Friday, March 25, 2011

Allergy-Free Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

This is a really easy recipe and makes a great after-school snack. I have a batch baking in the oven as I type. They're allergy-free (of course), but I also like that the ingredients are simple and it's not a processed snack with tons of sugar.

2 cups uncooked rolled oats
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 cup (packed) currants, raisins, or other dried fruit
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola or safflower, to eliminate soy)
1 cup apple juice (I prefer Mott's Natural)

If fruit pieces are hard, set them in a bit of hot water to moisten.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" pan, or two 8x8" pans. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. The mixture should be moist enough to form a ball, without extra liquid.

Put mixture in prepared pan(s) and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cut into squares while still hot. Wait until the bars cool before trying to remove them from the pan.

Side notes: I use cranberries and raisins for the fruit. My mixture never quite seems to fill a 9 x 13 pan. I think 11 x 7 would work well.
It also helps to use a large piece of parchment paper to press down on the mixture in the pan, to spread it evenly.

Recipe created by Devyani at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Indoor Treehouse Bed

On most days, I would prefer not to think about food allergies. So I'm going to start sharing more of the design-y stuff that I love. Check out this amazing indoor treehouse bed! I first saw this post on ohdeedoh a few days ago and had to go back to check it out again. I would love to sleep in something like this, even as an adult.

Juli of The Slow Life designed and built this treehouse bed not for the backyard but for her daughter's room. For more photos and details, check out Juli's blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Stressed Are You? Food Allergies and Quality of Life

Mothers of food allergic children report extremely high levels of stress and a new study sponsored by the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) shows that their quality of life can be significantly affected as well.

Data were collected from 1,126 caregivers. The impact of food allergy on caregiver quality of life varied widely with 1 exception: caregivers consistently reported being troubled by social limitations resulting from their child's food allergy. Poor quality of life was significantly more likely on a number of survey items among caregivers more knowledgeable about food allergy and among caregivers whose children had been to the emergency department for food allergy in the past year, had multiple food allergies, or were allergic to specific foods.

Here is a great interview with Dr. Ruchi Gupta, discussing this research.

Factors that increased stress and lowered quality of life:
1. Families who had been in the ER in the past year
2. Those who had kids with multiple food allergies
3. Those who were allergic to milk, wheat and/or egg
4. The more knowledgeable caregivers had a lower quality of life

Unfortunately, all four of the above affect us. (Number 4, because I constantly research and try to gather as much information as I can. Acquiring knowledge is my coping mechanism) It's something I'm always thinking about, especially in new situations. I'm really stressed about Rowan attending preschool in the fall. I have to give up all control during those days and trust the school to keep her safe. Kindergarten has been easy with Rylie (no snacks), but next year she'll be in first grade, eating lunch in the cafeteria and having snacks in the classroom. Social situations are always tricky too - family gatherings, birthday parties, play dates. I also worry that in raising awareness and trying to keep my kids safe, I'll be viewed as a crazy over-protective food-allergy parent.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strawberry Cake Recipe (Dairy-free)

A friend of mine emailed me yesterday and asked if I had any dairy-free cake recipes. Her neice is turning one and is allergic to milk. Most of the recipes I use are a little more extreme: free of dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts - because Rowan has to avoid all of these foods.

I happened to have a recipe for strawberry cake, that is dairy free. (I think I found this in the recipes section on Whole Foods website.) It sounds delicious, but I haven't tried making it yet because Rylie would be able to eat it, but Rowan would not.

Dairy-Free Strawberry Cake
2 cups unbleached flour *
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup puréed strawberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
1/2 cup soy milk or almond milk

1 box powdered sugar
4 tablespoons non-hydrogenated dairy-free margarine, softened
4–6 tablespoons puréed fresh or frozen strawberries
Fresh strawberries for decoration

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray) and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans or one 9x13-inch cake pan. Set aside. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat remaining ingredients together. Add to dry, beating with a wire whisk. Pour into prepared cake pans. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick.

To make the frosting, sift powdered sugar into softened margarine. Add strawberry purée to spreading consistency. Frost the cake and decorate the top of the cake with fresh strawberries just before serving.

*If desired, you may substitute part of the unbleached flour with whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

7 Foods the Experts Won't Eat

Seven experts in fields pertaining to both food and the environment answered one simple question: "What foods do you avoid?" Their answers, published in an article entitled 7 Foods the Experts Won't Eat on Yahoo! Shine, will make you re-think food. When it comes to food and its affect on your health and the health of this planet, this is what they answered:

1. Canned Tomatoes
2. Corn-Fed Beef
3. Microwave Popcorn
4. Nonorganic Potatoes
5. Farmed Salmon
6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
7. Conventional Apples

Read the article to see their explanations.