Tag Archives: MSPI

Going Gluten-Free: Super-Easy One-Skillet Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Rice.

Gluten-free | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Egg-free

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My middle daughter (the strawberry gelato aficionado from my last post) was recently diagnosed celiac just before her 5th birthday. Over the past couple of months, I’d noticed some changes in her that worried me: she was sleeping later than either of her sisters, but was still tired all the time, wearing out much more quickly than usual. She complained often of belly pain and growing pains, she had circles under her eyes, would often get unexplained low-grade fevers, and she was much more easily irritated. So I called our pediatrician’s nurse line and expressed my concerns, asking if we could get some blood work done before her 5-year checkup. The doctor wanted to see her right away after hearing the symptoms I was describing, and ran a full panel for everything from mono to anemia, diabetes to liver dysfunction, cancer to celiac. Her celiac numbers were astounding, and we were referred to a GI specialist right away. At that visit, she weighed in at 34 pounds. 5 days before her 5th birthday. Being in the 90th percentile for height. Her dot was 2 full inches BELOW the BMI curve. I knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t prepared for that shock.

As you know from my MSPI posts, we’re no strangers to accommodating dietary changes, but as hard as it was do avoid dairy and soy, I knew that it was temporary; I only had to cut them out for 6 months until my baby’s stomach was strong enough to get it through my milk, and my now-almost-3-year-old grew out of it at 18 months. Being told that celiac was a change for life–and an autoimmune disease, no less–and that she was so malnourished as a result of the malabsorption that we were one step away from a feeding tube, was a LOT to take in. (Keep in mind we’re also expecting baby #4 in 2 months, are getting a house ready to sell, and are building a house.)

But my pity party is over (for the time being) and now I’m setting to work researching recipes and finding gluten-free snacks that my pickiest eater (of course it WOULD be my pickiest eater) will eat so that she can catch up to her growth curve.

I’ve had some success adapting some of her favorites of my old standbys (I’ll do a separate post about those), but while I have the time before Baby comes, I’m trying to expand my repertoire of naturally gluten-free meals that are easy and don’t require the separate pots and pans needed to prevent cross-contamination (I told you it’s a lot to take in).

If you’ve been around for awhile, you already know what big fans we are of the many variations of chicken-and-rice dishes, but one of the challenges of gluten-free eating is finding ways to keep the fiber content up when we’re so used to eating whole-wheat almost everything. So I love that this easy one-skillet meal mixes the beans right in with no effort!

One-Skillet Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Rice

Adapted from here

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or use skin-on thighs like in the original recipe)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (make sure it says “gluten-free”)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1-2 Tbsp (I used 1 1/2) fresh-squeezed lime juice (can be bottled; I add a drop of Lime essential oil to mask the bottled taste)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dried cilantro (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  1. Heat a wide, deep skillet with lid on medium-high and add the olive oil. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, then lay them face down in the pan and brown 4 minutes–careful not to burn.
  2. Turn chicken breasts and brown on medium heat 2 more minutes. Remove to a plate (they won’t be done through yet).
  3. To the same skillet, add chicken broth, water, salt, cumin, garlic, and rice. Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Place chicken on top, making wells in the rice for each chicken breast, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes or until rice is tender, moisture is absorbed, and chicken is done through.
  4. Remove chicken to a plate and add lime juice (start with 1 Tbsp), cilantro, and black beans. Taste and adjust amount of lime juice. Then place chicken breasts on top to serve.

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Hard-boiled egg chocolate chip cookies.

Soy-free | Nut-free

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We have reason to celebrate! My almost-18-month-old has finally outgrown her MSPI (milk- and soy-protein intolerance)! So for the first time in ages, I wrote the word “butter” on the grocery list.

I don’t know how I found this recipe for hard-boiled egg chocolate chip cookies, but it simultaneously weirded me out and intrigued me, so I saved it for a time when, hypothetically, I might possibly have a dozen or so different-colored hard-boiled eggs sitting in my fridge that no one in my family will eat.

So one rainy afternoon earlier this week, we tried it. My 1st-grade mini scientist was excited at the prospect of an experiment. My preschooler and toddler just like eating cookie dough. My husband? Well, I didn’t tell him a thing.

We were all blown away! Aside from the fact that these taste amazing, one of the (other) best things about these is that the dough is safe for eating! And it’s the only butter-containing chocolate-chip cookie recipe I’ve ever tried that doesn’t spread in the oven here in Florida. I made them again this afternoon, but with only yolks, for an even better texture and mouthfeel, especially on Day 2 (yes, sometimes they do last that long!). I think these are going to be a new post-Easter tradition!

Hard-boiled Egg (Yolk) Chocolate-chip Cookies

Adapted from here

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 hard-boiled egg yolks, finely chopped (or use 2 whole peeled hard-boiled eggs)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla and eggs; beat until well mixed. (You may see pieces of yolk in the dough; this is fine.)
  4. Add salt, soda, and flour; mix until just combined. The dough will be a little drier than other dough recipes. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon onto prepared cookie sheets using a 2 Tbsp. dough scoop or other large spoon.
  6. Bake 9-10 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn golden. If in doubt, under-bake. (Remember the eggs are already pre-cooked!)
  7. Let cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.

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Wacky Cake: No eggs, milk, butter, or bowl needed.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Egg-free | Gluten-free option | Nut-free

It’s my birthday week, so I thought I would share a birthday cake recipe!

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I found out my baby was MSPI three weeks before my 30th birthday. I was so dejected at the prospect of not being able to have cake on my birthday. But just a week later, this recipe started making the rounds on social media. It has been a lifesaver for me. It won’t win any awards for Most Delicious Cake In The History Of Ever, but when you don’t have another option, it tastes like the best thing on Earth.

It’s called Wacky Cake, or Crazy Cake, or Depression Cake–because lore says it was popular during the Great Depression, when eggs and butter were scarce, and because you actually make depressions in the dry ingredients to add the liquid ones. It rises thanks to the exothermic reaction between vinegar and baking soda and makes a great experiment with your kids. This is a great option for people who can’t have eggs or dairy–and I’ve read that it works well with gluten-free flours as well.

There are a few ways to make it. All of the different options are listed at another blog, but here are the ones I’ve tried and tweaked: Chocolate, Vanilla, and single-serving Mug Cake versions of both. I’ll tell you right now the chocolate is definitely the better tasting, but for those who prefer it, the vanilla option is there. That’s what we did for my MSPI baby’s first birthday, because she hadn’t had chocolate yet. For her birthday party a few days later, I used the chocolate mug cake recipe to make an extra-small batch of cupcakes so that she could have her own dairy-free cupcake while everyone else ate carrot cake.

I’ve also got the recipes for chocolate fudge frosting and vanilla “butter”cream frosting. So this will be a long post, but hopefully a useful one!

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Chocolate Wacky Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-inch square or round pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in prepared pan (for round cake pan, mix all ingredients in a bowl and then pour the batter into the pan). Make 3 depressions in the flour mixture with your thumb. Pour the vinegar in one, the vanilla in another, and the oil in the third (it will overflow). Pour the water over all of it. Mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Original recipe here

2-ingredient Chocolate Fudge Frosting 

Note: This is easy, but requires at least a day of advance planning.

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 bag Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Remove carefully from the fridge–DO NOT SHAKE–and carefully open. Spoon out the cream that has separated to the top into a saucepan. (You do not need the liquid “coconut water” underneath; save it to use in a smoothie later!)
  2. Add the chocolate chips to the saucepan. Melt them together over low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into a mixer bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. (Usually I refrigerate overnight, then leave it on the counter for the morning to soften a little.)
  4. Whip it with a hand mixer or the whisk attachment on your stand mixer until smooth and creamy. It will be a thick, ganache-like consistency. Thin with nondairy milk if desired, but really, you don’t need to. Add a pinch of sea salt if it floats your boat.
  5. Resist the urge to just eat the whole batch with a spoon, and frost your cake as desired.

Original recipe here

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Vanilla Wacky Cake 

  • 1 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-inch square or round pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in prepared pan (for round cake pan, mix all ingredients in a bowl and then pour the batter into the pan). Make 3 depressions in the flour mixture with your thumb. Pour the vinegar in one, the vanilla in another, and the oil in the third (it will overflow). Pour the water over all of it. Mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Original recipe here

Vanilla “Butter”cream Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance soy-free buttery stick, room temp
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • almond milk for thinning (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. meringue powder (optional)
  • food coloring (optional)
  1. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the Earth Balance until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add about half of the powdered sugar, mixing until incorporated.
  2. Add vanilla. Mix in remaining powdered sugar gradually, pausing to whip the frosting mixture at high speed before adding more sugar, until the frosting looks thick enough. Whip at least a minute more and adjust powdered sugar or almond milk amounts as desired. Add meringue powder if you want your frosting to hold its shape during decorating.
  3. Dye with food coloring if desired.

Quick Single-Serving Microwave Mug Cake – Chocolate or Vanilla

  • 5 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. cocoa powder (for vanilla, add an additional 2 tsp. flour instead)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. water
  1. Grease the inside of a large ceramic mug. Combine dry ingredients inside, mixing well with a fork.
  2. Use your index finger to make 3 depressions in the flour mixture. Pour vinegar in one, vanilla in the second, and oil in the third (it will overflow). Pour water over all. Mix with fork until very well incorporated.
  3. Place in microwave and cook, uncovered, on high 1 1/2 – 2 minutes–it will vary depending on your microwave. Don’t overcook! Remember there are no eggs, so a little underdone is ok–even delicious!
  4. Top with dairy-free chocolate chips, So Delicious CocoWhip, or whatever you like! Eat warm.
  5. FOR SMALL BATCH OF CUPCAKES: This recipe will fill about 3 cupcake liners. Fill remaining wells of your tin with water, then bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You’ll have to watch them carefully.

Original recipe here

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Oldies but goodies, revamped.

