It is February already and Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. I'm always looking out for new foods for us to try but, this time of year, I'm especially looking for "safe goodies" to help spread the love on Valentine's Day.
In our family, we went from not knowing of any "safe" treats to having too many! Most of our treats are gummis (my oldest son loves Gummi Lifesavers - he calls them "gummi donuts"), or other chewy, sugary candies (Skittles, Mike and Ikes, Starbursts are among the faves). For me, however, Valentine's Day is all about the chocolate which is why most of this newsletter is full of it (chocolate, that is)!
While Valentine's Day gives us a reason to bring on the sugar buzz, it's also a great day to thank the people in our lives who support us while managing food allergies. In our family, we have a long list of people to love this year!
I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and safe Valentine's Day!
Food Finds of the Month
Whey Out Chocolate
The cleverly named "Whey Out Chocolate" is a company that specializes in chocolates for those of us with food allergies. The owner is a mom and aunt to kids with food allergies.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, she has been busy creating a full line of Valentine treats including 'Smooches' made from "milkless chocolate" (for people with food allergies who long for that "other" company's milk chocolate drops).
The "PS...I Love You" confection, is the company's specialty and is made of roasted pumpkin seeds (P.S. stands for "pumpkin seeds") in dark chocolate. Nearly all of the confections are free of the top 8 allergens - only one is not as it contains soy. This is great news for those of you with soy allergies since soy free chocolate can be hard to find!
If you need some treats to fill your Easter baskets with next month, be sure to check out everything "Whey Out" as there will be plenty of mouth-watering options to choose from. You can order online at www.WheyOutChocolate.com
I discovered Wildtree last month when a friend hosted a "tasting" where the company's foods are sampled. It turns out, this company was founded by a mom who has kids with food sensitivities. She was struggling to find foods that her kids could eat (sound familiar?) so she started making pre-made mixes and storing them in baggies to save time in the kitchen. After a while she started selling them at fairs and eventually Wildtree was born.
I like the concept that they have going - food should be natural and healthful and should taste good so that everyone can enjoy it. That's a tall order but I think they've done a pretty good job. All of the products are all-natural, have no preservatives, no food dyes, and no MSG.
How is Wildtree helpful to those of us with food allergies? First, all of their products are peanut free. While some of their products do contain wheat, soy, dairy and tree nuts, they have stringent practices in place to handle any cross-contamination. Tree nuts are packaged separately from the mixes in a separate room and are only included with a few of the mixes.
I discovered that many of their "culinary blends" would work for us since most don't contain wheat or milk like so many at the regular grocery store. For example, the Red Bell Pepper and Garlic Blend, is a dip mix that contains dehydrated red bell peppers. Wildtree suggests re-hydrating it with a bit of water and then mixing it with cream cheese. We mixed it with soy cream cheese and had a wonderful dip that we all could enjoy.
I'm so excited about Wildtree's products that I decided to jump on board with them! If you're interested in learning more, visit my Wildtree website.
The Recipes of the Month
Dairy Free Chocolate Fondue
As I said earlier, Valentine's Day is all about the chocolate for me. What better way to celebrate than with chocolate fondue? This dessert would be a great ending to a romantic dinner with your Valentine or a fun activity to do with your whole family. Get ready for a chocolate buzz!
1-10 ounce package "safe" semi-sweet chocolate chips ( I use Enjoy Life brand)
1/2 cup soy or rice milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 c. "safe" miniature marshmallows
large "safe" marshmallows
Cereal bars cut in small pieces (such as Rice Krispie Bars)
1) Set fondue pot on low or warm setting. Add the chocolate chips, milk and oil. Melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and mixture is smooth and creamy.
2) Using dipping forks, dip the "dippers" in the fondue pot coating well with the chocolate. Enjoy and have fun! Makes about 2-1/2 cups.
Note: If you don't have a fondue pot, you can still make this. Just cook it in a small saucepan on medium low heat. Transfer the melted mixture to a small glass dish and re-heat when the mixture gets too solid for dipping. It probably won't be around long enough to have to go through that step, though!
I speak from personal experience when I say picky eaters can really put you to the test. The Silly Monkey Smoothie was created one morning when my son had requested his third or fourth bowl of sugary breakfast cereal. When he refused to eat something, anything else I decided to turn a battle into fun...with a blender.
I discovered that I could probably sneak almost anything into a smoothie and it would still be a hit! Really, what's not to like? Bananas, sunflower butter, milk and juice mixed together makes for a delicious breakfast or snack.
For quick and easy smoothie preparation, keep different frozen fruits on hand. When bananas in our house start getting too ripe, I peel them and put them in a freezer bag where they keep nicely.
I hope this smoothie recipe is a hit with the "silly monkeys" at your house!
3 medium bananas, frozen
2 tablespoons sunflower butter (I use Sunbutter)
1/2 cup apple juice
3/4 cup "safe" milk
1) Soften the bananas slightly by leaving at room temperature for 15-30 minutes or by microwaving on high for 30 seconds. When soft enough to cut, slice bananas into slices that are about 1 inch thick. Place banana slices, sunflower butter, apple juice and milk in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.