Monday, April 27, 2015

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

I love mushrooms!  Especially cooked mushrooms.  That flavor is just oh, so delectable! So last week I decided to pull out an old recipe, for Portobello Mushroom Burgers!

Portobellos rival meat in price per pound, but I think they are lighter than a hamburger would be, and also form a better circle!

The boys don't care for mushrooms, so they just got boring old hot dogs.  Hubby and I, however, dined in grand fashion!

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

This recipe is top 8 and corn free, depending on your choice of bun and whether or not you top it with cheese!


  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • provalone or swiss cheese (omit or substitute for dairy allergy)

Clean and dry mushrooms, and remove stems.  (We diced the stems and added them to our potatoes.)  Whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Marinade mushroom caps 10-15 minutes, being sure to work marinade into bottom fibers.

This is not a "submerge the mushrooms" sort of marinade.  You need to carefully spoon the marinade onto the mushrooms and then let them sit.  I flipped mine halfway through so I could get some into both sides.

Grill or fry mushrooms approximately 5 minutes per side, brushing with any remaining marinade.  Use extra olive oil to prevent sticking.  Top with cheese slices during last few minutes of cook time to melt.

Serve with your choice of allergy-friendly bun and top with lettuce and tomato.

This was so good and we were so hungry, I didn't remember to take pictures until I'd already started eating.  It was good though!

I hadn't made this recipe in years. When I asked hubby how he liked them, he said "more, please!"  I guess we'll need to move this back into the rotation!

Linking up at Allergy Free WednesdaysGluten Free Fridays, and Corn-free Everyday

Friday, April 24, 2015

FABlogCon Hotel

In case you'd forgotten, Allergy Superheroes is going to be a sponsor for FABlogCon this year!

And since we're local, we decided to swing by the Renaissance Denver Hotel and take some pictures, so you can see where you'll be going!

Taken from the southeast corner of the building.

Sponsor for the 2015 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference #FABLOGCON

From the southwest corner.

Looking up the side.
Right after I took the above picture, a woman on a balcony called down to me "Julie! You're supposed to be on the bus!"  Since she was at the very top, it took a bit of back-and-forth for her to understand when I said "I'm not Julie!"

The sign on the southeast corner.

The doors, between the hotel and the parking garage, from the east side.

No north side pics, the sun was too sharp.

In another few weeks we'll share some more, and take you inside!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Personalized coloring books from My Kids Food Allergies!

The folks over at My Kids Food Allergies, a great food allergy resource, graciously asked me to preview their new coloring books!  I told them I'd be happy to take a look.

As you can see, this isn't just any coloring book.  Those are my sons' faces on there! That's because my kids are the stars of the show in these fully customizable coloring books!  You provide your child's name (hidden on mine to keep them anonymous), picture, and their allergies, and My Kids Food Allergies will send you a fun coloring book designed to help kids navigate parties when they're worried about their allergies.

In the book, your child gets invited to a birthday party.  He or she is thrilled to attend, but worried about whether they'll be able to participate in the food rituals because of their allergies.  At the party, they discover that other kids have food allergies too, and the FA kids agree to stick together and look out for one another.  In the end, they find out how great it is to be included in everything.

The boys loved seeing themselves in a story!  Kal insisted that I modify the other names in the book (the birthday girl, the other kids at the party) to match his friends.  I hardly got through the book because he wanted to examine the pages in great detail.

Of course, he asked me to color him like Batman.  That goes without saying.  Kal is always playing Batman.
See the Bat Symbol and Bat Belt?

Zax thought this was pretty cool too.  He thought the story was neat, and said it was awesome that the book knew what he was allergic to!
The lighting's bad, I closed the drapes after this.
Sorry for the poor quality.

He was quick to point out how his life was different from the book, though (there aren't really any other kids in my class with allergies, are there?)

When I asked Zax whether he had ever felt the same way as his character in the book, he said "no."  I think this was because I've never sent him to a party unprepared.  He always knows he'll have my cupcake, and that the food will be safe (as in the one party where he went solo) or I will approve all other food first.  Zax didn't get hung up on this, though, because when I asked him if there was anything he didn't like about the book, he said "no."  He liked it all!

So how did I like the book?

Things I liked:

  • I liked the food allergy kids deciding to look out for each other--a great lesson in positive peer relationships!
  • I liked that my kids were part of the story.
  • I liked the quality of the books--they were very well made, both in terms of high-quality materials and in the editing job of my kids' photos.  They looked great!
  • I liked the length.  Most of our coloring books lay abandoned after only a few pages get colored.  At six pages, the story is a good length and most kids (who are into coloring) have the persistence to color six pages.
  • I liked that my kids felt a personal connection to the story because it was personalized for them.
  • I liked the pictures, especially the angry cake.
  • I liked that this story helped allergic kids recognize that they aren't alone.

