October 21, 2014

Chicken & Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo {dairy & gluten free}

Creamy, delicious Alfredo sauce epitomizes comfort food for me. Since Mason's dairy-allergy diagnosis, I have only made Alfredo a handful of times, typically making a separate, dairy-free meal for him. Over the years, I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with cooking with milk products due to cross-contamination issues that can easily happen in the kitchen. Whenever I have used milk, cheese or other dairy in cooking, my anxiety skyrockets.

Food-allergy families have differing opinions when it comes to allowing allergens in their home. Some keep their homes completely allergen-free with the philosophy that home should always be a "safe-haven" of sorts. Others believe that allowing allergens in their home, with careful planning and separation of course, can help children learn how to avoid their allergens in a safe place - a learning environment of sorts.

I, for one, agree with both camps. We have always diligently labeled any allergen-containing food items, stored anything that may contain milk in a separate area, and taught Mason that even if he recognizes a package as a "safe food," that he must always ask Mom or Dad to confirm that something is safe before eating it. I truly believe this has helped him to really take his allergy seriously and learn how to navigate his environment independently.

However, there is a certain anxiety that happens as mom to a child who has experienced anaphylaxis due to contact exposure to his allergen (meaning he has had severe reaction to skin contact, not just consumption of milk). Every morning when dropping Mason off at daycare, I would question what I had eaten or drank before giving him a kiss. When cooking meals or packing lunches, I would wash my hands no less than eight to ten times in a 30-minute span.

As much as this may sound like good hygiene habits, it is a truly nerve-wracking experience. Several months ago, I also decided to cut out dairy to see if it helped with continuing health issues of my own. After noticing a significant improvements as well as the ease of my anxiety, I chalked another one up to the dairy-free kitchen idea.

Lastly, there are SO many occasions where Mason is excluded from partaking in the same meals, snacks, desserts, etc. as the rest of his friends and even family. This is a common issue with food allergies, and one we all have to deal with. As much as we try to advocate for inclusion in schools, kids with food allergies are always left out of something. We bring a safe cupcake to friends' birthday parties so that our kids can safely eat something similar to their friends...but it is still different. More than anything, I want Mason to have a place where he feels as though he fits in and can have the same thing as everyone else.

I have always found ways to adapt my recipes and provide a dairy-free version for Mason and a gluten-free version for myself. I have now successfully created an Alfredo sauce that meets both of our needs. With added spinach and chicken, served atop gluten-free pasta, this is hands-down one of the best comfort foods I have ever had.

#dairyfree #glutenfree #sodelicious #coconutmilk

My friends as So Delicious Dairy Free have truly made an amazing ingredient in their Culinary Coconut Milk. Don't be afraid...this sauce does not taste like coconut at all. It is creamy with lots of delicious "cheesy" flavor. This sauce would be perfect poured over steamed broccoli too. Look how thick and creamy it looks!

#dairyfree #glutenfree #alfredo #sauce

Chicken & Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo {dairy & gluten free}

2 chicken breasts
salt & pepper
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup spinach, thinly chopped
2 Tbsp powdered chicken soup base
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 package gluten-free fettuccine noodles, cooked according to package instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt & pepper. Place chicken on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool enough to handle.

In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, water and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add oil. Once oil is hot, add garlic, spinach, chicken soup base, onion powder, dried parsley, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Stir constantly to keep from burning. Once spinach begins to wilt, pour in the coconut milk mixture. Mix well and continue stirring until the mixture just begins to boil and thicken. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Dice the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the sauce mixture and stir to coat the chicken. Serve sauce and chicken over cooked gluten-free fettuccine noodles. 

#dairyfree #glutenfree #chicken #pasta #alfredo

#dairyfree #glutenfree #chicken #alfredo #pasta

October 15, 2014

Pumpkin Carving Party {2014}

#fall #pumpkincarving #party #halloween #tablescape

It has become a tradition in our family to have a Pumpkin Carving Party each fall a few weeks before Halloween. I LOVE this holiday, so hosting this is one of the highlights of fall for me. I always make my delicious chili recipe (which my husband keeps under lock and key...well, almost) and we have lots of fun fall treats to go along with it. Everyone brings their own pumpkin and we spend the afternoon carving, then enjoy dinner together. (This year was even capped off watching the Kansas City Royals yet another playoff game - EEK! It has been nearly 30 years since this last occurred, so the buzz created by this is really a big deal!)

October 13, 2014

Scarecrow Crunch Trail Mix {Dairy, Gluten & Nut Free}

Last Sunday after church, my little bug told me the other kids had trail mix for snack. He was a little disappointed that he wasn't able to have it, but he understands the reason behind it. We regularly bring his own personal safe snack for Sunday School because I am never positive if what they provide will work for him or not. The church staff has been great about finding out what exactly Mason can and can't have, and they are well aware of his food allergy (as well as many other children with allergies), but I don't worry too much about stressing the importance of having milk-free options because we attend often, but not every week.

October 8, 2014

Maple Bacon Donuts {Dairy, Egg & Gluten Free}

#glutenfree #dairyfree #eggfree #maple #bacon #donuts

Our kids love it when I make Mini Pancake Muffins for breakfast. They're delicious and fun. Since it is such a simple and versatile recipe, I decided to try something a little different using the same ingredients. With the slight hint of maple flavor and the soft, not-too-sweet pancake texture, I decided they needed a little addition of coffee and bacon. These are fun and sophisticated at the same time. What could be better?!

October 5, 2014

Apple Cider Glazed Donuts {Gluten Free & Vegan}

I've been seeing lots of delicious looking baked donuts all over the place lately. I decided I wanted to try some and picked up a donut pan for cheap with a great coupon at Michael's.

When I was a kid, we would occasionally pick up donuts from Dunkin' Donuts or a local grocery store. My favorite was always Long Johns with maple icing. The perfect combination of salty, flaky pastry topped with sweet creamy maple flavor was so delicious!

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