0

Making Valentine’s Day Special

Shortbread Hearts

When I was a little girl my dad always bought me and my sisters Valentine’s Day gifts.  It was usually something small, often a plastic container that was filled with conversation hearts or a heart-shaped box of chocolates, maybe a small knick-knack or stuffed animal.  I remember how that little trinket waiting on the kitchen table in the morning would bring such joy.  I remember showing it off to my friends in school and it being my prized possession for at least the next several days.

This year I am treasuring those memories a little bit more because it is our first Valentine’s Day without my dad, who passed away very suddenly last month.

I’ve got to admit that I was dreading this weekend.  Not only is it the first holiday without my dad, but his birthday is also Monday, a double-whammy of reminders not even a month into our grieving process.

To counteract the sadness that I’ve been feeling, I decided to focus on making this Valentine’s special for E, the way my dad always made it special for me.  So, out came the trinkets!

Car Valentines

I decided that it was only appropriate to celebrate E’s current true love – cars!  So, I came up with these little valentines, one for E and others for his cousins and some special Stroller Strides friends.  I was really happy with the way that they turned out and was super-proud of myself for creating valentines that were non-food (i.e., completely safe and healthy) and something that every toddler loves.  They even leant themselves to a cute, Valentine’s Day-appropriate saying.

IMG_4030

He was so excited to get a car and was surprisingly willing to share the love. (I was a little worried that he was not going to like the idea of giving away cars.)

IMG_4036I added to our Valentine’s Day festivities, with another thing every two-year-old loves – cookies!  We used Ina Garten’s shortbread cookie recipe (by the way, shortbread is egg-free!).  We substituted soy-free Earth Balance for the butter and topped them off with safe red sprinkles (Wilton are safe for us).  They were a lot of fun to make and E gets so excited when he gets a “surprise” for dessert 🙂

IMG_3989

Also, my heart-shaped strawberry project from last year, inspired me to use cookie-cutters to Valentine-ify his standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I love that something as simple as cookie cutters can make so many safe foods more fun!

Heart PB&J

My Valentine’s Day was totally made first thing this morning, though, when E said, “Happy Valentine’s Day Mommy, Daddy” and initiated a big group hug.  Seriously could not think of a better gift!

I hope you are having a great Valentine’s Day with your loved ones.  Hug them a little closer and extra long this year.

IMG_4022

 Happy Valentine’s Day to My First Valentine! I Love You Dad!

12

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

IMG_4443

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.

IMG_2638

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.

IMG_4449

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.

IMG_4440

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!

IMG_4459IMG_4469

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

IMG_3606

 

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!

IMG_4462

 

 

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

 

1

Hooray for a Successful Easter (and Peanut Butter Eggs)!

IMG_1674

This weekend was crazy-busy for us and I’m exhausted.  But every last detail was worthwhile! I am so excited and can’t wait to tell you about how well everything went!

This year we hosted Easter for the first time, which was an honor and a little stressful.  My great-aunt has hosted  an Easter open house for nearly 60 years but was unable to do it this year, so I offered to have her traditional party at our house.  This was great because it gave me some control over the menu and we had all of E’s toys which were great distractions from all the food (it also gave me a good reason to do some intense spring cleaning).  We stuck pretty much with the traditional menu – kielbasa, ham, potato salad, and pasta salad.  There were some allergens on the menu but we decided not to mess too much with tradition.  We felt confident that we would be able to keep E away from those foods and decided to make a special meal for him.  It turns out that he doesn’t really care if he’s eating what everyone else is eating, as long as he’s eating when everyone else is eating.  I tend to get caught up with making a safe version of the traditional holiday meal for E, which causes me more stress and then he may or may not even eat it.  Luckily my husband was able to step in and prevent me from embarking on crazy recipes or rushed food trials this time.  We decided to keep it simple and went with tried and true favorites.  After all, what toddler wouldn’t be thrilled with an Easter hot dog?  

