Dear Mama of an Allergic or Ill Nursling

Yesterday was  Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day and I was reminded like so many other days that I am thankful to have all 3 of my pregnancies reach full term with a beautiful baby girl in my arms. I am blessed. As I sat nursing Baby-Foodie to sleep last night, I felt enormous joy in being a mother because, despite the fact that she is a bit of a rascal, an energy ball AND an independent spirit who keeps me on my toes, the end of each day brings one of my most cherished moments

I cherish the moments I hold my baby girl as I nurse her and her warm body becomes heavy and limp blanketed by slumber.

I cherish the moment that my fierce Foguete (Portuguese for firecracker) is a quiet, peaceful angel in my arms.

In these moments I recall nursing Mini-Foodie M and being equally joyful because she nursed like a pro from day one and was a good sleeper. She was a healthy baby just like Baby-Foodie. 

In these moments, I remember my introduction to motherhood with my first Foguete who was a difficult baby. A baby I knew was sick once I realized she never nursed like the books described the spectrum of healthy nursing.

In these moments, I feel a sadness that I didn’t know then what I know today. I try not to feel guilty because I didn’t know better. 

In these moments, I feel sad that my baby girl was not able to nurse as long as her sisters. But I feel the most sadness because she was unable to nurse without pain. Her allergies were so bad that she only nursed a bare minimum and cried herself to sleep in my arms as I rocked her, danced with her, and sang to her for up to 3 and even 5 hours each night making up songs that were prayers that slumber and relief would come. I remember that I used to feel like my milk was hurting her or that, as is believed in my Azorean culture, my milk wasn’t strong enough to for her thrive. I felt like I was poisoning my baby with my milk.

In these moments, I feel grateful that all three Mini-Foodies are healthy and thrive today as well as a desire to encourage any mama of an allergic nursling who is struggling. 

Dear Mama, take each moment, each day, each night, each week one at a time. Things will get better. 

When we realize that our child is not healthy and / or not thriving, it feels like the end of the world. Sometimes we feel like it is our fault and we look for what we did wrong in our pregnancy. We ask ourselves things like: “Was it the cocktail or sushi I had before I knew I was pregnant?”, “Did I use safe products to clean the house?”, “Was it the anti-persperant I stopped wearing when I learned it was unhealthy?”, and so many others. We will never have an answer to these questions, but what we do have is our motherhood and our children with allergies or an illness who we are blessed to love, teach, protect and honor. 

So Dear Mama of an allergic or ill child, please take each moment one at a time and know (1) you are NOT alone, (2) things will get better as you learn to navigate your new reality, and (3) you are blessed with the desire to protect your child and teach her or him how to live life where this allergy or illness is not a curse, but rather a challenge that calls for creativity as well as patience and the understanding that life is a different kind of normal.

And Dear Mama, please remember that at the end of the day, after all the challenging moments, your sleeping child is your Earthly Angel who looks up to you and who loves you unconditionally. 

I wish you Saúde / Health, Paz / Peace, Amor / Love.

Coconut Flour & Almond Meal Baked Donuts

 

This donut was born in my temporary kitchen which has limited tools as you may know if you have been reading most recent posts regarding my family’s move from the west coast to New England.  As of my last post, we have a working kitchen design which is quite exciting, but of course will require a lot of work and will come after insulation so that we can survive winter.

Back to how this recipe came to be.  I was attempting to use coconut flour and almond meal to make pancakes. Let me now share with you that coconut flour pancakes and I don’t usually get along because I am not an expert at flipping them due to their consistency. When I started making these, I became frustrated with trying to flip them whole and keeping them pretty-ish. My solution? Pull out my mini-donut maker and make donuts. Results? Happy Mini-Foodies and Mama.

The ingredients also have a story. Being in a kitchen without a fridge definitely makes a cook creative with the limitations.  I have made these with water and with coconut milk. I am sure that they would work with other milks as well. I started out making them with arrowroot flour, but soon ran out and found that, while it is nice to have, these are fluffy and tasty without it and so I adjusted the ratios of the remaining ingredients.

