Getting Creative With Sun Butter!

As a mom to four children with many activities and food allergies, I have to be creative with meals since most of them are eaten on the go.  Sandwiches seem to be the go-to option in our house.

With the new year right around the corner, I am trying to come up with some new sandwich recipes to spice things up a bit.  We have been in a super boring food slump.

We have peanut and tree nut allergies in our family so nuts of any kind are not allowed.  (Except for the nut writing this 🙂 )  Sun butter is a staple in our home.

Last night, I decided to try and be creative with sun butter sandwich recipes. It is safe for my kids, they like it, and it is high in protein. I dug out an old peanut butter recipe book I have had for years.  I substituted sun butter for peanut butter and  had a “tasting party” and got valuable feedback from the kids.

First we tried “The Elvis” sandwich. This was Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich, the book said. My version was sun butter spread on both sides of the bread, bacon, thinly sliced bananas and honey, on toasted bread. Sounds strange but was SO GOOD! This sandwich got the highest ratings from the “tasters”.

The "Elvis" sandwich :-)

The “Elvis” sandwich 🙂

Next up on the strange sandwich list was a grilled cheese with sun butter! Yes, it sounds nasty but honestly it was really good! It was a little sweet and salty. You know those little orange cheese crackers with peanut butter in the center? Kind of like that but much better, because I added butter and toasted the bread. The “tasters” liked the sandwich but couldn’t commit to actually eating it on a regular basis.

Grilled cheese with sun butter!

Grilled cheese with sun butter!

Last, but not least, for our sandwich tasting party was a BLT with sun butter.  That too, was strange and delicious at the same time. Unfortunately my tasters were not on board. 😞

BLT with sun butter

BLT with sun butter

 

Only one of these sandwiches made the cut, but at least we came up with something a little bit different.

 

We also like to dip just about anything in sun butter, veggies, cookies, crackers or just eating it plain.  My current fav is the traditional ants on a log, a little sun butter smeared in celery topped with raisins. 🙂

YUM!

YUM!

There are so many things we can do with sun butter.  I am just grateful that within my house full of food allergy kids, they actually enjoy the taste.

It is one of my secret pleasures as well.

Feel free to send me some of your favorite sun butter recipes (or post on fb of course)!  We would love some suggestions :-).

Jenn@mommybusiness.net

Happy New year!

-J

 

 

 

 

Photo credit Shutterstock.com for ants on a log

This Recipe Is SO Good, I Had To Share!

While scrolling through Facebook the other night, I stumbled upon a healthy recipes website that I really liked, so I took screenshots of the recipes I wanted to mess around with, got inspired and tried a bunch of new things.

This recipe really caught my attention because it was a homemade Nutrigrain bar.  My kids LOVE real Nutrigrain bars, but I don’t buy them because they have GMOs and we avoid GMOs as much as possible.

We have allergies to peanuts, tree-nuts and gluten, so I modified the recipe to work for my family.

OMG- it is so good.  We are all loving it.  Had to share.

 

Not pretty or perfect but delicious and relatively healthy!

Not pretty or perfect but delicious and relatively healthy!

Dough:

2 cups of Gluten Free King Arthur flour

1 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of agave

1 egg

1 cup of gluten free oats

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of salt (you can do a half if you like)

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or to taste, I did a bit more)

 

Strawberry Purée:

Quart of strawberries (1 of the dirty dozen, so I chose organic)

Sugar to taste.  I used a tablespoon

Little bit of (non-GMO) corn starch to thicken it up

Thickened strawberry puree

Thickened strawberry puree

Put the liquid dough ingredients together and mix with an electric mixer until it looks like it is almost creamed.  Slowly add in dry ingredients, continue to mix.  When all ingredients are mixed well, move to the fridge to chill.

Agave, vanilla, coconut oil and one egg.

Agave, vanilla, coconut oil and one egg.

While the dough is chilling, put the strawberries in a pot with a little bit of water. Heat it up and stir. Let it cool and put it in a blender or food processor and blend until puréed. Put it back in the pot and add the sugar, heat up and stir. Add cornstarch, the hotter it gets the more the cornstarch will work, so only add small amounts until reaching the desired thickness. Allow to cool before adding to dough.

Clean organic strawberries!

Clean organic strawberries!

When the dough has a nice chill, roll it out.  This is where somebody who has some baking talent can make these bars look pretty-unlike mine 😀

This dough could use some help but it sure tastes yummy!

This dough could use some help, but it sure tastes yummy!

Roll the dough flat. Then, using a pizza cutter cut out rectangles.   Scoop out purée onto one side of the rectangle.  Fold the dough to cover the purée and pinch the edges of the dough together to keep the purée enclosed.

Strawberry puree on the dough before folding

Strawberry puree on the dough before folding

Bake at 350 for approximately 8-12 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before eating.

