Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Allergy-Friendly Baking Powder Biscuits

After a friend so graciously lent me her Kitchenaid Stand Mixer for several months, I finally got my own for Christmas!  It came with a recipe book and I found a recipe for biscuits that I wanted to try out.  It's funny, though, because the recipe does not call for a stand mixer.  *scratching head*  Oh well, I made some substitutions and my daughter loved them!

I used Bisquick Gluten-Free Baking Mix.  The ingredients are: (though you should check the label, each time, as ingredient formulations change...)
Rice Flour, Sugar, Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), Modified Potato Starch, Salt, Xanthan Gum.
I wrote to them about their "may contain soy" warning, because none of the items listed are soy-related.  This was their response: 

"MAY CONTAIN means that the allergen(s) is not in the product’s recipe but could be present as result of the manufacturing process regardless of our best efforts to exclude it. These allergens will not be included in the ingredient list. Both CONTAINS and MAY CONTAIN mean that if you are sensitive to the specific allergen(s) in the list, no matter which way it is listed, you should avoid this product."
My daughter's not that sensitive to soy and corn, anymore, so she has been doing well with items made from this baking mix. 

Baking Powder Biscuits
Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Wheat-Free

2 c. Bisquick GF Baking Mix
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. Spectrum Organic Butter-Flavor Shortening*
3 T. Spectrum Organic Shortening
Approx. 3/4 c. rice milk**

*The butter flavoring is non-dairy and made from sunflower oil.  Coloring is from annatto, so if avoiding, use all Spectrum Organic Shortening.
**You may use any "safe-for-you" milk.  I ended up using almost a full cup of rice milk...
  1. Preheat over to 450°F.  Grease baking sheet.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in shortenings until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in enough rice milk to make a soft dough.
  3. Turn out only lightly floured (I used a little more GF Bisquick) surface.  Knead dough lightly.  Roll out 1/2-inch thick.  Cut biscuit rounds with a 2-inch cutter.  Place on greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until browned.
I don't have a "biscuit cutter", so I used some of my nested flower-shaped cutters.  They didn't rise very much, but they still had a good biscuit-like consistency.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sōl Sunflower Beverage - More Information

I received the responses to my emails and here is some more information about potential cross-contamination:

According to the "Allergy Sheets", the only allergen contained directly in the product is the "secondary allergen", sunflower seeds.

Under "Contained in Other Products Manufactured on the Same Line" there was a "YES" for the following:
  • Milk (incl. whey, casein, sodium caseinate, lactose)
  • Wheat (incl. wheat gluten)
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Pistachios, Hazelnuts (Filberts), Cashews, Hickory Nuts, Chestnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pine Nuts, and other varieties of tree nuts.)
  • Grains/gluten (incl. barley, oats and rice)
The same items are listed under "Contained in Other Products Manufactured in the Same Plant."

I asked what process they used to prevent cross-contamination and they replied that they use "CIP" processing.  I didn't know what that was, so I looked it up and it refers to "Clean in Place" and I found this interesting article about it.  I inquired further and they replied:
"We use a multi pass/re-circulated system. The caustic water and acid water are reclaimed and the rinse water is not.
And we do test in house on a regular base [sic] for allergens."
The "multi-pass/re-circulated system" was mentioned in the article as having the potential issue of cross-contamination, BUT the article also said other steps can be taken to reduce the risk, and if they are testing for allergens, regularly, then that should further reduce the risk.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Party Puzzle

Today, I took my daughter to a "Cupcake Party" at a friend's house.  I baked her own special cupcakes to take with us.  She loves to go to this particular house, because it has a second floor (we live in a one-story).  She loves to play with her friends there and this time was no exception.  She had a really great time and when it came time for the cupcakes, she ate her special cupcake at a little table and was very happy.  After the cupcake time was over, we had to get ready to leave, because we were going to have lunch at my parents' house.  When we were getting ready to go, I noticed she had one red spot (maybe a hive?) on her face, but didn't think too much of it.  Another one popped up by the time we were leaving.

