Debbie Adler’s Sweet, Savory & Free: A Cookbook Review

Friends!  I cannot wait to introduce you to a sweet friend of mine, Debbie Adler!  She is a wonderful advocate for those seeking to live a healthy and allergy-friendly lifestyle and a chef extraordinaire to boot.

                                           This is Debbie and I at an Austin Gluten-Free Fest a couple of years ago.

One of the things that makes Debbie so charming is that she is simply a down-to-earth mom of a child with food allergies.  She saw a need and she decided to meet it head on.  I think so many parents of children with food allergies can relate to that statement, but Debbie took it to a whole new level.  The difference for me is that I don’t have Debbie’s mad cooking and baking skills, so I am doubly thankful she authored Sweet, Savory & Free and Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes.

If you are new to my blog, be sure to check out my previous review of Debbie’s cookbook, Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes.  This cookbook is a treasure for those with a sweet tooth that still want to keep things healthy and allergy-friendly.  And if you are close to the Los Angeles area, you can visit Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes in person.

But for today, I am reviewing Debbie’s latest cookbook, Sweet, Savory & Free.  The book includes dozens of delicious plant-based recipes that are free of wheat/gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, added sugars, and oil.  Her recipes include breakfast dishes, soups, muffin tin meals, main dishes, breads, and even a few sweets.

                                                                            used with permission from Debbie Adler

Her new cookbook was born of a desire to share healthy, plant-based recipes after doing some in-depth research about what goes into the food we eat and the effect it has on our quality of life.  By simply reading the introduction to the book, the reader can feel her passion for this healthy lifestyle bleed through every word on the page.

For me, the most intimidating part of using a new cookbook is knowing where to start.  Luckily, Debbie lays out the basics including some staple items to have on hand the basic equipment the reader will need to get started before she begins sharing her tried and true recipes.

And for any of you who might be skeptical of these recipes being too healthy to possibly be delicious, it is worth noting that she tried out these dishes on unsuspecting dinner guests who happily dug in and green lighted them before they knew what was in them…or rather what food wasn’t in them.  Even actor Ray Romano is a devoted fan of Debbie’s healthy recipes and their appeal to the whole family.

                                                                        Debbie’s Chipotle Mexican Omelet Tostada
                                                                          used with permission from Debbie Adler

 

                                                                                          Debbie’s Nectarine Salsa
                                                                            used with permission from Debbie Adler

In full disclosure, Debbie was kind enough to send me a copy of her book to review so I could share my thoughts with you.  That said, I wanted to follow up with a short behind the scenes interview that might give you some extra insight into Debbie and her book.

The Food Allergy Mom (TFAM):  “How did you choose the recipes for this book?”

Debbie Adler (DA):  “I chose the recipes for my book based on what foods I have always loved. Before going vegan/allergy-free/plant based I loved things like crab, eggplant parmesan and Chinese food. So I thought of ways to make all these dishes adhere to my restrictions without sacrificing any taste whatsoever.”

TFAM: “What is your favorite recipe?”

DA:  “Spanikopita Enchiladas. I tend to like fusion.”

TFAM:  “What is your son’s favorite dish?”

DA:  “The Green Mac & Cheeze!”

TFAM:  “What is your thought process for creating a new recipe from start to finish?”

DA:  “My thought process for creating a recipe from start to finish is how do I make the substitution of whatever food it is I’m trying to imitate.  So, for instance, if I want to recreate crab, I think ‘What is plant based/allergy-free that tastes like seafood? Hearts of palm!'”

TFAM:  “For those that are starting on a small budget and have financial constraints, what are some ways they can start small and still have an impact on the meals they are making?”

DA:  “Start small by shopping at your local farmer’s market and buying all the vegetables and fruits you can hold. This is the best and most economical way to eat healthfully and still keep within your budget. I don’t suggest buying in bulk at grocery stores since cross-contamination issues will make it not safe.”

TFAM:  “What is the number one benefit you see in your own personal life from eating a plant-based diet that is sugar and allergen free?”

