San Clemente

We’ve been coming to San Clemente for the past 4 years for every pediatrician appointment that the boys have – sometimes with a 3 hour drive in each way. It is always 100% worth it for so many reasons! First of all, our pediatrician is hands down the BEST there is. We’ve been seeing Dr. Sears for several years and I have never once left there feeling like we did not get amazing care that was completely geared toward the best interest of our kids. Dr. Bob has worked with us to find the most natural options to take care of whatever they are dealing with and has been great to work with through some of our more difficult challenges dealing with 2 of the boys’ food allergies.

The boys love their visits to see Dr. Bob! I also loved that I have been able to partner with the Sears Wellness Institute as a Certified Health Coach to learn more how to support their nutrition and teach others what we have learned through the years. The boys did great on their check-ups and are all super healthy and strong!

While loading up on donuts may seem very ironic after finishing up well visits, we could not pass up a trip to Sensitive Sweets bakery seeing as they are RIGHT across the street from Dr. Bob’s office. It’s not every day (or EVER) that we have a completely allergen free bakery in the area, so it was super fun to take the boys in and they could have ANYTHING they wanted and know it was completely safe. They are a gluten free, dairy free, nut free, peanut free, soy free, egg free bakery with 2 locations in CA. For those of you who only dream of a place like this, check them out at www.sensitivesweets.com because they SHIP too! Awesome! So the boys could not decide so we did a little sampler of the blueberry muffins, cupcakes, donuts and pumpkin spice donut holes. 🙂

For those who have kids with food allergies, you know how happy it makes your heart to see them enjoy a rare treat that normally they cannot have. <3

San Clemente is such a charming little town. Since we are looking for a small cabinet to store our computer in while we travel, I had fun searching through antique stores. La Casa Verde is a cute little shop on Granada St that you definitely want to check out if you’re in the area! Some of our FAVORITE spots to eat are South of Nick’s (upscale Mexican) and Mimosa’s for breakfast/brunch. The Fisherman’s is another great spot if you want to grab fish and chips on the pier, but it’s super touristy and usually has a long wait, so we prefer the more local stuff off the beaten path.

There are few places as charming as wandering the streets of San Clemente. We literally could stay here forever, but we have to get rolling on our adventures, so time to say adios and start our drive up the coast! san clemente 4

the new normal

I did it! I survived our first laundry day on the road! You can only put off this stuff so long before it creeps in, so I braved the laundry room and oddly realized how much I LOVE being able to throw all our loads in at the same time! MAJOR bonus!

I also pulled off using our stove and oven and making some dinner just like we had at home. Let me tell you  how tempting it is to go out to eat lately – especially with all the amazing food options here in Orange County. ACK! It’s so tempting to just grab something out, but this is another thing we have said we have to master soon and get used to cooking just like we did before.

Love our campsite on the bluff overlooking the beach

The kids are more than settling into their new life. This little guy is lounging, enjoying his first ever SAFE yogurt that we were not able to find out where we lived before in the desert. He is in his little happy place.

And this kid…..he’s gone from wanting to watch TV and being ‘bored’ to getting out and literally playing in the dirt for entertainment. SCORE! This is what we love to see. It seems like they will never change and get used to it, but we are starting to see some great changes for the better in the boys already. Super thankful they are adapting and loving this adventure so far.

marshmallow dreams

 

Funny the questions that have been popping into my head about people who travel and live full-time at campgrounds. Tonight the thought struck me that they probably get really tired of campfires. {gasp} I know it seems like such an awesome part of outdoor life, but in reality, smoke and sticky marshmallows surely lose their charm night after night, right?

Good news is that for us, they are still magical and every bit an essential part of this camping life. (Though I quickly learned not to leave the airstream windows open next to the fire ?).

My boys have an obsession with burning their marshmallows to a crisp and declaring it ‘perfectly done!’