I got her in the car and she started coughing.  I was getting everything into the car and she was in her car seat and kept coughing and made me nervous with how she sounded, so I gave her 1 tsp of Benadryl.  She has been very insistent, lately, on doing everything herself, so I had to give her the little dosing cup and she sipped it.  She kept coughing, and I would ask her if she was OK and she would say, "yes", and she was happy and talking about the party and otherwise seeming fine.  She couldn't stop coughing, though, and was making me really nervous, so I zoomed home (we were not far from home, thankfully) and I whisked her into the house and gave her a nebulizer/Xopenex treatment, because she had an ever-so-slight wheeze starting.  She even told me, "I feel a little wheeze, Mommy".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who knew eating corn on the cob could be so emotional?

Given how well the new re-introduction of corn and soy has been going, I decided to try out the actual ear of organic corn.  As I said, she has eaten them in the past, but they were removed from the menu when we suspected they were irritating her eczema.  When I told my daughter that I had corn in the cob in the fridge, she started literally jumping up and down, saying, "Ooooh, I'm so EXCITED! That will be GREAT!"  She's a happy girl, but seeing her that happy over corn on the cob almost made me cry.  She ran to the utensil drawer and told me where the corn-cob holders were and asked me to get them ready.  I made her dinner plate and she couldn't even wait for her Daddy to get home.  She grabbed the corn cob and started chomping.  She ate every kernel off that cob!  I noticed she got a little red on her cheeks, but that was caused by the friction from the furious pace at which she was eating that corn.  The redness went away shortly after she was done eating.  After cleaning that cob of every last bite, she ran off to play something in the living room.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Corn and soy, oh boy!

Well, we've been slowly reintroducing corn and soy over these past few months and it looks like they are pretty much back in!  It has been an on-again-off-again process.  We'd add something back to her diet and she'd get a rash, so it would be back out.  This happened several times, but so far this time she has not had a single rash.  She has had corn tortillas, marshmallows, and Ian's chicken nuggets (corn meal) and has not had a reaction.  I even gave her soy yogurt, yesterday and still no reaction.  Her skin is so clear, I really cannot believe it.  She turned 3 in November, so could she be outgrowing some of her allergies?   Do I dare to dream?  She looks, to me, like she had a little growth spurt and I am wondering if her immune system made a developmental leap, as well.  She is still a little itchy, but after I put on her lotions, it subsides and it doesn't result in a rash.  Her fingers are always stubborn about healing, so she still has a few spots and this one small spot comes and goes on her cheek, but that's really "nothing" as far as I'm concerned.  She hasn't played outside in over a week, though, because of the weather (cold and/or rainy), so we'll see how she fares when the weather returns to a suitable state for playing.

I got all excited over this new availability of food options and went to the store and bought her some Crispix (corn on one side and rice on the other) and some Kix (corn).  She likes the Crispix better than the Kix.  I also found Rice Mellow at Whole Foods, today, and I'm pretty excited about that.  I am a little bit apprehensive, because there is soy protein in the Rice Mellow and I don't know why that should give me more pause than the soy yogurt did, but I will have to find a recipe to try it out.  If anyone knows of a good recipe that calls for Rice Mellow (or marshmallow creme), let me know. :) 

I even bought some organic corn on the cob!  She has eaten it in the past, before we suspected it was contributing to her eczema, so she hadn't eaten it in a long time.

Anyway, it looks like corn and soy are back on the menu!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cold urticaria?

