Tuesday, June 28, 2011

After years of tasting, listening and cheer-leading, I could not wait to say "Thank You" to my family and closest friends when my book was finally published.  But, how to do it?

No need to think twice!  I wrote a cookbook ... so I cooked.  (And so did my mom and my step-mom and my sister and my niece and my kids.)

We made a buffet of appetizers from Welcoming Kitchen.

What did we serve?

Olivada and Italian Hummus, Lime Lovers' Salsa and Chipotle Guacamole, Laura's Layered Taco Dip and Dill Dip,

Pesto-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes,

 and Open-face Biscuit Sandwiches with Dill Dip and Cucumbers.

Also, no party is complete without a little something sweet.  My sister went all out in decorating the chocolate cake with vanilla frosting!

Of course if one sweet is good, two is better ...

Sunflower Seed Butter Cups!

And yes, EVERYTHING was safe for every guest.  All of the food was allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan.  The challenge wasn't figuring out what to make, but what we had to leave out because we only had so much time to get it ready.  The food was a hit, and I had a blast showing my gratitude to some of the people who have loved and supported me through this journey.

I wish all of you who have supported me could have been there, too.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way from idea to book.  I am oh-so-grateful.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Monday, June 20, 2011

Maybe you've seen the stories all over the news media about a new study showing that the rate of food allergies in children is around 8%.  You can read about it on CNN, Forbes, or at the funding source--the Food Allergy Initiative.  This is not particularly surprising to anyone who has spent time in a public school, where one, two or three kids in each classroom might have food allergies.  (In Casey's class, three children have potentially anaphylactic allergies.)

Add to this a recent study conducted in New York that showed that kids at an inner city allergy clinic with stubborn asthma or eczema had a 28% chance of having an undiagnosed food allergy.

What does this mean to most folks?  Well, it means that pretty much everyone knows someone who has a food allergy.  Probably at least a few people. 

And that is why I got started with all of this. 

I want every kid to be able to join in the party, even if that party is just getting together to study over at a friend's house.

If Welcoming Kitchen recipes help folks create meals that are safe for everyone (including those 8% of allergic kids), then I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to do.  Hopefully, they'll help make your kitchen a little sweeter, too.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kid Friendly "Green Smoothie - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

Vegan?  Check.
Pretty much no artificial colors or preservatives?  Check.
Lots of organics?  Check.

With all of that, you'd think we never had to worry about good nutrition at my house.  Unfortunately, that's just not true!

Luckily, we got the opportunity to revisit what a healthy diet should look like when the USDA revised their nutrition model from the Food Pyramid to the Dinner Plate.  Even better, though, for us is the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine's Power Plate.

With the start of summer break, we took a look at the Power Plate as a family and talked about how we can enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.  My kids needed a boost in the vegetables category.

So, we serve more carrot sticks (raw for Casey, steamed for Evan), bump up the veggies in our pastas and casseroles .... and worked out a way to add greens to our smoothies that the kids don't even notice!

Not only do they like these smoothies, but they ask for seconds.  Victory!!!

A couple of things are key to the success of these smoothies, I think.

1) Use a good dose of blueberries, because they will prevent the smoothie from becoming a yucky brown color (green plus yellow plus orange).  Blackberries could also do the trick, but they're too seedy for my kids' tastes.

2) Use a neutral tasting green.  Kale seems to work best for us here.  Little to no vegetable-y odor and the flavor adds a bit of freshness to the smoothie.

3) Blend those greens thoroughly!!!  If your smoothie is leafy, it's likely not to be a hit.  We use a standard kitchen blender, nothing fancy, so it works best if we blend the greens with a couple of the fruits and the apple juice to start, then add the rest of the ingredients and thoroughly blend.

4) Serve with a straw.  At least for my kids, this a key to smoothie success.

We buy lots of frozen fruit (organic whenever possible) at the grocery store.  It's a good value, and always ready to become a smoothie.  We also freeze any fresh fruit that seems like it's about to turn.  This saves it from going to the trash and gives us a chance to enjoy it on another day.

Kid-Friendly "Green" Smoothie
Makes one blender full

1 cup apple juice
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 cups fresh kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup frozen pineapple
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 cups rice milk

Blend apple juice, mango, strawberries and kale thoroughly.
Add remaining ingredients. 
Blend completely.

Store any extra smoothie in a sealed container to enjoy the next day.

We shared this recipe as part of Amy Green's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Cybele Pascal's Allergy Friendly Fridays.  We also shared this recipe at Real Sustenance's Seasonal SundaysAllergy-Friendly Lunchbox Love and Allergy Free WednesdayPlease check out the other great recipes!

Happy Cooking!

Find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We are bowled over by the great friendships that we have made in the communities around Welcoming Kitchen--the gluten-free, food allergy, vegan and parenting communities.  One of our favorite friends is Amy Green from the awesome site and cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

This week, Amy let us write a guest post on her blog.  The topic is Unintended Consequences (the good kind), and it features a recipe from out book, Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.

I hope you check out our post, but also please spend some time checking out her great blog and book!  She is an amazing resource for anyone who is looking to live a little more healthfully!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Friday, June 10, 2011

I've been working on the Welcoming Kitchen book for years.  Literally.

I first started writing recipes when my son, Casey, was little (he's now 8) and really cranked out recipes that fit the WK model (allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan) when my younger son, Evan, first started eating solid food.  (He's now 5.)

I tried my hand at self-publishing, but it turns out that I'm a TERRIBLE business person.  I have hundreds of copies of my little, original cookbook in boxes in my back stairs.

Then, I tried to get a publisher on my own.   No dice.

Then, I tried to get an agent.  Jack pot!

She tried to sell Welcoming Kitchen to a publisher.  It took a while.

In the meantime, Megan--my fantastic next-door neighbor--came on board to add some legitimacy to my mom-cook-at-home deal.  Then, our agent got us two assignments to write other cookbooks ... The Everything Organic Cooking for Baby and Toddler Book and The Everything Guide to Cooking for Children With Autism.

Then...Sterling Publishing agreed to publish Welcoming Kitchen!!!!

After a frantic period of cooking, writing, revising and Megan analyzing, the book was at the publisher.  The book was slated for a September 2010 release.  Then it got moved to May.  But... they decided to make it a hardcover.  Then they decided to add a little more color.  Then they gave it the most adorable design ever.

Then they moved the release date to June 7.  Then it got moved to June 14.

I just got the sample copies in the mail this week.  I absolutely love it!  (And, I think you will, too.  And, maybe your mom or your best friend ....)

All the waiting made the project better.  Writing the other books made me a better writer.  Writing the blog helped solidify the voice that I want out there in the world.  Working together for years has made me and Megan a really strong team.  And the book itself is really fantastic for the improvements that the extra time allowed.

We also got the chance to become better acquainted with the gluten-free, allergen-free and vegan communities.  With those new friendships have come new opportunities.  One of the opportunities was to write a guest blog post on the great website, Rockin' Gluten Free.  You can read our guest post here.

We are looking forward to a summer of cooking, writing and talking about the joy that creating a Welcoming Kitchen can provide.

You have our immense gratitude for coming along on this adventure!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan