Product Review and Allergen Information: Briannas Poppy Seed and Dijon Honey Mustard Dressings

I love finding great products that I am able to find easily in most grocery stores and that I know we can trust.  With allergies to egg, dairy, peanut, tree nuts and gluten, salad dressings can be tricky.  We make a lot of our own, but sometimes you just need a great dressing you can trust and find easily.  When we travel, or visit family, or even just want a quick grab for dinner, I want to know what to get without having to gamble on something new and unfamiliar.  We have been using Briannas Salad Dressing for years.  I’m convinced that their Poppy Seed Dressing is one of the reasons my kids learned to loved eating salads and we use the Dijon Honey Mustard as a dip for chicken tenders and fish sticks, a sandwich condiment, and all kinds of other uses.  It’s delicious!

Since we use these a lot, they end up in my daily lunch posts on my Facebook page quite often.

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When I send poppy seed dressing, I know the salad container will be completely empty when they get home.

 

 

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The dijon honey mustard is perfect as a dipper for veggies and nuggets.

 

I was asked for more detail on the allergen information and emailed the company today.  I got an answer to my email within fifteen minutes of sending my questions. I asked specifically about the possibility of cross contact with egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten during manufacturing with the dijon honey mustard and poppy seed dressings, and I got information about all of their dressings.  SCORE!  Here is their response…

“We have an Allergen Control Plan in place to prevent cross contamination between allergen and non-allergen products, this includes a complete wash down after each flavor that is followed by pre-operational inspections and sanitation verification. Peanuts and tree nuts are not part of our ingredients and we do not process any other products that contain them.

At the end of last year we revised our labels to show the attributes of each flavor. Those that have “no gluten” are now marked as such. You should be seeing bottles with the new labels very soon. Poppy Seed and Honey Mustard are among the flavors that contain no gluten. I’ve attached an attribute chart for your information.”

This chart is an amazing reference tool. Also, did you know they’re family owned and operated? I just LOVE that there are companies and products like this available to us! Enjoy!

2015 Briannas Product Attribute Chart

*All views expressed in this blog are my own.

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup Recipe

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Ingredients:

10 cups chicken broth

1 lb sausage (details below)

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large red onion, diced

1 large bunch of kale, chopped

1 ½ tsp. sage

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Before I get too far into these “directions”, I want to emphasize how easy and flexible soup can be.  You really have a lot of wiggle room with ingredients and quantities.  As long as you have enough broth to cover your solids, you will probably end up with soup.

For this recipe, I combine all of the ingredients, except the kale, in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Just make sure your broth covers your ingredients.  Add extra if needed.  About 30-45 minutes before you are ready to eat (or turn it off) stir in the kale.  That’s all.

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For the sausage, I used Wild Turkey Farms fresh polish keilbasa.  This is not like the highly processed keilbasa you find in the grocery store that is precooked and has to be sliced.  It is fresh sausage in a casing that gets soft and crumbly when cooked, so it breaks up easily in the soup.  If you don’t have access to fresh local keilbasa, italian sausage also works well in this.  You can buy it with the spices added or just buy fresh ground pork or turkey and add your own (I usually use fennel, paprika, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper).  You can brown it before adding, or just add it to the broth and break it up near the end, after it is cooked through.

As far as salt goes, take into consideration how salty your broth and meat are.  Remember that these things will season the soup too, so you might not need any additional salt.  As always, using your own homemade broth takes this soup up about 10 notches, and since you know exactly how much salt is in it, it’s easy to know how much to add.  If you haven’t made your own broth yet, please try it.  Then leave a comment below about how life changing it was 😉

Piñata Rice: Egg, dairy, peanut, tree nut, and gluten free, vegan Mexican rice

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Since today is Cinco de Mayo, I had to post one of our favorite fiesta recipes.  We enjoy this as a main course, and usually eat the leftovers as a side dish, so it can work either way.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

