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Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?

How to Handle Food Allergies When You’re Not at Home

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?

It is very common in the world of real food to be on some type of restricted diet. Whether it be paleo, AIP, keto, GAPS, low FODMAP or another healing diet. Then there are those who have to avoid certain foods due to allergies. Either way it makes eating somewhere other than your own home challenging.

What Can You Do?

The easiest solution is to always eat at home. But let’s be realistic. There will be times that you have to eat out or get an invitation from a friend to have dinner together or even eat with family. In order to avoid going hungry or appearing rude you need to take measures to ensure there is safe food for you and your family.

I deal with it all the time. My family has dealt with a myriad of allergies over the last few years. This is in addition to trying restricted healing diets. We even did have a stretch where we didn’t eat at a restaurant for over a year because there were just too many severe allergies. But I’ve learned how to live with food restrictions and still eat somewhere other than my own home. Here are some simple coping strategies to make this task easier.

Eating at a Restaurant Tips:

  1. Choose a restaurant with an actual chef. They can accommodate almost any request.
  2. Ask for your food plain. Most restaurants have chicken breast and broccoli. They can even cook it in water to avoid unhealthy or unsafe fats.
  3. Choose meals with individual components (meat, vegetable, starch) instead of mixed foods like pasta and burritos.
  4. Order a few sides instead of a main dish. A baked potato, salad and a vegetable makes a good meal.
  5. Don’t be afraid to bring your own food. A salad is a great grain free option. Simply bring a small bottle of your own dressing to make it healthy. I often bring extra raw vegetables for my kids to add to their meals since restaurants have a limited selection and they are sometimes prepackaged with unsafe fats.
  6. Speak up! It’s not always easy, but in my experience most restaurants do their best to accommodate special dietary needs. My little secret? Regardless of why you have to avoid the food I always say it’s an allergy. They’re more likely to respond well to an allergy request than an “I don’t eat that” request.

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?Eating with Friends or Family Tips:

  1. Ask for the menu ahead of time. Let your host know you have allergies and you want to be sure there are safe foods. It’s much easier to work through the details in advance than showing up and having to decline everything offered.
  2. Offer to bring a component of the meal. If grains are the problem you can offer to bring homemade bread or rolls that are safe. Maybe you want to be sure there will be plenty of vegetables. Offer to bring a salad or roasted vegetables. Bring something safe so there will be at least one thing you can eat.
  3. Eat a light snack before you go. Then even if there are limited options you won’t go hungry. Enjoy what you can eat and focus on enjoying time with friends. Don’t draw attention to the food.
  4. Be the host. This is usually my default. I’m glad I like to cook! Since my kids are the ones with allergies I try to take the responsibility of hosting and preparing special food.
  5. Speak up! This applies to friends and families just as it does to restaurants. Most people are more than happy to accommodate special diets. If it’s someone I don’t know well I still always call any food restrictions allergies.

Cooking for a family with allergies is manageable, though sometimes challenging. What happens when you leave the comfort of your own kitchen? How do you handle food allergies then?It’s Just Food.

Food restrictions tend to cause me anxiety. Sometimes the most important thing is to remember it’s just food. It’s just one meal. Focus on the conversation and the company. Know that most people want to help and are more than happy to make special accommodations for you. It may take a little courage, but you can work around food allergies without being stuck at home. Then you can turn around and be a blessing to someone else when it’s your turn to host. It’s always my first question when I invite someone over for a meal – do you have any special dietary needs? When the host starts the conversation, it makes the whole process easier for everyone.

There is no need to shy away from family gatherings or a special meal out when dealing with special dietary needs. Simply follow these tips to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone!

How do you cope with special diets when you’re not at home? Do you have any tips to add to the list?

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Should You Force Feed a Picky Eater?

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

I am a big fan of gentle parenting. I like to let my kids make decisions, learn from their mistakes, listen to their bodies and follow their passions.

Really it is a great way to parent.

I want my kids to mature and be independent thinkers, not control their every move.

But that went out the window with my youngest when she was struggling to eat anything. She couldn’t listen to her body anymore because all she heard was fear.

Food meant pain. Food meant allergic reaction after allergic reaction. And she was too little to communicate how she felt. So she simply stopped eating.

What did I do?

I forced her to eat.

Now, before you become alarmed let me explain.

When my daughter was at the point of being afraid to eat I had to convince her brain and her belly that food could be safe. Which meant getting a few bites down.

Sometimes that meant giving her a few tortilla chips. Sometimes that meant offering her a cookie. The actual food didn’t matter. Just getting something in her empty stomach was the key.

But sometimes there was no food that would entice her enough to take a bite. And yes, sometimes I did have to try physically pushing a little bit of food into her mouth to get past the initial fear. But she sure is good at dodging that!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Enter my Secret Weapon – Nourishing drinks!

