Living Free Expo

What can I say? Another great Living Free Expo in Jacksonville, Fl!

It is always a wonderful time, being able to meet up with friends and colleagues to help spread awareness and knowledge about food allergens. I truly enjoy getting to meet local vendors and see what is happening in and around our community when it comes to food allergens. Being in the restaurant industry, I always try to stay on top of taste and regional trends to help influence how I create my recipes.

At the Living Free Expo, it was great to see the local meal service company Kathy’s Table. They are a meal service company that is dedicated to gluten-free and dairy-free meal plan options that are tailored to your nutritional dietary needs. Drawing upon seasonal influences and fresh produce options, their meal plans offer delicious varieties that cater to your dietary needs.

I always enjoy seeing Your Pie here in Jacksonville, Fl when I come to the expo. They are a pizza shop that truly goes out of their way for patrons with allergies. They even have a separate room where they will prepare your pizza for you to ensure no cross contamination with gluten on your pizza. If you are ever in the Jacksonville, Fl area, you must give them a try!

A wonderful edition to the expo this year was Glutenberg Beer. In 2012, Glutenberg won all three medals in the “Gluten-Free Beer” category in the World Beer Cup. It offers quite a variety of options for beer lovers that just don’t love the gluten. I must say, after sampling these, I have been inspired to create some dishes I thought I would never eat again. Glutenberg you have given me back some flavor in my food.

M.Y.O. Cookies is a wonderful home-based bakery that truly showcases a passion for baking. Whether you choose to purchase pre-made or containers or dough to make your own at home, you are sure to find some amazing flavors to keep you wanting more. They offer Gluten-Free and Vegan options, as well as can work with your specific needs. M.Y.O. Cookies is definitely a company after my own heart.

With the belief that you should not have decide whether you want to eat something that is healthy or something that tastes good, Smart Baking Company created a line of products to accomplish just that. While these products are Gluten-Free, they are not Dairy-Free, so I could not try them. However, my son Alex loved them. He has sensory issues and it was great to hear that they tasted and felt just like a regular muffin to him. So to me, that means that it was not gritty, or chewy, or sandy, like some Gluten-Free products can tend to be. All in all, I would say if you can, give them a try.

Meal-kit and meal delivery services are becoming very popular these days. Hello Fresh is one of the leading services and they also have Green Chef that has a meal plan line for Gluten-Free.

Always a wonderful and welcome sight is the Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet. Creating a line of products that are free from Gluten, Grain, Soy, and Dairy, these are definitely treats you indulge on. The passion she has to inspire and teach others what she learned on her journey is wonderful and I love every time I get to meet back up with her.

A mom who worked to hone her skills in making sweets for her sons with food allergies, began to get rave reviews. At the encouragement of friends and family, she decided to start a business and Dolci de maria was born. Offering delicious treats and mixes, there is sure to be something for everyone. My personal favorite…. you take the blondie… heat it up for a moment.. add a scoop of dairy-free ice cream…..mmmmmmmm.. try it!!

Traveling with allergies can be a very scary thing. Especially if you are going to a country that speaks a language that you do not. Language barriers and communication barriers can cause very dangerous situations when it comes to food. In the Latin speaking countries, there are several words that are just an accent away from being a very different word. A simple pronunciation can change a word and can cause you to be put in harms way. Enter in Allergic Traveler International Dietary Alert Cards. You take the guessing out, the pronunciation errors out, the communication barriers out, and you put back in piece of mind. These cards are essential also for parents of kids that are non-verbal with conditions such as autism. These tools can be the difference that can potentially save a life. I urge and encourage everyone to reach out to this wonderful company and get a set of cards today.

I love learning and growing each time I meet with these wonderful vendors. Having such a passion for educating the community and growing with each other to develop new products, better procedures, and so much more. I cannot wait for the next one!

Hope to see you too!!

The 21st Annual Family Cafe

In just under 2 weeks, thousands of families from around the State of Florida will travel to Orlando, Fl to attend the 21st Annual Family Cafe & Governor’s Summit on Disabilities from June 7-9, 2019. This conference brings together Florida residents with varying disabilities and allows them the chance to gather information, network, have fun, and most importantly, not feel alone. The Cafe is an amazing opportunity for families to network with other people who are going through similar similar experiences. To share from their own triumphs and not so triumphant moments and motivate. The Cafe is packed full of special events including specialty entertainment, adaptive recreational activities for kids, sensory rooms, keynote speakers, exhibitors, free medical and dental screenings, breakout information sessions, and much more.

I was honored to be asked to speak this year at the Cafe and discuss “Navigating the World of Gluten-Free and Sensory Diets” and what they mean to us. I am humbled beyond compare and cannot wait to share my knowledge and passion with everyone. I will be posting my slideshow from my presentation right here on my blog after the conference. Here is to the future and helping make the world Delicious, Nutritious, & Allergen Free!