Icing could be added to the top to make it look and taste more like a pop tart too!  Each one of my kids mentioned that would be cool to do.

Home made gluten free, nut allergy safe nutrigrain bars!

Homemade gluten free, nut allergy safe nutrigrain bars!

Enjoy!

image

 

 


Jenns Bio Pic 2Jennifer Ormond is a Boston-based entrepreneur, author, radio personality,    blogger, mom to 4 amazing kids, and wife. Lover of business, coffee, writing, children and parenting. Queen of sarcasm and eternal optimist!

Connect with Jenn at mommybusiness.net, coffeebreakcafe.net, or jenniferormond.com. On Twitter- @jennormond & @mommybiz7

 

The Allergy Table

I don’t get it: A kid has an allergy. He/she has to sit at a separate table with other kids who have food allergies and eat allergy safe foods. The rest of the kids will sit wherever they darn well please and eat non allergy safe foods, (greasy, oily, hard to clean, poisonous foods like peanut butter.)

PBJ

PBJ

So, the kids with the poison (the sticky, slimy, oily poison) can drip, leak, and smudge it all over every other table, seat, and floor in the cafeteria.  While the kids with the safe foods are banished to an outcast table.

Has anybody ever watched a kid eat?  Kids can walk around with red kool-aid ‘staches for days and not notice.  They can have chunks of food on their faces, shirt, hands, hair…  all over their body, really.  These are the kids who get to sit wherever they want, eating potentially deadly poison and spreading it all over the cafeteria.

Messy pbj

Messy PBJ

Then they go back to class, touching pens, pencils, books, folders, and everything else in the classroom with their poisonous, oily, chunky, peanut butter hands for everyone to come in contact with, food allergy or not.

PB gets all over the classroom

PB gets all over the classroom

I will never forget the first day I sent my adorable 3 year-old, peanut/tree nut allergic daughter to pre-school.  It was 8:30-11:30, but since it was the first day in 3 years she had been away from me for a few hours, I decided to get to school early and take a peek at her on the playground.  I spotted her instantly. She was holding hands and skipping with the most adorable little 3 year-old boy.  My happiness turned to terror when I realized he could have had peanut butter toast for breakfast and a peanut butter cracker for snack and he was now holding my daughter’s hand!!!  Her hand!!  Her hand that goes in her mouth.  Her hand that she uses to feed herself.  Her hand that could rub her eye and get that poison in her body and cause her body to swell and her throat to close.

poison on hand

Poison on hand

I knew that day would be the last day for her to attend a school that allowed nuts.  It wasn’t worth the risk. The reality is that, even in a nut-free school, kids could still have peanut butter for breakfast and then walk into school with clumps of poison dangling from their bodies and touch my precious daughter, but getting rid of nuts during school is lowering the odds of her coming in contact with them, and that is what mattered.

I will also never forget the day my oldest son told me about the allergy table at his school. It took a few minutes to register what he was saying. There is a kid in his grade who has a nut allergy. This kid has a bunch of friends who don’t have allergies but sit with him at the allergy table for support. Sweet, right? It took another couple of minutes for me to process that he was saying these friends bring in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school everyday and eat them at the allergy table!  Does this make sense? From an allergy parent’s perspective, this is terrifying. I have a sneaking suspicion it happens more frequently than we think.

pbj

PBJ

I have four kids, three with food allergies. I would love to just make the world nut-free, but obviously that isn’t going to happen so, I have another idea.

Why not create a new allergy table?  A table where kids can sit if they bring in the sticky, oily poison. A table where kids can sit down, eat their greasy peanut butter and then get up and wash their hands after. The table itself can be washed properly, the chairs and floor can also be scrubbed. It is so much less overwhelming and so much more manageable if all the nuts are kept to one area.

Soap and water go a long way!

Soap and water go a long way!         **shutter stock image

I know this article will anger a lot of people. How dare I call peanut butter poison?  I know it is the only thing that some kids will eat.  If they can’t have peanut butter for lunch the child won’t eat anything else!  Yes, peanut butter is considered “healthy.” But for me, in my world, it is poison.  It is a poison that could make my children unable to breathe and, therefore, I have no choice but to do everything in my power to keep it away.

I have never understood the allergy table.  Don’t you think it’s time to try something new?

 

 

 

Yummy oooey gooey black bean brownie recipe!

I am on a mission to get more protein in my children’s (especially my daughter’s) diet.  They won’t eat very many green things and are super picky.  I think most kids with food allergies tend to be picky, and mine are no different.

I have been trying to master this black bean brownie recipe for weeks but up until today they tasted like….  well… beans!!

I adjusted a few things this morning and it was a hit!!  They are SO GOOD!!!

 

black bean brownie 3

 

Here is my super easy recipe!!