Often with picky eaters or children having allergic reactions half of the battle is the chewing process. So I skipped that and started offering delicious drinks. To my great joy my daughter started drinking them!

Want to know what happened next?

She started eating solid food again! Simply getting some safe, nourishing food in her system was enough to replenish nutrients and stimulate her appetite. And that is such a critical point.

To be clear, this did NOT happen over night. This was a long process with many setbacks like new reactions and illness. Then it was back to square one of living on nutrient-dense drinks until she was refueled enough to eat again. This has been a two year journey!

he idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Variety is Key.

One key to using drinks for nourishment is variety. We all need an assortment of vitamins and minerals every day and every week. This is especially true for kids with allergies that need to rotate food.

Picky eaters are at risk for nutritional deficiencies. In fact, these deficiencies often cause picky eating in the first place! 

So I set out to create an assortment of delicious drinks that covered a broad spectrum of nutrients to alleviate the picky eating. And I want to share it with you!

If you struggle with any of the following in your child, this book is for you!

  • picky eating
  • oral sensory processing disorder
  • allergies
  • refusal to eat certain textures
  • slow weight gain/underweight
  • won’t eat many fruits and vegetables
  • won’t eat meat
  • craves starch/carbs
  • holds food in mouth/struggles with chewing

Want to know who else it’s for? Any parents that want to boost their child’s nutrition! Yes, this book really is for everyone.

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

What’s in it?

I offer simple, nourishing drinks to help get any picky eater back on track to full health and appetite. Kids and adults alike will love these drinks that include fun flavors like apple pie a la mode and peach cobbler. The recipes in Easy Nourishment For Picky Eaters work for those with allergies. They are even safe for children as young as 6 months. Don’t let picky eating get in the way of good health. Drink your way to a well-nourished body.

Yes, there are some days that I still have to “force” my daughter to eat…just get her to take one bite and remind her that food is not scary. Her favorite way is with a “chocolate shake” loaded with healthy fats and gut-healing collagen. That is my kind of force feeding!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

It can be hard to feed an undernourished child. But take heart! He can be nourished with simple, nutrient-dense drinks. The best part is he won’t even know.

Do you have a picky eater? Did you know there could be a root cause?

Boost those nutrients and watch that picky eating turn around!

The idea of force feeding a picky eater sounds cruel. But it might be just what your child needs to get back on track!

Looking for more than nourishing drinks? Check out my other book Why Won’t My Child Eat?! that has in-depth information about how to assess and deal with a picky eater.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

The Secret Ingredient Hiding In Your Natural Food: What Is Natural Flavor?

It’s not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods…but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your “natural” foods?

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

It’s been over three years now since we cut out food coloring/food dyes from our kids’ diet. As in absolutely none. No exceptions. Artificial flavor is limited to a few times a year in a treat of vanilla ice cream.

It has made a big difference in how my children feel and behave. It is literally like a drug for my oldest. Sometimes it makes her insane. Sometimes it makes her super mellow. Either way, it’s impacting her brain and is not good.

Of course cutting out artificial ingredients naturally lends itself to a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Who doesn’t love that?!

Instead of artificially flavored fruit snacks you buy organic gummies. Instead of Trix yogurt with food dyes you get organic yogurt. Instead of traditional candy you buy organic suckers made with fruit. Sounds great!

Not Enough

That was us…for a while. Until I noticed my daughter was exhibiting the same behavior as when she ate the foods with artificial colors and flavors.

Being the investigator that I am I read labels, I observed her, I kept a food journal. She had already been gluten free for a long time.

The one thing that I came up with was the ingredient common to all of these “natural” foods…

Natural Flavor

Since then I’ve been doing more research. Both experimenting with diet and reading any information I can find. I really want to know…what is natural flavor??

Not surprisingly I came across article after article that said natural flavor is basically the same thing as artificial flavor. The only real difference is the ingredient(s) it starts with. Natural flavor starts with real food. But it still undergoes various chemical processes which result in a product not much different than its artificial counterpart.

The Technical Term

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors, include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants.”

Per dictionary.com enzymolysis is: “Chemical change or cleavage of a substance by enzymatic action.

So, natural flavor can come from a chemical change of bark and it’s still within the guidelines. Interesting.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

What Others Are Saying

According to dailyburn.com:

“Natural flavors are coming from natural sources — the original ingredient is found in nature and then purified and extracted and added back into the food.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the “natural flavors” in your blueberry granola bar are simply…crushed-up blueberries. Rather, they probably consist of a chemical originally found in blueberries, enhanced and added into your food in a lab.”

“Added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. And all of the extra ingredients in flavors often aren’t as innocent as you’d hope they would be. The mixture will often have some solvent and preservatives — and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume [of the flavoring]. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.”

