Happy Summer! Now that summer is here, picnics are all the rage at our house. Lately, it seems that I can get my boys to eat anything as long as we're parked anywhere but the kitchen table! Last weekend we even roasted marshmallows over an open fire which my three year old loved. We also made banana boats which both boys enjoyed thoroughly!
While my boys love picnics, they can be stressful for parents trying to keep their food allergic children safe. This issue's Recipes of the Month include Hobo Dinners, a grilling out tradition in my family. They're great because they are easy to prepare, portable and eliminate the risk of cross-contamination while being cooked on a grill with foods containing allergens. The other recipe this month is a classic, not-at-all-original but extremely easy and tasty treat to take along to a picnic or potluck: Cereal Bars (aka Rice Krispie Bars). These are two recipe ideas to make your picnics this summer less stressful and more enjoyable!
Enjoy all of the picnics that summer has to offer!
Food Finds of the Month
If you've read the dairy substitutes page, you know that dairy free cheese has been on my list of substitutes to track down. I've gotten a lot of great suggestions from visitors to the site but have had trouble tracking them down locally (and just couldn't bring myself to pay more for shipping that for the cheese itself!) Finally, I came across two cheeses in my local specialty food store! Here is what I thought about them:
Rice Vegan Slices by Galaxy Foods
I've seen these single slices at the store in the past but was always disappointed to discover that they contained casein, which, of course, is a no-no for those of us with dairy allergies. Recently, I checked out their website again and was pleasantly surprised to see that these slices have been re-formulated and now are completely dairy AND soy free!
So, now they pass the ingredient test but do they taste any good? The answer is a surprising, yes! While this product isn't exactly like dairy cheese, it does taste pretty good and the texture is very similar to the "singles" that you find in the dairy case. In an attempt to make macaroni and cheese, I cut a couple of the slices up and added them to some hot spiral rice noodles. The cheese melted nicely which made me optimistic about making a good batch of mac and cheese (this attempt wasn't good enough to share with you - my sons wouldn't touch the stuff - but maybe a mac and cheese recipe will appear in the Recipe Index in the future!) I also attempted to melt a slice on a hamburger. I should have put the cheese on much earlier in the grilling process because this cheese does take longer to melt than does its dairy counterpart. In the future, I would put it on right after flipping the burger.
The bottom line: If you are allergic to dairy and soy and have been looking for a cheese substitute that melts and tastes pretty good, give the Rice Vegan Slices a try!
Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternatives
Vegan gourmet is the other dairy free cheese that I came across at the specialty food store. It does contain soy so it will not be an option for those of you with dairy and soy allergies.
The local store carried cheddar and mozzarella versions of this cheese product and I chose the mozzarella (as usual, I had pizza on my mind!) This product comes in a block, not in slices, so it is perfect for grating and it grates very easily. It also melts very well making it the perfect dairy free option for pizza...that's right, pizza! While I wouldn't sit down and eat this cheese product on its own, it is great melted on top of things or mixed with other ingredients.
A while back, Becca from Maine contributed a recipe of hers for Jalpeno Poppers (thank you Becca!). I tried the recipe using both of these cheeses and it was really quite good (watch for the recipe to appear on the website very soon!)
The bottom line: If you can have soy but are avoiding dairy, you'll want to Vegan Gourmet products a try.
The Recipes of the Month
For each Hobo Dinner:
1/4 - 1/3 pound ground beef patty
10 baby carrots
1 small potato, coarsely chopped
1 slice onion
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
"Safe" cooking spray
Square of aluminum foil
1) Spray the square of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Place the ground beef patty on the foil; salt and pepper both sides. Top with the carrots, potatoes, onion and salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil over the vegetables. Bring the sides of the foil together and seal tightly, then seal the ends.
2) Cook over medium high heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until hamburger is no longer pink. Serve with ketchup.
This is a great recipe to take along to a potluck and can be made as festive as your imagination allows. Try topping with frosting, sprinkles or even birthday candles! You can also use a combination of your favorite cereals. Sometimes I use half Rice Krispies and half Trix to add a little color.
This is a great recipe to pass along to Grandma - it's simple and something that she can make for the kids that needs no special ingredients!
1- 10 ounce bag of marshmallows
2 tablespoons canola or butter-flavored grapeseed oil
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1) In a large, microwaveable bowl combine the marshmallows and oil; toss to coat. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute or until the marshmallows just start to expand. Remove from the microwave and stir the mixture until smooth. Add the cereal and stir until it is coated with marshmallow mixture. In a 9x9 pan (for thinner bars, use a 9x13 pan), spread the mixture out and press (this is easier if your hands are slightly wet or coated with cooking spray). Allow bars to become firm then add frosting and sprinkles, if desired.
Look for "safe" tubs of frosting at your local grocery store. Otherwise, try this Sugar Cookie Frosting as a topping.
Congratulations to the winner of this month's Wildtree sample drawing! The winner chose the Pumpkin Cheesecake Blend (which is free of the top 8 allergens). To enter the drawing for next month, visit the Wildtree Page.
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