Allergy Safe Birthday Cake!

It is still hard to believe that three years ago I birthed a human into this world!Those of you that have been following know that Kai has multiple food allergies and sensitivities.In the past I have taken attempts at Allergy- Free , Allergy- Safe cakes and they have been a fail.

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While grocery shopping I ran across this brownie mix by the Enjoy Life brand. The idea popped in my head that I could use this brownie mix as a birthday cake for Kai!

If you have a child with food allergies I would highly recommend this product! It was the most simple recipe I have ever made and best of all it was free from ALL of the Top 8 (dairy, eggs, tree nut, peanut, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish). You literally only have to add oil and water.  For oil I used Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and I topped the brownie with Powdered Sugar. The baking instructions suggests to use a greased pan, however I used parchment paper to ensure that the mixture did not stick to my baking dish. I cut off the edges of the brownie to make it a square shape.

Needless to say that Kai loved and enjoyed it. I cried tears of joy seeing my baby girl so excited about having a birthday cake, a chocolate birthday cake. Kai has watched everyone around her have birthdays and blow out candles which has made her request a birthday cake however, she knows that she cannot eat it. So to see her be able to cut her own cake and enjoy it was a moment I will never forget!

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Allergy Friendly- Vegan Cornbread Muffins

These muffins are one of Kai’s favorite foods. She requests them all the time, she does not know that these muffins do not in fact just appear when she wants them, I actually have to spend about 40 minutes to make them. LOL!

They are gluten free, nut free, egg free, soy fee and dairy free! The specific brand of ingredients that I use that are allergy safe for Kai are in parenthesis, however you can use any variation of ingredients that you wish and it should all work out the same. Kai has a super high metabolism so we use these as a side item for meals and even for a filling snack. She also loves them with honey on top. I hope you Enjoy! 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees
  2. Lightly grease muffin pan or you can use cupcake liners
  3. In a large glass bowl, combine all ingredients gently using a spoon or whisk DO NOT OVER MIX (if you over mix the muffins will not rise).
  4. Last. Add In the melted vegan butter, gently stir again.
  5. Scoop mixture into the greased muffin pan
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool off (if you can wait) and enjoy! 🙂

**Storage: Store muffins in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

**Reheating: I prefer to reheat in the oven or you can simply wrap muffins in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10-15 seconds.

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Food Allergies on the Go

When you are on the go with a kid with food allergies you have to plan and prepare.My daughter Kai is allergic to all of the Top 8: Eggs, Peanuts/ Treenuts, Wheat, Soy, Fish/ Shellfish, Diary.

If were going to be away from home any longer than 2-3 hours I always pack a lunch and snacks for Kai. It really saves me from being in a situation where we are gone for too long and my child does not have food that is safe to eat.  It also saves me money because we always bring our own snacks. So if you are simply looking for a way to save $$$ It’s a Win, Win!

I know packing meals everyday sounds like a lot but I have a few tips to make it super simple for you!

Tip #1 : The Preparation

The length of our trip and where we are going, determines the type of food I pack. For example, if we are just running errands that will run into her lunch time I will only pack a snack or a lunch. If our destination is a family member’s house and we will be there a couple of hours then I will usually pack two meals. If it is a long or over trip and I know there will be an accessible microwave I will pack a sandwich (for lunch) along with a more filling dinner option such as chicken wings, chicken legs, meatballs, etc.  If we are leaving early morning and returning in the evening I will pack breakfast for the car and lunch along with lots of snacks. I try my best to wake up before Kai, dress myself first, then I prep her food.

Tip #2: The Lunchbox

You need the right lunchbox. I prefer a lunchbox with a strap for convenient carrying. I also like a bag that has an outside pocket to hold my daughter’s water bottle. We use this Samsonite lunchbox, I found at TJ Maxx for $12.99. I love it!IMG_0222 It is spacious and keeps things cold with a freezer pack for 8-10 hours. My daughter drinks rice milk that I usually store in these Dr. Brown Bottles because they have a screw on lid and they fit perfectly in this lunchbox and remain very cold. This lunchbox also has a front pocket that I like to use to store my daughters food items that I prefer to kept at room temperature such as her Sun Butter Sandwiches.

 

Tip #3: The Food

Easy Finger Foods that do not require reheating are always a GO-TO for us. I love a balanced meal so I always pack a Protein, Whole Grain or Starch, Fruit, and a Fun Snack. Below are a few that we use weekly.

