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Fuss started her first day at daycare today.  Ugh.  And to be honest, this week has not started out really well.  So, in honor of my rather down state, I thought I’d share some of my favorite junk foods, lest you took me for some health nut.  This diet puts a serious crimp in comfort eating but there are a few things that can help lift your spirits when you’re having a less than stellar day. 

Oreos: While they may be milk’s favorite cookie, they’re still pretty darn good by themselves.  The first few weeks of Fuss’ life I probably had six Oreos a day.  Number one, I was coming off a serious sugar addiction from pregnancy.  Number two, I thought I might lose my mind and needed some comfort.  Any new mom understands…

Hamburgers: I love a good burger.  BUT, you have to make sure it’ll love you back.  First, most buns have milk in them.  If you’re making from scratch, just scan the bread aisle closely.  And yes, I’ve taken my own bun to a restaurant before.  Also, the majority of fast food burgers contain both soy and dairy, so check their website for allergy information.  So far, the only safe fast food burger I’ve found is at Wendy’s.

Hotdogs: I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many hotdogs.  I get the premium, all-beef variety and they are oh-so-good.  They’re a quick and easy lunch.  I’ll literally throw them on the gas grill and they’re ready in five minutes.  Just make note about the bun…

French Fries: Mmmm…my favorite.  If you’re baby is sensitive to soy, soybean oil is still generally OK.  This depends on how sensitive your child is, but both the pediatrician and GI doctor gave me the green light.  Apparently when they crush up the soy to make the oil, the proteins get broken down enough for safe digestion (usually).  See note on soy

Potato Chips: Plain potato chips are generally fine, just read the ingredients to be sure.  If they’re flavored, they will most likely contain milk or cheese.

Brownies: The only brownie mix I’ve found that doesn’t contain milk is from Ghiradelli, and they only make one that I know of: “Double Chocolate.”  It may be hard to find but totally worth seeking out.  Just make sure your baby isn’t sensitive to egg and always read ingredients carefully.

Chocolate: There are some dark chocolate bars that don’t contain milk.  This will take a trip to a specialty grocery store but when you’re having a chocolate craving, it’s warranted.  Also, if you’re baby isn’t sensitive to peanuts, slather some peanut butter on it for a Reese’s inspired treat. Actually, it’s better than Reese’s.

Beer: What can I say; I’m just a beer drinking kind of girl.  Of course, I don’t go overboard.  I don’t think one or two in an evening will do any harm.  Again, I think most new moms understand…

Wine: Well, I like wine too.  Especially red.

Well there you have it.  Happy eating and/or drinking everyone!

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Black BananaTurbo and I are always fighting over the fridge.  You see, I’m a saver.  I tuck away bits of leftover food until our refrigerator is a landfill of crumpled foil and Tupperware.  Well, luckily I rescued this rather unsavory-looking banana from one of his purges.  Yes, this black object is a banana!  And hold on before you judge my rather skanky-looking fruit.  It’s actually the secret ingredient.

Any banana muffin or bread is better with overripe bananas.  So when I saw this one start to go, I got excited about this recipe.  It’s from The Food Allergy Mama and was my saving grace in the early days.  First, it’s easy enough for a non-baker like me.  Plus, you can freeze the cute little muffins and pop them right into the toaster as needed, which is easier than cereal because you can eat while holding your little one.

muffin pan

First you’ll want to grease your pan.  I haven’t bothered getting MSPI-friendly spray because most at my grocery store contain butter.  Then again, my store leaves much to be desired.  So I just pour a tiny amount of vegetable oil in the cups and rub around with my finger.  A little goes a long way…once your hand is greased up you can do two or three with one pour.

Now once you peel and mash the banana, it’s not as bad as it looks.

Mashed banana

Isn’t that better?

Throw the banana in your mixer with some melted “butter” and soured “milk.”  That doesn’t sound very palatable either.  I’m probably not selling you on these like I should – they really are delicious.  Soured milk is a substitute for buttermilk, and can be done by adding a smidgen of vinegar or lemon juice to your milk.

Now by “butter” I mean margarine, and “milk” is almond milk.  But be careful when buying margarine.  A lot of brands still contain butter or milk proteins such as whey and casein.  The only safe brand I’ve been able to find in my grocery store is Best Life Buttery Spread with olive oil.  But then again, I told you about my grocery store…

Banana and Butter in Mixer

Now mix up your dry ingredients with a wire whisk (or fork).

Banana Muffins dry ingredients

That was easy, right?

Add it slowly to your batter while the mixer is going.  I say slowly so you don’t get a “flower shower.”  Been there…

Banana Muffins - Flour

Now it’s time for the piece de resistance….MSPI-friendly chocolate chips!  I use the Enjoy Life brand, which I did have to drive 20 miles to get at the specialty grocery store.  Totally worth the trip.

