Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Blueberry Muffins

misc-118I love breakfast; pancakes, waffles, cereal, muffins, breads, doughnuts, etc. I could eat breakfast for every meal of the day. That’s probably why I make “Breakfast for Dinner” all the time, at least once a week. We also do a big family breakfast on Saturday mornings. I wish there was an allergen free pancake house out there somewhere so I could get a break from being the short order cook once in a while!

This morning I decided to make my favorite little berry muffin with my two little guys David and Matthew. They don’t have food allergies, but they love to eat all the baked treats we make around here. They honestly don’t know the difference between a dairy or dairy free goodie. They just love to put on their aprons and get in the kitchen to help. I really treasure these little moments of pulling up the chair to the kitchen counter, letting the boys measure and mix, taste test the batter and share the final result together. They’ll both be in preschool together next year so I think these carefree mornings in the kitchen won’t be as frequent.

So here is my Favorite Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Blueberry Muffin recipe. Feel free to substitute a different berry, raspberry, blackberry or even strawberry in the batter. Use fresh or frozen berries, and freeze the extras for busy mornings later.

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DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

 

2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

2/3 c. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

¬ľ tsp. salt

2/3 c. soy or rice milk

¬ľ c. vegetable oil or melted dairy margarine

¬Ĺ tsp. grated lemon zest

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. water

¬Ĺ tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. fresh or frozen berries (blueberry, raspberry)

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray 12 muffin cups with dairy free baking spray.

 

In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk.  In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine soy milk, vegetable oil, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and water. Add flour mixture to milk mixture and stir with spatula just until combined.

 

Lightly fold in berries with a rubber spatula. Divide batter evenly among 12 prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar and bake for 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

 

Yield: 12 muffins

 

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts

Fat Tuesday was yesterday, but that didn’t stop us from frying up our own batch of Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts. In my life before FA (Food Allergies), I loved to make a special trip to my local bakery for a Paczki (pronounced poonchki). Often I would choose a raspberry or custard filled version, but really any type was delicious.

Speaking of doughnuts, my all time favorite¬†hails from Long Grove, Illinois, a beautiful little historic village about 40 minutes north of Chicago. Every fall I would go there with my mom and sister for lunch and shopping. The village¬†boasts adorable antique and¬†speciality shops as well as¬†their¬†famous Long Grove Confectionery Shoppe. But the real draw for me¬†always was the Apple Haus;¬†home of the gorgeous apple¬†pie baked in a brown¬†bag.¬†The pie¬†is¬†amazing, but the real secret of this place is its Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts. Oh I can see them now all lined¬†up on big¬†baking sheets, sold as fast as they’re brought in.

I’ve¬†taken John to Long Grove only twice for Apple Fest and Chocolate Fest, but¬†often wished he¬†could share the same sentimental experience of¬†going to the Apple Haus that I had all those years¬†growing up.¬†I¬†had to create the¬†perfect replica of that¬†special Apple Cinnamon Doughnut, just so John could know¬†what a¬†freshly baked doughnut tastes like.¬†And so here it is: The Best¬†Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts you or¬†kids will¬†ever have.¬†I think this version rivals anything¬†made in a true neighborhood bakery. The best part is they are super easy to make, require no rise time and very little kneading.¬†Making them with your kids¬†is a blast because they¬†get to shake their warm doughnuts in a brown paper lunch bag filled with¬†cinnamon sugar.¬†I guarantee you’ll love these.

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DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE APPLE HOUSE CINNAMON DOUGHNUTS

 

4 ¬Ĺ- 4 ¬ĺ c. unbleached all purpose flour

3 ¬Ĺ tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

¬Ĺ tsp. nutmeg

¬ĺ c. unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp. vanilla

¬ĺ c. granulated sugar

3 T. dairy free margarine, melted

1 c. soy or rice milk

Vegetable oil for frying

Cinnamon Sugar for rolling

¬Ĺ c. granulated sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

 

In a large heavy pot heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil until candy thermometer reaches 375 degrees.

 

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine applesauce, vanilla and sugar. Add margarine and mix well. In a separate medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture and soy milk alternatively with margarine mixture. Add more flour if needed to make a smooth and not too sticky dough.

 

Transfer dough to a lightly floured board. Knead for about a minute and roll out to a ¬Ĺ inch thick circle. Dip doughnut cutter into flour and cut into dough. Remove trimmings and reroll, repeating process.

