in my breakfasts…oats just don’t cut it for me anymore.

Ok, moving on.

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Have you guys tried these ridge cut sweet potato chips from TJs?  Highly recommend.  They aren’t salty so that keeps you from eating the entire bag at once, but they are still awesome.  They remind me (pretty dead on) of Terra root chips.

More lunches…

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Big ol salad with BBQ quinoa (way down there) with romaine, carrots, tomatoes (from our garden STILL!?!), avocado, and more BBQ sauce on top (post photo).

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A kinda sorta Caesar ish salad with spinach, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, Applegate farms’ GF chicken nuggets, and Newman’s Own Organic Caesar dressing.  I had more chips on the side.  Obviously.

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Classic Elise bowl of spinach, quinoa, roasted butternut squash, carrots, avocado.  I made a simple olive oil and red wine vinaigrette to dump on top.

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Leftover Asian Chicken Salad which I amped up with quinoa and avocado.  You’ll see the dinner version in a bit.

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Cheater soup which I did with a boxed butternut squash soup.  I used the soup as the sauce for GF pasta, kale, and TJs chicken sausage.  As you can see this was one of the few nights Kyle was in town, hence the double bowls.

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This on the other hand was a solo night because it’s way not fancy.  I think this bowl had roasted brussels, butternut squash, spinach, quinoa, avo and balsamic glaze.

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I used cabbage and broccoli slaw with a sesame soy dressing.  I tossed it in the dressing early in the day so it broke down and got soft/wilted by the evening.  Then I added (canned) mandarin oranges, shredded chicken, and sesame croutons.  Since this had sesame up the yin yang it was definitely made and eaten while P was nowhere in sight (aka asleep).  He ate the chicken before it got added to our meal with other sides.

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Aaaaaaand…take out.  Because sometimes you just need some greasy Chinese food.  Kyle demanded greasy noodles and there’s a local place that we’ve always “meant to try” (meaning Kyle has been begging for it since we moved to Davis).  I’m not a big fan of takeout Chinese because it’s just not my thing.  I’m sure you can imagine why – it’s not the healthiest.  Anyway, we were busy this weekend and this was what we did since we couldn’t make it to the grocery store in time for me to put something together.  He was VERY happy.  He got an entire chow mein dish all for himself.  We have heaps of leftovers so that will be keeping my belly busy for the next week.

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Nobody loves zebras as much as this kid.  Nobody.  If I let him watch TV (or if we had cable) he would have Nat Geo’s safari everything on a loop.

And yes, baby Toms.

Allergy info about Trader Joe’s chicken sausage

It took a LOT of emailing for me to get this info, so here it all is in one place for me (and others) to refer back to.

The reason I asked about their chicken sausages is because they are also gluten free (as labeled) so that rules out one allergen from the get go.  The contact form for questions requires each individual item / SKU to be submitted on it’s own, so I couldn’t just ask about all the chicken sausages…I’m sure they enjoyed my repetitive submissions with virtually the same wording over and over again for every SKU.

For the record, the only cross contamination issues I asked about specifically were peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame.  I can avoid the kinds with cheese just by reading the label (and dairy is a “lesser” allergen for him).

Here are the list of GF sausages from the TJs website.  The starred ones (*) are the ones I asked about because the rest have dairy.

  • Sausage, Chicken & Turkey Pesto
  • Sausage, Chicken Andouille *
  • Sausage, Chicken Garlic Herb *
  • Sausage, Chicken Italian *
  • Sausage, Chicken Jalapeño *
  • Sausage, Chicken Smoked Apple Chardonnay *
  • Sausage, Chicken Spicy Italian *
  • Sausage, Chicken Spinach Fontina
  • Sausage, Chicken Sun Dried Tomato Basil *
  • Sausage, Chicken Sweet Apple *

SMOKED APPLE CHARDONNAY CHICKEN SAUSAGE

Dear Elise,

Thank you for your email.  The Smoked Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage is produced in a peanut and tree nut free facility.  We cannot make this claim overall for our sausages as we use different facilities and suppliers for various items.  If there is another item in question you’re welcome to submit a new email form through our site with the item’s name and bar code/sku number for further details.

Sincerely,
Amy
Trader Joe‘s
Customer Relations

They didn’t address sesame in this email but confirmed it was also a sesame free facility upon follow up.  So yay!  Safe for peanut, tree nut, sesame, and gluten allergies.  P has since tried it and loved it.

CHICKEN ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE

Hi Elise,

First and foremost, thank you for contacting us. We want to sincerely apologize for the delay in response time, as we are currently receiving an unusually high volume of emails.  Still, that is no excuse, and we appreciate your understanding and patience. Unfortunately the Chicken Andouille Sausage is made on shared equipment with tree nuts, however, there are no peanuts or sesame in the facility. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, for any further allergen information please feel free to call us directly at 626-599-3817.

Thank you for being a Trader Joe’s customer… We appreciate you!

Sincerely,

Rachael O.
Customer Relations
Trader Joe’s

So for peanut and sesame allergies, it’s a safe product, but for tree nut allergies it does share equipment.  Proceed at your own risk.

SWEET ITALIAN STYLE CHICKEN SAUSAGE

Hi Elise,

Thanks for your inquiry.  Our deli Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausage (sku 28287) is manufactured in a facility that is FREE of peanut, tree nuts and sesame…..enjoy!

Regards,
Kerry
Customer Relations

Woo hoo!  Another winner for multiple allergies!  P has since tried these but doesn’t devour them the way he does some of the other flavors.  They are hit and miss depending on his mood.

SWEET APPLE CHICKEN SAUSAGE

Hi Elise,

Thank you for contacting us! There are no peanuts, tree nuts or sesame in the facility that manufactures our Trader Joe’s Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage.

Thanks again,

Nicki K.
Trader Joe’s
Customer Relations

Yay!  This one is delicious and great to cook with so I’m happy we have another exciting “safe” item to add to the list that we can all eat together.

GARLIC HERB CHICKEN SAUSAGE

CHICKEN JALAPEÑO SAUSAGE

SUN DRIED TOMATO BASIL CHICKEN SAUSAGE

Hi Elise,

First and foremost, thank you for contacting us. We want to sincerely apologize for the delay in response time, as we are currently receiving an unusually high volume of emails.  Still, that is no excuse, and we appreciate your understanding and patience. We are happy to inform you the Garlic Herb Sausage, Jalapeno Sausage, Sundried Tomato Basil Sausage, & Sweet Apple Sausage are all made in a facility that does NOT process peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame. We hope your son is able to enjoy these delicious sausages sometime soon.

Thank you for being a Trader Joe’s customer… We appreciate you!

Sincerely,

Rachael O.
Customer Relations
Trader Joe’s

Woo-hoo.  More victory dances meal options for our whole family to eat.

Thanks so much Trader Joe’s for being the fantastic customer service focused company you are and for all your awareness and transparency.  It’s a huge deal for people cooking for people with food allergies.

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CSS is not fun

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

You guys!  I am trying so hard to fix my blog to get it back to it’s normal (non snippet intro…) and I haaaaaate coding and all that crap.  Ugh.  I wish I could think what I wanted and it would happen.  I’ve spent way too much time on it already.

How do I get rid of the snippet thing?!?

It feels like a maze.

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Stay tuned…

[BTW, P is on hour 3 of his nap.  What the what!?!?]