For the first few times I have made these, I used applesauce and pumpkin butter for both moisture, sweetness and flavor. I have since omitted pumpkin butter and added applesauce which has resulted in flavor variations.  What you will find below is the basic pumpkin butter recipe with notes on the adjustments when omitting the pumpkin butter.

Ingredients

3 eggs

3/4 -1 cup water or non-dairy milk

1/4 cup pumpkin butter (*if omitted…)

1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened (*…add 1/4 cup if omitting pumpkin butter)

12 Tbsp / 3/4 cup almond meal

4 Tbsp / 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch or 2 sea salt

Optional Toppings:  Chocolate Chips, Pumpkin butter

Optional for Chai Spice Applesauce Donut:

1 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom, pinch ground black pepper

Method

Whisk or stir using a fork the wet ingredient until well incorporated.  Add dry ingredients. Continue to mix until well incorporated & free of lumps. (For Chai Spiced option: add spices. Mix until incorporated.)  Add batter to your mini-donut maker according to manufacturer’s instructions & bake.

If using toppings, when donuts are still warm, add chocolate chips so they may melt. Add pumpkin butter to enjoy a pseudo-jelly donut.

Anchovie-Flavored Mushrooms & Carrots

This 3 Ingredient Dish was created out of a need to use mushrooms and carrots that had not seen a fridge for a bit and needed to be cooked. Mini-Foodie M suggested anchovies and voilà a tasty twist on mushrooms and carrots. Because the anchovies are salty, spices are not needed to make this dish flavorful.

This dish can stand alone or be served with cauli-rice or quinoa if you eat the latter.

1 can anchovies, in olive oil

2 large carrots, sliced

8 ozs mushrooms, crimini or brown, sliced

Place anchovies & carrots in saucepan. Sauté on medium heat until carrots are semi-tender. Add mushrooms. Continue to sauté until mushrooms are tender. Serve & enjoy.

Variations 

-Serve over cauli-rice or quinoa

-Add cashews or almonds

Creamed Spinach Potatoes

This is the first new 3 Ingredient Dish born in our temporary kitchen. The home that is new to us is a 200 year old colonial that had been gutted prior to our purchase. The kitchen was a room with gutted walls. My Foodie-in-Crime crafted a temporary sink with a little counter space and we have put together a temporary counter. The appliances we currently have remind me of a dorm setup, minus the mini fridge as we have not yet shipped our regular fridge. We have a hot-plate, a Blendtec, a food processor, a bread machine, a waffle maker and a mini doughnut maker. Other tools include a comal (cast iron tortilla pan), tortilla press limited pots and pans. We are also currently without a baking option.  I like to refer to the temporary kitchen as a “Glamping Kitchen” since we do have electricity and running water, but only a hot plate on which to cook. 

As you can imagine, this setup is a challenging one for a Corn-free Celiac, but I’ve never backed down from a culinary challenge and they have always led to creativity. And so the 3 Ingredient Dish in a Pot was born.

This first dish is a result of a trip to Trader Joe’s  (which is 1 hr 15 mins away from our homestead), limited ingredients and a fond memory of and Indian dish. I was concerned that the Mini-Foodies may not go for it, but was so pleasantly surprised when they indicated that they would like this to be a staple in our diet.

Creamed Spinach Potatoes

4 medium white potatoes, diced

1 lb frozen spinach

1 – 14 oz can coconut milk 

Sea salt, to taste 

 Place all ingredients in a pot. Add water to cover if needed. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are tender.

Variations

Add India spices and / or black pepper.

Serve with anchovies. 