Breakfast Protein: Bacon, Sausage, Pancakes, Sun Butter and Banana Toast, Avocado Toast

Lunch/Dinner Protein: Black Beans, Sun Butter Sandwich, Avocado Toast, Turkey Avocado Sandwich, Homemade Chicken Tenders

Whole Grain or Starch: Homemade French Fries, Baby Gold Potatoes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Rice Cakes, Ener-G gluten- free Brown Rice Loaf 

Fruit/Veggies: Avocado, Bananas, Grapes, Strawberries, Blueberries, Pears, Pineapple, Craisins, Baby Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Tangerines/ Mandarin Oranges

Fun Snacks: Lays Potato Chips, Veggie Straws, Ruffles (Plain), Air Popped Popcorn

Tip #4: Food Storage

I like sturdy containers. Our lunchbox will do a lot of moving around and it sometimes gets shaken up. I prefer to keep the food separated (Who likes soggy food? LOL). Since a lot of our “on the go meals” are eaten in the car I aim for containers that are easy for her to open on her own. I really love these Sistema Containers. IMG_0218We have had these for about 2 years and they are still holding up well! You can find these containers at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Target, or Amazon. The only con to them is that they do not store well in the cabinet because they do stack one inside another.

I always keep a spoon, fork, and knife in the pocket the lunch box. We do not use restaurant utensils due to possible cross contamination. I think it is better safe than sorry. If I forget these utensils then I will request plastic utensils.

Also, I  carry a back pack with Kai’s EpiPen and a bottle of Benadryl as a just in case measure. That way I am prepared if anything does happen.

Tip #5: Patience

My final tip is patience. It requires a lot patience to be a parent and even more patience to meal prep and pack a lunch daily. However, the benefits outweigh the time put into it. It guarantees your child an allergy safe meal no matter where you go and for parents with kiddos with no allergies, it saves money on impulse buys!

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Sending Love, Sasha Small

Introducing New Foods

Hello everyone! I just wanted to briefly share how I introduce new foods into Kai’s diet. As you all know Kai has multiple food allergies. She is on a very strict diet. Now that she is 17 months Kai has gotten fed up with her limited options and actually started refusing food (sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, chicken, sausage) :#oor baby. So I made the decision to step out on faith and we have began trying new foods (even foods that she is “allergic to”).

I usually try to only introduce new foods early on a Friday afternoon, right after I pick her up from daycare  to give time for reaction symptoms to subside by Monday so we can both return to work and school!

I only try one new food at a time. Then if there are no reactions I will give it to her again on Saturday. If there is still no reaction. Then I give it to her on Sunday as well. After she has had the food three days in a row I deem her not allergic, then we have a major celebration!

Some new foods we have recently introduced are:

This past weekend we introduced the Van’s Cereal and boy was it a hit!  It is Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, and Corn Free. This cereal is very yummy and between Kai and I we have almost consumed the entire box just this weekend. Please do not judge us. LOL

If your child has mild allergic reactions I would try this at home. If your child has SEVERE food allergies I would not recommend you trying this at home as it could be very dangerous for your child. For severe cases your child’s Allergist will recommend you come in to office and do their food clinics. Kai was offered this opportunity, but I didn’t see any point of scheduling an appointment for a doctors visit and waiting for hours for them to do something that I can do at home. It just wasn’t the most convenient option for us. I do strongly encourage you to try new things with your child if you are comfortable. There are some foods that I was keeping from Kai that she could eat like, wheat. Also, her allergy testing gave us the green light on consuming Oats, however Oats were actually breaking her out. So the allergy test are not always 100% accurate. What prompted me to start trying new things is when Kai started to refuse food. I also personally feel that even though she might have had a mild reaction from a food such as hives around her mouth, her coming into contact with the food will help her better tolerate it in the future. This is just my theory. Lol

If you have any questions about trying new foods or foods we have tried feel free to comment with your questions I would love to hear from you all. Until next time…. Happy Food Testing!

Kai’s Hair Care Routine

Hair…. A very important topic especially for a child with Eczema and Food Allergies.

I am about to get kind of technical so beware. Lol

Kai more specifically as both Atopic Dermatitis and Contact Dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis means exactly what it looks like, Kai will get a mild to severe skin irritation if she comes into contact with anything her body does not agree with. I will just list a few of the things that I noticed that irritates Kai: Eggs, Olive Oil, Bleach, Vegetable Oil, Black Pepper, Vitamin E oil, Coconut Oil, White Grape Juice, etc. There are a couple of more but that’s just a brief list. There was no test done to determine this I simply observe and take note of things that I notice that bother Kai. So me knowing this I have to be very specific with her hair care products. It is very hard to find products that don’t irritate her scalp and face. And usually if I use something her skin does not agree with I will know with in minutes because she will start to rash around her hairline, ears, and neck. So if this happens I first give her Benadryl, then I immediately wash the product out of her hair. I just wanted to share this in case some of you all are going through something similar and weren’t quite sure what was happening. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Now on to the actual post, Hair Care….. (all products are linked)

 Shampoo & Conditioner.