8 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup Herdez Salsa Casera (or other salsa)

1 medium onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

8 oz package of baby bella mushrooms

1 small red bell pepper, diced

3 small tomatoes, diced and seeded

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

juice from one lime

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp hot sauce (I use Cholula Original in this recipe)

Salt to taste

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions:

Coat bottom of large pan with olive oil and heat over medium.  Add chopped onion, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté until tender.  Add diced tomatoes (seeded to reduce liquid) and diced bell pepper.  Cook about two minutes or until peppers begin to soften slightly.  Add beans, rice, lime juice, cumin, and hot sauce.  Turn heat up to medium high and keep the rice mixture moving in the pan.  If the rice is sticking to the pan, add a little more oil.  When everything is hot and the rice/veggies begins to brown, it’s ready!  Top with fresh cilantro and serve!

*I don’t add salt to this dish because the beans and salsa add it for me, but if yours needs it, you can toss some in.

This dish makes a great main course, side dish, taco/burrito filling, thermos school lunch, etc.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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Ingredients:

1 large (or 2 small) roasted red peppers*

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained

3 tbsp. sesame seeds (ground or whole)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2-3 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin

3/4 tsp. paprika

3/4 tsp. ground coriander

3/4 tsp. onion powder

2 dashes of cayenne pepper

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Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  I use the tamber to move all ingredients toward the blade while pureeing with the Vitamix.  If you need to, stop and stir during processing to make sure everything gets incorporated and your hummus is smooth.

Mmmmmmmmmmm-licious

I mixed my spice blend and just tossed it in when I was ready to make the hummus.  I like to do little things in advance to make life easier when the littles are begging for lunch.  Also, the lemon pictured was a dry as it looks.  I supplemented the juice from it with some bottled lemon juice from the fridge.

*You can roast your own red peppers or buy them already roasted.  These that I used are from Costco and the peppers are whole.  I have also roasted my own and it works well.  Just cut your pepper in half and remove seeds.  Place halves with the opening face down and place under the broiler on low.  Keep a close eye on them so you don’t burn them.  When they start to char, flip them over.  When the underside starts turning brown, remove the pepper halves and cover them in foil.  Let them cool for about 15 minutes.  The foil will keep moisture in so they will continue to steam and soften.  They will be ready to use when cooled.

Recipe: Black Bean Hummus

All I can say is, after eating this hummus, you will never again be satisfied by store bought.  You have been warned.

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Black Bean Hummus

Ingredients:

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained

3 tbsp. sesame seeds

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

2-3 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder

3/4 tsp. coriander

3/4 tsp. onion powder

2 dashes cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor.  You can grind the sesame seeds first in the food processor, or just leave them whole.  I do it both ways and I am not bothered by whole seeds, so choose your preference.  Blend to a smooth texture.  With the Vitamix, I use the tamper to move everything down toward the blades, but if you need to stop your food processor and stir it around for this purpose, do what you need to do to get it all smooth.

That’s it.  It’s too easy not to try.  Play around with the spices and customize it to your own tastes.  Don’t be afraid to add extra flavors or reduce others.  It can be really fun to experiment with the flavors.

A word to the wise…If you’re trying to get a photo of this stuff, you had better work quickly.  I turned my back for a split second and little sister had already swooped in.

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Take STOCK in This: A Souper Sensation

Making my own stock is something I have been doing for a short time.  I can’t figure out for the life of me why I haven’t been doing it forever and why everyone doesn’t do it.  It’s easy, free, useful, and so much better than any stock or broth you’ll find in a box on a shelf.  It might be the best kept secret of family kitchen history.  Well, I’m blowing the lid off this secret.  You deserve to know.

During a casual conversation with my friend Penny, who you might remember from this post, she mentioned throwing her chicken parts and some veggies into a crock pot to make stock.  I had a light bulb moment.  I thought, “I have chicken parts”, “I have veggie scraps”, “I could do that!!!”.  I asked a few questions about what to put in, how long to cook it, etc, and went home to cook a chicken, just so I could make stock from it’s “parts”.  For months, I have been in a complete state of stock shock.  I cannot believe I have never done this.  I went straight to my mother and asked her why we never did this.  She had the same light bulb moment I mentioned having and, instead of giving me an answer, went to cook a chicken.

I keep whole organic chickens in my freezer all the time and put them in the crockpot whenever I plan to make soup, chicken and dumplings, chicken salad, etc.  I literally just run the whole chicken under the water in the sink long enough to thaw the outermost layer so I can remove the packaging, then put the whole thing in the crockpot, still frozen.  Sometimes I spray the crock pot with oil first to theoretically make clean-up a little easier, but I have no idea if it makes any difference.  I do add a little salt and pepper to the top of the frozen chicken before I close the lid and turn it on.  That’s all I do.  How easy is that?  I cook it on low until it’s done, which I would say is usually around 6 hours, depending on the size of the chicken.

This used to be where the story of my chicken ended.  I would separate the meat from the skin and bones, then toss all of the non-meat “parts” in the garbage.  NO MORE!!!!  Now I toss those “parts” right back into the crock pot for round two.  This is what I call the “trash into treasure” phase.

On top of the chicken parts, I add vegetable parts that I would likely have thrown away otherwise.  Be sure to wash all vegetables well.  First comes the root end of a bunch of celery.  I just chop off the stalks and throw in the big ball of ends stuck together at the root.  I also might chop off the ends and throw them in.  I wash my carrots well and peel them.  I toss in the ends and peels of the carrots.  I also like to peel a few onions and put in the ends or a few of the less paper-like outer layers that I would debate keeping otherwise.  Sometimes I do put in the good parts of the veggies too, but lately I have been keeping a bag of usable scraps in the fridge so I rarely have to use anything we would eat.  It ends up looking something like this before I cover it all up with water.

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Veggie scraps on top of chicken parts. Carrot peels, celery ends and leaves, fennel sprigs, and onion. Be sure to wash all veggies thoroughly before peeling if you’re going to use the scraps.

After adding the veggies, I just fill the crock pot up with water to the tippy top and add a little salt and maybe some garlic powder and celery seed.  You can put in anything you like.  I set it to low and cook it overnight or all day.  I store it in the refrigerator if I know I will use it within a couple of days.  Otherwise I freeze it for later.  It’s the best chicken stock I have ever had and everything I cook with it turns out better than ever.  I can get so much out of one chicken, and it’s virtually free since most of the ingredients would be thrown away if not used in this way.  Also, it makes me feel that much better about spending the extra money on organic chickens and vegetables, knowing I’m getting so much out of every part of them.  I cannot believe how much money I have spent on those cartons of organic broth in the past.  Never again!!!!

Be sure to strain it well.  The bones get pretty soft and small pieces can be hard to separate.  I always run it through a mesh strainer just to be safe.

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This is how it looks after cooking all day or over night. Now it just needs to be strained and it’s ready to use.

One thing I have learned is that there will be a thin layer of grease that solidifies on top of the broth after it cools.  I just wait until the first time I pull in out of the refrigerator to use it and spoon it into the trash.  The broth will be very dark and rich and the flavor is amazing.  This photo doesn’t do the color justice, but I wanted to show the thin layer of fat I mentioned after refrigeration so you won’t be weirded out when you see it in yours.

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I hope I’m not the only one who was in the dark on this.  Give it a try if you haven’t done it before.  You will be cooking chickens left and right, just so you can make your own stock.  If cooking whole chickens is not in your usual repertoire, use whatever kind of chicken you usually eat. Honestly, you can even just throw in the parts from your store bought rotisserie chicken.  It will work just the same.  Do yourself a favor and turn your own chicken parts into liquid gold.  It’s like printing money.  Stop buying stock.  Use your liquid assets.  I could do this all day.