With the new direction we’re taking, I thought I’d go back into some of my old favorites and bring them back in our new light. All of these are dairy- and other allergen-free, and most are clean and unprocessed. All are delicious and totally family-approved.

Sw008eet potato pancakes – These are perfect for fall, and for switching things up on the pancake front for breakfast or “brinner.” I recently gave them a clean makeover, and I honestly think they taste better than before!

peanut butter ballsPeanut butter protein balls – A perennial favorite in our house. I always have a batch sitting in the freezer to thaw a few for us to eat. If you have a new mama in your life, these are perfect for quick, easy energy during those ravenous first few weeks of breastfeeding; plus, the flax and oats help with milk supply.

creamy tomato basil pastaVegan creamy tomato-basil pasta – “Vegan” used to be a dirty word in our house, but once we got past that, this is quite possibly the perfect weeknight pasta dish, especially when you’re dealing with dietary restrictions. I dial the garlic and basil down from the original recipe and throw a couple handfuls of short pasta into the water with the spaghetti to keep the little ones happy. This was the first meal where my little one ate exclusively “grownup” food!

chicken curryChicken curry – I seriously love yellow curry. Good thing, because for awhile it seemed like the only MSPI-safe restaurant food in the U.S. was Thai curry! I think my girls got sick of curry after awhile. If you don’t have delicious Thai takeout nearby, this one is easy, delicious, and family-friendly because you can adjust the spices up or down.

banana swirlOne-ingredient ice cream – Quick, easy, lots of ideas to change it up, and dairy-free! I think this will come in handy as my MSPI baby starts to notice more that sorbet isn’t the same thing as ice cream and wanting some too.

peanut butter cookies 1Flourless peanut butter cookies – Sometimes, as a stressed-out mom of a newborn, who felt like I couldn’t eat anything, ever, I just needed a treat. Or several. Dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free, these fit the bill for dietary-restriction-sufferers. And the protein was great for nursing!

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A new face and a new direction. (Also: where have I been the last 2 years?)

Seeing the date of my last post–2 years and 6 days ago–reminds me just how much has gone on to keep me from blogging.

I ran a half marathon.

I learned how to eat clean, and how great it made me feel.

I got pregnant, and the resulting months of debilitating morningsickness and exhaustion kind of put preparing unprocessed foods on the backburner.

This cutie was born in October last year.0b

3 weeks later, we learned she had MSPI: milk/soy-protein intolerance. Literally overnight, I had to cut all dairy and soy out of my diet in order to keep her from writhing and crying in pain after every feeding.

Adjusting to life with a newborn, a kindergartener, and a 2-year-old, combined with having to completely turn all of my meal planning and shopping on its head, reading labels on everything, and not being able to eat at most restaurants, brought on postpartum depression and anxiety. I had panic attacks ordering in restaurants and just driving down the road. I felt very fortunate to have a good friend whose baby, 9 months older, was also MSPI, so she was able to get me started in what to buy and how to order food, so it could have been a lot worse. But I still had a hard time functioning.

In January, when she was 3 months old, we found out we would have to move to Switzerland for 6 months for my husband’s job–with 4 weeks’ notice.

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Our time there was both awesome and at times quite difficult. I homeschooled our kindergartener, planned our family trips, and figured out where to buy the things we needed in another language. I learned what breads, chocolates, and pasta dishes were dairy-free, and thankfully soybeans are not nearly as widespread in Europe as in the U.S., so I was able to find plentiful eating options. We had the opportunity to travel all over Europe as a family, and thankfully when my baby turned 6 months her stomach became strong enough that I could enjoy dairy again. Hooray for croissants, gelato, and Swiss milk chocolate!IMG_4799

In July we returned to Florida, and after a rocky repatriation period, I’m back to spinning plates: PTA, extracurriculars, church and community responsibilities, nap time, race training, and the list goes on. I’ve recommitted to eating clean because it’s the only way I can have the energy I need to keep all those plates spinning.

And just a couple of weeks ago, this little one turned one!
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Because she spent almost as much time outside the U.S. as in it, I chose a world traveler theme for her party.party1

I cut up a map to make the pennant banner and the mini banner on the cake, as well as the tiny toothpick flag on her dairy-free cupcake. On another map I connected photos of each month of her life with where in the world she was. We ate foods from the countries she visited or lived in, and enjoyed our friends’ company.party2

So now that you know where I’ve been these last two years, here’s the aforementioned “new direction.” Since my little one’s diagnosis, I feel like friends and acquaintances with MSPI babies keep coming out of the woodwork. Since committing to eating clean, friends have asked “isn’t it hard?” So my plan going forward is to continue (resume?) posting great family-tested recipes, just now with an emphasis on whole foods and possible dairy-free substitutions. Even if (when?) my cutie outgrows her MSPI, I’ll continue posting with dairy-free options.

If you’re a new mom desperate for MSPI-friendly meal and snack options, start at my “eat while nursing” Pinterest board here, and I’ll try to start getting new recipes and shopping lists into your hand(held device) in the coming weeks!

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