Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Homemade Pumpkin Puree CradleRockingMama.com

You know those recipe blogs where everything is perfect, the pictures are all gorgeous, and the process of cooking is always flawless?

Yeah, I’m annoyed by those blogs, too.

I’m more of a Julia Child sort of cook. When you make a mistake, just fix it if you can and move on!

And don’t edit it from your show.

I don’t actually have a show; I just have this little blog. But I don’t hold back from all the realities of cooking new recipes with small children in the house. (See here and here for examples!)

So maybe you’ll understand why I chuckled to myself the whole time I made my pumpkin puree.

See, I’d first read up on how to do it by visiting two awesome cooks online: Alton Brown and the Pioneer Woman. While Alton certainly has a flair and makes it interesting with his cleaver gag, they both make it look so easy and effortless!

And it really is!

Except for those little things that pop up in life.

So here’s what I did, and how even with bumps and mild mishaps, you can still make perfect pumpkin puree for yourself.

Of course you start with a pumpkin. For puree, you’ll want those itty-bitty, adorable mini-pumpkins, which are typically labeled “pie pumpkins” in the store.

Basic ingredients CradleRockingMama.com

I didn’t have a cleaver, so I thought I’d try the whole “cut a slice out of the side of a pumpkin so it lays flat and won’t roll while you cut it in half” thing.

Slice a piece off the side of the pumpkin CradleRockingMama.com

It was quite challenging to slice that little bit off the sides; this pumpkin had a fairly tough exterior.

Still, it worked. The pumpkin laid nicely on its side and didn’t roll.

Pumpkin Laid on its side CradleRockingMama.com

Oh, and you may be wondering why I didn’t just cut the pumpkin in half from the top. Well, that’s because the stem is in the way, and it’s pretty hard and could throw my knife off angle.

Or so I thought.

The next step is simple: cut the pumpkin in half.

I had two kids standing on a step stool next to me, a tough pumpkin, and a knife that wasn’t as sharp as I thought it was.

When I pressed the knife in to the pumpkin, it went about two inches in…then stopped. I could NOT get that knife to go any further into the flesh!

So I tried to pull the knife out.

It was stuck.

Remember when I mentioned my right arm is hurting me quite a bit? Yeah. I didn’t have the hand strength to manhandle that knife.

So I wound up literally holding the knife with the pumpkin stuck to the blade and beating the pumpkin against the counter.

Five or six good whacks and wouldn’t you know it? The pumpkin split in two!

Not very neatly.

Jagged Pumpkin cut in half CradleRockingMama.com

Oh, well.

The next step is also simple: scoop out the gunk on the inside, just like you do with a Jack-o-lantern.

Again, a little mishapping happened for me.

I had two kids who very much wanted to help me scoop goop. They both got highly offended if I went behind them and did more scraping.

Since I’d read that leaving some of the membrane stuff in the pumpkins wasn’t the end of the world, I just left it at that and moved on.

So my pumpkins didn’t end up nearly as pretty as the ones I saw on other websites.

Scraping out the goop CradleRockingMama.com

Again, that doesn’t really matter. In the end it all got pureed together anyway. (And I think they did a pretty good job considering they’re only 4 and 2 years old!)

Oh, and don’t throw out the goop! It has the makings of some lovely roasted pumpkin seeds!

Ready to Roast Pumpkin Seeds CradleRockingMama.com

When I’d finished cutting up the first pumpkin, I went for a second one. The second one wasn’t nearly as aggravating as the first one: it sliced right in two from top to bottom.

Turns out, you can cut them in half right next to the stem and it works just fine!

After scooping the goop out of the second one, I cut the stems off both pumpkins and got them ready to bake.

That’s pretty easy. See?

Ready to Bake Pumpkins CradleRockingMama.com

Just lay them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Up or down, doesn’t matter. Cut into smaller pieces or left in halves, doesn’t matter.

See? Easy.

Then bake them for 40 minutes (or until you can stick a knife in without resistance) and ta-da! Baked pumpkins!

Baked Pumpkins CradleRockingMama.com

Now, I had another little mishap with this part. The timer for the oven went off at 40 minutes, but I was in the middle of nursing Zac to sleep and couldn’t get loose from him…so my pumpkins baked for more like 55-60 minutes.

Know what? They were fine!

Once the pumpkins are out of the oven, you’ll want to let them cool for at least an hour so you don’t burn yourself on the hot flesh. Once they’re cool enough to work with, you simply scrape out the softened flesh from the inside of the pumpkin, leaving the firm exterior intact.

When you’re done scraping, you’ll have this left behind:

Pumpkin Peels CradleRockingMama.com

Here’s where another “life moment” happened.

The kids were in bed, asleep.

The living room was overrun with toys that needed to be culled before the gift giving season started.

I had the time to tackle the living room, and no distractions other than pumpkin puree making.

So I ditched pumpkin puree making and attacked my living room with a trash bag, a donate box, and a “take no prisoners” mentality.

It was glorious when I finished!

It was also after midnight, and I really didn’t feel like dealing with the pumpkin puree.

So I scooped that lovely orange flesh into a bowl, stuck it in the fridge, and said “goodnight”.

Scooped Pumpkin Flesh in a bowl CradleRockingMama.com

The next day, I dumped the flesh into my food processor and let it rip. It took a while, since I’d filled it so full, but in the end:

Processed Pumpkin Puree CradleRockingMama.com

Pumpkin puree!

At this point you can freeze the puree or can it. Since I’m going to be using this for pumpkin pies this week, I just scooped it all in a canning jar and stuck it in the fridge. It should keep for up to a week that way.

Yummy Pumpkin Puree CradleRockingMama.com

Isn’t it pretty?

It looks exactly like the stuff I always got in a jar: same color and same texture.

I can’t wait to see how well it works in a pie!

While this wasn’t nearly as messy or fraught with screw-ups as my bread or goat milk butter making experiences, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing from start to finish, either.

And still, I ended up with perfect pumpkin puree!

So make some for yourself; it’s easy and healthy!

And don’t be deterred in the kitchen if things don’t go perfectly. 

They don’t go perfectly for anyone all the time!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
So easy to make, you'll never buy canned stuff again!
Author:
Recipe type: puree
Serves: 2-2.5 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 pie pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and fibers on the inside. Set them aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds!
  4. Remove the stem from the pumpkin.
  5. Lay the pumpkin on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife easily inserts into the flesh of the pumpkin.
  7. Let cool for one hour.
  8. Scoop the flesh from the pumpkin into a food processor.
  9. Process until smooth.
  10. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze or can the puree.
  11. Enjoy your delicious, homemade pumpkin puree!

Since tomorrow begins the great Thanskgiving Cooking Frenzy, I’m going to take the rest of the week off from blogging to spend time with the family I’m grateful for, and keep my days from being so overwhelming that I forget to actually BE grateful for them!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and see you next Monday! 