NaturalNews.com states:

“Regulations for the word “natural” only apply to flavors; anywhere else you find it on food packaging means absolutely nothing regarding quality. Secondly, the FDA definition of “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” allows for the substance to be extracted from plant or animal “matter.” So when you buy something that’s organic, vegetarian, or vegan, and it has “natural flavoring,” you could be eating a pig, cow, turkey, chicken, or lamb which was shot up with growth hormones, fed GMO pesticide-laden corn and grain – probably mixed with other animals of it’s same breed, then shot up with antibiotics due to infections and diseases from living in confined quarters on slats covered in feces.

Monosodium Glutamate is a neurotoxin that can be legally hidden from you and/or be labeled “natural flavors” in the ingredients list. MSG is not a natural flavor – in fact, it can cause brain lesions, neuro-endocrine disorders, and neurodegenerative disease in humans, but you won’t hear any doctors of Western Medicine mentioning that at your next extreme migraine emergency visit. There are more than 25 names for MSG, so sometimes you find it spread out a little, just in case the manufacturer gets “checked out” by anyone other than the FDA.”

Foodbabe.com says:

“With the words “natural flavor” food chemists and companies can put whatever they want in your food that is “generally regarded as safe” including excitotoxins. Natural flavor can legally contain natural occurring “glutamate” bi-products like MSG – which are known excitotoxins. These excitotoxins are some of the chemicals that cause your taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food. Excitotoxins overexcite your cells literally until they die or are damaged causing “injury” and “incapacitating” you with disease. When consumed over time, excitotoxins can cause nerve disorders resulting a myriad of diseases from stroke to Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. And lots of other side effects too – like obesity, migraines, fatigue and depression.”

Remember what I said about “natural flavor” acting like a brain-altering drug for my kids? It’s not so far fetched when you really do some searching. My observations were spot on.

Straight From The Source

None of it sounds very appealing and certainly doesn’t put my mind at ease.

But I know you can’t trust everything you read. So I set out to do my own investigation.

I called some popular organic food companies and some conventional food companies to ask them about the ingredients in their food (I’ll be kind and won’t name names). Sadly most of them had no answer for me.

I told them I was a mom of kids with tons of allergies. I need to know a full ingredient list or I can’t give it to my kids. Simply avoiding the top eight allergens does not cut it.

These are the responses I got:

“Natural flavor is listed so we can keep the full ingredient list from our competitors. The natural flavor in X product contains apple, corn, black raspberry, cherry, cranberry, lemon, lime and strawberry. I don’t know how it’s processed, but it does contain those ingredients.”

“The natural flavor is outsourced. The ingredients for each flavor can change by the season so we can’t tell you what’s in it. It is made from fruits, vegetables and/or spices. And they can’t be modified. There are no major allergens.”

“The natural flavor comes from a natural source. I don’t have a specific list of ingredients.”

“It is a proprietary formula that I can’t tell you. It is an all natural food or something.”

“The Natural Flavors in our products will follow our same Brand Promise to be Gluten-Free and Free-From the top defined food allergens. We have only aligned ourselves with business partners and ingredient suppliers that can adhere to our strict allergen requirements.”

One website directly stated:

“All our Natural Flavors in our certified organic product are Organic Compliant Natural Flavors and conform to the regulations of both the FDA and the very strict National Organic Plan (NOP) by the USDA.These natural flavors do not contain anything we would not be proud to put in our family’s mouths.  

Please note that we consider our Natural Flavors to be secret recipes so we do not reveal the contents of our Natural Flavors.  We are aware that some people may not be able to eat some of our flavors because we are unable to reveal the secret recipe and we are truly sorry for this inconvenience.”

Digging Even Deeper

Since I was getting nowhere with the food manufacturers I tried contacting some natural flavor manufacturers directly.

No surprise…I couldn’t get any response from them!

I Need To Know

As a mom of kids with allergies it concerns me greatly that I am not allowed to know what is in just about every packaged food. Even simple foods like canned tomatoes and salsa. It also concerns me that these “natural flavors” are so common that nobody questions them.

The word natural has no real standard. It can mean just about anything. Don’t let it fool you too. If you are conscious of avoiding artificial flavors and colors, you might want to add natural flavor your list.

If it is so “natural” why don’t you just tell us what it is??

Now what?

Don’t feel discouraged! You can still live a natural lifestyle. And it does NOT have to be complicated or involve convenience foods with suspicious ingredients.

You can learn to replace store-bought products with DIY options that actually work (like homemade fruit snacks and granola bars) and are easy to make. You feel better (and even look better, too). Healthy living becomes less stressful and more enjoyable.

Our family has felt so much better by making changes to the way we eat, the products we use, and how we take care of ourselves. It’s made all the difference in the world and I want the same for you.