 

Slide just a few doughnuts carefully into hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pot. Fry until doughnuts rise to the surface, about 2 minutes and turn over with metal tongs to fry other side. Doughnuts should be golden brown on both sides. Lift with metal tongs and drain on paper towels.

 

Place cinnamon sugar mixture in brown paper lunch bag. Place warm doughnuts, one at a time in brown bags and shake to coat. Shake off excess sugar and place on serving platter. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

 

Yield: 12 doughnuts and 12 holes

 

(Note: If you don’t have a donut cutter, instead use a 3 inch biscuit cutter. To make the donut hole use an empty and sterilized medicine bottle without the cap. Poke the hole in the middle of the circle and out will pop the hole. This is a time tested trick my mom used in the kitchen.)

The Perfect Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Vanilla Cupcake With Vanilla Frosting

web_v1_rkp13691Have we all had enough of sugary sweets yet? It seems as though I can never have enough of sweet treats. One of my favorite treats from childhood is The Cupcake. Cupcakes in general have grown in popularity the past several years. Just do a search on cupcakes in your local neighborhood and you’ll probably find a bakery or store that is devoted solely to cupcakes. Why all the fuss?

Well, for one thing¬†cupcakes make us feel like like we aren’t eating the whole cake. Just¬†a few little bites of yummy cake with a decadent frosting¬†is heaven. Cupcakes also are like little works of art; piled high with fluffy frosting and decorated with sprinkles, candies, fresh edible flowers, the list goes on. Children in particular are huge fans of The Cupcake because their size is perfect for little hands to hold. What’s not to love about The Cupcake?

Here’s something else to love about The Cupcake: It is also¬†delicious dairy, egg and nut free. My version is super easy¬†to whip up and has a ton of vanilla flavor. The Creamy Vanilla Frosting will remind you of the old fashioned type your mom or grandmother used to make. Forget the canned stuff; this is so much better.

The next time you need a good cupcake recipe for a birthday party or school celebration try this one. Have fun!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE VANILLA CUPCAKES

 

¬Ĺ c. dairy free margarine

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. soy milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. silken tofu

2 c. cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

¬Ĺ tsp. salt

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

 

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. In a small measuring cup combine the soy milk, vanilla and tofu. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. Add the flour and soy milk mixture to the margarine mixture in thirds.

 

Pour batter into prepared muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

 

Yield: 12 cupcakes

 

CREAMY VANILLA FROSTING

 

1 c. dairy free margarine

2 T. Soy Milk

1 ¬Ĺ tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

 

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the margarine, soy milk, vanilla and salt until incorporated. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat for 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy.

More food allergy stories…

I thought my fellow food allergy readers would appreciate reading this article written by blogger Michael Natkin at www.herbivoracious.com. His wife suffers from life threatening food allergies and has had several severe reactions. Michael discusses their experiences at restaurants and gives tips on how to navigate through a restaurant with food allergies. It is a well written article that I hope is read by waitstaff, chefs and restaurant managers.

My son John¬†has¬†multiple severe food allergies¬†so we rarely eat out in general. Reading Michael’s post reminds me that we¬†need to keep on our toes in the rare event we¬†go out to eat in¬†a restaurant.¬†¬†Thanks to Michael for sharing his story.

Peanut free schools: the future?

An Illinois school district is considering a¬†ban on peanut butter and peanut products. North Shore District 112 based in Highland Park will discuss this issue with parents at a school board meeting on February 17th.¬† A pilot program at one of the district’s elementary schools banned all peanut products from its buildings last fall. Many parents were apparently receptive to the change. Reactions among district officials are mixed.

As a mother of a son who is severely allergic to peanuts, a ban on peanut products in the lunchroom and elsewhere in the school would bring great peace of mind. But my son is also severely allergic to milk, legumes and peas as well. These are common, healthy foods that wouldn’t and shouldn’t get banned. I’ve always advocated that food bans aren’t¬†the answer to managing our children’s food allergies, education and awareness is. There are still far too many parents out there who don’t understand¬†the dangers food allergies pose to our kids. Some even resent being asked to forgo food celebrations at school so I would imagine some parents would shudder at the thought of a peanut ban. It’s more important to educate the severity of food allergies to other parents, school officials and kids. I am always suprised at how little¬†some parents know about food allergies. I would rather¬†school officials take the time to educate parents about the severity of¬†food allergies, what causes them, what reactions look like and how to help someone who may be having a life threatening reaction.