Calming Lavender Tea Lemon Cookies

Call me old school, but I adore the flavors of Lavender Tea and Lemon. There is something very calming and refreshing about the combination that just takes me away from the stress of the day. Lavender is believed to have multiple health benefits including its natural stress relieving ability, antiseptic properties, anti-inflammatory properties, reducing hair loss, reducing anxiety and depression, aiding digestive problems, and even effects for treating premenstrual symptoms.

This recipe was created with a breezy afternoon in mind. Imagine sitting on a porch swing, sipping some tea, eating some lovely Calming Lavender Tea Lemon Cookies. (eyes closed, picturing swinging in a hammock in the breezebirds chirping in the distance… smells of jasmine permeate the air)

Alright… now that you have the setting… let’s gather some ingredients.

Calming Lavender Tea Lemon Cookies

  • 2 tsp Lavender (Food Grade, dried)
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • 1 cup Vegan Butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Notes:

  • You can experiment with shapes and do whichever is easier for you.
  • If you want to, you can also add jam and make these cookies styled like a linzer cookie

Are you ready to get our de-stress on? Let’s get started!

1)Preheat the oven to 375F. Gather together the Vegan Butter and Powdered Sugar.

2) Place them into a mixer and blend until light and fluffy. This will take several minutes.

3) Gather together the Lemon Zest, Lavender, and Salt and place into the mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined.

4) Gather up the Gluten-Free Flour. Place into mixing bowl and mix only until combined. Make sure that you scrape the bowl sides down in order to get all the ingredients well incorporated.

5) SLICE & BAKE OPTION: Remove dough from bowl and form into a log. (This can be any shape you would like) Cut into 1/4″-1/2″ thick slices and place onto a cookie sheet.

6) ROLL & CUT OPTION: Remove dough from bowl and roll out into 1/4″ thick. Cut with a cookie cutter into desired shape and place onto cookie sheet.

7) FILLED OPTION: Cut a second cookie the same shape per cookie. Cut an inset out of middle that will make an opening in the cookie for the filling to go into. Place the top cookie carefully on top of the base cookie on the preset cookie sheet.

8) If desired, you can place preserves or filling on top of the log cookies or in the filling portion of the cookies. Make sure to leave a rim around the edge of the cookie so that way it does not spill over the edge of the cookie.

9) Bake in a preheated 375F for 13-15 minutes or until the edges are light and golden brown. Allow to cool completely!

10) Pour yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back on the porch, relax, and Enjoy!

Living Free Expo Jacksonville Florida

Are you someone or do you have someone in your life that is touched with food allergies? Have you ever wanted to sample different allergen friendly snacks to see how are before you buy them? Have you ever wanted to get more information, advice, and tips on living with food allergies? Well then listen up! I have some news…

The Living Free Expo will be arriving in Jacksonville, Florida on May 18th, and you will not want to miss this. This will be an amazing show full of information, samples, and so much more. Make plans to be there!!! I know my family will be there and I hope to see you all there too! #LivingFreeExpo

Sensibly Decadent Macaroni & Cheese

Let’s be honest. When it comes to comfort foods, macaroni & cheese is at the top of a lot of people’s list. The cheesy, savory dish is a staple item for kids and adults alike. There is something super comforting about warm cheesy pasta goodness when you are really wanting to just feel at home. For the longest time, macaroni & cheese was one of the only items that my son would eat. As time went on, I tried to make versions of mac & cheese that was more nutritious than just your typical boxed variety. This would help me to know that he was getting some important nutrition and helping not cause a complete sensory overload.

When I had to make the move to gluten and dairy free, I was ultimately not prepared to give up my mac & cheese. Well after almost a year of sulking and wishing I could have macaroni & cheese that would not put me in the hospital, I finally decided to just suck it up and figure it out. So my mission was on to create a macaroni & cheese that not only I could eat, but my family would go gagga for. This recipe is not only designed for those people who must adhere to the Color Me Sensible Diet lifestyle, but will also be a great resource for sensory diets. Well, let’s get some ingredients…

Sensibly Decadent Macaroni & Cheese

  • 2 tbsp Gluten-Free Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups Almond Milk
  • 2 cups Shredded Non-Dairy Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz Gluten-Free Elbow Pasta (cooked and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup Roasted Butternut Squash

Notes:

  • You may Choose any shape pasta you want, or even a different type of gluten-free pasta like a lentil pasta to change it up
  • Almond Milk can be substituted with another dairy alternative as desired
  • While this recipe I used Cheddar style Cheese, there are so many possibilities!! Use Swiss-Style, Cheddar Jack-Style, or any variety you choose. Imagine the possibilities!
  • If you want to make this an even more amazing side dish you can add some mix-ins that will help create an amazing profile. Some ideas include: diced ham, broccoli, diced kielbasa, cubed chicken, and so much more!

