The Story Behind Allergy Momma

You know that person that has everything go wrong no matter what she does? Yeah, that’s me. I buy a reliable car, it breaks down. I get a 1 year old dog, she has a birth defect and has to wear diapers for the rest of her life. I have a child, everything goes wrong (but we still love her to bits of course!).

So, I started this blog site because my husband and I have had quite the adventure with our little girl!  Food allergies and skin allergies galore… special diet and special diapers.  That’s us.

I searched and searched the internet and recipes that fit the needs my daughter’s needs are few and far between so I have decided to share my own new world of cooking with any others who may be experiencing similar troubles.

My recipe posts have slowed down as of late because my daughter (at 2 and a half) finally outgrew her food allergies. There is hope, for any parents out there experiencing the same thing. Since I am not making special food anymore, I will post an occasional recipe, otherwise I love to write and will be sharing occasional blog posts.

I hope the recipes are helpful and blogs fun to read.  If it is, please let me know in the comments.

Check it out:

Allergy-friendly Recipes

The NEVER-ending Diaper Rash!!

Or navigate using the side bar and visit my “Recipes” blog to get some ideas on what to feed your little one if you’re running out of them. You’ll find my blog posts on random subjects under “Blog.”

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

 

Unheard Screams

What’s wrong mommy? Where’s the music? Why aren’t you talking?

Wait! Why can’t I–gasp–breathe?

Help! Mommy! Can’t–gasp–breathe!

Something is pulling my arm! Crack

OHH, it hurts! Labored breath. Please! My leg! Writhing jerk

I can’t hear your voice Mommy! Wheeze

Where are you? Groan

Can’t–gasp–move. Choke

Can’t–gasp–feel. Convulsing

Mom–

“Get out of me.”

 

(An unpublished 53-word story)

Windows to the Soul

A look, a smile, an inner connection with no words exchanged. We learn in school that our mouth is responsible for talking, and it is. Yet, before our mouths open, our eyes have long been engaged. The windows to our souls are pouring out how we feel. Their message is louder, more powerful, longer-lasting than words. 

Even a quick glance as we walk past others is a language in itself. Admiring a hairstyle is taken as a compliment or a friendly gesture, producing a smile. A look of indifference or disdain of the opposite sex burns into the “hey I’m interested” eyes of an onlooker and forces a smoldering head turn. I’m friendly. Bubbly. I’m not in the mood. I’m hurting. I’m naive. 

As a woman peering out of her window, visible enough only to reveal part of her frame, people around us will always see pieces of who we are. Sometimes those pieces are not fully understood. Sometimes they appear to be bigger or smaller, lighter or darker than they are inside. Onlookers wonder, why is she watching out her window? Why is she dressed like that?

Yet she waits, peering out, for the moment when someone asks to come in and she can reveal herself. 

Windows can be deceiving. Sometimes there is an illusion of a figure waving, but it is merely a reflection or a shadow. Sometimes the woman can be seen clearly, but only in part. Only one side is there for all to see. The rest of her is hidden, distant. 

A look can begin a friendship or stop a conversation before it ever starts. Kindred spirits can each see inside the open windows of the other. Instant knowledge. Knowledge of something inside that forms a bond far deeper than words could ever build. Opposites see a threat, danger lurking inside the soul. Uninviting shadows that haunt them long after they peered into them. 

We all wear our hearts on our sleeves. What is without, proceeds from within. We fight it, we deny it. We consider ourselves to be talented poker players, jokers. We try to show others what we want them to see. Yet there is always just enough of us on display that everyone gazes upon a shape, or maybe a distorted image, but always pieces of who we are.

Teff Pancakes (GF, DF, EF)

Have an allergy to dairy? Or dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, and nuts? If so, I’m sure you have discovered that calcium can be quite hard to come by. There is, however, a great gluten free alternative flour that just so happens to be loaded in calcium and iron. Add these pancakes to your normal diet for a calcium boost! Not to mention, they taste delicious and are really easy to make!

Now, usually I post recipes that are dairy, soy, egg, wheat, and nut free due to my daughter’s food allergies. This recipe is all of those things. HOWEVER, we are now able to use nuts in my daughter’s diet. She is finally beginning to outgrow these food allergies (slowly, but hey, a little goes a long way)! So, I usually make these with unsweetened vanilla almond milk now, but they are delicious either way.

These are not sweet pancakes, but they taste so good with something sweet on top! If you can have nuts, mix up some peanut or other nut butter with jelly and add on top of the pancake for the best tasting breakfast ever in my opinion!

