Tag Archives: food allergies

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies and Dairy Free Chocolate Hearts

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies made with Doodles Cookie Mix

Happy Valentine’s Day my beloved readers!  I am late in posting because we have had a very sick household. Thankfully, all 5 of us are finally healthy just in time for me to bake up some sweet treats to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the one year anniversary of my blog.  That’s right friends, Gluten-Free Joy has turned one today.

To celebrate, I baked some gluten-free sugar cookies sent to me by Deborah at Doodle’s Cookies.  I have been anxiously waiting to try this mix and it was quick and easy to make, just what I look for being a busy mom.  These all natural, organic, gluten-free cookies turned out nicely and the kids liked them.  The gluten-free sugar cookies were sturdy, not crumbly and were easy to decorate. You can choose your own flavoring by adding vanilla, lemon or almond extract.  We used vanilla and I think next time I will add more than the suggested 1/2 teaspoon to get a bit more flavor.  I froze a few for the gluten-free kid (GFK) to take to upcoming school functions and I think they will be great thawed out.  I would definitely buy this easy mix to keep on hand if Doodles was available in Colorado stores.  Are you listening Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage and Sunflower Market?  Doodles also offers gluten-free chocolate chip, gluten-free double chocolate chip habanero and gluten-free nut butter.  I can’t wait to use Sunbutter and try the nut butter cookie mix.  The company is also developing organic and gluten-free cake mixes so be on the lookout for those.  For now, you can visit Doodles here and order them online for $6.50 each.

Dairy Free Chocolate Valentine's Day Hearts

To celebrate love day, we also melted up some Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate and made some nut free and dairy free chocolate hearts.  If you or your loved ones are dairy free and gluten-free, you know it can be difficult to find holiday treats to celebrate with.  So, we made our own.  They turned out cute but were a bit chalky.  Overall, they satisfied the GFK to feel like he had some real Valentine’s Day candy.  I really wish I could find some dairy free white chocolate.  We could really have some fun with that.  If you know of any, please let me know.

Thank you for your support during my first year of gluten-free blogging.  I hope I have been able to help some of you out there with fun ideas, recipes or just knowing you aren’t alone on this food allergy or gluten-free journey.  Please let me know if there are other topics you would like to know about and I hope you continue to stop by to visit me on my beloved gluten-free joy blog.  Happy Valentine’s Day!


Gluten-Free Comfort Food: Blueberry Muffins

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

I had high hopes for 2010 and I have to admit that so far my family hasn’t been off to a great start.  After having a severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic that landed me in bed for almost 7 days with big purple hives from head to toe, my sweet 7 year-old daughter is now in bed with a sore throat.  Let’s hope that her sore throat doesn’t make its rounds through all five of us and that we can be back on our feet this week.

So with one sicky and one on the mend, we woke up craving some comfort food this morning.  I went with Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins made from my favorite mix:  Gluten-Free Pantry Muffin and Scone Mix.  Easy, tasty, warm from the oven and these purple treats satisfied all five of us.

If you want to give these a try, follow the muffin instructions on the back of the box, using rice milk and vegan margarine for a dairy free version and throw in some blueberries before baking as directed.  What is your favorite thing to make with Gluten-Free Pantry’s mixes?

Green Eggs and Ham Day for Food Allergic Kids

Jello Green Eggs

Today is Green Eggs and Ham day at my son’s pre-school.  The kids have been studying rhyming and reading Dr. Suess’ beloved book with the same title.  To finish off the unit, they will be eating brunch for lunch today and actual green scrambled eggs and ham will be served.

To most parents, this sounds like a fun adventure but to those of you who have a food allergic child, this sounds like a disaster!  Six years ago, when my oldest was in this same pre-school class I came up with a fun alternative to green eggs and ham that turned out to be quite a hit!  Green Jello eggs was my answer.  So, this morning I whipped up another batch of safe green Jello eggs and sent my youngest off to enjoy the celebration.

If you have a food allergic child or just want a fun way to talk about Green Eggs and Ham, I suggest you give these a try!

Starbucks Tries Gluten-Free Again

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 my local Starbucks store will be one of many that will be offering a line of new snack options with 220 calories or less per serving.  Out of the list of 9 snacks, 8 of them appear to be gluten-free and allergen friendly!  After the Gluten-Free Orange Valencia Cake came and went, I am very happy with Starbucks for trying gluten-free again.  I am thrilled to be able to grab something for my GFK while I am fulfilling my weekly caffeine requirements.  All of these snacks are pre-packaged and labeled with ingredient lists so there is less chance for cross contamination issues but beware many contain nuts!  Starbucks has given us lots of gluten-free variety and they are all affordable. Check out the list below!  Let me know if you think Starbucks has finally gotten it right for the gluten-free and food allergic community.

Lucy’s Cookies – the one I am most excited to try!

Lucy’s cookies were created for a child who has to be careful about what he eats by a mom who’s a doctor and thinks everyone deserves something good to snack on. These delicious cookies are baked without wheat, gluten, dairy milk, butter, eggs, casein, peanuts or tree nuts. Available in Chocolate Chip, Sugar and Cinnamon, each variety has just 120-130 calories per serving.  Priced at $1.50 U.S. for Grab & Go Packs and $5.95 for a box you can share with friends and family.

Peeled Snacks

When one woman invented yummy Peeled Snacks, she gave us permission to enjoy snacking again.  Peeled Snacks use real fruit, bursting with flavor, to make a wholesome treat. With a full serving of fruit and just 130 calories or less per single-serving bag, they’ll give you a nourishing boost that won’t weigh you down.  Available in organic much-ado-about-Mango, Apple-2-the-core, and all-natural Cherry-go-round varieties.  Priced at $2.00 U.S.

Peter Rabbit Organics
Peter Rabbit Organics Fruit Pouches show kids, and parents too, that real fruit can be fun and delicious. Available in the Apple & Grape and Mango, Banana and Orange varieties, each pouch has 80-85 calories per pouch. Priced at $1.95 U.S.

Sahale Snacks®
After two friends hiking up Mt. Rainier found themselves craving a more satisfying snack, they decided to create these gourmet nuts.  Sahale Snacks uses whole ingredients in their natural form — such as cashews, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, and peanuts — and combines them with dried fruits, then adds fabulous ingredients like organic orange blossom honey, lemongrass, or pure ground Madagascar vanilla beans. Available in Pomegranate Cashew, Soledad Nut Blend, and Barbeque Almonds, a blend created exclusively for Starbucks, each 2 oz. serving has just 140-150 calories. Priced at $2.50 U.S.

Stretch Island Fruit Company
Created by a family determined to make life sweeter for all of us, Stretch Island Fruit Company Original Fruit Leathers are real fruit, plain and simple.  Every original Fruit Leather is equal to half a serving of fruit and has just 45 calories. Available at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada in the Harvest Grape, Autumn Apple and Summer Strawberry varieties. Priced at $0.75 U.S.

Two Moms in the Raw
We hope you’re as inspired as we are by the journey one woman made when she (and some other moms) created these granolas. The granola mixes from Two Moms in the Raw are made to be 100% delicious. Available at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada in two gluten-free varieties, Blueberry and Gojiberry, each of which is just 220 calories per serving. Priced at $3.95 U.S.

We love the philosophy behind these distinctive chips: food tastes best when it’s made with quality ingredients and thoughtful preparation. Available in Multigrain, a distinctively nutty flavored chip made with flax, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, and Sweet Potato, lightly sweetened with cane sugar to enhance the natural nuttiness of a sweet potato in a chip.  Both varieties are 210 calories per 1.5 oz. serving size and provide 5g of fiber. Priced at $1.50 U.S.
These bars with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce are the perfect grab-and-go snack, and just 170-190 calories.  The bars are free of gluten, dairy and wheat. Available at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada in Mango Macadamia, Almond Cashew, Fruit & Nut Delight, and Cranberry & Almond.  Priced at $1.95 U.S.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Houses

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Houses using GF Rice Crispy Cereal

I love traditions and the Christmas season is loaded with them for my family.  One of my favorites is building Gingerbread Houses with my kids and my sister’s family every Christmas Eve.

