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FPIES-Friendly Fiesta

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Today’s Sesame Street “Word On the Street” was Fiesta, which reminded me that I never posted the menu for E’s second birthday party, our FPIES-Friendly Fiesta!  (And yes, we might be watching a little too much PBS during this rainy week.)

Whenever we have any type of gathering at our house I do my best to keep the menu safe for E. This makes him feel included and gives me a chance to let my guard down and relax a little. Of course, with 7 known allergens and my fear of untested foods, it is difficult to come up with an entire menu of food that goes well together and is party-worthy.  I mean, E might be happy eating PB&J with a side of salmon patty, but frankly that’s just weird and we can’t really expect people with no dietary restrictions to enjoy that type of meal.

Luckily, this summer E passed a pepper trial.  Not only did this open up a lot of possibilities for our every day cooking, but along with some of his previous passes – corn, avocado, black beans, etc – he is now able to eat a lot of Mexican dishes (sin queso)!  So, we were able to put together an entire mexican fiesta that was safe for E and delicious.  It’s so rare and exciting to have an entire FPIES-Friendly, company-worthy meal that I had to share it!

Here’s what was on the menu:

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                 E loved everything we served but the corn cakes were by far his favorite!

Corn Chips & Guacamole

We kept the appetizers pretty straightforward and on-theme.  I’ve found that most plain corn chips only contain corn, oil, and salt.  Depending on the type of oil, these ingredients are all safe for E.  Jonathan and I love the Frontera guacamole mix.  E actually hasn’t had it, but I feel comfortable eating it around him.  While there are some foods in the ingredient list that he hasn’t had, there isn’t anything in it that should be a problem.  This combo has been a lifesaver for us at parties – we now have a safe snack that everyone loves and E can eat.

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Fajita Chicken

The main dish was fajita chicken.  I sautéed strips of chicken with onions and red and green bell peppers in olive oil with ground cumin, ground chili pepper, a little sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  I don’t have a formal recipe, because that’s pretty much it.  You can add the amount of each ingredient that looks good to you – I just eyeball it.  By the way, this is a super-easy meal to throw together and it was the primary recipe that I used for E’s pepper trial (without the added spices).  We ate it with forks, but you can also serve it on corn tortillas.  I was afraid that serving it that way would make people miss the cheese.

Mexican Cauliflower “Rice”

The first side dish was the Mexican Cauliflower “Rice”, that I posted a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a grain-free and flavor-intense version of an old family favorite.  I actually created the recipe for this meal but I am now making regularly.  An added perk to this one was that it was really easy to make ahead and then reheat in the oven right before serving.

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Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, and Avocado in a Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette

Another side dish was a Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, and Avocado in a Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette from Once Upon a Chef.   I can’t take any credit at all for this absolutely delicious salad.  The only change I made to the published recipe was that I used frozen corn kernels instead of taking them off the cob (because I’m lazy, not because corn on the cob isn’t safe).  We did trial the salad ahead of time because E really hadn’t had cilantro or lime before, but everything else was a known safe and the salad was a hit with E and our guests.  This salad was great for a party because the colors of the veggies made it a beautiful addition to the spread and it actually tastes better if you make it ahead of time.

This picture is from the Once Upon a Chef site.  

Corn Cake Mini Muffins

These corn cake muffins are one of my favorite recent finds!  I made it from a Chi-Chi’s mix.  A mix that doesn’t contain soy is so rare that I quadruple-checked it and then made my husband double-check it.  But it’s safe!  You add water, a can of creamed corn, and butter to the mix and viola – E’s new favorite food!  I used Green Giant Cream Style Sweet Corn, which is just water, corn, and cornstarch and substituted the butter for Soy-Free Earth Balance.  I’ve started keeping the mix and canned corn in the pantry so that I can whip up a safe treat for E at a moments notice.

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A safe mix and can of creamed corn! 

Birthday Cake

We ended the meal with a Vegan, Soy-Free Construction-Themed Birthday Cake with Chocolate-Peanut Butter “Dirt” that was awesome to look at, play with, and eat!

IMG_4469     Vegan, Soy-free Construction Cake

E’s second birthday party was a success!  Our guests seemed to really enjoy all of the food and I didn’t have to worry about anything falling on the floor where E might pick it up or anyone touching E with messy, unsafe hands.  It was a wonderful day and also a turning point for us because we learned that we really can make an entire meal that everyone, even E, can enjoy!   I couldn’t have been happier!

Have you successfully thrown an entirely FPIES-Friendly party?  What did you have on the menu?

 

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2nd Birthday Construction Cake! (dairy free, egg free, soy free)

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At the end of August my baby boy turned 2! It’s funny how I can so vividly remember the day he was born like it was yesterday and at the same time it seems like he’s been a part of my life forever!

