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Greetings!

No, I didn’t die. Shew, you can all relax. ūüôā I’ve just been procrastinating – one of my specialties – because I’m no longer on the MSPI diet and many of my meals are chock full of dairy.

There! I said it! I’ve gone to the dark side. But, that also means there’s a light at the end of the non-dairy tunnel.

But today I have a post hopefully we can all enjoy —- de-cluttering the pantry! Maybe “enjoy” isn’t the best word…but let’s just go with it for now. This is how my pantry looked before. (Warning: Type As and those sensitive to clutter might want to close their eyes…)

A few close-ups for the full effect…

Clearly I had a problem. So when Nate Berkus highlighted a pantry re-do, I was riveted. Here is this amazing woman’s¬†post¬†on it. She is an inspiration.

Warning: I’m not nearly as crafty as Dina and my pantry doesn’t look half as pretty, but I’m still very happy with it. Maybe one day I’ll paint it something other that blas√© beige and order those adorable “Wallies” things. (See procrastination reference above).

Anyway, this is what it looks like today…

Since I didn’t purchase the Wallies yet, I labled everything in Photoshop so you can tell what’s what.

I have really deep shelves and three really deep corners that could mean a lot of wasted space. I solved it with 12″ Lazy Susans (already had) and by putting jars or other holders behind pretty baskets. Like this….

Skinny wall shelves also helped corral a lot of small clutter…

And the IKEA shelves tucked into the former no-mans-land are where I keep everything else, including extras of anything or if all of the cereal doesn’t fit into it’s cute little container.

Ahhhh-mazing. I can actually SEE what I’m getting low on and I don’t hate opening my pantry door anymore. Woo hoo!

Oh, and it’s still Fuss’ favorite place to play peekaboo….

While I was at it, I also tackled the area under my stove. The shelves are so deep, I swear if I ever didn’t feel like cooking I could crawl in there and hide until Turbo ordered a pizza.

Things get lost, I have to stand on my head to reach anything, and pot lids would always come tumbling out every time I reached for anything. This is it before.

Now after:

Here’s a brief overview of what it took to get the job done:

1. Measuring

2. Measuring

3. Shopping trips to IKEA and The Container Store

4. More measuring.

My problem was that I needed to make sure I had enough of the clear jars, and both stores are an hour and a half drive, so there was no swinging back by if I forgot something. I also didn’t want to completely clear my pantry and leave it a total mess for several weeks, so I did a lot of arranging in my mind. For the record, I don’t recommend my method.

Once I hit IKEA though, all of my obsessive measuring paid off. I did it in under an hour! I swear that place is like Facebook…had I not been meeting someone for brunch I could’ve burned HOURS. This is what my cart looked like…

Chock full and under $200. I was so happy; I wanted to hug a Swede.

Here’s my shopping list for both projects, which costs a little less than $300:

PANTRY:

Wall installed shelves, The Container Store
Expand-a-shelf, The Container Store
Assorted SLOM jars for dry goods, IKEA
Clear plastic containers, IKEA
2 Antonius Wire Drawer Sets, IKEA
Assorted baskets, Hobby Lobby during a 50% off sale
I already had the Lazy Susans in the corner, but they’re available at Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as IKEA

UNDER STOVE:

2 Pot Lid Rack, The Container Store
1 Expandable Wire Shelves, The Container Store

Happy De-cluttering Everybody!

Soooooo….I think I’m lactose intolerant. Apparently this is common after going dairy free for so long. It might improve, but ever since returning to the world of dairy I’ve had an all-too-familiar swelling in the belly. In the past month I’ve had not one but TWO people ask me if I’m pregnant.

I’m not.

The worst part? I can’t really blame them. I’m so bloated right now I look like I did in those early pregnancy pictures. You know the ones where you lift up your shirt and ask your husband to take a picture, giggling at how “huge” your belly has become, only to look back 8 months later and wince at how tiny you were?

I’m at about 16 weeks right now. But there’s no baby in there. Sigh.

