Saturday, August 31, 2013

Friday Freebies: How to Deal with Bullying Ebooks

         School is here and bullying is once again a big issue.  I have heard countless stories about children being bullied in school.  Food allergy kids in particular are said to be a high target too. 
          Though I haven't had any experience on the subject, (Thank God!)  I know first hand, how difficult it is to be a parent of a child being stressed.  Two years ago, one of my daughters had a hard time adjusting to her new school because her previous one was forced to close down.  While the teachers, students and staff of her new school were very helpful and accommodating, dealing with my daughter's emotions was quite a challenge.  Thankfully, with lots of help, she's way better now.
            I can't imagine how devastating it is to deal with bullies. Just like with any school issue, the solution is definitely a collective effort.  Whether you are currently dealing with the situation or trying to teach some awareness, check out these free yup FREE e-books I found.  Keep a copy for yourself and share the link to your friends who might need it too.
            Hoping everyone will have a great school year!
- Roz 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Almost Perfect Domino's Gluten Free Pizza Review

      As a mom of four kids between the ages of 4 and 10, I am very much familiar with the importance of pizza.  I don't know what's in this dough, sauce and cheese combo that makes children and even grown ups get excited.  Okay, I confess I love the thin crust, meat loaded one.  In fact, it was my biggest craving while pregnant with my eldest. 
       Anyway, when we got the news that we must remove food with gluten, egg, dairy, soy etc. in our home because of Child #3's very high risk for anaphylaxis, the one thing that got the kids really worried is the fact that they may not able to eat a slice of pizza ever again.  Though I was able to make a safe pizza for them, I still went on and looked around for pizza places that might offer something that will be appropriate for their food requirement.  A task quite challenging even though we live in a place surrounded with family owned pizzeria in every corner.
       Then low and behold, I accidentally found out online that the national chain Dominos started to offer a gluten free pizza crust.  After carefully examining the ingredients for the sauce and toppings, I was able to get an almost perfect food allergy friendly pizza treat.  I ordered a pie with a Gluten free pizza crust, Domino's original sauce, topped with Ham and Sausage. 

       Just a quick note.  Domino's has a disclaimer that their facilities/stores are not completely gluten free. Though they try to provide gluten free options, there is still a risk of cross contamination.  I like that they are completely honest about it.  That's why I relied on the consideration of the branch where I ordered my pie.  So far, the one that is closest to our place, was very accommodating and took extra care and caution.  

       When the pizza arrive, I'm a bit disappointed with the size.  I know it mentioned 10 inch pie but it didn't say it will be thin crust!  We have 6 testers remember?  Anyway, I was surprised that the pizza tasted like a normal pizza.  The crust in particular is quite good. It has a bread like texture and the sides are crunchy.  It is very similar to that of a regular thin crust. There is also no after taste that is common among gluten free products. 

       My children who can have dairy, really enjoyed the pizza and gave it a thumbs up.  Child #3 who has a milk allergy but can tolerate small amounts of cheese ate a slice too.  His smile while eating was priceless.  Though he didn't show any reactions after eating, I am not pushing my luck.  After all he is the high risk one. 

       If only Domino's can extend the effort and offer a dairy free cheese option.  Their Gluten Free Pizza, allergy friendly pizza could have been perfect. Oh well, there's no harm in hoping.  Who knows? Maybe in the next year or so.  In the mean time, 2 out of my 4 can have a safe take out pizza.  That makes me a happy mommy. 

- Roz       

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Product Review: King Arthur's Gluten Free Bread Mix

         It is back to school season. That means preparing daily packed lunches and snacks. I sure you will agree that we always need some help and ideas on that department.  If you are dealing with food restrictions, the challenge doubles, right?
          Before food allergies were known in our household, we go thru loaves of bread like crazy.  As a mom of four, I consider a sandwich a lifesaver.  This lunch box staple is easy to prepare, a favorite among the kids and is very versatile.  Not to mention, bread is readily available and very affordable. 
         When we have to eliminate wheat, dairy, egg, soy, nut and peanuts from our diet, one of the foods that the kids missed terribly was bread.  I tried buying some gluten free bread but most of the gluten free brands contain either egg or soy which they can't have.  If ever I find a brand that met all their requirements, it was very pricey and tasted worse than a stale bread.  Of course, my children didn't eat it. A total waste of time and money!
            Not to feel defeated, I looked for gluten free bread mixes. I came across King Arthur Gluten Free Flour Bread Mix, 18 oz. For someone who hasn't made a yeast based bread before, the instructions found on the back of the box seemed quite easy to follow.  So I took the plunge and bought a box to try. 