If you want a more specific recipe, check out this one from 100 Days of Real Food.  This blog is fantastic.  If you don’t follow it already, you’re missing out.  It is geared towards good clean healthy eating and living.

Also, one more thing.  I always wondered what the difference is between stock and broth.  Since I went to the trouble to look it up, I thought I would share what I found.  Stock is made with bones and parts, like I have described here.  Broth is made with actual meat.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same.  In theory, you could get a richer flavor from broth since you are using the meat, but it’s hard for me to believe it could be any richer than this.  Does anyone have opinions on stock versus broth?  I would love to hear what you know.

Spinach and Pear Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

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Spinach and Pear Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

10oz of baby spinach

1 ripe bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (mine was too big, so I only used 1/2)

4 slices of bacon or turkey bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (omit for vegetarian version)

¼ cup dried cranberries

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

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I tried the pomegranate flavored cranberries in this batch. They were decent, but I think the original is the way to go. The pomegranate flavored berries were a little too sweet.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Use recipe below to make your Maple Dijon Vinaigrette.

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I used regular bacon this time, but often use turkey. Turkey bacon is my preference, but you have to be sure to get it crisp. My husband, on the other hand, prefers regular bacon no matter how it’s cooked.

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

⅓ cup cider vinegar

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tbsp dijon mustard

⅔ cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste (I use about ¼ tsp of each)

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Whisk together first 5 ingredients.  Gradually whisk in oil until completely blended.

Drizzle dressing over top of salad, toss, and serve.  Extra dressing can be kept covered in the refrigerator and used within a few days.

This makes a great side dish and uses some of my favorite fall flavors.  It’s a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving and will be on our holiday table for sure.

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Baba Gha-Hummus: A Recipe and So Much More

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No matter how many times I was told that it’s easy to make my own hummus, I never really wanted to do it.  As soon as they said “food processor”, I was out.  I used to use a big food processor that was loud and had enough parts to almost fill the top rack of my dishwasher every time I used it.  It was a pain to get in and out of the cabinet with all of it’s parts, so it just stayed put.  It seems way easier to just buy our hummus than to take it out and wash it.

That all changed with one bite of this delicious hummus.  I will warn you.  It ruined me on store-bought forever.  Even if I wanted to purchase a quick fix, I just couldn’t enjoy it after tasting the real deal.  Conveniently, I had my Mom’s Magic Bullet at my house for making baby food, so I was able to try the recipe out in it.  Why was I using my Mom’s Magic Bullet to make baby food when I own a food processor?  I wasn’t exaggerating.  I REALLY hate taking it out.

I mentioned a bite changed me.  I tasted this hummus at a party, and I couldn’t walk away from the bowl.  I will admit, I felt a little bit possessive of it, even though I hadn’t brought it.  That’s why they call it “crazy” good.  The Zimmermans, who brought the hummus, were kind enough to share the recipe with me and everyone else who tasted it because none of us were willing to let this recipe go un-had.

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The Zimmerman Family, looking all good.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Zimmerman family.  The only way I can really explain it is, they do it right.  By “it”, I mean life.  Homemade hummus is not even the tip of the iceberg.  I can’t do it justice, but check out the article, Family Lives the Self Sufficient Lifestyle, to have your mind blown.  What I CAN say is that every time I am around them, I leave feeling inspired to do a better job feeding my family.  This isn’t because they tell me I need to do better.  They never do that.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I have even seen one or both of them pretend to really enjoy my “something wrapped in canned dough” finger food offering at the very party where I laid claim to their hummus platter.  I want to do better because their passion and knowledge are inspirational.  They make the impossible seem pretty darn doable.  Not to mention, they do it all while raising two of the most well-rounded tween boys you will ever meet who are just plain fun to be around.

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They’re the kind of people who leave organic sweet potatoes on their neighbor’s porch as a random surprise. WIN!!!

