Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013...Hello 2014

       As the other parts of the world are celebrating the arrival of 2014 and as we count the last few hours of 2013 here in the US,  I would like to share some thoughts that are bouncing inside head.

        * What did I learn in 2013?

        *  Don't like it, I'll change it. 

        * Time is limited and shouldn't be wasted on something that doesn't matter.

        * Set a goal and work on it.  Nobody else will do it for me. 

        * It's okay to say NO and Let go. 

        * Be kind to Me. 

        * Live each day like it's my last one.

        And the most important of all.  When everything seems to go no where....
photo credit from Facebook 

       Wishing all of us a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!  

        Do you have a special thought you'd like to share? Love to hear it.  

- Roz

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 Worst Last Minute Gifts to Someone with Food Allergies

       I can't believe we are in the final stretch of holiday shopping?  If you are a last minute shopper like me, I'm sure you are now also scrambling to find that perfect gift for family and friends. To add more insult to the injury, last minute invites are all coming at the same time. Sounds familiar?

          While you are driving yourself crazy for not shopping early, take note of  my worst gifts to give to someone with food allergies.  With the growing rate of people with allergies, chances are you have at least one in your list.  Keep this handy and I know your friend will be thankful for paying more attention.  

A MillionThanks Gift Basket

                                           Photo courtesy of Fiammasgourmettreats at Etsy

1. Food Baskets

     Though these beautiful arrangements are readily available, comes in different price ranges and themes, I find them a food allergy person's nightmare.  Most of the time, the specialty products included in these baskets which I confess are quite delectable, aren't meant to the people with food restrictions.
       Since the focus of this type of gift is more on the looks,  the last thing the basket arranger have in his or her mind is the ingredient list of each item.  Please, save your friend from some label reading trouble and even heartache when only one or two items from the huge basket comply with his or her food requirements. 

Photo by Lynn Manangan

2. Fresh Fruits or Flowers
          Another convenient and sweet gift especially for a party host.   Though this maybe a really nice gesture, I think it is still not a great gift idea.  Why? If the recipient has food allergies, chances are, he or she also has seasonal allergies including pollen and spores.  Asthma suffers will thank you too if you don't contaminate their air. Oh! before I forget, there are some people who are actually allergic to certain fruits and fruit family. Yup! I'm not joking.   

All Natural Hoilday Gift Basket
Photo by LivingTree Soaps 

3. Candles and Soaps

          Here's another common gift.  Unless you are totally familiar with the recipient's favorite brands, I suggest skip it.  Yes, even if you plan to buy the pricier organic ones. The cheaper brands usually contain chemicals that in general, are not really healthy for everyone.  As for the organic ones which use natural food grade ingredients may contain nut oils, soy and even milk which are among the top 8 common allergens.  

4. Homemade Treats

         I know, you spent a lot of time planning and creating these made with love treats.  Maybe you even went ahead and researched on gluten free, nut free versions.  Yours truly is in fact, a big food gift giver.  If I'm aware beforehand, that the receiver has food allergies, I choose to give something something else.  

5. Restaurant Gift Cards

         Unless you really know what your friend's favorite restaurant is, ditch this one.  Eating out is one of the most challenging activity someone with food allergies has to deal with.  Though there are some restaurants which are trying to accommodate this growing market, most are not trained to handle specific or multiple allergies.  
         Can you imagine how frustrating it is to expect free dinner and when you get to the restaurant, you'll realize that the menu has nothing for you?  Until this day, I still struggle to find decent places to eat that will give my children something more than streamed veggies and grilled chicken without seasonings.  Pathetic right? 

          There you go, my list of the worst gifts for someone with food allergies.  By avoiding the above mentioned, you are not just being considerate.  In fact, you are doing your friend a favor.  Who knows you might even have saved his or her life.

          Happy Shopping!

- Roz

Monday, December 9, 2013

Slow cooked Balsamic Chicken aka Soy free Chicken Adobo

       We just had our first teaser of snow here in New Jersey.  Though I'm praying for at least 12 inches, my luck ran out.  Oh wait, let's see how much is in store tomorrow.  Winter is just starting after all. 

      With the arrival of the colder temperatures, the season also brings along cravings for hearty comfort food.  For a Filipino household in particular, what else can be more homey than a warm Chicken Adobo over streamed white rice?  Considered as the national dish of the Philippines, Adobo, is a pork or chicken stew slow cooked in a concoction of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Simple yet the flavor is definitely complex and not to mention delectable. 

      The sauce alone mixed with rice is enough to make my children ask for seconds and even more. Can you just imagine the sad faces I got when I told them that we can't have the dish anymore because of the Child #2 and Child #3's soy allergy?  Since then, I it became my mission to recreate their beloved Adobo.  After countless attempts, finally, this recipe was born.  By using balsamic vinegar instead of the traditional white cane vinegar, the dish was able to get that familiar sweet and savory notes that soy sauce brings. Not to mention, the deep dark caramelized color.  

         Best part of it is that all the cooking is done in the crock pot.  Just mix, set and walk away. Kain na! (Let's eat!)

- Roz



4 pcs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (cut in half )
6 pcs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbs. minced fresh garlic
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onions
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 pcs. bay leaf
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp. chili flakes

1. Turn on the slow cooker to low.
2. Except for the chicken, combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker.
3. Add the chicken and mix well. Make sure all the pieces are coated with the sauce.
4. Cover and cook for 8 hours.
5. Serve over steamed rice and mixed veggies on the side.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Freebies : Stress Management Ebooks

        Yesterday, I spent a huge amount of time, thinking how upset Child #3 will be because I forgot to put his spoon in his lunch box.  As I've mentioned in the Facebook page, I am not being a crazy mom.  I just want to save his teacher and classmates from possible whole day meltdown and crankiness.  He's my OCD (super organized) kid after all. 

     When he arrived home, I asked him how his day was.  Then he said that everything was good. Surprised with his reaction, I mentioned about the spoon I forgot.  He smiled and told me that it was not a problem.  "You always put an extra one remember?" 

         Ah! The stress I have caused myself.  Can you relate? 

       Anyway, I have found some interesting  free e-books today.  They contain tips on how to reduce stress.  I'm sure we'll all find these handy especially with the craziness brought about by the holidays.  

        Grab one or all of them now and have a relaxing weekend.        

- Roz

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Anniversary Giveaway - Soap Box Soaps

        I can't believe we are on the final stretch of 2013.  Wasn't it just yesterday when I started this blog out of desperation? Well, guess what? The family made it!  We were able to live normally (most of it) for more than a year in spite of the challenges brought about by multiple food and environmental allergies.

      To celebrate this 1st birthday milestone, I have organized a series of giveaways featuring products from some awesome friends I have met along the way. First on the list is Soap Box Soaps.

      This company which was started (and still run) by young individuals, not only provides high quality handmade natural soaps but helps save lives as well.  With every purchase of a bar of soap, liquid soap or hand wash, the company donates either a soap bar, fresh water or vitamin supplement to a child in need.  For the past two years, they have already given soaps to numerous homeless shelters and nursing homes here in the United States.  The generosity didn't stop there.  Through their partner charities, they were able to reach people in other countries such as the recent victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

          If their mission to help others isn't enough to entice you, I'm pretty sure their products will.  In preparation for this giveaway, our friends from Soap Box Soaps, sent me the goodies below.  At first, I was surprised why they have decided not to include their famous soap bars for the review.  After going through their website, I realized that their soap bars contain soybean oil which is an ingredient we avoid to have in the house.  This little detail meant so much to me because I felt that they actually care.

         One of the things I noticed with both the hand soap and body wash was their scent.  It smelled fresh and was not overpowering like most scented products do.  The Tea and Ginger body wash in particular, was very refreshing and invigorating.  Perfect for morning showers as it "wakes up" the senses and leaves the skin really moisturized.  Even Child #1 who has the most sensitive and dry skin in the family loved it.  From someone who has been a fan of small batch handmade artisan soaps, the quality of the ingredients used in each product definitely make it stand out.    

          About the giveaway, 2 lucky readers here in the United States will each receive a gift pack from Soap Box Soaps. The gift pack contains a full sized hand wash and body wash.  What are you waiting for? 

- Roz

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