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Need to Whip Up a Last Minute Dessert? Dairy-free, Egg-Free and Maybe Even Gluten-Free Cookies November 26, 2014

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realized my amazing dessert plan is too elaborate or altogether unnecessary for a big meal like Thanksgiving.  If you find yourself in a crunch (or if you’re just in the mood for a classic with a twist), check out this recipe originally posted in 2011.  The delicious hints of pie spice and pumpkin are reminiscent of a traditional Turkey Day pie but the chocolate makes it sooo much more satisfying!  My mouth is watering just remembering how good these were.  I barely have time, but I might just have to work these in tomorrow…

 

 These cookies are adapted from a recipe I found that was already egg-free (a great start!). But I’ve tweaked it to be dairy and nut-free and included a reviewer’s suggestion at the bottom for making them gluten-free as well! This recipe produces a ton of cookies, so invite the neighbors over about 5 minutes after they’ve cooled to help you chow down.
 

Ingredients (**see bottom for gluten-free substitutions**):

 
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour** (see below for gluten-free substitution)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

 

Cream the sugar, shortening, pumpkin and vanilla together. Mix until light and well combined.

 

Mix the flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  

Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Let cookies cool on a rack.

 
Makes 4 dozen cookies.
 
**To make them gluten-free, one reviewer commented that she substituted the following for the flour:
  • 2 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup soy flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  

I am thankful for these cookies!

 

Order Now! Some Allergy-Friendly, Actually Helpful Turkey Day Gadgets November 23, 2014

It’s coming!  Thanksgiving is only four days away.  If you’re still struggling with how to make Thanksgiving safe for all of your guests, check out these helpful tools and tips:

 
 
Char-Broil Big Easy – $99

If you like the idea of deep-frying a turkey but don’t want to mess with Peanut oil, this oil-less, propane Turkey fryer might be worth a try:

From Home Depot:  Fry turkeys the safe and healthy way with the Char-Broil The Big Easy Propane Oil-Less Fryer. Since this fryer uses a 16,000 BTU burner, there is no oil to buy, pre-heat or dispose of, making your cooking preparation effortless. Cool-touch handles help protect your hands during operation, and a pull-out grease tray makes cleanup a snap. Cooks up to 16 lb. of turkey, 8 lb. roast, ribs and more.

 
The Vegetti – $14.99

Have a vegan coming to dinner?  Someone going gluten-free?  The Vegetti takes ordinary vegetables and turns them into good-for-you spiral spaghetti.

 
Mini Chalkboard as Dish Labels – $12.97

These would be a perfect way to alert guests of appetizers and dishes that are gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc.

 
Brown Kraft Paper – $10.97

Kraft paper is so great, Maggie Batista from Apartment Therapy outlines just a few clever of many uses. My favorite – no surprise – is to use the paper as a runner or tablecloth and label all the dishes.  I also loved her idea of hanging the menu/main recipes as decoration (and, for those with food allergies, important information).  And, of course, the most fun way to use kraft paper?  Place crayons in small tin buckets and let the guests doodle away!

From Maggie Battista’s blog eatboutique.com

 

There’s still time to grab one or all of these items!  Most are available locally and if you order tonight, Amazon prime guarantees delivery by Wednesday!

 

Holiday Talk: Hosting a Guest With Food Allergies November 17, 2014

Holidays are filled with memorable family gatherings.  And, as warmly anticipated as most of them are, if you are hosting a guest with food allergies it can bring up some anxiety.  How will you make your guest feel included while keeping them safe?  What does it mean to be a good host to someone with food allergies?  How far will you need to stray from your familiar recipes to make the meal safe for sharing?

 

Never fear!  As a parent of a food allergic child, I can tell you there are a few simple steps you can take that will alleviate your anxiety and win over your guests:

 

1.  Have a conversation with the food allergic family.

  • Find out what the allergies are so you can do your best to substitute or exclude them from recipes.
  • Ask them what their biggest challenges are when it comes to the type of meal your serving, whether that be Thanksgiving, breakfast, desserts, etc…
  • Discuss cross-contamination in relationship to cutting boards, baking dishes.  Most of the time, a simple cleaning either in the sink or dishwasher suffices, but it’s important to talk to the food allergic family as everyone’s food allergy triggers are a little different.
  • If you are hosting this family overnight, get the brand names of a couple of snack foods that are safe for the food allergic child/individuals.  It’s important to stick with these particular brand names because recipe, manufacturing equipment, and methods can make something as simple as a pretzel go from safe to unsafe very easily.
 

2.  Search Allergy Shmallergy, FARE and other blogs for allergy-free substitute recipes.  For example, Shmallergy’s You’ll Never Miss It Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes are easy to make and are a crowd favorite at every table we sit.  Keep your recipe handy for the guest family to review.  You may never understand how touching a gesture like this is to us.  Safe mashed potatoes from a host can make my son’s whole day!

 

3.  Brush up on the signs on anaphylaxis (among them: hives; itchy lips, tongue, throat; swelling of tongue, lips; wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath).  Watch this video (less than 2 minutes) to familiarize yourself with how to use an EpiPen (one common type of epinephrine autoinjector).  Your guests will appreciate you taking their allergies seriously.

 

4.  Keep ingredient lists of the food your cooking with for reference.  I can’t tell you how many times I read and reread new brand ingredients to be sure they are safe for my son.  And the peace of mind it gives me is more than appreciated.

