Hungry Hungry Hippie

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Sunwarrior protein powder bark

I have a new favorite (easy) bark recipe…

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It only has TWO ingredients!!!

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Chocolate? Check!

Coconut?  Check?

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AND PROTEIN!

Wait protein?  So maybe you’re thinking these two worlds shouldn’t mingle…like who wants dessert to try to be healthy??  I hear you.  Make no mistake, this is not something you’ll find on your family’s holiday spread.  But you don’t need butter and sugar to make a yummy after dinner treat.  Exhibit A…

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I know I have been all up in the protein powder lately, but this one is THE BEST CHOCOLATE flavor.  I mean it.  It’s flavor is unparalleled.  I have tried a lot lot lot of them, and I thought I’d tried this one before, but apparently I hadn’t because I can assure you I would not have gone to another chocolate powder if I had.  If you like creamy rich chocolate that’s sweet but not fake tasting you have to try Sunwarrior’s Classic PLUS chocolate. 

Then you can make this and eat it for snacks and dessert and know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Here’s the “recipe”:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 3 scoops Sunwarrior chocolate protein powder

In a large serving ware mix until no more clumps remain, then place in the fridge.  I used a 3 cup glass pyrex, but any shape will do.  Larger will be flatter and more bark like, smaller will be thicker and more fudge like.

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It has that chalky protein powder taste but the oil balances it out and makes it creamy like dessert.  I swear it’s the easiest, most yummy thing!

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Stopping at one square is hard!

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The weekly menu

How about I just jump right in.  Dinners!

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Kyle manned the grill last Sunday and did salmon.  This was the last of the bulk salmon I bought and vacuum sealed and it was still just as good as the first portion.  Shocker of all shockers, there were leftovers!  First time I’ve ever UNDER estimated pacman’s appetite.

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I roasted red potatoes and made a corn salad which was basically a deconstructed version of a classic Mexican street corn.  This one but with goat feta instead.

The second surprise of the meal was that P ate potatoes!!  Lots of them, no less!  I ask him if he wants potatoes a lllll the time and he always says no, so I never even bother.  He tries a bite about once every 10 times and then says he doesn’t want anymore and I leave it at that (it’s not like I care if he doesn’t like them as long as he eats a healthy alternative).  But this time I asked and he said yes and then proceeded to ask for more and more and more.  Hooray!  Just in time for our trip to Idaho.  😉

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He ate the corn too (a portion I set aside before adding dairy).  Lime and cilantro yo.  Wins my mouth over every time.

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As of Monday I hadn’t yet tested soy enough with P so I swapped the edamame in this Asian soba noodles salad for shredded chicken that I prepped in advance in the crockpot.

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First time working with soba.  Eden is the only company I’ve found with 100% buckwheat as the ingredient (most other brands are cut with wheat flour making them unsafe for those with gluten intolerances/allergies).  That said, I couldn’t find enough info on their website to feel safe giving them to P.  They weren’t on the company’s GF list and don’t say GF anywhere online or on the package.  But maybe that’s just because they aren’t “certified”?  The wrapper does say processed on equipment shared with wheat and soy, but I’m not sure what that means about the cleaning practices and whatnot.  Anyway, I ended up being uber safe and making P his own meal in the end.  I had tried feeding him trace amounts of soybean oil that AM and didn’t want anything to confuse results – if he did have a reaction I wouldn’t know what it was to!?

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I ordered these for cheap off Thrive Market.  Have you joined yet?  I am doing monthly orders now and I just add pantry items as I need them to my cart until I hit >$50 for the free shipping.  Boom.  So easy.  Here’s my referral link if you want 25% off.

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It made lots and Kyle’s enjoyed the leftovers for lunch(es) this week.

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Tuesday was carnitas and broccoli over brown rice.  P is wild about all three of these ingredients so it’s a slam dunk of a meal.  I basically used the same as here.

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On Wednesday we went to market with my sister and I didn’t take pics of our food.  We brought it back home to eat because baby girl likes to be down by 6 pm.

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Before pics on the left, afters on the right.

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Mr. P liked this too, naturally.  Fried chicken?  What’s not to like.  This was Kyle’s request, although we all do enjoy breaded (corn meal and coconut flour) and pan fried chicken.  [His actual portion consumed is probably 250% what’s pictured below, plus strawberries and grapes.]