To keep it nut free, drizzle some maple syrup, and top with sliced bananas or use a fruit puree. Our whole family loves these!

This recipe is an adapted version of the original here to incorporate more grains/nutrients and make it coconut-free.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups teff flour
  • 3/8 cup sorghum flour (see note)
  • 1/8 cup amaranth flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 2 TBS avocado oil
  • 2 cups vanilla flavored rice milk
  • Avocado oil for cooking

Notes:

–the 3/8 cup of sorghum: basically, just fill a 1/2 cup about 1/4 of the way (an 1/8 of a cup) with amaranth and then fill it the rest of the way to 1/2 with sorghum flour. Or you can skip the amaranth and just use 1/2 cup of sorghum flour.

–Any oil can work, I just prefer avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together until combined.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to a smaller mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl with the dry mixture and stir to combine. A few lumps are okay.
  4. Add about a TBS (depending on your skillet size, I use 4-pancake, large skillet) of avocado oil to a preheated skillet on medium heat.
  5. Pour about a ladle-size spoon amount of batter into the skillet and cook until the top bubbles and the bottom is lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Flip and cook for about 3 more minutes, until the pancake is cooked through and lightly browned on both sides.
  7. Serve with a side of sausage and enjoy!

If you enjoy this recipe, please like, comment, and share. And please let me know how it turns out if you try it! Check out more recipes here, or on the right side “Recipes” tab.

Cold Remedy for Toddlers

What is the most annoying part of having a toddler–other than having a walking source of every type of germ out there and the resulting sicknesses that inevitably follow?  Treating those sicknesses!  Anyone with young kids can attest to the fact that having a sick child is rough.  With sleepless nights, a child that wants to be held constantly, and no childcare, it can be quite exhausting.  And if you have a paranoid family like ours, you may also get excluded and uninvited from anything and everything for at least a week (sometimes 2 or 3). But I digress.

So, after surviving pretty much every illness out there in these last few months, I decided to write about what works best for us. Our tried and true treatment in so many circumstances for our 2 year old (since she turned 1) has simply been: Chamomile tea with a little honey.

My daughter came down with hand foot and mouth disease a few months ago and she was miserable. She wouldn’t eat (not to mention she had just recovered from a GI bug), she would hardly drink, and she was waking up in the night hurting.  So, as we do with most illnesses, I pulled out the chamomile.

To make her “tea,” as my daughter calls it, I use just enough water to cover the chamomile bag (or tea holder if you have the flowers), and about 1/2 tsp of honey.  I steep the tea bag for at least 2 minutes, mix in the honey, and then I pour about twice the amount of rice milk–enough to cool the tea down to warm instead of hot, and to mask some of the flavor.  My daughter loves her “tea” when she’s sick.  She will actually ask for it throughout the day. And, low and behold, the chamomile helps tremendously with HFMD! It is soothing and helps her sleep through the night.

After recovering from HFMD and once people were finally willing to see us again, our poor child came down with the nasty coughing cold virus that seems to be making its rounds this year.  Coughing is rough with a toddler.  Not only are they not quite old enough to take cough medicine, but they also (for the most part) do not yet know how to blow their nose well enough to clear the mucous out and slow down the cough. And a nose bulb or even a nose frida can only help to a limited extent.

Chamomile and honey, however, is a tremendous natural remedy for a cough.  During the worst of the cold, I gave my daughter chamomile tea a few times a day. I made it weaker during the day than at night, but it worked just as well.  We saw an UNMISTAKABLE difference in her cough.  Everyone around us who had this cold had a horrible cough–and don’t get me wrong, my daughter had quite the cough as well.  However, for the 2 weeks that the cold lasted, EVERY time I gave her tea, the amount of coughing drastically slowed down.  When I was not able to give her the tea every few hours, without fail, the cough came back with a vengeance.

At one point, I tried a few other methods to help her cough, thinking maybe I should chill out with the chamomile.  I tried just honey.  I tried Zarbee’s (which is basically just honey anyway).  None of it worked. The honey may have helped a tiny bit, but the Zarbee’s was useless in our case.  But after my daughter’s doctor recommended continuing to use chamomile, we went back to our tried and true method; and as usual, it worked. She slept through the night, and she was able to make it through the day without much coughing.

I truly find it amazing that we have been given this plant that is so soothing for a little one, when they are too young for medicine.  Without this little help, we would have had a MUCH harder time! It’s the little things… Those little blessings.