I plan on attending the board meeting; I’m curious to see how the parents and board members respond to this initative. Selfishly speaking I’d love to eradicate peanut products at my son’s school. But the logical person in me knows this is unrealistic and¬†probably not a¬†good decision.¬†To ban peanuts from¬†schools would mean you need to look at also banning the other common allergens.¬†¬†What I really want to know is, what do YOU think?

What six year old boy wouldn’t want to go to Disneyworld?

Apparently mine. Here’s the story: with the exception of a few road trips, our family has yet to take that long family vacation to faraway and magical places. John’s severe peanut (among his other allergies) have made us think twice before booking a flight or hotel room. It’s not the only reason we have hesitated. The past four years alone have been busy with moving, starting a business and having two more babies (15 months a part). However now we want to do something special, something that requires us to take all four kids on the plane. We want to go to Disneyworld.

¬†My eight year old has already lost her interest in all things princess but I am¬†hoping the magic of Disney will still cast a spell on her. My two and three year old are obsessed with everything Disney related so I am fairly certain they will have the time of their lives, whether they remember it or not. It’s my six year old, John, that¬†I am worried about. Not just for the obvious reasons of food safety, cross contamination issues and such. What I really worry about is that if I don’t help him to venture out and see the world a bit more than we have the past six years he might develop a complex about his food allergies.

When we finally brought up to the kids this weekend that we were pondering¬†a trip to Disneyworld for the first time everyone squealed with joy; except John. He became withdrawn and grumpy and didn’t really want talk about going. He asked if we could just stay home and maybe go bowling or mini putting somewhere. My response went along the lines of “Are you crazy??” (in a joking manner of course). But when I took him aside to get to the root of why he didn’t want to go it was obvious the reason was because of his food allergies. He worried about his safety and whether or not he’d have anything safe to eat that wasn’t in the comfort of his own home. John was geniunely sad and confused. I had no idea the emotional toll his food allergies had taken on him. In his six short years he’s only known a world with food allergies. He knows he has to take extra precautions, his mom always has to make special food for him and we can’t casually go to just any restaurant unless every ingredient has been fact checked and verified safe. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, let alone a six year old boy.

In that moment I realized that not only is it my job to keep John safe but¬†also¬†to help him live more freely. I need to help him understand that it’s OK to be a little nervous about certain situations but it doesn’t mean in any way that he can’t have fun or enjoy the things other kids enjoy. Sure he has to be vigilant about the food he eats but he can also be just like any other kid.

I’ve tried over the years to educate John about food allergies and how to become a self advocate in the event¬† I wasn’t there. But I think I need to start easing his anxiety over travelling away from home and being in an unfamiliar environment. I think I need to start easing my own anxiety about it as well.

If any of you have any tips about travelling to Disneyworld I’d love to hear them. Or maybe you have tips in general about travelling with food allergies. I’d love to hear them all.

Valentine’s Day Treat Ideas: Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Brownies

web_rkp1377Valentine’s Day is one week away. I am sure many of you will be making and baking treats for either you, your family or your children’s class parties. Every year I love to bring big sugar cookie hearts, plain and¬†¬†un frosted¬†so the kids can decorate their own “Valentine’s”. Put out bowls of fluffy pink frosting, sprinkles and red hots with plastic knives or clean Popsicle sticks and let them go wild with their decorating. See my recipe for the Christmas sugar cookies and have fun.

For those of you who want to make something chocolaty try these simple Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Brownies. I have to say developing the perfect brownie recipe wasn’t easy. Some people love cakey, some love fudgy. I love a combination of both. Of course since nuts aren’t an option in my brownies I added some Enjoy Life chocolate chips to give some extra ooomph. The secret to this recipe’s success is the ingredient silken tofu. It gives the brownie the right lift and texture in order to achieve that perfect balance of cakey and fudgy.

I always make a double batch of these and line my 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil sprayed with dairy free baking spray. When the brownies cool you may lift out the brownies and cut into perfect squares using a serrated knife. Alternatively use a two inch heart cookie cutter and make little chocolate hearts. Dust with a generous helping of confectioner’s sugar and your kids will go nuts (pun intended) for these!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIES

¬Ĺ c. dairy free shortening

1 c. granulated sugar

¬Ĺ c. silken tofu

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 c. unbleached all purpose flour

¬Ĺ c. cocoa

¬Ĺ tsp. baking powder

¬ľ tsp. salt

¬Ĺ c. dairy free mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8 inch square baking dish coated with dairy free baking spray.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine shortening, sugar, tofu and vanilla thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. Add to the shortening mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Spread batter into prepared baking pan and bake 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Yield: 16 bars