However, as you may recall, I was determined that we were going to pass down some Easter traditions.  Last Easter E was only about 7 months old and we were still dealing with the end of chronic FPIES so we weren’t feeling up to dyeing eggs.  I was a little torn about it this year too.  I figured it could either way – he could totally love it or not be interested and make a huge mess.  And then there are the eggs – one of E’s allergens.  Dyeing eggs doesn’t really require eating the eggs, but the kid still puts everything in his mouth!  And what was I going to do with a bunch of hardboiled eggs? Eggs were fairly easy for us to eliminate from the house after we found out E was allergic – my husband and I never ate a ton of eggs so it wasn’t hard to just not have them.  I didn’t need to start now.  I wondered if I could find something else to dye, so I started scouring the internet.  I found a company that makes ceramic dyeable eggs, but they were a little expensive and I was afraid they were too fragile to give a one-year-old who doesn’t have a gentle bone in his body.

I was ready to give up when a friend and fellow FPIES mom told me about plastic dyeable eggs that Walmart was selling.  I was so excited – completely allergy-safe and rough-little-boy-friendly.  It’s like they were made for E!  I will generally go out of my way to avoid Walmart, but I’ll do anything for my son, so off to Walmart I went.

IMG_2944

We finally got around to dying the eggs on Saturday afternoon and it was a blast!  E loved it!  I also think I will seriously consider using plastic eggs forever.  He was able to throw the eggs into the dye cup, smash them down with egg holder, and drop them on the floor without having to worry about any broken eggshells.  And the eggs were beautiful!  The sentimentalist in me is also excited to save one of E’s first dyed Easter eggs.

IMG_2940Next up was the Easter candy.  So after a day of cleaning, egg dyeing, last minute Easter outfit shopping, and cooking, I started to make candy.  I was glad I had done a test run of the giant chocolate bunny and smaller chocolate candies that I made out of enjoy life chocolate chips.  That was easy.  But I also decided to make allergen-free peanut butter eggs based on a recipe I came across on Pinterest.  These were fairly easy, but a bit time consuming and I started around 10pm (which is past my bedtime, I know I’m pretty lame).

The results were totally worth it! The peanut butter eggs are delicious! Seriously.  Better than than Reese’s.  There’s about 5 ingredients in them – so they are pure yumminess!  But even better than the yum-factor is the safe-factor.  E can eat them and he loves them!  I love having a safe snack for him and watching him enjoy the indulgence.  It’s also nice that I can treat myself to one without hiding in the kitchen and going through an entire decontamination procedure afterward.

On Easter morning, the Easter Bunny left a basket that contained the safe chocolate bunny, a few smaller chocolates and two peanut butter eggs, along with a Curious George lunchbox, safe crayons, a new book, and a couple small toy cars.  E loves cars and Curious George, so I didn’t know which was going to be the bigger hit in the basket.  Turns out it was the peanut butter eggs!  He didn’t even hesitate – he grabbed one and took a bite as soon as he saw them! I thought my heart was going to burst with pride, love, and joy!  He was so excited and happy to see a candy that he could eat.  I loved that he loved them!

IMG_1688

He didn’t waste any time digging into the candy!

We set out some small chocolates and peanut butter eggs on the coffee table when our guests arrived.  Everyone raved about them.  I love finding things that are safe for E that other people can also enjoy.  It was also so exciting that E could walk up to the coffee table and indulge in a little treat.  I guess it’s a feeling only an allergy-parent can understand.  I spend so much of my time anxious about E being exposed to allergens and preventing him from eating things that other people take for granted.  Being able sit back and relax as I was watching him enjoy a safe treat was the best Easter gift I could imagine!

We had a wonderful Easter surrounded by family and sharing traditions with our little boy.    I hope you also had a wonderful and safe Easter! I know that it’s a bit late, but below is the adapted recipe for safe peanut butter eggs.  I will definitely be making these year-round (maybe as just balls or other shapes if I’m feeling really ambitious) and I hope you enjoy them too!

IMG_1679

In all of the craziness of this weekend I forgot to get a picture of just the peanut butter eggs.