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I roasted tomatoes with onion and basil, plus we had the leftover roasted potatoes.

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In truth, I gave all the onions to K, while P had none of the tomatoes.  He eats tomatoes once every few days straight from the garden but doesn’t like them otherwise.  Whatever.  Like I said, I don’t care since he requests green beans, peas, corn and carrots instead.

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Half way through making the chicken I realized it wasn’t going to be enough and I quickly ran to the fridge outside and grabbed an extra breast to toss in flour and fry up.  Now we have leftovers, but that just means easier lunches to come.

Kyle was out of town on Friday night so instead of showing my dinner (leftovers) I’ll show my desserts of the week.

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My favorite were the dark chocolate walnuts (ordered from Thrive), but the chao firecracker bar was a very close second.  I got it in NYC and only just now busted it open.  It is sooooo weird how it pops in your mouth!  It’s like a cross between pop rocks and rice crisps snap crackle pop but in a fancy rich dark chocolate way.  Seriously good.  Now it makes me want to try the TJs version which I’ve seen at checkout counters for the past few months.  Has anyone tried those?  The fact that they had chili peppers in them always made me a bit apprehensive about trying them, but if they are anything like the chao bar, its totally mild and complimentary.  Nothing crazy.  PS I’m out of candied ginger.  UGH.

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Other things I prepped for the week

  • this cracker recipe (SUPER easy and allergy friendly)
  • ginger lemonade
  • crockpot chicken to shred for dinner and lunches
  • shredded zucchini (for fritters and muffins and whatever else)

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Allergy trial [update]

I’ve been trying to find a way to write this in order to maintain privacy for P but still share enough details to be helpful for other allergy moms.  It’s a fine line, which is why it has taken me so long to post.  But I know other people find the allergy posts to be some of the most useful so here’s the latest.

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Last week we went to Stanford for a screening.  Ok, let me back up.  Months ago I read this article and immediately reached out to the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford.  They have long been the leading researchers in the food allergy arena so I figured I may as well try to get my son involved if there’s any availability.  Stanford is just a few hours away and that’s something we should take advantage of!  They emailed me back saying there weren’t any studies at the time but they asked for his medical history and allergies and such in the event that a trial did open up.  So I collected the requested documents, got the blessing of our allergist, and emailed them back.  I really expected nothing so my hopes were not high.  A month went by – I kinda forgot about the whole thing – and then I got an email from them!  WEEEEE!

Thank you for your interest in food allergy research at Stanford. The Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University conducts cutting-edge allergy research and clinical trials with the goal of preventing allergies and developing new and safe therapies.

Under the leadership and vision of Dr. Kari Nadeau, our center brings together leading clinicians, researchers, and a broad network of resources from across the medical community, all working to achieve a common goal: leading the way to an allergy-free world.

According to our files, your child is between the age of 1 and 4 years and may be eligible for an upcoming clinical trial. At this time, we would like to schedule a screening visit with you and your child.

OMG.  To say I was thrilled would be a huge understatement.

I tried to talk myself down from all the optimistic thoughts that were racing through my head, but it was hard.  What if he got to do the trial that gave increasing oral challenges of peanut doses and he ended up being able to “accidentally” ingest a small amount without, well, dying!?!

The reality is that this visit was not for any studies at all.  Yet.  They wanted to meet him, get his history and do a physical and then do scratch testing and blood testing to confirm his allergies, and then after ALL THAT he would be in their database for future studies IF HE FIT the criteria.

I’m still hoping he does get called to participate in their (groundbreaking!!!) research, but until then, we got new results from the scratch testing that we were over the moon about!

First the bad news: he is still allergic to peanuts, sesame, cashews (other tree nuts?), and dairy.

Now the good news: Former allergens soy and wheat tested negative.  [Also walnuts tested negative (but this wasn’t a new result – his 9 month old blood tests also were a “0” for walnuts).]

