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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

As I've said before, our pediatrician suspected that my son had food allergies almost right away. He had severe eczema, breathing problems and vomiting. Though she wanted to wait to test him until he was two, he had already gone to the emergency room several times, and she didn't think we could wait to get more information. She referred us to a local allergist when he was around one year old.


Finding the Right Allergist for You - www.welcomingkitchen.com
This started our journey to find the right allergist for us. Although that first allergist was a nice person, she did not fill us with confidence. She skin tested our baby and told us that he was allergic to peanuts, milk, corn and "a little allergic" to eggs. She did not seem very precise in the testing or in her advice. This was all the advice we had, though, and we were terrified. Learning that the food I was eating, and thereby giving my baby through my breast milk, could make him very sick was beyond frightening. I tried to follow her advice to the T. We went to see this doctor a few times, but felt we were getting differing advice every time. This added frustration on top of constant fear. Needless to say, we were not feeling too good at this time.
Finding the right Allergist for You - www.welcomingkitchen.com

We changed allergists. Our new allergist was affiliated with a top hospital. Her office was very clean, and her staff was kind, knowledgeable and precise. They tested his skin and his blood. We learned that our boy was allergic to walnuts, eggs, and milk. We were advised to avoid all tree nuts and peanuts, too. They gave us specific resources to learn how to read labels for each of his allergens. They taught us how to use the Epi-pen. We had the utmost confidence in their care. The allergist herself was not very warm, but that didn't matter to us. 

We continued with that allergist with annual testing and visits for several years. When our son was six years old, his allergist decided that he should have a dairy challenge. The food challenge is the "gold standard" of food-allergy testing. In a food challenge, your child eats or drinks his allergen in ever increasing increments under the doctor's supervision. We were very nervous before his challenge. I wrote about that experience here

Our son drank the first little bit of chocolate milk, and then they left us to wait. Immediately, he said his tongue was itchy. We called in the nurse, and she examined him. She said he was fine. They left us again. He started vomiting on the floor. The allergist came into the room and told us she would have to stop the challenge. She then told us that we had made him so nervous, that was probably why he vomited. She sent us home feeling awful and unsure.

Although we stayed with her for a few more years, we never felt good about our care again. We trusted her authority, because she was a top allergist in the area and the country, but by blaming us for his reaction, she lost our confidence in her as a care provider.

We changed allergists when my son was 9 years old. He is now 15. Since then, he has had several food challenges with mixed results. In every instance, we have been treated by everyone at our new practice with kindness, caring and with the highest level of professionalism. 

My son was supposed to have a milk challenge again this year. They tested his skin beforehand to be sure it was a good idea. He had a pretty significant reaction to that test, and the doctor decided that he was still allergic without the need for a challenge that would put him at risk of an anaphylactic reaction. I'm going to say that again. He is still allergic to milk 9 years after the challenge the last doctor said we caused him to fail by making him nervous. He did not fail because we made him nervous. He failed because he was allergic to milk.

When he failed his challenge to walnuts, his first symptom was an itchy tongue. Then his eye turned red, which was an unusual reaction, so the challenge continued. It ended after he vomited. He then had an anaphylactic reaction that included hives and impaired breathing and only stopped after getting epinephrine. Itchy tongue and vomiting? Sounds familiar.

I am telling you this story because it took us a long time to find the right allergist home for us. I am fighting tears as I type, because I am so incredibly grateful that we found the doctors and nurses that now help us keep our teenager safe and healthy. If your doctor is not the right fit for you, try another one. It seemed crazy to leave such a well-regarded practice, but I am so glad that we did. (Our current practice is also very well-regarded.)


Happy Cooking!

Kim


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A review and recipe from Eat Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming - www.welcomingkitchen.com



My friend, Alisa Fleming from Go Dairy Free, has written a comprehensive book for people who eat dairy free. Not only are these recipes dairy-free, but most have been tested with gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free options, too.

I have really been enjoying cooking from this cookbook. I made a batch of the Rich Thai Dip, but I omitted the sesame oil, because I know that some of our Welcoming Kitchen readers need to avoid sesame. I also used sunflower seed butter to keep it nut-free. It was delicious. The tip about steaming the sweet potatoes instead of baking them made this dip a lot quicker to prepare, too.

My family has been enjoying the Cowgirl Cookies in their lunches, and I can't wait to try the Roasted Carrot Bisque. There are so many recipes in here that are solidly delicious. It launches today, so I recommend that you run out and get a copy of Eat Dairy Free.




Rich Thai Dip with Broccoli Trees from Eat Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming 
Makes 6 Servings 

From Alisa: While I truly enjoy this savory, sweet, and spicy thick dip with steamed broccoli, it also goes nicely with bell pepper strips, baby carrots, snap peas, or blanched cauliflower. 

 Ingredients:
  • 3 or 4 broccoli crowns 
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (see Sweet Potato Tips below) 
  • 6 tablespoons creamy unsalted almond butter (use sunflower seed or pumpkin seed butter for nut free) 
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice or rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons non-GMO soy sauce, wheat-free tamari (for gluten free), or coconut aminos (for soy free) 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or loosely packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil 
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger 
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • Water or unsweetened plain dairy-free milk beverage, as needed 
Method:  
1. Cut the broccoli into stalks and steam for 3 to 5 minutes. For dipping purposes, broccoli stalks that are relatively crisp-tender work best. 
2. Put the sweet potato, nut butter, 2 tablespoons lime juice or vinegar, soy sauce, sweetener, oil, ginger, and crushed red pepper in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste, and if desired, blend in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon lime juice or rice vinegar. 
3. Serve the dip immediately with the steamed broccoli stalks, or cover and refrigerate it for 1 hour to thicken before serving. If it becomes too thick, whisk in water or milk beverage, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin. 
4. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 

Sweet Potato Tips: To cook whole sweet potatoes, peel and cut them into 1/2-inch disks, then steam for about 15 minutes. Steaming preserves more of the flavor and nutrients than boiling. For a super-fast dip, you can use canned sweet potato puree. If you don’t have sweet potatoes or sweet potato puree on hand, squash, carrot, or pumpkin puree makes a tasty substitute. 

Credit for this Recipe: This recipe is reprinted with permissions from Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets by Alisa Fleming (BenBella Books, 2018). Photo by Nicole Axworthy.


Happy Cooking!
Kim


Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Vegan Chocolate Date Sauce or Spread - www.welcomingkitchen.com (gluten-free, food-allergy friendly)


I love homemade gifts for the holidays. I make a variety of craft gifts (jewelry, belts and soap) and food gifts, too. I like to give tins of cookies and candies to friends and neighbors. A gift that I'm giving this year is homemade Chocolate Date Spread. It's delicious, different and a little healthier than most goodies from this time of year. 

Coffee really takes chocolate flavor up a notch, so I soak the dates in coffee instead of water to soften them in this recipe. I have a high-speed blender, and it really makes a smooth paste, but a food processor or standard blender will also work.

Vegan Chocolate Date Sauce or Spread - www.welcomingkitchen.com (gluten-free, food-allergy friendly)

You can spread this Chocolate Date Spread on cookies, graham crackers, or toast. If you heat it, it becomes a luscious chocolate sauce to dip fruit or pour over ice cream.

Pack the sauce into clean jars and refrigerate it until gifting. Make sure your recipients know that it needs to stay refrigerated upon receipt. It will stay good in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Vegan Chocolate Date Sauce or Spread - www.welcomingkitchen.com (gluten-free, food-allergy friendly)

Chocolate Date Spread or Sauce (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, nondairy)
Makes approximately 3/4 cup of sauce

Ingredients:



Preparation:
  1. Soak dates for one hour in coffee.
  2. Puree all ingredients together in food processor or blender

Saturday, December 2, 2017

GLUTENFREE VEGAN PUMPKIN COCONUT BREAD PUDDING



I have a confession. Even though I sometimes write out a shopping list, I often don't, and when I do, I frequently leave it at home. That means that I end up buying more of some things than I need. 

Every fall, I find myself picking up one more can of pumpkin when I'm at the store.
What to do with the extra pumpkin after the pies are all made? Of course, I could save it for next year, but where's the fun in that? 

Instead, I made a delicious bread pudding that uses just a few ingredients and bakes up warm, slightly sweet, and really flavorful. I served it warm with a topping of cool, sweet Coco Whip. 

I had never used sweetened condensed coconut milk before this. It was really nice. It was thick and creamy and sweet with a hint of coconut flavor. 

Note: Use whichever bread you like that fits your dietary needs. Dinner rolls work really nicely for a bread pudding, in my opinion.

Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Bread Pudding from Welcoming Kitchen




Pumpkin Coconut Bread Pudding (vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, free of top 8 allergens)
Makes 6 large or 8 smaller servings



Ingredients:
  • 8 cups bread cubes (Use the bread of your choice, cut into roughly 1-inch cubes.)
  • 1 15-ounce canned pumpkin
  • 1 can sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes 
Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly toast coconut flakes in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, but not burned.
Tear or cut bread into chunks, 1-2 inches.
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, sweetened condensed coconut milk and salt.
Add bread chunks to pumpkin mixture and stir to coat.
Spread in a 9 x 13 inch pan, and top with coconut flakes.
Bake for one hour.


Happy Cooking!

