Monday, July 27, 2015

Green Bean and Corn Salad

We needed a quick side dish and vegetable this week, and my Green Bean and Corn Salad did the trick! It's best when the beans and corn are fresh, of course, but it works well with frozen veggies in a pinch, which is what I did this time. I love that it takes some very kid-friendly vegetables but throws in a grown-up twist!

Make sure you prep your green beans in advance, because you want them cool once you mix up the salad.

Green Bean and Corn Salad
Top 8 free!

Salad Ingredients
  • 1 pound green beans, cut to bite-size and steamed for 5 minutes
  • 1/2-1 cup corn; fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 4-8oz fresh mushrooms, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped

Dressing Ingredeints
  • 4 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp canola oil
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Combine cooled veggies in a large bowl.

Combine dressing ingredients and pour over veggies.

Toss to coat and chill to marry the flavors. Serve cold.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Triann’s Pantry Pancake Mix Review and GIVEAWAY!

We've teamed up with Triann's Pantry to offer you a special giveaway! My husband Dean (who is our Sunday breakfast guru) tried out their Perfect Pancake and Waffle Mix and reviewed it for you below! Then beneath that is the Rafflecopter for the Giveaway!

Dean here again with a guest blog post. I first came across Triann’s Pantry through a promotion they were doing on Twitter to help the Food Equality Initiative (an allergy-friendly food pantry). For every order Triann’s Panty got, they sent a duplicate to that organization.

I sent them a message through Twitter that it was a wonderful promotion and we shared a similar experience of how a layoff from a long term job resulted in the creation of our allergy-friendly businesses. They offered to send us some samples of their products. We looked over their website and there were so many delicious looking mixes that it was hard to decide! We narrowed it down to three and said surprise us.

Surprise us they did. Shipping was impressive, it arrived in only a couple of days. The second surprise was they sent us all three: Perfect Pancake and Waffle Mix, Crazy Good Cupcakes and Allergy Friendly Sugar Cookies. So I decided to review their pancake mix since I make pancakes almost every Sunday morning. It’s known as Pancake Day now to the kids.

The mixes were wrapped in red tissue paper which went nicely with their black packaging.

Right on the front of each package it tells you which of the main allergens it’s free of. The pancake mix was free of gluten, dairy, soy, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, rice and corn. It’s also produced in a dedicated facility free of those items.

I’ll start by saying my kids are very used to their pancake mix and haven’t liked any other variety. They were at my parent’s house overnight recently and, as is customary for grandparents, my parents let them have as many as they wanted--but they only ate a couple because they tasted different. I was curious to see what the kids would think of this.

The package had a resealable zip lock to it in case you didn’t use up all of the mix. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to save half of their yummy mix though. When I first opened it I could tell there was something different about this mix. I breathed in and there was a definite hint of cinnamon.

Mixing it up was simple enough, I only had to add oil and water.

The mix was thick, very thick. The package noted that and said not to add any more liquid to thin it down. I was curious so I contacted them to ask why. “They are very thick… we are debating calling them breakfast cakes instead… It has to do with the chia instead of the eggs, and if you add more liquid it ends up very chewy. Has been a year long process looking for any alternative, but we ended up going with better taste and final consistency.”

So however tempted you might be to add more liquid, DON’T DO IT! 

Our boys liked the smell of the mixture so I thought there was a good chance they would like the pancakes too. Our oldest correctly identified the cinnamon. I got ten pancakes out of it, just like the package said. I’ll usually get a lot more out of our usual batch (and the volume of batter was roughly the same as our usual pancakes), but again don’t add any more liquid to this.

Now it was time for the taste test. We all tried a bite without anything on it. And the verdict was  . . .  we all liked it! The worst part was when our kids wanted more, they’re accustomed to getting a certain number of pancakes. This includes a larger; “Mickey Mouse” shaped one (which I was not going to try with such a thick mix). We had to explain that each pancake was like getting two, and that Mama and Dada wanted these as well. So they had to “settle” for some normal ones. I made a smaller batch of our usual pancakes, we have leftovers and it makes a quick breakfast for later in the week. It also gave a nice comparison of the two.

So even with our picky pancake eaters, they enjoyed this new variety. They are thicker, but they taste great which is really the most important thing. We highly recommend you give these a try! As an added bonus, Triann’s Pantry has let us offer a giveaway of their mixes so you can try them for yourself! The Perfect Pancake and Waffle Mix is $7.95 for a 15 oz package.

Pluses and Minuses
+  Top 8 free plus rice and corn
+  Dedicated facility free of those items
+  Several organic ingredients used
+  Tastes great with a hint of cinnamon

-   Very thick batter, may cause contention of how many each person gets

Until my next blog post, don't forget how super you are!

Now for the best part:

The giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive three (3) Allergy Friendly Baking Mixes of their choice from Triann's Pantry! (16.7oz size maximum per item.) Check out their store to see what you might want to win and enter with the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be announced no later than August 6th. Good luck!

Disclaimer: We received three baking mixes for free from Triann's Pantry. We were not required to give a positive review and all opinions are our own. :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup

Today's recipe is a variation on this recipe I posted back in November. We had the end of a ham in the freezer and I wanted to make soup, but it's summer and I didn't want to heat up the house. So I decided to try it in the crock pot! I consulted google and decided that yes, making stock in a crock pot would work and yes, you can cook beans in a crock pot too, so I gave it a whirl.

It turned out great! And while this recipe still calls for a lot of chopping, it was relatively easy, too! It worked great for me as an overnight recipe, because my stock was cooking while my beans soaked. It could be done in one day if you cook it on high and do a quick-soak for the beans. This recipe does take a while, but most of it is down time--your work comes at the beginning and then again in the middle.

Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup
The best thing about this soup is that it is top 8 free! It's corn free too!

Ingredients (for the stock)
  • 1 ham bone or the end of a ham
  • 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 carrots, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3/4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • water to cover, at least 6 cups, replenish as necessary

Ingredients (for the soup)
  • 2 cups (1 lb) dried black beans
  • 1 leek
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Chopped red, yellow and green onions (optional)
  • Tortilla chips (optional, omit for corn allergy)
Place all stock ingredients in your crock pot and cover with cold water. Set crock pot to low and allow to simmer overnight, or do it on high for several hours.

I chose the overnight method, and the house smelled lovely when we woke up the next morning!

Also make sure you soak your beans! After sorting, cover them by several inches with cold water and allow them to sit overnight.

Taste your soup before you're ready to move on. If any of the flavors seem weak, you can increase the heat and leave them in for a while longer.

Strain the stock. I did this by dipping a strainer into the pot and pulling out everything solid.

Remove the meat from the bone and shred into bite-sized pieces (or simply shred, if there is no bone.) Remove skin and fat as well. Return the meat to the crock pot.

About six hours before you'd like to eat (or three if you'd rather cook it on high), drain your beans and discard the soaking water.

Then add the beans to the crock pot with the stock and ham. Cook for six hours on low or three hours on high (these times are highly flexible.)

Cut off the root and and green stem of the leek (it should be about 5 inches long.)

Wash it, then cut on diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Prep your other onions now, too.

About 15 minutes before serving, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sautee leek, onion, and garlic for about five minutes, until they're slightly browned.

Add the leek/onions to the crock pot along with the salt and brown sugar.

Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve soup topped with chopped onions and tortilla chips, if desired.
(Sorry, forgot to put the onion garnish on when I took the pictures.)

I'm really not a big fan of beans, but this soup never ceases to amaze me! In fact, typing it up makes me want to go sneak a few spoonfuls of leftovers from the fridge! I'm glad it worked out in the crock pot and will definitely be making it this way again!

What's your favorite soup?

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Pleasant Surprise

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we discovered that Zax's threshold for egg white was a whopping 21 mg (3/1000ths of an egg) after entering him in a study at National Jewish Hospital. Entering that study was a long and involved process though. We'd been directed to them from the administrator of a different study--one that would aim to desensitize Zax to his egg allergy by various methods of OIT therapy. His high history of reactivity in the past seemed like he wouldn't be eligible for the OIT study, so they suggested we try the other one first.

In order to be eligible for the OIT study, Zax would need to react before 1,400mg of egg white (no problem) but also be able to tolerate 1/3 of an egg (roughly 2,000-2,333mg) in baked form.

Zax failed his baked egg challenge when we tried it prior to entering preschool almost three years ago. I anticipated that he would again, but then I found out that our allergist likes to challenge baked egg every two years because that tolerance can change. We also had an incident at a restaurant where Zax might have eaten a hot dog bun containing egg with no reaction, but we didn't know for sure. There was still a chance to get Zax in the OIT study, so we decided the time was ripe for another baked egg challenge.

I'll admit that I fully expected him to fail, but the challenge would be in a safe environment and it would be useful to know one way or the other--plus I really wanted a crack at trying to desensitize him--avoiding egg is HARD!!! So we went ahead and tried a baked egg challenge in our Allergist's office.

And you know what? HE PASSED!!!!!!

It really seemed to be by the skin of his teeth, though. They divided the muffin dose in quarters, taken at 15 minute intervals. He said his tongue felt funny after the first dose, and I figured it was over, but when I asked him if it felt the same as his confirmed reaction at National Jewish, he said no, it was different. Then he felt better in a few minutes. The nurse suggested we press on, because it really was worth it to know one way or the other. Zax was
reluctant, but I assured him that they had all the medicines to take care of him if something happened and if it was a reaction, it would get a little stronger and then we'd stop. He agreed to eat a half-size dose again, but with frosting.

Playing with the Food Challenge room toys. What is the
allure of little-kid toys for older kids?
About five minutes later, he said his mouth felt completely better and maybe the frosting made it go away! I said maybe it just meant that he'd been nervous. He happily played and completely acted like his normal self after that, further confirming the "nervous" diagnosis.

To my complete surprise, he continued to do well for all the subsequent doses. Considering how quickly he had reacted the last time we tried baked egg, and how quickly he reacted to his food challenge at National Jewish, I was flabbergasted. By the time he'd completed 3/4 of his full dose, I texted my husband that I was feeling very optimistic. This was farther than he'd ever been before, and it was progress even if he didn't fully pass the challenge.

About five minutes after his final dose of muffin, he reported that the back of his throat felt just a teensy bit achy. I asked if that was the same feeling as from his reaction at National Jewish, and he said Yes. We told the nurse and she examined him, but except for a red mouth from the red frosting (a potential issue that hadn't even crossed my mind when I grabbed the frosting I already had in the fridge) she didn't see any physical symptoms. We continued to wait, and maybe 10-15 minutes later he reported that his mouth felt fine again. And he never crashed the way he did at National Jewish--he continued to run around the room and play with all the toys with his usual energy level.

The nurse declared it a Pass, and said that if he were reacting to that 4th bite of muffin it would have gotten worse, not resolved on its own. I don't think that's quite right though. I think it's more likely that we just barely touched on his baked egg threshold. He got enough to barely feel it, but his body was able to metabolize it and move on without drugs. I've had reactions like that, where I've tasted just enough to know that I shouldn't eat it, and the feeling went away within minutes. So I'll be starting at a lower dose at home, just to be safe.

Something I've learned is that my son is a trouper when it comes to his allergies. He can ramp up the anxiety pretty high for a lot of things (going on boats, putting his face in the water--pretty much trying anything new) but he's never thrown a fit or completely refused or run away from anything I've asked him to do to study his allergies. We've explained that we need information, that he'll be safe, and that we and the doctors will take care of him if anything happens, and he's trusted me and done what we've asked, even when it has involved uncomfortable things like needle sticks and eating things that might hurt him. I don't think about it when my son is freaking out about swim lessons, but he's a very brave boy and I'm very proud of him!

We're open for business selling products to help protect your allergic little ones!
This is a whole new world and I'll confess that I feel somewhat adrift. I know the parameters for what we should offer Zax at home, but how does that apply to things baked outside my home? How do I determine if another child's birthday cake meets the parameters? How about breads, do they meet the requirements? How about bakery cakes and cookies (although those often carry CC risk from nuts)? How about processed foods like snack cakes? What about breadings on fried foods? Are egg pastas cooked enough to qualify? How will this affect our restaurant ordering? How about candy (like the nougat in 3 Musketeers)? I didn't even think of most of these questions until we were home, so I have yet to ask an expert. The only thing I know for certain is that I'm no longer concerned about cross contact with baked goods containing egg--and that's nice, but only one small element.

Of course, the answers to these questions are probably not definite, they depend on the sensitivity of the individual. And they may all be moot, because now that he's passed a baked egg challenge, we're pursuing the OIT research study that I first learned about months ago. And if he qualifies for that, life will have to go on as it has been, with the only egg or baked egg that he eats being his dose for the study--for the next two years.

There are a lot of unanswered questions in our future, but we're at a point I hadn't really thought we'd reach. We CAN ask these questions, we CAN consider these options, and right now, that feels pretty good!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Doughnuts!

My husband Dean has taken over the blog today! Or more accurately, he offered to write a guest post now and then to free up some time for me. I gladly accepted!

Dean is my partner in all things, especially in Allergy Superheroes. Without him, I don't think this crazy venture would've gotten off the ground because I just wouldn't have been able to get it all done by myself. In fact, he came up with the Spark that morphed into Allergy Superheroes in the first place! And if you've engaged with us on social media at all, there's a good chance you've interacted with him and not me a time or two!

So without further ado, I'll hand the blog over to him!

This is Dean, husband to Eileen or as you know her, the 2nd Generation Allergy Mom. For the last few years the fathers/kids in our family have gotten together to make the mothers a special Mother's Day Brunch. We're each expected to make a couple of dishes. Besides the usual eggless pancakes, I decided to make two types of doughnuts. (I'm on a bit of a homemade, baked doughnut kick right now). The first is a chocolate chocolate chip and the next one is for another blog post. Hint, it has oatmeal and blueberries.

I only have one doughnut pan and making two different types of doughnuts was going to take a lot of time, so I wanted something I was familiar with that would be fast and easy. After a look on our Pinterest page for egg-free options, I took the chocolate and chocolate chip amounts from another recipe and modified the baked doughnut recipe that came with our doughnut pan. It's pretty simple and quick to bake.

Free From:  Egg, Peanut, Tree Nut, Fish, Shellfish (happy about those last two).  It could be modified to be top 8 free.


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and cocoa. Add buttermilk, Ener-G, and butter. 

 Beat until just combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill each doughnut cup approximately 2/3 full.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched. This is one of the reasons I love this recipe since they're baked in about 8 minutes.

Let them cool in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing.

Then move to a wire rack.

Makes 12 doughnuts.

I decided to go the extra mile and frost them with our homemade cream cheese frosting recipe found here. Now being the food photo newbie that I am, (and in a hurry to get all those doughnuts made) I forgot to get a picture of the finished product. All I have is a zoomed in image of a picture of our table. You can see it on Eileen's plate. White frosted with sprinkles next to the pancakes that spell out M.O.M. I'll do better next time, I promise. The cream cheese frosted, chocolate chocolate chip doughnuts was a hit with the moms and especially with our kids.

But wait, Eileen just found a picture of her plate, so here it is:

What's your favorite doughnut recipe?

Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays