Monday, July 27, 2009

Blueberry Walnut Granola

Here is a specific granola recipe that David and I both LOVE. David prefers a sweet tasting granola and this one leans towards the sweeter side. Amount of honey can be adjusted to taste. I recommend tasting your dried blueberries for sweetness prior to adding honey. If your blueberries are really sweet you will need less honey. And reverse, if your blueberries are tangy or tart you may want more honey.

3 cups oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
cinnamon to taste
1 cup dried blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 275.

Melt butter. Add honey to warm butter and whisk to blend the liquids. May need to heat mixture a minute or two more.

Put your oats, coconut, walnuts and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix well so that cinnamon is well incorporated. Pour warm butter/honey mix on top and mix well. The oats will stick together a little and look wet.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter. Spread the oat mix over pan. Put pan in oven. STIR granola every 15 mins or so until brown. Usually takes between 45-75 mins depending on size of baking sheet. The more thinly that the granola is spread the less time it will take to brown.

When granola is piping hot and browned pour back into large bowl. Add dried blueberries and mix well.

Dump granola back on baking sheet and spread out. Set to cool or eat warm!

Once granola is cooled to room temperature, store in tightly sealed container. (Packing granola warm can cause condensation in its container which can lead to yuckiness.)

World Market

Today I ventured to Cost Plus World Market. I have found that traditions and food availabilities in other countries often lend towards more corn free and soy free items. I wasn't sure I'd find much but was delighted with their selection of foods and SPICES!! I have been saving to purchase two vanilla beans to make my own vanilla extract. Thus far the best price that I have found was $17/per bean. YIKES!!! I need two pods. I couldn't justify $34 for vanilla extract given the explosion in our food budget. Imagine my surprise and joy when I found TWO vanilla beans for $2.99!!! In fact all of their spices were $2.99. I have never purchased spices, have never even looked at their spice selection. It's wonderful. All kinds of "exotic" spices for a fraction of the cost of grocery stores. They also had a large selection of organic foods. I had purchased a can of organic soup to keep on hand for when we don't have leftovers for David's lunch. The can in a grocery store was nearly $5. WM had the same product for 1/2 as much! They had organic pastas, raw sugars, chocolate bars and more on sale and at great prices. As a result of David's allergies we are eating more and more organic foods. Organic food labels are easier to read and have each ingredient labeled clearly rather than ominous words such as "spices" or "food thickeners" which could mean corn.... Many pre-mixed spices and seasoning salts have dextrose (corn) in them so unless spices are clearly listed we don't purchase the product. We had a food drive at church yesterday so we cleaned out just about everything left in our pantry that David couldn't eat. There are just a few items left that were opened like peanut butter. I love my peanut butter so I'm OK with that. I made David almond butter which was pretty delicious and plan on trying some cashew butter next.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I was hoping *fingers crossed* hoping that I wouldn't have to make spaghetti sauce from scratch each time we wanted a pasta dish. On a whim I checked the sauces at Sam's Club. And found one! Bertolli Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic sauce. First time to eat it is this evening. Hopefully it's delicious.

Sunday, July 19, 2009



*1 Cup granulated sugar
*3/4 Cup butter, melted
*2 Tbsp water
*2 large eggs
*2 tsp vanilla^
*11/3 Cups flour
*3/4 Cup Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa (it's a "safe" brand for David's allergies)
*1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter
*1/4 tsp Baking Soda

^Make sure it is corn free.^

Preheat oven 350

Mix sugar, butter and water in large bowl. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in baking soda and cream of tarter. Mix in cocoa thoroughly, then the flour.

Bake about 18 mins - the center should still be a little soft.

These brownies are more cake like in texture than the typical store bought mixes but they are safe for David to eat. Safe chocolate chips are quite pricey so I have been making these instead of chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Enjoy your diet. (by David)

In this adventure of food, one thing I have found is that I tend to stop and enjoy my food more. I think there are a few things that cause this. One, is that my diet has become slightly more bland. I eat more oatmeal or other simple to prepare meals. So when I do eat a more flavorful meal, I stop and enjoy it. Becca does her best to prevent a bland diet.

Another thing is that my food either cost more or takes longer to prepare. Either way it causes a person to stop and think about the food when the cost goes up. Our fruit intake has increased also as of late. Many more fruits are in season currently but fruit is an easy snack that is "safe."

Friday, July 10, 2009


I intended to post this recipe. Well it's an idea of a recipe.

Granola Guidelines

3 cups of old fashioned OATS
1 cup of flaked coconut (although this can be left out if one doesn't like coconut, or the flavor doesn't go with the other choices below)

(FAT) 1/4 cup of any one of the following:
Canola oil
Butter, melted
Coconut oil
Olive oil (it's quite flavorful so be prepared)
Vegetable oil (but not if the granola is for David)

(SWEETENER) 1/4 cup of any one of the following:
Brown sugar
Other sweetener of choice

(SPICE) Amount to taste of any of the following or combo of the following - ground:
All Spice
Garam masla (a spice mix that includes: cloves, black pepper, and more)

(NUT) 1 cup of any of the following, or any combo of the following - chopped:
Brazil nuts
Hazel nuts
Macadamia nuts
Peanuts (but not if the granola is for David)

(DRIED FRUIT) 2/3 cup of any of the following, or any combo of the following:
Dried apple
Dried banana pieces
Any other dried fruit

(I wouldn't recommend going to crazy the first time you mix the granola as it's easy to over flavor when there are too many things going on at once. Pick a theme such as Hawaiian and go with it using coconut oil, dried pineapple and macadamia nuts with cinnamon as your spice.)

If using a solid fat such as butter, melt it prior to beginning. I keep my olive oil in the fridge so as to prevent it going rancid in our hot climate. Same with my Coconut Oil. Thus I set them out a few mins prior to starting. I still have to melt the coconut oil for a minute though.

In a large bowl thoroughly mix your fat, spice(s) and sweetener of choice. Add your oats, nuts and coconut to the bowl and mix well, ensuring that your oats are evenly coated. Depending on the amount of dried fruit/nuts/sweetener that you add you may need to ADD A LITTLE MORE FAT. Use the same fat and add a SMALL amount a little at a time. Mix thoroughly between adding more. The oats should be a little damp-ish but not soaking and the mix should have a little stick to it.

Lightly grease a baking sheet (or two) with whatever fat you used in your granola. Spread the granola mix evenly over the baking sheet. The thinner the layer the more quickly the granola will bake. Pop into oven at 275. Stir the granola every 15 mins paying attention to the edges which will brown more quickly. The granola will need about 50-75 mins depending on how thick it is on the baking sheet and how well it's stirred. STIR EVERY 15 MINS or it will brown unevenly and have an unusual texture when eaten with milk.

Remove from oven when reaches desired toasty-ness. I like mine with a little crunch so I let it brown up pretty well unless I am in a hurry and don't have 70 mins to cook and stir it. Also, if you use multiple pans rotate them in the oven with each stirring session. I typically use two sheets so I take the bottom one out and stir it then put it on the top rack, rotating each time I open the oven to stir.

Immediately after removing from oven add your DRIED fruit and mix in it well. (I like to keep my large bowl handy and dump all the cooked granola back in with the fruit and mix it up.) Then spread it back on the sheet and allow it to cool thoroughly, stirring it occasionally. When it's cool store in an air tight container. I like Lock 'n' Lock containers that seal when closed and prevent air from getting in but Ziplocks work well when my Lock 'n' Lock's are full.

David's body reacts

David has been following an ever increasingly corn free, soy free, peanut free diet for 10 days. In the first few days David thought that he was thinking more clearly and already felt as though he had more energy. After 4 days of carefully reading labels and being cautious our neighbor woke us up early and said "We are going to breakfast, I am buying." What to do other than go? We ended up at IHOP. David picked a meal that was mostly meat and eggs. Some eggs mixes may have corn in them but we can't read the ingredient labels in a restaurant. Without thinking, he followed suit on the iced coffee orders. Right. So any pre-mixed iced coffee WILL have corn syrup of some sort and probably soy lechtin. Needless to say he didn't feel fabulous after that meal but it wasn't terrible because the iced coffee carries trace amounts. Another 6 full days of eating carefully and he's feeling even better. More energy, more even keeled, rational emotions (I'm getting my husband back!!), fewer crazy BM's, less bloated...

We were invited by a friend to join them for dinner last night. Tricky situation when one has such allergies as corn and soy. Especially when our friends have a son who is kept to a pretty strict gluten free diet (think corn and soy food alternatives). Nice. We talked about bringing David his own meal, prepared here but decided he would have a snack before we went and see how things went. Our neighbor also gave him digestive enzymes to take when he was going to be in such a situation. He took one and off we went. Thankfully our friend prepared fajitas. David was able to eat the meat and most of the sides. We sat down, huge bowl of chips in the middle. David dug in. Yea. CORN chips. Also he ate the cheese dip from a jar (corn and soy) and the pre-shredded cheese (corn starch and other products are used to prevent clumping). While he could have easily avoided these items, our friend had everything in separate bowls, I didn't have the heart to say "you can't eat that" and David didn't think much about it.

Needless to say David felt the effects almost immediately. We ate about 7:45pm. David was feeling pretty terrible by 8:50. The bloating, the BM's, the grumpiness.... And David says "I'm a believer!!!" LOL. I think he was some how hoping he wasn't really allergic or possibly attempting to ignore the situation and hope it went away.... poor guy. He didn't eat a ton of any of the items either. But CORN chips were probably the kicker.

So, today we are back to corn free and I'm thinking it'll be a while before David casually eats something without reading a label if it didn't come from my kitchen.

The baking challenge

The following products all contain corn by products:
Baking Powder
Powdered sugar
Yeast (Except Red Star brand)
Some flours (nearly ALL self rising - which I don't use anyway and MOST bleached white flours - which I also avoid)
Corn Starch (duh!)
Corn meal (right?)

The following contain soy:
Baking chips - chocolate, butterscotch, dark chocolate... you name it soy lechtin is probably in it
Vegetable oil

As a result of David's allergies baking has become a challenge. What once was second nature and a soothing activity has become some what stressful and not nearly as enjoyable. Reading labels and researching basic baking ingredients has sapped some of the pleasure out of baking. Further more, many of our wheat products here in the US are genetically engineered. Which, many think, has led to the rise in wheat and gluten allergies. With this in mind I have been attempting to experiment with new kinds of flour. Rice, rye and so on. While rye has a trace amount of gluten, rice has none. This means that a standard bread recipe I once made and always turned out perfectly no longer has the same light weight texture and feel. Gluten helps bread obtain that beautiful airy-ish texture we know and love. I made a batch of bread yesterday. Using a cup of rye and three cups of rice flour along with the remaining 2 cups or so of wheat flour. The bread is quite dense. While it's not dry like biscotti, it's dense like biscotti.

I made brownies on Tuesday night. I was bringing a meal to a friend who just had her first baby and thought a little something sweet would be perfect. I made the brownies with my cream of tarter/baking soda substitute for baking powder.

Word to the wise something I wish I had known: CREAM OF TARTER WILL EXPEDITE THE DRYING OUT OF BAKED GOODS. The muffins I made last week were perfect on Friday night. Moist and delicious. By Saturday morning, despite having bagged them in Ziplock bags and removing all excess air, the muffins were dry. Particularly the poppy seed. Like sand paper on my tongue. How terrible. I mushed them up in a bowl and ate them like cereal. Sand paper, slight exaggeration, eating the muffins like cereal, true story. All that to say I wish I had known. I should have figured it out. Cream of Tarter is most commonly used for things such as: making egg whites stiffen for pie toppings or assisting in the crispiness of a sugar cookie.... but with so many other things to think about those things NEVER crossed my mind. And so, when baking and using the Cream of Tarter and Baking Soda alternative ADD EXCESS FAT or APPLE SAUCE or something that will help to keep baked goods moist. Also if you live in a ridiculously hot place (like TX) and your A/C is running all the time just to keep the house at 80 degrees, storing baked goods in the fridge is a good idea. Helps keep them moist and because there are no preservatives in home baked goods, keeps them from going stale or molding.

Back to brownies. I used the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa Powder: which is safe. Substituting the baking powder and using my alcohol free, corn free vanilla and adding a few extra tablespoons of butter. They turned out perfect and were still pretty moist when we finished the last of the brownies today.


On Tuesday June 30 David and I went to the grocery store and picked up, among other things, the items in this photo. All of the items are safe foods for him to eat. Because I knew it would take time to ensure all of my staples were safe we purchased cookies and snack items as well as granola for breakfast. David's allergy is tricky because many gluten free items substitute corn or soy or both for wheat flour. Enjoy Life is dedicated to creating all of their product without the top 8 allergens, which include soy and peanuts but not corn. Some of their products do contain corn so we're becoming pros at reading labels.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Grocery shopping trip

On Tuesday after a light supper of the few products that we had that we thought were probably corn free, we went grocery shopping to purchase products that David can safely eat.

Some of our great finds included:
  • Central Market Organics Powdered Sugar - This product is made from Tapioca Starch as opposed to the often used Corn Starch
  • Enjoy Life Food Products - All of their products are free from the top 8 food allergies, which include soy and peanut so we have only to look for corn ingredients. Their labels were pretty clear and easy to read so spotting the products with corn were easy
  • An alcohol, corn syrup free Vanilla Flavoring product - I have never used anything but Pure Vanilla Extract so I'm a little nervous as to the flavor of this product but typical vanilla's aren't safe for David so here goes nothing
  • Back to Nature Cinnamon Crunch cereal - David hasn't opened this cereal yet as he dug into the Enjoy Life granola we purchased to tide him over until I could make granola but it looks good and the ingredients once again were clearly listed and easy to figure out
  • Lundberg Rice Cakes - made from brown rice and a little salt, David's waiting until I make almond butter to eat these bad boys
I have been preparing for a brunch this morning. When David was a kid his family would have a 4th of July brunch. We decided to do something along those line, only here at home being that the weather is clearing 100 degrees before 10am. I made three batches of home made muffins last night (all baking mixes are now out for muffins, brownies and cakes - which is fine now but we will have a sweet shortage during school months). I made an apple cinnamon batch, a blueberry batch and a poppy seed batch. I used the same basic muffin recipe and substituted the baking powder with a mix of cream of tarter and baking soda.

Here are baking substitutes for the corn, soy and peanut allergy folks:

Baking powder = 1 teaspoon substitute is 1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter plus 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
Corn Starch = 1 Tablespoon substitute is 2 Tbsp flour

The baking powder substitute worked well in the cheddar biscuits I made for dinner and the muffins I made for this morning. I haven't tried the mix in anything else yet but I'll keep posting.