TREE NUTS are confusing.  They are all in their own category apparently and it’s all completely individual in terms of tolerance.  P tested negative for both walnuts and pecans which are close relatives and therefore expected to align in reactivity, but he was split in his reaction to cashews and pistachios which are also supposed to be linked.  This confused even the staff present.  Most people who don’t tolerate cashews also don’t tolerate pistachios.  And while P has never tried either, he is very reactive to cashews in blood and skin tests and shows little to no reaction with pistachios.  Nothing is black and white with allergies.  Everything is compared on a gradient and what’s more, it’s a constantly moving target.  Back to back tests could even show different results!  And blood vs skin testing results don’t necessarily parallel either.  So confusing.  The size of the reactive allergy welts are also compared to the histamine scratch as a baseline, so while pistachios were technically a “negative” because the site’s reaction was smaller than the histamine site, it still had some redness.  I don’t know what to think.  After they’d already done the first round of scratch testing I asked about other tree nuts and that’s when they told me they were all different.  So I asked if we could do some more…which is when they added almond and hazelnut.  The results were fuzzy.  Both were smallish reactions about the same size as the histamine site.  They classified the hazelnut as positive and the almond as unknown (negative?), but I could see them both going either way.

Prior to this, P had never had any tree nuts.  Even though his blood test when he was 9 months old was negative for walnuts it was just easier (for others to understand) if we took a NO NUTS stance.  I also didn’t know much about tree nuts and their classifications back then so I assumed his strong response to cashews would (should) translate to no tree nuts period.

After seeing a visual of his exposure to walnuts (which literally looked like nothing) I decided that once we got home we should try them…which we did.  And…NOTHING HAPPENED!  I blended two walnuts into his smoothie that weekend (when Kyle was around – just in case) and zero symptoms.  Sweeeeeet!  I waited a couple days before trying anything new because I figured that was a reasonable amount of time for any latent symptoms to show up.

Next up was SOY.  Full disclosure, I gave him tofu once when he was a teeny baby and first starting solids.  That was back when I thought his cradle cap, eczema, and constant spit up/regurg were just annoying things to deal with (and “just what babies do”).  Maybe that’s the case for other kids, but for P, his skin and spit up was resolved when he stopped ingesting his allergens through my breast milk.  So while I was a little scared of this new oral challenge, I kept reminding myself that he had it before and so his reaction would at least not be a life threatening one.

The first thing I gave him was a gluten free waffle with “canola and/or soybean oil” listed as an ingredient.  There are a few reasons I chose this.  First, soybean oil is not even considered soy as per the FDA.  Meaning companies don’t have to label their products with a warning of any kind if they have soybean oil in them (I’m looking at you marinara sauce companies that shall remain nameless).  While I think this is ridiculous for many reasons (like who wants soy in their marinara?) it’s not a battle I have the energy for right now.  Anyway, soybean oil may or may not have even been in the waffles.  That’s about as low of a dose as you can get.  Also, it’s the form of soy that you are most likely to see on ingredient labels these days.  Tortilla chips, crackers, and all sorts of processed food (even the “healthier” ones free of other allergens like gluten!) had labels with canola/sunflower/safflower “and/or soybean oil”.  He ate one waffle and then we waited.  Once again…NOTHING happened.  The next day I gave him five edamame.  Once again…nothing happened.  The next day I gave him 15 edamame.  Nada.  Eggs sautéed in tamari the next day also had no symptoms.  You get the point. Soy is safe.  I consider this one of the biggest wins because now we can include SO MANY more plant based meals into our family’s diet.  Tofu and tempeh and edamame are such solid proteins that I’m thrilled thrilled thrilled to reincorporate into the family meal plan.  Weee!!!!

And now we move on to WHEAT.  I’m not sure when or how I’m going to try this one.  Kyle is out of town this weekend and some of next week and so I may just keep doing new kinds of soy and wait on wheat until later.  TBD.  For now I’m just so encouraged by this update.  Not only does it expand his options, but it gives me hope that he can and will outgrow some of his other allergies.  It’s just really wonderful news.

So if you see tofu (or walnut) recipes in the weekly menus to come, now you know why.  :)

Preparing a toddler for the hospital

My son is very similar to me in that he likes to be prepared and know what’s coming.  New experiences are more easily tolerated when he is warned about potential change so he feels in control and like he knows what’s coming.  To that end, there are a number of ways we prepared P for his allergy trials and I thought some of it may be helpful for other parents.  Pick and choose what pertains to you and your experience as you need, these are all just ideas.

  • Read books about doctor’s visits and hospitalizations: Some of our favorites include The Berentstain Bears Go to the Doctor (Stan Berenstain) and My Trip to the Hospital (Mercer Mayer), but there are so many out there.  Madeline, Curious George, Little Princess Story, etc.  Choose one with your child’s favorite character (Caillou, Dora, Elmo, Corduroy, Franklin, Maisy, and various Disney characters all have books tackling this theme).  P responds so well to stories and wants to read them over and over and over.  It really is his preferred source of new information.  You can check out books from the library about hospitalization rather than buy them.  Also, pinterest and amazon searches reveal dozens of great options.
  • Watch short videos: Similar to stories about going to the hospital, videos are also helpful (and many of the same characters I listed above have show versions of their books).  TV time is so infrequent that it’s a big treat and I figure the more mediums the better in helping him comprehend what is coming.  The Mercer Mayer Little Critters book is read by the author himself on youtube.
  • Search for (child appropriate) youtube videos on the procedures: There are several videos on youtube that are catered to children.  Obviously don’t show and in depth surgery to your one year old (be sure to watch them yourself ahead of time to make sure they are a good fit), but I found a good clip of a girl getting her blood drawn to show to P.  He watched it several times and I talked him through it each time, explaining the steps in detail (the rubber band will feel tight around your arm / they will poke you with a needle / it may hurt a little bit, but it will go away / they will give you a band-aid afterwards).  By the time we went to the hospital he and I had a whole routine discussing the blood draw procedure and he was super excited for his “really cool” bandaid.
  • Tell the truth: As much as you may want to sugar coat things or dumb them down, don’t lie to your child.  They trust you and you are their source of both knowledge and comfort, so acknowledge there could be pain (and whatever other consequences) in a way that doesn’t scare them, but also doesn’t set them up for disappointment.  Less information is better than painting a picture that turns out to be false.
  • Be forward thinking: Bribery works people!  Use whatever you know your kid will be happy about and look forward to.  We told P that he’d get stickers and cookies throughout the process and at the end he’d get to come home and play with his toys (while singing “Material Girl” which is his favorite song at the moment).  None of the things we promised are especially amazing (the “cookies” are home-made and allergen free) but just having something to focus on in the future that he knows is safe and fun helps.  I wouldn’t judge any parent who promised a new toys or a trip to get ice cream or a movie either…
  • Role play: If you have a medical kit, pretending and acting out even the most basic things can be beneficial (taking blood pressure, listening to heart/lungs with a stethoscope, taking temperature, etc.).  You could also have your child stand on a scale and/or measure their height against a wall – anything to make them familiar with parts of the process will help them once the time comes.  Talk to them about what they are measuring and how it will feel (i.e. “the blood pressure cuff will get really tight and squeeze your arm but then it will get loose again and then it will be all over”).  Using a loved stuffed animal to practice on can help too.  It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom…role playing can be fun and silly too.  Draw attention to the fact that the goal of all the tests is to make sure your child is healthy (which is a good thing!).
  • Bring comfort items: Whether this is your child’s “lovey” or a stuffed animal, try to think of something that could help console your little one when they are sad.  I didn’t bring any toys because I knew the hospital had a toy room.  I did, however, bring Sesame Street band-aids and home-made food treats (donuts, cookies) just in case the hospital didn’t have my previously promised “really cool” bandaids.

Those are just a few ways to prep your kid, but in the end, you definitely want to make sure YOU know what’s planned.  Ask lots of questions beforehand – be as specific as you can.  The fewer surprises, the better (for you both!).

At 2.5 years old, my son blows me away at how well he can understand abstract concepts and future events.  Not all children understand time the way he does, so consider waiting until 1-2 days before the planned hospitalization before going into detail.  Starting too far in advance may just be confusing.

In the end, I am attributing the success of our appointment to both my son’s maturity and bravery as well as the work I did ahead of time.  I don’t want to take anything away from his courage, but I know the tips I just shared were key.

A fritter link

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I just made this recipe for zucchini fritters (but tweaked to make allergy friendly per usual) and OMG you all must make them.

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Naturally I fried them in bacon fat because why not?  So that kinda put them over the top.  Do it.

The only other changes I made were:

  1. swapping gluten free all purpose flour for wheat flour
  2. including coconut aminos (instead of soy sauce) in the batter directly (and omitting the dipping sauce)
  3. nixing the chives

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P was my sous chef and we both sampled the final product liberally before wrapping the rest for later.  Mmmmm.