You may wonder how S’mores work for kids with food allergies. We have come up with 2 alternatives that are not just acceptable, but in my opinion far surpass the traditional S’more…

1) Sharf brand gluten free shortbread cookies. These paired with toasted marshmallows are so good, you usually forget the chocolate, but the Enjoy Life Dairy Free Chocolate Chunks make an excellent addition if you remember to put them on.

2) Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Brownies  (this one is still their fav of all the gf brownie mixes). Bake up a batch and top it with your roasted marshmallow for a really indulgent campfire treat!

There’s no way we’ll be able to make this a nightly event, but since we are just starting out you’d better bet the boys are LOVING some evening camp fires and marshmallows!

bumps, bruises and bloodwork

The fact that we are not just on vacation sets in at different times in different ways. We have some things we have to get done while here in this area, one of which is appointments for the kids. We drove all over town trying to find a place to get our 2 year old’s labwork done. After exhausting all our options (apparently no one wanted to draw this particular igE and IgG 186 food sensitivities panel), we finally stumbled upon the most crazy and convenient thing ever: mobile phlebotomy!? Yep folks, I have now seen it all. I hikes 3/4 of a mile over to the state beach with my 2 year old on my back and he had his blood drawn from a nice lady there in the parking lot while he watches the ships off the shore. Weird….just weird, but OH SO convenient!

The looks we got from the surfers driving in and out of the park were priceless.

Meanwhile the boys are having a BLAST playing in the dirt and being little boys. They are filthy from head to toe, and my 4 year old is especially accident prone. He has 6 band-aids on his little body in different areas at the current time. One may have been stitch-worthy, but he is a trooper and helped get himself fixed up with some essential oils and camo band-aids (in the tiny mirror we have which happens to be the only one in the airstream right now). They know to grab their döTERRA Correct X with their call their ‘ointment’ and get it all fixed up. All 3 of them have raw skin on their feet from stubbing their toes every few hours on something since they REFUSE to keep their shoes on, or even put them on at all prior to running around and playing in the dirt. Oh well. Love these kids. 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread with Wild Orange Glaze

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread with Wild Orange Glaze

slightly adapted from this awesome recipe from Brandie at http://www.spoonandsaucer.com/gluten-free-pumpkin-bread/?crlt.pid=camp.ySpC6lN1AjBf

I honestly would LOVE to make this again with her eggnog glaze, but the SO Delicious coconut eggnog that I love is not easily available here, so I may have to wait until we go out of town and then bring a cooler to stock up (it’s worth it, folks).Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 1.54.33 PM

* This recipe is a double batch because you will be MAD if you make only one loaf. Trust me.

Pumpkin Bread
  • 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (I ran out, so I did 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice, then added some fresh ground nutmeg, 2 tsp cinnamon, some ginger, clove and allspice)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 drop Cassia Essential Oil**
  • 6-8 drops Lemon Essential Oil**
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
Wild Orange Glaze
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water (or more as needed)
  • 2 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil**
Instructions
GF Pumpkin Bread
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease 2 loaf pans.
  3. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour through salt) with a whisk until well combined.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients until well combined.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix just until there are no dry clumps, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour the mixture into your greased loaf pan, and bake for appx an hour, or until golden brown, and a knive or toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack.
Wild Orange Glaze
  1. Put the powdered sugar in a cup, and add the water.
  2. Whisk until the glaze is thick, and smooth and add in the Wild Orange oil.
  3. Drizzle on the bread, and let it sit until the glaze has dried out a bit.
  4. Slice and enjoy!** I use only 100% pure therapeutic Grade Essential Oils that are batch tested for purity and safe for internal use. Contact me if you would info on where to get these essential oils.

Cilantro Lime and Wild Orange Brown Rice

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As if the oils weren’t amazing enough for their therapeutic benefits, there are several that you want to have on hand in the kitchen for instant flavor twists on the most basic recipes.

Tonight’s plain dinner was instantly transformed by throwing some cilantro into our brown rice and then adding about 3 drops of dōTERRA lime oil and drizzling on my dōTERRA wild orange infused olive oil. Instant flavor that perfectly complimented our garlic lime pork chops and pineapple!

Allergen Free Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies

So these look a lot like my 3 ingredient breakfast cookies, but have a flavor all of their own! It has finally dropped below 80 degrees here in Southern California and fall is in the air (at least in my mind) so time to pull out PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! WOOOHOOO!

I decided to try a pumpkin version of the oat cookies and since I am OUT of bananas (big problem in this house) I had to experiment with some other ingredients. Check out these yummy pumpkin spice breakfast cookies. They aren’t overly allergen free pumpkin spice cookiessweet, but my kids didn’t seem to complain (had to snap a quick pic before they were gone) and they were just the pumpkin spice flavor I was craving 🙂

Allergen Free Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies (dairy, wheat, egg, nut free)

  • 2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats (recommend Bob’s Red Mill GF if you need a gluten-free version)
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 2 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • appx 1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves
  • 3/4 cup organic brown sugar

Throw all ingredients into a stand mixer and mix until a nice blended dough forms. Drop ‘dough’ onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Enjoy with a nice hot cup of coffee or a pumpkin spice latte (recipe coming soon)!

how to eat real food…really: GREEN SMOOTHIES!

Anyone that knows me knows that we LOVE our smoothies! We make them every morning and my 2 toddler boys BEG for these. It’s a great way to get a ton of fruits and veggies in right away and start the day right. Of course all our recipes are dairy free so the calories are kept at a minimum too.

My only regret in getting super amazing high powered blender is that I didn’t do it sooner. If there is one purchase we’ve made in the last few years that has contributed the most to our nutrition, the Vitamix wins hands down. Of course you don’t have to have a Vitamix to get healthy amazing blended things quickly, but man, it helps a lot. The best thing for us about it, is that it mixes everything so well you can hide a LOT of veggies in….and still have a delicious smoothie.

There are endless possibilities and you can throw in whatever you want, but here is our morning go-to smoothie recipe:kale green smoothie recipe

  • 2-3 bananas (not overly ripe b/c I don’t like too much banana flavor)
  • 2-3 stalks of kale (stalks removed – using the leaves only makes it less bitter)
  • 1-2 cups strawberries or 1/2 bag frozen (frozen are great to chill smoothie without watering it down)
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 fresh lemon, juiced (I juice in 1-2 oranges too if I have them)
  • about 2 cups organic rice milk (add more if needed to thin texture)

This is the base no-fail recipe that we love, but it’s also great for throwing in veggies that may need used up like cucumber or carrots! If not using any frozen fruit, add a handful of ice to chill and thicken it up. Despite the photo, I normally avoid blueberries in the smoothies (they love to eat them on the side) as I find they thicken up too much after sitting for a few minutes and are a really big pain in their straw sippy cups.

We also add a drop of Vitamin D to the cups before serving per our amazing pediatrician’s recommendation. It is a vitamin packed way to start the day, and fills them up with the good stuff before anything else!

gluten free/dairy free pickup truck birthday cake

My project today was all about BIRTHDAYS! With 2 family birthdays these past few weeks today we celebrated with a gluten free & dairy free pickup truck cake!

truck_bdaycakeI just used a gluten free cake mix for the base and then added in some of our favorite Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips to the batter for more flavor and personality! Followed that with some quick and easy marshmallow fondant, and shaped a truck cake that was supposed to look like daddy’s truck (my husband is re-building his great grandfather’s ’68 GMC). So thankful for all the gluten free resources out there now and that even with food allergies my boys can enjoy some fun birthday cakes!

 

4 ingredient dairy free chocolate mousse

After going dairy-free a few years ago because of our son’s food allergies, chocolate pudding was one thing we definitely cut from our diet that we missed (though it’s a good thing now that I look back at the ingredients)!