DA:  “There are so many benefits to eating this way! I feel more energetic. I look younger. I’ve maintained my weight without even trying. I feel healthy every day. I feel better than I did in my 20’s. I highly recommend this lifestyle for EVERYONE!!!”

I really love Debbie’s advice to start small.  Sometimes I can be an all or nothing kind of gal and can tend to forget there’s no shame in starting small and working my way through something.  So I think the first recipe on my list to try is the Paella.  Yum!

A special thanks to Debbie for sharing her brilliance in the kitchen so that it is accessible to all of us!

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Making Valentine’s Safe and How Oriental Trading Can Help

Valentine’s Day is two weeks away and homeroom moms everywhere are gearing up to plan friendship parties.  For many parents of children with food allergies, this can cause high levels of anxiety.

I’ll be honest, my son has outgrown the age where they celebrate Valentine’s at school, but I have a few tried and true tips that might help you if your child will be celebrating at school:

  • Volunteer to be homeroom mom for the party.  If that job is already taken, volunteer to be a helper and offer to purchase all the food so you can choose safe options for your child’s classroom.
  • Volunteer for party set up so you can see how food is distributed and avoid harmful cross contamination of party treats.
  • Make your child similar foods.  If I spoke with the teacher ahead of time and deemed the food at the party to be unsafe, I simply made a like item at home and brought it to my son on a clean Valentine paper plate from home.  Most kids were never the wiser and my son didn’t have to make his food allergies the center of attention and could just enjoy the party.
  • Go through your child’s Valentine’s bags or mailboxes before he/she opens them up.  In my experience, most teachers have an “open your Valentine’s at home” policy that will allow you to do so.
  • Create a trade-in program for your child.  I let my son trade in potentially unsafe treats to me and I would give him some safe candy or holiday trinkets that I bought for him.

That last bullet point used to be difficult for us…there are only so many pencils and stickers a child can get before they become tiresome.  Luckily, we have more options today when it comes to non-food holiday treats.  In my opinion, Oriental Trading Company makes finding such items a cinch…and all from the comfort of your home computer while you shop in your pajamas!  And, of course, be sure to visit their coupon page to look for some awesome deals!

*Disclaimer:  Oriental Trading did not pay me to write this post and the opinions expressed within are my own.  They did, however, send me some free Valentine’s Day promotional items to test out myself.  My family and I plan to donate these items to a local Houston hospital for children with health and dietary restrictions.  My thanks to Oriental Trading for this opportunity to brighten the lives of others!*

Here are just a few of the adorable Oriental Trading goodies I am blessed to review:

These Valentine’s are so cute and kids will love that the figures are flexible!  And as a mom, I love that these are Valentine’s that will work for boys and girls!

This sweet teddy bear figurine is too cute and comes in an assortment of colors!

These little owls are precious too!

These bracelets are perfect for church Valentine’s celebrations.

And bubbles are ALWAYS fun…especially when they’re packaged so darn cute!

More stretchy Valentine’s trinkets that are a hit with boys and girls alike!

A Valentine’s spinning top is sure to provide hours of entertainment for kiddos (and adults) of all ages.

This is one of my favorites…a whole domino set in a darling little red and white hearted velcro bag.  So cute!

I love that Oriental Trading is a one-stop shop that offers non-food alternatives for food-filled holidays!  Thank you, Oriental Trading for all you do!

What are your tried and true tips for having a safe and happy Valentine’s Day when you have food allergies?

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Izzi B’s Gingerbread Houses And Treats Are a Holiday Must-Have

Years ago, when my family was just beginning our food allergy journey, one of the traditions I missed the most was decorating our annual gingerbread house.

With Christmas carols playing in the background, my mom, sister, and grandmother and I would gather around the counter in my grandmother’s kitchen to decorate our annual gingerbread house.  Honestly, I think there was more horseplay and laughter than there was actual work…as it should be for such a family tradition.  A couple of hours and a change of clothes later, it was a joy to admire our creation.  These are some of the sweetest memories I have of spending time with my grandmother and I cherish them to this day.

Because of that, building and decorating a gingerbread house became a time-honored tradition in our family…a tradition I would not be able to carry on with my own family because it would be an allergen minefield.

Or so I thought.

Thanks to an incredibly awesome company called Izzi B’s, my family and I ARE able to carry on this tradition every year.  More importantly, it is a way to carry on the love and laughter of family as we crowd around and create a masterpiece in between giggles and some really off-tune Christmas caroling!

Here is my gingerbread house kit from a previous year when the kids were still too little to help me do much other than eat it.

Izzi B's Allergen-Free Bakery (7)

And here is the version the kids made themselves this year.  I’ll admit, I had to sit on my hands a bit not to be creative director, but I decided not to micromanage and just let them run with it.

So what is Izzi B’s Gingerbread House Kit?  Your kit comes mailed right to your doorstep and looks like this inside.

My kit included these pieces:

  • 6 Gingerbread house pieces (4 walls and 2 roof pieces)
  • Gingerbread props:  2 mini gingerbread men, 1 tree, and 1 reindeer
  • 1 Pastry bag with royal icing powder
  • Sealed bags of assorted candies
  • A handy dandy sheet of instructions

The gingerbread house itself is made at Izzi B’s which is an “allergen-free facility that utilizes an Allergen Control Plan which includes on-site testing.”  That said, some of the ingredients Izzi B’s purchases are, “processed in a plant that also processes tree nuts and soy under good manufacturing practices.”

The candies and decorative elements come from companies like Tree Hugger, TruSweets/TruJoy, TruSweets/Surf Sweets, Candy Tree/Corn Candies, Enjoy Life, Yummy Earth, and Nature’s Colors.

A detailed ingredient list and allergen statement for every element of the gingerbread house is included in the directions provided inside the kit.

Izzi B’s bakery is, “No wheat.  No soy.  No eggs. No gluten.  No peanuts/tree nuts.  No casein.  Celiac-friendly.  No refined sugars.  No trans-fats.  No preservatives.  Certified vegan.  Certified kosher/parve.”  They also use natural colors and flavors.

Pam at Izzi B’s is truly a joy to work with and has been such a blessing to our family.  We are so grateful to her and her staff for all they do to bring the joy to the holidays with this gingerbread house kit!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pam was kind enough to send us three of her A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. ginger sammies and there are CRAZY good!  My son and I loved them so much we didn’t even tell the rest of the family we had them!

It’s not too late to place an order.  Contact Izzi B’s today!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

Kimberly

*Disclaimer:  While I did not receive any payment to post this review, I did receive a free gingerbread house sampler kit from Izzi B’s.  This post reflects my honest personal opinions about this product and company.  Please be aware that ingredient lists can change at any time.  Always verify potential allergen dangers of any product with the company and/or your doctor before consuming.*

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Oriental Trading Halloween Goody Giveaways (And Hurricane Matthew Donation Opportunity)

Have you heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project?  It is a nation-wide effort to provide all children with a safe, special treat when they go trick-or-treating on Halloween night.

Teal Pumpkin

The best part is that ANYONE can participate and other than purchasing safe, non-food treats for trick-or-treaters in place of candy…it’s FREE!!!

Since Halloween candy has been out since the second week of September here, there’s definitely no shortage of that.

But what about reasonably priced non-food Halloween treats?  Those aren’t quite as readily available at your local grocery or drug store.  And who has time to go racing from store to store looking for a budget-friendly options that will be enough for the hoards of trick-or-treaters you’re expecting.

No time.  Small budget.  No options.  It’s October 11th…Halloween is in 20 days.

What to do?

May I suggest you consider Oriental Trading?