I made these burgers while we were still livin’ it up in Cow-town so dairy-free readers – avert your eyes for the last step, which involves melted cheddar. (Don’t tell them but it’s really good). You can still enjoy these, just might want to top with avocado or lots of mayo and mustard and spicy arugula or something flavorful.

The best part is these are Fuss approved! I made a small burger for her and she ate the entire thing, bit by regulation-sized bit.¬†You can also make a whole bunch and freeze the patties you don’t use.

Truthfully I’m struggling with giving up dairy again. Give it up for my baby? No problemo. Walk over broken glass or rush into a burning building for her? Okay. But give up cheese for a little tummy trouble and negative body image, well…..that’s harder. So expect more dairy free recipes in the future…but I might sneak in some butter and goat cheese for good measure.

While you peruse this delicious recipe, I think I’ll Google industrial-strength Spanx…

It begins with chopped bell pepper, which I have the cutest new way to cut. Learned it in a cooking class at Heirloom Catering.

Lop off the top and bottom.

Slice the side and roll it out.

Cut off the bitter white parts.

And chop.

Pop out the stem from the top and chop it too…or come up with some really clever use for it’s flower shape (and email me about it).

Then add bell pepper to a mix of cumin, shallot, garlic, garlic pepper and thyme.

Add – what else? – chopped cilantro.

…and turkey.

Mix it all up with your hands. Come on now, don’t be shy.

Make them into cute lil’ patties.

Heat some vegetable oil in a cast iron or nonstick skillet and add burgers. Cook covered for about 5 minutes then flip.

In the last two minutes or so of cooking, add slices of cheddar.

This is really where you’ll want to look away if you can’t eat cheese…

Yum.

Serve on toasted buns with all the fixin’s.

Take a bite, swoon, and crumble up for your baby to watch her devour with reckless abandon (if she’s anything like Fuss).

Here’s the handy-dandy printable (highlight, right-click and select print):

Southwestern Turkey Burgers (adapted from Rachael Ray)

  • 4 inch section of bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 small onion or 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. package of ground turkey (I used 85/15)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Cheddar, sliced (optional)
  • Hamburger buns, toasted
  • spinach or arugula
  • ketchup, mustard, mayo or any other fixings you like
Combine first 7 ingredients (through turkey) in medium bowl with hands until well combined. Heat cast iron skillet then add oil. Add patties and cook covered 5 minutes on medium heat. Flip and cook about 3 minutes. Top with sliced cheddar. Cover and continue cooking until melted. Toast buns and serve with spinach and any other toppings you like.

Debbie Downer

Sometimes I feel like the Debbie Downer of the taste bud world.

“Hey, want a cookie?”

“No thanks, if I eat that my child will scream in agony for days.”

Cue the music.

When I first decided to try this diet, other moms told me they got by ordering plain chicken and vegetables at restaurants and packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner parties. 

Ugh, I can actually feel my taste buds wilting.

Not to sound selfish, but I wouldn’t last two days on a strictly blah diet.¬† I need flavor!¬† But this can be a tall order when you’re not cooking your own.¬† I find people fall mainly into two camps when offering you food: the nonchalant¬†and the over-zealous.¬† The nonchalant person is the one to fear most.¬† If they say, “you should be alright” when you ask if there is dairy or soy in it be afraid….be very afraid.

But the over-zealous person can be equally dangerous (to your taste buds).¬† They try to eliminate everything from a dish – even salt and pepper – to avoid any offending allergens.¬† Problem is, this also eradicates flavor.¬† But hey, I appreciate the effort.¬† I usually just smile, make a joke about how high maintenance I am and (if I’m in a restaurant)¬†see if they can help me find a more taste-worthy option.

A little reconnaissance work goes a long way when dining away from home.¬† If¬†you’re headed to¬†a chain restaurant, see if they have¬†allergy information posted online.¬† I Google “restaurant name¬†allergy info” because sometimes it’s¬†hard to find¬†on the restaurant website.¬† If it’s a local joint, call ahead and ask if they accommodate food allergies.¬† They can usually put you in touch with someone in the kitchen or a manager.¬† You’ll still need to inform your server, but you can at least¬†figure out¬†what to order beforehand, which cuts down on the nine million questions¬†you usually have to ask.

