Dairy Free Mac and Cheese….& a signed cookbook giveaway!

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Before my newest book, The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals came out in February, I used to get emails all the time about how to make a dairy free, classic kid favorite, Mac and Cheese. I know the blue-boxed version is an orange, chemical disaster, but as a kid of the 1970′s and 80′s…I grew up loving the stuff and thinking it was a real “dinner”.

 

Truth be told, I still love Mac and Cheese, but not that boxed kind. Homemade is the only way to go, whether you have food allergies or not. My version is completely dairy free, fast, easy and tastes like the real thing. Pinky swear.

 

Hope you like it as much as we do around here. One more thing, It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week. Take a moment and email your school; principal, nurses, teachers and administrators to educate them about the importance of using Section 504 Plans in schools to protect our FA children in their classrooms. Emphasize that food allergies can and do KILL. It’s called Anaphylaxis, not an intolerance. Tell them food allergies are not a choice, but a real disability and that our children’s rights should and will be protected under the American with Disabilities Act. Educate every chance you can. We are all in this together, and it’s so important we speak out on behalf of our food allergic children across the nation.

 

In honor of FA Awareness week, I’d love to give away a signed copy of my new book! Comment below about how you made a difference in food allergy awareness this week and I will choose a winner at random this Friday! Good luck! And love you all! xo

CLASSIC MAC N CHEESE

Serves 4

 

The stove top portion of this dish only takes 20 minutes start to finish–almost exactly the same amount of time it takes to make that other boxed, powdery, fake cheese brand.

 

½ pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions, drained

1 ½ cup soy or rice milk, slightly warmed on stove top

4 tablespoons dairy free margarine

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose or gluten-free flour blend

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1 ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup dairy free cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Follow Your Heart, this doesn’t have pea protein. If you are fine with pea or legume protein, you can also use Daiya)

 

In a medium saucepan, melt dairy free margarine over moderately low heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add 1 c. of the warmed soy milk and whisk constantly for 3 minutes until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Add the dairy free cheese and stir with a wooden spoon for about five minutes. Then add the remaining ½ cup warmed milk, salt, pepper and dry mustard and pasta. Stir until the dairy free cheese is nearly melted, about five minutes .  Once the cheese sauce is smooth and melted, add the drained, cooked macaroni. Stir and serve.

 

Serve immediately.

 

 



 

Allergy Friendly Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes

_RKP6355Allergy- friendly Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes is the epitome of springtime’s finest produce. The success of the dish relies on the quality of the ingredients so choose only the freshest, most vibrant ones you can find. Peruse your farmers’ markets or organic produce section at the store for bright green basil and green beans, along with gorgeous red or yellow waxy potatoes. The only specialty ingredient you must have on hand is Vegan/Dairy Free Parmesan Cheese Alternative (I use Galaxy Nutritional Foods brand, available at Whole Foods).

I first fell in love with this dish when I was newly married. I ordered it one night out to dinner with my husband, and couldn’t believe the delicious combination of fresh pesto with crisp green beans and just barely cooked potatoes. Over the years I routinely made it at home as it became one of my husband’s favorite meals as well.

Pesto is a food allergy nightmare as it’s routinely made with pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and sometimes extra pats of butter. My version has none of that yet it tastes nearly identical to the real thing. It’s easy to whip up in a blender or food processor and freezes well for a quick weeknight dinner or weekend lunch.

I’d also love to thank Babble for naming Food Allergy Mama a Top 100 Food Blog for 2013. I’m honored to be included in this amazing list of food bloggers for the third year in a row.

Hope everyone is having a great spring! Happy Cooking!

xo

 

PESTO PASTA WITH GREEN BEANS AND POTATOES

 

Serves 4

 

Be sure to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce when adding to the pasta.

 

 

 

For Pesto:

 

 

 

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and packed

 

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

2 medium garlic cloves, chopped

 

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

2 tablespoons dairy free margarine, softened to room temperature

 

1/3 cup dairy free Vegan Parmesan cheese

 

 

In a processor or blender, puree the fresh basil, olive oil, garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in softened dairy free margarine and Vegan Parmesan Cheese. 

