Hungry Hungry Hippie

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The weekly menu

Another post with our dinner meal planning.  Kinda.  These weeks have been weird with some nights away (visit to my parents’ house) and family staying with us and a few nights of me eating solo (Kyle doing business stuffs), which makes for a difficult game plan.  I totally relied on scrounging up leftover scraps to create not that innovative meals, but it was also in an attempt to be slightly more frugal after some splurging for birthday shenanigans.  These are the meals I’ve managed to capture over the past week (and a half?).

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This salmon dish was from a long time ago.  We always have frozen salmon in the freezer.  I thawed three filets and made patty-cakes’ separately.  For the adults’ fish I made a faux hollandaise/aioli thing with mayo, mustard, and garlic infused olive oil.  I baked it with broccoli, too.

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Yums.

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Kyle was out of town this night so I made a Caesar salad with leftovers (rotisserie chicken from when Kyle’s parents were visiting, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, nooch, and avocado just for kicks).

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Another leftover creation with quinoa, collards, and chicken apple sausage.  Similar to Mexican bowls and salmon dinners, this meal is an easy peasy go-to because we always always have chicken sausage on hand (it’s P’s favorite), quinoa in the pantry, and something green in the fridge.  More importantly it is a dish that every one of us likes and eats.

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Collards are the bees knees.  We have a crap ton growing in the garden and P likes them both raw and cooked.

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First time doing a whole chicken in the crock pot!

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Last friday the Whole Foods #onedaysale was for organic whole chickens ($1.99/lb).  I put quartered onions, baby carrots, and as many cauli florets as I could fit on the bottom and then added the chicken on top (breasts down, not that it matters).  Poured some olive oil on, sprinkled on some salt and herbs (bay leaves, thyme, sage, pepper) and let it cook all day.  Easy as that!

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It was the most tender thing ever and fell apart as I put a fork into it.

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I split the leftover meat in half, reserving some for a recipe later in the week and leaving the rest on the pot with the remaining veggies and broth.  Then I added celery, rice, and water and let it cook overnight.  The next day I added a dash of heavy cream (we have it left over from the failed dairy trials) and viola – another meal!  I think this will be mostly for Kyle’s lunches because I don’t feel like testing my gut with dairy right now, but who knows.  I may just give in since my pregnancy symptoms are just as erratic as any IBS ones I have from time to time.

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Burgers and spinach salad.  In the salad was avocado, slivered almonds, and pomegranate arils with a home-made lemon vinaigrette (with our meyer lemons).

Turns out, P loves burgers.  No shock there.  I’ve really only given him ground beef before, but I made his into a burger patty this time and he was super excited about it the whole time it was cooking.

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The patties were: 1 lb organic grass fed ground beef, 1 egg, and salt…then after I shaped his and set them aside, I added white pepper and dried basil to ours.  I haven’t found any spices that are made in allergy free facilities so it’s hard to know what’s safe for P in terms of spices/seasonings.  In any event, he loved the burgers.

Kyle had his with cheese and BBQ sauce on a sourdough roll, but I had mine plain over the salad.  [I had a mini carb fest an hour before dinner because I graze in small portions all day long, so I didn’t feel like a bun]

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This is a Cooking Light recipe for Kale Caesar Quinoa with Roasted Chicken.

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I used a pre-made Caesar dressing from WF and leftover chicken and swapped walnuts for slivered almonds because of what we had on hand (and Kyle said he would prefer almonds to walnuts) and it was great.  I also nixed the parmesan cheese.  Yummy and easy.  Can you tell my preggo laziness is at it’s prime right now?  Energy level = negative four.

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Salmon pasta with GF spaghetti and kale topped in a creamy dijon tarragon sauce I made up on the fly.

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I didn’t measure anything (standard) but added Green Valley organic lactose free sour cream, dijon mustard, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, dried tarragon, garlic infused olive oil, salt and pepper in a jar and added it after P had had his share of the fish and noodles.

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He ate most of my fish so that’s why my piece is so small.  I made up for it in chocolate later though.  :)

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For the record, we are NOT eating turtles.  But now P knows another letter.  I know, I’m random, but he just wants to learn all the time so the actual dinner menu got erased for an impromptu lesson.  Forgive the bragging, but I think he may be ready for kindergarden in a week.  ;)

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Another sausage skillet stir fry kind of meal.  These are just too easy and yummy to dismiss.  P ate every part of this including the wild rice which he thought was fun since we got a library book a few weeks ago called “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” and he figured the rice was the kind that Mr. Tiger ate.  Otherwise it was just broccoli and TJ’s chicken apple chardonnay sausage.

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Since that potentially was too plain for Kyle’s palate I scrounged through the fridge and found the rest of this sauce (from the honey chipotle chicken bowls) to pour on top of our servings.  So glad I doubled that sauce – it’s been awesome to add to things here and there.

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The last of the leftover chicken went into this roasted carrot, chicken and grape quinoa salad bowl.

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I made a few tweaks.

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I nixed the slivered almonds (on accident – I just forgot to add them at the end).

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And I swapped Green Valley organic lactose free sour cream for plain greek yogurt (we had some on hand to use up).

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And I used collards (from the garden) in place of the recipe’s suggested greens.

I loved the combo of roasted carrots and grapes and the cumin and parsley were a nice change from the usual flavors I choose to cook with.  Kyle and I were both into it and basically ate all four “servings” that night.  Portion control who?

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In truth, I’m not sure how much I will both sharing weekly meal plans in the next few weeks because I’m going to start phoning it in with the cooking.  I am exhausted by pregnancy and with only a few weeks to go, I would rather conserve my energy for other more important things.  Trader Joe’s has so many simple recipes on their site that use their (ready to go) products so that’s where I am thinking most of our meals will come from.  If you have other way way easy meal ideas feel free to share.

Allergy friendly baby/toddler products

First things first – a heads up.  How products are packaged can change!  We used to buy these dried cranberries and evidently the co-packing and/or facility from where they are sourced is no longer the same!  READ LABELS EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU BUY A PRODUCT!!

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Second, since sharing this link (about a new study that tested the efficacy of a probiotic in the treatment of peanut allergies), I have spoke with my son’s pediatrician and started us both on this probiotic.  I find research like this so interesting and promising and even if it doesn’t change anything in his tolerances, it can’t do any harm.

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This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I did research foreverrrrrrr before choosing a probiotic.  I also talked to two Kaiser pharmacists and one of the supplements specialists at our local Whole Foods (who was super knowledgeable).  In the end, the main criteria were (1) it had to be an appropriate dose of the specific strain (~5 billion of lactobacillus rhamnosus is the range for children); (2) it couldn’t contain allergens like diary, soy, or gluten (harder to find than you think); (3) it had to be affordable (if I’m going to be doing this long term I didn’t want to spend a fortune); (4) it had to be easy to administer to a toddler; and finally (5) the brand had to be reputable (I wanted a quality product without additives or fillers, obviously).

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a common strain in probiotics so that wasn’t the hard part.  Almost every probiotic at WF contains one allergen or another (usually dairy from the casein in which the probiotics were cultured).  Our pediatrician did give a prescription for Culturelle, but I read several reviews about people with allergens reacting and the pharmacist couldn’t give me a straight answer about the product.  In the end, I discovered Jarrow Formulas makes a special allergen free probiotic that you can buy on amazon for a decent price ($15 for 60 capsules).  The dose per capsule is 10 billion, which means we share it, so that’s really $15 for 120 doses.  Since it’s a powder, it’s easy – I just open it, pour half into a smoothie for P, and take the rest myself and boom, we are both probiotic-ified.  We’ve been doing it for a week…and I plan to continue indefinitely.

Ok, now for the food products.

I have done posts like this in the past, and I’m trying to continue to remember to do them as I do more and more research because I think it’s important to share it with other allergy mamas.  It’s not easy making every single thing from scratch!

A few new things that we’ve found safe…

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Pacific Gold original beef jerky, found at our local Costco.  They have other flavors that have wheat so make sure to double check the ingredients.

P had this and liked it.

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Made in Nature dried fruit* is also available at Costco and per the company

We understand how serious allergies can be and we want to ensure every experience with our products is always a happy and healthy one.