Chocolate Chips

The hardest part is evenly dividing between the cups.

Banana Muffins before

Bake until golden brown and delicious.

Banana muffins - after

Mmmm….now dig in!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 medium bananas, mashed (they don’t have to be overripe but are better that way)
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 cup MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup soured almond milk (or rice milk)*
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 12-cup regular-sized muffin pan or 24-cup mini muffin pan with vegetable oil (or MSPI-friendly spray).

Combine mashed banana, water, melted margarine and soured milk in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until well incorporated.

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients with wire whisk (except chocolate chips).  Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips and divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Bake 15-20 minutes for regular muffins or 12-15 for mini muffins.

*To make soured milk, add approximately 1/4 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1/4 cup milk and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Admit it, I had you at the word “fries.”

Sweet potato "fries"

That’s okay, I’m a nut for anything fried.  This dish is slap-yourself-easy.  We have them probably once a week.

Slice your sweet potatoes into cute little coins as seen above.  The portions of this recipe are flexible.  Usually, a medium-sized potato will feed two people.

Next, toss these babies in a little olive oil and whatever spices you’re feeling like.  I usually do thyme, rosemary and garlic salt.  You can also do cumin and salt if you’re feeling saucy.

Line them up on a metal cookie sheet.  I find metal helps them crisp better.

sweet potato fries on cookie sheet

Pop them in a scalding hot oven until browned.  I like to use convection because it’s twice as fast…and waiting isn’t Turbo’s strong suit.

Cook them until desired shade of brown.  As you can see, I like mine “extra crispy.”

sweet potato dinnerNow sit down and get to eating!

To review…

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes (one medium-sized potato per two people)
  • Dash of Garlic Salt, rosemary and thyme
  • Olive oil to coat

Slice sweet potatoes into coins.  Toss in medium bowl with olive oil, garlic salt, rosemary and thyme.  Cook in 425 degree oven for 40 minutes (20 minutes if using convection).

Braised ChickenI love this dish because its fancy enough for company but easy enough for a weeknight.  Plus, I just like saying “braised.”  Makes me feel official.  Technically speaking, this isn’t braised because I don’t cover it in the oven.  But its my blog and my recipe, so I’m going with it.

You’ll want a cast-iron skillet for this.  If you don’t have one, then any oven-safe variety will do.  But you really should look into cast-iron…I’m just saying.

First, you’ll want to marinate the chicken in Italian dressing for about 30 minutes (or longer if you’re a better planner than me.)  You want the skin on for this recipe.

When the chicken is properly sauced, heat your “naked” skillet on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  Then add about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and quickly add the chicken, meat side down.  Brown each side for about 3-5 minutes.  I use tongs because there’s plenty of snap, crackle and pop.

Braised Chicken in pan

It’s important to not use olive oil because it just can’t take the heat.  No offense olive oil…you know I love you.

When its a beautiful golden brown, transfer to the oven using a really thick oven mitt.  The cast iron is heavy, so use two hands.  (That’s just the mom in me talking.)

Braised Chicken in oven

You’ll want to flip it about half-way through.  If you’re using convection, it’ll come out looking like a million bucks in about 25 minutes (longer if regular oven).  Cut into the middle to make sure it’s cooked through.

The final and most important step is to pour the juice on top of the chicken.  C’est magnifique!  Serve with a side of sweet potato fries and broccoli and you’ve got yourself a pretty official looking dinner.

So, in summary:

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin
  • Italian dressing to cover chicken (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Marinate chicken in enough Italian dressing to coat (approximately 1/2 cup.)

Heat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Add about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and quickly add chicken, meat side down.  Brown on both sides (3-5 minutes each).

Transfer to 350 degree convection oven and cook for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. If not using convection, cook approximately 40 minutes or until cooked through.

The Big Ol' Tomato

The tomato that inspired it all

Now I swear I’m not trying to get all Martha Stewart on you with the first recipe post, , but my garden inspired this recipe.  Well, technically it’s my husband Turbo’s garden.  (We call him that because he has two speeds – full throttle and off.)  Around the time Fuss was born he planted five tomato plants in about 10 minutes.  That’s just how he works.  Normally I would have planted them but I was too busy banging my head against the wall.  So, God bless him, they’re finally coming in and we have been loving them!  Last night he proudly picked the largest tomato our yard has ever seen, and a tomato and chicken pasta ensued.

If you don’t have a green thumb (or a Turbo) do not despair.  Just about any grocery store is brimming right now with cheap tomatoes.  Really, this recipe is wonderful because you can use just about any leftover veggies in the frig.  The secret is the garlic and olive oil sauce, which I got from Miss Rachael Ray.  (Thanks Rach!)

Here’s how you do it:

First you’re going to want to steam the kale.  I love kale because it’s loaded with calcium and stands up better than spinach.  Broccoli would be good to.

Wash the leaves really well and tear them from the stems.  Some people say you have to soak kale to clean it but I’m usually in too big of a hurry.  Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces, throw it in a saute pan (covered) with just enough water to cover the bottom.  Once it boils and is bright green you’re done.  Drain it and set aside because you’re about to use that pan for the chicken.

I sprinkled the chicken with Wildtree’s herb grilling marinade, but rosemary and thyme work great too.  Cook with some olive oil (covered) browning both sides.  Set aside still covered.  This will allow it to “sweat” a little, which is a good thing…although it doesn’t sound like it.

Chicken

Now it’s time for the sauce, which is just olive oil, parsley and garlic.  Once you have a little sizzle in the pan, you’re done.  I got a little excited with my parsley…

Garlic Oil Sauce

Next, cook the pasta in a large stock pot. The size isn’t for the pasta; it’s gives you plenty of room for mixing it all together later.  First time I made this I messed up every bowl and pot in my kitchen, so I’m trying to save you from that.

While the pasta is cooking, chop all the “goody” as my mother would say.

Veggies

Then remove the chicken and saute the onions in the chicken broth remaining in pan.  Yummmm.

Onions

You’re getting close.  I promise.  At this point if you want to pour yourself a glass of wine, I’d highly recommend it.  Then layer the tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper and salt on top of the onions, cover.

Tomatoes before

Let the tomatoes break down.  This only takes about five minutes.  You can give it a little stir once or twice, but nothing crazy.

Tomatoes After

Shew, on the home stretch.  Slice the chicken and drain the pasta (just pour over kale already in colander).  Then mix everything together in that same pot.  Squeeze a whole lemon in it and top with generous amounts of black pepper (not pictured…but discovered later it needs it).

Pasta in Pot

You’re done!  Refresh that wine glass and enjoy.  Here is the summary:

Ingredients (serves four):

  • Fresh tomatoes (I used one large and 10 small yellow ones)
  • About four stalks of kale
  • 3-4 stalks of basil and oregano (dried is fine too)
  • 1 medium onion
  • One whole lemon
  • Dash of red pepper
  • 2-3 boneless chicken breasts
  • Wildtree’s Herb Grilling Marinade (I use this a lot on my chicken.  As a substitute, dried thyme and rosemary would be great too.)
  • Olive Oil
  • One pound spaghetti

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup of parsley
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1 large tablespoon of finely chopped garlic (I used jarred kind)
  • 3/4 tablespoon of salt

Steam kale in large, covered saute pan with just enough water to cover bottom.  Once it comes to a boil, drain and set aside.  Sprinkle chicken with marinade and saute in the same pan, covered, with about one tablespoon of olive oil.  Brown both sides (about five minutes each) and set whole pan aside, still covered.

Combine all sauce ingredients in small saute pan and cook until garlic sizzles.  Set aside.

Cook spaghetti in large sauce pan until al dente.

Remove chicken from pan and cook onions in the broth.  Once translucent, layer tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper and salt on top and let break down (about five minutes).

Slice chicken and drain noodles.  Combine everything in large sauce pan along with juice from one whole lemon and black pepper to taste.  Stir and serve.

I’m a freelance writer who was recently blessed with a daughter, whom we call Fussy Britches, or Fuss for short.  She earned that nickname in the first few weeks of life.  She’d scream for what seemed like hours on end. She’d pull my hair and climb up my stomach when I held her.  There was nothing I could do to comfort her.  Little did I know, she suffers from a milk/soy protein intolerance (MSPI), meaning she can’t digest milk or soy proteins.  So the cheesy casseroles I was happily gobbling were actually like little gut bombs for her brand-spanking-new GI tract.  Happily, my astute pediactrician was able to diagnose her as early as two weeks old.  Then the fun began.

If I wanted to continue breastfeeding, then I’d have to undergo a complete diet overhaul.  No dairy, no soy, no eggs, no shellfish or peanuts.  (It was part of a strict elimination diet, to which I later added everything back except for dairy and soy.)

Not exactly easy for someone who regularly covers restaurants.  Even so, seven days after going “cold turkey” I had a new baby.  No more screaming, no more fussing….until my first slip up.  The first six weeks were a series of starts and re-starts as I fumbled my way through this insane new diet.  (Who knew they added soy to the chicken at Subway!?)

In an effort to help other moms going through this – one in twenty babies have a milk allergy – I decided to launch a blog.  I am by no means a medical expert and do not claim authority of any sort.  I’m simply a mom trying to do what I feel is best for my child, and hoping to help other moms avoid the painful lessons I’ve learned.  Hopefully, this will be a community of sorts where we can all learn from each other.

Today, she no longer deserves the nickname but it kinda stuck.  (Sorry, girl.)  I hope you enjoy as I share the adventures of feeding Fuss…