Now that you have your creative juices going… Let’s get started!

1)Gather together the Ground Mustard, Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Salt, and Cornstarch.

2) In a medium saucepan, combine the Ground Mustard, Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Salt, and Cornstarch. Mix together well.

3) Slowly stir in the Almond Milk and whisk until smooth.

4) Turn the heat onto medium and heat mixture until boiling. Make sure you whisk the mixture to prevent scorching on the bottom. Keep on heat and mix until thickened.

5) Gather up the Butternut Squash and whisk into the milk mixture. Make sure to stir completely.

6) Remove the mixture from the heat. Gather up the shredded cheese and mix into the milk mixture. Whisk together until the cheese is melted completely.

7) Prepare the Gluten-Free Pasta per package directions.

8) In a large saucepan, place the cooked Gluten-Free Pasta into it. Pour the cheese mixture into the pot with the pasta in it. Stir completely in order to make sure the mixture is evenly mixed.

9) Enjoy!

Friendly Meat Hand Pies

Alright, so I admit it. Not everyone has heard of a meat hand pie. However, maybe they have heard of an empanada, beef pattie, meat pastelito, or something similar to that. Meat hand pies are in a sense a small pie that is handheld and full of meat goodness. Seems easy, right?

If there is one thing that I love about a good hand pie, it is the amazing versatility. You can put almost anything as a flavor profile for a hand pie that you would like. Truly the possibilities are endless. I have put together a simple recipe that is allergen-friendly for you to try. I encourage you to take your favorite flavor profiles and really mix it up. Let’s gather up some ingredients.

Friendly Meat Hand Pies

  • 3 cups Gluten-Free Flour (you may not need all 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 2 tbsp Vegan Butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 1/4 cup Warm Water
  • 1/2 almond milk, warmed
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 pound Ground Lean Beef
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 small Onion
  • 1 Celery Stalk
  • 5 small Portabello Mushrooms
  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic

Notes:

  • These ingredients are just a suggestion for flavor. Here are some alternative flavor profile suggestions to try: BBQ Pork, Spicy Sausage, Italian Hero, Reuben, Shepherd’s Pie, Supreme Taco
  • Depending on what your filling is, you can use a variety of sauces or gravies to add an even more intense flavor profile.
  • Made ahead, these hand pies can freeze well so you can have an easy snack or reheat meal
  • The filling makes more than needed for the dough recipe, take the extra filling and freeze for next time you make some hand pies. 🙂

So, now that you have your creative juices flowing, Let’s get started!

  1. Gather up the Warm Water and Rolled Oats. Place into a bowl and mix together to coat the oats. Let soak for 5 minutes.

2) Gather up the Honey, Almond Milk, Salt, Instant Yeast, and Vegan Butter. Melt the Vegan Butter.

3) Add the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the rolled oats. Mix well.

4) Add the Egg into the bowl mixture. Make sure to mix completely.

5) Add the Gluten-Free Flour 1 cup at a time. Be sure to only add enough Flour until the mixture forms a soft dough. (It may not take all 3 cups. I use King Arthur Measure for Measure and normally only need 2 to 2 1/2 cups)

6) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead together and roll into a ball.

7) Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm area to rise. The dough needs to rise to almost double its size. (Tip:If your house is cold, you can turn on the oven to the lowest temp possible and place inside for a little bit) This process can take up to 1 hour.

8) Gather up the Green Bell Pepper, Carrot, Mushrooms, Celery, and Onion. Grate the carrot up and finely dice the rest of the veggies.

9) Heat up some olive oil in a saute pan.

10) Place the Ground Turkey and Ground Beef into the sauce pan. Cook completely.

11) Once the meat mixture is completely cooked, add the Diced Veggies and Minced Garlic. Saute until the veggies begin to soften.

12) Add the Coconut Curry Seasoning to the pan and mix completely. Cook until the veggies are to the desired tenderness. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

13) Lightly dust a surface with Gluten-Free Flour.

14) Roll out the dough to about a 1/4″ thickness. Cut the dough up into squares that are the desired portion size.

15) Place the portion pieces on a greased cookie sheet.

16) To one corner of the piece, add a small amount of filling on top.

17) Gently fold over the dough to form a pocket.

18) Using a fork, gently press down the edges to crimp and seal the edges shut. Make sure to poke holes in the top as well to allow for proper venting. Place the pockets on a sheet pan about an 1″ apart. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and fully cooked.

19) Once they are finished cooking, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

20) Serve up a side dish and Enjoy!