 

Ingredients:

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  ( I use Vermont Nut Free cocoa powder)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I also broke up a nut free chocolate bar for the topping and added nut free butterscotch chips)

Throw all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender to puree, except the toppings.  I added a touch of water to the blender to help it along.

Black bean brownie

Grease a pan (I used a glass pie plate) and pour in.  Place your toppings on top.   Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  Let cool.

Dig in and enjoy!!!

-J

black bean brownie 2

Thick, creamy, dreamy, chocolatey HOT COCOA recipe!

Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? I know I do. Living in New England, hot cocoa, hot apple cider, fabulous coffee, all necessities of life.

I see first hand how many people love good hot chocolate. I have owned a coffee shop for almost 19 years and hot and frozen cocoa have been one of our most popular drinks since we opened. We add three different types of chocolate, hand steam the milk (if hot) with our espresso machine and stir it by hand. Our cocoa is so much better than the cheap kind you get out of a machine with hot chocolatey water.

Introduce my kids with food allergies and hot cocoa is no longer so simple. Chocolate is mostly off limits for my family. Our allergist told us to avoid chocolate since most of it is made on the same equipment as tree nuts.

I always feel bad that my children can’t join other children at the skating rink to gather for hot cocoa. Same thing after sledding or at the movies or wherever hot cocoa is generally served. I give them something special when we get home, of course, but I know it’s not the same.

A few years ago, I started making my own nut safe hot cocoa and it is DELICIOUS! So good, I had to share.

Whether you can have nuts or not, this recipe is a much higher quality cocoa then just opening a packet and boiling water. It is cheaper to make too. If allergies are not an issue, you can purchase any type of cocoa powder, as long as it is decent chocolate.

I usually cook by eye, but I did measure yesterday while making hot cocoa for the kids. I have been snowed in for a few days/weeks/months, who knows at this point!

You will need:
(To serve four people)
4 cups of milk (whatever kind you like)
1.5 cups of really good cocoa powder, can vary to taste (I use Vermont Nut Free cocoa powder)

Vermont Nut Free cocoa powder

Vermont Nut Free cocoa powder

1 cup of yummy chocolate chips,chunks, chocolate bars-whatever you like. (I recommend Enjoy Life because it is yummy and nut safe)

Enjoy Life mega chunks!

Enjoy Life mega chunks!

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract ( I use Neilsen-Massey)

2 tablespoons of sugar (more or less to taste) (I recommend Sugar in the Raw pictured, it is nut safe)

Sugar in the raw!

Sugar in the raw!

Whipped cream and marshmallows are optional (kind of 😉 )

Cant get any simpler.
Put all ingredients together in a sauce pan or pot and heat up. I like to use a whisk to stir because the powder can get a little clumpy.

Cocoa powder not dissolved yet

Cocoa powder not dissolved yet

I usually keep the flame on simmer because I like the milk to heat up slowly to let the actual chocolate melt and the cocoa powder dissolve.

Love my whisk!!

Love my whisk!!

The results are thick, creamy, perfectly chocolatey hot cocoa, better than what you find in the packet!

Yummy whipped cream and hidden marshmallows!

Yummy whipped cream and hidden marshmallows!

These cups have hidden marshmallows under the whipped cream, but the kids wouldn’t let me get a better picture because they needed to get their icy cold hands on them after building snow forts for the past few hours!

A good habit that has stuck! NaBloPoMo challenge day 5

Today’s challenge question…. Do you have any good habits that were hard to start but you’re happy you worked to build them?

My family went GMO free about a year and a half ago. Reading about what this country does to our food system makes my blood boil. For a few years, I would read about GMO’s and get mad. Read and get mad, read and get mad. I was walking around mad which wasn’t helping anybody, especially myself.

I had been searching for a solution to the GMO problem but it just seemed so overwhelming that I would just kind of give up. Three out of four of my children have food allergies so I felt like I had to make a choice, purchase products from the big companies who are excellent at labeling ingredients but use all GMO’s, or go with the smaller companies that are organic/GMO free and risk cross contamination and not so great labeling. (Legally companies only need to list ingredients that are IN the food you are eating. They do NOT have to label what else is made in the facility or on the equipment. When dealing with nut allergies and anaphylaxis, this is not optional.) I felt I had to make my purchases through the big companies and just eat the GMO’s. I did this for a long time.

About a year and a half ago I decided that I would choose one product at a time and do my research on it. I chose products that we use the most of first, like cereal and bread, figuring I could make the biggest impact there.

anti gmo

I spent a lot of time on the phone and on the internet and found out that eliminating GMO’s wasn’t going to be as difficult as I originally thought. I started with Kashi’s “non Gmo certified project verified cereals”. More info on that here. There are a few that are nut safe and non GMO that we use.

Bread was trickier. There aren’t a lot of bakeries that are nut safe. I did manage to find two that are organic (GMO free), nut safe, and most importantly, that my kids like.