3 Ingredient Dishes – A New Series 

As we embark on the journey of remodeling, or rather, installing a kitchen in our new-to-us 200 year old colonial, we are living with a temporary kitchen which  is not as well appointed as our previous one. The main tools are: an electronic hot plate, a Blendtec, a food processor, a Crock Pot and an electric tea kettle. Still in boxes are a bread machine, mini doughnut maker and a waffle maker. Hopefully a convection toaster oven will appear on our doorstep before fall hits so we can have some baked treats, but for now these are our tools.  

Because our kitchen is so much more simplified, our meals have also been simplified and many dishes are composed of 3-5 main ingredients plus spices or add ins to change the dish’s personality avoiding tedium. I am calling this new series of recipes “3 Ingredient Dishes” and it is l a reflection of this phase of life where dishes are simplified. One change you will note is that we are embracing quinoa a bit as well as white potatoes (not sweet potatoes because Baby-Foodie is intolerant), so some recipes are more paleo-ish. Many of the dishes will also be dorm-friendly as well as budget-friendly while always being corn, gluten, dairy, soy and walnut-free.

Heres is a preview of dishes to come…

• Creamed Spinach Potatoes

• Anchovie-Flavored Mushrooms & Carrots

• Gingery Carrot Quinoa with Potatoes

Have fun with the recipes and their variations and please leave a comment on what you think. 

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce (Paleo, Vegan)

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Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce (Paleo, Vegan)

This Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce is versatile and so easy to make. An added bonus is that heating is not necessary; simply serve and enjoy.  Not only is it paleo (Dairy-Free), but it is also vegan and can be nut-free too depending on the type of milk you use.

I have also steamed a bit of zucchini and cashews with the cauliflower to add depth to the flavor of this sauce. Another nice addition is to sauté crimini mushrooms and add them to the finished sauce.

If you are avoiding tomato sauce, this would be a wonderful pizza sauce with added Italian seasoning to taste. Try ou the recipe and have fun with how you serve it. Please leave a comment about your favorite experiments.

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Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce on Zucchini Ravioli & Cauli-rice & Beet Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

1 head cauliflower, chopped & steamed
1 clove garlic (optional)
1 Tbsp broth seasoning
3 Tbsp unfortified nutrional yeast
1/4 cup milk (almond, cashew or coconut)
sea salt & pepper to taste

Steam cauliflower until tender. Place cauliflower & remaining ingredients in Blendtec or other high-quality blender. Blend using “Whole Juice” setting or until smooth. Add more milk as needed. Serve over dishes such as my Cassava Flour Pasta, Stuffed (Portobello) Mushrooms, Paleo Ravioli, etc.

Orange Mango Gel-O (Paleo)

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Orange Mango Gel-O (Paleo)

This gel-o is a firm one that blends citrus and tropical flavors with gelatin to make a simple and yummy healthy snack or dessert.

I find that the juice is sweet enough to not require any sweetener, but if you like a sweet gelatin dessert, then I would recommend a sweetener that is complimentary to orange and mango flavors.

Have fun with the recipe and the kids by experimenting with cookie cutter shapes or by using fun molds.

Ingredients:
2 oranges freshly squeezed or about 3/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 cup mango, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp grass fed gelatin (Red Lakes, red bottle)
Sweetener (optional)

Method:
Heat orange juice & mango on stove until hot. Add sweetener if using followed by gelatin. Blend well so that gelatin does not clump. Pour into a loaf pan. Refrigerate 1 hour.

If using a pan, cut into squares & enjoy this healthy treat.

Cassava Flour Azorean-style Pancakes (Paleo, Nut-free)

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On this Father’s Day, I had a craving for my Mãe’s (Mother’s) Azorean-style  pancakes and since my Foodie-in-Crime enjoys my Stovetop Blueberry Jam on pancakes, they became breakfast. Because I didn’t have my Paleo All-Purpose Flour mix ready to go and I wanted to get breakfast on the table quickly, I used cassava flour and this version is the closest I’ve made to Mãe’s wheat flour version.