While I never officially got birthday party invitations to his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, I spent most of the summer planning his party, and his cake in particular.  I feel like the birthday cake is the centerpiece of any birthday celebration and refuse to let FPIES get in the way of my son having an awesome cake.  This year has been all about “cars,” which is the label E gives to any type of vehicle.  But really it’s trucks, especially big construction trucks, that excite him.  Inspired by a couple of construction themed cakes I found on Pinterest, I set out to make an awesomely “dirty” cake complete with bulldozers, diggers, and dump trucks.

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I think this is the best $6 I have ever spent!

However, I also wanted the cake to taste great.  Not just “great (for a vegan cake),” but just “GREAT”  This is hard. Not as hard as last year, when it had to be grain-free, but still pretty difficult.  So I started baking.  There are actually a bunch of vegan cake recipes out there but most of them are oil-based.  They are ok, but don’t really do much for me.  They taste different, more like a waffle than a yellow cake.   I like waffles but I wasn’t trying to make a birthday waffle – just a good old yellow birthday cake.

I was just about to start experimenting with a truly new recipe when like a sign from heaven, the Kindle version of The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki was available for free download.  I downloaded and scrolled until I found a yellow cake recipe that was not oil-based – Jackpot!  Of course, nothing is really that easy.  The book offers great recipes for those with dairy, egg, and nut allergies.  And, like most vegan recipes, there is a pretty high reliance on soy products to replace dairy.  So it still required a little tweaking to make it safe for E.  But it was really good! Maybe not perfect, but much better than “good enough.”  And come on, this cake is free of milk, butter, soy, and eggs (as well as coconut, rice, oat, and shellfish)!  I promise I did not have to force anyone to eat it 🙂

The recipe below is only a slightly adapted version of the Food Allergy Mama’s recipe but it’s easier to have it in one place than to try to do the substitutions in your head.  It makes one 9 inch single-layer cake or 12 cupcakes, which is probably enough for most of the time.  You can double it for a double-layer cake or triple it for a half-sheet cake, which is what I did for the construction cake.  Just remember that the cooking times will change with the size of the cake (cupcakes will take about 20-25 minutes, the half-sheet took about 40 minutes), so keep an eye on it.

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Yellow Cake (dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dairy-free, soy-free margarine (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened original almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (cake flour would likely be better but I usually have AP on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.  This step is actually where your cake get’s the air bubbles that will allow it to rise (the baking powder just makes the bubbles bigger), so don’t be afraid to over-beat at this point.  In fact, while you have the mixer going, this is a great time to get your dry ingredients together.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk.

Slowly add the almond milk, vanilla, and applesauce to the margarine/sugar mixture and continue mixing until thoroughly combined.  Warning: the addition of the applesauce to the batter isn’t pretty.  The first time I did it I panicked, but once you add the dry ingredients it all smooths out – trust me.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined (about a minute). Increase the speed to medium high and beat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until you have a nice, smooth mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Take care not to over-beat once you add the flour or the gluten will bind and it will get tough (replacing the AP flour with cake flour will help to prevent this as it has less gluten in it).

Coat one 9-inch cake pan or a 13×9-inch baking pan with dairy-free, soy-free margarine. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting (dairy-free, soy-free)

I also used the recipe for Creamy Chocolate Frosting from The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book, again just substituting out the soy milk (see below).  This recipe makes about 2 cups.  I doubled it to cover the half-sheet cake but had some left over.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dairy-free, soy-free margarine
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (check ingredients some contain dairy)
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the margarine and cocoa powder until smooth.

Add the vanilla, and salt.  Mix thoroughly. Slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing on low for 1 minute. Slowly add the almond milk as needed to reach the correct consistency.  Increase the mixer speed to medium, and beat 4 to 6 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter “Rocks” Topping

Finally, I used my recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs for the topping.  Instead of shaping the peanut into egg-shapes I just spread it out on a parchment-covered cookie sheet before putting it in the freezer.  Then I poured and spread the melted chocolate right on top.  Super easy!  I made sure it was nice and hard (froze it overnight) and then used a good sharp knife and meat tenderizer to break it up into “rocks.”

Once you have all the parts, the cake is easy to put together.  I frosted the entire cake with chocolate frosting.  It’s so relaxing to frost a cake when you know that your goal is to make it look like dirt!  I cut out a “2” and laid it on the cake then piled on the “rocks.” The final touch were the trucks, placed so they look like they are working hard.

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I was so happy with the end result!  And E loved it too!  As soon as he saw it he wanted to play.  I managed to distract him with an extra backhoe until after we sang “Happy Birthday” and then let him have some fun before we cut it.  I must say – it tasted as good as it looked.  It’s so rich!  You would never know it was vegan and free of so many allergens!  It got rave reviews from the whole family!