Peanut-Butter Eggs: Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Grain-Free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (I used Crazy Richard’s 100% Natural Creamy Peanut Butter – I’d assume you could use any safe nut/seed butter)
  • 1/4 cup Soy-Free Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 10 oz package Enjoy Life Mini Chips
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (or other safe oil)

Directions:

  1. Melt peanut butter and Earth Balance for 1 minute in microwave.
  2. Stir until blended.
  3. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix well.
  4. Scoop out about a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into an egg shape.
  5. Place on parchment paper lined sheet and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. Mix the mini chips with canola oil.
  7. Melt the mini chips in microwave by heating for 30 seconds then stirring and repeating process until it is melted and smooth. (This should take about 1 1/2 minutes)
  8. Using a fork, dip egg into chocolate and flip to cover completely. Lift with fork and gently tap on edge of the bowl allowing excess chocolate to drip off.
  9. Place back on parchment paper.
  10. Refrigerate 10 minutes until chocolate has set

If you have the freezer space, I recommend freezing in two batches. This will allow you to get started with the freezing process while you shape the remainder.  It will also keep half frozen while you are dipping the other half in chocolate, which is easier to do when they are more solid.

The original recipe is here: http://www.raininghotcoupons.com/chocolate-covered-peanut-butter-eggs/.  I removed the allergens and also made them much smaller.  
IMG_1677
Our beautiful dyed plastic eggs! 
Happy Easter!
8

Dairy, Soy, and Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!!

IMG_2088

I feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog a little bit lately so to make up for it I baked cookies!

I love chocolate chip cookies!  There are few things in life better than a homemade chocolate chip cookie.  They seem to be the perfect fit for any situation so I always try to have the ingredients on hand.  You just never know when you’ll want (or need) to whip up a batch.

I think I make a pretty good chocolate chip cookie and I have even been told that they are the best part of our Christmas party menu (which is fairly elaborate).  I love that people enjoy them as much as I do and love to share them (after some are safely put aside for my own enjoyment, of course).

Sadly, after E’s dairy allergy diagnosis, baking just wasn’t as fun as it used to be.  Besides, I barely had time for a shower when E was an infant, let alone baking.  Also, as I started to spend more and more time in the kitchen making safe foods for E, it didn’t make sense to waste time baking something he couldn’t eat.  Not to mention the fact that I was depressed that he might never get to eat my cookies.   So I went a long time without baking cookies.

By this past Christmas we had a pretty good grasp of FPIES and E’s allergen and I was feeling fairly confident about my E-safe cooking skills.  So I decided to adapt “my recipe” to be safe for E*.  With a bunch of substitutions they turned out well and we thought they were pretty tasty.  I’ll admit, they aren’t quite the same as good ol’ buttery, eggy, milk chocolatey cookies.  But I like them and still manage to eat way too many.

Also, E loves them! Words cannot describe how full my heart gets while watching him finally enjoy one of my cookies.

cookie eatingDecember 2013: E’s first taste of a chocolate chip cookie! 

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free (can also be Barley-Free)

Makes about 60 cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (before we passed barley I used white whole wheat flour, which also worked)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 chia “eggs” = 2 tbsp chia seed + 6 tbsp water

1 10 oz bag Enjoy Life Mini Chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375º

Make your chia eggs: Grind the chia seed and add the water.  Let sit until you are ready for them (at least 5 minutes).

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat Earth Balance, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.  Slowly add the chia eggs a tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually add the flour mixture.

Stir in the mini chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes then move to a plate to cool completely.

Enjoy!

cookie
*Ok, true confession time: “my cookie” recipe is actually the recipe that is on the package of Nestle Toll House Morsels.  I dare you to find a better recipe that can even hold up to all of my substitutions!
1

The Easter Bunny’s Research Assistant – Chocolate Candy

Chocolate Bunny - flowers

The centerpiece of my childhood Easter baskets was always a huge chocolate bunny.  So large that it took several weeks (or at least days) to finish.  Of course now when I look back the whole thing is a little sad – slowly maiming a bunny as you ingest hundreds of calories and piles of sugar.  Nonetheless, it is tradition.  Thus, it’s important to me that E get to experience all of the joy and creepiness that comes with finding a large chocolate bunny in your basket on Easter morning and slowly gnawing on it until it disappears.