*In full disclosure I’ll let you know that Oriental Trading contacted me a week or two ago and asked if they could send me some non-food items that would be perfect for Halloween.  They did not pay me to write this review and did not require me to do this giveaway.  The opinions in this article are strictly my own.*

Now, you can order from Oriental Trading right now in the interest of time.  Check out some very cool Halloween options here.  AND don’t miss their coupon page for some savings!

In the meantime, I’m doing a couple of giveaways that you might want to check out.  Here’s whats up for grabs in each giveaway:

Now that you know what is up for grabs, here is how it will work…

I have created two Halloween care packages that I am giving away to those of you living in the contiguous United States.  All you have to do to be eligible is to subscribe by email to my blog (on the right-hand column of this page) before 11:59pm on Friday, October 14, 2016.

I am donating the other two Halloween care packages to two different families that have been directly and severely impacted by Hurricane Matthew.  To be eligible, these families must:

  1. be directly and severely impacted by 2016’s Hurricane Matthew
  2. have a child with food allergies
  3. and live in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina.

We are going to use the honor system for these submissions.  If you know of a family that meets the above criteria, please email me their name and full address at thefoodallergymom@gmail.com.  Care packages will go out to the first two valid entries I receive by email.

Happy Halloween!

*************************THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*******************************

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Be A Part of the Houston FARE Food Allergy Walk for FREE

Are you walking in a FARE Food Allergy Walk near you?  This is something my family and I have participated in every year…almost since the walk’s institution.  It is truly a fantastic family event that does not cost for you to participate in (although fundraising is encouraged and welcome).

Here are just some of the fun and exciting events related to the Houston FARE Food Allergy Walk.  Read all about it and then COME BE A PART OF IT for FREE by joining The Food Allergy Mom team!

1) Houston FARE Walk for Food AllergyOur annual Houston FARE Walk for Food Allergy will be on Sat., Oct. 22, 2016 at Minute Maid Park – Diamond Lot. This family friendly 1-mile Walk will include these FUN activities: a DJ, a rock climbing wall, face painting, a gaming truck, a photo booth, access to Minute Maid Park’s Squeeze Play Area, 20+ vendor booths, 11 Poke Stops (NEW) & Pokemon Lures (NEW) set along the walk route, a Silly-String-Your-Allergist station (NEW) and so much more! Registration is FREE (www.foodallergywalk.org/Houston2016). We also have a Get-Your-Team-Name on our official Walk shirt contest going on right now. Teams will be recognized on our Houston shirt at different team levels based on the amount raised by our deadline: Silver Level Team ($1K), Gold Level Team ($2,500), Platinum Level Team ($5K), & Presenting Team ($10K). Our original deadline was this Fri, Sept 16th but it has been extended to next Wed, Sept 21 to allow our teams this weekend to get those fundraising numbers up!

*The Food Allergy Mom team sure would love to have a corporate sponsor if you work for a company or know of a company that is interested in supporting us!  They can donate online here.*

2) Elaine Turner Kick-off Party.

Invitation graphic courtesy of FARE Houston

Will be this Sun, Sept 18 from 3-5pm at the Rice Village locatio(2439 University Blvd, Houston, TX 77005). 15% of all sales go back to our Houston FARE Walk. Elaine Turner is providing sips & bites and we will have fabulous DOOR PRIZES to give away. Can’t make it? Telephone orders made from 12-5pm also count toward our total! RSVP: https://www.facebook.com /events/1054515667936602/.

 

3) Mad Potter Teal Pumpkin Painting Night.

Invitation graphic courtesy of FARE Houston

Invitation graphic courtesy of FARE Houston

Come join us on Wed, Sept 28 from 4pm to close at The Mad Potter in the River Oaks Shopping Center (1963 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019) and paint your very own teal pumpkin! Mad Potter will have a variety of pumpkins with removable lids available to paint. 10% of all pottery sales (not just pumpkins) from the evening will be donated to our Houston FARE Walk. We will also have more FUN door prizes to give away! RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/ev ents/1774384559499183/.

Hope to see you on walk day!

Blessings,

Kimberly

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