Other than just colds, however, chamomile is a HUGE help with headaches and teething pain as well. With allergies at 2, my daughter gets allergic conjunctivitis, stuffiness, and the accompanying sinus headaches fairly often at times.  Now, chamomile is not a cure all, so it obviously does not help with a stuffy nose or conjunctivitis; there are other methods to ease those symptoms, such as nose cleaning with saline and eye drops. But nothing helps my daughter’s headaches as much as chamomile tea.

We have recently had a few nights where my daughter was lying in bed crying, saying her eyes and her head hurt.  We try giving her Tylenol, but she just can’t get to sleep. She tries. And then she cries again. But when we give her chamomile with Tylenol, she is always able to fall asleep.  The same has applied to teething pain.  After my daughter turned 1 (when it was safe to use honey), we realized how great a help chamomile could be to help her sleep, and it has been our go to for nighttime teething for quite some time.

DISCLAIMER: Chamomile has worked great for us, and has been approved by my daughter’s doctor for use. However, there are varying opinions on its use and the safety of it.  So please ensure that your child’s doctor is aware of your decision to try using it, and please understand that I am only writing based on personal experience, I do not claim any medical expertise in the matter.  But if you are able to confidently use chamomile for your little one, it is a very helpful tool for your toolbox!

Give it a try, and please share your experience if it helps!

 

If you find this information helpful, please like, share, or comment and check out some recipes or other resources.  Thanks for reading!

 

Crawfish Etouffee (GF, DF)

At long last, I am sharing my crawfish etouffee recipe! It is wheat, soy, dairy, egg, and nut free, AND loved by the whole family! My husband asks every week if I can make it again (until I remind him of the cost of buying crawfish tails in Washington State… 😉

Get ready for a delicious taste of the South! Creamy sauce with crawfish on a bed of white rice, and a strong Cajun seafood flavor… This is my personal recipe adapted from a variety of recipes including my family’s recipe that my mom passed on to me, an old magazine with recipes from southern Louisiana that I love to use, and some trial and error.

 

If you have ever made etouffee, you know that one of the dominant flavors is butter (or lard or crawfish fat, neither of which are readily available anymore). Butter makes this dish.  So I never thought it would still taste good without it. BUT, with the help of allergy-safe Smart Balance, extra Old Bay Seasoning, and some tweaks here and there, it IS possible to make a delicious etouffee that everyone can enjoy!

This recipe has a bit of a kick to it. If you have little ones who are sensitive to spice, you may want to add a little less seasoning (about a TBS less Old Bay, and taste test while you cook it).

This may seem like a hard, long meal to make, but it really isn’t.  After a few times of making, you can have this down to a 45 minute meal prep and cooking time easily.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 packages frozen crawfish tails, with fat*
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 stalks celery sliced thin
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped small
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 TBS Smart Balance**
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (more if needed while cooking)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 TBS Gluten free flour (I use a garbanzo bean base, all purpose flour)
  • Fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 medium lime
  • 2 TBS Old Bay Seasoning*
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS onion powder
  • 1/2 TBS basil
  • 1/2 TBS ground sage
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

*If you do not live in the South, you probably won’t find these at a grocery store. But, funny enough, Walmart carries them (the crawfish tails and the Old Bay)–even here in Washington state.  Walmart is literally the only place I can find frozen crawfish tails here.

**The green tub is dairy & soy free. It does not actually say it on the tub for some reason, but their website does. We have used it with great success for my daughter who cannot have dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, or nuts and is especially sensitive to dairy.  And I do mean GIANT tablespoons of it, not an actual tablespoon (See picture in the instructions for reference).

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DIRECTIONS:

Add the water and rice to a rice cooker, mix, and cook according to the manufacturers instructions. Let this cook while you prepare the etouffe.

Saute the chopped onions and red pepper on medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, until pungent. Add the chopped celery and continue to saute until the veggies are tender, about 7-10 minutes.

 

Add 3 heaping tablespoons of Smart Balance, stirring until it melts, then add the garlic and saute about 1 minute.

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Add the tomato paste, Old Bay, onion powder, garlic powder, and at least 1 tsp of salt and pepper.

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Saute for about 1 minute, then add 1 more heaping TBS of Smart Balance, the crawfish tails (with the fat from the package, do not drain), and the flour. Stir to combine, cook for about 2 minutes.

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Add the chicken broth, basil, 1/2 cup of the fresh parsley (reserve 1/4 cup for the end), dried parsley, fresh and dried sage, and fresh squeezed lime; mix well.