But, alas, procuring said bunny for E is a little more difficult.  It has to be free of all of his allergens – dairy, soy, egg, coconut, rice, and oats.  The Easter Bunny has to be on the ball this year.  No procrastinating and last-minute shopping trips.  This magical confection would not be on the shelf of a local grocery store.

So a couple of weeks ago I started the research.  I was pleased to find a couple of websites that sell dairy-free chocolate Easter candy, however most contained soy.  Amanda’s Own was the one exception, the problem is that we’ve never had it.  Buying this chocolate would be taking a chance and, while all of the ingredients appear to be safe (cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa butter), I felt like it would require at least a mini-trial to be sure.  Nobody wants the Easter Bunny to accidentally bring an FPIES reaction.

We have, however, already passed Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, which are free of all of the top 8 allergens as well as rice, oat, and coconut.  These things are a God-send and they actually taste good!  Given that we already had some safe chocolate, it seemed logical that I should make my own bunny.  This made me incredibly uncomfortable.  I’m pretty sure my last candy-making experience was my 8th birthday party, which was held at a candy kitchen. Eight-years-old was a long time ago!  After a night of trying to convince myself that I could do this, I became empowered by a few fellow FPIES-moms on the FPIES Facebook page who assured me that making my own Easter candy was quite possible and I decided to take the plunge.

I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find large bunny chocolate molds at this time of year!  The local craft stores were a bust but I was able to find a few online.  I ended up ordering a very large one because it was the cutest.  It is unlikely that E will come anywhere close to finishing this bunny, but being the helpful mom that I am, I am willing to step in and assist 🙂

My step-by-step instructions are below.  It was so easy! Seriously, the hardest part was finding a spot in the refrigerator for it to sit while it hardened.  I felt so good about my results that I even made bite-sized easter-themed candies just for fun.  AND I got a little carried away and went all pinterest-y and made E-safe chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs (which need a few tweaks so you’ll have to wait a bit for my post about them)!  One of the things I was most concerned about was the texture.  I was afraid that the chocolate would turn out rock-hard.  But they are really perfect, the texture and consistency is just like any store-bought candy.  I think the oil might be the key (but I won’t pretend to be an expert). I really couldn’t be happier with the end result!

small candy

Chocolate Easter Candy – Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Peanut-Free, Nut-Free

Ingredients:

10 oz bag Enjoy Life Mini Chips

1 Tbsp Canola Oil (I’m pretty sure any safe oil would work)

Directions:

1. Mix the chips and the oil in a microwave-safe bowl

2. Melt the chips in the microwave on high for about 1.5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.  At the end of the minute and a half, the bowl of chips didn’t look smooth, but once I started stirring it they continued to melt enough that I didn’t need to heat them anymore.

3. Poor the melted chocolate into a mold.

4. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, until solid.  (15 minutes wasn’t enough for my mold so I left in the fridge and then got distracted.  It was in there well over an hour and it was fine.)

5. Turn the mold upside down to pop out the chocolate.

6. Marvel at how easy it was to uphold an Easter traditional in a completely easy and FPIES-safe way

photo 5photo 1photo 3photo 3

 

UPDATE: Two days after I made the candy I noticed that it is starting to get a little discolored.  Some quick internet research suggested that this is probably because it was exposed to changes in humidity or temperature.  There also seems to be some debate about where to let the chocolate harden (room temperature vs refrigerator vs freezer).  My mold directed me to use the refrigerator, which I did, but you might want to experiment with where is best for you.  I think I’ll aim to make the chocolate the day before I need it next time, which is fine because it so easy!  Let us know if you have any tips or hints.  Have fun!

 

3

Happy Half-Birthday E!

birthday bananas

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/