Cassava flour batter tends to thicken as it sits so you may need to add a bit of milk as you get to the end of the batter. On the other hand, you may enjoy the variation in pancake thickness and therefore not add any milk as you cook your pancakes.

In my Paleo (with almond flour mix) version of these pancakes, using water in place of chosen milk works because the Paleo All-Purpose Flour offers a deeper flavor profile than cassava flour. If water were used with cassava flour here, it would probably taste like a tortilla and so I recommend using a safe-for-you milk. I enjoy homemase hemp milk sweetened with dates a blended a bit of vanilla bean.

I have not yet tried a vegan version using flax eggs, but I hope to have an update soon as one of my dearest friends is vegan and happens to be my Mãe’s goddaughter. She used to enjoy these pancakes when we had weekend sleepovers and I hope that she could make these for her family.

Like my previous version of Azorean-style pancakes, these are not fluffy like traditional American flap jacks. I’ve never been a fan of the American version because I find them to be thick and I have always felt that they are too dry “requiring” too much syrup to make them palatable. Of course, this is my personal bias and I prefer a more crepe-like pancake.

These are thin, flexible and can be enjoyed with jam, nut or coconut butter, fruit or good ole maple syrup or honey. In the Corn-Free Hippie household, we enjoy these with my Stovetop Blueberry Chia Jam with or without cashew butter.

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Ingredients
2 cups milk (coconut, hemp or nut if tolerated)
2 eggs
4-5 Tbsp coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup
2-4 Tbsp avocado oil or softened coconut oil
1 cup cassava flour, sifted
1/2 tsp sea salt

Method
Heat griddle. Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients wet. Whisk or mix with a fork until lumps are gone. Make pancakes on griddle. Keep an eye on them as they brown quickly. Enjoy warm or cool with your favorite topping.

Cheese Sauce (Paleo, Vegan)

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This cheese sauce is versatile because it can be made with nuts or nut-free to accomodate nut allergies. If you are avoiding peppers, then a carrot is a wonderful addition. For a more sharp cheddar – like flavor, use the roasted sunflower seeds as a base.

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I have used this sauce in so many ways and it is a go-to when I need a boost of flavor or a sauce for my dishes. I also use it with cauli-rice and veggies for added protein. The possibilities are as limited as the imagination, so experiment and enjoy.

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1 cup cashews, soaked or roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 red bell pepper, deserved or carrot
5-6 Tbsp unfortified nutrional yeast
2 Tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or  2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4-1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground mustard seed
1/2-1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in Blendtec or other high-speed blender. Using “Whole Juice” setting, blend until smooth. Taste & adjust seasonings if needed as well as water for desired consistency.

Enjoy as a dip, as cheese on pizza, on nachos or a burrito bowl.

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Cassava Flour Tortillas (Paleo, Vegan)

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Cassava Flour Tortillas (Paleo, Vegan)

I have tried several tortilla recipes from those calling for oat flour to those calling for coconut and / or almond flours and these are my all time favorite not only because they have a mild flavor reminiscent of wheat tortillas, but because they are the most flexible paleo tortilla I have made.

This recipe is versatile enough to be used as an empanada shell and even a pie crust.  I have tried several versions of the recipe and can offer the following conclusions:

(1) Arrowroot flour can be used in up to a 1 to 1 ratio in relationship to the cassava flour.

(2) Using 1/2 cup tapioca flour and 1 cup cassava flour works, but a rather sticky dough results and it is best to coat the ball in cassava flour in order to prevent the dough from sticking to the press.

(3) The fat used can be avocado or coconut oil or a combination with good results.

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Cassava Flour Tortillas, top view with both sides done

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cassava flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp avocado oil or coconut oil
1 cup warm water

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Cassava Flour Tortillas, with bubbles just before flipping

Method
Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until a large dough ball forms. Remove from bowl & form into balls of desired size. Press each ball using a tortilla press. Cook on a comal until bubbles begin to form & flip. Cook until desired texture is reached.