We have very strict procedures in place to ensure that there is no possibility of contamination from peanuts, or any type of tree nut in our products or in our facility. Each new lot of product that we receive has a variety of tests performed by an outside lab before it is processed in our facility. All of our fruit goes through a water washing process before it is packaged. We have a very thorough cleaning and sanitizing process that happens in our facility between shifts and between products. Most importantly, however, our facility is used exclusively for packaging our own dried fruit.

The only exception to this is our Organic Made in Nature Tropical Fruit Fusion, which is packaged in a different facility due to the coconut ingredient. Although that facility has very strict guidelines to follow, it packages other types of nuts as well. Therefore, we cannot 100% guarantee against cross contamination with that product.

P is into dried fruit and I buy it in bulk to make fruit bars for him.  *Obviously those with peanut/tree nut allergies may want to avoid the tropical fruit fusion flavor to be 100% sure there’s no risk for cross contamination.

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Trader Joe’s is great with their labeling.  These products have all been safe for us but please double check before you buy because your local store may source from a different manufacturer/co-packer/facility.  As I mentioned at the start of this post, the other kinds of dried cranberries (we used to buy) are now packaged in facilities that also handle allergens, so be sure you note these are the WHOLE organic cranberries.  Like I said, though, they are great with labeling so just read the back of the package.

I buy all my chia and hemp seeds from Nutiva which are produced/co-packed in a peanut/tree nut free facility (the only allergen present at the facility is coconut).  However, their coconut flour and oil are produced on equipment that is shared with several other allergens including peanut and tree nut oils (unrefined), wheat, eggs, soy and dairy.  They follow strict guidelines for cleaning machinery, but still, proceed at your own risk with those.  As per their website, “in early 2014 we will launch coconut oil that is processed in a dedicated facility. At that point, you will see labels that state: Made in a peanut-free facility.”  So perhaps that has already happened but read your labels because the last jar I bought says very clearly it was packed in a facility that also has peanut oil.  Here’s more info about their products and facilities.

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The soy free Earth Balance is standard in our house.  P likes it melted on corn or brown rice tortillas.

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For bread, we have found the super seeded multi-grain sliced bread from The Essential Baking Co to be the best in terms of wholesome ingredients for an allergen free product (they are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and made in a dedicated gluten-free bakery).  They have flax and sunflower seeds, which happen to be two of the safe seeds my guy tolerates, plus our Costco carries them, which is clutch.  Udi’s works too, but in terms of ingredients, it’s not exactly nutrient dense.  Still, a safe bread is a safe bread!

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More favorites from our pantry – Lundberg brown rice cakes and TJ’s light coconut milk (we sometimes buy the coconut cream too).

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I know I’ve discussed applegate products before, but they are literally one of our saviors, so I figure I can’t emphasize it enough.  Awesome quality meats from trusted sources without any chemicals, hormones, additives, and most important, allergen free (including their facilities).  Deli meat is a recent discovery for P (ham is his favorite).

Gluten free pastas are a dime a dozen these days, so it’s not a huge shock that we are big fans.  The TruRoots ancient harvest noodles are inexpensive for organic whole grain noodles, thanks to Costco.  Trader Joe’s has cheap brown rice options too though, which we usually have on hand.

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From Trader Joe’s…

Dear Elise,

Thank you for your email.  This product [Grass Fed Angus Beef Burgers] order sku# 50723, is produced on equipment that does process tree nuts.  There are no peanuts or sesame in this facility.  We hope this is helpful.

Sincerely,
Amy
Trader Joe’s
Customer Relations

Dear Elise,

Thank you for your second email.  These burgers [chile lime chicken] are produced in a peanuts, tree nut and sesame free facility.

So the chicken ones are totally allergy friendly, but the beef ones carry a risk for cross contamination for those allergic to tree nuts.  Proceed at your own calculated risk.

I haven’t tried either yet, but I did research on them anyway because I wanted to have them on hand for easy meal options.  As an FYI to those who care about where the meat comes from…these Angus burgers come from cattle raised without the use of artificial growth hormones and the cattle are 100% grass fed.  The only ingredient in the burgers is the beef.  Per TJ’s, they graze on wide-open pastures on a diet of natural greens which is why it’s kinda a steal to get the burgers at such a good value ($5.99 for a one pound package of four burger patties).  The chicken ones have both white and dark meat (no info on the antibiotic or hormones situation but they aren’t organic) and the only other ingredients are onions, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice and red pepper flakes.  If I give either a shot I will let you know both how they taste and how P handles them.  Until then, there’s the allergen info for your education.