I came across this amazing recipe shortly afterwards and our idea of dessert was forever changed! I wish I had come up with this on my own, but give many many thanks to Katie at chocolatecoveredkatie.com for this amazing recipe. I find it tastes much more like a rich chocolate mousse than chocolate frosting. Best thing is that it’s DAIRY FREE and uses nothing but simple real ingredients!

Dairy Free Chocolate MousseHere’s all it takes: (WARNING: you will want to double it so go ahead and prep 2 cans)

  • 1 can coconut milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup 100% cacao powder or cocoa powder (I like to use the dark cacao)
  • 1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
  • sweetener of your choice to taste

The challenge here is it takes some advanced planning. Open the can of coconut milk, remove the lid and refrigerate for a day (if you can wait that long). You need the cream and the water to separate and the cream to thicken. Carefully remove it from the fridge, pour the cream out into a bowl and save the coconut water to add to your next chicken marinade (coconut is the BEST for marinating chicken)! Add the rest of the ingredients to the cream and mix thoroughly!

If you dump this all in a high speed blender like a Vitamix it literally takes about 3 seconds to be rich and thick. If you want to not waste a single drop getting stuck to the side of a blender, go ahead and whip it up by hand with a fork. 🙂

BONUS TIP (from lots of experience): If you do want to throw this in the vitamix, after scraping out all that you can salvage for your mousse, make a fresh cup of coffee, pour it in, quickly blend with the stuff that’s stuck to the sides of the blender and pour the sweet mocha goodness all back into your cup! enjoy 🙂

On that note, if you make a double batch and happen to have any left, a few spoon fulls in a fresh cup of coffee does make a MEAN rich chocolate mocha…and all DAIRY FREE with the health benefits of coconut!

How to eat real food…really:: READ LABELS!

There is SO much that could be discussed when it comes to the topic of reading labels, food labeling and knowing WHAT it is you are actually eating. food labelsI hate to admit that up until a few years ago I rarely glanced at labels when buying food. I knew what I wanted to buy and eat and had been doing the same thing for years, so what was the big deal? Thankfully my son’s severe food allergies rocked our world in a GOOD way when it came to being aware of exactly what we were putting into our bodies…..down the the smallest ingredient.

I was in shock. I had no idea how much ‘stuff’ was in simple things I was buying. It was crap I could not pronounce, had no idea what it was and even worse, didn’t know what damage it was causing our bodies by eating it!

The goal in moving toward real food is cutting out the processed stuff.

Here are just a few tips when it comes to reading labels that you can try and implement to help you become more aware of what you’re buying!

Buy food that doesn’t need labeling! Fresh produce and pastured farm meats are obviously the best choice for your meals. There’s nothing to worry about when nothing has been done to the basic product! I’m not going to pretend like I’m an expert at this. We are often still looking for quick go-to stuff on days I have failed to plan, but even the ‘shelf stuff’ can be purchased wisely and changed to promote healthier eating. Buy local and organic as much as possible. This is by far the #1 change to make in eating clean, real food!

Buy identifiable ingredients! Take a little more time next time you shop and compare products. The first time I went to buy chips after starting to read labels, I realized that the brand I usually reached for had about 25 ingredients. what?!?! What was all that junk?? Picking up an organic option next to it I found 3 ingredients. 3 ingredients that I knew what they were. I felt more confident knowing what I was getting and consuming with the 2nd option and actually tasted better too. Buy items that have only whole, real, identifiable ingredients….things that you know are real. If you can’t pronounce it, best to avoid it!

Know what you want to avoid. Do your research when it comes to which ingredients are harmful to your family’s health and diet. People trying to eat real food are going to want to cut out things such as….