            The original instructions mentioned that the bread needs 4 eggs and milk.  I decided to substitute flax milk for the regular milk.  In place of the eggs, I used a flax goo made with 4 Tbs. flaxmeal and 12 Tbs. lukewarm water. 

            After I combined all the ingredients, I smoothed out the top and let it proofed. Make sure to use a timer and keep an eye on the dough.  Depending on your home's temperature, the dough may rise early than the suggested time.   

             According to the box, baking time is approximately 55-60 minutes.  I have noticed that my bread was ready after a full hour.  Also, I suggest the use of an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature.  This makes sure that the inside of the bread is done.
          Once the internal temperature confirmed that the bread is done, remove it from the baking pan as soon as possible.  The steam from the bread will make the sides soggy if  the loaf stayed inside the pan. If the container was well greased, the loaf will slide right off.  Sometimes, it may need some help. Use a bread knife to loosen the sides before turning it upside down to release.
            No matter how tempting it is, let the bread cool completely before slicing.  You're on the last step. I'm sure you don't want to end up with a crumbled mess. Patience is a virtue. 
            Baking my own gluten free vegan bread may be a little more time consuming. The result is worth every penny and effort.
           After using King Arthur's brand a few more times, I found out that the end product is very reliable.  The taste and texture is close to its gluten filled counterpart.  The crust is hard and crunchy while the inside is soft and hearty. It stays fresh at room temperature for about 3 days.  A loaf never last longer than that in our home.   All  four children always gives it a thumbs up.
           Now, it's part of our pantry staples.  Do you make your own food allergy friendly bread too?  Love to hear from you.
- Roz     

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gluten Free, Allergen Free Expo goes to New Jersey

       It's official!  I will be attending the GFAF Expo at the Meadowlands in Secaucus, New Jersey on September 7-8, 2013.  Can't believe I have missed this event during my first months of going food allergy friendly. 
        Why am I so excited?  For starters, the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo is the country's largest gathering dedicated to help individuals and caregivers (like me) of people with special food requirements.  It features free classes taught by experts on gluten free baking.  There are also a session that gives tips on safely eating out and travelling.  A must especially for us moms with food allergy kids.
        The highlight of the GFAF Expo is the vendor fair.  With more than 150 unique booths from companies that specifically cater to us gluten and food allergy market, it will be like having a mall created just for us. As an attendee, I will be able to sample products directly from the makers.  I can also get coupons which I love.  Plus, I'll have an access to purchase items at a discount.  Oh, did I mention that the event is open to everyone.  That means, you and even your child can go too. Isn't that sweet?
         Best part of having a chance to be there is that I will be able to meet fellow food allergy people.  Not only will I learn something new, I will be able to share more information to you my beloved readers and followers. 
        If you want to more information about the event, please check the official website  There you will see the sponsors, list of classes, speakers and even purchase tickets online. 
         So, are you going too?  Let me know so that we can meet up and chat.  
- Roz        

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Get Free Epinephine with a $0 Co Pay Card

          A few more weeks and my gang will be back to school.  Are yours still home too?  Whether the kids are already in school or not yet, I'm pretty sure us parents are feeling the crunch of back to school shopping. 
          For those with food allergies, part of the arsenal is the emergency Epinephine injectors. Did you know that you have to get a new one every year?  Yes, this medication has an expiration date. 
          As I prepare to get a prescription refill, I learned online that the manufacturers of both Epipen and Auvi-Q are giving some big discounts to their customers. Each has their own $0 Co Pay Cards which can be downloaded in their websites. 
          To make sure that this promotion works, I tried it last Sunday.  I called my pharmacy ahead of time for a refill.  When I picked it up, I showed the $0 Co Pay card that I printed out to the pharmacist.  I think it was the first time she saw such request so I was asked to wait for a few minutes.  After about 3 minutes of validating the card, she changed the enclosed receipt, let me sign the acknowledgement and gave back my card. 
         I don't know about you but my co pay should have been $30 for each 2 dosage pack. It was definitely a nice discount.  It doesn't stop there.  The promo which is valid until the end of the year, allows each card holder up to 4 packs of Epi-pens or 3 packs of Auvi-Q per prescription.  Isn't that sweet? 
         Just take note that  there are a few restrictions on the Promo such as:
          1. Promo is not available for Medicare, Medicaid or similar state or federal programs including state medical pharmaceutical assistance program.
          2. One card per patient or prescription.
          3. $100 maximum discount per pack. 
         So, what are you waiting for? Get your $0 Co Pay cards now by going to or Don't forget to share the love too. 
- Roz 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vodka Braised Beef with Baby Bella Mushrooms

        With the air slowly starts to cool down and the leaves changing their colors, it is time to bring out my arsenal of stews and crockpot recipes.  Who wouldn't want to come home with a hot dinner waiting right?  Not to mention, the crazy chaos brought by hungry kids from school.      
        During my catering days so many years ago, one of the most requested dishes in the menu is this Vodka Braised Beef with Baby Bella Mushrooms.  Sounds complicated? Not really.  In fact, this complex flavored stew can also be prepared ahead of time and cooked with the help of that friendly slow cooker. 
         For those of you who are also gluten free and are worried about using vodka, there are now some brands that make vodka from potatoes, corn and even grapes.  Check out this list for suggested brands.   If you have concerns about serving food with alcoholic ingredients (even cooked) to your kids, feel free to substitute beef stock for both water and vodka.  The end product will be slightly different in flavor but still a crowd pleaser. 
         Okay my foodie friends, my secret recipe is out.  Feel free to share the love and the food. Just don't forget to let them know that you got it from me.  :)
          Happy Cooking.
- Roz


3 lbs. beef chunks (cut in 2 inch cubes)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. sea salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbs. minced fresh garlic
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1/2 cup Vodka (check for the Gluten Free varieties)
3 1/2 cup water
3 pcs. bay leaf
2 pcs. star anise pods
1 cup sliced baby Bella mushrooms
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic and black pepper to make a seasoning mix.  Set aside 1 1/2 tsp.
2. Rub the beef chunks with the remaining seasoning mix.
3. In a heavy pot with olive oil, brown the beef in batches. You don't have to cook it all the way thru.  Just make sure you have a nice sear.
4. Using the same oil, sauté the garlic and celery until fragrant. About 2 - 3 minutes.
5. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 minutes.  Make sure to keep on stirring to avoid burning.
6. Pour the vodka and let the alcohol evaporate for about 6 minutes. 
7. Return the seared beef in the pot and add the remaining seasoning mix, star anise, bay leaf and water.  Bring to boil.
8. Once it starts boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender.  Stir every 30 minutes to prevent the sauce from sticking into the pan.
9. When the meat is tender, add the mushrooms and parsley.  Mix.
10. Turn off heat and let it stand for 7- 10 minutes before serving. 

      For the slow cooker version, after the alcohol has evaporated, transfer the sautéed garlic and celery in the crock pot.  Then add the meat, water, star anise, bay. mushrooms and water.  Cook on high for 6 hours.  Stir in the parsley just before serving.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gluten Free Shrimp Puttanesca

       Pasta is one of my favorite ingredients for a budget friendly meal.  It is very versatile, filling and affordable.  Even if our family now buys the gluten free version due to wheat allergy, it is still a staple in our pantry. 
       Speaking of food allergies, in spite of the many types of food we need to eliminate from our family's diet, I am so glad that fish and shell fish are still a go for us.  Can you believe that?  Oh well, the mysteries of the body.
       Anyway, I first made this Shrimp Puttanesca dish when I have noticed that our family just had a crazy month and I haven't gone grocery shopping in a while.  That meant I haven't visited a store in 15 days!  With a nearly empty fridge and low stocked pantry, I have to make something that the kids will enjoy and I can cook in just 30 minutes. 
       The end product became a big hit and is now a requested dish every month.  Who can resist something with a sauce that is sweet, salty, sour and over all delectable? Also, don't be fooled by the fancy name.  It was said that the Puttanesca sauce was first made out of cheap leftovers for hard working people. 
      Eating with food restrictions doesn't have to be pricey. With just a little creativity, some pasta and sauce, eating healthy especially gluten free can also be wallet friendly.  Do you agree?
- Roz