We currently use Johnson’s No More Tangles Shampoo & Conditioner ($3.99). It is a hypo-allergenic product. Kai is African American and has a very thick & porous texture of hair. It is very kinky and curly. Lol This stuff has been the mildest formula that I have found. I have experimented with TONS of hair products and methods. This is what I have found to work best for Kai. Surprisingly it is not as drying as I assumed it would be in comparison to their regular baby bath & shampoo. I occasionally use the Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner ($12). I like this product however it is very scented so I only use it occasionally. This Cleansing Conditioner is not very moisturizing so on wash days that I use this I will use it as a replacement for shampoo then follow up with the Johnson’s No More Tangles Conditioner.hair-c

Oil.

As for oils, we have tried it ALL! Coconut, Castor, Olive, Grapeseed, you name it. Lol

What I have found to work best for my Kai is the Now Brand Avocado Oil ($4.99). I purchase it from Whole Foods. Okay this is important, IF YOUR CHILD HAS A NUT ALLERGY you have to purchase, this avocado oil that is for your hair and skin, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, purchase “Cold Pressed” Avocado Oil from the grocery section of the store. It is processed differently and most cases in the same facilities that also process Nuts. It will break your child out. I made this mistake and had to do my research.

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DO NOT purchase this Avocado Oil if your child has a Nut Allergy

 

Moisturizer.

On to Moisturizing the hair… Kai’s hair texture needs a thick creamy moisturizer in order to smooth her hair into ponytails and twists. I have found that products with a thick whipped consistency work best. We use Carol’s Daughter’s Healthy Hair Butter ($17). hair-butter-jpgThe smell of this product is a bit overwhelming as well, but in a good way. It has essential oils in it like, Lemongrass and Lavender so those smells really stand out. It is one of very few moisturizers that has not irritated her hair and scalp! 🙂 So for that reason alone it is AMAZING! I have to purchase it directly from their website.

I have attempted to make my own whipped hair butter but unfortunately it irritated Kai’s scalp. I’m not sure why but I plan on modifying that recipe then I will share it with you all!

Detangle & Styling.

I use a wide tooth comb for detangling, a spray bottle of water with about 10 drops of Avocado Oil in it that I refill weekly. To style her hair, I use bristle brush for smoothing and a rattail comb for parting. If I am combing Kai’s hair into ponytails I use regular black rubber bands. I used to use the clear rubber bands when she was younger but now that her hair is much more thick they tend to break and do not work as well. When it is time to remove the rubber bands I will either cut them out or break them with my teeth. LOL

Well that pretty much sums things up for Kai’s Hair Care. I know that a couple of these items are pricey but Carol’s Daughter almost always has a promo code out there that can save you a couple of bucks. For the Johnson’s I usually purchase it from Target with my Target Red Card which saves 5%, to mention the Cartwheel App. If you do not have either of those I definitely recommend getting them! If you have any questions or suggestions for us to try feel free to comment below or email me! Until next time….

~Sasha

Home-Style Sweet Potatoes with Avocado

Kai loves this combo! It is the perfect finger food for toddlers and can be eaten at any temperature. Kai is very picky and there are  certain foods she will not touch if they are served cold. This dish is not one of them. LOL It literally takes me 20 minutes to make and the clean up is super easy. So busy mama’s this is for you!

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1- Sweet Potato
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1- Ripe Haas Avocado
  • Potato Peeler
  • 10 inch non- stick frying pan

Here’s what to do with it:

  1. Wash and Peel Sweet Potato
  2. Dice sweet potato into cubes
  3. Heat Frying & add in Olive Oil
  4. Once the pan is hot, add in the sweet potatoes
  5. Sprinkle on your desired amount of cinnamonimg_4127
  6. Sautee sweet potatoes until crispy and golden brown (about 15 minutes) on medium heat
  7. Once sweet potatoes are brown remove the pan from the heatimg_4138
  8. Slice open ripened avocado and serve on the side diced or cubed. What ever you prefer.img_4158