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • artificial sweeteners
  • flavor enhancers (like nitrates)
  • preservatives (like MSG)
  • hydrogenated oils
  • artificial colors and dyes

Learn common ‘hidden ingredients’ especially when health or allergies are involved. Many ingredients are disguised under different terms and may not always jump out as obvious. There is often milk or wheat in items that you would never think would have or need them included!! For example, if you’re avoiding dairy, learn which ingredients are actually dairy beyond the label saying ‘milk’ or ‘cheese.’ For a dairy allergy, you also have to learn that ingredients such as whey, casein, buttermilk, cream, hydrolyzed milk protein, lactose, milk solids, natural butter flavor, etc. are also dairy!
View a complete list of common dairy and dairy ‘hidden ingredients’ here.

Ignore and avoid the “marketing labels” used on packaging. Ignore the verbage such as ‘low fat’, ‘made with real fruit’, ‘100% natural’, ‘multigrain’, ‘no sugar added’, etc. There is very little regulation and most of these mean nothing and a few are clues that there are probably extra chemicals and additives that you really don’t want! Again, make sure you look at the actual ingredients list to know what you are buying!

The best method is not to rush through and throw away everything you have, but to make slow, determined changes every time you go to buy food. Read the label and know that big changes start with the little choices, so start making better choices now!

 

3 ingredient breakfast cookies!

We love making these for so many reasons….here are just a few
1) they are delicious
2) my 3 year old can make them
3) my boys LOVE to eat them
4) they satisfy my preggo cravings for something sweet
5) they have 3 basic ingredients!

breakfast cookiesSo here you go….enjoy

Breakfast Cookies

 

put ingredients in stand mixer and blend until soft sticky ‘dough’ consistency. At this point you can also throw in some mini chocolate chips, coconut flakes, craisins, whatever you feel like. We like to sprinkle in Enjoy Life Allergen Free Mini-Chocolate Chips.

Drop by spoon-full on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes!

Allergy Friendly Chicken Satays with Peanut-Free Sauce

This is one of my all time favorite recipes, something we created after spending our honeymoon in Thailand.  We could NOT get enough of their food!  This is an extremely mild American-ized version of a classic Thai satay.  Enjoy!

peanut free peanut sauceThai Chicken Satays with Sunbutter (or Peanut) Sauce

  • 20  chicken tenderloins
  • 20  bamboo skewers (optional)

Marinade

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • gluten free teriyaki sauce  (appx 1/4 – 1/2 cup?) (see my amazon store for where to buy)
  • honey  (appx 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • steak seasonings or your fav seasoning mix  (sprinkle it over marinade)
  • lime juice  (appx 2 Tbsp)

mix all marinade ingredients.  Pour over chicken tenderloins in a sealed container or ziplock bag and marinate at least 4-6 hours (preferably overnight).

at least 1 hour prior to cooking, soak bamboo skewers in water to prevent scorching on grill

The most amazing peanut sauce in the world. Due to my son’s severe peanut allergy we now make this with Sunbutter vs. Peanut butter to make it allergy friendly

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup Sunbutter (if no allergy, use fresh ground honey roasted peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (I like to add this at the end so I can thin it only as much as it needs)
  • 2 Tbsp dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. gluten free teriyaki sauce
  • 2-4 Tbsp. honey (to desired sweetness)
  • a few drops of hot sauce or chili pepper sauce (as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice

before cooking chicken, make sauce
mix natural peanut or sunflower nut butter, chicken stock, teriyaki sauce, dijon mustard, honey, chili sauce, garlic, ginger and lime juice together in mini food processer until creamy.  Adjust thickness with chicken stock and heat with chili sauce as desired.
Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Skewer each tenderloin and grill to desired doneness, brushing with reserved marinade to keep moist while cooking. TIP: arrange chicken skewers so that the ‘handle’ rests on top of the tenderloin next to it on the grill to further prevent them from scorching. Can also grill chicken directly without skewering.  Serve with peanut sauce and jasmine rice! For entertaining, it’s also great with an appetizer of home made mango salsa. Delicious both hot or cold!