The use of natural flavor has been my biggest “natural food” complaint for many years. It really has no place in our food. And food companies that make quality, whole foods should be more than happy to tell consumers exactly what ingredients they use.

 

Skip the “natural flavor” that is a mystery ingredient. Keep your family well nourished and feeling their best.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Red Plum Raspberry Jelly {No Added Pectin!}

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m not very good at making jams and jellies. Even when I use the packs of pectin!

I have switched over to using gelatin to create my strawberry freezer jam, cherry jam, grape jelly and five minute peach jam. They turned out beautifully!

But I recently teamed up with Ball Brand to try one of their recipes. I had the great pleasure of perusing The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving. It’s like a canner’s dream.

The pictures are gorgeous. And the recipes all sound so delicious. I wish I had time to try them all!

But I had to just pick one to try and share with you.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Trying My Hand At Jelly Again

With our allergies I don’t use pectin. Since I can’t be certain of the source it’s too risky. I know a lot of pectin is made from apples. And my two youngest are allergic to apples.

So instead of modifying a recipe I went for one that didn’t even need pectin. Red plum raspberry jelly sounded like the perfect combination of fruit flavors. And it is!

Neither fruit over powers the other.

There is no doubt that red plum raspberry jelly tastes good. You can use it for your  morning eggs and toast or mixed into some plain yogurt. We like it on pancakes.

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

The Outcome

The real question, though, is did I manage to make good jelly without using gelatin?

Ummmm, no.

I read the instructions on how to look for the gelling point. I used a thermometer to monitor the temperature (got it to 220 just like it said).

But the timing worked out that it was right around the gelling point when I was trying to get my toddler down for a nap. And of course this was the one day where she was fighting sleep. In fact, instead of taking 3-10 minutes to get her to sleep it took over an hour and a half (including a dirty diaper change)! Maybe it was all those raspberries she ate!

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

So I kept bouncing back and forth between checking the jelly and checking the toddler. And at one point I just said I have to get it done and said a prayer. Well, it wasn’t gelled.

My Big Mistake

And now that I am re-reading the directions I see that it says to stir constantly…oops. Not easy when trying to get a toddler to nap. I think all of the pectin came to the top when I wasn’t stirring…there was a sticky, pink foam. Oops.

Note – keep stirring while it boils!!

All is not lost, though. We now have sweet red plum raspberry syrup! I can’t wait to use it on our pancakes this week (every Friday we have breakfast for dinner…pancakes is on the menu).

I might also try cooking it down a bit or adding a little gelatin when I open a jar. Just to see what happens.

It’s Your Turn

In spite of my inability to make jams and jellies I am sharing this delicious recipe with you today. I bet you’ll have better luck. Maybe you can teach me a thing or two about gel! My motto moving forward is going to be “Follow the directions and keep stirring.”

I hope to try this recipe again and actually cook it the right way. I REALLY want to try red plum raspberry jelly on bread (freshly baked sourdough would heavenly).

How about you? Are you a pro at making jams and jellies? Or are you jelly challenged like me?

I’d love to hear how it goes if you try red plum raspberry jelly.

But there’s more! Keep reading.
Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.

Red Plum Raspberry Jelly
Yields 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs. firm, ripe red plums, halved
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 4 cups raspberries
  4. 3 cups cane sugar
  5. cheesecloth
Instructions
  1. Pit plums, reserving pits. Chop plums and place in a 6 qt. stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Lightly crush the plum with a potato masher.
  2. Stir in the water and reserved pits. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add raspberries, crushing with a potato masher. Return to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Line a large, fine wire mesh strainer with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a large bowl.
  5. Pour the plum mixture into the strainer (do not press down). Cover and let stand 3 hours or until collected juice measures 3 1/2 cups and mixture no longer drips.
  6. Wash and dry Dutch oven.
  7. Pour the juice into the Dutch oven. Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring constantly, to gelling point.
  8. Ladle hot jelly into a hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  9. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band and adjust to fingertip tight.
  10. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  11. Process jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars stand 5 minutes.
  12. Remove jars from canner and cool.
Notes
  1. Tip - plum pits are super high in pectin, so simmering them with the fruit really helps give this jelly its velvety smooth set.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

Looking for a delicious jelly that is naturally free of pectin? This is it! Red plum raspberry jelly is the perfect fruit combination for your morning toast, mixed into yogurt or spread on your pancakes.Can It Forward

Don’t forget to “Can It Forward” with Ball Brand. On July 22, 2016 they are hosting a Can-It-Forward day live on Facebook. You’ll see demos (I think I need to tune in for one on jelly). Plus Ball Brand will be donating to a local charity. The more engagement they receive the more they donate!

Here’s how you can participate.

  • Pledge to can-it-forward by signing up via the pledge page and share with friends.
  • Tune in on July 22nd to watch canning demonstrations via Facebook Live from 10:00AM – 3:30PM ET. Each hour, viewers will have the chance to win a giveaway prize!
  • If you engage with any of the Facebook Live recipe videos, a donation will be made to charity.
  • You can ask Jarden Home Brands canning experts any preserving or home canning questions via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM – 5PM ET on July 22nd. Consumers can also share their own #canitforward creations with the brand on Pinterest and Instagram.

More For You

Ball Brand would also like to give one of my lucky readers coupons for canning supplies and a copy of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving! Enter below for your chance to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Does red plum raspberry jelly sound like a delicious combination? What is your favorite jelly flavor?

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

The REAL Reason I’m Teaching My Kids To Cook

Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook. Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

 

“It’s a good thing I like to cook.”

I made that comment to my husband earlier this week. And I really meant it.

With all of the varying allergies in our house cooking is a full time job. I’m not joking. I spend half of my day in the kitchen.

It’s a rare treat if I can come up with a meal the whole family can eat. There is no such thing as convenience food (unless you mean a box of raisins.). Eating out? That’s a thing people do?

Even as we look ahead to visiting family this summer I have to do the meal planning. I don’t get a break whether I’m home or traveling.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Nobody else can cook for my family.

There is no substitute for me. Even my husband doesn’t know how to cook.

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired.

If I don’t cook, my kids don’t eat.

I happily accept the challenge of keeping my kids well fed and healthy. It is actually my passion.

The REAL Reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not to get me off the hook!

Everyone deserves a break.

But let’s be honest. Everyone needs a break sometimes. If you don’t get one, that passion fades a little. The joy of cooking isn’t quite the same when your food is reduced to a handful of safe options. And I don’t have ten hours a day to cook.

Have you tried cooking when you can’t let one person’s food touch another’s food? You must use a new knife for everything you cut. Did I stick that spoon in this pot or that one? Better get a clean one just to be safe. What rotation day are we on? Better check so we know what your snack options are. Does this measuring cup have latex? Gotta wash my hands after I add the flour to the bowl (or buy new measuring cups). Everyone must wash up as soon as they are done eating so you don’t get an allergen on anything.

Nothing is easy.

Easy meals like sandwiches are a big undertaking. It requires me to make my own lunch meat and bake a minimum of two kinds of bread. Pizza…three separate crusts, two kinds of sauce, different toppings, some with and some without cheese, bake on separate pans, use different pizza cutters. Not so easy.

Cooking and eating at my house is like a very delicate juggling act. Fun in some ways. Not as fun in others. And one little slip up and it comes tumbling down.

Cooking is a learned skill.

When I got married I really had no idea how to cook. I had a handful of things I could make. But not very well. And most of them involved packaged foods.

Over the years I have taught myself to cook. I have learned to be creative in the kitchen with evolving food restrictions and new diets. I always gladly accept each new challenge. I’m thankful I get to share my journey and my creations with you!

The REAL Reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not to get me off the hook!

I want some replacements.

But my kids won’t be little forever. I won’t be in control of what they eat when they grow up. I can’t make choices for them when they are not home.

I want to empower my kids to take control of their own health and understand how to eat well in spite of their allergies. I want to share my passion for real food with my children.

Yes, we are working on and hopeful for healing. It would be wonderful if someday we can all eat the same food and a much larger variety of food. But that is not guaranteed.

What I can for sure give my kids is the knowledge and ability to cook and care for themselves.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Here’s the plan!

That’s where the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse comes in. We started it back in January. But I’ll be honest – life was crazy busy. We only did it sporadically.

When we did do the course my kids LOVED it. And they learned so much. Now they are always begging me to help in the kitchen.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for summer so we can dive back in and really get cooking.

The real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook - and it's not so I can take it easy.

Sound good? Go check out The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!

You can do beginner, intermediate or advanced or get all access if you have kids of all ages and skill levels. There is something for everyone. Do it at your own pace and watch the videos whenever it fits in your schedule.Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Lofty goals.

My first goal for this summer is to have my eight year old be able to make an entire meal by herself, start to finish. Then in a pinch I know I could rely on her to make a meal. That may sound like an ambitious goal if your kids don’t normally cook. But she’s been cooking with me since she was nine months old. She loves helping in the kitchen. Now it’s time to let her really take responsibility.
Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.
Even my toddler can get in on the action now. I’m excited to let her practice cutting banana slices for herself and spreading lard on her bread.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even convince my husband to tune in to some of the classes and learn a few cooking skills too.

I love cooking in spite of our challenges. But I don’t want my kids to depend on me forever (well, I do, actually…can I keep them this small?). Sadly they do have to grow up.

I could say I’m teaching my kids to cook so I’m off the hook. But really that’s not it. I want them to be safe. I want them to stay healthy even if a situation comes up where I can’t be around to cook a meal. I want my children to be able to visit Grandpa and Grandma and tell them what they can eat.

How about you? Are you ready to give your kids skills for life?

Click here to register for the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse

It’s an investment in your kids’ future.

The real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook is to empower them and keep them safe and healthy. What is your motive for teaching your kids to cook?Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I'm teaching my kids to cook.

Need more info about picky eating and allergies? Check out my books!

Easy Nourishment for Picky Eaters

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Allergies

I’m so excited to finally share my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!. I’ll tell you our story and give lots of tips for feeding children. One of the most important things to understand is how a rotation diet helps with allergies.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

“You should try a rotation diet.”

I first heard those words when I went through a whole assortment of tests a few years ago and the results showed a lot of latent food allergies.

My first thought: “You want me to not eat the same foods two days in a row?”

I love leftovers.

I am a creature of habit and the queen of repetition. I could eat the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a week and not mind one bit. And if I really like something I often do eat it every day. Plus I LOVE leftovers. I’m odd but I like cold leftovers better than freshly made food. So the idea of not eating things two days in a row was crazy to me.

My second thought: “How is that going to help?”

Turns out it helps a lot. Though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

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Let’s get started!

I went home, did more research and got started. I only had one child eating solids at the time. So it wasn’t that tough to modify meals for the family and work around my new diet. I stuck with it for a while and had fun experimenting with new recipes.

Then life got busy. I gradually fell back into old habits. I had a one year old that was always on the move. And a very smart four year old that needed lots of stimulation and always wanted to learn something new. Plus I was tired and struggling with adrenal fatigue. Back to eating the same foods all the time and feeding my kids the same foods.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Time to get serious.

Fast forward a year and my son was diagnosed with lots of food allergies. All the allergist told us to do was avoid the worst offenders. That was it for advice.

Ok. We can do that. No dairy, eggs, rice, beans, peas, grapes, pears and a few other foods. Not fun. But we’ll manage.

Six months later we went for a retest. The allergies were worse and new ones had popped up.

It was then that I learned how a rotation diet can help with allergies and just how important it is.

Can you guess what foods my son now reacted strongly to?

All the foods he ate frequently and foods we used to replace his allergens. Oops. Mom fail. Lesson learned. Sort of.

Why Won't My Child Eat Banner Image 400x335

Too many slip-ups.

We’ve gone through this up and down cycle of sticking to food rotation and then getting busy and slipping back into old habits many times. And almost every time we pay for it by adding new allergies.

Knowing just how important rotation is, I’ve been pretty strict about enforcing it with my youngest from the start. You can see how I plan meals around her allergies in our weekly meal plans.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Back to that rotation thing.

That’s a little background. I hope I didn’t lose you at the mention of a rotation diet.

It’s kind of a strange concept. Basically you eat foods on a four day rotation. So if you eat an apple on Monday you can’t eat an apple again until Friday.

How does that help? And why four days?

Allergies can start or worsen with repeated exposure, especially in allergy-prone people and those with leaky guts (which includes many of us). So if you are consuming the same food day after day any reaction to that food will gradually intensify. It’s kind of like picking at a cut. The more you pick at it the worse it will get.

When you eat a problem food your body produces “masking” antibodies. After four days those antibodies are gone (if you aren’t eating the food). So you can better assess if a particular food was bothering you. If you eat the same food every day those antibodies do not clear out and you’re left guessing and having reaction upon reaction. Been there, done that.

Tailor your rotation.

Ideally you should rotate food families. But this is not always possible. My youngest does not even have enough safe foods to span four days with rotating families. So we stick with rotating individual foods and try not to have food families span more than two days. You have to do what works for you.

An added bonus of rotation is that it forces you to have variety in your diet, which leads to a broader spectrum of vitamins and minerals. This is beneficial for the whole family, not just those with allergies. So get everyone on board!

I can’t do that.

Sound like a good theory but impossible to implement? It’s not. I promise. It just takes some planning.

Here are a few simple steps:

  1. Make a list of all of the foods you can eat. You can do this for the whole family or just for the individuals with allergies.
  2. Group the safe foods into food families.
  3. Now start filling in four days, including foods from each food group (fruits, vegetables, grains/starches, fats, proteins) in each day.

I also like to group foods that we commonly eat together. For example, beef and tomatoes are good on the same day for making spaghetti with meat sauce or tacos with salsa. I include peppers and onions on those days too. Rice tends to go well with chicken or pork. I put lettuce and a few favorite salad toppings on the same day.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Making life easier.

Play around with it until you find a rotation that works for your family. Then start planning! Oddly enough a rotation diet can actually make meal planning easier. A lot of the decisions are made for you. The other day I was planning a meal for a day with pumpkin, rice, lettuce and cucumbers. So we had pumpkin pasta (rice noodles) and salads. Perfect!

I even manage to use leftovers by making my “day” go from dinner one day to lunch the next. So dinner leftovers can still be eaten for easy lunches. Then we start our next day with dinner again.

One down side to a rotation diet is that it can be hard to eat seasonally. It just depends on how restricted your diet is. We’ve been eating asparagus all year because my daughter likes it and tolerates it. Normally we only eat it in the spring when it’s growing in our garden. But having food options wins over eating seasonally. Not to mention on a rotation diet you can’t eat cherries every day for two weeks straight while they are fresh. The rotation is more important.

The results.

Since starting a rotation diet with my kids it is a lot easier to keep new allergies to a minimum and to spot an offending food right away. Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I say I can pinpoint food reactions in a couple days. But I can. It is because we use a rotation diet. This is also very helpful when re-introducing foods. It easy to tell right away if my child is still reacting or not. So we can try one new food a week when I think they are ready.

Before dealing with allergies my diet was about the farthest thing from rotated. I ate the same foods day after day after day. And I paid the price with a long list of latent allergies now. And I have seen firsthand how not rotating foods has negatively impacted my children.

Top priority.

Using a rotation diet is one of the most important things you can do for someone with allergies. And it is just one of the many topics I cover in my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!. I’ve got tips on how to observe your child for food reactions and how to deal with picky eating. I’ve even got a tried and true method for feeding a child that refuses to eat anything (I’ve been there…for months). Plus lots more.

Get your copy of Why Won’t My Child Eat?! so you can take the guess work out of behavior issues and picky eating and start enjoying meal times again.

>>  Order your copy of Why Won’t My Child Eat?!  <<

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

And don’t forget to download your FREE guide to meal planning and picky eating with two weeks of rotated meals laid out for you! It’s a great way to get started and learn more about how a rotation diet helps with allergies.

>>>>  Get your free guide here.  <<<<

Meal Planning, Picky Eating and Travel Guide Cover

Do you have kids with allergies? Do you use a rotation diet or are you stuck in a rut with a handful of safe foods?

Get out of the rut and get on the road to healing with a rotation diet. Then take the next steps to having great eaters with the tips I share in Why Won’t My Child Eat?!.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites

This Valentine’s Day get your kids in the kitchen to whip up a special treat. These two ingredient allergen friendly Nestle Crunch® bites are easy to make and fun to eat!

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

I’m a sucker for just about anything chocolate. Especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

Allergies and chocolate do mesh.

Having kids with allergies and food sensitivities has actually increased my love of chocolate.

That may sound strange. But we pretty much avoid all fruity candy. My kids don’t eat anything with food coloring (can you say crazy pills?!). Plus my son is allergic to corn (corn syrup, cornstarch, etc.).

So when it comes to treats we stick to chocolate. Even with dairy allergies we all love the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are great plain or in a cookie. But they are even more fun when melted and turned into a delicious candy.

We’ve made chocolate covered toffee and salted honey chocolates (my personal favorite!).

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

A family favorite.

But hands down my kids love these Nestle Crunch® Bites the best. And they really couldn’t be any simpler to make.

  1. Melt chocolate.
  2. Add coconut.
  3. Pour in molds.

Yes, they are that easy. Yes, they are grain, dairy, nut, soy, rice, egg and corn free.

The little bits of unsweetened coconut give the slightest crunch that tastes just like the crisp rice of Nestle Crunch® bars.

So much fun.

Let your kids choose some fun molds and create a special treat you can feel good about.

Package them up as gifts for friends or family. And don’t forget your spouse! Everyone will want some.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

This Valentine’s Day skip the expensive boxed chocolates filled with artificial colors and flavors. Show your friends and family how much you love them with homemade Nestle Crunch® Bites.

Just two simple ingredients. No common allergens. Five minutes of hands on time. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever made homemade chocolates? Did you know they could be this easy?

Give two ingredient allergen friendly Nestle Crunch® bites a try. You might get some extra love in return.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites
Yields 30
A simple allergen friendly chocolate that is grain, nut, dairy, rice, corn, soy and egg free.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks (semi-sweet) or Dark Chocolate Morsels
  2. 2 - 3 Tbsp. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or glass bowl over a saucepan with about an inch of water).
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add the coconut and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the chocolate into molds.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Unmold.
  7. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix

Gluten free baking can be intimidating and challenging. There are so many flours to choose from! I’m helping you out with my favorite gluten free flour mix.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

If you’ve ever tried gluten free baking you know it can be tricky. I can make the same recipe ten times and it turns out just a little differently every time. Though that may have more to do with my lack of precise measuring when I bake.

At any rate, gluten free baking is not nearly as forgiving as baking with wheat.

The ratio of sugar to fat is very important. But the real key to successful gluten free baking is using the right blend of flours.

Use all starchy flour and you’ll get a dry, crumbly mess. Use all seeds and you might have a gooey, dense blob.

There are so many flours to choose from when it comes to gluten free baking. My recipes usually call for a gluten free flour mix of your choice. Everyone has different things on hand. And a variety of flours will work.

But after years of experimenting I have come up with my favorite gluten free flour mix.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you some exact flours to use. This is a general rule. Then use what you have on hand.

My gluten free flour mix is:

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

Not sure which is which? Here is a quick rundown of some common flours.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

For your next recipe that calls for two cups of gluten free flour use one cup of grain, a half cup of seed, nut or bean and a half cup of starch. Choose from the above lists. Play around with combinations to see what flavors you like best.

Give my gluten free flour mix a try and see how your gluten free baked goods turn out!

Note that white rice can be used as a grain or a starch. It is technically a grain. But white rice behaves similar to a starch.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix | Just Take A Bite

What is your favorite blend of flours?

I often use a combination of sorghum, amaranth and tapioca. My baked goods always come out well using those three.

Find your favorite combinations. Then mix up a whole batch so baking is simple. No measuring three or four flours at a time. Just use your mix!

Create a variety to rotate through different types of flour. Gluten free baking just got a little bit simpler.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make

Start the year off with less stress by delegating some kitchen work. Today I’m at Kitchen Stewardship sharing ten mason jar lunches your kids can make by themselves.

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

No hiding from it now. The new year is here.

That means it’s time to get back on track with healthy eating! One very important part of that is teaching your children what real, nourishing food is and why it is important.

In my experience the best way to teach your kids about good food is by letting them help prepare it!

Start teaching them at a young age and by the time they are in school they can practically pack their own lunches. What parent doesn’t want a little help with lunches?!


Ready to start delegating that task? Here are ten lunch components kids can make by themselves. As an added bonus you won’t hear any complaining about boring or gross lunches. Kids can’t complain if they choose and pack their own lunch!

Take one more item off your to-do list with these fun, healthy and simple mason jar lunches that kids can make (using glass or plastic containers).

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

VEGGIES WITH DIP

Add sour cream and your choice of seasoning to a jar (we like sea salt, garlic powder and dill weed). Put the chopped vegetables on top. No need for separate containers. The veggies are already in the dip and ready to go.

Fun and easy finger food. Perfect for a school lunch.

Want more ideas?

Click here to head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’ll show you just how much fun your kids can having making mason jar lunches.

Don’t think they’re ready to tackle this project yet? Check out the Kids Cook Real Food course to get them started!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters

Sometimes picky eating is a much deeper problem than it seems. But sometimes it’s not. Here is a simple cure for picky eaters…that aren’t really that picky.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

I wouldn’t call any of my kids picky eaters.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this whole site devoted to feeding children that struggle with eating? Yep! And I learned it all from my kids.

But none of them is picky.

To me a picky eater is a child that is truly just wanting to have some control and make his own decisions about his food.

A picky eater is not a child whose diet is limited to noodles and crackers. That is a much deeper problem related to the child’s health (be on the lookout for my book on how to deal with that soon!!)

My kids all have other root causes for their eating issues. When they are feeling good they are all wonderful eaters.

Today I’m talking about the kind of picky eating that is more a battle of wills than taste buds.

If your child is a picky eater there is a simple cure. Teach your child to cook!

I can’t tell you how many times my kids have practically inhaled a meal because they helped prepare it. They feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Great idea! But how exactly do I teach my kids to cook?

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has put together an amazing course for both parents and children to teach kids of all ages to cook.

My kids and I have been previewing the course over the last couple months. Not only are my kids absolutely loving it and learning a lot, I’m learning too!

I’m learning basic skills I was never taught as a child. I’m learning how to teach my children and how to work with them in the kitchen.

So far my kids’ favorite part has been using knives (of course). You can preview the knife skills for free right now.

But there is SO much more to learn. My four year old is already starting to crack eggs. My seven year old is very anxious to try making a detailed recipe on her own. She actually made today’s breakfast (she even planned it) of strawberry parfaits.

Kids Cook Real Food is a way to get the whole family on board with healthier eating and put that picky eating to rest. Who knows, you may have a budding chef on your hands!

The course is open for enrollment this week.

Check out the free videos and get ready to end the picky eating by teaching your child to cook. It is a skill that will benefit both you and your kids for life.

Does your child have strong opinions about what she will or won’t eat?

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

There really is a simple cure for picky eaters. Get them in the kitchen! If that doesn’t work. Come back and see me when my book is ready and we’ll talk more!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.