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We have tried both Trader Joe’s sunflower seed butter and Sunbutter and both are delicious and well tolerated.  We go through them so quickly I buy more simply depending on where we are.  Target, Nugget Market, and WF all sell Sunbutter, but we do most of our shopping at TJs so it simply depends on where we are going shopping for the week when we run out.    Sunbutter makes their allergen info more known (see this page) and they offer different varieties including organic, no added sugar, crunchy, and natural.  Has anyone tried pea butter?  I’ve heard good things but it sounds weird to me.  Share!

I think that’s it for now…for all the other allergy mamas feel free to chime in with your favorite products you trust.

Double party weekend

On Friday we went to the East Bay to see my sister!!!!!!!!!!!

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I have missed her so much it was awesome to have her in town even if was only for a quickie weekend trip.

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For the record, my sister cannot play the guitar, but my little dancing bean didn’t care.  And then after putting P down for the night we went to dinner (hooray for the frequency of date nights increasing!!) at Roam.

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I got the sunny side in a lettuce wrap.  I was saving room for dessert (chocolate back at my parents’ house).  My (other) sister had a surprise party planned that night for her beau, which is where we went after dinner.  It was fun seeing so many of her friends.  I tried my hardest to stay out late but my sober 36 week preggo butt was sooooo ready to sack out by 10 pm.

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The next day was this.

Family fun in the form of a BBQ for the Aussies…until they headed back down under that night.  Sad face.  Don’t know when I’ll see her next.  :(  At least she got in some quality auntie time with P, even if it will be awhile til she meets her new baby niece.

Will these ever get old?

IMG_2658I made the mistake of making these delicious, hot off the stove, home-made pancakes into a boring breakfast.  How did I do that?

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With the introduction of Mickey Mouse…

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And now I think I’m doomed to make Mickey pancakes forever more.

:)

I guess there are worse habits for a toddler.

Reasons to love Roseville

A) They have a fabulous hospital.

B) They have an even more fabulous Whole Foods.

We have only been to Roseville twice before and both times were hospital related.  The first was P’s allergy incident and the second was a tour of the maternity floor, delivery rooms, etc (last week).  And both times we have hit up Whole Foods while there. Because WHY NOT!?!  It’s a brand new, super swanky, insanely massive store with everything.  I could spend hours roaming the aisles and that’s not an exaggeration.  Kyle has to reign me in when we get inside because the hot bar!  the prepared food!  the bulk bins!  the sushi restaurant!  the DIY trail mix bar!  the dessert station!  TOO MUCH GOODNESSSSSSSS.

Can you tell I’m a fan?

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P thought it was funny to eat dinner “at the grocery store” but he definitely didn’t seem to mind (I brought all his food from home – obvs, he has too many allergies to risk cross contamination from prepared stuff).

Since the tour was scheduled during rush hour on patty-cakes’ actual birthday we treated ourselves to a celebratory dinner at WF.  We never splurge anymore and do this so it was a serious treat.  I got a bunch of random things from the hot bar to eat there, and then filled up another pastry box to-go.  Holy moly, this box…

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They wrap the gluten free things individually in plastic.  I got two chocolate covered macaroons, a plain macaroon, a spelt brownie (upper right corner), a pair of alfajores, and some kind of trail mix cookie bar thing (bottom left).

I pretty much died and went to heaven with each one.

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The gluten free sandwich cookie (left) was okay but kinda overly sweet for me (I’m as shocked as you are by that statement).  The macaroons were also pretty sweet (I could tell they used sweetened shredded coconut) but I still loved them.  The chocolate dipped ones were better, obviously.  I liked the trail mix cookie way more than I thought I would – it had an awesome chewy texture, but the alfajores were my favorite.  They brought me right back to Buenos Aires, and man was I obsessed with those when we vacationed there!

I’m pretty sure our next visit to Roseville will involve a trip to WF too…but this time Kyle will likely be going solo to pick out goodies for us both since (fingers crossed) it’ll be while I’m recovering from birth.