So, maybe my big beautiful garden only exists on my Pinterest board and my “composting” takes place in our garbage bin, but we now eat homemade hummus.  Baby steps, right?  Without further ado…

Baba Gha-Hummus

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant

1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

3 tbsp. tahini (or sesame seeds and a little extra EVOO)

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

¾ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. ground red pepper (or less)

2 garlic cloves (Sometimes I just throw in garlic powder; sometimes I roast the garlic for some extra yum!)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 squirts of lemon juice (optional)

Penny’s directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Pierce eggplant with a fork. Place eggplant on a jelly roll and bake at 375 for 30 min or until tender. Cool eggplant completely; peel. (Although I don’t peel mine.) Cut eggplant into wedges. Combine eggplant, tahini, and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

Yields 2 cups.

This recipe is very forgiving and also able to easily adapt. I often add a little lemon juice to bring out the flavors or have to add a little more olive oil if it seems dry. Also, don’t be afraid to play around with the amounts of the spices, just know that the flavors develop the longer it sits. Enjoy!

There you have it.  Below are some photos of what it looks like when I make this hummus.  I have had the recipe for a little over a month and I think I have made it at least 6 times.  I made a couple of batches by roasting red peppers when I was out of eggplant and it was great that way too.  I’m pretty sure you have to change the name if you swap out the eggplant, though.

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These are the ingredients. I use sesame seeds instead of tahini because I can’t find a tahini that isn’t processed in a facility with our allergens. Also, the ground red pepper is missing because I forgot to get it out for the picture. Oops!

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There’s the whole eggplant just roasting away. It doesn’t get any easier than putting it in the oven with no prep at all.

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I grind the sesame seeds to a powder first.

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With the magic bullet, I have to do a few small batches. I try to divide all of the ingredients into semi-equal parts. Here is everything in the first batch of this round.

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The Magic Bullet gets the job done, but it’s not without a good bit of effort.  I divide the ingredients into smaller batches, then I have to shake the blender considerably while it’s working through it to get all of the chunks down to the blade.  I end up adding a bit more oil and lemon juice as I go to thin it enough for the magic bullet to cut it.  This feels like a good time to mention that I’m campaigning hard for a Vitamix from my husband for Christmas.  Oh what I could do with one of those!!!  If you have any compelling arguments, go ahead and email him directly 🙂

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Did I mention this deliciousness is top 8 allergen free, gluten free, and vegan?  BOO-YA!!!!!

NO this, NO that…What CAN you send to school for lunch?

I know that many parents struggle to find school lunch ideas, even without restrictions.  For some, finding themselves in a nut-free school or allergen free classroom is a huge inconvenience.  Although my daughter’s school is not nut or allergen free, I know that many of the other parents make an effort to send in lunches that are safe for her so she can sit with friends without worrying about their food or hands touching her.  For the record, I am not suggesting that everyone should pack allergy free lunches.  I just like to share some of the things we pack in hopes that others might see something they like and can use.  I have been asked many times what I send for lunch and I feel like the options are extensive, despite being dairy, egg, peanut, and tree nut free.  Below is my post from last year with all of the lunchtime details.  I promised to add more to it, so here they are.  I have photographed lunches these first two weeks of preschool so you can see what I send.  Notice that there are two in several of the pictures.  My non-allergic daughter goes to school a few days each week and she eats the same lunch as my allergic daughter.  It’s not “special” food.  It’s just FOOD.

School Lunch:  Keeping it Simple (The original lunch post)

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Turkey rolls, tomatoes, steamed green beans, berries, and popcorn.

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Quinoa salad, turkey rolls, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, fruit smashie pouch, and juice.

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Turkey rolls, steamed green beans, carrots, tomatoes, mixed berries, hummus, crackers, fruit smashie pouch, and juice.

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Nectarine, raisins, and hummus with veggie dippers: green peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, tomatoes.