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Let the etouffee simmer for about 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally.  After about 10 minutes, begin taste testing and adding any additional seasonings.

If you would prefer a thinner sauce, add more chicken broth 1/8 cup at a time.

Serve on top of a pile of white sticky rice and enjoy! It is even better with a side of fried okra!

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Tips:

Each time you add seasonings, wait at least 5 minutes before tasting again. Try not to cook for more than 30 minutes.

If you taste a strong “green” taste, it may be the flour. Garbanzo flour has quite an awful taste before it cooks. If you experience this, keep cooking until that taste is gone. Try not to add more flour later in the cooking because you will end up needing to over cook it to get that taste out.

 

As usual, If you enjoy this recipe, please like, comment, and share with others. Thanks for visiting!

 

 

 

 

 

Deliciously Imperfect Soup

I have a confession to make… I am addicted to Imperfect Produce. I admit it; which is the first step, right?  If you’ve never heard of them, shame on you! They help stop produce waste, clean up the earth and so on and so forth.  But most importantly, they deliver fruits and vegetables right to your door at about half the cost of going to the grocery store and buying them yourself (at least according to my calculations).  So, if you haven’t heard of them, you are seriously missing out!

One of the perks of using Imperfect Produce is that even though you pick out what you want, you never really know what that will look like when it comes in.  So opening the box is always a surprise; one that my 2 year old LOVES!  She gets so excited when the vegetables come in and after she takes a bite out of half of them, she helps me put them away.

Well, this recipe was born out of my first gaze into this week’s box of Imperfect produce, hence the name.  I opened it up, saw a scrumptious mound of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Swiss chard (among other things), and I couldn’t help but try my hand at a new soup.  My daughter has been sick with one virus after another for the past few weeks, so trips to the grocery store have been few and far between–making me ever more thankful for the weekly deliveries right to my door!  And with fairly empty cabinets, I had to make due with what I had.

Thus, Deliciously Imperfect Soup was born and thankfully, it turned out delicious!  We thoroughly enjoyed it, and unlike other soups I have previously posted, this one leaves you feeling more full and satisfied with a smaller amount. It may actually be our favorite yet! With a sweet, thick taste from the sweet potato, contrasted with the comforting, savory bacon and pork sausage flavor, it is just totally set apart from other’s like potato soup or my Winter Comfort Soup.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups chicken broth (or 8 if you would like a more “brothy” soup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 links Sam’ s Choice Original Smoked Sausage, sliced (this one is allergy friendly)
  • 3 slices of uncured, all-natural bacon (again, allergy friendly)
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, chopped peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, separated from the stems & chopped small

Seasonings:

  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron
  • salt & pepper to taste (at least 1/4 tsp each)

 

NOTES:

*You can replace the Swiss chard with kale if you cook it longer, or spinach if you cook it for a shorter amount of time.

*If feeding a toddler or young picky eater, you can add rice milk to their bowl to make it creamier. My daughter loves the “juice” from soup with added rice milk, though she does like this soup better without the rice milk.

 

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DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil.  Once it begins to boil, add the sliced sausage and continue to cook on medium-low heat with a nice simmering, low boil.

In a medium sized skillet, cook the bacon until it is just cooked, not crispy.  Remove from the pan and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

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Add the sweet potatoes, potatoes, and bacon pieces to the large pot with the broth and mix together to incorporate. Also add the seasonings at this time.

Meanwhile, add the diced onions to the small skillet with the bacon drippings and saute until translucent.   (If you prefer a lower fat, heart-healthier method, wipe the pan clean of the bacon drippings, drizzle with canola, avocado, or corn oil, and saute the onions in that instead.)

About 15 minutes after adding the potatoes to the soup pot, add the Swiss chard and mix to combine.

Taste, and add more salt and pepper or seasonings if needed.  Continue cooking on medium-low for another 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes and chard are at the consistency you prefer.  I like everything very soft so my toddler who is sensitive to a ton of different textures will eat it without any issues, so I cook it for about 10 minutes more.

Serve and enjoy!

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As always, if you make this and enjoy it, please leave let me know and check out more recipes on my “Recipes” page.  Thanks for visiting!

Have Skin Allergies? Like “Natural” Products? Try This

You or your little one have skin allergies?  Sensitive skin? Scalp psoriasis or eczema?  Well, we have all of the above problems in our household and I have FINALLY found a soap/shampoo that is great for all of our issues, so I had to share this!