This recipe shared with:

realfoodallergyfree

Real Food Wednesdays, and Gluten-Free Wednesdays

Thanksgiving Menu (And Salmon Trial)

Thanksgiving Menu And Salmon Trial CradleRockingMama.com

We gave Zac salmon for dinner last Wednesday.

He loved it! He actually licked his fingers and pressed them on the plate to get the tiny bits of salmon that were left after he scarfed down his serving.

Zac Eating Salmon CradleRockingMama.com

By far, his favorite way to eat salmon is in patty form, but he will eat it any way it is served.

So far, so good. He’s had some strange sleep patterns this week, but it’s the OPPOSITE of sleep disturbances. He’s been falling asleep much earlier in the evening than his actual bedtime.

Finally it dawned on me: the salmon is so good for him, it’s given him so much extra energy that he’s playing HARD all day long. Harder playing than he ever has before.

He’s playing so hard that he is flat wearing himself out by 5:00 p.m. each day and wants to go to sleep!

Unfortunately, he wants to wake up at 4:00 a.m. when he falls asleep so early.

Not my idea of fun, y’all.

His sleep will level out as he adjusts to his new energy levels; in the meantime, it’s so good to watch him play like this! (Even if he does wear me out with his insistence on playing chase every day!)

I feel good about salmon; I’m almost positive it will be a safe food as we’ve had no concerning signs at all so far. However, we’ll still have a 3 day break and reintroduction before we proceed, just to be sure.

Still, it’s looking good!

Meanwhile, Jed has been doing great. He was so sweet this weekend I flat couldn’t believe it. When he is sals free, fructose free, and at baseline, he is absolutely the most marvelous little boy to be around!

After many attempts, I finally managed to teach him how to peel potatos on Friday. He loves doing it so much now, any time he’s hungry he starts to peel potatos and he gets upset if I start to peel potatos without calling for  my “special potato peeling helper”.

I LOVE having a kitchen helper who is so good and enthusiastic!

Plus, Saturday evening, I was privy to this little exchange:

Jed decided to peel potatos. He got himself a peeler and a potato, but before he really got started he suddenly said “Wait! Zac! Come here and I will teach you how to peel potatos!”

Zac dutifully grabbed a potato and came to Jed, who promptly ran over to the drawer, got the second potato peeler, and handed it to Zac.

Then he began to Teach Zac How To Peel Potatos. (It was all very imperative and instructive, so capitalizing seemed proper.)

Of course Zac doesn’t have the muscle strength or coordination to quite pull off peeling potatos yet, but he was certainly trying to do everything Jed said to do. After watching his brother struggle for a minute, Jed piped up with, “Don’t worry, Zachy. You can learn to do this. It just takes practice.”

Seriously…how DOES he manage to melt me so easily? I just love these kids!

I really don’t have much else to say about the kids this week. Things are going well.

Finally. 

So I thought I’d share our Thanksgiving Menu, in case anyone is struggling with how to pull off their own Thanksgiving feast.

I put it together in a nifty table to easily see if we had a complete meal for everyone, and while it does involve a lot of cooking, I think my Mom and I managed to pull it off:

Traditional Dishes Safe for Jed Safe for Zac Safe for Me
Stuffing* Turkey Chicken Mashed Potatos
Gravy Green Beans Roast Cauliflower Everything Safe for Zac
Waldorf Salad Sweet Potatos Roast Sweet Potatos
Dinner Rolls Asparagus** Quinoa
Pumpkin Pie (standard) Black Olives Hard-boiled Eggs
Coconut Cream Pie Celery Sticks w/Sunbutter Salmon Pate w/ Quinoa Crackers
Everything Safe for Jed Cranberry Sauce** Sweet Potato/Banana Ice Cream
Theoretically, everything safe for Zac and me…but we aren’t sharing. Wheat Free Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Pie (Allergy Free)

*The stuffing could be made safe for Jed if we remember to do so, but we probably will just make it for everyone else. 
**Asparagus and cranberry sauce are safe for Jed in limited quantities. His servings of those will be rationed.

This will be the most traditional-style Thanksgiving dinner I’ve had in two years! I’m very excited!

We divvied up the cooking as follows:

ME
Wednesday
Jed’s Pumpkin pie
Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potato/Banana Ice Cream
Quinoa Crackers
Quinoa

Thursday Morning
Wheat-Free Dinner Rolls for Jed
Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato
Salmon Pate
Mashed Potatos

MOM
Wednesday
Regular Pumpkin Pies
Coconut Cream Pies
Hard-Boiled Eggs

Thursday
Turkey
Chicken
Stuffing
Gravy
Green Beans
Sweet Potato
Asparagus
Waldorf Salad
Dinner Rolls
Black Olives
Celery Sticks

To be fair, I will do my Thursday cooking first thing in the morning and then we’ll head over to Mom and Dad’s for dinner, so I’ll be able to lend a hand with some of those side dishes. And my Aunt will be there to help, too, so it’s not quite so much for Mom to tackle single-handedly.

Using two kitchens and two days is the only reasonable way we could think of to accomplish all this cooking without being completely frazzled when we sit down to eat!

Check back tomorrow for my fun tutorial on how to make your own pumpkin puree for your Thanksgiving pies this year! There’s still plenty of time to do it.


So I’m curious: what’s on your Thanksgiving menu? What traditional dish do you most miss now that you’ve gone allergy free in some way? 

Surviving Thanksgiving with Food Allergies/Intolerances

Surviving Thanksgiving With Food Allergies-Intolerances CradleRockingMama.com

It’s exactly one week from Thanksgiving. While most normal people are looking forward to a three day workweek, tryptophan overload, and Black Friday sales, food allergic families are quietly (or not so quietly) panicking over the thought of The Big Feast.

When you deal with food allergies and/or food intolerances, big food oriented gatherings like Thanksgiving become a minefield.

Instead of being able to relax and enjoy the fellowship of your friends and family, you spend the entire time wondering if and when you or your children will get sick.

Not fun.

However, with a lot of planning and respect, food allergy families and their non-allergic family and friends can all enjoy a wonderful day together.

Don’t get me wrong…it won’t be easy! And if you’re like me, you’ll still be nervous with all that “unsafe” food around.

Still, it is possible to pull off a Thanksgiving where everyone has something to eat, and nobody gets sick.

This will be my 4th year of surviving Thanksgiving with varying degrees of food issues complicating matters, so I decided to share some tips that help enormously.


TIP #1: PLAN AHEAD

Most people plan a Thanksgiving menu in advance, but usually don’t have to spend much time on it. After all, it’s a traditional meal, right? So tradition says that “our family has had turkey and dressing, and _____ side dishes since Grandma was a baby, so that’s what we make”.

Food allergy families will have to plan a little more thoroughly than that. 

For starters, you’ll need to decide your general approach to Thanksgiving. There are 3 basic options. 

  1. The “No-Thanksgiving” Thanksgiving. You tell your extended family to stay at home, and you and your immediate family sit down to a fairly typical meal for you that is completely, 100% safe. (This is a perfectly valid option if your food allergic family member is highly sensitive, and your extended family is highly INsensitive.)
  2. The “Only If We Trust You” Thanksgiving. You invite only the most conscientious, respectful members of your extended family over for a semi-safe meal. There will be dishes on the table that aren’t safe, but you decide to risk it due to the nature of the people you’ve invited over. They’ll work hard to keep accidental food ingestion a non-issue.
  3. The “We Can’t Figure Out How To Get Out of It” Thanksgiving. You suck it up and decide to go to the completely unsafe, large family gathering with people who have varying degrees of understanding and respect about your food issues. This is the most challenging of the three, as it means you’ll have to bring every single bite of food your family eats with you and you’ll have to eat in shifts so someone trusted can keep an eye on the kids at all times to ensure no accidental food snatching takes place. You’ll probably also have to detox your wardrobe and bathe everyone the second you get home to remove residue of dangerous foods.

Whichever game plan you decide to follow, you’ll need to plan out the menu as thoroughly as you can. It’s actually easier to do this if you choose options 1 or 3; then you just make typical foods that are safe for your family. It’s basically just another normal dinner night!

Option 2, though, means you’re actually going to attempt something that somewhat represents a typical Thanksgiving feast. You’ll have to look for allergy free versions of traditional dishes. This is hard, but not impossible. (Check out the links at the bottom of this post for ideas!)

Some dishes won’t be doable, but you can sub other safe sides for those. And the respectful, courteous family and friends you invite over won’t make a big deal out of it (or they’ll bring the dish they can’t live without but make sure they’re the only ones who eat it).


TIP #2: DELEGATE

Staying home with  no one else coming over makes it simple. It’s a normal dinner, so no extra effort involved!

Options 2 and 3, however, mean you’re going to need to divide up the workload. No matter how you cut it, two complete dinners are required for those options…and nobody can make all that food single-handedly without going insane!

If option 3 is in play, just notify the coordinator of the large family gathering that you will be providing all the food your immediate family will eat, so they don’t have to worry about making anything for you. All they need to do is provide food for everyone else. Ta-da! You’ve delegated.

If option 2 is in play, decide who will  be the main cooks on the big day and coordinate with them. Who will cook which dish? Where will it be cooked? Cooking the allergic persons foods in the safest kitchen and relocating it (if necessary) is probably the best option, but the other foods can be cooked wherever.

Try to be considerate and keep the workload fairly evenly split.


TIP #3: SET RULES

Set down some rules before the feast begins.

Your rules will vary depending on your needs, but some of the rules I’ve used in the past are:

  • All the food goes on the kitchen counters. Load your plate and bring it to the table. (This means my kids have less to snatch from when we’re sitting down to eat.)
  • As soon as you’re done eating, plates get scraped off and put in the sink. (No little bites sitting unattended, tempting my kids.)
  • As soon as dinner is over, food gets covered and put away (as much as possible). Leftover munching is fine…you’ll have to get it from the fridge. No food left on the counters.
  • No sharing off plates.
  • Each dish gets its own serving spoon. No sharing or swapping.
  • No one feeds my kiddos except me or their Daddy.

I’m sure there are other rules that you can think of that will be necessary for your family, but that might get you started.


TIP #4: TRY TO RELAX

Having all this food around is stressful for food allergic families, but if you’ve planned ahead, delegated, and laid down the rules, I’d encourage you to try and relax. Remember to enjoy the company of the people you are with! Sometimes you’ll only see these folks a handful of times per year, and that’s always worth savoring.

Besides, it IS Thanksgiving. It’s a day to remember all our blessings and truly express our gratitude for them. Our children (or ourselves) may have food issues, but we all still have much to praise.

However, if you find yourself in a situation (particularly in option 3) where there isn’t time to praise and relax due to the danger of the scenario, then the last tip I can share is…


TIP #5: HAVE AN EXIT PLAN

Decide ahead of time what your safety limit is, and agree that when that limit is reached, YOU LEAVE.

Doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen Great-Aunt Edna in two years.

Doesn’t matter that the kids were getting a rousing game of chase going in the hallways.

Doesn’t matter that the Game is on.

Doesn’t matter ANYTHING except that there are plates of food at the kids eye-level with no one eating off them, bowls of food still sitting on the table with no one around, and you caught your Cousin Larry trying to slip your dairy allergic kiddo a bite of pumpkin pie.

SEE YA, FAMILY! We’re outta here!

After all, leaving a place where a food reaction is inevitable is certainly something to give thanks for, right?


Those are my best tips for surviving – and maybe even enjoying – Thanksgiving (or any large holiday feast) with food allergies and/or intolerances.

Do you have any extra tips you’ve found useful?


Oh, just in case you’re struggling with your own menu, here are a few of my recipes you might find useful for Thanksgiving:

Pumpkin Pie & Crust Gluten-Dairy-Egg-Soy Free CradleRockingMama.com   Homemade Cranberry Sauce cradlerockingmama   Gluten & Gum Free Vegan Perfect Sandwich Bread cradlerockingmama   Dairy Free Creamy Mashed Potatos CradleRockingMama   Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus CradleRockingMama.com    Salmon Stuffed Mushrooms CradleRockingMama.com

Allergy-Free Cinnamon Seasoned "Nuts" CradleRockingMama.com

 


This post shared with:

realfoodallergyfree   

and Real Food Wednesday.

Pumpkin Pie Revisited!

Unlike last year, this year I’m planning ahead for Thanksgiving.

I decided to start with my Pumpkin Pie recipe. I took a peek at it, tweaked some photos and added a nifty printable recipe option. Now it is all updated and ready for your Thanksgiving feast! (Well, the recipe is ready. You still have to make the pie yourself!)

This year I’m providing this recipe with a little more than one days notice. Ahem.

Later this week I plan to make some homemade pumpkin puree for next weeks pies. If it turns out well (or, honestly, even if it doesn’t), I’ll share that particular how-to here as well.

Get ready for some yummy Thanksgiving-themed posts, folks! 

Let’s start with that Pumpkin Pie recipe (because shouldn’t everything START with Pumpkin Pie??). It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and egg-free. Oh, and in case you missed it the first time around, changing just two ingredients in this recipe (substitutions offered) makes it both top 8 allergy free AND Vegan!

Just click on the photo to find the most awesome dairy, egg, soy and gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe and crust you’ll ever eat!

Happy Baking!

Pumpkin Pie & Crust Gluten-Dairy-Egg-Soy Free CradleRockingMama.com

 


 

This post shared with:

realfoodallergyfree

Real Food Wednesday and Gluten Free Wednesday

A Little Cuteness

A Little Cuteness CradleRockingMama.com

I spent this weekend at work, flying 34 hours from Friday afternoon through Monday night.

Why yes, I AM exhausted!

So I’m giving myself a break from anything too strenuous or thought-filled today, as I get back in to my normal Mommy routine.

Instead, I’m going to be a totally annoying Mama and share some moments of sheer cuteness the boys have given us in the last few weeks!

Hope you don’t mind…and please, tell me some cute stories about your kiddos in the comments! Cute kiddo stories are always welcome!


Last time I went to work, Jed decided to write a letter to Santa. My Mom told him which letters to push on the computer keyboard, and he typed it all himself.

There are lots of typo’s. Mom didn’t change a thing that he did. It’s adorable.

He told Santa he wanted a big box of wooden train track, and three specific trains.

Then he told Santa that his brother, Zac, wanted a ball and a Thomas train.

He pointed out that he and Zac have been very good boys this year. Of course!

Then he signed his name at the bottom.

When I got home, he proudly showed me his letter. He insisted on addressing the letter to Santa, once I folded it up and put it in an envelope. He did such a good job (for a kiddo who doesn’t know how to make all his letters yet)! Even put the stamp on all by himself.

Letter to Santa CradleRockingMama.com

Yes, he got a little overenthusiastic about the N’s in Santa’s name.

We drove to the post office in our nearby small town to mail his letter. After waiting patiently in line, Jed insisted I lift him up so he could talk to the post office lady.

“Will you give this to Santa, please?” he asked her.

The entire lobby of the post office let out a collective “Aw!” when he asked her that. She grinned.

“Certainly. Have you been a good boy this year?” she asked.

“I have!” Jed replied. “I told Santa I want wooden track and Belle and Spencer and my brother Zac wants a ball and a Thomas and we’ve been very good!”

Then I slid her a note with my parents P.O. Box number, asking her to deposit it there for us.

She hand cancelled the letter and put it in their box, so we already have Jed’s letter back.

That’s a scrapbook addition!


With all the chicken Zac has been eating lately, I’ve gotten a little tired of picking all the meat off the bones for him. That’s a lot of work!

One night, after cooking the chicken legs, I realized that “hey! When I was a kid, all I wanted to eat was the legs! Why not give it a shot?” So I did.

And Zac quickly taught himself the proper procedure for eating chicken right off the bone.

Watching him chow down on a big ol’ piece of chicken thigh or leg just tickles me, for some reason. He reminds me of the scene in “The Croods” where Eep inhales the leg so quickly that Guy looks scared!

Chowing Down on Chicken CradleRockingMama.com

Chowing Down on Chicken II CradleRockingMama.com

Plus, you know, I just love to watch my son eat. Anything.


One night before bed Darrel sat down with the kids and read them bedtime stories.

Bedtime Story CradleRockingMama.com

That just melts me.


Remember when I discussed the front porch enclosure we did last fall?

Well, it never quite got completely finished. We needed to finish painting the inside exposed 2 x 4’s. Finally, Darrel and I got around to doing it.

Jed insisted on helping!

Let me just say…a 4 year old with a paint brush is a sight to behold!

He was actually pretty good; once Darrel showed him how to scrape off the excess paint from his brush and paint in long strokes, he helped paint a decent amount of porch.

But how he got paint in these places on his body, I’ll never know:

Jed Helped Paint CradleRockingMama.com

Jed Helped Paint II CradleRockingMama.com

Paint down his back and in his hair. Paint IN his ear! Really, Jed?

A good scrub down in the bathtub took care of all the paint splatters.

Even for Zac, who decided to stick his hand IN the paint can…thus prompting the bathtub scrub down.


Darrel and the boys dropped me off at the airport when I left for work last week. As we hugged good-bye, I noticed that the boys were dressed cute and the light was pretty.

PHOTO TIME!!

I don’t have many photos of the kids together, both smiling and looking adorable at the same time. But I keep trying for those precious pictures!

I told the boys to sit down on the bench and smile.

One problem: it was COLD.

So here’s the thought bubbles for each of the boys for each of these pictures:

ZAC: I love Mommy! Mommy makes me happy. I will smile for Mommy.
JED: IT’S COLD! Why is she asking me to smile when I can’t feel my lips??

Smiling for Mommy 2 CradleRockingMama.com

ZAC: Man, I have the best time with my Mommy! Look at those funny faces she’s making me! Mommy is so funny!
JED: Mommy…are you for real? DO YOU NOT FEEL THIS TEMPERATURE??

Smiling for Mommy 3 CradleRockingMama.com

ZAC: Yeah, I’m cute. And I know it.
JED: It is freezing! But Zac really is pretty cute. I guess I can sort of smile at him.

Smiling for Mommy CradleRockingMama.com

Right after that photo was taken, Darrel got cold enough that he said “OK, kiss Mommy good bye and let’s get in the car!” So I still didn’t get a great ‘both boys together shot’. Oh well. It’ll happen one day!


This little anecdote doesn’t have any photos…and it’s a little bittersweet.

The other night Zac wanted ice cream. It was past his bedtime. He was tired and hungry. So he pointed to the other chair at the dining room table and indicated he wanted me to sit there.

Then he refused to feed himself. I had to spoon feed him the ice cream.

Halfway through the bowl, I remarked to Darrel that this was sort of a flashback…but not to Zac.

When Jed first started eating solids at 6 months old, Darrel and I took turns spoon feeding him at mealtime. We had to put every bite he ate into his mouth for months (until he learned how to chew and do finger foods).

By the time Zac started actually eating, he was able and willing to use a spoon or fork and feed himself.

I never got to feed Zac as a baby.

I don’t know why, but I’m kind of sad to realize that.

So I really enjoyed spoon feeding him ice cream that night! It was fun.

It was also his third bowl of ice cream. The kid can EAT!


Thanks for your indulgence. I’m going to go sleep some more now. So, what’s your sweetest/cutest kid story?

Getting Back on the (Food Trial) Horse

Getting Back on the Food Trial Horse CradleRockingMama.com

We have some good news: sweet potatos and cauliflower are still safe!

Yay, Zac!

They’re even still safe for me! Once again, I’m having to learn all about a new food issue…salicylates are throwing me for a loop.

Remember when I ate the sweet potato and had an instant reaction? Nasty little headache and stomach cramps for hours?

Well, a friend who has recently learned quite a bit about salicylates said that sals increase in “older” foods. The sweet potatos we were giving Zac at the beginning of the re-trial (when he had sleep disturbances) were about 6 weeks old, and the one I ate was a few weeks old – and dehydrated.

Just to see if it made any difference, I got brave and cooked up fresh sweet potato for both Zac and myself. After eating a pretty good sized portion of freshly cooked, fresh sweet potato…I felt FINE. No symptoms at all.

So apparently, fresh sweet potatos are good for both of us, and old dehydrated ones are not.

Can I just say that the loss of dehydration as a source of food preserving for some foods is painful for me? I love dehydrating! Boo hoo.

And after we switched to fresh sweet potatos, Zac stopped having such sleep disturbances and immediately began eating more sweet potato.

As with any ‘new’ food, he also got more energetic, babbled more, engaged more, just did everything more.

So, whew! I’m glad those two veggies are still a part of his diet.

Oh, and you might be wondering about cauliflower, since it wasn’t officially moved to the list of “foods we must re-trial after the stomach bug“. Well, it wasn’t a questionable food, but he flat refused to eat ANY cauliflower after the stomach bug. Since he had gone so long without eating it, I wanted to not feed anything else suspect or new during the first few days we tried to get him to eat it again.

He ate it this time! I guess his appetite was just really thrown off right after the stomach bug. Poor little guy.

Since he ate it for two days with no problems, we’re moving on.

Moving on to what, though?

We had intended to re-trial pork and apricot in our post-stomach bug world, but a couple of recent developments and thoughts are changing that plan.

Pork…we love pork! Unfortunately, pork has always given Zac enough questionable symptoms (thanks to histamine) that I try to avoid feeding it to him when we’re doing a food trial. I don’t want to be confused and suspect a new food when it’s actually the pork wigging him out.

Consequently, even though pork is safe for him, he hasn’t really been able to eat much of it this year. Which sucks.

Darrel pointed out that if we intend to pick up where we left off and power through food trials (not really power through; just go from one to the next without breaks), then there really won’t BE a lot of opportunity for Zac to eat pork…so why bother re-trialing it right now?

Why not wait until we’ve got enough safe foods that our circumstances change…like I can begin working a little bit more and slowing down the speed of our food trials, so he’ll have a chance to have some “down time” between trials where he can eat pork?

I thought that was an excellent point.

So we’re holding off on pork for now.

We’re also holding off on apricot.

Not because of anything wrong with apricot, but because Zac, insatiable little chicken eater that he is, has eaten ALL of the chickens my parents butchered this summer! Seriously! My parents did eat chicken in the beginning, but when they realized how quickly Zac was eating their chickens, they stopped eating it to save it for him.

I also didn’t eat very much chicken (mostly leftovers from Zac’s dinners), which means Zac has single-handedly plowed through almost two dozen chickens since August.

Yowza!

So it seems prudent for us to get another protein for him to help alleviate some of the demand for chicken.

Which means we’re going to proceed with a salmon trial starting tomorrow.

With salmon under his belt, we can trial beef. With salmon, beef and chicken, Zac won’t be straining any particular meat source to its breaking point!

That seems like a lot of meats, and it is. While I’d love to get more veggies into his system, veggies and fruits have been very tricky for us so far.

With our particular food issues (FructMal and Salicylate Sensitivity especially) veggies and fruits may be FPIES safe for Zac, but cause other problems. I’ve already seen this play out with Jed and myself. So I’ve been trying to learn about the short list of veggies and fruits that are low in ALL of our food issues, all of which also happen to be fruits and veggies I’ve never used – and in some cases, never even heard of before! (Bok choy and Kohlrabi pop into my head.)

So I want to feed him those veggies in a trial, but I need to first learn how to prepare them, not to mention where to FIND them.

These meat trials will buy us some time for that to happen.

Plus, we’ll resume the oats trial sometime this year.

With any luck, Zac is back on track after the stomach bug from hell! (It only took two months, but really, who’s counting? Oh, right…I am.)

Let’s hope his previous food pass streak picks up tomorrow where it left off in September!

Oh, and we found a lady who sells goat milk year round! She’s 2.5 hours away from us, but at least we can make it til spring now. Yay!!


How was your weekend?

What Normal Moms Take For Granted

What Normal Moms Take For Granted CradleRockingMama.com

It’s Thursday. I don’t know if anyone has realized that ever since the summer ended, I’m at a loss for what to write about on Thursdays. Thursday meant another edition of the “Brown Thumb Gardener” series; now that summer has ended and I’m not doing any gardening, I’m sort of lost.

Anyone have any great ideas for a new series I could write? Or just some topic ideas that I haven’t thought of or covered yet? I’d appreciate a little nudge to help me fill in the Thursday blank!

Back to today. So, like I said, I was drawing a blank…until I read a simple little comment on the FPIES message boards.

A mom there wanted to know if anyone knew of a safe-to-use bubble bath for her 2 year old. Her 2 year old who has never experienced a bubble bath. 

I didn’t even read the answers. The question alone was enough to send my brain reeling.

Bubble bath, y’all! Bubble bath!  It should NOT be this complicated to let our kids enjoy something as simple as a fun bubble bath.

It got me thinking, though, about all the things that “normal” (non-FPIES/food allergy & intolerance) Moms take for granted.

Here’s a fictional account of how a Normal Mom and a Food Issue Mom might approach their seemingly identical days very differently:

BREAKFAST

Normal Mom wakes up, gets her kids up, and makes breakfast. She throws some mainstream cereal in a bowl, pours some 2% store bought milk over it, and serves it up to the kiddos. If she’s feeling inspired, she slices some bananas or tosses some strawberries on the cereal.

Food Issue Mom wakes up, gets her kids up, and makes breakfast. If she’s lucky, her kiddo can tolerate some form of cereal, but it certainly won’t be anything she can buy at a typical grocery store. Her kiddo gets the kind of cereal most adults call “goat food”; very whole grain-y, no additives, no sweeteners, very healthy but very boring. The fruit tossed on top is specially sourced, bought organic and from a farmer at the farmer’s market that she knows. The milk is probably raw, fresh, whole milk from a local farmer, as well, and has a good shot of being something other than cow (goat, sheep, camel) OR is an alternative milk like almond, hemp, cashew or quinoa…and she may have even had to make it herself from scratch to avoid additives.

Odds are, though, that Food Issue Mom has to cook something for breakfast.

TEETH BRUSHING

Normal Mom cleans up from breakfast, gets the kids dressed, and makes them wash their faces and brush their teeth. Her kiddos insist on using a special Thomas or Frozen toothbrush, and of course, they won’t brush their teeth unless they get a hefty squeeze of the “child-safe”, candy-flavored toothpaste on the brush. She doesn’t care. It gets the job done!

Food Issue Mom cleans up from breakfast, gets the kids dressed, and makes them wash their faces and brush their teeth. Her kiddos insist on using a special Thomas or Frozen toothbrush, but they can’t use the flavored toothpastes. Food Issue families will use either a homemade toothpaste, an Earthpaste non-fluoridated, non-flavored toothpaste, or just plain water. Food Issue Mom has watched her kid have a reaction to the stuff in the “child-safe” toothpaste, so it’s no longer allowed in the house.

SCHOOL AND CHILD CARE

Normal Mom loads the kids up in the car and drives them to either a daycare center, a preschool, or a regular school (regular school could be charter, private, or public). She endures the drop-off debacle, kisses the kids good-bye, and drives off thinking about heading through the drive-thru at Starbucks on the way to work.

Food Issue Mom may load up the kids in the car and drive them to daycare, preschool, or regular school…but odds are that if she does, the location was specially selected for their respect to food allergies – and she probably has to park and go inside to meet with a teacher or administrator about yet another detail of her child’s 504 plan (necessitating using sick hours, if she works, due to being late for work…again). Or maybe she just has to go in to provide the teacher with a safe snack for her kiddo to enjoy at the 498th food-centered celebration her kiddo’s class has enjoyed since school started in September.

But Food Issue Mom may also avoid that whole mess by starting the school day at home because her family has made the financial sacrifice to have her stay home with the kids (at least until they’re older) and homeschool.

SNACKS

Normal Mom packed a healthy lunch and snacks for her kiddo before they left the house for the day. There was a nice sunbutter and jelly sandwich (nut-free school, you know) on some wheat bread from the grocery store, some packaged cheese sticks, a juice box, some pre-packaged apple slices, and a few contraband mini-candy bars leftover from Halloween. Overall, not bad; not something she spent a whole lot of time on.

Food Issue Mom packed a healthy lunch and snacks for her kiddo before they left the house for the day, too. Sandwiches don’t travel well for her kiddo, because gluten-free bread is very fragile. So on days when she sends a sandwich, she makes it the night before and freezes it in the baggie. By lunchtime, it’s mostly thawed, but it’s not as good as fresh. So sometimes she sends a thermos with a safe, homemade soup, and sometimes she has to send cooked, shredded chicken, veggies, and organic apples scrubbed to death, peeled, sliced, and soaked in water with some fresh lemon juice. No juice boxes are safe for her kiddo, so her child gets a bottle of water. Overall, not bad; something she DEFINITELY spent a lot of time on!

GROCERY SHOPPING

Normal Mom speeds through the grocery store, checking items off her list. She sees a new snack that looks pretty good; a quick glance over the label shows a reasonable sugar level and a little bit of fiber so she tosses it in the basket. Hopefully her kids will like it.

Food Issue Mom plods through the grocery store, checking items off her list. Even though she’s buying the same things as always, she still has to read every ingredient on every item because manufacturers change products without warning. She’s watched her kid get sick from her carelessness once before, and vowed it would never happen again. She sees a new snack that looks pretty good; a quick glance over the label shows that it MIGHT be safe…but this is a new manufacturer that she’s never called before so cross-contact could still be an issue. She snaps a picture of the snack with her phone and posts it on her allergy message boards asking if anyone else is familiar with this manufacturer, and hopes she gets a positive response before she’s done grocery shopping. While she finishes, the snack goes back on the shelf. Since she didn’t get a positive answer from her post, she makes a reminder on her phone to call the manufacturer the next day and ask about their practices.

DINNER

Normal Mom gets off work, picks up the kids from their respective after-school care, and heads home, thinking about what to do for dinner that night. In the end, she thinks “Forget this! I’m tired. It’s a pizza delivery night!” and that is that. The biggest issue of the mealtime is whether to get black olives on their order. The family eats their pizza and spends a couple hours together before the bedtime routine starts.

Food Issue Mom was either home all day and began cooking dinner at 3:00 p.m., or gets off work, picks up the kids, and heads home, panicking about dinner. In the end, she makes safe food for the kids to eat as soon as she gets home, which takes about 45 minutes of hard cooking (and that’s with using frozen, pre-prepped ingredients), but doesn’t manage to feed the adults in the household until 20 minutes before the kids bedtime. All told, she cooks at least two full meals that night: one for the food issue kiddo, and one for the rest of the family. Unless, of course, she has more than one food issue person in the house. Then she cooks more. She doesn’t get to spend any time with her kiddos unless they decide to come hang out in the kitchen with her, because all that cooking takes time – and requires a whole lot of clean-up, too.

BATHTIME

Normal Mom battles with the kids to get them to take a bath, as usual. To entice them to climb in, she promises a bubble bath. The kids are happy! They dive into the tub to watch the bubbles from the random pink bottle Mom grabbed at Walmart grow around them. One kiddo accidentally swallows some bubble-filled water; Mom just shakes her head and tells them not to do that again, running the water momentarily to let the gagging kiddo rinse their mouth out.

Food Issue Mom battles with the kids to get them to take a bath, as usual. Her best incentive to bribe coax the kids into cooperation is the promise that the kids can take their Legos into the bath with them. She’s too scared to let bubble bath into the house; once, her kiddo swallowed some regular bath water with some name-brand baby shampoo and was sick for days. Since then, she spends every bath time constantly reminding the kids “don’t swallow the water!” and uses special soaps that don’t have her kiddos allergens in them.

I know I’m missing things, and I know I’m completely generalizing both Normal Moms and Food Issue Moms…lots of Moms don’t do things at all like this!

But it’s fictional. A little generalization works.

I still think the point is made, though.

Normal Moms take EVERYTHING for granted, which is as it should be! Living with food issues isn’t fun, and shouldn’t be normal. 

It should be okay to not  question every item your child touches, tastes, or even looks at. It should be okay to not  worry about every possible interaction with a new food or product your child may have.

Normal Moms (usually) aren’t being mean to Food Issue Moms; they’re just doing what they should be doing…and have no idea how difficult it is for Food Issue Moms who MUST question every.single.thing their child comes in contact with.

It’s great that Normal Moms can take so much for granted, but I’d like to challenge them to spend one single day looking around their house, paying attention to what their child eats and what products their child uses, and imagine what it would be like to have to question the safety of every single one of those items.

Nothing is automatically safe. Not your kiddos:

  • milk
  • cereal
  • fruit
  • vitamins
  • children’s tylenol
  • bottled water
  • juice boxes
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • mouthwash
  • bath soap
  • laundry soap
  • bread
  • cold cuts
  • toys

Imagine being concerned (ranging from low-grade fretting to outright terror) all day long that someone outside of the home will ignore your hard-earned knowledge and feed your child something they shouldn’t have.

It stinks, doesn’t it? We Food Issue Mama’s are totally jealous of your ability to NOT think about all these things.

Normal Mama’s, it’s right and good that you should take all these things for granted. All we Food Issue Mama’s hope for is that, every once in a while, you recognize that you CAN.


What’d I miss? What other things do Normal Moms take for granted?

Tilapia-Crab Bake

Tilapia Crab Bake CradleRockingMama.com

The last few months I’ve been in a bit of “dinner burnout”. Since returning to work, the huge amounts of energy required to keep my family fed have seemed almost too much at times.

I’ve resorted to cooking the same very boring dinners over and over…and over.

A few nights ago I got frustrated with myself. I know Zac and I have to eat boring food, but there’s no reason Darrel and Jed should have to!

Out came my old recipe book…the one that has all my “safe” recipes for Jed (before we knew about FructMal, sals, and histamine).

After knocking the dust off the cover, I flipped through hoping for inspiration.

I found it.

This little goodie comes from my Dad, who is actually a bit of a foodie. Made as Dad recommends, it’s absolutely delicious!

I thought I could make it fit our current dietary restrictions and still be delicious.

It was.

My intention was just to make something yummy and different for my men; I didn’t think to take pictures until it was ready to go in the oven, when it suddenly dawned on me that this recipe needed sharing!

So sorry, but no step by step photos this time. I’m sure the instructions will be easy to follow – this is really very simple!

Here’s what you do:

Thaw some tilapia fillets. Depending on the size, you may need only one per person or two.

Grab some crab meat. The best is the jumbo lump stuff in the fresh seafood section of the grocery store, but the shredded canned stuff will do in a pinch.

Dump the crab meat into a bowl. To that add your butter or oil, salt, pepper, Old Bay, Parsley, and bread crumbs.

Bread crumbs are tricky if you’re avoiding wheat, as we are. I didn’t actually have anything on hand to use the night I made this, and the finished product was sad for the loss. Next time, I will make sure to have some quinoa crackers ground up and ready to use as bread crumbs!

If you aren’t avoiding wheat, Panko bread crumbs are the way to go for this one!

Use a little butter or oil to grease a small, individual sized baking dish.

Line the dish with the tilapia fillets.

Scoop the crab mixture into the tilapia-lined dishes.

This is what it will look like at that point:

Ready to Bake CradleRockingMama.com

Then take some more bread crumbs, parsley and Old Bay and sprinkle on top. As I said, I didn’t have any bread crumbs this night, so don’t worry when you make it – yours will look better!

Bake the dishes uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and let cool a bit before serving.

Get ready for you mouth to sigh in happiness when you take a bite:

Delicious Tilapia and Crab CradleRockingMama.com

 Yummy!!

Just a Bite of Tilapia and Crab CradleRockingMama.comYou can serve this with almost any side dish you would like. It’s so good, you probably won’t even notice anything else on your plate!

Tilapia-Crab Bake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This delicious dish can be made dairy-free, and is a fantastic addition to "seafood night" in your home!
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: seafood
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4-8 Tilapia fillets (1-2 fillets per dish)
  • 3-4 cans of jumbo lump crab meat
  • 4 T. softened butter (or Earth Balance, or Olive Oil)
  • ⅔ c. safe bread crumbs, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2-3 T. Old Bay seasoning (to taste)
  • 1½ T. dried parsley flakes
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use some butter or oil to grease 4 individual oven-safe dishes.
  3. Line the individual dishes with Tilapia fillets. Use 1 or 2 fillets as needed to cover the bottom and the sides.
  4. Mix the crab meat, butter (or oil), bread crumbs, Old Bay, Parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  5. Scoop the crab mixture in to the Tilapia-lined dishes.
  6. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Let cool slightly before serving.
  8. Enjoy a delicious dinner!

Desperately Seeking Goat Milk

Desperately Seeking Goat Milk CradleRockingMama.com

I love earrings. Unfortunately, earrings don’t love me.

For the entire decade-plus I had pierced ears, I struggled to find any earring that would not make my ears become so infected they oozed.

Nothing worked. Nickel-free, pure gold, allergy friendly…didn’t matter if the earrings were expensive or cheap. They all infected my ears.

So I let my piercings close up. Clip on earrings weren’t as uniformly ugly as they had been, so I decided to just wear clip on earrings for the rest of my life.

You know what? Clip on earrings PINCH.

HARD.

I could never wear a pair for longer than a couple hours before I wimped out and took them off.

Then I discovered Napier. Their earrings had screw-back clip ons that could be screwed tighter or looser as the day wore on, and I could wear them all day with no complaints.

For a girl who loves earrings but couldn’t wear any before, this was awesome!

You know the punchline, right? Napier earrings were hard to find. Living in Houston and frequently in New York on business, I searched every store I could find for Napier screw-back clip on earrings and often came up empty.

When I did stumble on a store that carried them, I bought every pair I even remotely liked (sometimes duplicate pairs), as I knew this was a rare find.

All these years, I thought my hunt for earrings was a massive feat of searching…but that search can’t even begin  to hold a candle to the search we are on right now!

Goat milk.

We’re desperate.

Our goat milk experience hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing from the beginning.

Our first goat milk lady was almost a two hour drive one way away from us, and we barely got enough milk to last between our biweekly visits.

Then she dried up her goats early for personal reasons, and we scrambled to find a new goat milk supplier.

Fortunately, we found two new providers!

One has Nigerian Dwarf goats, and we get 5 quarts of milk from her every two weeks.

The other lives just down the road from us, and we get 2 gallons a week from her.

We love her! She is so sweet and her kids and mine get along famously. It’s a match made in goat milk heaven.

When our first goat milk lady stopped selling, that was the first I’d heard that goat milk isn’t typically provided year round. Immediately, I instituted a “freeze and stash” plan for our new supplies of goat milk. Every chance I got, I froze half gallons of milk to help get us through the winter months.

About a month ago, our larger supplier of milk had a scare: one of her goats had a seizure and nearly died.

Since she wasn’t sure, at the time, whether it was an infection or a vitamin deficiency, she told me to stop drinking her milk and that she wouldn’t sell any more milk until test results came back.

For a couple weeks, we were using our stash.

Eventually her goats got a clean bill of health, and we began buying from her again.

But our stash took a bit of a hit during that time. 

I just got word from her that her last sell date is December 6th. Only 4 more weeks of milk coming from our biggest provider of milk!

She won’t resume sales until mid-April, at the earliest. 

That’s a long time to go without goat milk when you’re wholly dependent on it.

Fortunately, our other goat milk lady had a goat that kidded late in the year; we’ll be able to continue getting some  goat milk from her through at least February.

Still, even if we maintain the 5 quarts every two week we’re currently at, that won’t be enough.

We did some math.

Based on the current supply of goat milk stashed in my freezer, plus the gallons I’ll be able to buy between now and Dec. 6th, plus the milk I’ll continue to get from our other goat milk lady, the numbers indicate we can allow the boys to have 2.5 cups of goat milk per day between now and the April resumption of sales.

2.5 cups per day. 

For two boys.

Two boys who can drink a half gallon of milk some days. 

Y’all, this isn’t going to work!

I’ve left a message with someone we just found who sells goat milk, but I haven’t heard back from them yet.

My mom is calling everyone she knows to see if they have any leads.

Now I’m putting it out here and on Facebook: anyone know of any goat milk providers who can sell me some milk – ANY quantity! – in Northwest Arkansas? At this point, I’m okay with Southern Missouri, Central Arkansas, and even Eastern Oklahoma!

We must get goat milk. I’m mad at myself for not knowing earlier that goats are typically dried up. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t realize how long we would have to go between when the goats are dried up and when they begin milking again. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t stockpile more milk this summer.

But being mad at myself doesn’t solve the immediate problem: without goat milk, I can’t go to work. 

Without me working, we will go bankrupt. 

I’m not kidding when I say this is vital. 

If we can’t find enough goat milk, we will be forced to do a cow milk trial, which I’m really scared to do. But Zac has to have SOMETHING for when I’m at work!

The good news is that those earring searches prove I am nothing if not persistent. No stone will be left unturned.

Anybody have any stones out there I can search under? Please? 

Thanks for your help! Leave a comment or email me if you’ve got any leads. I really appreciate it!

And yes, I’ve learned my lesson. Next year I’ll buy twice as much goat milk as we use to stash away. We just need to survive until then. 

What We Learned From Our Date Night

What We Learned From Our Date Night CradleRockingMama.com

As prayed for, last week was much better than the week before.

Both kids stayed safely on their respective diets, and reactions faded slowly away.

I worked for much of the time, which was exhausting (as usual), but everything plodded along quite well while I was gone. When I returned home, the kids were happy to see me and we were back in our holding pattern…wait for baseline, wait for some gut rest, resume trials.

Honestly, I struggled trying to think of what to share today. Monday is usually the day I give an update on the kids, and, frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot that happened last week.

Then I realized that something DID happen last week: Darrel and I had a date night.

Ever since we put such effort into our marriage, we’ve attempted to keep it going strong.

We were failing.

The stomach bug, the sicknesses, the different reactions, the heavy work schedule on my part to try and make up some lost pay…it all added up to us neglecting each other – again.

Friday afternoon we’d planned to begin the sweet potato re-trial, but we had some errands to run first.

As we left the house, we remembered that we had forgotten Zac’s amber necklace at my parents when we picked the kids up after I’d gotten home from work. When I called my parents to see if we could swing by and get it, the thought popped in to my head that maybe, just maybe, they’d be willing to play babysitter for the night.

In short order, we’d arranged last minute child care and designated Friday night date night.

It’s the first time we’ve put our marriage purposefully ahead of anything the kids need in over two years. (Yes, all we did was delay the start of a food trial by a single day, but this is HUGE for us!)

What did we do on our date night?

We came home. Cooked dinner together. Ate together. Talked. Watched a couple episodes of a TV show we’re woefully behind on (thank you, Netflix!). Relaxed. Got a good nights sleep.

Wild stuff, I tell ya!

But it was SO good for us. Without the pressure of having to plan an evening out (which is logistically challenging with my TED) and without the kids around interrupting, we managed to have the sort of in-depth conversation we used to have on a daily basis.

Once upon a time, Darrel and I TALKED. About everything and anything. Constantly.

We met online, after all; our first month of interacting was strictly by email and phone. It wasn’t uncommon for us to – no exaggeration – spend 8-10 hours per day on the phone.

We love talking to each other. It’s kind of our “thing”.

And we’ve had limited opportunities to do much of that over the last four and a half years, particularly since FPIES came in to our lives.

I mean, we talk, sure. But it mostly involves logistics, anecdotes about the kids, discussing food trials, scheduling issues, to-do lists, and other highly un-romantic and impersonal things.

When Darrel and I get a chance to actually communicate like we are naturally prone to do, we easily share thoughts, feelings, analysis, random anecdotes that don’t involve the kids, and jokes. It’s FUN to talk with my husband. FUN.

We don’t have a lot of fun any more, generally speaking.

For the reconnection with my husband, for the fun we had, for the ability to sleep a good nights sleep, for the reminder that – doggone it – my husband is a really high quality human being and I’m blessed to be married to him, the date night was necessary and valuable.

But something else happened that night, too.

For the first time in over two years, Darrel and I took the time to sit and just…be.

We purposefully didn’t do anything productive. We avoiding anything that took effort. We focused on us. Us as a couple, and us as individuals.

We breathed.

And in that breathing, in that conversation, we realized that our food issues are a little bigger than we thought. (Not that they aren’t large enough already, you know.)

I’ve already commented several times that I’m so focused on the kids health that I hardly register my own. Even with my practice and habit at noting food ingestion and behavior and connecting the two, I don’t often do it for myself  – unless it’s so obvious it hits me upside the head.

Something has been going on with me for a long while this year, though, that was incredibly subtle. So subtle I hadn’t really noticed it.

Until Darrel and I took the time to breathe, and talk.

And we realized that I probably have histamine intolerance (HIT), too.

We realized that Darrel possibly has some of these intolerance issues, as well (FructMal, Salicylate Sensitivity, or HIT). That’s a little tougher to figure out, since he hasn’t eaten the completely Real Food elimination diets the boys and I have been eating for two years. Darrel still grabs nasty fast food at lunch, so his system isn’t as cleaned out as ours.

The symptoms? Well, for me there are three things, really. My emotional state has been a LOT more…dramatic…since Spring. Secondly, I’ve been a lot more itchy this year. The third is a little more complicated to explain.

My entire life I suffered greatly from sinus/allergy problems. At one point I had so many sinus infections in one year the ENT was at a loss to explain it and offered to do exploratory surgery to see if there was something going on in my head that didn’t show up on the many tests and procedures I’d had done with her.

Once I started this TED for Zac? NO sinus/allergy problems. Zero. Nada. Zilch. I’ve been perfect for the first time in my life.

Until this spring.

What happened this spring? We started eating eggs. And pork. And I returned to work.

Eggs and pork are wonky histamine foods, and traveling between different cities all the time certainly isn’t easy on a body. When I’m at work, I rely heavily on dehydrated foods due to the fact that I have to carry everything I eat with me when I’m gone. Dehydrating meat takes the histamine level of the meat through the roof!

The summer before, when I returned to work for three months, I didn’t have any sinus issues pop up. This year, I’ve had almost constant sinus pressure. Constant nasal drainage. Lots of sneezing. Watery, itchy eyes. Ear pressure issues.

It isn’t as bad as I used to be, but it isn’t as good as I was the first year and a half I was on the TED.

I’d been blaming all of this sinus stuff on season changes, on traveling for work, on airborne allergens (even though I’ve tested negative to all allergens for the last 5 years).

And I’ve been blaming the emotional stuff on the stress of returning to work, and the itchiness on weather changes.

After taking the time to talk through mine and Darrel’s general well-being, though, this struck us both as odd.

Now it seems logical to think that, while traveling all over the country isn’t helpful, the addition of these increased histamine foods is stressing my body and making me sick-ish. And histamine is known for causing behavioral problems in children; why wouldn’t it cause emotional problems for adults who are sensitive, too?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do about it at the moment.

I have to stay on the diet for Zac, and neither of us can afford to NOT eat a food that is FPIES safe if it doesn’t make us blatantly, viciously sick (like the sweet potatos did for me) right away. This subtle histamine thing (for me) is something I just have to tolerate for now.

But it’s good data to know.

One day, when Zac’s diet is so enormous we can afford to be choosy, I can eliminate histamine foods to make myself feel better.

Until then, I’ll try to limit the histamine foods I consume as much as my nutritional needs will allow, and Darrel and I will just ride whatever emotional roller coaster comes our way. I’ll keep doing saline nose rinses and trying to get as much rest as I can.

Oh, and we’ll keep trying to get date nights. They’re important. If you’re in a good marriage, that person is your best sounding board; the person most likely to have noticed things about you that you may not have even noticed yourself.

Sharing your thoughts can not only bring you closer together and strengthen your marriage, but help you discover sneaky health issues that lurk and linger.

It’s so good to be a team again.

Oh, and we did re-start the sweet potato trial this weekend on Zac. So far, so good. We had a bit of a rough night with sleep, but nothing else concerning. Fingers crossed!

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Have you had any sneaky food issues take you by surprise? How did you figure them out?