When discussing life in Allergy Town, I mentioned foods and even lotions and personal care products, but what I did not mention was the WEATHER!  My daughter developed another mysterious rash last week and, to me, it came out of nowhere.  No new foods were introduced.  She had been eating the same general foods, in her usual rotation.  Then, I remember an article I once read about something called cold urticaria.  We had several days of biting cold weather with chilling winds.  My daughter loves to play outside and even though I thought it was too cold, she got to play outside a little while, one day, and that evening, after bath, I noticed these blotchy hives/rash on the underside of her upper arm and also on her legs.  Since I thought it might have been food-related, I gave her some Benadryl.  She had a restless night, because Benadryl has the opposite effect on her as it does on most other people and it really didn't clear up the rash very well.  It was partially cleared, though, so I backed off on some of her foods (chicken nuggets and Alpha Tots) and she seemed fine, but then that evening, after bath, the same spots were back.  This time I treated them with her topical medications and lots of CeraVe lotion.  It cleared up much better the next morning.  It then occurred to me that the only constant between the two days was that she played outside and it was ridiculously cold outside.  I read up on cold urticaria and decided to keep her indoors and see how that went.  She cleared up by the evening and by the next day her skin looked great!  I decided to add back the foods that were on lock-down and she didn't have any kind of rash/reaction.  Now, before you worry that I kept her locked in her room, away from the world, don't fret!  I took her to the nearby Wildlife Ranch, which you can tour from your car and we went over to my parents' house to visit and play.  She wasn't confined to our house, but I just didn't let her play outside in the harsh cold.  The harsh cold has since subsided, and I took her to Chuck E. Cheese's (she really loves that place!) and her skin is still looking great!  She has been having a little bit of a cough here and there and we've done a couple of Xopenex treatments and I don't know what's causing that, but I'm really amazed at how good her skin is looking.  We took this opportunity to reintroduce her beloved corn tortillas.  We had reintroduced cornstarch and corn syrup, but I was waiting to bring back corn tortillas.  She was so excited to have them, again.  This afternoon, I noticed a couple of small patches of redness on her cheeks, but I believe that is from her fishy mask.  Her legs and the rest of her body are totally clear! 

So, I definitely suspect those few days of cold, but I wonder if my allergist would roll his eyes at me if I suggested that she is allergic to the cold.  The test for it sounds a little uncomfortable, but I might bring up the issue at her next appointment.  We don't get that much severe cold weather here, but I think it's something we'd need to check up on. 

Writing words!

I know the bulk of my time on here is spent dealing with issues relating to my daughter being atopic, but this blog is titled, "Amazing & Atopic", so allow me to discuss something from the category of "amazing".

My daughter amazes me all the time, but here is today's example.  My husband was working on a headband craft with my her and they had a pen to trace her hand print.  She took the pen and said she wanted to write "DADDY" on the headband, so he told her the letters and she wrote them all by herself!  She then asked to spell "BUNNY" and wrote that, too.  She added an extra "u", but, hey, that's still pretty good!  After that, my husband asked her if she wanted to write "cat" and she spelled it out and wrote it down, all by herself, without him telling her the letters!  To me, that is pretty amazing!  She just turned 3 last month and she has been able to write some of her letters for quite a while, now, but I have never seen her write down a word, all on her own.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Non-Dairy Milk on the Block: Sōl Sunflower Beverage!

I just got the newsletter from Kids with Food Allergies, and in their "New Food Finds" section, I saw the new Sōl Sunflower Beverage from Sunrich Naturals.  Now, I am very happy and satisfied with my daughter's Living Harvest Tempt Milk, but I certainly wanted to check this new non-dairy milk out and see how it compares.  I am bummed that Texas isn't on the drop-down list on their "Where to Buy" section, but hopefully, it will be available soon, or perhaps I can get some online. 

Here is the spiel from Sunrich's website:
SōL is a refreshing sunflower beverage made from wholesome sunflower kernels, one of nature’s most potent superfoods. SōL is a delicious, creamy, nutritious beverage that can be enjoyed any time of day. One serving of SōL provides 50% RDA of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that destroys free radicals, protects the heart and brain, and promotes healthy, glowing skin. Dairy free, gluten free SOL is available in three flavors: Original, Vanilla, and Unsweetened.

Key Nutritional Benefits:

SOL Sunflower Beverage is made from sunflower seeds, one of nature’s most potent superfoods. Sunflower seeds are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that help neutralize cancer-causing free radicals and slow down signs of aging. Sunflower seeds are also packed with essential minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and manganese. SOL’s vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fats boost immunity, promote brain and heart health, strengthen bones and teeth, and promote beautiful, younger-looking skin from within.

SOL refreshing sunflower beverage provides an excellent source of Vitamin E, Phosphorus, Folic Acid, Calcium and Vitamin D. Each 8 oz. serving provides 50% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin E, 60% for Phosphorus, 30% for Calcium, 25% for Vitamin D, and 20% for Folic Acid.
I am awaiting a response from the company about any possible soy cross-contamination issues, but aside from that possibility, the product is free of the Top 8 allergens.  It does contain xanthan gum, which might be an issue for some, but so far, it appears to be a very allergy-friendly milk alternative.  I have a feeling that it would work really well for baking!