Since the Gluten-Free Kid (GFK) is the oldest grandchild on both sides of our family, Gingerbread Night started with him 9 years ago.  At that time, he had been diagnosed with food allergies to dairy, egg, peanut, soy and other foods so we were able to build our houses using graham crackers, frosting and safe candy.  That went well until he was diagnosed with Celiac in 2004.

I remember worrying we would have a difficult time coming up with a gluten-free replacement for the graham crackers.  After years of trial and error with various gluten-free cookies and crackers, my sister came up with the idea to make our houses out of Rice Krispy Treats, gluten-free, of course.  Let me tell you these houses are better than the old ones!  I make two trays of gluten-free Rice Krispy Treats using Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal and cut them up and assemble the houses for my three kids using Pillsbury dairy-free frosting.  Sometimes, I add red and green food coloring or use Fruity Pebbles instead of plain gluten-free Rice Krispies.  When we are ready to decorate the houses, I put out a selection of gluten-free, dairy free and nut free candies and frosting and the kids go to town!  It is such a fun and JOYful tradition and it shows you that almost all things are possible, gluten-free or food allergies and all.  Please share your favorite holiday traditions and how you have adapted them to be gluten-free or food allergy friendly below.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread House


1/4 cup Smart Balance non-dairy butter

5 cups Kraft marshmallows

13 oz. Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Gluten-Free Cereal

Pillsbury Frosting, dairy free

Safe Candies


1.  Melt butter in pan over low heat, add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in cereal.  Mix well.  Lay mixture out on greased flat baking sheet.  Cool.

2.  Cut mixture into rectangles and other shapes to form a gingerbread house.  Glue walls of house together using frosting.  Let dry.

3.  Decorate with safe candies using frosting as the glue.  Be sure to take a photo of the complete project to enjoy for years to come.

Renowned Pediatric Allergist Speaks to Parents of Allergic Children


Dr. Atkins from National Jewish Health in Denver

Dr. Dan Atkins is a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health here in Denver.  He is very well known and has quite a following with parents of food allergic kiddos.  He was kind enough to come to a MOSAIC (Mother’s of Severely Allergic Infants and Children) support group meeting this week to speak with parents.  Dr. Atkins blows me away every time I meet with him.  He has a great bedside manner with the kids and is amazingly smart.  Being a father himself, I trust that he is giving me advice that he would take if it was his child who was ill.  He has so much knowledge and I appreciate having him on our side!

Below are some rough notes I took from our meeting with Dr. Atkins that I hope you will find helpful.  Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and did the best I could at taking notes on this fascinating talk.  If you find any glaring errors, please let me know and I will do my best to correct it.

Food Allergies with Dr. Dan Atkins

November 2, 2009

What is a Food Allergy?

Patients can have an adverse reaction to food or a toxic reaction to food.

Food aversions

  • Food allergic – oral symptoms.  Mouth tingle, burn, metallic taste
  • Esophagitis – Reflux.  Esophagus gets stretched out and it hurts.  These kids only want to eat soft foods
  • Poor swallow – these kids aspirate.  They cough, choke when eat.
  • Oral tactile – Don’t like soft, mushy foods, have problems with texture.
  • Behavioral – have certain food preferences, don’t like green foods, etc…

Food Intolerance – Immune system plays NO role.

Metabolic intolerance – lactose intolerant

Pharmacologic – Coffee keeps you awake at night so you don’t want to drink it.

Idiosyncratic – react to dyes

IgE  and Non-IgE Reactions

Food Allergy – Immune system DOES play a role.

  • IgE response
  • Non IgE response
  • Both IgE and non-IgE response

IgE Response

  • Hives
  • Vomit
  • Breathing

Non IgE Response – Celiac

  • Gastro problems
  • Skin system


  • IgE – react in minutes, hours
  • Non-IgE – reaction can take hours or days

If it’s IgE – Skin test can detect it.

If it’s not IgE – Skin test will be negative.

We all have IgE antibodies in our bodies but food allergic individuals make more IgE than non-food allergic people.  Cells tell body that an intruder is in the system and the body attacks by releasing histamines first.  Leukotrienes get released over hours.