I do not participate in promoting products, especially not for any sort of profit–would be nice, but that is not what this article is about. I am, however, VERY excited about this gem in the ruff that I have recently found!  And being a parent of a child with multiple allergies, I know how absolutely frustrating it can be to try and find things for our little ones, so I am hoping others with the same problem will find this information helpful.

My daughter has skin allergies to coconut, fragrance, and a few highly used preservatives that happen to be in EVERYTHING that is labeled “baby”.  The “all-naturals” and “natural fragrance” make no difference. Fragrance is fragrance and most of the “natural” shampoos, soaps, lotion, etc. have the same preservative(s) as about 99% of the rest of them out there.  So, finding a body wash/shampoo for my daughter has been extremely frustrating!!

In a desperate attempt to find SOMETHING that I could bathe my daughter with that cause a rash (some rashes are mild, but it is still obviously irritating her skin), I thought maybe I would have to resort to making my own.

Now let’s get one thing out of the way: I am NOT one of those, buy all natural, eat organic, blah blah people. I like my synthetic things, thank you very much.  And I gladly buy regular produce because I would rather the unlikely stated risks associated with those than to have the risk of salmonella from eating cow poop left over on organically fertilized veggies and fruits.  Call me crazy, that’s fine. We all have our opinions, and ultimately, we all live, we all die, we all end up with health problems. Medical claims, science, and pretty much knowledge in general is always changing, so I personally choose not to rely solely on any one thought or mindset.

That being said, I do have very sensitive skin, and I get a VERY itchy scalp with many different shampoos. My husband and I both occasionally get eczema rashes–could it be from synthetic product use?  Maybe. Or maybe it’s genetics. Or maybe I’m just not nourishing my gut bacteria and calling them by name, so they got mad and took it out on my body. Who knows. I digress.  BUT, as I was searching the myriad of crazy opinions and directions out there on how to make a shampoo and getting lost in the Google abyss of useless knowledge, I stumbled across Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve.  

Now, I will say, if you ARE into all the “all-natural”, “back to nature” stuff, you are seriously missing out if you have not found this store!  I have read a lot of labels because my daughter’s allergies warrant it, and seriously, most of the so-called natural stuff really is not what they claim it is because the very preservative that my daughter is allergic to is still in many of them. If it isn’t that, they have coconut, fragrance, or a combination thereof, so they just don’t work for us.

However, I was highly surprised and utterly fascinated by what I found at Chagrin Soap and Salve.  They seriously just use simple ingredients that anyone can identify, no preservatives, and they have a fragrance free and coconut free selection.  Seriously, I couldn’t ask for more!  Did I mention I am utterly fascinated at how simple their ingredients list is? I had no idea that making shampoo and soap could be limited to so few things that are just so.. normal. Fascinating.

So, I ordered a shampoo bar and soap for my daughter.  The samples are very inexpensive, nice sized, and surprisingly easy to lather up, so they should last a good little while for my 2 year old.

After trialing this with my daughter, I must say, I couldn’t believe how great it works! Having a shampoo bar is a little weird if you are not accustomed to it, but I really do not care as long as it works well for my daughter!  And so far, we have had great results with this soap and shampoo!

Here are the ones we ordered:

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And the ingredients list:

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So, this store already became a life saver for me since the soap and shampoo are inexpensive AND work great for my daughter–and seriously, anyone who has a child with lots of allergies knows how frustrating and time consuming it can be just to get by–but to take this a step further; it also works great for the rest of us!

Now, I won’t lie, I tried this shampoo bar as a skeptic. I only used it because I like to try out whatever my daughter is using on myself as well.  But I had a pretty bad flare up on my scalp the day (and for a few days before) I tried out this shampoo bar from Chagrin Valley, and to my unexpected surprise, my scalp LITERALLY stopped itching after I used it.  Not to mention, it works really great on my hair.  And I am not exaggerating. My scalp is fine. Fine. That NEVER happens during a flare up.  I will be ordering more for myself now.

Bottom line: I am not a crazy believer in these products (or any for that matter) as a cure all for whatever issue anyone may have, but for our families issues, I was very pleasantly surprised and I did not expect to like using their products myself. I only bought them originally for my daughter.

So, if you are looking for allergy-friendly soap and shampoo, or if you like the more natural approach and are looking for the simplest ingredients you can find in a product that works really well, you HAVE TO check out this store!  I am highly surprised that they are not more popular than they currently are.

Here is a link to their site: Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve

Thanks for reading! And as always, if you enjoyed this article, please like, share, or comment and then check out my recipes and more!