This is the ingredient list for their Original flavor:
Filtered Water, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Sunflower Kernels, Sunflower Lecithin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Organic Tapioca Starch, Expeller Pressed Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Folic Acid, d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Natural Vitamin E).

The Unsweetened variety has no Organic Evaporated Cane Juice and the Vanilla variety has Vanilla Flavors.

Here's the Nutrition Facts Label: (click on the image to view larger...)

It has 410mg of potassium, which hemp milk does not, but I'm wondering about the high level of Phosphorus.

(I often consult the Office of Dietary Supplements pages by the National Institute of Health, and this is what they have to say about Phosphorus:
Function: Maintenance of pH, storage and transfer of energy and nucleotide synthesis.
Adverse effects of excessive consumption: Metastatic calcification, skeletal porosity, interference with calcium absorption.)

It has a good amount of Folic Acid, which equates to around 40-50% of the daily requirements for a child.  It's high in Vitamin E, similar to almond milk.  It's not very high in protein, but that's not unusual for non-dairy milks, aside from soy milk, which has about 7g per serving. 

As I've said before, I am not a nutritionist or a dietitian, nor am I a health professional by any means, but this is just my cursory review, from what I've gathered.  It looks like a pretty good non-dairy alternative and certainly more nutritious than some of the options that are currently available.  Hopefully, the available of this new product will increase and I'll actually be able to try it out!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Recipe Tweak - Weelicious' Vanilla Wafers

I've been meaning to make these vanilla wafers that I saw on Weelicious, and I finally got around to it, today.  When a recipe calls for "butter", I usually use Earth Balance Soy-Free spread, but it occurred to me that it might be making my daughter just a little bit itchy.  It has pea protein and she has been a little itchy after peas, before, and it also has olive oil, which is unconfirmed and the natural flavor is derived by corn, which is also suspect, from time to time.  Anyway, it dawned on me that I could substitute with my beloved Spectrum Organic shortening, made from 100% palm oil!  So, here is the link to the original Weelicious recipe, and below is my allergy-friendly tweak.

Allergy-Friendly Vanilla Wafers
(makes 48 wafers)
*KAF GF MPF Ingredients: rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, whole grain brown rice flour --Risk of flax seed cross-contamination

(The following is copied from the Weelicious recipe, with the ingredients edited.)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place the first 3 ingredients in a bowl and combine.
3. Place the shortening and sugar in a standing mixer (or bowl using a hand mixer) and cream for 3-4 minutes until the butter is light and fluffy.
4. Add the vanilla extract and egg replacer and mix for another minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
5. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
6. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
7. Roll 1 tsp. of dough into a ball, about 1 inch, and place on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet.
8. Flatten each ball into a disk then bake for 15 minutes.
9. Cool and serve.

I was pretty happy with how well they came out, considering that I merely substituted the GF flour mix for regular flour, without adding any xanthan gum or additional baking soda/powder.  I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but here is one of the wafers before they went in the oven:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Biscuits

I concocted this recipe, today, which is a modification of the biscuit recipe from the Bisquick Gluten-Free Baking Mix box, but with King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour.  I love the way the Bisquick biscuits come out, but I think something in them is making my daughter itchy, so it's on hold for a while.  Here is my attempt at a biscuit recipe.  I think it came out fairly decent. :)

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Biscuits 
(Corn-Free, aside from the xanthan gum)
Makes 6 Biscuits
*KAF GF MPF Ingredients: rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, whole grain brown rice flour --Risk of flax cross-contamination
**The Ener-G customer service representative assured me that all corn is removed from the final product, but those with a severe corn allergy may wish to try guar gum, or another corn-free option.
***I used vanilla hemp milk, because that's all I had on hand and it really did not give it a vanilla flavor, at all.  You should use plain non-dairy milk, of course.
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum and baking powder.
  3. Cut in shortening with a fork, or a pastry blender.  (A pastry blender definitely works best.)  Keep blending it until it's crumbly and you've incorporated as much of the flour as you can.
  4. Prepare the egg replacer in a small bowl, per package directions.
  5. Mix in the applesauce and non-dairy milk.
  6. Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the wet ingredients.  Stir until combined.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, place scoops of batter onto a lined cookie sheet or muffin top pan.
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on cooling rack.