Our mass cells contain histamines and IgE triggers them to go off when an intruder is in the body.  Mass cells have receptors and IgE sticks.

Blood test results on food allergic kids:

What does it mean when Cap Rast numbers go up? Our numbers are classified by classes 1-6, 1 being the lowest likelihood a child will react to that food.  A class 6 is a higher likelihood that a child will react to that food.  This does not tell us how severe the reaction will be, only likelihood of a reaction to that food.

Food Allergy Treatments

When reacting to food:

Does Benadryl work?  Benadryl won’t kick in for an hour.  It can help with skin itching and mouth tingles.  So, we often think Benadryl is working and making food allergic child better but it may be simply because the reaction has run its course.

Epinephrine works the quickest.  Blood pressure level peak time is 8 minutes.  Epinephrine works to decrease muscle spasms and multiple levels of reactions.  Epi-pen injection can not hurt someone reacting!  If in doubt, give it.

3 things that lead to death in food allergic situation:

1.     Asphyxiation

2.     Asthma death

3.     Blood pressure drop – 50% of pressure drops in 10 minutes.

If you wait too long to give epi-pen, epinephrine won’t enter system fast enough.  Don’t let blood pressure drop too far or it won’t work.  Need to act swiftly.

Possible Food Allergy Treatments

Oral Immunotherapy – give small doses of allergic food under doctor’s care.

Sublingual Immunotherapy – drops of food under the tongue.  Either put drops in for a timed period and spit out or put drops in and swallow.

We need to learn more about both methods.

Food Allergy Theories

Do genetically modified foods cause more food allergies?  We can insert things into foods quicker now than we could before.  A worry is that we can now take an allergen (brazil nut) and put it into a food.  People can react to it not knowing that an allergen has been added to the food.  Can choose to avoid GMO foods but some argue we need GMO foods to feed our large population.  Not enough space/land to grow enough food to feed everybody.

Do antibiotics/hygene theory contribute to food allergies?  If give anti-biotics to kids, it changes gut.  These changes in bacteria can make a difference.

Watch out for pro-biotics.  Not all pro-biotics are of the same strain.  We need to watch this area still.

A C-section can increase chance for food allergic child if already predisposed.  When baby travels through Mom’s birth canal, it gets her bacteria and that is healthy.

LEAP Study – Learning Early About Peanut Allergy.  A clinical trial being done by Gideon Lack to determine if eating peanuts during infancy makes the immune system tolerant or sensitive to peanuts consumed later on.  Does one approach work better than the other in preventing peanut allergy in children?  Won’t see results for a few years.

Food allergic kids don’t get flu worse than other kids.

How to treat kids that do get the flu:

Keep fluids in them

Monitor fever

If child has asthma, begin asthma treatments

If child is not responding to asthma medications, go to emergency room.

Gluten-Free 7 Whole Grain Hot Cereal



Eco-Planet Gluten-Free 7 Whole Grain Hot Cereal

Hot, steaming oatmeal.  I grew up eating the tasty stuff with brown sugar most mornings.  I have wonderful childhood memories about oatmeal.  Then I had my own children and got them hooked too.  I loved how healthy and filling and yummy this breakfast was.  Until the Celiac diagnosis for my Gluten-Free Kid (GFK) back in 2004.  We cut oatmeal out of our diets and tried to replace it with hot rice cereal, hot millet cereal and even amaranth. We also tried the gluten-free versions of safe oatmeal but it just wasn’t quite the same.

Well, that changed this week.  Our newest find is Eco-Planet’s Gluten-Free 7 Whole Grain Hot Cereal.  We tried the instant maple and brown sugar flavor with some warm rice milk to keep it dairy free.  Heavenly!  This cereal is packed with grains:  mostly whole gluten-free oats but it also has buckwheat, sorghum, brown rice, puffed amaranth, quinoa and millet.  It has 5 grams of protein per serving and 500 mg of Omega-3s and uses evaporated cane juice to naturally sweeten things up.  Eco-Planet also offers original and apples and cinnamon versions that we are eagerly anticipating.  Enjoy a bowl today!