Kim





Tuesday, November 14, 2017





Easiest Way to Turn Pie Pumpkin into Pumpkin Puree - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen




If you read this blog at all, you know that I LOVE pumpkin.  Just can't get enough of it.  Sometimes I use canned pumpkin puree.  It's easy, and it's readily available.  I can keep a few cans in my pantry for whenever I need a fix of muffins, cookies, pudding or pie.

Sometimes, though, I'd rather go straight to the source.  I have tried cooking pie pumpkins many different ways.  A lot of folks suggest cooking it halved on an oiled baking pan.  I find this lends a roasted flavor that might work for some applications (like soup), but not for others (like pie).
Pumpkin Pie Puree (vegan, gluten-free, food-allergy friendly) - www.welcomingkitchen.com

The pumpkin pulls away from the shell


Although I frequently bake winter squash whole, I never thought about doing that with a small pie pumpkin.  It worked perfectly!  Nothing could be easier, too.  The flesh pulls away from the shell once it's cooked, so it is simple to scrape out, and it's buttery soft so it's easy to mash. 



Don't limit yourself to just pumpkins, though. You can use the soft flesh of other hard winter squashes in your favorite pumpkin recipes, too. Try butternut, acorn or kabocha if that's what's at your store. Have fun!


Pumpkin Pie Puree (vegan, gluten-free, food-allergy friendly) - www.welcomingkitchen.com



Fresh Pumpkin Puree
Makes approximately 2 cups of puree depending on the size of the pumpkin

Ingredient:
1 pie pumpkin

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400.
Wash the outside of the pumpkin.
Pierce the pumpkin with a sharp knife in several places.
Bake for approximately one hour.  (Smaller ones might need only 45 minutes to be done.)
Once it cools enough to handle, cut the pumpkin in half.
Scoop out and discard the seeds.
Scoop the flesh into a bowl.
Mash with a potato masher. 



Happy Cooking!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Vegan Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free and food allergy friendly) - www.welcomingkitchen.com



The holidays are coming! That means pie. Lots and lots of pie. 

In our family, we make apple pie, pumpkin pie, vegan pumpkin cheesecake and usually another chocolate dessert. At least. Maybe more.

Pumpkin pie is one of those desserts that can seem tricky to make if you need to avoid common allergens. This pie takes out the allergens, but keeps all the creamy, sweet, pumpkin-y delight that makes this pie a must-have on holiday tables. 

You can use this super-easy pie crust for any of your favorite pies. Don't skip the refrigeration step, the pie needs to be cooled off so that it firms up. 

Vegan Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free and food allergy friendly) - www.welcomingkitchen.com




Allergen-Free Pumpkin Pie (vegan, gluten-free and free of the top 8 allergens)
Makes 8 servings 

Ingredients: 
  • ½ cup nondairy creamer (like coconut based) 
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal (ground flax seed) 
  • ½ cup allergen-free nondairy cream cheese
  • ½ cup soy-free buttery spread 
  • 2 cups gluten-free oat flour 
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • ½ cup brown sugar 

Preparation: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine coconut creamer and flax seed meal. Set aside. 
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese and buttery spread until well combined. Mix flour into cream cheese mixture. 
  4. Knead dough together with clean hands just until blended, do not overwork dough. 
  5. Press into a disk on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. Top with another sheet. Roll dough into a circle at least 10 inches in diameter. 
  6. Remove top piece of paper and place dough into a 9-inch pie plate with the paper on top, then peel off the top paper. It's ok if the dough breaks, just press it together with your fingers until the pie crust is complete. Trim the edges. 
  7. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Set aside. 
  8. In a blender, combine coconut creamer mixture, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. 
  9. Pour pie filling into crust. 
  10. Bake for 45 minutes. 
  11. Cool pie on a cooling rack, and then cover and transfer to refrigerator for at least five hours.

Friday, October 20, 2017


Vegan Date Caramel Sauce (vegan, gluten-free, food-allergy friendly) - www.welcomingkitchen.com





Dates are one of my loves. I keep pitted deglet noor dates in my freezer and grab one or two when I need a sweet treat. I make date paste to use as a sweetener in baked goods and homemade ice creams, too. I also make a killer chocolate sauce with dates that I'll share with you soon.

Dates have a naturally caramel-like flavor. That makes them the ideal choice to blend into a dip for apples or pears (or cookies!).

This Vegan Date Caramel Sauce is so simple and so good, there's no reason not to blend up a batch right away!
Vegan Date Caramel Sauce (vegan, gluten-free, food-allergy friendly) - www.welcomingkitchen.com



Vegan Date Caramel Sauce (vegan, gluten-free, free of top 8 allergens, sugar-free)
Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup pitted dates (medjool or deglet noor)
  • 2 tablespoons nondairy milk of your choice
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seed butter (I used Sunbutter.)
  • pinch of salt
Preparation:
  1. Soak dates in water to cover for at least one hour.
  2. Drain dates.
  3. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. 

Happy Cooking!

Kim