2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil (Use the good one for better flavor)
1 2 oz. can anchovies (preferable in oil)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 lbs. cherry tomatoes
3 Tbs. sherry wine (you can substitute chicken or vegetable stock)
1 Tbs. capers (drained from the brine)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili flakes (more if you want more heat)
1/4 lbs. uncooked shrimps (deveined and shelled)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. chopped basil
1/4 cup pasta water (water used to boil the pasta)
1 lb. cooked pasta (I use gluten free of course)

1. Cook your favorite gluten free pasta.  Here's a tip to avoid it from being soggy. Reserve at least 2 cups of the pasta water for the sauce.
2. In a big pan with a medium heat, sauté the anchovies in oil until it melts or disintegrates.
3. Add the garlic, capers and tomatoes.  Cook until the tomatoes are very soft.
4. Deglaze the pan with the sherry wine.  Let the alcohol evaporate for about 4 minutes.
5. Put the shrimps in the sauce and cook until it starts to turn pink (kids call it orange).  Stir often to make sure it cooks evenly.
6. Add the cooked pasta. 
7. Season with salt, pepper, chili flakes and lemon juice.
8. Mix well so that the sauce coats all the pasta surfaces.  If it looks too dry, slowly pour 1/4 of a cup of the pasta water.  Add more if you prefer. 
9. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the chopped basil on top. 
10. Serve hot.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Easy Slow Cooked Drunken Beef Stew

         Early this morning I started buying school supplies. Can you believe it's already the second Saturday of August?  Though schools here in New Jersey are not starting until at least the first week of September,  I have this sense of urgency to prepare for the busy school year.  Oh, the autumn like temperatures lately aren't helping either.  Though I try my best to deny it, the school rush is just around the corner.  
          Talking about school, my growing kids seem to have a sudden jump in their appetites.  With the rate they are eating right now, I'm pretty sure putting food on the table and making their school lunches will be extra challenging.  Can you relate? 

         Anyway, one of my best helpers in the kitchen is my slow cooker.  For us with special food requirements and must cook at home all the time, that friendly device will definitely be a staple.  If you don't have a collection of trusted slow cooker recipes yet, here's a very easy to prepare and foul proof recipe that my family loves. 

        The cognac is my secret ingredient for this dish because it gives this rather simple stew some depth and complex flavor.  Don't have it on hand?  You can definitely substitute some red wine or even beer (just check the label if you want it to be gluten free).  If you are not comfortable using alcohol in a dish that you will serve your kids, feel free to use beef broth in place of the wine.  It will turn out delicious as well. 

         Give this one a try.  I'm sure you'll love it too. 

         Enjoy a relaxing Saturday my friends!

- Roz
5 1/2 lbs. beef chuck (cut into 2 inch cubes)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup white onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped (about  1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup cognac
2 cups water
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
2 pcs. bay leaf
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 lbs. potatoes (cut into 2 inch cubes)
2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1. In a big heavy pot with medium heat,  sauté the garlic, onions and fennel bulb for about 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
2. Increase the heat to high and add the beef chunks. Cook until the meat is browned. 
3. Pour the cognac and let it evaporate for about 7 minutes. Make sure to stir the meat to avoid sticking on the pan.
4. Once the alcohol has evaporated, the meat and veggie mixture can now be transferred to a slow cooker.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the parsley.  Mix well, cover and let it cook on high for 8 hours.  
5. Just before serving, add the parsley.  Mix and let it stand for about 2 minutes.
6. Serve on top of rice or noodles. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Freebies: Juicing for Detox & Weight Loss Ebooks

          Hello Food allergy friends!  I can't believe it's already Friday.  I know I have been missing in action lately.  I have been cooking non stop for my hungry swimmers and I barely have enough time to sit.  The more I try to make them physically active, the more they kept on asking for food.  Can you relate?
           Anyway, one of the most asked questions I get from friends and readers is about Juicing and Detox.  I don't consider myself an expert on this topic. However, I've done some juicing for months now and even did Dr. Oz's 3 day Detox program. 
            I love the idea of juicing or making smoothies because it enables me to get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables without having a big fuzz about it.  Okay, I confess, I am a meat and potato type of girl and I'm not a consistent follower of the juicing diet.  However, I devote at least 3 days a month for juicing/smoothie detox because I love how light my body feels when I do so.  Plus, it inspires me to make healthier food choices. 