Eating in people’s homes is a little more tricky.¬† If you know them fairly well, try to find out what they’re serving and how you can “fill in” for taboo items, i.e. bringing chips and salsa¬†for an appetizer¬†or a small thing of rice instead of mac n’ cheese.¬† If¬†you don’t feel comfortable asking, plan to eat beforehand or brown bag it.¬† I’ve even been known to check food labels at friend’s houses, but I know that can get a little awkward.

I’ve said it before but I’ll¬†say it again: don’t just ask someone, “Does this have¬†dairy or soy in it?”¬† People¬†usually don’t think about (or know)¬†all of the hidden sources of these tricky ingredients.¬† When at a restaurant, I go through every aspect of the dish.¬† If it’s a sandwich, I ask if the bread was made with¬†milk¬†or if they butter it.¬† Always ask if¬†the sauce has dairy or soy in it¬†or if the vegetables have butter (they usually do).¬†

If it’s crazy busy or¬†the server falls into the nonchalant camp, I’ll sometimes just wander over to the kitchen.¬† There’s usually a manager or kitchen staffer milling about.¬† I tell them I don’t want to “bother” the server with this since they’re so busy and see if¬†they¬†can help me pick something out that’s safe to eat.¬† A¬†smile goes a long way.

All of these things take a lot of effort, but if you’re a fellow foodie they’re worth it.¬†

And if all else fails, there’s always peanut butter and jelly.

PantryThere is simply no worse feeling than looking in your pantry or refrigerator¬†after just finding¬†out your child has MSPI.¬† Suddenly, it seems like you can’t eat anything, and there’s a constant rumble in your tummy because your breastfeeding, which as my friend Jill put it, is like having a treadmill strapped to your chest.¬† I remember having a mild sense of panic with the slightly irrational thought¬†that I might starve.¬†

Plus, if you just found out, you have a screaming baby to deal with, so cooking involved meals from scratch isn’t happening.¬† So, what do you do?¬† Well, below is a list of pantry and refrigerator staples that are good to stock up on, as well as some meal and snack ideas.

And no, this isn’t my pantry.¬† I wish it were.¬† I was too embarrassed to reveal the inner workings of my¬†closet¬†o’ food¬†so I went with this generic photo.

 Staples:
Faux Milk (I prefer almond, but there’s also rice, coconut and all sorts of weird sounding “milk” made from nuts)
Faux Butter (I prefer Best Life buttery spread)
MSPI-friendly bread
Mustard
Ketchup
MSPI-friendly salad dressing
Mayo (if you’re not on strict elimination diet and can eat egg)

For Snacks:
Dry-roasted Almonds
Fruit (I prefer grapes because they’re easy to grab, or cut up chunks of whatever is in season)
Popcorn (You can make your own with an air popper.  Then drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.)
Saltines
Almond butter or peanut butter
Hummus (Use tortilla chips or veggies to dip into)
Potato Chips
Salsa
Tortilla Chips

For Breakfast:
Total Raisin Bran (I recently discovered this has¬†a full day’s serving¬†of calcium.¬† Bonus for those of us going cow-free!)
OJ with calcium (just a good idea)
French Toast (if you can eat egg)
Banana Chocolate chip muffins
Fruit

For lunches:
Turkey sandwiches 
MSPI-friendly tuna sandwiches 
BLTs
Hot dogs
Tacos (Make a large batch of this pulled pork, divide into small portions and freeze.)
Pasta (Sautee whatever veggies or meat¬†you have in your frig along with this tomato¬†sauce.¬† I discovered this recipe when trying to get Fuss to arrive.¬† It didn’t work.¬† Instead, it took three hours of pushing and a c-section.¬† But that’s another story.¬† Again, make a large batch and freeze.)

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!

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 ‚Äúcold turkey‚ÄĚ I had a new baby.¬† No more screaming, no more fussing‚Ķ.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 ‚Äď one in twenty babies have a milk allergy ‚Äď I decided to launch a blog.¬† I am by no means a medical expert and do not claim authority of any sort.¬† I‚Äôm 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‚Äôve 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…