 

The best ways to be a host to a food allergy family is to create a warm, welcoming environment – as with all guests.  The time you share together will define your memories.  And the effort you make to keep all your guests healthy will surely be one of the fondest ones of the season.

Food Allergy families:  what would you add to this list?  Please add your suggestions below!

 

Teal Pumpkin Project for Food Allergy Awareness During Halloween October 27, 2014

Filed under: Holiday,Preparedness — malawer @ 12:47 pm
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My kids and I were asked to do a news segment yesterday for Fox 5 News about Food Allergies during Halloween.  As we all know, having food allergies during a food centric holiday can be very difficult.  Luckily, FARE aims to make that easier with its #TealPumpkinProject.  Please watch the clip and pass it on!  I think it goes without say that Halloween would be even MORE fun if it were more inclusive and SAFE for all children!

 

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Our segment is running throughout today, but in case you missed it or don’t live in the DC market – here you go:

Teal Pumpkin Project for food allergy awareness – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG.

 

And, please read my next post for Trick or Treating tips and non-food Halloween ideas!

 

Halloween, Safety and Teal Pumpkins October 24, 2014

Filed under: Holiday,Preparedness — malawer @ 11:45 am
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Halloween is a particularly tricky time for kids with food allergies.  I’m always amazed at how many houses give out treats laden with peanuts, tree nuts and other common allergens.  Although my son understands that he can get a safe treat from me when the house treat is a no-go, it’s hard not to be disappointed for him.   Holidays routinely make kids with food allergies feel left out and Halloween is the king among them.

 

There ARE a few things you can do to make this Halloween safe and pure fun:

 

1.  Carry a variety of safe treats for your child to choose from so that he/she can get a replacement treat when the neighbor’s doesn’t cut it;

2.  Always carry your epinephrine while you trick or treat and remind your child NOT to eat any candy until you get home to ensure its safety;

3.  Don’t forget to read the labels of even candy you know to be safe.  When miniaturized, manufacturers often use shared equipment that isn’t a problem at the candy’s regular size package.   Read, read and re-read;

4.  Always carry your cell phone.  In addition to taking adorable shots of your kids sprinting from house to house, you may want to have it with you in the unlikely event that a reaction occurs.

 

And, look for houses with TEAL PUMPKINS.  The non-profit Food Allergy Research Education (FARE) is encouraging families who are offering non-food treats to place a teal pumpkin on their doorstep to let kids with food allergies know that they can safely trick or treat at your house. Read more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here.

 

In that vein, here are some great non-food options to offer.  Order today so that they’ll arrive before Halloween!

 
Glow In The Dark Fangs - 12 per packEYE BOUNCE BALL
                                       

Glow in the Dark Vampire Teeth

Mini cans of Play-Doh

GlowStick Bracelets

Slap Bracelets

Head Boppers (remember these,  parents?!!  Flashback!)

Spider Pop-Ups4CT SPIDER POP UPS

Bouncing Eyeballs

Creepy Glow Fingers

Zombie Eye Patches

24CT GLOW FINGER

 
 
 
 

Happy Haunting, everyone!

 

Put This on Your To Do List Today: Food Allergy Action Plan October 15, 2014

Severe Allergy Action Plan

One of the most helpful food allergy documents I ever received first came, not from our wonderful allergist, but from our  pediatrician.  An Allergy Action Plan is a vital document for you and your family.  It clearly outlines what to do and who to call in a variety of allergic situations.  It spells out how much medication to give and reminds the reader if the patient is asthmatic.

We keep copies of our Allergy Action Plan everywhere.  I have one in our emergency medication basket in the kitchen, one in the car glove compartment, one in our Emergency On-The-Go Kit, one at school, one at religious school, and others at camp.  Now that I’m writing this, I think I should give a copy to my parents and in-laws so that they can familiarize themselves with the right course of action and know where to access this crucial information in case my son is staying with them (even if his On-The-Go Kit also contains one).

To complete your Food Allergy Action Plan today:

1.  First download Allergy Shmallergy’s:  AS – Severe Allergy Action Plan;

2.  Bring to your allergist or pediatrician to fill out.  This is not for a parent/patient to complete;

3.  Make more copies than you think is necessary to display/distribute to anywhere you/your child keeps epinephrine;

4.  Date the document and remember to update it every 12 months.

 

While I’ve Been Away… September 18, 2014

Filed under: Recipes & Cooking,Uncategorized — malawer @ 6:17 pm
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September is always a crazy time.  Each year, I go through summer denial for the first two weeks before succumbing to autumn and finally getting our schedules together.

This year, however, I was baking allergy-free Christmas cookies.  No, I’m not that organized. And don’t worry:  I promise I’m not taking a cue from our local department stores either.   I was asked to contribute an article to AANMA’s publication, Allergy and Asthma Today.

Do you know about AANMA?  Allergy & Asthma Network Mother’s Association (AANMA) has been around for nearly 30 years, advocating, educating and reaching out to local communities about asthma and allergies of all kinds.  I was impressed with their efforts at AANMA’s annual Asthma Awareness Day on Capitol Hill this past spring.  It was evident they were committed to keeping lawmakers attention on these important healthcare issues. AANMA is a rich resource for allergy and asthma information and activity.

Check them out at aanma.org.  And, stay tuned for AANMA’s winter publication to check out my delicious recipes!

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