Living “free” – our story with food allergies

If you’d have asked me before I had kids if there were things that I didn’t think I would ever be able to deal with, having a child with food allergies would have been high on my list. My husband and I LOVE food. We love to travel and often recall our favorite places by the amazing food we found. Our favorite relaxing outing was a trip to whole foods to discover a new cheese and wine pairing. Our evenings at home evolve around cooking together and mastering new recipes. Neither of us have any food allergies and we would never have imagined having to change the way we eat and think about food.

About 4 months after our first son was born it became apparent that he was having issues with some of the foods I was eating. I tried going off of all dairy as I’d heard many babies are sensitive to cow’s milk protein. I stopped drinking milk and eating cheese, but quickly learned that milk is in a LOT of things….things you’d never even think of. Not only was I tired and sleep deprived from having a newborn (who was struggling with eating and health issues), but I quickly became overwhelmed with things I was not allowed to eat and soon found myself in tears in the middle of the deli on our next outing to Whole Foods. It wasn’t pretty – I literally had a break down right in front of all the Friday night shoppers.

It was too hard. I couldn’t do it. I could even think about what to eat, all I could think about is what I couldn’t have and was convinced that we’d soon die of starvation. All that to say we quickly learned that my son was not just allergic to milk, but to ALL of the top allergens (dairy, wheat, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, etc….) We ended up having to put him on an elemental formula to gain weight. A few months later he started eating solid foods and our lives were forever changed. We had to accommodate these allergies and we bought NOTHING without reading labels. It was horrific to discover some of the things that are in the food we were eating with no thought. I was forced to learn how to cook with the few ingredients that he COULD have in order for him to have balanced meals with things he could eat.

When my 2nd son was born the doctors advised that I avoid any dairy or peanut given the fact that our other son’s allergies are so severe. I was not super excited about this after the trauma of my first attempt, but this time around I felt much more confident. I knew there were things out there that I could eat, and if my son could go without ANY of the allergens, I could surely go without two of them with no complaining. We have since learned to make all of our family dinners free of all major allergens. We will occasionally eat a piece of bread and eggs (although my son has an anaphylactic allergy to them so we have to be super careful to not cross-contaminate), but these items are a rare addition, not an every day occurrence.

I have tried a LOT of products, recipes and experimented with things over the past 3 years.  I will try and document some of these recipes and tips in hopes to pass along the info, and safe someone else the time and energy! I hope to give someone else out there in this situation some hope that you CAN do it!! You can eat better than you EVER have and don’t have to live thinking that you are missing out. Good luck and please message me with any questions!

Crying over Baked Milk

I am so nervous right now. I am waiting on a batch of gluten free muffins to come out of the oven that for the first time ever contain REAL egg and REAL milk. Honestly it grossed me out to even buy the milk, after not hardly touching the stuff for 3 years. But…I digress. Tomorrow we will find out if my 3 year old will be able to tolerate milk and egg after they are baked into an item. His tests still show a positive reaction to egg as of last week and we haven’t received the results of the latest test to milk so that makes my anxiety climb even more. His wheat allergy is still high so passing this for baked milk and egg will only open up a few more options for gluten free baking, but any openings are welcome when you live in the restrictive world of food allergies. I literally just cried while mixing the batter. Intentionally putting ingredients into a food for your little one to eat after 3 years of it being a deadly poison for them is nothing short of terrifying. I am so thankful that he has no idea what will be happening other than me trying to get him to eat very small increments of a random muffing throughout the morning and watching him like a hawk. I pray that my anxiety will not be evident to him, and that I will be able to relax and realize that my God is bigger than this and is able to do far more than we could ever have asked or imagined. I pray that a small part of his world will be expanded tomorrow, and that not even a questionable reaction will occur. I can’t say I am fully confident of this as I type, but it is a prayer for a reason. Stay tuned……