Easy Sensible Carrot Cake

If you were to ask me what my favorite cake memories involved growing up, I would have to say without a doubt carrot cake. My mom absolutely loved carrot cake and everything that came with it. I remember her treating herself every once in awhile to a carrot cake bar or getting a small carrot cake for dessert. Thinking about it, what is not to love about carrot cake? It has fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, dairy, and amazing flavor. But, is there a way to make a version of carrot cake easily accessible for people with allergens? You better believe it!

First, we got to gather up some supplies.

Easy Sensible Carrot Cake

  • 1 box King Arthur Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2/3 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups Shredded Carrot
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch Ground Cloves
  • Frosting: Pamela’s Gluten-Free Vanilla Frosting
  • 4 oz Kite Hill Almond Milk Cream Cheese
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

Notes:

  • You can also add these optional ingredients to enhance the flavor of your cake: 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or chopped walnuts
  • Feel free to finish off this cake with a Cream Cheese Icing. I have included the Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Gluten-Free Version that I used.
  • This mix can be made into a sheet cake, round cake, or even muffins. The options are limited only to your imagination.
  • Although I used King Arthur Gluten-Free Cake Mix, you can use whatever brand you prefer. Just understand the results may be different.

Alright, now that we have everything together. Let’s get started!

1)Prepare the Yellow Cake Mix per the manufacturers directions on the box.

2) Finely grate the carrots. (I like to use a microplane to zest and grate vegetables, it is my favorite kitchen tool)

3) Gather together the Grated Carrots, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, and Ground Cloves. Add these ingredients to the prepared cake mix.

4) Mix together until well combined.

5) Pour the cake mix into prepared cake pans.

6) Bake at 350F until lightly browned and completely baked in the middle. The cake will bounce back or a toothpick will come out clean when done. Bake times will vary due to the difference in sizing of pans.

7) Once the cake is completely baked, allow to cool completely. Once cooled completely, you can overturn one layer onto a large plate to make a layered cake.

8) Now it is time to make the frosting. I used Pamela’s Gluten-Free Vanilla Frosting and adapted the recipe.

9) Prepare the frosting per the manufacturers directions.

10) Add the Cream Cheese and Powdered Sugar and Blend Well.

11) Spread some of the icing on the one layer evenly. Turn out the second layer on top of the first layer. Now spread more icing over the cake and completely cover the cake as desired. (You can decorate the cake however you would like at this point)

12) Now just sit back and Enjoy!

Sensible Fudge & Sauce

What is an ice cream sundae without incredible fudge sauce? Well, I just am not sure. One of my most favorite desserts of all time, is make-your-own ice cream sundaes. The best sundaes include something crunchy, hot fudge sauce, and whipped cream. How can someone on a Color Me Sensible diet enjoy such a delicacy you ask? Well with just a few ingredients, I will tell you how. This is not just any old Fudge sauce recipe. This recipe can be used for regular fudge and sauce! It’s a double agent! Let’s gather up our stuff!

Sensible Fudge & Sauce

  • 11.25 oz Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 2 pinches of Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil

Notes:

  • You can switch up the type of chocolate chip if you want a different flavor
  • I use Enjoy Life mini semi-sweet chocolate chips as they are free from the top 13 allergens.
  • If using this recipe just for fudge, feel free to top off the mixture with sprinkles or other goodies like cookie pieces.

Alright… so I don’t know about you guys, but I am ready to get my sundae on! So let’s get started!

1)On the stove top, set up a double boiler. this involves a pot with some water in it and a bowl that will fit on top of the pot. Turn the heat on medium and allow the water to simmer.

2) Bring together the Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, Dark Chocolate Chips, Coconut Oil, and Himalayan Salt.

3) Place the ingredients into the bowl on the double boiler.

4) Stir the mixture continuously until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

5) Pour into a prepared baking pan and allow to cool at room temp.

6) Cut up into bite size pieces and store in the refrigerator.

7) Alternatively: You can take a couple pieces and heat them in a microwave safe container until melted. Pour onto your favorite ice cream.

8) Enjoy!




Merry Christmas!

When I look back upon some of my favorite childhood memories, they involve the holiday season and spending time with my family. Our house was always bustling with the Christmas spirit and full of delicious food. Ever since I can remember, I always tried to help my mom in the kitchen while she prepared our holiday meal. Growing up I took note of everything she did when she was making things. My mom always had a couple of special touches that made everything she made even better. Since my mom’s passing 4 years ago, I am eternally grateful of the time I spent with her in the kitchen. Now I can pass on all her secrets to my children, and they can help carry on her legacy.

I have to admit this holiday was hard on me. Trying to take my mom’s special recipes and turn them Color Me Sensible friendly was definitely a task to accomplish. I am happy to say that with help from my dad and children, I am sure we made my mom proud. Although it took forever to accomplish, even Santa was able to gift me my own hot chocolate I could actually drink. I want to take this time to extend a very Merry Christmas to you all! I hope that you enjoyed the holiday and created special memories with friends, family, and loved ones.