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Rice cake, turkey rolls, tomatoes, green peppers, and apple slices.

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Turkey rolls, green beans, tomatoes, apples, crackers, and hummus.

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Apples, green beans, red grapes, green olives, somersaults sunflower seed snacks, tomatoes, and turkey.

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Tomatoes, red grapes, frozen peas*, frosted mini wheats, raspberries, sweet potato sticks, Triscuits, and hummus.

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Hummus, crackers, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, blueberries, and carrots.

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Fruit smashie pouch, honeydew, strawberries, mini banana muffins*, kidney beans, carrots, green beans.

A few notes:

*1) I pack the frozen peas straight from the freezer.  I don’t thaw at all.  If I pack the night before, they thaw by lunch time.  If I pack the morning of, my girls eat them frozen.  They actually love them frozen as much as thawed, if not more.

*2) I made a double batch of mini vegan banana muffins before school started and popped them in the freezer (wrapped in sets of 4).  I take out a pack of 4 the night before I want to pack them and put them in the fridge.  They are thawed by morning.

3)  You will notice I pack a lot of hummus.  I have learned to include a spoon because no matter how many dippers I give, the fingers will end up in the hummus by the end if there is no spoon.

If your kids really love their nut butter sandwiches, fear not.  There is an option even if your school is nut free.  We are big fans of WOW Butter.  It is school safe and has the texture of real peanut butter.  The flavor is great too.  There are a lot of alternatives on the market, but after trying many of them, this is our favorite.

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If you peel back the label, there are even little sticker labels to put on the sandwich wrapper so you can be sure it won’t be mistaken for peanut butter.

*All views expressed in this blog are my own…until I change my mind, at least 😉

We’re Up To Something: The Unveiling!!!

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People often ask what we are up to these days or what exactly we’re doing with ourselves.  Justin and I are collaborating our efforts for the first time in an attempt to create something together.  Actually, we have three kids, so maybe not for the first time.  Nonetheless, here is the backstory…  [hazey fade in to three years ago]

In the spring of 2011, we went on a nice family vacation to Key West, just the three of us.  I was pregnant with our second daughter.  We had already been through our big dining out scare and had learned a lot about how to find safe meals in restaurants.  We knew all about asking for allergen menus and talking to managers.  We also knew that chain restaurants were more likely to have specific allergen information available.  We got a room with a kitchenette so we could put together safe breakfasts and snacks, but we didn’t worry too much about finding safe meals.

Elena had just turned 2 years old.  On our first night at our destination, we decided to go out for dinner.  We hadn’t had a lot of time for call aheads, so we decided to go to a chain restaurant with an allergen menu.  We looked up the menu online before we left the room, picked out a few options, then headed to the restaurant.  We spoke with a manager and they brought us the print out of the allergen menu.  Immediately we realized the info was different from what we had seen online.  Uh oh.  It appeared that the things we had chosen were either not on this menu at all, or were listed as unsafe for Elena’s allergens.  After reviewing the menu with the manager, we determined she could safely have steamed broccoli and italian dressing.  That was all.  Obviously, we had to leave.  She was melting down and we drove around looking for another option.  We were all pretty hungry by this point.  We eventually found a grocery store and just went in to get something we could eat while having hunger induced meltdowns and tantrums in the aisles.  After all, I was pregnant.  We left with a few odds and ends and went back to the room to put together a terribly disappointing dinner.  There had to be a better way.

[Not so hazey jump back to today] My special effects are pretty low tech.

One problem is that it takes a lot of time to read allergen menus when you have more than one allergen to consider.  We are usually handed four separate menus, one for each allergen, and we have to cross reference to find something that is labeled safe on all four.  Sometimes we sit and read for quite a while before we complete the puzzle, just to find that nothing is safe for her.  We had to figure out something better.