Things that made me go "hmm":

  • I wondered if they would change the story text for allergens that are not commonly found in cake, icing, or toppings (like fish, shellfish, mustard, etc, especially if that's the child's only allergy) because worrying that shellfish is in cake might seem a little silly.
  • I thought that sending a child with food allergies to a party without a plan for food was unusual.  It certainly wouldn't happen in our house.  Which isn't to say that kids won't benefit from reading about food allergy kids who band together, because they will.  And also isn't to say that our kids are always paying attention to the preparations we make--anyone else feel ignored by their kids sometimes?  (I mentioned this to My Kids Food Allergies, so I don't know if they'll be modifying it for the sale copy.)

My Kids Food Allergies is now selling this coloring book here.  You can get a spiral-bound book like I received, or you can order a digital copy that you can print yourself.  If you'd like a personalized book to help you talk about food allergies in social situations with your kiddos, I encourage you to check them out!

Note:  I received two copies of the coloring book to share with my kids, and digital copies as well.  Other than that, I received no compensation from My Kids Food Allergies for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pumpkin Pasta

Do you ever get bored with the way you serve pasta?  Red sauce, white sauce, plain old butter, olive oil (I hear people use pesto, not an option here.)  There are different ways to dress it up, and different proteins to add, but often kids, in particular, latch onto one type of pasta and aren't interested in any others.

I recently remembered this recipe and decided it was high time to make it again.  I have lots of pumpkin puree to use up and figured that even if the kids didn't care for it (they didn't) this would give hubby and I something different on our plates.

This dish has hints of pumpkin pie flavorings, but is still a savory dish.  I served it with rotini and baked chicken, and salads for a veggie.  Yum!

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

This recipe is free of peanut, tree nut, egg (depending on pasta), soy, gluten (depending on pasta), fish, shellfish, and corn.


  • 1 box pasta of your choice (can be GF)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups allergy-friendly chicken broth (your own is fine, too!)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • 2 cups (or 1 15oz can) pumpkin puree (learn how to make your own here)
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I usually just use 1/8 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Fresh parsley or oregano, chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot, covering to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add shallots; cook and stir until tender, about 3 minutes.

Whisk in broth, evaporated milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If sauce is too thin (mine was, but I substituted the evaporated milk because I was out), thicken with your choice of thickening aid:  mix 1-2 Tbsp thickener (flour or starch) in a small cup with 1-2 Tbsp water. Return sauce to a boil. Slowly add the thickening agent while stirring. You don't need to add all of it, stop when your sauce reaches your desired consistency.

Toss pasta with sauce.  Top with parsley or oregano and Parmesan cheese.


Thursday, April 16, 2015


A few weeks ago, I had the honor of meeting the Willy Wonka of food allergies:  Allergy Superheroes got an exclusive opportunity to tour the Sun Cups facility!  And through the magic of pictures, I can share the experience with you!
This is the most harmonious pic I've gotten of
my kids in a while.  Hooray for the
power of chocolate!

The whole facility is amazing about food allergies.  Employee lunches must be free of peanut and tree nut and are eaten in the break room, far from the factory floor. Employees scrub up before entering the factory, wash their hands at regular intervals, and don special hats, coats, and booties/crocs which always stay at the facility so there's no cross contact from home. Since we were visitors, we donned booties and hair nets to keep the facility clean.

Let's start with the chocolate (shouldn't everything start with chocolate?)  Sun Cups purchases chocolate that is free of soy lecithin, which is not easy to find.  Soy lecithin helps hold chocolate together, so Sun Cups keeps their chocolate strictly climate-controlled.
Have you ever seen a bar of chocolate this big before??!!!
The omission of soy lecithin means that the Sun Cups facility is free of 7 of the top 8 allergens:  peanut, tree nut, soy, wheat, egg, fish, and shellfish.  In addition, they're also free of coconut, corn, sesame and mustard--which means they are free of 11 of the top 12 allergens!  The only major allergen Sun Cups uses is dairy, because they use both milk chocolate and white chocolate.

None of us has dairy allergies, however, so we were good to go!  They graciously allowed us to sample their virgin chocolate.  The kids said this was their favorite part of the tour!

I asked whether it was difficult to find chocolate with no cross contact with other allergens, but they said 'no.'  Chocolate manufacturers aren't in the business of making candy and are pretty aware of allergen issues, so they take great care.  In order to get chocolate without soy lecithin, however, they have to special order.

Of course, you can't make Sun Cups without Sunbutter!  Each of these buckets holds 44 pounds of the good stuff!  I wish I could order Sunbutter in these quantities!

That's genuine Sunbutter in those tubs, too.  Sun Cups informed us that they'd tried other brands/manufacturers, and that nobody else makes sunflower seed spread with the correct texture and taste.

You may have noticed that the jar of Sunbutter you have at home bears the warning "roasted on equipment that also roasts soy."  Sun Cups takes great care to keep soy out of their chocolate, so I asked how that warning pertains to them.  I learned that Sunbutter washes their equipment before producing Sun Cups's supply, and Sun Cups performs their own testing before using the product.  They've never found any trace of soy!

They mix the filling in here.

Here's the next day's batch of chocolate, already melted and ready to get made into delicious, allergy-friendly treats!  Their next planned expansion is to purchase an additional vat that will be dedicated to the production of dark chocolate Sun Cups. They're formulating a dairy-free filling for it too, which means that folks with dairy allergies will finally be able to enjoy Sun Cups!

This is one of the things that really impressed me about Sun Cups.  When they told me that all their melted chocolate currently shares the same vat, they said that they will not make dark chocolate cups for people with dairy allergies until they have dedicated equipment.  That applies to their chocolate bars, too.  They see the danger to people with dairy allergies, and are up-front about that danger.  That demonstrates that they take their stewardship of the food allergy community very seriously.

Sun Cups molds.  Zax is not one to take any statement at face value, so he decided to count the molds to make sure there were really 48 (he doesn't do multiplication yet.)

Do you see the brown stuff on the bottom of Kal's bootie?  That's not dirt, it's cocoa powder.  Sun Cups assured us that their floors are clean enough to eat off of!  (We had a job keeping the boys from licking the floor after that statement.)

With liners in the molds, they're sent through a machine that injects the chocolate and the filling, and then they're cooled.  After that, it's on to wrapping.

Sun Cups also makes regular chocolate bars (which I was not aware of) and this is the machine that wraps those bars.  They can even do custom wrappers, so if you're interested in getting Sun Cups chocolate bars with your company logo on it, consider sending them a line!

Behind these doors is the product where all the magic comes together!

They keep their Sun Cups refrigerated until they are ready to be shipped.  What bounty!

Of course, not every Sun Cup comes off the line looking perfect.  Despite their best efforts, air bubbles occasionally get stuck in the candy, causing overflows and deformations.  Such defects worked to our advantage, though, because we were invited to sample these "imperfect" candies!

The boys said this was their other favorite part of the tour!

Sun Cups makes approximately 7500 Sun Cups each day, although they are capable of making more.  A day typically involves the making of just one variety of Sun Cups, and then the lines are cleaned in preparation for another variety the next day.

Sun Cups sounds like a great place to work.  The factory floor is filled with music and laughter, and the boss doesn't want anybody coming in if they don't feel good--because if you aren't happy you aren't going to make good candy!

If you look at the Sun Cups website, you can read the story of how they began:  a father brought a jar of sunflower seed spread to the owners (they were in the truffle business at the time) and asked them to make a peanut-butter-style cup for his peanut allergic son. When I asked them how they decided to make this into a full-time business, they said that after the family's emotional response, they took those first sun cups to a fine chocolate show and got an overwhelming response there as well.  That was the moment they knew they had a product.

And boy, are we ever glad that they did!

I hope you enjoyed your virtual tour!  I'd like to say a huge "thank you" to Sun Cups for inviting us into their facility, and for all of the chocolate!  Please show them some love by enjoying their wonderful candy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Guest Post at Kids With Food Allergies!

Hey folks!

Today I had the fortunate opportunity to do a guest post on the Kids With Food Allergies blog!  The topic?  Further experimentation with Vegan Meringue, particularly for the benefit of those with chickpea allergies.  Please come check it out!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eggless Pancakes

Sunday morning, I had no idea what recipe I was going to post on the blog today.  I mulled it over until I realized we were almost out of Bisquick.  Sunday is always pancake day, so I'd have to make pancakes from scratch.

Bingo!  I haven't posted our eggless pancake recipe on the blog yet!  That took care of both breakfast and Recipe Monday in one swoop!

Fluffy Eggless Pancakes
(adapted from a recipe from
This recipe is free of peanut, tree nut, egg, and soy.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (or other allergy-safe vegetable oil)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter

Combine dry ingredients and mix slightly.  (I made a double batch. Have to, to serve 4.)

Add milk, oil, water, and vanilla. Whisk together until just combined. Set aside to rest for a few minutes.
Mama?  Can I take your picture while you make
breakfast?  Mama?  *click*

Start heating your pan or griddle, and also melt your butter.  Stir the melted butter into the batter.

When pan/griddle is hot, make your pancakes!

I like the cinnamon in this recipe.  It adds an extra flavor that isn't usually there in pancakes.  The boys both ate their first pancake without any syrup!

They were a hit!  But then, any safe pancake is usually a hit in this house!

Do you have a ritual breakfast on weekends?

Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays