Vegan Potatos au Gratin

Vegan Potatos au Gratin CradleRockingMama.com

A couple of weeks ago Darrel went to the grocery store for me. While there, he sent me a strange text message. All it said was “potatos au gratin”.

When he got home, I asked him why he sent me that particular text. He said it was because he’d had a brainstorm at the grocery store and didn’t want to forget to tell me. His bright idea?

Make potatos au gratin using my cauliflower cheese sauce

So I gave it a try.

Can I just share that my husband is brilliant? This recipe is awesome!

So here’s what you do:

Start by making just the cheese sauce part of my Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese recipe. (Click on the link for the recipe. You won’t need the noodles, but you’ll need everything else.)

That part takes the longest, but while the cauliflower is steaming you could get to work on the potatos. Peel them and slice them thinly. A mandolin is perfect for the job; otherwise, you’ll spend a LOT of time cutting potatos! I set my mandolin for 1/4 inch slices.

A Mess of Potatos sliced thin CradleRockingMama.com

Once you’ve got your mess of potatos, lightly oil a cast iron pan. I’ve made this a few times now, in both glass pyrex casserole dishes and in the cast iron skillet. It turned out MUCH better in the cast iron than it did in the glass pan.

If a glass casserole is all you’ve got, don’t fret! It was still good when baked in those. It just took longer, so you’ll have to adjust your cook times a bit.

Whether glass casserole or cast iron, oil it lightly, and begin laying your potatos down.

You’ll want to overlap the potatos just a bit, as seen here:

First layer in the pan CradleRockingMama.com

Finish off your cheese sauce if you haven’t already, and scoop some of it on top of the potatos. I ended up using between a third and a half of a cup. Smooth the sauce around to cover the potatos as much as possible.

First layer of Cheese sauce CradleRockingMama.com

Then put down another layer of potatos, followed by another layer of cheese sauce. Keep layering until you can’t fit any more layers in your pan – or you run out of potatos!

Whenever that happens, though, stop with a layer of potatos. Don’t put cheese sauce on top on the final layer yet!

Then cover the pan with foil…

Covered in Foil CradleRockingMama.com

and toss it in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the potatos are almost done, but not quite. (This is where the cast iron comes in handy. At 45 minutes, they were perfect in the cast iron. It had to bake for up to an hour in the glass pyrex casserole.)

Then take it out, remove the foil, and put the last layer of cheese sauce on top. I sprinkled some parsley on top, too, just to make it purdy.

Last layer of cheese CradleRockingMama.com

Toss the pan back into the oven, uncovered, for another 15-20 minutes, and ta-da! Vegan Potatos au Gratin!

Finished Baking CradleRockingMama.com

Let it cool a bit and then slice out a hunk for a delicious side dish sure to please.

Ready to eat Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

Here’s what the layers look like when it’s cut:

See the layers CradleRockingMama.com

That’s just good eatin’, right there!

Darrel loves this recipe, and says it tastes just as good as regular dairy-filled potatos au gratin. 

Jed, however, is four. Despite helping me make it every single time I’ve made it, he still tells me “it’s yucky and I don’t like it”. Since he told me that before  he ever took a bite to try it, though, I take that statement with a shakers worth of salt.

Whatever child expert said that kids are more likely to eat a food if they help prepare it needs to be told they’re a big, fat, poopy-faced liar. It has NEVER worked for Jed. Not once. 

Sigh.

That’s okay. I’ll keep serving it to him, and one day he’ll try it and realize it’s delicious.

You should try it, too!

Vegan Potatos au Gratin
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a delicious, allergy-friendly version of potatos au gratin that even non-allergic people won't be able to stop eating!
Author:
Recipe type: side dish, casserole
Serves: a huge pan
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Make the cauliflower cheese sauce . Set it aside.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Peel and slice the potatos to ¼th an inch thick.
  4. Lightly oil a cast iron skillet or a glass casserole dish (cast iron is better).
  5. Layer the potatos with just a slight overlap on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Spoon ⅓-1/2 cup of cheese sauce over the potatos, spreading it to cover the potatos thinly.
  7. Continue layering potatos, cheese, potatos, cheese, until you run out of potatos or room in the pan. DO NOT put cheese on top of the final layer of potatos yet!
  8. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan, remove the foil, and spoon a final layer of cheese sauce over the almost-done potatos.
  10. Sprinkle with any herbs you would like at this time, too.
  11. Put the pan back in the oven, uncovered, for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven, let cool, and serve.
  13. Enjoy your delicious, allergy-friendly side dish!

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Grandma Tells How to Help a Food Allergic Family

Grandma Tells How to Help a Food Allergic Family CradleRockingMama.com

Today I have something special to share: a guest post written by my Mom!

I often hear food issue families lamenting the lack of support they receive from friends and extended family, so I thought it would be interesting to hear what supporting a food issue family looks and feels like from someone outside the immediate family’s point of view.

I asked Mom if she would share her thoughts, and she said yes…so without further ado, here is my Mom (better known in our house as Grandma) talking about family food issues.


First, let’s get a new name for this. FPIES sounds like something good to eat. Let’s call it DooDooDisease (DDD) or Commercial Stuff is Clearly KaKa (CSICK)!

On a more serious note, life as the parents of a child with food issues is hard. It’s a 24/7 job filled with lots of stress and sleepless nights. They need support from family and friends, but, because FPIES and other food issues are so confusing, misunderstood and little known, they usually don‘t get any help.

Each family is different with different needs, but they all need the occasional break from the babies, a little financial boost (organic, specialty food is really expensive – not to mention the doctor bills), and, maybe most importantly, emotional support.

So let’s look at the ways families dealing with food issues need help, and how Carrie’s Dad and I have found to help.

As I said, everyone needs a break from daily demands, and that is where having someone with whom you can leave your precious babies safely is a gift from heaven.

But that is hard to do.

The terror of that caregiver making a catastrophic mistake keeps you from letting go. The potential caregiver lives in fear of making that mistake and is afraid to be left alone with your children. The consequences of one bad decision on their part is too horrible to even consider.

So how do you get past the terror?

First, and probably most importantly, is trust, love and training. We know that if we make a mistake and let one of the boys get something they shouldn’t have, Carrie is not going to go crazy on us. She understands that we don’t deal with this daily and that we are trying our very best. She also knows that we love these guys as much as we love her (and that’s a lot). And she is honest enough to admit that she has made mistakes herself so she can’t hold us to a higher standard than that to which she is held.

She has also “trained” us as to what is “safe” food and what is not, to recognize the signs of a reaction and what to do in an emergency. We, too, live with an epi-pen nearby at all times and know the quickest way to the hospital of choice. Speed dial is our friend! So, when (not if, but when), we make mistakes, we deal with the results of the mistake – and she doesn’t attack us. She forgives.

Second, Carrie supplies us with all the things that we need to feed these guys that we would not normally have on hand. Three years ago I couldn’t even pronounce quinoa much less know how to cook it! Before every visit, we get together on what my pantry needs to survive several days with the boys. She also supplies all the recipes.

There is so much “stuff”, it usually looks like the little guys are moving in with us permanently. We have dedicated one cabinet in our kitchen to safe foods for the boys. If it is in there, it is safe (at least it is this week!).

Third, we communicate. While she is gone we record the day in a food journal so that she knows what went on food and activity-wise while she was away. We try to write everything down as it happens with as complete a description as possible. We are old and have CRS (Can’t Remember Stuff!) so we write everything down.

We also talk on the phone regularly and she shares new developments with the boys with us as they happen. When we ask questions she explains her answer so we have a better understanding of why we are wrong or (occasionally) right.

We read her blog regularly to keep up on anything she might forget to mention. Contrary to popular belief, Carrie does do more than take care of the children and is a very busy lady. It is easy to forget whether or not she has told us something, The blog is a terrific tool to fill in the blanks. You don’t have to blog but you could do an on-line diary for the caregiver.

In the end, if we are not sure about a food or activity, we call her or Darrel before proceeding. We try to err on the side of safe.

We are retired and on a fixed income so we can’t really help a lot financially. But we raise chickens and eggs organically and we are trying to learn how to raise a garden and preserve the fruits of our labor. I make the boys’ Halloween costumes. I try to make their presents be something they need rather than something they want. I watch for great sales on clothes. Every little bit helps.

Even if you are not going to care for the children or can’t help financially, there are ways to help emotionally. You can make it possible to have get-togethers that are safe and fun. Food issue families sometimes feel isolated because they can’t attend gatherings because of all the food.

The last few years I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner that, while wasn’t completely safe for Jed, included a complete meal for him that was dairy, egg, gluten, sugar and soy free.

The organic turkey had salt and pepper only and wasn’t stuffed. The mashed potatoes were mashed using either the water in which they were boiled or goat milk, once he was safe with that. Green beans got some safe sea salt. There was a tossed salad made of lettuce and tomatoes. Baked sweet potatoes, black olives and sunbutter-stuffed celery sticks finished off the meal for Jed.

Just a little effort made Carrie, Darrel and the boys feel a part of the family celebration rather than separated by food.

We have also made changes in our life. We eat a lot better as we have eliminated a lot of the dangerous foods from the house lest the little ones get into them. We clean with safe cleaning supplies so they are not exposed to chemicals when crawling around and touching everything in the house and breathing the air.

Last, but not least, be there to listen to whatever they need to talk, or whine, about anything. Most people don’t want to hear about other people’s problems and tend to cut off contact. If they don’t see someone regularly, they forget about them. More isolation.

So pick up the phone and talk to them – or text or e-mail. It doesn’t cost much and it helps to keep them a part of the “normal” world.

Now you know how easy it can be to help your family and friends who are dealing with FPIES and other food issues. It can be as little as a phone call or as big as babysitting. Every little thing you do will make them feel more a part of the “real” world and ease the burden of caring for children with real life and death issues.


Yes, I know…my parents are awesome!

Just so you know, it isn’t always sunshine and roses. We have our share of misunderstandings, miscommunication, frustration, and general “head-butting”…just like all normal families.

That being said, what she wrote is right on the mark. Having parents who support us in every way they can is an enormous stress relief. In fact, if I’m perfectly honest, our lives would not be possible without their support.

Contrary to what she wrote, it isn’t easy to support a food allergic family in as complete a way as my parents do. It requires a lot of effort on their part to change their ways to accommodate us. 

However, for the friends and family of food allergic children, remember that NO one is required to do all of the things just mentioned! Picking one or two of these tips to implement will make a HUGE difference in your relationship with your food allergic extended family.

For the food allergic families out there, if your family and friends need a little help understanding how to help you, send them this letter. Maybe hearing it from someone walking in THEIR shoes will help!


What’s the best support you’ve been given? Let’s give shout-outs to our loved ones today!


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Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster CradleRockingMama.com

The last post I wrote shared how grateful I feel for our little “not normal” lives.

I was.

I am.

But, you know, the reality is that no one can sustain any feeling on a 24/7 basis. Not even gratitude for the blessings you have.

Last week was an absolute mess, and it seemed like everything was designed to strip me of my gratitude.

It didn’t succeed.

I’m still grateful.

But it’s taking effort. 

Last Monday I snuck some salmon in Zac’s quinoa nuggets. He ate them all, and then ate some salmon for dinner.

No reaction. Yay!

He continued to be perfectly fine on Tuesday and Wednesday, except for the cold that just wouldn’t stop. Both my poor little boys had runny noses, sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion…I hated watching them feel so bad.

So Wednesday night I thawed some of Zac’s safe chicken broth and gave it to the boys. Broth is healing, right? Maybe it would help them both!

Jed wouldn’t drink it. Zac only drank about 2 T. of it. Well, I tried.

Thursday morning, Darrel said he was ready to call salmon safe and move on to a beef trial. So I fried up a hamburger patty for Zac and fed it to him.

He’s eaten bites of his brothers neglected-after-dinner hamburger patties before with no symptoms, so we felt confident in this. Confident enough that Darrel wanted to proceed in spite of the cold, and, though I would have waited til the cold was over out of habit, felt confident enough to agree.

Right about an hour after he ate the hamburger patty, he presented me with a soft, stinky, not-so-great diaper…and an allergy ring.

Uh-oh.

Then he was whiny all day. Clingy. Tantrum-y. A total pill.

In the early afternoon, he had another diaper just the same as before, with a WORSE allergy ring.

Then he passed out at 4:30 p.m. That’s not normal. 

With going to bed so early, he decided to wake up at 1:00 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning.

Less than an hour after he woke up, he presented me with one of the most God-awful, nastiest diapers I’ve ever changed.

Coming from an FPIES mom, this has a LOT more meaning than when a normal Mom says such a thing.

A full half of the diaper was solid, thick mucous…and it REEKED.

What. The. H-E-double hockey sticks?!?

After that he ate his weight in bananas and chicken before giving me ANOTHER nasty diaper. It was better, but still very bad.

Then he went to sleep again at 4:45 a.m., only to wake again at 8:00 a.m.

(Y’all…I’m so tired. I’ve been home from work for well over a week now, and I still feel like something the cat dragged in.)

The rest of Friday he acted great! He still sneezed and had a runny nose, but the child ate like a pig all day and played like a perfectly normal little boy.

Except for his diapers, I’d have thought he had bounced back already. But the diapers told a different story. Actually, the poop itself improved throughout the day; it got solid, firm, and no signs of mucous…but his little tushie turned bright red with one of his tell-tale reaction acidic diaper rash burns.

Saturday his appetite went wonky again. He only wanted to eat bananas. Nothing else. I offered him every recipe I’ve ever made for him and he got more agitated with each offer, eventually screaming at me “UHN!! UHN!!” and running to grab a banana.

He did finally eat a good serving of chicken at dinner, but that was the only non-banana food he ate all day.

Since his diapers were looking good, and his heinie was even looking better, I just went with it.

Sunday, his diaper rash was entirely gone at his first diaper change of the day. Yay! Whatever it was, it was over, right?

Nope.

His second poopy diaper of the day had a tiny amount of blood in it, and a return of the diaper rash.

All he wanted to eat yesterday was more bananas, and his sweet potato/banana ice cream. He finally ate some salmon patties at dinner, and a short while later presented us with two poopy diapers in a row.

The first one showed us he had a worse diaper rash. The next one showed a worse diaper rash AND mucous.

Did I mention I’m tired? I’m weary. Exhausted. Too tired to think.

Darrel has a cold, too, and he’s been wandering around the house like a zombie for days.

The kids, of course, have bounced back from their colds and are at full throttle.

And I have no idea what in the world is going on with Zac.

Is it the salmon? Did we call it safe too soon?

Was it the chicken broth setting off something in his tummy? I don’t see how, unless it’s a histamine thing, but that’s a possibility.

Was it the beef?

Did he pick up some stray bit of rice puff or corn chip from Jed’s foods?

Or was it a virus the whole time?

I have no idea. None.

I don’t even have a gut instinct about what it could be.

All I know is that I’m tired. I’m just so stinking tired. Tired of working. Tired of not being able to sleep at night. Tired of watching my son in pain. Tired of him screaming when I wipe his tush.

I’m tired, y’all.

You know the movie “Parenthood” with Steve Martin? Remember the scene where his wife chastises him for wanting parenthood to be a merry-go-round, when he really needs to just enjoy the roller coaster ride?

It’s a great scene. I love that movie. And she’s right.

Being a parent is a roller coaster ride.

That’s good for me, though, because I’ve always LOVED roller coasters.

I just didn’t think I’d be on this big  of a roller coaster for this long.

I’m grateful, truly, for everything we have.

But right now I’d really like the ride to stop for just a few days so I could get some sleep and – maybe – have enough brain power to think this through and figure out what’s going on with Zac.

Really, I’ll just sleep strapped in to the cab of the roller coaster. I just need some sleep so I can help my son. Then I can resume enjoying (and being grateful for) our roller coaster ride.


Anyone have any brilliant ideas about what could be causing Zac’s reactions?

Grateful for Not Normal

Grateful For Not Normal CradleRockingMama.com

Yesterday I shared my frustrations with FPIES and my wish for my family to be normal, food-wise.

But let me tell you about the rest of the day…

Zac ate salmon at 9:00 a.m. He never showed any signs of a reaction to it whatsoever, for which I was grateful! That means it was histamine or a small virus that made him sick last week.

However, the kiddos were absolutely rotten all day long.

After speech therapy, we had a few errands to run in town. The first stop was Target, where they argued with me constantly, raced up and down the aisles, whined and begged for every little toy or doo-dad that caught their eye, knocked each other over in typical rough-house brotherly play, and generally embarrassed and exasperated me with their behavior.

Even the threat of NOT going to Barnes & Noble to play with the train table didn’t straighten them up.

Unfortunately, I really wanted a book yesterday, and I’m flat tired of my wants always coming last in the family hierarchy. Mama was GOING to get her book, even if it meant rewarding the kiddos when their behavior didn’t warrant a reward.

I did, however, inform them that they had knocked their usual one hour of train time down to half an hour.

As we approached Barnes & Noble, I noticed that Petco was holding an adoption day for the local no-kill cat shelter. The boys miss their kitty cats and love seeing animals, so I decided to be incredibly nice and let them go say hi to the kitty cats waiting to find new homes.

Besides, I need to scope out new cat food and kitty litter that will be safe for Zac, since we will soon need to bring the cats back home. This was a good chance to do that.

If I thought being given such a treat would make them grateful and behave beautifully, I was wrong. They were WORSE in Petco than they’d been in Target.

While looking at kitty litter, both boys were standing right next to me. By the time I’d stood up and turned around, they had disappeared.

Since it had only been a moment, I figured they were one or maybe two aisles away. So I called for them.

“Jed? Zac? Come here, boys!”

No answer. No noise, even. No giggles or even a belligerent “WHAT?” from Jed.

Nothing.

I started walking, calling for them as I went.

Nothing.

I walked faster. I called louder.

By the time I made it to the front of the store, I was SCREAMING their names, and still getting nothing in response.

By this point, other customers in the store who had seen me with the kids were chiming in with “I saw them over there a minute ago” and “I think I saw them heading that way”, but no matter which direction I was aimed, I couldn’t find my children.

To say I was panicked was an understatement.

I honestly didn’t fear abduction; most people are good and generally protective of children. It happens, sure, but it’s rare.

The far more likely scenario would be that the kids had taken advantage of the automatic door at Petco and left to go to the bookstore. Unfortunately, there is a huge parking lot out there that is laid out poorly. It’s a death trap for small, inattentive children.

Just as I was racing to head outside to look for the boys, an employee yelled to me “Hey! They’re over here!”

And he was right.

Not 20 feet away from the front door, where I’d been standing, screaming their names at the top of my lungs, and hidden behind a fish tank, were my two precious little hellions angels.

I raced over and grabbed them in a breath crushing hug.

Then I unleashed my fury.

“Didn’t you HEAR me?? Why didn’t you answer me? You DO NOT run away from me in a store. You DO NOT hide from me in a store. You WILL answer me when I call your names! You scared the LIFE out of me! I didn’t know where you’d gone! What is wrong with you?!!?”

They looked appropriately chagrined…for about two seconds. Then Jed grabbed my hand and said “Come here, Mommy! Look what we found!”

<cue Mommy beating her head against a wall>

We immediately left the store, of course, but I was still determined to get my book. It didn’t take more than two minutes to find my book, but the boys made it clear in that short time that they were very displeased with not getting their usual long chunk of time at the train table.

And they did so very embarrassingly, very annoyingly, very LOUDLY.

We drove home, and the entire time I was thinking “What is going on with the kids today? They’re acting like barbarians!”

It didn’t improve at home.

After Darrel came home from work, he quipped at the dinner table, “You know what, hon? I think I have some work I forgot to do. I should probably go back to the office.”

I knew he was joking, but I was not amused.

Jed was acting a fool at the table, laying down on his chair while eating, sticking his feet in the air, spinning around in his seat, rocking side to side in his chair to see how far he could go before he fell, etc. Every five seconds either Darrel or I would say “Jed, sit still!” to no avail.

Suddenly Jed froze in his seat. His eyes got wide, he opened his mouth, his face started turning red, and then his eyes began to water.

He was choking.

I leapt from my chair, but before I could grab him he suddenly coughed.

Just as I started to relax, he stopped coughing and began choking again.

I grabbed him and started to pick him up to Heimlich him, and he began coughing again.

So I sat him back down in the chair and smacked his back a few times to help dislodge his food.

He finally coughed it up and turned to me with fear on his face, and leapt into my arms for a big, reassuring hug from mama.

I told him, “Baby, we tell you things for your own well being. I love you so much, sweetheart, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

With his face buried in my shoulder, my sweet Jed said “I love you, too, Mommy.”

And in that instant, the entire day melted away. 

The thing is, there have been some tragic losses in my circle of friends lately.

Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine lost her baby boy. It was sudden and unexpected, and she is naturally devastated. Yesterday morning I learned that the first granddaughter of some good friends of ours died at a mere week old.

So I was already a little raw when we started the day, feeling the peripheral heartbreak you feel when someone you care about goes through such an incomparable loss.

It’s gut wrenching. It’s beyond my comprehension how these families are coping with this. There’s nothing I can do for them, either. Nothing but time can heal this sort of wound.

All I can do is pray for them, and send them my love, and try to think of things I can do to show my love and care, and give them time and space to grieve.

My heart breaks for my friends, but I admit I had a moment of “Thank you, God, that my children are alive” when I heard of their losses. Far more focused on praying for my friends, I really only took a moment to toss that little prayer out for my family.

Until Jed started choking. 

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I am blessed beyond measure. 

My children may not be normal. They may have food issues that threaten their health. They may have food issues that make functioning in the world a challenge. And, frankly, on occasion they behave like wild animals in public.

But they are HERE. They are breathing. I can hug them whenever I want.

When I think about Jed’s birth and the subsequent NICU stay, the hospitalizations he’s had, the mesenteric lymphadenitis, Zac’s horrible hospitalization, Jed’s choking last night and the pain my friends are experiencing, well…

I’ve never been so grateful for ‘not normal’ in my life.

Yesterday I said “This is our life, and we will continue to manage it.” That’s true. It is, and we will.

Only now, I am incredibly grateful for every moment of our ‘not normal’.

Wishing For Normal

Wishing For Normal CradleRockingMama.com

I wish we were normal.

I wish we didn’t have so many food issues.

I wish I were still obese and could feed my kids without thinking.

I wish my kids could throw up and I didn’t have to analyze every aspect of their lives to determine the cause.

I wish.

Yeah. And if frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their butts.

We have food issues and I can’t change that. It’s a waste of time to wish for anything different.

But maybe after this story, some of you will understand why I occasionally waste time wishing for the impossible.

Saturday a week ago, I left for work on a 6am flight.

After spending 8 hours in an airplane getting TO work, I spent 6 hours sitting in the airport before actually beginning my work trip.

Then I flew to Hawaii and back overnight. A 13 hour workday with almost 11 hours of actual flight time.

Sunday morning I slept in the airport for about 6 hours before flying to Hawaii overnight again.

Monday morning I slept in the airport for another 6 hours before flying the red eye to Boston.

I got to spend 24 hours in Boston, where I did a LOT of cooking in my hotel room so I could eat for the next 3 days away from home.

Wednesday I was up at 5am, and flew from Boston back to San Francisco (via Chicago), at which point I was done with work!

Then I sat in the airport for 4 hours before catching a flight to Dallas, which landed at 12:30 a.m. Thursday morning. The next flight to go home didn’t leave until 7:55 a.m., so I got to spend some “airport appreciation” time overnight in Dallas (with no where to sleep).

Just as I finally headed down the jetway, I saw the other passengers turning around and heading back UP the jetway. Bad weather meant we couldn’t take off, and they wanted to delay boarding.

I flat passed out in the waiting area. I’d already been awake for 26 hours, after all. Fortunately, a pilot trying to get on the same flight recognized me and woke me up when they began boarding again.

I finally landed back home at 11 a.m.

I had finished actual work the previous day at 5 p.m. CST.

Commuting sucks.

All of that is to say…I was exhausted! Beyond exhausted, actually. Bone weary drained.

And the fun was only beginning…

I had a few errands I needed to run on the way home, and since it was Zac’s speech therapy day, my parents and the kids were in town.

We arranged to meet up and trade cars and kids, and I got the run down on everything kid related for the previous 20 or so hours.

The kids and I headed home, and in my exhaustion I decided to make Zac salmon for dinner.

We had taken a break from the salmon, as usual, and I was back home in case of a reaction, so why not?

6:00 p.m. Thursday night I fed Zac salmon.

At 10:00p.m., after he had been asleep for a little over an hour, he woke up vomiting.

He cried and screamed and whimpered and it was awful. The only way he seemed at all comfortable was being held upright.

Darrel had already taken a sleeping pill to go to bed, so I had to stay up with my sick baby.

Mind you, I hadn’t slept in 40 hours.

Not my idea of a good time, y’all.

Finally Zac fell asleep again, and he and I went to bed.

He woke me up at 9:00 a.m., crying and upset. I was so exhausted I just laid there and asked him things. “Are you hungry? Need a diaper change? Want some water?”

He kept telling me ‘no’, and suddenly vomited again.

All over me.

After that, though, he bounced back almost immediately. No crying, no screaming, no wailing, and he ate breakfast to boot.

An hour later, he was running around the house, playing as if the previous night hadn’t happened at all.

Obviously it was an FPIES reaction, right?

Well, maybe not.

(This is where I wish for normal. Beyond the desire to not be puked on.)

I couldn’t find my safe bottled water in Boston, and had no choice but to filter tap water to cook with and drink.

The first time I nursed him after returning home was right before dinner.

So if it was an FPIES reaction, it may have been salmon, or it may have been something in the water I had to drink.

However, the day I returned home, Jed suddenly came down with a terrible cold. Lots of sneezing, coughing, and a non-stop runny nose.

So maybe Zac caught a little virus, too; especially since he has had the same symptoms since Friday.

And let’s not forget histamine. In chatting with a good friend who deals with severe histamine intolerance, she pointed out her son has vomited from an overload of histamine before. It turns out I misunderstood the proper thawing methods for frozen meats and fish, and it’s possible the salmon wasn’t as low in histamine as I thought it was.

So maybe it was a histamine reaction.

And let’s also remember that Thursday the kids both played with public toys; at speech therapy, at Barnes and Noble with the train table, and at Carter’s with their fake wooden food that the kids both kept touching to their mouths.

So a virus or trace food from some other kid could easily have been picked up at those places.

See? This is why I wish we were normal.

If we were normal, I’d just say “virus” and move on.

Since we are not normal, we now find ourselves in an uncomfortable, ‘grey’ situation.

We don’t know for a fact what caused the vomiting.

We have to do process of elimination to figure it out.

We really have no choice but to try salmon again; we don’t know that it was an FPIES reaction, and since there are so many things it could be we must risk it.

Prior to the break, salmon was doing wonderful things for Zac. He had gained weight, was speaking more, and had a lot more energy.

Since the vomiting, his diapers have been perfect, he’s slept well, had a good appetite, and otherwise shown no signs of an FPIES reaction.

So we have to try it. I properly thawed some fresh salmon last night and cooked it for Zac this morning.

If he does okay with the salmon this morning, I will have to serve him some of the “improperly thawed” salmon still in our freezer to see if he reacts to that level of histamine.

If he has no FPIES reaction to the salmon, and then has no histamine reaction to the salmon, then, and only then, can I say it was the water or a virus that caused the vomiting.

This would all be so much easier if we were normal.

I’m finally no longer exhausted, but I’m still very, very tired from work last week. Going straight from work to the craziness of FPIES is way too hard on me.

From now on, I have to be home from work for at least 2 days before we start or resume food trials.

It’s just too much for me to cope with otherwise.

This is our life, and we will continue to manage it.

But sometimes I just wish we were normal.


Have you ever had a confusing vomit that turned out to NOT be FPIES? 

The DARK Act

The DARK Act Why You Should Care CradleRockingMama.com

There is a piece of legislation currently in committee (the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health) in Washington. Very shortly, this esteemed body will vote on whether the proposed bill should be presented to the House for vote.

The proposed bill?

H.R. 4432: Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.

Otherwise known as “The DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act”.

Simultaneously, there is a viciously contested re-count going on in Oregon over the proposed state law requiring GMO labeling on all foods. At last check, the pro-labeling side was a mere 814 votes shy of victory, making Oregon the third state to pass GMO labeling laws (behind Maine and Connecticut).

Click here for a list of all states that have active GMO labeling laws in the works.

You know what’s funny about both of these things?

They’re both dreadfully important. Life-alteringly important, in fact.

And I haven’t heard a peep about either one on the TV news or in a newspaper over the last 5 days I’ve been at work (and therefore watching the news and reading papers).

Our country is willing to spend huge sums of time talking about things that, while important, really only directly affect limited numbers of people, but is unwilling to spend any time discussing something that 100% affects every single person who will ever eat a bite of food in this country. 

Seems a bit odd to me. 

Then I realized, most people just don’t know  about all this food labeling hubbub. And of the ones who do know it’s happening, many just really don’t understand why they should care.

So I decided to help out a bit, and explain exactly why every single man, woman, and child in this country (regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, age, or legal status) should drop EVERYTHING they are currently in a frenzy over and focus on preventing the DARK Act from even making it out of committee.

I’ll be honest; this post has been a tricky one to write. After all, there are whole books dedicated to the story of GMO’s, Monsanto, food labeling, etc. Trying to summarize these topics in a brief blog post is an exercise in frustration and futility.

Then I realized, I don’t actually have to do that at all! I will never be able to change anyone’s mind regarding GMO’s in the forum I have; all I can do is present this truth:

No matter what your opinion of the safety of GMO’s, whether you think they are the best things to ever be invented or the beginning of the end of mankind, you should be highly offended, insulted, and disgusted by H.R. 4432. 

The reason we should care about H.R. 4432 really doesn’t have much to do with GMO’s at all, though the wording of the law and the activist groups would lead you to believe otherwise.

The truth about why we should care about the DARK Act is simple: it is one of the most condescending pieces of legislature ever penned. 

It’s the governments way of patting us all on the heads and saying “Now, now, there’s no need for you to worry your pretty little head about these serious matters. We know what’s best for you; now run along and go shopping for a new dress. It’s unbecoming for you to THINK.”

Just read what this law will do:

  • Individual states will no longer have the right to pass laws demanding GMO labeling; this federal law would supersede all state laws.
  • GMO labeling would continue to be “voluntary” on the part of food companies. As there has been a voluntary GMO labeling initiative for over a decade and most foods are still not labeled, AND the GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) has spent many millions of dollars fighting against mandatory labeling, it’s pretty clear that a “voluntary” labeling law means NO labeling.
  • Allow food manufacturers to put the label “natural” on their products, even if the product contains genetically engineered food.

Now, if you think GMO’s are wonderful and perfectly safe, surely you can at least concede that there are many, many of your fellow countrymen who are NOT convinced of their safety, and would like to have the option to NOT purchase foods that are genetically modified (at least until science proves them completely safe), right?

And if you are in that camp and can concede that your fellow countrymen disagree with you, surely you can also see that taking away their ability to choose what they eat is an infringement of their self-determination, their freedom, and their autonomy, right?

And surely you can see that allowing laws like this to pass sets a precedent. Perhaps next the government will start passing legislation that restricts the ability to gather pertinent information about other pressing matters: the houses we buy, the cars we drive, the insurance we carry…oh, wait.

That ship has passed.

So it becomes even more important for us, as a country, to put our collective foot down and say “NO MORE!”

NO MORE will we be insulted and denied the ability to think and choose for ourselves.

NO MORE will we be lied to about what we feed our families.

NO MORE will we tolerate big business conspiring and controlling the very foundation of our lives in order to make a profit.


You should care about H.R. 4432, the DARK Act, regardless of your personal stance on GMO’s. You should care about it because it is, at its core, an attack on our liberty and freedom.


 

GMO labeling may not be a big deal to you. It may be an issue you think is hardly worth getting upset about.

But someday, you might have a sick child. Someday, you might become ill. Someday, you may decide that you actually would prefer not to eat GMO’s for whatever reason.

And if today, right now, you don’t stand up for the right of all Americans to make their own decisions about what they choose to eat, well…when the day comes that you care?

You’ll be powerless to execute your own wishes.

It will be too late.

And that, my friends, is why we should all care about The DARK Act.


Be informed. Read more about this law.

Google it for yourself. Knowledge is power!


Then take action:

Contact your Congressman

Sign a petition here or here


Then spread the word!

Share this post everywhere you can, or share some of the links I provided (it’s not about me, here, folks), and ask all your friends and family to write their congressman and sign the petition.

Let’s make it clear: we want to know what we’re eating!


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Salmon Pate

Salmon Pâté Dairy Free CradleRockingMama.com

Every year for Thanksgiving, my family traditionally lays out a plate of “snacks”: stuffed celery sticks, black and green olives, and pickles are always present, and sometimes other little goodies make an appearance.

It’s just enough to take the edge off the hunger brought on by all those delicious cooking smells, but not enough to fill you up before the feast.

This was the first year my severely food allergic/intolerant 2.5 year old, Zac, could actually eat a meal with the family for Thanksgiving, and I wanted something for him to snack on before the meal.

Something delicious. Something new. Something fun.

Fun and new are hard to come by when you’ve only got 11 safe foods, though.

So I focused on the latest semi-addition to his diet: salmon.

We are trialing salmon on him to see if he can tolerate it, and surely there had to be something I could make for him that was fun, new, delicious, and more of a snack.

My inspiration came from making quinoa nuggets for him one day when I added some chicken meat. Once it was pureed together, it looked an awful lot like the pâté’s I’ve seen in the past.

Maybe I could make Zac a pâté!

Traditional pâté is meat, seasonings, and cream cheese. Just out of curiosity I looked for dairy-free recipes, and found a wide variety of options…most of which had a top 8 allergen or typical FPIES trigger.

Soy, cashews, and beans were commonly used in dairy-free pâté’s

Since none of those are safe for Zac, yet, I decided to give my quinoa theory a try.

IT WORKED!

First, some notes:

If you have histamine issues, don’t use smoked salmon. I used regular, fresh salmon that I baked just before making the pâté.

This could work with ANY meat, really; so if salmon isn’t safe or your favorite, feel free to substitute.

I didn’t add ANY flavoring to this other than sea salt. No seasonings or herbs at all. Zac can’t have any of that yet (except sea salt, of course). So I’m not going to give amounts in the suggested seasonings and herbs because I didn’t try it yet.

This is mostly a great pâté base…add whatever seasonings, herbs, or other additions you prefer!

The quinoa is measured by volume, but the salmon is measured by weight. Use a kitchen scale to get the right amount of salmon for the pâté.

Now, on to how totally easy this is to do!

Bake some salmon and cook some quinoa. I’ve been baking the salmon for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Dump your quinoa and salmon (and any additions you are using) in a food processor.

Pâté ready to process CradleRockingMama.com

Turn it on.

A few minutes later, you’ve got pâté!

Yummy Salmon Pate CradleRockingMama.com

So. Easy.

So. Good.

Pâté  on a cracker CradleRockingMama.com

I made a batch of quinoa crackers for Zac to eat with his pâté, and he couldn’t get enough of it!

We gave him a taste as soon as it was made, because he was being nosy and wanted to see what I was making. However, we still needed to relocate to Grandma’s house for dinner, so I put it away immediately so we could load the car.

He cried, y’all! 

At Grandma and PopPop’s house, I gave him back the bowl of pâté. He refused to let go of it! He carried that bowl of pâté everywhere he went: the kitchen…

Eating in the kitchen CradleRockingMama.com

the porch…

Eating on the porch CradleRockingMama.com

and everywhere else he wandered until dinner was ready.

Make a Mama’s heart happy, y’all!

Once he has more safe foods, I am absolutely going to tweak this a bit. Some oil/fat would probably be good, some lemon juice, maybe some dill…the options are nearly endless. 

But my Mom and Darrel both said this had the texture of a pâté, and, while fairly bland due to the lack of seasonings and herbs, was actually more tasty than they’d imagined it would be.

So get creative and make your own delicious, healthy, dairy-free, top 8-free pâté!

Oh, and join us in rolling our eyes at our kiddos unusual food tastes. My 2 year old chows down on pâté…what’s next? Caviar?

Salmon Pate
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Delicious, top 8 allergy-free pâté base, easily adjusted with whatever seasonings you prefer.
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer, dip
Serves: 1.5 cups
Ingredients
  • 4 oz. cooked salmon
  • 1 c. cooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • lemon juice (to taste)
  • dill (to taste)
  • garlic (to taste)
  • any other herbs you wish
Instructions
  1. Bake some salmon. (Approx. 20 minutes at 375 degrees)
  2. Cook some quinoa (follow package instructions).
  3. Put 1 c. of quinoa in a food processor.
  4. Weigh out 4 ounces of salmon and add that to the food processor.
  5. Add whatever seasonings or herbs you wish to use.
  6. Process until smooth.
  7. Scrape into a bowl.
  8. Serve with crackers or bread.
  9. Enjoy an easy, delicious, allergy-free treat!

What are your favorite flavoring additions to pâté?


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Apraxia, Maybe?

Apraxia Maybe CradleRockingMama.com

Thanksgiving went beautifully for us! Last year Zac could only eat quinoa drops during the meal, while segregated in a high chair.

This year he sat with us at the table and chowed down on 7 different foods! (Nine if you count butter, milk and salt.)

It was a glorious sight to behold.

Both boys and I got to eat a full, real meal…with no food snatching or accidental ingestions. Yay! And whew!

The best part of the day, though, was when Zac decided to give us the most awesome gift ever.

He said “da-da”.

My mom and Zac’s speech therapist have both reported that he has said da-da before, but he has never said it in front of me or Darrel. Ever.

Until Thanksgiving.

Darrel, the computer geek, was helping my parents with a computer problem and needed to use Mom’s laptop. Zac, unfortunately, was watching a movie on Mom’s laptop at the time, and was very upset when Daddy took it away.

He ran up to me, distraught, pointed to where Mom usually keeps her computer, and exclaimed “Da-da!!”, then pointing to the kitchen where Darrel had taken it.

I was floored!

And amused. The first time my son says da-da, and it’s so he can tattle on his daddy!

By the end of the day, he’d said it several more times, including when we got in the car to leave.

As I strapped him in to the car seat, he looked at me and questioned “Da-da?”

Just then, Darrel opened the other door to get Jed strapped in and Zac exclaimed “Da-da!” With a huge smile on his face.

I assume that was “Where’s daddy? Oh! Yay! There’s daddy!”

For the record, yes, this is the first time in his life Zac has said “da-da”…and he is two and a half years old.

I’ve mentioned that Zac has been going to speech therapy since May. What I haven’t mentioned is how it’s going.

It’s going slow. Glacial slow. Molasses in January slow.

Frustratingly slow.

He has made progress, but not much and not quickly.

I’ve been concerned and frustrated, as has his therapist.

Back in the first week of October, as we were getting over the stomach bug from hell and going through some rough times, we had An Incident.

Zac woke up at 6:00 a.m. screaming, crying, whimpering, flat out miserable.

I couldn’t console him. I did the 20 questions routine: does it hurt here? There? Anywhere? Do you want this? That? Anything?

And got nothing.

No response.

He was capable of giving yes and no answers at that point, but he gave me no answers at all.

I was in tears. I wanted to fix things, but I didn’t know what needed fixing.

In my exhausted, stressed state, I grew overwhelmingly frustrated at his lack of speech. Finally, after 45 minutes, I was able to figure out what had him so upset.

A band-aid.

He had gotten a scrape on his lower back, which I’d doctored up the night before.

He was reacting to the adhesive in the band-aid. When I pulled it off, the skin underneath was bright red and swollen. But pulling it off calmed him down, and by the end of the day the skin was back to normal.

In my frustration, I googled “why doesn’t my 2 year old talk”. Honestly, I don’t really know why I googled that. I think I was hoping I’d find some amazing stories of silent children suddenly speaking full sentences or something.

I didn’t get that. What I got were many links to various resources about speech apraxia. I read them.

And my jaw dropped.

With great difficulty, I managed to wait until after normal business hours before texting his therapist.

I think the world of her; in every way she’s proven dedicated, creative, thorough, and brilliant. So I just needed to bounce this possibility off her and hear her say it wasn’t a worry.

But that’s not what she said.

Turns out, she has suspected speech apraxia for a long while. Since mid-summer, to be exact.

Only one problem: Zac doesn’t even speak enough to evaluate him for an apraxia diagnosis.

And since speech apraxia is so serious, so complicated, and she knew of all the other issues we were dealing with, she decided the best course of action was to wait until she was certain he has apraxia before worrying me with a theory.

So what is speech apraxia? According to the folks at ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association), it is actually called Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.

Zac isn’t making enough sounds to be fully evaluated and given a diagnosis yet, but he exhibits many of the symptoms of this disorder.

  • His hearing is fine.
  • His therapist has already given him an oral-motor assessment and found him to have no problems there.
  • He almost never babbled as a baby.
  • He only has a handful of consonant sounds he makes (b, m, g, w, h) and two vowel sounds (a and o).
  • Understands EVERYTHING that is said to him, but never talks.
  • Rarely imitates sounds or words, and then only after he’s heard it stressed repeatedly more often than you’d like to have to say it (we’ve been working on da-da since June, as an example).

Plus other things.

Additionally, he seems to freeze up completely when asked to say anything. His most productive speaking times are when he’s playing, or when he’s angry or upset. It’s as if being distracted or feeling urgency allows his brain to work, whereas being asked to speak makes him anxious and scared.

Most heartbreaking of all, though, is when his therapist told me of a conversation she had with him.

He wanted to play with a toy she KNOWS he has a sound for, so she told him he had to ask for it before he could have it. He refused and started to get upset.

Miss K: Zac, I know you can say this. Don’t you want to talk?
Zac: uh-Huh
Miss K: That’s great! You know I’m here to help you talk, right?
Zac: (big smile, excitedly) UH-HUH!
Miss K: But baby, you have to try if I’m going to help you.
Zac: (face dropping into a frown) uhn-uhn
Miss K: You want to talk, but is talking just really hard to do?
Zac: (big, sad eyes) uh-Huh

Break. My. Heart.

His therapist also gave me a little test to try on him: wiggle my tongue back and forth from side to side, trying to get him to imitate me. She said normal kids will usually giggle and try to do it back. Kids with CAS may giggle, but if pressed to attempt it themselves will refuse, and often become angry.

I tried it. He became very angry.

Not enough for a diagnosis, but another brick in the wall, so to speak.

The confusing part is that while he exhibits many signs of CAS, he also does many things that are basically the opposite of CAS.

He has no sensitivity issues with his mouth (he loves brushing his teeth and has no food texture issues). He has amazingly good gross and fine motor skills. He has no problem eating.

Of course, the ASHA people say not every child will have every symptom.

In fact, I saw a great deal of similarities between FPIES and CAS. Both are little understood, no one knows what causes either, they’re both incredibly rare, each child presents differently, and there is no cure…only treatment.

(Why does my son have to be the rarest of the rare, huh??)

So what’s next for Zac?

Well, we’re applying for TEFRA, which would help us pay for the intensive therapy he will need (3-5 sessions per week) if he does have CAS. Neither insurance plan offered from our two employers covers more than 20 speech sessions per year. At up to 5 sessions a week, that could be used up in a month, and we can’t afford $115 per session.

We’re also going to have to get an official diagnosis. Unfortunately, there’s only one place in NW Arkansas that officially can diagnose CAS, and they have a wait list for initial appointments up to 6 months long.

And as I said, Zac isn’t speaking enough to be diagnosed, even if we were able to get the appointment.

So we continue doing what we’re doing, waiting until we get TEFRA and the nod from Miss K that Zac is getting close enough with his speech to go ahead and get on the wait list for a diagnosis.

And then we’ll see if we are right or wrong.

As for what we’re doing, well, Miss K has suspected CAS for a while. While she can’t actually officially diagnose him (though she is fully certified to treat CAS), she has noticed that when she implements therapy techniques that are applicable for both normal speech delays AND CAS, Zac responds more favorably. So that’s what she’s doing.

We also now have a “communication book” for Zac.

I’ve taken (and continue to take) photographs of things in his life; things like the foods he eats, the toys he plays with, the movies he enjoys, the people in his life, etc. Miss K put them together in a 3 ring binder so that when he wants to communicate with us beyond his limited speech abilities (which is more often than I would like), he can use photos to “tell” us what’s on his mind.

We’ve only had the book for about 3 weeks now, and the most progress in his speech we’ve seen since May has happened in that time.

It’s like having a way to express himself takes the stress of speaking off his mind, so he can relax…which allows him to speak.

There are other little things we’re doing, like no longer saying “can you say _____?” to him. (He literally CAN’T say it, and phrasing it that way could add pressure to an already stressful situation.)

Plus other little things like repeating our words to him more frequently, as in if he comes up to us with a ball, saying “oh, did you get the BALL? You love to play with the BALL! BALLS are fun! Can you kick the BALL?” instead of the usual-for-a-2-year-old “you got the ball! Want to play? Kick it!” We make sure to say the object word as often as we can in that moment.

I hate that this may be his diagnosis. I hate that my sweet Zac potentially has ANOTHER “issue” to add to his collection.

But I feel good about the fact that we are in such good hands, and that we (his therapist and his family) are doing everything we can to be proactive in the face of this.

I’m only sharing this for 3 reasons: one, it was starting to get awkward writing certain things without explaining the potential for CAS. Now I can write more naturally.

Two, in case anyone else out there deals with CAS, I’d love any input!

And three, in case someone else out there is in a similar predicament, so they know they aren’t alone.

For now, we will keep encouraging him the way we’ve been instructed, and we’ll relish the (hopefully) now common sound of “da-da” coming from sweet Zac’s little mouth.


Anyone else dealing with CAS? Is there anything people who suspect CAS but can’t get a diagnosis yet should do that you can think of?

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?