Initially our only goal was to solve the problem of puzzling through the menus to find a safe dish.  Our solution was allergenmenu.  We created a tool that would do the work for you.  The idea is that you input your profile, based on your allergens, and it sorts through the menus for you and tells you which dishes fit your restrictions at restaurants near you.  It returns actual menu items, based on the information provided by the restaurants, so you know what your options are before you step in the door.

Then we realized we needed more information.  We wanted specifics.  We didn’t just want to know what the corporation says they can make without these ingredients.  We want to know if the servers and managers demonstrate competence with food allergies.  We want to know how willing they are to take extreme precaution.  We want to know what modifications can be made to dishes to make them safe.  Most importantly, we want to know if the food is good.  Every time we actually visit a restaurant, we leave with more information than we could ever gain through researching online.  We want that level of information without having to visit to get it.  We need a tool where everyone can review and rate what they are eating in restaurants.  I only want to see the dishes that are safe for us and I want to know details about the location I’m considering visiting.  This is the beginning of Noshed It.

Noshed It is a free iPhone app that addresses these more detailed needs.  Rather than compiling information provided by the corporations alone, it compiles reviews from actual diners from specific visits.  I review what we eat and if a dish I reviewed fits the restrictions you indicated in your profile, you will see what I had to say about the food, the service, and exactly how I ordered.  This is not only for those with food allergies.  It’s also for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free dietary restrictions.

We have been using the app for several months now and love that all of our experiences are documented to look back on.  We know exactly how we modified our dishes to make them safe and whether or not the food was good.  We still use all of the same precautions as always, such as speaking with a manager, checking ingredients, and asking for clean careful preparation, but now we have a huge advantage when we’re eating out.  Based on the reviews other people have submitted, we have found several safe meals for Elena in our own home town that we did not know about and might never have found.

To review a meal, you just snap a photo with your phone, then review right away or save it for later.  It’s very simple.  Sometimes we start chowing down before we take a photo.  No problem.  Reviews can be written without a photo as well.  We have even been known to use a photo of a half eaten dish.  Anything goes.   Follow these links to see some actual reviews on Noshed It.

Kyle Dine’s Chipotle Review

Emily’s Salsarita’s Review

We have noticed a trend among people living with food allergies.  There is a question that pops up on message boards, facebook pages, group sites, and all over search engines.  We constantly see people asking and answering the same question over and over.  “What/where do you eat in X city with an X allergy?”  Everypone is seeking the same kind of answers we were seeking.  They don’t just want to know what the allergen information on the website indicates.  They want to know where other people with similar restrictions have eaten successfully.  They want to know what they ate and how the management handled allergies.  They want to know exactly how others are ordering.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all of those answers were compiled in one place with all of the details and ratings?  It might have saved us an ER visit when we were first learning to navigate food allergies.

So this is what we’re doing now.  After much soul searching, Justin left his corporate job of 9 years, which he loved, and we are focused on creating tools that will lessen the burden of living with dietary restrictions.  Hopefully Elena will never have to go through the challenges we have faced in finding meals for her when she’s out navigating the world on her own with food allergies as an adult….or even scarier, a teenager (gulp).  She will have these tools to help make it easier to be safe and to live a normal life.

But that was all too simple.  For a few reasons, which I won’t go into, we have decided to change the name of Noshed It.  By the end of the month, Noshed it will become….drum roll……………………..wait for it……………………….. YoDish!!!

(Download the app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod.  Did I mention, it’s FREE?)

Yodish-Logo-01.png

We are so excited to continue rating our meals and to see what others add to YoDish.  Go ahead and start dishing your favorites.  Actually, dish the meals you have hated as well.  Knowing what to avoid is every bit as important as knowing what to nosh.  (See what I did there?)  Let us know what you think and how we can make it better.  Your feedback will help us build a tool that will change dining out with food restrictions.  Our hope is that the next generation of food allergic individuals will have it easy.  Come on!  What are you waiting for?  YoDish!