 

 

 

For the Pasta with Green Beans:

 

 

 

1 lb. allergen friendly or gluten free spaghetti or penne pasta

 

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and washed

 

5 small, new potatoes, peeled and cut in half

 

 

Vegan Parmesan cheese for topping, if desired

 

 

Cook the pasta according to manufactures’ directions.

 

 

Meanwhile prepare a medium saucepan by filling halfway with water, put a cover on it and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook just until it can be pierced with a fork, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Add the green beans to the boiling water, and cook five minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the potatoes.

 

 

Drain the cooked pasta, but reserve about a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.  Add just enough of the pasta cooking water to the pesto to make it a little creamier, then add the pesto mixture to the pasta. Add the green beans and potatoes and stir the entire mixture gently until combined. Serve with additional grated Vegan Parmesan cheese if desired.

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day…from a food allergy mama’s perspective….

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. I hope you all have had a great day making your allergy-friendly pancakes, waffles, cookies, cupcakes and cakes. I hope your sweet little kiddos got everything they wished for today…and felt love and acceptance during what might be a difficult day at school.

Yesterday, John came home to tell me something that happened to him at school that broke his heart and spirit…not something you want to hear from your child. He was made to feel excluded and different, and as a 10-year-old boy, that kinda sucks. As his mom who has worked tirelessly for several years to give him and kids like him the opportunity to feel normal, included and safe in their very own little safe havens, aka their classrooms (classrooms, NOT lunchrooms), I felt defeated and just tired of it all. So I immediately went home, typed up this email to his school peeps. I want to make clear….his teacher and principal have gone above and beyond to make healthy and inclusive changes at our school.They’ve been outstanding. I know this issue could not have been prevented by them, because they have been awesome at asking me what THEY can do to make kids like John feel more secure, safe and included in their classrooms. I couldn’t ask for more. What seemed obvious to me, however, is that we really are a culture that is obsessed with giving lots of food and sugar to kids not just during class parties, but for birthdays, or for doing something great at school etc. All I’ve ever asked for with regard to serving food in classrooms that are potentially life-threatening to a food allergic child is to take a moment to stop, think and imagine what that child’s life is like. Think of THAT child…and what that world of exclusion and terror FEELS like. That if they made a mistake, inadvertently ate something, they could DIE. In minutes. Just for a moment. I wish we all could remember that Valentine’s Day, like every other day of our lives, should be about LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, COMPASSION AND KINDNESS of others. None of us are perfect…but if we remember to love, we’ll remember to be cool with kids who have food allergies, disabilities, challenges, etc.

Here’s an excerpt of that email…sent with a broken heart. ;(

“I wanted to reach out to you both to let you know about an incident that happened today with John. He came home from school very upset, and hurt about a comment made regarding Valentine’s Day treats. A classmate was responding to a discussion that no candy or food would be allowed with valentines this year, and this classmate said “why don’t we put John and XX, the other food allergy kid, into the pod so we can have our candy?” or something to that effect?  I also heard from John that another classmate grumbled about no candy, and that even a couple more said their parents were annoyed because they already went out and bought a bunch of candy and now what were they supposed to do?

I truly appreciated the concern and care in asking me what to do about food in the classroom for the party in order to keep FA kids safe AND included. XX, you have gone above and beyond in helping raise awareness about food allergies at our school and keeping all our kids safe and included. XX, you’ve been wonderful and have always protected John and put his safety and well-being first.

As I’ve always advocated, I don’t believe in food bans, but I do believe in food free celebrations in order to keep children with LIFE THREATENING food allergies safe, and included. And, there are also a whole set of parents who actually wish there were LESS food, candy donuts cookies, etc. that was distributed to their children. Parents in general are trying to keep more tabs over what is being served to their kids at school. When you throw in the whole food allergy factor, and it could jeopardize a child’s life by having unsafe food in their own classroom, it’s even more important to establish clearer boundaries.