Breastfeeding Babies with Food Allergies

It was not until I had to feed a toddler solid foods that I realized the many options that were out there for myself when I was breast feeding. I was on an elimination diet while I was breast feeding my daughter and I still could not control her outbreaks or figure out what was triggering them. An Elimination Diet, is when you eliminate a different common allergen food and see if your child’s symptoms disappear. If symptoms disappear after the removal of the suspected allergen then you would leave that food out of your diet because your child’s body cannot tolerate it. Some symptoms to look for to see if your child might be having an allergic reaction to your breast milk are:

  • Mucus / Watery stools
  • Frequent “Blow outs”
  • Hives
  • Red Inflamed Skin Rash/ Eczema
  • Rosy Cheeks
  • Constant scratching/ irritation

My daughter was experiencing all of these symptoms. Kai could not have a blood draw allergy test which is usually the most efficient until she reached 6 months of age. So I had to turn to formula. Initially, I stayed on the Elimination Diet and kept pumping my milk up until Kai was about 5 and a half months. If you’re a breast feeding mama I’m sure you know how demanding and annoying it is to exclusively pump. I understand why most women quit. Giving baby the milk straight from the tap is EFFORTLESS!!! I mean you can lay down, stand up, move around, and still breast feed. Pumping on the other hand is a totally different case; it wore down on me.

I decided I would gain some self control and buckle down on my diet and give breast feeding one more shot with this new restricted diet I had worked on. One day I just couldn’t handle another dry sandwich so I added just a slither of mayo to it. I ate, then I fed Kai and about 30 minutes after Kai’s feeding she broke out all over her face. I felt horrible and declared that was it. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically which was no good for either of us. After that I let my supply dry up (which hurt like crap). At the time I had no idea of all of the alternatives for certain items that were out there. All I could see were my limits, not my solutions. I did not find very many resources on the subject either. Below I have one MASSIVE FOOD list of allergy free friendly foods that I have found using trial and error, research, and just straight up spending hours in whole foods walking the aisles reading labels. I hope that it helps someone. I truly believe that breast is best. Not because breast milk is any better than formula…. But because of all that it entails. It was one of the most proud moments of my life seeing what my body could produce and watching my babies rolls appear, looking at her knowing that the milk from my body was the cause of that. It is truly an amazing experience and if I could go back I would do it over and over again.

One suggestion I would make that I learned from experience is, the best way to combat food allergies is to start out on an Elimination Diet and add in one of the common allergens at a time that way you know exactly which food it is that your child is reacting to versus trying to guess. The hardest part for me was finding snack food that did not contain NUTS and SOY. Especially nuts since they are a favorite of mine for snacking. They seemed to be in almost EVERYTHING.

For you future mothers out there who are contemplating breast feeding…. DO IT! I promise you will not regret it. It is very beneficial for you and your baby. Not to mention I never got sick until after I stopped breast feeding. It’s like you have an untouchable immune system and to think, it’s all for your baby. Isn’t God amazing?

Food List (DAIRY, NUT, SOY, WHEAT, & EGG FREE)

Snacks

  • Dried Fruit (Cranberries, Raspberries, Apricots, Mango, Bananas, Pears, Apples etc.)
  • Apple Chips
  • Terra Sweet Potato Chips
  • Lundberg Rice Cakes
  • Veggie Straws
  • Hummus & Pretzels/ Cucumber Slices/ Carrot Chips (Warning: Store bought Sabra hummus contains Soybean Oil which is soy and might cause a trigger a reaction in your baby if they’re allergic)
  • Guacamole
  • Enjoy Life Brand ( Most if not all of their products are allergy free!!!! :))
  • Rice Works Chips
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Air popped popcorn (l typically use Olive Oil to drizzle over the popcorn and add Sea Salt, Vegetable Oil is made from Soybeans)
  • Kale Chips
  • Lentil Bean Snaps
  • Beef Jerky

Meat

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Seafood (I would proceed with caution)

Fruit

  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches

Vegetables

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • White Potatoes
  • Red Potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell Pepper
  • Onion (some infants are sensitive to onion)

Condiments

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Oil & Vinegar
  • 365 Organic Raspberry Vinaigrette
  • Sriracha Sauce
  • Mustard
  • Hot Sauce
  • Vegenaise (Egg Free but Contains Soy)

This is just a short list, so it does not contain every food. It also only contains foods that either Kai or myself consume. So, once again it is a very minimal list. Print it out and take it along with you when you are doing your grocery shopping. I just simply wanted to help you ladies that are struggling with the same issue I did. You do have food options even with an Elimination Diet. Stay Strong & Happy Eating! 🙂

~Sasha