Organic and GMO free is more expensive for sure! I have had to cut other expenses to make sure we can afford non GMO food and it is worth it.

Instead of walking around angry, I know that each and every purchase I make is making a statement. I am creating a demand for non GMO products and not providing funding towards the companies that use GMO’s and don’t label them. I have also dug a little deeper and have created a list (in my head) of companies that not only use GMO’s but also fund the campaign against GMO’s being listed on products. I will not buy anything from them either. You can find a good list here.

I am so happy I turned my anger into something positive. My youngest son who just turned 7 had the most positive allergy appointment he has ever had, just last month. I think there is a direct link to the choices we have made these past two years and his allergies. That is a different story for another day but I am so very grateful for working hard to build this good habit of ours :-).

We are far from perfect, nor are we 100% GMO free.  My kids still eat pizza and they have snacks that are not all GMO free.  I would say we are closer to 85% GMO free and that is SO much better than we were two years ago.  I hope more people will consider joining us with building this good habit and really cut out GMO’s and having your dollar matter.  🙂

 

*Image from shutterstock.com

Taking Food Allergies Seriously

I am the mother of children with multiple food allergies. But, we do not have an anaphylactic nut allergy, so… I am grateful for that. Because of this fact, and my thankfulness for it, I am guilty of downplaying the allergies we deal with, much like I did in the first two sentences here. And I am not alone.

Moms like me genuinely feel thankful that we don’t have children with anaphylactic nut allergies, because that is scary as hell! We also don’t want parents, teachers and other kids to make a huge deal out of the food allergies and make our kids feel like freaks. They are normal kids who are pretty happy to eat the food that they CAN eat, 99% of the time. I don’t need people saying “Aaaw, poor little thing, she can’t have the cake?” Right in front of my 4 year old. She didn’t care until she heard that, thank you. She was very happy with the slice I brought for her until she heard that you thought she was missing out! But, I know they mean well. So, I say things like, “it’s really not a big deal. We are so used to it and the kids have plenty of treats. ” (This usually sinks in when the parents see that the cake/cookie/brownie looks delicious.)

The truth is, the allergies are a pain in the ass when you want to go out for dinner, and there are literally two people other than myself and my husband whom I can trust to feed my kids without making them sick, but it really isn’t that tough on a daily basis. We know what they can eat and we like to cook, so it’s not a big deal unless we are going out, and even then, we are used to it.

The problem is…. Unless you make a ridiculously huge deal about the allergies, people believe that it isn’t a big deal. And this is a problem. It is a problem at the park and play dates and soccer games and SCHOOL.

I have had this conversation three times in the last twenty four hours… All three times it was initiated by someone else, so I know I am far from alone here.

This evening, I received a text from one of my best girlfriends, frustrated and angry because her sweet little girl was given wheat pretzels at school even though her gluten allergy is clearly listed on the wall. That 5 year old girl is spending tonight (and the next WEEK, at least!) in pain, with her eye swollen and itchy, her tummy hurting, and her behavior beyond her control. If this had been a life threatening peanut allergy, she would be in the ER or worse. The person at fault would, at the very least, be left feeling tremendously guilty. But in this case, my guess is, it will be brushed off unless my friend completely loses her cool and threatens to pull her child from the school or take legal action if a better plan isn’t put into place. That’s an awful position to be in as a parent.

I try to make things easy and minimize the risks for my kids. My two youngest kids attend a school I love and trust, where they have implemented a rule to benefit my kids and others with allergies- every child must wash their hands when they get to school and after they eat snack and lunch. AND STILL, I do not allow my kids to eat anything that isn’t sent in from our home. Unless I read the ingredients and know how and where it was prepared, it does not pass their lips. You can think I’m crazy/paranoid/over-protective. You can say that my kids need to learn to take responsibility. My reply is this: when people start taking things seriously, I might feel like I can relax a little. The reason I can act calm and in control of this crap is because I AM in control of it, as much as humanly possible, because I have to be. My 8 1/2 year old weighs only 40 pounds- not for lack of eating tons of calories and fat! If he eats something he is allergic to, he will be sick for weeks. If he looses any weight, he could land in the hospital. My 4 year old gets rashes from touching even traces of allergens. Rashes so bad it looks like the skin has been burned off her arms and she needs to have her arms wrapped in gauze before school most days to avoid infection. This is beyond the GI issues and other symptoms.

So, when I smile and say the allergies aren’t a big deal…maybe I’m lying a little. They are a huge deal. They affect the health and lives of my children and require hours of time, effort and energy every day. And, though I am beyond thankful that none of the allergies currently carry the risk of anaphylaxis, I wish people could understand the complicated risks to my kids and so many others.

-M

Gauze, the newest accessory in dance attire.

Gauze, the newest accessory in dance attire.