I am always teaching parents of FA children to never apologize for their child’s health condition. Because it is a condition, it is not a choice, or a dietary intolerance, etc. Food allergies can and do kill, and have killed children in their own classrooms. I just don’t understand why we can’t promote a fun, happy Valentine’s Day or other celebration WITHOUT food? Are games and projects not fun enough? Don’t 99 percent of these children get whatever food they want, whenever they want? Should kids like John feel like they need to be quarantined to the pod so their classmates can have food that John can’t even be near because it puts his life at risk? Shouldn’t we be teaching ways to look out for another, take care of each other, put others first?

Finally, I asked my first grader, who is brutally honest about what Valentine’s Day means to him…is it about candy and treats? Cards? His answer? Love, Valentine’s Day is all about LOVE. To that I’d like to add, any celebration at school should be about love and the inclusion of others. And if there are kids in the classroom who could die or feel totally left out because of food for a party, then we should be thoughtful of them by having celebrations that are fun and inclusive for EVERYONE.

John’s bummed, and hurt, but it’s par for course because he’s had to deal with these types of comments since preschool, kindergarten and first grade, until the time our school district enacted Food Free Celebrations. After a year of griping about the change, no one cared, loved the change and it became a healthier way to celebrate parties at school…something EVERYONE can appreciate.

Thank you again to you both for all your help and support. It is truly appreciated.”

Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Hi Everyone!!!

Thank you so much for the awesome response to my new cookbook giveaway! Two winners were selected at random and have already been notified. I LOVED reading every single comment, question, etc. You guys are amazing. Truly my rock and I feel so lucky to have so many of you read my blog. Your stories are inspiring, your passion for cooking is contagious and honestly…it’s just so great to know there are so many of us out there cooking and baking and having fun!

I love your comments and reviews…and would LOVE LOVE it, if you could head over to Amazon to post a review for The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy Fast Family Meals. If my recipes work for you, and you love them, spread the word to other food allergy mama’s by sharing your thoughts! Big thanks…I truly appreciate it!!

Here’s a decadent Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake for Valentine’s Day that is also in the new book (and if you’re a longtime fan, a previous post a couple of years ago). Babble named it one of its favorite romantic dishes to share with you significant other.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! xoxo

 

The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals is here! (and a GIVEAWAY of TWO BOOKS!!)

The Food Allergy Mama's Easy, Fast Family MealsI can’t believe it, but my newest book The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals is FINALLY out! It feels like forever since I started working on this book, even though it was only a year ago! I’m excited the book will finally be in your hands and in your kitchens.

This project came to be primarily because of YOU, my amazing readers, fans and friends. I can’t tell you how much your emails, comments and blog posts inspired me to create a cookbook that you and your family could use everyday. As many of you know, I am not a fussy kind-of-girl, and don’t have a lot of time to make fussy recipes. Perhaps later in life when my young kids will be older I’ll devote more time and energy to complicated recipes. But for now I want recipes that are fast, easy and geared toward my family’s personal tastes. In fact, as I note frequently throughout the book, my recipes should be regarded as a template. Feel free to spice up or change recipes or ingredients any way you want. It’s so important to make recipes the way YOU want them. Every recipe can also be made completely gluten-free or allergen free by omitting or using Gluten Free ingredients.

You can now order BOTH books on this site, and as always every book will be signed by me. And as a special thank you for your loyal readership, I’m giving away TWO free books to TWO lucky readers who post a comment on this post…anything you want; your favorite recipes of mine, recipes you wish I would create, your favorite cooking and baking memory with your kids, how food allergies have changed your family’s life, etc. I will choose TWO readers randomly next Monday, February 11th.  I would love to hear from you and thank you for your support!!! This book would not have happened without your love and kindness!!! Huge thanks to you ALL!!!

Happy cooking!!! xoxo

My Go-To Busy Night Dinner…Turkey Sloppy Joes (John’s FAVE!)

_RKP6326Happy winter to you all! First of all, HUGE thanks to everyone who submitted a comment to my previous post. Your responses were overwhelming; beautiful, inspiring, funny and touching. I love you guys, my amazing readers, for all your continued support over the years toward this blog. As promised, a winner was picked randomly and will be sent Cybele Pascal’s new book! Stay tuned for another giveaway, this time for MY book..which will be out in just under two weeks…Feb. 5th! I can’t believe the time is finally here! So excited to share this latest book with you guys and hope you enjoy it as much as the baking book.