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To complete the “road work” theme, my wonderful husband decorated the table, complete with orange “cones”

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It was a wonderful party, complete with an awesome centerpiece cake. I was really impressed by how well the cake looked and tasted.  And so was E!  He continues to play with the construction vehicles (he even takes them to bed!) and frequently goes to his high chair and says “happy,” his adorable way of requesting more (happy birthday) cake. I’ve got to say, he has made this mommy very happy!

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IMG_4483The digger even doubles as a spoon! You don’t want to waste any chocolate!

 

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Happy Half-Birthday E!

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Today is E’s half birthday – I can’t believe my baby is already 18 months old!  I have so much to tell you about the past 18 months, but I want to take the opportunity today to focus on one of my favorite days – E’s first birthday.  His first birthday cake was also my first big allergen-free experiment and the recipe that is most often requested by my family and friends, so it is the first one that I wanted to post.  Enjoy!

Like all parents, we couldn’t wait to celebrate E’s first year with our family and friends.  Of course it was also important to us that we got to enjoy the celebration.  Parties are one of the most stressful parts of being a food allergy parent.  It seems that dangers are everywhere and you have to be constantly vigilant – always ready to step in and prevent your child from reaching for an allergen, or stop a friend from sharing food, or even to hand a baby wipe to someone with cheesy hands who is about to squeeze the world’s most squeezable cheeks.  Parties are generally exhausting events during which I have very little fun.  I couldn’t wait for an E-safe party and the chance to relax a little.

At the time we still didn’t have a great handle on E’s allergies.  We had several safe fruits and vegetables but we were avoiding grains and meats.  We weren’t sure about soy so we were avoiding soy protein, but not soy oil or soy lecithin.  Our biggest stressor was dairy because the scratch test was still positive for an IgE allergy to dairy (indicating a high chance of anaphylaxis).  We weren’t really concerned about him eating anything on the menu – it was still easy enough to feed him his safe foods without him being too interested in other options.  However, we worried about accidental exposure to dairy.  We decided to have a completely dairy-free party but not drive ourselves (and our guests) crazy by avoiding all possible allergens.

The major exception was the cake, which we were hoping he would not only eat, but devour (preferably in an amusingly messy and photogenic kind of way).

In my quest to deliver a “normal” childhood, I was determined to find a safe cake recipe that would also taste good.  I’m sure you can imagine – finding a dairy-free, grain free birthday cake is not an easy task.  After much research I decided that coconut flour was my best bet.  I found a recipe that was good, but my technique wasn’t great and I wanted it to be a little more like a traditional yellow cake.  I spent several weeks researching tips for working with coconut flour and tweaking the recipe until my husband (my most honest taste-tester) and I were happy with the outcome.  We ate a lot of cupcakes in August!

Birthday cake

We then needed to do a full food trial in the week leading up to his birthday.  (We didn’t want any surprises on the big day and there were some new ingredients in the cake).  E was probably one of the only kids tired of the taste of cake by the time he made it to his first birthday.  We tested only the cupcake without the frosting and took a chance on the frosting on the big day.  Luckily we didn’t have any reactions…except for a little bit of a sugar high 🙂 .  I was pleased with the end result and he seemed to enjoy himself – I hope you do too.

Eating Birthday Cake

Dairy-Free Coconut Flour Cupcakes

Ingredients

•   12 egg whites

•   10 egg yolks

•   2 cups coconut milk

•  3/4 cup sugar

•  1/3 cup applesauce

•  3 tsp vanilla extract

•  1 ½ cups coconut flour, sifted

•  1/2 tsp baking soda

•  1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Beat the egg whites and yolks (I used the kitchen aid whisk attachment)

3. Slowly add the coconut milk and vanilla extract and continue to beat until smooth, creamy and uniform in both color and texture.

4. Add the sugar and applesauce

5. Switch to Kitchen Aid paddle attachment

6. Slowly add coconut flour, baking soda and unrefined sea salt into the mixture and continue to mix until a  smooth batter forms.

7.  Let batter sit for about 15 minutes

8.  Pour the cake batter into baking cups shaking them to even out the batter and smoothing it with the back of a spoon (If making a cake, use a greased and floured pan).

9. Bake (350 degrees) for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean.  (A cake takes about 40 minutes)

10. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin and frosting

Birthday Cake CLose

Note: Since his birthday, E has reacted to egg and coconut! This means that birthday number 2 will have its own challenges but luckily we’ve added some safe grains (like wheat and barley!)

The original recipe that I used for inspiration is here: http://nourishedkitchen.com/coconut-flour-cake/