            If you are looking for ideas and recipes for juice detox, here's my Friday free download treat for you.  Take note, I didn't try all the recipes here but I'm sure you will find one that you like.  My tip if you're feeling hesitant, pick the concoction that includes your favorite fruits and veggies.  If you already like their individual tastes, chances are you might like the combined flavors as well.


- Roz

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Mini Donuts - Gluten Free

         One of the biggest challenges I experience as a food allergy mom is letting my young children eat baked goods. As you may have already know, we are wheat, dairy, egg, soy, nut and peanut free.  Wait! Did I just write the basic ingredients for baking and told you that we can't have any? 
         Since I don't like my kids to feel left out especially when they are invited to birthday parties, I decided to devote a big deal of my time creating recipes that will satisfy that sweet craving.  One of my favorites, if you haven't notice by now are mini donuts.  I like these little treats because kids find it fancy. Grown ups like it for portion control. (Yeah right?)  For me, it's a matter of  portability.  I even started bringing these to family gatherings and luckily, they are well accepted.
         Two weeks ago, I brought these double chocolate chip donuts to my niece's birthday party.  These light and flavorful little desserts became an instant hit.  The non gluten free eaters didn't even care what's in it.  All they say is that it's really good as they keep on popping one after another. 
         Who says those who have food restrictions eat boring and tasteless food? 
- Roz 
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup oat flour (you can also use sorghum flour)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (I use organic)
1 Tbs. flax meal
3 Tbs. lukewarm water
3/4 cup flax milk (any non dairy milk substitute, rice, almond, hemp)
2 tsp. rice vinegar (you can also use apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup coconut oil (you can also use sunflower or canola oil)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy life)
1. Make flax goo but combining the flax meal and water in a small bowl.  Set aside for at least 5 minutes before using.
2. Preheat your electric donut maker. 
3. In a big bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, oat flour, rice flour, potato starch and baking powder until well blended. Set aside.
4. Make "buttermilk" but adding the vinegar to the non dairy milk.  Let it stand for 3 minutes.  Don't worry if it starts to curdle a bit.
5. In another big bowl, cream the oil, sugar and flax goo.  Use can use either a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer for this. If you don't have either, you can just whisk it by hand until it is well blended and light in color.
6. While mixer is running on low, alternately add the flour mixture and non dairy buttermilk to the oil and sugar mix. Start and end with the dry ingredients. 
7. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Make sure you don't over mix the batter. 
8. Let the batter stand for 5-8 minutes.
9. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the batter on each donut cavity.  Top with a few pieces of chocolate chips.
10. Bake for 6-7 minutes. 
11. Transfer on a wire rack to cool before serving.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Freebies: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids Ebooks

        A few weeks more and it's back to school.  If you one of the many who wants to make sure what  your children are eating in school, I have a treat for you.  For those who have no kids, don't worry, I'm sure you'll find these very helpful and yummy too. So feel free to try out these goodies as well.
        So without further more intro, here are the free recipe ebooks I found today.  Get them now before the prices go up.  Just a quick note, if you don't have a kindle, IPad or any tablet, you can still get them.  All you have to do is download a free laptop or desktop reader app from amazon.  I actually keep mine in my laptop. 
         Do you have any ebooks that you like me to look up for you?  Let me know and I'll keep a watchful eye for it.
          Have a great Friday!
- Roz 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bloom Where You Are Planted

      It's already August!  That means I have to start shopping for school supplies, check out the fall school clothes, make sure all the school summer work is done, fill out the new school allergy / asthma action plan,  register for extra curricular activities and so on.  On top of that, I have to make sure that I'll do  my work which is prepare for the busy holiday shopping season.  I'm pretty sure you can relate right?  
       Thinking about all the things we need to do is enough to make us stressed and even depressed.  How come time seems to move so fast and we barely able to cope? The reality is, we have the capacity to do everything. Just not all at the same time.
       "Bloom where you are planted."

         Let's make August, the best month as it can be.

- Roz
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