Speaking of my new book, here is one of my favorite weeknight dinner recipes from The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals that is kid friendly and easy to make; Turkey Sloppy Joes. I should have really called them Sloppy Johnnies because it’s John’s all time favorite meal, and one that he has requested as his birthday dinner for years. It’s also full of finely chopped veggies, which I love because my little guy Michael despises veggies in any form, so this is my sneaky way of getting the good stuff into him without him knowing. ;)

Thanks so much everyone and Happy Cooking!!

xo

TURKEY SLOPPY JOES

Serves 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

½ green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 small garlic clove, finely diced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 ½ pounds ground turkey (dark meat)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (omit if

 you have a soy allergy)

6 allergen-friendly hamburger buns, light toasted in 300 degree oven for a few minutes if desired.

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat and add onion, bell peppers, celery, carrot, garlic salt and pepper until vegetables are softened and onion and is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and cooked through, about 7-9 minutes.

Add brown sugar, dry mustard, tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce to vegetable and turkey mixture. Stir well and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Serve on toasted allergen friendly buns.

FREEZER TIP: Mixture can be frozen up to two months in either a resealable plastic freezer bag or container. Reheat over medium low on stove top.

 

A Must-Have Allergy Friendly Cookbook….

I’m a loudmouth, and when I believe in something, or like something, I feel like I must shout it out to the world so everyone else knows. This is exactly how I feel about my dear friend and fellow food allergy mama Cybele Pascal’s new cookbook: Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-minute meals without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and sesame. It’s brand-spanking new, and has quickly become my go-to cookbook for easy meals that my family will actually eat, and I will actually enjoy making because they are so fast and easy.

I cooked with this book a lot over the holidays and especially loved the hearty dishes such as Shepard’s Pie, Sopa De Lima, White Chicken Chili and Deep Dish Pizza with Italian Sausage (I’m from Chicago, what can I say?) Cybele always creates recipes that are true masterpieces, and closely mimic the taste, texture and appearance “real” recipes with allergens. (Case in point: Creamy Mac and Cheese is creamy AND delish…not easy to do allergy free).

Another thing I love about this book; it’s packed with everything you need to know about allergy free cooking and how to properly stock your kitchen with the right ingredients. I remember how helpless I felt when I first started cooking allergy free in 2003, because I didn’t know what to buy, or not buy. Cybele’s book takes the guess-work out of it all.

Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking is a gorgeous book, one that has quickly become one of my all-time favorites, and one that I’m sure will be a bestseller along with her other books like The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook. I adore Cybele, and not just because she’s stunning, funny, incredibly smart and generous. I love Cybele because she’s truly passionate about feeding her family safe and delicious food, and feeding yours in the same way as well. She cares so much about giving you the best she can give, and works harder than anyone I know to deliver those results. Congrats to Cybele…love her new book and especially her. And congrats to one of YOU…my awesome readers, because I’m giving away a copy of Cybele’s Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking to one lucky reader who posts a comment below. Post your support, your questions, your comments…whatever you want (but keep it nice! LOL). I’ll randomly draw a winner Friday Jan. 18th and will post the winner within my comments section. Good luck to you all!!!

Finally, one housekeeping note. Have you noticed anything different? ;) My new site! It’s updated, streamlined and overall should be a lot easier to navigate. I’m finalizing all the recipe categories, but you’ll see that you can now search for my recipes by keyword….something I know many of you have wanted for a long time. I will also be selling my new book (autographed) on my site starting Feb. 5th, so at that time you’ll be able to place orders as well. There are just a few little kinks here and there we’re working out, but I’m beyond excited about all the changes. HUGE thanks to my super star whiz web developer Mark CZ…who puts up with a lot of my forget-fullness, spaciness, tardiness, and absentminded-ness (yes, I just made up a lot of new words) and still manages to get everything done so beautifully. I am so grateful…;)

OK, so post your comment now….good luck!!!

xo